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Heroes Never Die

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If asked to sum up the enigma that was Midoriya Izuku, his peers at Aldera Middle School would fail to reach a consensus, but there would certainly be a few frontrunners. “Quirkless weirdo” and “delusional wannabe” were favorites; “fearless basket case”, and “weirdly intimidating” were also common. Midoriya himself simply shrugged these labels off—the circumstances of his life had long since conditioned him to ignore the mockery of others as inconsequential. He had been through much worse than some unkind words.

It was this lack of regard for the inevitable jeers of his classmates that allowed him to shamelessly raise his hand when his teacher asked them who planned on aiming for a hero course.

“Don’t compare me to the rest of these losers, sensei!” The rough voice of a boy with a shock of spiky white hair and perpetually angry red eyes rose above the clamor of the class.

“Ah yes, Bakugo.” The teacher identified the speaker, ignoring the rest of the class’ irritated grumbling at the casual manner in which they had just been insulted. “You plan to go to Yuuei, don’t you?”

At the mention of the highly prestigious school, the class broke into grudgingly impressed murmurs, and Midoriya couldn't help but let out a quiet snort of amusement when Bakugo took this as an invitation to jump up onto his desk in a fit of unbridled ego, singing his own praises.

Midoriya had no desire to waste his time indulging Bakugo’s braggadocio, so he pulled a well-used composition notebook out from his desk and flipped through its pages, refreshing himself on the notes he had taken that morning.

“By the way,” the teacher said, “I believe Midoriya is also planning on attending Yuuei.”

“Hm?” Midoriya looked up from his notes at the sound of his name. “What’s that now?” He looked around at the suddenly dead silent class, and the comically frozen expression on Bakugo’s face. “What?”

A few members of the class broke into mocking laughter. Others muttered and exchanged significant looks. Bakugo was less sanguine in his reaction.

It was only by virtue of hard-earned experience that Midoriya didn’t jump when Bakugo slammed his hand onto Midoriya’s desk with an ear-ringing ~bang~, and scorched its wooden surface with his quirk.

“Forget the rest of these losers and their shitty quirks!” Bakugo shouted in Midoriya’s face, “You don’t even have a quirk! And you’re saying that you think you can hang with me! You don’t have what it takes to compete with the best of the best! You’d die in the exams!”

Midoriya wrinkled his nose and waved the smoke from the explosion out of his face. “Pretty sure that damaging school property is against the rules.” He said mildly, pulling out a handkerchief and wiping the soot off of his desk, “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t do that again, Kacchan.”

Bakugo’s eye twitched. He didn’t understand the way his former friend’s mind worked. No matter how many times he beat his ass or made his life a living hell, the utter lack of concern Midoriya showed towards Bakugo’s attempts to intimidate him or assert his dominance drove him crazy.

“This shit again…” Bakugo growled. He grabbed Midoriya by the lapel and lifted him out of his chair with one hand. “Your holier-than-thou attitude really pisses me off, Deku! You think you’re better than me? You’re not! You’re just a sniveling little quirkless runt with delusions of grandeur!”

Midoriya let out a long-suffering sigh. “So you say, but I’m not the one throwing a temper tantrum right now, am I?” The class let out a collective hiss at the verbal retort.

“What the fuck did you just say to me, shitstain?”

Midoriya shook his head, “Just stop Kacchan, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

Bakugo’s face purpled. He clenched his fists until the knuckles turned white. “You little…”

Better late than never, the teacher decided to step in by extending his hand and physically separating the two boys. “That’s enough, you two. I won’t have any fighting in my class, understand?”

Bakugo dropped Midoriya with a scowl. “Yeah, yeah. I got it.” He glared at Midoriya. “This isn’t over, Deku.”

Unfazed, Midoriya smoothed the wrinkles out of his uniform. “I would be shocked if it were.”

Once class had ended, Midoriya was lost in thought as he prepared to go home for the day. When he picked up his notebook to put it away, it was unceremoniously ripped from his hands. He suppressed the urge to groan. “Please give that back, Kacchan.” He asked, reaching for the notebook.

Posse in tow, Bakugo jerked the notebook away from Midoriya’s attempt to snatch it back, and loomed over the smaller boy. After sparing a contemptuous glance at the title of the composition notebook, Hero Analysis for the Future: Vol. 13, he carelessly flipped through the pages before pausing at a surprisingly detailed sketch of Bakugo and a thorough breakdown of his quirk and favored moves.

Bakugo’s lip curled up into a sneer. “Still stalking me? You fucking make me sick, Deku.”

“I’ll make sure to note that in your file.” Midoriya replied evenly. He extended his hand. “My notebook, please.”

With a scowl, Bakugo slapped his palm onto the notebook, marring it with a mini-explosion before he tossed it out the window. “Go get it yourself, loser.”

“That was uncalled for.” Midoriya frowned, staring out the window. He turned his gaze back to Bakugo, “What is it you want from me, Kacchan?”

“Don’t even think about applying to Yuuei, Deku.” Bakugo growled.

“I don’t see how my choice of school is any of your business, Kacchan.” Midoriya replied, moving to push past Bakugo and retrieve his notebook. “Now, if you don’t have anything else to say, I’m going home.”

With a snarl, Bakugo gave Midoriya a hard shove and sent him stumbling into a wall. “Don’t you fucking brush me off!” He warned, “It is my business! I want the shine of being the first and only student from this shit school to go to Yuuei, and I won’t let your quirkless ass try and ruin that for me!” Bakugo grabbed Midoriya by the shoulder and smoke rose from between his fingers. “Don’t apply, or else.”

“Or else what?” Midoriya asked, his tone daring Bakugo to act.

Bakugo’s eyes narrowed. “I’ll ki—“

“You’ll kill me?” Midoriya interrupted. “Is that what you were going to say?”

“Shut up!” Bakugo growled, irritated at being called out.

“You’ll have to, if you want to stop me.” Midoriya paused. “Are you prepared to go that far, Kacchan?”

“Don’t—” Bakugo angrily spat before the words dried up and died in his throat. Something about the look in Midoriya’s eyes sent an involuntary shiver down his spine. Those eyes were completely free of hesitancy, fear, or compromise. They were the eyes of a true believer.

He fucking means it.’ Bakugo realized—he would never admit it, but the sheer level of conviction possessed by Midoriya intimidated even him. It was a big part of why he hated him. ‘I think…I think I really would have to kill him.’

“That’s what I thought.” Midoriya scoffed before knocking away the hand gripping his shoulder without resistance. After gathering his things, Midoriya walked to the door of the classroom and stopped at the threshold. “We aren’t little kids any more Kacchan…get over yourself.”

Temper flaring at the barb, Bakugo whirled towards Midoriya with mini-sparks popping in his palms, but the smaller boy was already gone.

“SHIT!” Bakugo cursed. He slammed his hands onto the nearest desk hard enough that the sound of the impact was deafening in the empty classroom. “Who does that cocky little fucker think he is?”

His friends exchanged bemused glances. “I don’t see why you keep bothering with him, Kacchan.” The taller of the two said, “Everybody knows that he’s got some screws loose. Let’s go hit the arcade to blow off some steam.”

Bakugo let out a huff. “…Fine.”

 

 

(10 years earlier)

“He has a what?” Midoriya Inko asked the pediatrician. Unlike the other children in his age group, Izuku had yet to manifest a quirk and she was concerned that something might be wrong. To make matters worse, Izuku had been suffering from some sort of mental breakdown. She often found him sobbing inconsolably or staring into space for long periods of time. Whenever Inko asked her son what was wrong, he would simply gaze at her with a haunted expression, repeating the same phrase over and over again.

Mommy, please make it stop.”

“A aberrant quirk.” Dr. Tsubasa patiently explained. “It’s pretty rare, but it happens on occasion. Normally, people either inherit one of their parent’s quirks, or some combination of the two. The fact that Izuku hasn’t displayed any signs of you or your husband’s quirks made me initially suspect he was quirkless, like roughly 20% of the population.” He tapped on the screen displaying an X-Ray of Izuku’s tiny foot. “However, as you can see here, Izuku lacks the extra joint typical of a quirkless person, so that possibility has been ruled out. That’s why I believe his quirk may be something entirely different from…” Dr. Tsubasa paused to check his notes, “telekinesis or fire breathing.”

This broke Izuku out of his near catatonic trance. “Does that mean I can still be a hero, like All Might?” He asked in a small, hopeful voice.

Dr. Tsubasa smiled kindly and ruffled Midoriya’s hair, “Depending on the nature of your quirk, I don’t see why not.” He scribbled something down onto a pad of paper and handed it to Inko. “This is the name of an excellent Quirk specialist who deals with cases like this. With her help, you should be able to find out the nature of Izuku’s quirk in no time.”

Inko sighed with relief. It wasn’t exactly the answer she had been looking for, but it was a start. “Thank you so much Dr. Tsubasa, this is a huge load off of our minds.”

“Think nothing of it. I can’t wait to hear what our future number one hero’s quirk turns out to be.”

 

(Present Day)

 

Quirkless, huh?’ Midoriya mused as he walked underneath a bridge on his way home; thinking of the most common insult hurled his way by Bakugo. It had been years since he had bothered to correct anyone about that misconception. ‘Sometimes I wish that were the case.’

Despite nearly a year of poking and prodding by specialists and quirk counselors, neither the effects nor the true nature of Midoriya’s quirk were ever officially discovered. Officially, Midoriya Izuku’s quirk was registered as “Unknown”, a designation that had caused people to erroneously write him off as essentially quirkless his entire life. Unofficially, Midoriya thought the so-called experts were idiots. While the true nature of his quirk still eluded him, he understood its effects all too well; the only problem was they were impossible to prove. Officially, that is.

Midoriya shook his head. There was no point in dwelling on it. He continued to hold his notebook at arms length, shaking it in an attempt to speed up the process of drying it out after he found it in the Koi pond at the school. He flipped through the pages. The ink had only slightly run, so it was still legible if you squinted.

‘You know, even after being blown up and soaked, it’s in surprisingly good shape.’ Midoriya smiled sarcastically. ‘Today must be my lucky day.’ Almost as soon as this thought passed through his mind, Midoriya was assaulted by the rancid odor of sewage behind him.

“Ugh,” he wrinkled his nose, “did a septic line get backed up or something?” He felt something slimy touch his ankle and he spun around to see a massive pile of sentient sludge staring at him.

“Look at what we got here,” it burbled, “a perfect skin suit!”

“...Nope.” Midoriya said, and immediately turned to run. He didn't get far before he was enveloped by the sludge and dragged back over.

The sludge grinned. “Sorry kid,” It said, “But I didn’t expect that guy to be here in town. I’m going to need to borrow your body for a while.” Midoriya gagged as a tendril of sludge forced its way into his mouth and down his throat. “I promise it will only hurt for a second!”

Midoriya clawed at the viscous material of the villain’s body, but couldn’t get a hand on it. Unable to breathe, he felt his vision fading as his oxygen-starved brain began to shut down.

TEXAS SMASH!”

Just before his consciousness slipped away entirely, Midoriya heard a very familiar phrase, shouted out in a deep and booming voice that he had heard thousands of times before. ‘That sounds like…’

The world went black.

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

~Slap slap slap slap slap~

The first thing Midoriya noticed when he came to was that his mouth tasted like straight-up garbage. Also, there was something lightly hitting his face, and he wished it would stop.

“Young man, young man!”

“Ungh.” Midoriya moaned before opening his eyes. “I’m alive? What happen—All Might!” He exclaimed, composure completely shattered at the sight of the smiling visage of his idol, standing close enough for him to reach out and touch.

All Might let out a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness!” He exclaimed, “I thought we lost you there for a second!” He let out a boisterous laugh, “I didn’t mean for you to get caught up in my justice-ing!” He held up two soda bottles crammed full of the sludge from before. “No need to worry now!”

Ever the fanboy, Midoriya scrambled to find something to write on, and snatched his now perfectly dry notebook off of the ground. “Can I please get your autograph?” He flipped it open to see All Might’s signature already blazoned across two whole pages. “You already gave it to me?” He shrieked, before bowing deeply, “Thank you so much!”

“You’re very welcome!” All Might said with a laugh. “Now I must be off! I have to get this villain to the police!”

“N-now! Can’t you stay a moment?” Midoriya pled, “I still have so many questions!”

“No!” All Might insisted, “Justice cannot wait! I appreciate all of your support!”

“But I just—” Before Midoriya could finish his sentence, the number one hero was gone, sailing through the air with incredible speed while Midoriya stared on with an extended hand and his jaw hanging down. “I just want to know if I can be like you someday.”

Midoriya let out a sigh. It figured that when he finally got to meet his idol, he would leave before he could ask him the questions that had been haunting him for years. He stuffed his signed notebook into his backpack and trudged through the streets, downcast. He wanted to give himself some time to reset his emotions before going home, so he decided to circle the block a few times to clear his head.

He had just completed his third lap when he was snapped out of his depression by the sight of a small boy chasing a ball into the road, completely oblivious to the grey car approaching him far too quickly to stop in time.

Midoriya’s legs moved on their own. They propelled him into the street, where he pushed the child out of danger. For a brief moment, he was relieved, then his brain caught up—and he realized he was now directly in the path of the car instead of the child.

Oh shi—‘

~Screeeeeeeeech! Kathumpthumpthump~

The world went black.

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

~Slap slap slap slap slap~

Midoriya tasted garbage, and something was lightly hitting his face.

This really isn’t my day, is it?’

“Young man, young man!”

“Ungh.” Midoriya moaned before opening his eyes. “Wha…All Might?”

Midoriya blinked in confusion. ‘Did he save me again?’ He took a look around. He saw his notebook lying on the ground nearby. Further behind him was the bridge where the sludge villain had attacked him. His encounter with the car had been several blocks further down the road. His heart dropped into his stomach. ‘Oh no…not again.’

All Might let out a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness!” He exclaimed, “I thought we lost you there for a second!” He let out a boisterous laugh, “I didn’t mean for you to get caught up in my justice-ing!” He held up two soda bottles crammed full of the sludge from before. “No need to worry now!”

Midoriya groaned. “I’m so sick of this.” He muttered, shaking his head; “I wonder how many times I’m going to end up doing this before I get it right?”

“Er…are you alright young man?” All Might asked, nonplussed at the nonsensical muttering and strangely subdued reaction from the boy he had just saved. He was worried that he had been hurt worse than it appeared, and he didn’t exactly have time to hang around for an ambulance. “Did you hit your head? Do you know where you are?“

He knew the boy was a fan from reading the notebook that he found lying nearby. The title had caught his eye and so he had flipped through it out of curiosity while he waited for the kid to wake. He had even chuckled when he found the design for a hero costume based on All Might’s own. “Young man?”

“Hmm. Yes, yes, I’m fine.” Midoriya answered, appearing distracted as he stared off into space, frowning while his mind worked at a million miles per hour.

I really want to ask him more questions, but…’ The image of a car speeding towards an oblivious child flashed in his head. ‘No, I need to go.’

“Well then, if you’re sure…” All Might hesitantly replied, “I really must go, but please go and get yourself looked at by a doctor. One can never be too careful when it comes to villainy!”

“Mmhm.” Midoriya said, absently. “Thank you once again.” He paused only for a moment to watch All Might bound away once more. His gaze hardened and he broke into a jog.

Five minutes later, Midoriya stood on a familiar street corner. His sharp, watchful gaze drew strange looks from passing bystanders, but he paid them no mind. He couldn’t remember exactly when the incident occurred, so he had to be patient and vigilant. It came as a relief when he finally heard the sound of rubber bouncing on pavement. Midoriya scooped up the runaway ball and handed it to the boy, waving off the thanks of a woman with similar facial features as the boy.

“Listen to your mom. Don’t go chasing your ball into the street, okay?” Midoriya told the boy with a smile, ruffling his hair before startling at an unexpected noise.

~POW! Screeeeeeeeeeeech!~

What?’ Midoriya twisted his head to look towards the direction of the sound. His eyes widened at the sight of a familiar grey car, rolling towards him at high speed after suffering a blowout. Acting on instinct, he shoved the woman and the child out of the way of the mass of metal hurtling towards them.

There was a loud crunch, and then the world went black.

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

~Slap slap slap slap slap~

“Young man, young man!”

“Ungh.” Midoriya moaned, gagging on the taste of garbage. He opened his eyes, taking a moment to glance around at his surroundings, and sure enough, there was All Might, his notebook, and the bridge. He was back again.

Damn it.’

All Might let out a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness!” He exclaimed, “I thought we lost you there for a second!” He let out a boisterous laugh, “I didn’t mean for you to get caught up in my justice-ing!” He held up two soda bottles crammed full of the sludge from before. “No need to worry now!”

Ignoring All Might, Midoriya rubbed his chin and began to mutter under his breath. ‘‘Okay, so my starting point is here, and saving the kid only changed the circumstances that sent me back. This probably means that whatever it is I need to do to move on probably has to do with All Might.” Midoriya paused. “Oh my god, I’m tied to All Might!” A goofy grin appeared on Midoriya face for a second before he shook his head, “No, I need to focus. I’ll start by asking him a few questions.”

“Er…are you alright young man?” All Might asked, visibly disturbed by the nonsensical muttering. “Did you hit your head? Do you know where you are?”

“Yeah, sorry.” Midoriya replied sheepishly. He simply couldn’t seem to kick the habit of thinking out loud, no matter how hard he tried. “Just ignore everything I said, sometimes I get wrapped up in my thoughts like that.” He bowed. “Thank you for saving me.”

All Might let out a laugh. “Think nothing of it, my boy! I must be off now. This villain won’t deliver itself to the police, after all!”

“Please wait just a moment.” Midoriya said. “I’ve got questions that I need to—”

“No!” All Might firmly denied, “Justice cannot wait!”

“It will really only just take a moment!”

All Might ignored Midoriya and crouched in preparation to leap away. “I appreciate all of your support! Farewell!”

Damn it, he won’t listen! If I don’t do anything, it will just end up the same pattern all over again.’

In a panic born of desperation, Midoriya dashed forward and grabbed hold of All Might’s pant leg just in time to be jerked into the air with enough force that he very nearly lost his grip. After adjusting his grip, Midoriya looked down and immediately regretted it. They were very high in the air.

“Whoa whoa whoa!” All Might exclaimed, pushing at Midoriya as they flew through the air, “I realize that you’re a fan, but this is too much! Let go!”

Midoriya clung on even tighter, “If I let go now, I’ll die!” He shouted over the wind. ‘Though it wouldn’t be the first time.’ He wryly noted.

All Might stopped trying to pry Midoriya from his leg. “Ah,” he said, suddenly remembering that most people couldn’t survive a fall from several dozen meters in the air. “I suppose you have a point there. Hold on tight and close your eyes and mouth.”

As he looked for a nearby rooftop to land on, All Might coughed into his hand and winced at the sight of blood. ‘Shit…this is bad.’

Once they had landed, Midoriya had to take a few moments to calm the furious pounding of his heart.

“Okay, wow.” Midoriya slapped his cheeks and ran his hands through his hair while taking several deep breaths, “That was actually scary, even for me.” He paused. “I kinda want to do it again.”

“That was incredibly reckless!” All Might chastised Midoriya. “You’re lucky you weren’t killed! Now, I must go!”

“Wait!” Midoriya cried. ‘If that didn’t kill me, I must have done something right! I have to keep pushing!’

“I cannot wait!” All Might turned to leave.

I have to say something, anything!’

“Can someone without a quirk become a hero like you?” Midoriya shouted, voice tinged with honest desperation.

That made All Might pause mid-step. He looked back at Midoriya. “…Without a quirk?”

Midoriya nodded. ‘Well, technically I have one, but I can’t use it for hero work, or anything really. I don’t even know how it works.’

Of course, Midoriya didn’t say any of that. All Might wouldn’t believe him. Nobody ever believed him. Who would believe that he occasionally got trapped in time loops that endlessly killed him until he correctly performed an unknown task? He barely believed it himself, and he was the one it was happening to.

“Supposedly I have one…” Midoriya admitted, “but my quirk never manifested, so people have always picked on me...” he paused, “well, that might not be the only reason…but maybe that's why I think that saving people is the coolest thing that someone can do.” Midoriya smiled sadly. “The way you save others with a fearless smile, that’s the kind of hero I want to—WAAAAAGH!”

For the second time that day, Midoriya’s normally unflappable composure was utterly shattered when All Might disappeared into a cloud of smoke with a ~poof~. When the smoke cleared, standing where All Might had been just a moment ago was a sickly looking man so frail and emaciated that he looked more like a skeleton than a living person.

“Wha—who are…where’s All Might?” Midoriya stammered.

The man pointed to himself. “I’m All Migleeegh!” His words were interrupted by an eruption of blood from his mouth.

“No way!”

Midoriya was silent as the emaciated All Might told him his story. He told him about a secret battle with a villain six years prior, and revealed the grievous injury he had suffered during the fight, as well as his new physical limitations. Then, he explained the reasons why he worked so hard to keep it all a secret.

“A symbol of peace must never be daunted by evil.” He told Midoriya, “You said that I save people with a fearless smile…well, the reason I smile is to hide the pressure and the fear that I battle with constantly. Even when they possess powerful quirks, heroes must always be willing to risk their lives. You ask me if someone can become a hero without a quirk?” All Might shook his head. “No, I can’t say that you can.”

Midoriya was utterly silent as he took in this answer.

All Might pulled himself to his feet with a grunt. “If you want to help people, you can always become a police officer. People might look down on it, but it’s an honorable career. It’s good to dream, young man…just try to be realistic.”

At this, Midoriya let out an involuntary bark of laughter. It was an angry, bitter sound that was utterly bereft of joy or any other positive emotion. He had no idea how else to react to the sheer level of irony in All Might’s admonition.

“Heroes have to be willing to risk to risk their lives, huh?” Midoriya repeated, “Be realistic? That’s rich.”

“What?” All Might turned and flinched, taken aback at the burning conviction, the utter certainty that he saw in the eyes of the ‘quirkless’ kid he had so thoroughly rebuked. He had a sensation not unlike an electric charge run up and down his spine and the hairs on his neck stood on end.

“You think that this is the first time someone has told me something like this?” Midoriya shook his head. “You wouldn’t understand, but my life is always on the line, whether I like it or not.” He walked forward, pushing past the emaciated hero and began to make his way down the stairs. He stopped and turned his head to stare down All Might one last time. “And I’m going to be a hero, whether you like it or not.”

All Might opened his mouth, and then closed it, saying nothing. ‘That kid… Midoriya Izuku.’ He recalled, thinking of the name on the notebook he flipped through earlier. ‘Judging from those notes, he has clearly got a keen analytical mind, and for being so small, he has an unusual amount of presence…an uncanny natural charisma. If he had the power to back it up…’

All Might shook his head, banishing the thought. “What am I doing? I need to get this guy to the police!” He patted his pockets. “Eh?” In a panic, he patted them again, and his face paled. The bottles were gone. ‘I must have dropped them during the flight over here!’ All Might heard a boom in the distance, so he rushed to the nearest window and saw a plume of smoke rising several blocks away. ‘Oh no…’

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

Once he had safely left All Might’s line of sight, Midoriya let go of the tight emotional control that had been holding him together. Tears welled in his eyes and his chest constricted with frustration and sorrow. Having his dreams and goals spat on by a bunch of jerk teenagers was one thing; hearing the same thing from the one man he admired most pierced straight through his emotional armor. It wounded him deeply.

Midoriya didn't know whether he was angry, or sad, or some mixture of the two. All he knew was that it hurt. ‘I don’t know why I thought he would be different…Damn it. Damn it! Damn it!’

Distracted by the whirlwind of thoughts and feelings surging through him as he wandered the streets, Midoriya barely noticed when he plowed straight into a small child, knocking them over and skinning their knee. Mortified, he immediately began to apologize.

“Oh my gosh, I’m so—” His eyes widened—it was the boy from before, the one with the ball. “Sorry.” He glanced around—he hadn’t even noticed that he had arrived at the street corner where the accident was supposed to happen.

“Honestly!” The boy’s mother scowled at Midoriya as she helped her crying son to his feet. “You need to pay better attention to where you’re going!” She pointed to her child’s bleeding knee. “Just look at what you did!”

A boom sounded off in the distance, and Midoriya turned his head towards the noise just in time to see the grey car speed past them without incident. The runaway ball had rolled across the street and came to a stop in a bush. Midoriya let out a sigh of relief. The boy and his mother were safe—for now at least.

“Excuse me!” The woman scolded him, “Are you even listening to me?”

“Yes. I’m very sorry.” He bowed to the woman. “That was careless of me. Hold on one second, I have something for his knee.”

Midoriya took off his backpack and dug through it until he found a small red case with a cross on it. He opened up the case and pulled out an antiseptic swap, gently and expertly dabbing the scraped knee before placing a bandage on it. He turned to the mother. “You’ll probably want to clean it again when you get home, but this should help for now.”

The woman blinked. “Not that I’m complaining,” she said, mollified by Midoriya’s actions, “but why is a junior high student carrying around a first aid kit?”

I’ve had to learn to be prepared for the worst.’ Midoriya thought.

“I’m, uh, pretty clumsy, so I fall down a lot.” Midoriya said, “It saves time.”

“I see.” The woman replied. “Just be more careful, all right?”

Midoriya nodded, once again struck by the irony of the situation. “Yes ma’am. Will do.”

He watched the woman and the child walk away together, hand in hand. They would never know what would have happened if he had not been there, but that was fine. He knew, and that was enough for him.

~Boooooom~

Another explosion rang out, and when Midoriya saw the pillar of smoke rising in that direction, he broke into a run, heading towards the danger as quickly as his legs could carry him. He didn’t know what the situation was, or how he could possibly make a difference, but he knew that someone, somewhere, needed help. And that was all he needed to know.

 

AN: So, a new story is beginning. This Midoriya is quite a bit different than the one from canon, but I will try my best to flesh out these changes in a way that makes sense. Midoriya’s “quirk” is going to be very interesting to work around. I won’t give away exactly what its rules are just yet, but feel free to guess. Please let me know what you think with a review.

For those of you following my other story, Semper Fast, I will try and get the next chapter out in the next couple of days, a week at most. This plot bunny wouldn’t leave me the F alone, and so I simply gave in.

Chapter Text

 

 

The Tatooin Shopping District was a complete wreck. While the flames had been put out, and much of the rubble had been cleared, the street more closely resembled a war zone than the bustling market it had been just a few hours ago. Despite the property damage, the atmosphere was cheerful. Crowds of people chatted animatedly as they discussed the dramatic conclusion to the villain attack.

Footage of the ‘the sludge villain incident’ was already going viral. It had all of the elements necessary for great television—a grotesque, dastardly villain; a conventionally attractive child hostage; intense moments of danger and uncertainty, and of course, the sudden arrival of All Might and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. It was an instant classic—though not everyone was as pleased with the course of events as the media.

“There was absolutely no need to put yourself at risk like that! If All Might hadn’t shown up when he did, you could have gotten yourself, or any of the other pros here killed!”

Life sure has an interesting way of sorting itself out.’ Midoriya mused as he sat seiza on the pavement. His current posture was due to the fact that he was in the middle of a lengthy scolding from the pro hero, Death Arms. He glanced over at Bakugo, sitting nearby with a more thoughtful version of the usual scowl on his face. ‘I never would have thought that Kacchan of all people would get wrapped up in this mess.’

“Pay attention when I’m talking to you, kid!” Midoriya flinched when he received a chop on the top of his head and returned his gaze to Death Arms. The burly hero was glaring at him with a vein bulging in his forehead. Apparently, he didn’t appreciate being ignored.

“Sorry.” Midoriya apologized, bowing his head. “I was worried about my…” He paused. ‘Friend’ didn’t really seem like an appropriate word to describe his and Bakugo’s relationship, and ‘acquaintance’ seemed too distant for how long they had known each other. “…classmate. Please, continue.”

After scanning Midoriya’s face for a second, Death Arms let out a huff and shook his head. ‘This kid is something else...he isn’t even pretending to be sorry about what he did. He’s clearly just waiting me to finish so he can leave. I’d put money on him doing the exact same thing if he had the chance.’

The vitriol directed at Midoriya by Death Arms was due in no small part to his own frustration. For all of his physical power, he couldn’t do a thing against the fluid-like body of the sludge villain. On top of that, the fact that the boy caught in its grasp had a powerful quirk turned an already dangerous situation into a major incident that was likely to end in tragedy. He had felt so helpless watching the blond boy suffocate that bile burned in the back of his throat and he could taste the blood in his mouth where he had bitten the insides of his cheeks. When Death Arms had seen the small boy kneeling in front of him dash out from the crowd into the fray, he thought that his heart was going to stop.

There was no hesitation in the boy’s movements. No fear. He had looked so damn confident sprinting towards the villain with a grim smile on his face that it took Death Arms a moment to realize that the kid wasn’t a hero, but a middle-schooler out of his depth. His little trick throwing his backpack into the face of the villain had succeeded in freeing the other boy’s face for a second, allowing him to breathe, but that was it. His frenzied attempts to claw the blond boy out of the villain’s grasp proved to be as unsuccessful as Death Arms’ own. The villain raised its arm, ready to grant whatever death wish that crazy kid had, when he appeared like magic.

 All Might: “The Symbol of Peace”.

The undisputed number one hero and strongest man in the world. In one blow, he did what half a dozen pros working together couldn’t—he saved both boys, blew away the villain, and even put out the fires with the rain that was created as a result of the wind from his punch. Death Arms shook his head. It was no wonder that nobody but Endeavor had even tried to take All Might’s place at the top. The sight of him in action was enough to shatter the confidence of anyone, villain or ambitious young hero alike.

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

Midoriya was lost in thought as he walked home from the scene of the incident. He had been held up by the police and the pro heroes for well over an hour before being released and the sun had already begun to set, casting the orange glow of twilight over the streets of his neighborhood. A voice called out to him, snapping Midoriya out of his reverie.

“Deku! Wait up, you bastard!”

Midoriya turned around. Bakugo stood behind him, scuffed up, out of breath and wearing an expression that was a mixture of anger and confusion. His body was lined with tension and his fists were clenched so tightly that they trembled.

Midoriya sighed in resignation. ‘I probably should have expected this…let’s get this over with.'

“What is it, Kacchan?” Midoriya asked, purposefully keeping his tone light and breezy, “Is there something wrong?”

“Don’t give me that shit, you fucking nerd! You know goddamn well why I’m here!” Bakugo grit his teeth. “Why? Why did you do that? Do you want to make me owe you or something? Are you crazy, or do you just want to die? Why the fuck would you try to save me when there was nothing you could do?"

Midoriya was silent for a moment, remembering the moment in question.

He stood in the crowd, frozen in place by his horror and guilt. The Sludge villain was free, and it was his fault. If he hadn’t clung to All Might’s leg like that, if he had found another way to move forward, none of this would have been happening. Just a short distance away, amidst a sea of fire and peril, he could see a familiar pair of red eyes widen in terror, free of their usual anger and hostility, crying out for help. At that moment, the years of Bakugo’s cruel words, casual violence, and the infuriating way that he was always better, always two steps ahead—none of it mattered. His legs moved on their own, and a determined smile stretched across his face. He would fix this, one way or another. No matter how many tries it took. That was simply who he was.   

At last, Midoriya replied with a shrug. “I did it because I wanted to, that’s all there is to it. It had nothing to do with you, I would have done it for anyone.”

“What the fuck?” Bakugo shouted, displeased with Midoriya’s non-answer. “You ‘wanted to’? Do you think that being suicidal makes you some kind of hero? It doesn’t! You didn’t do anything! I was just fine on my own, and you would have died accomplishing nothing! I don’t owe you shit!” He spun on his heel and spat on the ground. “Goddamn psycho nerd!”

Midoriya stared at Bakugo’s retreating form for a few seconds before shrugging and continuing on his way home. He couldn't really disagree with some of what Bakugo had said. He hadn’t just been prepared to die charging in the way he did, he had been counting on it. To the outside observer, his actions would have indeed seemed suicidally reckless. But for Midoriya, his death held as much meaning to him as dying in a video game. It was, at the very worst, a painful inconvenience.

“I am here!”

“Wha—All Might!” Midoriya startled at the sudden appearance of the bulky man from behind a bush. “What are you doing here?” Midoriya paused to look around. “What happened to all of the press?”

All Might let out a booming laugh. “I stand for justice, not sound bites!”  He slid into a bodybuilding pose, “Getting away from them was a piece of cake, because I am All Mihack!” With an eruption of blood from his mouth, his muscular body disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving him in his emaciated true form.

Midoriya blinked. He didn’t know if he’d ever get used to that. “Okay, but…why are you here?”

All Might wiped his mouth. “I wanted to apologize to you for what I said to you earlier…and to make you an offer.”

“You don’t need to apologize to me, All Might.” Midoriya said. “I don’t regret what I did, but it’s not like I really accomplished anything. It was like you said…I was powerless without a quirk I could use.”

“You know,” All Might said, “there are many stories about famous heroes from their high school and middle school days. For some reason, while everyone else was frozen in fear during a crisis, they alone were able to act. When asked about it later, almost all of them say the same thing…do you know what it is?”

Curious, Midoriya tilted his head. “No…what do they say?”

“That their body moved before they had a chance to think…” All Might paused a moment to savor the sight of recognition dawning in Midoriya’s eyes. “That’s what happened to you too, isn’t it?”

Something deeply buried within Midoriya stirred in response to this simple question, making him inhale sharply. His heart constricted in his chest as the pain from ten thousand slights, ten thousand dismissals, and ten thousand rounds of mocking laughter emerged from the dark place he had locked them away. Afraid to speak through the knot rapidly growing in his throat, he nodded.

“When everyone else was frozen with indecision, you alone were able to act.” All Might shook his head, “You, a quirkless, powerless boy, were more heroic than anyone else.”

Midoriya grit his teeth. He hated showing weakness, letting others know that the world sometimes got to him. It was an armor he had constructed to deal with the strain of the resets. Even if he couldn’t control his fate, whether he lived or died, or how people treated him, he could at least control himself—but now that armor was beginning to buckle. ‘Damn it! Keep it together, Izuku! Not in front of him!’

“W-wha-wha…” Choked up by his surging emotions, Midoriya paused, took a deep breath, cleared his throat, and wiped his watering eyes with his sleeve. “What are you saying…where are you going with this, All Might?"

“Young man…” All Might said, striking a dramatic figure in the golden glow of the setting sun, even in his shrunken true form, “You too can become a hero.”

Six words. A simple acknowledgement six words long was all it took to break the carefully constructed façade that Midoriya had grown to rely on. Overwhelmed, he fell to his knees and began to quietly weep. He had not cried, truly cried, in years. He had been hardened by his suffering, by the endless repeats, endured so many years of pain that he had become numb to it all. Feeling foolish, he desperately rubbed at his eyes, trying to stop himself from crying in front of his idol. The tears simply would not stop flowing and he didn’t know what to do to make that happen.

For nearly thirty seconds, All Might stood and watched as Midoriya silently wept, taken aback by the intense reaction the seemingly unflappable boy was having to his words. If a simple acknowledgement was enough to drive the boy to tears, All Might wondered how he would react to what he had to say next. “I have chosen you to inherit my power!”

“Eh?” That did it. His joyful tears halted by the shock of what he had just been told, Midoriya blinked, trying to process All Might’s nonsensical statement. After a moment, he gave up and shook his head. “I’m sorry, I must have heard you wrong…what?”

All Might laughed. “What’s that face for kid? I’m asking you if you want to try accepting my power!” All Might explained the way his quirk worked, an ability that originated during the dawn of the superpowered society, cultivated and passed on like the Olympic torch of old. “And now,” he said, “It is your turn to carry this torch, should you accept it.”

“Hold on a second.” Midoriya said, pinching his nose and holding out a hand. “This is a lot to take in all at once. I mean yeah, nobody really knows what your quirk is and it’s been a hotly debated topic on the Internet message boards ever since your debut all of those years ago, but there’s never been any known case for a quirk getting passed from person to person like that since the genetic factor of quirk inheritance makes such a prospect highly unlikely at best. Although, I’m not sure that I have room to protest a quirk having unusual effects considering…but still, I—”

“Holy crap kid, take a breath!” All Might exclaimed with a geyser of blood. “Nobody beats you when it comes to spouting nonsense!” He wiped his bloody mouth with the back of his hand. “The ability to transfer power! That’s the quirk I inherited, One For All!”

“One For All…” Midoriya repeated, his voice barely above a whisper. There was a weight to that name. The moment that the foreign phrase passed from his lips, Midoriya suddenly knew that something about this situation seemed…right. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he felt like he had just found a key piece of a larger puzzle.

All Might nodded. “The first person cultivates the power, then passes it to another, the next refines it and passes it along again, growing in strength from generation to generation.”

“I can understand that much, but why choose me?” Midoriya asked. “You just met me.”

“When we were on that roof, earlier today, you told me that you were going to become a hero, whether you had my blessing or not.” All Might paused. “I have heard such declarations before, many times, but your heroic actions proved your convictions to me. My time as a hero is almost up…I’ve been searching for a successor for a while now, and I believe that you are worthy! Now, what say you?”

Midoriya didn’t hesitate. “Of course I will.”

“An instant answer!” All Might laughed. “As I expected. Let me see that notebook of yours.” Midoriya handed it over and All Might wrote down an address. “Meet me at this address at 5:00AM sharp! Your training begins in two days!”

 

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

“Good morning young Midoriya!” All Might greeted his new protégé with a dazzling smile that, in defiance of all logic, still seemed to glisten with its usual intensity despite the fact that the sun hadn’t risen. “There’s nothing quite like the crisp morning air to get the blood flowing is there?”

“Good morning,” Midoriya automatically replied, looking around at their surroundings. “So, All Might, quick question…why are we at a dump?”

All Might let out a laugh. “This is not dump, young Midoriya!”

“You could have fooled me.” Midoriya replied, staring at the massive piles of trash surrounding them on all sides. “So,” he said, choosing to humor All Might, “if this isn’t a dump, what is it?”

“So glad you asked!” All Might said, breaking out into another posing routine. “As it happens, I did a little research on this spot last night. Do you know why this site is so polluted?”

“Something about ocean currents?” Midoriya replied, “I think I read about it once. The tides carry a lot of garbage to this particular shore, and even though it’s not allowed, people take advantage and use the area as a dumping site…but that doesn’t answer my question. Why are we here?”

“There are three reasons.” All Might said. He held up one finger. “The first is that this an isolated area where there is very little risk of my secret being exposed.”

Midoriya nodded. “That makes sense.”

All Might held up a second finger, “The second is that you have a lot of work to do, and not very much time to do it! As you are now, you are not a proper vessel for One For All.”

“Hold on a second.” Midoriya objected, “You told me that I was worthy of your power. I was under the impression that you would be training me to use your quirk. What do you mean I’m not a proper vessel?”

All Might poked Midoriya in his bony chest. “I’m talking about your body, kid! My quirk holds the stockpiled physical prowess of eight generations of heroes! If I gave you my quirk now, your limbs would probably explode if you tried to use it!”

“…I see.” Midoriya said mildly. He had never lost a limb before, and he wasn’t particularly keen on adding it to his list of life experiences. “That doesn’t sound like very much fun. I’d like to keep my limbs, if possible.” He paused. “I’m kind of attached to them.”

All Might laughed. “I must say, you have a talent for understatement, kid.” He gestured around.  “You wish to go to Yuuei for their Hero Course, is that correct?”

Midoriya nodded. “It’s the best one there is. And…” He paused for a moment, shifting in uncharacteristic embarrassment, “and well, you went there, so I…yeah.”  

All Might chuckled, “You really are a fanboy, aren’t you?” He coughed into his hand. “Anyways, Yuuei’s entrance exam is only ten months away! You’ll be competing with the best of the best, people who have had their entire lives to refine their quirks! You see my boy, this beach is not a dump, it is your proving ground!” All Might pulled a stack of papers out of his pocket. “As long as you follow my ‘Aim to Pass! American Dream Plan’, this place will be the crucible where you will be forged into a proper vessel for my power!” All Might paused. “I must warn you, this will be more difficult than anything you have ever done in your life. If you wish to back out, now is your last chance.”

With a slight snort of amusement, Midoriya snatched the papers from All Might and shook his head. “Is that a serious question? I was going to become a hero without a usable quirk, remember? I had already accepted that I’d need to work harder than anyone else. If anything, this is the easy road.”

“That’s the spirit.” All Might said approvingly before rapping a knuckle against an abandoned refrigerator, denting the side. “Many people think that heroics is mainly flashy stuff like fighting villains, but at heart, it’s all about community service!” He crushed the fridge with one hand. “This is your first test! Before the date of your exam, you will clear this beach!”

Midoriya looked up from the papers detailing All Might’s training regime. He blinked. He looked to his left and his vision was filled by huge mounds of trash, easily hundreds of tons of it. He looked to his right, and saw the same thing. An enormous, mind-boggling amount of trash. He squinted at one section in particular. ‘Is that a car?’ He rubbed his eyes, hoping that it was a figment of his fatigued mind—it was only a bit past 5:00 in the morning, after all, perhaps he was just seeing things. He opened his eyes and looked again. ‘Yep, that’s a car, all right. Awesome.

“Oh.”  Midoriya said. He pasted a sickly smile on his face, “is that all? And here I thought you said this was going to be difficult.”

All Might let out a booming laugh. “That’s what I like to hear! Let’s get started! First, I’d suggest you take a moment to plan how to do this as efficiently as possible. A job of this magnitude can’t be accomplished with a haphazard approach!”

“Good point.” Midoriya agreed. Glancing around the site, he pulled out a pocket-sized notepad began jotting down some notes. “Say, All Might…” He said, as he continued to write, “this is sort of like a rescue operation after a disaster, right? Having to decide on who and what takes priority in a time sensitive situation, being as efficient as possible in order to save the greatest number of lives?”

All Might blinked. “An interesting analysis, young Midoriya. Yes, I suppose you could make that comparison. There are times, for example, when we must ignore someone who might be closer to us, but is not in as much immediate need, or if we lack the necessary ability to help them at that moment, but can help someone else.”

Curious, All Might walked over behind Midoriya and took a peek at what the boy was writing in his notepad. It had only been a little over a minute since Midoriya had begun writing in the notebook, but in that time, he had already sketched out a roughly accurate top down map of the beach and a series of notes detailing a plan of action that organized the priorities he would use to determine which trash he would dispose of first based on physical location, size, shape and weight.

“What on earth…young Midoriya,” All Might said, an approving grin stretching across his face. “This is very impressive. There are seasoned pros who couldn’t come with a plan of action so quickly. I knew you were clever, but this kind of operational planning and detailed attention to the layout of the surrounding area are usually skills acquired through experience…I expected to have to help you, but what you have here is perfectly workable. Good, even. Where did you learn to do this?”

“O-oh. Really?” Midoriya stammered, flushing with embarrassed pleasure. He still wasn’t used to being praised instead of ridiculed for his efforts. “I was just throwing out random ideas that made sense to me…I guess picked it up from all the time I’ve spent watching heroes?”

“Fanboy knowledge, huh?” All Might said. “Seems like you’ve internalized those lessons well. Anyways, let’s get started!”

That probably is part of the reason,’ Midoriya mused, nodding at All Might and scurrying off to begin the monumental task ahead of him, ‘but really, this isn’t all that different from figuring out how to escape from the loops. If I hadn’t learned how to be observant, plan and problem solve, I’d probably still be in primary school.’ He shuddered at the thought.

 Midoriya didn’t like to think back to the early days of his quirk, before he had figured out how to escape from the endless cycle of death, when he had no idea who he was, or what he was meant to do. Breathing heavily, Midoriya hauled an armful of garbage to the truck that All Might had secured for him and let out a grunt as he dumped the load into the bed of the vehicle. He started jogging back to the dump. ‘One trip down, nine-thousand nine-hundred and ninety-nine to go.’  

Later, as he staggered home to shower before heading to school, Midoriya couldn’t help but smile. He was dirty and exhausted, every muscle in his body was screaming at him in protest, but still, he smiled. He wasn’t that scared, confused little boy any more. He could endure any pain, any hardship, because this was what he was meant to do. He was sure of it.

 

(Ten months later)

 

It had been a close thing. Midoriya felt like kicking himself after his overzealous deviation from All Might’s plan cost him several days due to overwork, but in the end, he had barely made it in time, finishing the beach clean-up with only hours to spare before the Yuuei entrance exam.

All Might had not yet arrived, and it had still been dark when he dumped that final armload of garbage into the bed of the truck. It was a simple action, one that he had repeated thousands of times. As he grew fitter and stronger during the course of his training, each load seemed a little easier than the last. However, nothing could prepare Midoriya for the rush, the sheer sense of accomplishment that flooded though him when he heard the trash clang against the metal bed of the truck.

Filled with a sudden, wild energy, Midoriya broke into a run towards the beach. The frigid April air burned his lungs as he sprinted down the path he had run so many times before, something was bubbling up, growing inside of him, ready to burst. At the edge of the pavement and the beach, there was a large stack of cars that formed a makeshift tower—the only remaining proof that the dump existed. Moving with a dexterity that he couldn’t believe, he scaled the tower of cars and made it to the top, just in time to see the sun peek over the horizon. Bit by bit, the sun cast its rays over the surface of the ocean, staining the water and the sky with brilliant red and orange hues, illuminating the spotless sands of the cleared beach and taking his breath away at the sight of it.

It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life. Overcome by the power of the scene, the proof of what he had done—what he had accomplished—his eyes welled up with tears and his heart swelled with triumph, so full that he thought he would burst if he did not let it out. He inhaled deeply, filling his lungs to their limit before screaming out at the ocean, as loudly and powerfully as he could. He didn’t use words—he didn’t have to—it was his challenge to the universe, a primal howl into the void, a defiant declaration that he had won; he had arrived, and nothing in this world or any others could stop him.

Almost as quickly as the wild, manic energy had come, it left, and Midoriya soon found himself in the position of being incredibly light-headed and unbalanced on a precarious tower made of wrecked cars five meters above ground level. His legs went out from under him and he stumbled from the perch, hurtling towards the ground.

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!’ Midoriya mentally swore. He closed his eyes and prepared to wake up at whichever point in the past that universe saw fit to return him, but once again, he found himself rescued from that fate by the arrival of All Might, who had appeared just in time to stop his fall.

“Well done my boy!” All Might’s voice thrummed with warmth and pride, as he lowered Midoriya to his feet. His face was split by a massive grin, an honest smile this time, completely unlike the smile-shaped mask he wore most of the time. Midoriya had learned to distinguish the difference between the two during their months together.

“All Might…” Midoriya whispered, his voice hoarse from all of the screaming he had just done. “I did it…I really did it, didn’t I?”

“Yes,” All Might agreed, “you have done an excellent job. I’d say that you have exceeded my expectations, but I never doubted you for a moment. You have become a fitting vessel in the past ten months.” All Might coughed, “Anyways, it’s time for your award ceremony!”

Midoriya nodded. There was nothing that he could possibly say that would accurately convey his feelings at the moment, so he decided to simply let All Might do his thing.

“Young Midoriya, someone once told me that there is a difference between those that are born with everything, and those who have earned what they have through their own effort.” All Might plucked a hair from his head with all of the ceremony and flourish he could muster. “My boy, if you were to forget everything else I have ever—or will ever teach you—I want you to remember this: you have earned this power.”

Midoriya stood as still as a statue, frozen in shock by the gravity of the sentiment All Might had just laid upon him, and the reality of what he had actually accomplished. He had finally been recognized, truly seen for who he really was by the man he admired most. He was going to be next symbol of peace, the shining pillar of justice that held the evil and darkness of the world at bay.

“All Might…” Midoriya began, “I don’t even know what to—”

All Might extended his plucked hair to Midoriya, cutting him off mid-sentence. “Now, eat this.”

Midoriya blinked. “…What?”

 

 

AN: So much for his touching moment. Another week, another chapter bites the dust! The response to this story has been kind of overwhelming. I’m glad so many people enjoyed it. As always, leave a comment or a review, and don’t be shy to let me know what you think. Next week will be the next chapter of Semper Fast.

Chapter Text

 

All Might’s hair tasted like bug spray. Or hair spray. Midoriya wasn’t sure, but it had some sort of horribly bitter chemical residue on it that burned and gagged him as the strand of hair traveled down his throat.

It makes sense, I suppose,’ He thought, idly rubbing his throat as he walked down the cherry blossom lined path to Yuuei’s main building, ‘there’s got to be something holding his hair in that style.’

After the initial moment of awkwardness and confusion that resulted from his mentor telling him to eat a strand of his hair had passed, All Might had explained the way that One for All was transferred from person to person. Throughout the ten months of training, Midoriya had honestly remained rather skeptical of the idea of ‘transferring a quirk’, but he had gone along with the whole thing since he wasn’t about to turn down free training from All Might. However, his explanation that it required the recipient to ingest the previous user’s DNA made things clearer.

It must work something like CRISPR. The section of the DNA containing One for All is forcibly inserted and integrated into the genetic structure of the new host.’ Midoriya shook his head. ‘It’s a shame that All Might swore me to secrecy about this, if I took this quirk to a geneticist, the things that we could discover about the nature of quirks could change the world. We might even be able to cure quirklessness, or fix malignant quirks…something to consider in the future I suppose.’

“Get the fuck out of my way, Deku.” A rough voice growled from behind Midoriya, interrupting his musing. “Or I’ll light you on fire.”

“Ah, good morning Kacchan.” Midoriya replied in a conversational tone, ignoring the casual threat of grievous bodily harm as he turned around to greet the speaker. He gave Bakugo an easygoing smile. “Good luck on the exam, yeah?”

“Tch.” Bakugo scoffed, walking past Midoriya with an angry expression, “I don’t need something as worthless as luck, you loser.” Bakugo didn’t stop, but he slowed down a bit before looking back over his shoulder. “…Don’t get yourself killed out there. I don’t give a fuck, but my mom would be sad if you died.” He spat on the ground. “She still asks about you sometimes…stupid hag."

Midoriya quirked a half-smile in amusement. “I can’t make any promises, but I’ll do my best.”

“Whatever.” Bakugo grunted in reply before walking off with a scowl, ignoring the whispers of the other test takers who recognized him from the sludge incident.

Ever since that day, Bakugo had stopped hassling Midoriya—mostly. He still spoke to him contemptuously, but Midoriya was hardly unique in that regard. Bakugo spoke to everyone contemptuously. He had, however, ceased the violence, threats and stopped going out of his way to put him down. Midoriya didn’t believe that the change was due to any new sense of respect—and definitely didn’t think it was due to gratitude—if anything, it was like Bakugo had decided that it was simply no longer worth the effort.

Midoriya shrugged—whatever the case—it was a welcome change to what had been a consistently unpleasant feature of his life. ‘It’s not like I have time to think about something like that right now, anyways.’ He thought, stepping forward. ‘I need to focus on the task ahead of me and devote one hundred percent of my concentration towards my new quirk. Everything else is inconsequential!’

Midoriya’s gaze was steely, straightforward, and determined as he took a step forward, his stride full of confidence…until he tripped on his shoelace, which had come untied without his notice. He plummeted face first towards the ground. ‘Or not...damn it.

He closed his eyes, and just as he had resigned himself to eating the pavement, Midoriya’s downward trajectory had come to a halt and he found himself gripped by the disorienting sensation of weightlessness. He opened his eyes—somehow, he was floating parallel to the ground.

“Eh?” He said. “What just happened?” A pair of small hands grabbed him and reoriented him to a standing position.

“Are you okay?” A feminine voice asked, “It’s my quirk. Sorry about using it on you without permission, but I thought that tripping like that before an exam would be bad luck.”

Midoriya turned his head in time to see a brown-haired girl with rosy cheeks smile at him. She pressed her fingertips together and he felt the weight suddenly return to his body.

C-cute!’ Midoriya swallowed hard at the sight of the bright and refreshing smile on her face. “I, uh…”

"This sure is nerve wracking, isn’t it?” The girl continued, “Well, good luck!” She turned to walk away.

“W-wait!” Midoriya called after the girl. He knew he wasn’t the smoothest guy in the world, but he’d had the worst of his social anxiety beaten out of him long ago, and he wasn’t about to let someone who had done him a favor walk away without so much as a thank you. She paused and turned back towards him. He bowed his head and met her gaze with a grateful smile. “Thanks for saving me. I don’t relish the idea of getting all scuffed up before the test even begins! Good luck out there.”

She smiled right back. “Don’t worry about it. I just did what anyone would do.”

I wonder about that.’ Midoriya thought, picturing Bakugo’s laughter if he had seen Midoriya fall on his face. “Right.” He agreed in principle if not in reality. He indicated towards the meeting area. “We should probably get going. Want to walk in together?”

The girl nodded. “Sure!”

The two headed inside, chatting casually until they got their seating numbers, and went their separate ways. It was only after Midoriya had taken his seat next to Bakugo of all people that he realized that he had never gotten the nice girl’s name.

Dang.’ He mentally kicked himself for that. ‘She was so cute…and nice to me too. Now I might never see her again.’ He sighed, ‘Oh well, it’s not like her being nice to me necessarily means anything. I try to be nice to everybody, but that doesn’t mean I’m interested in them. It’s probably the same for her.’

“For fuck’s sake Deku, stop muttering!” Bakugo growled. “Nobody gives a shit about your love life.”

Midoriya didn’t react, save for a slight flush appearing on his cheeks. He hadn’t meant to say any of that out loud. He hadn’t even noticed that he’d done it. “Sorry.” He replied, “I’ll try to refrain.”

After about five minutes of waiting, the lights in the auditorium suddenly cut out. Midoriya sat silently and watched the pro hero, Present Mic, give his presentation covering the entrance exam with a strange sense of relief. He was confident in his ability to deal with robots—due to hardware restrictions, any mobile platforms like the faux villains could only contain the most basic of AI system—slow to react to environmental changes, predictable, and easily fooled. However, this wasn’t the only reason that Midoriya was relieved to be facing machines. He didn’t know what would happen to a living opponent if he couldn’t control One for All right away.

After the Slime Villain incident, Midoriya sat down and calculated the amount of force All Might needed to use in order to summon those rain clouds. If his numbers were correct—and they usually were—Midoriya now carried an amount of energy roughly equivalent to several nuclear bombs…probably. There really wasn’t any way to be 100% sure. One of the biggest hurdles that the scientific community faced after the appearance of quirks was adjusting to the new reality that previously ironclad physical laws of Thermodynamics, Conservation of Matter and Energy, Universal Attraction, and Relativity could be thrown out the window with the introduction of the right quirk.  

Regardless, if I used 100% on a person, I wouldn’t kill them so much as delete them from existence.’ Midoriya shivered at the thought, unnerved by the prospect of accidentally killing someone in such a brutal manner. ‘There wouldn’t even be a body left to identify.

The walk to the testing ground was a bit of a jaunt—nearly twenty minutes at a brisk pace—but Midoriya was grateful for the delay. He made use of the time to center himself and clear his mind of all distractions. By the time he arrived at the impressively large model city, he wore a tranquil smile and his lean frame was free of tension, projecting an aura of complete confidence that drew wary stares from the other competitors.

When Present Mic made the call to begin, Midoriya decided to sit back and allow the desperate cluster of students fighting to shove their way through the crowded gateway disperse. He didn’t want to waste any energy unnecessarily, and the moment that a gap opened in the crush of people, he easily jogged through the gate, and began his search for his first villain bot.

The streets of the test site were a warzone—everywhere Midoriya looked, there were dozens of test takers firing off flashy, powerful quirks, smashing, melting, exploding, and tearing the villain robots into expensive piles of scrap. In the distance, he could hear his competitors calling out their scores—some of them rather high considering how much time still remained.

Midoriya frowned, things were progressing much faster than he expected. ‘Maybe I should have been in a bit more of a rush. If I don’t give a move on, there won’t be any points left for me.’  He was concerned, but he wasn’t about to panic just yet. He just needed to keep his cool and keep searching—an opportunity would appear, he was sure of it.

Fortunately, Midoriya didn’t need to search very long for said opportunity; it came to him, violently bursting out of a wall like the Kool-Aid man. With a large “1” painted on its sides, the robot was fairly large, blocky, full of sharp edges and intimidating at first glance. It mechanically swiveled its triangular head back and forth before locking onto Midoriya. “Target Acquired.” The machine growled in a deep mechanical tone that had been designed to be menacing. It began to barrel towards him. “Prepare for termination, human.”

Rather than freezing in fear, Midoriya grinned at the opportunity and chambered his fist. “Thanks for making my life easier.” He said, “Now, let’s take this quirk for a spin.”

Willing his new quirk to appear, Midoriya felt a sensation of intense heat as One for All surged through his right arm like bottled lightning, crackling with unbridled power and shredding the sleeve of his shirt, begging to be released. All Might’s words before the test echoed in his head.

“You’ve had no time to get used to the power, so be prepared for a real kickback. But when the moment to use it arrives, remember this: when using One for All, clench up your butt cheeks and from the bottom of your heart, proudly shout—"

SMASH!”

With All Might’s signature battle cry, Midoriya let his fist fly, unleashing all of the built-up energy at once. When struck by the full might of One for All, the helpless robot was more than defeated—it was obliterated. The force behind the blow was absurd, even more powerful than the payload of a surface-to-air missile. It created gale-force winds that buffeted the surrounding area, even sending test takers unlucky enough to be nearby flying, and devastated the building in the path of his punch.

Unfortunately, Midoriya was not in a position to appreciate the sheer power he now possessed for one simple reason: every single bone in his right arm had been completely shattered into dust. He was no stranger to pain, but this intense agony was an entirely new level of torture. He could hear somebody screaming—it took a moment before he realized that it was him.

‘Kickback!’ The small part of his mind that was still lucid cried. ‘He calls this kickback?’

Midoriya’s racing thoughts were interrupted by a loud, creaking groan—an ominous sound that snapped him out of his current state of agonized obliviousness—and saw that his attack had rendered a large water tank on the building above him structurally unstable.

~Creeeeeeeak~

The large, heavy mass of iron leaned further and further over the edge of the roof, and finally, with a loud snap, the remaining struts holding it in place broke and the tower toppled over, hurtling towards the ground—directly towards Midoriya, who could only watch helplessly as death approached him from above.

“Oh, shi—” With the deafening crash of metal on pavement, the world went black.

 

 

Heroes Never Die

 

 

“Are you okay?” A familiar feminine voice asked, “It’s my quirk. Sorry about using it on you without permission, but I thought that tripping like that before an exam would be bad luck.”

Midoriya opened his eyes with a gasp. He glanced at his arm—it was totally fine, as if the grievous injury that he just suffered had never happened. More importantly, he wasn’t currently doing his best impression of a bug beneath a rolled-up newspaper, which could only mean one thing.

‘I guess I’m in a loop, huh?’ It had been almost a year since the last one—the longest stretch of time Midoriya could remember since his quirk manifested. ‘I’m definitely overdue for one.’ He sighed. ‘On the bright side, at least my arm isn’t destroyed anymore.’

“This sure is nerve wracking, isn’t it?” The friendly girl continued on script, just as before. “Well, good luck!” Midoriya was too caught up in his thoughts to stop her this time, so she simply walked away.

Ah…Darn it.’ Midoriya chastised himself for letting her go. ‘I forget to get her name again...or even say thank you.’ He shook his head. ‘No matter…I’ll probably get another chance, and I need to dedicate my time to figuring out what I need to do right now anyways.’ He checked his watch. ‘It’s 9:52 right now, so the exam starts in exactly one hour and eight minutes. That’s lucky…normally my timeframe is much shorter.’

After he made his way into the auditorium for the second time, Midoriya walked to his assigned seat on autopilot, pulled out his pocket notebook and began to write down his thoughts in a process that he had perfected over the course of many, many repeats.

‘I can’t exactly be sure what triggered the reset, but my death occurred immediately after using One for All and injuring myself, so my mistake is likely within that series of events.

With this hypothesis in mind, Midoriya began to list the ways he could test his theory. ‘That being the case, my options are A: Defeat the robot without One for All; B: Ignore it and move on to a different target; or C: Defeat it with One for All, but without injuring myself.’

As he thought, Midoriya absently tapped the side of his cheek with the end of the ballpoint pen. ‘At my current level, Option A is…’ Midoriya shook his head. ‘Yeah…no way. Beating those things without any powers or weapons is impossible for me as I am.’ He crossed out that entry and moved on. ‘Option B is the simplest solution, and also the easiest to check.’ He underlined the entry to indicate it as promising. ‘B is probably the best choice right now.’ For the sake of being thorough, he moved on to the next entry. ‘Option C, while possible in theory, is easier said than done. I just got this quirk today, and I haven’t had enough time to master it, so I’d probably just end up repeating over and over until I got it…right…’ Midoriya stopped writing mid pen stroke, eyes going wide as inspiration hit him like a lightning bolt. ‘Holy shit.’ A grin slowly spread across Midoriya’s face, and he had to struggle to contain the maniacal laughter threatening to escape his throat at any moment.

Midoriya had never intentionally triggered a reset of a loop before. It had never even occurred to him to do so, mostly because—until now—he hadn’t seen any point, since the actions required to break free of the loop tended to coincide with his desired outcome anyways. More importantly—as used to the experience as he was—dying was still extremely unpleasant, especially since Midoriya’s deaths were almost universally gruesome and/or painful. It was something that he preferred to avoid, if at all possible.

Midoriya scribbled frantically in his notebook, writing so hastily that his typically neat script was jagged and rough. His brain was on fire, and he needed to get his thoughts down before he lost them.

There must be a way to regulate the amount of power that I’m using at once…if there wasn’t, then All Might would kill every villain that he came across. As long as I don’t change anything except the level of power that I’m using, I can endlessly experiment with One for All without consequence!’ He paused, remembering the agony of his exploded arm. ‘Well, mostly without consequence.’

He wasn’t looking forward to experiencing that kind of pain over and over again. Clenching his fists, Midoriya shook his head. ‘Suck it up, Izuku.’ He chastised himself. ‘If you don’t do this now, you’ll still have to do it later—when you might actually have to live with long term consequences of messing up.’

Midoriya wasn’t a medical expert of any kind—his knowledge began and ended with basic first aid—but he was pretty sure that injuries as bad as the breaks in his arm were the kind of injuries that resulted in long-term, lingering problems. He had no intention of burning out in his twenties or early thirties like so many other heroes.

He placed pen to paper and began to write once more. ‘Back when I was in quirk therapy, the specialist was big on visualization—creating a concrete image of using my quirk and visualizing success. It didn’t really help me then, since all I could picture was dying, but now…’  Midoriya furrowed his brow, trying to recall the sensation of using One for All. ‘It was like a rush of heat, pressure, and sort of a tingly feeling, like…’ He tapped the page of the notebook rapidly with his pen, the image he was looking for was in his mind, just barely out of reach, but he couldn’t find the words to express it.

Just before he came to a realization, Midoriya’s thought process was interrupted by an elbow to his ribs from Bakugo. Letting out a surprised yelp at the sudden pain, he looked up from his notebook to glare at Bakugo only to see the white-haired boy pointing behind them.

Midoriya’s followed the surly teen’s finger before landing on another test taker—a tall, solidly built teenager wearing a suit and glaring in Midoriya’s direction through a pair of rectangular lensed glasses. Midoriya vaguely recognized the boy as the one who had spoken up the first time he sat through the presentation—something about an error on the information packets—but he didn’t pay him much mind at the time. Once again, he was in the middle of a rant.

“—should listen when people are talking to you!”

Midoriya looked around—it seemed like everyone else was staring at him as well.  ‘Ah.’ Midoriya realized. ‘This is about me then.’ He sighed. ‘What a pain.’

“I’m sorry, can I help you?” Midoriya asked. His face was calm and his voice was even, but internally, he was seething that his train of thought had been utterly derailed by this interruption.

The other teen’s glare intensified. “Yes!” He shouted, chopping the air in an oddly robotic fashion. “You’ve been muttering to yourself this entire time! It’s distracting!” He gestured at the rest of the silent crowd watching their exchange with the same strange sense of compelling curiosity inspired by seeing a wreck on the side of the road. “We are all trying our best to become students here! If you think that this is some kind of joke, then please leave!”

Midoriya’s body stiffened involuntarily. “A…joke?” He repeated. In his outrage, he failed to notice the sensation of heat flooding through his entire body as the images of countless deaths and his ten months of training from hell flashed through Midoriya’s mind. The other boy flinched in surprise at the bottomless depth of feeling contained in Midoriya’s glowing green eyes. “Is that what you think this is to me?”

The air surrounding Midoriya thrummed with latent power, making the hair of everyone in the immediate vicinity stand on end as if lightning were about to strike. Out of the corner of his eye, Midoriya could see Bakugo eying him with a mixture of shock, wariness, and suspicion.

“I…” Iida faltered, suddenly forgetting what he had been so upset about only moments before. Despite being significantly larger than Midoriya, Iida Tenya felt pitifully small under the weight of his gaze—his primal instincts were screaming at him to submit. ‘What on earth is this? I’m not the one in the wrong here…why do I feel like I should apologize?’

