Author's Note: Belated Happy Valentines! I hope you guys had a good one. To those who spent it single and lonely like I did, my hearts reach out to you. I'm apologize for the late update this time and I'll try to write the next chapter faster. Enjoy the first chapter of Arc 2!
I felt like I lived my life stuck in a perpetual dream. A sequence of mind numbing repetition where each passing day was the same, but more tiresome than the last. I was moving forward but ultimately going nowhere. I was stagnating. Slowly consumed by the routine I hated while finding comforting in the predictability of it all.
I was thankful I almost died.
I wanted to believe a part of me did that day. At the face of a nightmare, with claws tearing into my throat, I woke up a new person left with nothing but memories of a previous life and a feeling of weightlessness after a long winded fall.
Life was changing at an unprecedented pace. I was finally living my dream, slowly inching down the path of heroism.
No one told me it would be this boring.
Don't get me wrong, I was thankful to be in my situation. But three days in, it was more or less the same as the previous one. I woke up, went to school, and tried my best to survive. For the most part, I was able to keep up with my classes since there wasn't a large deviation from the curriculum of Mustafu High and U.A..
Math was a breeze. Foundational Heroes Studies was a glorified ethics and law course. And modern literature was akin to a book club. The only problem I had was English and its nonsensical alphabet.
If I were to name the biggest difference, I'd say it was the people. For one, the students here in U.A. -most of them, at least- were upbeat and had a hopeful air around them, unlike most Mustafu citizen's nowadays. I felt out of place. I tried talking to a few of them during lunch, but I was uncomfortable around them, feeling like the fifth wheel of an established clique, where each member had found their niche and role within. I was redundant, to say the least.
I was even more uncomfortable around Tokage. She was... well, I didn't know what to think of her. At first glance, she was your typical friendly high school girl. But during the tour, I noticed the intelligence glimmering behind her eyes, watching my every move like she was picking me apart and trying to find all my secrets and insecurities. Unsettling.
Then there was Bakugo, the bridge between the past and present. I hated how I was still afraid of him. I thought I was stronger; more capable of standing up to him. I tried to steel myself, but a lifetime of fear and admiration were deeply rooted in my instincts; harder to quell than a mere habit.
It wasn't until Friday morning when something exciting finally happened.
"Suit up," Aizawa entered the room, not even greeting us good morning, "Meet me at Grounds B."
He dropped the papers he was carrying on to his desk and left the way he came, walking with lumbering steps -his feet almost dragging on the floor. The class was stunned with the unexpected order but they snapped into action at the sound of the door closing.
Everyone stood up and followed him out the room. The sound of exciting chatter buzzed in the air as the bustling students gathered into their little in groups while following the general direction of the collective. I followed them too, confused. I had no clue on where we were going or what we were about to do.
I found Kirishima lagging behind and approached him. I poked his shoulder his twice and he looked at me with a question plastered on his face. I swallowed. My eyes scanned the floor, nervous at the idea of initiating a conversation with a person I've only seen from afar.
"So," I started, drawing out the vowel, "what's this whole Grounds B thing?"
He beamed at me and put an arm around my shoulder. Too close!
"You see, youngling," he spoke with a voice deeper than usual, sweeping his hands in the air as if presenting a majestic scenery, "The Grounds B is a magical place where we -ow!"
He was interrupted by a whack on the back of his head.
"You're scaring him," Ashida scolded. She looked at me with an apologetic expression, "Sorry bout that. He's just happy cus he's not the clueless guy in the room."
"Mina!" Kirishima whined, "Stop bullying me!"
I watched the two argue with each other. From what I've heard, the two went to the same middle school and were the only couples in the class. Their energy was infectious, seeing how comfortable they were with each other and how they bickered like they weren't afraid of saying the wrong things to each other. Their relationship was genuine. I couldn't help but feel a pang of jealousy.
I coughed loud enough to cut through their bickering.
"Umm, you were saying Kirishima-san?"
"Right!" He thumped a fist on his palm, "Basically, Grounds B is a place where students pretend to be heroes and beat each other up. The stuff we do there is always fun."
"We get to wear our costumes too!"
