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As his wounds healed, Izuku began to question his quirk. Toshinori was right, and his little stunt had proved it. His healing factor was off the charts, especially for burn-related injuries. It took a week for his face to stop being so pink, and another week for feeling to return to his fingers. 

The sun’s rising rays felt like a perfect pair to the breeze coming off the ocean, bringing warmth to his face as he wiggled his fingers. Today, he was finally going to do it. 

Convincing his mom that this was necessary for understanding his quirk was easier said than done. Despite the newfound reassurance that he could heal from whatever damage he dealt himself, his mom hated the thought of her baby boy being in pain. 

Izuku focuses on his pointer finger, feeling the heat beneath the surface as his quirk comes to life. The last time he’d intentionally burned himself was almost a decade ago by now. Heat builds up uncomfortably, quickly becoming painful as the nerves sear. He steels his resolve and pushes harder, surprising himself as his skin ignites. Ash drifts off the tip of his finger, and it burns through his entire digit before he can react, his bone being exposed for just a moment before it too joins the plume of ash shooting into the air.

His scream echoes off the seawall as he chokes back a sob, pain clouding his mind for a moment before his missing appendage stops hurting. He feels his finger brush against the roof of the pavilion, and-


The cloud of ash swirling above him responds to him as he flexes what feels like his finger. The cloud bends, and when he moves his hand, the cloud moves with it. A gentle breeze pushes against the cloud, and he feels a tugging sensation. With that, he guides the ashes in a circle around the pavilion, panicking as he realizes he’s still very much missing a finger.

On instinct, he reaches up. The stump of his finger makes contact with the cloud. A red ring of fire ignites around his knuckle and he yanks his hand away, screaming as the ashes follow in a tight vortex around it. He watches in horrified fascination as they take the shape of his finger, glowing red as they fuse together.

The process hurts less than he thinks it ought to. It hurts like hell, of course, but when he flexes his slowly-cooling finger, it responds like he expects it to. The glow fades from the ashes as they stitch themselves into skin and bone.

His eyes roll back in his head and he faints.

“My, my! You’ve done quite the work, young man,” Toshinori said, smiling at Izuku as he takes in the scene. Izuku pants heavily on the sand. “You even started work on the seafloor?”

“Yup! I thought,” Izuku takes a deep breath, “it would be good exercise to haul what I can get up. I found an old trawling net in one of the cars further down the beach,” Izuku said, before cutting off. “Wait, where am I?”

“Deep breaths, kid. Don’t monologue when you’re out of breath like that.”

“Right, right! As I was saying, I used the net to get up most of the stuff around here. I feel a lot better swimming out there without the risk of bumping into something gross!” 

Toshinori frowns. “Great work, but don’t burn yourself out. If I see you overworking yourself I won’t hesitate to quit our training!”

Izuku sits up and pulls his sandy shirt off, beating it in the air for a moment before giving up. He turns to his mentor. “I promise I won’t push myself too hard! I have to work twice as hard as everyone else, though, so I can catch up. There’s only three more months.”

“You’ve got spirit! You’re more than on track to meet that goal,” Toshi said, puffing out his chest and taking on his All Might persona. “You’re getting this old man fired up!” 

Izuku grins.

“Izuku? Are you alright?”
“Huh? Oh, sorry Momo!” Izuku puts his hand on the back of his neck as his face lights up. “I was just thinking about tomorrow.”

She gives him an appraising look from over her lunch. They’re eating at the picnic tables on the beach, enjoying the clean smell of the ocean. The stresses of the city feel miles away, even if they’re just a few meters away from the seawall. Cars rush past and seagulls flap overhead. 

“I think you’ve got it. I still can’t believe you handled this whole beach yourself, but if you can clean this much up in just 10 months... no entrance exam is gonna stop you for long.”

Izuku smiles and takes a bite of his chicken. 

“I wish I could tell her it’s not the exam worrying me. It feels wrong, lying to her,” he thinks as he chewed. Try as he might, he couldn’t feel any of Toshinori’s quirk activating. “ Sing with your heart and clench your cheeks!” His mentor had said. Regardless of how clenched he was, he didn’t feel any stronger. Just a bit sore. Both in the rear from the constant tension, and in his heart. Had he really worked this hard for nothing? 

