Chapter 1: Stand for everyone Stand for everything.
.A battle against imaginary enemies; fighting your shadow.
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Turning the corner, narrowly avoiding the shoulders of strangers, he sped past. No one paid him any mind. That was normal.
His face itched, like usual. Bruises and bandages littering his skin, burns and blisters and scars hidden beneath the worn-out, charred fabric of his blazer. His hair was a mess, matted and sticking out uncontrollably in an unruly mess.
Musutafu’s sky was overcast and the streets surprisingly quiet at this time; schools let out an hour ago, strangers presumably decided that the weather is unfavourable and chose to stay indoors. He decided, puffing deep breaths as he kept up the sprint, feet pounding across the pavement.
Midoriya Izuku, a thirteen-year-old boy, was trying to get home, travelling through the back alleys as if they were a second home.
They were in a sense.
The city paths and bridge way aren't an acceptable journey today, as he just can't risk the road being blocked from this mornings battle. Endeavour versus a hoard of small time villains, if he remembers correctly. That was bound to have caused some damage- was the conclusion for his current journey.
Midoriya's mum wouldn't be back from work until some time past nine o'clock, but he would have the solitude of their modest apartment, time to study and rest. That would be enough for now, he thought, jogging through the underpass. Quiet time.
It's so quiet.
Midoriya paused, he couldn't feel anything wrong immediately, except the ache in his bone and skin and just - everything. But Musutafu was never this silent, even on calm days. The stillness felt unnatural, it raised the cautious red flag of his head.
Stood under a raised footpath, the ground is littered in sparkling patches of glass, broken and intact bottles. The cement is dirty and water stained a murky green where the gutters hit the ground and the walls are slightly chipped, but plants and small flowers push through the gaps to fill in the darkness there. It feels like it should be peaceful here, but not noiseless .
Yet, a sound brushed his ears. A choked sob, and against all common sense, the messy-haired teen made his way towards the noise, ignoring the twinge in his bruised knee as he tried to locate the person in distress.
Were they upset, or is this some kind of elaborate trap?
Is someone just going to try and hurt him again?
'Poor little, worthless Deku. Still trying. Still wanting to be a hero.' No one thinks he can get there, he's only a quirkless Deku to them after all. He's part of the minuscule twenty per cent of the global population who lacks the supernatural power dubbed as a 'quirk' or 'individuality' ( how ironic is that, your worth being determined by a power ). He can't even esc- he shook off the thought before it could begin. No point thinking about himself.
He didn't need a quirk to be kind to people. He doesn't need a quirk to be considerate and friendly and helpful. That logic is ingrained in his skull.
Peeking around the cardboard boxes clustered beside the old wall, he spotted a young male. He looked to be older than Midoriya and wore an unkempt, stained fleece above an oversized white t-shirt, muddy grey trousers and scuffed tan hiking boots. All in all, he looked homeless, or at least left behind. A forgotten trinket. Midoriya approached.
"Hey. Are you alright?" He crouched in front of the other boy, who looked up with weary eyes. The eyes of someone untrusting, someone hurt and in pain. "It'll be okay." Midoriya reassured, glancing at the other boy's face, trying not to seem judgemental or overconfident. The older boy's skin was pallid and his icy-ocean blue hair was matted with grime, messy locks falling past his eyes.
"How would you know?" The syllables sounded like they were being hauled through a grater, but he coughed to clear his throat. "Everything is bad, it's all horrible." He continued nervously, scratching his head roughly with injured fingers, then looked at his hands with possibly the most disgusted glare Midoriya has seen in a while, and for once, it wasn't directed at him. He just looked at the stranger, listening and gazing at him with blank, but understanding eyes. "I-I messed up..." The teen whispered, his breath hitching. "Everything is a mess…"
Midoriya gently patted his shoulder, resulting in the other youth glancing up through short, thick eyelashes. Swiftly yanking his age-damaged rucksack from his shoulders, Midoriya procured his bento box.
You see, the poor freckled boy hadn't been able to eat his school lunches for the past week, needing to hide or escape or run from people during free periods so he could get home with fewer injuries. Midoriya gently placed the box in the stranger's hands and smiled kindly. "I know it's not much, but try and get some strength. Darkness doesn't last forever, you know? You can do anything if you have a little food in your stomach." No doubt about it, he looked like the saddest person possible, offering a homeless child a bandaged, weak smile and a bento box.
Midoriya stayed with the boy for a couple more seconds before stumbling on tired legs and waving the teen a goodbye, with a message of good fortune on the end, and hastily left the area. The rain had yet to fall and he needed to re-patch his injured hands and face before his mum got back to sad hurt Deku.
Scooting through the streets, he broke into a jog as he spotted his apartment complex emerging from the shorter bungalows and detached houses that surrounded the miserable neighbourhood. His mum, his amazing mum, Midoriya Inko, was practically a single parent. She put all her time and effort into her two jobs just to try and scratch up enough money to let Izuku go to school, working to bone weariness to give him a chance to live in this dismal society. That in itself shows her love for him, and he loves her just as much, returns as much as he can by cooking her breakfast and dinner, tidying the house and any other chores he can.
