Chapter 14: Declaration of War
Despite the unexpected break they were given, classes returned all too soon for the students of 1A. While they quickly fell into their usual habits of comparing what they did with their time off (Mina eagerly wowing the crowd with the footage she took of Tsuku), Izuku quickly noticed that there was a certain… tension in the room come Monday. None of them drew attention to it, but there was no way he was the only one to notice how Iida tensed when asked what it was like seeing Nomu up close, or how Tokoyami's eyes sharpened and Aoyama's smile lessened when asked where they ended up during USJ. And Izuku could have sworn that Todoroki was staring intently at him when his back was turned.
The whole subject seems like some kind of taboo, like talking about the attack would make it happen again. But… they were all still curious. and it being the first time they were all together after the incident, no amount of uncertainty could stop the questions from spilling out.
Even Izuku himself couldn't help his curiosity as they swapped stories, listening to the creative ways his classmates fought and asking for them to clarify or expand certain things. Which of course led to them questioning him in turn, mostly about Tsuzuku and Katzuchako. Izuku had surprisingly little issue answering their questions. He even found himself smiling when Kirishima started up about how 'manly' the whole thing was.
However, the fun stopped when Kamaniri started speculating about what his own Triple Fusion's powers could be, triggering a debate between him, Kirishima, and Sero about possible combinations with Izuku. While Izuku was at first just as invested as they were with hypothesizing, his stomach filled with dread the second Kamaniri and Sero turned to him and asked if they could try Triple Fusing later that day.
Izuku froze under their expectant smiles, unsure how to explain how he couldn't use his Quirk due to health reasons.
While Izuku tried to stutter out why that wouldn't be a good idea, Katsuki, who up until this point was content to lazily listen to their speculating, grew more and more irate as Izuku danced around the subject. After nearly a full minute of none of them understanding Izuku's unsure ramblings, Katsuki finally blew.
"Will you morons just shut up about it!?" He shouted, making everyone in the room flinch. "Pulling that crap nearly killed Deku the first time! He ain't doing it again until we know he won't end up half-baked! So drop it!"
It was dropped.
Unfortunately, they weren't given much time to dwell on the previous week's events. On their first day back, the class was informed by Aizawa (how the man was already up and moving despite 60% of his body being broken and bandaged mystified, impressed… and slightly terrified Izuku) that the UA Sports Festival was rapidly approaching.
This alone made Izuku excited for the future… but also brought a new worry to the forefront of his mind.
The mob of students that soon appeared outside their homeroom didn't help that worry, nor the piercing words of a purple-haired Gen-Ed student.
Day of the Sports Festival
Two weeks passed in the blink of an eye. Before Izuku knew it, he and his class were standing in the dressing room of one of UA's massive arenas, filled with Pro Heroes cheering waiting for them to come out. Decked out in their PE clothes, the nineteen of them chatted as they waited for Iida to arrive so he could lead them out into the arena proper.
Izuku took a steadying breath, closing his eyes as he tried to calm his nerves. He could already hear the cheers of the waiting crowd, practically feel the vibration of the building from the sheer noise.
So many people, he thought. So many Heroes. And they all… they're all going to see my Quirk.
All Might had told him what he had to do today. This was his first chance to make an imprint on the Hero community, to show them all what he could do, his first step towards proving he could stand alongside the Number One Hero. To do that, the world had to see all that he was capable of.
On the one hand, he felt a sense of relief that, if nothing else, he'd be done having to explain how his Quirk worked to people. Once it was seen at the Sports Festival, there would be no more awkward explanations or nervous misdirecting when his Quirk came up. Hero or student, everyone would just… know.
That hand threatened to be slapped down by the other larger, darker, more panic-fueling hand: because… everyone would know.
He could already hear his former classmates jeers and whispers.
"Deku? You okay? Your mumbling again."
Izuku was snapped out of his train of thought by Ochako's soft voice. He looked up, finding her standing right next to him, her hand planted on his shoulder.
Izuku fought down the heat threatening to rush to his face from the proximity. "I-I'm fine, Ochako, sorry. Just… a-a little nervous about…" he rubbed the back of his head awkwardly as he trailed off. "Everyone..."
"Knowing about your Quirk?"
Izuku blinked in surprise at Ochako's blunt-but-correct statement. His mouth popped open to ask how she knew what he was thinking, only to stop when Ochako gave him a sheepish smile, tapping a finger against her temple.
"...oh," Izuku said, deflating. "Yeah, that makes… yeah, it's about my Quirk."