Luckily for Iida’s pride and the audience’s nerves, Present Mic chose that moment to step in and answer the question Iida had asked concerning the printout before he called out Midoriya for his muttering. With the subject successfully changed, Midoriya turned back to his notes and everyone let out a sigh of relief as the aura of power surrounding the plain looking boy disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared.

Though the moment had passed, Bakugo’s eyes remained glued on Midoriya. He scowled—he didn’t understand what had just happened. He didn’t like it when he didn't understand things. “What the hell was that just now, you shitty nerd?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Midoriya answered instantly, snapping his notebook shut in resignation. If Bakugo was curious enough to actually ask him a question rather than bark out demands or simply insult him, Midoriya couldn't simply brush him off or redirect him like he usually did. For better or worse, Bakugo wasn't the kind of guy who let things go once they caught his attention. At the very least, Midoriya wasn’t going to be able to think in peace until the walk to the test center.

“Don’t give me that bullshit, you assclown!” Bakugo growled, “I’m not an idiot. You did something just now, I could feel it—it was like standing next to a goddamn power station. You’ve never done anything like that before. What did you do?”

Midoriya raised his eyebrows and tilted his head curiously. “Really?” He asked, suddenly flipping his notebook back open and setting his pen in the writing position with an intent look in his eye. “This ‘something’ you’re talking about…was it a physical phenomenon, or did it feel more psychological in nature? Were there any visible changes that you could detect? Please, be as descriptive as possible—any information would be extremely helpful.”

Bakugo blinked, taken aback by the sudden onslaught of questions. Seeing honest, eager curiosity writ large upon Midoriya’s face, Bakugo scoffed and turned away—like hell he would help the shitty nerd if he didn’t even know what he had done himself. He still wanted him to fail. “Fuck off.” He growled. “Figure it out yourself, loser.”

Midoriya frowned minutely at the brusque dismissal, then shrugged, writing it off as Bakugo being Bakugo. He turned back to his notebook. ‘Like ‘standing next to a power station’, huh? I must have been channeling One for All without even noticing.’ He smirked. ‘He definitely didn’t mean to, but Kacchan gave me a great hint just now. I think I know the image I’m going to go with.’

 

 

Heroes Never Die

 

 

Midoriya’s eyes were steely and determined as he stared down the 1-point robot from his previous life. ‘Okay,’ he thought, ‘If I think of the energy of One for All in terms of electricity, then my body is a circuit. I just need to adjust the level of energy and distribute it in a way that’s usable.’

He summoned One for All, feeling the same rush of heat and power flood into his right arm. He grit his teeth. ‘No, that’s too much, that was the same as beforeIf I use it like this, I’ll just break it again…don’t let it surge out of control…picture adding resistors to the circuit, reduce the amperage by about half.’ He slowly let out the breath he had been holding for nearly thirty seconds, focusing his full attention on reducing the intensity of the sensation. After a second or two of concentration, he felt the surging heat in his arm dissipate. He grinned. ‘Good enough, let’s give it a try.’

SMASH!”

 

 

Heroes Never Die

 

 

“Are you okay?” A familiar feminine voice asked, “It’s my quirk. Sorry about using it on you without permission, but I thought that tripping like that before an exam would be bad luck.”

Midoriya opened his eyes and suppressed the desire to groan. ’50 percent is still too much, huh? I guess it was stupid of me to think that I could get it on my second try.’ He absently rubbed his throat for a moment to ease the phantom pain from his death. It was a flying shard of glass that killed him this time. Midoriya grimaced at the memory—after piecing his throat, it took him nearly twenty seconds of choking on his blood before he lost consciousness. Remembering where—and when—he was, Midoriya glanced over at the smiling girl standing next to him.

“Thanks for the help.” He told the girl with a bow. “I could definitely use all of the good luck I can get right now.” He smiled ruefully. “My name’s Midoriya Izuku, what’s yours?” He wasn’t going to beat around the bush this time around—he didn’t want to just keep calling her “nice girl” in his head.

“Oh…I’m Uraraka Ochako.” She said with a smile. “Nice to meet you!”

“Likewise.” Midoriya replied. “We should probably head in now, if we don’t want to be late.” He paused, “Want to go in together? We’ll be future classmates after all, might as well get to know each other now.”

Uraraka smiled, feeling oddly reassured by Midoriya’s casual confidence in their success—he stated his belief in their ability to pass in the same matter-of-fact manner one would use to describe the color of the sky. “Sounds like a plan!” 

As he amiably chatted with his bubbly new acquaintance, Midoriya knew that he should probably be focusing on his power incontinence issue, but at the moment, he couldn’t bring himself to care. He’d just died in a truly awful way and needed a moment to recover. After all, there was no need to rush—he had all the time in the world.

 

 

AN: Okay, this took a while, I apologize. Writer’s block is a mother. Not much else to report. Please leave a comment or a review to let me know what you think! Until next time, Plus Ultra.

 

Chapter Text

"Are you okay?" Uraraka asked Midoriya for the twentieth time, reorienting and releasing him from his weightless state. "It's my quirk. Sorry about using it on you without permission, but I thought that tripping like that before an exam would be bad luck."

"No need to apologize." Midoriya replied, moving through the increasingly familiar conversation on autopilot. He bowed his head. "I appreciate the save."

Just as he had done for the majority of the previous loops, he got Uraraka's name before promptly waving her on ahead of him as a precaution. As refreshing as he found talking with the infectiously cheerful girl to be, Midoriya had to be careful when dealing with the people tied to his loops. On several occasions, he had creeped people out by slipping and mentioning personal details that he shouldn't have had any way of knowing. If there was any chance of Uraraka being in his class in the future, the less loop-acquired knowledge he had, the better. He had no desire to inadvertently come off as a stalker.

Once she had left, Midoriya furrowed his brow in frustrated irritation at his latest failure to control his new power. 'This isn't working. I need to change my approach.'

Through sheer repetition, he was getting a better grip on One for All, but he still felt as if he were missing something fundamental. Lost in thought, Midoriya made his way into the testing center, signed in and headed to his seat, and pulled out his notebook.

'Is it a problem with the image I'm using?' He shook his head. 'No, I'm making progress using the image of a circuit—slow progress—but progress nonetheless.' In his last loop, he'd finally identified the level of power he could handle after extensive trial and error—around 4-5%. 'The image of adding "resistors" to the circuit gives me a decent amount of control, but it's too slow to use in a fight. In a real combat situation, I don't have the time to fight the against the flow of power for each individual attack.'

Midoriya grimaced. In the last loop, he'd finally managed to take down the one pointer without suffering any injury, but when he moved on to get more points, his next encounter pitted him against three of the faux villains at once. He took down the first two easily, but the third one—a three pointer—broke his neck and shattered his skull with a single well-placed blow before he could set up his attack.

Having no desire to be lectured again by the boy with the glasses, Midoriya lightly bit the insides of his cheeks to keep from muttering as he tapped his notebook with his pen. 'The ability to use One for All without conscious thought will come with time and experience, obviously, but there has to be something else…a more efficient way of distributing the power.' He pulled out his phone to look up some information about circuits, hoping to glean some sort of insight. 'This is probably a bit too literal, but I'll try anything at this point. I'm sick of this damn exam.'

His eyes scrolled rapidly over the information displayed on the screen. As he expected, most of it was useless to him—except in the purely academic sense. Just as he was about to give up and close the browser, his eyes stopped on a particular circuit diagram and its explanation. 'When passing through a parallel circuit, current is divided. While the amperage passing through each branch is reduced, the sum of the current travelling through the separate branches is equal to the current outside of the branches.' His eyes widened. 'That's it!'

Midoriya's main issue when it came to using One for All was managing the amount of energy he summoned at any one time. Calling upon the power was easy enough, as was directing it to the limb or limbs of his choice. However, controlling the output was an entirely different story. It was an effort that grew exponentially more difficult the smaller the amount of power he wanted to use. Midoriya compared it to trying to fill a drinking glass with a firehose without spilling anything.

'I've been thinking too small. That's why using individual limbs without hurting myself is so difficult. By trying to send the current where I need it, when I need it, I have to visualize and devote all of my concentration to only drawing out the exact amount of 'current' that I can handle per limb. But if I distribute One for All throughout my entire body at once, holding it at that level, I'll not only greatly reduce the need for pinpoint control, but I also eliminate the need to visualize every individual action!'

His hands trembling with excitement, Midoriya's writing grew shakier and shakier as he scribbled down his thoughts with feverish intensity. If his theory was correct, this next attempt was going to go a lot differently than the previous ones. 'I can do this! All Might, your efforts to prepare me for the exam won't be in vain.'

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

Inside of the model city, Midoriya patiently stood next to a particular section of wall, ignoring the chaos surrounding him as he lay in wait for the one-pointer that had killed him so many times to emerge. Right on schedule, the robot burst through the barrier, filling the air with a thick cloud of drywall and dust. Within the cloud, the only thing Midoriya could see was the dark silhouette of the machine, cast into sharp relief by the clockwork criminal's single red eye as it gleamed with a menacing crimson light.

"Target Acquired. Prepare for termination, human."

The expression on Midoriya's face was quite a bit different than the determined grin he typically donned in deference to All Might. This smile was vindictive and vicious—predatory, even—as he activated One for All and felt the surging wave of power flow throughout his entire body in one continuous stream.

'One for All: 4% Parallel Flow.' His eyes glowed with eldritch light and green sparks of pure energy erupted randomly from his body as he walked towards the faux villain.

"You know," Midoriya drawled, "I try not to be the kind of guy who holds grudges. They're just a waste of time, especially when the people you're mad at can't remember what they technically never did." He cracked his knuckles. "But in this case, I think I'll make an exception." Not wasting another second, Midoriya darted forward, closing the distance in the blink of an eye. Caught off guard by his sudden increase in speed, he overshot the faux villain, blazing past in a blur of motion.

'My body is so light!' He marveled as he corrected his trajectory by lowering his center of gravity and digging in his toes. 'This is amazing! I feel like I weigh nothing at all!'

The instant he slid to a stop, Midoriya coiled the muscles in his legs like a spring and rebounded in the opposite direction, using his momentum to his advantage as he smashed his fist into the side of one-pointer's head, tearing through the plastic casing with virtually no resistance. After sparing a brief moment to smirk victoriously at the smoking wreckage of the faux villain, Midoriya inspected his fist for any sign of injury.

'Not even a scratch.' He stared in wonder at the unbroken skin on his knuckles. 'This must be how All Might's invulnerability works.' He shook his head in disbelief. 'It's strange how the same quirk that's broken me so many times is what's protecting me now.' The sounds of robots getting destroyed en masse all around him snapped him out of his contemplative state. 'Something to think about later. For now, let's focus on racking up as many points as I can.' He grinned ferally. 'And working out a little frustration in the process.'

For the next seven minutes, it was a bad time to be one of robotic villains. Wreathed in the viridian aura of One for All, Midoriya went on a gleeful spree of retributive violence against the robotic enemies. He had a smile on his face as he used his bolstered strength and speed to tear through them like wet paper, drawing from the deep well of anger and pain caused by his deaths—directly and indirectly—at the hands of the machines and the cruel nature of his original quirk.

'This is for my broken neck.' He leapt into the air and rebounded off of a wall to build up speed for a flying kick that crushed the metal chassis of a three-pointer and knocked it over. Midoriya finished it off by punching straight through one of the large red eyes, sending sparks shooting out of the derelict machine.

'That's for my collapsed windpipe.' He caught the blow of a one-pointer robot. Shifting his grip for better leverage, he side-kicked it with enough force to send it flying despite his tight grip on the appendage, tearing off its arm in the process.

'Crushed by a water tower!' He spun around like a discus thrower, hurling the flat metal panel at the elongated neck of a nearby two-pointer, severing it cleanly and continuing on in its flight path to smash into another three-pointer behind it.

'My brains bashed in by a brick!' He scrambled onto the back of the stunned three-pointer and thrust his fist through a section of paneling before grabbing and ripping out a handful of electrical components, dropping the machine like a puppet with its strings cut.

'Impaled!' Leaping off of the downed three-pointer, Midoriya's glowing eyes darted about, scanning the chaotic battlefield for his next target. Identified, he sprinted down the street and lashed out at a two-pointer with a low, sweeping kick that disabled one of its legs, toppling it to the ground before he stomped on the downed robot's neck, severing its head.

'Trampled!' He picked up the severed head of the decapitated two-pointer by its flexible neck and spun it in a tight circle, building up speed and centripetal force before smashing it into a one-pointer like a flail, demolishing both his target and his improvised weapon.

'Bled out! Run Over! Poisoned! Asphyxiated! Stabbed! Shot! Drowned! Immolated!'

As he cut through the robots like a human buzz saw, Midoriya's smile gradually transformed into a rictus of fury. Though Midoriya normally kept his emotions tightly in check, his unbridled feelings ran wild, muddying his thoughts and narrowing his perspective as he grew angrier and angrier at the suffering he'd been subjected to over the course of his life, and the unfairness of it all.

'No more! God, fate, destiny…whatever is behind this…I'm not helpless anymore! I'll beat whatever is put in my way! Just…like…THIS!'

With a triumphant roar, Midoriya pierced the chassis of another robot with his fist, but his celebration was cut short by a sudden eruption of pain in the arm he had just buried in the body of the machine. He winced as he pulled the limb out of the faux villain's remains. He could still move the arm somewhat, but he could tell that he had fractured something, one of the more fragile bones, most likely.

"Damn." Midoriya muttered, chastising himself. "I let myself get too worked up. Lost control. Stupid." He took in a deep breath and slowly let it out. Bit by bit, he felt the tension drain from his frame along with the air in his lungs. "Nothing I can do about it but keep moving forward. No point in beating myself up over it."

He grimaced, 'Though honestly completing the rest of the test with a most likely broken arm isn't going to be easy—if I can even survive, that is.'

"One minute remaining!" Present Mic called out in the distance.

'We're already nine minutes in?' Midoriya thought, surprised at how quickly the time had flown by. In all of his previous attempts, he'd never even managed to pass the five-minute mark, and now it was almost over. "I guess I better get moving, then." He said before whirling around at an approaching sound that was as ominous as it was threatening.

~Rumble rumble rumble~

Midoriya's mouth dropped open as he slowly craned his neck to take in the sight of the towering villain bot approaching them at a slow, but unrelenting pace. 'This must be the fourth villain type—the zero pointer!' It was enormous, standing at least 15 meters tall and weighing hundreds of tons, the monstrous obstacle simply bulldozed its way through the buildings in its path as if they weren't even there.

"…Yeah," Midoriya muttered, "that's a hard pass for me." At this point, he knew a death flag when he saw it—he wanted nothing to do with that thing whatsoever, so he activated One for All and prepared to make his escape with the rest of the panicked, fleeing examinees. He had only taken one step before a familiar voice stopped him in his tracks.

"Owww…"

In response to the pained cry, Midoriya's head turned on its own in a mechanical fashion that would have been comical were it not for the sight before him—Uraraka, possibly injured and partially buried beneath one of the many piles of rubble that had been created by the titanic robot's wanton destruction. If she didn't move in the next few seconds, she would be crushed into paste beneath its treads.

With this realization, Midoriya's shock melted away, replaced by grim determination. She wouldn't die. Not while he was there. Not in this, or any other life—not when he possessed the power to stop it. And he did have the power now, he had more power than he could even handle. 'And now is the time to use it.' He had made his decision.

Midoriya released his hold on One for All, letting the boundless well of energy contained within him flow through his body in a surge of power that radiated out from his small frame like heat from a furnace. The small, intermittent green sparks that he'd been giving off had grown into crackling arcs of viridian lightning in a brilliant display that instantly drew the eyes of every examinee as well as the teachers monitoring the exam. Everybody held their breath, unable to look away.

Oblivious to the attention, Midoriya exploded into action, his immense speed causing him to virtually disappear from sight after leaping into the air with so much force that he broke the sound barrier, shattering nearby windows and cratering the pavement beneath his feet.

"Detroit Smash!" With a mighty cry, he clenched his fist and threw a single punch which hit the zero-pointer with unbelievable force, obliterating the machine, and creating gusts of wind so powerful that they blew away its exploded remains.

'She's safe…I did it.' Midoriya thought with a smile, feeling relieved. At least until his nervous system caught up with reality, and kindly informed him that he had fucked up. When the pain hit, it was—in terms of scale—unlike anything he'd experienced. Unlike his previous use of One for All at 100%—where the damage was highly localized—this pain was distributed throughout nearly his entire body.

He wanted to scream, but couldn't, because his ribs were broken and the muscles in his diaphragm were torn. He couldn't even breathe. It was easily the most severe injury he'd ever suffered without immediately dying. Unable to move, breathe, or even think, all Midoriya could do was look on helplessly as he plummeted towards the ground from several stories in the air. He closed his eyes and accepted the inevitable.

'Looks like I'm doing another run through…damn it…I thought I was done this time.'

Amazingly, even through all of the pain, Midoriya felt something small and soft slap his cheek right before the world went black.

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

For once, the darkness did not recede, and Midoriya felt as if he were floating in some kind of limbo, unable to move, unable to see, unable to think. But he could hear—in fact he could hear voice around him almost constantly—he just couldn't comprehend any of it.

"Never seen such horrible injuries from a simple exam…thinking, giving your power to someone so…"

"…unfortunate, but I have total faith in…successor."

"He still may die…you have to tell…"

"Please…Izuku…please wake up…"

"…had my son…secret from me!"

As the world slowly came back into focus, Midoriya opened his eyes. Not to the apologies of Uraraka as he had expected, but to the sound of several voices arguing—two of them familiar, the other was unknown to him.

'What's going on? I should be back with Uraraka…right?'

After blinking away the blurriness and letting his eyes adjust to the light, he tried to sit up and take stock of the situation, only to let out a low, pitiful groan when his horribly sore muscles protested against the motion. The noise immediately attracted the attention of the bickering adults.

"Izuku/Young Midoriya!"

"M-mom? All Mi—" Midoriya began, but clamped his mouth shut when he saw All Might in his true form, standing next to his mother and an unfamiliar elderly woman in a doctor's coat. "What happened?"

Seeing her son awake, Inko impulsively lunged forward to embrace him, but was stopped by the elderly woman, who blocked her with her wooden walking stick. "I know that you are emotional right now Mrs. Midoriya, but Izuku is sure to be extraordinarily tender. If you hug him it will only aggravate his injuries."

Inko nodded reluctantly, stricken at the thought of hurting Izuku and backed away from the bed with tears brimming in her eyes. "Izuku," she gently asked, "how are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, mom." Midoriya automatically replied, the lie slipping from his mouth as easily as breathing. He typically tried to be honest with his mother, but she tended to worry, and he didn't want to burden her with useless complaints. "I'm just a little sore."

He fumbled for the bed control and sat himself up. "I'd still like to know what's happening. Where am I? How long have I been here? What happened with the test?" He glanced at All Might and gave him a meaningful look. 'What does my mom know about our relationship?'

The elderly woman spoke first. "Izuku, I'm Recovery Girl, the resident Doctor here at UA. You've been in our clinic for the last five days, in a medically induced coma."

Hearing this news, Midoriya snapped his head in the direction of the ancient healer so quickly that he had to fight to keep from wincing. "I've been asleep for five days?" His eyes widened. "Does this mean that I missed my 3rd year final exams?"

"Don't worry about that." Recovery Girl assured him, bemused by his sense of priorities. "We contacted your middle school, you'll be allowed to make them up. There might not be a lot of excuses considered acceptable by the testing authorities, but comas are one of them."

Midoriya let out a sigh of relief. "That's good," he replied, completely straight-faced. "I sure would hate for my GPA to suffer because of something as minor as a little coma…just kidding." He quickly added upon seeing the unamused expressions of the gathered adults.

"This is no laughing matter, Izuku." Recovery Girl scolded him. "The trauma to your body caused by the backlash of One for All was very severe. I was able to fix your most life-threatening injuries, but needed to keep you under as I treated the rest of your injuries—even now, you'll need another week for me to fix the many fractures throughout your body, so make sure to take it easy until then."

"A week?" Midoriya repeated incredulously. "That soon? How?"

Recovery Girl tutted. "My quirk of course. You didn't think Yuuei would allow such a dangerous exam without an ace in the hole, did you? People could easily die without me there to put them back together!"

"You don't say." Midoriya drily replied, overwhelmed by the irony. Realizing something, he startled, "Wait…you just talked about One for—" He quickly shut his mouth and glanced at All Might.

The emaciated hero coughed into his hand. "You can speak freely, young man. Everyone here knows. Recovery Girl was already in the know as to my condition and the nature of my quirk…and your mother…well, it was touch and go as to whether you'd make it or not, and I…ah…I felt that she deserved to know the reason why."

"Oh." Midoriya replied, "I see." He paused, and there was a pregnant silence in the small, but well-equipped clinic. "Besides the part where I nearly died, how did the exam go?"

All Might's grin slipped a bit, and Inko silently wept at Midoriya's nonchalant acceptance of his near-death experience. Midoriya sighed. His mother was aware of the true nature of his original quirk was—and she believed him, even if no one else did—but it was something she didn't want to think about. She didn't want to consider that her son had died before—hundreds of times over, in fact.

"Ahem, yes…" All Might said, "typically, you wouldn't get to learn your results except through the official school correspondence, but since the results have already been mailed out, I don't see why I can't tell you now." All Might's smile was dazzling. "Congratulations my boy, you passed the exam with flying colors!"

"Hm." Midoriya replied. He closed his eyes and let out a sigh, somehow expressing his immense relief, exhaustion, and satisfaction in one nearly inaudible breath. "That's good."

"There's more." Mostly used to his protégé's typically understated reactions, All Might continued, "I didn't mention this during our training, but I actually came to this town for a reason. I have accepted a position as a teacher here at Yuuei."

Midoriya's eyes widened at the news. "Seriously?"

"Yes," All Might said, "as you know, my time as a pro is coming to an end, so I originally accepted the position in the hopes of finding a successor within the ranks of the students here—though obviously, my meeting you changed those plans." All Might gently laid a gigantic hand on Midoriya's shoulder. "I can't express how excited I am to continue watching over your growth my boy. You've exceeded all of my expectations—especially in your use of One for All."

"Really?" Midoriya quirked an eyebrow. "Not that I'm unhappy with the praise, but…" he trailed off and glanced meaningfully at the hospital bed he was still lying in.

All Might coughed. "Well, yes, while your move against the zero-point villain was…erm…it has room for improvement, I was actually referring to your performance before that encounter. When I was watching the exam, I almost couldn't believe it when I saw you use One for All with no issues at all!"

Midoriya's mouth twisted into a humorless facsimile of smile. 'No issues at all? Ha, if only he knew.'

"I suppose it went well enough up to that point." Midoriya allowed, "But even before I went all-out on the zero-pointer, my control slipped a bit and I injured my arm." He frowned minutely. "Clearly, I still have a lot of work to do before I can call this quirk my own."

All Might laughed. "A perfectionist, huh? That's a good personality trait to have if you're shooting for the number one spot, but remember to keep things in perspective my boy! You haven't even started school yet! It would be ridiculous to expect you to have One for All mastered so quickly! The fact that you have such a good handle on it after only using it once is incredibly encouraging!"

'Maybe it seems that way on your end, but I won't always be able to rely on a loop to bail me out when I mess up like that.'

"I guess. Do the other members of the staff know about our connection?" Midoriya asked, changing the subject. "I wouldn't want to let anything slip to someone who is unaware."

All Might shook his head. "Besides the people in this room, only the Principal knows about One for All."

Midoriya nodded and closed his eyes once more. 'God I'm so tired…I feel like I could sleep for another week straight.'

Almost as if she could read his mind, Recovery Girl shooed All Might and his mother out of the room. "All right, all right," she said, "out, all of you. Izuku needs his rest. Being in a coma is no substitute for sleep."

Midoriya was sound asleep before he could even hear his mother and All Might's goodbyes.

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

Bakugo was livid. His face was red and his eyes narrowed into slits as he screamed in Midoriya's face. "What did you do, loser? What shitty trick did you pull to beat me in the exam?"

'This wasn't the way it was supposed to go!' Bakugo internally raged as he roughly shoved Midoriya against the wall he had cornered him against following their graduation ceremony from Aldera Middle School. 'It was going to be the birth of a legend! MY legend! I was supposed to be the only one from this shitty school to go to Yuuei, I was supposed to be number one in the exams, but this quirkless shitstain stole it from me! He ruined everything!'

"Let me go Kacchan." Midoriya said, "That hurts." His voice wasn't angry or threatening, but his tone held no fear. "I'm still under doctor's orders to avoid any physical stress."

"Fuck you!" Bakugo slammed his free hand against the concrete wall, scorching the surface mere centimeters away from Midoriya's head. "If you want me to go away, then fucking talk!"

Midoriya sighed. It had been a long time since he'd had an encounter like this with Bakugo, but he'd known it was inevitable the moment he saw his official scores. He'd racked up a respectable 46 villain points during his rampage—enough to put him in the top five for examinees in that category. Even then, Bakugo's score of 77 villain points had literally blown the rest of the competition out of the water; nobody else even came close. However, Midoriya's stunt with the zero-pointer had won him a whopping 60 Rescue points from the judges, a feat which rocketed him into first place.

"I didn't use a trick." Midoriya calmly explained. Since he had known this conversation would occur sooner or later, he had prepared an explanation for the volatile teen ahead of time. "I used my quirk, just like you."

Bakugo grit his teeth. "You lying little…you don't have a quirk! Don't try to pull this shit with me you retard! Do you think I'm stupid?"

Midoriya rolled his eyes. "Kacchan, I know you aren't stupid. You're arrogant, belligerent, and the biggest asshole I've ever met in my life, but you aren't stupid. That's why you should know better."

"What are you talking about?" Bakugo's grip on Midoriya's collar tightened in response to Midoriya's matter-of-fact insults, but his curiosity outweighed his rage. "What should I know better?"

"Do you remember how you and the neighborhood kids originally taunted me?" Midoriya asked rhetorically. His voice took on a singsong tone. "'Deku, Deku, as good as quirkless; Deku, Deku, he's totally worthless.'" Midoriya paused for a moment. "Eventually you dropped the first part and went with just calling me quirkless because it was easier to say."

Trying to jog his memory, Bakugo furrowed his brow. 'Is that really how it went? I think I remember something about a song…so I might have said that, but it was so long ago, I can't remember…' "What does that stupid song have to do with anything?" He growled.

"Remember all those times I was absent in primary school? All that time I spent with doctors trying to figure out what my quirk was?"

Bakugo scowled. "Vaguely. I had better things to do than worry about your useless ass, now get to the fucking point before I get angry."

'Get angry? Is this what you consider being calm?' Midoriya wondered.

"Well," Midoriya smoothly continued, "shortly after the Sludge villain incident last year, my quirk finally manifested. The doctors I saw think that my quirk didn't manifest when I was younger because my body was too weak to use it without killing me. I had to go through an intense period of physical therapy in order to use it without breaking myself." He grimaced. "Even now, I'll still hurt myself really badly if I lose control. The reason I missed finals was because the backlash of my quirk nearly killed me."

Speechless, Bakugo let Midoriya go. "I…this whole time…you actually weren't…" For a moment, he looked truly lost, before the anger returned. "You just went along with me calling you quirkless! Laughing as you made a fool of me all along, is that it?"

"What? No!" Midoriya shook his head. "Are you even listening to yourself, Kacchan? I told you that I had a quirk until I was blue in the face, but you never listened." He shrugged, "Eventually I just gave up trying to convince you."

Bakugo was silent for nearly a minute. Midoriya could practically see the gears turning in his head. "…Fine." He finally spat; he stared at the ground so hard that it seemed as if he was trying to burn a hole in the pavement with his eyes. "I guess…" Bakugo looked like every fiber of his being was about to puke, "I guess I was…wrong about you."

Midoriya's jaw nearly dropped at the reluctant admission from his former friend. 'Now that's a sentence I never thought I'd hear from him.'

Bakugo raised his head and gazed unblinkingly into Midoriya's eyes. "You might not be the worthless bug I thought you were, but don't think this changes anything, Deku. I lost this time, but it won't happen again. I'm going to win from here on out, you hear me? I'm going to be the best hero that goddamn school has ever seen." Bakugo spun on his heel and turned to walk out of the alleyway. "Fucking count on it."

Unnerved by this series of events, Midoriya simply stood and watched silently as Bakugo angrily stormed away. After a minute of standing in mute shock, he pulled a small bottle of aspirin from his pocket and popped a few of them in his mouth to ease the aching of his bones. He shook his head and began his walk home. 'Yeah, that's just about all the weirdness I can take today. I'm going to bed.'

He would need his rest. School started tomorrow.

Chapter four is down for the count! I kind of struggled on how to end this one, but eventually just said fuck it. As always, let me know what you think with a comment or a review. Plus Ultra everybody!

 

Chapter Text

 

Despite all appearances to the contrary, Aizawa Shouta was a firm believer in logic. To the outside world, his lifestyle, career choices, and the manner in which he conducted himself seemed counterproductive, but there was always a solid, rational explanation behind everything he did.

The government salary for pro heroes was livable, but most of a pro hero’s income came from the endorsement deals that went hand in hand with the high media exposure they universally received. Aizawa avoided such exposure like the plague because his quirk worked best on the unaware. The ability to erase quirks with a look was powerful, true, but a prepared villain could easily counter him with something as simple as a sheet. After all, what good was money to Aizawa if he were dead?

Most heroes took great care to maintain a professional, neat appearance, with eye-catching costumes that immediately put dastardly villains on the run, and frightened civilians at ease just at the sight of them. With his long, scraggly hair, perpetual five o’clock shadow, and plain, unassuming hero outfit, Aizawa could easily be mistaken for a homeless person at first glance. He inspired no hope in the civilians, nor fear in the villains—who usually laughed at him contemptuously, right up until the moment they realized they were already ensnared by his capture cloth, essentially quirkless, and on the ass end of an ass-beating.

Yes, Aizawa Shouta was a firm believer in logic, and it was this belief that allowed him to act with neither hesitation nor shame as he zipped himself up in his sleeping bag and silently wriggled down the hallway into place behind two of his new students as they conversed in the doorway to his classroom. It was time for his grand entrance.

“If you’re here to socialize,” he said loudly, “than you should go ahead and leave now.” The conversation of the two students in the doorway ground to a halt as they turned to stare at him. “This…” Aizawa pulled out a sports drink and drained it in one gulp, “is the hero course.” 

Interesting.’ He thought as he studied the reactions of the two students in the doorway—or rather, the reaction of one of the students in the doorway. The student closest to him, a rosy-cheeked girl with chestnut-colored hair, reacted exactly as he predicted—with complete bewilderment. The boy—a plain looking boy with dark, curly hair and a smattering of freckles, merely stared at him placidly, with a casual nonchalance as if he had already seen this many times before.

Nonplussed at the lack of reaction, Aizawa unzipped himself from his sleeping bag and pushed past the two teens, making his way to the front of the classroom. While he waited for the spirited conversations to die down, Aizawa took advantage of the opportunity to size up his next crop of students. His expression was trained in a perfectly neutral position as his tired, yet intense, dark eyes darted from person to person, never resting on a single form for longer that a fraction of a second. Almost as if they could feel his intent gaze upon them, the chattering of the heroes-to-be died off as they gradually became aware of Aizawa’s presence until finally, the room was silent.

“It took you lot eight seconds to quiet down.” Aizawa remarked in a monotone, once again shifting his gaze from student to student. “Life is short. You are all lacking in rationali…ty.” Aizawa blinked. As he stared down his class, something about the boy in the doorway—a small, seemingly insignificant detail—caught his attention.

Midoriya Izuku.’ His brain helpfully supplied. Aizawa stared at Midoriya for nearly five seconds before he realized what seemed so out of place. ‘He isn’t wearing his tie.’

While Aizawa’s appearance, demeanor, and habit of napping during staff meetings led some of his colleagues to the conclusion that he was lazy, nothing could be further from the truth. Aizawa was not lazy; he simply spared his efforts for what he considered important. As soon as the results of the entrance exam were finalized, Aizawa got to work. He spent hours every day leading up to the start of school combing through the school records and social media of each of his new students, getting a handle on each of their personalities and aptitudes so he could perform his role of an educator as efficiently as possible.

‘Midoriya Izuku:’ Aizawa ran through his mental profile on the boy. ‘Though he isn't lacking in social skills, he’s a loner who has few, if any friends. From the ages of 4 until about 14, there were reports of bullying due to his quirk being registered as “unknown”, though these reports gradually decrease until they stop entirely in his last year of middle school. In his behavioral reports, his teachers all describe him as driven, unusually mature, soft-spoken and unerringly polite. No history of disciplinary issues, no unexcused absences ever. A model citizen and student.’

In comparison, Aizawa glanced over at the only other student in the class to forgo the tie. ‘Bakugo Katsuki. A longtime classmate of Midoriya’s, and, by all accounts, a natural genius. Already famous for his involvement in the ‘Sludge villain’ incident a year ago, his powerful quirk, academic smarts and athletic ability make him stand out as one of the top talents of his generation. However…’

Aizawa eyed Bakugo’s wrinkled, untucked shirt, unbuttoned blazer and sagging pants. Everything from his ever-present scowl to his sitting posture—complete with his feet propped on his desk—loudly broadcasted his utter disdain for everything and everyone around him. Aizawa dreaded the many, many future migraines he would suffer in his efforts to educate this walking ball of arrogant pride. ‘I would have been surprised if he followed the uniform guidelines. This sort of petty defiance fits his model perfectly. But Midoriya…’

Other than the missing tie, every bit of Midoriya’s uniform was impeccable. His shirt was tucked in, starched, freshly ironed, and his blazer properly closed. His straight-backed posture and the tranquil half-smile on his freckled face gave off a quiet, but unmistakable aura of complete confidence. His hands were folded neatly behind his back in nearly military fashion as he calmly and patiently watched and waited for Aizawa to introduce himself, clearly recognizing him as an authority figure.

This doesn’t make any sense.’ Aizawa concluded. ‘He must have some specific reason why he isn’t wearing the tie…I’m probably overthinking this.’

“Um…excuse me?” The tentative voice of Ashido Mina—a horned girl with pink skin and hair rang out in the silent classroom. Aizawa’s gaze snapped to her face. “Who are you?”

Snapped out of his reverie, Aizawa glanced at the clock and was shocked to see that he had been silently staring at Midoriya for nearly thirty seconds. ‘Not good.’ He thought, ‘I can’t afford to waste time like that.’

“I’m Aizawa Shouta, your homeroom teacher.” He said blandly. He reached into his sleeping bag and pulled out a shirt with a distinctive design. “Down the hall are the locker rooms for our class. Your locker number corresponds to your assigned desk. You’ll have this inside. Put it on then shove off to the main PE grounds. Don’t keep me waiting.”

Without another word, Aizawa turned and walked out of the classroom, leaving the flabbergasted teens behind. After a few seconds of pregnant silence, the class began muttering amongst itself.

“…What was that all about?” Uraraka asked Midoriya, thoroughly weirded out. “Do you know that guy? He was staring at you for a really long time.”

“Never seen him before in my life.” Midoriya replied with a shrug. “He probably just recognizes me as the idiot who nearly killed himself in the exam.”

“I guess…” Uraraka conceded in a low voice, shivering involuntarily at the memory of Midoriya’s broken, unmoving form as he was carted away on a stretcher. “You were in pretty bad shape. How are you feeling, by the way?”

“I’m fine.” Midoriya reassured her. “Recovery Girl’s treatments fixed me right up.”

“That’s good,” Uraraka smiled, “I was really worr—”

“In any case,” a familiar voice boomed from behind the two, making Uraraka jump in surprise at the volume and proximity. He chopped the air in robotic fashion. “Sensei’s instructions were clear! Let us make haste to the locker room!”

“Of course,” Midoriya demurred, “we were just about to head out. You are…?”

“Ah,” the boy adjusted his glasses, “how rude of me. My name is Iida Tenya. I remember you from the exam. That was quite a display you put on with the zero pointer.” Iida clenched his fist, “I was moved by your heroism!”

As they began to walk towards the locker rooms as a group, the three continued talking. “I’m Midoriya Izuku, and thanks, I guess…but in retrospect, it wasn’t my smartest move.”

“I don’t know,” Uraraka wryly remarked, “I thought it was a pretty good decision. I’m Uraraka Ochako, by the way.” She introduced herself belatedly.

“I imagine so.” Midoriya smiled reassuringly at her. “I’m not talking about the ‘helping you’ part. If I could go back and do it again, I would still do it, I’d just go about it in a way that wouldn’t leave me injured.”

“How so?” Iida asked. “It’s hard to imagine anything short of overwhelming force stopping that thing in its tracks.”

“Easy. I’d just ask Uraraka to use her quirk on the wreckage to make it weightless, then move it and carry her out of there. No giant robot smashing or catastrophic injuries required.”

Both Iida and Uraraka were silent for a moment as they processed this. “Yeah,” Uraraka agreed faintly, “that definitely would have been a much better plan.” She furrowed her brow. “But how did—I mean how do you know what my quirk is…I mean, was?" She flushed a bit at her difficulty expressing her point. “How would you have known what my quirk was at that time?”

Midoriya gave her an amused look. “You used it on me when we first met, remember? I tripped and you stopped me by making me weightless. I also saw you using it in the exam itself.”

Uraraka opened her mouth in an “O” shape. She had completely forgotten about that encounter, the memory of it completely overshadowed by the image of Midoriya wreathed in green lightning, blowing away a multi-story tall robot that was about to crush her. They continued to chat casually until they reached their respective locker rooms.

 

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

 

“All right, now that everyone is here,” Aizawa announced in his monotone voice, “we’re doing a quirk assessment test.” His expression was unreadable as he carefully watched the students’ reactions to his abrupt declaration. While the rest of the students either grumbled with annoyance or showed signs of excitement, he once again couldn’t help but take note of the complete non-reaction from Midoriya.

“Um, sensei?” Uraraka hesitantly asked, “What about the Orientation Ceremony, or the meeting with the guidance counselor?”

“If you want to become heroes,” Aizawa said gravely, “then you have no time for frilly niceties.” He gestured at the field in front of them, "Softball pitch. Standing long jump. 50-meter dash. Endurance running. Grip strength test. Sustained side-to-side jumps. Pull-ups. Seated toe-touch. These are all activities you know from middle school, naturally. Physical tests where you were barred from using your quirks—the country still hasn't gotten around to standardizing those sorts of records or keeping track of average performance levels." He shook his head, “Negligence on the part of the M.E.X.T. (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), but fortunately, I will be correcting that oversight here and now.”

Aizawa scanned the crowd of students, looking for an adequate example, his eyes settled on one student who, despite his best efforts to appear above it all, was almost trembling with excitement in anticipation of the chance to prove himself. “Bakugo.”

“Yeah?” Bakugo quickly replied, before letting out a cough. “I mean, what do you want?” He growled.

Aizawa decided to ignore the disrespectful tone…for now. “What was your score for the softball throw in middle school?”

“67 meters.” Bakugo smugly replied, swelling up at the impressed mutters coming from the peanut gallery.

As this went on, Midoriya quietly sidled up to a slim girl with dark, asymmetrical bangs and tapped her on the shoulder. “Excuse me…you’re Jirou Kyoka, right?” Surprised, the girl turned and regarded Midoriya suspiciously. “I saw your name on the seating chart.” He explained before she could ask.

“Oh…um, yes. I’m Jirou.” Jirou answered, wondering what Midoriya wanted with her. “What is it…?”

“Midoriya.” Midoriya supplied.

“What is it, Midoriya?”

Aizawa produced a high-tech looking ball seemingly out of thin air and tossed it to Bakugo. "Try using your quirk this time around." He ordered, "As long as you don't leave the circle, anything's fine…oh, and don't hold back."

“I wasn’t planning on it.” Bakugo said, shooting a dark look over at Midoriya. He grinned ferally. “Oh, and Sensei, you might want to stand behind me.” Aizawa raised an eyebrow, but did as Bakugo asked, moving to stand with the other students.

Midoriya pointed at Bakugo. “His power is to make explosions, so you might want to cover your ears…like, now.” To further illustrate his point, Midoriya covered his own ears with his hands.

After staring at him in confusion for a brief moment, the meaning of Midoriya’s words sunk in, and Jirou’s eyes widened. With her extremely sensitive hearing, a nearby explosion would be horribly painful, so she hastily mimicked him, clamping her hands over her ears.

“DIEEEE!” Bakugo screamed, hurling the ball with picture perfect form, further propelling it with an explosive blast so powerful that it buffeted the surrounding area with hot winds strong enough to knock the smaller students off of their feet, rendering everyone nearby temporarily deaf. Everyone that is, except for Midoriya and Jirou.

“What the hell, man?” Kirishima Eijiro—a boy with spiky red hair and shark-like teeth complained as he cleaned out his ringing ears. “Warn us before you do something like that!”

“Shut up, small fry!” Bakugo growled through clenched teeth, biting back a hiss of pain as he rubbed his strained shoulder—he had gone far beyond the safety threshold of his quirk in order to prove his point. “A king doesn’t concern himself with the feelings of two-bit extras!”

Fuck this hurts!’ Bakugo ignored the outraged complaints of his new classmates as he glared at Midoriya, who calmly returned his gaze with that serene expression that never failed to piss him off. ‘Beat that shit, Deku! It doesn't matter what your quirk is, I’m still better!’

After taking a moment to let everyone’s hearing return, Aizawa continued the lesson. “Before anything else,” he said, "one must know what they are capable of…" he displayed the device to the class, showing a reading of over 900 meters, "this is a rational metric that will form the basis of your 'Hero Foundation'."

Aizawa glanced at Bakugo, who was rotating his arm with a pained expression. “That being said…while I expect you to do your best, please keep within the limits of safety.” Aizawa leveled an especially heavy gaze at Midoriya—who had the good grace to look away sheepishly as he said this.

The class had a variety of reactions to these developments, but it was one comment in particular coming from Ashido that set Aizawa off. "AWESOME!” She squealed, practically jumping up and down in delight. “THAT LOOKS SO FUN!"

"It looks fun…you say." Aizawa's voice was low—almost a whisper—but the sense of anger and doom coming from the normally stoic and monotone adult shut every one of the chattering students up quick. "So you were planning on spending your three years here having a laugh, huh? What happened to becoming heroes? You think that this profession is some kind of joke?"

He glared at each and every one of the dead silent students, meeting their eyes and forcing them to gaze at the ground in the face of his sudden, unexpected fury, only coming to a stop when his eyes met with Midoriya’s. Midoriya’s unflinching gaze didn’t surprise Aizawa—that much was expected from the boy by now—no; it was the hauntingly familiar sense of conviction that shone in his emerald eyes that gave him pause. Aizawa would recognize it anywhere—he saw it every time he looked in the mirror. It was the kind of conviction that could only be acquired through hard-earned experience. By having someone die in your arms and knowing that you could have saved them if you had only done a little bit more. If you were just a little bit faster, a little bit smarter, if you had only trained a little bit harder, they’d still be alive.

Midoriya again…what the hell is this kid’s deal?’ He thought, filing the observation into his mental file titled: Things to Investigate Later. For now, he had a point to make. “Listen up!” He barked, “This exercise has a new rule: the student who ranks last in total points will be judged 'hopeless' and instantly expelled."

The response to this new wrinkle in the exercise was as swift as it was noisy. However, the outraged and panic-stricken shouts of his students left fell upon deaf ears and he grinned menacingly. "You all understand this school's reputation for freedom on campus…well, that "freedom" goes for us teachers too, which means that we get to dispense of the students as we see fit. Welcome to the Department of Heroics!"

“It’s the first day of school and you’re saying that you’ll kick one of us out based on your whim!” Uraraka yelled, her normally rosy cheeks were even redder from the a mixture of righteous anger and fear, “That’s just too unreasonable!"

"It’s outrageous! It’s unfair!” The other students voiced their agreement with her assessment of the situation.

Just as Aizawa opened his mouth to shut down his students’ complaints, the sound of bitter laughter cut through the grumbles of the crowd. One by one, the gathered students all went silent and directed their gaze towards its source. “No matter how many times I hear it, it somehow never gets old.” Midoriya muttered under his breath. As he met the curious gazes of his classmates, his mouth was twisted up into something resembling a smile and his eyes began to glow with an eerie green light.

Unfair?” He spat the word as if it were a particularly vile curse and his voice cracked with tightly reined emotion. “Life isn’t reasonable or fair. Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people. Natural disasters, villain attacks, honest-to-goodness freak accidents happen every day. Right this very second, someone, somewhere in the world is about to die for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Heroes have to face that unfairness every day, head on. If you give up over a little speed bump like this, you don’t deserve to be a hero. Even if I’m expelled, I’m still becoming a hero.” He shook his head, “Even if I’m not a Yuuei student, my dream isn’t over. Nothing is over until I’m dead.”

As the class stood in silence, first from shock at the passionate speech from the unassuming, soft-spoken boy, then in thoughtful contemplation of his point. Aizawa decided to reassert control of the situation, as well as chime in with an additional point of his own now that his thunder had been stolen.

“Well said.” Aizawa remarked in a tone so dry it was impossible to tell if he was being sarcastic. “Believe it or not, I’m doing you a kindness. Uraraka!”

Uraraka jumped at Aizawa’s sudden call out. “Y-yes?” She stammered.

“You asked about your orientation and guidance meeting? Since I’m feeling generous, I’ll give you both right now. Less than half of those who graduate from hero programs last even five years in this profession. Of that remaining half, only a third make it ten. The drop-off only gets more severe from there. Whether it be accumulated injuries, stress, or plain bad luck, this job will catch up to you sooner or later, and when that happens, you had better have saved your money wisely, because the pension sucks.”

Aizawa paused a moment to let his words sink in. “Now, let’s begin.”

 

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

 

The mood in the boy’s locker room was a somber one as they showered and changed in near silence. They had started the day with 14 in their ranks, and true to his word, Aizawa had mercilessly sent the last ranking student in the class—a small boy with odd purple hair—packing.

“Man, poor Mineta,” Kaminari—a yellow-haired boy with a dark streak in it said, referring to the expelled student, “talk about tough breaks.”

Ever the bastion of empathy, Bakugo scoffed. “I say good riddance. If that loser couldn’t beat a girl whose only power is being see-through in an athletic competition while being allowed to use his quirk, he doesn’t fucking belong here.”

“Damn, dude.” Kaminari winced. He didn’t get to know Mineta very well, but they’d bonded somewhat. “I mean, you’re not wrong, but you don’t have to be such a dick about it.”

“Fuck him!” Bakugo growled, “That shitty little rat was a creepy fuck, anyways. I saw him literally drooling while he was looking at Ponytail-girl. Who the fuck even does that? If he stuck around, he’d infect all of us with his loser stink.”

Bakugo scowled. ‘Fucking Ponytail bitch…can’t believe she actually beat me. Second fucking place…first place loser, more like. I need to do better. I need to be better. No fucking excuses.’

Oblivious to the source of Bakugo’s brooding, the rest of the boys exchanged a meaningful look at that point. In the interest of first day harmony, they had been willing to give Mineta a chance, but several of them had picked up on his rather toxic, creepy personality quickly. Barring some unforeseen crisis making fire-forged friends of them, everything from Mineta’s annoying lisp, constant references to his ‘sticky balls’, loud, lewd jokes and his blatant leering at the girls marked him as someone to avoid for the sake of their own reputations. They didn’t want to say it, but many were relieved that he was gone beyond the obvious reason of it simply not being them who got the boot.

“How’s your shoulder, Kacchan?” Midoriya asked. “You hurt it during the softball throw, right?”

“None of your fucking business Deku!” Bakugo snapped. “Worry about your own damn self, you half-assed fucktard! Giving that fucking try hard speech and sleepwalking through the goddamn tests.” He spat into a nearby drain. “Fucking makes me sick.”

“I did my best on those tests, Kacchan.” Midoriya calmly replied.

“The fuck you did!” Bakugo shouted, “You don’t just beat me in the exam and then get sixth goddamn place! Give me a fucking break! I heard all about how you took down that zero-point fucker! You were holding back!”

“Of course I did.” Midoriya said slowly, as if he were talking to an idiot. “Doing that broke every bone in my body and put me in a coma for nearly a week. Why on earth would I do that to myself again?”

A vein throbbed in Bakugo’s forehead. “Obviously you don’t go that hard, you fucking smartass! Just enough that it hurts! You aren’t even sweaty!”

"Of course I'm not sweaty. I just showered."

"Mother fu--you know what I mean, shit-for-brains!"

The rest of the boys—all of whom had completely finished getting cleaned up and changed while this exchange was going on, watched with a sense of morbid curiosity.

Sero Hanta, a flat-faced boy with oddly shaped elbows leaned over and whispered to the person next to him, “I can't tell if they get along really well or hate each other’s guts.”

“You know,” the person in question, a blond boy with a large, powerful tail named Ojiro Mashirao replied, “I think it might be a little bit of both.”

“You think that they’re…you know…” Kaminari made a hole with his forefinger and thumb and stuck his other forefinger through it. The locker room went silent. “What?” Kaminari asked as the boys around him suddenly made themselves scarce. “Guys?” A heavy hand fell on his shoulder and when he turned to see whom the owner of the hand was, Kaminari let out a high-pitched shriek at the sight of Bakugo.

As he loomed over Kaminari, Bakugo’s smile was calm, playful, and utterly terrifying. Smoke began to rise from between the fingers of the hand gripping Kaminari’s shoulder like the jaws of death. “Please,” Bakugo purred, “by all means…continue. I’d love to hear your opinion of my relationship with Deku, Cadavernari.”

“K-K-Kaminari.” Kaminari stammered.

“Hmm?” Bakugo’s smile widened, “What's that?”

“M-M-My name’s Kaminari.” Kaminari desperately looked around for a savior, but everyone—even Midoriya—had made themselves scarce in the face of Bakugo’s tranquil fury.

“No." Bakugo said cheerily, "It isn’t.”

For the next five minutes, the boys stood outside of the locker room door, listening in horrified fascination as Kaminari shrieked and pleaded for forgiveness.

“Please, no more!”

“Shut up and take it like a man!”

“That isn’t supposed to bend that way!”

“It will when I’m done with you!”

Iida cleared his throat awkwardly. “Should…we…help him?”

As if by magic, Bakugo’s head popped out of the doorway the moment the words left Iida’s lips. “Oh go ahead.” He said casually, “Pool’s open, water’s fine.” He stared at Iida with murder in his eyes and a pleasant smile on his face—his behavior completely at odds with the foul, abrasive personality they’d seen from him thus far and all the more terrifying for it. “No? Just going to stand there like a bunch of pissants?” He paused for a second. “Thought so.” He retreated back into the locker room. “Now, where were we?”

“Please no!”

“Oh now I remember!”

The boys all looked to Midoriya. “Okay…” Kirishima said after a moment. “After today, I think we all knew that Bakugo is an…intense guy, but what the HELL?”

“Did you see his head when Kaminari made that crack?” Rikido Sato, a large, solidly built boy with fish-like lips said with a haunted look in his eyes. “I swear it turned a full 180 degrees.”

"On this day, we have gazed into the abyss and witnessed the true face of evil." Tokoyami Fumikage, a boy with a crow's head said in a grave tone.

“He pushed the ‘Deku Button’.” Midoriya said matter-of-factly before giving a shake of his head. “He shouldn’ta did that.”

At that moment, the boys of class 1-A all resolved to never joke about the nature of Bakugo and Midoriya’s relationship ever again.

 

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

 

(Meanwhile, in the girl’s locker room)

 

 

“Okay ladies.” Ashido said gravely, “It’s time to discuss a matter of the utmost importance…initial impressions: which of the boys are the best?”

Caught up in the flow of Ashido’s serious tone, the rest of the girls let out a groan at the frivolous topic.

“Really, Ashido?” Yaoyorozu Momo—a gorgeous teen with the figure of a gravure model, AKA ‘Ponytail Girl’—said with an exasperated sigh, “We just watched someone get expelled on the first day of school because the teacher wanted to make a point about how deadly serious all of this is…and you’re talking about boys?

YES!” Ashido shot back as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Aizawa-sensei also said that stress was one of the reasons that heroes drop out of the game…well, this is my way of relieving stress! Humor me, alright?”

“Here’s an initial impression for you.” Jirou said with a smirk, “That Mineta kid being the one who was expelled is proof that Midoriya was wrong. There is fairness in the universe after all.” She shuddered, unlike the other girls in the class; her sensitive hearing meant that she had heard every single word that came out of his mouth. Every…single…word. There wasn’t enough hot water and soap in the world to make her feel clean after that.

“Harsh.” Ashido said, “But I like the honesty. Let’s keep this train rolling! Yaomomo, your thoughts!”

Yaoyorozu blinked at the impromptu nickname. “That is a bit harsh, but I have to admit, I caught him…staring…multiple times. I certainly wouldn’t have looked forward to dealing with that for the rest of my time here…especially considering my costume’s design.” She didn’t mention the drooling. She figured that it had to be a figment of her imagination. ‘There’s no way he literally drooled over me,’ she thought, ‘who even does that?’

“Caught him?” Asui Tsuyu, a petite, frog-like girl croaked. “That implies that he was even trying to hide it. He was as subtle as a brick to the head, ribbit.”

“Enough of this!” Ashido declared imperiously, “This talk of ex-classmates bores me. I want to hear about someone else! Uraraka!” She declared, pointing a pink digit at the rosy-cheeked girl, making her squeak with surprise. “You were hanging around with that Midoriya Deku kid a lot today, right? Anything going on there, hmmm?

“Um…” Uraraka said, "I think it's Izuku actually."

“Well, whatever his name is, he’s on my good list, that’s for sure.” Jirou chimed in. “I don’t know how he knew my hearing was sensitive, but he warned me about that Bakugo guy’s quirk beforehand and saved me a lot of pain.”

“Now that you mention it,” a voice coming from what appeared to be an empty space in the locker room said, “when that Mineta kid accidentally” Hagakure Toru’s voice dripped with sarcasm at the word, “bounced off of one of his ball things at a bad angle and was about to land face first in my chest, Midoriya appeared out of nowhere and snatched him out of the air.” The transparent girl giggled, “You should have seen the little creep’s face…he looked like he was about to cry blood while he thanked Midoriya for ‘saving’ him.”

The rest of the girls shared a laugh at this. Mina looked impressed. “A regular good Samaritan ain’t he?” She remarked. “But I’m still waiting on your answer, Uraraka.”

“I mean, there’s not much to say…” Uraraka said with a smile, “he seems like a sweet guy and all, but I barely know him. He got hurt pretty bad helping me out of a jam during the entrance exams, so I guess I feel like I owe him…or something. He seems like he’ll be a really good friend.”

Ashido flashed a teasing grin. “Do you think he’s cuuuuuuute?”

“Not really.” Uraraka instantly replied with a bright, earnest smile. “He’s kinda plain-looking, honestly.” All of the girls winced in sympathy for Midoriya.

“That was merciless, Ochako.” Asui croaked, “You didn’t even think about it for a second.”

“Hm? What do you mean?”

“A-Anyways,” Ashido said, moving on for the sake of the absent Midoriya. “Any other thoughts?”

“How about we finish getting dressed and get back to class?” Yaoyorozu suggested.

“Hush, you!” Ashido rebuked the sensible girl with a swish of her hand. “Any other, not boring thoughts? The chairwoman is willing to receive all motions!” Yaoyorozu opened her mouth only to be cut off by another swish of Ashido’s hand. “Except your motions! You have been hushed! Accept thine judgment!”

“Thy judgment.” Yaoyorozu corrected.

“What part of hushed do you not understand?” Ashido exclaimed. Yaoyorozu just shook her head and tried not to laugh at the over-the-top antics of the lively girl. She didn’t want to encourage her.

“I would like to present a motion to the honorable chairwoman!” Hagakure said with a giggle, playing along with Ashido and thoroughly enjoying herself.

“The chair recognizes.” Ashido replied in an exaggerated haughty tone. “Please proceed.”

“I propose that we take a moment to discuss how unreasonably hot Todoroki is!” Hagakure declared.

“All in favor?” Ashido asked the group with a raised hand.

“Aye!” Uraraka laughed.

“Aye.” Asui croaked.

“…Aye.” Jirou said with a blush.

“Aye!” Hagakure cheered.

“All opposed?”

“Nay.” Yaoyorozu said.

“The aye’s have it. Motion proceeds.”

Yaoyorozu sighed, and then smiled and leaned in. ‘Oh well, if we’re doing this, I might as well enjoy myself.’

 

 

AN: I was in a silly mood when I wrote the last parts of this chapter, as I’m sure you can tell, but I figure that a bit of levity couldn’t hurt. As always, I love to read your comments and reviews. You all are the reason I keep writing. Internet cookie to anyone who can guess why Midoriya doesn't wear a tie. Plus Ultra!

Chapter Text

 

“Morning is here! Morning is here! Morning is—”

Even in the pitch darkness of his windowless room, Midoriya’s hand moved like a viper, striking with speed and precision to shut off the alarm. He desperately wanted to roll over and go back to sleep—despite the mental and physical exhaustion from his multiple attempts at his first day of school, he spent most of the night tossing and turning in anticipation of his first lesson with All Might. However, “snooze button” wasn’t in Midoriya’s vocabulary; nor All Might’s apparently—one of the functions of the limited-edition alarm clock turned on the lights of the room the instant someone shut it off. After waiting for a moment for his eyes to adjust to the sudden change in the light level, Midoriya rolled out of bed—it was 4:30AM, and that meant he needed to begin his morning routine.

He wasn’t a morning person naturally, but after ten straight months of waking up at the crack of dawn, he felt off for the rest of the day if he didn’t get a workout in before sunrise. He slipped on a tracksuit and a hat to stave off the chilly April air, grabbed his workout bag and crept through the darkened apartment as silently as he could to avoid waking his mother. Once outside the gate of his apartment complex, Midoriya began a series of simple dynamic stretches to get his muscles limbered up for the work ahead. After about five minutes, he picked up his feet and set a brisk pace for his 5km trek to Dagoba beach. The stretch of shoreline had recently become a popular spot for couples, but in the early hours in the morning, it remained as deserted as when it had been a junkyard.

Even after receiving One for All, Midoriya continued to visit the beach just about every day to train and hold back the literal tide of garbage continuously washing up on shore. He appreciated the solitude, the taste of the salty ocean air, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, and the feeling of sand shifting beneath his feet. Once at the beach, Midoriya took a brief water break before he pulled a jump rope out of his bag. After fifteen minutes of jump rope, he pushed himself to his physical limit with a 45-minute menu of sprints, crawls, lunges, squats, long jumps, and push-ups on 30-second intervals. He wrapped up the workout by activating Parallel Flow and going through a low intensity yoga routine. Rather than conditioning, this portion of the workout focused on using the slow, deliberate movements to center his mind, stretch his battered muscles and refine his control over the volatile quirk all at the same time. After 20 minutes, Midoriya completed his final position with a long, controlled exhale and released his hold on One for All.

As he grabbed a towel to wipe the sweat from his forehead, Midoriya idly glanced at his watch and felt his stomach clench up. ‘6:42…crap! I did my old morning routine!’ Unlike his middle school within easy walking distance of his apartment, the commute to Yuuei was significantly longer—requiring several train stops. Midoriya grimaced. ‘People are going to be on the road for sure…it’s risky, but I’m going to have to use One for All if I want to have any chance of getting to school on time.’ He took a swig of water. ‘Well…it’s not too obvious when I’m using it at lower levels, so it should be fine.’ Midoriya packed up his things and called upon One for All, making his eyes glow green in the dim dawn light. Then, he began to run.

 

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

 

Although the news of his hiring had generated an insane amount of buzz from every corner of society, nobody was more excited for the first lesson in Foundational Heroics than All Might himself. Even the looming threat of his muscle form’s time limit couldn’t dampen his mood as All Might craned his neck to sneak a peek through the open door and swelled with pride at the sight of his chosen successor. Midoriya Izuku—the enigmatic bearer of the torch that had been passed on to him by his own master.

All Might did not think about Nana Shimura very often—the thought of her violent, premature and senseless death was almost too painful to bear, and a substantial portion of the greatest accomplishments of his career were fueled by the grief and unresolved anger at her loss. But ever since his injury five years ago, his thoughts increasingly turned to his old master as he slowly came to terms with the reality that his time as a hero was approaching its end. His defeat of the evil bastard that took her life dulled the pain, and his thoughts became more contemplative. Why did she choose him? What did she see in the gangly teenager with an excess of vision and a tragic dearth of power that convinced her to pass on her power? As All Might watched Midoriya quietly writing in his ever-present notebook, he felt like he finally understood.

It wasn’t about talent—he had no track record, there were no objective standards to even hint that scrawny, quirkless Toshinori Yagi would eventually become All Might. It wasn’t about idealism—there were countless youths with an abundance of naïve dreams that would eventually be crushed by reality. No, All Might finally understood that Nana had seen in him the same quality that Midoriya had in spades—an unshakable will. In Midoriya, All Might caught a glimpse of an unyielding heroic spirit that would hold firm in the face of impossible odds. That was the true qualification to be a holder of One for All—no how talented or idealistic a prospect was, they would crumble under the weight of the responsibility without that crucial element. All Might glanced at the clock on the wall and took a deep breath. ‘It’s time.

He burst through the door with a flamboyant pose. “I am here…coming through the door like a normal person!”

All Might was not ignorant of how intimidating he could be—putting his reputation aside, the Symbol of Peace was over 2 meters tall and weighed more than a Lowland Gorilla; his sense of humor, along with his sillier mannerisms had been deliberately cultivated with that in mind. Case in point, the reactions to All Might’s exaggerated march into the classroom varied from individual to individual—some broke out into excited whispers, laughed, or merely sat up a bit straighter—but none appeared overtly nervous in the presence of the living legend.  

“Hahaha!” All Might let out a booming laugh and began his posing routine #4. “Welcome to Foundational Heroics! Just like the name says, the purpose of this class is to teach you all of the skills essential to a pro hero from the ground up!” All Might rustled through a back pocket and pulled out a wooden placard. “But let’s not beat around the bush and get right to it! Your first lesson is this—battle training!”

“Battle training?” Bakugo’s grin at this revelation was downright malevolent. “Now we’re talking!”

All Might pulled out a remote control and pressed the button. “And to do that, we will be need these.” With a rumble, a series of panels slid out of the wall with a pneumatic hiss—each panel contained a briefcase with a number from 1 to 20. “In accordance to the “Quirk Registry” and the request forms you filled out before being admitted, these are your costumes!” Unable to contain their excitement, the class broke out into cheers while they scrambled to grab the suitcase containing their hero outfit. “Once you are all changed, make your way over to training ground Beta!”

He turned and glared at Midoriya as the two made their way out through the massive door of their classroom. “You and me Deku. We’re gonna settle this today!”

Midoriya met the belligerent boy’s gaze with a confident smile. “Sure, Kacchan.” He said, “If that’s how it turns out.”

“Tch. Just don’t give me any half ass bullshit like you pulled during the assessment test!” Bakugo poked him in the chest. “Write this down in your little stalker file, shithead…by the end of the day, you’ll understand the difference between the two of us!” Midoriya let out a chuckle, unable to help himself. Bakugo growled. “Something funny?”

“Not really.” Midoriya replied. “I was actually just thinking the same thing.” The smile melted away from his face. “Don’t worry about me.” He said, unconsciously tightening his grip on the aluminum case in his arms, “I think you’d be surprised if you knew just how far I’ll go to measure up.”

Bakugo narrowed his eyes at Midoriya, searching for any hint of being patronized, but eventually turned away with a huff. “Whatever.”

 

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

 

“Wow!” Uraraka said, “Neat costume, Midoriya! It’s super practical looking! It has a real professional vibe to it!”

“Thanks.” Midoriya replied with a forced smile, trying to suppress the shame caused by her well-intentioned praise.

She was correct, his costume was very practical, and he had designed it to look professional…but it wasn’t the costume his mother made for him. After his acceptance into Yuuei, Midoriya’s mother presented him with a low-budget, homemade costume based on an early concept drawing she found on his desk. She told him that regardless of any personal reservations—she would support his dreams the best she could. Midoriya appreciated the sentiment behind her show of support more than he could ever hope to put into words; and while the expensive, expertly-crafted costume from Yuuei’s Department of Support wouldn’t ever fill him with a sense of warmth and gratitude—sentiment wasn’t enough. The time loops had given Midoriya lots of practice in separating his feelings of guilt from his sense of responsibility; but looking at the unshed tears in his mother’s eyes while she held out the handstitched symbol of her love and knowing that he would never wear it made him feel like scum.

“Are you okay?” Uraraka asked, “You look kind of sad.”

“I’m fine.” Midoriya replied, “I was just lost in thought for a moment…I like your costume too.” He took a look at Uraraka’s form-fitting space-themed outfit. “It’s very, um…” He managed to keep his face straight, but couldn’t stop the flush creeping up the back of his neck from reaching his ears.

