Chapter 1: beat my wings till i fall asleep
“-take a dive off the roof and pray for a quirk in the next life!”
Heart in his throat and tears stinging his eyes, Izuku stands on the edge. The cruel words ring in his ears, and his ruined notebook is slowly soaking through his shirt where he clutches it to his chest. He doesn’t look down, doesn’t want to see the sheer drop. It’s just high enough. Izuku’s feet toe the edge of the rooftop, and he looks up. Looks up and wonders. Clutching his precious notebook to his chest, Izuku reaches up to the sky and steps forward.
The wind screams in his ears, and Izuku finally looks down at the ground rushing up to greet him. He distantly realizes that the grass is the same color as his mom’s eyes. Air rips at his clothes and hair as if trying to tug him into the sky.
Falling slowly, everything is so slow, Izuku can only see his mom’s eyes, tired and red-rimmed from crying. He thinks about the empty apartment, his distant father, and her solitude. Regret and sadness bubbles up in his chest.
‘Sorry, Mom. I forgot. I don’t want to leave you alone.’
Izuku wants to live, if only to be there for his mom. He wants to live! The world speeds up and Izuku grits his teeth. Wishing.
Something gold flickers in the corner of his eyes and he hits the ground.
Chapter 2: wake me up when purgatory passes
The first thing Izuku sees when he wakes up is yellow. It’s not the sunshine yellow of his backpack- that’s still on his back. He can feel the weight of it pushing into him. No, it’s the color of old bones and faded pages. He lays there, afraid to move. Nothing hurts- not yet. Izuku is sure that something is broken.
Deciding that nothing will come of just staying there like useless trash in the dead grass, Izuku pushes himself up the brittle grass breaking under his arms. Izuku rubs at his eyes, tears streaming down his cheeks as he gropes around for his notebook.
It’s beyond saving now, the notebook’s binding is torn and the pages are beginning to fall out on top of being soaked through and burnt to a crisp. The title on the front isn’t even legible anymore.
Heartbeat thudding in his ears, Izuku cries even harder. Everything feels muffled now and he can’t think straight. Standing up hurts, but not like expected. His body is sore and there are definitely new bruises, but he doesn’t feel the familiar burning, stabbing pain of a broken bone.
Everything feels muffled as he starts to walk home. Izuku doesn't see the large puddle of blood or his own bloody footprints walking away from it. He doesn’t see the circle of dead and wilting flora around where he once lay.
Tears still stream down his face and his eyes are unfocused, navigating by muscle memory alone as he trudges home. He shuffles along side streets and underpasses, following the long memorized route. It’s longer than taking the main roads, but that just means less of a chance to run into Kacchan.
As he exits another small underpass, he hears something heavy clatter noisily to the ground behind him. Izuku turns, staring at the slimy green monster towering over him.
Izuku turns away, intending to run but something cold slides up his leg, trapping him.
“A medium-sized invisibility cloak…” The villain’s voice warbles, like he’s speaking underwater. Izuku tries desperately to crawls away, trying to escape. The monster looms over him and grins nastily. The villain lunges, enveloping him completely and forcing his mouth open. Izuku gags on the taste of sewage as the villain slides past his lips.
“Don’t worry,” The monster coos. “I’m just going to take over your body.” Izuku chokes on the sludge sliding down his throat, trying unsuccessfully to cough it out.
‘My body… there’s no strength,’ Izuku claws uselessly at the substance surrounding him.
“It’ll only hurt for about 45 seconds,” Izuku’s body jerks as he heaves. “You’ll feel better soon.”
‘I’m dying… Am I dying?’
‘I don’t want to die!’
‘I’m sorry! Mom, I’m sorry!’
Izuku struggles desperately, fighting for a single breath. His vision begins to flicker as he chokes.
‘I’m so sorry, Mom.’
‘I want to see you again.’
Something golden flickers in the corner of his eye again, he turns his head to look but it’s too late. Falling limp in the villain’s hold, Izuku tries to fight the numbness creeping into him.
