Sorahiko had always been impressed that despite all the technology available, his student never called, never wrote a text, but once in a while, he wrote a letter. Since he was at UA, he found the perfect successor, or he was dealing with an abject failure because he was incapable of making a choice. Either way, a letter had the merit of not being personal and Toshinori wouldn't have to confront himself to Sorahiko's judgement.
A takoyaki between his teeth, he started his reading before the Sport Festival started.
Summer is finally on its way and we can enjoy more agreeable temperatures. I hope you are in good health
At the beginning of this year, I started teaching the new generation of heroes, hoping to find a successor. Though my search didn't bear any fruits yet, I have met many children whom, I am sure, will become great heroes in the future.
Abject failure, it is.
One young man drew my attention. He is a first year, and his quirk and his control over it are especially powerful, but he doesn't seem to quite realize it. Already, he saved someone during the attack of the USJ but he was also in danger and he seems to hold everything in. I wish to help him.
The quickest way was to talk to the student, which seemed obvious, but Sorahiko shouldn't expect too much from such a rookie teacher.
I hope you will grant me some advices.
Take care of yourself. I shall inform you of how the situation evolves.
Focusing on a student with problems was honorable and the role of a teacher. However, Sorahiko could recognize someone procrastinating. He grabbed his cell phone and typed one short phrase, for he wasn't a dinosaur and could actually technology unlike some old-fashioned student of his.
[OK, but what about your successor ?]
No answer, even though Toshinori had to be at UA to assist to the Sport Festival at this hour. Heroes quickly picked up the habit of always having their phones on them, so Toshinori was probably playing dead. It was incredible how he didn't change in several decades.
Sorahiko couldn't help a smile.
[I shall watch the Sport Festival intently.]
When Izuku arrived at UA on the day of the Sport Festival, he hadn’t finished working on his strategy but at least, he had his speech. Apart from that, it was like someone had left an anvil inside his chest during the night, and this weight refused to go.
He didn't fail to notice how things appeared to be simpler in life-or-death situations. Consequences didn't haunt him then.
But they subdued when Izuku felt the familiar quirk approaching. One for All. Back when he looked at those videos of All Might, he never would have thought that this quirk he loved so much had so much in common with his.
All Might, quirk activated, seemed a little surprised to see Izuku quietly waiting for him in the hallway, his yellow backpack on the ground.
''… You really manage to know where I am, aren't you?''
''In a reasonable distance,'' Izuku smiled.
He had neglected this ability, probably because to him, other quirks were more fascinating than his own. He would have to work on it.
''At least, this is going to be useful when you're licensed. Listen, I wanted to see you, but I have to make this quick. I have to watch the third years.''
''You're going to stay in this form all day ?'' Izuku asked in a horrified whisper.
''No, don't worry. I just...''
He hesitated, looked around, and after an other hesitation, deflated.
Izuku didn't fail to notice how All Might avoided to show this form in front of students, even Izuku who was aware of his health issues. He understood that he didn't want the time limit to be known, but this went beyond that.
''Today, the world will see you for the first time,'' All Might announced. ''But please, don't freak out.''
All Might sighed and put a hand on Izuku's shoulder.
''I am not asking you to be perfect,'' he continued, ''But please, try to act as the hero you want to be. Midoriya Izuku, the student, looks like he didn't sleep this night thinking about the festival. Midoriya Izuku, the future hero, knows his abilities and what he is capable of.''
Midoriya Izuku, the future hero, was nothing more than a concept at this point.
''So you're telling me to fake it until I make it,'' Izuku translated.
All Might regained his prime form and gave him his patented grin : ''Exactly. And now, I am gone. Sorry for making you late.''
One for All shined, and All Might almost flash stepped, leaving Izuku standing alone, a little smile on his lips. That was abrupt but the attention was nice. All Might was watching over him.
It felt good.
However, Izuku didn't have the advantage of being allowed to use his quirk where he could be seen. It was a good thing he was already in his gym uniform because he saw three people barking at him that he was late on his way to the waiting room. Iida, pacing in the hallway, was the fourth.
''I know,'' Izuku cried, making Iida jump. ''I am sorry!''
He rushed through the door while assuring Iida that he was fine and that there was no need to freak out – as if this boy had never seen people crying in his life –, stopping himself from crying, and scanning the room for Uraraka.
