'Cases of hidden Quirks have in the last forty years dropped by over sixty percent but this raises the question of why? By their very nature these Quirks require very specific triggers to activate and seventy-five percent of reported cases have been traumatic incidents. [Note: Twenty-five percent would later go on to be villains as a result of these traumatic incidents.] In most cases it is unethical to test these Quirks and the method of checking for the vestigial bone structure in the outermost toe is superficial at best. Theory indicates that half of these cases will have a hidden Quirk but that again brings the question of ethical testing...'
—Excerpt from 'The Beginner Scientist's Guide to Quirk Theory.
Midoriya Izuku staggers down the road, every step almost the one that makes him collapse. His leg muscles quiver and he is certain the muscles in his abdomen have long given up on functioning because his back hurt. Or maybe it hurt because All Might made him discover muscles he hadn't known existed.
Izuku grins. The very idea that All Might is teaching him was enough that he could plough through the pains one more time. How many could say that their hero believed in them? That their hero intended them to be their successor?
The answer: Very few.
Certainly, there were family run agencies where the mantle of lead hero was passed on to the eldest or most powerful. And in some cases, a hero would groom a successor after years of vetting. But that wasn't the same as this.
The sun sets but for Izuku, its rays warm his soul and the side of the small hill. He looks over the water. It is red, the light of the sun reflecting beautifully. There is nothing that could ruin this day.
"Well look who we fucking have?" He hears a moment before he is pulled aside.
His heart hammers in his chest as Bakugou Katsuki's eyes sear him with their intensity. "Kacchan," he whispers, and flinchs when Kacchan's free hand lit up with his Quirk.
"What kind of shit is this, Deku?" He roars, shoving Izuku back. "I told you I would be the only one and you haven't fucking changed your exam destination. You're a fucking Quirkless piece of shit."
He bites his lip. "Y-you don't need a Quirk to—"
Kacchan shoves him again, the fire in his eyes roaring. "Of course you need a fucking Quirk to be a hero." The explosion startles him and Deku stumbles back, smelling smoke and Kacchan's anger. "Go be a fucking police officer and do some productive shit in your life instead of wasting my time."
He can't react to Kacchan grabbing him by the shirt but he feels the residual heat of the last explosion. "Get it in your fucking head," Kacchan whispers and that terrified Izuku more than anything else. Kacchan was fire and flash, the loudest voice in a room and the brightest. "Stay out of my way."
Kacchan slamms his hand against Izuku's chest. It hurt, he realised, as he rolled back. And kept on rolling. No, no, no, he thinks a moment before his skull meets the metal pole at the bottom.
Darkness has always been a part of human existence. It was the first enemy humanity faced. Predators could be fought and natural disasters fled from. But it was the darkness that could never be defeated. There is something primal in a human's fear of the dark. It is not the fear of the monsters hidden in the dark but a fear of all that is unseen.
That fear is irrational. It is the same to fear the sharks in the ocean when you have lived your life without once seeing a coast. There are no monsters for humans to see, even in the dark. The monsters hide further in the dark. If the darkness you see is but the surface of the ocean, then the monsters lurk in the depths of the abyss
Do you understand, Midoriya Izuku? Fear not the darkness for the only monsters are those of your mind.
But the Abyss is another matter entirely.
zuku wakes with a shout tearing its way past his teeth. His body trembles and his breath came in short, quick bursts. His hands feel at his face. It felt dry and flaky. His hands shook as he looked upon the flakes of dried blood.
Kacchan hurt me, he thinks numbly, a second before he over and expells everything in his stomach. It hurts, and the bile burns his throat. But he doesn't care. All that matters was the idea that Kacchan had done that.
No, it's my fault. I shouldn't have made him angry. He wouldn't hurt me no matter what. Even if he's upset he knows what that black mark would do to his record. It was a mistake. My mistake.
He smiles at his All Might poster above his desk. Then freezes. A long tear runs across it and continues along the wall. Izuku turns slowly, taking in his room: the walls are all marked with dark substances, some sections torn up as though Mt. Lady's nails had gouged through them; his ceiling is clear save for a hole in the corner from which a dark substance pours out, the liquid travelling in shapes that made perfect forty-five-degree angles—it hurt to look at those; his desk had been wrecked and his computed missing.
"Who-wha-whe..." He fails to articulate the thousand thoughts running through his mind. Because this was his room just after a few years of neglect and disuse. His mother would never let that happen. "Mum," he says and then louder, "where are you?"
He stumbles out of his bed. Avoids his lunch on the floor. Steps over the weird black substance.
Izuku opens his door.
There are moments of impossibility in this world, moments that once made will be echo out forever even if no one is there to witness them. Every moment in history is but a cascading chain of coincidences that when looked back upon with the perspective of time would make sense. It was easier to believe a great man had clawed his way out of obscurity and changed the world through sheer determination than to believe the socioeconomic factors had largely formed the man and those around him made many of those achievements possible.
This was one such moment for Midoriya Izuku. He smells seawater and the cloying sweet smell of decay, the scent of that long dead and left to rot under the open sun. He feels the stifling heat and air so thick that for a single moment he wonders if he could cut through it. Izuku sees a sky on fire, waging a war against itself and clouds of inky blackness.