His eyes close and
All Might POV-
Leaping out of the manhole, Toshinori pauses to take stock of the situation. The Sludge Villain is here, as well as what looks like a hostage. The person’s features are obscured by the murky sludge surrounding them and they are completely still. It worries Toshinori that the hostage isn’t even struggling, so he lunges forwards with the intent to attack. Swinging his arm in a powerful arc, Toshinori punches the villain, spattering sludge and sewage against the hard walls of the underpass. The hostage falls limply to the ground before Toshinori can catch them.
The boy is small, his size only accentuated by his baggy middle school uniform. His face is turned towards Toshinori, eyes open and lifeless. Tears still slip down the boy’s frightened face, stained pink with blood. Toshinori gently presses his fingers to the boy’s throat, searching for a pulse. Nothing. He sighs, reaching up to gently close the boy’s eyes. It hurts, knowing he was to late. Knowing that he was too late to save a child.
‘He must have been on his way home from school,’ he thinks, looking at the yellow backpack still on the boy’s back. Toshinori looks away, guilt threatening to drown him. If only he had been just a second faster… He grits his teeth and glares at the unmoving pile of slime still on the wall.
At the very least, Toshinori will make sure that the boy’s murderer will not get away again. Grabbing an empty bottle, he plunges his hand into the viscous substance, scooping it into the container. So focused on his task, Toshinori fails to notice the body behind him begin to glow with a gentle golden aura. Stuffing the last handful of sludge into the bottle, Toshinori turns back to the boy.
The boy is glowing, soft golden threads cocooning him as they dance in a nonexistent breeze. Tentatively reaching out, Toshinori brushes a single finger along one of the loose threads. It twitches, twirling around his finger and sticking. Exhaustion begins to weigh on him and he tries to tug his hand away. The thread releases him and returns to dancing in the air. Looking at the boy again, Toshinori crouches- careful not to brush the gold strands again- to watch.
The child’s breath rises slowly as breath returns to his body.
Izuku feels heavy, a gentle warmth encompassing him. He tries to breath but it’s too hard, so he just doesn’t. He can’t bring himself together enough to form coherent thoughts. Instead, he looks around himself. Everything is dark, besides a pinprick of light in front of him. Izuku leans away from the light, unsettled by it. Looking down at himself, Izuku notices a golden thread tied around his waist, stretching out behind him. It begins to pulse brighter, the soft glow a welcome comfort in the darkness around him. Wrapping his hands around the bright thread, he almost jerks back at the sudden onslaught of sensation.
Izuku pulls on the thread, trying to ignore the feelings clamoring in the back of his mind. Instead, he pulls himself along the thread, moving away from the cold light. He swims through the darkness clutching the thread for what must be an eternity when the string suddenly dims. Izuku almost stops, but he pushes forward past the sudden loss. The weight on his chest lightens and Izuku takes a deep breath. It’s still harder than it should be, but he does it anyway. The darkness around him brightens steadily as he moves forward. The golden glow is almost painful to see, so he closes his eyes.
Opening his eyes once the light has dimmed, Izuku comes face to face with All Might.
‘Am I dead?’ He thinks distantly. His throat hurts. Izuku pushes himself up, leaning on the wall of the tunnel behind him. He feels sore and very nauseous.
“What is your name my boy?” The expression on All Might’s face is open, so genuinely caring that it throws Izuku through a loop for a moment.
“Ah- Midoriya I-Izuku, sir.”
“Young Midoriya! A pleasure to meet you! Though I do wish it were under better circumstances!”
“Ah, um. Thank you, sir. May I ask a question?”
“Yes, of course! But please hurry- I’m on a time crunch after all!” All Might laughs uproariously.
"A-ah, okay. Um, All Might sir, could- are you okay?" The number one hero coughs violently, cupping a hand over his mouth.
"I'm fine, young Midoriya. Please continue," All Might wheezes, his hand coming away red.
"All Might are you sure you're okay? Coughing up blood isn't healthy!"
