Toshinori Yagi sighed, reassuming his true appearance after saving the hostage and defeating the villain. Out of sight, of course. No one could know about his declining health.
Usually, bringing some good to the world would have been enough to enlighten his day, but since his first day teaching, he couldn't quite relax, uneasy with what had happened during his first lesson. No one had said anything about it. No one had thought anything was wrong. But All Might had this power of people. People trust him implicitly, and even stranger, they were all convinced All Might perfectly knew what he was doing.
Toshinori had realized he didn't handle the fight between Young Bakugou and Young Midoriya well. Young Bakugou's explosion had been quite impressive, and for a moment, Young Midoriya had disappeared behind it, at least until he crashed violently into the bomb. Horribly still until he moved again as if nothing had happened.
He was still haunted by the silence from this moment. Sixteen teenagers suddenly not making a sound. Absolute silence from the time Young Midoriya was hit to the moment he was back on his feet.
And Toshinori had done nothing.
When Young Midoriya had hit Bakugou, sending his own explosion back on the blonde teen, All Might had been worried and was ready to finish the exercise. He had done nothing on the sort for Young Midoriya. He hadn't worried for him, at least not until he saw him unnaturally still. There was a double standard here, and he knew why he had reacted like that. Why he had forgotten for a moment that this was a student he was responsible for.
He didn't even admonish Young Bakugou for using his quirk so recklessly on a classmate. He had comforted the troubled young man, and just entirely missed the opportunity to say anything about Young Midoriya who had been right next to them at the time !
Young Midoriya was endearing with his fanboy tendencies. His whole face lit up when he laid eyes on Toshinori or any heroes. But when he was pondering about something or using his quirk, Toshinori couldn't help being reminded of him.
It wasn't just the curls, or his face. It was his eyes.
The exact same look in his eyes. The way he had looked at him with this ''There you are.'' expression, but not directed at Toshinori Yagi. Not even directed at All Might. Like he was accessory to what those eyes were seeing.
But it wasn't the first time Toshinori met the same gaze in a stranger. Especially since he had lost some dearly missed vital organs. Right after getting out of the hospital, he felt like All for One was everywhere despite having killed him with his own hands.
It wasn't rare for a long time hero to start developing some unfortunate instinct.
He recognized you in a second. That must mean something.
He signed again, uncomfortable.
Toshinori didn't want to be doing that. He didn't want to be doubting a child, one he actually liked if he was honest. It was unfair to Young Midoriya, it was unworthy of All Might, and it was a failure as a teacher.
What would Nana do ?
He could almost hear her telling him to follow his instinct.
He took his phone. Called the one person who could help him make sure it was just in his head.
''Tsukauchi-kun ?... I am sorry to bother you but I need to arrange a meeting... Yes, I need your help.''
He would follow his instinct and he would make sure nothing was wrong. In the meantime, he would do his best to treat all his students fairly.
Today was going to be a good day. Izuku could just feel it, and he wasn't disappointed when Aizawa announced they would train at Rescue. It was perfect. He wouldn't need to punch anyone, so he wouldn't have to worry about hurting his classmates, and there would be a teacher he didn't know yet, so he would be able to fanboy.
Yes, Izuku had no shame.
A tingling sensation spread on his skin, the consequence on one flat stare that started to be a familiar companion, and one glance confirmed that yes, Todoroki was still paying attention to him. He tried smiling at him, but the boy's expression didn't change.
That wasn't worrying. At all.
''You're not wearing your costume ?'' Uraraka asked, distracting him from the matter at hand.
''No, the helmet must be replaced and my jacket... Well, it wasn't Kacchan proofed.''
This poor vest had half turned into charcoal when he had got it back, which had saddened him. It was a gift from his mother. But those were the risks when you threw anything at an angry Kacchan. Aizawa had told them costumes weren't necessary today anyway, though Izuku was the only one who had opted for his gym uniform, some protections, and gloves, of course.
