Hey everyone, I'm a fan who just recently got into this wonderful series. This is my first story, so I'm hoping you'll all enjoy!
Disclaimer: Don't own any of MHA, yada yada.
Cover Image by kiwikyu. You can find them on Deviantart under that name (Would link but this site hates links).
It was a warm summer evening as the sun set over U.A. High School. Students trickled out of the gates as their classes wrapped up for the day. For many, such as those in the hero program, today marked the end of finals for the semester. Some were cheering as they left, celebrating their freedom from the work. Others simply look exhausted, eager to get home and collapse into bed. Regardless, one thing was for sure: the end of finals had put everyone's mind at ease.
Well, almost everyone.
Mina Ashido sat alone in the famous – or infamous, depending on who you asked – classroom 1-A. She was slumped forward in her seat slightly, her head tilted down so she was staring at her desk. It was certainly an odd sight; the pink hero-in-training was known for being one of the first students out of the classroom once the bell rang. Yet here she was, sitting like a statue as her peers were all heading home for the day. The only reason she hadn't been kicked out was there hadn't actually been class in the homeroom today; their practical exams were held in another part of the building.
The exam that Mina had failed.
The reason she was sitting here, staring at a blank desk with an equally blank expression on her face.
Another oddity in her behavior. Everyone knew Mina was possibly the most expressive, emotional student in the class. Happy, sad, angry, everyone knew whatever she was feeling. But right now, her expression was unreadable. Devoid of any kind of emotion.
She had lost track of how long she'd sat here, staring at her desk like it was the most fascinating thing in the world. She didn't really care either. Her mind was entirely focused on the exam she had failed just a little while ago. Spectacularly failed at that. There may not have been a more total failure in the history of this school, she reckoned.
Oh sure, Kirishima and Sato had also failed, but they at least looked like that came somewhat close. They didn't just spend the whole test running like an idiot, never even seeing their opponent. They at least had a plan, as bullheaded as it was. Mina and Kaminari on the other hand looked downright pathetic. Not that Mina blamed her partner; his quirk was simply not well suited for the task they had.
See, it wasn't just the fact that Mina had failed the exam that was making her feel so horrible. Oh, it certainly played a part, because it meant she was no longer going to the training camp she had been looking forward to. It also meant she was going to have a very "fun" conversation at home tonight. But she could move past all that.
No, it was seeing everyone else's performance in the finals that was making her feel like she was about to vomit. Todoroki and Yaoyorozu, Tsuyu and Tokoyami, Koda and Jirou… Everyone had performed spectacularly. Their strategy, teamwork, and technique had led them all to victory against their teachers one way or another. Even Mineta showed some resolve for once in his life. And Mina was happy for all of them, ecstatic even. Seeing how much her classmates had improved over the semester was incredible.
But it also showed just how far Mina had fallen behind. Mina Ashido, rank 19 out of 20 students (And frankly, based on how much more quickly Kaminari had grasped topics during their group study sessions at Yaoyorozu's, she was beginning to suspect this exam might push her to 20). Mina Ashido, the student who held the record for after-school detention with Mr. Aizawa. Mina Ashido, the girl who was beginning to question just what it was she was doing here.
"Seriously… What am I doing here?" The horned girl let out a sigh. This exam had been one hell of a wake-up call, that was for sure. She was at the finest school in the country for heroes, and yet one semester later she felt like she hadn't improved in the slightest. Oh, sure she survived the villain attack at the USJ, but that was because of everyone else. In fact, she was pretty certain she was the only one who hadn't fought. And while it was true she placed quite high at the Sports Festival, it was mostly because she road on the coattails of Bakugou to the top 16, and just so happened to go against the one guy whose weakness she knew perfectly in the first round.
Other than that? A long list of failed assignments, contests, and of course exams. Slacking off at arcades instead of doing work. Hanging out with her hard-working classmates instead of catching up on studies, pretending like she belonged here.
Reflecting on all of this as she sat here, Mina had begun to suspect that she U.A. was not the place for her. This was a prestigious school for the best of the best, and while her acid quirk was certainly powerful, she was hardly an exemplary student. This disaster of a final was a clear indicator of that.
