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Ascendant

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About two days after what was starting to be known as the Stain accident, Izuku woke up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat and his breath short, with the certitude something awful was about to happen. Not that it was true, of course. His brain was lying to him, and though sometimes, he could ignore it, he knew he wouldn't be so lucky tonight.

He got dressed, put on shorts, a gray tee- shirt, a Fatgum hoodie, and his running shoes, and he climbed out of the window. The cold air of the night hit him, finishing to wake him up, but it didn't manage to chase the remnants of fear. Only one thing did, so he took a step in the void, and he let himself fall.

One month ago, he would have slid to get down, but he didn't need to. Not since the fight against the noumu, not since he had stolen so many incredible quirks.

A rush of adrenaline swept through him as he fell, wind screaming in his ears, and all his resistance quirk and his Shock absorption activated, and when he touched the ground, the shock which should have broken his bones passed through him without hurting him.

He should think about searching for a kinetic release.

Izuku ran, as if he was chased by someone. He started with one Speed quirk, but the others followed quickly. Then Cooldown when the drawbacks of those quirks started to be felt. Stamina when the exhaustion of those last few days started to get him. Resistance when his feet started to hurt as they hit the pavement at a vicious stampede. So many quirks in balance to compensate for human limits, and Izuku managed to juggle with them without really taking the time to think about it because he was focused of the feeling of escaping. The power rushing through him, this feeling of being untouchable.

Of running faster than the fear and the shame.

Some people were awake and noticed his mad sprint, so Izuku diverted his run away from the lights of the town, and by doing that, he slowed down.

Grave mistake.

The voice of reason which he had managed to ignore thanks to the familiar rush of using his quirks reminded itself to him.

Mom would be horrified to know you just took off in the middle of the night. She was already disappointed in him. She didn't say it in as many words, but she was worried, and it was without even knowing about All for One or how three people knew about Transfer, two more people than Izuku had meant to.

Acceleration.

He ran through a park, completely in the dark, using Night Vision so he wouldn't slam into a tree. He had experienced that and he didn't want to repeat the experience.

The new quirk added his toll to the others. He didn't care, because as it did, joy took place. The childish wonder he had felt the first time he had used a quirk, his mother quirk, had never receded.

Izuku ran to a tree, and at the last moment, climbed it, like Gran Torino would, except for one detail.

Jump.

He rushed through the air, above any tree and most building as if he could fly. He felt himself fighting gravity and winning, and in this moment, his quirks pulsing through him, he felt happy. Not just the absence of unhappiness, but the real emotion which brought a warmth that would stay with him.

Gravity took hold of him again, of course. He could never escape it for long. But that didn't matter. There was a smile on his face when he got to the ground, and this time, when he slowed down, the weight of everything he had done wrong didn't try to bury him alive.

He walked a little. Put his hood on even though there was no one around. Fatgum's line of clothing always felt like being wrapped in a blanket.

The start of a headache was starting to pulse inside his skull, but he was reasonably sure that if it would vanish if he didn't use any more quirks. He got out of the wooden zone, hands in his pockets, when he realized that he was really close to downtown, which meant that he was faster than what he thought.

Izuku realized with horror that he didn't have his phone, and he immediately felt naked when he realized it. He actually considered going back because his mom had to be able to call him at any time, but he was already here and he discovered some money in his pocket, so since his night was finished anyway...

What could go wrong anyway ? He had already fistfight a serial killer in a alley. That wasn't the kind of things which could happen twice in the same week.

Not much was opened at this hour so Izuku went into the first fast-food he saw and ordered an ice cream with a lot of chocolate and started to work on a strategy as he ate. Strategies made life easier to handle.

He had been careless. He used to think his mom was a little paranoid about criminal from the United States finding them in Japan, but now that he knew about All for One and that he was All Might's student... It had the potential to be really bad.