No, it wasn’t for nothing. Even if it took longer for All Might’s quirk to come in, even if it never worked for him, he was better off now than he was ten months ago. He’d gotten in shape and trained his will. He feels a lot more confident. Hell, he’d even made a new friend. A new friend who was raising an eyebrow at him as he…

Oh, right. He was still on the beach. 

“Are you alright?” she repeats. 

“I’m fine!” he yelps. “I just can’t help but think too much. It’s a bad habit, I guess.”
“There’s nothing wrong with thoughtfulness,” she says, chewing a bite of an oversized sandwich. “Just don’t let it paralyze you.”

“How do I stop? I feel like it’s all I’ve ever been good at.”

Momo’s expression brightens. “I have an idea!” she laughs. “We can spar! I won’t give you a chance to think.”

Izuku’s heart flutters in his chest. “Sparring? With you?”

“Oh, don’t worry about me. I’m not made of glass.”

“But I am! You’d flatten me. Is it really a good idea to do any of this the day before the exam?”

“Oh, I’ll be gentle. I promise I won’t knock you out again. It’s a good opportunity for me to practice not killing you.”

Izuku sighs as he stands in a hot shower. Water runs down his back as he stretches his muscles lightly, reaching his arms over his head. His fingers trail tenderly over the back of his neck where Momo had hit him a little too hard. Despite tomorrow’s plans, he doesn’t mind the soreness.

It gives him an excuse to think about something other than the culmination of ten months of hard work. Even if she’d knocked him out, he probably would have been fine in the morning. Izuku wonders if the constant tearing of his muscles over the past months might have strengthened the part of his quirk that makes him heal faster. 

On the countertop next to the shower, his phone buzzes twice. He runs his fingers through his hair, checking for suds, and turns the water off. His phone buzzes again and its screen lights up, allowing him to read the messages he received.

“are you gonna be able to sleep?” the first text reads, and he smiles as he read Yaomomo ’s nickname. “i’ll stay up if you want.”

He dries his hands and wraps a towel around himself, typing his response as he walks to his room. “don’t worry about me, i’ll be fine”

But as he lies on his bed, his mind wandering. Momo has a point, he decides. His eyes trace the spots where his All Might collection had been, until he’d moved it to the closet after All Might had made a visit to his house. His mentor was incredibly flattered, but the situation made Izuku want to curl into a ball of embarrassment. 

The new decor was more understated. He’d kept the color scheme of All Might’s golden age, and he’d kept a single figurine. His pajamas were still All Might-themed, but when he’d spent the night at Toshinori’s house (which had been decidedly awesome, since Toshinori had the same taste in movies as he did) he’d been given them as a gift.

His phone buzzes against his chest. “too late. what are friends for?”

“maybe you’re right. what are you gonna do tomorrow”

An indicator pops up letting him know she’s typing, and her response comes swiftly. “i think i’m gonna get some popcorn and watch the test, i hear they’ve revamped the design this year”

Her words echoed what he’d learned from Mirio a few months earlier. Between his training with All Might and his friends, he’d scarcely had a thought to himself. Now he was more certain Momo was right, and that he had little chance of sleeping tonight. In years past, Izuku had watched the entrance exam on television. If this year was going to be different, his information wouldn’t be reliable. Fighting robots doesn’t scare him, but going in blind does.

He sends Momo a response and runs through a breathing exercise. Now isn’t the time to be nervous, he has to have faith in his training. Nervousness is something he gets to leave behind with who he used to be. He takes another deep breath, and another, and exhaustion unexpectedly washes over him.

The smell of breakfast drifts under his door and rays of sunlight beam through his curtains. Izuku rolls over in bed and pulls his blanket closer, mumbling under his breath. He stretches, yawns, and relaxes again. 

His eyes flutter open and he reaches for the glass of water on his desk. It catches the light in a beautiful way, sending a pattern across the metal of his desk. Not, of course, that Izuku notices. His brain is still booting up. 

He looks at his phone uncomprehendingly as he takes a sip of water. Cold races down his throat and he immediately feels more alert, stretching again as he sits up properly. He runs through his morning routine of message-checking that became commonplace after he met Momo and sees a handful of cheerful messages from Katsuki. 

“Good morning Mom!” Izuku says as he walks into the kitchen, where Inko quietly sips from a mug of coffee and prepares breakfast. 

“Good morning, my love!” she says cheerily. “Big day today, isn’t it?” 

“Only if I let it be. I’ve been preparing for this for months. You’re probably more nervous about this than I am!” 