He glanced back and saw that Todoroki wasn't looking at him anymore. With a little luck, it would last.
Izuku followed Uraraka into the bus, and was surprised to see they would all sit face to face. Asui claimed the seat next to him, and soon, they all idly chatted with each other.
Bakugou took offense to one comment, and made it known with his usual calm and tact. Much roasting ensued, which surprised Izuku.
It wasn't mean spirited. But it was unusual. Or not so much. Usually, people with powerful quirks were popular, and with his personality, no one would have made fun of Bakugou in any normal schools. But at UA, everyone had a powerful quirk, or at least knew how to make it powerful. They were all equals.
Izuku smiled. He really liked this school.
''Midori ?'' Asui called.
No doubt that Izuku had the soul of a writer.
''I tend to be blunt,'' she warned him.
''Your quirk looks like All Might's.''
Giddiness followed surprise. That was the sweetest thing anyone could tell him. After all, he had put a lot of efforts into creating his quirk !
''Thank for the compliment, Asui,'' he grinned.
''Call me Tsuyu.''
Before Izuku could find out if he was ready to call anyone by their first name, Kirishima confirmed Asui's impression :
''It does look like All Might's ! This kind of strength-enhancing quirk is awesome ! You can do a lot of cool things with it! Not like my hardening. I am good in a fight, but it's boring.''
''Don't underestimate it. It's perfect for offense and for defense. And since the quirk is simple, it's hard to counter. Moreover, you won't have to worry about collateral damages, so people around you will be safer and you shouldn't have too much problems worrying about paying for damages. This is an extremely quirk you can use in any situation.''
Izuku himself had several Endurance quirk, and mainly used Durability and Resistance, but they couldn't be compared to Kirishima's quirk. Durability only affected his skin, and it wasn't as effective as hardening. Resistance was slightly better, because it made him strong enough to withstand the impact of his others quirks or any other external forces. To a point, of course.
''And you shouldn't be worried about being boring. You obviously take care of your image and even if it wasn't enough, people will just naturally love nice guys.''
Silence answered him, and Izuku raised his head to see everyone was looking at him. He slowly realized he was the center of the attention.
Blood immediately rushed to his face.
''Holy crap, Midori is blushing !'' Mina yelled.
''And so is Kirishima !''
''Bro ! You're so cool and so nice !''
Izuku hid his face before he spontaneously combusted or something.
''I was waiting for you, everyone !''
As far as Izuku was concerned, the whole USJ was secondary next to the hero and teacher who had welcomed the class. Thirteen, rescue oriented hero, adorable with their fans. Their quirk allowed them to turn into a black hole, whose power could be contained by their costume. An incredibly destructive quirk who had been honed into a useful ability that saved lives.
Also, they were incredibly cool and since Uraraka was also grinning next to him, he couldn't be the only fan.
''I designed this place to imitate many natural disasters and to allow you to train in conditions as real as possible. I named it Unforeseen Simulation Joint : USJ!''
No wonder the place looked like a theme park if it had been created by such a fun loving hero.
But someone didn't share his enthusiasm, and Aizawa approached Thirteen, annoyed.
''Thirteen, where is All Might ? We were supposed to meet him here.''
''Sempai...'' they then whispered so the students wouldn't hear them, but they showed three fingers to Aizawa.
Disappointment stabbed Izuku in the heart. It meant there would be no All Might today.
Well, he is the number 1 hero, so it's not surprising that his schedule can't always align with classes, and it's probably the case for every UA teachers. It's even worse for him since his time is limited. I didn't say how long he had, but since Thirteen showed three fingers, it's probably three hours. Can he limit his quirk usage like I by activating and deactivating quickly ? Probably not, since his whole physical form changes, he must have to keep his quirk activated constantly...
Something chimed inside him, his quirk whispering to him.
He always had a strange connection with quirks. He loved them. He knew them. He could recognized them most of the time. And he could feel where one was activated near him.