''Midoriya,'' someone called him in the middle of his multitasking.
What ? What did I do this time?
He froze as he saw Todoroki looking at him, his eyes glacial, and Iida almost crashed into him. This had the unfortunate effect of making him stumble into the room, closer to the ice quirked boy.
Was he waiting for me ?
''I think that we are on similar levels but I have showed better results,'' Todoroki declared.
Izuku just stayed frozen, trying to understand what was his point.
Was this about the USJ ? Izuku never had the occasion to thank him. Was it something else that could explain the glares he had received since the start of the school year ?
''Despite that, you have enough power to rival All Might. I don't want to know why, but I am going to beat you.''
What Izuku actually heard was : I am going to wreck you on live television.
Kirishima obviously heard the same, because he approached and he put a hand on Todoroki's shoulder. Bad move, Izuku thought as he saw Tororoki immediately tense under the contact.
''Hey, man, why pick a fight now ? We're about to go on...''
Todoroki shrugged off Kirishima's hand.
''I am not here to make friends,'' he reminded before starting to leave, but not before glancing a last time at Izuku.
Be prepared. I, as a person trained by the number 2 hero, am going after you. Good luck surviving.
That’s why he saved me, the green-haired teen realized. He wanted to kill me himself.
Izuku took a deep breath.
Everyone was excited because of a possible fight between two of the strongest people of the class.
However, if Todoroki had just thrown a gauntlet at him, that didn't mean he had to accept the dual. Worse, he couldn't accept. He had made a promise to his mother. Not only was breaking it something he would hate to do, but that would weakened the trust he had with the person he loved the most.
Even if he could use his abilities, he wasn't even sure he wanted to fight Todoroki. He didn't have anything to prove.
He smiled, suddenly tired. He was probably the only one more interested in watching all those incredible quirks in action instead of actually winning. And out of everyone, Todoroki had decided to target him. The irony.
''I don't know what you want to prove by fighting me,'' he said to Todoroki, completely calm because he didn't have anything to lose. ''But I admit your quirk is incredible and you're control over it is amazing. Compared to you, I have a lot to learn.''
The more you show me, the more I can progress.
''But we are all aiming for victory. Don't think this is just between you and I.''
UA's Sport Festival was absolutely unavoidable. Unless one lived under a rock, they were bound to find out about the winners, and those who had showed impressive feats, and Nagisa had never cared much about modern gladiator games, especially when it was so biased.
Usually, Nagisa would have been at home doing something completely different but some people in her class wanted to do a group activity, so a friend's home had been chosen, everyone had brought food, and those who didn't manage to secure a spot on the couches were on the floor, on pillows.
At one point, Satou's little sister entered the living room to steal pretzels. She took one look at Nagisa and fled without looking back. It was a usual occurrence in her life. Despite all those talks about the definition of humans which had been broadened, people with important mutations faced discreet discrimination, and Heavens helped them if they had a quirk that seemed villainous. There was a reason why Gang Orca was stuck at the tenth position.
An argument about which course to watch followed, and Nagisa left the couch while glaring at anyone who would dare to steal her spot.
''They are babies ! The Third Years know how to use their quirks!''
Nagisa made her way to the table, trying to avoid stepping on anyone...
''So do the first years. They fought actual villains! And we already know the Third Years' quirks!''
Nagisa grabbed the remote and put on the First Years. When some complained, she calmly told them they were free to take the remote from her. If they think they could.
When they decided that the big spider in beautiful clothes was stronger than all of them, they watched one small green child climbing on the platform and adjusting the microphone with both hands. They were trembling a little. Poor thing.
''This is the big shot?''
''He is so small and adorable!''
Midoriya looked vaguely terrified for a moment, but Nagisa was pleased to see him taking a deep breath and calming himself immediately. He took another breath and smiled shily while looking at the camera.
Nagisa had noticed than when he smiled for real, it was with his eyes. They filled with warmth and quiet determination. That was a good quality for a hero.
''Let's all have fun together,'' Midoriya Izuku said. ''And may the best win.''
Nagisa snickered as he fled the platform. Yes, the bug certainly wouldn't want to stay one second longer than necessary in front of the camera. And though the message was cute and charming, it could be taken as something else : Midoriya could have fun because he knew that at his level, he didn't have anything to worry about.
She looked around.