Still, no amount of love from his mother could stop the rest of the world from hating him. So be it, he doesn't need to be liked. Today's generation went along the lines of 'no quirk, no life'. And as sad as it sounds, the world has never been fair, but that won't stop him! Midoriya clenched his fist as he stopped in front of the door. He hadn't even noticed that he'd already walked through the building and up the floors to his apartment.
Rummaging through his school bag, he collected his keys from the inside pocket and unlocked the door, letting the keychain jingle in the lock quietly before swiftly shoving them back in the compartment and closing the door behind him, removing his shoes at the genkan. Lights were off. He was definitely going to be alone for a couple of hours.
Three hours after his arrival, Midoriya is sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of Yaki Udon. The noodles and stir-fried vegetables something that was easy to cook up. He was just going to whip up some fried rice with ham, egg and onions, but in the end, he decided to make something that his mum could enjoy when she got back, tired and no doubt also having missed her lunch break. All he'd have to do is warm it up in the microwave or just heat it all in the pan again- he doesn't trust himself with the latter option, he'd probably burn it somehow- so his mum can have a nice meal before inevitably crashing into bed.
Midoriya now has plasters covering his fingers in an odd array of cream colours and a cold pack pressed between his left shoulder and cheek, trying to reduce the swelling on both, be useful, resourceful. A bruise was starting to appear, a brown-green mark that was the result of a hit to the head probably. Midoriya thought about it while he slurped up his noodles, not paying the flavours any mind. He couldn't remember anyone going for his face, not even Kac-Bakuguo.
Midoriya had walked past the bathroom mirror and caught sight of the injuries, a graze on his cheek from an explosion and a yellowing mark spreading from his ear to the curve of his jaw. His face was dotted with gold-brown freckles, and four more prominent ones sat under each eye respectively.
He could never get over it. How similar his eyes were to his mum's. It's peculiar at best even though they're related by blood; they both had wide eyes, and those wide eyes held the pair of melancholy green irises, swirled with moss and sun-soaked ivy leaves. Matching dark circles settled under them, a showcase of their missed sleep and high stress, and they had the same cry of sadness, of pain and joy. Izuku is petty much a carbon copy of his mother, except his hair had a lighter green hue and darker shadows whereas his mother's was a beautiful colour of dew soaked pine needles.
He'd stumbled in after a particularly bad beating that day. Bakuguo Katsuki's quirk, explosion, allows him to sweat a substance similar to nitroglycerin and ignite it in his palms at will. It felt more like conclusive energy rather than an actual explosion quirk, the heat and pain was still there, but research didn't add up with the specifics. The bullying didn't do most of the damage, the shrapnel from an idiot's explosion had. Some plastic vegetable crates flung like hazardous projectiles as they got caught in the crossfire, courtesy of messily aimed explosions. Shards of plastic were sent flying and, being the closest, Midoriya caught several to his shoulder and arms while defending his face, the short distance between them only made the hits more painful and the burns he got from the melted plastic left irritated ruddy marks on his freckled skin. Nothing like the shiny starbursts of healing skin and the paled but slightly pink handprints scars around his collar bones and shoulder blades. Bakugo really didn't care about who or what he hurt along the way, and that scared Izuku.
Inko had been home that day. She cried out as soon as he shuffled past the door, bloodied and teary-eyed. Like the domino effect, Izuku cried soon after, Inko nestling him into her side as they both wept their uncontrollable tears, the green-haired woman avoiding his arms and letting him hug tightly (even though it hurt). It wasn't surprising that they ended up on their knees, still clutching each other's respective cardigan and blazer.
He'd hidden how bad the bullying had gotten, and he still did. He's good at lying. But, just him walking in without a word, and her understanding it all showed her smarts and strength despite her timid demeanour and his own vigilance.
His chopsticks scraped against the bowl, jabbing him out of whatever daze he'd fallen into. He's already finished his food without a single taste to his tongue, he realizes. All of his limbs feel distant and static-edged, like they went to sleep, but worse than pins and needles. Glancing up, Izuku catches sight of the wall clock, eight o'clock, and collecting up all the unwashed utensils and his bowl, he dumps them in the sink. Washing everything up and placing them on the draining rack chased away the bizarre sensation in his limbs, so he fled, trying to dull down his facial injuries in the bathroom once again.
By the time he heard the front door open, he was already back downstairs, curled up on the sofa. He sported an All Might themed T-shirt and black joggers with a white stripe down the outer edges. Comfort clothes. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Inko toeing off her shoes in the small genkan and opening her mouth, obviously about to yell a welcome.
"Hey, mum!" He welcomed, standing up. She turned around just in time to be engulfed in a hug, instantly embracing him and landing a kiss on his forehead. "How was your day? I made dinner, Yaki Udon. It's not the best but I can heat it up before you go to bed?" He didn't let go as he glanced up and grinned at his mum. Inko did the same and smiled at him fondly, before brushing her chin through his curled hair and giggling at his pout when she leaned back again.
She started to shake her head, "I'm sure it'll be lovely!" She stroked his fluffy black-and-green hair, twirling a strand between her fingers as she subtly peered at his face, seeming to search for something. He held his grin, disguising his misery behind his smile; just like All Might.
She found what she was looking for.