Something had drawn the attention of his quirk, but away from their group, and there was no one on the place he was looking at. At least, until he saw something dark, no more than a spot of ink at first, growing bigger and bigger, while the fountain was malfunctioning.
A warp quirk.
People started to get out of the the portal, led by a man with pale hair and hands all over him.
And judging from Aizawa's face, it certainly wasn't on the program.
''Is that like during the exam ?'' Kirishima wondered, starting to walk to see what was going on. ''There is no countdown.''
''Don't move,'' Aizawa ordered, his voice spreading urgency through the ranks of students. ''They are villains.''
''They are the one who infiltrated the premise yesterday,''Thirteen realized.
A pale villain dressed in black and covered in hand looked around slowly, as if he had all the time in the world. Another villain whose brain was exposed was towering over him, following like a bodyguard.
''Where is he ?'' the pale villain asked lazily. ''Don't tell me I brought all these people for nothing? All Might, the Symbol of Peace, isn't here ?'' He paused, as if he was thinking about it. ''Will killing the kids make him come back ?''
Izuku heard a sharp intake of breath behind him. He didn't know who it was, but he could perfectly empathize with the fear.
Someone in front of us is ready to kill us.
It has nothing to do with the unfortunate encounter with the nectar girl the day before. She was mad at him, but there had been no hostility. No killing intent.
''Thirteen, take care of them !'' Aizawa ordered.
''You can't fight them on your own,'' Izuku said. ''There are too many of them for you to capture them on your own like you usually do.''
''Don't worry. No good hero is a one trick pony.''
Izuku waited for him to pull out a gun from his scarf or something, but instead, Eraserhead put on goggles.
Before jumping into the fight.
And to Izuku's awe, he hold his own, moving through the villains as if there were toddlers. The number didn't stop him. The limits of his quirk not working on mutations barely slowed him down.
This is a pro hero, Izuku realized.
But warpers were a category of their own, and the black mist cut their escape despite all the efforts of their teachers. He stood in front of them, calm, because honestly, where could they run ? He could always reach for them.
''Greeting,'' announced the black mist in a soft voice. ''Forgive our audacity but today, we have come to UA, this bastion of heroism, to end the life of All Might, the symbol of Peace.''
Bakugou and Kirishima didn't, blocking Thirteen's line of sight and giving enough time to the villain to activate his quirk.
The black mist engulfed them all.
Water screamed his name and all the air was punched from his lungs as Izuku broke the surface. He sank for a moment, his chest on fire as he couldn't breathe, horribly cold water making every cells of his body go still, and it dragged him to the depths of the lake.
What saved him was an incoming quirk. Nothing better than imminent peril to put things into perspective.
He barely had the time to see a shark shaped villain swimming towards him, and whipped with his arm, Air Pressure in tow. Not only did the villain disappeared from his sight with a cry, but the rebound hit Izuku who was sent backwards, and suddenly, there was air.
Izuku's lungs finally filled with precious, beautiful oxygen, and when he splashed back into the water, he desperately waved his limbs. His clothes, his shoes, everything he was wearing tried to sink him again, but once the moment of panic has passed, he swam with determination towards the ship of the Flood area. It meant something solid under his feet, and right now, this was everything he wanted.
He wasn't the only one to have his idea and he tensed when he sensed another quirk, more diffuse than the first one. Air Pressure was once again ready, but he saw a familiar flash of green and Asui swimming seamlessly, a sharp contrast with the way he was going from point A to point B with a bunch of Strength quirks. She was also helping Mineta to stay afloat.
He swam toward Asui, grabbed her and Mineta whom she was still holding, and he used Slide and Glide as soon as he put one hands and two feet on the hull of the boat. He put so much urgency into his quirk that they almost rocketed upwards, and when they reached the deck, he fell on his back. Just for a second.
Mineta quickly joined him, which was his signal to stop freaking out. He got up, and pretended he was perfectly in control. Only one person was allowed to lose it, and Izuku couldn't afford this luxury when he was the one with the strongest quirk.