No, they think he is just cute. They don't realize what he can do.
''Well, that was short,'' Nao commented.
''Would you prefer the neverending speech like that one time with All Might?''
She pushed him, smiling. ''I thought we all agreed to never mention this speech again?''
Others joined in their antics, and the guy Nao had pushed was quickly avenged.
''Who do you think will win?''
''It's too early to tell.''
''The Todoroki boy. He is Endeavor's son after all.''
Nagisa smiled and didn't say anything.
When Midoriya had seen the Shirobakumos for the first time, he hadn't even blinked. At the time, her mother's quirk was making her life a living hell. Not having the means to control her web meant that she was dependent on siblings and cousins, even her own child, to get rid of it.
And this child had arrived, got rid of the problem and refused any payments. He had only asked for their discretion, even though the clan had been ready to pay him a fortune if he produced results.
Even now, as Nagisa searched for quirks and anything that drew Midoriya's attention, he paid her for it.
He was really something.
The first event started. Contrary to the rest of the group, she stayed quiet as the students started running, becoming increasingly agitated because of how plain Midoriya was.
For the robots, even if she knew he had this perfect quirk that could break things down, he just avoided them and let everyone distance him.
At some point, Midoriya acquired some piece of metal he started using as a shield or as a ramming board. He seemed serious about not using his full power, and he didn’t look worried despite everyone unleashing their quirks around him.
Honestly, a really well prepared quirkless boy could take care of himself during this run. But Midoriya was used to have several powers at his disposal. He didn't have the ingrained reflexes one acquired over his life to compensate weaknesses. He didn't know his limits either.
She didn't know Midoriya's mother but she was getting annoyed at this woman. It would have been nice to have someone with a villainous quirk winning UA's Sport Festival. Even if only three people knew about his real quirk.
Soon, the cameras focused on the kids leading. They jumped over pits, and ran on mines, and recklessly endangered their lives for sport. The usual thing.
''Why does the Todoroki boy keep looking behind him ?''
''Probably checking on his opponents.''
At some point, the camera returned to the last in line, and especially the Gen Ed kids. It was just annoying that they had to participate even though they had no training and no desire to be involved.
She noticed that Midoriya was in the background, doing something to the ground.
''The explosion boy has a quirk fitted to his personality,'' a comrade of coding noticed, while trying to steal some pretzels from Nagisa.
‘’Yes, I know… WHAAAAAAAAAT???’’ she yelled, making Chiyoh jump next to her.
Midoriya disappeared into the giant explosion he had just provoked.
Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit, holy shit, holy shit, holy shit, holy shit…
If she couldn't talk, her college friends weren't still had air in their lungs, and some of them swore louder than Present Mic. They all watched the bug ascending through the air, catching up to the two mad kids fighting each other at the lead of the course.
All this to climb to third place without using those damn quirks he is so proud about.
But nooo... Obviously, she was underestimating the little moron.
In mid air, upside down, Midoriya twisted his whole body and stepped on Explosion and Frosty to use them as leverage. He regained his balance, but was about to land between two very pissed off competitors.
Until he slammed his shield on the ground, and on the mines underneath.
The problems with having so many eyes was that Nagisa couldn’t hide them all, so she watched in all his terrifying glory Midoriya exploding his competitors and used the blast as the world’s most dangerous trampoline once again.
The little bastard landed without slowing down, while Nagisa lost at least two years of her lifespan.
''This kid is on fire!''
''No, but he was close to it.''
Nagisa finally managed to breathe again, and she watched this mad bug running as if his life depended on it. And since the two boys he had used as a ladder to success were getting up, murder in their body language, it was probably a wise course of action.
Run, because in the place of the two others boys, I would murder you. I wouldn’t care that we’re on live television.
Inko was frozen on her couch, too horrified to do anything except crying in fear as her baby boy decided to take on giant robots, abysses and landmines without using all the quirks he had. And all those insane risks he was taking were her fault.
She had never wanted him to be a hero. If she could have bubble- wrapped her child, she wouldn't have hesitated, but instead, she just opposed a meek disinterest to his hero plans while never giving him any alternatives. Constantly avoiding the problem, and letting him deal with her worries without any hint of of a solution. Now, she had let her worries talk, and Izuku had to undertake those trials with both hands tied behind his back.