Uraraka blushed and sheepishly rubbed the back of her head. “Yeah…I wish I had been a bit more specific in my request form. I wanted something a little closer to No. 13’s space suit, but I got this skintight jumpsuit instead…it’s a little embarrassing.”

“Y-you don’t say.” It took Midoriya a considerable amount of mental effort to avoid staring at the way it emphasized her every curve. “Well…I think it looks really good on you. Regardless of the fit, it’s eye-catching and memorable, but the dual color-scheme and simple pattern keep it from being over-designed. You have a good sense of aesthetics.”

“Wow, thanks!” Uraraka smiled widely, a pleased blush graced her cheeks. “That’s probably one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten from a boy—"

“You should get rid of the heels though.”

“What?” Uraraka frowned. Her heeled boots were of the few parts the support department got right from her designs. “Why? I think they look super cute!”

Midoriya held out his palms defensively. “I’m not knocking the way they look, they’re just terrible footwear for hero work.”

“No, they’re not!” Uraraka defiantly crossed her arms and pouted. “There are tons of female heroes who wear heels.” She began ticking fingers. “There’s Midnight, Ryukyu, Uwabami, Mandalay, Pixie Bob, and…um…”

“Midnight and Pixie Bob specialize in ranged attacks, Ryukyu transforms into a dragon, and Mandalay and Uwabami are largely focused on providing logistical support during rescue operations.” Midoriya retorted, “And even then, they still shouldn’t be wearing heels—they have poor balance and impede movement. Even if you’re really good at moving in them, the difference between life and death is often incredibly small. I know I wouldn’t be alive right now if you’d been just a little slower in stopping my fall during the entrance exam.”

Uraraka stared at Midoriya with her mouth agape. “…But I like these boots.” She finally grumbled, as much as she wanted to dispute his points, she was unable to deny his logic.

Luckily for Uraraka, Asui overheard Midoriya’s evisceration of her choice in footwear and decided to come to her rescue. “You’ve never been very popular with girls, have you Midoriya?”

Midoriya blinked. “…What does that have to do with anything?”

“You seem like a smart guy.” Asui croaked as she took the shell-shocked Uraraka by the shoulders and led her away, “Think about it, ribbit.”

“HA HA HA HA!” All Might boomed as the last of the students arrived. “We’re all here then? Excellent! They say that the clothes make the hero, and everybody is looking so cool! Hm?” All Might glanced at Midoriya’s costume and didn’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved.

He had been expecting something more along the lines of what he saw in his protégé’s notebook on the day of the sludge villain attack. This new design still contained certain elements that subtly paid homage to All Might. Although less prominent than the initially blatant imitation of All Might’s iconic hairstyle, the “rabbit ears” of the hood concealing the visored helmet protecting Midoriya’s head remained, as well as the smile-like pattern of the metallic guard around his neck. All Might gave Midoriya a thumbs-up of approval after catching the boy’s eye.

“Listen up class!” All Might said, “The new tends to focus on the public confrontations between heroes and villains, but in truth, most villain activities take place not out in the city, but indoors!” He flexed. “For this exercise, you’ll be broken up into randomly assigned Hero and Villain teams for a series of two-on-two indoor battles!”

After the inevitable grumbles and questions about the prospect of randomized teammates, Midoriya watched and waited while the students lined up one by one to draw their lots.

Unlike the rest of his peers, his thoughts were not centered on the upcoming battle. He was too preoccupied by the small white tablet in his front pocket—an unauthorized addition to his toolkit that he had brought from home. Despite its negligible mass, he was keenly aware of its weight—as if it were made of some super-dense alloy instead of a few hundred milligrams of packed crystalline powder.

It’s frightening what you can accomplish with only a basic chemistry set and 1000 yen.’ Midoriya mused as he fingered the tablet in his pocket. ‘500mg of CNNa…enough cyanide to kill ten grown men—and far too much to do anything to stop, even with immediate treatment.’ Midoriya took a deep shuddering breath.

He’d been planning this from the moment he’d used his quirk—his original quirk—during the exam. As unpleasant as the repeated trial and error attempts at getting a handle on One for All had been—weeklong coma aside—he had saved himself weeks, if not months of classes where he would have needed to break a bone every time he wanted to use his quirk. However, even if he knew it wouldn’t stick, Midoriya hated the idea of killing himself to trigger a loop. There were a variety of reasons for his reluctance, but he was practical enough to admit that a hard-reset button was simply too useful for him to ignore.

Midoriya glanced over at All Might, who continued to explain the parameters of the exercise. “If yesterday’s test was about determining your baseline talents, today’s exercise will give me a basic idea of your ability to apply those talents.” He let out a booming laugh. “I’ll step in if things get out of hand so don’t be afraid to go all out!”

Midoriya grinned at his teacher as he reached into the box containing the numbered balls that would determine their team. ‘Worst case scenario, I return to yesterday morning before the assessment test, but I doubt it. Either way, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to test my abilities against other people with quirks.’ He frowned thoughtfully. ‘But before I do any fighting, I need to gather as much information as I can…I can’t risk getting locked out of the chance to loop by completing the exercise. I’ll watch until it’s my turn to fight, and then…anyways, who’s my first partner?'

                                                                  

(With Jirou)

 

“Jirou?” Midoriya called out to his teammate with a wave, notebook in hand.

“Yes.” The teen acknowledged the greeting, idly playing with her earphone jacks as he approached. “And you’re…Midoriya, right? Thanks for the warning about Explosion-Boy yesterday.”

“Mmhm.” Midoriya hummed as he flipped through his notebook to an open section, “I have a few questions for you.”

Jirou raised an eyebrow at the blunt, no frills approach. “Do you now?”

“I do. I need to know the details of your quirk, a list of your equipment, and any other relevant information that may influence the battle…martial arts experience, exploitable weaknesses, et cetera.”

Jirou warily eyed the notebook in Midoriya’s hands. “And you’re writing this down because…?”

“It helps me organize my thoughts.” Midoriya replied without missing a beat.

Jirou crossed her arms. “And why exactly should I give you all of this information? We might be working together this time, but I’m not sure I want someone with a written out list of my weaknesses.”

Midoriya looked up from his notebook. “Good question. You’d like to win this battle, right?”

Jirou blinked. “What kind of question is that? Of course I want to win.”

“Ever heard of Sun Tzu?”

She nodded. “He wrote The Art of War…but what does that have to do with—”

“Those who know themselves, but not the enemy,” Midoriya quoted, “will win as much as they lose, but those who know neither their enemy nor themselves will wallow in defeat every time.” He smiled. “I’m not proposing an unequal exchange. It goes without saying that I’ll tell you everything about myself as well.”

Jirou hesitated. “You make a good point, but I don’t know...”

“How about this?” Midoriya interjected, “Once the exercise is over, I’ll hand over any notes I take on you, and I’ll even throw in a copy of all the notes I’ve taken so far.”

Jirou shrugged. “Not much downside in that case…all right, I accept.”

 

 

(With Iida)

 

“Of course!” Iida replied, chopping the air with a strange robotic motion. “It’s true that sharing information will increase our ability to cooperate, and thus, the probability of our victory...but you’re sure you don’t need to dedicate more time studying the map of the building?”

“Not a problem.” Midoriya tapped his head, and his fingers made a solid rapping sound against the hard Kevlar-Twaron weave of his helmet. “I’ve got really high spatial intelligence, so I’ve always been pretty good at reading floorplans and maps and stuff like that. Just a glance or two and I’ll have it down.”

“Superb! What a handy skill!” Iida praised, “I must say, I continually find myself more and more impressed with you, Midoriya!”

Midoriya smiled. ‘It’s funny how the way people treat me has changed since I got a useful quirk. Before One for All, if anyone noticed at all, they would have said something like, “You can read a map really fast? Amazing! So can my phone! It also gives me traffic projections.”’

Midoriya shook his head minutely. Not that it was ever productive, but this especially wasn’t the time to get wrapped up in bitter feelings about past treatment. “Thanks,” he said and placed pen to paper, “now, what do you say we get back on track?”

 

(With Tokoyami) 

 

“Interesting.” Tokoyami crossed his arms, “But how do I know that you aren’t an agent of the organization?”

Midoriya stared at his bird-like classmate with a blank expression. “The organization?” Tokoyami nodded gravely. “Okay, I’ll bite…what’s the organization?”

Tokoyami glanced around to make sure nobody was listening. “I’ll tell you, since I’ve already said too much…the organization is a group of villains dedicated to the destruction of society by upending the public’s faith in our public institutions. Yuuei is the perfect target for their sinister designs.”

Ah, I get it, this guy is a total chuunibyou. I’ll just play along for now.’

“I…see.” Midoriya said slowly, leaning in and adopting a hushed tone of dawning realization. “Thank you for telling me.” He tapped on his notebook. “I’ve been running my own investigation into a series of villain attacks…they seemed unrelated at first glance, but something about them just seemed…” He shook his head. “Anyways, now that I know that there’s a group pulling the strings, there are a lot of things that suddenly make much more sense. I don’t know how I could have missed this.”

Tokoyami leaned back against the wall. “I felt much the same way, when I realized what was going on.”

“After class, we need to compare notes.” Midoriya declared. “Now that I know, there’s no way I can turn my back on this.”

A gleam appeared in Tokoyami’s eye and he lay a hand on Midoriya’s shoulder. “I look forward to it.”

“But we need to trust each other if we’re going to work together…” Midoriya said, “both in this lesson, and if we want to take down the organization…Let’s go over our quirks and abilities. I’ll go first.”

Tokoyami nodded. “I’m still not sure about this, but as long as you’re going first…”

Midoriya grinned.

 

(With Bakugo)

 

“Mother fucker!” Bakugo raved. “Why the fuck am I paired up with goddamn Deku? What the hell? Somebody switch with me!”

Midoriya rubbed the bridge of his nose to ease away the headache that had been building since the moment he had drawn that particular lot.

“Young Bakugo,” All Might admonished, “as I said before, partners are assigned at random, you can’t switch…yes, Young Midoriya?”

“I need to use the restroom.” Midoriya said. The cyanide tablet was already concealed within his palm. He wasn’t going to get anything useful out of this loop.

“Oh…well, you two aren’t up quite yet, so make it quick. Just make sure to go before class next time.”

Midoriya nodded. “I’ll make sure to remember.”

 

(With Asui)

 

“I can do pretty much anything a frog can do. I can jump pretty well, but you already know that. My tongue goes out 20 meters, and I can cling to walls. I can also eject my stomach to clean it, and secrete stinging mucus…but those aren’t very useful.” Midoriya stared at Asui for a few seconds before shaking his head and beginning to write. “What?”

“Hm?”

“That look you just gave me…” Asui croaked, “what was that about?”

“It’s nothing.” Midoriya said.

“It didn’t look like nothing.”

“I’m just surprised that you’re answering my questions without me having to waste time convincing you.”

Asui shrugged. “I don’t see why, it’s not like you won’t find out eventually anyways. Plus, it seems pretty obvious to share this kind of information with the people you’ll be working with.”

“You’d be surprised.”

 

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

 

 ‘Ashido Mina, huh?’ Midoriya approached the pink-skinned girl, ‘I can’t believe I made it to the final loop and I still haven’t had a chance to gather much data on her yet. I’ll have to rectify that now.’

“Hey!” Ashido greeted Midoriya with a bright smile. “Midoriya right?”

Midoriya nodded and pulled out his notebook and pen. After sidling up to her, he flipped to the section reserved for Ashido, slightly angling it so that she couldn’t see the contents of the pages. “Yes, that’s right. Now to begin, I’d—”

Curious about what her teammate was hiding, Ashido leaned over to sneak a peek. “Whoa!” She exclaimed, and quick as a viper, snatched the notebook out of his hands. Her mouth hung slightly open as she looked over a dynamic sketch of her using her quirk to skate along the ground. “This is awesome! It’s so good! How long did it take you to do this?”

Midoriya closed his eyes and sighed. “Not too long…” he answered, “twenty minutes, maybe.” He extended his hand and stared meaningfully at his purloined notebook. “Can I have that back now please?”

Rather than return it, Ashido continued to look over Midoriya’s notes. “Are these my scores from the assessment yesterday? And my exam scores? Let’s see here, ‘Ashido Mina,’” she recited, “’Height: 159cm; Weight: unknown.’” She directed a glare at Midoriya, “It better stay that way too!” She returned her attention to the notes. “’Ashido’s quirk appears to be a hybrid emitter/mutant-type. Pink skin and hair appear to be largely cosmetic. Dark sclera and golden irises may indicate a difference in visual acuity. The horns on her head are small and thin, possibly a vestigial remnant of parental quirk. Her extreme flexibility, along with the highly toned muscles of her neck, shoulders, arms and thighs suggest a background in gymnastics. Can secrete an unknown substance used to slide along ground as if she were skating on ice—this feat would not be possible without high level of natural athleticism.

Fed up, Midoriya grabbed the notebook and took it back, preventing her from reading the rest out loud. “Please don’t do that again,” he requested, his mild tone out of synch with his actions, “if you want to see my notes in the future, just ask. I’ll be happy to show them to you.”

“Ah, sorry,” Ashido apologized, slightly embarrassed, “that was a little rude of me, huh?”

“It’s fine.” Midoriya replied. “Just don’t do it again.” He narrowed his eyes suspiciously and unconsciously cradled his notebook against his chest when a mischievous grin suddenly stretched across Ashido’s face.

“You knoooow,” she purred, leaning into his personal space, “that drawing of me was pretty accurate.”

“I like…” Midoriya’s ears went red and he faked a cough to cover for the nervous crack in his voice. “I mean, I like to draw.”

Ashido’s Cheshire grin grew wider at the brief display of weakness. “And the way you described my body was really detailed too—I’m a dancer, by the way, not a gymnast.”

“Good to know.” Midoriya cautiously replied, “What’s your point?” Going for the proverbial kill, Ashido leaned in close enough that Midoriya could feel her hot breath in his ear, and her proximity sent an involuntary shiver down his spine—life threatening danger was one thing, but nothing in any of his many lives had prepared him for this. 

“It’s just…you must had a nice, long look at me in order to do that. Was it good for you?” She winked at him. “You big perv.”

A fuse in Midoriya’s brain promptly exploded—he jumped away from Ashido as if he had been burned, and in his panic, old nervous tics believed long dead began to rear their ugly heads. First, his voice jumped several octaves higher. “What?” He failed to notice Ashido’s shoulders start quivering once he began to stammer. “P-P-Perv? I-I-I…what?” A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead he frantically waved his hands, “N-no! I-I-It’s not like that! I-I was just…I take notes on every hero and villain I see…and I…I…” Midoriya trailed off. Ashido’s hands were clapped over her mouth and her shoulders were shaking so hard that she was practically convulsing. He blinked. “Um…are you okay?”

“Pffft!” Ashido’s ability to contain her mirth finally gave out. “Hahaha…t-the look on your face!” She continued to laugh for another ten seconds before wiping a tear from her eye. “Ah…that was great.” She patted her flustered, red-faced teammate on the shoulder. “I’m just kidding, dude. We’re good. You’re super weird, but you clearly aren’t creepy pervert weird.”

After taking a moment to regain his composure, Midoriya smiled blandly at Ashido. “That’s a relief, I sure would hate for my obvious weirdness to come off as the creepy perverted kind…though it wouldn’t be the first time someone thought that about me.” He muttered, trying and failing to completely hide his frustration. “Just out of curiosity, what makes you so sure I’m not? A pervert, I mean?”

Ashido smirked. “It’s all very scientific. Your score on the five-point Roshi scale of perversion is easily determined via your reaction to what I’ll call the ‘Yaomomo Test.’”

Midoriya stared at her blankly. He knew that they needed to get down to business and start planning their strategy for the battle ahead, but he simply had to ask.

“There’s an actual scale? The what ‘Test’?” Ashido cocked her head in the direction of the curvaceous Yaoyorozu, whose costume left very little to the imagination. “Ah.” Midoriya said, his ears tinged pink. “Right. So…I take it I did well on the, uh, test?”

“Honestly?” Ashido said, “If it weren’t for your reaction to my teasing earlier, I would say that you did a little too well on the test.”

Midoriya frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re a teenage boy surrounded by attractive girls your age in skintight, revealing outfits.” Ashido leveled a gimlet eye at Midoriya. “All of the girls expected to get at least some reaction, but you hardly spared any of us a second look…what do you think it means?”

He returned her gaze in confusion for a few seconds before cracking an amused grin and let out a chuckle. “Oh. I see.” He shook his head. “Sorry, much to the disappointment of some of my old classmates in middle school, that’s not the case.”

Ashido laughed along with him. “That’s a shame.” She said with a saucy grin. “You’d make such an adorable bottom.”

Midoriya grimaced. “Wow, okay…I think that’s my cue to get things back on track. Also, do me a favor and never say that again, thanks.”

Ashido snickered. “Whatever you say.”

“First things first…” Midoriya said, placing pen to paper and staring into Ashido’s golden eyes with such quiet, focused intensity that she unconsciously found herself standing up a bit straighter. “I need to know the details of your quirk, a list of your equipment, and any relevant skills that you may have. After that, I’ll review what I know about our opponent’s abilities and draft a plan. If you have any questions, concerns, or if you think you can improve the plan in any way, please let me know.”

Nodding dumbly, Ashido could hardly believe that this was same boy she had reduced to a stammering mess only moments before. “I make acid.” She explained, “I can secrete it from anywhere with sweat glands, but it’s easiest through my hands and feet. I can control how strong it is, and I can also control its consistency.” She lifted a foot to show him the special holes in her shoes. “My shoes are designed to make sliding around easier…I don’t have any other special equipment though.”

“Mm.” Midoriya hummed. “I see…regarding the consistency of your acid, what’s the range—roughly speaking—in kinematic viscosity?”

Ashido blinked. “Um…what?”

“How thick or watery can you make it?”

“Oh!” She scratched her head. “Basically, anywhere between water and maple syrup.”

Midoriya didn’t say anything, but raised his eyebrows as he jotted this info down. “And the strength of the acid, what is its range?”

“Ever heard of the Alien franchise?”

Midoriya stopped writing and looked up from his notes. “You’re kidding.” Ashido smirked. “…You aren’t kidding. That’s…” He began to chuckle. “I can’t believe this. How unlucky can you get?”

“What?” Ashido replied, feeling insulted. “You got a problem with my quirk?”

Midoriya smiled. “Not at all, you have an amazing quirk. I wasn’t talking about us.” Midoriya glanced over at the team of Todoroki and Asui. “I was talking about them, because with these quirks, they don't stand a chance."

 

AN: Well, this took a while. And honestly, I’m still not entirely thrilled with it, but I originally wanted to have it done by New Years, and at this point I just want to get it out already. Enjoy, and let me know what you all think.

Chapter Text

Despite the fantastical rumors surrounding Midoriya’s performance during the entrance exam, Ashido found her teammate rather underwhelming at first glance. He was a little short—maybe a centimeter or two below average for his age—and had a slender, unimposing frame. His looks were downright average, neither ugly nor attractive, and his only distinguishing features were an unruly mop of hair not unlike Ashido’s own and a modest spattering of freckles across his round, boyish face. He was quiet, rarely initiating conversation outside of class related activities, but he wasn’t overly awkward or unsociable. In short, he came off as someone condemned to forever exist in the background—utterly unremarkable, never standing out for good or bad reasons.

But as she watched Midoriya efficiently outline the details of his quirk, abilities and equipment, Ashido quickly realized her initial impression had been terribly flawed. Just by talking to him, it was clear to her that Midoriya was incredibly sharp, and possessed a level of focus, drive, and attention to detail that stood out even at an elite school like Yuuei. He had a presence about him that sharply contrasted his unremarkable appearance—an air of quiet intensity Ashido found strangely compelling. 

“…and that covers my list of equipment. Now, let’s go over the plan.” Midoriya told Ashido, continuing to scribble something in his notebook as they walked through the winding, featureless corridors of the facility. He had been so confident in his stride that Ashido ended up following him on instinct, but she began to wonder how he knew where he was going. “First and foremost, it’s crucial that we stick together at all times. Our preparations will center around making our stand in the room containing the weapon…Ah,” He remarked as he ushered them into one of the many unmarked rooms on the third floor, “here we are.”

Ashido was impressed—he couldn’t have looked at the map provided by All Might for longer than a second, and yet he’d led them straight to the weapon without a hint of hesitation. Still, she had something to say. “I don’t like that plan.” She bluntly declared. “Why should we just let them waltz their way to the objective with no resistance? I say we bring the fight to them!”

Wonderful.’ Midoriya had to hide the brief flash of annoyance on his face behind his notebook. ‘I don’t know how much time we’ll have to set up, but what I do know is that I have no chance of defeating Todoroki without her cooperation.’ He took a deep, calming breath to mentally prepare himself to handle this little snag. He peeked over the top of his notebook and saw defiance shining in Ashido’s golden eyes, practically daring Midoriya to disagree. ‘I need to convince her that she’s wrong, but if she feels like I’m being dismissive, she’ll just dig in her heels. This is going to require my full attention.’

“I see.” Midoriya snapped his notebook shut and calmly looked Ashido in the eye. “I respectfully disagree.” He paused. “I’ll explain my reasoning in a moment, but if you have an alternate plan, I’d like to hear your thoughts.” He pasted a sheepish grin on his face. “We are partners in this, after all, so I apologize for going ahead and making plans without even considering what you might have to offer.”

Ashido blinked in surprise at this mature, reasonable response. Based on Midoriya’s reaction to getting his notebook snatched, Ashido figured he wasn’t the type to roll over and meekly submit in the face of her bold, forceful personality. Given his obvious intelligence, she had expected the same patronizing dismissive attitude she so often got from people who thought they were smarter than her and prepared her response accordingly.

“Well…um…” Caught off guard by the lack of resistance, Ashido fumbled her words at first, but quickly regained her bearings. “It’s just…my quirk mostly just melts things, so it isn’t good for defensive use.” She paused, her cheeks heating up under the almost physical weight of Midoriya’s full attention. “I’m also really fast when I skate around, so I’m at my best when I get to move freely…with the weapon in here, I’d have to focus on not accidentally damaging it. I never had formal training or anything, but I’m pretty good in a fight,” She said, punctuating her point with a series of blindingly quick punches that audibly cut through the air, “so I’d probably be able to take out at least one of them while you guard the weapon. Even if I lose, I’d still stall them long enough that you’d be able to run down the clock for the win.” The two stared at each other in complete silence until Ashido realized that he was waiting for her to indicate that she had finished. “That’s all.”

Midoriya nodded and made a mental note to add Ashido’s ability to throw a wicked punch to her file. “Thank you for sharing your input. You made a good point regarding being restricted in what you can do with the weapon in here, but I still believe that my plan is the best one. Are you willing to hear me out on this?”

“Uh…sure.” Ashido nodded. She still wanted to do things her way, but he had listened to her without interrupting, so it only seemed fair.

He opened his notebook and beckoned her over. “I’ll admit that in a straightforward fight, your superior mobility and athleticism would overwhelm most of our classmates.”

Ashido grinned widely at the acknowledgement. “You’re darn right it would.”

“But that won’t work on Todoroki,” Midoriya said, quick to nip that idea in the bud. “Without a plan, fighting him one-on-one in such close quarters is suicide.”

“How do you know that?” Ashido asked. She crossed her arms and scowled, offended at being written off so easily. “I know he got third in the assessment test, but you never know how a fight will go until it happens!”

“That’s true.” Midoriya allowed, “But he’s a recommended student, and Endeavor’s son. Todoroki has probably been training to be a hero since he could walk—under the tutelage of the Number 2 Hero no less. He’s more athletic, more skilled, and has more raw power than both of us put together. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he’s probably the strongest 1st-year in the country.” ‘For now, at least.’ Midoriya mentally added, thinking of the swirling, seemingly infinite maelstrom of power churning inside of him.

“He’s seriously that good?” Ashido’s eyes widened in horror.

“Yes.” Midoriya nodded.

“Wait…” Ashido said, “You said he’s Endeavor’s kid, but that doesn’t make sense…Endeavor uses fire, not ice! How can they be related if they have such different quirks?”

“Well, it’s rare, but kids can end up with totally different quirks than their parents.” Midoriya replied, “That’s what happened to me, actually…” He shook his head, “Not important, let’s get back on topic. Todoroki actually does have fire powers as well, but I haven’t seen him use them for anything other than melting his ice.”

“He has two quirks!?” Ashido moaned. “How are we supposed to beat that? That’s totally not fair!”

As someone with two quirks, Midoriya kept his thoughts on the inherent fairness or unfairness of the situation to himself. “That’s what the plan is for—he’s good, not invincible.” He reassured her. “Plus, I doubt we’ll need to worry about his fire. He seems to rely entirely on his ice for some reason.” He had to struggle to keep himself from scowling. ‘Like consciously deciding to never use it in battle.’

That little revelation had easily been the juiciest morsel of information gained from his interview with the stoic teen. Midoriya didn’t understand what could compel someone to purposely handicap themselves, but it irritated him to his very core. He didn’t care what the reason was, the selfishness, the sheer hubris it took to throw away the kind of power he had only dreamed of until he met All Might…just the thought of it infuriated him.

‘I have to win.’ He resolved. ‘I wouldn’t be too bothered by losing to anyone else in the class, but I refuse to lose to someone who refuses to do their best. The hero business isn’t the place for such petty bullshit. He needs to learn just how foolish and costly his obstinance can be before he ends up getting himself or anybody else killed out of his worthless pride.’

“But—”

“Ashido.” Midoriya cut her off—he didn’t raise his voice, but his tone was very direct. He had stopped smiling and the air felt as if it were charged with electricity. “We don’t have much time left to decide on a plan. I didn’t interrupt you when you were speaking, so I’d appreciate it if you’d extend me the same courtesy.”

“Sorry.” Unnerved by the unblinking, glowing green eyes boring into her, Ashido couldn’t help but apologize. ‘Scary!’ She thought, absently rubbing the goosebumps that had arisen on her arms. ‘Where did that come from?’

With her apology, Midoriya took a breath and the charged atmosphere in the room suddenly disappeared. “It’s alright.” The faint glow faded from his eyes. “I apologize for snapping at you like that, I was…thinking about something else. Anyways, let’s get back to it.” Ashido nodded mechanically as she stared in disbelief at the night and day transformation she had just witnessed.

“Based on my analysis, Todoroki’s plan is to freeze the entire building—and us—in one massive attack before coming in to secure the weapon by himself.” Midoriya continued. “Todoroki’s raw power is incredibly formidable, but it’s a double-edged sword—the more powerful the quirk, the more difficult it is to be precise in its use. In close-quarters, he’d be almost as likely to catch his partner up in his attacks as one of us.”

He flipped to a page in his notebook with a top-down sketch of the room with the weapon. Ashido also saw several notations detailing various likely combat scenarios, including responses and counter-responses depending on the situation. ‘He wrote out five different play-by-play scenarios in the time it took us to walk here?’ She gave Midoriya a wary glance. ‘I’m glad he’s on my side.’

He tapped various places on the map that he had lightly shaded in. “This is where you come in. I need you to put down a layer of fairly strong acid along the floor in front of the door and along the edges of the walls. This will prevent the ice from spreading past it and catching us.” He tapped a darkly shaded circle around the weapon and several lines cutting diagonally across the room to the right of the entrance. “After we move the weapon away from the windows, I need you to put down a layer of the strongest, gooiest acid you can make without melting straight through the concrete to act as barriers only you can cross in case the ambush fails and he incapacitates me. If it comes to that, stall for time the best you can. Any questions so far?”

“What if Tsuyu comes with him?” Ashido asked, helping him relocate the surprisingly lightweight weapon. She began laying down the protective pool of acid, recognizing the utility of zones that only she could move through with impunity. ‘I can’t believe I’ve never thought about using my acid like this before!’

“She won’t.” He confidently replied, “Or rather, she can’t. The most she’ll do is scout out our location for him by climbing the exterior wall—hence moving the weapon. No point in preparing for Todoroki if she can just use her tongue to retrieve the weapon without even entering the room.”

“What makes you so sure? You’re betting an awful lot on Todoroki coming in alone.”

“There are a couple of reasons.” Midoriya explained. “I already mentioned the risk of Todoroki catching her in his attack, but the most important one is that in terms of their quirks, Asui and Todoroki might have the single worst compatibility in the class. Asui can’t hop or cling to frozen surfaces, and the cold makes her sleepy and lethargic. She’d just get in his way.”

“So that’s why you said they were unlucky.” A smug grin slowly spread across Ashido’s face. “My acid counters his ice, and he shuts down his own teammate entirely!”

Midoriya shot her a mirroring smirk of his own. “Exactly.”

“All right!” Ashido declared, “I’ve decided! We’ll go with your plan!” She paused and gave Midoriya a curious glance. “How do you know all of this stuff? I can’t imagine Tsuyu being weak to cold would just come up in conversation…”

“You know how I went up to Todoroki and Asui to ‘wish them luck’ before we went inside?” Midoriya asked rhetorically. Ashido nodded. “Remember those tiny GPS trackers I told you about when I went through my equipment? They also have microphones on them that connect to the earpiece in my helmet.”

“You didn’t!” Ashido’s mouth dropped open. “You bugged them?”

Midoriya grinned. There was a limit to how much money the school would put into hero equipment, so he’d had to drop a considerable chunk of his savings on the miniature listening devices. Their sheer utility alone made them worth every yen, but their most useful function was granting him plausible deniability for any loop acquired knowledge.

Ashido looked at Midoriya with a mixture of wariness and admiration. “You know Midoriya,” she teased, “you might not be a creepy perv, but you’ve got one heck of a creepy stalker skillset.”

“What?” Midoriya recoiled at the unflattering description. “It’s not a…I’m not…” He bit his tongue and let out a heavy sigh. “You know what? We don’t have time for this. Just hurry up put down the acid, we only have two minutes until the exercise starts and Todoroki will turn us into popsicles if we aren’t ready.”

“…Okay.” Ashido felt a little bad seeing Midoriya’s downcast expression. She had only meant to tease him, not actually hurt his feelings. “I was only kidding, you know.” She consoled him, “I don’t actually think you’re creepy.”

Midoriya stopped digging through the various boxes scattered around the room and glanced at Ashido. His usual tranquil expression snapped into place so suddenly it reminded her of a steel door slamming shut. “Of course you were.” He replied in a suspiciously calm tone. “Let’s finish up our preparations so we can run through a few possible scenarios.”

 

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

 

A little under ten minutes after the exercise began, Asui jumped from building’s exterior wall and landed next to Todoroki. “They’re both in the northwest-most room on the third floor, along with the weapon.” She croaked. “I would have used my tongue to touch it, but it was out of range and Ashido was keeping a close eye on the windows. Sorry I can’t help you in there, Todoroki.”

Todoroki shook his head. “Don’t be. You’ve done everything you can do under the circumstances. Knowing exactly where they are is a big help.”

Asui nodded. “By the way, I saw Midoriya busy moving stuff around, so watch out for tricks.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Now step back,” he warned her as he approached the building, “things are about to get frosty. They might think that they’re playing a defensive game, but…” He took a deep breath, placed his right hand on the wall and exhaled, turning the entire building into a pillar of ice in a matter of seconds. “…that means nothing to me.” He spared Asui a quick glance. “I’ll be back soon.”

Asui began to shiver uncontrollably, her breath a solid plume of white in the suddenly chilly air. Even several meters out from the epicenter of the frosty spire, the temperature of the air had dropped precipitously, turning the mild spring afternoon into the dead of winter. As she hopped away from the cold, she felt a flash of pity for Ashido in her sleeveless ensemble—if it was this bad out here, it had to be even worse inside.

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

The cardboard boxes Midoriya broke down for them to stand on as yet another layer of precaution had turned out to be superfluous—the acid had admirably done its job preventing the ice from spreading into the room. However, nothing they did could prevent the interior temperature of the building from plummeting into the negatives. This was especially unfortunate for Ashido, who had definitely not designed her costume with insulation in mind.

“I-I-I-I-I a-a-am g-g-g-going to g-g-get that p-p-pretty b-b-boy for this!” Ashido swore through uncontrollably chattering teeth. “He’s g-going t-to p-p-p-p-pay!”

On the other hand, Midoriya was feeling positively toasty in his hooded jacket. Although its primary purpose was to act as a shield against flames or high levels of electrical current during rescue operations, the tough, insulated material did an excellent job keeping out the cold as well. Another thing keeping him warm was the massive, practically luminescent blush that started at the back of his neck and covered his entire face. In addition to making her miserable, the intense cold had another effect on Ashido that was very distracting for a boy in the midst of puberty. Thinking quickly, Midoriya removed his hooded jacket. “Here, take this.” He said, ignoring the bite of the cold as he busied himself by looking anywhere but directly at her.

“I c-c-can’t—”

“Just take it and put it on, please.” Midoriya insisted. He ignited One for All and basked in the sensation of warmth flooding through his body, taking the edge off the cold. “He’ll be here any second, and I need you at your best.”

“G-G-Give it here.” Ashido abandoned her token resistance in an instant and Midoriya tossed the jacket over to her. “Oh my gosh, I love you so much right now.” Both she and Midoriya sighed in relief when she slipped on the jacket and zipped it up. “Wow, it’s a lot heavier than it looks.” She noted, “It must weigh a couple of kilos at least.”

“Mhmm,” Midoriya replied absently as he monitored the movement of the tracking device on his phone. “It’s meant to take a beating.”

“You do know there’s a chance I’ll end up melting your costume by accident, right?”

“I could not possibly care about that any less than I do at this moment.” He stated emphatically, “Covering…I mean, keeping you warm is the tip priority…top prioriteat…I mean top priority!

Ashido raised an eyebrow at Midoriya’s unusual behavior. “Oookay.”

Suddenly, Midoriya’s eyes narrowed and he held up his hand in a bid for quiet. “Get ready.” He whispered. “He’ll be here in about ten seconds. You know what to do.” Without another word, he picked up the bucket he had found while searching the room—a stroke of luck he had quickly integrated into his strategy by filling it with a weak acid. Ashido nodded moved to her post on the right side of the room behind the defensive line of acid. She mentally ran through Midoriya’s instructions one last time while he counted down the time.

‘Ten…nine…eight…’

The moment he walks through that door, I’ll drench him. If it hits, it should blind him for an instant, and the stinging will force him to wipe his eyes. I’ll use that opening to sneak in a couple of good hits. If it misses, I’ll continue to press the attack,” He drew an arrow on the paper, “herding him in this direction. His back will be facing you. Use that punch you showed me and hit him in the back of the head. If that doesn’t knock him out, it will stun him long enough for me to follow up.”

Ashido tightened her grip on the roll of capture tape. ‘…Seven…six…’

“I noticed something interesting about Todoroki during the assessment test. Every time he used his ice powers, he would first take a deep breath in, and release the ice on the exhale. This is purely conjecture on my part—it may be coincidence, or an ingrained habit, but I believe his powers are connected to his breath.” He flipped to a sketch of a man and circled an area on the midsection. “Our main target is the diaphragm or solar plexus. A solid blow here will deflate his lungs and leave him breathless—and if my theory is correct, powerless—for a brief window of time.”

Ashido could now faintly hear the crunching sound of Todoroki’s footsteps upon the iced over floor. Her heart hammered furiously in her chest and she prepared her legs to move. ‘…Five...four…three…’

Since I’m physically stronger, I’ll use that brief window to bring him to the ground and restrain him. Your job is to secure the win with the capture tape.”

The sound of Todoroki’s even footsteps seemed deafening in the still air of the frozen building. ‘…Two…one…’

A booted foot emerged through the doorway.

‘Now!’

 

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

 

 

“Excellent work! Excellent work, all of you! Very impressive!” The pleasure in All Might’s voice was entirely unfeigned as he heaped praise upon the four teens in front of him. “Especially you, villain team!” Midoriya nodded, his chest warm and head buzzing from the praise of his mentor and the thrill of victory.

Still wearing Midoriya’s jacket, Ashido was less reserved in her reaction and let out a raucous whoop of triumph that made their classmates chuckle. She elbowed Midoriya’s shoulder and flashed an ear-to-ear grin. “Oh yeah! We’re the best!”

Midoriya shook his head with an amused half-smile.

“Now,” All Might asked the class, “who do you think had the most stand-out performance in this match?”

“Todoroki, for sure.” Kirishima said, “Sure, he might have lost because of a bad match-up, but he froze the entire building! That would have beaten just about anybody else here!”

“No way, Ashido was the MVP.” Hagakure disagreed, “It was her acid that stopped them from getting frozen and stunned Todoroki, and she was the one who ended up securing the win with the capture tape.”

“It is true that Ashido officially “captured” Todoroki,” Iida chimed in, “But don’t forget that it was Midoriya who brought him down.”

“He threw a bucket of fucking acid on him and sucker punched him.” Bakugo retorted. “It wasn’t impressive, it was a bitch move and anybody could have done it.”

“You seriously gonna say that after trying to use a sneak attack on me in our match?” Kirishima incredulously responded. “Hypocritical much?”

“Shut the fuck up, stupid hair!” Bakugo growled. “That was different!”

“How?” Jirou snarked, fiddling with one of her earphone jacks. “Is it because it didn’t work for you?” Even though she and Kirishima had still lost to Bakugo in the end, she had heard him coming from a ways off and they reversed his attempt at an ambush. “I guess that is technically different.”

“Fuck you!” Bakugo shot back. “It didn’t stop me from kicking your ass, you dangly-eared fuck!”

“Ooo, scathing.” Jirou replied in a bored tone.

“I understand why nobody has even mentioned me.” Asui croaked. “But it’s still kind of annoying…I scaled a four-story building and checked twenty rooms from the outside. That wasn’t easy, you know.”

Whilst the discussion raged on, Todoroki stood in a daze. His eyes stared off into space as he mentally shut out his surroundings, desperately trying to make sense of what had just happened to him, and why. Todoroki had been certain he was on an entirely different level than the rest of his classmates, coddled as they were. While they had been busy running around with their friends and having fun, his father had been hard at work molding him into a weapon—beating and hammering him into shape like a stubborn scrap of raw iron.

And yet…I lost.’ The thought kept reverberating in his head, his brain stumbling over the phrase as it attempted to reconcile his self-image with this reality. ‘After all that training, that effort, all of my determination to be number one without his power…I was beaten.’ He glanced over at Midoriya, quietly standing in his dark long-sleeved undershirt with a green and white helmet tucked under one arm and a small, satisfied smile on his freckled face. He looked completely unbothered by the way his role in the fight was either being downplayed or denigrated as dirty by the majority of the class. ‘Beaten by him.’ He furrowed his brow, remembering the utter contempt in Midoriya’s glowing eyes as he glared down at him. ‘No…not beaten…I was crushed.’

Todoroki didn’t think much of Midoriya Izuku at first—it wasn’t personal, he just wasn’t on his radar. Most of the people surrounding Todoroki were background noise, overshadowed by the looming, perpetually angry figure of his bastard of a father and his egomaniacal desire to live vicariously through him. That wasn’t the case any longer.

“It’s Midoriya.” The class went quiet, surprised by the sudden declaration from Todoroki—who up until now had been closely trailing Kouda as the quietest student in 1-A. “I…underestimated him.” He admitted, “I underestimated him, and he took me apart.”

“Interesting.” Seeing an opportunity for an instructive moment, All Might decided to retake control before the class could start talking amongst themselves again. “What makes you say that, Young Todoroki? Where do you think you went wrong?”

Though he was admittedly biased, All Might agreed with Todoroki. Unlike the rest of the class, he had been able to overhear his protégé outline the entire plan to take down the young prodigy and was shocked by what he witnessed. From the incident with the Sludge villain and his reckless move against the zero-point robot, All Might had figured Midoriya to be as straightforward as All Might was in his approach to combat. Instead, the way he fought was eerily similar to the way his old sidekick Nighteye operated—arranging every last detail in such a way that by the time the battle actually began, he had already won.

“My first mistake,” Todoroki said, shooting a dirty look at Midoriya, “was not noticing the bug he planted on me before the exercise officially began.” After his confirming his capture, Midoriya had nonchalantly plucked the pea-sized device off of the back of Todoroki’s shirt and stuffed it in his pocket without a word. It still galled Todoroki to think about it.

Midoriya’s expression did not change even as the entirety of the class turned to stare at him. “You bugged him?” Several people asked in unison.

“That’s got to be cheating, right?” Ojiro asked, “There’s no way doing something like that before the start of the exercise is fair play.”

“The hero team was allowed to familiarize themselves with the map of the building before the timer started.” Midoriya stated in an unapologetic, matter-of-fact tone. “I figured that meant that any non-offensive actions intended for the gathering of intelligence were within the bounds of what is allowed.”

“What kind of twisted logic is that?” Yaoyorozu asked, looking more amused than scandalized. “How on earth could you possibly draw that conclusion from the hero team being given a map to study?”

Midoriya shrugged. “I was told to get in the villainous mindset.”

“Young Midoriya is correct.” All Might confirmed for the flabbergasted students, “Though I’ll admit that I did not anticipate a student using such a…creative interpretation of the rules to their advantage. However,” he added, “with the prevalence of pro heroes, one must remember that villains are usually hopelessly outmatched—in order to survive, they must excel at this sort of devious opportunism. Please continue Young Todoroki, besides the bug, what could you have done to change the outcome?”

Todoroki silently went over the encounter several more times in his head—something didn’t sit right with him. Midoriya had somehow acquired detailed knowledge of Todoroki’s fighting style, strengths, and weaknesses, to the point where he could calculate exactly how to take him down with ruthless efficiency. Todoroki conceded that it was entirely possible for Midoriya to figure out that he wouldn’t use his left side—his quirk was a matter of public record, and given his costume, he wasn’t exactly trying to hide his disdain for his fire half. However, the bug didn’t explain Midoriya’s knowledge of things Todoroki knew he hadn’t discussed with anybody, ever. Things like needing to breathe in order to use his quirk, for instance.

How did he know about that?’ Todoroki wondered. ‘Nobody knows about that weakness except for him!’

The importance of protecting his diaphragm was one of the first lessons Endeavor had beaten into him—coincidentally, it was also the first time he’d seen his mother get hit for intervening. He'd only been five then, on his knees after taking a brutal punch. He remembered fresh vomit and tears trailing down his chin as he struggled to breathe, looking on helplessly as his mother suffered for trying to protect him.

"Sometimes, Shoto's...that child's left side looks so unsightly to me."

“…I don’t know.” Todoroki finally replied. “With what I knew at the time, I don’t see how I could have come out of that situation a winner. That ambush was practically perfect.”

Midoriya frowned. 

 

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

(Inside of the Boy’s Locker Room)

 

“Hey, Todoroki.”

Todoroki turned around, surprised to see Midoriya standing behind him with a plain look of disapproval on his face. “…Yes?”

“I beat you.” Midoriya bluntly informed him with an undercurrent of anger in his normally calm voice.

Why does he seem so upset about that?’ Todoroki thought, ‘I’m the one who lost.’ “I know.” He stiffly replied. “I was there.”

“And you know what?” Midoriya said, taking another step closer. He poked Todoroki in the chest. “It was easy.”

“What the hell is your problem, Midoriya?” Todoroki was starting to get angry. “You trying to pick a fight with me or something?”

“Hey, hey!” Kirishima stepped between them. “What seems to be the issue here, guys? Let’s not fight in the locker room!”

“Kirishima is right!” Iida also approached the two. “I would expect this kind of immature behavior out of Bakugo, but I’m surprised at you, Midoriya!”

“Fuck you, shitty four-eyes!” Bakugo shot back immediately, “I’m always mature!” ‘He has a point, though…I’ve never seen that overly passive dipshit get in anyone’s face like this…Deku is actually pissed off at Icy-Hot for some reason.’

“My problem is that you’re a damn liar.” Midoriya said.

Todoroki scowled, “What are you talking about? I didn’t li—"

“You said that you didn’t know how you could have won.” Midoriya interrupted. “But that isn’t true, is it?” He glared at Todoroki. “You know exactly what you could have done to win. Isn’t that right, Endeavor’s kid?” Several classmates’ jaws dropped open in surprise, and Todoroki’s expression darkened at the mention of his father’s name. Midoriya continued. “You could have beaten me easily if you’d used your left side, you’re just too stubborn and pathetic to admit it.”

“Oh, I see…" Todoroki murmured with growing fury, "now it makes sense how you knew how to take me down so easily. Did my old man put you up to this?” He angrily demanded. “You can tell him that it won’t work! I’ll become the number one hero my own way, without relying on his shitty power! Now get out of my face before I make you!”

“No,” Midoriya replied. “I didn’t need to have anybody put me up to this. I just can’t stand to see selfish, spoiled brats like you act like they’re hero material.”

“…Spoiled?” Todoroki repeated with an edge to his tone. “You had better watch what you say. You don’t know a thing about me.”

“I know that you’ll never become the number one hero with your current attitude.” Midoriya glanced over at Bakugo. “Besides me, there’s at least one other person in this class shooting for that title, but do you know what makes us different than you? We aren’t the kind of losers who refuse to do our best out of spite. I suggest you either grow up or quit being a hero before you get yourself or somebody else killed. Because if what happened today happened in the real world, you'd be dead.” He spun around and marched away from Todoroki with a scowl.

The atmosphere inside of the locker room was heavy and awkward for the rest of the time it took the boys to change out of their gear. From time to time, Bakugo would turn and stare at Midoriya as if he were looking at a stranger before shaking his head.

 

HEROES NEVER DIE

 

(Inside of the Girl’s Locker Room)

“Come one, come all!” Ashido announced in a voice mimicking a carnival crier, “Gather round for the second round-table discussion concerning the boys of Class 1-A!”

Yaoyorozu let out a sigh of dismay when the girls actually began to gather together at Ashido’s request. “Can we really not talk about anything else?” She complained. “So far, every time we’ve actually discussed things as a group, it’s been about the boys. We actually did stuff today too, you know.”

Ashido stared at Yaoyorozu for a full five seconds before shaking her head. “You are a sad, strange little woman…and you have my pity.”

“Because my personality doesn’t revolve around talking about boys?” Yaoyorozu asked incredulously.

“Bakugo is the biggest tool I’ve ever met in my life.” Jirou grumbled. “I’m pretty sure I’ve encountered feral cats with a more pleasant demeanor than him.”

“…So we’re just ignoring me now, is that it?” Yaoyorozu asked nobody in particular. Uraraka patted her on the shoulder in sympathy.

“I know, right!?” Hagakure let out a huff. “He’s so handsome that I was kind of excited to work with him at first. But as soon as the exercise started, he told me to—and I quote: ‘Park my invisible, naked ass by the weapon and stay out of his way!’”

“Wow,” Uraraka shook her head, “What a jerk.”

“How about you Uraraka?” Ashido asked, “How was working with Kaminari?”

“Not too bad.” She replied before letting out a sigh. “Except for him constantly hitting on me while I was trying to come up with a plan.”

“Seriously?” Yaoyorozu groaned. “I thought we saw the end of that when Mineta got sent home.”

 Uraraka shook her head and waved her hands back and forth. “No, no, no. To be fair, he wasn’t like Mineta at all—he was just asking what I like to eat and stuff like that. It was more annoying than creepy or disrespectful…like, time and place, you know?” The girls all nodded, knowing exactly what she meant.

“Anyways,” Asui croaked, “I want to know about Ashido’s experience with Midoriya! I don’t think anybody expected you guys to beat Todoroki after he froze the whole building like that! I wasn’t even in the building and it chilled me to the bone!”

Yaoyorozu shuddered. “That was awful. Even through all that insulation, he still managed to turn the basement into a freezer! My costume is meant to give me easy access to my creations, not protect against cold!”

Ashido nodded vehemently. “I’m lucky that Midoriya was willing to give me his jacket!” She paused and scratched her head. “He was oddly insistent about it too, even though I sort of upset him just a little bit before that.”

“Huh…” The girls collectively mused.

“Also,” Ashido hesitated, “this will sound ridiculous, but he’s kind of…intimidating.” The girls stared at Ashido for a few seconds before bursting out into incredulous laughter.

“You think Midoriya is intimidating?” Jirou snorted, “Sure, he was impressive today but that kid is about as intimidating as a teddy bear!” The rest of her peers nodded in agreement.

“You don’t understand!” Ashido defended herself. “He has this way of…I don’t know…looking at you that makes you feel weird…it’s really freaky! You have to see it to believe it!”

“…That’s it?” Was Jirou’s sarcastic response. “He looked at you? How terrifying!”

“Do you want me to explain it or not?” Ashido growled. “I think it’s actually more about the contrast than anything. He’s normally just so calm and laid back. He’s got this aura about him that makes you feel at ease…and then BAM!” Ashido shouted and suddenly slammed her palm into the side of a locker, making the girls jump. “He gets angry and his eyes start glowing! My hair stood on end like there was electricity in the air! He wasn’t blinking! It felt like he was staring into my soul!

Slipping back into her usual penchant for silly theatrics, Ashido grabbed Jirou by the shoulders and began to shake her back and forth. “Do you understand, Jirou! My very soul! I was being judged, and he found me wanting! OW!” Ashido whined, rubbing her forehead where Jirou had just poked her with her Earphone Jack.

“I got it.” Jirou said drily, “He looked into your soul…very scary.”

Hagakure began to snicker. “So…what you’re saying is…Midoriya looked deep into your eyes, and you felt a strange sensation?”

"Like electricity in the air." Asui added.

Ashido blinked. “Don’t you dare.” She warned.

“I’ve heard of sparks flying when boys and girls work together, but this is a little quick don’t you think?” Yaoyorozu said conspiratorially, using a delicate hand to cover the amused grin on her face.

“You had better stop now,” Ashido threatened, “or you will rue this day!”

“Did you see her wearing his jacket?” Uraraka piled on gleefully, beginning to laugh herself. “She sure seemed reluctant to give it back. It must have felt like getting hugged by him!”

“I’m not joking!” Ashido swore, pointing to each of them. “Your every waking hour will be spent in a perpetual state of rue!”

“She’s in looooooooooove!” Hagakure crowed, breaking down into helpless laughter.

“That’s it!” Ashido howled, swiping at the air where Hagakure had occupied just moments before. The sound of the invisible girl’s laughter continued to echo off of the linoleum walls of the locker room. “You’re dead meat when I get my hands on you, you…you…exhibitionist!”

“…How rude.” Asui croaked.

Yaoyorozu, Jirou, and Uraraka all exchanged a brief look busting out into laughter themselves.

 

AN: Happy Friday! I don’t really have a lot to say this time. As always, leave me a review to let me know what you think, and until next time, PLUS ULTRA

Chapter Text

“Let’s see here…” Midoriya muttered, “Cold temperatures, acetone, and ethanol all desensitize nitroglycerin…the main hurdle to deal with there is a reliable method of deployment, both of those chemicals are volatile in their own right so carrying them around would prove more dangerous than helpful, not to mention how impractical it would be for such a niche situation…perhaps preventing combustion altogether would be more…yes, that would do nicely, if I could introduce a anticatalytic agent into the mix, that would prove helpful in a variety of situations, but that brings me back to my original problem of deployment…perhaps some sort of iron-based particulate, or maybe a Halogenated hydrocarbon…no, too toxic…”

Even though he now possessed arguably the strongest quirk in the world, Midoriya had no intentions of quitting this routine mental exercise. It was a habit left over from a time when the only weapon Midoriya could truly rely on was his mind. Every day, Midoriya would pick one of the subjects of his notes—hero or villain, it didn’t matter—and dedicate a minimum of thirty minutes to brainstorming various methods of defeating them or shutting down their quirk.

“Excuse me, excuse me, young man!” A brunette reporter shoved her microphone in Midoriya’s face as soon as he approached the massive crowd of media members blocking the entrance to the school. “Can you tell me what it’s like learning from All Might?”

“Hmm?” Midoriya looked up from his notebook. “What’s going on here?”

“All Might.” The young woman flashed her most charming smile, “What’s it like having the number one hero as a teacher? The public wants to know!”

Midoriya’s expression was perfectly neutral as he glanced around at the huge collection of cameras and microphones surrounding him. When his eyes finally settled back on the female reporter, he smiled politely as he took a moment to craft a suitably generic response so he could gracefully make his exit.

“He’s surprisingly approachable, considering his reputation. Other than that, he acts exactly as you would expect based on his many public appearances.” Midoriya bowed, “Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I have to get to class.”

Midoriya moved to walk around the reporter, but frowned minutely when she side-stepped to intercept him. “I just have a few more questions, when All Might is—"

“Get the fuck out of our way, News Bimbo.” A rough voice interrupted her. “This dipshit is too polite to say it out loud, but I don’t give a fuck! You bunch of goddamn vultures are fucking annoying, so buzz off!”

“News Bimbo?!” The reporter exclaimed with an angry flush. “You did not just…wait, aren’t you that kid from the Sludge Villain incident?”

Is Kacchan…helping me out?’ Midoriya’s jaw dropped in shock as his long-time bully none-to-gently pushed him through the entrance while flipping off the outraged crowd of media members.

“Get a real job!” Bakugo taunted, “You ‘Christmas Cake’ hack!”

“C-Christmas Cake?! You little brat!” The apoplectic female reporter stormed towards them, “I’m only 23! Get back here and apologi—”

~KLANG~

Bakugo cackled as the thick steel doors of the famous ‘Yuuei Barrier’ slammed shut in the face of the furious woman. “Suck on that, you bloodsucking losers!”

“Thanks for the assist, Kacchan.” Midoriya thanked Bakugo while struggling to contain the amused grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. ‘Bakugo’s talent for being an ass can be kind of funny when he isn’t using it to bully his peers…still, I probably shouldn’t encourage him.’ “They were getting a little overbearing.”

“Assist?” Bakugo scoffed. “Don’t misunderstand, Deku! I didn’t ‘assist’ shit—the doors wouldn’t have closed on them as long as you were near the threshold, so I shoved your ass through.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Midoriya replied, “I think you might have gone a little far with the insults, though.”

“I agree.” Aizawa’s monotone, no-nonsense voice interjected. As he approached his students, he had to pull his capture cloth up over his mouth to hide his own delighted smirk at Bakugo’s treatment of the press—he had to set an example. “Bakugo. I don’t make any secret of my feelings towards the press, but as long as you wear that uniform, you need to remember that you are a representative of Yuuei. You can’t go around calling reporters bimbos or…heh, bloodsucking losers.”

Ah, he laughed.’ Midoriya noted.

He totally just laughed.’ Bakugo smirked.

“If this happens again, let me handle them.” Aizawa continued. “Now hurry up and get to class. I have a few announcements to make.”

“Yes sensei.” The two chorused.

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

 

“Good work with yesterday’s combat training.” Aizawa began class without any preamble. “I’ve looked over everyone’s grades and evaluations.” He shuffled through a few papers. “For the most part, everyone did well enough considering your lack of experience. That being said, there are a few issues that need to be addressed…Kaminari.”

“Eh?” The blond electricity user perked up at his name.

“Training or not, combat situations are not the time or place to try and score a date. Focus on your love life on your own time.”

“Haha…yeah.” Kaminari laughed sheepishly while the rest of the class snickered at his expense. “Sorry sensei.”

“Don’t apologize to me.” Aizawa grunted. “Apologize to the partner whose time you wasted.”

“S-sorry, Uraraka.” Kaminari apologized. “I guess that was pretty thoughtless of me, huh?”

“Just don’t do it again.” Uraraka said, embarrassed by the unwanted stares and suppressed laughter directed their way thanks to the situation.

“Bakugo…you—”

“What!?” Bakugo interrupted in his outrage. “What are you on my case for? I fucking won!”

“If you had waited for me to finish my sentence,” Aizawa narrowed his eyes at Bakugo, “you would know that your issue is not with your performance in combat, nor your judgement. Hagakure remaining behind to guard the weapon was the most logical choice under the circumstances.”

Bakugo blinked. “Then what—?”

“I wasn’t finished.” Aizawa cut Bakugo off, quelling the volatile teen with a quirk enhanced glare. “I’m not calling you out like this because I’m picking on you. On the contrary, I’m grateful, because you’ve given me a perfect opportunity to teach all of you an important lesson.” Aizawa shifted his gaze to the first seat in Bakugo’s row. “Hagakure.”

“Y-yes, sensei?” The transparent girl sat up straighter in her seat.

“Did Bakugo discuss the plan of action with you before he left to go engage the enemy team?”

“No, sensei.”

“Did Bakugo ever ask for your opinion, or seek your input in any way?”

“No, sensei.”

“Did Bakugo explain his reasoning for the actions he took at any point?”

“No, sensei.”

“Did Bakugo ever take the time to inform you of what he was doing, or what was going on?”

“No, sensei.”

“Tell me, Hagakure…what did Bakugo do?”

“He…um.” Too embarrassed to repeat his exact words, Hagakure hesitated—she could almost feel Bakugo’s glare boring through the back of her invisible head. “He just yelled at me to stay by the weapon and keep out of his way. Then he left.”

“I see. Thank you, that’s all I needed to know.” Aizawa paused. “Before I say the answer, who here thinks they know what Bakugo’s major failing was?” Several students raised their hands, but one seemed more eager than most. “Iida, go ahead.”

“Thank you, sensei!” Iida boomed as he stood up. He chopped his hand through the air in a robotic motion. “Bakugo failed to communicate with his teammate in any capacity! He wrote off Hagakure as a liability and decided to forgo any attempt at teamwork! While it may have worked out for him this time, such arrogance could very well prove to be his downfall in the future!” Iida bowed and sat back down.

“You’re on the right track.” Aizawa replied. “But not exactly. As I said before, my criticism is not of Bakugo’s tactical judgement or performance. Bakugo,” Aizawa asked, “why did you leave Hagakure with the weapon? Is it because you thought she was useless? That you didn’t need her?”

“What the fuck kind of dumbass question is that?” Bakugo huffed. “She got into Yuuei. Of course she isn’t useless. I had the See-through Nudist stay put because I didn’t want to worry about blasting my own partner while I’m fighting. How the fuck am I supposed to keep an eye out for an invisible person? I focused on taking down Dangle Ears first so that she’d have no problem taking Stupid Hair by surprise and capturing him in the unlikely event that I lost.”

The class stared at Bakugo as if he’d grown a second head. “What the fuck are you all looking at?” He snapped.

“You know…” Jirou said, “If you filter out the total douchebag way he phrased it, I think Bakugo might have actually said something vaguely decent.”

“Bakugo!” Kirishima grinned and clapped Bakugo on the shoulder. “You might act like an arrogant jerkwad” Bakugo growled, “but you had faith in your teammate all along!” He clenched his fist. “That’s manly as hell!”

“You better get your fucking hand off of me before I remove it Stupid Hair.”

“Wha…why didn’t you just say that in the first place!?” Hagakure exclaimed. “You treated me like dead weight! If you hadn’t have won so fast, I was thinking about leaving the weapon to capture one of them to prove you wrong!”

“The fuck!?” Bakugo shouted, “You would have ditched the weapon to ‘prove me wrong?’ Is your brain as empty as your wardrobe, you nudist idiot? That could have ruined everything!”

“Call me a nudist one more time…” Hagakure muttered darkly, “and I’ll shove my invisible foot straight up your—”

“And that,” Aizawa cut in, “is exactly my point. Bakugo, you are talented, but you lack leadership. Despite coming up with the optimal plan for your team, your complete lack of respect for your ally nearly incited her to mutiny against you. True leaders don’t simply bark out orders, they inspire others to follow them. This requires a level of mutual respect—and respect must be earned. If you wish for anyone to listen to you, you must first demonstrate consideration for their thoughts and feelings.”

I was right!’ Bakugo clenched his fists and glowered at his desk. ‘You even said I was right! Why should I have to explain myself to the people below me?’

Aizawa raised an eyebrow at Bakugo’s defensive body language. “You clearly seem to disagree with what I’ve said. Care to share your thoughts?”

Bakugo opened his mouth to retort when a scene from the day before flashed through his head. Words of condemnation and contempt directed towards an individual who had—if only for a moment—made Bakugo think, ‘I can’t beat him.’

“You'll never become the number one hero with your current attitude…we aren’t the kind of losers who refuse to do our best out of spite.

Damn it.'  Bakugo cursed. 'That fucking nerd is right…I am different than that Half-and-half bastard. If I reject this lesson out of pride, then I’m no better than him.’ Bakugo scowled. “No, sensei.” He forced out through ground teeth.

Aizawa nodded. “Very well. Now, onto homeroom business. Sorry to spring this on you all of a sudden, but I have an announcement to make…” The class froze at the sight of Aizawa’s dead serious expression, fearing the worst.

What is it this time?’ Ashido sweated, ‘Is it another brutal pop quiz?’

Is someone gonna get expelled again?’ Kaminari squeezed the sides of his desk. ‘Please don’t be me!’

He’s expelling someone again, isn’t he?’ Hagakure slid down into her chair as low as she could. ‘Maybe I’ll be safe as long as he doesn’t see me!’

I wonder what’s for lunch today?’ Uraraka wondered, completely oblivious to the tense atmosphere.

Aizawa sighed. “…it’s time for you to pick a class president.” Several loud thumps from multiple students slamming their foreheads onto their desks sounded out.

Ojiro let out a relived sigh. “Finally, a normal, school-like activity.”

“Ooh!” Ashido jumped out of her seat and thrust her hand up in the air. “I wanna be a leader!”

“Hell yeah!” Kirishima pumped his fist. “I’m fired up!”

“This position was made for me!” Aoyama Yuuga—a blond boy with a penchant for randomly spouting French—declared.

“I’d like to do it.” Jirou raised her hand.

Midoriya shook his head. Every single member of the class was putting forward themselves forward as a candidate. Unlike regular schools—where the position usually amounted to taking on a bunch of mundane extra tasks—the representative of a hero course was tasked with the responsibility of leading the group, a role which opened quite a few doors upon graduation.

I can hardly blame them for wanting the prestige, but it’s hard to believe that all of them actually want everything that comes with the job.’ He calmly raised his hand. ‘Still, if I’m going to be All Might’s replacement, I can’t miss this opportunity to establish myself as a leader of our generation.’

“Be silent!” Iida boomed, gathering the attention of his classmates. “Leading the many is a task laden with immense responsibility…but ambition alone does not equate to ability! As Aizawa-sensei said, a leader must have the trust and respect of those who follow them! That is why I propose that our leader be chosen by vote!”

“Ribbit. The words you’re saying are good, but you’ve got your hand up higher than of the rest of us Iida.” Asui pointed out, taking the wind out of his sails. “Besides, we haven’t known each other long enough to build much trust.”

“Yeah!” Kirishima chimed in, “And since everyone wants to do it, they’ll all just vote for themselves!”

“That’s precisely why anyone who manages to accrue multiple votes will be the best-suited individual for the position!” Iida argued. “Sensei! Is this acceptable to you?”

“I don’t care.” Aizawa replied. He zipped up into his sleeping bag and propped himself against the wall to catch a few precious moments of shut-eye. “Decide however you want, as long as you do it in the next 30 minutes.” 

“Excellent!” Iida took out a piece of paper and tore it into 19 pieces. “Let’s get this vote underway then!”

“Hold on a minute, Iida.” Midoriya spoke up, catching everyone’s attention.

Iida frowned. “What is it, Midoriya? Do you have a different suggestion for deciding who gets the role?”

Midoriya shook his head with a smile. “Not at all, but we shouldn’t rush straight to the voting. Aizawa-sensei said we have 30 minutes to decide. That’s enough time to give everyone a minute or so to formally introduce themselves and briefly make their case for the position. It’s not much, but it’s better than making such an important decision based off of zero information.”

Plus,’ he mentally added, ‘it’ll weed out the people who can’t handle speaking publicly or can’t articulate why they want to do the job beyond the personal accolades.’

“Of course!” Iida clenched his fist with a pained expression. “How could I have been so foolishly impatient!”

“No need to beat yourself up over it.” Midoriya said diplomatically. “No one can think of everything.”

“Very true!” Iida replied, chopping the air as he spoke. “Still, what a wonderful suggestion, Midoriya! You continue to impress me!” Iida rubbed his chin. “Now, how should we decide the order in which we speak?”

 

XXX

(With Ashido)

XXX

 

“Ooh! I’ll go first!” Ashido bounded up to the front of the class without hesitation. “Hey everybody!” She cheered, “To those of you who don’t already know, my name’s Ashido Mina! My quirk is Acid. I can create acid from any gland on my body, I can also control its strength and kinematic viscosity!”

She shot a wink at Midoriya, who smiled and shook his head in amusement.

“I like to dance! I wanna be president because I’ve always been good at making friends and I’m not afraid to speak my mind! The one thing that I can’t stand are people who bully others! I’m looking at you, Bakugo!”

Bakugo let out a derisive scoff and flipped her off. “Fuck you too, Raccoon Eyes!” Ashido stuck her tongue out at him.

“I’d like to make us all a class of people who look out for and take care of each other!” She flashed a grin and a peace sign, “Vote for me, ‘kay?”

 

XXX

(With Kirishima)

XXX

 

“All right!” Kirishima grinned and knocked his hardened fists together with a satisfying ~crack~ before making his way up to the front. “I’ll go next!”

