All men are not created equal, that is a truth Izuku has lived with since he was four years old. But just when he thought he understood what it meant to be quirkless in a society full of amazing abilities, the universe finds new ways to remind him of his worthlessness.
Everything he's done up until this point has been trying to prove to everyone, to prove to himself, that it wasn't true. That he could be valuable despite his diagnosis, that he too could be a hero. But as he slinks home today, tired and empty, he feels more useless than ever.
Kacchan almost died today and Izuku couldn't do a thing about it. He rubs the palm of his hand roughly into his eye to fight off the frustrated tears. What had he been thinking? Running out like that when not even the heroes on the scene had been willing to tackle the delicate situation had been insane.
He's lucky All Might appeared out of nowhere to stop the sludge monster or both of them would've been killed. Normally meeting All Might would lift his spirits but the Number One had come and gone before he'd even had a chance to ask one of the hundreds of questions on his mind.
It was like he'd somehow sensed that quirkless Izuku wasn't worth a second more of his time. Instead he was left sprawled on the ground beside Kacchan, shaking from the adrenaline, covered in sludge with the light rain All Might's single punch drizzling down on him; feeling like he's just missed out on something important.
Before he could even process what had happened, he'd been hauled to his feet by one of the heroes in the area. The very same heroes who stood by and did nothing while Kacchan was suffocating right in front of them, he'd thought bitterly.
At first, there had been praise and congratulations but, of course, that dried up once they got around to asking about his quirk. As always, their cheer turned to disgust and their appreciation became a lecture on his recklessness and stupidity. It wasn't anything he hasn't heard before, but this time seemed to cut all the deeper.
Maybe it's because All Might swept in and ignored him just like everyone else. Maybe that the adrenaline and anxiety that had initially propelled him forward had left him even more tired and vulnerable than normal. Or maybe it was the fact that the heroes stood there lecturing him for doing their job all the while admiring Kacchan's bravery in the face of adversity. The double standard burned in his chest but not as much as his former friend's glare that said he'd have rather died than accept the help of a quirkless nothing.
Izuku hasn't been on good terms with Kacchan for a while... which is a nice way of saying that Kacchan has been making his life hell for the past ten years or so. But still as much as Kacchan infuriated him, terrified him, Izuku has always respected the other boy's strength and determination to succeed. Seeing strong, vibrant Kaachan with that fearful expression is what spurned him into action but the look Kacchan gave him afterwards made Izuku wonder if he should just learn to stop butting in and figure out that he really isn't good for anything.
He'd been able to gather up his scattered belongings and slip past the nagging heroes and nosy reporters. Only a few acknowledged Izuku's role in the fight and none of them bothered to ask him any questions. In this society, the quirkless might as well be invisible, it's practically a quirk in and of itself. He'd laugh if it wasn't so exhausting.
So Izuku stumbles home, feeling hyperaware of his surroundings but also in something of a distracted daze. He's not quite sure what he's going to do now. All he knows to do is dream; it's the only option he has available to him since no one, not his teachers, not society, not the Number One himself, was willing to give him a chance to do more.
But maybe they're right? It's not like he actually did anything useful back there. He couldn't save Kacchan, couldn't save himself after he rushed in before his brain caught up with his stupid legs. Maybe it was time he gave up on his foolish dream of being a hero.
"Deku!" Izuku automatically freezes at the angry cry. He turns to see Kacchan, breathing heavily and angrily behind him, as if he'd run all the way from the crime scene. Kacchan has already passed his house, why was he here now?
"I never asked for you to come help me!" the blond shouts, looking angrier than Izuku had ever seen him and yet, there were no explosions coming from his hands and he doesn't look like he was going attack. Izuku tenses up and prepares for the worst anyway.
"I didn't need to be saved, Ok? I could have taken care of myself! You're so goddamn useless Deku, what were you thinking, you didn't do shit!" With a final sneer, Kacchan turns on his heels and stalks back to his house leaving Izuku slightly stunned at the uncharacteristic confrontation. "Stay out of my fucking way, I don't owe you anything!" Izuku blinks as Kacchan leaves as a new feeling started to overwhelm all the anger and emptiness inside of him.
Kacchan… was okay. He wasn't afraid anymore, he wasn't hurting and slowly being drowned in sludge. He makes Izuku sick with pent up fear, anger and hopelessness and yet... Izuku was still happy the boy he once called a friend was alive.
