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Izuku's heartbeat was loud in his ears and there were painful twinges in his chest. Too many thoughts were swirling around in his head, racing through his mind.

You have more quirks than everyone combined here. How could you fail ?

Cooldown activated. He didn't remember consciously doing it, but it anchored him, and he focused on it to drag himself to reality and to the problem at hand. And he realized this couldn't happen. He just got into this school. He opened his mouth to say something in the lines of 'This is not going to happen.'' even though he had never raised his voice at a teacher before.

Aizawa was faster than him.

''That's usually what I say to those I deem hopeless. Right now, to me, you don't seem invested into becoming a hero.''

He paused.

A flicker of hope surged through Izuku. Not much.

Followed by annoyance.

''So, you want to try that again ?''

He threw another ball at him. Izuku caught it with both hands. A second chance.

''This is the perfect test for an enhancer quirk. This is also the perfect field to give all you have. You have nothing to gain by pretending you are weaker than you really are. ''

More annoyance passed through Izuku. Some directed at himself, because he wasn't as discreet as he was supposed to be and it was stupid to think a hero and a teacher wouldn't notice what he was doing.

More was directed at the man in front of him.

Everyone was trying to listen in but after Kacchan's throw, all students had wisely chose to stand far away and Aizawa and him were close enough to talk without being heard...

Izuku paused. Kacchan looked like he was about to have an aneurysm. Well, a problem for later. Though, if Kacchan dropped in the middle of practice, maybe Aizawa might forget about him.

He wasn't that lucky, so he took a deep breath. He walked towards Aizawa. No time to be wise. He was still clutching the baseball ball.

''Am I in last place for this test ?'' he asked.

He already knew the answer, so he continued. He had been singled out, so why not speak his mind at this point ?

''So I passed it, and you decided it wasn't enough. How can this be fair ?''

''Do you really think life is supposed to be fair ?'' Aizawa smiled.

''Right now, life isn't unfair. You are,'' Izuku declared.

Aizawa didn't say anything, which was far scarier than anything he could have said.

You fool. You buffoon. You should have thrown the the damn ball and be done with it.

Izuku would give a lot for a Reset quirk right now.

Well, he heard you, so you might as well continue.

''And so is this test. It doesn't make sense. Why choose a test perfect for an enhancer while neglecting every other quirks, even already powerful ones ? It doesn't allow you to judge potential. And it certainly does not allow you to judge someone's drive to become a hero.''

The entrance exam was already biased. Was the only way to succeed in UA to have the right quirk ? Then, what was the point of studying here ?

''Then'' Aizawa wondered, ''why pretend you can't succeed at a test perfect for you ?''

Because he had panicked when he had seen someone capable of identifying his quirk, so he had tried to minimize what he could do.

Say you're scared of using your quirk at full strength. Lack of control is a good excuse.

''And you don't seem to understand what this test is about,'' Aizawa continued without marking any pause. ''Your physical skills are secondary. Quirks are varied, and yet, you can't wait to have a situation that suit your quirk. Instead, you have to adapt. That's what this test is trying to determine.''

Izuku tilted his head. It wasn't what he was expecting, but it was better than someone waking up one morning to decide on a completely arbitrary test with expulsion as the ultimate punishment.

Izuku was the only one with a full enhancer quirk (as far as they knew), even the boy with six arms had only arms strength, so this might explain why Aizawa was more severe with him...

The familiar fear seized him. Was there something else ?

Aizawa continued, and there was something strange in the way he looked at him. Not suspicion. Izuku had learned to recognize that.

''Refusing things at face value is a good reflex. Keep it. But not using your full ability when you can mean that one day, when you need it the most, you won't be aware of your limits and it will put you in danger. Go back to the line, the test isn't finished.''

What ?

Izuku took a step backwards, unsure of what was happening but it didn't seem like he was expelled anymore. He didn't believe arguing with the teacher was enough to make him change his mind.

Which meant the threat was not real at the time, just a way to make Izuku do what Aizawa wanted.

Izuku wasn't about to argue with him again. Not when he had seen himself announcing to his mother he had been expelled on the first day. But still. He did try to bully me into using my quirk.

''What did you talk about ?'' Uraraka asked when he joined her back. It was the boy with multiple arms' turn to throw the ball. ''You got pale like death then really intense.''

Izuku shrugged. He had drawn enough attention on himself as far as he was concerned.

There were two more tests next, and Izuku once again didn't use all his quirks. He didn't see how Hakagure could adapt her quirk to run faster or lifting more weights, which proved that even if the test was about adaptation, it was still biased.