Kirishima pointed his thumb at his chest and flashed his shark-like teeth at the class. “The name’s Kirishima Eijiro! My quirk is called Hardening!” Kirishima activated his quirk and transformed his arm into a jagged, sharp and rocklike material. “It’s pretty much what it sounds like. I can turn any part of my body as hard as a rock! I’m also a lot stronger when I use it too! My favorite hero is Crimson Riot!”

“Who the heck is Crimson Riot?” Satou whispered to Todoroki, who merely shrugged in response.

“I believe that he was a hero from a long time ago.” Yaoyorozu helpfully supplied. “His prime was shortly before All Might’s rise into prominence, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Dang.” Satou said. “Talk about retro.”

“I want to be class president because my dream is to become a man like him! A chivalrous hero who leads from the front and always does his best! If you vote for me, I’ll be this class’ unbreakable pillar!”

 

XXX

(With Jirou)

XXX

 

“Uh, hey.” Jirou held up a hand and waved half-heartedly at the class. “I’m Jirou Kyouka. My quirk is Earphone Jack. It’s pretty useful for a lot of stuff. I can move them at will, they’ve got a decent range on them, and I can use them to hear quiet things and send out my heartbeat through them as an attack. I sing, and I know how to play a couple of instruments, but I’m best at the guitar.”

“That’s super cool, Jirou!” Ashido called out.

Uraraka nodded, “Yeah, you’ll need to play for us sometime!”

“Maybe I will…sometime.” Jirou shrugged nonchalantly but couldn’t conceal her slight blush at the cheering from the other girls. “Anyways, I was the president of the Music Club back in Middle School, so I’ve got some leadership experience, I guess.” She twirled her finger around her Earphone Jack and faintly smiled, “And I’m a pretty good listener, for obvious reasons. I’d appreciate your support.”

 

 

XXX

(With Aoyama)

XXX

 

“Hmmph!” Aoyama struck a flamboyant pose as soon as he reached the front of the classroom. “It’s a crime that I’ve been forced to wait this long to display my brilliance to you all! Me nom est Aoyama Yuuga mon amies! My quirk is the très beau, brillant Navel Laser! My favorite thing? Why, myself, of course!”

The class stared at Aoyama, everyone at a complete loss for words as he continued to pose like a model while he spoke.

“Speechless in the face of my beauty?” Aoyama chuckled. “Unsurprising! The leader of the class should shine like a diamond! That is why I am the clear choice, oui?”   

 

XXX

(With Bakugo)

XXX

 

“All right!” Bakugo barked, “Listen up small fry! You had better pay attention, because I don’t like repeating myself!”

“Sorry, what was that?” Sero asked with a grin. “I couldn’t quite hear you.”

Bakugo’s eye twitched and he slowly began to walk towards Sero with sparks popping off in his palms. “You think you’re funny, Soy Sauce Face?”

“50 seconds Kacchan.” Midoriya reminded Bakugo before he wasted all of his available time. “Clock’s ticking.”

“Tch.” Bakugo clicked his tongue. “Whatever, I’ll deal with that smartass later…I’m Bakugo Katsuki, and my quirk is Explosion. If you can’t put together what it does from the name, then I don’t know what else to say to you other than ‘you’re a fucking dumbass’.”

The class stared in disbelief at the nerve of Bakugo for casually insulting the very people he wanted to vote for him.

Bakugo slammed his fist into his palm with a bang. “If your idea of a leader is someone whose gonna hold your fucking hand and sing kumbaya, I’m not him.”

“You don’t say.” Jirou snarked. “I never would have guessed.”

Bakugo’s eye twitched, but he ignored her. “I’ve got my eyes on one thing and one thing only—I’m going to be the number one hero, no matter what. You vote for me, and I’ll drag all of your asses kicking and screaming to the top along with me!”

Without another word, Bakugo marched back to his desk and throw himself into his chair and the class spent several seconds in shocked silence. A vein pulsed in Bakugo’s forehead. “Well?” He shouted, “Get a fucking move on! Let’s get this shit over with, goddamn it!”

 

XXX

(With Iida)

XXX

 

“I am Iida Tenya!” Iida loudly declared. “My quirk is called Engine! It allows me to travel at high speeds!”

“You know we can all hear you perfectly fine, right?” Asui called out. “You can stop shouting.”

Iida pushed up his glasses to hide his flush. “Erm…yes…anyways, the person I look up to the most is my brother, the Turbo Hero Ingenium.” Iida smiled proudly. “He is an excellent hero who leads others and always follows the rules! I aspire to become a man like him.”

At this revelation, several members of the class began whispering amongst each other. Midoriya raised his eyebrows. ‘I thought Iida looked sort of familiar, but I didn’t expect him to be part of that Iida family…it’s no surprise people are talking about it. Ingenium is one of the most popular heroes out there right now.’

Iida bowed. “I realize that I have much to learn, but I humbly request that you place your trust in me! Upon the honor of the Iida family name, I swear that I shall carry out the duties of this office with integrity, dignity, and to the very best of my ability! Thank you very much!”

 

XXX

(With Yaoyorozu)

XXX

 

“If nobody has any objections,” Yaoyorozu said, “I’ll go next.” After waiting a few seconds, she made her way to the front. “My name is Yaoyorozu Momo, and my quirk is called Creation.” She held out a palm face up and materialized a Matryoshka doll. “As long as I have a little bit of time and an understanding of its chemical structure, I can create any non-living material. I enjoy reading and a nice cup of tea.”

“As some of you may know, I am one of the students who was admitted through recommendations. I come from a line of pro heroes stretching back several generations and have been groomed for this role since I was very young.” Yaoyorozu paused, unsure of how to phrase her argument in a way that did not seem like she was boasting. “Due to the nature of my quirk, I require a great deal of academic and organizational proficiency. If I am your class representative, I promise to utilize my academic skills and lifelong preparation for heroics in a way that will bring out the best in all of us.”

“You know.” Sero remarked. “After so many weird or overly intense people in a row, that was pretty refreshing.”

Hagakure nodded. “She was really impressive in breaking things down yesterday during the combat trial, too. I wouldn’t have a problem if she won.”

Yaoyorozu bowed with a pleased smile. “Thank you very much.”

 

XXX

(With Midoriya)

XXX

 

One by one, the rest of the class made their pitches, and before long Midoriya was the only person who had yet to say his piece. He rose to his feet and made his way to the front of the class.

“Hello everyone.” He began with an easy smile. “I’m Midoriya Izuku, and my quirk is called Super-Power. It didn’t properly manifest until about a year ago, so I’m still figuring out everything I can do with it, but for now…” He flooded his body with 5% of One for All, making a few members of the class inhale sharply and stiffen in their seats when his glowing gaze fell upon them.

Interesting.’ He thought. ‘It seems as if my observations regarding people’s reactions to One of All were correct. It looks like sensitivity varies from person to person, but they can clearly feel the energy I’m putting out…now let’s see how they react if I keep going. It should be fine to go past the safety limit as long as I don’t move.

“I can summon a pool of energy either to individual limbs or throughout my entire body and use it to drastically increase my strength, speed and durability.” Midoriya explained, observing the reactions of the class with a clinical eye as he continued to raise his output. “But if I use too much, the backlash can leave me severely injured.”

The class watched in open mouthed shock as the small green sparks flying off Midoriya’s body quickly grew into crackling arcs of electricity until they were suddenly shut off by a glare from Aizawa.

“Midoriya.” The sleeping bag bound hero grunted, “Quit showing off. I’m trying to get a few minutes of rest here.”

“Ah, sorry sensei.” Midoriya apologized, noting the visible relief in the faces of the crowd as the tension quickly drained from the room following the deactivation of his quirk. ‘Excellent. It looks like this will be an effective intimidation tactic—and All Might’s absurd effect on crime suddenly makes a heck of a lot more sense.’

“Dude,” Kaminari let out a shaky breath, “that was kind of freaky. Are you sure that the only thing your quirk does is boost your strength? That was some crazy pressure you were giving off.”

“As far as I know.” Midoriya replied.

“HA!” A sudden shout from Ashido drew stares from everyone in the class. She had stood up in her seat and was giving all of the girls a triumphant look. “I freaking told you!”

“Okay.” Jirou nodded with a shell-shocked expression. “Now I see what you meant.”

“Wow.” Hagakure breathed.

“That was certainly something.” Yaoyorozu agreed, giving Midoriya a considering look. “I never would have expected something like that.”

Unsure of what to make of the conversation playing out in front of him, Midoriya looked at Ashido. “Should I be concerned about this?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Ashido sat back down with a satisfied smirk on her face. “I’m just basking in the familiar sensation of being proven right. Go ahead and finish your speech.”

“…Right.” Midoriya nodded. “Iida was correct when he talked about the great burden of responsibility that comes with being a leader—and honestly, bringing together a class of such wildly different personalities won’t be an easy task.” He grinned. “But if we were the type of people who took the easy route, we wouldn’t be here at Yuuei, now would we?”

A few of the more boisterous students let out a cheer at that.

“It’s only been a few days since we started school,” Midoriya continued, “but I’ve dedicated a great deal of time observing each of you.” He glanced at Ashido. “As anyone who has seen my notes can attest.”

Ashido laughed. “I want a copy of that drawing you did of me, by the way!”

“Come see me later.” Midoriya agreed. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Drawing?” Asui whispered. “He drew you?”

Ashido grinned. “I’m pretty sure he drew everyone. He’s pretty good too.”

“Make no mistake,” Midoriya pressed on, “everyone here has something valuable to offer as a leader, qualities that set them apart from the others…” He smiled at Ashido. “Whether it be a friendly, approachable demeanor…” He gazed at Kirishima, “Overflowing passion…” He glanced at Bakugo. “A relentless obsession with victory...” His eyes shifted to Yaoyorozu. “A keen mind honed by years of preparation…” He looked at Iida. “Or an unyielding sense of duty, all of you possess qualities that would make for a fine leader, a leader I would be proud to follow.”

Midoriya smiled, “Right now, you may be wondering what qualities I’m bringing to the table.” He paused for a moment to let out a chuckle. “Well, someone recently told me that I’m ‘super weird’, so there’s that.”

Ashido snickered along with the rest of the class at the self-deprecating crack.

“And it’s true, I am a little weird. For years, my hobby was hunting for villain attacks so I could watch the heroes work. I spent almost every waking moment imagining myself in their shoes, reflecting on how to incorporate their best qualities into myself. I promise to apply this same practice to each of you. I will watch you. I will listen to you. I will learn from each and every one of you and make your strength my own, because at the end of the day, I aim to become more than just your representative…”

Midoriya paused and called upon One for All, illuminating his eyes for dramatic effect. “I’m going to become the next All Might.” He bowed to the silent classroom. “Thank you very much.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

(Lunchtime)

 

In the end, the results weren’t even close. Midoriya had dominated the final tally with seven votes compared to Yaoyorozu’s four. Bakugo’s negative reaction to Midoriya’s overwhelming victory had been unsurprising, but everybody else seemed fine with the way things turned out.

The moment he entered the cafeteria, Midoriya took the opportunity to claim a spot in the back corner of the room before making his way over to the lunch line. With his meal in hand, he opened up his sketchbook and eyed a few of the more interesting mutant-type students, idly drawing them as he ate.

“Heeeey, Class Prez, mind if we sit with you?”

“Hm?” Midoriya looked away from his current subject to see none other than Ashido grinning at him with Yaoyorozu and Uraraka in tow. “Um…sure.”

Why do they want to eat with me?’ Midoriya wondered. ‘I went out of my way to sit in the furthest, darkest corner of the room.’

“Midoriya! Would you mind if I joined you for lunch!?” Iida loudly greeted him.

“Please.” Midoriya gestured at an open seat. ‘And now Iida is here…is this what being popular feels like?’ He furrowed his brow. ‘This is weird.’

“Why are you crammed all the way over here in the back corner?” Yaoyorozu asked. “It was pretty difficult to find you.”

“It’s a little quieter.” Midoriya answered, “I usually spend lunch either drawing or going over my notes to relax. Plus, nobody can get at my back in this spot, and I have a clear line of sight to the door.”

“Are you Musashi Miyamoto or something?” Yaoyorozu smiled in amusement. “Do you think someone’s going to try and assassinate you?”

Little bit too honest just then, Izuku.’ Midoriya smiled back at her. “Maybe.” He replied in a light-hearted tone. “You never know.”

Uraraka giggled. “You know, you’re actually pretty funny for someone who’s so quiet and serious all the time…hey, do you mind if I ask you something?”

“Go ahead,” Midoriya replied.

“Why does that Bakugo guy call you Deku?”

“I too am curious about that.” Iida chimed in. “Your given name is Izuku, is it not?”

“Ah,” Midoriya replied, “that.” He took a bite of his food. “Kacchan’s been calling me that since we were four. The kanji of my name can be read as Deku, and I was pretty clumsy as a kid, so he used the name to pick on me, saying that I was good-for-nothing.”

“So, it’s an insult then.” Iida frowned.

Ashido puffed out her cheeks angrily. “Jeez! Sounds like he’s been a jerk from day one!”

Midoriya shrugged. “I guess. It used to bother me a lot when I was younger, but I don’t really care anymore. I know it isn’t true.”

“You know, I actually kind of like it.” Uraraka said. “I think it’s kinda cute, and it sort of sounds like the word for ‘I can do it!’” Midoriya stopped eating to stare at Uraraka for a few seconds, making her cheeks light up under his piercing scrutiny. “W-What? Did I say something weird?”

Midoriya smiled and shook his head. “No…I just never thought about it like that. I guess you guys can call me Deku if you want.”

“Really Midoriya?” Iida asked incredulously, “You’re okay with that? It’s supposed to be an insult, remember?”

“If I didn’t care when it was explicitly being used as an insult,” Midoriya replied evenly, “why would I care when it has a new meaning?”

“So Deku,” Ashido leapt right into using the nickname with no hesitation. “When am I going to get a copy of that drawing?”

“Yes, that’s right.” Yaoyorozu chimed in, “You said that you like to spend your lunch periods drawing. Would you mind showing us some of your work?”

“I don’t see why not.” Midoriya handed her the sketchbook. He shot Ashido a meaningful look. “Thank you for asking.”

Ashido rolled her eyes in response to the subtle jab. “I said I was sorry.”

“Oh.” Yaoyorozu let out an impressed murmur as she flipped through the pages. “These are actually quite good. Do you draw a lot?”

“Not as much as I used to.” Midoriya replied. “But I still like to fit in time here and there. I find it relaxing.”

Midoriya had an odd feeling in his chest as he spent the rest of the lunch period making small talk with his fellow heroes in the making. It had been many, many years since he’d had anything that could be remotely described as a ‘friend’, but he found that he was rather enjoying the experience.

At least, he was until the alarms started going off.   

 

AN: Next chapter is the beginning of the USJ arc, and boy do I have something big planned out for you, my beloved readers. Until next time. Plus Ultra!

Chapter Text

 

~VREEEEEEE VREEEEEE VREEEEE VREEEEEE~

Attention: there has been a Level 3 security breach. All students, please evacuate in a calm and orderly fashion. Attention: there has been a Level 3 security breach. All students, please evacuate in a calm and orderly fashion.

“Level 3!?” An upperclassman shouted before running towards the exit. “That means somebody’s infiltrated the building!”

“What?!” Another student cried, “Let’s get out of here!”

“It’s a villain!”

“Everybody run!”

Midoriya closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out a long, low, groaning sigh while the student body proceeded to break out into a frenzied panic, completely ignoring the soothing feminine voice reading out the pre-recorded instructions over the loudspeaker. He had begun to walk over to the window to see if could survey the situation when he felt a hand grab his shoulder.

“Midoriya, what are you doing?” Iida shouted over the racket, “Didn’t you hear the announcement just now? We need to get out of here!”

I heard.” Midoriya scribbled onto his sketchpad. He pointed to the huge press of bodies trying to shove their way through the double doors of the cafeteria. “We can’t get out through there right now. I’m going to see if I can assess the situation from here. In the meantime, I need you to go find Yaoyorozu and assist her in making sure the rest of the class is together and keeping their cool. Can you do that?

A gleam appeared in Iida’s eye as he nodded. “Yes of course! You can count on me!”

Midoriya nodded in gratitude and headed over to the window, where he saw Present Mic and Aizawa trying to drive away the press corps he had encountered that morning. They had somehow gotten through the physical UA Barrier, but their lack of identification still set off the sensors, leading to the current situation.

Are you kidding me?’ He thought. He glanced over his shoulder at the panicked mob behind him. ‘All this for a freaking news story?’ He shook his head and frowned. ‘I need to put a stop to this before somebody gets seriously hurt. First things first…’

 Midoriya climbed up onto a table to get a better view of the crowd and searched for Yaoyorozu. After a few seconds of this, his eyes lit up at the sight of a spiky black ponytail sticking out of the mess of people. ‘I’m fortunate that she’s so tall. If she was Asui’s height I might have never been able to find her.’

Midoriya scribbled something into his sketchbook and hopped down from the table. He shoved his way through the crowd until he was able to lay a hand on his fellow representative’s shoulder and held up his sketch book for her to read the large, hastily scrawled words. “It’s just the press. I need your help to calm everybody down. Can you make me a megaphone?”

Yaoyorozu’s face lit up with understanding and she materialized a pen out of her hand. “Not right here.” She wrote, “I’d need some space to pull it out, and I’d need to open my shirt to have enough surface area to make it. Doing that in this situation is…”

Midoriya nodded and gestured for her to give him the pen. The way her quirk worked meant that she had to be prepared to bare some skin, but opening her shirt in the middle of a crowd packer tighter than a train at rush hour was another thing entirely.

Understood.” He wrote, “Grab onto my collar and follow me. I’ll get us out of here.” Yaoyorozu nodded.

One for All: 4% Parallel Flow!’

Holding onto the back of Midoriya’s blazer, Yaoyorozu’s eyes widened when he ignited his quirk and bulldozed through the panicking mass of people pushing them forward. In the face of his oppressive aura and his sheer strength, it didn’t take long before the people in his path simply began to make way, flowing around him like a stream diverted by a rock.

Hurry.” He wrote in the notebook once they were free. “If this keeps up, someone will get hurt. I’ll stand in front of you to block their view, do what you have to do.”

Yaoyorozu nodded and wasted no time in unbuttoning her shirt to pull the requested megaphone out of her stomach. Without waiting to button herself back up, she handed it to Midoriya.

With a blush on his face from the eyeful he’d just received, Midoriya turned on the megaphone. “Attention everyone!” Midoriya stated, his amplified voice drowning out the racket of the alarm and the shouts of the student body. “It’s only the press! There’s no reason to panic. If you look out the window on your right, you’ll see that it’s only the press! Please calm yourselves before somebody gets hurt!”

This news, delivered in a calm, authoritative manner, was like a bucket of ice water on the panic-stricken mob.

“Hey, he’s right!” Somebody shouted, “Look, it’s just a bunch of reporters!”

“For real?” Another voice complained. “I thought we were under attack by villains or something.”

“Way to go, megaphone kid!”

“Yeah, awesome work! I totally thought I was gonna get crushed!”

Midoriya shook his head. “…These are supposed to be the next leaders of the hero industry?” He muttered. “An alarm goes off and they panic immediately. Is this how the students of the best hero school in the nation respond to a crisis? This is just embarrassing.”

“That’s not entirely fair.” Yaoyorozu replied with an amused undertone. Her undone top had been restored to its former state. “Only a quarter of the students at Yuuei are actually in the hero course, you know.”

Midoriya flushed. “Shoot, I didn’t mean to say that out loud…can you pretend you didn’t hear that?”

Yaoyorozu had to cover her mouth with her hand to suppress her laughter. “You’re an interesting person, Midoriya Izuku. I’m not quite sure what to make of you.”

Midoriya snorted softly and flashed a good-natured smile at Yaoyorozu. “That’s got to be one of the nicest ways somebody’s ever called me weird.”

Yaoyorozu let out a chuckle. “I didn’t say that. But…I can’t deny that I find you to be a walking contradiction in many ways.”

“Is that so?” Midoriya replied evenly. “That’s not the first time I’ve been told that, but it’s interesting that you’d say that with a little interaction as we’ve had. I’d like to get your take on it.”

“Well…” Yaoyorozu frowned thoughtfully. “You’re usually so quiet, aloof even, and yet you’re a confident and compelling speaker. You can produce that intimidating aura and claim that you’re going to be the next All Might, but at the same time, you’re soft-spoken and humble.”

“I don’t know about that.” Midoriya smiled. “Making a claim like that requires a certain level of arrogance. I appreciate the compliment though.”

“Midoriya! Yaoyorozu!” Iida called out as he approached them. “All of Class 1-A has been accounted for! We are now waiting on you to proceed with evacuation!”

“Good work, Iida.” Midoriya clapped Iida on the shoulder. “I knew I could count on you.” He paused. “I realize that this is selfish, but I have another favor I’d like to ask of you if you are willing.”

Iida nodded. “Of course! It would be my pleasure to assist you in any way that I can!”

“I’d like you to join us on the student council.” He glanced over at Yaoyorozu. “Unless you have any objections of course, I don’t intend on deciding on the officer positions unilaterally.”

Yaoyorozu shook her head. “I would have suggested him if you didn’t.” She smiled. “But I appreciate the consideration.”

Iida beamed. “I’m happy to be of service!”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

“For today’s hero training,” Aizawa droned, “we will be performing rescue training. Specifically, we are going to cover disaster relief—things like fires, floods, and earthquakes. This time, All Might, myself, and another teacher will be supervising you.”

“Man,” Kaminari smiled woefully, “sounds like another tough day, huh?”

“Come on!” Kirishima slapped Kaminari on the shoulder, “This is what being a hero is all about! I’m totally pumped!”

“I’d be right at home in a flood.” Asui croaked.

“I’m not done.” Aizawa rebuked them with a scathing look. He withdrew a remote from the folds of his scarf and brought out the panels containing their costumes with a click of a button. “I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether to wear your costumes or not, since some of them are ill-suited to this sort of activity. The training site is pretty remote, so we’ll be going by bus this time.”

Rescue training, huh?’

“Hahaha! It’s all right now!” All Might’s booming voice sounded off in Midoriya’s mind.

This is it.’ Midoriya pulled the aluminum case containing his costume out of its slat as scenes from the video of All Might’s legendary debut played through his head. He had seen it so many times that every second of the grainy footage was seared into his mind.

Why?” A fearless smile shone through the darkness, a beacon of hope to all who lay eyes upon its brilliance. “Because I am here!

His eyes gleamed and he tightened his grip on the case to control his excited trembling. As informative as the battle trial was, combat was perhaps the least interesting aspect of heroics to Midoriya. ‘It’s just training now, but this is the reason I wanted to become a hero.’

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE
XXX

 

Uraraka did a double take when she filed past Midoriya as she made her way onto the bus and saw the massive grin poking out from beneath his hood. She smiled and nudged his side when he plopped down next to her near the front of the vehicle. “You sure look pumped, Deku! I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile like that!”

“Oh?” Nearly giddy with anticipation at this point, Midoriya had to resist the urge to break out into giggles. “How do I usually smile?”

Uraraka furrowed her brow. “It’s kinda hard to describe…it’s more like, um, peaceful…I guess?”

“It looks like what you’d see on one of those old Buddhist statues.” Asui croaked to his left, cracking up everybody within earshot with how completely spot-on that description was. “I always feel like you’re going to start chanting mantras at me.”

“Oh my gosh,” Ashido snorted, “that’s totally what it looks like!” She closed her eyes and performed a rough approximation of a Buddhist meditation gesture. “Master, please show me the path towards enlightenment.”

“I can provide you with the tools.” Midoriya replied in his typical measured tone. “But the path to enlightenment is ultimately a personal journey. Also, you’re doing the Abhaya Mudra backwards.”

Ashido broke out into laughter. “He actually knows what it is!”

“Anyways,” Uraraka cut back in—by now, the girls had realized that getting back on topic when Ashido was involved in a conversation was not unlike finding a missing person: if it didn’t happen quickly, it likely wouldn’t happen at all. “Right now, you look really excited and happy!” She pressed her fingers together and smiled widely at him. “It’s nice!”

Too cute!’

“O-oh, r-really?” Feeling his heart constrict, Midoriya averted his eyes from Uraraka and ducked his head, eminently grateful for the way his hood helped to hide the blush slowly creeping up the back of his neck and onto his cheeks. “Thanks, I guess I’m really excited for the training.”

There’s literally nothing to be embarrassed about.’ Midoriya reminded himself. He took a deep, calming breath. ‘Why am I reacting like this? Oh…right.’ He realized. ‘Puberty freaking sucks.

“Oh ho…” Ashido eyed Midoriya’s reaction with a mischievous gleam in her eye. ‘I just saw something that promises to be entertaining!’

“Hey Midoriya.” Asui said.

Trying to ignore the random shiver that had just run down his spine, Midoriya glanced her way. “Yes, Asui?”

“You can me Tsuyu.” Asui informed him. “And I’ve got a question for you.”

“Ask away.” Midoriya replied.

“What did you mean when you said that you want to be the next All Might?” She raised a finger to her lip. “I can’t help but think that you had something different in mind than when Bakugo said he wanted to be the number one hero.” She paused, “He’s angry and rude all the time, though, so I can’t see him ever getting that popular.”

“The fuck did you just say, Frog Face!?” Bakugo shouted, “I’ll kick your ass!”

Asui pointed at him. “See what I mean?” Midoriya waited patiently and watched with detached amusement as several students took turns needling the ill-tempered teen.

“I wouldn’t underestimate him if I were you.” Midoriya reprimanded the naysayers with a smile and shook his head. “Kacchan’s temperament aside, he’s my most formidable rival for the number one position.” He paused. “That I know of, anyway.”

 “Truly?” Iida exclaimed, only one of several people who reacted with surprise to that statement. “You think he has a better chance than Todoroki?”

“Yeah!” Kaminari added, “Don’t get me wrong, Bakugo’s a crazy tough customer, but Todoroki’s got two ultra-strong quirks, and he’s not a total asshole!”

“Fuck you too, you Piss-headed moron!”

“If I compare Kacchan’s attitude to his?” Midoriya saw Todoroki look in his direction and unflinchingly matched the elite student’s piercing glare. “Easily.”

After a second, Todoroki scoffed and returned to looking out the window.

“Don’t fucking praise me, Deku!” Bakugo yelled, “It’s goddamn gross, you shitty nerd!”

“Anyways,” Midoriya returned his gaze to Asui, “All Might is the number one hero, but you’re right, I meant something different when I said what I did.”

“Oi! Don’t ignore me shithead!”

Midoriya smiled. “To be perfectly honest, I don’t particularly care about the title of number one as far as the rankings go. The whole popularity contest aspect of the hero business seems like a meaningless waste of time to me.”

At the very front of the bus, Aizawa let out an approving grunt. ‘Got that right.’

Midoriya shook his head. “All Might has been doing this for a long time. Sooner or later, he’ll need someone to take up his mantle, and I don’t mean his spot in the hero ranking.” He clenched his fists in his lap and his eyes gleamed with determination. “It’s his other title that interests me.”

“His other title?” Uraraka scratched her head. “He has another title?”

Iida stared at Midoriya with wide eyes. “You wish to become the next ‘Symbol of Peace?’”

Midoriya nodded.

“WONDERFUL!” Iida shouted and jumped to his feet, making the rest of the passengers startle at the unexpected outburst. He had tears in his eyes as he burst into spontaneous applause. “What a wonderful ambition, Midoriya! Truly, you were the correct choice to lead this class!”

“Uh…thanks.” Midoriya’s eyes darted around the bus to confirm if everyone else was as weirded out by Iida’s over-the-top display as he was. ‘Iida’s a nice enough guy and all, but he seriously needs to take it down like…five notches. This is a little embarrassing.’

“Hey Shitty Four-Eyes!” Bakugo jeered, “Suck his dick a little harder, why don’t you?”

Iida’s eyes bugged out. “W-What!? How crude!”

“Sit down and shut up!” Aizawa barked. “We’re almost there!”

“I’m terribly sorry sensei!” Iida turned and bowed, “Please accept my apologies for my outburst!”

Aizawa’s eye twitched. “Stop apologizing and just do what I said.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

Midoriya stared around at the many features of the massive domed facility with stars in his eyes. ‘Fires, floods, landslides, earthquakes, typhoons…simulations for every kind of disaster I can imagine at my fingertips.’ He pulled out his notebook and bit the inside of his cheeks to keep from muttering. ‘Just thinking about the amount of data I’m going to be able to collect here is…!’

“This is so cool!” Someone remarked. “It’s just like Universal Studios Japan!”

“It makes me happy to see everyone so excited by my facility.” An amused voice belonging to a man in a space suit remarked. “I designed and built this Ultimate Space for Jams myself you know.”

“Huh.” Kaminari said, “So, it really is USJ then.”

“Oh my gosh!” Uraraka elbowed Midoriya to snap him out of his notetaking frenzy. “Look, Deku! It’s Thirteen! He’s my absolute favorite!”

“So it is.” Midoriya agreed. “You said you even based your costume off of his, right?”

Uraraka furrowed her brow. “Did I say that? I mean, I did do the design with that in mind, but I don’t remember talking about that with you.”

Shit. Damage control, fast.’ Midoriya nodded, “Yeah, you did…I think.” He shrugged, “I also might have overheard you saying that you liked him and I jumped to conclusions. After all, my costume is based off of All Might’s, so I figured with the space theme you’ve got going on…”

“That makes sense.” Uraraka agreed. “That’s a good guess though. I wanted my outfit to be puffier like his, but the design department came back with this skintight jumpsuit. I’m more used to it now, but it’s still a little embarrassing.”

“I think it looks good on you.” Midoriya calmly reassured her. “Plus, it’s probably for the best that it’s more form-fitting—unlike Thirteen, your quirk is contact-based, so mobility is more of a requirement.”

“You…think it looks good?” Uraraka shyly repeated with a blush. “That’s…um…”

Though he’d had no ulterior motives, Midoriya flushed once he realized how she’d taken his compliment. ‘Idiot! The outfit is skin-tight, that was basically me outright saying I like her body!’

“Uh…yeah, I’d say that your outfit has the best design out of the girls, aesthetically speaking…” He cleared his throat and tried to remember his original compliment that went over well. “it's eye-catching and memorable, but the dual color-scheme and simple pattern keep it from being over-designed…that’s just my opinion, anyways.”

“Oh…Oh!” Uraraka beamed, still blushing but looking far more pleased. “Thanks! I think that’s probably one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten from a boy!”

“Don’t mention it.” This time, Midoriya decided to keep his opinions regarding her footwear to himself.

Meanwhile, Aizawa walked up to the other hero. “Hey, Thirteen…where’s All Might? He was supposed to meet us here.” Aizawa looked around suspiciously. “He isn’t hiding so he can do one of his stupid entrances, is he?”

Thirteen shook his head. “No,” he answered in a low voice, “he’s waiting in the break room. Apparently, he just about hit his limit during his morning commute.”

“Seriously?” Aizawa glowered. “That man is the height of irrationality.” He sighed. “So be it, let’s get started.”

“Before that…” Thirteen said, “I just want to cover one point…or maybe two…three, no, four…”

“Just get to the point before the number gets any higher.” Aizawa cut in.

“Right.” Thirteen agreed. He cleared his throat and got the attention of the class. “As I’m sure many of you are aware, my quirk is called Black Hole. It can suck in and tear apart anything.”

Midoriya nodded. “You’ve used it to save people in all sorts of disasters.” Uraraka nodded enthusiastically.

“That’s correct.” Thirteen continued, “But it can also easily be used to kill.” The space-themed hero paused to let his point sink in. “I’m sure many of you have powers that are similar. Though our society’s heavy regulation of quirk use seems stable, we must never forget that it only takes one wrong move with a dangerous quirk for somebody to die.”

Midoriya clenched his fists. ‘Some of us more than others.’

“During Aizawa’s fitness test, you discovered some of your hidden potential. During All Might’s combat training, you learned how dangerous your quirks can be to others. But to day will be a lesson with a very different perspective. You will learn to use your quirks in order to save lives.”

It’s all right now.’ Midoriya’s mouth twisted into a grin. ‘Why? Because I am here.’

“Your powers are not meant to inflict harm. I hope that you leave here today with the understanding that you are meant to help people.”

Midoriya cut his gaze over towards Todoroki. ‘I hope he’s listening to this.

As the class applauded Thirteen’s speech, a small dark spot appeared in the middle of the plaza below them and began to grow into a gaping maw of swirling black mist.

When a figure emerged from the mist, Aizawa’s eyes widened. “HUDDLE TOGETHER AND DON’T MOVE!” He roared, making the students jump in surprise. “Thirteen! Protect the students!”

“Sensei?” Kirishima asked, “What’s going on?” He began to walk toward the edge of the stairs. “Is this that pattern from the entrance exam?”

“I told you not to move!” Aizawa barked as he pulled a pair of yellow goggles our from the folds of his scarf, “Those are villains!”

A deep voice emerged from a pair of glowing yellow eyes within the dark mist. “Eraserhead and Thirteen,” it said, “according to the teacher’s curriculum we stole yesterday, All Might was supposed to be here…and yet…”

“Yesterday…” Aizawa muttered, “I knew it, so the break-in yesterday was you!”

 

“Where is he?” A pale, white-haired man covered in hands whined petulantly, “We went through all of this trouble, and rustled up so many friends to clear this level…you can’t tell me that All Might, the ‘Symbol of Peace’ isn’t here?” His voice got lower and angrier, “I know…maybe he’ll show up if we kill all of these kids.”

“V-villains?” Kirishima exclaimed incredulously, “Get out of here! What kind of idiot would think that they could just walk right into the heroes’ home base?”

“Sensei?” Momo asked Thirteen, “Don’t we have alarms here? They went off yesterday when the press got in.”

“Of course we have them here,” Thirteen answered, “but they aren’t working right now…” He let out a frustrated growl. “And I can’t get a hold of the main campus either.”

“They must have one among their number with a quirk who can do that,” Todoroki coolly surmised, “that means that this wasn’t a random attack, this was carefully planned out with an objective of some kind.”

“Thirteen!” Aizawa shouted, “Start the evacuation procedures! Kaminari, try contacting the school with your quirk, if they have an electrowave-type interfering, then you might be able to get around it! Midoriya! Use your broad-spectrum distress signal as well!”

Impressive.’ Midoriya noted as he pulled out the tough battery powered device from one of his pouches and activated it. ‘He must know what exactly what equipment everyone has registered. He’s thorough…I’m going to have to watch myself around him.’

“R-right!” Kaminari stammered and began to fiddle with his earpiece.

“Sensei?” Midoriya eyed the tension in his teacher’s frame and realized what the man intended to do. “Are you seriously going to try and fight them alone?” He asked, keeping his voice as even as possible. “You need to let us help you or you will die. Your style of combat is one-on-one ambush tactics.”

“Everything’s going to be alright Midoriya,” Aizawa reassured him, “a pro doesn’t last as long as I have without having a few tricks up their sleeve. Thirteen, I’m counting on you.” Without another word he leapt down the stairs into the crowd of villains and immediately began beating them senseless.

“I see…” Midoriya muttered as he watched Aizawa tear through villain after villain like wet paper. “With his goggles on, the enemy has no way of knowing whose quirk is being erased, preventing them from properly coordinating their attacks.” 

“This is no time for analysis, Midoriya!” Iida cried, “We need to evacuate!”

Midoriya nodded. “You’re right.” He said calmly. “Let’s get everyone to the door. Everything is going to be alright.”

“I’m afraid I can’t allow that.” Any attempt to make an escape was brought to an immediate halt when the dark mist from earlier materialized in front of them.

“Stay back!” Thirteen shouted, “Don’t—"

“Get out of the way! / Die!” Bakugo and Kirishima shouted together, ignoring Thirteen’s warning and attacking the mist with all of their might.

No!’ Thirteen cursed. ‘I can’t suck him up with those two in the way!’

“Greetings,” the mist said politely as it easily swirled away from the two simultaneous attacks. “My name is Kurogiri, and we are the League of Villains. Forgive the presumption, but we came here today in order to engage with All Might, so that we might extinguish the Symbol of Peace.”

Kill All Might?’ Midoriya’s eyes went wide, ‘Is this guy serious?’

“He was supposed to be here today, was he not?” Kurogiri sighed. “Ah, well, setting that aside,” the ground beneath the students turned black, and they began to sink into the swirling maelstrom of dark mist, “this is my role.”

“A portal quirk!?” Midoriya exclaimed, struggling in a futile attempt to escape the dark mire. ‘Shit,’ He thought, now chest-deep in the portal, ‘this is bad, I need to warn them!’ “Everyone,” He shouted, “Get away from the dark spots! It’s a portal! Don’t let him suck you in!”

Just before his head completely slipped through the portal, the last thing he heard was a chillingly polite declaration from Kurogiri. “It is regrettable, but to achieve our goals, you will all be scattered...tortured...and slain.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

When Midoriya exited the portal, he quickly realized that he was nearly fifteen meters in the air. As he plummeted towards the deep waters of the flood zone, he only had time for two thoughts to run through his mind. The first was that he was glad that he was above the flood zone. The second was a desperate hope that nobody else was teleported this high into the air above hard ground.

~SPLASH~

Ow.’

After hitting the water with a great deal of force, Midoriya was in pain, disoriented, and being pulled downwards by his heavy costume. Thinking quickly, Midoriya let out a short pulse of air from his nose to figure out which way was up before vigorously kicking in the opposite direction. Despite the stinging of the salt water, Midoriya forced his eyes to open and immediately let out a huge volume of air with a yelp.

“Sorry kid, it’s nothing personal!” The distorted voice of a fish-like man rang out underwater. The villain opened his enormous mouth and displayed rows upon rows of razor-sharp teeth. “But you’re chum!”

Midoriya’s gaze hardened and he chambered his fist, channeling One for All into his body. ‘If this guy thinks I’m going to sit back and become his victim, he’s got another thing coming. One for All: 4% Sma—'

Before the fish-like villain could close the distance, a pair of feet slammed into the man’s head, knocking him unconscious. Midoriya blinked as a powerful tongue wrapped around him and dumped him onto the boat that was floating in the middle of the man-made cove.

“You okay there Midoriya?” Asui croaked.

After a few seconds of coughing up the water in his lungs, Midoriya nodded. “Thanks Asu…Tsuyu. Yeah, I’m fine…was anybody else dropped with us?”

“Wow, I’m actually surprised that I didn’t have to correct you on that.” Asui said. “And no, I think it’s just us.”

Midoriya gave the girl a curious look. “You’re certainly taking this well. Aren’t you scared?”

“I am.” She replied. “But it’s not like panicking will make the situation any better.”

Midoriya raised his eyebrows in respect. “No,” he agreed, “no it won’t.”

She’s got a really good head on her shoulders…I’ll talk to Yaoyorozu about adding her to the council after this.’

“They knew our schedule.” Midoriya removed his helmet and shook out his hair. “The simplest explanation is that they caused that mess with the press yesterday to get their info. It’s like Todoroki said, they’ve been waiting for this chance and prepared well.”

“What about you?” Asui asked. “They seem to think they’ve got a plan to kill All Might, but you don’t seem scared at all either.”

“I’m not.” Midoriya replied, digging through his waterlogged medicine pouch. “Because I’ve got a surefire way out of this.”

“You’ve got a plan?” Asui asked.

“Yeah.” Midoriya unwrapped the waterproof packaging containing his cyanide tablet. “I’m going to use my quirk.”

Asui eyed the tablet. “What’s that? Some kind of medicine for your quirk?”

Midoriya smiled. “Something like that. Sorry in advance.” He took the pill.

And the world went black.

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

 

“It is regrettable,” A deep menacing voice reverberated within the darkness, “but to achieve our goals, you will all be scattered...tortured...and slain.”

Midoriya opened his eyes and paled when he realized that he was plummeting towards a body of water. ‘No.’ He thought.

~SPLASH~

No no no no no…it can’t be.’ He forced his eyes open, ignoring the stinging from the salt water. ‘It can’t start here!’

“Sorry kid!” The distorted voice of a fish-like man rang out underwater. The villain opened his enormous mouth and displayed rows upon rows of razor-sharp teeth. “But you’re chum!”

Just as before, Asui’s feet slammed into the villain’s head, knocking them out. Then, Midoriya was unceremoniously deposited onto the deck of the boat by Asui’s powerful tongue.

“You okay there Midoriya?” She croaked. “…Midoriya?”

Coughing the water out of his lungs, Midoriya ignored Asui and staggered to the railing of the boat and began to count the villains waiting for them. ‘One...two…seven…ten.’ His stomach dropped. ‘There are ten villains out there waiting for us. They likely all have water related quirks. Can I beat them with what we have available?’ He tightened his grip on the railing, squeezing the metal bar until his knuckles popped.

“Midoriya?” Asui’s concerned voice rang out behind him. “Are you okay?”

Midoriya took a deep breath. ‘Okay Izuku, calm down. The loops have never put you in an inescapable situation. There is a way out. I can do this. I have to do this.’

“Yes.” He replied. He turned and faced Asui with a determined smile. “Everything is going to be just fine.”

Because I am here.’

 

AN: Muhahahaha, and so it begins. Don’t worry about too long of a wait, I’ve been working out the details of the next chapter as well and I’m EXTREMELY excited to put it out. For those of you who were happy about Grape Juice getting the boot, know that your joy will cause our boy quite a bit of pain. Anyways, until next time, PLUS ULTRA.

 

Chapter Text

 

“It is regrettable, but to achieve our goals, you will all be scattered...tortured...and slain.”

~SPLASH!~

“Sorry kid, it’s nothing personal! But you’re chum!”

“Are you okay Midoriya?”

“I’m fine.” Midoriya removed his waterlogged helmet and jacket before mentally brushing off his latest failure. “Everything is going to be all right.”

Okay,’ He furrowed his brow in concentration. ‘Obviously, using the boat isn’t an option as long as they keep destroying it the moment the engines kick in.’

He’d never piloted a boat before, but Midoriya was confident in his ability to figure out the intricacies of the practice over the course of a couple of loops if necessary. He’d wasted a handful of loops trying to find the keys to the rescue vehicle they used as their refuge before he’d realized that they were probably in Thirteen’s possession. From there, figuring out how to hotwire the boat in under four minutes been a bit more of a challenging, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t overcome with his basic set of tools and some trial and error.

Well, I can’t say this has been a total waste. I learned something new, and I can keep this as an option once we deal with our most pressing issue.’ Midoriya stared over the railing of the boat at a specific villain with amphibian features and a dangerous knack for hydrokinesis.

“There’s only two of them!” One of the villains surrounding the boat laughed, “Let’s just get in there and tear ‘em apart!”

“Don’t just charge in there, you idiot!” The amphibious villain barked, “Shigaraki told us not to get cocky. Judge them by their quirks, not their age!” The water around the villain began to bubble and writhe in response to his mental command. “And clearly, our quirks have the advantage in the water.”

He’s obviously in some kind of a leadership role.’ Midoriya noted, ‘But he’s not just powerful, he’s cautious too. That guy is dangerous. We’re obviously going to have to take him out if we want to succeed, but it’ll have to be done from inside the boat…maybe we can jury rig some kind of ranged weapon with the equipment we have available?’

As he mentally measured the distance and angle between the boat and their target, Midoriya wished that he had his notebook with him to help organize his thoughts. He had dropped it when he was caught in Kurogiri’s gate, so it was presumably sitting at the top of the stairs, near the entrance. While he was busy wracking his brain for a plan, a blade of water suddenly sliced the boat in half and the craft began to rapidly sink.

“Any bright ideas, Midoriya?” Asui asked, completely deadpan, “All I can think of at the moment is to swim as hard as we can and hope for the best, so if you’ve got something better than that, now would be a really great time to let me know.”

Midoriya shook his head with impressed disbelief. He was basically immortal, so Midoriya didn’t think his nonchalant attitude towards lethal situations counted, but Asui’s ability to keep her cool under pressure and crack jokes like that while staring death in the face took some serious nerves of steel.

“Start swimming.” He suggested, “Without the boat, my current plan is off the table this time.”

“This time?” Asui croaked.

Midoriya shook his head and called upon One for All. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll distract them, but you only have a moment before I have to focus on saving myself, so get ready to go on my mark.” Asui nodded. “Three, two, one, go!”

 

 

“It is regrettable, but to achieve our goals, you will all be scattered...tortured...and slain.”

~SPLASH!~

“Sorry kid, it’s nothing personal! But you’re chum!”

“Are you okay Midoriya?”

“I’m fine.” Midoriya tersely replied, “Help me gather every bit of equipment you can find on this boat. We need to make a weapon. Hurry, I’ll give us a couple of minutes at most before they come for us.”

Asui nodded and immediately began to gather materials as requested. “What kind of weapon are we making?”

“Something with at least 5 meters of range.” He said, “Something that can be assembled quickly, and is preferably reusable.”

“What about this?” Asui asked, holding up a small anchor she scavenged off of one of the lifeboats. “It’s got a rope attached, and if you threw it with your strength, anyone who gets hit with this probably isn’t getting back up.”

Midoriya eyed the sharp edges of the anchor and shook his head. “Tsuyu, if I hit someone with that thing, it wouldn’t knock them out, it’d kill them. I can’t do that.”

“That’s a real noble sentiment, Midoriya.” Asui croaked, “But I doubt the guys down there feel the same way. I just stopped one of them from eating you a minute ago. We’re outnumbered by adult villains who have demonstrated murderous intent. We’re trapped in a situation where we can’t reasonably expect to escape with our lives or receive authorized assistance. We’re legally in the clear for any actions taken in the immediate pursuit of preserving our lives.”

“I’m aware of the law.” Midoriya replied. “But I won’t kill them.”

“But—” Asui began.

No.” Midoriya stated definitively, silencing her objections with glowing eyes and sheer force of will. “I won’t do it. Not now, not ever. End of discussion.” He paused. “We’ll have to find another way.”

He stared at the anchor speculatively, “Maybe if I wrap it in my coat and secure it with rope…no, it’d still produce way too much blunt force…if I tried it with my helmet though…that could work without necessarily being lethal.”  

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

“It is regrettable, but to achieve our goals, you will all be scattered...tortured...and slain.”

~SPLASH!~

When he hit the water, Midoriya didn’t open his eyes or even attempt to fight against the weight of his gear dragging him to the depths of the flood zone. As the seconds ticked by, he ignored the posturing of the villain, and the sensation of a tongue wrapping around him and dumping him onto the boat that had become his entire universe for who knows how long. Midoriya tried to ignored the person shouting his name, but ended up having no choice to respond when his nostrils were assaulted by the unmistakable smell and sensation of ammonia.

“Midoriya!” Asui’s eyes were wide with concern and she let out a sigh of relief when he gasped and opened his eyes. “Thank goodness, you weren’t responding at all…are you okay? Are you hurt?”

Midoriya stared at Asui for a second before he snatched his waist pouch out of her hands and tossed it overboard. ‘No more smelling salts for you.’

“What are you doing?” Asui asked, “Why did you just toss all of your gear? Have you gone nuts?”

“Shut up.” He shut his eyes and dropped his head back onto the deck of the boat. “I…I’m so tired…I can’t think…I just…I just need some time to rest.”

Asui made a choking sound, “What are you saying? Midoriya!”

Midoriya desperately needed mental respite—his body wasn’t physically fatigued, but he had been in a constant fight-or-flight state for what seemed like months. To make matters worse, the frequent resets meant that the chemical receptors in his brain wouldn’t become desensitized to the stress hormones surging through his body. He felt as if his mind was coming apart at the seams.

By using several of his colored smoke dispensers for cover, and his helmet—stuffed with filler and secured with copious amounts of rope—as a projectile, Midoriya could reliably take out up to four of the ten villains surrounding them before they caught on and cut the rope allowing them to retrieve the improvised weapon.

Unfortunately, the amphibious villain was far from the only enemy capable of destroying their refuge, and after robbing Midoriya and Asui of their ranged options, it was never long before the villains scuttled the boat in one fashion or another. Then, it was only a matter of time before the two teens were overwhelmed by their enemy’s sheer numerical and environmental advantage.

On a handful of occasions, he’d actually managed to make it to the shore—usually at the expense of Asui or some grave injury to himself. However, once there, he was either cut down by the pursuing aquatic villains, disintegrated by Shigaraki Tomura—the pale man leading the League of Villains—or pummeled into paste by the blindingly fast and powerful creature called ‘Noumu.’

What was I even doing before this started?’ Midoriya wondered. ‘Some kind of training? How long have I been stuck here? I lost count a while ago, but I don’t think I’ve been in a loop this long since...no. Don’t think about that. Just breathe.’

Overwhelmed by the combination of Midoriya’s inexplicable mental breakdown and the seemingly inescapable death awaiting them, Asui finally lost her cool and began to cry when a blade of water sliced the boat in half, robbing them of their sanctuary. Given her steely composure, Midoriya had been surprised the first time she cried, but he supposed that his presence must have been more reassuring than he gave himself credit for. He had felt guilty the first couple dozen times his lack of mental energy prevented him from giving her any kind of moral support, but now he just found her crying annoying.

Ugh…and now here comes the crying…’ He thought as his consciousness slipped in and out of the present moment, ‘It’s so distracting, I really wish that she would just—'  

 

XXX

(10 Years Ago)

XXX

 

“—cut it out, Kacchan.” Five-year-old Midoriya’s voice was devoid of emotion. “He’s crying already. Let him go.” His gazed was fixed upon the ground, hiding sunken, haunted eyes that were chillingly out of place on such a young child.

Bakugo let out a laugh. “Hey look guys!” He said to the two cronies at his back, “It’s Deku, the quirkless wonder! Still trying to play hero, Deku? Sorry, but the Bakugo Hero Agency doesn’t have any room for quirkless weaklings!”

“I don’t want play with you.” Midoriya said quietly. “I want you to stop…and I’m not quirkless, the doctor said so.”

“If you aren’t quirkless, then why don’t you show us your quirk, Deku?” Bakugo jeered.

“…I can’t.” Midoriya clenched his tiny fists. “My quirk…doesn’t work like that.”

“Then you might as well be quirkless.” Bakugo let out a laugh, “Actually, it sounds like your quirk is a perfect fit. It’s good for nothing, just like you!”

The rest of his cadre began to laugh along with him. “Deku, Deku!” They chanted rhythmically, “He’s good as quirkless! Deku, Deku, he’s totally worthless!”

“Stop it.” Midoriya quietly pled, desperation leaking into his tired voice. “Kacchan please…please just stop…why do you keep doing this?”

“Get out of my way, Deku!” Bakugo demanded, ignoring Midoriya’s words. He eyed the crying boy behind Midoriya menacingly and began to march forward. “I’ve got a bad guy to kill.”

On instinct, Midoriya stuck out his arm to halt Bakugo’s forward progress. “I said n—”

The sound of firecrackers was Midoriya’s only warning before he was sent tumbling to the ground, leaving him with a split lip and the side of his face covered with minor burns.

“I told you to get out of my way, Deku.” Bakugo growled.

“Ah! Kacchan!” The two other members of the “Bakugo Hero Agency” pointed at the fleeing back of Bakugo’s original choice of victim. “The villain is getting away!”

Bakugo narrowed his eyes and stormed over to Midoriya, who continued to lie on the ground. Bakugo sneered at the sight of his former friend’s quivering shoulders. “Deku, you idiot! Look at what you did!”

What do I do?’ Midoriya’s tears stung as they ran down his burned cheek. ‘Why won’t it stop…why is this happening to me…why won’t he just listen?! I don’t know what to do!’

Midoriya had lost count of how many times he’d replayed this afternoon. No matter what he said, no matter what he did, the result remained the same—within a few minutes of this encounter, something would inevitably kill him and send him right back to his room, a few hours before Bakugo decided to “play hero.” Talking didn’t work, avoiding the park didn’t work, telling an adult didn’t work, preemptively attracting Bakugo’s ire in the place of Bakugo’s victim didn’t work, getting the other boy to leave before the confrontation didn’t work, the only thing he hadn’t tried was fighting Bakugo directly.

I can’t fight Kacchan. I can’t win…he’s too strong. He always wins…he even beat up a middle schooler!’

“Look Kacchan!” One of Bakugo’s cronies crowed, “He’s crying!”

Bakugo sneered. “You useless little crybaby! Don’t think that crying will get you out of your punishment! You helped the villain escape! That makes you a villain,” a cruel smile appeared on his face, “and I am here to dispense justice!”

Midoriya inhaled sharply. “Fear not, citizens!” All Might’s deep voice boomed in his mind. He had watched the video that particular line originated from so many times that the image of All Might’s smiling face at that exact moment had been etched into his soul. “Help has arrived, because I am here!”

That simple statement had become a lifeline to Midoriya after his quirk emerged. It was something to hold onto when he felt as if he were about to drown in despair at his helplessness. Hearing Bakugo take that precious bit of hope and warmth, twisting and warping it with his childish cruelty into the plaything of a bully was too much for him to bear.

“Shut up.” Midoriya whispered, barely noticing the sensation of his fingers wrapping around a nearby rock.

Bakugo’s eyes narrowed. “What was that, Deku?”

Trembling with anger, Midoriya rose to his feet and hid the egg-sized rock behind his back. “I told you to shut your mouth, Kacchan.” He said, louder this time. “You’re nothing like All Might, so don’t you dare use his catchphrase.”

Bakugo bristled. “What does a useless loser like you know about All Might? I’m gonna be a hero just like him—one who never loses, no matter what!”

“No, you aren’t!” Midoriya tightened his grip on the stone. “You aren’t a hero, you’re just a mean, stupid bully, and I won’t let you use his catchphrase! Now shut up!”

“Don’t tell me what to do, Deku!” Bakugo growled. “I am here! I am here! I am—

“SHUT UP!” Midoriya shrieked. He lashed out with the rock and smashed it into the side of Bakugo’s head with a loud ~Crack~. Bakugo’s eyes glazed over and Midoriya pounced on him like a rabid animal, howling with rage.

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Stone in hand, he rained down wild, blows upon his helpless opponent while tears poured down his face. Each blow landed with a sickening thud, opening grisly wounds which splattered Midoriya with alarming amounts of blood. “I hate you! I hate you! I HATE YOU!

The two other boys were frozen in shock at the sight of Midoriya doing his utmost to smash in Bakugo’s skull, their faces ashen at the sheer volume of blood pouring out of their motionless friend.

“H-Hey!” The chubby, winged boy finally cried. He darted forward and grabbed Midoriya by the arms to pull him off the unresponsive Bakugo. “Cut it out, Deku! Kacchan is bleeding a lot! I think he’s really hurt!”

“Crap!” The taller boy was falling into a panic and had tears in his eyes. “Tsubasa, this is really bad! We need to get an adult! I…I don’t think Kacchan is breathing!”

“Let me go!” Midoriya snarled, “It’s all his fault! Everything is his fault!”

He tried to renew his assault on Bakugo, but Tsubasa’s hold on him was stronger than his flailing attempts to break free. Gradually, the animalistic rage that had overtaken him faded away and his senses returned to him. It was only then that he noticed the blood that covered his hands and dyed Bakugo’s ash-blond hair a dark red. He let out a horrified shriek of anguish and he fell to his knees, collapsing into hysterical tears.

“Why won’t it stop?” He screamed over and over at the motionless, glassy-eyed form of Bakugo. “Why won’t it stop? Why won’t it stop? Why won’t it—”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

“—stop!” Midoriya shouted before immediately breaking out into a coughing fit from the excess water in his lungs.

“What are you talking about?” Asui asked as she hopped into the boat. “Stop what?”

Midoriya blinked and stared at his shaking hands, inspecting them for blood. ‘Crap…I’m having flashbacks of the park. This is really bad. I haven’t had one of those in a really long time. I need to get out of here.’ He took a shuddering breath and tightly grabbed one of his wrists, cradling it to his chest in a desperate attempt to stop his trembling. ‘Remember, Izuku. Remember who you are. You aren’t that person anymore.’

‘Who do you think you’re fooling, Deku?’ A voice whispered in the back of his mind. ‘You know what you need to do to escape. Stop holding back and do what needs to be done. It’ll be easy…just like riding a bike.’

Midoriya shook his head. “Shut up.” He whispered. “I didn’t know anything. I didn’t understand what I was doing. I didn’t know who I was.”

Start with the hydrokinetic one.’ The little voice said, ‘Use the anchor, like Tsuyu said. Just think about how satisfying it’ll be to see that bastard bleed out through his crushed skull!’

“No.” Midoriya muttered. “I can’t do that. Have to find another way.”

“Midoriya?” Asui stared at her class rep in disbelief. It was hard for her to reconcile her image of the powerful, charismatic, and fiercely competent boy who’d taken out Todoroki with the muttering shell of a person in the midst of a nervous breakdown.  

“Can’t give up.” He muttered, practically hyperventilating in his attempt to calm down. “Have to keep trying…remember who you are…you’re a hero.”

“Midoriya, what’s wrong?” Asui glanced over the edge of the railing and let out a nervous croak when she saw the gathered villains beginning to grow restless. She walked back over to him and grabbed him by the shoulders. “Midoriya, you need to pull yourself together. I can’t do this without your—"

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

“Help!” The other children screamed as they fled the playground in terror. “Deku killed Kacchan! Someone please help!”

Bloodied kitchen knife still in his hand, Midoriya tilted his head and stared down at Bakugo with the detached, malicious curiosity of a child pulling the wings off of an insect to watch it squirm.

“D-Deku…” Bakugo moaned. He lay on the ground in the fetal position, shivering as he clutched his torn stomach in a desperate and futile attempt to staunch the flow of blood. “…w-why?”

“Why?” Midoriya echoed with a frown, seemingly stumped by the question. He set down the knife and knelt next to the dying boy. “Why do you do the things you do, Kacchan?”

“I…I d-d-don’t...” Bakugo weakly replied, “w-w-what a-are you…?”

“You know what I think?” Midoriya asked, “I think you like to hurt people. You’re always so happy when you play hero and beat me up, so I thought I’d play the hero this time.” Midoriya smiled. “What's wrong? Aren’t you having fun?”

“I…I’m s-scared.” Tears slipped down Bakugo’s face, washing away the dust of the playground and leaving tracks his pale, bloodless cheeks. “I d-don’t wanna die.”

“Don’t worry Kacchan.” Midoriya said. “This isn’t real. Nothing is. You won’t remember a thing when you come back. You’ll be the villain again, and I’ll stop you again. Don’t worry.” He repeated softly. “We’ll play hero again.”

As the sound of sirens approached them and the light faded from Bakugo’s red eyes, an eerie grin stretched across Midoriya’s round, childish face. He stood up, dusted off his pants and picked up the knife. “But for now,”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

“Let’s go kill some bad guys.” Midoriya muttered.

“Huh?” Asui laid a hand on his shoulder and gently shook him. “Are you okay?”

When Midoriya looked up and met Asui’s gaze, she recoiled in surprise. Instead of his calm, kind, and genuine smile, the expression on Midoriya’s face had an uncanny, mask-like quality; his eyes, normally vibrant and full of warmth, were cold and lifeless. Asui was uncomfortably reminded of a childhood visit to a wax museum—she found the incredibly lifelike sculptures so unsettling that she had been plagued by nightmares for months afterwards.

“M-Midoriya?” Asui’s voice quivered.

Midoriya blinked and the dead look in his eyes disappeared, replaced by horror at what he had just said. “S-Sorry about that. I was somewhere else for a moment there.”

“Don’t worry about it. I think we have more important problems on our hands…like what are we going to do about these villains?” She looked over the railing. “It seems like they’re not going to attack right now, but I don’t know how long that will last.” She glanced back his way. “Any chance you’ve got an idea on how to handle them like you did with Todoroki?”

“No.” Midoriya replied. “But I’m going to keep thinking. Just give me a minute.”

Asui eyed the increasingly anxious looking villains and leapt to the side with a ribbit when a blade of water flew towards them and sliced the boat in half. “Not to rush you, but I don’t think we have a minute!”

I just need to keep it together. Think, Izuku. Focus. There has to be a way out of here. There is something that you haven’t thought of yet, something that you haven’t tried.’

Midoriya closed his eyes, cleared his mind, and the world went black.

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

When Midoriya opened his eyes, he found himself back at the playground that was the focal point of his longest, most traumatic loop so many years ago. The air in the empty park was eerily still and a heavy silence reigned over the space. The noticeable absence of rustling leaves, chirping birds, laughing children and the distant background noise of the surrounding city gave Midoriya a surreal feeling of timelessness.

“I’m still in my hero gear…” Midoriya noted. “This isn’t a flashback…that doesn’t make any sense unless…unless this isn’t a memory.” Midoriya’s voice seemed deafening in the complete silence of the park, and he felt as if he were breaking some sort of taboo by disrupting the quiet.

Midoriya took off his helmet and continued to look around the park. “Am I…actually dead for real?” He walked over to a nearby bench and sat down. “Well,” he sighed and reclined his head against the cool wood before closing his eyes, “it’s not my first choice of location, but at least the afterlife is quiet.”

“You don’t actually believe that, Deku.”

Startled by the unexpected sound of a young boy’s voice, Midoriya leapt to his feet and saw a four-year-old version of himself standing a few meters in front of him. The doppelganger wore one of his old All Might hoodies, was covered in blood from head to toe, and stared at him with sunken, lifeless eyes.

“You know you can’t die. You need to stop lying to yourself. It’s pathetic.”

Midoriya stared at the blood-soaked boy for a few seconds before he collapsed back onto the bench. “So, it’s finally happened, huh?” Midoriya chuckled humorlessly. “I’ve finally completely lost it.”

“Let’s be honest,” The boy’s form flickered and he was now seated next to Midoriya, “we crossed that threshold a long time ago.”

“So, what are you supposed to be then?” Midoriya asked. “Some kind of split personality?”

The doppelganger scoffed. “Don’t be stupid, Deku. You know that’s not how this works. You don’t just develop a split personality out of thin air. I’m the metaphorical mental representation of your true, subconscious desires—the thoughts and feelings you try to bury away.”

“…I see.” Midoriya paused. “So what’s the difference between what you just said and a split personality again?”

The boy growled. “I’m not a separate entity, I’m still Midoriya Izuku—the real Izuku.”

“The real Izuku, huh?” Midoriya closed his eyes. “I can’t say I agree with that…but if you’re really me, I guess I’ll call you…Boku*.”

“Don’t give me a name, Deku.” Boku growled. “I just told you, I’m not some separate entity, I’m you.”

“Well, if you’re going to call me Deku, I’ll give you a name too.” Midoriya retorted. “If you were really me, you’d know I’m not exactly fond of that name.”

“You know…” Uraraka appeared next to them out of thin air, making Midoriya twitch with surprise. As she spoke, her voice echoed in the empty park, seemingly coming from every direction at once. “I actually kind of like it. I think it’s kinda cute, and it sort of sounds like the word for ‘I can do it!’”

Midoriya blinked. “I forgot about that.”

“You might have forgotten, but your subconscious didn’t…you can call me Deku if you want!” He mocked Midoriya in his childish voice. “Please, please, pretty girl! Don’t worry about me, nothing bothers me! I’m totally harmless, so don’t treat me like a creepy freak!”

Midoriya frowned. “That’s not…”

“That’s not true?” Boku cut him off. “Really?”

Uraraka disappeared and Ashido appeared in her place. “You might not be a creepy perv, but you’ve got one heck of a creepy stalker skillset.”

Midoriya flinched. “…What do you want?” He asked. “I’m a little busy at the mome—aaagh!”

Midoriya let out a cry as his midsection lit up in agony. Blood rapidly stained his uniform bright crimson before he split in half at the waist and his torso fell to the ground. He stared in disbelief at his legs still sitting on the bench for a few moments before his form flickered and he was whole again. “W-what the…”

“Looks like you died again.” Boku informed him. “That’s a new one too! We’ve definitely never been bifurcated before!”

“Even if it’s me, it’s weird hearing someone so young say something like ‘bifurcated’.” Midoriya muttered as he patted his suddenly restored body. “I’ve definitely never been conscious during the restoration process before either…Ugh, this is really bizarre.”

“Let’s get back on topic, Deku. Give me control.” Boku’s form flickered again, and he was standing behind the bench. “Let me run free and I can get us out of here.” He whispered into Midoriya’s ear. “I can get us free of this loop. You’re too soft for this kind of action…let me free and I’ll show those bastards exactly who they’re messing with.”

“Not a chance. If you’re my dark subconscious desires that I keep buried away, then I have a pretty good idea of what you want.” Midoriya shook his head. “I won’t kill them. I won’t kill anyone ever again. You were the reason I was trapped in that loop for so long.”

Boku snarled, and wordlessly pointed towards a swirling mass of black mist with two glowing yellow eyes. Thin, pale, Shigaraki Tomura stepped out of the void, followed by several villains who had already killed Midoriya multiple times.

“It is regrettable,” Kurogiri said, “but to achieve our goals, you will all be scattered...tortured...and slain.”

“All Might isn’t here?” Shigaraki whined. “I know…maybe he’ll show up if we kill all of these kids.”