But All Might had defeated him once. He had almost killed him. So if the need arose, and if Izuku was with him, they could fight this. Together, and with Gran Torino.

Izuku had never wanted to be number 1 but maybe it was time to aim for it, because all his classmates seemed to grow stronger thanks to having a goal.

So there was that. The other problem was Stain. Actually, the problem was Iida because Izuku was really scared for him because a lot of things could go wrong with his wounds, but Stain wasn't making it easier. Izuku had stayed away from all this but Nagisa had told him the video had gone viral and a lot of people agreed with his ideology of getting rid of fake heroes. Some people even said Izuku had been spared by the Hero Killer because he was worthy.

That was absolutely maddening. It was like all those people were forgetting the Killer part in Hero Killer. It was like they were saying that Iida, Native, and Izuku deserved what had almost happened, that it was just a trial to be a hero.

Izuku would understand the frustration with the hero system. There was a reason why he was hiding his quirk. But Tensei and all those other heroes didn't deserve that and their families certainly didn't need to hear about it.

It sucked. Really. And there was nothing he could do about it. But sugar helped, he pondered as he ate another spoonful of ice cream.

If I haven't just used a dozens of quirks, I would be depressed.

So he ate more.

Of course, he had to leave eventually and when he did, he passed through backalleys, away from the busy streets, finally calm enough to use Vanish. Izuku loved all his quirks, but this one was becoming a favorite.

Then, Vanish dropped as Izuku realized he wasn't as good as he was to avoid troubles, Air Pressure and Resistance activating. Vanish was too fragile to handle Izuku using another quirk at the same time.

What had drawn his attention was the collector All Might sweat shirt Silver Chrome edition, and then, he noticed who was wearing it. A girl with short pink hair, taller and probably older than him, and odly familiar, who was walking in the opposite direction, holding her light backpack in one hand, and looking at the phone that was in the other.

He realized where he had seen her.

I can't be that unlucky.

He stopped, which drew her attention.

Hazel eyes met Izuku's green gaze. For a short moment, it reflected shock, worry, then something incredibly cold and calculating which quickly disappeared, replaced by a more neutral glint.

''Long time no see,'' the girl who had introduced Nectar to Izuku greeted him.

''Long time no see,'' Izuku repeated back. ''I've been thinking about you.''

It made her smile.

''I'm flattered.'' She laughed, as if they were acquaintances and she was genuinely happy to see him. ''I can't believe I tried to give you Nectar. You should have seen my face when I saw you during the Sport Festival. I was rooting for you, by the way. You deserved to win.''

What Izuku heard was : I am watching the Sport Festival, maybe so I can target students for hero schools by connecting with them using heroes.

''Why are you doing that ?''

She shrugged.

''Most people aren't as fortunate as you, Midoriya,'' and the way she said his name gave him goosebumps. ''They try to work hard, they try to believe in the fairy tales heroes are trying to sell, but they quickly realize they aren't actually special.''

There was something cruel in her smile now. As if she enjoyed others' despair.

''That because of their quirk,'' she continued, ''The dice has rolled and they can never compete with people like you. I am the solution.''

''I was asking if it was about money or some other purpose.''

Izuku was quite done with people who pretended to have ideology to do whatever they wanted.

''Smart kid,'' she conceded, one of her hands in the pocket of her All Might hoodie.

She nodded, was about to say something, and she lunged at him, hand stretched, her quirk activated, but Izuku was already far thanks to Acceleration.

Aim. Air Pressure.

He flicked his finger before she ever had the time to bridge the distance. He used a little power, not wanting to hurt her, and it hit her as she dropped something. Izuku saw something the size of a soda can, black, and he frowned, not recognizing what it was.

Until the Nectar girl who had felt harshly in the pavement turned on her belly, not facing it anymore, and even though Izuku closed his eyes, the white light blinded him, burning his retinas and he grunted, completely blind. Tried to get away.