Inko’s cheerfulness belies her nerves. She planned on doing everything she could to be strong until he leaves the house, but her stomach is doing somersaults. “Oh, that’s probably true. There’s some coffee in the pot if you’d like it. You’ll probably need to pee in the middle of the test, though.”

Izuku reads some of the texts Katsuki had sent him aloud to his mother while they eat. “He said, ‘don’t embarrass me’ and ‘if you forget your water bottle I’m gonna punch you in the teeth’.” 

Inko smiles tightly. “I love that boy, and I know he means well, but he’s such an… oddball.”

“I’ll let him know you said that when I see him.”

Late morning sunlight bounces from the crest of UA to the polished granite below, illuminating Izuku’s face from beneath with a golden light. His eyes gleam, and he winces. When he passes the reflection, his complexion pales.

When he’d come here several months ago, the building had seemed small. Now, with prospective students teeming about the school, it felt more fitting of its stature. He does his best to swallow his nerves and keep a smile on his face, but his legs feel like jelly.

As he passes through the doors, he sees Katsuki. To anyone less familiar, his friend seems like the pinnacle of confidence. He’s unbothered, his complexion shines, and a small smirk covers his face. Izuku, however, knows better; Katsuki is pissed off and nervous. Never one to show his nerves, he channels it all into (mostly) righteous anger. 


The word breaks the tension in their shoulders. “It’s almost hard to believe we’re really here.” 

“We were always gonna make it here. Or at least, I was, and you’ve been following me since we were four.” 

Izuku cracks a smile and they make their way to the auditorium, where they wait briefly for the exam orientation to begin. Below them, an oversized podium spreads out in front of the elevated rows of seating. A large screen composes the majority of the back wall, displaying UA’s crest as their host speed-walks to the microphone.

“Welcome to my show! Say hey, everybody!” the host shouts, his voice carrying directly from him despite the microphone. A weak “hey!” echoes from a far corner of the seating, but dies quickly in the silence. “Alright! I’ll run through this as fast as I can. Are you ready?”

If he wasn’t sure Katsuki would murder him, Izuku probably would have been the most enthusiastic fan in the audience by far. The silence that ate the other examinee’s response scares him almost as much as his friend. Despite his anxiety, he races through all of the memories of Present Mic in his head. Their hero-playing-host had stopped enough crimes to earn himself a spot in the top 100, though Izuku had never personally seen him in action.

“This year, we decided to spice things up! Our principal believes that heroes shine best in unexpected circumstances, so we’ve decided to split you listeners into different environments. The basic premise remains the same, but we’ve introduced new varieties of robots to cast a wider net for prospective hero candidates,” the host spoke, gesturing to a series of images on the screen. He flips through images of insect-like robots before landing on a diagram of a sturdy-looking machine. “Each of these opponents will provide an amount of points equivalent to their toughness. This final image depicts the only robot worth zero points. It exists only as an environmental hazard and there is no associated point bonus for defeating it. It goes crazy in tight spots, so I suggest you avoid it!”

With this, a murmur rushes through the audience. If they’d changed the exam, what could the hazards be? What did they have to prepare themselves for? 

Present Mic tolerates the whispers for a moment before wishing them well and sending them on their way. Katsuki shares a solemn look with his best friend as they made their way to the busses, separating as they silently wish each other luck. Everything they’d been working towards for as long as they could remember was reaching a culmination.

Internally, Izuku was on fire. Externally, he remains composed as the bus began to move. In the seat next to him, a blonde boy shifts uncomfortably as his tail presses against the backrest. 

“Does your- um, does your tail get in the way of sitting? I can try to take up less room if you want to let it rest on the seat.”

“That would be nice, thank you. I’ve never found a way to sit comfortably.”

They made awkward small talk for a moment before they arrives at their testing site, where a massive Greek beta symbol crowned an equally massive gate. Trees peek over the edge of the wall, and skyscrapers overgrown with plant life stood proudly behind them. As Izuku exits the bus, he hears music and what sounds like cheering in a stadium. 

They approach the gate, and a drone hovers above, broadcasting Present Mic’s voice to them. 

“The test will begin in two minutes! Stretch yourself out, and remember: in a real battle, there are no countdowns! Be heroic, go above and beyond, plus ultra!” 

Izuku closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, tuning the world out for a moment as he centers himself. 

“Clench your cheeks and shout in your heart!”

