Izuku is out of bed before six on exam day. He meets Chie for a run, hoping it will calm him down, but all her enthusiasm and pep-talks fall useless on his scattered nerves. It would probably be worse if there wasn't a large portion of his brain telling him that this isn't real, but that doesn't make the nerves non-existent, and he's still a mess when he gets off the train and walks toward the towering glass building that is Yuuei High School.

He stops under the massive archway and sucks in a deep breath. This is it. This is happening (it isn't. no way. Can't be). His first step into the Yuuei threshold is thwarted when he promptly trips over his own feet and dives face-first into the cement.

This is it. This is how I die.

There's a light touch on his back and somehow he never hits the ground.

"I'm so sorry! I should have asked before I used my quirk, but I didn't want you to fall!" Someone behind him says, her voice high and far too chipper, considering the circumstances.

"It's fine!" Izuku stammers. The feeling of weightlessness is honestly, very odd.

"Here, just put your feet under you, sorry I'm going to grab your arm," she says, and sure enough there's a hand on his arm, swinging him so he is mostly upright again. "And, release."

Gravity returns to him rather suddenly, and his feet hit the ground, causing him to stumble a bit. "Thanks. Is that, uh, is that your quirk?" He asks, turning to finally look at the girl. She's not much shorter than him, with light brown hair and a round face. She's really cute, honestly, and Izuku feels himself flush.

Thankfully, she doesn't notice, or just doesn't care, because she nods eagerly, and falls into step with him as they walk toward the school. "It is! I can negate the gravity on any object that I touch with all five fingers. Although, I've got kind of a weight limit, and if I go over it I get nauseous," she says, almost sheepish.

"That's so cool!" Izuku exclaims, perhaps too loudly. "Can you float any object? Can you use your quirk on more than one thing at a time?"

She laughs. "Yes and yes. Or at least, I haven't found anything yet that's immune to my quirk." She blushes, "and you think it's cool? It's a mutant quirk. My parents' quirks are nothing like it, and it's always made me feel a little weird."

"Not weird at all! It's really awesome, you'll make a great hero!"

She beams at him, before waving goodbye. "It was nice talking to you! I told someone I'd meet them here, so I'm gonna go do that, but good luck!" She practically bounces away into the crowd.

"You too!" He calls after her. Hopefully all the people here will be as nice as her.

Well. They can't all be. Kacchan is around here somewhere, after all.


He makes his way into the school and follows the signs (and crowd, yikes there are a lot of people here to take the entrance exam) into a huge auditorium. He finds a seat next to a boy with wild purple hair and dark circles under his eyes large enough they should probably start paying rent. He doesn't look up when Izuku sits next to him, and Izuku assumes he isn't the talkative type. That's okay. They're here to take a test after all; he doesn't need to make friends with every person he sees (even if he would like to).

A few minutes later, the auditorium goes dark and Present Mic steps onto the center stage, bellowing a Hello that's loud enough that Izuku finds himself covering his ears. Mic probably wasn't even using his quirk either, judging by the shit-eating grin on his face. The boy next to him grumbles something, and Izuku can't help but agree (even if he has no idea what the guy said).

Mic explains that they'll all be assigned a classroom room to take the written portion of the exam, and then split into different groups and assigned a battle ground for the practical portion, which is only for heroics applicants. "This will be the only chance some of you have to take any kind of test inside Yuuei walls, so relish it! For the others, get used to it! You'll spend three years taking all sorts of tests here!"

Izuku giggle snorts, earning him a glare or two from the people around him.

Mic goes on to explain that the practical exam will involve fighting robots at different point values, and that they need to amass as many points as possible in ten minutes. It doesn't sound too bad, actually. Izuku knows that he can direct fire with enough force to at least dent, and sometimes blow holes in metal, so it shouldn't be terribly hard to take out a few robots.

Next to him, the purple-haired boy curses.

As they file out of the auditorium, they're all given slips of paper with a room number and a battleground and instructions that the written exam will start in twenty minutes "so go to the restroom now! We promise you'll need it."

Izuku falls into step with the purple-haired boy. He gives Izuku a weird look. "What do you want?"

That is an excellent question. Izuku shrugs. "Which room are you in?"