But someone touched him, on his shoulder, and he Jumped backwards, reclaiming distance, but she didn't follow him. Instead, she stood there, at least he thought in the mess of shadows and bright lights that didn't let him see much.

He had sensed her quirk but he wasn't feeling anything.

Actually, he was feeling incredibly fine. Light. As if all the pains one accumulated over their life, all of those little things people learned not to feel anymore because they were used to them, had disappeared.

Except that his sight didn't come back. The cold air seemed distant. Izuku took a step backwards.

He was almost certain he fell but he didn't actually feel the fall or the impact.

''You look like a nice kid who never had the occasion of knowing how harsh and cruel the world is. Let me educate you.''

Pure panic overwhelmed him. That can't be happening. He tried to get up, but he didn't sense his hands or his arms, or anything. Sight wasn't coming back.

Her voice was getting farther and farther away.

''Painkiller. Pain disappears. Then sensations. Then your five s...''

Izuku never heard the end of what she was saying, but he didn't need to.

There was no light, so sound, no smell, and no sensation. It was like falling inside himself, desperately trying to hang on to something, anything, despite how impossible this was.

She is still here.

Move or you're going to die. You completely defenseless.

Izuku didn't know how long he stayed like that. There was no time. There was nothing.

So his mind compensated. He couldn't feel his body but his brain did a good enough job to make him feel like every nerves of his was in a state of red alert, his body and mind trying to reclaim control on the absolute powerlessness he was subjected to.

But there was nothing to hang on to, nothing except the certitude that he was in danger.

So Izuku did what he always did when he was scared. He reached for his quirks. A multitude of shiny points in the darkness, the golden treasures that were protecting him.

And suddenly, the dark wasn't as petrifying as before because he has something he could hang on to. It was like stars in the night, and since it was his and so familiar, the instinctive fear disappeared. Enough for him to feel the other quirk coming in his direction.

It was her.

And he could see her.

Taser.

The quirk wasn't as strong as Izuku would have like it to be. A little more than a taser, far away from the railgun Izuku knew it could be one day. But it was more than enough.

He couldn't sense what was happening, but if it was anything like what he had tested, the drug dealer's every muscles had just locked in complete stillness while her nerves were communicating a general feeling of pain and 'does not compute' feeling.

Darkness receded. He heard something that looked like a grunt, but from far away. Forms started to appear in front of his eyes, but too blurry to really see it past the shadows. And he felt the quirk, Painkiller, flashing again. So did Taser if she ever tried to touch him again. And if she touched his skin with her bare hand and hold for long enough, he would have a new interesting quirk.

But the drug dealer didn't use it on him. Her head made a sharp movement, maybe looking at something behind him, and she started to scramble to her feet, failing a moment, but then she took off and ran like Hell was after her.

Izuku wouldn't have the time to get rid of Painkiller's effect and flee, so he let her run, and pretended to be invisible.

Vanish.

 


 

Shouto rushed to where the light had appeared, Extinguisher right behind him but she didn't tell him to slow down. He wasn't sure he would have listened to her even if she did.

Someone was running, slow and half hunch over, and Shouto knew he would have no problem catching up to her right up to the moment where his foot touched something soft and elevated and he almost fell.

I stepped on something. But he couldn't find what it was, the road smooth and unable to explain what had made him stumble.

''Shouto! What are you doing?''

He didn't answer and sprinted, so he would be close enough to use his ice and to trap whoever was fleeing. But that didn't keep him from glancing behind him.

Still nothing.

 


 

Toshinori was half asleep when the familiar noise of an email could be heard from his phone. Half in the land of the dreams, or at least near-comatose sleep, he checked it quickly only to see that Nedzu had sent him the students files of Hadou Nejire, Amajiko Tamaki, and Togata Mirio, as he had asked.

The three of them had the potential to be a successor.

And they would have to fight All for One.