Kacchan hadn't dropped dead from his head exploding, instead, he kept glaring at Izuku as if the latter owed him money.

This first day was far more complicated that Izuku expected.

''Also, I was lying about expelling someone,'' Aizawa declared just before he showed them the results. ''That was a logical ruse meant to bring out the best in all of you.''

That one created varied reactions. Iida screamed so loudly he almost pierced Izuku's ear-drum. So did Uraraka. Varied sighs of relief came from all around them. And Izuku almost ascended to another plane of existence.

''It was obvious,'' a girl with long black hair said. ''Don't tell me you believed it.''

''I did,'' Izuku said, still annoyed beyond measure.

''Midoriya, you're third,'' Uraraka said. ''Congratulations.''

Izuku's bad mood evaporated as he tried (and failed) to handle the compliment. He had barely paid attention to the ranking now that he knew no one would be expelled.

1 Yaoyorozu Momo                                               2 Todoroki Shouto

3 Midoriya Izuku                                                   4 Bakugou Katsuki

5 Iida Tenya                                                          6 Tokoyami Fumikage

7 Mezo Shouji                                                       8 Ojiro Mashirao

9 Kirishima Eijirou                                                10 Ashido Mina

11 Uraraka Ochako                                               12 Kouda Koji

13 Satou Rikido                                                    14 Asui Tsuyu

15 Aoyama Yuga                                                  16 Sero Hanta

17 Kaminari Denki                                               18 Jirou Kyoka

19 Hakagure Touru                                              20 Mineta Minoru

He hadn't noticed how useful Yaoyorozu's quirk despite how well she did in her tests, and he knew exactly why. He had noticed her regularly checking on her phone, probably the composition of what she was creating, so he had ignored it because what was exceptional about her wasn't her quirk but her intelligence.

Izuku kept staring at the list, trying to remember the names of his classmates until he realized everyone was leaving without him.

Sadly, he never reached the locker room. Izuku shrieked as he saw something rocketing towards him.

''What the fuck is wrong with your quirk ?'' Kacchan growled, which was almost whispering for him.

''Hard to classify but except that, nothing,'' Izuku answered automatically.

''Don't screw with me. You have a flame quirk. Emerald flames.''

Damn you, four-years-old me. Five quirks at the time and you couldn't choose one who vaguelly looked like the one I have today ?

Izuku's face didn't betray anything except surprise, only for a moment.

''… What ?''

''Do you think I don't remember you showing me your quirk as soon as you got it ? You ran towards me and...''

''Like this ?'' Izuku asked and he brutally opened his hand, the movement creating a kinetic pulse with the exact same gesture he would have used to show flames to someone.

There was doubt in Kacchan's eyes.

''I have an enhancer quirk, not a fire one,'' Izuku reminded him, sounding just a little unsure. ''Don't you remember that I loved to use my quirk to jump higher and higher when we were little. And that I started to beat you at running only after I was four ?''

Everything was technically true. What were long forgotten memories next to a reasonable explanation ?

Not that much for Kacchan, apparently.

Izuku sensed the quirk activate and jumped backwards as Kacchan's arms was whipped in his direction, his palm not directly facing him.

But no explosion happened as another quirk was activated. Izuku looked behind them to see red eyes and Aizawa looking even grumpier than usual, his eyes as red as blood. Meanwhile Kacchan was still trying to create an explosion.

Izuku's were wide as he could sense the quirk. His fingers clawed by themselves and he closed his fist.

That was some incredibly useful quirk... Izuku frowned.

Wait a minute...

''Stop using your quirk already. I got dry eyes,'' Aizawa ordered and Kacchan finally ceased his attempts to dynamite Izuku.

Eraserhead. There was only one hero with an erasing quirk who dressed like a ninja, and if he was a underground hero, it explained why Izuku hadn't recognized him on sight. He was from a kind who didn't bother with autographs because they were too busy being secretive and they would chase you out without mercy.

''Using your quirk on any of your classmate is forbidden when you're not in an exercise approved by the school.''

Kacchan hesitated but left while pretending he didn't have a care in the world. It wasn't as if he had tried to hurt Izuku anyway. He hadn't aimed directly at him, probably to see his reaction with the heat. A pyrokinesist always had some heat resistance, something Izuku had abandoned with his previous fire quirk.

Aizawa's hair fell back on his shoulders and his eyes lost their crimson color. Well, at least, the pupils.

''Doesn't that mean you couldn't pass your own test ?'' Izuku asked before he had the time to think about it.

Aizawa raised an eyebrow.