Until now, Izuku and her had only watched the Third Years and though she had been at first perplexed by how dangerous those tests seemed, watching those future heroes perfectly navigating through them had convinced her that UA knew its students and trained them to be able to handle it. But even First Years with a month of training had to survive those, and Izuku was among them now.
Wishful thinking could only take one so far.
And since Izuku knew she was uncomfortable, he never talked with her about his quirks, so she didn't even know how protected he was. This boy did have a tendency to understate the risks.
And all that for what ? Next year, he already had the permission to fight to his heart content. To reveal himself to the world. At this point, she was only delaying the inevitable.
You can't keep limiting him, a voice that didn't belong to her whispered.
She knew why. She knew why she was so anxious when he used his quirks, showed what he was capable of. But it was unfair to him.
She looked at her cellphone.
Izuku had a bad feeling when he took his phone back from the box near Cementos. They could all keep their phones on them during the trials but anyone with a quirk knew they were the number one cause of death of anything expensive and vital.
Ma : [IZUKU !]
Ma : [Forget what I asked. Just stop improvising.]
Ma : [You have my permission to do your absolute best in the rest
of the Sport Festival. I now understand that asking you to hold
back wasn't as easy for you as I thought. However, jumping on
several mines is in no way a viable strategy. I am warning you.
We will talk about that as soon as you get home.]
Ma : [Stay safe. I love you.]
Izuku stayed silent for a moment, not daring to hope that he just read the authorization he had hoped for since he had taken the entrance exam.
[Absolute best] was referring to his quirks. Even if Izuku had made sure their cellphones were impossible to hack or to track, the Midoriya family was careful with what they wrote or what they talked about in public.
He could do this.
Me : [I love you too.]
Me : [I will. Thank you.]
He couldn't help the smile on his face and the giddiness spreading through him.
He wouldn't use all his quirks, of course, but enough to have fun. Enough to draw the attention of good agencies.
He turned towards the students in his class, his mind already full of possibilities and quirk combinations. The quirk donated to him were limited, but now, he could have so much fun and he had the plans to make his team win. His joy subdued considerably when he saw that everyone was avoiding eye contact.
He made one step and the crowd started shifting like a fishes in front of a shark.
But… I am strong…
The nicest guy in the class after Kirishima gave him an awkward smile and fled.
Why is anyone running for the hills?
Yes, he had quite a bounty on his head, but he was capable of protecting it and protecting his team. He could keep opponents away, which he had proved at the USJ…
At the USJ, where only Kacchan, Todoroki and Kirishima had seen him fight.
People from his class only knew he was in third place at the test, but it clearly wasn’t worth being targeted by everyone, especially since Todoroki had proclaimed in front of everyone he would take Izuku out. And I-B didn’t know anything about him except that he came from a class they disliked.
No one trusted him enough to team up with him, and teamwork was essential for this trial.
Izuku made a sad sound.
''Midori?'' Uraraka called. ''Should we team up?''
Izuku managed not to hug her, but this was a close-call.
Then, they looked for the last member of the trio, who was a little too close to Yaoyorozu, so they whisked him away. Not that Yaoyorozu wouldn't be a great addition to their team, but Izuku doubted she didn't already have a team ready, and Iida was theirs.
''We have the advantage of not needing to take any others headbands,''Izuku explained, ''so all we have to do is escape without taking any risks.''
Please, stay with me, I am not that much of a weight.
''Iida, at the front. Uraraka and I on the side. Uraraka lightens us, Iida and I add the speed, and no one should catch up.''
Uraraka was enthusiast but she was the only one.
''That's a good strategy, Midoriya,'' Iida admitted on the tone of someone about to bail out. ''But sadly, I have to decline.''
And you say that after I gave you my plan?
''You are excelling since the exam. In order to surpass you, I can't keep following you. Todoroki and Bakugou aren't your only rival.''
And with that, he joined Todoroki's team.
Yaoyorozu, Kaminari, Todoroki, and Iida. Powerful quirks and three of them were legacies.
Izuku shouldn't have taken that personnaly, but it still saddened him. They were friends. He didn't care about rivals or being the best. UA was a good path to become a hero, but what he really enjoyed was how he had been able to finally form connections since he was here.
Was All Might that isolated? Only because other heroes wanted to prove they were also powerful?