 


 

On Sunday, Izuku woke up late only to remember that Hawks had asked him if they could talk over lunch, so he ran. A lot of quirks were used in blatant violation of every quirk use laws, but he arrived on time, and he waited in the street because there was no trace of the Flying hero.

Curiously, he wasn't stressed about meeting a hero who hadn't felt necessary to tell him what he wanted to talk about. Maybe it was because he had survived Stain, maybe because he has actually managed to survive being paralyzed by one intense drug dealer, but at this point, not much worse could happen. It wasn't like Hawks had learned about his quirk, then revealed it to two persons behind his back.

Izuku actually froze at that last thought.

I might be a little more bitter than previously assumed so...

Transfer flared up, sensing the use on another quirk, the pressure light and not unusual in a crowd. At least, until something red floated right outside Izuku's line of sight and he grabbed it by reflex, his fist clenching something soft and strange.

When he opened it, he saw a feather. A red one.

It was floating on his palm for a moment as Izuku's mind proceeded what he had just done. There was some some ground rules about people with mutation type and one of them was to never touch a mutation without permission, unless you were a small child who didn't know better.

You remember how you weren't stressed? his brain asked him. Now, it's time to be hit by all of it.

He dropped the feather and put his hands in his pockets, pretending that nothing had happened, but the feather kept floating in front of him like some feathery scarlet letter. Where is he ?

The answer to that question was : sneaking towards him from the opposite direction where the feather had come from. He was wearing civilian clothes like Izuku, but he looked like a fashion model while Izuku looked like he had just rolled out of bed.

Hawks didn't seem upset about the feather. That didn't mean that Izuku started to breathe again.

''Ariel ! I'm so glad you could make it.'' The feather came back to his wing, the left one, and Hawks' smile wasn't mischievous but not the fake one and passive-aggressive he had showed with Kaname. ''I was dying to talk to you.''

While Izuku was dying from sheer nervosity over here, still feeling the fluttery sensation of the feather in the palm of his head.

Hawks took pity on him and didn't tease him about what he had done but Izuku could see in his eyes that he wanted to.

The awkwardness didn't diminish.

They went to a nice restaurant -a little too nice- and a waitress who seemed to know Hawks took them to a private room, and they didn't say more than five words to each other before ordering. Then a heavy silence.

His mom had once told him that the trick every interrogators used was to say nothing. They just make people wait until they became so nervous that they just starting blabbering to make the awkward silence stop. So in doubt, stay quiet.

Izuku waited without saying a word. Hawks had a reputation for efficiency and was well-liked, with a strong presence online via his PR, but he wasn't known as an investigator. Or maybe his mom had also taught him about interrogations.

The meals came quickly, giving Izuku something to do and he kept obstinately not talking. He didn't have anything to say. At all.

Nom, nom, nom. Good chicken. Too busy eating to talk.

''How was your internship with Gran Torino?'' Hawks finally asked. ''I mean, apart from the Hero Killer and the league of villains?''

''Oh? It was really good. He trained me in combat and then we went through several neighborhoods and helped anyone who needed it. I regret to not have finished the week with him.''

''That's good. I didn't know who he was so it's interesting to know he is able to fight with someone who had a quirk so powerful and similar to All Might.''

Usually, Izuku would have been so happy and embarrassed if someone, especially a hero, compared his quirks to All Might's. But since Gran Torino was directly linked with One for All's secret, he was only embarrassed, his cheeks burning.

Find something to say before you spontaneously combust.

Thankfully, Hawks had started the conversation on quirks and if there was one thing Izuku could talk about, it was them.

''I appreciate the compliment, especially from someone who has so much control over his quirk. I have power but not control, while you can mastered telekinetic and echolocating feathers!''

Hawks froze, a skewer half-way to his mouth. ''How do you know that?''

''I bingewatched every of your fights after your fight with Hel, and after that, I kept myself updated. And during some of your rescue, I saw you finding people trapped in building and that you couldn't see. But maybe I'm wrong?''