He tenses every muscle in his body and smiles, imagining power rushing through his body. 


Izuku proves the voice right by jumping thirty feet into the air, flailing wildly as he falls and lands on his hands and knees. 

“Sorry! I didn’t mean to spook you,” the owner of the voice said, smiling as she offers him a very pink hand. He takes it and she pulls him up. “You looked tense! Come on, stretch with me. I’m Mina. Let’s be quick!”

He crosses his arm over his chest and pulls along his forearm, feeling the stretch in his triceps. They run through a handful more exercises in quick succession, and he took the time to process what had happened. That was definitely his new record for jump height, and he hadn’t even intended to do it.

Did that mean he had activated One for All? 

A loud hiss shakes him from his thoughts, and he clenches his muscles once more, trying to recreate the feeling from earlier. The gate creaks open, and the students ahead of him rush in. Izuku follows close behind, feeling very off-balance as he feels something take hold in his body.

As he pushes off with his first foot, he trips, flying through the air. When he tries to right himself, his hands come up much faster than expected, and he does a flip, landing on his back.

Taking a breath, he pulls himself up gently. 

Focusing on one leg at a time is difficult. I can tell the power is there, but it’s not evenly distributed. It’s throwing me off balance.

Beyond the gates, chaos reigns. A large metallic scorpion melts as Mina splashes it with acid, and another falls as the boy from the bus crushes its’ head with his tail. 

I’m already falling behind! I can do this. All Might is counting on me to do this.

He focuses again on the feeling in his legs, spreading the power evenly this time. He takes a shaky step, relieved as he remains standing and tries to run. His legs fall out from beneath him as they accelerate faster than his body.

Mina turns to stare at him as he yells in frustration, but only for a moment before her face turns upwards toward the shadow descending over her.

A robotic spider swings down, trailing a web behind it as it yanks her into the air with its legs. Izuku stares in horror as she melts its mandibles and eyes off, frying its circuits until it releases her - fifty feet in the air.

Warmth spreads over his body as he hauls himself up, rocketing into the city and bouncing off walls to catch her. He slams into her and slides down the side of a building, landing on the ground before he can even think about what he’s doing. 

“Are you alright!?” 

Mina wheezes before taking a few unsteady breaths. “You knocked the wind out of me, but it’s better than dying! Thanks for the save… what’syourface.”


“Alright, Midoriya!” she laughs as he helps her to her feet. “Whew. That was scary. I hate spiders.”

A shadow crosses over her face again and she blanches, ducking backward as Izuku feels something latch onto his back. A sticky web of metal fibers yanks him into the air by his shirt, and he watches the ground fade rapidly as something pulls him into its nest.

He turns and feels the warmth of his new power again, reaching to the web and ripping it apart with his bare hands. His momentum carries him upwards, and he slams into something hard and chittering.

Izuku scrambles for something to hold on to, grabbing a spider leg and pulling himself tight as it tries to shake him off. He looks around wildly for somewhere to jump to, and throws himself onto a net lodged between a few metal fibers. The spider lunges for him, and he punches it in the face. 

The spider’s face shatters, and it slides off the edge of the web, crashing to the ground below. Izuku takes a second to stare as Mina dodges the falling debris, before she waves and runs off.

I can’t stop moving or I won’t pass! Get up, Izuku!’

Scrambling to his feet, he takes stock of his surroundings. He’s maybe two hundred feet in the air, standing on a slightly-shaky metal web. Cords as thick as telephone poles anchor the web to the buildings on either side of the street, and overhead foliage bathes the street in a beautiful green tint. If he weren’t busy, he might have taken longer to appreciate it. 

A scorpion with a one-point mark emblazoned on its head scrambles toward him, its tail crackling with an electric lance. It stabs at him once, and he dodges to the right, lunging for the base of its tail and punching through the metal. Its tail collapses and the robot snaps at him with its claws, scuttling backwards in an attempt to avoid a face-collapsing punch.

Izuku winces. Punching metal hurts, but the skin on his knuckles doesn’t appear to be broken. He’s sure he’ll be covered in all sorts of bruises by the end of the day, but such is the life of a hero.

He continues on his way, jumping between web fibers as he crushes robot after robot. A spider shoots a ten-pound web at him as he leaps up to meet it, and a small crowd of scorpions snap their claws and poke at him from the walls of the buildings. As he struggles with another insect (he’s grateful now that his mom always asked him to handle whatever bugs got in the house) he feels the web shake and sees something approaching in a reflection.