Letting out another sigh, Mina placed her elbows on the desk and let her face sink into her hands. She might have started crying, but she had done enough of that today. She didn't even feel that sad anyway, just… Disappointed, really. Disappointed in herself.
She didn't move her hands when she heard the door open and shut, nor did she move them when she heard the footsteps slowly approach her. She finally moved them as a timid male voice spoke, one she immediately recognized.
"…Ashido?" The concern in his voice was obvious. She slowly turned her head up to look at the source of the voice, her expression not changing.
A few minutes earlier
Izuku Midoriya let out a yawn as he walked down the halls of U.A., eager to get home. He loved this school, and was grateful every single day that he had gotten the chance to come here, but these finals had taken a lot out of him. It was bad enough that he had to work with his friend-turned-bully and fight a teacher, but when said teacher was All Might? Even with those training weights it was an absurd. It was one of the many times he found himself questioning the teachings methods of this school.
Still, this place was the best for a reason, and he had ultimately prevailed. Somehow, he and Kacchan had successfully worked together to overcome All Might and pass. It made him realize just how much he had grown since starting here. How much he had gotten control over One for All, though he obviously had a long way to go before truly making it his own. He couldn't help but be a little proud of himself, a rare feeling for the Quirk inheritor.
But as always, he quickly found himself thinking of other more than himself. Not everyone had been as fortunate as him; 4 of his classmates had failed the practical final, which meant they wouldn't be attending the training retreat. Kirishima, Sato, Kaminari, Ashido… He could only imagine how they were feeling.
"Ashido…" His mind drifted back to when he first returned from his test. Everyone had watched and were all waiting to congratulate him, even the ones that hadn't passed their own tests. But while they were happy for him, they couldn't completely hide how upset they were about their own results. Ashido had stood out in particular to Izuku because he just wasn't used to seeing her look so down. She almost always had a smile on her face, typically having a very brief but comedically exaggerated reaction if something had actually upset her.
This was different though. She was clearly trying to hide it, but Izuku could tell something was off. He had wanted to say something, but before he had a chance he was instructed to go down to the nurse's office.
Izuku stroked his chin as he thought about this out loud. Fortunately, the hallway was empty so nobody was around to hear his trademark mumbling. By the time he had gotten out of the nurse's office, everyone else in his class had left for home, and he was looking forward to doing the same.
As the formerly Quirkless boy passed by his homeroom, a sudden flash of pink in the corner of his eye snapped him out of his rambling. He backed up a few steps to look through the door window. The source of said pink flash was none other than Mina Ashido.
"What's she doing in there? Huh?" The student's eyes widened a bit as he got a better look as his classmate. He had noticed something off about her before, but this was…
He almost didn't recognize her.
Any of her usual energy was completely gone. Her face looked devoid of any kind of emotion as she sat completely motionless at her seat, slumped forward with her head tilted down. No crying, no anger, just… Nothing. It kind of scared Izuku.
"How long has she been here?" He muttered as he stared at the acid user. After several seconds, she suddenly moved as he placed her elbows on the desk and raised up her arms, letting her face fall into hands. Izuku grimaced a bit as he realized he started to recognize her unusual behavior. The look, the body language, everything about her demeanor was all too familiar to him.
This was the look of someone who felt completely defeated. Someone who was giving up. Izuku was very well acquainted with that feeling; whether it was the day he found out he wasn't going to get a quirk, or at the times in middle school where he would succumb to his classmates' jeering, or when the more cynical All Might he first met had told him becoming a hero would be impossible without a quirk, he had dealt with it more times than he could count. It was something he never wanted to experience again, and seeing someone else, especially someone like Mina, going through that torment…
Izuku's hands balled into fists. He couldn't stand to see her like this.
The door creaked as the green haired boy opened it, shutting it behind him as he entered the room. He had never said more than a few words to Mina since he met her, but that didn't matter right now. She didn't look up as he approached her desk.
"…Ashido?" He called out. The horned girl seemed to respond to this as he slowly lifted her head up to him.
"Midoriya." Much like her expression, Mina's voice was lacking its usual energy and bubbliness. She didn't say anything else as she stared blankly at him.
"Uh… W-what are you doing in here? S-school is over y-you know," Izuku stammered as he spoke, not entirely sure what the best thing to say right now was. Plus, he still was a little uneasy talking to girls.