The boy still looks very suspicious of him, but glances down at his paper. "2-E"

"Ah darn, I'm in 2-C. They'll probably be in the same hallway, we can walk together?" Izuku lets the end of his sentence turn up, in case the boy doesn't want to walk with him. He shoves his hands into his pockets, but doesn't reject the offer. "I'm Midoriya Izuku, by the way."

"Shinsou Hitoshi," he mutters.

"Are you applying for the heroics department?" It's a fair question. They had already passed several people who were definitely support kids.

"Well, I was." Shinsou sounds bitter. Very bitter. "I have a psychological quirk, though. It's not going to do fucking anything against robots." He kicks the ground. "So I'm just going to get into General Studies and beat everyone at the sports festival so they have to move me up."

Izuku hums. "The practical exam really isn't fair, is it?" Shinsou snorts, and Izuku can't help but smile. "Well, I think you'll be great."

Shinsou is still looking at his feet. "Thanks, I guess. You're trying for heroics?"

"Yeah! I also applied for general studies, so if I don't pass the practical I'll see you there."

"If you pass the written exam." Is Shinsou smirking at him? Oh. Shinsou is definitely smirking at him.

Izuku crosses his arms defensively. "Excuse you, sir!"

Shinsou almost laughs. "This is your stop," he says, looking up at the large "2C" next to the door. "Good luck."

"You too!" Izuku calls after him as Shinsou keeps walking down the hallway toward 2-E. He hopes everything turned out okay for him. He seems like an alright guy.


The written exam is, by no means, easy. But Izuku studied well, and by the end of it, he feels confident enough. Now he just has the practical test standing between him and, well, victory. High school acceptance. Whatever.

His testing group is gathering outside the battleground for the practical portion. The battle ground is basically, from what he can see from outside the huge cement walls, a small city. Probably fully functional too, knowing Yuuei. He's warming up, jogging in small circles and stretching, scanning the crowd for anyone he knows. Looks like Kacchan isn't in his group. Izuku doesn't know how to feel about that.

The girl with the gravity quirk is here, though. He never got her name… he starts walking over to where she is warming up to ask her and wish her luck, when there's a hand on his shoulder.

"What do you think you're doing?!"

Izuku flinches and turns around to see a very tall, very stern-looking boy. He's probably twice the size of Izuku and he looks like he could crush him with his little pinky. Izuku swallows nervously. "I was just—"

"Can't you see that she's concentrating! Were you intending to mess her up, to reduce the competition for you?" good lord, this guy is intimidating.

Izuku shrinks. "I wasn't—I swear—"

He's cut off by Present Mic's booming voice. "The Exam has started! What are you all doing standing around for?!"

Sure enough, Izuku turns and the gates to the city have opened. Everyone around him is running and Izuku is nearly tramped before he can turn to run into the fake city.

He ends up at the back of the crowd and by the time he's past the concrete walls, most everyone has dispersed through the city. Which, speaking of, looks so much bigger from the inside. Its honestly a little intimidating.

He only realizes that he's stopped moving when someone behind him runs into his shoulder, jarring him forward a step. He blinks, shaking himself out of his trance and starts running down one of the many twisted, branching streets. How many minutes has he wasted now? One? Two? He needs to find a robot soon. Preferably several robots.

Luck must be on his side, because as he skids around a corner he comes face to face with a two-point robot. Villain. Whatever they are supposed to call them.

The point is that there is one right in front of him and it is clearly targeting him. Izuku shifts into a fighting stance and pulls on his quirk, a grin breaking out on his face.

Nothing happens.

He pulls harder, his grin turning into a pained snarl. Surely there has to be someone in this group who is a fire-user. The whole point is to destroy robots, there has to be at least an electrical fire somewhere in the area.

The villain is almost on him, raising one metallic arm to bring down on his head. It swings, and Izuku rolls out of the way, gritting his teeth against the tears that were fighting their way to the surface. This is no time to cry, dammit! The villain turns, targeting him again. He needs to find some way to beat this thing. Not even for the exam, just because he doesn't want to die here.

It's got to have a weak spot, but all Izuku has are his bare fists, and he knows they aren't going to do a lot against metal. He's been training under Jian'guo-sensei for about six months now and he knows that he's gotten stronger, but there's a huge difference between "I am strong for a 15-year-old boy" and "I am strong enough to punch this robot and have it do anything." Unfortunately, Izuku does not fall on the latter portion of the spectrum.