Hawks blinked.

And changed subject.

''I am taking an interest in the Hosu attack, so I would love to know what happened at the USJ.''

That's it. I officially weirded him out enough for him to stop playing with me.

Izuku barely hesitated before he told Hawks what had happened at the USJ, focusing on the noumu. He explained how he was barely a villain, but a weapon. Bio engineered to fight All Might. And how they had survived him.

At no point did he lie. He just kept some details for himself.

''That's impressive,'' Hawks said when he finished, which surprised Izuku. ''I mean, if you managed to survive a villain who was supposed to kill All Might, doesn't that mean you're on a similar level as the Symbol of Peace?''

Izuku immediately realized the paradox. He didn't know what Hawks knew about the USJ attack but if the noumu was supposed to defeat All Might, it didn't made sense for him to be... well, relatively unhurt, and to be taken out so quickly by All Might.

The reason for that was because Izuku had rebalanced everything by taking a lot of quirks, the very quirks that had helped him against Stain.

Hawks couldn't know about Transfer. Izuku had never used any quirks other than what could pass for an enhancement in front of the other heroes.

But Izuku couldn't show any fear, so he laughed as if he didn't understand what Hawks was talking about and he did. Not. Lie. ''Not even close. Shigaraki is the one who said the noumu was supposed to kill All Might. He obviously didn't pause any challenge. As for how I manage to survive him... the noumu broke my arm and would have killed me without Todoroki's intervention.''

That sobered Hawks up in a second. He frowned. ''I didn't know that...''

''Can I ask you a question ?'' Izuku asked him.

''It seems fair.''

''There is a new drug called Nectar in the streets. What do you know about it ?''

That seems to amuse Hawks. ''I thought you were going to ask me tips about heroism.'' ''First, don't do drugs. It's bad,'' the Flying Hero said as if it was a big secret. ''There are several enhancing drugs, some which can even mutate their users, but the Nectar, which is extremely recent by the way, has two uses : it boosts the quirk and it also enhances the body. I am talking physical strength, better reflexes, but also an adaptability to the quirk.''

The adaptability was exactly what Izuku was looking for every time he took a quirk. For example, Strength couldn't be used without Resistance or it would break him.

''Honestly,'' Hawks continued. ''I am telling you that because with a quirk like yours, it would make no sense for you to take nectar. But I know that this is getting popular in hero schools.''

''Even with the prestigious hero schools like UA?''

He had trouble believing it. At least no UA, not where everyone knew how to use their quirks.

''There are no reported cases of Nectar uses in UA,'' Hawks reported on a tone that didn't reassure Izuku.

''That's not a no.''

Hawks simply smiled and didn't answer. ''There are some people who claimed to have developed mutations because of it but the real drawbacks are when you stop it. The withdrawal is hell and the users suddenly have a powerful quirk and a quirk factor that suddenly can't deal with the new effects.''

Everyone loving heroes knew that there were public personas and that how they interacted with their fans wasn't the real them. Actually, everyone had a mask when interacting with others, but for heroes whose rank depended on popularity, they were forced to be nice.

Of course, they were exceptions. Endeavor was known for never being social as if he was allergic to the very concept. But Hawks was different. It seemed like he had two modes : nice with his fans and messing with people. For the latter, it was as if he was searching for something.

Hawks was really popular, a good fighter whose sidekicks couldn't follow, but he wasn't known as an investigator. Apparently, the rumor was wrong, and someone with secrets like Izuku should probably avoid him like the plague.

''Anything else you want to know?'' the winged hero asked with a smile worthy of the Cheshire Cat.

 


 

Ariel, also known as Midoriya Izuku, was lying about how strong he was.

When Hawks had invited him, he wanted to know more about the USJ incident and the Hosu attack, wanted to keep an eye on a kid who was obviously headed to the top 10, and more importantly, he was seriously wondering if Ariel was using Nectar.