How could that matter next to actual friendship? Kacchan was a rival, but Uraraka and Iida? Even Kirishima ? Izuku was stronger because there were people who actually cared for him.
''Mr Number 1,'' a girl giggled at his back, interrupting his thoughts.
The sound was positively evil.
A girl with pink hair and covered in support items had appeared from nowhere like the Cheshire cat.
''My name is Hatsume Mei, from the Support department. I don't know you but I want to take advantage of your success. Everyone is looking at you, so they will see my cute babies !
Izuku tried to talk but Hatsume was now presenting her babies, and selling all her strong points, never letting him the time to say even one word.
''So?'' she finally asked and there was a mad glint in her eyes.
''You had me at : 'I want to be in your team.' ''
Behind Hatsume, Uraraka showed her thumb-up.
Izuku had his third teammate, he now needed the last, and he already knew who he wanted.
Someone he knew. Someone whose strength would be useful for the whole team.
Kacchan was already looking at him when Izuku turned towards him and walked in his direction. For a moment, his childhood friend froze, absolutely dumbfounded by what was about to happen... and Izuku walked right past him to stop in front of Kirishima.
''If you don't have a team, we would love to have you in ours,'' Izuku said.
And Kacchan absolutely detonated.
‘’HE IS ALREADY IN MY TEAM!’’ he roared, making everyone in the stadium almost jump out of their skin.
He rounded up Ashido, Kirishima, and Sero and physically pulled them away, standing between them and Izuku the whole time.
‘’Don’t go stealing my damn teammates!’’ he barked at the completely still Izuku.
‘’So we’re hired?’’ Ashido asked as she was dragged away.
Izuku took two steps backward and passed to plan C. He only had until plan D, so someone would have to accept to be in his team or he would have a problem.
He scanned the crowd, looking for those who didn't look like they had a team yet.
''Tokoyami,'' he called with a sweet smile.
The bird-headed student took a step back. Behind him, Uraraka and Hatsume surrounded him, also determined not to let another potential member escape.
Tokoyami didn't fail to notice.
''Do I have a choice?''
''Of course,'' Izuku said just as Hatsume and Uraraka answered ''No.''
They promptly swept away their last member, and talked strategy.
A complete inventory of Hatsume's wonderful toys was made, and Izuku called dibs on the jetpack. He also asked her if she had a heat resistance something since the quirk didn't seem to want to appear to Nagisa, and the conversation almost got completely derailed but thankfully, Uraraka reigned them in. He also learned about Dark Shadow's weakness, which would pose a problem against Kacchan and Kaminari.
But then, Tokoyami corrected him by telling that they also had to watch out for Todoroki's potential fire.
Izuku just stared blankly at them, but no one seemed surprised. Well, Hatsume clearly didn't care, but Tokoyami and Uraraka seemed genuinely puzzled.
''Oh, that's right, you were with Recovery Girl when All Might mentioned his quirk,'' Uraraka remembered.
‘’Todoroki can use flames… And he never uses it?’’
If Izuku had half of Todoroki's quirk, the temperatures would have dropped just because of his voice.
‘’Only to unmake the damages inflicted by his ice,’’ Tokoyami precised as if it made a difference.
‘’You’re telling me that I almost got expelled for not going Plus Ultra with my quirk... While Todoroki was hanging around not using half of his power…’’
Tokoyami sensed the danger but Izuku wasn’t mad at him. He wasn’t even mad at Todoroki.
He glared at the commentator booth and if he had an eye laser quirk, the thing would be burning. Aizawa-Sensei was lucky he had saved everyone's lives at the USJ.
Fighting meant exposing themselves. Every time a team attacked, they brought their headband closer to their opponent, and took the risk of losing their points. To progress in the ranking, they had to put themselves in danger.
Izuku's team didn't have to do that. Despite being the number 1 target, they also have the advantage of being able to only play defense. And his team was prepared. They were weightless, and escaped through the air each time they were in danger, never letting anyone the chance to corner them.
Dark Shadow was their shield and their sword, and awfully efficient. But other teams were good too. So when it wasn't enough, Izuku acted, throwing Air Blasts sneakily that no one prepared for because no one, not even his classmates, knew the full extent of his abilities.
Of course, it couldn't last.