Ochako chuckled, bumping shoulders with him. "Don't worry about it, Deku. Everyone out there are real heroes. They'll see your Fusions for what they are."
Izuku tried to smile, giving her a hesitant look. "Which is?"
"Kick-ass," Katsuki flippantly supplied, leaning back in his chair one of the tables scattered throughout the room, his crimson eyes never moving from the clock ticking steadily on the wall.
Ochako snorted lightly, jerking her thumb towards Katsuki. "What he said."
Izuku let out a weak laugh. "Okay. I'll try."
"Surprised you're so calm yourself, Round Face," Katsuki then said, shooting Ochako a cutting look. "Figured you'd be freaking out about that big speech you gotta give in… what, ten minutes?"
Ochako stiffened at his words, stuttering a response. "Um.. well, I-I've got a few ideas for what to say already…"
"Really?" Katsuki returned, his voice gaining a tone of faux-admiration. "You ain't worried at all about speaking in front of all those people? All those Heroes, students, teachers…"
"Kacchan..." Ochako's voice and expression changed in an instant as she realized what he was doing.
A smirk formed on Katsuki's lips. "All those people, all around the world, watching, judging…"
"Katsuki," Ochako growled darkly, meeting his smirk with a glower. "You're not helping."
"What?" Katsuki drawled in exaggerated-innocence. "You are nervous? I'm surprised. After all, I'd have thought the number one student of our year would-"
Ochako let out a skyward groan. "Oh, you're still on about-I didn't want to be number one! We've been over this- gah!" Ochako buried her hands in her hair out of frustration, glaring at smirking blonde. "Uhh! Why am I friends with you?"
"I don't know, why are you?!" Despite his harsh words, Katsuki's fierce smirk widened, making Ochako's cheeks puff up as she pouted.
"Guys, come on…" Izuku tried half-heartedly, resigning himself to another argument.
A sudden thud made them jolt as the table next to them shuddered. Tsuyu looked back at them blankly, crouched on her ankles as she sat atop the table, Katsuki giving her a dark look as she nearly landed on his legs. "You guys nervous, too?"
Izuku ducked his head sheepishly, internally thankful for the interruption. "That obvious?"
Tsuyu hummed in response. "A little bit. I saw you fidgeting with your hands."
Izuku blinked at her, before looking down. Sure enough, his hands were folded over each other, his fingers twitching as they rubbed together nervously. Flushing, Izuku pulled his hands apart, rubbing the back of his head. "Huh, I didn't even notice."
At that, Tsuyu just shrugged. "Well, you're still hiding it better than some of us."
Ochako looked confused, giving the room a quick once over. While most everyone seemed a little tense, no one seemed overly worried. She saw Tokoyami and Shoji talking quietly to each other, and Todoroki standing off by himself with his head down. Some of them were even laughing with each other, Kamaniri, Sero, and Sato pumping each other up with large grins, Jiro and Mina rolling there eyes at the antics as they stood off to the side. "Everyone seems okay?" Ochako said slowly, a question in her voice.
In answer, Tsuyu merely pointed down behind them.
Curious, Izuku and Ochako followed her, Katsuki leaning back further to look.
Minoru Mineta paced back and forth, his short legs working so fast that he was nearly sprinting. He had both arms over his head, muttering as his eyes never left the ground.
"What am I doing, what am I doing? I didn't sign up for this! I just wanted to save pretty girls, not get beat up for entertainment. I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, I'm gonna diiiiie!"
Katsuki rolled his eyes to the ceiling, letting out a hard scoff. "Jeez." He looked sharply back at Mineta. "Hey, Grapestain!"
Mineta let out a shriek at the sudden yell, drawing the attention of the room. "What!?"
Katsuki was thoroughly unimpressed. "Shit ain't even started yet. Sit your dumbass down before you pass out."
His words seemed to have the opposite effect, given that Mineta started shaking under Katsuki's harsh stare. "I, I… oh…" With a mournful moan, Mineta went straight as a board. He fell back where he stood, his rounded hair the only thing keeping his head from cracking against the ground.
The four watched him fall in stunned silence. Then Mineta let out a weak whimper. "I'm gonna diiiiie…"
Katsuki turned his eyes back to the ceiling, letting out a groan of his own. "For crying out loud…"
"I'll check on him," Tsuyu said, climbing off the table. "Good luck out there."
"Same to you, Tsu," Ochako said as the froggy girl moved to kneel next to the prone Mineta.