Taking a step back, she turned his head, inspecting the small bruise that spread from his earlobe to his jaw. "Was your day okay?" She asked anyway, pointing to his bandaged shoulder and gesturing his face, already accepting of the fact that she couldn't prevent the wounds. Izuku had a blistering mark hidden under a white cotton pad that was taped to his skin, he couldn't tell her that Bakuguo had flared an explosion from between his fingers while going for the punch today. That was sad. Why couldn't he dodge them? He'd pondered this a lot, but, the least he knew is that he was petrified of his ex-childhood friend, he couldn't even curb his trembling when the angry teen walks past. This was the end result of 10 years of verbal abuse and 9 (maybe more actually) years of physical abuse. But he was not deterred from his dream just yet.
Inko must have seen the same determination in his eyes when he was four years old, sitting in the office with the revelation of two pinky toe joints. She pulled him in for another hug and gently kissed his cheek, "I believe you can do it Izuku. You'll be an amazing hero." She was crying again.
Izuku flinched, "MUM! Mum, please don't cry! Please don't-" he was cut off as a sob escaped his lips. Ah, it appeared he was crying too…
Today, Izuku climbed an old sakura tree within ten seconds. It was amazing because he was also running from his schoolmates and it was only then that he acknowledged how agile and flexible he was. It was freeing, to just know where to put his hands and feet, where to twist his hips and roll his shoulders without actually thinking about it, it felt natural to run like this.
On the walk home, he had fewer pains by far and he couldn't guarantee this chances for tomorrow, but now he knows he's going to try to get stronger.
But first, he's going to get some fresh groceries for his mum. Walking to a local shop, still in school uniform, he glanced over the windows and noted that one of the lower panes had been smashed and covered in sticky plastic. This place sold a wide variety of products, but all he needed were some vegetables and maybe a couple of soba noodle packets.
Calmly opening the door and hearing a bell chime, Izuku greeted the kiosk manager with a small smile and hesitant wave. The lady smiled back, a close eyed smile that showed how regularly she grinned, practiced or genuine, he didn't know.
Ducking behind an aisle, he quickly scanned the shelves, picking off two large boxes of four individually wrapped noodle packets before turning towards the fresh goods section. Baskets of fresh vegetables and fruits coloured the shelves. Bright reds and dark purples littered the higher shelf, orange and yellows below it and right at floor level were the greens and odd coloured ones, a colourful rainbow scattered across the shelves, deliberate on the shop's part. Grabbing a bundle of leek from the lower basket, he reached up, plucking a wrapped packet of carrots and two white and red onions each where he cradled the bundle in the crook of his arm. In the corner of his eye, he saw an assistant stacking the shelves at the end of the aisle, but he didn't pay them any mind.
Straightening up, he decided to just go around the entire shop, seeing if anything caught his eye. At one point, Izuku saw a rice box with dumplings and plucked one from the cold isle before continuing his stroll. Closer to the counter, he encountered a stationary section, a clean white Campos notebook called out to him, one of his favourite books to write in. Hastily grabbing the item, he queued to pay. A few minutes later, just as he's started packing everything in a paper bag and in the middle of thanking the till lady, he heard a shout.
"Oi, isn't that Deku?!"
Izuku tensed on instinct, his skin feeling uncomfortably warm under criticizing gazes; he kept up the smile, forcing up the facade to try and escape or at least reassure the store worker if the worst did happen. It seems he wasn't so lucky.
A yank on his collar is what broke the smile, yelping in surprise as he was felt himself being dragged backwards. The paper bag he was previously filling toppled off the counter, all its contents spilling across the tiled floor. "Oh look! It is Deku! He even managed to make a mess of the shop!" The pair laughed as he struggled to pry the strong grip off his blazer collar, shoes squeaking on the tiled ground as he kicked his legs. He didn't know who they were yet, but thankfully, he already knew Kaccha- No no, he's Bakugo, remember that Izuku- wasn't here. The teen would've exploded him on site, no care of people near by and feasting off his building ego.
"Co-come... come on geh-guys." He started, trying to spot all of his previously bought items while still toiling in the other student's grasp. "This is- this is a shop, the-there are people here-" he was going to begin to explain that they could get all of them kicked out when he was cut off by a hit on the head. The blow hurt, a completely solid whack with an edge of blunt force. It had to be the boy with the 'stone hand' quirk if that was the case.
"What Deku ?" A face entered his line of vision, it was the boy who could extend his fingers. His almost shoulder-length hair was a mess and there was a tang of smoke - tobacco smoke- that surrounded his being like the buzzing wings of lethal bugs. "Do you think you're embarrassing everyone? 'Cause I think you are. Such a wimp, why did you have to be in the shop we were going to, huh? Such a waste of time." His voice was plaintive and high in mockery, something like a sneer plastering across his slender face that looked a little too ordinary to be threatening.
Handfuls of people walked past with the majority not even casting a look his way, still, some gave him pitied glances before bolting for the entrance, not even trying to help. Guess all of them follow the ways of the crowd. The counter lady was glaring at the pair but didn't think to interrupt it, opting to take care of other customers while his unnoticed bag of shopping stayed resigned to the floor.