He should have just sucked it up and brought a lighter. Yeah they don't really help him, but even a tiny flame is better than nothing. Even if bringing in support items is against the rules, at least he wouldn't be facing an imminent death.

He rolls to dodge the robot as it swipes again, his knees scraping against the concrete. He's considering running (he doesn't know how fast this thing is) when a blinding white light tears through his line of sight, and the villain in front of him.

The robot clatters to the ground, revealing a blond boy sporting a flowy silk shirt and some kind of holier-than-thou smile. "Thanks for keeping it distracted for me," he says, an accent clouding his voice (French? Spanish? Izuku never was good with latin languages). He turns and runs off, and Izuku steps around the robot to run after him.

How many minutes has it been? Five? Six?

The back of his throat is still burning (it will be a while before it stops) but some part of him has resigned himself to failure. He can't help but think that if he and Bakugo were in the same testing group that this whole thing would be very different. He would stand a chance then.

Not now.

Not when he has a quirk that's dependent on other people. Kacchan is right, he's always going to be dependent on other people. Borrowing their success. A parasite.

He bites his tongue as the first few tears spill from his eyes.

This wasn't supposed to happen. He's trained so hard. Izuku eight months ago was weak and scared and could never make it into Yuuei. Now! Now he was so much stronger, and so much more confident in himself, and he had poured blood sweat and tears into finding a way to use his quirk—he was ready. Or, he was supposed to be. Turns out, regardless of how many fancy ways he figured out to use quirk, it's still the most useless fire quirk there is.

He breaks out of the alley he was running through to find what has to be the main street of this miniature city. It has been absolutely decimated. The sparking remains of robots litter the ground and all around him kids are taking them out like it is child's play.

In front of him, the stern guy with dark hair and glasses (and engines in his legs?) jumps and crumples a 3-point robot with his extended foot. He brushes himself off, mumbles "45" and runs off toward another active robot.

Forty Five? Izuku is further behind than he thought.

There's still not a flame in sight, so he couldn't get a point even if he hadn't resigned himself to failure. Ah well. Three minutes and one rejection letter and it'll all be over (that's what he tells himself).

The ground shakes under his feet, someone screams, and the sky goes dark.

Everyone is screaming now as the mass of people turn and run. Izuku looks up and oh good lord the picture Mic showed them of the zero-point villain really, really didn't convey the size of this thing. He has half a mind to turn and run like everyone around him, but then something catches his eye and oh. Oh he's both really happy and really unhappy that he has seen this.

The girl with the anti-gravity quirk is trapped under some rubble or a robot or something. Regardless of what it is, she can't move and she can't twist herself around to use her quirk and the huge zero-pointer is lumbering toward her and oh god she's going to get crushed.

She's going to get crushed and there's nothing Izuku can do. This isn't like when he ran in after Kacchan. This isn't a liquid-based villain surrounded by raging fires. This is a huge, hulking robot and there isn't a flame in sight. Izuku is totally powerless. He's totally powerless, but he still has to do something! He can't let her die!

The boy with the glasses and the engines in his legs is about to run past him. He's fast, his quirk is obviously built for speed, but he's not going as fast as he can and Izuku has adrenaline on his side. He catches up and grabs the boy's sleeve.

He stops (thankfully) and tries to bat Izuku's hand away. "What are you doing? Are you trying to mess me up to?" He sounds so angry and Izuku's heart is weak right now.

"There's a girl—" he points frantically toward where the zero-point villain is. "She's trapped and that thing is going to crush her. Please, you're the only one who can help!" His voice cracks and he knows he's crying again. "P-please. We can't—you can't just leave her."

The boy looks over Izuku's head, and he must see where the girl is because his eyes steel. He drops his sleeve and the boy takes off toward the zero-point villain.

Izuku is frozen to the spot, watching with horror and hope through vision blurred by tears. The boy is sprinting towards the villain. At the last second, the light from his engines glows brighter (distantly, Izuku wonders if he could pull the fire from his engines? It's worth a shot at some point) and he jumps, kicking the thing in one of its legs. The leg folds and buckles as the robot tries desperately to stay upright. The boy is already at the girl's side, pulling the rubble off of her and gathering her into his arms before running back toward where Izuku is standing.

The villain creaks and groans above them, before beginning to fall.