If Kacchan was busy tackling every 1-B team like a lunatic, Todoroki cornered Izuku's team, his Todoroki's own complemented each other in a way that didn't allow any weaknesses. Even their leader's refusal of using his left side was protected by Kaminari. Dark Shadow hated light and Air Pressure couldn't do much against electricity.
An incredibly silly tactic of staying on Todoroki's left side and poking Kaminari with Air Pressure every time he was about to use his quirk ensued, everyone playing the clock.
All they had to do was to hold on for a minute.
But the problem with plans was that they rarely survived their first contact with reality, and Iida decided to remind them of this fact as his quirk suddenly burned inside him.
And just for a moment, as Iida suddenly accelerated, Izuku admired the quirk, fascinated. He activated his own Speed quirks a second later, because watching the new shining thing had become the priority.
And it was enough for Todoroki to snatch the headband from him.
Did I just...
Everyone was frozen because they didn't have the time to react, except Izuku who was frozen because he was suddenly realizing the full extent of his stupidity. What he had done.
''After them !'' he screamed, trying to make the team turn in Todoroki's direction all by himself.
Suddenly, he was feeling so stupid where he was. He wanted his feet to touch the ground. He wanted to be able to use all this quirks, to not be limited by working with others...
Don't blame them. You are the one who screwed up. Not them.
''Wait, Midori...'' Uraraka started.
''Let's go after the other teams,'' Hatsume cut her. ''They can't electrocute us or throw ice at us!''
One word but the tone was so definitive that no one talked back. Even Dark Shadow stopped fidgeting.
Izuku didn't know how many points the other teams had. What he knew was that there was barely any time left, Todoroki had all of their points, he was the closest, and Iida couldn't do Recipro Burst again if his red-hot pipes were any indication.
He was responsible of the headband. Of their points. He had asked them to follow him, to trust him, even though they would be targeted.
He screwed up when he couldn't afford to.
And Uraraka, Tokoyami, and Hatsume would pay the price of his distraction.
''After them,'' he ordered calmly this time, raising a hand and starting to flick his finger towards Yaoyorozu.
But not before he asked one more thing of his team.
The Air blast almost made Todoroki's team fell, but their leader immediately created an ice wall to protect them, at least on the right. Izuku and co ran at them, on the left of course, and as Kaminari saw them coming, he started to charge.
He certainly wasn't expecting Hatsume to throw the now useless jetpack at him with such strength that he bend over after it hit him on the chest. He was lucky the thing didn't explode.
Hatsume said something, praising her prototype baby or something, but the words never reached Izuku. The only thing that mattered right now was Todoroki and Izuku's headband. Todoroki, who had their only chance of advancing in the Sport Festival.
Izuku threw his hand.
He felt Todoroki's starting to activate his quirk fully before he felt the change of temperature, and even then, he had to fight the instinct screaming at him to get away from fire. His fingers clawed, ready to grab the pesky quirk that could hurt him, and he reigned himself in at the last second.
While his hand was still approaching the source of heat.
… I will heal, some part of him decided while absolutely not talking about it with the rest of his brain.
Izuku forced through, feeling the scalding temperature on his skin, just for a moment. He batted Todoroki's arm and the flames about to appear on it, and his fingers grabbed the headband.
At the same moment, Kacchan's team appeared and their leader jumped at Izuku and Todoroki like some demented kite.
And Present Mic announced the end.
Shouta dodged Yamada waving his hands and kept looking at the two teams whose leaders had went still while the rest of their team members were surexcited. Midoriya was clutching the hand holding Todoroki's headband and didn't seem to be paying attention to Uraraka.
As for Todoroki, he seemed more stoic than usual, but his fists were clenched. When Midoriya had attacked, he was on Todoroki's left, and since Midoriya was being careful with his hand, there was a real possibility Todoroki had used his flames, or at least started to use it by reflex.
Since he was in the commentator booth and not looking at the cameras feed, he couldn't confirm it, but if Todoroki did despite refusing to ever use his flames in training, it was probably a reflex. The kind of survival mechanism one couldn't fight when a strength quirk similar too All Might got too close.
They would have to be careful during the rest of the Sport Festival.
The side of Izuku's hand and his fingertips were starting to go red. It made sense that Todoroki's side would have a drastic temperature change, after all, his quirk needed to come from somewhere. Izuku could have betted that in the moment where he started to summon the effects of his quirk, the temperature change was the most dramatic to create ice or fire as quickly as possible, and then it adjusted.