Through analyzing his situation, Midoriya had missed part of what the rock kid had said, as the boy suddenly flicked his forehead with his finger and scowled. Now, in normal cases, Midoriya wouldn't be fazed by the ding of pain and it would soon become a dull throb in his head, but this, however, was not to be taken lightly. The kid's entire hand is made of rock, and the power a single finger flick from him can produce a lot of pain. In this case, a jagged edge had actually cut Midoriya's forehead, he could feel it, even though he refused to voice his pain. The light teasing had turned to distress like the theory of vampires burning in sunlight. Instantly.
Midoriya could feel the stickiness of the blood in his eyebrow, the somehow comforting warmth of the liquid a little numbing. Ultimately, the possible beating cut short by a new arrival. A young worker stood there, appearing to tower over them, though only stood a few inches taller. His long, ice-blue-grey hair was tied back in a neat ponytail, the store's customized jacket worn proudly over his shoulders and chafed tan boots squeaking on the clean floor. "You brats better leave the kid alone. I will not tolerate bullying or commotion in this store and I will stop it, ya hear me? As for you-" he pointed at the kid with rock hands who still had Izuku by the collar. "I can call the police for quirk usage in relation to violence. Causing injury by means of quirk is illegal, even transformation and mutant quirks fall under those restrictions. This shop also has a no violence policy so you better hop right outta here and not come back. Yeah?" Hands on his hips, flip-phone visible in his left palm emphasized the promise of an easy call.
Midoriya felt the unseen pressure around his neck vanish and his heels hit the floor with a tap. Quickly turning, he saw the pair open and pause at the door, the bell chiming loudly as if it was gleefully signalling their exit. The pair cast a hate-filled glare his way before closing the door with a second chime and walking away.
Sighing in relief, the green-haired boy discovered that the assistant was still standing in front of him. They seemed to click at the same time, Izuku recognizing him as the boy from two days ago, and the other identifying Midoriya as the one who cared for him that day. They stepped back and started to hastily bow to each other with 'thanks yous's floating on awkward voices, but the gesture cut off as their heads collided with a thunk. Quickly pulling away, staring for a moment, the boys crossed eyes before bursting out with laughter.
Customers paused and peered at the pair with pleased gleams to their eyes, some letting out small chuckles after having watched the entire spectacle. The other, still unnamed teen, spoke in a voice that was far too soft for his situation, the heel of his hand rubbing the mark on his forehead. "Thanks for helping me the other day. The darkness really didn't last, like you said, and I managed to get a job here yesterday. I don't think I would've made it if you didn't help me." He smiled wider, Izuku noticed that his skin wasn't as pale as it was on their last meeting, and his hair was clean and his eyes shone with thankfulness, hope. "Thank you. A lot." He bowed again, only a slight bow, but the freckled boy easily gave one of his million yen smiles in return. It had never crossed his mind that people might actually return the compassion he offered. Izuku was honestly joyous, no matter the reason for the situation.
Despite his current train of thought, Izuku bowed too. "Thank you for helping me. I'm really sorry that we caused a ruckus, and I apologize if anything got damaged." He stood straight again, feeling a sudden warmth drop onto his lip. He licked his lips - a nervous tick - and tasted the blood that had come from the cut. "Oh." He mumbled, quickly holding his sleeve against where he thought the injury was.
"Ah! Sorry, let me get the first aid kit!" The assistant whirled on his heel but immediately spun back and grabbed a couple of Midoriya's recently bought vegetables, placing them on one of the unused counter tops. He ran off at breakneck speed, and the greenette used the time to repack all his groceries (plus a notebook) and apologize to the counter lady, she waved him off and handed him a tissue.
Being dragged to the staff room all of a sudden has Midoriya twitching in his skin, the injury wasn't as bad as it seemed but he knew it might have upset other customers, so he complied. They shared a civil conversation and Izuku discovered that the boy was called Betsuzaki Seni, he was sixteen years old. His family was killed in a bus crash only a few months ago and he was the only survivor (the green-haired boy suspected that Betsuzaki suffered from survivor guilt and PTSD. Learning to identify the symptoms of illness is something he has to learn if he's to join UA's Hero Course and help people). He was on the streets for three months before the freckled boy first met him, plenty of time for the boy to have completely given up on himself. Betsuzaki admitted that he was still on the alleys and didn't have enough money to get into a school yet, but there was a shelter which helped teach homeless kids basic maths and other subjects. The manager had been kind enough to let him into the store if he promised to work hard and he did just that, from what Midoriya could tell.
When the wound had been fixed up with medical tape and a bit of clean cotton, he was free to leave. Betsuzaki thanked Mirdoriya again for the bento and the latter promised to come by and talk to him in the future. So, with his bag of shopping and newly acquired and cleaned injury, he was out the door, the bell ringing a goodbye as he went. There was a breeze in the air, it tugged Midoriya's fluffy hair around, the sea-foam green highlights blurring with movement.
Today was good, Izuku concluded.
Thirteen-year-old Midoriya Izuku decided that he'd work harder than everyone else. He was going to be a hero, he wasn't going to let anything stop him.
“You know... how people say that their... life flashes before their eyes?”
“...I think they were right...”
