A Belly Full Of Fire

When people asked Hisashi what his Quirk was, he'd flash a grin and say he breathed fire. It was a small lie, easier to say than 'my human skin is too small and some bits slip out' despite the fact he never checked whether or not he had that toe joint. Izuku wasn't born Quirkless. He was born something else.

For all Inko could remember in her life, there was no worse day than the one where the doctor had laid out the bare facts to her and her son – that Izuku, no matter how much he dreamt and hoped, he wouldn't have a Quirk, not like her or his father.

It was burned into her mind, when she took him home and he watched that video again, a look of devastation on his face when he asked if he could be a hero too – and she had no answer other than the well of tears that made her eyes sting as she hugged him close, whispered useless platitudes.

But Izuku pushed past it all. He attended school with vigour, did his best to ignore the chiding and scathing remarks of other students, that called him a freak, a blight, quirkless.

Izuku's persistence won out. He pushed his way to the top of the class past a fuming Bakugou with obstinate stubbornness alone, would tell anyone that listened that he would go to Yuuei and that he would be a hero. And while it was laughable to begin with, the sheer conviction in his voice soon made his bullies less prevalent, more cowed, because whenever Izuku got fired up, he gained some other sort of quality about him that made him seem…not right.

And so Izuku barrelled on.

Then a slime villain tried to suffocate his childhood best-friend and nothing was quite right again.

"What – " was all Izuku managed to squeeze out before the bulbous, gooey mass engulfed him, the sewer grate still clattering obnoxiously against the ground like a coin that hadn't stopped bouncing and spinning.

"Just be quiet, kid," the blob hissed. "It'll be over soon, and I need a hostage."

Izuku decided that no, he would not be quiet, and he would most certainly not roll over and let this happen either. Clawing angrily at his face and body to try and tear it away, Izuku felt not only fear at his imminent suffocation, but a low, slow-burning anger that started in his gut and slowly spread to his chest.

He didn't have time to process the strange feeling as it churned in his stomach, before there was what felt like a concentrated tornado whipping past him and shearing the villain off in bits and pieces and sending Izuku tumbling out of the tunnel and into the bright sunshine of the late afternoon.

Izuku blacked out for a second then, his mind and lungs trying to process the influx of oxygen. There was something gently patting his face, and even as Izuku focused again, he was once again left breathless.

"A-All-Might!" he gasped, scrambling into a seated position, trying to swallow the prevalent urge to vomit now there wasn't a villain clambering around inside of his sinuses.

"Good! You're alright!" All-Might posed readily even as Izuku stammered. "I'm sorry you got caught up in my pursuit of that villain! Now, you must excuse me while I continue on my quest for justice!"

"Wait!" Izuku scrambled forward, hands wrapping around a sturdy leg and then – it was a split second and he was flying with just his white knuckled grip on All-Might's leg to keep him airborne.

All-Might was shouting something back at him, but Izuku couldn't hear it past the rush of blood in his ears, the whip of the wind around them, and only felt his lunch settle back into place when All-Might gently landed on top of a nearby, convenient building.

Izuku caught his breath, trying to control the trembling in his hands as he looked up, ready to ask his role model a question when he was suddenly engulfed in what felt like steam, steam that held the faint tang of copper, like stale blood.

When it had dissipated All-Might was no longer there, replaced with a gangly man with blond hair, loose clothes hanging limply off of his frame.

"Ah, now you've done it," the man groaned, and coughed a gout of blood to the floor with a wet splatter.

"All…All-Might?" Izuku fumbled with the words for a moment, briefly feeling like the world's most elaborate prank was being played on him that second.

The man sighed, long and wistful.

"You're looking at him. Though, in times like this, my name is Toshinori Yagi."

"What – what happened? I don't understand?" Izuku croaked, eyes wide, and the man, Toshinori sighed again. This time, it was if the world was on his shoulders, and the weight had forced it out of him.

"A fight I was not the victor of," he acquiesced. "A few years ago I battled someone and lost, grievously."