Ashido raised her arms in celebration. When she noticed she was the only one, she grabbed Kirishima's hand and mine, raising them up in the air with a jump to continue her cheer.
Kirishima noticed my blush and gave me a disapproving glare. I chuckled nervously. I was still not used to girls touching me or even being near them, so Ashido's touchiness was a new experience for me..
"C'mon guys, we're falling behind," I informed the two.
We sped up our walk to catch up with the rest. Just when we were about to turn left to the locker rooms, I realized a crucial oversight and stopped in my tracks. Kirishima noticed my reluctance.
How could I've been so stupid. I was studying in a hero school for almost a week and I forgot about one of the most iconic part being a hero.
"I don't have a costume."
"No problem," he dismissed with a wave of a hand, "U.A. has a hella cool collection. Just go to the gym supplies and you'll find a locker with spare masks and tracksuits."
I blinked at him. I didn't know where the gym supply room was. I blamed Tokage for being an incompetent tour guide and a sexual deviant. The last remark was unrelated, but I was a petty person. Thankfully, Kirishima was an individual who spec'd in social awareness, noticing my lack of knowledge.
"You know what, I'll just show you where."
He led me to the door past the locker rooms for males and females, down the hall by the nearest intersection. We entered. There was a lot of stuff cluttered around the supply room and the sport equipments were dusty from the lack of use. We approached a locker and Kirishima opened, showcasing the collection of tracksuits and generic domino masks.
"What d'ya think?" He nudged my sides with an elbow.
"I think it's," I paused, trying to find the right word, "boring. They're black tracksuits with white stripes -do you want me to look like a convict or something?"
"You already got the murderer vibe down," he joked and I ignored it with an exasperated eye roll. "Besides, if you don't like it, you can always go in your uni," he giggled, "Or worse, naked."
"Fine," I grumbled while taking a tracksuit of the hamper, "I'll wear the stupid tracksuit. Happy?"
He beamed at me. What a cruel person he was, enjoying my misery while being all cute and innocent.
I couldn't help but smile with him.
We stepped out the door of the waiting area and I took a moment to appreciate the surroundings. Grounds B was a defunct city frozen in time. The buildings were unused but clean and the streets were silent and empty with nothing to disturb the eerie stillness. No bird flying, no cicadas chirping, and not even the scurrying of a squirrel could be seen.
The only movement was from the shifting clouds carried by the wind, with sundrops peaking through every so often. There was also the group of students moving a lot. I studied their costumes, taking notes on how to make mine.
Suffice to say, my current costume was pitiful compared to everyone else's. I saw all sorts of styles, varying from fully covered outfits to revealing spandex suits that accentuated one's figure or exposed a lot of skin. The main offenders of decency were Yaoyorozu and Tokage with their very... tight costumes. I would be lying if I said I didn't get the appeal. I was, after all, a healthy teenage boy.
Tokage spotted me staring at her and gave me a toothy grin and a sly wink. I frowned back. I still haven't forgiven her for pinning me against the wall. I would get back at her, one day. As for how, I'll think of the details later.
Aizawa cleared his throat and the voices fizzled out before disappearing into a dull silence. He walked in front of the crowd, carrying a wooden board with papers on top. He addressed everyone with a nod.
"For today's class," he announced, his tired voice piercing through the silence, "we'll enact a scenario most heroes have to go through in their careers. A hostage crisis."
He paced around.
"The rules are simple. There will be teams of two: heroes vs villains. The main objective of the heroes is to free the hostage and deliver them to the safe zone -which inside the waiting area."
He pointed to the building beside the Grounds B entrance/exit.
"And the villains will try to stop them from doing so until the time runs out or the heroes are all out of action."
He scanned the crowd and checked if anyone was confused about the rules.
"To spice things up, we'll be using props," he reached for the duffle bag beside him, pulling out a cheap plastic gun and a walkie talkie.
"This thing," he waved the prop casually, "is a gun. If the trigger is pulled, then both teams will lose half of the points they've accumulated prior. Back to zero, but this time, the roles are reversed. The heroes will prioritize in capture and the villains will want to escape to the safe zone."
His eyes scanned the students checking if everyone understood the rules.
"I'll be marking you based on your judgement, improvisation, and your ability to adapt. If you score lower than a fifty, you fail."
