Spoiler Warning for the BNHA Manga: [Skip this A/N if you don't want to be spoiled, or if you don't care either one way or another about my thoughts.]
Reading the recent manga chapters of Boku no Hero, and reflecting on Midnight's death and the Touya-is-Dabi confirmation made me ponder on something. It's odd that every-single thing that has happened in the series from roughly the first chapter to the three hundredth, has all happened within the span of a single School year (not counting the ten-month training montage).
Imagine Harry Potter, but the first five books of the series were crammed into their first year. Voldemort returns the same time Black escapes Azkaban all while the Chamber of Secrets gets open, the Tri-Wizard Tournament is in full swing and Dementors are prowling the school grounds.
Three hundred and sixty-five days/three hundred chapters and they've met the league of villains, met Stain, had one of their school mates kidnapped, met the boogeyman of quirks All-For-One, fought in a grand tournament against each other, fought in another tournament against other schools out to get them, fought against themselves again, fought against their teachers, fought against a Yakuza criminal organization, fought in a bloody large scale war where their teachers got killed -
Two rescue arcs (Bakugo and Eri), two tournament-style arcs, (Provisional License Exam/Sports Festival], and several other mini-battle arcs in three hundred chapters is a lot. For reference, the entirety of Naruto Part 1, from Graduation to the Chunin Exams to the Sasuke-Retrieval arc, took only about 244 Chapters.
From a story standpoint, all this high-octane action is awesome. I tip my hat to Horikoshi.
From an in-world standpoint, all this high-octane action is insane, and no teenager should be able to handle this much shit without crumbling under the weight of the pressure.
If I was a parent, and all this shit happened within my child's FIRST YEAR of High School, I'd tell 'em to forget about it. Better to have a child who hates my guts for crushing their dreams than have a dead child. I remember there was an episode/chapter dedicated to All Might and Eraserhead going around to meet parents of Class 1-A and apologize, all while telling them that their children will be safer boarding within UA full-time.
And then, couple of arcs later, we've got first year students literally at the front lines of a fucking war.
People often point out that shinobi in Naruto are child-soldiers, which would be horrifying to modern sensibilities. Yet they really don't see that BnHA is the exact same thing, with the only difference being: these child-soldiers are celebrities.
P.S: NTR is a trash fetish when you identify with the dude being cucked. Simply read the ones where the protagonist is one doing the cucking. You're welcome.
Analysis: Shinso Hitoshi. 15, humanoid features, no visible alterations or notable physiological differences. Quirk is likely an emitter type. Cross-referencing information… Hitoshi Shinso. Cross-referencing news articles… cross referencing references… details… rumors, whispers, idle-talk…
Midoriya closed his eyes.
From his analysis, Shinso seemed like a decent person, albeit cynical. Izuku was not one to judge individuals by their appearance, but he was one to make the right conclusions simply by analyzing the individual's body language. Shinso carried himself with weight. Likely possesses a quirk viewed negatively by society.
There was no doubt about it. Excellent written scores but low hero evaluation? Kacchan hadn't been wrong. Kacchan, however hadn't understood the complete nuance of the situation. Shinso was likely an individual who chose to be a hero despite possessing a quirk which would likely be considered unheroic.
His eyes moved over to the other boy.
Analysis: Tokoyami Fumikage… avian head, no other visible alterations or physiological differences. Quirk is an emitter type, with the rare sub-type of being a Sentient quirk. Sentience? Intelligence? Details insufficient. Name 'Dark Shadow' and constant references to light and darkness… potential weakness, daylight? Strong light sources?
"Wait, what do you mean, there are students from recommended exams?! People get in based on fucking recommendations? How the fuck does that make sense?"
Izuku was not following the conversation anymore. He was engrossed with analyzing Dark Shadow.
A sentient quirk.
He'd not so much as forgotten about the phenomena, as he had conveniently disregarded the nature of its existence. Izuku's eyes traced the wispy bird-like being and his brain ran numerous calculations.
Need to confirm limit of sentience. Parasitic? Split personality? Origins? Repressed persona? Would Dark Shadow operate even if Tokoyami were incapacitated? Summoner-summon type relationship? Eliminating Tokoyami would eliminate Dark Shadow, but not vice-versa?
Izuku's brain swam with questions. Against his instincts, he approached Dark Shadow. "Dark Shadow, do you mind if I can touch you?"
"Listen, you're good looking and all but, I don't really swing that way –"
"I was just wondering how you feel." He said. "Do I need to ask Tokoyami for permission to interact with you?"
"It is fine, Midoriya-san." Tokoyami said. "I understand you must be curious. Most are. Darkness itself possesses an appeal that few can resist."