It's falling toward them and clearly they have both realized this, but he is slowing down and if they don't do something quickly they will both be crushed.

Over the din, Izuku hears her yell "Throw me!" and the boy launches her into the air. She rockets upward, coming face to face with quickly toppling beast. She slaps it across the face (?) before falling back toward the ground, the robot floating gently upward.

The boy catches her in a princess carry and keeps running until he is only a few meters from where Izuku is standing. He puts her gently on the ground, minding her legs (broken?). She taps her fingers together, the robot crashes out of the sky, completely inoperable, and she promptly throws up onto the pavement.

Izuku is still frozen to the spot as Mic's booming voice announces the end of the exam. He can't take his eyes off of the scene in front of him, the boy patting her back gently as she cries and dry-heaves. Medics arrive on scene and somewhere he feels himself nodding that yes, he is fine.

He failed the entrance exam.

The rest of the day passes in a daze.

Sometime before he goes home the girl comes up and thanks him. "For what?"

"Iida said he wouldn't have come to rescue me if you hadn't said anything, so I wanted to thank you." She beams, even if she is still a little green in the face. "I never got your name. What is it?"

"I'm uh… Midoriya Izuku," he says.

She smiles brighter (somehow). "I'm Uraraka Ochako! I hope we're in the same class, it'll be nice to have someone as nice as you there!"

He can feel the blood rush to his face. "I didn't, uh, I didn't—"


He's cut off by Kacchan, who is storming toward them. He's not sure if he's happy about this or not. Kacchan has some kind of mixed expression on his face. It's halfway between a haughty smile and a snarl, and once again, Izuku isn't sure which he'd rather it be.

He shoves a finger into Izuku's chest, and yeah that's definitely more of a smile than a snarl. "You didn't make it, did you? I knew as soon as they said it. I knew this would be perfect and you would fail." He's way too happy about this.

Izuku forces the emotion out of his face, and prays his voice will be level when he speaks. "We haven't gotten the written scores yet. I told you I would get into Yuuei, I never said I was only trying for heroics."

Kacchan is fuming. He's flexing his fingers like he wants to set off his quirk, but Izuku knows he won't. Instead, he spits on the ground and Izuku's feet and stalks away.

Izuku breathes a sigh of relief and slumps backwards into the numb buzz he's been living in since the exam ended.

"Well he sounds pleasant." He looks over to see that Uraraka has crossed her arms over her chest.

Izuku can't help but chuckle a little. "Pleasant isn't exactly the word I would use."

"Is he…?"

"Right? Yeah. I failed the practical exam, and we both kind of saw it coming."

"Oh. I'm sorry." Uraraka shuffles her feet nervously.

He shrugs. "It's fine."

"Why did he call you Deku? I thought your name was…" she doesn't want to finish the sentence, probably because she's too polite to use his first name, even in this scenario.

"It's something my friends call me. Like a nickname."

"He didn't really sound like a friend." She scowls at where Kacchan walked away. "If your friends call you Deku, can I call you Deku? Is that okay? It sounds kinda like 'you can do it!'"

Izuku smiles. "Sure!" He certainly hopes Uraraka makes it into the heroics course. She will make a wonderful hero, he just knows it.

Mom jumps on him when he gets home, wrapping him a hug and demanding to know how it all went. He smiles weakly and tells her the truth. That he didn't earn a single point in the practical exam, but he feels pretty hopeful about the written part. She wipes her tears and decides they're going to make katsudon tonight because "you can never go wrong with comfort food, Izuku." He follows her into the kitchen to help. Cooking with Mom has always been one of his favorite things, and maybe it'll snap him out of the dazed funk he's in.

The whole thing still hasn't processed. He knows it will eventually, and hopefully he'll be somewhere private when it does.


There are a few texts from Chie wishing him luck and asking him how it went. He replies with a quick "I'll tell you tomorrow? on our run" and falls asleep on the couch with his head in Mom's lap, a Ghibli movie humming quietly on the TV.

He wakes up in his own bed. It appears the teleporting powers he had in his youth have not evaded him (he still wonders how Mom carried him, he's several inches taller than her now). He drags himself out of bed and throws on a track suit (its cold out, even for January) and slips out of the house to meet Chie. Their Sunday runs are typically slow and easy (active rest! It's good for you), but still he hopes she goes easy on him. He's exhausted.