Chapter 2: Burns for free
I honestly didn't like this chapter all that much but now it's edited, I felt the vibe to keep going.
Sorry guys, I've just had a lot of stuff going on and my motivation jumped into the void...
I hope you enjoy!
- Easily broken into pieces or reduced to nothing.
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Midoriya was in the living room when an emergency report interrupted his show. A news station took over the tv, immediately diving into a report of a villain group discovered nearby.
Midoriya grabbed his new notebook and a pen, the book he had just for villain reports and his over-active mind. The young greenette has a severe... habit?- focus, maybe- of investigating heroes and villains and just everyday people and what and whyandhowand- it's one of his best qualities in his own unfavourable opinion. This book is for villains (he likes to think that maybe he could drop the notebook off Anonymously at a police station and maybe there would be something here that is new and he isn't a complete failure) and he had thirteen other hero analysis journals stored away in code and fresh covers, undamaged by childhood hands; this is where he'd write down the quirks, habits and general abilities of any hero he saw on the news or website he could access or real life. He even went as far as studying foreign heroes!
It could be called an unhealthy obsession. But that isn't the professional name for it, could not be the professional name for it, it's the only thing Deku is good at, it can't be unhealthy or strange or-
"The ill-famed villain group, Creascandal, was sighted four days ago in Musutafu city. A CCTV camera in the alley of the sighting shows proof of their possible whereabouts, please be careful and report these people to the authorities if they are sighted." Three mugshots showed in the top right corner sliding along with a smoothness and grace maybe people of their crimes shouldn't deserve, but the lust for violence and catastrophe in the eye of those photos have him flicking a few more pages into the unwritten territory of the book as the screen transitions. A clip plays on the mini frame.
Something about the immediate images will send spider-leg chills down his spine. He wouldn't figure out why though, not for a few unsure breaths.
Then, only then, when the film seems darker, he glimpses a stack of waterlogged cardboard boxes. The scene is a mess, glass scattered across the floor and the barely noticeable boxes and plants off to the side, a small figure barely visible beyond them. The tape was sped up, and it suddenly occurred to him that this was probably confidential information that the news station had somehow gotten their hands on.
Midoriya saw himself on the screen next, face blurred out as his movement stuttered and glitched with the grainy video. Video-Midoriya was shooting out of the frame within a few seconds of quickened film, Betsuzaki Seni also leaving seconds later, tightly wrapped in his fleece and holding a bento box in between easily chill fingers. His face was blurred out too, and somewhere, beyond the haze of watch listen write, he appreciated the thought to hide there identities. Someplace in the background noise however, Midoriya registers the news reporter saying the two kids were lucky to leave when they did, stating that they were 'simple civilians' and to 'ignore them'. If they hadn't edited out the pairs existence from the video, then that meant this was a very hurried announcement without any sort of video-clipping. If that was the case, the station sounds like it contains a good load of amateurs.
Three people walked into the frame, seeming to not notice the camera (Midoriya had already noted the locations of the three private cameras along that road. None of them legally owned, which probably explains the lack of editing on this video). One of the men paused, appearing to be having a heated argument with the other male, the video buzzing as he threw his hands in the air, which apparently ticked off the second, taller criminal - judging by the fact that he actually turned and punched the first man right in the face. The man's head snapped back with the force, and Midoriya idly wondered if he fractured the guy's cheek bone.
The lone woman got involved in that instance. Midoriya almost missed how the grainy video showed her tap her foot a little too heavily for it not to be a warning. Midoriya watched. He stared as the concrete surface rose up and wrapped around the men's feet, seeming suddenly like pale slime and almost shimmery-looking. They appeared to be panicked, but the concrete quickly receded and they had some sort of huddle; it was as if nothing happened, as if the sudden tension had been a show or just something completely normal. But why would they fret while the woman activated her quirk?
Midoriya pulled at his lower lip, tapping the pen while he briefly checked the latest stream of words on the paper. One of the crooks stepped back, the taller one who had struck the other, glancing at their wrist as if they were wearing a watch. He had shoulder-length hair and a pair of sunglasses rested on his nose, disguising the colour of his eyes (maybe important- jotted down the side). His jaw seemed to jut out of his head further than normal human skulls and his coat had clear dark smudges, the black-and-white video not showing any colours at all. Could be anything from blood to paint to ink or even some other liquid. Even though he wasn't facing the camera, the gunk that engulfed his body was obvious, spiralling around him before the individual completely disappeared in a splash of dark-shiny-oil sludge. The remaining two quickly stalked off, a suitcase that previously went unnoticed clutched in the woman's grasp, her eyes intense and dangerous as she left the frame.
The reporter continued, but Midoriya had already tuned out the voice. Two quirks had been visible in that encounter. One person had unknowingly showed how their quirk would become effective, also easy counteractions and ways to combat it. Midoriya had already flipped to another page in his notebook, labelling it 'manipulation quirk' for simplicities' sake. Because he didn't know the specific details of all villain's quirks, he opted to simplify it; clearly, that women had somehow manipulated the concrete. A hero that Midoriya had already studied came to mind, one that helped identify the base of these sorts of quirks.