''Is anyone hurt ?'' he asked.
''I'm fine, kero.''
Mineta didn't even bother to answer that.
''What do they want ?'' he cried, raw terror in his voice. ''Why now ?''
''He said it was to find All Might,'' Asui reminded him.
It was actually a logical endeavor. Several generations of All Might's fans could confirm their favorite hero was incredibly hard to find. Most heroes could be found near their agencies, but not him. So the quickest way to find him...
''They are at UA because this is his only constant schedule,'' Izuku continued out loud. ''Otherwise, All Might is incredibly difficult to track down. He seemed to appear where there is trouble, then vanish until the next crisis.''
''So now, every villain knows where to find him and anyone having some beef with him will come here ! Where we are !'' Mineta whined.
Izuku and Asui looked at each other. Mineta often whined and made unneeded comments, but the waves of fear he was emitting was something new.
''There is a whole group of villain waiting for us in the water ! Even if we escape, there are still more ! And we don't know when the pros will arrive !''
''And since they are here to defeat the Symbol of Peace, they probably came prepared and nothing guaranties the pros will be able to save us,'' Asui added.
Mineta's soul almost left his body at those words.
You're not helping, Izuku conveyed with his eyes while Mineta was freaking out even more. Izuku didn't think it was possible, but Plus Ultra weren't vain words.
She shrugged. She hadn't lied when she warned him about her bluntness.
What would All Might do ?
''Mineta,'' Izuku called, catching his attention. ''It's going to be fine,'' he assured with a bright smile, the same All Might gave to terrified people and which never failed to chase fear and sorrow.
Mineta just stared at him.
''Are. You Insane ?'' he asked.
Well, All Might is definitely better at this.
''That's not the point. They don't know our quirks, or they wouldn't have sent Asui here. She strives in aquatic environments. So we have an advantage and they know it, so they will be careful.'' Of course, it also meant they were taking them seriously, but Izuku wasn't about to say that out loud next to Mineta. ''That's why they aren't on the boat yet. If we work together, we won't risk anything.''
Mineta almost looked like he believed him.
You know their quirks because you watched them during the test. You have your own power.
Now, work with that to get everyone home safely.
One of the brats, the one in a gym uniform, jumped from the boat.
High. Extremely high.
They all saw the impact coming when the kid raised his fist, but not all of them had the time to dive. Some even didn't think it would much much of a hit.
One of the villains didn't want to take any risk and reached the depths of the lake in a heartbeat. It wasn't fast enough. The air blast hit him like a trainwreck, pain bursting all over his body as the water was throwing him around like a ragdoll.
He tried to swim against the current, to stay under, but the water was propelling upwards. And as he failed, he noticed something strange.
Have those dark balls always been there ?
All giddiness which could have been born for defeating the villains disappeared when the three teenagers approached the Central Plazza. Defeated mooks laid on the ground, and so did Aizawa, in the middle of a puddle of blood. Their teacher wasn't moving. He wasn't even reacting as one of the villain, an obsidian titan whose brain was exposed, was holding his horribly broken arm.
On Izuku's right, Mineta whined, the sound pure fear, and he sank a little more into the water as if he wanted to hide. On his left, Asui looked like she was torn apart between rushing there and keeping everyone here. As for Izuku himself, he was frozen.
The hand villain nodded and the titan crushed their teacher's arm between his fingers. Aizawa screamed, activating his quirk and looking at the villain tormenting him.
Who crushed his elbow under his palm next.
It's like a cat playing with his prey.
''Shigaraki Tomura !''
A spot of black mist appeared next to the leader of the villain, a human shaped silhouette slowly revealing himself instead of the personified mist from before.
''Kurogiri,'' the villain calmly acknowledged. ''Is Thirteen dead ?''
Cold gripped Izuku's heart. Please, say no.
''Thirteen is neutralized. But one of the students managed to escape. The pro heroes shouldn't be far.''
Whoever you are, fellow student, I love you.