“Sorry kid,” the shark-like villain grinned, “it’s nothing personal! But you’re chum!”

“I’m getting bored.” A fishlike, lipless villain complained. “Let’s hurry up and kill them already!”

“He’s jumping in? He’s just a dumb kid after all,” another aquatic villain laughed, “as soon as he hits the water, let’s gut him.”

“Noumu…kill him.”

“You want to show mercy? Restraint? For those animals?” Boku pointed at the villains and bared his teeth. “They’re different from Kacchan. They’re murderers!” He shouted, “Child-killers! What are they worth in comparison to your life? To Tsuyu’s life? Nothing. Less than nothing! They’re trash, human garbage! Society will be an objectively better place without them!”

“That’s not my decision to make.” Midoriya replied. “I don’t have the right.”

The villains disappeared into thin air and were replaced by a large pile of Bakugo corpses. A horde of hysterical Mitsuki Bakugos appeared soon after, each of them sobbing, screaming and cursing as they clutched the tiny bodies of their slain sons. Midoriya swallowed the upswelling of shame that arose at the gruesome, gut-wrenching sight.

“I don’t have the right to judge them.” Midoriya softly repeated. “Not after everything I’ve done.”

“None of that was real!” Boku argued. He waved his hand and the pile of corpses vanished, replaced by a scowling Bakugo in his hero costume. “Kacchan is alive! None of it actually happened! It doesn’t count!”

Midoriya smiled humorlessly. “Who’s lying to themself now?”

Boku made a frustrated noise. “These animals only understand force!” His voice grew louder in direct proportion to his increasing anger. “Demoralize them, teach them fear! You know that this is the only option! This is the most logical choice!”

“Logic has nothing to do with this.” Midoriya replied evenly. Oddly, the angrier his doppelganger grew, the calmer he felt—it turned out that it was fairly easy to identify the source of his unsavory emotions when they were being put on display in front of him. “I have a desire to hurt them because they’ve hurt me.”

Boku appeared directly in front of Midoriya. “How many times have they killed me?” He howled. “How many times have they killed Tsuyu? They’re monsters Deku! And it takes a monster to beat a monster! Kill them!” Boku screamed, truly losing his temper. He began to cry, stamp his feet, and thrash his tiny arms. “I want them dead! I want them to suffer! I want to feel their bones crumple beneath our fists, I want to see their blood flow! Kill them, kill them, kill them all!

Midoriya watched this temper tantrum silently. “You’re wrong about me.” He shook his head. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about this. I’m not a monster. I was just a scared little kid with a quirk I didn’t understand…but it’s all right now. I think talking to you reaffirmed why I’ve chosen the path I have.”

An emaciated All Might appeared next to them. “A symbol of peace must never be daunted by evil. You said that I save people with a fearless smile…well, the reason I smile is to hide the pressure and the fear that I battle with constantly.

“I’m going to keep on smiling.” Midoriya said. “I won’t be daunted by evil, and I won’t let a bunch of villains make me into a killer again.”

“That’s your answer?” Boku scoffed, “Just keep on smiling? I know that you think you’re just being stubborn and illogical. What do you think that’s going to accomplish? It’s our methodology that needs adjustment, not our attitude.”

Midoriya smiled. “Maybe I am. But it will be all right. I’ll find a way to get past those villains, and get out of this loop without compromising my ideals.”

Boku glared up at his older self. “How can you say that?” He asked. “Why are you so confident? After everything that’s happened, how can you still think that you won’t need my help? You’re still trapped in this cycle of death! You’re still all alone!”

“You’re wrong.” Midoriya stood up from the bench and walked towards Boku. The students of Class 1-A appeared behind him. “I’m not alone. I have my classmates, the next generation of heroes, who all put their trust in me to lead them.”

He clenched his fist and channeled One for All. All Might appeared behind him, along with the shadowy, indistinct forms of seven other figures. “I also have this power, and I carry the accumulated hopes of eight generations of heroes.” A determined light shined in his eyes. “With these quirks, I can’t lose. As long as I don’t give up, I can accomplish anything.”

“NICE!” A loud voice cried out, startling both Midoriya and Boku. A large, unfamiliar bald man with a pair of goggles on his forehead walked forward and clasped Midoriya by the shoulders. “I like your attitude kid! You’ve got this man! You aren’t alone anymore, so do your best!”

Midoriya and Boku exchanged a confused look in response to this unexpected development.

“Um…” Midoriya said, “Excuse me sir, not to be rude, but—”

“Who the hell are you?” Boku demanded.

 

AN: *For those of you who are unaware, Boku (ぼく僕) is a personal pronoun. It is a boyish, somewhat childish way of saying “Me/I” in Japanese.

For those of you who keep up with the manga, I’m sure that you understand the significance of this ending. It annoys me a little to put out a chapter where Midoriya basically accomplished nothing, but I needed to set this up for him to have any hope of escaping the boat.

Without Mineta and his Pop Off to restrain the villains, I literally cannot think of any non-asspull way for Midoriya and Asui to escape this situation. No matter how skilled he becomes at controlling One for All—and he has picked up a couple of new tricks during the loops that I’m excited to show off—Midoriya’s body cannot get any stronger in a time loop, so the amount of power he has access to does not change. The real action will begin next chapter.

Until next time, Plus Ultra. 

Chapter Text

“Who am I?” The strange man exclaimed. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“Yes.” Boku replied sarcastically. “I’m asking who you are because the answer is totally obvious.”

“Boku.” Midoriya said.

“Don’t even try and act like you weren’t thinking that.” Boku shot back. “What I just said was you thinking that.”

“I guess,” Midoriya admitted, “but did you have to be so…Bakugo about it?”

“Talking to yourself, huh? You probably need therapy, little dude.” Midoriya and Boku both turned to glare at the strange man. He held up his hands defensively. “Just saying.”

Boku scowled. “I’m still waiting on the answer to my question, baldy.”

“Please.” Midoriya added politely.

The man grinned. “I’m your senpai.”   

“Senpai?” Midoriya repeated in a perplexed tone. "I don't know what you're..." His eyes widened. “Wait, you don’t mean…?”

“Yeah,” The man grinned. “I carried One for All before you. Go ahead and call me Rokudai.”

“’The sixth?’” Boku snorted. “Real original. No way that’s your real name.”

“Are…all of you previous holders in here?” Midoriya asked.

Rokudai nodded. “You’ll probably meet all of us eventually. But I’m on limited time here.” He indicated towards his body, which was fading into darkness by the second. “Hold your questions for now. I’ve got a present for you.”

“A present? What kind of pres—huugh!”

Without warning, Rokudai walked up and socked Midoriya in the stomach, dropping him to his knees. Before he could form a word of protest at the rough treatment, black tendrils of energy exploded out of Midoriya’s body, writhing, thrashing, and violently grabbing onto anything in range, ravaging the imaginary landscape of the park. Every couple of seconds, the park would flicker and return to its pristine state before being destroyed all over again.

“It…hurts!” Midoriya gasped, each part of his body emitting the strange black energy felt as if the nerve endings were being scalded by boiling acid. “Aaah!” He dropped his head to the ground and convulsed in agony. “It hurts! This is a dream, how does it hurt so bad?”

“It’s no dream.” Rokudai said. “This is my quirk, Black Whip.” He gave the rampaging black tendrils an impressed look. “But man, it’s waaay stronger than it was when I had it! On the outside, it’s going a little wild right now, so you need to calm down before you hurt the girl that’s with you.”

“Forget her!” Boku shouted, “What about me? Turn it off!”

“I…can’t!” Midoriya grunted. “It won’t…respond to my commands!”

“Black Whip ain’t something you control with your thoughts, man!” Rokudai crouched next to Midoriya. “It’s all about the intent, the feeling, you dig? Do you think about moving your hands? You just gotta stay positive!”

Midoriya closed his eyes and forced a slow, controlled stream of air out of his nose, putting his years of emotional control to good use. Little by little, the dark tendrils of Black Whip receded until they were no longer visible. “…How is this possible?” He asked, still twitching from his torturous experience. “One for All is supposed to be a stockpiling quirk.”

“One for All is pure energy.” The sixth explained. “In most cases, One for All merges with the host’s quirk and supercharges it. When it’s passed on to a new host, vestiges of that merged power come with it. Within you are cores containing those vestiges, and after all this time, One for All has become strong enough that those cores are just about ready to burst. That means you’ve got six dangerously supercharged quirks to master.” He laughed and slapped Midoriya on the back, “Lucky you!”

“Yeah…” Midoriya muttered. “lucky me.”

If they all hurt as bad as this guy’s did, I’d rather go without.’

Midoriya's eyes widened. “Wait, is my quirk being supercharged?” He wasn’t sure he liked that idea. “How would that even work?”

“It’s the opposite.” Rokudai grimaced. “That’s why I’m here, actually…One for All is still growing, even across these resets. You’ve still got some time, but if you keep this up, the power will eventually outstrip your body’s capacity to hold it, and if that happens, well…” He trailed off.

“I’m talking about your body, kid!” All Might’s words echoed through the park. “My quirk holds the stockpiled physical prowess of eight generations of heroes! If I gave you my quirk now, your limbs would probably explode if you tried to use it!”

“If that happens...” Midoriya finished the thought. “Game over.” He sighed. “Wonderful…how much time do I have?”

Rokudai shrugged. “I dunno. A bit. I’d avoid looping again if you can help it.”

Boku growled. “That’s real fucking helpful.”

“But that ain’t gonna happen!” The Rokudai encouraged him. “Black Whip is just the thing you need to get out of this funky time loop situation! Just focus on the intention of needing to ‘grab hold’ of something! Ah, dang.” Rokudai frowned, his body was almost entirely gone now. “Looks like my time is just about up. I’ve gotta go. Just remember that we’re watching over you, little dude! Do your best, and punch that immortal, quirk-stealing bastard right in his smug prick face for me!”

“I will.” Midoriya promised, bowing in gratitude as his predecessor finally faded into nothing. He blinked in confusion when the last statement sunk in. “Wait…punch who?”

“Who cares?” Boku said. “Just figure out the baldy’s quirk so we can kill those villains and get us out of this loop before we blow up.”

“Not killing anyone.” Midoriya corrected Boku, “But we do need to get out of this loop.” He paused and glanced around the park. “But first things first, how do I get out of here?”

“Have you tried opening your eyes?” Boku snarked.

“Boku.” Midoriya said flatly.

The blood-spattered child huffed. “I don’t know. Just do your stupid meditation crap or whatever!”

Midoriya shrugged and sat down. “Worth a shot.”

He took several deep breaths and closed his eyes, grounding himself in the present moment. As he began to feel himself coming out of his dream-like state, he heard Boku’s voice echo in the back of his mind.

“I’ll be keeping in touch, Deku.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

"It is regrettable, but to achieve our goals, you will all be scattered...tortured...and slain."

Midoriya opened his eyes to a freefall. He eyed the railing of the boat, about five meters away from his current position. ‘Focus on the intention of needing to ‘grab hold’ of something.’ He reached out his hand towards the boat and willed Black Whip to come forth and bring him towards the boat. ‘I hope this doesn’t hurt! Grab the rail…grab the rail…grab the—’

~SPLASH~

Goddamn it.’ As he sank, Midoriya expelled a frustrated huff that came out as a stream of bubbles. ‘…Maybe I need to already be using One for All?’

“Sorry kid, it’s nothing personal, but you’re chum!”

Midoriya opened his eyes and glared at the shark-like villain who had tried to eat him so many times. He could already see Asui approaching the villain from above.

No, I want to handle him this time.’ Midoriya activated Parallel Flow and extended his hand. ‘I need to reach him…if can just grab ahold of him, I’ll have taken the first steps I need to get out of here!’ His extended palm began to tingle slightly and the green sparks that usually flew off him were beginning to turn black. ‘Something’s happening! Grab him, grab him, grab him!’

Before he could coax out his new quirk, Asui’s feet slammed into the top of the villain’s head and Midoriya was once again unceremoniously dumped onto the deck of the boat. Asui raised her eyebrows as she climbed onto the boat. Midoriya was sitting cross-legged where she had dumped him, staring at his palm with a frown. If she didn’t know any better, she would have thought he was sulking.

No way. He must be in shock or something. What kind of person pouts in a situation like this?’ Asui thought. “Are you okay, Midoriya?”

I almost had it!’ Midoriya pouted. ‘If I’d only had a little bit more time! Damn it!’

“Midoriya?” Asui repeated.

“Oh…uh, yeah.” Midoriya pulled himself to his feet and walked to the edge of the boat. “I’m fine. Everything is fine.” He narrowed his eyes at the amphibious hydrokinetic and held out his hand. ‘There was a sort of tingling sensation…come on...grab him, grab him, grab him. I need to capture him to get out of here.’

“What are you doing?” Asui asked. “Trying to use the Force?”

Midoriya ignored her. ‘Don’t think, feel it…I need to do this.’ His forearm and palm began to tingle, and One for All’s green aura began to darken. ‘I need this power. Grab him, grab him, grab him!’

“Midoriya?” Asui grabbed him by the shoulder and disrupted his focus. The tingling feeling disappeared. “What are you doing? You’re freaking me out.”

You stupid fucking frog! Let me figure this out in peace before I use you as bait!’ Midoriya recoiled at the angry, violent impulse and pushed it away. ‘Where did that come from?’ He furrowed his brow. ‘…Boku?’ There was no answer. ‘Of course, there’s no answer…I’m literally talking to myself. I don't have time for this.’

“I think I have an idea for a new application for my quirk.” Midoriya told Asui. “I’m gonna need a moment to figure it out though.”

“Oh? Are you going to electrocute the villains with that green lightning I saw coming off you?” Asui croaked.

“No,” Midoriya shook his head. “I can’t do—” He paused. “Wait…can I do that?” He rubbed his chin and began to mutter. “The sparks observed during the use of my quirk haven’t shown any effects outside of their appearance, however, the green coloration is strikingly similar to the aurora seen near the poles…if the comparison holds up, it stands to reason that this phenomenon is the result of the emission of both photons and electrons with sufficient velocity to ionize the surrounding oxygen molecules upon contact, which explains the increased luminosity and intensity as energy output rises. Therefore—”

“All I was looking for was a yes or a no.” Asui cut him off. “Also, did you breathe once during that rant?”

“Ah. Um, no, probably not.” Midoriya flushed. “The green discharges are probably the result of some kind of electromagnetic interaction with oxygen, but it seems to be a side effect of energy bleed. It’s highly doubtful that I could produce enough power to have any real effect in such a large body of water. Even Kaminari would fizzle out if he tried to do that. It is something to think about in the future though.”

“Then what are you trying to do?”

“I don’t have time to explain it.” Midoriya eyed the formation of the villains. ‘Damn, I wasted too much time on that distraction, they’ll attack any second!’ “Just trust me when I say it can be done. I need to concentrate.”

He stuck out his palm. ‘Focus on the intention of grabbing them. I need to capture him. Focus, focus, focus!’

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

"It is regrettable, but to achieve our goals, you will all be scattered...tortured...and slain."

~SPLASH!~

“Sorry kid, it’s nothing personal, but you’re chum!”

Well,’ Midoriya thought as Asui’s powerful tongue wrapped around him and dumped him onto the deck of the boat, ‘that obviously isn’t working.’

“Are you okay, Midoriya?”

“Yes,” he answered automatically, “I’m fine.”

What am I doing wrong?’ Midoriya wondered. ‘I’m doing exactly what Rokudai told me!’ He removed his helmet and shook out his waterlogged hair. ‘Maybe that’s the problem…maybe he just sucks at explaining how to use it since he’s always had it. I need an outside perspective. Luckily, I’ve got the perfect person here for that.’ “Hey Tsuyu…”

“Yes?”

“How did you learn how to use your tongue? What does it feel like when you use it?”

“I’d be happy to answer that question, but don’t you think we have more pressing issues at the moment?” Asui pointed towards the villain infested waters down below.

“Trust me, this is critically important.” Midoriya said. “I think I have an idea of how to use my quirk in a way that will let us escape, but I need your input.”

“Oh…” She croaked. “Well, in that case…”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

Okay. Time to get the hell out of here!’ Midoriya directed his glowing eyes at the hydrokinetic villain and reached towards him with a flicking motion. He sent a spike of energy down the limb and imagined the sensation of his arm stretching to reach his target. The green sparks turned jet black and surged towards the villain as a solid mass. The ebony tendril constricted around the man and held him tightly in place.

“What the hell is this?” The man grunted, struggling to escape his binds.

“Since when could you do that?” Asui croaked in surprise.

“Since…now.” Midoriya grunted as he struggled to keep Black Whip under control. ‘This is even more difficult to control than One for All!’ The villain suddenly let out an agonized howl of pain as the Black Whip enveloping him suddenly surged and cracked his ribs. At the same time, Midoriya winced at the flash of pain that engulfed his arm. ‘It’s like it’s trying to run wild, like it has a will of its own!

“I don’t have very good control over this power!” Midoriya shouted to the villains at the top of his lungs.

“Midoriya, what are you doing?” Asui whispered, “Why would you tell them that?”

Midoriya waved her off before he used his other hand to ensnare a villain with Black Whip. The villain tried to avoid the tendril but was caught by the arm and screamed when the strength of the whip randomly surged, and the surrounding villains winced at the audible crack of bone. By now, the Hydrokinetic villain was unconscious from the pain so Midoriya flicked his wrist and released him, tossing him with enough force that he bounced off the surface of the water multiple times before reaching the shore of the manmade lake.

Shit! I really hope that didn’t kill him.’ Midoriya glanced at the trembling hand that had just performed the throw. The inside of his mouth was bleeding from where he had bitten his cheeks to keep from crying out in pain. ‘Those random surges hurt so bad that it’s wrecking my concentration. I don’t think I’m injured, but I can’t just keep enduring that…let’s see if I can bluff them.’

“If I get anxious, or my focus slips even a little!” He shouted and pointed towards the unmoving villain on the shore, “I can’t control my strength!” He extended both hands and ensnared another two villains in a flash.

Focus, focus, focus. Don’t lose control!’ He moved his hands together and slammed the two villains into each other knocking them unconscious. Midoriya felt something in his forearms crack and his face went pale. “L-Let us go, or I can’t ensure your safety!”

“M-Maybe we should just let them go.” One of the villains said. “We don’t have to kill them, right?”

“Fucking coward!” Another villain holding a trident scoffed. “It’s just two kids!”

“One of those kids just took out our four strongest in a couple of seconds.” The first villain shouted back. He looked over at one of the villains Midoriya had caught and pointed at the grisly compound fracture sticking out of the man’s arm. “I didn’t sign up for this shit!”

“This was always going to be messy!” The other villain shot back, “Get your shit together, if we let them go, Shigaraki is going to—aack!

The villain was cut off mid-sentence by a black tendril wrapping around him. The remaining villains watched in silence as it jerked him backwards through the water and slammed him into the side of the boat with enough force that it knocked him out immediately.

Son of a…mmmph!” Midoriya cursed through grit teeth. His hands and forearms throbbed with a bone-deep ache. ‘I don’t think it’s just my level of control…my body simply isn’t strong enough to use Black Whip safely yet.’ With trembling hands, he gingerly fished a few painkillers out of his med-kit and chewed them, ignoring the horribly bitter taste in favor of activating them as quickly as possible. “Dang it…I only have one or two more of those in me…If they don’t give up, I don’t think I can beat the rest of them by myself.”

“Good thing you aren’t alone then.” Asui quipped as she hopped back up onto the deck and brushed her wet hair out of her face. “That was a great plan.”

“Plan?” Midoriya raised his eyebrows. “Wait…what were you doing back in the water?”

“Shit!” The sole remaining villain shouted in a panic. “Where did everyone go?!”

“While all their eyes were on you, I used the element of surprise and took them out one by one.” Asui raised a finger to her lip and tilted her head. “Was that not your plan? I figured that’s what you’d want since that’s basically what you did during the team battle the other day.”

Midoriya stared at Asui for a few moments before busting out into laughter. “I’m an idiot. All of my talk about relying on the strength of my classmates and I still tried to do everything by myself.” He picked up his helmet and hurled it with One for All, cracking the final villain in the head with and knocking them out. He hissed and rubbed his abused arms. “Ow.”

“What’s wrong?” Asui gently grabbed Midoriya’s hand and narrowed her eyes when he winced at her touch. “Take off your jacket and gloves. I want to take a look.”

“I’m fine.” Midoriya moved his hands away from her. “We need to get off of this boat and back to shore before any of the villains come to.”

Asui lightly tapped Midoriya’s forearm and drew out a muffled whimper of pain. “It’s obviously not fine. Just hurry up and let me take a look.”

“Okay, I admit it.” Midoriya growled. “I’m not fine. But unless you have the resources and qualifications to provide medical care, our immediate priority is getting the fuck off this goddamn boat!”

Asui hesitated for a second before giving a reluctant nod. “I guess you have a point. Now hold still, I’ll swim us to shore.” She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. “I’m surprised. I didn’t think you had that kind of language in you, Midoriya.”

“S-sorry about that.” Midoriya flushed. “I’m in a lot of pain.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

Midoriya watched in horrified silence as Noumu smashed their teacher’s skull into the ground with enough force to crack the pavement. His body trembled in rage and he had to physically restrain himself from going out there to save him.

Don’t do anything stupid, Izuku. You can’t just leave Tsuyu here.’ Midoriya told himself, biting his lip hard enough to draw blood. ‘And even if you do go, you know you can’t beat that monster. Not in your condition. Not even in your best condition.’

“Shigaraki Tomura.” Midoriya tensed up at the horribly familiar sound of Kurogiri’s deep, menacing voice. The nebulous man appeared in a swirl of dark mist. “Despite my efforts, one of the students managed to escape.”

Needless to say, Shigaraki did not take this news well. He began to scratch his neck in an odd, seemingly compulsive fashion, making sure to only use four fingers at a time. “Kurogiri…” He growled menacingly. “You idiot! The pro heroes are going to be here any minute now!” The scratching intensified, leaving bright red trails on his pale neck. “If you weren’t our only ticket out of here, I’d kill you myself!” Then, Shigaraki’s anger vanished as suddenly as it had appeared. “It’s game over. We can’t kill the Symbol of Peace with a horde of pros breathing down our necks. We’re leaving.” He declared, slumping his shoulders in resignation. “But before we go, let’s see if we can’t damage his pride a little.”

In a shockingly abrupt display of agility, he darted over towards the shoreline, intent on turning Midoriya and Asui into little more than dust. Having already been on the receiving end of Shigaraki’s surprising several times before, Midoriya was more than prepared for the lethal assault and intercepted the villain’s attack by stepping forward and grabbing the villain by the wrists.

This bastard. Even now, he’s still trying to kill us! And for what?!’ In his anger, the pain in Midoriya’s arms felt distant. The sounds of combat throughout the dome faded away, and the only thing Midoriya could hear was the sound of his heartbeat pounding in his ears like a war drum. ‘He couldn’t get what he wanted, so he’s cut to murder children in a petty tantrum!’

“What the—?” Shigaraki exclaimed. He struggled to break free of Midoriya’s quirk enhanced grip. “Let me go, you little brat!”

He’s the one behind all of this.’ A dark, unctuous voice whispered in the back of Midoriya’s mind. ‘It’s his fault. He’s responsible for so much pain. I need to hurt him. He needs to be punished. You don’t have to kill him, but he needs to suffer. Give him a taste of what I’ve gone through.’

“You know something, Shigaraki Tomura?” Midoriya whispered, “I was prepared to do just that. It’s been a really, really long day, and if you had just left, I wouldn’t have tried to stop you…” His glowing eyes went cold and hard. “But then you had to go and do this. You just couldn’t leave well enough alone.”

“Let go!” Shigaraki grunted, lashing out with desperate and ineffectual kicks to Midoriya’s thighs and groin. Midoriya ignored the feeble attempts to attack him. With his protective cup and One for All’s defensive aura active, the amount of damage the lanky man could do was negligible at best.

“Did you know,” A cruel, toothy smile spread across Midoriya’s face, “that gram for gram, bone is actually stronger than steel? Its structure allows it to withstand a shocking amount of force before it breaks.”

“Let. Me. GO!” Shigaraki shouted, spittle flying from his lips in his frustration and rage.

“The thing is…” Midoriya tightened his grip and ground the delicate bones of Shigaraki’s wrists together, bringing the man to his knees with a pained gasp. “For all their strength, bones are fairly brittle. They’re great with compression forces, but if you apply a force at the right angle…”  He sharply twisted Shigaraki’s wrists inward with an audible snap. “That happens.”

“Noumu!” Shigaraki howled, “Forget Eraserhead and get over here! I want him dea—!”

Midoriya interrupted Shigaraki with a front kick to the chest that sent him stumbling to the ground with a gasp. He crossed his arms in front of him and channeled as much energy into the limbs as he could. ‘One for All: Blast Shield!’

In a blur of motion, a large black fist smashed into the hastily erected defense with an absurd amount of force and sent Midoriya skidding backwards several meters.

“I wasn’t sure that would work.” Midoriya grunted. “It looks like my theory was correct, however...” The sleeves of his jacket were completely shredded and revealed the dark, ugly bruises and swelling on his shattered arms.

Even with most of the damage absorbed by One for All, the damage to my arms was pretty severe. I can still move them, but I can’t take too many more of those. To make matters worse, that thing is so fast I can’t evade its attacks. All I can do is hope that help arrives in time.

“He cheated!” Shigaraki pulled himself to his feet and allowed his broken wrists to hang at his sides. “Noumu was made to kill All Might…how can this little brat withstand a full power attack? No…it hurt him. It had to.” He narrowed his eyes hatefully at Midoriya. “Noumu, beat him to death. Make sure it hurts.”

Noumu let out an unintelligible screech and disappeared with a blur of motion.

This is bad!’ Midoriya desperately threw up his broken arms. ‘Blast Shield!’

When Noumu crashed against Midoriya’s defenses again, the enhanced creature didn’t let up on the assault, slamming its black fists on the unstable shield again and again. The relentless attack continued to push Midoriya backwards until his battered arms finally gave out and Noumu smashed Midoriya’s body with a blow that he could confidently compare to being hit by a truck—if the impact of said truck were concentrated into an area the size of a fist, that is.

“Midoriya…no.” Asui whispered in horror as she watched her classmate fly through the air and bonelessly tumble across the courtyard like a ragdoll.

“That’s what you get.” Shigaraki grinned and glanced over at Asui. “Now we’ve just got one more before we leave.” He froze her in place with his murderous gaze. “It would have been painless if I had done it myself. Just a touch, and it would be over. But now I think I’ll have Noumu tear you apart, one limb at a time. You can thank your friend breaking my wrists for that.”

“D-don’t even think about it.”

“No.” Shigaraki’s eyes widened in shock at the sight of Midoriya pulling himself to his feet. “No that’s impossible!”

Midoriya’s muscles seized up several times from the agony shooting through his injured side and he coughed up a mouthful of blood after trying to take a breath. “I’m n-not done yet!”

Bloody vomit, shortness of breath, dizziness and extreme pain…signs of internal bleeding.’ Midoriya’s vision began to swim and he grit his teeth, fighting to maintain consciousness. ‘I’m dying. I’d give myself maybe an hour to live without treatment. Not that I’d have an hour in this situation to begin with…’

“Fuck it.” Midoriya’s eyes gleamed with the conviction of a fanatic as crackling green bolts of energy flew off of his battered body. He spat out another mouthful of blood and flashed a smile stained with red. “If I’m going to die no matter what, I’m going to die on my feet.”

“That smile of yours…” Shigaraki growled. “That smile of yours reminds me of All Might…it really pisses me off. Noumu, forget the girl. Get back over there and—"

~BOOM~

The sound of the front door exploding off its hinges reverberated throughout the domed facility. Every living thing went perfectly still in the face of the overwhelming feeling of power that saturated the air. For the students, it felt like being wrapped in a blanket after being caught out in the cold. For the villains, it felt as if they had attracted the ire of a wrathful god. Heavy footsteps echoed in the sudden silence, and towering figure emerged from the cloud of the dust and smoke.

“Fear not, children!” All Might’s booming voice carried across the dome. His eyes burned with fury and his ever-present smile was nowhere to be seen.

“A-All Might!” A number of the students near the exit began to cry tears of relief. “Thank goodness!”

“You’re safe now.” All Might reached up and tore off his tie with a snarl. “For I am here!”

 

AN: This is not, in fact, a cliffhanger. I will be skipping the All Might/Noumu fight because it will essentially play out the same way it does in canon. Shigaraki’s broken wrists means Midoriya won’t have to do the final mad dash that buys the extra second of time. Next chapter is the aftermath of USJ and some much needed fluff to soothe poor Midoriya’s damaged spirit before the Sports Festival arc begins.

 

Chapter Text

 

Midoriya opened his eyes to the soft, steady sound of beeping and was greeted by the sight of a strikingly familiar off-white ceiling. ‘Ah…it’s the infirmary.’ He closed his eyes, overwhelmed by a deep exhaustion that seemed to seep into the depths of his soul. He let out a breath that was an odd mixture of a laugh and a sigh. ‘I’m free. I’m finally free…I wonder how everything turned out.’

Not long after All Might’s explosive arrival, Midoriya succumbed to his grievous injuries and passed out—the last thing he remembered hearing was Shigaraki Tomura saying something about ‘getting a continue.’

“Young Midoriya, are you awake?” All Might’s deep voice sounded out from beside him and brought him out of his sleepy stupor. Midoriya turned his head to see All Might in the next bed over, in his true form and covered in bandages.

That’s a good sign.’ Midoriya smiled faintly. ‘All Might would die before he let them kill any of the students.’

“Half awake.” Midoriya replied. “Is everyone else okay?”

“Besides the two of us,” All Might replied, “nobody was injured beyond a few scrapes.”

“I see.” Midoriya paused. “I didn’t have to get put into another coma, did I?”

All Might let out a chuckle that turned into a painful sounding cough. “No, my boy. You didn’t have to be put into a coma this time. You’ll need a few more treatments for those arms of yours though.”

“That’s about as good as I could have hoped, I suppose.” Midoriya replied in a blasé tone. “Especially since I was pretty sure that I was going to die.” The disturbed look on All Might’s face after his quip made Midoriya a little nervous. “That was a joke.”

“Young Midoriya…” All Might said gingerly. “While we have some privacy, there’s something I wish to discuss with you.”

“…Okay.” Now he was really nervous—nothing good ever followed “we need to talk.”

“Since I’ve met you, your intelligence, focus, maturity and drive have continually impressed me.”

I’m sensing a ‘but’ coming.’ Midoriya thought.

“However,” All Might continued.

Close enough.’

“Something has been bothering me…a pattern of reckless behavior that I’d previously overlooked.” All Might paused for a moment, as if he expected Midoriya to interject. “Running out to attack the slime villain, the incident with the zero pointer during the entrance exam, and today, when you knowingly provoked an enemy beyond your ability to handle, while already heavily injured. At first, I was able to rationalize these moments as you merely acting on heroic impulse.”

“…At first?” Midoriya echoed.

“Don’t misunderstand.” All Might said, “I’m not impugning your motivations, I understand why you did all of those things…it’s just…your performance during the combat training made clear to me that you aren’t someone who operates on impulse. You always seem to have a plan, thinking several steps ahead…you remind me of my old sidekick in that way, actually.”

“You’re beating around the bush, All Might.” Midoriya said, his blunt demeanor fueled by his growing sense of unease with the direction of this conversation. “Whatever it is you want to say to me, I can handle it.”

“…Very well.” All Might grimaced. “I am concerned, young Midoriya. I am concerned that you seem to be completely unmoved by the prospect of your own death.”

The atmosphere in the clinic was heavy, and the beeping of the monitors was the only sound that could be heard in the room for several long, tense seconds.

 

XXX

(Five Years Earlier)

XXX

 

As usual, 10-year-old Midoriya sat by himself in the furthest corner of Aldera Elementary’s cafeteria, mechanically eating his packed lunch and staring a hole into the top of the table. His boyish face was set in a semi-permanent frown, and his large green eyes were filled with a deep, simmering anger at the world. The next table over, some of his classmates were talking about him in such intentionally loud voices that it was clear they wanted him to overhear.

“Hey,” One of the boys said. “Did you hear what Midoriya said his quirk is?”

“Yeah,” the group broke out into a round of snickering, “he thinks that he’s immortal or something.”

“No, no,” another chimed in, “he’s not immortal, he’s a time-traveler!”

“Yeah, that’s it! Except he can’t do it unless he dies!” The group snickered again.

“Come on.” One of the only girls in the small clique said, “You shouldn’t make fun of him like that!” Unable to help himself, Midoriya looked up from the table and stared over at the group. “I mean,” The girl continued, “It’s pretty sad. Not only is he quirkless and creepy, but he has to make up crazy stories like that to make himself feel better!” The group started laughing again.

“I bet he wants to die.” A different boy said. “That’s why he talks about death all the time.”

“That makes sense,” The first boy replied. “I know I would want to die if I were a quirkless loser like him.”

Red-faced, Midoriya slammed his palms against his table and abruptly stood up from his seat. He glared at the group with molten hatred and his pulse thudded in his ears as he clenched one of his metal chopsticks in a white-knuckled fist.

“Take that back!” He growled. “I don’t want to die! You don’t know what it’s like, so shut up!”

“Oh, I think we made him mad!”

“Watch out!” Another pointed out with a laugh, “He’s got a chopstick, and I don’t think he’s afraid to use it!”

How about I shove this through his eye socket and into his worthless brain? See if he’s still laughing then!’

Trembling with rage, Midoriya took a step forward before he managed to restrain himself, grabbing the fist holding his chopstick. He grit his teeth and continued to stare at them for few seconds before shaking his head and briskly walking away. It had taken him a while to figure out, but by now he knew that giving in to his temper was a surefire way to trigger a loop.

I can’t let them get me angry, when I get angry, I die. I don’t wanna be trapped again.’

Shoving his dark feelings deep down inside of him, Midoriya briskly walked to the exit and dumped his half-eaten lunch, along with the non-disposable chopsticks into the trash. He knew he’d get in trouble for it later, but he’d rather get chewed out by his mom than risk letting his old habits resurface. Leaving the cafeteria, he made a beeline for the bathroom for some privacy and a chance to regroup.

I’m not crazy.’ Sequestered away in the furthest stall from the door, Midoriya sat on the toilet and clutched his head, repeating the thought over and over like a mantra. ‘I’m not crazy, I’m not crazy, I’m not crazy. My quirk is real!’

 

XXX

(Recovery Girl’s Clinic)

XXX

 

“…Young Midoriya?” All Might said softly, disturbed by the obvious distress emanating from his successor. “Are you all right?”

“You think I’m crazy?” Midoriya asked stiffly, his face completely unreadable. “Suicidal, even?”

All Might thought he knew Midoriya Izuku fairly well. Midoriya didn’t really have any friends, so after spending ten months together, All Might believed that he was probably closer to Midoriya than anybody save his mother. Seeing his protégé look at him with watchful, guarded eyes—the eyes of someone on the lookout for potential threats—erased those notions.

He doesn’t trust me.’ All Might shifted uncomfortably in his bed and swallowed, surprised by how painful that realization was for him. ‘Even after our ten months together, after making him my successor, he doesn’t trust me. Not really.’

“I don’t believe that you are suicidal, Young Midoriya.” All Might said carefully. “In my experience, a suicidal person is not capable of the relentless self-improvement you strive for on a daily basis, even as a front. I do believe that you are hiding something from me…something you think would change my opinion of you for the worse. I…” All Might paused. “I want you to know that you can talk to me. Whatever it is that you think you need to hide, I’m here for you, my boy. Not just as your teacher, or as the previous holder of One for All, but as someone who cares about you. You can trust me.”

Yeah, right. That’s what the last person I told said, too.’ Midoriya could already picture the battery of psychiatric evaluations waiting for him if he told the truth. ‘I’ll have to divert his attention. Luckily, I think I have just the topic.’

“…Who’s the ‘immortal, quirk-stealing bastard’?” Midoriya asked. He narrowed his eyes at All Might’s flinch. ‘Bingo.’

“How do you…?” All Might exclaimed before clamping his mouth shut.

“Ah,” Midoriya said, “So he does exist then.” He paused. “That battle six years ago…the one kept secret from the press. Would he happen to be the one responsible for that injury of yours?” All Might’s expression was tight as he silently stared down at his lap. “…I see.” Midoriya said, taking the silence as confirmation. “Is he still alive?”

“Where did you hear about All for One?” All Might asked. “How do you know about him?”

“All for One?” Midoriya repeated. He let out a dry chuckle. “One for All and All for One…how poetic.”

“Young Midoriya,” All Might’s voice was pained. “I don’t wish to ask you again. Who told you about All for One?”

“I had a visit from our senpai at the USJ.” Midoriya answered. “They told me some interesting things. Did you know that raw power isn’t the only thing that One for All passes on?”

He held up his right hand and focused on summoning a small tendril of Black Whip. All Might’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open as a writhing black mass of solidified energy burst through the bandages enveloping Midoriya’s arm. A power fluctuation caused the tendril to suddenly swell in size and smash into the side of All Might’s bed, nearly flipping it over and denting the metal frame.

“Ow…” Midoriya hissed through clenched teeth, banishing the volatile quirk and clutching his aggravated hand. “Okay…that was a bad idea, but I have more quirks now. That’s a thing. Our senpai also said I’ve got at least six more I’ve got to figure out.”

“Our senpai?” All Might’s voice was almost sick with hope. “Did you happen to see a young woman…tall, pretty, with a hairstyle like your mother’s?”

“No.” Midoriya shook his head. “It was a man. Mid-to-late thirties, bald.” He lowered his voice. “That woman you described…was she the one who gave One for All to you?”

“Yes, she…” All Might said, then shook his head. “…no, wait. I see what you’re doing young man. You’re quite adept at manipulating the course of conversations, but I’ve been doing the same thing for decades. You won’t be able to distract me that easily.”

Damn it.’ Midoriya cursed. ‘I actually thought I pulled it off there for a second. Whatever, if deflection won’t work, time to go on the offensive.

“Why should I trust you, exactly?” Midoriya asked in a low voice. “It’s clear that I’m not the only person here hiding something. This villain, All for One…” Midoriya shook his head. “Based on what I was told, it seems like the holders of One for All have been fighting him for generations, maybe even from the beginning. He has to be over 200 years old at this point, and with the ability to steal quirks, how powerful is he by now? When you gave me this quirk, you put me in his line of fire and you didn’t bother to tell me. So, I’ll ask you again, why should I trust you?”

“You were right, young man.” All Might said, touching his wound. “He was the one responsible for this wound. But he won’t be a problem. I made sure of that.” He growled before lowering his head. “I didn’t keep his existence a secret because I wished to deceive you, but because I thought it irrelevant, and because it is…difficult for me to speak about.”

“Then you know how I feel.” Midoriya said flatly. “My secrets are just that—mine. If you want me to trust you, you’ll have to trust me when I say that I have personal, but logical reasons for my actions.”

“I’m sure you do my boy. I have no doubt of that, but that’s not good enough.” All Might shook his head. “I don’t wish to violate your privacy, nor make you uncomfortable. It saddens me that you don’t trust me, but if you won’t speak to me, I will have no choice but to make an official recommendation that you be assigned counseling.”

The temperature of the air in the clinic seemed to drop following this statement.

“So that’s how it’s going to be, huh?” Midoriya said coldly. His eyes burned with green light and small sparks began to crackle off of his tense frame. “You don’t get what you want, and you resort to blackmail, is that it?”

“Calm down young man.” All Might said. “Therapy isn’t blackmail, it’s therapy. When I said that I have no choice, I mean exactly that. I am legally obligated to file a report if I have even the slightest misgivings that a student in the hero course might be a threat to themselves or others. Furthermore,” All Might paused. “While you were in your coma, your mother made me promise that I would protect you from yourself. I didn’t know what she meant at the time, but…”

“You promised Mom?” Midoriya’s anger at All Might suddenly deflated. “Mom…of course.” He muttered darkly. “She’s wanted me to tell you everything since the beginning. If she planted that seed, no wonder you started to look so closely all of a sudden.”

“Since the beginning?” All Might repeated. “What are you talking about?”

Midoriya sighed. “My mom has known about us since the day you offered me your quirk, All Might. I kept your injury a secret, but I told her about One for All.”

All Might’s jaw dropped open. “Young Midoriya, I specifically…how could—”

“I didn’t have a choice.” Midoriya interrupted him. “Do you remember what I said about my quirk the day we met?”

“That it never manifested.” All Might answered.

“That was a lie.” Midoriya said bitterly. “Only my mom and I know what my quirk is…nobody else has ever believed me. Even she doesn’t want to believe me…I can tell that part of her desperately wants to believe that the doctors were right, that I’m just mistaken…that there’s another explanation. Everybody I’ve ever told thinks that I’m crazy.”

“What is your quirk, Young Midoriya?” All Might asked. “What could possibly be so unbelievable, that you’d rather pass yourself off as essentially quirkless?”

“Do you believe in fate?” Midoriya asked. “Not in an abstract sense, but do you think that things are absolutely meant to happen in a certain way?”

All Might scratched his cheek. “That’s…an interesting question. I want to say no, but I have some experience dealing with quirks tied to the concept of an immutable future.”

“You’re referring to your old sidekick, Sir Nighteye’s precognitive abilities?”

“Yes, I” All Might twitched. “…Wait—the details of his quirk are a closely held secret, how do you…?”

“I didn’t.” Midoriya replied, completely deadpan. “Sir Nighteye has a reputation of being unusually well-informed. He doesn’t have a flashy, combat-related quirk, so it stands to reason that it’s related to information gathering in some way. Most heroes without explicitly combat related quirks fall along those lines. Also, your earlier comparison of my combat M.O. to his was another significant hint as to the nature of his abilities. I made a guess and you just confirmed it.” He paused. “I’ll have to update my file on him.”

All Might stared at Midoriya with a gobsmacked expression for a moment before letting out a snort. “I can’t tell if you’ll get along great or hate each other, but you two are so much alike it’s almost frightening.”

“I’ll consider that a compliment.”

“Let’s not get too off topic.” All Might gently reminded him. “You were talking about your quirk. What does fate have to do with it?”

Midoriya sighed and leaned back against his pillow. He stared at the ceiling. “You said that I seem unconcerned by the prospect of death…you aren’t wrong. I’m not concerned. I’m not concerned because dying is a routine experience for me.”

All Might sat in silence for several moments as he tried to digest Midoriya’s words. “…I’m afraid I don’t understand, Young Midoriya.”

“I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, fate is very real.” Midoriya said in a low voice. “I don’t know how my path is decided, but if I fail to follow it according to certain unknown requirements, I’ll die and return to a previous moment in time. And I’ll keep dying, over and over and over again, until I get it right. That’s my quirk, All Might.” Midoriya murmured. “Death by Design.”

“Young Midoriya,” All Might murmured. “That’s—"

Impossible?” Midoriya loudly snapped, sitting up with a bolt and cutting him off. “Is that what you were going to say?”

All Might blinked at Midoriya’s bared teeth and flushed face. ‘I think this is the first time I’ve seen him angry, let alone lose his temper.’

“What’s your next line, All Might?” Midoriya’s voice was harsh from the effort it was taking him not to shout. “Maybe it’s a precognitive quirk? My brain is instantaneously running through possible future scenarios until it finds the path to survival? Maybe I’m just hallucinating everything, and it’s all in my head? Maybe I’m just crazy! You think I haven’t heard that before!? You think I haven’t thought of that before!? This is why I didn’t want to tell you, All Might! Because of the look you have on your face, right now!

After this outburst, All Might simply sat and watched Midoriya breathe heavily for nearly a minute as he tried to regain his composure. “Young Midoriya,” All Might finally said, “I do believe you.”

Midoriya looked up sharply. “You’re lying.” He accused, “You’re clearly just saying that to placate me.”

“I admit, what you have told me is difficult to believe. However,” All Might held up a hand to forestall any further outbursts. “In my career, I have seen many quirks—including One for All—that defy belief. I will accept that your interpretation of your quirk is correct. It would be hypocritical of me to do otherwise.”

“Oh, well we wouldn’t want to be hypocritical, now would we?” Midoriya muttered sullenly. There were several seconds of awkward silence while All Might processed the bombshell that had just been dropped on him.

“How many times have you…?” All Might hesitated, unbalanced by Midoriya’s obvious resentment for being backed into a corner. 

“Died?” Midoriya grunted. “I don’t know. I lost count a long time ago. Some of the loops I get stuck in are pretty short, so I can rack up big numbers pretty quick. The loop I was in today was only a few minutes long, so I probably died at least thousand times during the invasion.”

“A thousand!?” All Might exclaimed, horrified. “And this has been happening since your quirk manifested, at four?”

“You get used to it.” Midoriya said in a hollow tone. “You can get used to just about anything, given enough time.”

All Might cleared his throat and quickly composed himself. “Young Midoriya…I know you are telling me this because you don’t wish to speak to a professional, but…have you ever considered talk—”

“No.” Midoriya interjected bluntly.

“Young man, what you are describing must have inflicted serious mental trauma, surely therapy would—"

No.” Midoriya interrupted again, more fiercely this time. “I got through it all by myself back then, and I don’t need it now, when I’m better equipped to handle it. Also, what part of ‘everyone I tell thinks I’m crazy’ don’t you understand? If I tell a professional about the things I’ve experienced…the things I’ve seen, the things I’ve done, I can kiss my hero career goodbye.”

“Young Midoriya, any information you share with a therapist would be 100% conf—”

“Confidential?” Midoriya laughed bitterly. “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, Section 4.05c, clause 1: ‘In the case in which the client/patient currently holds, or is seeking to hold a Provisional/Full Hero License, the standard for nonconsensual disclosure is lowered from ‘immediate risk’, referenced in Section 4.05b, clause 3, to ‘potential risk’…I’d be putting my entire future at the mercy of a bunch of litigation shy bureaucrats, and I’m not willing to take that chance.” At All Might’s nonplussed look, he added. “And yes, I do know the code verbatim. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this discussion. I have it with my mom on a nearly annual basis.” His gaze darkened. “And it looks like it’s that time of year…”     

“Excuse me…” An unfamiliar voice rang out and the two turned to see a kind looking man in a trench coat walk into the infirmary. The man smiled. “Long time no see, All Might.”

“Tsukauchi!” All Might exclaimed. He wiped a dripple of blood off his chin. “I didn’t know you were here!”

Could your timing be any worse!?’ All Might thought.

Nice timing, Mr. Tsukauchi!’ Midoriya smiled slightly. ‘Whoever you are, I owe you one!’ He frowned. ‘…Wait a second.’

“Um, All Might…” Midoriya pointed to his mentor’s skeletal true form.

“No need to worry, young man.” All Might reassured him. “Why you ask? Because Tsukauchi is an old friend, and my favorite detective on the police force!”

“What kind of introduction is that?” Tsukauchi asked. Noticing the heavy atmosphere in the room, Tsukauchi looked back and forth between All Might and Midoriya. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

“Well, actually…” “Not at all.” All Might and Midoriya replied simultaneously.

“Young Midoriya…” All Might said.

“It’s not like I’m going anywhere anytime soon.” Midoriya said indicating towards the bed. “You don’t need to make your friend wait on my account.”

Proving once again that the universe has a sense of humor, Recovery Girl chose that moment to walk into the room. “Ah.” She smiled and handed Midoriya his clothes. “You’re free to go home. Just make sure and come back around noon tomorrow for another treatment.”

“Excellent.” Midoriya said without missing a beat. He hid the ruined bandages of his right hand behind his back as hopped off of the bed with his clothes tucked under one arm. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

A strangled sound came out of All Might’s throat along with a gout of blood. “Young Midoriya!”

“I’ve already said the most important part.” Midoriya said as he passed by All Might’s bed on his way out of the room. “But I’m too worked up to discuss things calmly. We’ll finish our talk later, when I’ve cooled down.”

All Might hesitated, then nodded briskly. “Yes.” He said in a no-nonsense tone. “We will.”

“Oh, and All Might?” Midoriya paused at the threshold of the door. “One more thing before I go.”

“Yes, Young Midoriya?”

Midoriya turn to face the bedridden hero. “You’re my hero, All Might. I’ll always be grateful for what you’ve done for me. So…I’ll forgive my mom for putting me in this position by dropping you hints, and I’ll trust you to keep what we discussed between us.”

“Well,” All Might smiled, “I’m glad you’re being so mature about this. That’s more like the young man I’ve come to know over the last year.”

“I wasn’t finished.” Midoriya said. “I forgive my mom, but only because she’s my mom. If you break my trust, if you tell anyone about this without my permission, I won’t forgive you.” After making this declaration, Midoriya stared directly into All Might’s eyes for a few seconds before he spun on his heel and walked away from the flabbergasted adults. “Get well soon.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

Still hot under the collar, Midoriya laid into his mother over the promise she extracted from All Might the moment he walked into their apartment. For nearly fifteen minutes, the two argued at high volume—a rare occurrence for the mother and son. Inko was a complete sweetheart, and Izuku was easygoing enough that any differences in opinion were seldom significant enough to provoke an argument. An exception to this rule was their fundamental disagreement over his future choice of career, and what constituted “risk” for someone who was effectively immortal, but even then, their fights were typically carried out at speaking volume, and Midoriya often relented once the tears came out.

As quick to tears as Inko was, they were a devastating emotional weapon whose appearance signaled the end of the discussion on most days. Today was not one of those days. It had been difficult, but his anger at being cornered into revealing his quirk against his will allowed his to withstand the guilt inflicted by his mother’s tears as he verbally tore into her. Finally, when his anger was spent, he stormed into his room and shut the door with more force than strictly necessary.

He hung up his blazer and sat down at his desk, hoping to catch up on some reading, but found himself completely unable to focus. Eventually, after he caught himself rereading the same paragraph for the fifth time in a row, he gave up in disgust and flopped face first onto his bed. He was so mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted by the events of the day that he didn’t even bother to take off the rest of his uniform.

Why did I go off on mom like that?’ Midoriya wondered. He rolled over with a pained groan and stared at the limited edition All Might posted he had attached to the ceiling due to lack of wall space. ‘I haven’t lost control like that in years. I didn’t accomplish anything by doing that. I didn’t change her mind, or the fact that All Might knows. All I did just now was throw a tantrum and take my bad feelings out on her, when the only thing she did wrong was love me and want to protect me the best she could.’ He glanced over at his clock to check the time and closed his eyes. ‘It’s 5:43…I’ll apologize at dinner, but for now, I desperately need a nap.’

~Bzzzzt Bzzzzt Bzzzzt~

The sensation of his phone vibrating in his pocket was an immediate anxiety spike. ‘This had better be important.’ Midoriya scowled as he dug out his phone and saw an unknown number. “What is it?” He pinched his nose. “I mean, hello? This is Midoriya Izuku.”

“…Sorry, is this a bad time?” A vaguely familiar voice sounded out over the other line.

“Who is this?” Midoriya asked.

Hey Deku! It’s Ashido Mina! I would have texted, but when I tried to look up your number on Line, I couldn’t find it.”

“…I don’t use Line.” Midoriya replied.

Ehhh? What are you, some kind of savage? Hey everybody,” Midoriya heard her call into the distance, “he doesn’t have Line! That’s why we couldn’t add him!”

“It’s been a really long, really hard day for me, Ashido.” Midoriya groaned. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m feeling kind of rough, so can you get to the point already?”

Right, right. So you know we have the day off of school tomorrow cause of the attack right? Me and a couple of the others from class were thinking of going to karaoke tomorrow!”

“…That’s nice.” Midoriya said, “Have fun. Bye.” He hung up and closed his eyes again.

~Bzzzzt Bzzzzt Bzzzzt~

Midoriya felt like he wanted to cry. He picked up the phone and took a deep breath before answering it. “…Yes?”

That was super rude!” Ashido’s indignant shout blared through his phone’s speakers, making him flinch. “Who just hangs up like that? I was trying to ask if you wanted to come to karaoke with us tomorrow!”

“Why?” Midoriya asked in a confused tone. He paused. “…Are you trying to mess with me again?”

Oh, you poor sweet child…I’m going to do you a favor and pretend you didn’t ask me that just now. Anyways, the plan is for a bunch of us to meet up around noon and hang out a bit before we go book the booth.”

I think I’d rather be set on fire.’ Midoriya thought. He wasn’t a good singer, and he didn’t really listen to much music, so he didn’t even know any songs. ‘And I don’t know how to interact with other people outside of school. I don’t want to just stand around and have nothing to say when I could be doing something productive. I’m going to say no.’

“Sorry,” he said, “I have to go to U.A. for my appointment with Recovery Girl at noon tomorrow. I don’t think I’ll be able to meet up. Maybe next time.”

No problem!” Ashido replied cheerfully. “We’re meeting up at the school anyway! I don’t think anyone will mind if we push back the meet up to 1:00! Besides…” Ashido’s tone became teasing, “Uraraka’s going to be there, and she told me that she’s reeeeeeeally looking forward to hanging out with you.”

Just as he was about to decline more definitively, Midoriya hesitated. “…She really said that she’s looking forward to seeing me?”

Midoriya could practically hear the shit-eating grin stretching across Ashido’s face just then. “She sure did. All the girls were talking about how heroic and cool you were protecting Tsuyu from that weird brain-guy like that. We all want to show our appreciation!”

‘Okay, now she’s definitely messing with me.” Midoriya thought, but at the same time, a small part of him whispered, ‘But what if she’s not?’

Sensing weakness from his silence, Ashido continued to press her attack. “So…are you in or what?”

 Midoriya spent several seconds weighing the options, his hormones going to battle with his deeply ingrained loner tendencies. “…Fine, I’ll come.” He said, giving in to his hormones. “But I’m not singing.”

Hmmmm,” Ashido hummed, “we’ll see.”

“No,” Midoriya repeated. “We won’t. I’m not going to sing. Seriously.”

I’ll take that as a maybe.”

“Are you listening to a word I’m saying?”

I’ll see you tomorrow! And download Line tonight! And add me! Bye!”

“Ashido!” Midoriya snapped into the phone, only to see that she had already hung up. “How can someone be so nice and annoying at the same time?” He sighed. “Whatever…I guess I’m going to karaoke tomorrow.”

Midoriya closed his eyes, simply laying there for a few moments before he before he sat back up, agitated. He grabbed his phone and turned it all the way off.

Ashido might have put an end to his plans for a quiet, peaceful recovery from his injuries, but right now, he wasn’t going to let anything get between him and his need for a nap.

 

AN: Well, I was originally intending on having the quirk reveal and the karaoke outing in the same chapter, but I ended up hitting my word limit before I knew it. Next chapter, Deku uses Sing! It’s Not Very Effective! Plus Ultra everybody!

Chapter Text

 

“There we go,” Recovery Girl observed Midoriya’s arms with a clinical eye as her quirk went to work rapidly healing his wounds, “just one or two more treatments, and we’ll have you as good as new. In the meantime, make sure to take it easy. That means no training, no fighting, and absolutely no quirk use, understand?”

“Yes ma’am. Thank you for all of your help.” Midoriya bowed his head, “I never got a chance to properly thank you for your care last time either.” He bowed deeper. “Thank you very much.”

Recovery Girl waved him off. “Just try not to give me so much work. I think having to pull you out of critical condition twice is enough for one semester, don’t you think?”

Midoriya smiled faintly. “Well, technically the semester hadn’t started yet when you saved me the first time.” Recovery Girl’s glare spoke volumes. “I’m kidding. I’ll try to keep in one piece.”

“Honestly…” Recovery Girl clicked her tongue, “you and All Might both. Always trying to play the comedian.”

Midoriya raised an eyebrow. “Nobody’s accused me of that before. Most people tell me I need to loosen up…if they have any opinion of me at all, that is.” He looked around the deserted clinic. “Where is All Might, by the way? I expected him to be here since didn’t get to finish our conversation yesterday.”

“Ah, I sent him home.” Recovery Girl tutted. “That big lummox was sulking for the rest of the day after you left. He wanted to stay and wait for you, but I had work to do and he was annoying me.” The aged woman peered at Midoriya curiously. “Just out of curiosity, is there any chance you’d let me in on what could shake the unshakable ‘symbol of peace’ so badly? An unbiased set of ears might be useful to you.”

This set off alarm bells. “Did All Might say anything to you about our conversation?” Midoriya’s tone was clam and breezy, but close observation betrayed his extreme tension.

“No, I just know that whatever you two talked about must have really upset him.” Recovery Girl pouted. “I even tried to press him, but all he would tell me is that it wasn’t his place to discuss it without your consent.”

‘Points for you, All Might.

“Sorry,” Midoriya replied as the tension left his frame. “I know he trusts you implicitly, but this is a private matter, it isn’t something you need to be concerned about.”

“You cruel boy, denying an old woman some juicy gossip.” Recovery Girl sighed. “But very well, I won’t press any further.”

Midoriya bowed, “I appreciate it.”

Recovery Girl pressed some gummies from her pocket into Midoriya’s hands. “Eat these,” she ordered, “you might not be feeling it now since you’re sitting down, but your treatment consumed quite a bit of stamina, you’ll need to keep your blood sugar up.”

“R-Right.” Midoriya stared at the warm clump of partially-fused candy in his palm and picked a piece of lint off it. ‘Yeah…there’s no way I’m eating that.’ Midoriya mimed eating the mass of pocket gummies and scooted off the examination table. “Well,” he said, concealing the uneaten candy in his palm and making his way to the door, “if that’s all you need from me, I’ll be going now.”

“Yes, yes.” Recovery Girl waved him off, not bothering to look up from her clipboard. “Make sure you take care of yourself.”

“I will.” Midoriya said, turning the door handle.

“Oh, just one more thing before you go.”

Midoriya paused. “…Yes?”

“Eat that candy!” Recovery Girl barked. Midoriya flinched. “You must think I was born yesterday! Put them in your mouth and swallow! You aren’t leaving until I see them gone!”

Midoriya grimaced.

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

“This is completely unacceptable!” Iida complained. “We were all given a specific meeting time, and yet here we are, waiting on the very people who invited us! This is the height of rudeness!”

“Mmhmm.” Midoriya absently replied as he flipped through the paperback book he had stashed in the pocket of his green hoodie. He knew that reading while someone was talking to him was bad form, but Iida had been ranting for the last five minutes, and Midoriya doubted that Iida really cared if he were listening or not.

Iida paused in his indignant diatribe. “What is it that you’re reading there, Midoriya?” Midoriya flashed him the cover. “The Book of Five Rings.” Iida read aloud. “Not exactly what I would call light reading.” He adjusted his glasses, “I didn’t know that you were interested in classical literature.”

Midoriya let out a hum of acknowledgement as he turned a page. “Yaoyorozu mentioned Musashi Miyamoto at lunch the other day, so I was interested in learning more about him. I normally rely on Sun Tzu when it comes to strategic philosophy, but there’s some pretty good stuff in here too.”

“I agree,” Iida said with a smile, “my favorite part is—"

“Sorry everyone!” An approaching voice called out. “Am I late?”

“Yaoyorozu.” Midoriya greeted his studious vice president. He glanced at his watch. “Just a couple of minutes. I wouldn’t worry about it. Iida and I are the only ones here right now.”

Yaoyorozu let out a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness. I got a little caught up getting ready and lost track of time.” She perked up when she saw the book in Midoriya’s hands. “You’re reading The Book of Five Rings?”

“Indeed.” Iida agreed. “We were just about to discuss it when you arrived. I’m particularly fond of the main lesson in ‘The Book of Earth’ myself.”

“Know the smallest things and the biggest things,” Yaoyorozu quoted, “the shallowest things and the deepest things…From one thing, know ten thousand things. When you attain the Way of Strategy there will not be one thing you cannot see…”

“You must study hard.” All three finished the quote and grinned. For the next few minutes, they chatted about the book—something Midoriya was infinitely grateful for, since he had no idea what he would say to them otherwise. Eventually, the inevitable topic of their experiences during the USJ invasion came up.

“How are you feeling, Midoriya?” Yaoyorozu asked. “You were injured quite severely during the invasion, were you not?”

“No need to worry about me.” Midoriya calmly replied, “It’s no big deal.” An indecipherable expression appeared on his face. “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?”

Yaoyorozu gave Midoriya a contemplative look, and after a moment, she shook her head and smiled. “I suppose so.”

“Heeeey!” A familiarly energetic voice shouted. “What’s up guys?” Grinning ear-to-ear, Ashido practically skipped up to the three with a gaggle of their other classmates in tow. “You excited for some karaoke?”

Flushing with indignation, Iida pushed up his glasses and took a step forward, ready to lay into Ashido when Midoriya stopped him by extending an arm. He had no desire to let Iida go off on another multi-minute long rant.

“It’s 1:10, Ashido.” Midoriya said curtly. “I thought we were meeting at 1:00. Why are you the one who’s late when you organized this whole thing? Iida and I have been standing here for nearly fifteen minutes.” In fact, Midoriya had been there for nearly thirty minutes, since his appointment with Recovery Girl had gone faster than expected, but that was neither here nor there.

Ashido let out a snort and slapped Midoriya on the back hard enough to make him stumble forward a step. “Lighten up dude! Everyone knows that when it comes to big groups like this, meet-up times are more like guidelines. When I said 1:00, I meant more like 1:00-ish.”

I didn’t know that, and obviously neither did Iida, since we both showed up early.” Midoriya pointed out. He sighed. “Whatever, let’s not make a big deal out of it. Is everybody here?”

“Yep!” Ashido cheered, throwing a fist in the air. “Let’s get moving! The place isn’t too far of a walk from here.” The rest of the gathered students cheered along with her.

Midoriya glanced around at the gathered students. In addition to Ashido, Jirou, Kaminari, Kirishima, Asui, Hagakure, Satou, Aoyama and Tokoyami were also there. What caught his attention more than anything was who wasn’t there. As they began to walk towards their destination, he furrowed his eyebrows and discretely pulled Ashido off to the side.

“I thought Uraraka was coming.” He said in a low, accusing tone.

Ashido looked away with a blush and rubbed the back of her head with an embarrassed chuckle. “O-Oh, did I say that?”

“Yes.” Midoriya flatly replied. “You did. You said she was ‘really looking forward’ to it, if I’m remembering correctly.”

“Well…” Ashido sweated, “You must not be—”

“I am remembering correctly.” Midoriya cut her off.

“Look,” Ashido whispered, “I tried, okay? I thought that she’d be totally down when I told you that, but it turns out that she’s got some money problems, so she had to bow out.”

“You lied to me.” Midoriya said flatly.

“I didn’t lie!” Ashido defended herself. “She did want to come, she just couldn’t! I just…massaged the truth a little bit.”

Midoriya continued to stare at the girl. “That’s called lying, Ashido.”

“All of the other girls are here though!” Ashido continued to justify herself, “And they’re all super happy to see you! They wanted to hang out with you, it’s true!”

Midoriya glanced at the other girls. They had all broken off into various little circles of their own and were chatting amongst themselves, not sparing him or Ashido a second look. “Uh-huh.” He looked sideways at Ashido. “…What’s your angle with this?”

Ashido blinked, taken aback. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me.” Midoriya’s social danger radar, honed by years of bullying, was blaring in his head. “Why are you so set on getting me to come to this? To the point where you’re willing to lie to me and butter me up…what are you planning?”

“Nothing!” Ashido held up her hands defensively. “I swear!”

Midoriya stared at her for a few seconds. “…I’m going home.” He slightly picked up his pace to walk ahead of Ashido, “Hey everyb—ack!”

Ashido cut him off by grabbing the back of his hoodie and yanking him back over to her. “Wait!” She whispered. “Fine! Geez, you’re a suspicious bastard, aren’t you?” Midoriya glared at her as he rubbed his throat. “…Sorry. Is your throat okay? I didn’t mean to yank you that hard.”

“I’m fine.” Midoriya readjusted his hoodie. “So, what are you up to? And before you say anything, I’ll know if you’re lying!”

“What?” Ashido snarked, “Is lie detection part of your confusing grab bag of powers too?”

“Yes.” Midoriya lied, channeling just enough One for All to make his eyes glow as he stared her down.

“Okay, okay,” Ashido said, “you can put your freaky glowing eyes away, I was only kidding!” When Midoriya relented, she let out a huff. “Man, you’re usually so chill. What crawled up your butt?”

“A bunch of villains who tried to murder me.” Midoriya replied in a monotone. “Almost successfully, I might add. So I apologize if I’m not chill enough for you right now.”

“…Oh.” Ashido’s voice was soft and devoid of the laughter and energy it normally carried. “Right…sorry.”

Midoriya took a deep breath. ‘Damn it. My nerves and mood are still frayed from the loop, and then there’s the whole thing with All Might…this was a mistake. I shouldn’t have come. I don’t even know what I was expecting to happen anyways.’

“I’m sorry Ashido.” He apologized, “That was…I’m, uh, I guess I’m still a little wound up from…everything. It doesn’t mean I should take it out on you, though.” He cleared his throat. “I’m going home after all…I don’t want to ruin everyone’s good time.”