"Oh." There was a brief silence as the two continued to stare at each other.
"I-is… Is everything a-alright?" Izuku obviously knew the answer, but he needed to say something.
"Yep." Another one-word answer.
"A-are you sure?" This time Mina shut her eyes, breathing in a bit.
"Yes, I'm sure. Everything's fine Midoriya." There was a hint of irritation in her voice, another emotion Izuku didn't usually hear from Mina. He backed up a step, raising his hands slightly.
What the One for All inheritor didn't realize was the he was one of the last people Mina wanted to see right now. Out of all of the exams, his was the one that had truly made her realize just how behind she had fallen. Midoriya and Bakugou. Possibly the two most incompatible students in the class, up against the top hero in the entire world. An impossible task, right?
Well somehow, some way, they had done the impossible. Bakugou and Midoriya, the two students who were clearly enemies before they had come to U.A., managed to put aside whatever problems they had and work together to win against All Might. Freaking All Might!
And this was the same guy who placed last in the initial quirk test at the start of the year. The guy who couldn't use his power without shattering his limbs. Now he was one of the best in the class, capable of going toe-to-toe with the juggernaut that was All Might, even if he was handicapped.
Just thinking about it made her pissed off. Not at it Midoriya, but at herself.
"L-look, if you want to t-talk about the exam…" This guy really didn't know when to back off.
"I said I was fine, okay!?" Mina shouted as she suddenly leapt to her feat. Izuku jumped back at this, raising his hands up even more. "What, you think I'm upset about failing this stupid test and not going to this stupid retreat!?" Her hands were balled into fists, arms shaking slightly as she yelled at her classmate. Izuku simply stared, wide-eyed at the sudden outburst of emotion. After a few more seconds, Mina sighed, relaxing slightly as she shut her eyes.
This wasn't his fault. She shouldn't be lashing out at him like this.
"I'm sorry." Her voice was much lower now. "I'm just…" Another sigh. Izuku slowly lowered his hands. "I know you're just trying to help. That's what you do, right?" She put on a smile. A sad, forced smile. "Always butting into people's business whether they want you to or not. Always helping everyone out. Always striving to be the best hero you can be." Izuku blinked in confusion, unsure where she was going with this. "Seriously, amazing how strong you've gotten. How strong everyone's gotten. It's been one hell of a semester, hasn't it?" Her smile drooped a bit as she looked down.
Izuku was starting to put it together.
"Y-you've gotten way stronger too, Ashido," he started to say. She held up a hand as he was about to continue, shaking her head.
"Come on, Midoriya, you saw me out there right?" She let out a soft, hollow laugh. "Couldn't even find my opponent. Spend the whole damn thing running like an idiot. Some hero I am, huh?" Her smile was getting less and less convincing. "That's me, bottom of the barrel of Class 1-A, right?"
It wasn't just the exam, Izuku realized. He knew Mina was struggling with academics in general, but it never seemed to bother her that much. But it seemed the practical had changed that.
"L-look, Ashido, you-
"You, though, you were incredible." She wasn't listening to him at this point. "Seriously, you managed to get your weird quirk under control, and get Bakugou to work together with you. And you beat All Might." She patted him on the shoulder, which made him tense up a bit. "You're amazing. You really do belong at this school." She began to walk past him, making her way for the door. Izuku stood in place as she left.
"I belong here…" He muttered. "Unlike you? Is that what you're trying to say?" He turned his head towards her, noticing she had stopped moving. She didn't face him, but he saw her rub her eye for a moment. Without answering, she continued forward, putting a hand on the doorknob. Izuku shut his eyes tight, gritting his teeth. He had to say something!
"I was Quirkless!"
Mina froze, the doorknob halfway-turned. She slowly turned to face her classmate, a look of utter confusion on her face. Izuku took a second to realize what he blurted out.
Crap. Not exactly what he wanted to say.
He took a deep breath and gathered himself. Since Bakugou had called him a "Quirkless loser" a few times in front of the class, he had practiced a cover story in case this topic ever came up.