It is the sound that terrifies him. True silence is impossible—the beating of the heart, the rustle of clothing, and the silent whisper of breath would always make themselves present in silence for those sounds travelled through blood and bone, not through the fickle medium of air. Silence would not be so bad.
The sound is barely above a whisper but louder than a comet crashing into the earth, its sonic boom travelling outwards for dozens of miles before the death and destruction that would follow. It grated at his ears and tore at his soul because it was a song he knew down to the marrow in his bones. And he knows if he ever truly heard it, and not merely this echo, he would be torn asunder. It is a song older than life, but it was a song that could end it.
It is the song of finality, of the end of all things living. Instinct tells him this. Every atom of his existence confirm this. The primitive and undeveloped lizard-brain tells him to run.
Izuku stumbles and retches bile on the sandy ground. No, no, no, he thinks as he clamps his hands over his ears. But the sound would not stop. I can't, I don't—just stop. Let me diebecauseanythingwasbetterthanhearingthedeathofallthings.
He scrambles back. Stones in the sand tear through his clothes but he hardly notices as he crosses the threshold of his room. He slams the door shut and sags against the comforting weight of it. Solid despite the gouges and flaking paint. It grounds him. And not only because he could no longer hear the songthatharkenedtheendofman.
Just take me home, he pleads, screwing his eyes shut.
Izuku wakes with a gasp. Cool, fresh air fills lungs that burn and strain as though he had held his breath. He coughs and gasps. Opened his eyes. Saw blue skies. Cars sped down the street and children laugh loudly. His breath hitches and his throat constricts.
The tears, when they come, run down his face freely. Hiccups rack his chest but Izuku didn't care how he looks, not when the song was gone.
Izuku calms down after a few minutes. He wiped his face and pulled his hand back. His heart froze. Dark red fluid covered his arm. Gently, he raised his fingers to his forehead. It stung and when he pulled back he saw mostly drying blood on them.
How? He asked and looked around. There were chunks of metal and glass littered on the shattered ground. It took him a moment to recognise the shape of a street light from the wires sticking out of the cracked earth. And then he saw the small pool of blood seeping into the deep cracks of the ground.
"There's a very real possibility I'm going mad," Izuku mumbles. And that would be a lovely hypothesis. It would explain why All Might chose me instead of anyone else. Your personal hero solving your problems is the cheapest kind of fanservice.
But It might be the safest option to go with. The other option means I heard a songthatwouldkillalllifeifitwasheard and One For All is more terrifying that All Might told me.
Or, a small part of Izuku's brain whispers, this is your Quirk.
His thoughts grind to a halt.
Kacchan pushed me down and I hit something, hard. I woke up in a place that wasn't the world I know and I heard that terriblesongthatmustneverbesung. I wake up and a street lamp has been torn to shreds. There are no witnesses or suspect other than myself. The simplest option assuming this is real is that I did this. And the only way any of that could have happened is from a Quirk.
Which isn't possible. He had been tested after a Quirk didn't manifest. Izuku has a vestigial toe joint. The logic makes sense.
One For All is a gifted Quirk, his traitorous mind whispers. Who says your Quirk couldn't have been waiting until now?
But waiting for what?
For Kacchan to ki—
His world goes white for a moment. Izuku blinks away the white world, breathing harshly all the while. There is something there that couldn't be thought.
If I did that, he thinks instead, then I have a Quirk.
Izuku stood and retrieves the clean shirt he had in his pack. Slowly he wipes away the blood from his face and holds it there to the open cut. He saddles the bag and walks home slowly in a daze.
He doesn't notice entering his home or taking off his shoes. Izuku hardly hears his mothers worried words or notices walking up the stairs to the bathroom.
There is a face in the mirror, bloody and red eyed from crying. Unruly green hair framed that face. It looked alien and foreign.
He opens the tap and splashes water on his face. The water runs red. Izuku scrubs at his face until only clear water runs. A line of red at his right temple is the only mark he has. The wound is jagged and unlike the straight thin wounds he'd thought of with head injuries. He hopes it didn't change the colour of his hair.
The door is shoved open. Izuku startles as his mother barged in, concern marking the lines of her face. "Izuku," she whispers, "you weren't answering and there was so much blood."
"Sorry," he mumbles, "I had a bit of a fall."
She steps forward and pulls the hand touching the still tender wound. "Oh, Izuku, what will I do with you?" Her hand cups his chin and tilts his head, inspecting the injury. "This is going to scar badly."
I know, Deku thinks bitterly.
His mother opened a cabinet and rummaged through it with practiced efficiency. She pulled out a first-aid kit. "Sit down," she orders and Izuku hops onto the counter. She unzipped the back and removed a bottle alongside some cotton swabs and thick bandages.
She opens the bottle. It smells of the harsh antiseptic he hated. "Kaa-san," he whines. "Can't we use the other one."
Her gaze quells anything further he had to say. "Good."
It burns when she disinfected the wound but he bears the pain quietly, letting her continue with the bandage. "Change the bandage every day until its not exposed anymore."