Todoroki's quirk was already fascinating when it was only ice, but now, Izuku was devoured by curiosity.
Izuku clenched his fist and he turned towards his team, but especially Tokoyami. Dark Shadow was positively beaming, holding two other headbands in his beak, none of them the One Million, but they had agreed that any points was better than the absolute zero they had. Well, they hadn't had much agreed that Izuku had shouted as stress saturated every inch of his body.
615 from Todoroki. 460 from two other teams.
Was that enough?
They all looked at the electronical board. Saw their names in third place.
Relief almost cut Izuku's legs. He didn't destroy his team's chance of qualifying to the next event. Tokoyami had caught up on his mistake.
They would be fine.
''IN FIRST PLACE, TODOROKI, IIDA, YAOROZU, AND KAMINARI!''
''The One Million was out of reached, hidden away,'' Tokoyami explained. ''Fortunately, you distracted him enough so I could take two.''
Izuku took a step toward him.
''IN SECOND PLACE, BAKUGOU, ASHIDO, KIRISHIMA, AND SERO!''
So did Uraraka.
Tokoyami sensed the danger, but couldn't do anything as the two overrelieved teenagers hugged him. Tokoyami froze like a scared baby rabbit while Dark Shadow and Hatsume were dragged into the giant hug.
''''IN THIRD SECOND PLACE, MIDORIYA, TOKOYAMI, URARAKA, AND HATSUME!'' Present Mic confirmed.
After a big second of hesitation, Tokoyami hugged back.
''IN FOURTH PLACE, SHINSOU, OJIROU, AOYAMA AND SHODAI!''
The hug quickly ended, and Izuku wiped the tears from his face.
''Are you crying?'' Hatsume asked.
''No, I am not,'' lied the crying Izuku as Hatsume passed behind him.
His tears of pure relief weren't the priority next to the remnants of the broken jetpack on his back and he could only thank her for that.
''The headband doesn't seem to be the only thing you got,'' Hatsume noticed.
The three of them looked at the headband Izuku's fingers were still clutching, trying to understand what she meant. Then kept looking...
Uraraka winced, Tokoyami's eyes widened and Izuku finally realized there was some red and white hair on the headband. Oups.
Izuku shook the headband to make the proof disappear. Here. Nothing to see.
Everyone pretended that they didn't see anything.
Hatsume had finished removing the jetpack and had started tinkering on it when Todoroki approached, looking like he just wanted to take a stroll or to commit a homicide, definitely one or the other.
He walked straight to Izuku, who was relieved he got rid of the red and white evidences. Even if Todoroki noticed, Izuku would deny he had panicked and just yanked the headband until his dying breath.
But instead, Todoroki grabbed his hand and activated his quirk, lightly. The light touch was the only reason why Air Pressure wasn't activated by reflex and Izuku watched him icing his wounds.
And he left as abruptly as he had arrived.
''… Thank you?''
Sorahiko rewound the cavalry battle. Something had drawn his attention, and it might have been nothing...
Just before the Iida boy helped his team take the headband of the number one boy.
The green kid hadn't been taking the competition seriously. Sorahiko could see it in the way he was smiling, talking to his teammates. The boy was having fun, and he was enjoying it.
Not that it was a bad thing. For Sorahiko, who had obtained his licence in order to be free to use his quirk, he could perfectly understand someone who wasn't dedicated to become the number 1. Hell, he had only rised through the ranks because he had to progress to help Nana.
But there was something.
He put the image by image.
Wide eyes, mouth slightly open, the start of a smile. Fascination. Not a hint of worry.
Then the headband was taken. Guilt. Fear. Anger. Absolute distress.
In less than a second, the kid had went from childish awe to anguish.
Brutal moodswings weren't normal for teenagers despite what some morons thought. He would have to tell Toshinori to keep an eye on the kid, because something must have weighted on his mental state to react so rashly.
But what interested him was right after.
The cold determination in his face and body language. The intensity. It was as if he had an adrenaline rush while being perfectly in control of the surge. While it was already unusual for a kid with three weeks of training at most, but something in the exact expression troubled Sorahiko, as if he was reminded of something.
But his memory wasn't what it used to be.