Glass shatters behind him and he barely avoids being impaled as a sixty-foot metal snake shatters the scorpion that had him pinned. Its momentum keeps it moving, and Izuku’s eyes widen as it turns to focus on him.

“Oh, shit!”

It strikes, and Izuku freezes for just long enough to see its face approach.

This is how I die. 

Fortunately, it slows right before making impact, and Izuku leaps upward with all his might as its mouth prepares to close over him. He rockets through its skull, slamming into a cable and landing on the snake’s back as it shudders. It begins to slide between two webs and crashes to the ground below as Izuku scrambles off.  He wipes his brow with his forearm.

Something builds in his chest, and he laughs. From all sides, he hears echoing noises of combat. Down the street, a beam of blue light blasts through two robots. The cacophony is almost overwhelming, but he still can’t believe he’s made it here, let alone that he’s doing well.

That makes twenty-one points. Is that enough?

He makes his way to the street below, swinging down on a loose iron strand. 

“Four minutes left, dear listeners!” 

Down the street, a stadium stood proudly. From its gates poured a steady stream of one-point scorpions, and a masked figure sprinted away from them. There were too many to fight alone, so Izuku runs to the boy’s aid.

From the direction the masked boy is running in, another wave of scorpions surged forth, throwing themselves from windows and entryways. On either side of the street, a building blocks their escape, and they find themselves pinned between a horde of opponents.

Izuku backpeddles until he runs into something, and almost shouts. He turns and sees the boy who’d been running. The robots march forward on either side of them, jabbing their lances. Quietly, Izuku thinks that being cornered by a mediocre artificial intelligence is a little embarrassing.

“I’m going to throw you over them.”


“How quick are your reflexes?”

“Well, pretty fast, I suppose, but I think we’d have a better chance if we stuck together.”

“They’re easier to manage from behind. Better to open an escape route.”

“Um…” Izuku says, questioning whether or not he trusts this guy yet. Between the rapidly-encroaching robots and the rather ominous-looking tasers on their whip-like tails, he decides he’ll just have to take his chances. “Go for it, we don’t-”

Before he can finish his sentence he’s twenty feet in the air, soaring over the reach of said robots. With their weapons still focused on his newfound companion, their backsides were exposed. With a detonation of each of his fingers, one by one, his villain score rises. He calls the clouds of ash back to him and grits his teeth as his fingers reform.

As Izuku watched, his new friend grappled with a scorpion, clambering atop its head and dancing around electric lances from the rest of the robots as they shredded the poor thing. 

He swings around a tail to escape, and his arms extend in an almost unsettling way, forcing the remaining robots to electrocute each other. The boy sinks to a knee, breathing heavily as his arm retracts.

Izuku laughs again, amazed.

“That was so cool! Can you tell me about your quirk sometime?”

The kneeling boy grimaces as he catches his breath. “Maybe if we make it into the same class…”

“Oh, that’s right. I guess I should get going! We should get going.”

“No thank you. I’m quite content to rest for a moment. What use am I to anyone if  I’m too tired to fight?”

“That’s smart! Um… I’ll see you when we make it in, I don’t doubt you will!” Izuku shouts as he turns away, rushing down the street with tiny sparks hanging in his wake.

In the brief moment between his departure and the following chaos, Mezo Shoji smiles. His eyes don’t convey the same confidence.

Unfortunately for Izuku, he’d chosen the wrong time to sprint down that street, and as he makes his way toward more points, the real test starts.

Down the street, a skyscraper crumbles, and the air fills with dust and terror.

Hanta Sero, a boy with tape dispensers in his elbows (or at least he prefers that terminology over other sticky metaphors) is currently reenacting a scene from his favorite comic book series.

In ages past, long before quirks manifested, his ancestors dreamed of superpowers like this. A young boy in America gaining a quirk by being bitten by a radioactive spider hardly seemed like the strangest thing that could happen, but a couple of hundred years ago it was firmly in the realm of fiction.

Unfortunately for Hanta, he doesn’t have super strength or heightened durability like the comic’s protagonist. He uses two lines of tape to swing between balconies, occasionally ripping vases and flowerpots off their stands to bash robots with, before making the mistake of yanking himself toward a robot monkey and ramming his fist into its fac”.