He looked into the board he was carrying, reading -what I assumed was- the order of the teams.
"For the first round, Tokoyami leads the villain team," he nodded at Tokoyami, "You'll be facing against Bakugo, so choose your partner wisely."
Tokoyami surveyed the crowd with an intense gaze. He looked serious, determination burning in his eyes with a need to prove himself. He was halfway through the class, before his eyes settled on the back, looking directly into mine.
I perked up at the sound of my name. I wasn't expecting to be chosen since I was a new student whose abilities were unknown. But a part of me was relieved. I wasn't the last person chosen, which was a first time for me.
Bakugo's jaw clenched. He was confident, almost blindingly so, but he was also intelligent enough to recognize the threat I posed to his quirk. He scanned the crowd of eager students before his eyes settled on a person I couldn't see. His lips curled into a grin.
The crowd parted and the girl stepped out to stand beside her partner. Realizing I should've done the same earlier, I walked through the bodies of students with a slightly flustered look on my face. Why are social cues so complicated?
"Ok, I'll give you three minutes to discuss strategies. The rest of you, out." He made a shooing motion by flicking his fingers at them. The students complied with a half hearted agreement and scurried to the waiting area where they couldn't interfere with the activity.
Once Grounds B was cleared of the other students, the two groups collected their props and parted ways. I held a walkie talkie on my left hand and a gun on the other.
I greeted Tokoyami -which he returned with a curt "good morning"- and the two of us weaved our way down the empty streets of Grounds B and hid behind a corner of an unused building. We formed a huddle, distancing ourselves from listening ears.
"Give me a run down of your quirk," he went straight to the point, "Anything you haven't mentioned in class that I should know about?"
I scratched my chin, trying to remember what I said on my introduction. God, four days felt like a long time ago.
"I can sense water in a hundred meter radius," I explained, "Gives me unparalleled awareness of the area.."
"I see," he went into deep thought and after a moment, he spoke, "Any plans?"
"Aren't you the leader?"
He shook his head with a disappointed look.
"I'm not very bright," he admitted, "And as a leader, I need to admit my flaws, recognize them, and relegate the work to someone more capable."
Respectable, I thought. Maybe I should reevaluate my first impressions of him. Thinking of him as a chuuni loner didn't give him enough credit for the introspection he carried beneath his words.
"Okay," I complied, formulating a plan for the activity. I wanted to make it as simple as possible to reduce the chances of errors. After a moment, I continued, "I'll stay with the hostage and you'll try to ambush them. I'll use my walkie talkie to guide you to their blindspot."
"Two against one?" he pointed out, doubt evident in his words, "I'll most likely lose."
"Don't worry, I can still support you from far away."
As a show of evidence, I pointed to the puddle from a distance, launching it into the air and dispersing it into mist. The sunlight hit the tiny droplets, forming a tiny rainbow that dissipated shortly afterwards. What's with me and making rainbows? I thought, slightly amused.
"Sounds good," he commented, "Any questions before we go back?"
I didn't have any important questions, but there was one that was pestering me, nibbling at the back of my mind.
"Why me? I haven't been here for a few days and you barely know me."
He pondered on the question. Instead of answering, he walked ahead and went down the alleyway. Just as he was about to reach the main road, he stopped.
"A gamble," he looked back, "My quirk is weak to Bakugo's so I picked someone who countered his."
Then with an nervous quiver in his voice, he whispered.
"Hopefully I'm right."
From no specific location, I heard Aizawa's voice from the speakers call out to us, "Three minutes is up!"
We went back to the initial spot where our class gathered for the debriefing, and saw Aizawa standing there with the other team.
He swept his arm, gesturing for us to follow him.
Tokoyami and I went inside a decrypt and worn down building, walking down the twisting corridors behind Aizawa. He led us to a room upstairs, empty and featureless except for the wooden chair in the center.
There was a large window on the left wall to the door, overlooking the main street where the heroes would most likely enter the building.
Aizawa pulled out a headband with a surface covered in a red plastic reflector. He sat down and wrapped it around his head, locking the straps together so it wouldn't fall to the slightest of motions.
"This is a sensor," he said, "When you shoot the gun at it, the headband will light up and broadcast an announcement."