She's waiting for him in their Spot™. As soon as she sees him she wraps her arms around him, picking him up and spinning him in circles. He protests, but figures it isn't going to do much good, considering how much he's laughing.

When she puts him down, they both stumble a bit, grabbing each other to keep their balance, both of their faces flushed with laughter and the crisp January morning. Izuku is still laughing. "That was unfair."

Chie ruffles his hair. "I've got seven cm on you, idiot, obviously I'm going to capitalize on that." Izuku pouts, and she laughs. "Now! Let's get going you have a lot to tell me, mister."

They start running, and Izuku tells her everything. About the disaster that was the practical exam. How he gave up not even five minutes in. "But I was talking to one of the other kids, and if I get into General Studies then if I can do well enough at the sports festival they'll move me up to heroics. I just have to… I just—" his voice cracks and ah. There it is.

He failed the exam.

All his hard work. Every hour on that beach. Every hour with Jian'guo-sensei.

He wasted all of it.

He wasted all of it and he failed.

"Izuku, are you…?" Chie slows and turns to see where he has stopped running and is furiously wiping tears from his face. "Oh God, Izuku. I'm going to hug you, is that alright?"

He nods, squeezing his eyes shut and clenching his jaw, hoping to make the tears stop, but it isn't working. Chie's arms are around his shoulders and she cradles a hand against the back of his head. Wrapping his arms around her waist and taking fistfuls of her jacket into his hands, he presses his face into her shoulder and sobs.

She plays gently with his curls, her nails raking across his scalp. "It's going to be okay, Izuku. You did so well. You're doing so well. They kicked you down this one time, but that just means you're going to stand up so much stronger." She rests her cheek against his head, and he is so glad that she's here.

She has seen him at his lowest, and he has seen her at hers. They've always been there to build each other up, and as Izuku sobs into her shoulder he thinks that there's no way he deserves her. But there's no one he would rather have with him right now.

They stand like that for some time, but eventually Izuku quiets and the tears dry. She holds him at arm's length and looks him in the eye. "You know I'm proud of you, right?"

He almost laughs. "I know." His voice is still rough, and he reaches up to wipe the tears off of his cheeks, pointedly not looking at the wet spots on Chie's jacket.

"Good. Because I am. And obviously it sucks that you didn't pass the whole special heroics exam, but it sounds like it's a stupid, biased exam anyway and they should fix it." (he does actually laugh at that) "All this means is you've gotta get stronger and kick so much ass that they regret ever passing you over, got it?"

"Hey Chie? What did I ever do to deserve you?"

She laughs and pulls away, ruffling his hair before taking off in a sprint away from him. "Who said you deserve me?" she cackles, and Izuku runs after her. The weight in his chest is still there, and it still hurts, but maybe a little bit less.


Chie's first entrance exam is a week after Yuuei's. She is a ball of jittery energy during their morning run, and Izuku wishes her well and sends her off with a smile and an encouraging punch to the shoulder.

She spams the group chat around two in the afternoon.


ProfessionalYike: TWO TO GO

ProfessionalYike: I HATE THIS

BestJeanass: lmao I remember that. Sucks to suck, all you young iditos

CrimmsonRiott: you can't even say that, you were a mess last year

CrimmsonRiott: Small_Might deku can u pull receipts

Small_Might: I can pull so many receipts

Small_Might: also Chie im so proud of u

CrimmsonRiott: hell yeah! You did great I know you did!

CrimmsonRiott: speaking of

CrimmsonRiott: I just got the results of my last ee hold the fuck up

BestJeanass: where did u apply

Small_Might: already? It's only been a week


BestJeanass: HOLY FUCK

ProfessionalYike: I'M SO PROUD



BestJeanass: fukin understandably

ProfessionalYike: Ei, I'm so proud rn :')

ProfessionalYike: they grow up so fast

Izuku closes the app and throws his phone onto his bed. They were already sending acceptance letters out? Does that mean he has to wait in agony for his rejection letter, or will they end his suffering sooner? Hopefully sooner. As happy as he is for Ei, it makes his heart ache. He just wants to get this over with. The waiting in limbo is tearing his mind apart.

Mom has work today, but she should be home soon. It's barely two-thirty and he has no idea what to do with himself. Moping around the house got old really fast.

