The morning was especially cold for April but Izuku didn't go back to his apartment to grab a sweat shirt. He had one free hour before preparing for school, and he didn't want to lose time, not when UA had already made quite a dent in his training program.
He ran on the wall, using it as a bouncing zone, and he activated Jump and two Strengths. He rushed through the air, deactivated the three quirks, and in the same thought, activated Air Suction to stick to the wall like a big green spider.
He kicked the wall, throwing himself away from the wall, and let gravity get a hold of him.
Izuku cancelled all his quirks, letting himself fall completely.
During this moment, who could have lasted between the time of a thought and forever, the world became glacial and limpid. For a fragment of eternity, his speed, the air around him, the ground approaching, his ways out, he could feel everything perfectly.
He called two quirks at the last moment.
He barely had the time to break his fall. Barely was enough.
He felt the impact going up his whole body as he landed on his feet, and he fell to his knees but his descent had been slowed down and he didn't hurt himself.
Izuku checked he didn't leave a trace on the wall. The block might have been abandoned but that didn't mean he wanted anyone to know he was here.
Ghost neighborhoods like this formed themselves when the buildings weren't up to norm. In a population with quirks, it could led to catastrophes. Especially since quirks tended to get stronger and more volatile with each generation. No doubt that in a few months, the town would hire someone to rebuild the whole thing. Meanwhile, people like Izuku could use it as a training ground as long as they were discreet. Or others less legal activities, but not so early in the morning.
Not that his mother needed to know about that.
Well, at least, she knew he was training. Transfer was without a doubt the best quirk which ever existed (no, Izuku wasn't biased), but like all quirks, it had limitations. First, Izuku couldn't use too many quirks at once, and the more he used them, the more he tired out. Second, pushing the limits of Transfer was more dangerous than forcing on any other quirks.
Izuku got up, and pursued his training, as he kept alternating between quirks at the last minute. Running, jumping, cancelling the consequences of his quirks in half a second. More playing than actually training, if he was honest, but it had a point.
Izuku had found two ways to strengthen his abilities. First, he had learned to alternate quirks quickly to relieve the pressure. The faster he reacted, the more he could use them while making his stamina last.
Second, it was working on the quirk themselves. Every quirk he ever got was lovingly honed to the best of Izuku's abilities. In doing so, he had more power and didn't have the need to use as many quirks.
It was exhausting and not the activity one should do before going to school. It was also Izuku's favorite game.
Izuku trained to the last minute, then ran back home.
Through the roofs, and with his quirks, it took him no time. He was always baffled by how useful his abilities were, especially since he could only use them when no one was in sight. It would be good if everyone could use their quirk, even in public places.
Izuku didn't quite sneak inside, but he made sure to not make noises as his mother was still asleep. He took a shower, put on his uniform, and quickly prepared something a little more substantial that a gallon of coffee saturated with sugar.
Though a cup of it did waited for his mother once she reached the kitchen. She thanked it with a nod and they eat quietly. Breakfast were a silent matter in this household, since both members hated mornings and waking up in general.
She was at her second cup when she focused back on him : ''Izuku, I know you are greatly enjoying your hero training but you're not revealing too much, aren't you ?''
Proof that he needed more coffee, he thought his mother was talking about costumes and was about to reassure her by telling her one of her classmates was wearing a swimsuit. Though it might depend on quirks, Yaoyorozu actually needed to access skin to use her abilities, so people with similar quirks might have special dispensations to show skin. There was a law about that, because of the heroine Midnight. He would have to look into that...
Until he realized she was talking about his quirk.
The rice almost didn't pass for a second. Pretending his quirk was average was the plan all along, but Aizawa had threatened him on his first day, All Might had been watching during his second, and... using his quirk with others classmates who were as driven as he was was funnier than expected.
Not your best excuse.
''Well, I am third of my class so far,'' he explained carefully. ''But all I showed was an enhancer quirk, so even if I am finish first, is that a problem ?''
She didn't quite sigh but it was close.
''I suppose it isn't,'' she finally admitted, though she didn't seem convinced.
''Are you sure ?''
''Oh, I am sure for school, but I am not convinced for the Sport Festival.''
The Sport Festival was THE event of UA, and Izuku had watched it religiously since he was... born. Students who distinguished themselves at the festival were immediately spotted.
Which was the problem at hand.
If his mother didn't want him to participate in the Sport Festival, he would obey his wishes.
But that didn't mean he wouldn't try to convince her.
''We left America,'' Izuku reminded her.