He pulled a microphone underneath his shirt and brought it underneath his lips.
"Begin," his words carrying throughout the hidden speakers of Grounds B.
Tokoyami looked back one last time, nodded, and left the corridor with hurried steps. I was left alone with nothing but my thoughts and a silent teacher who was trying his best to catch up on his sleep.
I repeated the plan in my head, trying to calm my unsteady heart. Breathe. I clutched my walkie talkie and pressed the button for communication. Once I heard Tokoyami pick it up, I spoke.
"They're outside, standing on the main entrance of the building. No movement. They might be planning something so approach with cau-"
The walkie talkie crackled and a jolt of electricity stung my ear. The ominous sound of static buzzed due to the lack of signal, leaving me with a palpable sense of dread. What the hell? I focused on my watersense, trying to assess the situation outside the room.
The moment I lost contact with Tokoyami, the opposing team ran to the eastward side of the building, forgoing the main entrance. Yaoyorozu stopped near the wall and began cutting up a hole to create a new avenue of entry. On the other hand, Tokoyami was still moving towards the main entrance, completely passing by the enemy group. Our plan was already falling apart.
Tokoyami stopped on his tracks, trying to figure out what went wrong with his device. After a few moments of prodding around, he discarded it and continued his path without hesitation. I had to do something.
I willed the water around me to coalesce into a sphere and I sent it down the halls to intercept Tokoyami's location.
The sphere of water reached him near the main entrance where he was surveying the outside street, hiding within the shadows. I shaped the water into a hand and poked him on the back. He flinched and spun around, ready to attack, but relaxed once he saw the culprit.
I changed the shape of the water into an arrow and floated it, leading him outside the building, to a route that would take him behind the opposing team.
While I was directing my partner, I also gathered all the water within my domain. From the puddles scattered across Grounds B, to the moisture from the air, down to the water absorbed by the ground. I divided each gallon of water into a sphere, creating nine spheres in total. Nine hundred twenty three gallons to be exact. I floated them above the other group. They were almost done carving the entrance and Bakugo was waiting quietly, his foot tapping with impatience.
I waited too for Tokoyami to reach the vicinity. I needed him to capitalize on the chaos of the attack and capture Yaoyorozu, eliminating the wild card from the equation.
Bakugo spotted the ambush, judging how he tilted his head up and jumped at the sight of water. I had no choice but to attack. I solidified the spheres and launched them at high speeds, directing most of the ammunition on Bakugo.
He rolled away and ran for cover, but one of the sphere crashed on his chest and sent him rolling across the pavement. Yaoyarozu was quick to react. She formed a rope in her hand and lassoed Bakugo's arm, pulling him away from the danger. Before I could shoot her, she raised a hand facing out to the sky and a torrent of gas erupted, intercepting the remaining water spheres.
The moment the spheres touched the gas, the water disappeared out of my control and bubbled into a foam like substance. I panicked. Realizing I had no means of countering her chemicals, I retreated the remaining water and gathered it into the hostage room. Barely a gallon left.
I'm leaving it to you, Tokoyami.
I watched Tokoyami jump into the fray, his shadows snaking towards the defenceless figure of Yaoyorozu. But Bakugo had recover. He lunged, striking the shadow with an explosion, following it with an over handed swing on Tokoyami. Tokoyami moved out of the way, his feet skidding on the ground.
However, he didn't notice Yaoyorozu behind him and he was hit on the head by a metal staff.
He collapsed on the floor, unconscious.
Our chances of winning was slowly plummeting to zero. Shit!
I gripped the gun, my knuckles turning white. What to do, what to do. I gritted my teeth and paced around the room.
I was tempted to pull the trigger and escape, but I knew it wasn't the right time for that. I had to wait. I had to be level headed and approach the situation with a plan and a measure of vigilance. I closed my eyes, my body shuddering as I exhaled. Breathe. When I opened them, my mind was clearer and I had an idea of what to do.
First, I made a mental note of where Tokoyami's body was. He was lying near the east side of the building, farthest from the waiting area which was located west of Grounds B. That made things harder for me.
With a frustrated groan, I threw the gun to the air, catching it with the water I kept inside the room. I exited through the door, leaving the water and the gun behind with the hostage.