Quirks didn't get so powerful without either a rigorous training since a young age, or some chemical help. And there was also the fact that the kid who was getting easily flustered in front of him seemed vastly different from the future hero at the Sport Festival and the one who had neutralized Stain before any of the pros had the time to react. Overpowered quirk and moodswings.

Despite those signs, Hawks was leaning towards the training. Ariel seemed to keep his head cool under intense situations, and using a quirk during those wasn't as easy as it seemed.

But there was something about him...

If it was the Hero Commission training him, they wouldn't let him hide from the media.

Ariel had left for ten minutes when it hit him.

Some heroes took children who had similar quirks under their wing.

Is All Might making a successor?

But then why hide it?

 


 

On Monday, for once in his life, Izuku arrived early at school. It was a complete accident because on this very specific day, he wanted to be almost late. He had simply underestimated how easy it would be to bypass the journalists with Vanish, and now, he was trapped inside UA.

Bad luck continued as he saw Todoroki, also early. Vanish disappeared as he couldn't hold it anymore and he sprinted after him.

''Todoroki! You're going to class?''

''Where else am I supposed to go?'' Todoroki asked after a hesitation.

Izuku appreciated how Todoroki hadn't planned for their homeroom teacher's reaction.

Probably because he actually did something during his internship, while you were playing with your quirks and thinking too much.

''Well, I was planning to avoid the classroom and not to be seen by Aizawa-Sensei until the class starts...''

Todoroki understood in a second. ''That seems wise.''

''Technically, we didn't do anything wrong so he shouldn't be angry, but...''

''But he is probably angry with Iida,'' Todoroki noticed, ''And since he isn't here, we are the next best thing.''

They fled to the other site of the campus. Thet talked a little about what they did this week, and Izuku was pleased to know Todoroki and Extinguisher had arrested a Nectar dealer. As for Todoroki, he seemed almost jealous to know that Izuku had no problem with journalists.

And during the whole conversation, they were... paying attention to their surrounding. In case of a robot snitching their position to UA or something. They might be overreacting but there was a video of them online about an unsanctioned rescue and Hosu police had tried to charge them for it, so they both had a healthy dose of mistrust.

''Aizawa can't possibly find us here,'' Todoroki said as they were hiding near the Beta ground.

But naming him was invoking him.

''Midoriya, Todoroki,'' Aizawa-Sensei immediately contradicted him from right behind them, somehow.

Todoroki flinched and Izuku jumped three feet into the air, and without a quirk.

Aizawa-Sensei looked like he was only standing only thanks to spite and anger. ''I was dying to talk to you two.''

Izuku gulped.

They went to the teachers room, Todoroki and Izuku not quite being dragged by Aizawa-Sensei but there was this silent promise that he didn't want any trouble anymore.

Which probably had the opposite effect of what the erasure hero wanted. He wouldn't get contrition from them, not when they were reminded of the Hosu police and of the fight with Stain. Of how Iida has almost died because Izuku had been too slow.

But he was underestimating Aizawa-Sensei.

''How are you?''

Todoroki seemed stunned. No doubt that not a lot of people had asked him that. Nurse Sorahiko did, but to Todoroki, that was probably all, while Izuku's mom and Nagisa had been circling around him to make sure he was alright.

''Fine,'' Todoroki said after a brief pause. Izuku nodded.

''You could have been killed. Do you realize Iida almost died?''

''We know, we were here,'' Todoroki reminded him.

Izuku clenched his fist behind his back in order not to laugh, but his flash of amusement didn't last.

''And quite honestly,'' Aizawa-Sensei continued after a mean look at Todoroki. ''I don't know what kind of favor the police or Native gave you...''

''No one did us any favor,'' Izuku cut in.

Aizawa-Sensei looked at him, obviously not pleased that Izuku interrupted him, but Izuku didn't apologize. Not because he was angry, but because he was just that tired, and he was slowly realizing that he didn't want to go through this.