Izuku and Ochako looked to each other once she left, sharing a quick laugh. Katsuki just rolled his eyes. "So, both of you got a game plan, right?"
Izuku took a calming breath, before giving a determined grin. "I think I know what to do. So long as I-
"Ah, ah!" Katsuki cut him off, shoving a finger against Izuku's nose. "Don't tell me, you idiot! We're competing against each other, remember?"
Izuku rubbed his nose, his look half-way between chastized and annoyed. "Right. Sorry. But… I know what to do," He finished with a determined smile.
"Good. Round Face?"
Ochako crossed her arms, a playful grin on her face. "I've got a plan…"
Katsuki quirked an eyebrow at her, before giving a feral grin of his own. "Well it better be freaking good, cuz I'm looking forward to kicking both your asses in the finals."
Izuku sighed at his friend's crass language, but his smile grew a little wider regardless. "I'll try not to."
The entire class jumped at the door was suddenly thrown violently open, most of the class halfway into their fighting stances as they instinctually faced the intruder.
"Everyone!" Came Iida's strong voice as he stepped into the room with an intense expression. "Finish your preparations! They're almost ready for us to…" He trailed off when he heard a collection of groans from the class facing him. He blinked as he watched them relax out of their tense positions. "Um…?"
"Dude," Jiro said, putting her hands on her hips in annoyance. "Do you gotta burst in here like there's a fire or something? Were stressed enough as is."
Iida shot to attention in an instant, his eyes wide. "Oh, dear." He bent at the waist. "My most sincere apologies, everyone! It was not my intention to…"
"Sheesh…" Katsuki grumbled as he sank back into his chair, letting out a huff as he tuned out Iida's profuse apologies. "That guy needs to relax."
Ochako giggled, quirking a brow at the blonde. "Are you really one to talk, Kacchan?"
"Bite me, Round Face."
Izuku chuckled lightly at his friends, trying to will away his nerves as he watched them bicker. He went over his plans one more time in his head, along with the parting words All Might had left him with. It wouldn't be long before-
A cool voice cut through the relaxed mood, making the three friends turn around. Izuku blinked. "Todoroki?"
Todoroki stood just behind them, his mismatched eyes zeroed in on Izuku. His face was blank, save for the slightest narrowing of his eyes.
A moment of silence stretched on, prompting Izuku to nervously ask, "Do you need something?"
Todoroki simply stared for a moment longer, the silent treatment making Katsuki bristle. Before the blonde could raise his voice, Todoroki finally spoke. "All Might favors you."
Izuku stiffened at the blunt statement. Ochako's eyes widened, while Katsuki tensed in his seat. Izuku gulped, trying to will away the shaking he felt in his voice. "W-Why do you say that?"
Todoroki's gaze intensified, as if insulted that Izuku was playing dumb. "At the USJ, your Fusion spoke flippantly to All Might and he barely reacted. If anything, he agreed with it. And once you unfused, he focused on making sure you were okay before anyone else."
Izuku gulped, his eyes darting around nervously. They were starting to draw a crowd as the other students noticed the encounter. To his right, Katsuki gave a dismissive snort. "Course he focused on Deku first. He was the most beat-up out of all of us."
Todoroki slowly turned his gaze towards Katsuki, his gaze growing colder. Katsuki glared back in anger as the silent staredown went on, the tension in the air rising by the second.
Hoping to curb an oncoming brawl, Izuku asked, "Is there something you wanted to say, Todoroki?"
Todoroki's eyes snapped back to Izuku, his battle of wills with Katsuki forgotten, much to the blonde's ire. "Just making an observation," Todoroki said calmly. "Though, I was hoping you could clarify something for me."
The half-and-half boy's tone put Izuku on edge, but he tried to smile anyway. "And that is?"
"I just wanted to know if you're actually going to compete today, or just have one of your Fusions do it for you."
Izuku's smile froze on his face. The room suddenly seemed much quieter "What?" He said softly.
Katsuki was much more vocal, jumping to his feet as he glared. "The hell is that supposed to mean, Freezerburn?"
"I wasn't talking to you," Todoroki said dismissively, not even looking at Katsuki.
"What!?" Katsuki's palms sparked in rage, moving forward to grab the collar of Todoroki's shirt, only to be held back by Ochako's arms around his waist. "Let me go, dammit!"
"Kacchan!" Ochako squeaked, struggling to hold the stronger boy back. "You can't fight before the Festival starts!"
Todoroki paid them no mind, his calm visage betrayed by the intense gaze he kept on Izuku ."Well, Midoriya?"