Second, I checked where Bakugo's team was, making sure I didn't run into them. They were circling from the north side stairway, so I went down the southern exit and made a roundabout to where Tokoyami was. I narrowly avoided the two.
The hero team was close. They would reach the hostage in a minute or so.
I ran. It was difficult, trying to run silently while doing something else from a distance. Back in the hostage room, I willed the water to carry the gun. I made sure the gun was pointed at the sensors behind Aizawa's head and the water was curled around the trigger.
Bakugo's team entered the hostage room. Noticing the lack of villains, they stopped and surveyed the room for potential traps. On most circumstances, their caution would be rewarded. Right now, however, it only gave me more time to escape.
After clearing the hostage room, Yaoyorozu gave Bakugo a thumbs up, indicating the lack of tricks and traps. They didn't enough notice the gun floating behind Aizawa's head.
I exited the building, dashing as fast as I can to my teammate. I found him, lying beside the carved out wall.
Yaoyorozu saw the gun. She spun to inform her teammate, but she was too late.
I pulled the trigger. A sharp, high pitched signal rang across the area.
"Hostage has been eliminated. Heroes, proceed on capturing villains."
I lifted Tokoyami in my arms and made a dash to the safe zone. I was sure he wouldn't appreciate being princess carried, but I couldn't care less about his pride, given how dire the situation was and how close we were to failing.
I was only a few meters away from the hostage building, when I heard the sound of glass shattering.
Bakugo leapt outside from the second story window, using his explosions to propel himself in the air like a heat seeking missile. Yaoyorozu, on the other hand, was lagging behind, scaling down the building with a man made ladder. I summoned the water from the hostage area and levitated it through the broken window. It was barely a litre.
Yaoyorozu saw the small sphere of water and blocked it with her foaming gas. The water foamed and fizzled, falling into the hot concrete ground.
I felt a spike of pain as Bakugo's fist buried itself into my back. I was sent flying. Tokoyami's limp body falling out of my grasp, tumbling down the street with me.
I contorted my body to reduce the impact. The moment I managed to get up on my feet, Bakugo was already in the motion of throwing a right hook into my stomach. His fist connected and I was sent tumbling on the ground. He waited. He was eyeing me with a sadistic grin, challenging me to stand up once more.
So I did. With shaky legs, I pushed myself off the ground and adopted a defensive position, studying Bakugo's movements. I closed my eyes. I was seeing through my watersense, feeling the motion around me. I felt his right foot shifting. He was about to charge again. I sensed the small movements in his right arm and his legs, the tension indicating the burst of movement that was about to happen. He launched forward, creating disturbances in the air.
He was predictable. He favoured his right side way too much and his attacks were too linear.
But predictability was hard to avoid when the person faster than you. I moved left to dodge his overhanded swing, but he was quick to use his explosion and change his initial momentum. His left arm caught me in my rib. I fell, once again. This time, coughing out blood.
Yaoyorozu finally caught up to the fight. She was making some ropes to tie us in, but was stopped by Bakugo from doing anything further.
"Don't you dare butt in," Bakugo warned her, "I'll handle Midoriya on my own."
He walked to my fallen figure.
"Done already," he asked with a voice almost polite. "I knew you were a weakling, but I didn't expect you to fucking bend over after a few exchanges. I can't even laugh at you... I'm just bored. Disappointed."
His condescending tone struck a nerve. I was fine when he called me names and berated me, but hearing him so sincere with genuine dismay ignited a fire within me.
"Are you kidding me," I coughed out some blood and saliva, "I could take fifty more of these pansy ass, piss sissy love taps you call punches."
I was babbling. My mind was a jumbled mess and I was pulling out words that didn't even make grammatical sense. I swear it sounded a lot cooler in my head.
I stood up again. I adopted my usual defensive stance, waiting for Bakugo to make the first move. We stared at each other's eyes.
Without any warning, he accelerated and threw a strong left. I blocked it with my left forearm and used my right to punch him on his chest. He moved out the way, but my knuckle grazed him and left a small red mark where it hit.
"One." I counted with a tired pant, darkness creeping in on the edges of my vision. I forced myself to smile.