"But you're All-Might," Izuku managed, and recoiled in horror as Toshinori lifted the hem of his now baggy shirt, airing out the macabre scar that had mangled his side into dark, puckered skin.

"Most of my stomach and one of my lungs were lost to the fight," Toshinori said, each word sounding as if they were being forced out of him. "Over these years, despite the dozens of surgeries, the first of which saved my life, my time as All-Might is stretched thin. I can no longer use my Quirk as I please, and must be careful. That is what you see before you today."

Speaking so much seemed to have taken its toll, and he coughed then, more blood trickling from his lips to drop to the roof they were stood on, the metallic tang of it strong in Izuku's nose.

"But, if you'll excuse me, I'm still in pursuit of that sludge villain and must catch him before he finds another victim." Toshinori braced himself, ready to call upon the dwindling spark inside of him, and faltered when Izuku threw his hands out suddenly, in alarm.

"Wait! All-Might, Toshinori, sir, please, I have one last question, I promise! Can someone – if someone was born without a Quirk, could they…could they become a hero?"

"Absolutely not," Toshinori rebutted, almost immediately. "With the world as it is, it would be far too dangerous."

"Oh...of – of course," Izuku replied, lacklustre and with a fake sounding laugh. "It would be too dangerous."

Toshinori scrutinized him closely then, before taking in a deep breath and, with more decorum and much more smoothly than the transition downwards, he was up again, All-Might, strong and proud.

"Here," All-Might offered a stout, wide hand. "I will take you back to ground level. Saves you all these steps!"

"Thanks," Izuku replied wearily, and this time could breathe a little easier as All-Might dropped from the edge of the building towards the pavement below, landing in a soft, careful crouch before he set Izuku on the floor.

"I don't think I caught your name, my boy," All-Might said then, as Izuku gathered his bearings and readjusted his bag carefully.

"Oh! Oh, sorry." Izuku bowed hastily. "I'm Midoriya Izuku!" his mouth twisted then, thoughtful and unsure before he hesitantly asked, "And…I know you're busy, but could I, um, possibly get an autograph…" his voice trailed off.

All-Might gave a booming laugh.

"Of course!"

Izuku was left with a slightly crumpled, but still enthusiastically signed notebook. All-Might had written Izuku's full name. It just served to make the tears worse.

Izuku was trudging down the street, helpfully guided by a pedestrian to his original path, a pedestrian who had seen him dropped off by All-Might, when he was startled out of his sad musings by a shriek of fear and someone stumbling past him in the opposite direction.

From then on out, it's like being underwater. Izuku sees Bakugou. He sees the slime villain that had tried to choke the life from him not half an hour before. He sees the one wrapped around the other.

Sees the heroes standing to the side, shouting for demands, for stipulations, for the healthy release of the hostage. For all they're doing, Izuku feels as though they are doing nothing.

He, however, has to do something.

Izuku was running forward before he could second guess himself, hands grasping uselessly at his jacket as he hurdled the barrier that had been set up to keep civilians free of the ensuing mess.

"Deku!" Bakugou's voice was an angry, disbelieving roar past the nasally sound of something caught in his throat. "What do you think you're doing?!"

"I can't just watch you die!" Izuku wailed back, throwing his bag with all of his might straight into the eye of the disgusting amorphous thing contorting around his once, maybe still, best-friend.

The villain reared back with a gurgled noise of anger but did not relinquish its hold on Bakugou, who was still voraciously trying to tear himself free.

Even as Izuku watched, Bakugou's movements became less frantic as he slowly ran out of oxygen, fingers that he had once used like claws no simply fumbling.

Izuku was frantic enough for the two of them, screaming and tearing at the blob as it tried to suffocate Bakugou.

All-Might, once again, was his saviour, swooping in and saving the day, to cheers and accolades.

Izuku, knelt down next to Bakugou's body, heard All-Might when he whispered in his ear, "Young Midoriya, please wait for me until this issue is resolved."