"Don't ignore me, you little-"
"Kacchan, calm down!"
Izuku swallowed nervously, overly aware of the eyes of his classmates watching them. "What… do you mean, Todoroki?"
Todoroki's gaze intensified, irritation growing. "Since school started, every major success you've had has been the result of one of your Fusions. You used Uraraka's power to pass the entrance exam. You used Yaoyorozu to win our first Hero class. Not to mention the, what, three new Fusions you created and used during the USJ attack?"
Across the room, Momo stiffened, her brow pinching as she looked towards Todoroki. Not far from her, Tsuyu watched the conversation with a light frown, Mineta looking fretfully between Todoroki and Izuku.
"You're considered one of the strongest students in our class, but I have to ask: what exactly have you done to earn it?"
Despite the calm voice Todoroki spoke in, Izuku took the boy's words like physical blows, his shoulders hunching at each accusation. Similar words started to echo in his head, Todoroki giving new strength to old memories:
He can't do anything without… fusing. He'd need someone's help in every fight.
He's useless on his own.
Izuku tried to shake the words from his head, standing up a little straighter. "T-That's not really fair, Todoroki."
Todoroki merely rose an unimpressed brow. "Isn't it? You have plenty of power on your own, between your material absorption and the strength it gives you. Instead, you choose more often than not to use other people's power instead of your own."
Katsuki let out an irate growl. "He ain't using us, you-!"
Todoroki cut him off with a sharp look, his mismatched eyes darting between Katsuki and Ochako, the girl still trying to hold the blonde back. "Then what do you call him using your strength to better himself?"
"Uh… teamwork?" Ochako said with a confused little shrug, nonplussed.
"That ain't even how his Fusions works, asshole," Katsuki growled out as he glared at Todoroki. "Besides, he won't be fusing with us today."
At that, Todoroki blinked, genuinely surprised. "He won't?"
Taking a chance at Todoroki's lapse in fury, Izuku quickly explained. "I don't want to get too use to Fusing with just Kacchan and Ochako. You're right, I'd probably get through the competition a lot easier if I Fused with them, but… that's not really the point of today. I won't always be able to Fuse with someone when I'm a Hero, so I want to try and get as far as I can on my own first before resorting to Human Fusion."
Todoroki's eyes narrowed, the air in the room growing cooler. "So you are going to Fuse with someone else."
"Well… yeah, maybe." Izuku gave a sheepish shrug. "I'm going to try and do as much as I can by myself, but if I get stuck and someone's willing to team up…"
Todoroki scoffed. "So you'll just use someone else's power."
Could he even be a hero like that?
What a freak.
Izuku grit his teeth, a spark of irritation coloring his insecurity, his frustrations tumbling from his lips. "That's just how my power works! What do you want me to do, only use half of my Quirk?"
He regretted his words immediately as, in a flash, Todoroki's face changed.
His eyes shot wide, his lips pulling into a tight line. His hands clenched until they shook, frost coating his right hand. Everyone shivered as the room grew colder still.
Izuku flinched back at Todoroki's thunderous look, his hand going to the metal surface of the table behind him. Ochako's grip loosened in surprise, letting Katsuki break free from her hold. The blonde brought his hands up threateningly, his palms sparking.
"Hey, hey!" Suddenly, a head of spiky red hair appeared between Todoroki and the trio, Kirishima throwing his arms out wide to keep the distance. He looked quickly between Todoroki and Katsuki, his attempt at a pacifying smile somewhat ruined by the nervousness on his face. "You're all acting super-manly right now, but how about you save it for just a little longer? There's a whole stadium of people here to watch us compete, and it ain't going to do any of us any good if you both get kicked out now."
"I must agree!" Iida concurred as he approached the standoff, looking disapproving between the participants. "This is hardly appropriate behavior for future Heroes, especially before such a major event. I must ask for you all to cease hostilities before I'll be forced to bring the faculty into this."
Katsuki growled under his breath, looking past Kirishima to Todoroki. His hands stayed up, palms sparking threateningly. Izuku's hand stayed flat against the table, ready to absorb it at any moment. He swallowed thickly but managed a determined look as he stared down the prodigy.
Todoroki glared back, eyes darting between Katsuki and Izuku. His fists shook, ice creeping up his right arm as the seconds ticked by.
Then, as quickly as it'd come, the tension in Todoroki's body bled away, his fists unclenching. The boy let out a derisive scoff.