“Gah!” he screams, seeing red for a moment as the brittle metal shatters under his knuckles - and his skin splits open. The robot crumples as he reels himself back to a balcony to examine the damage, wincing as he moves the digits of his right hand.

Blood trickles down and drips off his palm, splashing against the wood below. 

The boy frowns, but shoots another line of tape out to the next balcony. Cradling his arm, he swings, and decides he’ll stick to projectiles and the like until he gets protective gear.

Overhead, a green-haired blur rockets between buildings. Asui “Call Me Tsu” Tsuyu doesn’t have the same limitations as Hanta. Hybridization-type quirks like hers, a frog-based enhancement quirk, tend to provide much more robust physiques. 

Her tongue shoots out twenty feet and grapples a robot, pulling her in for a powerful overhead kick. Without a single stop, she bounces off the ground and continues in search of more points. As she flies through an intersection, carefully weaving between power cables and stoplights, her peripheral vision catches something approaching at high speed.

About an instant before its hit her, she twists out of its path, and-

An explosion blasts her into a pole, and the wielder of said explosion finds himself tangled in cables.

“Watch where you’re going, frog-face!”

She croaks, trying to regain her breath and assess her injuries. 

Katsuki Bakugou’s introduction to his future classmate isn’t exactly a shining example of his attitude, but as soon as he untangles himself, he swings down from the lights to help her up. He swears when he saw her scraped palms and the way she favors her left leg.

“Shit, sorry. Are you alright?”

She straightens and glares at him. “No thanks to you. You really ought to watch where you’re going.”

“Yeah, well… Oh, forget about it. See ya,” he says, stepping back and pulling his arms to his sides.

As abruptly as he had shown up, he vanishes in a blast of smoke. Irritated, Tsuyu mutters some very unkind words before limping the pain off and continuing on her way.

Out of the moderately sized lake at the end of the street surges something massive. Explosions roar overhead as someone rushes to meet it.

As the dust billows like a tsunami down alleys and streets, a colossal figure begins to move. A grinding noise echoes off the buildings, concrete popping and cracking as the goliath rolls over them. Izuku stops in his tracks.

Even as it begins to move, he has trouble processing how big it was. This was the zero-pointer? It looks vaguely humanoid, but the scale is completely off the charts. He takes in all the details he could; a dent in its long, brick-like head where a chunk of concrete had hit it, reinforced joints, shielded limbs and massive tank-like treads. 

His eyes follow down to the street, and he sees something other than rubble against the asphalt. 

A gargantuan metal arm slams into the building next to the figure, and concrete chunks the size of small cars come raining down. Dust trailed in their wake as they slam into the ground, bouncing and cracking despite their size.

Izuku’s heart races. Did I just watch somebody die?!

He sprints, and as he gets closer, he can see someone pinned under the block of concrete. The ground shakes as the massive robot approaches, and another block of concrete comes crashing down. 

Izuku won’t make it in time. Whoever is stuck there is going to be crushed as he watches, unless he does something about it.

Before Izuku can think, his body shoots into action, and his left leg shatters from the force of One For All. He all but blinks into existence hundreds of feet down the street, and relief hits him before the pain does. He takes aim and all five of the fingers on his right hand erupt, knocking the falling debris off course.

“Aidez-moi!” yells the trapped boy, whose legs are very stuck under hundreds of pounds of concrete. By some miracle (or test design), the boy’s legs seem to be intact.

“I’m here, I’m here! Can you- uh, can you move your legs?”

“Oh, merci!” the boy says, struggling against the weight of the object. Small fragments of stone rain down on them. “No, they’re completely stuck!”

The noise of the massive robot crawling toward them gives them both pause, before the French-speaking boy begins to panic. 

“Can you lift it at all? I don’t wish to die!”

Izuku limps over and grabs the edge of the concrete, pulling with as much force as he can muster, but even his quirk-aided strength doesn’t budge it. He looks into the face of the monstrous zero-pointer as its mechanical arm comes down to squash them like bugs, and he feels his heart squeeze.

His right leg ruins itself with force it shouldn’t be able to generate, and he flies into the air. Izuku’s left arm slaps the beast’s arm away with an arc of fire and ash and his eyes tighten, both against the wind and the feeling of his entire arm turning to a pyroclastic surge.