Izuku refrains from patting the man's back, afraid he might make it worse.
"Calm down, I'm fi-" coughs wrack his body again and All Might doubles over from the force of it.
"Yeah, you're not fine," Izuku mutters worriedly. The massive man continues to cough harshly, smoke drifting out of his mouth. Before Izuku can ask about it, there's a popping noise and smoke billows out of nowhere. Its thick enough to completely blind Izuku, and he can hear All Might coughing even harder now. A small breeze clears the air, and All Might's coughs finally silence. Izuku stares at his hero, taking in the man's ruined and skeletal body.
"Ah, no, no. Midoriya, please, don't go talking about this online or telling your friends.”
"Huh?" All Might doesn't elaborate, instead he lifts up his shirt to show a massive scar stretching across his chest like a web. The lines are deep and curling and the center is a irritated circle, like somebody had punched a hole in the man.
“Pretty disgusting, right? I got this in a big fight five years back,” All Might's voice is rougher, still deep, but no longer booming as he covers his scar. Izuku is confused, he doesn't feel disgusted. He just feels surprised and sad.
“Toxic Chainsaw?" Izuku idle ponders before snapping back to the matter at hand. "No that doesn’t matter- All Might are you okay?”
“You really know your stuff, kid," All Might huffs a husky chuckle, "But- no, not really. My respiratory system is basically destroyed and I lost my whole stomach. All the surgeries and complications have really worn me out, as you can see," All Might gestures to himself, "I… can’t be fixed.” Tears begin to bud in Izuku's eyes when he hears the state of All Might's body. The pro hero visibly panics, rushing to change the subject.
"A-ANYWAY!" he exclaims, "Enough about me!"
"What about you, young Midoriya?"
"What about me?" Izuku sniffs, wiping his cheeks. His hand comes away red and Izuku gives his hand a curious look.
"Midoriya, if I may ask, why are you covered in blood?"
"What?!" Izuku rubs at his face, feeling dry blood scrape off under his ministrations. Pulling the collar of his shirt into view, he can see that all the white on his uniform is stained red.
"Hmm, it must have happened when I jumped off the roof," Izuku mutters to himself.
"WHAT?!" All Might yells, Izuku jumps, not intending for the man to hear. "Midoriya! Your quirk may heal you, but you can't just go about hurting yourself!"
"What." Izuku shakes his head, he must have misheard All Might, there's no way he has a quirk.
"I don't have a quirk- I've been quirkless my entire life." All Might stares at him with an odd look in his eyes.
"Young Midoriya... You do have a quirk."
"But, there's no way-"
"Midoriya, I was too late to save you. By the time I arrived, you had already suffocated at the hands of the Sludge Villain." Panic rises in Izuku’s chest at the thought of his own death.
“Calm down, breath, Midoriya-” All Might coughs again, a hacking noise that worries Izuku. “You died, but you didn’t stay dead. It would seem your quirk grants you some kind of immortality and regeneration." Izuku stops to think about what exactly that means. All Might is also silent, lost in thought.
"Midoriya," he calls tentatively.
"If you really didn't know about your quirk, then, the roof..." Izuku lowers his head, too ashamed to look his hero in the eyes.
"I promise that I- that I had no idea that I have a quirk," Izuku choked out. All Might's face drops as he hears what Izuku can't bring himself to say.
"Midoryia..." Izuku doesn’t say anything more after that and All Might desperately searches for the what to say.
"Young Midoriya," All Might starts, "Are you- Do you want to accompany me to the police station? I still have to hand this villain over to the authorities," All Might shakes the soda bottle slightly, smiling kindly.
“I don’t know?” Izuku hesitantly shrugs, refusing to look at the hero. All Might sighs tiredly and all Izuku think about is how he must be a bother and ‘God why couldn’t I just die’.
"I could use the help. I'm still new in town after all."
"Sure, I guess," Izuku smiles tentatively, barely daring to hope.
fanart for this chapter!