''And the Sport Festival is aired through the world, the United States included.''
''We left five years ago. Time has passed.''
Izuku never thought about it. One day they were three, and then it was only the two of them.
One day, his mother had carried him away to never come back. Her mother never talked about it. What Izuku knew, it was what he had guessed. All he knew was that some bad people knew about his father, and by extension, his family, and when he had disappeared into the cataclysm of California, they had come for them.
Izuku had tried to ask twice.
And like every time the subject was brought, something awful passed in her mother's eyes. She hid it quickly, but Izuku could still see it behind her calm expression, hidden behind the smile which didn't reach her eyes.
''I am not saying I don't want to, Izuku,'' his mother explained. ''I just need to think about it.''
She stood up, walked to him, and kissed his hair.
Once again, Izuku was comforted in his decision of not dwelling on the past.
Izuku took one step in the direction of the gates and the crowd of journalists that had somehow sprouted in front of UA almost swallowed him whole.
''How is it to have All Might as your teacher ?''
''What are your impression on the Symbol of Peace ?''
''What is your quirk ?''
He was somehow spatted out and he avoided crashing into Aizawa at the last moment. His teacher didn't seem amused. He also looked like he hadn't slept in a week and was only vaguely vertical thanks to an almost lethal quantity of caffeine.
A journalist saw an adult from the faculty, which more more interesting than any students, and she jumped at the occasion, before thinking it through.
''Does All M-... You're a mess !!'' she realized. ''Who are you anyway !?''
To his credit, Aizawa didn't even react.
''He is off today. You're interrupting our classes. Leave.''
She started arguing but Izuku didn't stay to see who would win. There were too many cameras for his tastes, and avoiding them was among the ground rules which had always existed and that Izuku kept following without really thinking about it. He didn't have any public social networks, he refused to have his image shared, and he generally didn't like his picture taken.
He didn't remember how it had started...
''Midori ! You aren't late today !'' Uraraka congratulated him when he arrived in class.
''That's your name, now,'' Ashido informed him.
''Indeed,'' Hakagure confirmed.
Izuku tried to hide how pleased he was by the affectionate nickname, and he miserably failed.
A wind of excitation surged through the class at the idea of electing a class representative and Aizawa wasn't in his sleeping bag yet that everyone had started screaming many variations of ''I deserve to be class rep !''.
Being class rep was a task everyone avoided like the plague in Izuku's last class, but for UA, it was an occasion to show their leadership skills. In a school focused on turning them into heroes so they could walk on the road travelled by the Symbol of Peace himself, it was a bonus no one would refuse.
Except if someone needed his free time to hunt for quirks. And hone them. Combined with the homework and the additional training Izuku did, he would need to stop sleeping.
At last, amidst the chaos, one voice, louder than anyone else's, cut through the noise as Iida waved his arms.
''Silence ! Leading the many is a task of heavy responsibility ! But ambition does not equate ability !'' Iida declared.
In one moment, Iida had obtained the attention of twenty students. Izuku was impressed.
''It's a calling which requires the trust of those around you ! And thus, to choose a leader, we should elect one !'' he finished, his hand raised the highest among the class. Controlling himself to not join the ''Vote for me'' succession must have cost him a year of his lifespan.
Soon, Iida had drafted the whole class into voting to elect the leader who would light the path for them to become champions of justice, and Izuku barely had the time to hesitate before he wrote one name on his paper.
It was the best choice. Iida believed in justice and rules, and he wanted to help everyone. And most important of all, he wanted to do be class rep and would bloom at the task.
His jaw almost dropped to the ground when he saw the results of the polls. One vote for Iida, two for Yaoyorozu, and two for him.
Who voted for me ?
Izuku didn't even react to the news. He just froze, unable to know how to react. Two people somewhere in this class had decided that he was an apt candidate, which, in turn, made him doubt of their assessing skills.
He didn't want to be deputy class rep either !
Aizawa tried to make them vote a second time, but it was lunch hour, and between wasting time and letting the students' antics infringe upon his lunch hour, he chose to let them go, especially after Iida started argue that students needed time to choose between Yayorozu and Izuku. Aizawa saw the rant coming and agreed quickly, to Izuku's relief.
He followed Uraraka and Iida, barely paying attention to what was happening around him. Despite his habit of fighting the need to sleep with coffee and sugar, he couldn't forsake resting, which meant he needed to find time. He didn't know what a class rep did, but depending on the amount of work, he might have to limit his quirk searching hobby.