''You might be right,'' Aizawa-Sensei admitted after a pause, looking at Izuku like he was trying to gaze into his mind. An horrible idea, really. ''You are hero students. Because of that, you have responsibilities and society holds you at a higher standard than most. You have to follow your mentors. You have to obey their orders. Because you simply don't have the experience to keep yourself and others safe. And because you should never be placed willingly in dangerous situations. Do you understand what I'm saying?''

Todoroki and Izuku didn't say anything. Gran Torino did told Izuku to stay put.

''You also went through a life-threatening situation. If you say you are fine, I will believe you,'' he said on the tone of someone that didn't especially believe them. ''But if that changes, do not hesitate to talk to me or any teacher.''

Both Todoroki and Izuku knew they wouldn't.

Their teacher quickly let them go, but not before telling them that since the fight was 'sanctioned', there would be no problem with UA. He also told them not to say anything to the hoard of journalists outside who was apparently swarming anyone from UA to ask questions about those 'three students of Hosu'.

But right before he left, Izuku asked a question to his teacher, this hero who had so much experience.

''What were we supposed to do? Because I couldn't let anyone die.''

''At the very least, call for back-ups,'' Aizawa-Sensei said as if it was obvious.

And that was why Izuku couldn't take seriously anyone telling he did something wrong.

''I did. Todoroki is the only one who came.''

His teacher didn't answer.

 


 

Toshinori always knew a moment of intense nervousness every time he was about to teach something to his little students. He knew how to be a hero, had the experience and he had probably done all the mistakes, so he knew he couldn't mess it up too much. But now, he was standing in a brand new place.

The exercise was simple. All Might was the innocent at the center of Ground Gamma, a maze of metal piles and platforms, and the first hero to rescue him would win. This was a good exercise testing mobility and speed.

And some students were more gifted than others in those two fields.

Young Midoriya was moving as if he was on the ground, unafraid of the heights. He was running on the pipes as if it was an actual racetrack, jumping through the air and landing lightly as if if gravity barely had a hold on him. As if the possibility of falling, of failing, was just an afterthought.

Until one of the pipes broke under his foot.

All Might saw Young Midoriya starting to fall, but the boy didn't panic, didn't even flail. He just twisted his body mid-air, somehow found his footing again and kept going without losing any speed, leaving everyone else in the dust.

But he wasn't happy about it, or at least didn't show it. His expression was serene, slightly amused, and distant at the same time. The same as the nemesis of One for All, and it was probably because behind their neutral expression, they were desperately juggling with several quirks.

Young Midoriya arrived first and as soon as he landed in front of All Might, his mask disappeared and his fanboyish smile replaced it, a hint that maybe, just maybe, he had forgiven ToshinorI.

They hadn't talked since this morning at Gran Torino's. He had sent messages, and Young Midoriya had answered politely, but he didn't know...

''THANK YOU, BRAVE HERO!'' Toshinori congratulated him, making him blush. ''YOU RESCUED ME !''

The training went along faster than he expected, and some of the students had obviously immensely progressed during their internships.

For example, whatever had happened to Young Mineta during his internship, it had unleashed something in him. He wasn't only jumping from purple ball to purple ball, but he also thew them at his classmates in a continuous , as if there was no limit to his supply.

Toshinori, wise man that he was, ignored the imaginative expletives and some specific -and not as discreet as they were thinking- gestures some stuck students addressed to Young Mineta, and he also congratulated him for rescuing him.

He had just rounded everyone up and was about to first congratulate them on their progress, then to expose their strong and weak points for now, when Toshinori's phone rang in the middle of the class.

Now, as a hero, he simply couldn't shut off his phone, no matter the reason. It could be grave. Someone could be in danger. It could be...

Oh my God, it's Nighteye.

He looked at the twenty students who were watching him, waiting to see what he would do. This was supposed to be their time but if Sir Nighteye, his former sidekick, called after several years of absolute silence, it had to be for a reason.