"...Fine," He said, his voice still frighteningly calm. "Do what you want. It won't matter anyway." He turned his full attention to Izuku. "No matter how strong your Fusions are, I'm still stronger. And I'll prove it to everyone out there when I crush you-" He turned his intent gaze on Katsuki and Ochako. "-and whoever's foolish enough to tie themselves to you."
Katsuki's snarl deepened, Ochako looking startled and hurt, but Todoroki paid them no mind. He sent Izuku one last glower before turning around and walking right out of the room passed Iida, who watched him go with stunned eyes.
Before Todoroki disappeared around the corner, Izuku felt like he should say something. But try as he might, he couldn't put his words together fast enough before the boy was out of sight. Izuku let out a deep breath, frowning in thought.
"Yeesh." Izuku jumped at the sudden voice next to him, turning to find that Mina had snuck up behind him. The acid-girl giggled at the look on his face. "For a second there I really thought you three were going to go at it." She gave Izuku a grin. "Forget what Todoroki said. I don't know about everyone else, but if you need Izuna today, I'm up for it."
Izuku blinked in surprise. "Oh! Um…"
"Same for me, man." Kirishima's then said, giving Izuku a sharp-toothed grin as he turned to face him. "Don't know who we'd make, but you got him if you want him."
A warm feeling bloomed in Izuku's chest, which only grew when he saw Tsuyu flash him a thumbs up, Mineta looking at her in surprise before scrambling to do the same, sweat dripping down his face as he put on a bravado-filled smile. An impulsive part of him wanted to turn around to look at Momo, but he quashed it down, already feeling overwhelmed. "We'll… see how the day goes." He finally said with a sheepish smile, rubbing the back of his head as he felt his cheeks warm.
"Yes… well…" Iida said, looking between the budding pseudo-alliance in bemusement. "Thank you for trying to play peacemaker, Kirishima, and for not escalating things further, Midoriya, Bakugo."
"If Half'n'Half didn't back down, I'd have put him threw a wall," Katsuki said plainly, much to Iida's stunned ire, finally putting his arms down. He turned to Izuku, fire still in his eyes. "You get the chance, Deku, you better kick his ass. Hard."
Izuku merely sighed. "I'll… take that under advisement, Kacchan."
Katsuki clicked his tongue in acknowledgment, before looking at the class at large, still staring at the small group. "What are you all looking out?" He called out with a scowl. "Don't we all have a fight to get to?"
The blonde's words sent the class into a flurry of motion, finishing their last-minute preparations before moving towards the exit, Iida rushing ahead to try and get Todoroki to wait for them.
As they filed out, Ochako sidled up to Izuku, giving him a concerned look. "You okay, Deku?"
Izuku blinked at her concern until he saw her tap the side of her head. He took a steadying breath, giving her a grin. "I'm fine, Ochako. Some of the stuff he said just… hit a little close to home."
"I know," she returned sadly, When Izuku's smile didn't falter, Ochako managed to smile back, before frowning. "I wonder what Todoroki's problem is. Was it just me, or did he seem… really angry about your Quirk?"
Ahead of them, they heard Katsuki snort. "Half'n'Half's got issues."
Ochako opened her mouth to respond-
"Shut it, Round Face."
-and promptly closed it, sharing a semi-smug grin with Izuku, the two sharing a chuckle.
As the class reached the end of the hall, they could hear the roar of the gathered Heroes outside, Present Mic's commentary pumping up the crowd. Sunlight filled the exit up ahead, Iida and Todoroki waiting for them just before the threshold. Once they reached them, Todoroki shot Izuku one last look over his shoulder before walking forward, 1A following him. Izuku breathed out the last of his nerves, stepping out into the light.
"AND HERE THEY ARE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! THE INTREPID LADS AND LADIES THAT HAVE ALREADY PROVEN THEIR METAL AGAINST THE FORCES OF A VILLAIN ATTACK. WELCOME TO THE STAGE, CLASS 1A!"
The Sports Festival had begun.
A/n: Where have I been? Simple.
Writer's block sucks.
Current events sucks hard.
Plot Bunny is a bastard.
And that's all I'm saying on it.
In all seriousness, I hope everyone out there is staying safe. I'm gonna try to pump out the chapters whenever I can, but I've unfortunately got one of those jobs that listed as 'essential' so I don't have a lot of time to write right now, which is why this chapter is half as long as I wanted it to be (this chapter was supposed to have the obstacle course in it, but hey, what're you gonna do). Still, I'm gonna do what I can when I can. So I'll see y'all when I see you.
Till next time!