Izuku simply nodded, and waited with Bakugou's unconscious body.

"That was a reckless thing you did," Toshinori said when the crowd had dispersed, startling Izuku out of his thoughts from where he had been perched on the curb of the road. At Toshinori's arrival, he sprang to his feet, nervously gripping onto the strap of his bag.

"Nobody was doing anything, and Kacchan, he…when the villain caught me before, it tried to suffocate me. I couldn't…I wasn't just going to watch him die."

Bakugou had been taken home after medical attention and a fuss from both the ambulance team and his overwhelming mother, the woman nearly inconsolable at hearing the trials her son had been.

Bakugou himself had been quiet, unnervingly so, and withdrawn, subdued. He'd glanced over at Izuku when he'd been perched on the side of the road only once, and had made no move to approach or speak to him.

"It was reckless," Toshinori said, gesturing loosely for Izuku to follow as he stepped down the street. "But also brave."

Izuku blushed at the praise, looking down to his toes as he played with the bag strap.

"Thank you."

"Because of today's events, I'd like to apologise," Toshinori continued, and Izuku nearly stumbled to a halt. Toshinori did stop, his blond hair catching the sunlight and glowing almost gold in the rays of the setting sun.

"Apologise?" Izuku asked. "For what? You saved Kacchan in the end, nobody was hurt."

"Physically, no. Earlier on, however, even I could tell your feelings were hurt when I told you that someone without a Quirk could not be a hero, because of the dangers. You were the person in that hypothetical situation you set, weren't you?"

The hurt that had since dulled in Izuku's chest reared its head anew, and he couldn't withhold the flinch.

"I thought so. For what I said, I'm sorry."

"Well, you were telling the truth," Izuku shrugged, trying for blasé and instead looked very clearly distraught. "Being a hero is a dangerous career after all, having the number one hero tell me it's not possible, then I should just…try for something else."

"I was wrong," Toshinori said firmly, and before the surprise had even taken root in Izuku, he continued, "Today you saved your friend's life – not directly, but you gave us enough time to strategize and take out the villain with no further damage. You were a hero, with no Quirk."

Izuku gave a watery smile, opening his mouth. Toshinori held a hand forward, stopping the words in Izuku's throat.

"You have no Quirk. But, you can. You will. And with that, you will become a hero."

"If my Quirk was going to show, it would have by now," Izuku replied glumly. "Not to mention my toe joint."

"Well, you don't need that toe joint. You can just have my Quirk. You can be a hero."

And Toshinori grinned as if he hadn't just tilted Izuku's world on its axis.

Izuku grunted as he flipped the tyre he was going to push upright. He couldn't tell if it was lighter than it looked, or if he was simply getting used to the brutal regime of beach cleaning Toshinori had given him.

It felt simultaneously hours ago and weeks ago instead of days that Toshinori had told him he could become a hero – that he held a Quirk in his body that was a subtle, perfect mix. Of unprecedented strength, stockpiled over years, and a quiet, underlying ability that allowed it to be passed down, to continue its legacy.

A Quirk that, if Izuku trained himself properly, could be his.

"Keep it up, my boy! At this rate, the beach will be clear with time to spare!" Toshinori called, perched in a lawn chair he'd pinched from the pile of garbage, deeming it clean enough and stable enough to use as he watched.

Izuku swept some sweat from his brow and rolled the tyre across the bumpy sand in a slow jog, concentrating on the way the tyre slipped and slid in the sand as easily as his feet did.

Collapsing onto the ground next to Toshinori, Izuku gratefully accepted the cold bottle of water he was offered, and guzzled near half of it in a single go.

"You're quite the well-bodied young lad, aren't you Izuku?" Toshinori mused, and chuckled as Izuku dumped the rest of his water over his head, shaking his hair like a particularly enthusiastic dog. In the soft sunlight of the day, it was almost as if the water was steaming off of his body.

"Not really," Izuku replied easily. "I didn't really exercise except for, well, when we had to in school."