Cementoss. His quirk- an emitter manipulation quirk- allows him to change and control cement that is in any stage, liquid, solid or dust. However, he needed contact with the material for influence; it would remain as was after altered, even after reactivation (which came in handy for repetitive reshaping if he could always keep at least a little within reach).
Similarly, the Wild, Wild Pussycats has a member with a quirk called Earthflow. It works near enough the same, except she controls the general element of 'earth'.
This villain, Midoriya noted, had particularly thin soles on her shoes (casual canvas shoes, dark and possibly patterned); there may have been a gap in the heel or ball of those thin soles as well, where there's high pressure while walking. Judging by the force she put into the raged stomp, she also needed contact with a material so he didn't know if she only controls concrete or a component with the concrete, but it generally works the same way with simple contact-based 'individualities'.
A reasonable two hours later Midoriya closes his journal and placed it on the coffee table in front of him, the ballpoint pen beside it. Swiping the remote and clicking the 'off' button, he turned off the tv and hopped off the sofa, dashing to the kitchen. Saturday was his day of freedom, away from his classmates, and he was gonna relish it, especially when he finished they're Saturday schoolwork yesterday.
Sooner than he expected, Inko had returned and sent him to bed. With an offering of "sweet dreams" and a small kiss on his cheek, and with that he dropped into the twilight shadows of slumber.
But he couldn't remember that right now... Wait, when was that?
The air is so hazy... Where is he? Wasn't he in bed?
Smoke billowed in charcoal plumes above him, rising into a sky heavy with clouds, coiling and gloaming and suffocating. He could feel the earth tremor in reply to the abnormality creating the scene around him, even as his vision darkened at the edges, blurriness caused by the warm tears he could feel running down his cheeks.
Sound surged to his ears unexpectedly, like a violent wave surging into a ship beaten by violent oceans. In the distance, he could hear people yelling- screaming . The closest of voices sounding alien and comforting and familiar notfamiliardangerous all at the same moment. The words, though, were lost on their travels. Everything was a fade of white noise and static filled limbs and tired eyes.
And the desire to look around and force his eyes to focus has him craning forward, the desperation to see something in the dust-filled chaos becoming so suddenly unbearable that he questioned why he was lying still in the first place.
He quickly found out.
A guttural scream tore through his own throat when his arms spasmed, fingers twitching in a unsynchronized tendon deep agony. Essentially half-buried under rubble, shoulder skin sizzling from unseen burns and blisters and raw open injuries, he wondered how he hadn’t noticed.
Midoriya jolted awake, but stayed pressed to the mattress, breathing ragged and sweat beaded along his forehead, phantom pain wrung through his wrists and fingers like scorching hands dragging him across gravel footpaths.
The moment he lifted his head, the memory of his dream fuzzed and faded, but the panicked beating of his heart and salty taste of tears on his lip reminded him that it was anything but kind. Midoriya wouldn't sleep after that.
He studied and wrote more into his coded hero notebooks. A whole day would pass before he'd jot down in that villain journal again (but he doesn't know that, nope). As Midoriya had been awake a few hours before school, he was out the door in his uniform early, not that that'd matter to Bakugo and his group. Nope. Not like they weren't already in the classroom, waiting, prepared to snag at his hair and tripping him to tear pages from his literature textbooks and other work material.
So seven hours forty-eight minutes later, walking alone with a heavy backpack full of books makes you think more, makes it easier to remember, gets you off the track you should be on. He remembered the first time his blonde spiky-haired ex-best friend had scorched his hand. What used to be sweet childish hand-holding quickly became sharp sparks and blisters as Midoriya failed to develop a quirk. Failed to suddenly be 'normal'. The power of little Kacchan's quirk got to his head. Constantly being praised while he watched Midoriya get beaten down.
The system was, IS, so utterly broken.
It appeared the human race had dwindled. The Government wasn't the ones in control anymore, it was those with the most money and the best quirks. If you didn't have a good- or useful- quirk, you'd be shunned and abandoned.
Speaking of which, quirks seemed to define how people would get to live their lives-
The following thud brought him back to now, a sickening moment of now which will forever hate coming across.
Three kids (no, they're teenagers. Maybe a few years older than Midoriya himself), all wearing middle school uniforms, circled a boy who'd obviously been shoved into a flower pot. 'Obviously', as in teenagers don't usually like to sit in cement pots filled with saturated soil and wilted flowers (quirk effects are exceptions he guesses, but it seems very unlikely ). He could also see the swelling red mark across his cheekbone and the blood dripping from his nose.
As a child who'd grown up with a talent to read faces, he could tell this was just a tired and lonely boy, being wrongly accused of something.
He jumped in front of the three, a courage he didn't know he could wield rearing up and exposing the faintest of fangs, spreading out his arms and falling into a protective stance is easy, fluent, distracting them from the victim. "What do you think you're doing?" Midoriya growled, carefully lacing the words with venom and forcing the lump of nononodon'tantagonizethem down his throat. He was a short boy, growth stunted by the neglect of his father and the ensuing depressive state his mother fell into for almost two unbroken years when he left.
The trio almost towered over him. Looming over him by maybe a head each, give or take.
Bullies. Oh, how he despises them.