"My Quirk," he started, looking at his hand. "I didn't always have it." Mina was now completely turned around, her hand off the doorknob. "It didn't appear until I was done with middle school, actually. Doctor couldn't really explain why." It wasn't a lie, technically. "So, I've spent most of my life thinking I was Quirkless." The hero-in-training looked at his feet, partially because he felt bad about lying, but mostly because he was bringing up bad memories. "It… It was rough growing up thinking that."
Mina could only imagine. Quirkless people were a rarity to be sure. She wasn't sure if she ever met one, at least one that she knew for a fact was Quirkless. But she did know how low an opinion society had of the Quirkless. They were treated like second-class citizens at times, as nobody thought they would accomplish anything in life. Was Izuku treated the same?
"All my life, I've dreamed of becoming a hero. Even when I was told I was never going to get a Quirk, I kept on trying. I knew it was basically an impossible dream, but…" He looked up, a more determined look on his face now. "Heroes are never supposed to give up, right?" Mina's eyes widened slightly as he said this. "Of course, nobody else believed in me back then. A lot kids liked to bully me, and I didn't really have any friends. I mean, who wants to be friends with a Quirkless loser, right?
Quirkless loser. Mina had heard Bakugou call Midoriya that more than a few times. She, like many others, hadn't thought much of it. Bakugou said a lot of shit, after all. But hearing this… The two clearly knew each other before U.A. Was Bakugou one of the bullies he mentioned?
Her hands clenched into fists once again. If there was one thing she couldn't stand, it was bullies. People who picked on the weak and defenseless, they were basically junior villains. Mina had stood up to a lot of bullies during her childhood. It was one of the things that had made her want to become a hero.
She had always taken her Quirk for granted. She never once imagined her life without it. After all, everyone she knew had Quirks. She couldn't possibly see herself even thinking about becoming a hero if she didn't have one. She couldn't see anyone without a Quirk thinking that.
But Izuku Midoriya, the student who continued to shock the entire class with amazing feats, whether it be pushing Todoroki to the brink at the Sports Festival, surviving an encounter with the infamous Hero Killer, or of course besting All Might in his final exam, had.
Even though it sounded like he had been put down by everyone most of his life, he clearly never gave up on becoming a hero. Heroes were basically his life, everyone knew that.
"But despite that, I just couldn't give up. There were times when I felt like I should, but then I would remember All Might's words… And how a hero needs to smile, even when things look bad!" His voice was getting louder and louder as he spoke, his stutter long gone.
All Might. Izuku idolized the man, everyone also knew that. The symbol of peace and justice, who always had a smile on his face no matter what the situation was. He inspired hope for people all across the world.
Mina's eyes dropped to the floor as her hands relaxed. Despite not having a Quirk, Izuku kept on dreaming. Kept on smiling.
How did he do it?
How could he have hope in a completely hopeless situation like that?
"But I couldn't do it forever," Izuku said, his voice quieting down a bit. "I hit a point in my life where I just couldn't smile anymore. After years of hearing everyone telling you that you can't do something… It gets to you, you know?" Mina looked up, realizing that Izuku was now the one looking at the floor. His face told her that these were some painful memories he was bringing up. "I was ready to just… fall down and give up. I would never become a hero."
Why was he telling her all this? The two of them barely knew each other. Why was he spilling his guts like this?
"But then, someone caught me," he continued, looking her in the eye once again. "Someone told me, despite as absurd as it sounded, that yes, I could become a hero, Quirk or no Quirk." The fierce, determined look returned to his eyes as he spoke. "And if it wasn't for that person, I probably wouldn't be here today. Even though it turned out I did have a Quirk in the end." Again, he technically wasn't lying about that. "I'm telling you all this, because… Because…" He stuck out his arms. "I'm here to be the one to catch you!" He shouted. "I know it's hard accepting failure, but… But you shouldn't just give up!" Mina was stunned. She hadn't seen Izuku this passionate since the fight with Todoroki.
And he was this fired up because of her.
"I… I honestly think you're one of the strongest students in our class." Mina thought he might just be saying that to cheer her up, but… He sounded so genuine.
Because he was. Izuku had always admired Mina's combat prowess, even if she hadn't really gotten a chance to show them off. And her Quirk was potentially one of the most powerful in the class. He was actually grateful he had never had to fight her at the Sports Festival; he honestly had no clue how he would have a chance, since her acid made melee attacks almost impossible.