He forces a smile. A weak one from his mother's frown. "Sorry, my head still hurts a bit."
"Eat first then sleep."
He obeys and ate the meal almost mechanically. Sleep came easily that night. It isn't pleasant. There are dreams of creatures tearing apart the earth, their very presence driving his mother insane. He wakes twice before resigning himself to a night without sleep.
His alarm startles him awake. Surprised that he managed to fall asleep, Izuku rolls out of bed despite his tiredness. Takes a shower. Changes the bandage. Ate a meal of fruits and energy shakes.
It doesn't take long for him to reach the beach. All Might isn't there yet, and so he stretches thoroughly. He takes a sip of water when he is done and waits patiently.
"Young Midoriya," All Might croaks. Izuku startles, turning quickly to face his teacher, his form deflated and skinny. "Have you finished preparing?"
Izuku nods and smiles. "Already done."
"Good, now..." All Might stopped, staring at a spot on Izuku's head. "How did you get that?"
He swallowed. What was he meant to tell All Might? I think I have a Quirk but I also think I might be going crazy. Also, I think Kacchan might have ki—His mind blanks out for a second.
"I fell and hit my head on a pole," he says, not lying. "I wasn't paying too much attention."
His teacher hums before nodding. "Be more careful, Young Midoriya. Injuries outside training can lead to much worse injuries here."
Izuku tilts his head. "That's why you're here, isn't it? I mean, most of these things look heavier than me."
"Perceptive as ever."
By midday Izuku is almost dead on his feet. When All Might calls for an end to training, zuku crumbles to the ground where he's standing. The sand is warm and he can ignore the uncomfortable feeling of sand clinging places it was never meant to be. He hears feet approaching and opens his eyes to All Might who throws a bottle to him. Izuku opens it and drinks deeply without so much as getting up.
"I suppose you've earned a rest," All Might says, lowering himself to the ground and sitting beside Izuku. "Well, you can ask me whatever you like before I have to go."
Izuku nods against the sand. He knew he would regret that when he cleaned up but right now he was too tired to care. "Are there Quirks that move people different places?"
"That sounds like a form of Warp Quirk," All Might says. Izuku looks to the hero who continues, "Warp Quirks are probably the rarest type of quirk compared to mutation which is much more common. Have you heard of Master Railroad?"
Izuku frowns. "I think he was a New Age hero."
"And what do you know of the New Hero Age?"
It doesn't bother Izuku much to answer. He likes history and this is history being taught by his hero. "That was right after the first Quirks started appearing and wars broke out across the world led by people with very powerful Quirks like Stormwind and Titan. The New Heroes were a group of peacekeepers working with the UN that developed Quirks and were placed in a specialised combat unit to face the warlords. After they managed to defeat them, the disbanded and went to act as policing units against villains in their home countries, forming the model for future heroes."
"A good summary," All Might replies. "Master Railroad was one of the original members of the New Heroes. Based on archived records, his Warp Quirk manifested as a train that took him—and anyone with him—to any place on earth. What makes his Quirk truly unique is that anyone who travelled through it said they travelled through a void."
His mind stilled. A void. Nothingness. The end of all things. It resonated with him because he knew the same way a mother always knows their child, that a void was the word he was missing. It was the absence of light and love and hope. It required no context for it destroyed all context.
"But his Quirk wasn't like the norm?" Izuku says quickly.
He felt more than saw All Might shift. "What exactly is the norm for a quirk, Young Midoriya? One For All is neither an emission nor a transformation Quirk and whilst it can change my appearance by activating it, it is not a mutant Quirk type. And I very much doubt that you will change appearance when you finally inherit One For All."
Izuku frowned. "Why would you think that?"
Predicting a Quirk is nearly impossible, Izuku thinks, even if it's a matter of Quirks being passed down through familial lines. Usually they express some variation even if they are similar. Kacchan quirk produces nitro-glycerine, a variation of his mother glycerine Quirk. And even then it could have been completely unrelated. Kaa-san's Quirk is different from her parents. Predicting a new Quirk would be impossible unless there was a precedent for it. Unless someone who had One For All before didn't express the Quirk that way.
A pained cough startles him and he looked to All Might who's hand covers his mouth. Izuku can see the red flecks on that too thin hand with fingers almost too gaunt.
"You truly terrify me, Young Midoriya."
"Eh," he chokes out, confused.
"Guessing from one simple statement that my predecessor used One For All differently."
Izuku blinks. "I said that out loud, didn't I?" All Might nodded. "Why can't I just shut my stupid mouth? It's always getting me in trouble and Kacchan always tells me to stop mumbling so much—"
"Izuku." That stops him dead. All Might had never called him by his first name. "Calm yourself. The world will not end because you think out loud. Better to think and question out loud than to wallow in ignorance silently. Do not apologise for your intelligence."
He would have said something else but for a shrill ringing that distracts them both. All Might looks down to his right pocket and removed his phone. He smiles at Izuku, apologetic. "It seems I must return to my duties."
In a second the All Might that he had admired—but never known, not really, and he would never choose this hero over the man that spent time with him—as a youth appears in place of his emaciated teacher.
"Have faith, Young Midoriya."