Izuku moved his hands over Dark Shadow's body. Solid. He noted. Semi-solid? No? Izuku's brain was short-circuiting attempting to identify what sort of matter Dark Shadow was made of. Does it have mass? He felt Dark Shadow. No. Dark Shadow's mass would weigh down Tokoyami – however, Dark Shadow can still move and drag Tokoyami around with him… so how is…?
Dark Shadow's existence was a scientific anomaly. Quirks were not magic, no matter how many religions formed around them. Quirks were, at their core, biology, physics and chemistry. Dark Shadow however, seemed to completely refuse to subscribe to scientific common sense. A sentient entity of energy, which simultaneously could have mass and not have mass –
How does Dark Shadow think? Is there a brain? No brain, no organs. Made up of cells? No. Living entity? Izuku examined Dark Shadow's void-like white eyes. Unlikely.
"You're not fond of light are you, Dark Shadow-san?"
"Light sucks. You should see how amazing I am at night."
Anti-photosynthetic. Gains strength from the absence of sunlight like some sort of reverse-plant. Izuku breathed out and smiled. It's fine.
Dark Shadow was not as 'sentient' as Tokoyami would like to believe. Not according to Izuku's examination. Dark Shadow was essentially a puppet Tokoyami controlled, but was not even aware that he was controlling it. It seemed to be some sort of avenue for Tokoyami to express repressed parts of his own psyche, Izuku was certain. As far as he could tell, Dark Shadow had no biochemical processes or neurological system what would grant it autonomous thought. Rather, it piggy-backed off Tokoyami's own subconscious.
Sentient quirks, Izuku chuckled. I almost fell for it. He'd read an essay on the topic, The Myth of Quirk Sentience byFeliciaBrunelleschi. The Italian psychopharmacology grad-school student made waves worldwide after her studies proposed that 'Sentient' quirks were nothing more than subconscious manifestations of an individual's id, ego, or superego. There was a lot of backlash because her field of psychopharmacology was considered by many as irrelevant to the discussion of sentience and utilizing Freudian psychoanalytic theory made her sound like an academic quack.
However, in the long term, it became important. If Quirks could truly be sentient and have their own individual personalities, it would spell utter chaos for any Quirk Restriction Law. The current status-quo was built on the fact that the average civilian was not allowed to use their quirk in public spaces, and could be fined and arrested for it. If quirks could be sentient, then Quirk Restriction Laws essentially became slavery and discrimination laws. What if your quirk wanted to go on a date? Go for a walk in the park? Would you be arrested, simply because your quirk desired basic fundamental human rights?
Worse still, if Quirks could be sentient, what was stopping them from demanding rights, representation in politics and media and the ability to vote? What was stopping sentient Quirks from demanding to be detached entirely from their hosts and declaring themselves an entirely different race?
There are no sentient quirks. Not only for the general convenience of society, but also because the ramifications would be catastrophic. It was far easier to view Dark Shadow as Tokoyami's split-personality, than it was to accept and support it as a lone existence in and of itself.
"Is everything alright, Midoriya-san?"
Tokoyami looked at him with a small amount of concern. It was hard to read the boy's expression, especially with his avian head. Doesn't his avian head make his brain smaller? More compact? There doesn't seem to be enough space necessary to contain a human-sized brain which would allow for higher thought… so how does he…? Izuku shook his head. Leave it, Izuku. That's getting dangerously close to Quirk Purism theory.
"It's nothing." He said. "Dark Shadow is really cool, Tokoyami-san."
"Ah… is that… so."
Tokoyami tried to look unaffected by the compliment, but Izuku could see he was pleased. The boy closed his eyes and coughed awkwardly into his hand. Not used to compliments. Possibly used to being discriminated? Bullied?
Izuku resisted the urge to sigh, as he turned to the other boy. Kaminari. The blonde was talking with Kacchan, who, to Izuku's surprise, happened to actually be listening. Izuku chuckled. Kacchan, you're predictable as ever. Kacchan hated people weaker than him, and he'd make rivals with people equal or superior in strength to him. Making rivals was his way of making friends, but it worked. The fact that Kacchan wasn't completely brushing off Kaminari meant only one thing:
Kaminari was like them.
Analysis: Kaminari Denki. 16, humanoid features, no visible alterations or notable physiological differences. Quirk is an emitter type, with potential side-effect as a mutant type. Electrification, and side-ability of limited precognition via reading brainwaves and surface thoughts. Combat ability…
Izuku remembered Kaminari catching Kacchan's punch. Kacchan hadn't augmented it with his explosions, but all the same, that was no small feat. Kacchan's punches were no joke. Izuku sparred with him every day and he knew for a fact that they only got faster and faster and faster. Kacchan was training them so he'd be able to throw a punch so fast that Izuku's automatic reflexes wouldn't be able to dodge.
For Kaminari to have caught it without so much as blinking?