''Of course I could. I would just have to cancel everyone quirk to be on an equal standing. Then I wouldn't be last because too many people neglect to train themselves and focus on their quirks.''

That left Izuku speechless.

Aizwa smiled.

 

*****

 

Toshinori's notes for tomorrow's classes weren't ready and he couldn't afford to stand in front of twenty students without any preparation. They expected someone who knew how to lead a class and help students become better, not someone who had never taught his life, and who had only a vague idea of what was involved.

''You didn't expel anyone ? You're getting soft in your old age,'' Yamada teased Aizwa, a few desks away.

Aizawa was in charge of 1-A, and Toshinori remembered he had expelled a whole class last year. Those poor kids.

''None of them had zero potential,'' Aizawa simply said. ''Though I did consider one. For half a moment.''

Poor kid. Toshinori checked his tablet to check a website about pedagogy and advices he would certainly forget as soon as he would be in front of his class.

''Oh ? Which one ?''

''Midoriya.''

''YOU TRIED TO EXPEL YOUNG MIDORIYA ?''

The two teachers turned toward All Might while he was dealing with a mouthful of blood. Even he was surprised by his outburst.

''I mean, didn't he have the best score at the entrance exam ?'' he asked a little more quietly. ''Was there a reason why...''

He didn't know how to finish this sentence.

Aizawa stared at him for a moment, probably trying to see if the Symbol of Peace had just turned insane, then ignored the outburst to focus on the question.

''Midoriya has an enhancer quirk, and with no serious consequences from what I saw during the exam.''

Yes, he remembered everyone panicking when a teenager had dropped from an impressing height with no indication that he could land on his feet and all teachers too far to intervene. At least, until Midoriya reached the wall and slowed down his descent. Recovery Girl didn't even need to use her quirk.

''But during the test of today, not only did he not do his best, but he seemed to actively pretend he was at lesser level of development of his quirk. Usually, when a student holds back, it's because they are scared of what they can do. But it's not the case with Midoriya.''

Toshinori knew exactly what he was talking about. Young Midoriya smiled and lost all nervousness when he was using his quirk, obviously enjoying it.

He hid some discomfort. It was the same expression that had reminded him of All for One.

At least until he actually met him. The resemblance was gone when he wasn't using his quirk, and impossible to think about when Young Midoriya had asked for a autograph.

Toshinori now didn't know if there was a real resemblance or if he was seeing things, his nightmares infiltrating his perception.

''So you thought he was messing around,'' Yamada guessed.

Aizawa nodded.

''Once in a while, there is always a student who thinks he is better than the others, which usually stop quickly because UA only accepts the best,'' Aizawa explained. ''Sometimes, they are focused on strategics. Not only this is useless, but this also means that they waste their resources not fully training, so I tried to push him.''

Toshinori waited for him to continue. Fortunately, he wasn't the only impatient one.

''And ?'' Yamada asked.

''It wasn't arrogance,'' Aizawa simply said.

Toshinori thought about it. If it wasn't arrogance, did it mean that the boy was holding back because he was afraid ?

''Anyway, he wasn't the only one not fully using his quirk, so I wouldn't expel him just for that. Why this sudden interest ? Do you know him ?''

Shit.

Well, he had a passing resemblance to my archnemesis so I kidnapped him before realizing he was a fan, then I felt guilty.

Also, he is now one of the seven people who know my secret because he has the ultimate eye when it comes to heroes.

''Oh, you know... I watched the entrance exam so I remembered him''

 

 

*****

 

Me : [I am here.]

Nagisa answered immediately. Obviously. She never stepped away for her screens.

N : [Come into my parlor.]

Izuku had barely reached the door when it opened. The perfect timing didn’t surprise him. Nagisa had eyes everywhere and loved to remind him of it.

He entered the poorly lit house and looked around. The ceiling was incredibly high and the walls were covered in threads, some thin, some larges enough to hold him if he had the disastrous idea to lean on it. He carefully examined them until he saw one moving slightly, and follow it to find Nagisa. She never bothered to welcome him at the door.

Izuku literally followed the thread until he reached the living room, and he found her on the floor, a simple laptop on her lap, a rare occurrence. Nagisa didn’t pay attention to him, though she did saw him coming because of the seemingly infinite amount of eyes on her head. She had no blind spot.

But only two arms, which was just disappointing when one looked so much like an arachnid. Four pair of limbs would have been so practical for a hacker.

‘’You do realize my place isn’t a nursery, right ?’’she asked.

Izuku carefully avoided the threads on the floor. One wrong step and he would have to abandon his sneakers here. Finally, he reached the safe haven of a couch.