Izuku smiles fondly to himself and continues his journey home. Kacchan was right, he didn't really do anything and, in the end, he only got in the way of the real heroes but that's not the point. The point is, no matter how insignificant he was, he'd played a role in getting his friend out alive.
He brings his head up, puts his shoulders back and walks forward with a new purpose. Izuku has no delusions of being a real hero; the path to Number One might as well be Jupiter. But that doesn't mean he couldn't be a hero in his own way. Not every hero was an All Might or Endeavor, they also needed smaller heroes for smaller things. It wouldn't be the most glamorous job and there would only be so much he could do, but it would be better than nothing.
The thought makes him smile as he picks up his pace and hurries home. Maybe this incident will finally convince his mom to let him take self-defense classes. He could do some research on strength building regimes and continue to hone his analytical skills and maybe, just maybe, someday someone will need a quirkless nobody like him.
"Damn sludge monster," All Might, currently in his true form as Yagi Toshinori, curses quietly in English as he clutches his wound and staggers back home. His breathing was rough and haggard, harsh with foamy blood clogging his throat. He pretends not to notice the frightened mother ahead of him who hurriedly pushes her baby stroller to the other side of the street when she sees him. He doesn't blame her but that doesn't mean it hurts any less.
Toshinori had just wanted to get some groceries was all. The small city he'd moved to was quiet but, most importantly, it was closer to Yuuei than his old apartment had been. He coughs wetly into his fist, he'd left Might Tower early today so he could grocery shop on his way home. Of course he had to run into a rampaging monster and of course he had to save the day. He was All Might, that's what he did and Nana would expect nothing less of her successor.
He'd almost used up One for All for the day and so he'd hoped to make an easy capture but the monster had been quite slippery, pun intended. At one point, Toshinori almost had the creature when it had started up a street drain but had changed its mind at the last second and given further chase through the sewers.
The worst part is he lost track of the damn thing when he was just barely holding onto One For All. For good or for ill, it was a scream that helped him locate the monster again. He'd come across a terrifying scene; a young boy engulfed in the sludge, clearly terrified and unable to escape despite his powerful quirk. There'd been another boy there too, small and plain, clawing desperately at the monster in an attempt to save his friend. All Might wasted no time in smashing that monster into tiny, manageable pieces and pulling the children to safety.
There were cheers in the air, the sound of clicking cameras and sobs of relief but all Toshinori could pay attention to was the slow steam beginning to rise from his body, thankfully disguised by the falling rain. With a smile and the obligatory assurances, All Might had leapt into the air like the majestic hero he is. He landed a short distance away in an alley where Toshinori appeared in his place and promptly spit up a good amount of blood. Today just hasn't been his day.
So here he is now, walking home scaring young mothers, without his groceries and feeling utterly spent. Toshinori rubs at his eyes and to think he'd wanted nothing more than to be a hero when he was younger. He wonders if he'd have been so eager if he'd known what heroism was really about: pain and shoving aside weakness to appease the public. His mouth twists unhappily. That's... not really how he feels, it's just been a long day is all.
As he walks, he thinks mostly about what he can eat tonight now that his groceries are lost and how he can justify this disaster to Tsukauchi who will be understandably upset over the mess he left behind. Toshinori doesn't think about his increasing need for a successor, though that is usually in the back of his mind, bouncing around without ever quite settling. He certainly doesn't think about the boys he'd saved earlier, two of millions he's rescued over his illustrious career. But even old, worn down by the weight of the world, there's a niggling sense like there was something he'd missed. Something important.
Midoriya Izuku is being inspired to not let his quirklessness get in the way of his dreams by the time Toshinori turns into his neighborhood. They walk in opposite directions but both of them carry a sense of loss, like an opportunity came and went without so much as a warning.
Neither can know this, but far, far away in another universe, Midoriya Izuku runs into Number One Hero, All Might, for the third time that day and is given an opportunity he can't refuse. But in this one, the hero and his potential successor continue on in opposite directions not knowing just how much work will be needed to reconnect their paths.
Alright! Here it is! My new BNHA story where Izuku never met All Might that fateful day but doesn't let quirklessness stop his pursuit of heroism. This is a long story that I'm finally ready to share. As a note, this story is done clocking in at 27 chapters so don't worry about delays. I'll work out a posting schedule soon, likely once or twice a weak. I do hope you'll stick around, it's a slow burn that takes a lot of build-up and development but I'm quite proud. Also! Bold means something is said in English. Thank you for your support!