“I was trying to hook you up.” Ashido said suddenly.

Midoriya blinked. “…Come again?”

“That’s what I was doing.” Ashido whispered. “I wanted to do something to return the favor.”

Midoriya wracked his brain for what she could be talking about but came up empty. “…What favor?”

“For starters, you lent me your jacket when I was freezing my butt off during the combat trial.”

Midoriya shook his head. “To be honest, that was more for my sake than yours…”

Ashido continued. “Then your warning helped enough of us escape that portal guy’s opening move that we were able to get Iida to go for help.”

Midoriya rolled his eyes. “Come on, any one of us would have done the same, I just happened to shout it out first.”

“Then you almost died to protect Tsuyu from the guy with the hands and the big brain guy.”

“I’ll admit, that was…unpleasant…but it doesn’t have anything to do with you.”

Glaring, Ashido reached over and flicked the end of Midoriya’s nose. “Will you stop trying to downplay everything you do for one second and let me talk!”

“…That kind of hurt.” Midoriya said mildly while he rubbed his nose.

Ashido let out a huff. “My point is that you’re clearly a really good guy, and even though you said it was okay, I could tell that I really hurt your feelings with some of my jokes during the combat training. I feel kinda bad about it, so when I saw how blushy and cute you were with Uraraka on the bus and at USJ, I thought that if I could help nudge you two together, it would…I don’t know, balance things out.”

“…It’s not a big deal.” Midoriya said. “I know you were joking.”

“I still feel bad.” Ashido countered.

“You really don’t need to do anything to help me in that regard.” Midoriya said.

“But I want to.” Ashido said. “I actually enjoy it.”

This girl can’t seem to take a hint.’ Midoriya’s eye twitched minutely. “I’m fine with things the way they are.”

“If that’s the case,” Ashido replied with a grin, “then why did you only agree to come when I mentioned her name?”

“You said she was looking forward to seeing me.” Midoriya riposted. “I didn’t want to disappoint her. She’s a…” he hesitated, “friend…I guess? We’re friendly, at least.”

“Oh really?” Ashido drawled. “That’s funny, you sure seemed okay with the idea of disappointing me, and we’re friends, aren’t we?”

Midoriya blinked. “…We are?”

Ashido frowned and smacked Midoriya on the shoulder. “Wow, you jerk! That’s actually kind of hurtful, I thought we were cool!”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” Midoriya said. “I’ve never really had friends—acquaintances, sure, but Uraraka…” He paused. “and you, and maybe Iida, I guess, are the closest things I’ve had to a friend in a long time.”

Ashido had to resist a sudden urge to give Midoriya a hug. “How is that even possible?” She asked, “You’re kinda weird, but you’re a good guy. You should have made at least one friend.”

Why am I telling her all of this? Nobody wants or needs to hear about my problems…I better just keep my mouth shut.’ Midoriya shrugged. “It doesn’t really bother me. That’s just how it turned out. Look,” he pointed to a building with a gaudy sign. “We’re here.”

“Hell yes!” Ashido pushed her way to the front of the group, leaving Midoriya to walk in the rear. “I’m going first!” A chorus of complaints followed this declaration, and she began to argue spiritedly with the others.

Well, Izuku.’ Midoriya thought as he watched his classmates file into the building one by one. ‘If you want to back out of this, now’s your last chance. Nobody’s looking, I could just slip away, and if they ask later, I’ll say I got an urgent call or something.’ He nodded. ‘Yeah, that’s definitely the best move right now. I shouldn’t be around people when I’m so high-strung, I’ll probably do something I regret.’

Just as he was about to make his exit, a voice stopped him. “Don’t even think about it.”

“…Jirou?” Midoriya raised an eyebrow at the only other person still outside. “What are you talking about? Don’t think about what?”

“Ghosting out of here and going home.”

Midoriya blinked. “I wasn’t—”

Jirou held up a hand and stopped him mid-sentence. “Stop. Unlike you, I actually do have a lie detector…of sorts, anyways.”

Midoriya stared at Jirou in confusion for a moment before everything clicked. He closed his eyes and squeezed the bridge of his nose. “You heard everything we were talking about just now, didn’t you?”

“I hear a lot of things.” Jirou smirked as she twirled one of her earphone jacks around her finger. “You know, Ashido put this little outing together after she heard about what you did for Tsuyu. She can be kind of annoying, but her heart’s in the right place. If you duck out now, you’ll seriously hurt her feelings.” She waved him over, “Now come on inside.”

“…Fine.” Midoriya sighed and walked forward. He gave Jirou a wary look. “You’re not trying to play matchmaker too, right?”

Jirou scoffed. “Please, that girl’s got love on the brain. I just don’t want to have to hear her complaining for the next week because you decided to be antisocial and ditch out.”

“Fair enough.” Midoriya admitted. “But I have one question.”

“Shoot.”

“How did you know I was thinking about leaving just now?”

Jirou gave him an unimpressed look. “Ashido has a point, you’re a genuinely decent guy. If you haven’t ever had any friends, it’s because you chose not to make any friends. A social tornado like Ashido might not understand not wanting to make friends, but I do. It was obvious.”

Midoriya opened his mouth to reply, paused, and then closed it. He really couldn’t dispute that statement. “…I’ll just go inside now.”

Jirou smirked. “You do that.”

After going inside, Midoriya and Jirou paid the clerk at the front for their time and made their way to the back room reserved for groups. “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” Midoriya said quietly.

“Depends on how personal it is.” Jirou replied.

“When you said that you understood not wanting to make friends, what did you mean?”

Jirou glanced sideways at Midoriya. “That is kind of personal…but I feel like I can trust you, for some reason. Promise to keep this to yourself?”

“Absolutely.”

“My dad is the Jirou Kyotoku.” Jirou said in a matter of fact tone, as if that explained everything.

“…Okay?” Midoriya said uncertainly. “No offense, but that’s important because…?”

Jirou stopped in her tracks and stared at Midoriya incredulously. “You haven’t heard of Jirou Kyotoku?” Midoriya stared at her blankly. “Front man of Deep Funk?” Midoriya continued to stare blankly. “One of the top rock bands in East Asia for the last fifteen years? Sold tens of millions of albums? Any of this ringing a bell?”

“Not really, sorry.” Midoriya said. “I don’t listen to music very much. I’m guessing he’s pretty famous then?”

“Yeah.” Jirou said sarcastically. “Just a bit.” She sighed. “My whole life, I’ve had people trying to get close to me just because of who my dad is. They didn’t like or care about me at all, they just wanted to use me—not everyone was like that, but it happened enough that I started looking for reasons not to trust people.”

“…Better to be alone than to be disappointed, right?” Midoriya said softly.

“Pretty much.” Jirou said. She smirked. “What about you? Care to share the deeply rooted childhood issues making you such a brooding, anti-social loner?”

“Well, when I was eight years old, my parents were killed in front of me. We were on our way back from the theater, and it was a mugging that went wrong.” Midoriya replied, completely deadpan. “From that day on, I swore that I would strike fear into the cowardly, superstitious hearts of criminals. I cast aside all personal connections and dedicated myself wholly to that goal.”

“Funny.” Jirou said drily. “I feel like I’ve heard that story somewhere before.” She shook her head. “I guess you don’t have to tell me if you want to.”

“Sorry.” Midoriya apologized. “I know it’s hypocritical for me to say this after asking you, but it’s really personal.”

Jirou shrugged. “Whatever.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

“Oooh!” Ashido grinned saucily at Jirou and Midoriya when they entered the room together. “What kept you two for so long?” She waggled her eyebrows up and down. “I can’t say I saw this coming, but now that I think about it, you would be super cute tog—Ow!” Ashido rubbed her forehead where she had just been poked by an annoyed Jirou.

“Give it a rest.” Jirou said, retracting her earphone jack. “Believe it or not, two people can have a conversation without romantic subtext.”

“Killjoy.” Ashido grumbled. “I take it back, you aren’t cute at all!”

“Oh no, how ever shall I survive?” Jirou rolled her eyes.

Wanting no part of this interaction, Midoriya quietly slunk to the corner of the room, where Tokoyami, Kaminari and Satou had set themselves up. “Hey.” He said quietly. “You mind if I join you?”

“No prob.” Kaminari grinned.

“Sup.” Satou greeted Midoriya with a wave. “Take a seat, man.”

Tokoyami didn’t say anything, but nodded.

“Thanks.” Midoriya said. He took a seat and picked up a menu from a nearby table. “Wow. You can order food here?”

“Yeah man.” Satou gave Midoriya an amused grin. “Have you never been to karaoke before?”

“No.” Midoriya replied. “…Should I have?”

Kaminari shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter all that much. It’s just kinda weird, most people have gone to karaoke at least once.”

“I see.” Midoriya said, glancing around the room and feeling slightly overwhelmed by all of the noise and people in the confined space. He wanted nothing more at that moment than to find somewhere quiet and read his book, but even if he disregarded the noise, the room was too dimly lit to read.

“Yes, I’m up!” An excited Hagakure exclaimed. She bounded up to the stage in a pair of jeans and a long-sleeve shirt.

Probably so nobody bumps into her in such tight quarters.’ Midoriya noted absently. ‘Especially since people have drinks.’

Satou grinned. “Well, you’re here now, and that’s all that matters! What you singing?”

“I’m not.” Midoriya replied.

Kaminari shook his head. “Nah bro, if you’re here, you gotta sing! It’s like a rule!” He elbowed Tokoyami. “Tell him, dude!”

Tokoyami nodded gravely. “It is tradition, inscribed in the annals of karaoke halls everywhere.”

“Pretty sure it’s not.” Midoriya said. “I’m not a good singer anyways.”

Satou crossed his arms. “It’s not about being good or bad at singing, man.”

“Yeah!” Kaminari cajoled him. “Nobody cares about that, it’s just about the fun of singing your lungs out with your friends!”

As soon as he said that, the four of them winced slightly at a horribly off-pitch note from Hagakure. Despite this, everybody clapped and cheered her on, and she began to sing even louder, bouncing around the stage to the beat of the music.

“See?” Satou said. “Nobody cares. The only important thing is that you try.”

“Even if I were to sing,” Midoriya said, “I still wouldn’t know what to perform, I don’t really listen to music, so I don’t know any songs.”

“Just look through the catalogue.” Kaminari said. “They’ve got a stupid huge list of like…three million songs in more than ten languages. I don’t care how little you listen to music, I guarantee that there’s at least one song that you know on there.”

“Three million?” Midoriya said. “Seriously?”

“Fucking science, man.” Kaminari grinned.

“Fucking science.” Satou echoed, nodding.

What does that even mean?’ Midoriya wondered.

“Don’t worry too much about knowing the songs.” Tokoyami reassured him. “I only know about 70% of the songs I pick. There’s a screen with the lyrics so you can follow along.”

“Oh.” Midoriya said. “That’s handy.”

“Satou!” Ashido called. “You’re up!”

“Aww yeah! Let’s do this!” Satou pulled himself to his feet and grinned at Midoriya. “I’ll show you how it’s done!”

As Satou made his way to the stage, Jirou walked over and handed Midoriya a tablet. “Here you go.” She said. “You can put in your song selection here.”

Midoriya cleared his throat. “Uh, hey Jirou?”

In the background, a heavy hip-hop beat began to play and Satou started to rap. “Yeah…Uh-huh…So seductive…

Jirou raised an eyebrow. “Yeah?”

Midoriya scratched his cheek. “I get the feeling that nobody’s going to leave me alone until I sing something.”

“You’re right about that.” Jirou agreed with a smirk. “If you didn’t sign up for anything right now, Ashido was planning on signing you up for something suitably embarrassing and peer pressuring you into doing it.”

I'll take you to the candy shop…” People began to laugh and cheer as Satou ran his hands seductively up and down his body.

Midoriya blanched. “Yeah…I don’t really know any songs, so if it’s not too much trouble, would you pick something for me that’s not completely embarrassing?”

Jirou shrugged. “Why not?” She slid into the spot next to him. She rubbed her chin for a moment and gave him a knowing smile before typing in a song title. “You know, I actually think I have the perfect song for you.”

Midoriya blinked. “…Okay.”

“I'll let you lick the lollipop, go 'head girl don't you stop, keep going 'till you hit the spot, whoa…”

“Oh, wow.” Kirishima said, laughing. “I didn’t know Satou could rap in English!”

“Yeah,” Hagakure giggled, “He’s pretty good too, but what’s he saying?” She nudged Iida. “You’re pretty smart right? Do you understand that?” Iida’s face was beet red. “…Iida?”

 

You could have it your way, how do you want it? You gon' back that thing up, or should I push up on it?”

“N-n-no idea.” Iida shook his head. “N-n-not a word!”

 

 

Midoriya licked his lips. It was his turn. ‘Why do I have to go after Jirou?’ He wondered despairingly. ‘Why couldn’t I have gone after Iida, or Aoyama?’

Not that Aoyama did a bad job, but his flamboyant performance of Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy, complete with a pseudo strip show—to the cheers and laughter of everyone, including Midoriya himself—was more of a comedy routine than a serious performance.

Jirou on the other hand…Jirou just plain rocked. She sang with complete confidence, projecting the aura of an experienced performer, and her voice was able to perfectly oscillate from husky and seductive low notes, to crystal clear high notes at a moment’s notice. She was the only person who didn’t receive any cheers or applause during her performance, simply because everybody was stunned into silence by how jaw droppingly good it was. It was only when the song ended that everybody went absolutely insane.

And then they handed the mic off to Midoriya. He stared at the small device with the expression of someone who had just been handed a live stick of dynamite. ‘…Shit.’

Satou slapped Midoriya heavily on the back. “You’re up, man! Kill it!”

I don’t wanna.’ Midoriya shook his head. He opened his mouth and tried to speak, but no noise came out.

“Mi do ri ya!” Kaminari began to chant with a grin. “Mi do ri ya!” Ashido joined in. “Mi do ri ya!” One by one, the other classmates joined the chant and Midoriya dragged himself to the front of the room with a groan.

As soon as the song’s intro began, Midoriya was slightly taken aback by the wild cheers from everyone in the group. ‘Wow, I guess this song is pretty popular.’

I keep my ideals alive when destiny caaaaaaaaalls!” He began slightly shakily, not really familiar with the pace of the song or the lyrics, but caught on quickly since almost everybody else in the room started singing along. Everything is like a rust escaping me, and we’re living in a darker history, every single excuse I’ve ever made, I just gotta learn to throw them all away, I think I still remember all my lies, I was always living with dead eyes, but now I’ve got to live every day more aliiiiive!

Okay it’s kind of creepy how fitting this song is.’ He thought, glancing over at Jirou and feeling the hairs of his arms and neck stand on end as the rest of the instrumentals kicked in.

“What’s going on?”  The group sang the backup vocals, cheering wildly.

Even so…this…is actually kinda fun.’ Midoriya began to genuinely smile for the first time since the USJ loop began. “Well I guess, I just haven’t finished yet, live the day-to-day but never try to fix it!”

“What’s going on?” Everyone chorused again.

 “Well I guess that I’m different from the rest,” He squeezed the mic harder and began to sing louder. He knew he sounded like crap, but he didn’t care. “Now I recognize that this is a test, yeah..”

Dreaming…” Everybody sang.

…reverse in my mind between the silver line,” What Midoriya was doing now was closer to shouting than singing, but he was having a blast, “my heart’s in the sky, through the darkest night, let’s run to the dawn’s first liiiiiight!”

Caught up in the mood, Kirishima jumped up on stage and grabbed another mic. “Dropping…” He sang, pointing at Midoriya with a massive grin on his face.

“The resolution of the future…” Midoriya wondered what was going on, but continued, “we’re looking away in the day-to-day, let’s try to stop living a liiiiiiie!” He blinked, and suddenly Kaminari, Hagakure, and Ashido were on the small stage singing with him as well. “I keep my ideals alive! If you can live through all of the danger, and get to the love and dreams then you’ll be alright!” By now everybody was on the stage—most came willingly, but some, admittedly were dragged there by Kirishima and Ashido, who seemed to be working as a unit.

Just try not to fall when destiny caaaaaaalls!”

 

XXX

(Several Hours Later)

XXX

 

“Sooooo?” Ashido repeatedly poked Midoriya in the ribs as the filed group filed their way out of the building once their time had expired. It had been nearly six hours since they entered the karaoke lounge, and the sun was just beginning to dip below the horizon.

Midoriya swatted her finger away. “’So,’ what?” He swatted at her hand again. “What do you want? Stop it!” He was utterly exhausted, and his voice was hoarse from hours of singing/yelling, but he felt oddly…good. Relaxed even, like a spring that was finally allowed to release its stored-up tension.   

“Wow Ashido,” She poorly imitated his voice with a grin, continuing to poke at him until he leveled a glowing glare at her, “you sure are an amazing, beautiful, wonderful, brilliant friend! Even though I’m a total stick in the mud, I had a great time because you were smart and kind enough to organize this little outing! Anything along those lines. Feel free to add more glowing descriptors as you see fit.”

“Yeah, I’m not saying that.” Midoriya shook his head with a small, content smile. “But thanks, Ashido, everyone. I…I think I needed that.”

“Ah!” Ashido shouted, pointing at his face and drawing the attention of everybody nearby. “It’s back!”

Midoriya blinked. “What are you talking about? What’s back?”

“Heeeey…yeah, it is!” Hagakure noted.

“Midoriya just seemed wrong without it.” Satou agreed.

“Could somebody please tell me what you guys are talking about?” Midoriya said.

“Your Buddha smile.” Asui explained. “It’s back.”

“…It was gone?” Midoriya asked. “I didn’t notice.”

“Hooo yeah,” Kaminari threw an arm around Midoriya’s shoulder. “Let me tell ya buddy, you had a mad case of R.B.F. going on there.”

“…R.B.F?” Midoriya repeated.

Kaminari grinned. “Resting Bitch Face.”

Midoriya raised his eyebrows. “…Resting Bitch Face?”

“You were frowning all day and it weirded everyone out.” Asui translated.

“Seriously,” Kaminari continued. “Between Jirou, Bakugo, and Todoroki, our class has enough R.B.F to go around!”

“I will cut you.” Jirou casually threatened Kaminari.

“You were a lot cuter when you were singing.” Kaminari teased. “Where did that Jirou go? Where’s the manager? I want to make an exchange.”

“Yaoyorozu, can you make me another sword?” Jirou asked. “Like the one you gave me at USJ?”

“Sorry,” Yaoyorozu chuckled. “I’m afraid that would make me an accessory.”

“Also, it’s wrong to threaten people with deadly weapons.” Iida added.

“That too.” Yaoyorozu agreed.

“Yeah Jirou.” Kaminari laughed, “It’s wrong. Why can’t you be an upstanding citizen like me and Midoriya here? We would never try to hurt someone with a sharp object.”

“Don’t drag me into this.” Midoriya said, removing Kaminari’s arm from his shoulder. ‘Also…wrong.”

“Midoriya!” Kaminari exclaimed, holding his chest with a wounded expression. “I thought we were bros! Did our rocking duets mean nothing to you?”

“…Hey Iida, wait up.” Midoriya quickly moved to escape the situation. “I have something I need to ask you.”

Iida adjusted his glasses. “Oh? What’s that?”

“I didn’t actually have to ask you anything.” Midoriya admitted. He cracked a wicked grin. “I just wanted to get out of the splash zone, I like this hoodie.”

Dude!” Kaminari cried.

Hagakure cracked up. “Hahaha you just got dropped like a bad habit!”

“Never before has a bromance been so short-lived.” Tokoyami added. “Truly tragic.”

“Well, you know what they say.” Asui croaked. “Tragedy and comedy are just two sides of the same coin.”

“I hate all of you!” Kaminari moaned, making everyone laugh.

The group continued to walk together and talk until they reached the train station, where they each went their separate ways to get home.

Just as Midoriya boarded his train, he felt a small hand grab his shoulder and a heard a familiar voice whisper something in his ear that made him stiffen in shock.

Time seemed to stop for Midoriya, and he stood frozen in place for a second before he whirled around with green sparks flying off of his body. Glowing green eyes searched the crowd but the person he was looking for was nowhere to be seen. “Wait!” He called out, moving to step off the train when the doors closed in his face.

Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.’ Was the thought that played on repeat in Midoriya’s head during the entire train ride home, along with the words that had been whispered into his ear.

Try not to die on the way home, Midoriya.”

 

AN: Oooooooooooooh shit son! There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’m just going to say that the thought of Satou sensually singing 50 cent’s Candy Shop brought me to near hysterics. Lyrics to the song Midoriya sang was from the English Cover of Odd Future by Jonathon Young—he does a bunch of excellent covers of anime and other songs, so check him out on Youtube. Until next time, Plus Ultra!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Try not to die on the way home, Midoriya.

It had been two days and three nights since then. Nearly 60 hours of anxiety, waiting and wondering if and when the other shoe was going to drop. Midoriya didn’t know who had whispered that chilling message into his ear—he considered forcing a loop to determine the speaker’s identity, but his predecessor’s warning and the possibility he could end up trapped on the boat again made looping a risk he wasn’t willing to take. Now that their extended weekend was over and school was back in session, he could finally stop waiting around and be proactive.

As he sat in class, Midoriya tuned out Present Mic’s lecture and kept his eyes fixed upon his notebook. He fought to keep himself from muttering as he rhythmically tapped the end of his pen on the page and glared at the rather short list of possibilities he had narrowed down from the available information.

The background noise of the station made identifying them from their voice difficult, but he could tell that they were probably female. He knew their hands were small. He knew that they were able to blend into a crowd easily. He couldn’t fully discount the possibility that he was mistaken in this regard, but he was more than 90% certain that speaker was not only one of his classmates, but among the group who had come to karaoke.

Asui Tsuyu: Quirk rules her out. Hands too large, voice too distinctive. Possibility of being suspect, 0%.

Ashido Mina: Too easily visible in a crowd. Other passengers extremely likely to have remembered seeing her. Her possibility of being the suspect is greater than 0%, but not worth serious consideration until others are cleared.

With those two names crossed off the list, there were only three remaining possibilities:

Yaoyorozu Momo

Hagakure Tooru

Jirou Kyoka

Midoriya stared at the three remaining names. The likelihood varied from person to person, but with their respective capabilities, all three were entirely capable of ferreting out his secret, letting him know and disappearing in an instant. However, the most vital question of why they would do this still remained unanswered. Why would they let him know they knew about his quirk? What were they after?

The good news,’ he thought, ‘is that if they’re my enemy, then they clearly aren’t very smart.’ He paused. ‘That probably means I can scratch Yaoyorozu off of the list…or at least, I can assume that if it was her, then she wanted me to figure it out. She’s simply too smart to be that sloppy if she wanted to remain anonymous. Hagakure is definitely a good candidate, her invisibility would definitely explain why nobody I asked remembered seeing anything. Jirou’s earlier behavior also makes her a prime suspect, and her appearance is just generic enough that most people would simply overlook her.’

Midoriya was so preoccupied with this issue he barely noticed when a heavily bandaged Aizawa announced that the UA Sports Festival would continue as per usual—though with drastically increased security as a result of the recent villain attack. In sharp contrast to Midoriya, the rest of the class was brimming with excitement for the major event and immediately began to discuss it when lunchtime rolled around.

“Man,” Kirishima exclaimed, “I’m so freaking pumped! If we show our stuff during the festival, that’s a huge step towards becoming a pro!”

“Everybody…” Uraraka said, her face uncharacteristically intense, “let’s do our best!”

“What the heck?” Ashido exclaimed, taken aback at the unexpected behavior from her consistently carefree classmate. “You aren’t looking very…Uraraka right now. It’s kinda freaking me out.”

“Yeah!” Uraraka thrust her fist in the air, ignoring Ashido. “I’m gonna crush this! Bring it on!”

“Midoriya!” Iida greeted him with a chop of his hand. “Let us go and eat! We’ll need our strength for training this afternoon!”

“…Yeah, sure, let’s go.” Midoriya nodded and snapped his notebook shut before storing it in his desk. ‘He’s right, I’m not going to figure anything out right now, and I can’t let my performance slip during training.’ He mostly stayed silent while Iida and Uraraka chatted on the way to the cafeteria, only reacting when she mentioned her regret for not being able to join them at karaoke.

“I really wish that I could have heard you and Deku sing,” she said wistfully, “that must have been a hoot. My money situation just isn’t very…stable…right now.” She clenched a fist. “That’s why I really need to do well at the Festival. I need to nail down a high-paying job as quickly as possible.”

Midoriya smiled faintly, “When you say it like that, it sounds like you just want to be a hero for the money.”

Uraraka went completely silent and began to stare out the window.

Midoriya blinked. That had been a joke. “Wait, seriously? You want to be a hero for the money?” When Uraraka’s face went beet red, he realized how his statement must have come off. “Oh…sorry, I didn’t mean for that to sound so judgmental.”

Uraraka dropped her eyes to the ground. “It’s fine, you aren’t wrong…I know that compared to you two, it’s pretty selfish.”

“Nonsense!” Iida interjected, “Wanting financial stability is a perfectly natural desire!”

“Motivations aren’t important. Intentions aren’t important,” Midoriya said bluntly. “Only your actions matter. Many of the worst atrocities in human history were committed by people with noble intentions. As a hero, what you’ll be doing is saving lives. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t care if you only wanted to be a hero for an excuse to beat people up, as long as you follow the law.” Iida and Uraraka stared at Midoriya in shock. “What? Did I say something weird?”

“No…you made valid points. I just wasn’t expecting that from you,” Iida replied.

“Yeah,” Uraraka said. “I got the idea that you were a lot more…idealistic than that. You know, with the whole ‘wanting to become the next All Might’, thing.”

“Really?” Midoriya said. “How is that cynical? I’m not saying that the ends justify the means, I’m actually saying the opposi—”

“Young Midoriya!” All Might’s booming voice cut them off and the large man stuck his head out from behind a corner. He held up a packed lunch, almost bashfully. “Care to eat lunch with me?”

Uraraka started to crack up. “He’s like a maiden!”

I almost forgot…my mysterious stranger isn’t the only person who I need to sort things out with…might as well get this over with.’

“Sure,” Midoriya agreed, pasting a neutral smile on his face. He turned to Iida and Uraraka, “Sorry guys, I’ll catch up with you later.”

“Think nothing of it!” Iida boomed, “Given your stated goals, you would be a fool to turn down a chance to talk privately with All Might!”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

After making it to the teacher’s lounge, the two hadn’t been sitting for more than a minute when All Might delivered some news that hit Midoriya like a punch to the gut.

Fifty minutes?” Midoriya repeated, feeling slightly sick. “That’s a 60% percent drop, you strained yourself that badly?”

All Might nodded. “I can barely maintain my hero form for an hour, and my time limit is getting shorter by the day now that I no longer possess One for All.” He grimaced, “At this rate, I don’t have much longer as the Symbol of Peace. A couple of months, at best.”

“You have a more immediate problem than that,” Midoriya pointed out. “How are you going to teach classes, All Might? An hour isn’t enough time for one lesson, let alone several.”

“Don’t you worry about that,” All Might reassured him, “I’ll work with the other teachers to figure something out. That aside,” He poured himself and Midoriya a cup of tea, “I assume that you’ve had sufficient time to ‘cool off’ from our previous conversation?”

“Somewhat,” Midoriya gazed into the murky depths of his tea. “I’m still not happy about it, but I did some reflection…I understand my anger and resentment towards you and my mom was because I felt like I was being robbed of my sense of control over that information.”

“That’s a very mature assessment,” All Might noted. “Insightful as well, I can see how the nature of your quirk would make any sense of control a precious thing.”

“Wait,” Midoriya said, “before we say anything else, I have a problem I need to talk to you about.”

“And what is that?” All Might calmly asked, blowing on his tea to cool it.

“Hold on a second.” Midoriya replied. He walked over to the closed door to the teacher lounge and suddenly threw it open. He stuck his head out the door and looked in both directions to make sure nobody was nearby.

Okay, we’re clear…I think. If it was Hagakure or Yaoyorozu, that wouldn’t do much since she could just plant a bug or be invisible, but this is all I can do for now.’ He shut the door and locked it. Then he took out his phone, pulled up some music and set it next to the door before heading back to his seat. All Might watched all of this with an amused expression.

“Was all of that really necessary?” All Might asked.

“It most definitely was. Someone knows, All Might.” Midoriya said in a low voice, “I think someone in our class overheard us that day. Someone knows about my quirk, and maybe even One for All and you, too.”

There was a moment of tense silence.

“Are you sure? How do you know this?” All Might leaned in, his voice deadly serious. “I need you to tell me absolutely everything. Don’t leave out any details, no matter how inconsequential they may seem.”

All Might remained silent throughout the entire story, beginning with Midoriya’s meetup after his appointment with Recovery Girl and up until his interaction on the train. With All Might’s permission, Midoriya ran to the classroom and fetched his notebook with his theories and notes as to the identity of the individual. It was at times like this—when All Might set aside his goofy, joking persona—that Midoriya understood raw power was only a small part of what made All Might the greatest hero of all time. After a minute or so of perusing the information, the emaciated man shut the notebook with a snap and set it on the coffee table.

“I can’t say I’m surprised, but you’re quite thorough. Even though you weren’t able to, most people your age wouldn’t even consider asking to review the CCTV footage. Out of curiosity, what did you say to them when you asked?”

Midoriya frowned at the reminder of his failure. “I told the security team that I had been approached by a long-time stalker with a history of violence and that the footage might be my only chance of proving that they violated their restraining order. They told me to come back with a warrant.”

“I see, it was a good attempt, but sometimes that’s how these things turn out when secrets have to be kept. This is indeed a situation worth taking seriously,” All Might said, “but I doubt that whoever approached you was an enemy—or at the very least, not the enemy I was concerned about.”

“The enemy you were concerned about?” Midoriya repeated. “What enemy?”

All Might nodded. “It goes without saying that you must keep this information to yourself, but our investigation into the League of Villains’ attack has revealed inconclusive, but compelling evidence that there is a traitor among us.”

“That makes sense.” Midoriya said. “They couldn’t have known that you were supposed to be teaching the class that day unless they had prior knowledge, not to mention the fact that they knew how to shut down all of the alarm systems.”

“Our thoughts exactly.” All Might replied. “However, despite our best efforts over the last several days, we have been unable to produce any clues as to the identity of our enemy informant.”

“Which is why you don’t think that whoever approached me is the same person,” Midoriya noted. “Anybody capable of fooling both the police and the entire staff of UA wouldn’t be so sloppy when it comes to me, especially if they know about the connection between us.”

All Might nodded. “It is still important that you discover the identity of whoever approached you and determine what they know about One for All and our connection before serious harm can be done, but I don’t believe that your life is in any danger.”

“I’m not worried about my life.” Midoriya reminded him. “I’m worried about my privacy. It actually might have made things easier for me if they had killed me that night. It would have given me another chance to find out who they are.”

“…Right…time travel,” All Might coughed out a small gout of blood and wiped his chin. “I suppose I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the whole thing.”

Midoriya snorted. “You should try being me. Trying to keep track of what I’ve said or done in one timeline versus another can be a major pain.” He took a sip of his tea and made an appreciative noise. “…Wow, this is pretty good.”

“I had it specially imported.” All Might said. “After my injury, I had to give up alcohol and many of my favorite foods. Now, a good cup of tea is one of the few ways I can still indulge myself.”

“I see.” Midoriya said, casting an appreciative eye at the most likely exorbitantly expensive beverage in his hands. “Was there anything else you wanted to discuss with me?”

“Yes.” All Might said. “I’ve been thinking about where we left off in our last conversation. About you talking to someone about all of…” All Might swirled his hand around, “this, I mean.”

“I’m still not getting therapy.” Midoriya flatly told him. “There’s nothing that you can say that will change my mind on that, All Might.”

“I don’t plan on changing your mind.” All Might replied. “I’ve done some reflecting of my own over the last couple of days, and…” he sighed, “unfortunately, I believe that you are correct. For better or worse, from the moment I handed you that hair, I made a long-term investment in you, and speaking to a therapist would unnecessarily put that investment at risk.”

“Interesting choice of words. If I am an ‘investment’, I don’t believe that you’d give up on your concerns so easily,” Midoriya noted. “Can I assume that means you have something else in mind?”

“I do,” All Might nodded. “I feel somewhat foolish for not thinking of it immediately. You are remarkably well-adjusted given your experiences, but you aren’t an island, young man—isolation eventually breaks even the strongest of wills. You still need someone to confide in. I might not be a therapist, but I believe I can fulfill that role.”

Midoriya hesitated. “I don’t know if I can do that,” he replied. “I wouldn’t even know what I would say…hiding this stuff is just a way of life for me. Forget talking about it, I try to not even think about some of this stuff if I can help it.”

“I don’t expect it to be easy for you.” All Might insisted. “I don’t expect it to be easy for either of us. That’s why I’d like to establish a relationship of 100% honesty between us from this point on. I will hide nothing from you, provided you reciprocate. I will also treat you as an adult to the greatest extent that I can, given my position. Naturally, the details of any conversations will remain entirely between us…is this acceptable to you?”

Midoriya thought for a second, and then nodded. “That’s fair. More than fair, even.”

All Might smiled, “Excellent, young man, I’m glad you—”

“Just keep in mind,” Midoriya interjected, “that I’ve been habitually lying to every person in my life for over a decade, so I can’t promise that I’ll be able to…open up…right away, but I’ll do my best.”

“That’s all I ask.” All Might took a sip of his tea and the two were silent for a moment. “I’d also like to speak to you about the upcoming sports festival. As I said earlier, I don’t have much longer as the Symbol of Peace…unfortunately, there are those with villainous intent who have begun to realize that as well. The Sports Festival is an event that the whole country will be watching, as my successor, the next Symbol of Peace, this is the perfect opportunity for you to announce to the world, ‘I am here!’”

“Don’t you worry about that, All Might.” Midoriya smiled. “Compared to all of this cloak and dagger nonsense, this straightforward kind of challenge is a relief. I’ll give them a show that they’ll never forget.”

“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” All Might beamed. “Now, back to the problem of your mysterious classmate…do you have any idea on how you plan to investigate from here on out?”

“Yes.” Midoriya replied. “I’m starting with Yaoyorozu, since she’s the easiest. We’re both on the student council, so I’ll have plenty of time alone with her. She’s also smart enough that if it was her who approached me, it’s because she wanted me to figure her out. If I drop some oblique hints, she’ll either play ball or have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s Hagakure and Jirou who are going to be the challenge. I don’t suppose you have any ideas to help me out there?”

“Hmm…let me think,” All Might murmured. “Honestly, Nighteye was the one responsible for this kind of work, but I did pick up a thing or two. Let me see that notebook of yours.”

 

XXX

(10 Days Later—UA Cafeteria)

XXX

 

 

“…And then she said ‘Sorry, but you’re kinda dumb!’” Kaminari complained, “Like, what the hell? I just asked her if she wanted to catch a movie! She could have just said no!”

“I told you not to approach her.” Ashido retorted with zero sympathy. “Uraraka was clearly in a bad mood after losing to you in sparring. And then there was the thing from the villain exercise, how did you think it was going to go? Besides,” she gave Midoriya a mischievous smirk, “I think somebody else is a better match for her.” She elbowed Midoriya in the side, “Huh? Huh? Huh?”

“…Uh-huh.” Midoriya absently replied, not really paying attention to her.

He didn’t know whether to be flattered or annoyed, but his customary spot near the back corner of the cafeteria had somehow become the cool place to be. As much as he appreciated his classmates’ friendliness and attempts at comradery, he would be lying if he said that he didn’t miss his quiet, peaceful lunches with his sketchbook. Not that he’d be leisurely drawing even if he were alone right then…he had more important matters on his mind at the moment.

None of his sessions working with Yaoyorozu had turned up anything. Every vague hint or oblique reference to his quirk seemed to pass straight over her head. He supposed that it was possible that she was merely playing dumb, but that didn’t make any sense to him given the circumstances. Also, she’d have to be one of the best actors he’d ever seen to pull off confused ignorance so convincingly.

Hagakure actually turned out to be much easier to rule out than he had anticipated. Apparently, she lived in the same part of town as several of their other classmates, and a few subtle inquiries produced a rock-solid alibi for the transparent girl. She had multiple accounts placing her aboard a different train when Midoriya had been approached.

With those two crossed off the list, only one suspect remained. And suspicious barely scratched the surface of her behavior for the last two weeks. Jirou was actively avoiding him. Midoriya had been trying to talk to her while she was alone for several days now, only to be left frustrated at every turn. With her quirk, trying to catch her by surprise was a difficult proposition, to put it mildly. Even when he tried disguising the sound of his approach, or even hiding within a crowd, she still somehow knew when he was coming.

He had nearly reached the point of simply asking her to speak privately when she was with a group, but that would raise questions that he didn’t want raised. Ideally, nobody would ever know that a conversation occurred at all.

Today’s the day.’ Midoriya thought for the third time that week as he stared at Jirou, who was sitting at another table. ‘Today’s the day that I finally find out what you’re up to. You aren’t getting away from me this time, you little…’

“Hey Midoriya,” Kaminari asked with a grin, “do you have a crush on Jirou or something?”

Midoriya’s disposable chopsticks snapped in his hands with enough force that one of the pieces went flying and he began to choke on the mouthful of rice that he’d just inhaled out of surprise at the sudden question. Sitting next to him, Ashido snickered as she reached over and clapped him on the back, clearing the obstruction. He took a long swig of tea from his thermos.

Midoriya stared at Kaminari as if he’d grown another head. “Do I have a what?”

“It’s no big deal if you don’t wanna say,” Kaminari quickly backtracked. “I was just wondering.”

Ashido leaned in. “I’d also like to hear the answer to this question.”

“I bet you would.” Midoriya said flatly, shaking his head. “No, just…no. Where is this even coming from?”

“Well, you’ve been staring at her a lot since we went to karaoke.” Kaminari said.

“Oh?” Midoriya said. “Have I really?” ‘I mean, I was keeping an eye out for opportunities to confront her alone, but I thought I was being subtle…I guess I wasn’t subtle enough.’

“A lot,” Ashido added. “A lot.”

“I see,” Midoriya took a moment to calm himself down and think. “Is that why she’s been avoiding me lately?” He asked, “She thinks I…like her…and she feels awkward?”

“Well either that, or she thinks you want to kill her.” Ashido joked.

“Hmm.” Midoriya hummed, still thinking about how to deal with this problem. “That’s inconvenient.”

Ashido and Kaminari shared a look. “Inconvenient?” They echoed together.

“Yes. Inconvenient,” Midoriya repeated. “I’m the class rep, I will need to speak to her occasionally.” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jirou leave the cafeteria on her own and he rose to his feet. “Excuse me,” he said, “I’m going to clear this up right now, privately.” Before he walked away, Midoriya paused and turned around to face Ashido, who had subtly shifted in her seat as he moved past her. “Privately,” he stressed, “That means don’t follow us.”

“I’m offended that you would think something like that of me!” Ashido protested. “I know what ‘privately’ means!”

“I’m not kidding around about this, Ashido,” Midoriya said severely. “I’ll ask her if anyone’s nearby, so don’t even think about it.”

“Tch,” Ashido scowled. “Spoilsport!”

 

 

Jirou did her best to remain as elusive as she had been for the last week and a half, and five minutes after she had left the cafeteria, she was leaning against the façade of UA, breathing slightly heavily from her desperate attempts to keep away from her implacable pursuer.

She normally took care to not be alone while on campus, but nobody was willing to go with her to grab her phone from the classroom where it had been charging. She had hoped that sitting with Ashido would keep him distracted long enough for her to retrieve the device, but Midoriya was on her tail almost immediately.

Jirou tapped one of her earphone jacks against the wall and focused on the thousands of tiny vibrations running through the building. She furrowed her brow when she couldn’t identify Midoriya’s distinctive footfalls—his left leg was a few millimeters longer than his right, making his strides slightly uneven.

Maybe he tried to take off his shoes again.’ She closed her eyes and listened for any elevated heartbeats—this was a much more difficult application of her powers with a far shorter range, but it was good as an emergency resort. When she couldn’t identify anything within her range, she let out a sigh of relief. ‘I think I lost him.’ She thought. ‘That was close…I can’t believe that I forgot to charge my phone last night…I can’t keep this up forever, he’s getting harder to avoid.’  

“Jirou.” Midoriya’s voice suddenly appeared from behind her, and she let out a small shriek of surprise.

Midoriya understood better than most that people were creatures of habit—especially when they were under duress. Cornering a person who could pick out the sound of your heart, or your unique stride from a crowd was difficult, but not impossible—all it took was a little raw data and the ability to plan ahead. And after three days of wild goose chases, he had had plenty of data.

“H-How did you?” Jirou stammered. ‘How the hell did he sneak up on me!?’

“Magic,” Midoriya replied, not wanting to reveal that he had jumped out of a window. ‘Her little trick sticking her earphone jack on the wall is a good one, but it dulls her situational awareness to everything not connected to the structure.

“…Magic?” Jirou repeated incredulously. “You know I know you’re lying, right?”

“You’ve certainly led me on a merry chase,” Midoriya ignored Jirou’s call out, “but it’s over now. I need to talk to you.” He looked around. “Is anyone else nearby? I’m sure you know, but this is a sensitive topic.”

Jirou took a deep breath and tried to calm her pounding heart. “Sorry, Midoriya,” Jirou said, “I’m flattered, but you’re not really my type.”

The instant that the words left Jirou’s mouth, Midoriya slammed his hand against the wall, right next to her head. Practically nose to nose, Jirou involuntarily froze at the sight of Midoriya’s glowing eyes, and the arcs of green electricity crackling in her ear made her hair stand on end.

Don’t. Don’t fuck with me on this, Jirou,” Midoriya said in cold, tight voice. He stared at her for several seconds without blinking. “I know that you know.”

Jirou forced herself to take a shuddering breath. “What the hell is your problem, dude? You’re acting like a total creep! Get away from me!”

Jirou tried to shove him out of her way, but found that it was like trying to move a boulder. Midoriya continued to stare at Jirou for several seconds before he deactivated One for All and stepped back. “…I’m sorry,” he apologized, “that was over the line…but I’m pretty sure you know why I’m so worked up.” He narrowed his eyes at Jirou, “After all, you hear a lot of things, right?”

“I…” Jirou’s chest froze up at her words being thrown back at her.

“Why did you run at the station?” Midoriya asked. Jirou twitched and began to fidget uncomfortably under his unblinking gaze. “Don’t deny it, you basically spelled it out for me at karaoke, why did you run away after what you said?”

“…Can you blame me?” Jirou finally replied after several tense seconds. “I was just…at first I was trying to drop hints to ease you into the idea, but you didn’t make the connection. I didn’t want to just hold onto a secret like that for the next couple of days, so when you were about leave, I made a joke…”

A joke?” Midoriya incredulously repeated. “’Try not to die on the way home,’ was your idea of a joke? Are you freaking kidding me right now?”

“Uh, yeah, I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” Jirou dryly replied, the knot in her chest starting to loosen now that the sudden fury that had overtaken Midoriya had fled. “But my sense of humor is kind of sarcastic.”

Midoriya closed his eyes and counted to ten. He opened them again and shook his head slightly. “…Okay, fine…whatever.” He motioned with his hand, “Continue.”

Jirou swallowed. “I know now that that was basically the worst possible way to let you know, but you totally freaked. Your heartrate went through the roof and I saw those sparks start to come off you…I just…I panicked.”

“…When and how did you find out?” Midoriya asked.

“After the villain attack.” Jirou answered, staring at the ground. “I had gotten all the way home when I realized that I forgot my math book…even though we had the day off, we still had homework, you know? I was on my way out when I heard a crash coming from the infirmary…I went to check it out…and that’s when I overheard you and All Might talking.”

A crash?’ Midoriya thought, ‘Must have been when I was showing All Might Black Whip.’

“How much did you hear?” he asked in a low voice. “How long did you eavesdrop on us?”

“…A lot.” Jirou answered.

“Details, Jirou,” Midoriya demanded. “Now.”

“Hey!” Jirou snapped, “Watch the tone! I know that you’re upset, but there’s no need to be an asshole.”

“You don’t get to lecture me on manners,” Midoriya retorted with a glare. “I’m not the one who listened in on a private conversation and overheard things I shouldn’t have.”

Jirou flushed angrily but bit her tongue. “Fine. All Might is injured, and you have his quirk somehow. There was some villain who could steal quirks. Your original quirk is called Death by Design, and you go back in time when you die. All Might wants you to get therapy. You said no. Then Recovery Girl and that policeman came. Happy?”

“No Jirou,” Midoriya said. “I’m not happy. But I have one more question, and then I’ll be satisfied. Did you tell anyone?”

“Are you crazy? No,” Jirou answered immediately. “I’m smart enough to know that isn’t something to spread around!”

Midoriya let out a breath and released a load of tension that he’d been holding in since Jirou whispered in his ear. “Good.”

The two stood in silence and Jirou began to shift in place awkwardly. “So…what now?” she asked.

“I don’t know.” Midoriya answered honestly. “Nobody my age has ever believed me before.” He paused, “Wait a minute, why do you believe me? I’m naturally agitated when I talk about my quirk, so there’s no way you’d be able to use my heartrate as a reliable metric.”

Jirou smiled. “I wasn’t totally sure at first, but you just spent the last couple of days chasing me down at every opportunity. There’s no way you would do that unless it was true.”

Midoriya snorted. “I guess that makes sense.”

“Sooooo,” Jirou drew out the syllable, “I’ll ask again, what now?”

Midoriya thought for a moment. “Are you free at all this weekend?”

Jirou blinked. “Uh, I was planning on training for the Festival, but sure, I guess I have some time on Sunday. Why?”

Midoriya pulled out his phone and texted Jirou an address. “Meet me here at 11:00AM.”

“A beach?” Jirou said, looking at the pinned address. “What are we going to do at the beach?”

Midoriya smiled faintly. “We’re going to set some ground rules regarding this…situation. I don’t want to talk about it on campus anymore. And…” he trailed off.

“…And?” Jirou said.

Payback for the anxiety you’ve caused me for the last two weeks.’

Midoriya’s smile widened. “We’re going to do some training,” he said cheerily.

Overcome by an ominous feeling, Jirou swallowed a lump in her throat.

 

AN: Poor Jirou. She has no idea the hell that awaits her at the hands of a vindictive Midoriya. For those of you who saw this coming, congratulations. For those of you who didn’t, HA HA. I’ll be updating Semper Fast next, so the next release will be in 2-3 weeks. Until then, Plus Ultra.

Chapter Text

Huurgh….hurrgh…hate you…hurk…hate you so much.”

Midoriya watched Jirou alternate between cursing him out and vomiting into the trash bag he brought with an All Might-level smile on his face. When she arrived at Dagoba beach, Midoriya told her that they would finish their conversation after doing a light workout. Jirou was unnerved by the glint in Midoriya’s eye when he said that, but since she had already come all this way, agreed. She figured that whatever Midoriya had planned, it couldn’t be too crazy since the festival was the next day.

She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Since his control over One for All was more-or-less directly proportional to his physical fitness, Midoriya’s workouts had already been difficult. Once he learned that One for All continued to grow across the resets—and carried a risk of outpacing his body’s ability to contain it—the intensity of his workouts had gone from difficult to skirting the edge of detrimental. The muscle pain and soreness from his new training regimen was severe enough that daily appointments with Recovery Girl were necessary to make him fit enough to attend regular training.

When the aged hero objected to abusing her healing powers as a training aid, Midoriya didn’t hesitate to bring in the big guns. With All Might’s backing, he informed Recovery Girl that One for All was growing faster than anticipated, and she could either cooperate and fix his overworked muscles, or they would see if her quirk could regenerate an exploded limb. And so, with the combination of his insane exercise menu, six meals (and two protein shakes) a day, and Recovery Girl’s grudging assistance in supercharging his recovery time, Midoriya packed on nearly 3 kilos of lean muscle in the two weeks since the USJ.

“Come on Jirou!” Midoriya urged her in a sing-song tone, doing push-ups at a blistering pace while he waited, fully aware that he was taking unwholesome amount of glee in watching her suffer. “We still have three more sets of sprints before we’re done!”

Huuughh…d-do it yourself…hugh…you curly-headed shit.”

Midoriya snorted at the unexpected vulgarity from his victim/training partner. “That’s not very nice,” he said mildly, unable to keep his amusement from creeping into his tone.

After a few final dry heaves, Jirou dropped the trash bag and rolled onto her back. “Neither is lying,” she moaned, “in what world is this is a ‘light workout’, Midoriya? Not even the training at school is this tough!”

Jirou was seeing spots, and her limbs were trembling from being overworked. She felt absolutely disgusting—her shorts and Deep Funk tank top were completely soaked through with sweat. As if that weren’t bad enough, sand clung to her sweaty skin like a grimy coat, covering every inch of her body in the irritating substance.

Still grinning widely, Midoriya fetched a water bottle from his bag and handed it to Jirou. “Here, use this to get that taste out of your mouth.” He watched as she swished and spat before drinking greedily. “I wasn’t lying, by the way, I normally do three times this workload every day before school.”

“…Holy shit, you’re telling the truth.” Jirou sat up with a pained grunt. “Are you insane? How the hell do you function?”

Midoriya shrugged and extended his hand to Jirou. “I do what I have to. Now get up, I had a few more exercises for us, but you’ve been a trooper, so we’ll call it for a day after a cooldown and some stretches.”

“Really?” Jirou groaned, accepting the help back to her feet, “Thank god.”

“We’ll be doing Tai Chi as our cooldown,” Midoriya informed. “As you move, I want you to focus primarily on slow, even breathing, and maintaining constant awareness of your center of gravity.”

Tai Chi?” Jirou said incredulously. “You’re having us do Tai Chi? What are you, a middle-aged housewife?”

“If you like,” he said, “we could always do those extra sets of suicide sprints I had planned, and maybe add some bear crawls to round it off.”

“No!” Jirou quickly shook her head while she brushed the sand off of her body the best she could. “Tai Chi sounds great! Yay Tai Chi!”

“I’m so glad you approve,” Midoriya replied, pulling off his soaked sweatshirt and tossing it into his bag.

“Hey,” Jirou snarked, looking up from her attempts to get the grime off, “sarcasm is my thin—whoa.” Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open slightly at the sight of a shirtless Midoriya, whose training regimen had definitely done his physique good. ‘Holy crap, I could grate cheese on those abs. How does someone so baby-faced have a body like that?’

“What’s wrong?” He asked her, “Do you need to throw up again?”

No no no no, come on Kyoka, this is Midoriya we’re talking about here. But he’s so…no! No way, don’t even think about it! Remember how scary he was!’

Jirou forced herself to remember Midoriya slamming the wall near her head. She vividly pictured his glowing green eyes boring into her as he leaned in so close that their noses were practically touching, close enough that she could count every freckle on his boyish face if she wanted to, and…

Damn it, I’m making it worse.’

“Jirou?”

“I’m fine!” Jirou snapped, grateful that her flushing face could easily be explained by the heat and the intense exercise she just did. “Why is your shirt off?”

“Because it’s hot, and we’re at the beach.”

“You don’t see me taking my top off!”

“You could have if you’d brought a swimsuit top,” Midoriya said, “you knew we were going to be at the beach, so you have no one to blame but yourself.”

“You’re a dick,” Jirou grumbled.

“Noted,” Midoriya calmly replied. “Now get ready to follow my movements, I’m going to start now.”

Still grumbling, Jirou dutifully lined up and began to follow her classmate’s motions the best she could. “So,” she said, “how long have you been coming to this beach? I read online that it was basically a junkyard until recently.” 

“Focus,” Midoriya raised one foot and smoothly extended it before pivoting on his heel, “we can chat later, but you aren’t good enough to hold a conversation while doing this yet.”

“Oh, come on,” Jirou breathlessly argued, “it’s not like this is that har—whoa!” Caught up in her response, Jirou lost her balance mid-move and fell on her butt.

“See?” Midoriya continued to transition smoothly through the motions, each move connecting seamlessly with the last. “This is about developing overall balance and general muscle control. We can talk afterwards, for now, just focus. Regain control of your breath, focus on maintaining a positive emotional state.”

“Positive emotional state, my ass.” Jirou grumbled as she shakily pulled herself to her feet and brushed the sand off her butt. “I don’t even know why I’m still listening to you anyways.”

“Because you feel guilty about eavesdropping and scaring the life out of me,” Midoriya evenly responded. “Now focus. The only sound I want to hear for the next ten minutes is the ocean.”

As she followed along with Midoriya’s slow, flowing movements under the afternoon sun, Jirou had to admit—old lady exercise aside—Tai Chi was extremely relaxing. Her slow, controlled breathing, the sound of the waves crashing on the glittering shoreline, and her focused awareness of each deliberate movement completely flushed her annoying hormonal reaction to Midoriya’s—admittedly impressive—shirtless torso out of her system. Despite her exhaustion, Jirou was so lost in the sense of peace rushing over her that she was almost disappointed when Midoriya announced that they were done—not that it stopped her from collapsing into a boneless heap immediately afterwards.

“Good work today,” Midoriya praised her, wiping off his sweat with a towel. “I’m legitimately impressed. I thought that you’d give up partway through.”

Jirou scoffed with all the dignity she could muster while lying on the ground and covered in sand. “Please. I’m not a quitter.”

Midoriya pulled out a fresh shirt from his bag and put it on before nodding. “I can see that.”

“I probably should have quit though,” Jirou moaned. “God, I feel like a complete wreck. I don’t even want to know what I look like either.”

Midoriya let out a small hum as he assessed Jirou’s condition. Her hair was in complete in complete disarray, plastered to her head with sweat and full of sand. The same went for her clothes, which were completely soaked through and similarly grimy.  “Yeah,” he agreed cheerfully, “you look like hell.”

Jirou flushed, “I just said I don’t want to know what I look like.”

Midoriya smiled faintly, “I heard what you said.”

Jirou snorted with laughter despite herself. “You’re a dick.”

Midoriya shrugged and helped her to her feet. “Did you take the train to get here?”

“Yeah.”

“I figured,” Midoriya said pulling out a spare towel he brought. “Get as much of the sand off as you can and use this. You can shower and borrow a change of clothes at my place. I normally run back, but I’ll call us a ride.”

“Thanks,” Jirou said with genuine gratitude, “a shower and change of clothes would be fantastic. I can’t even imagine the kind of looks I’d get if I boarded the train in this condition.” She frowned, “But you don’t have to call a ride, how far is it to your place?”

“About 5 kilometers.”

Jirou blanched. There was no way in hell she’d be able to run that far in her condition, and she didn’t want to spend the next hour walking in these disgusting clothes. “Okay, yeah…call the ride. I’ll pay.”

“It’s no big deal,” Midoriya assured her as he pulled up the ride sharing app on his phone. “At this distance, it’d only be about ¥800, give or take.”

“That’s still ¥800 that you wouldn’t be spending if it weren’t for me,” Jirou insisted as she toweled off. “I’ve got this.”

“I don’t mind,” Midoriya said, oblivious to Jirou’s discomfort. “I don’t ever really buy much, and I get a decent allowance. Besides, my info’s already in the app.”

“Just let me pay for the fucking car, Midoriya,” Jirou snapped, digging a ¥1000 note out of her bag and shoving it into Midoriya’s hand. “I already feel bad enough about this whole thing, I don’t want to be indebted to you too!”

Midoriya blinked. “Um…okay then. I guess that settles that.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

Midoriya warned Jirou on their way over, but she was still caught off guard by the deluge of tears which greeted her at the door of his apartment.

“I can’t believe my little Izuku found himself a girlfriend without telling me!” Inko continued to cry even as she invited the two inside.

“She’s not my girlfriend,” Midoriya calmly explained. “She’s the classmate I told you about, the one who happened to overhear my talk with All Might.”

As abruptly as they started, the tears shut off. “Oh,” Inko flushed, “now I feel a bit silly for making a fuss. But why didn’t you tell me that your mystery classmate was such a cute girl?”

Cute?’ Jirou glanced over at small mirror that had been set up near the entrance, ‘Seriously?’

Jirou didn’t harbor any illusions of ever competing with the likes of Yaoyorozu or Uraraka in terms of looks, but she still considered herself above average. However, cute was the last word she would have used to describe disheveled, dirty mess reflected in the mirror. Midoriya had not been kidding when he said that she looked like hell.

“Uh…thank you for having me over, Mrs. Midoriya.” Jirou thanked her host with a bow, “Mido—I mean, Izuku said that I could use your bathroom?”

“Oh yes!” Inko smiled kindly, “Izuku texted ahead, so I ran a bath while you were on your way over.”

“Oh…um, okay. Running a bath wasn’t necessary though,” Jirou said, “I would have been fine with just a shower.”

“Nonsense!” Inko insisted, “If Izuku put you through one of his crazy workouts, you’ll need a nice soak to recover properly. While you’re getting cleaned up, I’ll bring you some of my old clothes.”

Though she appreciated the sentiment, Jirou eyed the rotund woman doubtfully. ‘I can’t say anything since she’s being so nice, but there’s no way any of her clothes would fit me.’

As if she could read Jirou’s thoughts, Inko patted her stomach with an embarrassed chuckle, “I know I look like this, but don’t worry dear. Believe it or not, I actually used to be about your size. Unfortunately, my bad habit of stress eating finally caught up with me.”

As she relaxed in the bath, Jirou reflected on the enormous difference between the personality of mother and son. She was like a cloudless sky, warm and open, hiding nothing—her every word, her every gesture saturated with such intense, genuine, and transparent emotion that Jirou felt like she understood Inko better than her son within minutes of meeting her. In contrast, Izuku reminded Jirou of a dam—a featureless, smooth construct designed to hold back an enormous reservoir of feeling. The day he confronted her, Jirou witnessed a crack in his facade, and caught a glimpse of the emotions hidden behind his polite, calm mannerisms and his serene smile.

Given what she knew about his quirk, she couldn’t blame him. She doubted that she’d be able to handle his situation with as much maturity and grace, but she couldn’t help her unsettling feeling that if the dam ever crumbled completely, whoever and whatever stood in his path would be swept away in the resulting flood.

That’s why you can’t afford to think about him like that,’ Jirou told herself, ‘it doesn’t matter how smart he is, how heroic and selfless he is. It doesn’t matter if he has All Might’s quirk, or that he looks amazing without a shirt.’ Jirou flushed at the memory. ‘Because at the end of the day, I don’t know anything about him…and I doubt that he’d ever let me. He’s so tightly wound up, I don’t know if he’s even capable of being emotionally vulnerable. Even if he isn’t dangerous, he’s just too…too complicated.’

“He’s too complicated,” Jirou repeated out loud, her voice echoing strangely in the small, tiled space. After putting her thoughts into words, Jirou was struck by a sudden sense of relief from the discomfort caused by her bout of attraction. She decided then and there to restrict her dating options to people with less baggage.

Jirou twitched at a sudden knock on the door and Inko appeared, sliding the entrance to the bathroom open a crack. “I’m leaving the change of clothes in the basket by the door, dear. And I hope you don’t mind, but I threw your dirty things in the wash.”

Jirou did mind a little, but there was no way she could say that now that it was already done. “Thank you, Mrs. Midoriya, but you really shouldn’t have gone to the trouble.”

“It was no trouble at all!” Inko assured her. “I was about to start a load of my own when you arrived anyways, so I just threw it in with my things. No point in wasting the water, right?”

“…Right,” Jirou replied, feeling overwhelmed by Inko’s aggressive hospitality.

“Feel free to take your time soaking the soreness away, but I’m going to start making lunch, so keep that in mind. Do you like katsudon?”

And now she’s feeding me,’ Jirou thought. “I appreciate it, but that’s really not—”

“It would be my pleasure,” Inko interrupted. She withdrew her head from the crack in the door and checked around for her son in a hilariously unsubtle manner. “To be perfectly honest,” Inko said in a low voice, “Izuku hasn’t had a friend over here since his quirk came in, and he tends to sugarcoat everything since he doesn’t want to worry me…”

Jirou quirked an eyebrow. “Are you bribing me with food to be your informant?” Inko’s face went beet red at being called out and Jirou let out a soft chuckle. “Well, I am pretty hungry, I guess. Katsudon would be great, thanks.”

Inko’s face lit up. “Wonderful! Lunch will be ready in about half an hour.”

“Okay, thanks again.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

After a bath and a fresh set of clothes—which true to Inko’s word fit almost perfectly, if a little roomy in the chest—Jirou felt immeasurably better than she did when she first stepped through the door.

“Bath’s ready for you.” Jirou informed Midoriya, who was sitting in the living room and drinking a protein shake while he muttered and scribbled in one of his notebooks.

“Mmhmm,” Midoriya hummed, not looking up from his work. He took a moment to write a few more notes before rising to his feet and properly acknowledge his guest. “You’re looking better,” he remarked, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, “my mom’s old clothes suit you.”

Jirou narrowed her eyes at the amused undertone in his voice. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing,” Midoriya said, “it’s just a little funny that you went from complaining about Tai Chi being for ‘middle-aged housewives’ to happily wearing a middle-aged housewife’s clothing within an hour.”

Jirou rolled her eyes. “You’re a dick,” she said without any heat.

“So you’ve said, repeatedly and at varying levels of volume all throughout the day,” Midoriya replied.

“And you stink.”

Midoriya sniffed his armpit and made a face. “Okay, that one is definitely true. I’m going to the bath now.”

“Thanks for the update,” Jirou snarked, “I don’t know if I could have ever put that together if you hadn’t told me.”

“You’re welcome, Jirou,” Midoriya replied with a pleasant smile, “as class rep, I consider it my duty to help my slower classmates with hard to understand concepts. Do me a favor and try not to choke on any small objects while I’m gone, okay?”

As Midoriya left to go to the bathroom, Jirou stood frozen in place, slack jawed from his straight-faced, but brutal response. “Did I just get out-sassed by Midoriya?”

Jirou twitched at the soft sound of laughter coming from another room. Inko walked in with a steaming cup of tea in her hands and genuinely happy smile on her round face. “That means he likes you, you know,”

Jirou snorted. “What? I doubt that. He looked like he was having the time of his life watching me struggle during that workout.”

Inko shook her head and handed Jirou the tea. “Can we talk?”

Jirou accepted the drink with thanks and nodded. “Sure.”

Inko led her into the kitchen and down at the table, where she had her own cup of tea. “You know everything, right? About Izuku and All Might?”

“Pretty much,” Jirou replied, sliding into a chair. “I know about his original quirk and I know that he somehow has All Might’s quirk too.” Jirou stared down at the table bashfully. “I don’t know if Mid—Izuku told you, but I didn’t just ‘happen to overhear’ his conversation with All Might…I listened in, using my quirk. I’m sorry.”

“I’m glad,” Inko replied.

Jirou blinked. “…You are? Even though I invaded your son’s privacy?”

Inko sighed and stared into space for a few seconds. “What do you think of Izuku? Be honest, I won’t be offended.”

“Well, he’s clearly really smart and talented,” Jirou said, unsure of what Inko wanted to hear. “He got number one in the entrance exams and he made beating one of the strongest kids in the country look easy.”

“Not like that,” Inko clarified, “I mean, what’s your impression of him, as a person.”

Jirou furrowed her brow and thought for several seconds. “I don’t know,” she finally replied, “other than when he got angry with me, he’s been so quiet and calm, always in perfect control of himself. Now that I know about…you know…everything I thought I knew about him has been thrown into question…I just don’t know.”

“Izuku tries so hard to pretend that nothing is ever wrong. It’s like he can’t stand the thought of looking sad, lonely, or afraid…and I think it’s at least partially my fault.” As Inko spoke, tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. “I’ll admit, when his quirk manifested, when he told me what was happening to him…I didn’t have the best reaction. I didn’t believe it…I didn’t want to believe it. I dragged him from specialist to specialist in a desperate hope that what he was telling me weren’t true. I told him that he was wrong, that the things he was saying were wrong and that he shouldn’t make up such horrible stories. All I could think was ‘what if it’s my fault? What if the pieces that made his quirk work like that came from me?’”

Unable to come up with any response to this outpouring of information, Jirou merely nodded. She was beginning to suspect that Inko wanted a confidant more than anything. ‘I wonder if she’s ever been able to talk about this with anyone, has she just been waiting for someone to be in the know that she can talk to?’

“From his perspective, it must have been a terrible betrayal,” Inko continued. “Can you imagine? He was just a little boy, trapped in a cycle of death, and nobody would believe him. Nobody would help him, nobody could help him, not even his mother.”

“It’s pretty hard to believe,” Jirou said, shifting uncomfortably in her seat. “I wouldn’t blame yourself.”

“How can I not?” Inko replied. “He tried to tell me what was going on and I only made it about myself…I didn’t believe him and I didn’t do a thing to help him when he needed it most.” She let out a loud sniff and dabbed at her eyes. “You said that you saw Izuku angry, when he confronted you?”

Jirou nodded. “He calmed down pretty quickly, but he was really scary for a second there—it was like he was a completely different person.”