''Kurogiri !'' the villain snarled. ''If I didn't need your quirk, I would kill you !''
He started scratching his neck, more and more, and when Izuku activated Zoom, he immediately regretted it as he saw the dry skin succumbing under the villain's nails. He kept mumbling, pissed beyond reason, and he was looking at his colleague as if he was really thinking about executing his threat.
''Now, pro heroes are on their way ! I was prepared for one boss, not one whole army of them...'' He stopped scratching, and suddenly, he was calm again, as if nothing happened. ''Well, I supposed it's game over for us,'' he simply said as if it didn't matter anymore.
Izuku dove deeper in the water, as if he wanted some protection between the madness and himself. Because it was madness, or at least something seriously wrong. People didn't go from blood-rage to peace in a second. And they weren't supposed to act as if no one was real except themselves.
''We're leaving,'' Shigaraki Tomura said, a little exasperation piercing in his voice.
''You hear that, Midoriya ?'' Mineta asked, hopeful. He even tried to grab his arm.
Izuku slapped it away under water. Not now. It wasn't over. He could feel it.
He wasn't disappointed.
''Noumu,'' Shigaraki Tomura lazily called, ''finish the job. As for...''
Several things happened simultaneously.
The noumu moved for the kill, Aizawa unmoving under him. Shigaraki stopped talking as he saw something moving fast enough to produce an air swirl. And Izuku crossed the field in a breath, kicking the noumu in the head with both legs.
Izuku didn't remember taking the decision of activating all his quirks, or even to start running. He just knew he couldn't let that happen.
The noumu took a step backwards as Izuku landed on his feet, his whole body still ringing from the strength exerted. But his adversary didn't seem to feel any off effects, the quick stumbling down more about a lack of balance than actual injuries.
When Izuku had hit him at full strength.
The noumu turned towards Izuku, focusing on him. Away from Aizawa. It's already that.
Now, how do I defeat him ?
The noumu never left him the time to think about it. Despite all Izuku's training, there was barely enough time to alternate (This is bad, this is so bad), and he barely had the time to avoid the noumu's huge fists. He chased Izuku around, and the teenaged was reduced to avoiding the worst of it until he finally managed to sneak a punch.
The noumu didn't even stop.
Izuku went almost completely on the defensive. He had to. They had the same speed. The noumu was slightly stronger. And nothing Izuku did to him seemed to affect him. He pushed on his Speed quirks enough to feel his feet protest. Acceleration was not a last resort anymore, but a full-time use. Slide and Glide kept him for having his head ripped off at one point.
And as the noumu was slightly unstable, Izuku turned his whole body and kicked his knee. The skull-shaped protector on it exploded upon impact, and the momentum behind the blow made the titan stagger.
Izuku jumped and kicked him in the chest, throwing an air blast at the same time. Unbalanced, the noumu crashed down. Finally.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Shigaraki running, his hand stretched out. His speed was almost inhumanely fast, to the limit of being a quirk, and he was heading towards Tsuyu. She who was half out of the water, her body turned towards Izuku. To save you. She is running to save you, because you rushed without thinking about the consequences. She had seen Shigaraki, but she wouldn't avoid him in time. Mineta's mouth was open with the beginning of a scream.
Izuku stretched out his arm, focusing on Aim, Air Pressure, and Resistance.
In the time it took him to aim, and throw an Air Blast at Shigaraki, the noumu was back on his feet. Barely a second, but it was enough.
Shigaraki went airborne, tried to regain his balance as he waved his arms, miserably failed, and fell into the lake as Tsuyu disappeared under the surface, Mineta in tow.
And the noumu lunged at him, his fist raised, impossibly fast.
Izuku tried to parry with his forearm, bare skin touching hot and dark flesh, but the angle was wrong, he didn't have enough momentum, and for the second he touched the noumu, he absolutely failed to deflect the hit or even slowed it down.
The noumu's fist hit his chest like a sledgehammer.