A boy swung his arms in the vague direction of the teen in the plant pot, and Midoriya noticed how his forearms seemed to turn invisible for a brief moment. "He's a villain, well in the making-" he shrugged, bored and careless. "-You're from a different school. You wouldn't know." His stance held a confidence Midoriya could only link to high strung, wrongly praised idiots.
"His quirk is Brainwashing, he can only be a thief with that sort of power." A girl chimed, crooked smiles plastered across what appeared to be two mouths on her face, each replacing where the eyes typically were, does that make her twice as susceptible to gossip and rumours? could do. Her nose was the opposite way around, while one eyeball popped from where the mouth was missing. Blind sides, behind and above her. If escape was needed, he could escape through trickery, but this boy also needed support.
His stance loosened ever so slightly, nothing wrong with making them think he isn't panicking. He couldn't believe what he was hearing, and it must bleed through his voice. "You know that's quirk discrimination right?"
"Yeah so?" Midoriya could feel the preach of the second girl. "We're going to be heroes anyway, so it's better to eliminate the villain-" she casually flicked her cranberry red hair over her shoulder, a messy loop of what appeared to be red wool dripping down her shoulder. She's casting him some weird look he couldn't understand the next second. "-Right?"
Oh. Oh! He felt so dumb, it was so silly he even snorted at their nonsense. The 'hero hopefuls' looked mildly surprised at the small outburst but stilled at his somewhat hostile scowl, all quiet I can and will throw you to the wolves because they are my pack and you sound like absolute fools. A strange combination, he would later acknowledge. "Heroes huh? You're already on the way to a criminal record, wonder how many hero schools would want to take on a few discriminatory kids who seem to lack any sense of justice and fairness." He idly checked his bitten nails and grazed fingers to try and detract from their outrage, looking up through his eyelashes as he added, "Quirk discrimination is a crime and so is verbally and physically attacking a minor."
All three of them paled as he pulled out his phone from his trouser pocket, threat evident in how he twisted the device through his fingers, plainly daring them. He could feel the shock of the victim and it hit Midoriya hard, and he was reminded of all the times no one had helped him when he was the one being hurt. He doesn't actually know where the confidence came from, the need to show he is capable to people who didn't know him personally and the need to protect another without offering himself up.
By now the few kids waiting by the school had clustered around to watch the showdown, and the trio saw enough sense to not cause a scene. But the first girl still tries to tack on "but his quirk-"
Midoriya cut her off aggressively, "Yeah and if I was like any of you I'd probably agree, but then we'd all be wrong. He's just a student, don't judge him by his quirk, I'm sure he hasn't done anything to deserve this." To cement the finality in his words, he turned to the boy and offered a small smile and a hand.
Purple eyes were wide in surprise and, as Midoriya feared, the slight scepticism of someone who'd constantly been denied help. Midoriya saw so much of his younger self in this stranger. But the lilac-haired boy gently took the proffered hand anyway, pulling himself up and gently dusting off his shoulder bag. Deep crimson dripped onto his uniform shirt when he stood, bloody nose not crooked but still flaring an angry red-pink, and he stood a few inches taller than Midoriya, without adding the height of his peculiar gravity-defying hair.
This instant felt so slow to Midoriya. Like for some reason, the universe was trying to prolong the interaction.
A drop of tacky rust-red hit the ground, and time resumed. Firmly holding the boy's hand, Midoriya dragged him away from the crowd manoeuvring easily even with the weight of someone holding him back slightly. "I'm so sorry you had to go through that," He blinked at the look on the boy's face, and quickly added, "I'm Midoriya. I don't care what they think about your quirk either, I think it's really cool and you could do a lot of heroic things with it!" The greenette now had his eyes on the path, so he never saw the fleeting look of self-doubt turn to hope.
"Shinsou Hitoshi." The purple-haired boy answered, sighing as if the conversation physically punched him in the gut. Same, but he knows in his gut, he wanted to keep Shinsou around. Trust the gut, always.
"Oh yeah," Midoriya added with a side glance, pulling the taller boy along with unexpected strength. "I'm kidnapping you for a while."
Chapter 3: You Don't Know Me Yet
If the ever was a boy with the power to attract injured, lonely people... It would be Midoriya.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
.An awkward teenager; one who is perpetually ungainly and uncertain.
After the initial panic, Shinsou realised he quite liked the shorter boy's company. It wasn't often that he wanted to tolerate a stranger, but the boy had shown no ill intent and he could tell that 'Midoriya' didn't know how to not be sincere. With a text to his Mum, he'd set off, following a green bush without much argument. He'd mentioned his lack of medical supplies at home, and the boy had latched onto the topic, explaining everything he had from the top of his head (the list was meagre at most, but he still went over any chemicals the supplies contained, giving him the option to speak up over allergies or intolerances) .
Shinsou hadn't met a considerate person before. Well, not since being adopted by his mums, so he was admittedly quite rusty with the human communication side of this.
Regardless, he dared to feel relaxed with the boy's presence. Soon enough, they had arrived at an apartment building, going up the inside stairs instead of the balcony ones he saw from the corner of his eye. Unsurprisingly, the building was swarmed with people, some were visiting relatives, and two older people called out a greeting to the green-haired teen. The boy waved back, a large grin on his face as he opened the door, and welcomed Shinsou.