‘’I can’t help it. It’s so welcoming.’’ If he was really not welcome, she never would have let him in.

‘’Shut up, bug.’’

Izuku refrained a smile. At least, she didn’t threaten to cocoon him to keep him fresh and eat him later. The whole family really loved cannibals jokes.

He had met Nagisa’s mother, Ms Shirubakumo, first because her quirk, Weaver, was ruining her life. Not only she couldn’t control the stickiness factor of her threads, but her hands also didn’t have the specific rough skin that allowed members of her family to not get trapped by their own web, so every time she used her quirk, she was stuck with her threads unless her sisters or her daughter could help. Though Izuku was usually fleeing mutation quirks, he had accepted to take the quirk and to give it to Nagisa, who was already in college at the time. Afterwards, they had stayed in touch, not without much complaining from the young woman.

''How is your new quirk ?'' she asked, still typing.

''Not in my possession. She changed her mind.''

She looked up, looking already more annoyed.

''You should stop relying on donations and actually start to trade quirks. You could make a lot of money and a contract can't be broken by a 'Sorry, I changed my mind.' ''

''I want to be a hero,'' he reminded her.

''But a lot of money for almost no effort.''

''I need a licence to use my quirk.''

''It never stopped you before.''

''Should I conveniently forget how I can easily inflict brain damages ?''

The only reason why he had accepted to give her mother's quirk to Nagisa was because they had almost the same quirk, the same mutation, and he had explained again and again it could be extremely dangerous.

She shrugged.

''Make them sign a disclaimer.''

Izuku hid a smile. Nagisa had a dark humor but she understood why he wasn't advertising her quirk, the same way she understood why she got glances in public.

''It was your first day at UA. Did you finally make friends or do you plan on hassling me again this year ?''

Friends were a strange subject for both of them. Izuku had had classmates, with whom he even get along with, but he had never been close to anyone. It was his mother and him, and no one else. Izuku had thought that the easiest way for him to keep his secrets was to keep his distances, but now, he wanted that to change.

Uraraka and Iida were nice, but not friends yet. At least, he didn't think so.

His mind went back to Kacchan.

''Could you try to find a Heat Resistance quirk ?''

He usually found his quirks on his own, taking everything people accepted to give him, but he had quickly realized he needed specific quirks to go with the one he had. A fire quirk with no heat resistance was a recipe for disaster. Speed with Friction resistance meant having a relatively good idea of what it was like to stand in the middle of a sand storm. That's when he asked Nagisa for help.

At least, when he had the budget.

''… Well, aren't you popular.''

He realized he had completely failed to answer her question.

''Is someone being mean to you ?'' she teased. ''I have this cousin who can talk to spiders. If I give her a call now, we can prepare a nasty surprise for tomorrow. Then, everyone will be your friends to avoid such a fate.''

Two could play at this game.

''And how is college life treating you so far ?''

She glared at him. It was terrifying.

 

 

*****

 

Izuku came back to his apartment while holding too much food in a fragile equilibrium as he kept dinner from falling on the floor while managing to pull out his key and to open the door. He put their meals on the table, then grab a broom. His mother would be back from her two days trip late this night, and he wanted everything to be ready and tidy.

Once he finished cleaning, he grabbed his Quirk analysis notebooks, all of them, and studied the most ancient one. He had taken notes on every quirk which had grabbed his attention, be it the ones he owned, used to own, or just saw, but he didn't differentiate them.

He stared at a doodle of green flames and the childish handwriting of the notes.

Remembering with certainty which quirk he had owned at specific periods of time was a nightmare because there was a time when he exchanged his quirks like Hero cards. It wasn't rare for him to ask for a quirk to play with for a little while, then give it back like a child putting away his toys when he was done having fun.

He looked earlier in his analysis career, and saw a splash of orange, red, and yellow. Kacchan was here too of course. He closed the notebook number 1.

He grabbed the last one and went back to Air Pressure. It actually wasn't one quirk but the mix of Slide and Glide, Kinetic force, and Strength. Quirks had the incredible ability to mutate when they were mixed, and Izuku was completely taking advantage of it, and not only to contradict drawbacks.

Izuku turned pages and grabbed a pen. He had nineteen new quirks to write about.

He started by the Gravity quirk.

At 11:54 pm, his mother entered yawning, and frowned when she noticed the lights on. Then, her whole expression warmed when she saw Izuku, a mirror of his own.

''I told you not to wait for me,'' she said with a fond smile.

Izuku walked to her and hugged her.