He put the video at normal speed, and watch the rest until the green boy cried in his teammates' arms. The unease started to disappear. Maybe the kid was just over sensitive, or going through a rough time. He would have to keep an eye on him for the rest of the Sport Festival, and contact Toshinori if something seemed really wrong.
After all, one didn't react so strongly for nothing.
Being dragged willingly to a deserted hallway right before an important match didn't seem like the epitome of wisdom but Izuku still followed Todoroki while accepting the 2% possibility of being shanked and left for dead.
Not that he wasn't used to it. With Kacchan, it was usually 20% and it was that low only because his childhood preferred explosions.
Izuku waited for Todoroki to say something, but he took his time, seeming lost in thoughts.
''What did you want to talk about?''
Todoroki took a deep breath. Looked at Izuku.
''I heard you talking about quirk marriages and traffickers. Most people our age aren't that aware of those.''
When and where?
Izuku had to dig up though his memory but he remembered talking about it the day when Iida had been elected. Todoroki had started watching him from this moment, but he hadn't made the connection at the time.
''Your quirk is similar to All Might,'' Todoroki continued. ''And you obviously know how to use it in a fight. It's not something you learn in quirk control classes. It has to come from training, and an intense one sinceyou were able to go toe to toe with someone able to fight All Might. But you usually try to be discreet about it.''
And obviously failing.
Izuku crossed his arms.
Think of something to say. A good explanation. Stay close to the truth, so you won't get mixed up later on.
''Midoriya,'' Todoroki asked, ''Are you a Lost Child?
Izuku stared at Todoroki but didn't talk, probably because his jaw had dropped on the floor.
One of the consequences of the appearance of quirks and the rise of the hero system was that people had started to want children with a specific quirk, worthy of their idol's. Especially since heroes had a tendency to take under their wings people with quirks similar to their own.
Human traffickers had brought the solution to the demand. For the right price, they sold the right genes, even the surrogates if necessary. It was a despicable and horrible business, and the children born from it were called Lost because they were 'designed' to have quirks similar to 'Long lost children'.
It was like asking : Hey, is one of your parent a monster ?
Izuku opened his mouth to explain that Todoroki was utterly wrong but only a pterodactyl screech escaped his throat. The second tentative was slightly better.
''Nope. Definitely no. Absolutely not. Just no!''
''… So, it's not that?''
Of all the things I have to defend against, you had to accuse me of something no one would have thought. No one.
''I always loved heroes, and All Might was always my idol, as far as I can remember. There was a time when I wanted to be like him. And as I trained, I was pretending to be him. Powerful. Always knowing what to do. Always here for those who needed it.''
It wasn't the whole truth, of course. But it wasn't like he could tell Todoroki about those times where he had to flee his home with his mother. Where he always felt lost, and didn't know how to make his mom less sad.
All Might had been his light at the time.
''It passed. But I still have those ingrained reflexes. You noticed a similarity because there was a time where I emulated him. That's all.'' He rubbed his neck, uncomfortable. ''Why would you even think something like that.''
The question was to have some breathing room and no answer was expected, but Todoroki explained himself.
He told Izuku about his own familial situation.
About how Endeavor, not very loved but still a cool hero as far as Izuku had been concerned, was in private. Ambitious, driven, a hard worker, all those qualities were suddenly taking a turn for the worst. It had driven his entire family into despair.
Until a mother had scarred her own son.
''I chose you as an opponent to get my revenge on this bastard,'' Todoroki concluded. ''I don't need his quirk. And I will become number 1 without using it.''
Izuku didn't know what to say.
He had lived through some troubles in his life. But his family had always been there for him. He had never felt as safe as when his father was still here. None of his parents had ever raised a hand on him, even to spank him as a child.
Home and family had always been his safe haven, and Todoroki didn't even have that.
But Todoroki wasn't looking for kind words.
''Whatever your circumstances are, I will defeat you,'' he declared as he left.
But there was one thing that Izuku could talk about. One thing he knew about.
''Todoroki? Do you really think you can win with half your strength?''
He stopped. Turned towards Izuku.
''One day, you will have to use you flames to save yourself or someone else, and you won't be able to control your quirk because you ignored half of it,'' Izuku warned him.
Something passed into Todoroki's mismatched eyes. This time, Izuku managed to read it.
It was disappointment.
''Don't lose your match,'' Todoroki simply answered to that.