He ends up grabbing his gloves and running down to Dagobah. He doesn't really know what he's going to do there. He spent the last week clearing the rest of the garbage so the beach is now perfectly clean. As he guessed, it has started to attract a few people.

He finds his old spot easily enough and spends a few minutes building a small fire. The cold ocean breeze whips across his face, and he shifts into his starting pose. He'll just start with a few basic routines. Clear his head.

He pulls his fists into his sides, back rigid, and then falls into the familiar steps. The fire whips around him, pulled by his hands, his feet, his hips. His hair whips in the wind, and he loses himself in the movements. It's like a dance. He is perfectly centered. Perfectly in control. There is nothing here that can disturb him. His failures cannot touch him because he is here, not there. He spins them around with his hands, and they burn in the fire around him.

He wasn't enough then, but he will be. He will be the strongest because he is here, and he is perfectly in control. He started a mile behind, but that just means he will run faster. Nothing can hold him back.

The fire sparks in the air past his eyes, and he closes his eyes to just feel the heat against his skin. He spins into an aerial and the fire follows his feet right back into the makeshift fire pit. He finally stops moving and pants, wiping the sweat off his forehead.

Someone cheers, and he looks up to see a few people clapping politely, and a little boy who can't be more than five or six with his hands in the air, cheering loudly. Izuku smiles and waves, ducking his head in a shallow bow. He can feel his face heating up; he really wasn't expecting spectators.

"That was awesome!" The boy yells. "How did you do that?"

"It's uh, it's kung fu. And my quirk," Izuku says, rubbing the back of his neck.

"It's very impressive," the woman standing next to the boy (his mom?) says.

He chuckles and looks at his feet. "Thanks."

"We'll leave you be," one of the other women says. "Thanks for the show!" They all turn and walk away, leaving Izuku with his little fire and his burning cheeks.

He puts the fire out and runs back home, feeling significantly better than when he left.

Mom is waiting for him when he gets home. "Izuku!" She holds an envelope out toward him. "It's from Yuuei!"

The snappy comeback dies on his tongue as his eyes go wide. He grabs the letter and walks to his room in a daze, closing the door behind him.

He almost doesn't want to open it.

But he does.

The little metal chip falls from the envelope onto his desk, and it sparks before the holographic projection shoots out of it and a video starts playing. All-Might's face crackles through the static, and he asks if the camera is rolling a few times before it focuses and he grins (right at Izuku).

"Midoriya Izuku!" (he's died and gone to heaven. All Might recorded this. For him. And he didn't even pass!) "You may be wondering why I am speaking for Yuuei!" oh. Come to think of it, why was he? "I am a new teacher there!" All Might strikes a pose, before someone off-camera says something and All Might looks down at the couple papers he's holding, mumbling "right, right." He clears his throat. "You passed the written exam with flying colors! But unfortunately, you didn't earn a single point in the practical exam." Izuku cringes. "No battle points, that is. A board of directors were watching the exam, and awarded rescue points to anyone who earned them! And, my boy, you may not have run in yourself, but you knew your limitations and alerted young Iida to young Uraraka's predicament, which led to her rescue. The board awarded you seven rescue points for this!"

Izuku's eyes widen. He had earned points after all? Maybe not all hope was lost.

"Unfortunately, seven points is still a failing score." Izuku has come to some peace with his failure, but hearing the words from the mouth of his idol is still a punch to the gut. "But, because you passed the written portion, you were still accepted into the General Studies course! See you in April, Young Midoriya, Yuuei is lucky to have you!" All Might grins, and the video cuts out.

There are tears on his face. Of course there are. It will be a cold day in hell when he runs out of tears. But all hope is not lost. He made it into Yuuei, after all, and now he just has to get stronger. His next obstacle is the Sports Festival. He can make it until then.


There are still papers in the envelope. Probably supplies lists and class information. He goes to pull it out, and a small slip of paper twirls out of the envelope and onto his desk.

He blinks a few times, unsure if his eyes are playing tricks on him or if it actually says that. He picks up the paper between his two fingers, handling it delicately as if it will disappear if he so much as blinks.

"The entrance exam is flawed. I still think you'll make a great hero, kid. Don't let me down. –A.M."

Yes, it will be a cold day in hell when Izuku runs out of tears.