Izuku had always known he wouldn't be able to devote as much time for travelling through the country searching for quirks, but he didn't want to stop it completely and it was time-consuming.
You can't stop your quest for quirks. You love that too much. It's your only joy.
The thought made him uncomfortable. He did have friends now, which was an amelioration compared to middle school. He wasn't comfortable being close to anyone, not when he was still juggling with his quirk he couldn't explain and a lifetime of instructions. Searching for quirks had been the activity that filled his days.
Iida put a hand on his shoulder, startling Izuku so bad the sharp movement also startled his friend in turn.
''I apologize,'' Iida immediately said. ''You seemed lost in your thoughts. And worried.''
''Are you ok ?'' Uraraka, all concerned.
''I am fine,'' Izuku tried to smile.
Unsurprisingly, none of them believed him.
''Don't worry, you can totally win this election,'' Uraraka reassured him. ''You're more approachable than Yaoyorozu. And you impressed everyone during the simulation !''
''Uraraka is right !'' Iida continued, almost vibrating with praise. ''You showed strategical thinking, and the spirit of a true hero at many occasions ! None of our classmates can ignore it! You have nothing to worry about !''
He must have looked especially grim because Iida continued, trying to convince him he had all his chances.
Just say it.
''It's just that... I really don't want to be the class representative.''
Their eyes widened and they just stared at him for a second. Izuku shrank on himself, because... He was the one who had the more votes with Yaoyorozu, he should act as if he was worthy of this trust, shouldn't he ? Refusing a position everyone wanted felt conceited.
''You didn't vote for yourself?'' Uraraka exclaimed.
''No ! I voted for Iida !''
Iida forgot his diatribe about his qualities of leader for a second, and he looked at him with awe.
''It was you...'' he said, tears in his eyes.
Iida only had one vote, and since he just had told him he had all the abilities to win, his voice probably didn't go to Yaoyorozu.
''I am sorry you wasted your vote...''
He was getting more dejected by the second.
''Midori, just calm down. If you don't want to be elected, just say so.''
''I can do that ?'' he asked, dumbfounded.
''Of course you can. They can't force you to be class rep if you don't want to.''
It did sounded obvious now that she was saying it. Still, it still felt incredibly rude.
''Are you sure, Midoriya ? If you're elected, it means people have faith in your abilities. It would mean you're the best suited for this task.''
''What's the point if I don't have the calling ?'' Izuku asked, using Iida's own words.
It seemed to convince him. Quickly, the conversation turned to things unrelated to school. Midoriya learned Iida's brother was the Speed hero Ingenium, and he had to bite the inside of his cheeks to not beg for an autograph, but he did geek out about it. At least, he wasn't the only one, Iida was also incredibly proud of his brother. Izuku talked about his mom, without being too specific, and Uraraka talked about her family and how she missed them, which drew his attention.
''You're living on your own ?'' he asked.
Still eating, Uraraka nodded.
''I know, don't worry,'' she smiled.
''Can I ask you what you are talking about ?''
''Traffickers,'' Uraraka and Izuku answered at the same time.
Iida looked at them without understanding what they were talking about.
''Quirk traffickers ?'' Uraraka explained.
That was obviously not ringing a bell, which was surprising because Izuku remembered being warned about them when he was little. He could hear Ms. Nash telling him ''If any adult you don't know is interested in your quirk, you must immediately warn your parents or a teacher.''
Though I was in Boston at the time.
''You know about quirk marriages, right ?'' Izuku wondered.
After quirks had appeared and when humanity had stopped freaking out, people had realized that quirks evolved along bloodlines, and some of them had started marrying each other to produce people with excellent quirks. Nowadays, it was common for the elite to use a matchmaker to find the right genes and to produce an heir with the right quirk.
''Well, traffickers are not exactly about that. Children with the right quirk are prized in some circles, and there are people who hunt isolated young people with good quirks to sell them to the highest bidder.''
''Something that is probably keeping my parents awake at night,'' Uraraka added. ''But don't worry, Iida.''
He looked at them as if they were insane.
''Of course I am worrying ! That's awful !''
They spent at least two good minutes assuring him that Uraraka was safe where she was and no, she didn't need to live at Iida's in order to be in security.
Iida might have been so affected because he had no idea it existed until now. He was from a family of heroes. This kind of problem didn't affect him because no criminal would decide to target a boy whose whole family had the means to find him, so it might as well not exist for him.
Izuku was almost sure he had met a trafficker when he was seven. Someone who couldn't have been older than twenty who had approached him and had asked him if Izuku could help him search for his dog. He had even showed him photos of the adorable Shiba Inu.