Toshinori looked down at Izuku, and then doubtfully at the tyre he'd near effortlessly pushed across the beach, like he was on a leisurely stroll.

"That tyre probably weighs just under a hundred kilos, Izuku."

"Oh?" Izuku sat a little upright, staring at the offending item. "It certainly didn't feel like it."

Toshinori squinted suspiciously down at him.

Izuku laughed.

"Maybe I was a bodybuilder in a past life!"

Izuku stood at the entrance to the grounds, to the stage that would see him entered into Yuuei's hero course, even as other student hopefuls streamed around him.

He still reckoned he could feel that hair Toshinori had made him eat stuck in his throat. His tutor? Friend? Confidant? Hadn't even given him a drink to wash it down with.

A distant explosion and faint, excitable cackling place Bakugou. Robots were already dropping around him, Izuku watching with glee, and awe, as Quirk after Quirk was shown to him.

Then it seemed to click that he'd need to knock some robot noggins himself if he hoped to collect points and make it into his dream school to do his dream job.

But in all of his musing and delight, there seemed to be no robots left.

"Oh. Oh no, this is no good," Izuku mumbled, jogging between zones, past carcasses of metal and wiring still sparking, teenagers high fiving each other and comparing techniques and points.

With a sudden and huge rumble, one of the fake skyscrapers crumbling from the foundation, the Zero-Point robot split free from its concrete prison, taking one thundering step forward. The exam goers scattered, like a disturbed ants nest, away from the large, mostly useless, entirely dangerous robot.

Therefore, Izuku was the only to notice there was a girl trapped in the rubble the appearance of the robot had caused. He remembered her from when they were gathered before, given instructions to follow in order to pass the exam.

In two, big lumbering steps, the robot would be directly where she was, and she would be nothing but paste on the floor. A quiet, rational part of Izuku told him that the proctors would step in before that, that nobody would truly be hurt or, god forbid, die, in order to uphold Yuuei's good name.

A larger part of him was screaming that this was unfair, that it couldn't happen, that she was in danger.

Izuku ran forward, desperation fueling his sprint, his chest burning with exertion as he crashed to his knees in front of them. The robot had one lumbering step left.

Close up the rubble was bigger, seemed more than he could handle.

"Here!" Izuku gasped, grasping at the girl's wrist. "I'll help you!"

The burning intensified.

The sun dimmed and disappeared as shade was thrown over them, their light blocked by that one, lumbering footstep.

"Oh," the girl whispered, voice warbling sadly, fearfully. "We're going to – "

"No!" Izuku replied, standing up and letting her go, fist clenching by his side. "We're not!"

The burning was white hot in his chest, like One For All, his new Quirk, was telling him it was ready.

It was not One For All telling him it was ready. It was something else.

With a ferocious bang, like a bomb had gone off, the entire arena was engulfed in smoke. Through the smoke, something whistled as it shot by, and a piece of the Zero-Point robot's head embedded itself into a nearby building.

In the examiner's officer, several bodies leaned forward, interested.

Nobody could be prepared for what the dissipating smoke showed.

Where there had once been one (1) Giant Robot and two (2) endangered examinees, there was now a very large, very scaly dragon.

Roughly the size of a generous three bedroom, two bathroom house, it had glittering emerald scales, impressive wings and a pair of twisting horns that would rival those of a goat, if that goat was also the size of a house.

In one clawed fist, opposable thumb included, was the unconscious boy of the previously trapped girl. Beneath its back legs were the remains of the previously impressive robot.

The dragon opened its mouth.

It then whined like a dog that had just been told 'no', an 'aroo' sort of noise leaving it plaintively.

In the examiner's office, Toshinori was frozen with a proud grin on his face because this was not what he had expected.

("Yagi, what the fuck, we trusted you to pick a good one," Aizawa hissed.)

This will not be a serious story I'm sorry. Serious is very much not part of my nature when it comes to Boku No Hero Academia I'm afraid! (This disclaimer does not count parts of the plot where seriousness needs to happen.)

Hope you like it!