And then he’s twenty feet from its face, carrying all of his momentum with his next blow, and his remaining limb detonates with an explosion that would scare Katsuki. The metal dents, shrieking as it tears apart. A cloud of superheated boy arm shoots out of the back of its head. The entire structure of the beast lifts into the air, flying backward and collapsing against a building.

And now, Izuku has a problem: he’s hundreds of feet in the air, and all of his limbs are either missing or broken.

He hangs in the air in much the same way as birds don’t.

Barely holding on to his consciousness, he sees and hears the French boy down below, yelling for help once more. Through the dust, he can make out several figures running toward him. Beyond them, he sees people staring, pointing…

Oh, and there’s the ground, of course, rushing up to meet him. At this point, his vision feels more like watching a slideshow, and his eyes close without his permission.

“Sorry, mom.”

The ground hits him with much less pain than he’d expected, and a lot more limbs.

“Am I dead?”

“No. Probably not.”

“Oh, that’s nice. Thanks for catching me.”

“That boy intrigues me.”

“I’m surprised at you, Shota. The boy’s gone and ruined himself.”

“His control leaves a lot to be desired.  It’s like he’s using his quirk for the first time.”

Present Mic looks at him, his jaw dropping. “Whaaaaat? No immediate dismissal? I knew you would soften up eventually!”

“Shut up, Hizashi. I’m not going to go easy on him. He’s clearly going to pass the exam,” Aizawa said, zipping a sleeping bag up to his nose. “If he can handle that power without destroying himself, he’s got the right attitude. That’s all I’m saying.”

Izuku’s eyes flutter open. Above him, his masked acquaintance stands, cradling his six webbed arms. Shiny burns marked where he had caught Izuku. Half-crumbled buildings rose up on either side of them, smoke and flames drifting off the vines and trees on their facades. A wispy cloud of ash casts the street into shadow, and Izuku’s heart begins to race.

His core tightens as he tries to push himself off the ground, but he can’t find purchase on the asphalt beneath him. 

“Relax, you’ll hurt yourself worse. Help is on its way,” the boy standing above him speaks. His eyes flit from Izuku’s face to his arms and back up.

“Oh. Ow,” Izuku mutters, delirious as his head falls back to its resting spot. “I blew my arms off, didn’t I?”

He lifts what remains of his arms from the ground, choking out a laugh as he stares at the glowing embers where his elbows should be. 

“Your legs appear to be broken as well.”

Izuku coughs. He cam hear footsteps approaching, and recognizes the voice of the boy he’d injured himself trying to save.

He reaches his arms to the sky once more, and focuses. He feels a tugging sensation in his mind as he reaches for the ash cloud above them, and as it begins to spiral, he screams.

“Please get away from me,” he gasps, his voice hoarse from pain.

Steps retreat from him, and he groans with effort as a vortex of still-glowing ash makes its way from the sky down to him. It splits in two as it approaches him, and as it makes contact with his arms, his vision begins to blur. The stumps of his arms glow brighter and brighter as they rebuild themselves. The air around him begins to shimmer, and he knows no more.

Mezo likes to think he has a strong stomach. Neither blood nor broken bones had ever made him queasy. The noise his new friend made while his arms reconstructed themselves, however, made him feel sick. 

In seconds, the ordeal is over, and the boy’s arms collapse. Their incandescent heat fades into pink skin as his eyes roll into the back of his head. The boy’s head tilts to the side and he vomits.

“Move! Move. We need to get this boy to the infirmary at once,” a firm voice calls, and the ancient hero known as Recovery Girl makes her way into the street. She reaches the downed boyand assesses his condition. “He’s overheated.” 

A pair of assistant robots rush over and slide a gurney under him. They lift him and begin their trek out of the exam site. Recovery Girl begins checking over the rest of the prospective students, giving each of them a kiss on the head and a handful of nutritious snacks as her healing quirk takes its effects.

Mezo thinks it’s weird until she reaches him and makes the burns on his arms fade in less than a minute.

The morning after the exam, Izuku finds himself at the beach again. 

His newly-healed legs shake under him as he stumbles his way to the pavilion where his journey had begun. His bottom lip shiver as the pain he’d been holding in threatens to spill out. Half-heartedly, he checks his phone for a response again. 

Toshinori hadn’t even opened his messages since yesterday. Momo had tried her best to assuage his fears, and Katsuki had yelled at him for doubting himself. The salty wind makes his eyes feel dry, and they began to water.

He slumps against the table and buries his face in numb hands as he sobs.