''I will be right back,'' he told his students. ''Don't do anything.''

His plan was to take a swift exit but at the last moment, he realized that he couldn't let twenty quirked teenagers on their own. For all he knew, someone would get hurt as soon as his back was turned. So he just get further away, still in sight, watching them like a hawk while they couldn't hear him.

''All Might,'' Nighteye greeted him as soon as he picked up the phone.

''Nighteye.'' God, that's awkward. ''How are you?''

''Alright. And you?''

There was a second of floating as they both remembered that Sir Nighteye had stopped being his sidekick because of how All Might wouldn't retire despite being warned of what could happen.

''Everything is fine,'' Toshinori breathed.

As he was having a strange conversation, the rest of his students were surrounding Young Todoroki and Young Midoriya, probably because of what had happened in Hosu.

Then, for some reason, Young Shouji advanced and Midoriya made him pivot so he could carry him on his shoulders. Then, without showing any sign of effort, he held him at arm reach, above his head.

Young Satou followed. Toshinori expected Young Midoriya to drop Young Shouji but he didn't. He just let him fall on his shoulders, and after a little momentum and something that sounded like Young Shouji squealing, Young Satou was also carried.

Should I stop that ?

Toshinori wasn't proud to admit it but curiosity got the better of him.

''I am calling because it came to my attention that you consulted my student's file : Mirio Togata.''

Well, so much for being discreet in his search for a successor.

''How do you know that ?'' Toshinori asked.

''Pincipal Nedzu asked me complementary informations on Mirio's student file. I am not in the habit of giving informations about my students to anyone but he told me it was for a teacher. I know you're teaching at UA this year and Mirio's other teachers don't need his file.''

''I see,'' Toshinori said because there wasn't much he could add.

''I trained Mirio myself, if you need someone to vouch for him. Though I would say that his results speak for themselves.''

Young Kirishima followed, and at this point, Young Midoriya, who was comically small next to all this human pile, had to bend so he could also use the surface of his back. The crowd of students started to get more and more agitated, urging him to carry more.

Young Asui hopped on the top of the pile, graceful.

Young Uraraka should have been next but she was banned from trying because her quirk could allow her to cheat.

''Did you... make a choice ?'' Nighteye finally asked after All Might's too long silences.

So Young Todoroki took Young Uraraka's place. But he didn't climb or used his ice as a stairway, or anything. No, nothing of that.

He preferred to take momentum, to use his ice as a launching ramp, and he pounced.

Where Young Asui had been graceful and light, Young Todoroki crashed on top of the human pile with the subtlety of an American football player, and he only missed Asui by a hair.

The pile started to swing. They are going to fall. Toshinori thought it. Everyone did. But Young Midoriya anchored himself into the ground, fighting against gravity and the general concept of momentum. Toshinori could swear that Young Midoriya was calling several quirks to his rescue.

And with a grunt of effort, he got everyone and everything back in balance.

''Not yet,'' All Might finally answered. ''There is no doubt Young Mirio is is incredibly talented and he will make a great hero. But I didn't make my choice yet.''

''I see.''

The crowd of children had gone wild. There was no other word. Students were screaming, clapping, and phones were starting to get in the open even though the children weren't supposed to have them during the hero training.

Even All Might couldn't help but smile.

But he was being rude.

''You will have to forgive me, I am talking to you while watching twenty young hero students so I am not giving you all the attention you deserve. But I would like to talk to you again. It's been too long.''

''… I would like that too. And I apologize for interrupting your class.''

Toshinori hang up and gave his full attention back to the students who had ignored his request not to do anything. No doubt that Aizawa-kun never had to face anything like that.

He had to give them a lesson about respecting their teacher. Obviously.

''MY TURN !'' All Might yelled as he ran towards them, pretending to jump like Young Todoroki did.

Everyone screamed, Young Midoriya included.