“You have no idea,” Inko said, “Izuku…he was always so angry as a child. Just one look at him and you could tell that he hated everything…he hated school, he hated his classmates, he hated his teachers, he even hated me. Then seemingly out of the blue, he just…changed, like he grew up overnight. Now he comes home and when I ask him how his day was, he just looks at me with that little smile of his and I have no idea if he’s lying to my face.”

“Mrs. Midoriya,” Jirou finally interjected, “what is it you want from me? I’m sorry things have been hard for you, but I…I honestly don’t know Izuku all that well.”

Inko flushed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to dump all of this on you so suddenly…I just…Izuku needs someone to confide in, and…and it can’t be me. But you…I haven’t ever seen him act like that around anybody.”

“You mean like a low-key asshole?” Jirou automatically snarked before flushing. “Crap…I mean…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply…” She trailed off when Inko broke into a fit of giggles.

“No,” Inko laughed, “that about sums it up. Izuku has always kept people at arm’s length. When he was younger, he did it with his anger, and now he does it with his politeness and aloof attitude. But now he finally has someone he doesn’t have to lie to,” Inko smiled, “I think he’s being genuine with you.”

“Hey mom, I just got the text, he should be here in a few minutes.” The two women startled at the sudden appearance of a freshly cleaned Midoriya. He looked back and forth at the guilty expressions on their faces. “What’s going on?”

Jirou and Inko shared a look, each wondering what to say when Inko promptly decided to throw Jirou under the bus.

“…Oh, look at the time!” Inko cried, “The rice is almost done, I better get started on the fixings now! Shoo, you two! Go wait in the living room, I’ll call you in when I’m done.”

“Well that wasn’t suspicious at all,” Midoriya muttered as they walked out of the kitchen. Jirou slugged him in the arm. “What the heck was that for?” he protested.

“Oh, shut up. I know that didn’t hurt you.” Deciding that honesty was the best policy, Jirou scowled at Midoriya. “That was for constantly lying to your mom and making her feel like she had to dump all of her concerns on me.”

“…What?” Midoriya said.

“Have you ever talked to her about how she feels about your situation?” Jirou demanded.

“Repeatedly,” Midoriya stiffly replied.

“Really,” Jirou caustically shot back, “because it seems to me that your idea of talking about it is telling her that nothing’s wrong when you both know it’s not the case. She just wants to help and you brushing her off is hurting her.”

Midoriya’s smile slipped and he schooled his face into a neutral expression. “I’m sorry that my mom dragged you into our personal issues, but tread carefully. I don’t know what she said to you, but my relationship with my mom is none of your business.” As he spoke, his tone and phrasing grew colder and more formal. “Do not assume that being privy to a few of my secrets means I am fine with you knowing every detail of my life. I have not interrogated you about your daddy issues, so I’d appreciate it if you would kindly extend the same courtesy unto me.”

Jirou flinched and bit back her first few replies. “Fine,” she forced out, “you said that you wanted to set a few ground rules for our…situation.”

Before Midoriya could respond, there was a knock at the door and he quickly rose to his feet. “Oh, perfect timing. He’s here.”

“Who’s here?” Jirou asked.

Midoriya paused on his way to the door. “All Might.”

Jirou blinked. “…What?”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

The atmosphere in the room was tense as Inko, Izuku, Jirou, and All Might—in his true form—ate their lunch in silence. Jirou had been horrified to see him in such a state and was still in shock.

After several minutes of this heavy silence, All Might cleared his throat and pushed his half-eaten bowl forward. “Ahem, this katsudon was very delicious Mrs. Midoriya. I truly wish I could finish it, but…” he touched his side, “I can’t eat very much in one sitting.”

“Oh,” Inko flushed, mortified that she had put him in such a position, “I’m so sorry, I wish I had known.”

“No,” All Might shook his head, “the fault lies with me. I should have informed you when I first accepted the invitation.”

“Okay,” Jirou dropped her head into her hands, “I’ve held it in for as long as I can, but this is just too weird. Why does All Might look like that? How does he not always look like that? Is that part of his quirk? Why doesn’t Midoriya look like that then?”

“I’m sure that this is very confusing for you young lady,” All Might began.

“All Might,” Midoriya interjected, “let me explain.” He turned to Jirou. “You know how people will suck in their stomach and flex at the pool?”

Jirou stared at Midoriya uncomprehendingly. “…Yes?”

Midoriya smirked. “It’s like that.”

“Exactly,” All Might nodded, “that’s how it is.”

“Ooooh,” Jirou said in an exaggerated tone, “Oh, I see, it all makes perfect sense now!”

“Really?” Inko asked.

“No!” Jirou practically shouted, “Because that’s totally stupid!”

Midoriya had to disguise a laugh as a cough and All Might sighed. “It is what it is, young Jirou. Let’s move past that for now. I can’t say that I was pleased to learn that you had listened in on my conversation with young Midoriya.” Jirou flushed. “And I was even less pleased at your idea of a joke, but I’m willing to move past this, and explain some details, provided you swear not to reveal what you know to anyone.”

“I promise,” Jirou instantly replied.

“Not so fast,” All Might held up a massive hand, “I’m not sure that you understand the magnitude of the knowledge you now hold. The truth of this shrunken form will come to light eventually, but my quirk—or rather, my former quirk—One for All…it must remain a secret no matter what the cost. One for All cannot be stolen, it can only be willingly given, but if word ever got out that such a power could be transferred from person to person…”

“Bad people would come after me.” Midoriya filled in the rest. “They would come after my mother, they would come after you, your family, my elementary teacher, the guy who sells croquettes down the street…anyone and everyone I’ve ever come into contact with will become a target. They would hunt them down and hurt them until I gave them what they want…and once I did, they would kill all of us.”

“Izuku…” Inko reached over to grab her son’s hand.

“Not now, mom.” Midoriya shook off his mother’s hand. “I’ve been putting this conversation off for the last couple of days, and I need to say my piece.” His eyes began to glow. “Let me make one thing perfectly clear. One for All may very well be the most powerful quirk in the world. The danger that it poses if it fell into the wrong hands is so severe that no matter what a bad actor may threaten me with, no matter who they threaten me with, I will never give them what they want. Do you understand what I’m saying, Jirou?”

Dumbstruck, Jirou nodded.

“No, don’t just nod, I want to hear you say it.”

“Young Midoriya,” All Might said, “You’ve made your point, I believe you’re going a bit far.”

“No, All Might,” Midoriya didn’t take his eyes off Jirou. “I’m not. You gave me the quirk equivalent of a nuclear bomb. I need her to understand exactly what is at stake here.”

Jirou shivered. Midoriya’s heart beat had completely steady as he spoke—he meant every word. “What you’re saying is that when weighed against the lives of everybody you know, One for All comes first.”

“Yes.” The glow faded from Midoriya’s eyes and he visibly relaxed. “I’m sorry for coming at you like that, but I’ve been holding that in for a while.”

“Do you have any questions?” All Might asked her gently, “For me or young Midoriya?”

Jirou asked the first thing that came to her mind. “Why him?” She glanced at Midoriya, “I know he’s a pretty good choice after seeing him in action, but he doesn’t really stand out…no offense.”

“Some taken,” Midoriya said.

“You’re exactly right, young lady,” All Might replied. “But I was fortunate enough to see him in action…do you remember the sludge villain incident about a year ago?”

“Yeah,” Jirou nodded, “it was a huge deal.”

“In a strange twist of fate, I happened to meet him under a nearby bridge…”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

By the time they finished talking, the sun had dipped below the horizon and lunch had turned into dinner. Shortly after All Might had made his farewells and headed home, Midoriya and Inko shared a conflicted look. Completely exhausted from her brutal workout, the delicious—but relatively heavy—food, and hours of mind-blowing discussions and revelations, Jirou had fallen asleep at the table. Her mouth hung open and a small line of drool ran down her chin.

“Should we wake her?” Midoriya asked Inko.

“Well we certainly can’t let her sleep at the table!” Inko said, “Don’t you have your festival tomorrow?”

“Hey, Jirou,” Midoriya grabbed her shoulder and began to shake her lightly, “wake up. You need to go home.” Jirou didn’t respond, so he began to shake her harder. “Jirou. Jirou! Yeah, she isn’t waking up.”

“She’s completely out of it,” Inko murmured. “Poor girl must have been completely exhausted.”

“Hold on, I have an idea.” Midoriya went into his room and pulled out the first aid kit he kept in his bag. He dug through the small red case until he found what he was looking for and returned to the kitchen.

“What is that?” Inko asked, eyeing the small capsule in her son’s hand.

“Smelling salts,” Midoriya replied. “I guarantee that this will work.”

Inko sighed, “Izuku, don’t use smelling salts on your friend just because she’s tired, what’s wrong with you? She’s not going anywhere tonight. We’ll give her your bed, I’ll go pull out the futon.”

Midoriya groaned. “Great.”

“None of that,” Inko scolded him, “this wouldn’t be happening if you hadn’t worked her so hard earlier. Carry her to your room, I’ll change her into some of my old pajamas after I’m done setting up the futon.”

Midoriya let out an annoyed sigh and nodded. “Come on,” he grunted and picked Jirou up in a bridal carry, “let’s get you to bed.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

The first thing Jirou noticed when she woke up was that she was sore all over. The second thing she noticed was that the room she was in was completely pitch dark. Since her bedroom window faced east, she normally woke with the rising sun—and even on the rare occasions that she was up before the sun, the ambient light from the streetlights ensured that she could always see well enough to do what she needed to do to get ready.

“What the heck?” Jirou muttered, “Where am I?”

Morning is here! Morning is here! Morning is here! Morning is—”

“Oh my god shut up!” Startled by the sudden burst of noise, Jirou blindly swiped in the direction of the sound and fumbled for a few moments before she managed to shut off the alarm, only to let out a pained cry when the lights suddenly clicked on and seared her unprepared eyes. “Fuck!”

Jirou lay back down and squeezed her eyes shut, slowly relaxing as her eyes gradually adapted to the new light level. When she finally opened them, she was greeted by the sight of All Might staring down at her from the ceiling. She looked around the strange room and saw that every surface not lined with books was similarly covered in All Might memorabilia.

This must be Midoriya’s room,’ she realized. ‘I know he said he wanted to be the next All Might and everything, but this is kinda creepy.’ A knock on the door made her jump. “Hello?”

“Can I come in?” Midoriya’s voice rang out from the other side of the door.

“Uh…” Jirou looked down to make sure she was decent, and realized that she wasn’t wearing the same clothes that she had been wearing the last time she had been awake. “Yeah, come on in.”

“Good morning,” Midoriya greeted Jirou, “how’d you sleep?”

“…Fine,” Jirou replied, “quick question: who changed me into pajamas?”

“My mom, obviously,” Midoriya replied with an amused smile. “What, were you worried that I did it?”

Jirou flushed, “Obviously I didn’t know, which is why I asked, you dick. Another question: why am I even here?”

Midoriya shrugged, “You fell asleep at the kitchen table and we couldn’t wake you up, so we let your parents know that you’d be staying the night.”

Jirou raised an eyebrow. “While that saves me a lot of explaining, I feel compelled to ask how you did that—my parents’ number isn’t publicly listed.”

“I put your thumb on the fingerprint scanner and broke into your phone,” Midoriya informed her in a matter-of-fact tone.

“You did what?” Jirou asked, outraged at the blatant invasion of privacy.

“Calm down,” Midoriya waved off her concerns, “I didn’t do anything other than go straight to your contacts. You can ask my mom if you don’t believe me, I did it right in front of her.” Without waiting for her to respond, he set a pile of clothes in front of her. “Anyways, your clothes are dry now, so you can wear them on your way home. You had better get moving, the sports festival is today, and you don’t want to be late.”

“Crap, you’re right!” Jirou’s eyes widened and she immediately climbed out of bed with a pained gasp. “Dammit, I’m so sore! Why did you make me do all that yesterday!”

Midoriya smiled wickedly. “Technically, I didn’t make you do anything. That’s on you.”

Jirou growled, “I hate you.”

“Noted,” Midoriya evenly replied. “Go and pay Recovery Girl a visit when you get to school. That’ll take care of the muscle pains. Take this,” he handed her a gel packet, “after you get your treatment—ideally within about twenty minutes of the event. It’s loaded with B-Vitamins and other stimulants that will offset the fatigue. You’ll crash hard when it wears off, but you should be good for the duration of the festival.”

Jirou blinked. “Um.”

“Also, make sure that you drink plenty of water, it’s a diuretic, so you’ll get dehydrated quick unless you take countermeasures.”

Jirou glanced at the clock and shifted uncomfortably. “Uh, okay, got it.”

“Oh, and make sure and do some dynamic stretches after getting treated. Recovery Girl’s quirk will heal the microtears in your muscle fibers, but you’ll still be stiff. Also—”

“Midoriya,” Jirou said, cutting him off, “I know the basics of taking care of myself. So unless you’re hoping for a show, shut up and get out so I can change.”

“Oh,” Midoriya flushed, “…right…leaving now. Um, breakfast is on the table, if you want some.”

Jirou shook her head. “You do that…and Midoriya?”

Midoriya paused on his way out of the room. “Yeah?”

Jirou smiled. “Thanks.”

 

AN: Surprise. I know, I know, I said that I’d put out another chapter of my other story first, but I couldn’t get my mind off this thought thread and had to get it out. Anyways, enjoy. Let me know what you think, and as always, Plus Ultra.

Chapter Text

While on his way back from his morning run, Bakugo turned his head at the sound of a vaguely familiar voice coming from a very familiar place. What he saw made him stop in his tracks and stare in shocked disbelief.

“Yeah mom, I’m on my way home now,” Jirou was on her phone and walking out of Midoriya’s apartment with a stiff-legged gait. “No, I don’t need a car to come and get me, I…actually, on second thought, if you have one wait at the closest station to us that would be helpful…yeah…yeah, I love you too. See you soon.”

Bakugo had to rub his eyes to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. ‘What the fuck is Dangle-ears doing coming out of Deku’s apartment this early in the morning?’

“Freaking Midoriya…” he heard Jirou mutter, “why’d he have to work me so hard like that? I can barely walk.”

WHAT?!’ Bakugo’s eyes practically bugged out of his head and he felt an odd constriction in his gut. ‘No. No fucking way. This can’t be happening.’

In a rare display of restraint, Bakugo waited a few moments for Jirou to limp out of sight before he marched up to Midoriya’s apartment and violently pounded on the door.

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Midoriya’s voice could be heard approaching the door. “Calm down, Jirou,” he said as he opened up, “what is it, did you forget someth—Kacchan?” Midoriya wrinkled his forehead in confusion at the sight of his long-time tormenter. “What are you doing here?”

“What the fuck is wrong with you, Deku?” Bakugo growled, “Are you retarded? Wait, don’t answer that—because yes, you are!

Midoriya blinked. “Excuse me?”

“Why the fuck is Dangle-ears limping out of your apartment so early in the morning?” Bakugo kept his voice as low as he could to keep from disturbing the neighbors—he’d already had enough complaints filed against him by the neighborhood association. “Do you want to get kicked out of school?”

“Oh, is that Katsuki?” Inko’s voice rang out from down the hall. She approached them with a pleasant smile. “It sure has been a long time! Just look at how handsome you’ve become! Would you like to come in for some breakfast?”

What the fuck?’ Not that Bakugo would apologize for his actions in a million years, but he knew his treatment of Midoriya wasn’t something that should have resulted such a warm reception from Inko. ‘Did he never complain about me?’ He glanced at Midoriya, who shook his head minutely.

“She doesn’t know about any of, well…you know,” he explained in a whisper. “As far as she’s concerned, we’re still friendly, so play along, our issues aren’t any of our parent’s business.”

Bakugo shook his head and grudgingly tallied a mental point in Midoriya’s favor—if nothing else, he could respect someone who wanted to fight their own battles. ‘Well, this certainly explains why I never got in trouble…and why my mom has never stopped asking about him. Whatever.’

“No thanks, Mrs. Midoriya,” Bakugo replied as politely as he could manage, “I’m on a specialized diet, so I’ve got breakfast waiting at home.”

Inko made an amused noise. “I swear, you and Izuku are too alike.”

A vein immediately began to throb in Bakugo’s forehead at the comparison, but he held his tongue. “Oh?” he ground out through clenched teeth, “How the fu—I mean, how so?”

“You should see the crazy diet that Izuku is on!” She turned to Midoriya, “What is it, 8,000 calories a day?”

“10,000,” Midoriya supplied, fighting to keep from laughing at the indignant look on Bakugo’s face.

“Well whatever it is, you’ve more than doubled our grocery bill since you started it!” Inko tutted. “There’s more to life than just your hero training, you know!”

“Mom,” Midoriya cut in, “I’m sure Kacchan is…happy…to see you too, but we were in the middle of a conversation. Could we please have a little privacy?”

“Oh,” Inko said, “of course! Don’t mind me, boys!” She smiled at Bakugo, “It was good to see you again, Katsuki. Don’t be such a stranger, and try to stop by again a little sooner than seven years next time. Say hello to Mitsuki for me!”

Bakugo grunted noncommittally and as soon as Inko was gone, he launched right back into Midoriya again. “What the fuck are you thinking, you fucking idiot! If you get caught having that kind of relationship, they’re going to expel your ass!”

Midoriya sighed. “Kacchan, what are you even talking about?”

Bakugo flushed angrily, “I’m talking about you banging Dangle-ears, shit-for-brains!”

Midoriya stared blankly at Bakugo for a few seconds. He blinked and then turned beet red as Bakugo’s accusation sank in. He was so accustomed to disregarding the opinions of his dissenters that it hadn’t even occurred to him what a female classmate leaving his apartment early in the morning might appear to an outsider.

“What? No, that’s...!” He took a breath, ‘Calm down Izuku, you can explain this.’

“Okay, Kacchan?” He said slowly, “First of all, I’m not ‘banging’ anyone. I’ve never even been on a date. I’d say that you of all people should know that, but you’re so oblivious to everyone other than yourself that I doubt that you know anybody in our class’ name besides me.” Bakugo growled. “Second, even if I were doing…that…I certainly wouldn’t do it at home with my mom here, I’d go to a hotel.”

Bakugo scowled, but nodded. ‘That is a good point, there’s no fucking way Mrs. Midoriya would be cool with that shit going down under her roof.’

“And finally,” Midoriya continued, “why do you even care?”

Bakugo opened his mouth to retort, but immediately closed it. ‘Wait…why do I care?’

Midoriya raised an eyebrow, “Well?”

“Shut the fuck up!” Bakugo barked, “I’m thinking!”

“Seems like it should be a pretty easy question to answer,” Midoriya said, “but whatever. You hate me, so I’m a little surprised that you aren’t going to the teacher. I’d have thought that you’d be jumping at the chance to get me expelled.”

“You take that shit back, Deku!” Bakugo bristled, deeply offended by the insinuation. “I’m not a goddamn snitch! When I’ve got a problem with someone, I don’t talk behind their back, or go to an adult like a little bitch, I tell them to their face! Fuck you!”

“I’m sorry,” Midoriya apologized, genuinely contrite, “that…that wasn’t a fair thing to say. You’re right. I may have my share of problems with you, but you aren’t that kind of coward.”

“Don’t fucking forget it,” Bakugo growled. “And I do hate you, but…” Bakugo paused, making an expression like he swallowed a lemon, “you beat me in the entrance exams. You beat half-and-half like a fucking drum—I don’t know if even I could have done that so easily. You survived against a monster that managed to go toe-to-toe with All Might, and the class picked you over me as the president for some dumbass reason.” Bakugo clenched his fists. “I don’t just want to be the best, I want everyone to know that I’m the best. I may not have wanted you to come to UA, but you’re here now, and if you get expelled, I won’t get the chance to prove that I’m better than you.”

Midoriya snorted.

“You think that’s funny, Deku?” Bakugo snapped, angry sparks popping off in his palms.

“No,” Midoriya clarified, “I’m just a little surprised.” He smiled, “Did you just acknowledge me as your rival?”

Bakugo flushed. “You know what? Never mind. Go fuck Dangle-ears, you shithead. I hope you do get expelled.” He spun on his heel and began to storm away.

“Kacchan wait,” Midoriya called after him.

“What the fuck do you want, Deku?” Bakugo growled. “I have shit to do.”

“I meant what I said on the bus the other day, you know,” Midoriya said, “I really do consider you my greatest rival.”

For a few moments, Bakugo stood silently in place with his back facing Midoriya. “No shit,” he finally said, “you may be a total dumbass, but you aren’t stupid.” He turned around and glared into Midoriya’s eyes. “The finals,” he growled, “make it there. That’s where we’ll have our fight, got it?”

“Yeah,” Midoriya nodded. He paused, “Well, as long as we aren’t paired in the same side of the tournament bracket, anyways.”

“The finals,” Bakugo repeated angrily, “That’s where we’ll have our fight. Got it? You had better not lose until then!”

Some things never change,’ Midoriya shook his head in resigned amusement, ‘Kacchan thinks of himself as the protagonist in some grand narrative. To him, meeting anywhere but the finals is unacceptable, because nothing else would be dramatic enough. Still, I can’t say I hate that kind of childlike outlook.’

“The finals,” Midoriya agreed with a confident smile. “I’ll see you there.”

Bakugo grinned ferally. “Good.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

(UA Sports Festival Stadium—1-A Waiting Room)

 

“Listen up everybody,” Midoriya calmly announced, “I’ve been informed that the event will be starting in five minutes, so be prepared to go out at the signal.” He looked around at his chattering classmates and sighed. “And of course, nobody is listening.” He turned to Iida, who was standing at attention. “Iida? A little assistance?”

“Of course,” Iida agreed and stepped forward. “Everyone!” he boomed, making the class jump in surprise at the high volume. “We will be heading out in five minutes! Be ready!”

“Thanks Iida,” Midoriya said with a grin, “my voice just doesn’t carry the way yours does.”

“You are most welcome,” Iida puffed his chest out with pride, “It’s a simple technique, the key to projection is all in the diaphragm. I can teach you if you’d like.”

“I think I’ll take you up on that later,” Midoriya nodded. “It definitely seems like it would come in handy.” He spotted Jirou talking to Ashido and Hagakure. “Excuse me for a moment.”

“Hey Deku!” Ashido greeted Midoriya with a confident grin as he approached, “You ready to get your butt kicked by yours truly?”

“Absolutely,” he greeted Ashido with a smile, “you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get a shot in while you’re behind me in the rankings.”

“Oof,” Hagakure snickered at Ashido’s shocked expression, “he got you there, Mina.”

Ashido pouted for a moment, and then laughed, “Yeah, I guess he did. Nice one, Deku! You’re feisty today!” She pinched his cheek and began to speak in a patronizing tone. “And it’s just sooo adorable! Yes it is! Who’s feisty today? You are! You’re a spicy little guy!”

“Is he a dog?” Jirou asked with a smirk while Hagakure continued to laugh.

“Stop it,” Midoriya batted Ashido’s hand away before turning to Jirou. “How are you feeling? Any lingering soreness from yesterday?”

The three girls went silent at the innocent question, and Jirou stared at Midoriya in abject horror while Ashido mouthed the words ‘lingering soreness’ with a delighted expression blossoming on her pink features. Jirou pinched her nose to stem her oncoming headache, and was overcome with a sudden desire to switch quirks with Hagakure.

He did not just ask me that in front of Ashido of all people.’

“Did you go see Recovery Girl like I told you?” Midoriya obliviously continued to dig their grave at Mach speed, “It’s to be expected after everything we did, but I heard that you were walking funny earlier—ow!” Midoriya yelped and grabbed his shin where Jirou had kicked it. “What was that for?”

“For the love of god, Midoriya,” Jirou hissed, her face beet red, “pay attention to the words coming out of your mouth!”

“Wow, who would have thought?” Hagakure snickered, “You sure work fast, huh Midoriya?”

“Oh. My. GOD!” Ashido was practically hyperventilating from her excitement.

Midoriya blinked, and frowned in confusion at Hagakure and Ashido’s odd reactions. Then he remembered his earlier conversation with Bakugo. As he mentally replayed his words in his head the blood drained from his face when he realized how they had interpreted him.

“No, no no no no.” He shook his head and waved his hands back and forth, “We trained together yesterday, that’s it!

“Right, right,” Ashido teased with a grin. She waggled her eyebrows up and down, “Training…is that what they’re calling it now?”

“Kids these days,” Hagakure joked, “so precocious.”

“It really was training, you two.” Jirou insisted, still blushing. “And don’t even joke about that, it’s not funny—illicit relationships are against UA’s moral guidelines, and we could get in a lot of trouble if that kind of rumor got started about us.”

“Oh please,” Ashido waved her off with a scoff, “like anyone actually cares. We’re a bunch of fit teenagers who regularly wear spandex. It’s an open secret that the upperclassmen are hooking up left and right.”

“Do you know specifically who’s hooking up?” Midoriya asked, “Or is it just something that people figure is happening?”

Ashido hesitated, “Well…”

“Because if it’s just a general idea that people are doing it, that’s one thing—the teachers can ignore that. But if there’s a specific rumor that so-and-so are having sex, the teachers would have no choice but to take action.”

Ashido averted her eyes. “That’s not—”

“More importantly,” Midoriya interrupted, slightly worked up, “even if school rules weren’t an issue, you still shouldn’t spread those kinds of rumors. You can say what you like about me, I don’t care, but Jirou isn’t that kind of girl. Even if you’re joking, I won’t stand by and let you make those kinds of insinuations, understand?”

“…I understand,” Ashido sullenly replied.

Fighting against a warm, pleasant feeling in her chest, Jirou scowled and crossed her arms. “I don’t need you to fight my battles for me, Midoriya. I can take care of myself.”

“I’m aware of that,” Midoriya replied, “but that doesn’t mean you should have to fight them alone.”

“Oh come on!” Ashido complained. She pointed at Jirou’s blushing face, “That was totally adorable, you can’t expect me to ignore something like this! Can I at least tease you in a more wholesome way?”

Midoriya shrugged, “Go ahead.”

“Midoriya!” Jirou snapped. She turned to Ashido. “No, don’t tease us in any way! We aren’t a thing! We won’t be a thing!” She turned back to Midoriya, “Tell them!”

Midoriya sighed. “Look, just give her this. If you ask for too much, she’ll get invested in doing it anyway and won’t ever let it go.”

Jirou looked warily at Ashido. Ashido smiled innocently back at Jirou. Jirou let out an irritated growl. “Damn it, I hate when you’re right. Fine!” She narrowed her eyes at Ashido, “But don’t push it!”

“Yay!” Ashido cheered. “Deku and Jirou, sitting in a tree,” she chanted.

“What are you, five?” Jirou snapped at the other girl.

“Midoriya,” Todoroki’s smooth, cool voice cut off their conversation.

“Todoroki,” Midoriya replied in a clipped, barely polite tone, already irritated—somehow, just looking at Todoroki annoyed him more than Bakugo or Ashido ever could. “Can I help you with something?”

Todoroki nodded fractionally. “All Might has taken an interest in you, right?”

“You could say that,” Midoriya replied, making Jirou choke on her spit at the frank admission. He knew that someone would notice his close relationship with All Might eventually and had already prepared a response. “He is a teacher, and our quirks are fairly similar—similar enough that he agreed when I approached him for mentoring. What’s your point?”

“I made the mistake of underestimating you during the combat exercise,” Todoroki said, “but objectively speaking, I think I’m stronger than you. I’m telling you now that I’m going to beat you today.” Delivered during a lull in the various conversations, this quiet declaration pierced the silence and resulted in every head turning to watch the confrontation between two of the top students in the class.

“Dang,” Kaminari remarked, “did Todoroki just make a declaration of war?”

“I guess he wants to get his win back,” Satou grinned. “I can’t blame him.”

“Whoa whoa whoa!” Kirishima cut in, “Now is not the time to start fighting amongst each other, you guys! We’ll have plenty of time for that during the tournament! Everybody is already out for our blood, so we should try and work together before then!”

“I’m not here to make friends,” Todoroki bluntly replied, “I couldn’t care less about class unity or whatever.”

“Objectively stronger than me, huh?” Midoriya repeated with a small chuckle. He shook his head with an amused smile. “I disagree, but that probably comes down to a matter of definitions.”

“A matter of definitions?” Todoroki repeated, “What are you talking about?”

“If you had said that you’re more powerful than me, I would have agreed,” Midoriya explained, “it’s simply a fact that you have access to more raw power than me at the moment. If you had said that you were more skilled, I still would have agreed. I’ve only had access to this quirk for a fraction of the time that you have, and you’ve been training for most of your life.”

“Hey, no need to be so down on yourself, Midoriya!” Kirishima said, “For having a quirk you’re not used to, you’re pretty awesome at this whole thing!”

“I appreciate the support, Kirishima, but I haven’t finished my point.” No longer smiling, Midoriya took a step forward into Todoroki’s space and stared him down with glowing eyes. “There’s more to strength than just power and skill, Todoroki. True strength requires the will to make painful choices, to look past your personal hang-ups and do what needs to be done…you’re powerful, Todoroki, but you aren’t strong. In my opinion, you’re the weakest person here. You will lose today, if not to me, than to somebody else, and you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself.”

“Holy…” Ojiro breathed.

“Shit!” Sero finished.

With the phantom sound of a whistling tea-kettle echoing in his ears, Todoroki clenched his fists and narrowed his eyes at the slight. “I guess we’ll find out who’s right on the field then.”

“I guess we will.” Midoriya glanced at the clock on the wall. “It’s time,” he said calmly, this time having no trouble being heard in the dead silence of the waiting room. “Everybody get moving. Let’s not keep the public waiting.”

Kirishima clenched his fist, “That’s so damn manly! Hell yeah! Let’s do our best everyone!”

“Not sure what that had to do with manliness, but even I’m getting kind of pumped now.” Kaminari grinned and clapped Bakugo on the shoulder. “Nothing like a bit of competition to get the blood flowing, right, Bakugo?”

“Don’t fucking touch me, Sparkplug,” Bakugo snarled, salty about being overlooked. “Do it again and I’ll turn you into the human version of a toaster in a bathtub.”

Boys,” Yaoyorozu scoffed and shook her head. “Walking balls of testosterone-fueled ego, all of them. We should be focused on surviving the first two rounds, not petty rivalries.”

“I like it though!” Uraraka laughed, “I think it’s way more interesting this way!”

 

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

“Wow!” Uraraka breathed at the sight of tens of thousands of cheering fans. She tugged on Midoriya’s sleeve and looked up at him with wide eyes. “Deku, look at all of those people! I’m kinda freaking out! Aren’t you nervous?”

Too damn cute!’ Midoriya swallowed at the proximity of the attractive girl. “N-Not really,” he said, averting his eyes as his face heated up. ‘Honestly, she makes me more nervous than they do! Is she doing this on purpose?’

“Who gives a shit about those scrubs?” Bakugo caustically cut in, “The only people that matter today are down here!”

“What he said,” Jirou agreed. She smirked, “But, you know, with about 80% less asshole.”

“Fuck you!” Bakugo shot back. “I’m going to make sure you have tinnitus by the end of the day, Dangle-ears!”

“Just keep proving my point, Explosion-boy,” Jirou replied.

“And now, to give the Student Pledge,” a provocatively dressed woman announced with a swish of a riding crop, “the first-year class representative, Midoriya Izuku!”

“Oh wow, look it’s the R-18+ Hero, Midnight!” A familiar lisping voice called out, “She’s my absolute favorite!” All of Class 1-A did a double-take, ignoring Midoriya as he made his way up to the stage in favor of searching for the source of the voice.

“No way…Mineta?” Kaminari exclaimed.

“Ew, where?” Hagakure reflexively said before she noticed him right next to her, “Crap—I mean, hey…what are you doing here?”

“Yeah!” Kaminari greeted his former classmate with a friendly smile, “I thought you were expelled, man!”

“Oh hey,” Mineta said, sparing a moment to leer at Hagakure, “it’s been a while!” The diminutive boy shook his head, “And nah, teachers can’t just boot kids from the school on a whim like that—especially since we had already paid the tuition. I got sent down to the General Studies program.” He shivered, “Honestly, I’m kinda glad. If I hadn’t, I could have been killed by those villains when they invaded.” He clenched his tiny fists, “But I’ve kept training, and if I do well enough today, there’s a chance I’ll be accepted back into the program again!”

Kaminari grinned. “It would be nice to have a fellow man of culture in the class again! I’m rooting for you man!”

“…Yeah,” Hagakure said weakly, remembering Mineta’s attempt to dive bomb her chest and desperately praying that he get knocked out early, “…d-do your best.”

“Be silent!” Iida barked, “Midoriya is about to start speaking now! Have you no courtesy?”

“Iida my dude, you seriously need to chill,” Kaminari rolled his eyes. “We aren’t going to talk over him.”

“Hello everyone,” Midoriya began simply enough, “After so many years of watching this festival on TV, it’s hard to believe that I’m the one giving the opening pledge. All Might, Endeavor, Best Jeanist, Edgeshot, and many more…I can’t even begin to express how grateful and humbled I am by the opportunity to stand where so many legends stood before me…” Midoriya paused, and an easy smile slid onto his face. “But…as a long-time viewer of the festival, I also remember hating it when the student representative would drone on forever about how honored they are, so let’s not waste any more time, shall we?”

The stadium broke out into chuckles at the unexpected joke.

Midoriya held up his right hand. “I pledge to uphold the values and guiding principles of UA; to fight with courage and integrity,” his gaze cut over to Todoroki, “I pledge to respect my opponents and fight with all of my strength, holding nothing back. Win or lose, so long as I keep to these pledges, I will leave this field with head held high, with no regrets.” He lowered his hand and paused, “Before I hand the mic back over to Midnight, I’d like to ask everyone to join me in reciting the UA school motto…”

Go beyond:” the crowd dutifully chanted, “PLUS ULTRA!

Hidden within the crowd in his true form, All Might looked down on Midoriya with an approving smile. “Nicely done, young Midoriya!”

Midoriya bowed to the crowd and handed the mic off without another word.

“What an excellent pledge from our student representative!” Midnight announced, licking her lips. She grinned and cracked her whip in the direction of a large scoreboard. “And now, ladies, gentlemen, and everyone in-between, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Let the games begin!”

 

AN: A bit of a shorter chapter this time, but trying to include the race would make things a bit too long, plus, it allows me to get this out sooner, sooo…I don’t know where I was going with this. Anyways, as always, let me know what you think, and until next time, Plus Ultra!

Chapter Text

The exact nature of the events in the Sports Festival varied from year to year, but it was broken down into three stages which always followed the same general pattern. The preliminaries consisted of two stages: a free-for all, followed by a team-based challenge with the top sixteen moving on to the finals: a single elimination tournament comprised of one-on-one battles. All Might had not been exaggerating when he described the Sports Festival as the perfect chance for Midoriya to announce his presence to the world—it was undoubtedly one of the most popular, anticipated, and watched events in Japan.

There were a variety of reasons for this massive following—the popularity of hero culture, the decline of the Olympics and other sporting events, and of course, the fact that it always fell on a national holiday. With average national ratings of over 70 million, even the cheapest of live tickets went for tens of thousands of yen. All over the country, people arranged viewing parties, cheered for their favorite prospects and discussed their impressions on social media for days afterwards.

It was kind of a big deal.

So, when he began to formulate his plan for making a splash at the massive event, Midoriya ran into a slight problem: he wasn’t the exactly the most marketable hero candidate. He had been repeatedly—and in his opinion, rather unnecessarily—informed by several people that he didn’t make much of an impression standing alongside the flashy, visually impressive quirks of Todoroki and Bakugo, the unique, exotic look of Shoji and Ashido, or the photogenic appeal of Yaoyorozu and Uraraka.

Still, Midoriya promised a show that All Might would never forget, and he planned to deliver on that promise.

Winning the festival overall would certainly win him some recognition, but Midoriya wanted to make a name for himself beyond winning a couple of fights. He still planned on winning, of course, but if winning lots of fights was enough, Endeavor would have overtaken All Might’s position as number one after his injury caused him to steadily withdraw from the public eye—the Flame Hero had a relentless work ethic, with more resolved cases under his belt than All Might despite the number one hero having nearly a decade on him. Midoriya wanted to do more than establish himself as a strong hero prospect—he wanted to establish himself as the future leader of the hero industry. And to do that in a contest where style and flashiness was everything, he needed to change the narrative to suit his needs.

It was with this goal in mind that Midoriya pulled Yaoyorozu aside immediately upon the announcement of the first event—a 4km long, no-holds barred obstacle course race. They had thirty minutes before the start of the event, and luckily for Midoriya it only took a brief explanation of what he had in mind for her face to light up in understanding. She agreed and the two put their heads together to hash out a strategy.

From their time together on the council, Midoriya had already gotten the impression that Yaoyorozu was beyond him in terms of raw intelligence, but as they discussed strategy, Midoriya had to struggle with the uncomfortable realization that Yaoyorozu was nearly as proficient at tactical planning as he was. He had the edge thanks to his greater practical experience, but her genius-level mind combined with the sheer volume of knowledge at her disposal meant that it was only a matter of time before she overtook him in that regard. Having spent years honing that capacity under the assumption that it would be his main weapon in lieu of an offensive quirk, that realization was a painful blow to his pride.

Still, he was able to move past it—he had more important things to worry about than feeling threatened by someone smarter than him. Once they finished ironing out the details, the two gathered the rest of their classmates and Yaoyorozu explained the basics of their plan while Midoriya silently stood at her side with his hands folded behind his back, closely observing everyone’s faces and preemptively constructing counter-arguments to the inevitable dissenters.

And there were, of course, the inevitable dissenters.

“Look, I get what you’re saying,” Ojiro said, “but this is a free-for-all event and if the previous years are anything to go by, how we place in the race will be important. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not in the habit of throwing competitions.”

“Yeah,” Kaminari rubbed the back of his head, “I don’t know how many of us are willing to handicap ourselves and trust that nobody screws us over to get ahead. You’re asking me to take an especially big risk here, and if you guys don’t come through, I’m done.”

“That’s…don’t be ridiculous,” Yaoyorozu frowned, hurt at the lack of trust from someone she fought alongside, “nobody here would do that to you. Why would you even think that?”

That’s my que.’ Midoriya lay a hand on Yaoyorozu’s shoulder and stepped forward. “I know how you feel, but let me take it from here,” he said softly. “Does anyone else feel this way? Please, speak up.”

Uraraka timidly raised her hand. “Ojiro and Kaminari kinda have a point. Your plan has me in the rear of the group, and you know that it’s really important for me to do well here…”

“I agree,” Iida added, “my specialty is my speed. Yaoyorozu, Midoriya, I have enormous respect for both of you, but asking me to remain in the rear during a race is a little…I have my own ambitions, and I would be giving up an enormous advantage.”

After a few more people stepped forward to share their concerns or disagreements with the plan, Midoriya held up a hand and asked for a chance to speak.

“I understand your concerns,” Midoriya said calmly, “and they are all entirely valid. I realize that we’re asking a lot of you.” He looked over at Kaminari, “Some of you more than others…but I’m going to ask all of you a question, and I want you to answer me honestly; no posturing, I want an honest assessment of yourself.” He looked at each of them, “How many of you think that you have a chance of beating Todoroki or Bakugo in this event?”

Iida, Yaoyorozu and Ashido all raised their hands while the rest looked around at each other and shifted uncomfortably. Midoriya nodded. “Okay, you three, could you please explain your reasoning?”

Iida cleared his throat. “I don’t know what kind of obstacles we will face, but my quirk is perfectly suited for racing.”

“Solid reasoning,” Midoriya agreed. “Ashido?”

“Because I’m awesome?” Ashido said with a grin, but quailed under Midoriya’s disapproving glare, “Jeez, I was kidding! I can skate on my acid way faster than most people can run, and I can melt through most obstacles.”

“Okay, good answer,” Midoriya said. “Yaoyorozu?”

“I’m in good shape, and I can make something to deal with just about any situation as well as hinder my opponents.”

“All excellent answers,” Midoriya said. “Now, as for the rest of you…Ojiro,” Midoriya directed his gaze at the tailed teen, “you were the first to voice your concerns, so tell me, do you want to win this event?”

“What kind of question is that?” Ojiro asked, his muscular tail swishing in discomfort at being on the receiving end of Midoriya’s piercing gaze, “Of course I do. Considering my competition, I’m not arrogant enough to say I can definitely do it, but I don’t want to just throw in the towel.”

“Why?”

Why?” Ojiro repeated incredulously, and looked around at his classmates for support, “Because losing sucks, why wouldn’t I want to win?”

“I’m not talking about natural feelings of competitiveness and not wanting to lose.” Midoriya clarified, not blinking as he continued to press Ojiro. “We’re enrolled in the hardest hero course in the nation, obviously none of us are lacking in the drive to excel. Why is this event important to you? For that matter, why does the Sports Festival even matter?”

“…Because it’s our best opportunity to show our stuff for pro heroes,” Ojiro said after a moment, “so we can get good internships and jobs when we graduate.”

“And there it is,” Midoriya said, finally breaking eye contact with Ojiro to address the rest of the class. “That’s what this whole thing is about—the Sports Festival is a competition, yes, but it’s more than that, it’s an advertisement of what UA has to offer…of what we have to offer.” Midoriya paused. “Now, let me rephrase my first question: who here thinks that they can get more attention than Bakugo and Todoroki in this event, or any of the events after?”

There was silence among the students, and this time nobody raised their hand except Aoyama—but everybody agreed that he didn’t count.

“I won’t lie to you and say that how you place in these events isn’t important, because it is,” Midoriya told them. “But make no mistake, today isn’t about winning or losing. Today, we aren’t students, we aren’t athletes, we’re not even heroes…no, what we are is a product. UA is providing us a platform, and we’re using it to sell ourselves—to show all of Japan what makes us special, what makes us worth investing in.” He closed his eyes and sighed. “But, unfortunately for some of us, certain products are more marketable than others…be honest, when you saw me for the first time, how many of you thought that I was kind of plain? You know, the kind of guy who’s always cast as a tree in the school play?” There was a round of snickers at that, but a good number of them nodded sheepishly.

“You aren’t a tree, Deku!” Ashido called out with a shit-eating grin, “You’re a real boy!”

“I know you’re making fun of me, but you’re right, I’m not a tree.” Midoriya looked each one of his classmates in the eyes, one by one. “Class 1-A isn’t Todoroki, and it isn’t Bakugo. But you know as well as I do that those people up there and watching at home will be dazzled by their pretty faces and their big, flashy quirks…and all they’ll see when they look at us is a bunch of trees, or—to steal a phrase from Bakugo—a bunch of extras.” Midoriya paused. “But…we don’t have to let them decide our roles; we don’t have to be trees.”

Midoriya suppressed a wince at the sound of snickering coming from Jirou and Ashido and his ears pinked slightly. ‘Yeah, probably went a little too far with that metaphor, but whatever, I’ve got to just keep pushing on.’

“Um,” Midoriya cleared his throat, “All Might once said that heroes shine the brightest when they are helping someone in need, and right now, we need each other.” Hs rhythm regained, Midoriya smiled and extended his hand to the group. “And I need you, each of you. I’m not as smart as Yaoyorozu. I’m not as fast as Iida, or tough as Kirishima. I’m not as strong as Satou or Shoji. I can’t hear like Jirou, or be sneaky like Hagakure. I don’t have a nigh invincible shadow to fight on my behalf like Tokoyami, or area of effect attacks like Kaminari. I don’t hold a candle to Ojiro’s close-combat skills, and I don’t have range like Aoyama and Sero. I don’t have the utility of Uraraka or Kouda. What I do have is a plan—a plan that will let you showcase your abilities to far greater effect than you ever could on your own.” Smiling, Midoriya extended his hand to them all, “We aren’t extras, we all survived the USJ—just like Bakugo and Todoroki did, and we did it the same way we’ll outshine them today, by fighting together.”

“Hell yeah Midoriya!” Kirishima walked over grasped Midoriya’s extended hand with tears in his eyes—he couldn’t help remembering the tough times he’d had with his own quirk, and being overlooked, “That was inspiring as shit! I’m with you all the way!”

Ashido let out a laugh and put her hands in, “I can always appreciate a good speech, and if my horn buddy is in, I’m in too!”

“Horn buddy?” Midoriya said in an amused tone, “What’s a horn buddy?”

“Midoriya, as expected of you!” Iida boomed, putting his hand in, “I apologize for my selfishness! Let us show the world what Class 1-A is capable of!”

“I’m in, but could you possibly be any more dramatic?” Jirou snarked as she joined them, “You know we’re going to make fun of you for this forever, right Tree-man?”

“…Tree-man?” Midoriya repeated flatly.

Tree-man?” Ashido crowed, “That should totally be your hero name! Your hair kind of looks like a bush and you’ve got that whole green theme going on.”

Uraraka burst out laughing. “Oh my gosh, that’s totally true!”

Midoriya’s eyes widened in horror. “No,” he insisted, “I am not going to be Tree-man.”

“Oh,” Ashido laughed, “you’re Tree-man all right.”

“Come on everyone, grow up.” Yaoyorozu stepped in and shook her head. “You can’t just force a name like that on him, you have to take his feelings into consideration!”

“Thank you,” Midoriya said, “I knew I could count on you to have my back.”

“Remember,” Yaoyorozu continued with a giggle, “he wants to be the next All Might, so we have to incorporate that into the name too.”

Midoriya shot his vice-president a betrayed look. “Never mind,” he muttered. “I can’t trust anyone, it seems.”

“Arbor Might?” Asui suggested.

“Mightree Man?” Satou tossed out.

“The Great Deku Tree?” Ashido said.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with All Might,” Jirou pointed out.

“I know,” Ashido admitted, “I just like the Zelda games.”

Midoriya sighed and shook his head. ‘Pushing back against this will only make them try harder. But I swear, if any of these names stick, I’m going to make Jirou pay for it later.’

After they finished making fun of Midoriya, one by one, each member of the class caved to the growing pressure to go with the flow. Finally, when the set was complete, Midoriya and Yaoyorozu covered the finer details of the plan and everybody’s roles within it. As Yaoyorozu created a small radio earpiece for everyone, Midoriya watched the various squads they created chat amongst each other with a look of satisfaction of his face.

He knew that he wasn’t as flashy, exotic, or photogenic as many of his peers, but he was okay with all of that—he didn’t need to be. He had carefully observed each of his classmates for weeks now. He knew their likes, their dislikes, and what made them tick. He was the president of Class 1-A, their leader, and that meant that their strength was his strength. Todoroki and Bakugo could take the round. He didn’t care, because by the end of the day, the one standing on top would be him.

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

Having bullied his way to the front of the tunnel that served as the starting line for the Obstacle Course, Midoriya touched the newly-created radio in his ear. He turned and nodded at Tokoyami, Kirishima, and Iida. “This is…” he sighed into the tiny device, “the Great Deku Tree, reporting in. Vanguard Team is in position.”

Cackling came in over the channel. “Hahaha oh my gosh, I can’t believe you actually used the codename! You’re such a dork! I love it!”

Midoriya flushed, “Come on, really, Ashido? You were the one who insisted on using codenames!”

“Yeah, I was kidding, there’s no way everybody was going to remember all of those.” Ashido sounded entirely too amused with herself, “Everybody else understood that, right?”

There was a round of agreement and Midoriya felt his face burn in humiliation. He took a deep breath. ‘Just let it go, Izuku. That’s not important right now.’

Just then, Iida’s voice came in, “So, just to be clear, we are not using the codenames then? I will admit, I sort of liked ‘Specs’.”

“Speak for yourself,” Hagakure complained, “if anyone calls me ‘Nudist’ I’m going to give them an extended lesson on the kind of havoc an invisible person can wreak in their life.’

Midoriya pinched the bridge of his nose. “Enough about the codenames! Let’s keep on task, please? All team leaders, report your status.”

Rearguard is in position,” Iida said. “We’re prepared to render assistance as needed.”

“You can count on us!” Uraraka chimed in, “Nobody’s getting left behind on our watch!”

“Let’s keep the chatter to a minimum,” Midoriya gently rebuked Uraraka, “unless you have pertinent information, only the team leaders should be talking.”

Oh…okay, sorry!”

Midoriya shook his head with exasperated amusement. ‘What did I just say?’

“All members of the Intel team are in position,” Asui croaked, “we’re ready to report enemy quirks as we learn about them.”

“Speaking of pertinent information. If you see a blond guy with crazy eyes, don’t let him touch you,” Jirou reported, “from what I’ve overheard, he’s got a Copy quirk.”

“Good to know,” Midoriya said, “those of you with mutant-type quirks should probably be fine, but be cautious. Any of you with emitter type quirks, definitely keep clear. Sabotage team, what’s your status?”

Sabotage team’s preparations are still in progress,” Yaoyorozu reported. “I’ve managed to plant four devices.”

“I’ve got five done!” Hagakure said, “These guys really need to pay better attention!”

“I’ve only got two,” Kaminari said, “but I made it into position.

“Excellent work,” Midoriya praised, “You three, make sure to ditch any leftover devices—everybody else hug the wall, but be prepared to avoid Todoroki’s attack. Let us know immediately if you get caught so Ashido can melt you out before she joins the rest of us at the vanguard, but you definitely don’t want to get caught in the crossfire.”

Uh, I’m still a little unsure about this,” Kaminari said nervously, “I’m basically going to be useless for the entirety of the race if I do this. Are you guys sure you can carry me the whole way?”

“Kaminari,” Midoriya assured him, “you’ll be fine, I promise. We’ve got you, Sero will tape you to Shoji’s back after Uraraka makes you weightless.”

 

XXX

(Announcer’s Booth)

XXX

 

All right!” Yamada Hizashi, AKA Present Mic’s voice boomed over the loudspeakers. “Is everybody ready?” The crowd broke out into massive cheers. “Oh, come on!” The Pro Hero/Radio Jockey exultated, “You can do better than that! I said, IS EVERYBODY READY?

This time the noise was truly deafening, and everyone standing in the starting tunnel could feel the vibration of hundreds of thousands of people stamping their feet and shouting above their heads.

ALL RIGHT!” Yamada cheered, “Now that’s more like it! In just a few moments our lovely referee, Midnight will sound the starting gun and our first-year competitors will be off! But before we begin, I’d like to hear some words from the teacher of the class that everyone has their eye on! The man in charge of the first-years who survived their run in with the League of Villains, Eraserhead!”

There were ten solid seconds of silence where the heavily bandaged man stared daggers at his colleague.

Um, Eraserhead…” Yamada said with a bead of sweat forming on his forehead. “It’s your turn to give some commentary…what are your thoughts on the situation?”

There was a long, suffering sigh over the loudspeakers. “I can’t believe I let you drag me up here when I could be getting some sleep in. What do you want me to say?”

Yamada flipped off the loudspeaker. “Come on Shouta,” he whined, “why do you always have to be like this?”

Aizawa sighed. “Hizashi, you know I don’t like doing this kind of thing. Why didn’t you grab Vlad for the commentary? Or All Might?”

“I did try to get All Might first,” Yamada admitted, “but he said that he was busy. And you know Vlad, he’s totally biased. Plus, everybody wants to know about 1-A. Just tell us who to look out for in the class, your general impressions.”

“Tch, fine.” Aizawa clicked his tongue in irritation and flipped the loudspeaker on again. “All of my students will do well,” he grunted, “they’ve faced the terror of the real world, so they won’t let something like this won’t phase them. That’s all I’ll say for now, let’s get this thing started already, wasting time on idle chatter is illogical.

Yamada grinned, “Well there you have it, folks! Midnight, if you would!”

“My pleasure!” Midnight said from her spot on the field. “Everybody on your marks, get set, GO!”

She pointed the starting pistol into the air and fired. Then all hell broke loose.

 

XXX

(In the Tunnel)

XXX

 

“1.5 Million Volts: Indiscriminate Shock!”

The tunnel was filled with a bright light, followed by cries of pain as Kaminari discharged every last drop of power within him. However, his name for the attack wasn’t quite accurate—while people gathered and waited in the tunnel, Yaoyorozu, Kaminari and Hagakure had been busy, planting small, light, positively charged devices on key targets which essentially acted as lightning rods.

Key targets such as known members of the Hero Course’s Class 1-B, and anybody who happened to be in their path or touching them. The number of targets diluted the effect of the massive electrical discharge, but they were so stunned from the unexpected attack that they had no chance of avoiding Todoroki’s follow up. In one fell swoop, nearly 1/3rd of the competition were eliminated.

“I can’t believe it!” Yamada shouted, “An enormous portion of the field has been eliminated mere seconds into the first event by the seemingly coordinated attacks of 1-A’s Todoroki Shouto and Kaminari Denki! Eraserhead, any cool insight regarding this shocking development?”

A groan could be heard over the speakers. “Really?”

“Team leaders, report!” Midoriya broke into a run after Todoroki and Bakugo, “Anyone get caught?”

The scout team is all accounted for!” Asui said.

“Sabotage team is fine,” Yaoyorozu said.

The rearguard is in perfect condition!” Iida said, “We are currently melting Kaminari out of the ice and are about to load him onto Shoji’s back.

“Great job everyone,” Midoriya praised. “Ashido, once you’re done melting Kaminari out, hurry and join us at the vanguard like we discussed.”

Bad news,” Ojiro reported, “a lot of the 1-B people are shaking off the shock, and they got someone who’s melting them out of the ice even faster than Ashido can.”

“Damn,” Midoriya cursed, then touched his ear again. “Good find, Ojiro, be careful everyone! It looks like we aren’t the only ones who thought about cooperating. Can you give us a description? What’s he look like? What does his quirk seem to be doing?”

He’s pale, mid-length light spiked hair, flat nose and small eyebrows,” Ojiro said. “He uh…he doesn’t seem to have any lips, so his face kinda looks like a skull. As for his quirk, it’s less like he’s melting the ice and more like he’s melting the ground itself. He’s pulling them out of the ground like the dirt is made of water.”

That’s Honenuki Juzo,” Yaoyorozu chimed in, “he was one of the four students admitted through recommendations. He can soften anything.”

“Keep an eye out, but move quickly” Midoriya instructed, “even if they aren’t totally out of the race, it will still take them at least a few minutes to regain complete control of their nervous systems. We need to make good use of this advantage while we’ve got it.”

 

XXX

(Announcer’s Booth)

XXX

 

What on earth is going on?” Yamada screeched as he watched the students of 1-A work together as in organized units to demolish the ‘Robo Inferno’ with hardly a pause. “I’ve never seen anything like this in the history of the UA Sports Festival!”

 Each of the teams was well balanced, and had a clear division of labor—with heavy hitters simultaneously clearing any obstacles and guarding against threats from their fellow competitors while the teammates watched their backs and set up additional obstacles and traps to hinder the people behind them. Even though Todoroki and Bakugo held a commanding lead, nobody was paying attention to that in light of the fact that there wasn’t a single person in the top 20 places who wasn’t a member of class 1-A.

True.” Aizawa, agreed. “A certain level of teamwork is not unheard of, there’s usually one or two groups who will work together, but this level of cooperation is beyond anything we’ve ever seen during a free-for-all event, somebody—or several somebodies—in the class organized this.” He narrowed his eyes at the arena’s jumbo screen, which was currently broadcasting an image of Midoriya barking instructions into a radio after smashing a robot to pieces. “And I have a strong suspicion that our student representative is responsible.”

“Midoriya Izuku?” Yamada exclaimed, “He’s behind this? Now that you mention it, despite finishing first in the Entrance Exam by an impressive margin, he’s in 7th place right now. That’s not bad, but way below what a frontrunner like him should be seated at.”

“He’s a born leader,” Aizawa explained, “and he’s got a highly rational outlook. He likely knows that it isn’t necessary to place first in the preliminaries and is conserving his energy for the later events.”

“Wow, that’s high praise coming from you.” Yamada remarked.

“He’s an exceptional student,” Aizawa grunted. “I’ve been teaching Midoriya for well over a month now, and this has his fingerprints all over it.”

In the crowd, All Might watched Midoriya with a thoughtful look on his face. ‘It’s true, he doesn’t even seem to be trying to win the race. Is this the way you want to announce yourself to the world, young Midoriya? Not exactly what I had in mind, but…’ He glanced over at a pair of nearby pros in a lively debate over his protégé.

“Are you crazy?” One of them said incredulously, “You’re going with Midoriya over Endeavor’s boy, or the Sludge Villain kid? You need to get your eyes checked, those two seem way stronger than him.”

The other pro shook her head. “Those two are strong, sure, but strength isn’t everything. Midoriya’s clearly no slouch, and if he’s really the one who organized this spectacle, that means that he’s basically created his own agency in his first year.”

“His own agency? Well, I guess you could look at it that way if you squinted at it hard enough,” the other hero admitted, “but those two seem more impressive to me.”

“You’re being too shallow minded. Mark my words, that kid is going to be big.”

All Might grinned. “Keep it up, kid.”

 

XXX

(The Race)

XXX

 

“Woah,” Kirishima said, looking over the edge of the massive chasm standing between them and the path. He kicked a stone over the edge and watched it for several seconds before it clattered against the ground. “That goes down a long way…what are they supposed to do if someone falls?”

“They’ve probably got something set up. Luckily for us, that’s not going to be an issue,” Midoriya said, bringing a hand to his ear. “Good news everyone this is where we ensure our victory. The next obstacle is a chasm, approximately 20 meters wide, with a series of pillars connected by ropes. Scout Team, focus on covering for Tsuyu so she can come up front. Iida, bring Uraraka up here as fast as you can. I’ll head to the other side now, and Asui can use her tongue to pull herself over to me. Once she’s with me, Uraraka will make everyone weightless, and we’ll catch them as they float over. The rest of you, stick together, but move up as fast as you can. Over.”

Understood,” Asui croaked, “I should be there in about three minutes. Over.”

Around two minutes for us,” Iida replied, breathing hard. “See you soon. Over.”

Midoriya turned to Tokoyami. “Do you think that Dark Shadow can carry Uraraka across the ravine?”

Tokoyami nodded. “Yes, so long as we move one platform at a time. He wouldn’t be able to do the whole thing at once.”

“That’s fine,” Midoriya said, “as long it can be done.”

Midoriya nodded at Ashido, “Once I’m across this gap, melt all of the ropes. We’re going to make sure that this obstacle is the last one for most of the people here.”

“Wow,” Ashido said, “that’s just mean. And seems kind of unfair.”

“And electrocuting them wasn’t mean?” Midoriya replied as he walked across the taut rope with his arms held wide in an impressive display of balance. Once safely on the other side of the gap, he turned around to address his two team members. “Plus, there’s nothing unfair about using our abilities to skew the odds in our favor. That’s the whole point of being allowed to use our quirks in the first place.”

“I guess you have a point there, oh Great Deku Tree,” Ashido said, flicking a bit of acid at one of the ropes, disintegrating it and sending it tumbling down into the ravine. “I’ll get started now.”

Midoriya rolled his eyes.

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

Todoroki and Bakugo fought each other as they ran through the minefield, shoving, blasting, and freezing each other, but unable to land any decisive blows since most of their focus was direct towards not blowing themselves up. They weren’t making good progress on any front—despite Bakugo clearing a huge portion of the field in a single explosive-powered leap, Todoroki had managed to grab and encase one of Bakugo’s hands in ice, rendering his quirk on that side too weak to propel him any further.

After redirecting a blisteringly fast swipe from Bakugo, Todoroki spared an instant to glance over his shoulder and was taken aback at the huge crowd of almost his entire class breathing down their necks. ‘What the heck? How did everyone get here so fast? And where’s Midoriya?’

His brief lapse in attention was enough that he was sent staggering by a sharp blow to the side of his head. The only thing that saved him from being blow away was a reflexive use of his ice to freeze over the ground in his immediate vicinity.

“You gotta be pretty fucking arrogant to look away from a fight, Half-and-Half!” Bakugo shouted, “You think you’re better than me!?”

Todoroki didn’t answer, and merely returned his focus to moving ahead while fending off Bakugo’s assaults. Bakugo didn’t appreciate being ignored and a vein throbbed in his forehead.

“Motherfucker!” Bakugo snarled, swiping at Todoroki with a weak blast from his frozen hand. “Don’t you ignore me! You really piss me off! First you go and declare war on the wrong person, and then you try to take what’s mine!”

What the hell is this nutjob talking about?’ Todoroki wondered. “I don’t care about your fragile ego,” he said bluntly, sending out a wave of ice that Bakugo easily vaulted over.

~Boom boom boom boom boom boom~

Explosion after explosion rang out behind them in rapid fire succession, and Todoroki and Bakugo stopped to see what was going on behind them, unable to resist the urge to look. The two’s eyes widened in shock at the sight of Kirishima, Satou, Ojiro, and Shoji all working together in tandem to push a large, heavy-looking plow down the field, setting off the mines and clearing a path for the people behind them.

“What the fuck?” Bakugo exclaimed, “Why are they helping everyone behind us?”

Todoroki didn’t reply, but immediately froze the ground in front of him and began to sprint towards the goal line. The only reason he hadn’t done so yet was because he didn’t want to provide a path for the people behind him, but now that was irrelevant.

“Son of a bitch!” Bakugo cursed, and began to sprint after Todoroki while shooting repeated blasts behind him as a boost. Bakugo grinned, ‘Good, that fucker’s ice on my left hand is gone. Time to up the output.’

“You’re annoying!” Todoroki said, throwing up an ice wall behind him. “Get off my back for a minute!”

“That shit won’t work on me, Icy-Hot!” Bakugo shouted, easily blasting straight through the thin, hastily constructed barrier and pelting Todoroki’s back with ice shrapnel. As they made their way out of the minefield, the two continued to fight all the way up until the tunnel.

They abandoned their efforts to impair each other and broke into an all-out sprint for the last 100 meters, completely neck and neck.

“This event,” Bakugo growled once they reached the 25-meter mark, “is MINE!” He leapt into the air and unleashed the most powerful two-handed explosions he could muster behind him, forcing Todoroki to stop and guard himself from getting blasted in the face and propelling Bakugo forward past the finish line.

And with an explosive finish, the winner of the first event is Bakugo Katsuki!”

Drenched with sweat, and exhausted from his brutal sprint, Bakugo forced himself to take deep, controlled breaths through his nose. He didn’t have the energy to talk at the moment, but he smiled genuinely and raised a triumphant fist in the same way that All Might did when he won—as All Might always did. He closed his eyes and to a moment to revel in the raucous cheers of the crowd. The cheers for him.

This is it.’ Bakugo thought. He took a seat on the ground and took a minute to catch his breath. He closed his eyes. ‘It’s been so long since I actually feel like I accomplished something worthy of me. This is the feeling that I’ve been working for…this is what a real victory feels like.’

“Congratulations, Kacchan.” Bakugo opened his eyes with a start and saw Midoriya standing next to him with his typical calm smile on his face. “I’m glad it was you who took first here. You earned it.”

Bakugo narrowed his eyes at Midoriya’s pristine shirt, his even breathing, and unflushed face. “You aren’t tired,” he said accusingly.

“No,” Midoriya agreed. “I’m not tired. I got tenth, by the way. Thanks for asking.”

“Shut the fuck up. You lost to me, that’s what place you got,” Bakugo wiped his brow. “What the fuck happened to fighting with all of your strength and holding nothing back? What was up with you working with all of those other losers? Are you fucking with me?”

“Don’t call our classmates losers.” Midoriya rebuked Bakugo before he chuckled. “No Kacchan, I’m not fucking with you. I’m not holding back at all; I seriously plan on winning.”

“Then why aren’t you tired?!” Bakugo snapped. “Why did you give up your chance to win so you could help those scrubs? I fucking saw you do it!”

“Did you now?” Midoriya asked, “I guess you could look at it that way.”

“There’s no other way to look at it!”

“That’s a shocking lack of imagination,” Midoriya said mildly. “I prefer to think of it as investing in the next two rounds.”

Gears began to turn in Bakugo’s head and his eyes widened. “You…”

“Like I said to Todoroki,” Midoriya smiled, “there’s more to strength than power and skill—sometimes you have to throw a few hands to take the bigger pot. I’m perfectly willing to give up a few points going into the next round if it ensures me a full tank and the pick of the lot for the team event. Get some rest Kacchan,” Midoriya patted Bakugo on the shoulder, “you’re going to need it.”

Bakugo watched in shocked silence as Midoriya headed over to Jirou and Asui to see if there was any more information they could report. He broke into a cold sweat in response to a sudden epiphany. ‘I’m not worried about a one-on-one with anyone, but that fucking nerd is dangerous in a team…he has his goddamn stalker notes on everyone in the class, and I only know like…four people’s quirks.’

Bakugo shook his head, “What am I even thinking?” He chastised himself. “There’s no fucking way I’ll lose—I’m me!”

Feeling much better, Bakugo went to go get some water. He was going to be just fine.

 

AN: And the obstacle race is over. For those of you who are wondering, Class 1-A took the top 19 spots, with Mei in 20th. Shinsou is there, as is most of Class 1-B, they were able to shake off the coordinated attacks, but they lost several minutes doing so. As always, let me know what you think, and Plus Ultra. 