"That's more like it," he grinned, baring his teeth with a vicious, feral look in his eyes.
Our match continued on for a while. I repeatedly dodged his attacks and parried the ones that landed, reducing the impact. I landed a few hits here and there, but none of them affected him too much. As time went on, signs of power overuse manifested and I was stabbed with a sharp pain in my head.
I can't lose.
I stumbled due to my headache and lost my footing on a small rock. Bakugo gave a devilish sneer. Excitement. Glee. Satisfaction. He twisted his body and delivered an underhanded swing directed towards my stomach. His fist buried into my flesh and I was sent flying a few feet away, my head hitting the ground awkwardly.
"What's the matter Midoriya," Bakugo walked towards me, taking his time to savour the moment. "Ya still have twenty-seven left."
I can't lose.
I pushed the ground with shaky arms -for what seemed like the hundredth time- and stood up with unstable legs. My vision was blurry. It would've been easier if I escaped and allowed Tokoyami to get captured. He was a hopeless case anyways and dragging his limp body would just increase the chances of receiving terrible marks.
I really wanted to run. But there was another reason why I stood up while gritting my bloody teeth; a reason surpassing that of petty insecurities and my pathetic inferiority complex. A reason worth more than academic marks.
I wanted to become a hero. And a hero never loses.
"Come at me, Kacchan!" I yelled and slammed both my knuckles together.
Blow for blow. I stood strong. I used my power to dodge his explosion filled punches and I countered with a few of my own. My fists started to hurt. The headache still lingered on, growing sharper by the second. Even so, I remained standing. Taking pride in the standing toe to toe with the person I once feared.
"Die!" Bakugo yelled.
I sidestepped and let the punch graze my forearm. It hurt. I swung my left arm to his temples, but he dodged it by a hair. Bakugo followed the punch with a left handed jab directed to my face, but I blocked it by shielding with both arms. I backed off, trying to regain my balance. Bakugo lunged again with reckless abandon, throwing a flurry of punches with pinpoint precision. Head. Stomach. Shoulders. Those were the areas Bakugo was aiming at, so after receiving a few, they became somewhat predictable and easier to block.
"Thirty-eight," I counted in between wheezes.
Bakugo and Yaoyorozu were silent and they stared at me with an odd expression. I saw concern mixed in with a hint of respect. I was close to fainting. My left eyelid was shut close and I felt bruises all over my body, making even the smallest movement unbearable. As much as I didn't want to admit, I was going to lose. But I stood strong.
Loud explosions erupted and crackled. I looked up and saw Bakugo's palm flaring up with brilliant lightshow, his glare matching the heat and intensity. I felt a tingle of fear in my spine. I tried pushing those emotions away, but to no avail, they were too strong to keep at bay. My temple throbbed with a vengeance and I was left struggling to move my legs due to the fatigue and pain I accumulated throughout the match. I was screwed.
Think. What did I have to do? The nearest water source was eight hundred ninety three meters away. The only real option I had left was using my other power -the one I have been avoiding due to how weak it was. I concentrated. I willed the vibrations to gather in my fist.
A wave of nausea hit me. A jarring stab of sea sickness that almost made lose balance and heave. I steeled myself.
When I opened my eyes, I saw my fist glowing a vibrant white and a shrill, ear piercing sound rang in the street. The vibrations were way stronger than before. My powers were going in overdrive.
Bakugo leaped forward, using his explosions to rotate him in the air. When he reached the apex of his flight, he reeled his arm and threw out a vicious, quirk-powered punch to my stomach. It was hot and excruciatingly painful. I gritted my teeth and retaliated with a right hook of my own. The world screamed and the turmac cracked into a million pieces. Light filled my eyes, blinding me. The ringing in my eardrums drowned all form of sound. And the pain numbed my sense of touch.
The only thing I felt before I lost consciousness was a serene sensation. An impression of weightlessness from a long winded fall.
More Author's Note:
1) This is the closest we'll get to canon. Hopefully my version of the Battle Arc Trial didn't feel too similar to the other renditions.
2) Please point out typos and nitpicks in the reviews. I really appreciate learning from them! Or don't... it's not like I can force you to do my job lol
3) BOTTOM TEXT