He had never followed him, of course, but his parents had adored this little story at dinner time.
BRAAAAHHH BRAAAAHHHH BRAAAAHHHH
Like everyone else, Izuku looked up, trying to see where this was coming from. He knew UA had a good security system since he had been stalking their site for several years, but he had no idea what the alarm meant, except ''Problem incoming.''
Thankfully, UA had the answer to their question.
''SECURITY LEVEL 3 HAS BEEN BREACHED. TO ALL STUDENTS. PLEASE EVACUATE IN AN ORDERLY FASHION.''
Instinct took over and the three friends dashed towards the exit.
Them and everyone in the cafeteria.
The alarm had summoned general chaos, and Izuku was swept by the human tidal wave, losing sight of Uraraka who was even shorter than he was. He fought against the various movements inside the crowd, more focused on standing upright and being on the move than anything else. If he stopped moving, if he fell, no one would stop for him and he didn't want to experience a stampede first hand.
Friends first, anything else later.
Finding Uraraka was tricky but he saw someone who vaguely looked like her, grabbed her by the jacket, and once he checked it was really her, he dragged her towards Iida. Balance and Resistance allowing him to cross the crowd. Iida was hilariously easy to find because he was the tall boy who kept screaming for order and calm while waving his arms.
Izuku shamelessly used Iida as a wall against the rest of the students, taking advantage of his height and stability so he could drag them near a table. The chair were fixed to the floor, so they made the perfect still point.
''Midoriya, it's not the right direction !''
Midoriya doesn't care right now. Friends safe, now to the problem at hand.
Izuku climbed on the table in order to see what was happening without behind pushed around by the crowd. Zoom. By the window, he saw the same crowd of journalists which had been waiting for All Might this morning.
It meant they had found a way to pass through the iron doors. But they weren't villains. Not a serious threat.
''It's only journalists. No need to worry.''
And to Izuku's bewilderment, he took care of the rest, in one impressive aerial stunt.
Izuku never looked at anyone in the class. He just looked at the wall, pretended there weren't any people in front of him, or a teacher in a sleeping bag next to him, and he just gave the short announcement he had prepared during their tumultuous break.
''First, I want to thank those who voted for me. Thank you for believing in me. However, I don't wish to become the class representative and I would like to nominate Iida for it. He is the one who managed to calm everyone down during the security breach and I really think he has all the quality to take care of this class.''
Uraraka was right and none of them seemed displeased by what he was saying, which proved that his social anxiety was a filthy liar. The class readily accepted a last vote between Yaoyorozu and Iida, though, to Izuku's surprise, some of them regretted that Izuku didn't want to try for the position. A terrible choice, really.
Iida won, with thirteen votes.
It was when Iida won, people around him congratulating him and Aizawa asking if they could finally stop wasted time, that Izuku noticed the weight on someone's gaze on him.
Todoroki was watching him intently. Izuku turned his head by reflex, as if he had done something wrong, then glanced several later to see... Yep, he was still doing it.
He didn't do anything wrong, or anything especially noteworthy, so he shouldn't worry, right ?
Izuku looked at Todoroki who met his stare with unblinking eyes which seemed to see through him. Usually, when one was caught staring, he would look away, if only because it was uncomfortable, but Todoroki didn't seem to care about those unspoken rules and Izuku once again broke away first.
It continued until the end of the classes. Todoroki didn't look at him constantly, but he did it more and more, as if he was looking for something. It distracted Izuku until Iida and Uraraka noticed it.
''Todoroki keeps looking here,'' he explained.
Uraraka turned, and blinked when she saw him, but she didn't look worried.
''Oh, now that you mention it, he did glanced during lunch. You didn't notice ?''
Absolutely not, and that was disturbing.
''Maybe he wants to talk to us. He seemed isolated in the class. Maybe we should go talk to him,'' their new class representative declared with enthusiasm.
''He was looking at Midori. Maybe he decided he would make a good rival !'' she exclaimed as if it was a good thing.
Izuku didn't knew much about Todoroki except that he had one incredible quirk, and that his father was Endeavor : the number 2 hero and the best investigator in the hero society.
If he had taken after any of Endeavor's skills, he was well placed to know Izuku was lying about his quirk.
You're always thinking something terrible is about to happen. You're paranoid.
Or are you ?