"You might be behind now, but that just means… That just means you have to work harder than everyone else!" He exclaimed. Those were the words he had to keep telling himself the first few days of class, when he had zero control over One for All.
"Work harder…" Mina finally spoke, echoing his words. She looked at Izuku. The guy who got into U.A. with 0 combat points on his entrance exam, who couldn't throw a punch without breaking his arm at first. Now he was one of the top students in both grades and combat ability.
Izuku Midoriya, the guys who, despite being supposedly Quirkless, never gave on his goal.
Mina's whole body tensed up as her eyes shut tight, her hands balling into fists yet again.
What the hell was she doing?
After everything he had been through, Izuku was still one of the most driven students in the class. And she seriously considering dropping out of class over a failed midterm?
"You're right. I do need to work harder." She put her hands on her hips, standing to attention as she gave Izuku a look as fierce and driven as the one he had been giving her. "How can I be a hero if I'm gonna run away the second things get bad?"
A smile appeared on her face. Not another fake, forced smile, but a genuine Mina Ashido smile.
"Seriously, I don't know what I was thinking!" She laughed. In an instant, Mina seemed to be back to her usual, cheery self. Izuku smiled back, relieved that his talk had actually worked. "Just… Wow, I had no idea you had gone through all that."
"Well, uh, it's s-something I really like t-talking about." Izuku was also going back to his normal, more timid self. The kind that still struggled even talking to girls. Mina couldn't help but giggle at his sudden shift in demeanor.
"Well… Thank you. You don't know how bad I needed to hear that." Her yellow-black eyes blinked. "Er, well… I guess you did." The two stared at each other in silence for a few moments. Now that they were calming down, Izuku realized he was standing alone in the classroom with a girl he barely knew.
"O-Oh, d-d-don't mention it, A-A-Ashido." His stammering was getting worse, to which Mina giggled again.
Izuku felt his cheeks getting warm.
"Call me Mina."
Now his cheeks were getting really warm.
"Are you two finished?" A third voice made the pair of students jump. Mina whipped around to see Mr. Aizawa standing in the now-open doorway. "Seriously, I could hear your shouting from my office." Now both students blushed. "We're locking up, so you two need to head home."
"Yes sir!" Izuku and Mina spoke in unison, quickly making their way out of the classroom. They had learned by not to ignore their homeroom teacher's orders.
Izuku sighed, and started to make his way for the school exit. This had been quite a day, and he was even more ready than before to get home and rest.
He felt his entire body go stiff as something warm suddenly slammed into him. It took him a second to realize Mina had practically tackled him into an enthusiastic hug.
Izuku was being hugged.
Izuku was being hugged by a girl.
The green haired boy felt like he was on fire as his entire body turned bright red.
"Wh... Hu… Bu…." Izuku tried to speak, but his brain simply wasn't working right now as it attempted to process the events that were occurring.
"Thank you." A soft, grateful voice spoke in his ear before he was released. He managed to look at Mina, who was giving him an even more wholesome smile than usual. "I mean it. You really are an incredible guy, Izuku."
He was still trying to process what had just happened as she walked off. It took several more seconds before he finally felt like he could move.
Wait, did she call him Izuku?
"Hey, Midoriya!" Before his brain shut down a second time, Izuku heard Aizawa's voice. He turned to see the erasure user still standing there, staring at him. "Snap out of it and get a move on already."
"Y-Yes sir!" Izuku exclaimed before literally running off, his fear of annoying his teacher outweighing his embarrassment. As he watched his student run, Aizawa sighed.
"Those two really are trouble." Despite these words, a small smile appeared on his face.
Like Izuku, he too had noticed Mina's demeanor earlier today. And he had also noticed the fact that Izuku noticed. He was going to talk to the pink haired acid user after class, but something told him Izuku was going to do it for him.
"Nice going, kid." Mina had certainly been a difficult student, but Aizawa recognized her potential. She just needed a little more drive to succeed. And if anyone could give her that, it was Izuku.
Phew, first chapter done. Hope you all enjoyed. I can't say for sure when I'll be updating this again, but it'll be hopefully soon.