Ten months of work, and now he has to wait. He feels pathetic for crying. Did he make it in? Was all of this work for nothing? Did his reckless use of One for All disqualify him? 

He wishes his mentor would respond.

A week passes. A week of self-flagellation, moping, and absentminded exercises passes, and he neither hears nor sees Toshinori. 

As Izuku lies in the dark on the floor, he’s grateful for the updated decor. His computer screen illuminates the room, revealing still-empty shelves and his All Might bedspread hastily stuffed in his closet. Tissues spill over the top of his small trash bin, and he reaches for a fresh one to blow his nose with. 

His phone buzzes once, revealing another message from Momo. He lets the screen go dark and flicks his used tissue toward the trash, staring at it when it lands on the floor a foot from its target.

The smell of dinner seeps under his door, and his stomach protests. He picks out the sounds of his mother’s cooking, her footsteps, the door opening, and a loud gasp. A deep, familiar voice joins the chorus of household sounds, and Izuku sits bolt upright. 

He stands and hurriedly pulls off his tear-soaked shirt, replacing it with the first option in his dresser. The lights flick on as he listens carefully, and Inko excitedly invites the visitor in. He reaches for the doorknob before turning and tidying his room at breakneck speed, barely realizing he’s got One for All activated, and flies out the door.

“Toshinori?” Izuku says, walking into the living room.

“My boy! It’s good to see you!” 

Something sizzles in the kitchen, and Inko excuses herself. “Make yourself at home!”

“Pardon my interruption, I hope I don’t keep you from your dinner.” An envelope sits in Toshinori’s oversized hands, looking comically small. “I come bearing gifts.”

“Is that…?”

“It is. I’ll let you see for yourself.”

The envelope exchanges hands, and Izuku carefully tears it open. His heartrate picks up as a small medallion clatters out of it, a glow emanating from the center as it produces a hologram. He reaches down and picks it up, watching with rapt attention as All Might appears.

“I am here as a projection!”

“Oh, goodness. This is embarrassing. I hate seeing myself in recordings.”

Izuku looks from the hologram to his mentor, and back again as it explains Toshinori’s absence.

“Was the paperwork really that extensive?” Izuku says, sniffling as tears make their way into his eyes again. 

“Don’t cry, dear boy. You’ve done well.”
“I know, I was just so worried. I thought that maybe I had disqualified myself with my injuries. Either that, or they had noticed how I tripped when I started the exam, or…” 

“You’re alright!” Toshinori says. “You’re more than alright, really. Listen to the recording!”

“You passed the written portion with flying colors, and ended your practical exam with a total of twenty-six villain points. That alone would have edged you into a place here, but we aren’t some second-choice school!”

Izuku’s eyes shone and his lip trembled. Toshinori beams at him, and gestures back to the hologram.

“How could any self-respecting school deny those who act with heroic hearts? Izuku Midoriya, you were rewarded with seventy-five rescue points! Come, young man. This is your hero academia!”

With that, the dam breaks, and the tears come rushing out again. For a moment, the world is blurry and joyous, and he feels a heavy hand on his shoulder.

“I’m proud of you!”

“Oh, Izuku!” his mother cries, rushing out of the kitchen to wrap him in a bone-crushing hug. She squeezes him until the tears stop, and gives a look to the man standing by him. Toshinori awkwardly makes eye contact. She mouths a word of gratitude, before dragging Izuku to the dining room. 

“We’d better eat dinner before it gets cold. You’re welcome to stay, if you’d like. I think we have ice cream.”

Toshinori waves his hands. “Thank you for offering, but I should get going. I still have a lot of paperwork to do.”

Izuku wipes his eyes on his sleeve and smiles at his mentor. “I’ll see you around?”

“You will! I might not be able to meet until school starts, but I’ll try to fit in some training time. No slacking off!”

Whirs and hums fill the air in the room as medical equipment does its work. Tubes snake across the floor to a throne of metal and silk, where a broadly-built man sits. The bottom half of his face is hidden behind a sturdy oxygen mask. The top of his face, built of scar and pale skin, has no nose nor eyes nor hair to mar its perfect egg-like shape. 

A television replays the scene for him. A young man shatters his legs and blasts his arms away, sending a hundred-ton robot crashing to the ground. 

Despite his lack of eyes, the man watches attentively. His cheeks tighten as he smiles under his mask.

“Nice to meet you, Nine.”