Midoriya took off his shoes in the small genkan before stepping onto the carpet, Shinsou quickly toeing off his own trainers to follow. "It's not much, but it's cosy and warm, it'll be safer to dress your wounds here rather than in a public bathroom." Oh yeah, the surprise when he instinctively brushed his hand against the crusted blood quickly turned to dismissal. Had he got caught up in the fact that he'd met someone kind? Maybe. Did he regret it? No, definitely not.
The dark-haired boy wandered down the corridor, opening a door and advising him to make himself comfortable in the living space. Shinsou stayed standing when he got there, more careful than suspicious. The place looked well-loved but not spotless, so he didn't feel immediately worried about traps. In the centre of the room sat a small, two-person sofa, a tv on the opposite wall and a table that looked only slightly taller than a Chabudai.
He murmured a thank you before the boy could be completely swallowed by the corridor, patting his hand down his trouser leg self-consciously and glancing around not too obviously. Either the boy didn't reply or he couldn't hear him, so he looked around a little less carefully.
There weren't many pictures on the wall, but there was a small cluster of six, one of what appeared to be a baby and a slender woman with long green hair, grinning up at the camera. Another two were toddler versions of Midoriya with a similarly aged blonde kid, both holding butterfly nets and their fists in the air, something victorious in the way they smiled.
He lightly stepped towards the fourth, they both looked older in this, maybe five or six, the picture seemed innocent at first, both holding All Might action figures to the photographer, but Shinsou could tell there was a slither of something else. Maybe he'd only noticed it because he recognised the childish fear in the greenettes eyes or the way he subtly curled away from the blonde. Where the childish glee had been in toddler pictures, was now thinly-veiled brutality.
Don't get him wrong, children are surprisingly cruel at this age, but he could see something similar in the last picture, this time, however, the green-haired boy's eyes were glassy (and maybe it could just be taken as the normal shiny eyes of an early teen opening presents with a friend, but Shinsou knew . There was a wrongness here, in this seemingly sweet childhood friendship) with the stiff hand of the spiky-haired blonde planted firmly on his head. He doesn't know how the other's mother could not see the wrongness in this image, but the little post notes and good quality frames tell him that nothing was perceived as immoral with the appearances.
"That's Kacchan. The blonde boy."
Shinsou didn't jump, per se, but he stiffened and spun just a little faster than necessary. An apology rested on his tongue, slightly embarrassed and ashamed of the obvious snooping (that's funny, he's never felt the need to apologise to someone before just for looking around) .
The boy raised his free hand in a placating manner, the other holding a red bag. "Don't worry, I have nothing against you looking around the place." He set the bag down on the coffee table as he went, opening it to give Shinsou a clear view of the contents. He appreciated it.
Returning to the boy, he was shown a bottle of… something. At his confused expression, Midoriya froze up and swiftly explained that it was a type of saline solution just for cleaning wounds, which is probably how they found out about the slight cut parallel to his nostril, his nose wasn't broken either, thankfully.
At that point, the boys had moved to the small tiled bathroom, where the warm water is running and a cloth is soaking away the crusted blood. In the end, Shinsou decided to just leave the cut undressed as it would be a waste of the other's materials, not to mention how uncomfortable it would be.
Midoriya started some idle conversation about heroes as they walked back to the main living area, and Shinsou was rather shocked by the extensive knowledge this boy could cram into the one-sided conversation. The taller teen was quite happy to listen. No one had spoken this freely and carelessly around him for years. It was… freeing, in a sense.
Alas, his chattiness wouldn't last forever, the TV blared out a 'TWILIGHT HERO, MATCHIGAM! HAS MADE AN APPEARANCE THIS EVENING TO INTERRUPT A JEWELRY HEIST-' and he swears that the other teen blurred out of existence for all of two seconds, reappearing at the arm of their sofa with a notebook in hand and eyes alight.
A stream of mumbles filled the room, and Shinsou felt out of place when he picked up on a few words from the jumble. A Lot of the phrases were from hero gear design or catchphrases or analysis of her face, and Shinsou risked a glance at the sketch of The Matchstick Hero: Matchigam, seeing that the lack of detail was evened out by excessive notes and labels (the A5 paper probably didn't help with detailed drawings either, Shinsou considered.)
Was that a note that she seemed to be of a Korean bloodline?
Paper snapped together as Midoriya turned to Shinsou, still stood to the back of the sofa, and bowed at an almost perfect ninety degrees angle. The quivering of his shoulders and shuddering breaths couldn't quite be overpowered by the anxious apologies that spewed from the green-haired boy's lips, and Shinsou had to reel back his shock.
Too much was happening and this would definitely end up as a sleepless night on his behalf, but he took a step forward and held his hands in a placating manner, showing that whatever had triggered the other had not bothered him, and instead of asking what the problem was Shinsou calmly pointed at the television and asked "her gear was made in Korea. That symbol seemed to be part of their Republic Flag from a good few hundred years ago."
If Shinsou invited himself to the sofa space near the boy, the other didn't speak against it.
Honestly this Chapter was about three months late and a bit too short for my liking, but it's here and I hope that this sorta filler/explanation will lead to great... events... for the future of Midoriya Izuku