The TV was showing the number 3 hero, Hawks, defeating two villains by throwing a barrage of crimson feather at them. The spectacle had stopped Izuku as he was going home, his grocery bag still in hand. He had ice cream, so he couldn't stay long, but he watched the screens behind the glass of the store until the fight was over.
Izuku had flown once, carried by wings as beautiful as Hawks'. Since he had been a child and the quirk in itself had been still immature, it was more a jump and a good fight against gravity, but he had loved it with all his heart, at least until reality caught him back. After a ruined shirt, a crying Tsubasa, a lot of guilt, and five minutes of total panic when he realized he wasn’t sure, at four years old, how to give back a quirk, he had wisely decided to never do that again.
''Heroes are so cool, aren't they ?'' a cheerful voice behind him said.
Izuku turned to see that a girl had stopped behind him to watch the same fight. She seemed older than him, taller too, with purple hair falling to her waist and hazel eyes. Despite the late hour, she was still wearing her uniform.
''I love Hawks. Though not as much as Ryuku,'' she added, still looking at the screens.
She focused back on him, and smiled.
Izuku just froze like a deer in the headlights.
''Let me guess : you're an All Might fan ?'' she teased him.
He nodded as if the collector hoodie wasn't a huge clue.
''I prefer Ryuku over Hawks,'' he managed to say, the words refusing to come to him easily.
''A man of tastes. Though, who wouldn't prefer Ryuku ? She can turn into a dragon.''
Izuku starting to relax. The subject of this conversation was what he lived for, and it was rare to find people who liked heroes as much as he did.
''I also really like Gang Orca,'' he added, which was the understatement of the year.
Izuku actually preferred Gang Orca over Ryuku, and he was probably his second favorite hero.
''Gand Orca is the epitome of cool. But Ryuku is different for me. There was a time when I wanted to be her. You know, not only have the same quirk, but...''
She hesitated, looking for her words, but Izuku recognized the feeling.
''Be like her. Powerful and confident like her, because like she always know what to do.''
''Exactly,'' she smiled at him, her eyes warm.
That was why Izuku had chosen a quirk like All Might's. Not only to honor his hero, but also in the hope of being as brave and as in control of his life one day.
But despite the wishful thinking society clang to, quirks didn't guarantee a matching personality, and he had realized early that he could never be like All Might. At least, not by counting on quirks. All Might... All Might was the Symbol of Peace. When he was here, everyone just knew everything was going to be fine.
''I have a long way to go before that,'' he said out loud.
''Same here. Though not too long.''
Izuku was about to nod and smile at how she confident she was, but he realized that unless she had a mind-reading quirk, she was still talking about powerful abilities. And there wasn't so many ways to strengthen one's quirk.
''Well, with nectar,'' she explained when she saw him puzzled.
His mind jumped through training programs, diets, new age sects, but nothing rang a bell.
''I don't know what that is,'' Izuku finally admitted.
''The nectar? It fortifies your body and your quirk. You really don't know what that is ? A lot of people use it, though...''
''A lot of people ?'' Izuku repeated, dubious.
None of the forums about quirks Izuku was hanging around ever mentioned it. Of course, he didn't know everything but if there were so many people using it, he should know about it.
Even if it was dangerous.
''Well, heroes school are so insane, so a lot of their students use it. Teachers there are more about powerful quirks and culling the herd than actually teaching their students, if you know what I mean. And even the good schools have a regimen incredibly hard to follow without a little help.''
Izuku immediately thought about Aizawa's test. And how he still wasn't convinced one of them wouldn't have been expelled, despite being at UA for only a day.
''I do too, because my quirk got so much easier to use. Here, look.'' She rummaged through her bag and pulled out a green inhaler. ''I have another one at home, do you want to try ?''
Izuku didn't make any move to reach out for the inhaler.
''You should stop using that,'' he said instead.
This nice girl he didn't know anything about stared at him, frozen by surprise. She looked like she didn't understand why he was suddenly being so cold. She even seemed a little hurt.
''Quirks are physical abilities,'' Izuku said and this time, there was no trace of nervosity in his voice, because it was his field. He knew quirks intimately, and the same could be said about their negative effects. ''If you take a shortcut, you can really hurt yourself. You could have irreversible sequelae. There is a thousands things that can go wrong with such a product.''
Something glacial passed on the girl's face, and her warm gaze became blank. It was as if the person he had been talking with had never existed, only a mask to connect with him.
''You're a sweet kid, aren't you ?''
And then, as if nothing had happened, she became cheerful once again.
''Well, it's not a big deal. Until next time, Small Might !'' she waved at him as she left.
Izuku didn't follow her.