Chapter Text

 

“I trust that all of our competitors are ready for the next event,” Midnight announced with a flourish. “And if they’re not…well,” she licked her lips and smiled sadistically, “that’s just too bad for them, isn’t it? Without further ado, let’s get this show on the road!” Midnight pointed at one of the giant electronic displays on the walls of the stadium with her riding crop and pictures of different events began to whiz past in a blur, reminding Midoriya of slot machine.

It makes for good drama, I suppose, but there’s no way that these events are actually random,’ Midoriya thought as he watched the display, ‘there’s just too much preparation put into these events for them to do things on the fly like that.’

 

(Staff room—five minutes earlier)

 

“Are you kidding me?” Midnight protested, “After all the preparation we put into these events? Principal Nedzu, this is absurd!”

“I agree with Midnight,” a blocky man who resembled a slab of concrete chimed in. “We can’t just do things on the fly like this!”

“Midnight, Cementoss,” Nedzu calmly replied before taking a sip of his tea, “perhaps your argument would have held water for the obstacle course race, but your preparations for round two consisted of gathering eight headbands. Surely you agree that these circumstances merit changing things up a bit, yes?”

“The principal has a point,” Aizawa chimed in, causing a smile to appear on the mouse-like creature’s tiny face. “Midoriya has already rallied my class into a singular fighting force, for the most part. If we proceed with the cavalry battle as originally planned, I have no doubt that he’ll bend the rules to his advantage in some way that’s just short of cheating.”

Vlad King grunted. “You mean like his little trick from the beginning of the race? I talked to a few of my students, they found some kind of device planted on them after they recovered from that coordinated attack. He would have had to set that up before the race even started.”

All Might quietly coughed into his fist when he heard this, remembering his first class with Midoriya. Nedzu’s ears perked up at the small sound and his eyes darted over to All Might’s shrunken form. Unlike the rest of the teachers, he was aware of the true nature of All Might’s relationship with Midoriya.

“All Might,” Nedzu began, “you seem to have taken an interest in Midoriya Izuku. Do you have any insights on how to ensure he doesn’t make this event as one-sided as the previous one?”

“Eh?” All Might said, surprised at being put on the spot, “Er…I suppose I could try, but I doubt I’d be able to come up with anything better than you could, sir.”

Nedzu shook his head. “Oh, not at all. We only want to disrupt young Midoriya’s ability to skew the odds in his favor. If I were to get involved, I’m afraid I couldn’t help but derail his chances of advancing entirely.” Following this ominous statement, the hyper-intelligent creature took a sip of his tea and let out a chuckle with a sinister gleam in his beady eyes.

“Er…yes.” All Might agreed, thanking his lucky stars that the experiments Nedzu went through hadn’t had a worse effect than giving him a mild sadistic streak. Adorable appearance aside, Nedzu would have been a terrifying villain if he had decided to turn his formidable mind against humanity. “Perhaps that would be for the best…young Midoriya has a knack for adapting to any situation, but I do have a few suggestions. The first thing we need to do is take team selection out of his hands the best we can.”

 

XXX

Heroes Never Die

XXX

 

“Oh, how exciting!” Midnight exclaimed when the spinning display stopped on a picture of a crown. “Our next heart-pounding challenge will be a UA Sports festival favorite: Long Live the King! Cementoss, if you would?”

Cementoss nodded and manipulated a mass of concrete flowing out of a hose into a large chair in the middle of the arena.

“For this challenge,” Midnight explained, “our competitors will be divided into six groups of seven. Your objective is simple.” She pointed to the chair. “In order to score points, the “king” of each team must hold the throne for as long as they can.”

“Long Live the King, huh?” Bakugo repeated with a grin. “This sounds like my kind of game.”

Midnight continued, “Once they sit on the throne, the king is not allowed to move or defend themselves in any way.” She held up a red-colored crown. “To ‘kill’ a king, you must remove their crown. If the king is killed, they must immediately vacate the throne and make way for the new king. The two teams with the longest cumulative reigns will go on to the finals, and the remaining two spots will be granted to the two students with the highest ‘kill count’ from the losing teams.”

“Excuse me,” Yaoyorozu asked, catching Midnight’s attention. “What happens if only one team manages to hold the throne?”

Midnight smirked. “That would certainly be impressive, but I doubt that it will happen.” She held up a colored strip of cloth. “Every member of the teams must wear one of these headbands. Much like the king’s crown, this represents your ‘life’. Once you ‘die’, you must collect your headband and return to your team’s starting zone in their corner of the arena and wait there for thirty seconds before returning to the battlefield. Take note—the timer will not start until you are completely inside of your team’s zone.”

“I see,” Iida said thoughtfully, “with those rules, the team holding the throne is at a significant disadvantage. It would be nearly impossible to hold onto the throne for any extended length of time.”

Midnight waved a finger in the air and shot a sly glance in Midoriya’s direction. “And if any of you are thinking of making it difficult for the enemy to retrieve their headbands, this is your only warning: once you remove a headband, you have exactly two seconds to relinquish it. If you fail to do so, you will be forced to return to your team’s starting zone for a full sixty seconds. Also, your headbands and crowns must be removable, no using your quirks to hold it in place!”      

Mental gears already turning, Midoriya met Midnight’s gaze with a smile. ‘She said that ‘you’ have two seconds to release your hold on an enemy headband…but that doesn’t mean you can’t pass it off to a teammate. Not that it would be practical, since it would be essentially trading two fighters for one, but theoretically, you could endlessly pass it back and forth between two people and keep someone permanently ‘dead’. Still, depending on the team make-up, you could at least ensure that removed headbands end up as far away from their owner as possible.’

“Now that I’ve explained the rules, it’s time to divide up the teams! Our kings will be our six top finishers in the obstacle course!” Midnight snapped her riding crop towards the screen, prompting four portraits to appear. “The Red King: Bakugo Katsuki! The White King: Todoroki Shoto! The Blue King: Iida Tenya! The Yellow King: Hanta Sero! The Black King: Tokoyami Fumikage! And last, but most certainly not least, the Green King: Asui Tsuyu! Please step forward! The rest of you, please line up in a row.”

While the four named students walked to the front of the pack and collected their color-coordinated crowns to the sound of deafening applause, Midoriya lined up with the rest of the 36 remaining competitors with a growing sense of anxiety.

Are the kings going to be picking the teams?’ He glanced at Bakugo and Todoroki. ‘No offense to the others, but it’s hard to imagine those two not being the part of the team that moves on to the finals. Even if they can’t fight while holding the throne, it’s much harder to remove a crown than to grab a headband. It will be extremely difficult to stop them from taking the throne.’ Midoriya frowned—he had been counting on cashing in on his goodwill for the team-based round, but this scenario almost seemed as if it had been orchestrated in order to minimize his ability to influence his classmates.

“King Bakugo,” Midnight began. A huge grin appeared on Bakugo’s face and he mouthed the words ‘King Bakugo’ with obvious relish. "As you finished first in the race, you will have the first choice of your subjects. Then King Todoroki will choose, followed by King Iida, King Sero, King Tokoyami, and finally Queen Asui before rotating back to King Bakugo once more. Make sure to choose wisely.”

“I want Deku.” Bakugo said without hesitation.

“Eh?” Midoriya choked on his saliva from sheer shock and began to cough. “I’m sorry, what?”

“How surprising.” Iida muttered, feeling upset that he couldn’t pick Midoriya for himself. “Given his animus towards him, I would have never expected Bakugo to pick Midoriya at all, let alone first.”

“Don’t misunderstand Deku,” Bakugo growled once Midoriya managed to snap out of his daze and make his way over to Bakugo’s side. “The only reason that I picked you is to ensure that we get our fight in the finals.” Midoriya didn’t say anything in response in favor of merely staring at Bakugo with an unreadable expression. “There’s no way in hell that any of these other scrubs are going to beat Half-and-half,” Bakugo continued to explain.

“Excuse you!” Iida exclaimed, offended at being entirely written off. “I can hear everything you’re saying, you know!” 

“I don’t think he cares,” Asui croaked. “But that is really annoying. Not to mention the fact that he still doesn’t know our names. We’ve been in the same class for over a month, how self-absorbed can you be?”

“Half-and-half wasn’t going to take you,” Bakugo carried on as if Iida and Asui hadn’t spoken. “And since Shitty Glasses is always riding your dick so hard—”

Pardon me?” Iida snapped.

“—he would have picked you for sure,” Bakugo said. “I had no choice. It’s not like I wanted to pick you or anything.”

“…I see.” Midoriya finally said. ‘Does he even realize that he just said the most stereotypical tsundere line ever?’

Midoriya had to turn his head and poorly disguise a bark of laughter as a cough when an image of Bakugo with twin tails popped unbidden into his mind. “Um,” Midoriya began, forcibly schooling his features into their default tranquil state. “Do you nee—I mean, would you like some advice on team members?”

That was close, I have to remember who I’m dealing with—I’ve got to play to his ego if I want him to listen to me at all.’

“…Do whatever you want,” Bakugo grunted after a second, privately grateful that he had Midoriya’s stalker brain in his corner. “I don’t fucking care. Just don’t say anything stupid or I’ll kill you.”

“I choose Yaoyorozu.” Todoroki smoothly stated after a moment of thought.

Darn it!’ Iida thought, grinding his teeth in frustration—Yaoyorozu had been his second choice after Midoriya. “I pick Mezo Shoji!” Iida boomed.

“I’ll take Ojiro.” Sero called out.

“I’ll take Kouda.” Tokoyami said, knowing from first experience how strong his taciturn classmate was.

“I pick Jirou,” Asui croaked.

“Huh?” Jirou looked around in surprise and pointed to herself. “I’m your first pick?”

“Yes,” Asui flatly replied. “Come on over.”

“Dang,” Midoriya muttered. “I wanted Jirou. I knew Asui had a good head on her shoulders.”

Bakugo shot Midoriya an incredulous glare. “You would have picked Dangle-ears next? You sure you aren’t thinking with your dick, Deku?”

Midoriya sighed. “That quirk of hers is quick, accurate, and has around a 3-meter range. It’s also small enough that unless they have reflexes like yours, it’s pretty hard to see coming at you until it’s too late. Her enhanced hearing also gives her omnidirectional awareness, so it’s nearly impossible to take her by surprise. It’s practically tailor-made for this event…so to answer your question: no, Kacchan. I’m not ‘thinking with my dick.’”

Bakugo blinked. “You could have just said ‘no’, shithead.”

“Would you have believed me?” Midoriya countered drily.

“…Shut the fuck up.” Bakugo growled. He paused. “I want Stupid Hair.”

“Kirishima,” Midoriya corrected. “His name is Kirishima. Also, he isn’t the optimal choice for this—”

“Hey Stupid Hair,” Bakugo loudly repeated. “Get the fuck over here!” Midoriya shook his head with a sigh.

Elated, Kirishima slammed his fists together with a satisfying crack. “Aw hell yeah!” He said in a spirited tone before jogging over. “Am I part of a dream team or what?”

“I’ll take Kaminari.” Todoroki said after consulting with Yaoyorozu for a moment.

Midoriya narrowed his eyes at Todoroki. ‘Damn it, he’s taking advantage of Yaoyorozu’s smarts. He might have an ego, but he’s still self-aware enough to turn to others for their expertise. That will make things more difficult.’

“We’ll have to be careful,” Midoriya muttered to Bakugo. “It won’t be as targeted as it was during the race, but Yaoyorozu is still capable of nullifying Kaminari’s electricity, so his AOE attacks will be one-side in their favor. And we’ve already demonstrated how effective Todoroki and his powers are in combination.”

“How about you try telling me something I don’t know!” Bakugo barked.

“I didn’t know that.” Kirishima chimed in with a grin.

“Yeah,” Bakugo growled, “and nobody fucking asked you, did they?”

“Dude,” Kirishima replied, “why you always gotta be this way?”

“Er…what was his name again?” Iida muttered, “You there, the other recommended 1-B student…the one with the softening quirk.”

“Honenuki Juzo,” the skull-faced teen informed Iida when he got close enough.

“Yes, Juzo, of course,” Iida said with a bow. “Forgive me.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to know my name,” Juzo replied in an easy-going manner. “It’s the first time we’ve actually met, after all.”

“I’ll take…uh…Aoyama, I guess.” Sero said.

“You made an excellent choice, mon ami,” Aoyama said, striking a pose and giving Sero an immediate case of buyer’s remorse.

“I’ll take Satou.” Tokoyami said.

Midoriya gave Tokoyami a curious look. ‘I wonder if he’s just picking the people he’s interacted with, because his decisions make no tactical sense. I mean, Kouda as a first pick, and then Satou?’

“Ochako.” Asui said immediately.

Midoriya frowned. ‘Damn it, Uraraka was my next pick. She’s able to use her quirk on the headbands and float them out of reach.’

Midoriya leaned in and whispered a name to Bakugo.

“Who the fuck is Shiozaki?” Bakugo grunted.

“The girl with vines for hair,” Midoriya answered, “she actually might be even more fitting than Jirou, plus, picking her early means that we’ll have info on 1-B before anyone else.”

Bakugo grunted in agreement, seeing merit in Midoriya’s argument. “Shinosake! Get over here!” The students in the line all looked around in confusion, not recognizing the name.

“Shiozaki,” Midoriya quietly corrected.

“Shirosame!” Bakugo called out again.

“Shiozaki,” Midoriya repeated a little louder, making sure to enunciate each syllable.

“Shinosutra!” Bakugo yelled.

“Are you doing this on purpose?” Midoriya asked. “It’s Shio—you know what? Just say ‘vine girl’.”

“Vine Girl!” Bakugo yelled. Shiozaki pointed to herself, and Midoriya nodded wearily, beckoning her over.

“Hello,” Shiozaki greeted her teammates with a smile. “I can’t say I expected to be picked so early. The Lord truly does work in mysterious ways.”

“I guess I am pretty mysterious, aren’t I?” Bakugo preened, and Kirishima started snickering.

“She’s a Christian, Kacchan,” Midoriya said, pointing to the cross around her neck. “She’s not talking about you.”

Bakugo scowled, “Then I don’t care.”

Shiozaki’s face lit up at Midoriya’s recognition of the religious symbol. “Oh, not many people know about my faith here in Japan! Are you a believer by any chance?”

“Oh, um…no, sorry,” Midoriya replied. “I looked into it when I was younger, but it wasn’t for me.”

“The Lord God is for everyone,” Shiozaki said with a smile, “but everyone has their own journey. I’ll pray that you find your way to the Lord in the end.”

“Uh…thanks? I guess,” Midoriya said, not knowing what else to say in that situation.

 “Ashido.” Todoroki pointed at the pink girl and summoned her over to him. ‘I don’t want her acid countering me.’

“I’ll take…Hagakure.” Iida stated after a moment of hesitation. ‘There are probably better picks here, but I don’t know anything about the other members of class 1-B.’

“Uhhhh…you!” Sero pointed to a fit looking boy with white hair and sharp, shark-like teeth. ‘He looks pretty strong.

“Hell yeah!” Tetsutetsu pumped his fists and made his way over to Sero. “You got a good eye, man!”

Tokoyami crossed his arms and closed his eyes in thought before picking a boy with jet-black skin and white hair. “You there, the one wreathed in darkness, join my army. What is your name?”

“I am called Kuroiro Shihai,” the boy answered, “you did well in choosing me. Have you been blessed with the black sight as well?”

“Hmph,” Tokoyami replied with a smirk. “That goes without saying.”

Asui conferred with her teammates for a few moments before arriving at an answer. “You there,” she croaked, pointed at a large, rather strange looking boy with yellow skin, a wide mouth and what appeared to be seven eyes.

“…I’m Bondo,” the boy said in a quiet, hesitant tone that was at odds with his imposing stature, “it’s, n-nice to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Asui croaked.

“You can make cement, right?” Jirou asked. “I’m pretty sure that’s what I overheard.”

“U-um, y-yes,” Bondo stammered. “I…well, it’s m-more like glue but…um, yes…I make it.”

“Relax,” Asui croaked. “We’re on a team now, so let’s get along.”

Midoriya turned to Shiozaki. “Shiozaki, are there any classmates that you recommend we get?”

“Tsuburaba Kosei,” Shiozaki replied. “His quirk is Solid Air, so he can make invisible barriers—God willing, he would be useful in protecting the King. Itsuka Kendo would also be an excellent choice, she’s very sharp, a strong fighter and her quirk, Big Fist, is useful both offensive and defensively.”

“Hmm,” Midoriya turned to Bakugo. “It’s your decision in the end, but I’m leaning towards Kendo, personally. She’s got more overall utility. What do you think, Kacchan?”

“I’m getting the barrier guy,” Bakugo replied after a moment of thought. “Between you, me, and Stupid Hair, we’ve got enough offensive capability. We need to focus on being able to protect me once I take the throne. Vine Girl, call him over.”

“Tsuburaba!” Shiozaki called out, “Could you come over here please?”

“All right!” Tsuburaba cheered, happy that he wasn’t being picked as a leftover. “Things are looking up! Nice to meet you guys!”

“Likewise!” Kirishima bumped fists with Tsuburaba with a grin. “Let’s kick some ass!”

“You, the girl with dark hair,” Todoroki said, pointing at 1-B student with sharp teeth. ‘I don’t know anybody from 1-B, but I remember her from the exam for recommended students.’

“It’s Tokage Setsuna,” Tokage informed Todoroki. “I introduced myself during the recommendation exam, Todoroki.”

“Sorry,” Todoroki said, not sounding very apologetic. “I’m not the best with names, but I remember your quirk, if that counts.”

“So after our shared hardship, I’m just a quirk to you?” Tokage said with indignation. “Gee, thanks.”

“…Sorry?” Todoroki repeated, looking confused. ‘What shared hardship? We just took a test.’

Tokage snickered, “I’m kidding, dude. I don’t actually care.”

Ashido smiled widely and draped an arm around the other girl’s shoulder. “I have a feeling that the two of us are going to get along famously.”

“Do you now?” Tokage asked with a mirroring grin.

“I do,” Ashido said, “I really do.”

“You there, the foreigner.” Iida pointed at a blond girl with hooves and horns at Juzo’s suggestion.

“Hi there!” The girl greeted in halting Japanese. “I’m gonna kick your ass!”

Iida blinked. “W-what?”

Juzo sighed, “Pony, did Monoma teach you that?”

Pony nodded and smiled. “He say it is special greeting for 1-A!”

“Yeah, don’t listen to him when he talks about 1-A, okay?” Still smiling brightly, Pony nodded. Juzo turned to Iida, “Sorry, she doesn’t mean it. She’s still not quite fluent yet, and one of our classmates is kinda twisted. He likes to teach her stuff like this.”

“I…see,” Iida said with a confused look on his face. “Well, no harm done, I suppose.”

Sero turned to Tetsutetsu, “You said to pick…Fukidashi Manga, right?”

Tetsutetsu grinned, “Yeah, he’s super strong! Hey Manga!” He called out to a boy with a speech bubble for a head. “Get over here!”

An exclamation point appeared inside Manga’s head, followed by a smiley face as he sauntered over to Sero’s group.

“We’ll take Yanagi Reiko,” Tokoyami said after conferring with Kuroiro. “Her psychic abilities will prove quite useful.”

“We’ll take Monoma Neito,” Asui croaked. “I don’t like the look in his eyes, but his quirk should be good for this.”

Monoma scoffed. “You must think that you’re so much better than us, 1-A, since you’re picking members of 1-B like they’re leftovers!”

“No,” Asui placed a finger to her chin, “some of your classmates got picked really early, so I think it’s just you.”               

“Hey Fist girl!” Bakugo immediately called out, pointing at Kendo. “Yeah, I’m talking to you, Carrot-top! Get the fuck over here!”

Kendo’s eye twitched at the nicknames, but made her way over nonetheless.

“Kacchan, I thought we didn’t need any more offensive power?” Midoriya asked in a low tone, annoyed—but not really surprised—that Bakugo made yet another choice without consulting anyone.

“We don’t,” Bakugo snapped, “but I don’t want anyone else to have her either. Plus, if she’s got more utility than Barrier-boy like you said, then it isn’t like she’s a wasted pick.”

Midoriya took a deep breath. “This isn’t a situation where you just pick strong fighters and it works out! We have to consider how everybody’s quirks interact! At least consult with your other teammates before making an impulsive decision! Don’t you remember what Aizawa-sensei said about leadership?”

Bakugo bristled at the criticism. “Don’t fucking lecture me, Deku,” he growled. “I’m the king here, not you. Don’t forget that!”

“Uh, hi,” Kendo greeted her teammates with a wave and a hesitant smile. “Is everything alright here?”

“I’m glad we can work together like this, Kendo,” Shiozaki greeted her classmate with a smile.

“Me too,” Kendo replied. “It looks like we’ve got a pretty strong line-up here.”

“Hey Kendo,” Midoriya greeted his fellow class representative with a strained smile, “How are things on your end?”

Kendo frowned. “Well, I was doing better before the obstacle course, when my hair wasn’t scorched by a sneak attack. Were you really the one responsible for orchestrating that attack at the beginning of the race?”

Midoriya stared at Kendo with an unreadable expression. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t have electric powers.”

“Mmhmm,” Kendo hummed doubtfully. “Sure you don’t. Do you need any help with picking teammates?”

“That would be great,” Midoriya said, “I’d appreciate any input you have to offer.”

“Don’t go accepting offers on my behalf! I’m the king,” Bakugo growled. “I make all final decisions!”

“Of course you do,” Midoriya said in a placating tone. “But a little extra advice doesn’t hurt.”

“Don’t fucking patronize me, Deku!”

Midoriya pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m not patronizing you, Kacchan. Calm down.”

“Yes, you are! And don’t tell me what to do, goddammit!”

Midoriya’s eyebrow twitched. “Could you get over yourself for five minutes?” He said, frustration beginning to bleed into his voice. “That’s all I ask, just don’t be yourself for five minutes.”

Shiozaki, Tsuburaba and Kendo turned to Kirishima in disbelief. “Are those two for real?” Tsuburaba asked, “They’re fighting now of all times?”

“I’ve never seen Midoriya so agitated,” Kendo said. “It might not be the most stressful setting, but in the student council meetings, he’s always come off as exceptionally even-tempered.”

Kirishima shrugged. “He is. Those two—mostly Bakugo, actually—have never gotten along for some reason. We’ve just learned to accept it.”

 

XXX

 

Over the next several minutes, Midoriya and Bakugo continued to bicker to the astonishment of the outsiders and the resigned acceptance of those in the know as the leftovers were divided into their respective teams until finally, the roster was set.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” Midnight announced, “Now that the teams have been decided, let’s go over our roster!” On the electronic screen, seven faces appeared with a red border around their portraits. “On the red team we have King Bakugo Katsuki, Midoriya Izuku, Kirishima Eijiro, Kendo Itsuka, Shiozaki Ibara, Tsuburaba Kosei and Hatsume Mei!”

The enormous screen turned white, and then seven more portraits faded into view. Midnight continued to announce the line-up to the cheering audience. “On the white team, we have King Todoroki Shoto, Yaoyorozu Momo, Ashido Mina, Kaminari Denki, Tokage Setsuna, Kodai Yui, and Hitoshi Shinso.”

“The blue team will consist of King Iida Tenya, Mezo Shoji, Hagakure Tooru, Tsunotori Pony, Honenuki Juzo, Komori Kinoko and Shoda Nirengeki.”

“The yellow team will consist of King Hanta Sero, Ojiro Mashirao, Aoyama Yuuga, Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu, Awase Yosetsu, Fukidashi Manga, and Rin Hiryu!”

“The black team will consist of King Tokoyami Fumikage, Kouda Koji, Rikido Satou, Kuroiro Shihai, Yanagi Reiko, Kaibara Sen and Kamakiri Togaru!”

“The green team will consist of Asui Tsuyu, Kyoka Jirou, Uraraka Ochako, Bondo Kojiro, Shishida Jurota, Monoma Neito, and Minoru Mineta.  

From the crowd, All Might watched with a smile as the teams made their way to their designated corners. “I wasn’t expecting Young Bakugo to select young Midoriya for his team, but this should be an interesting test for him. His ability to command isn’t in question…but with Bakugo as the king, he’ll have to show that he can follow the lead of someone hostile to him.”

Midnight raised her whip. “Now that everybody is in their places let us begin! I hope you folks are ready for some carnage, because in the game of thrones, things can get a little messy!”

A countdown appeared on the giant screen and Midoriya took a deep breath, activating One for All and taking a moment to calm his nerves. ‘This is where the real battle begins. I’ve done everything I can to prepare for this…now it’s time to put it all into action.’

 

AN: Sorry for the long time between posting, I had the very last final exams of my academic career, graduation, and then had to look for a job. I should be a bit more regular with my postings once I get my schedule all figured out. Until next time, Plus Ultra!

Chapter Text

The second round of the festival began with a bang—well, two bangs actually. The first was, of course, the starting pistol that announced the beginning of the game. The second was Bakugo, using his quirk to launch himself across the arena towards the throne.

“That throne is mine!” Bakugo howled, heedless of the teammates blasted with dust and hot wind from the backdraft.

“Son of a…” Midoriya cursed as he wiped the dirt from his face, “damn it Kacchan, we talked about this!”

“Your friend is a raging asshole,” Tsuburaba said to Kirishima, “how can you stand him?”

Kirishima shrugged, “He’s not actually that bad of a guy once you get past…everything. He complained about it, but he took the time to tutor me for the last test when I asked for help.”

“Kacchan tutored you?” Midoriya asked with raised eyebrows. “He’s never tutored anybody before.”

“Hey guys, this character study of our illustrious leader is fascinating and all,” Kendo interrupted, “but can we keep our heads in the game?” She pointed to Bakugo in the middle of a brawl with 3 other people at the same time.

“Oh,” Tsuburaba said. “Right. This is happening.”

“Thanks Kendo,” Midoriya said. “Does everyone remember their assignments?”

Shiozaki nodded, “Tsuburaba, Hatsume and I will cover the north side.”

Tsuburaba grinned and rubbed his chin. “They’ve got another thing coming if they plan on sneaking past with any ranged attacks.”

Hatsume cackled as she patted the bulky bag strapped to her back. “And I’ve got few surprises in store for them when they close in.”

Midoriya shifted his gaze over to his other teammates, “The rest of you are with me in the south side. Don’t let yourselves get separated, and be aware of each other at all times, we don’t want any friendly fire mucking things up,” Midoriya ignited One for All and nodded once. “Let’s go.”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

It had only been fifteen seconds at most since the round started, but Bakugo was barely hanging on. He was confident that in a one-on-one fight with anyone in the arena—and outside of it too, for that matter—he would win. However, he wasn’t in a one-on-one fight, and it seemed as if his opponents were not above cooperating in order to take him down. He was still holding his own for now, but he needed backup, urgently.

Bakugo grunted as he unleashed a blast towards Tokoyami’s Dark Shadow, the flash of light forcing the nigh-invincible shadow being to halt its assault for a moment. “Get your Peter Pan bullshit out of my face, birdbrain!” Whatever reply Tokoyami might have had was drowned out by the whistling of Iida’s leg moving at blistering speed towards Bakugo’s head. “Shit,” Bakugo cursed as he ducked and rolled out of the way of the jet-powered kick before snapping Iida’s head back with a jab, “where the fuck are those losers?”

A strip of tape from Sero came flying towards his crown, forcing Bakugo to weave between it and a laser blast from Aoyama in a specific direction, and his red eyes widened as a familiar muscular tail rapidly filled his vision. ‘Son of a bitch! Tail-boy read my dodge; I can’t avoid it!’ Bakugo clenched his teeth and braced for the blow, when his backup finally arrived in a blur of green.

“Don’t call your teammates losers, Kacchan,” Green sparks flew wildly off of his body as Midoriya chided his longtime rival, “It’s bad for morale.”

“Fuck your morale!” Bakugo retorted, “where the fuck were you assholes?”

“Charging in here like a crazy person wasn’t part of the plan Kacchan,” Midoriya replied. “We had to readjust.”

“Let me go!” Ojiro growled, trying to yank his tail out of Midoriya’s iron grip with little success.

Midoriya grinned wickedly and tightened his hold on the tail. “As you wish,” he said, letting out a grunt as he hurled Ojiro into a short, somewhat chubby boy from Iida’s team. Midoriya didn’t get a moment to rest, and reinforced his forearms with OFA to block a shockingly powerful kick from Ashido before yanking her headband off and front kicking her away from him. Quick as lightning, he dashed towards the two downed and disoriented boys and yanked off their headbands. On the electronic scoreboard behind the judge’s stand, three points were added to the tally next to Midoriya’s name.

“Anyways,” Midoriya continued, tossing the headbands over his shoulder, “this isn’t the time for you to be a lone wolf, Kacchan. We’re a team, and you’re supposed to be the leader, so start acting like it and work with us!”

“Goddamn it,” Bakugo swore and sidestepped another laser blast from Aoyama, “I am trying to lead, you dumbass, how is it my fault if you stupid fucks won’t follow me? Do you assholes need me to spell everything out for you?” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a blur of movement, and he had to bend backwards sharply at the waist to narrowly avoid an attempt from Jirou to snag his crown with her earphone jacks. ‘That was fucking close! Deku wasn’t kidding about Dangle-ears’ quirk, I almost missed that!’

“No,” Midoriya replied, stepping away from a powerful attack from Satou. Reinforcing his fingers with One for All, he poked him hard in a major nerve cluster in his chest, clouding over the larger boy’s face with agony. Before Satou could shake off the pain, Midoriya ripped his headband off. “But a little communication works wonders.”

Was that a nerve strike?’ Bakugo raised an eyebrow at the technique his rival had just used. ‘Figures that fucking nerd would learn something as pointless as that…what’s the point of giving someone a love tap when you can just blow them the fuck away?’

Biting back an acerbic response to Midoriya’s criticism, the blond bomber glanced around the arena and saw his team scattered about in the chaos, separated from each other despite their best efforts. The members of the team who were stronger in combat were holding their own—if barely—as they struggled to make their way to the throne, but the weaker members stood no chance against the more consolidated forces of the other teams. Mei and Shiozaki already waiting in their starting zone, and Kendo was caught in some kind of glue-like substance, only moments away from getting her headband stolen.

Son of a bitch…even if I take the throne right now, I can’t fight once I’m sitting there…I can’t even resist, and there’s no way Deku can protect both his headband and my crown without backup.’ With one last glance at the throne—empty and tantalizingly within reach—Bakugo scowled and made his decision. “Fine…Deku, we’re falling back to regroup. You go get Carrot Top while I bail out Hair-for-brains. We’ll just have to take the throne from whoever gets it in the meantime. And next time I go in, fucking follow me!

“Understood, see you at the starting zone,” Midoriya replied, reflexively biting back any words of praise for Bakugo’s decision. ‘Any positive reinforcement from me will just twinge his pride and have the opposite effect, best keep quiet.’

The temperature in the area dropped. “Giving up so soon, Midoriya?” A cool voice inquired, freezing both Bakugo and Midoriya in place as surely as if they had been encased by the ice coating the concrete floor surrounding the throne and forming into barriers. “I guess all of that big talk of yours was exactly that…talk. I guess you and what’s-his-name have more in common than I thought.”

The sound of grinding teeth could be heard over the chaos of the fighting teams. Midoriya slowly turned towards Bakugo and his heart dropped at the thunderous expression on his face. It seemed that Todoroki’s barb had struck several nerves. ‘Oh, shit.’

“The fuck did you just say, you piece of shit?”

“Kacchan,” Midoriya said in a calm, but insistent tone, “ignore him. He’s trying to provoke you and waste our time.”

“He needs to die,” Bakugo declared, whirling around with sparks dancing upon his palms. He took a step towards Todoroki, steam pouring off of his body from the temperature differential.

Kacchan!” Midoriya barked, he roughly grabbed Bakugo by the arm, “Use your eyes for a second and assess the situation!”

Bakugo glared at Midoriya, but paused in his approach. With the exception of Ashido—who had recovered her headband and was now waiting in her team’s starting zone—all of Todoroki’s teammates had made their way to the central throne area. ‘Wait, that’s not right, one’s missing. Where’s the shark-tooth girl?’

“Kacchan, your crown!” Midoriya cried, darting forward only to feel his own headband get yanked off from behind. ‘What the—?’

“Wha—?” Bakugo’s eyes widened and he turned just in time to see a floating, disembodied hand neatly pluck the red circlet off of his head.

“Wow,” a feminine voice chuckled from behind them, prompting the two boys to spin around once more to see a girl’s floating torso reassemble itself in a whirlwind of flying body parts. Tokage Setsuna flashed a smile full of sharp teeth and tossed the crown to the corner of the yard with a dismissive motion. “I have to say, after all of the rumors about you two—number one and two in the entrance exam; highest test scores since All Might—I’m a little disappointed. This was just too easy.”

“Son of a bitch!”

Tokage let out a hearty laugh at the steady stream of curses which flowed from Bakugo as he launched himself towards his crown with an explosive leap. “What a potty mouth,” she snickered while Todoroki took his place upon the throne. On the massive television screens throughout the arena, his picture appeared along with a timer.

And just like that, the first major development of this match! King Bakugo has been sent to the starting zone, and King Todoroki becomes the first to hold to throne, putting him and his team in first place!”

As Midoriya moved to pick up his own headband, he shot a glance at Tokage, cocking his head with interest. “What a fascinating quirk,” he remarked in a neutral tone, “you didn’t use it during the race, either, that was well played. Mind if I ask you some questions about it later?”

Tokage quirked an eyebrow at Midoriya’s casual attitude regarding this development. “You’re awfully relaxed for someone who just got ‘killed’.” She grinned and shot Midoriya a wink. “I know I’m super-hot and everything, but are you sure that now’s the time for you to be hitting on girls?”

“The only hitting that I’m planning on doing in the immediate future is with my fists,” Midoriya countered, “or possibly my feet. I share a class with Ashido Mina, if you want to fluster me, you’ll have to try harder than that.”

“You’re no fun,” Tokage pouted. Midoriya smiled and sprinted back to the starting zone with a crackle of green sparks. She blinked, “Woah, he’s really fast…how did he not place higher in the race?”

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

Midoriya hated to admit it, but the more accustomed he became to combat, the more he was beginning to understand how powerful he really was, and at the same time, how Bakugo’s ego had become so horribly inflated. It felt good to be strong, to look at an opponent and know that not only could he defeat them, he very likely would.

True, a large percentage of the gap between Midoriya and the rest of field was based on experience. With the exception of a few, there was a hesitance in their motions, a tiny moment lasting less than a tenth of a second where they had to struggle against a lifetime of social programming forbidding them from using their quirks in a fight. They were still unsure of themselves, wary of their power, afraid of hurting someone. Even Class 1-A, whose trials at the USJ had given them a taste of the dangers of the real world, paled in comparison to Midoriya. Their ordeal had been over in a matter of minutes, while Midoriya had been living on the edge of death for most of his life.

Regardless, putting aside his experiences and even the schemes and contingencies he was so proud of—Midoriya was, quite simply, better than the vast majority of his competition on a purely physical level. He couldn’t compete with specialists like Iida in speed, or Satou in strength yet—but even at a mere fraction of its potential, the combined, crystallized strength of eight prior generations put him head and shoulders above most of the competition.

Competition such as the person currently attacking him:

“Damn it! Stay still!” Awase Yosetsu cursed, ‘I just need one hand on him, just a touch and he’s mine.’ Considering that his powers consisted of sticking things together, the whole ‘no sticking your headband/crown to yourself’ rule was a major bummer for him, but he didn’t let it get him down—even without that, he was one of the most dangerous people in this game. With just one touch, he could fuse an opponent’s feet with the ground and take them out of the game for good.

Not that it was doing him much good against Midoriya—it was like fighting a ghost. Hundreds of hours of yoga and agility drills were paying dividends as Midoriya used his flexibility and footwork to slip, sway and float away from the grasping hands of his opponent with graceful ease. Dodging another swipe from Awase, Midoriya tripped  him, moving so suddenly that his foe couldn’t hope to react in time, snatched his headband and moved on to assist Kirishima, who had gotten bogged down in an all-out slug match with Tetsutetsu. Midoriya shook his head with a sigh as the two defense specialists traded powerful blows whose sounds echoed throughout the arena.

In the heat of the moment, it seemed that both had forgotten that knocking each other unconscious wasn’t the point of the exercise. ‘No matter,’ Midoriya thought, dancing and dodging the various attacks haphazardly being thrown around in the chaos, ‘that’s what I’m here for.’ He reached the two brawling students and plucked the headband from a completely clueless Tetsutetsu with a simple motion. Both boys turned and stared at Midoriya with identically shocked and slightly offended expressions.

“Shouldn’t you be getting back to your zone?” Midoriya held up Tetsutetsu’s headband and waved it a bit before tossing it behind him.

“Damn it!” Tetsutetsu cried, “I’ll be back to settle this, Kirishima!”

“What the hell, Midoriya?” Kirishima complained, “You interrupted our manly battle! Not cool!”

“Save your manly battle for the finals,” Midoriya retorted, “we’re on the clock. Go and assist Kacchan with Kaminari, you’re the only one on the team who can handle his attacks without a problem. We’re taking the throne.”

“Nice!” Kirishima grinned, his annoyance at the interrupted battle banished by the exciting news, “let’s do this! We’re gonna totally rock this!”

Midoriya couldn’t help but shake his head at Kirishima’s bone-deep optimism and friendliness. He might not have been the optimal choice for this event, but Midoriya would be lying if he said that having Kirishima on the team wasn’t good for morale. With a fond smile, Midoriya began his rush towards the throne, but his advance came to a grinding halt when a number of small metal cannisters landed near his feet and the feet of his teammates. All around him, similar cannisters were being thrown into the crowds of competitors. Looking up from the cannisters, his eyes widened at the sight of Todoroki’s team slipping on identical gas masks.

“Tear gas!” He shouted, kicking the cannister away just as thick white smoke began to pour out of the small device. “Squint and keep one eye closed to keep a good eye for when it clears. Cover your mouth and nose if you can, don’t breathe it in!”

Working quickly, Midoriya took off his PE shirt and tied it around his face to act as an improvised filter—it wouldn’t work very well without some vinegar to neutralize the chemicals, but it was better than nothing. All around him, he could hear his teammates—as well as anyone else unfortunate to get caught up in the attack—begin to cough and choke within the noxious gas.

What a stunning move!” Present Mic shouted, “Donning gas masks, Team Todoroki has just deployed what appears to be tear gas against the competition, giving them a formidable advantage on the field.”

“That would be the work of Yaoyorozu Momo,” Aizawa remarked, “Her quirk allows her to create anything, as long as she knows the chemical and mechanical structure. She’s easily one of our most promising talents.”

“You adapted to the situation in an instant…as expected of you, Midoriya,” a muffled female voice came from the rapidly thickening mist surrounding the throne, “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that you caught on immediately…I learned the chemical formula for tear gas at your suggestion, after all.”

“Happy…” Midoriya coughed and rubbed at his watering eye, “happy to be of help. I kind of wish it weren’t being used against me though.”

Yaoyorozu chuckled, “I bet.”

In the corner of his watering eye, Midoriya saw a grey blur of motion and ducked on instinct. He felt the wind from an attack pass over his head before he was cracked in the face by the follow-up blow, filling his already impaired vision with stars and sent him staggering several steps to the side. ‘If I didn’t have One for All active, that might have knocked me out! What was that?’

“You know, Midoriya,” Yaoyorozu said, her form briefly appearing within the swirling smoke, expertly wielding a metal staff. “I really do respect you.”

“Is…is that so?” Midoriya replied with a cough, watching for any hints of attacks until he was forced to rub the tears out of his one open eye again. The moment his vision was impaired, Midoriya was struck hard in the stomach with a jab that doubled him over before he was cracked in the skull once again. ‘Ow.’

“Absolutely,” Yaoyorozu said, “you’re intelligent, powerful and resourceful. More than that, you’ve never looked down on me or the other girls. As far as I can tell, you take me and the other girls just as seriously as the boys in the class.”

Midoriya channeled an extra surge of power to his arm to reinforce the limb and blocked another strike aimed at the right side of his head. He swiped at the air, predicting another blow to his left only to whiff and take another thrust to the stomach. “Clearly not seriously enough,” he replied with a pained grunt, letting out another cough, “or else I would have prepared better for this.” He leapt backwards, just barely avoiding another blow from Yaoyorozu’s staff.

“That’s true,” Yaoyorozu agreed, resetting her posture with a twirl of her staff and going back on the attack, “but I’ve learned to expect as much from boys, even the good ones.” Unable to completely avoid the combinations coming from Yaoyorozu’s staff, Midoriya took a glancing thrust to the forehead that set his ears ringing and forced him to reassess his current methods.

This isn’t working,’ Midoriya thought, wiping his watering eye again. ‘and she’s not even trying to go for my headband…she’s trying to break me. I didn’t want to use this, but if I keep playing her game, she’s going to whittle me down until I can’t fight anymore. This is going to suck,’ he grit his teeth in anticipation and channeled power into his left pinky. ‘One for All: 100% Smash!’  

He released the energy with a flick of his pinky, directing the attack at the ground and creating gale-force winds which blew away all of the tear gas within the arena.

What on earth?” Present Mic screeched, “The gas within the arena has been dispersed by a powerful blast of wind with Midoriya Izuku at its heart! He doesn’t have a wind quirk, so how is this possible? Eraserhead!”

“That’s impossible!” Yaoyorozu exclaimed, her composure shattered by the display of power, “…how is this…you’ve never done anything like this before!”

“It’s actually very simple.” Aizawa explained, “He’s just that strong. He blasted the gas away with pure, brute strength. He’s demonstrated a similar level of power just once before…during the entrance exam, when he obliterated a zero-point robot with a single punch…” his voice took on an irritated note to it, “it also landed him in the hospital for a week with life-threatening injuries.”

“Did he really have to mention that?” Midoriya asked, clutching his hand with a pained expression. “That wasn’t exactly my finest moment.”

Noticing his swollen, purple finger, Yaoyorozu let out a horrified gasp. “Midoriya…your finger!”

Crackling with energy, Midoriya darted forward in a sudden explosive motion and snatched Yaoyorozu’s headband off before she could react. “Don’t ever let your guard down like that,” he chastised Yaoyorozu before tossing the headband over his shoulder, “an injured opponent is still dangerous.”

“Midoriya,” Yaoyorozu grabbed his shoulder to stop him from approaching the throne, “you need to get to Recovery Girl, now.”

“I appreciate the concern,” Midoriya replied, knocking her hand off of his shoulder, “but you should probably worry more about yourself. We’re still in the middle of the game, you know.”

“Forget the game!” Yaoyorozu yelled, too concerned for the well-being of someone she considered a friend to bother picking up her headband, “Your finger wouldn’t be that color without severe damage…you could lose it if you don’t get medical attention, fast!”

“I’ll be fine for the next 11 minutes, it’s just pain,” Midoriya glanced over his shoulder, freezing her in place with a piercing gaze, his eyes glowing with green fire. “And I’ve been through much worse pain than this, now if you’ll excuse me, we have a throne to take.”

Red-eyed and teary from the tear gas attack, Bakugo approached the throne with his team in tow, thoroughly pissed off.

“Zombie-boy is down,” Bakugo tossed a white headband over his shoulder with a growl. He cracked his knuckles as he stepped over the groaning, prone form of Shinsou Hitoshi and made his way towards the seated Todoroki.

Shinsou had managed to briefly catch Kirishima with his Brainwash, but hadn’t counted on Bakugo blasting Kirishima without a moment of hesitation the instant he turned around at Shinsou’s order. Bakugo didn’t take kindly to having his teammate being mind controlled. Also, the very idea of Shinsou’s quirk turning him into a puppet made him angry, so he made sure to lay down a generous helping of physical punishment before snatching Shinsou’s headband.

“Sparkplug is down.” Kaminari had been surprisingly annoying to deal with—Yaoyorozu had made sure of that, creating grounding devices that protected her team from his indiscriminate attacks while still leaving the opposing teams vulnerable. In fact, it was Kirishima who actually had to handle Kaminari by tanking his electricity in his hardened form.

“Homeless girl is down—”

“Her name is Kodai! Kodai Yui! What is wrong with you?” Kendo cut in, irritated on Kodai’s behalf at the horribly unflattering nickname Bakugo had bestowed upon the girl for her fighting style of throwing random objects in her pockets and enlarging them with her quirk—in this case, Kodai had thrown her spare change at Bakugo until he closed the distance and yanked off her headband.

“Don’t interrupt me, Carrot Top,” Bakugo shot back, “I’m trying to have a fucking moment here…now where was I? Seaweed Hair—”

“Tokage,” Kendo interrupted.

Seaweed Hair,” Bakugo repeated, “is in pieces.”

“How do you like my net caster, Mr. Customer!” Mei enthusiastically interjected, indicating the net slung over her shoulder like Santa’s bag—except instead of presents, it was full of disassembled body parts.

“Let my body out of there you crazy-eyed nutjob!” Tokage’s floating head berated Mei, “This isn’t funny!”

“My adorable little baby is super helpful, right?” Mei continued, ignoring Tokage completely in favor of her pitch. “It’s lightweight, collapsible, and comes with easy to load net cartridges!”

“I don’t give a shit, crazy girl,” Bakugo growled, “pitch your gadgets to someone who cares.” He turned to Todoroki, “Anyways…you’re out of allies, Half-and-half,” Bakugo snatched the crown off of Todoroki’s head and tossed it across the arena, “now get the fuck off of my throne.”

“Don’t get too comfortable,” Todoroki said as he stood up to make way for Bakugo, “I’ll be back in that seat in a moment.”

“Don’t count on it, Icy-Hot.”

After holding the throne for an impressive stretch of 1:45.32, King Todoroki has been uncrowned by King Bakugo, making him the second person to hold the throne. How long will the Red King’s reign last?”

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

Midoriya did his best to avoid the attacks of his classmates while guarding Bakugo and the throne. Even with his Blast Shield active, the defensive technique did nothing to stop the vibrations of blows from Iida’s kicks, Tokoyami’s Dark Shadow, or Ojiro’s tail from rattling his shattered finger, sending waves of agony coursing through him. He glanced at the electronic screen displaying the timer to see how long they’d held the throne so far and his already ashen face went even paler.

It’s only been 18 seconds?’ Midoriya took a deep breath and forced himself to smile. With the exception of Tsuburaba, Shiozaki, and maybe Mei, his team’s composition was offensively lopsided. There was very little that they could do to discourage the other teams from attacking them.

“Behind you, Deku!” Bakugo barked, twitching anxiously upon the throne, clearly struggling with his inability to participate in the fight.

Responding instantly to Bakugo’s callout, Midoriya spun around and knocked away an attempted sneak attack from Hagakure with a circular block from Tai Chi before completing the motion with a powerful palm strike that smacked the invisible girl squarely in a very sensitive part of her anatomy, making her cry out in pain.

Bakugo began to laugh uproariously. “Holy shit, Deku! You just punched the see-through nudist in the fucking tit!”

“That was a palm strike,” Midoriya corrected Bakugo, “not a punch.”

“OW! What the hell, Midoriya?” Hagakure yelled, her eyes watering from the pain, “You don’t do that to a girl!”

“Sorry,” Midoriya apologized—he felt bad, but not bad enough to not take advantage of her debilitated state and snatched her headband. “Didn’t mean to hit you there, but this is a fight, stuff like that happens. Also, I’m pretty sure I saw you kick Satou in the groin like 10 seconds ago.”

“Crap, watch out! The girl with the ears got me, she’s coming through!” Tsuburaba cried, returning Midoriya and Bakugo’s attention to the battlefield at large just in the nick of time for Midoriya to jump into the path of Jirou’s Earphone Jack and knock it off course before it could remove Bakugo’s crown. Midoriya flinched as the small, yet powerful cord of flesh sliced a thin line across his cheek, making it bleed.

“Wow Midoriya, color me shocked,” Jirou said with a smirk, “I might have expected that kind of thing from Mineta, but you definitely didn’t seem the type to molest your classmates. Was that the first time you touched a boob before?”

Midoriya fought the urge to roll his eyes as he stepped out of the way of Asui’s tongue striking at his headband from behind Jirou. “You ladies need to find a new tactic, you’re like the third person to try and fluster me as a distraction. It’s getting old.”

“Well, it was worth a shot,” Jirou shrugged before dashing to the side and lashing out at Midoriya with her Earphone Jacks, coordinating her assault with Asui to keep him on the defensive.

“Uh, Kendo?” Midoriya called out to his closest teammate, sweating as he dodged the quick, accurate attacks from the two girls by the skin of his teeth. “A little help, please?”

“I’ve got my hands a little full here!” Kendo shouted back, swinging her enormous fists, desperately trying to hold off Tokoyami while simultaneously dealing with a number of birds divebombing her head under Kouda’s orders. “Get someone else to help!”

“Kirishima?” Midoriya called out, knocking away a tongue strike with a fist.

“Sorry Midoriya!” Kirishima called out from the sidelines, “My headband just seemed to come off on its own…it floated right off of my head! I think someone might be telekinetic!”

“Must have been Yanagi Reiko,” Tsuburaba shouted to the team from the starting zone as well. “She can move things with her mind!”

“Crap,” Midoriya muttered, executing a roll in order to dodge another coordinated attack. ‘This is bad.’ He thought, ‘They’re getting used to my movements. I can’t keep dodging, but I also can’t attack without backup…the moment I move on one of them, the other will snatch the crown from Kacchan.’

“Got you!” Iida cried, snatching the headband off of Midoriya in a blur of motion while he was busy defending himself from Asui and Jirou. “It pains me to resort to underhanded methods like this,” Iida said as he handed Midoriya his headband, “but time is of the essence. Consider it as proof of my respect for you as a combatant.”

“No hard feelings,” Midoriya replied before heading back to his starting zone. “I’d do the same.”

Iida nodded before turning to Bakugo and removing the crown from his head. “I believe that it is my turn to hold the throne now.”

Bakugo scowled.

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

It was nearly ten minutes into the second event. The holder of the throne had changed nearly a dozen times already, and so far every team had held it at least once, though Bakugo and Todoroki’s teams held a commanding lead over the others.

Team Todoroki had excellent defenses: between Todoroki’s ice, Ashido’s Acid, and Yaoyorozu’s sheer versatility, approaching the throne while they held it was a difficult and risky proposition and every time they had taken the throne, it remained in their possession for nearly a minute or more. Luckily, every other team was aware of this and collectively decided that it was in their best interest to ensure that Todoroki stayed as far away from the throne as possible. Anyone wearing a white headband was very often the target of a dogpile.

Team Bakugo, on the other hand, was pure offensive power. While their other teammates were extremely helpful, as long as the powerhouse trio of Midoriya, Kirishima and Bakugo were on the field, they easily smashed through any defensive strategy that the other teams could devise, and had seized the throne more times than any other team combined. Unfortunately, their lopsided team balance made holding the throne a difficult task—they had yet to hold the throne for longer than 30 seconds.  

For his part, Bakugo had officially had enough of people’s shit. Not only had first-place finish in the race been treated like an afterthought, not only did he feel the need to swallow his pride and take Midoriya as a teammate—and boy, did that sting—but he had spent the entire day being insulted, downplayed, and overlooked by the competition. He was the king, and yet here he was, surrounded by incompetents who couldn’t protect one measly crown, forcing him to have to repeatedly break through a crowd of nobodies to take the throne back from some heterochromatic douche who thought that he was better than him.

‘He’s not better than me,’ Bakugo thought, not sparing an insect-like boy a second glance as he blasted dirt into his face and ripped off his headband. ‘He’s just a half-assed loser who wastes his talent.’

“Typical arrogance coming from a 1-A member,” Monoma Neito stepped into Bakugo’s path and leveled a disdainful gaze at him. “You didn’t even take Kamakiri’s headband before moving forward. No wonder you got caught off guard by Tokage so easily.”

Bakugo didn’t say a word. He merely dashed towards Monoma and swung an explosive punch, only to be stopped by a transparent barrier. “The fuck? That’s the fish-eyed baldy’s quirk.”

“Tsuburaba,” Monoma scoffed, “his name is Tsuburaba, and he’s on your team. Did fighting a couple of low-rent villains at the USJ swell your head so much that you can’t even remember your teammate’s names?” Bakugo’s eye began to twitch, “Come to think of it,” Monoma continued with a smirk, “that wasn’t the first time you were attacked by a villain, was it? You were pretty famous from that Sludge Villain incident before you even got here…as the damsel in distress. Isn’t that right, Mr. Victim?”

“Don’t…” Bakugo snarled, smashing one explosive attack after another into the barrier.

Monoma smirked as he renewed the barrier with another burst of air. “It seems like you’re incapable of learning. You aren’t going to lay a finger on me!”

Bakugo continued his assault, and cracks began to appear in the transparent shield faster than Monoma could repair them. “Don’t you dare…”

A nervous bead of sweat dripped down Monoma’s face as he continued to try and maintain his barrier. He took a step back, trying to increase the distance between himself and his homicidally furious opponent.

“Don’t you dare fuck with me!” Bakugo roared, shattering Monoma’s shield with an explosive strike and he stepped right into Monoma’s face.

“All right,” Monoma said, “I realize now that I might have been a little rude, but let’s not do anything drastic, okay?”

Bakugo placed a palm on Monoma’s chest. “Die,” he growled softly, ripping of Monoma’s headband and unleashing a point-blank blast that sent him flying through the air. Monoma squeezed his eyes tight and braced for impact, only to collide with something surprisingly soft.

“Thanks for catching me,” Monoma thanked his rescuer, and sighed with relief. When he stuck out a hand to push himself to his feet, instead of meeting hard ground, his hand was greeted by an unfamiliar, but incredibly pleasant sensation—soft, supple, and yet firm at the same time. ‘Huh? What is this?’ Unsure of what was in his hands, he gave the mystery substance a squeeze and heard a gasp. His eyes shot open at the sound and saw that he had grabbed a handful of Uraraka’s chest…and was still squeezing it.

“Oh…” Monoma said in a faint, vacant voice, squeezing one last time for good measure. His eyes widened when his brain finally caught up to the situation. “OH!” He scampered off of Uraraka as quickly as he could. “I, uh…sorry?”

Uraraka’s face was beet red as she pulled herself to her feet and brushed the dust off of her pants. “Monoma,” she said in a low, falsely cheerful voice that filled him with dread, “it was pretty obvious that your personality is kinda twisted, but I didn’t expect you to have this sort of hobby.” She smiled at him. “I trust you know what’s coming next?”

“I didn’t…” Monoma stammered, “I mean I don’t…I…” he sighed in resignation. “Please be gentle.”

“No.” Uraraka bluntly replied. She slapped Monoma across the face with all of her strength before picking him up and hurling his weightless body out of the arena at high speed.

“Somebody catch me!” Monoma shouted, shrieking in terror during the entirety of his flight until he crashed into Cementoss. “Thanks,” Monoma mumbled to a chuckling Cementoss before grabbing the hero’s blocky hand like a lifeline and gazing at him with a look of desperation in his eyes. “Say, uh, sensei…you don’t think there’s any chance the cameras missed that just now, right?”

Cementoss had to avert his gaze to keep from laughing out loud. Feeling awkward, he patted Monoma on the shoulder. “…You should probably collect your headband and get back to your starting zone.”

Monoma sighed and climbed down from the judges chair, making sure to catch Asui’s gaze and give her a quick nod before ducking his head to hide the triumphant smirk on his face.

 

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

For once, Bakugo and Todoroki were on the same page—each had an identical look of shock on their faces as they watched Asui pull herself to the ground from her position floating above them with a flick of her tongue and tossed the red and white crowns in her hands in opposite directions. Just moments before, they had been battling furiously for possession of the empty throne. Though it had been in Todoroki’s possession moments before, he’d learned early on that once Bakugo broke through their defensive line, the best move was to leave the throne—thereby pausing the timer—and join the fight rather than practically ensuring a trip back to the starting zone along with a 30 second penalty.

“I’m not sure why you’re so surprised,” Asui croaked, settling herself on the throne. “If anyone should be shocked, it’s me. I can’t believe that worked on you two…then again,” she raised a finger to her lip thoughtfully, “nobody ever expects an attack from above. Not sure why, flying quirks aren’t all that rare, especially in the hero business.”

“Deku,” Bakugo barked to Midoriya as he ran for his crown, “Frog kid isn’t important right now, you know what to do!”

Midoriya nodded, he could easily take the throne from Asui in his current position, but there was no need to—they were in second place with nearly three minutes left in the round and they had an almost two-minute lead on Team Asui. In order for Asui to take their position, they would have to hold the throne for a longer single period than any team had managed as of yet.

Right now, his priority was grabbing as many headbands as possible from the remaining members of Team Todoroki to keep them staggered and unable to form a proper attack on the throne. Just as he turned away from the throne to go after Yaoyorozu—in his mind, the biggest threat after Todoroki—Asui spoke up.

“Bad move Midoriya,” Asui said, “you underestimated us. You should have taken me out when you had the chance. Monoma.”

Monoma grinned at the sound of his name and placed his hands on the concrete floor. “One victory, coming right up.”

Midoriya’s jaw dropped along with the rest of his fellow contestants when the concrete platform that the throne sat upon began to ripple and flow like water before forming into a concrete shell several meters thick. “No way, that quirk…” Midoriya said, his mind racing, “that quirk belongs to—”

Cementoss!” Present Mic cried, “Somehow, Class 1-B’s Monoma Neito has managed to copy Cementoss’s quirk and used it to seal away the throne behind a thick wall of concrete! It’s going to be very difficult for the other teams to retake the throne now!”

“It must have happened when he was nearly thrown out of the arena,” Aizawa mused, “it seemed natural enough at the time, but now I wonder how much of that was planned in advance.”

“Yeah,” Uraraka agreed as Jirou relayed Aizawa’s commentary to the team, glaring at Monoma from inside the dimly lit concrete bunker. The only source of illumination inside the shell was a tiny flashlight that Mineta had been carrying for some reason. “How much of that was planned?”

 Monoma winced under the glare of the normally cheery girl—his cheek was still red and tender from her full force slap. “I don’t know how many times I have to say it, I’m sorry. I know I said I’d find a way to make it look natural, but I didn’t mean to grope you,” he insisted, his typical smugness completely absent from his tone. “I’m not some kind of pervert or sexual harasser! I want to be a hero, remember?”

“You say that as if those two things are mutually exclusive,” Jirou said, leveling a pointed glance at Mineta, who was sporting an identical handprint on his face after he attempted to take advantage of the brief moment when the team was enveloped in total darkness to grope Uraraka as well.

“It wasn’t fair that only he got to touch Uraraka’s incredible boobs,” Mineta complained from his position pinned beneath Shishida’s knee. “As a guy, I had no choice but to do it!”

“It would behoove you to remain taciturn, you degenerate,” Shishida growled, his vocabulary in stark contrast to his animalistic appearance. He pressed Mineta into the ground a little harder, driving the air from the small boy’s lungs. “You should be ashamed of yourself. Reflect on your actions and refrain from projecting your moral deficiencies onto the rest of us before you make me angrier than I already am…am I clear?”

“Crystal,” Mineta wheezed.

XXX

HEROES NEVER DIE

XXX

 

“Goddammit!” Bakugo swore with clear frustration in his voice as he attacked the concrete shell encasing Team Asui and the throne with blast after blast. He—and every heavy hitter from the other teams as well—had been at it for nearly two minutes, but the concrete simply reformed as fast as they could put a dent in it. The only person who had been able to break through was Honenuki Juzo from Iida’s team, but he was quickly sent packing after learning that fighting Shishida—whose superhuman senses made fighting in the dark a non-issue—in an enclosed space was a horrifically bad idea.  

“Give it a rest Kacchan,” Midoriya sighed, “we aren’t getting anywhere by doing this, you’re just tiring yourself out.”

“You want me to just give up?” Bakugo shouted, bristling at the suggestion. “They just overtook our score, you dumbass! If we don’t get in there and take the throne in the next 15 seconds, we’re out of the finals!”

“Not necessarily,” Midoriya said, pointing at the section of the scoreboard that was keeping track of eliminations. He currently held first by a large margin, with 30 eliminations to Tokoyami’s 25. Bakugo was currently tied for 5th with 20 eliminations. “You’re fortunate, even with all the time you spent sitting on the throne, you only need 4 more eliminations in the next minute to make it into the finals.”

Bakugo clenched his fists, “I don’t want to win like that!” He growled, “I want an undisputed victory!”

“Whatever you want,” Midoriya replied with a shrug, “I guess you don’t care about our promise to meet in the finals after all.” Bakugo stiffened. “We might have our problems,” Midoriya continued, “but I’ve never taken you as the kind of guy who’d break a promise.”

For a brief moment, Bakugo could do nothing but tremble at Midoriya’s words, grinding his teeth. “AAARGH!” He finally screamed into the sky in helpless fury. “FUCK!” With an explosive powered leap, he propelled himself towards a group of enemies like a bat out of hell.

Midoriya grinned and followed after Bakugo with a burst of speed to back the volatile boy up. After everything Bakugo had put him through over the years, it felt strange to put so much effort into helping him get to the next stage. Beyond the personal issues, it didn’t make any sense from a rational standpoint—the development with Monoma copying Cementoss’s powers had been a gift-wrapped chance. Yes, at the moment, Midoriya and Bakugo were on the same team, but at the end of the day, Midoriya wanted to win, and Bakugo was a formidable opponent.

The most logical, optimal course of action would have been to encourage Bakugo to waste his time attacking the concrete dome so Midoriya could move onto the next round without a major obstacle to his eventual victory. Midoriya was a practical person, a firm believer that the best victories were the ones achieved without a single punch being thrown, so why help Bakugo? Because he made a promise?

No,’ Midoriya shook his head, ‘that’s not it.’ Promises held little sway over Midoriya—he avoided breaking them if he could help it, but if he judged keeping it more trouble than it was worth, he wouldn’t hesitate.

While musing over his strange desire, Midoriya ripped the headband off of an opponent aiming for Bakugo from their blind spot and came to a realization—he simply wanted to fight him. After so many years of avoiding outright conflict with the prickly boy, Midoriya, like Bakugo, wanted to settle things, the bigger the stage, the better.

Glancing at Bakugo, Midoriya let out an amused snort at his own hypocrisy. ‘Looks like he’s not the only one with a childish outlook. Suddenly, a loud buzzer rang out and signaled the end of the round.

Annnd that’s time!” Present Mic announced, “What a thrilling round! With one brilliant move, Team Asui has managed a surprise turnaround and taken first place! With Team Bakugo pushed down to third, Team Asui and Team Todoroki will now be moving onto the finals! Now, let’s have a look at the eliminations to see who from the losing teams will be going on without their teammates.”

On the massive televisions scattered throughout the stadium, the video feed of the arena was replaced by the scores of the six teams.

 

1st Place: Team Asui: 04:37.32

2nd Place: Team Todoroki: 04:05.56

3rd Place: Team Bakugo: 03:45.35

4th Place: Team Iida: 01:59.34

5th Place: Team Sero: 00:19.22

6th Place: Team Tokoyami: 00:18.21

Most Eliminations:

Midoriya Izuku: 32 Eliminations

Bakugo Katsuki: 27 Eliminations

And there we have it folks!” Present Mic announced, “Though they might have been squeezed out as a team, Midoriya Izuku and Bakugo Katsuki will be moving on to the next round. We’ll be taking a break for some extracurricular events, but those of you at home better stay tuned! Coming up in just an hour is the most anticipated event of the day: the U.A. Sports Festival Finals!”

Great,” Aizawa’s voice cut in, “Does this mean I can go back to sleep now?”

Present Mic sighed, “Your mic is still live.”

Aizawa grinned. "I know."

 

 

Midoriya let out a relieved sigh. He and Bakugo had not been the only ones to realize that the chances of their team taking one of the top two slots were slim, and in the final minutes of the round, most teams had given up on taking the throne to focus on racking up as many eliminations as possible. Bakugo had barely squeaked by in the last second, beating Tokoyami by one point.

“I better get to Recovery Girl,” Midoriya muttered to himself before heading in the direction of the infirmary.

“Midoriya,” Todoroki’s calm, cool voice called out to him, stopping him briefly in his tracks.

Midoriya let out a small groan. “What is it?” He replied, barely keeping a civil tone. “I need to get this finger looked at.”

Todoroki glanced at the swollen, purple digit for a second and nodded curtly. “I’ll come with you,” he said.

“No offense,” Midoriya replied stiffly, “but I’d rather you not.”

Todoroki blinked at the swift refusal and shook his head. “Look, it’s clear that you don’t like me, and that’s fine. Like I said, I’m not here to make friends, but there’s something I want to talk to you about.” Todoroki paused and shifted awkwardly, looking uncomfortable. “Something personal…please. It will only take a few minutes.”

Midoriya sighed. If Todoroki was going to ask that politely, it would be incredibly petty to turn him away just because he irritated him. “…Fine,” Midoriya said after a moment. “I’ll listen to what you have to say…after my treatment.”

 

AN: Well, it’s been a while. Frankly, I have no excuses other than that this chapter had a lot of moving parts and I wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted to proceed. Anyways, I’m back, and I plan to post the next chapter a lot sooner next time. Plus Ultra.