Kacchan was right. For the second time, Izuku found himself admitting it. Class 1-A is going to consist entirely of ridiculously talented individuals.
This made Izuku… relieved?
Relieved. I'm relieved? He understood, now. Is this… is this how Kacchan feels? If their entire class would compose of individuals equally as talented as they were, then it would change everything. After all, if everyone was as special as you were, then you weren't quite so special anymore, were you?
Izuku turned to Kaminari.
"Kaminari-san," He approached the boy.
"Sup, Midoriya?" Kaminari beamed at him. "Hey, mind if I call you Mordor?"
Izuku tilted his head. "Mor…dor?"
"Yeah," Kaminari snapped his fingers. "You kinda look like you came from there. Plus, it rhymes. Mi-do-ri-… Mor-dor." He paused. "Okay, maybe not. I swear it rhymed in my head."
"If you'll let me call you Denki, then… sure."
"Nice. Mordor." Denki grinned. "Ooh, it even has that ominous feel to it. I can picture you standing on top of some giant tower, screaming: MOR DOR!"
"Thanks, Denki-san," Izuku felt his lips curve. "I don't think screaming atop towers is for me, though."
"Hey, man, don't knock it until you try it." Denki said. "I myself am partial to riffing on air guitars at the top of tall buildings during thunderstorms. Gotta tell you, feels awesome."
"Human-lightning rod here, remember?" Kaminari grinned. "What type of lightning-rod would I be if I never tried to catch lightning?" Kaminari sighed. "When I was thirteen, I tried to impress this girl I had a crush on by literally catching lightning in a bottle. Wanted to give it to her for Valentine's day. Didn't quite work out. I mean, I did catch the lightning, but the bottle just shattered." Kaminari groaned. "…it would have made the best gift, y'know? I mean, other dudes would be giving her candies and teddy bears and chocolate, and I'd just slide in, slick as hell and hand her bottled lightning."
"The hell's she supposed to do with bottled lightning?" Kacchan asked.
"Keep it in her room? Toss it at assholes?" Kaminari said. "I dunno man, I was thirteen and it sounded cool. I mean, would you rather have a bottle of lightning or a teddy-bear?"
"See? See?" Kaminari grinned. "Kaminari's Rule of Awesomeness Number 1: If it's cool, it's always worth it."
"I see." Tokoyami closed his eyes. "Indeed, the sacrifices provided on the altar of endless frost does seem to be worth the reward."
Shinso merely snorted.
Izuku analyzed Denki even more closely. He caught lightning at age thirteen. Izuku exhaled. He flicked his gaze to Kacchan. Kacchan was also connecting the dots. Kacchan's gaze struck his, and it was almost as though they had the exact thought:
What were we doing when we were thirteen?
Izuku knew what they were doing. Kacchan was busy being the big fish in a very shallow pond, and Izuku was busy worshipping him. The more he thought about it, the more a strange sensation began to fill him up.
Izuku needed to know.
"Denki, do you mind if we have a friendly spar?"
Everyone turned to stare at him. Izuku was aware, but he didn't mind. Kacchan's brows narrowed immediately. "Oi… Izuku…"
"Er… here?" Kaminari scratched his head. "In the class?"
"Nothing major, I just want to… test something."
"Uhhh…" Denki stared for several seconds. "Ah, I get it! Seems my electrifying charisma has gotten to you too?"
Denki hopped to his feet. "Let's do this, then!"
"Having a fight in the middle of the classroom, on the first day of the semester is unwise." Shiozaki said.
"I'm with her," Shinso added. "Don't wreck the classroom."
"We won't." Izuku said.
"Right. No flashy stuff?"
"First to land a hit?" Denki stretched.
…there's a reason he chose that option.
"That works too."
They moved to the front of the classroom. Izuku counted about five feet between them. Kaminari excitedly bounced on his feet, and Izuku moved into a casual, open stance. The boy's eyes sparked with yellow, crackling electricity. His hair stood on end. They spiked upwards, almost as though he were undergoing some sort of Shonen anime transformation.
The classroom was silent enough that Izuku could hear individual breaths. Denki was his only focus, nothing else entered his vision and nothing else was his concern. There, in that split second of absolute concentration, he noticed a change in Kaminari Denki.
"Alright… at the toss of the fucking pen…" Kacchan grabbed a pen. "Three… two… one…"
The pen soared. Midoriya's conscious thought lagged several seconds behind reality. Denki lunged. His right fist blurred through the air. Izuku calculated the relative speed and understood that Denki was moving at least six-to-ten times faster than the average human.
Izuku's body spun around the attack. His own right fist rushed out, countering on instinct. Denki's eyes sparked. The older boy swayed backwards, going underneath the fist whilst simultaneously bringing his left hand up for an uppercut.
Izuku leaned backwards, only for the uppercut to abruptly change directions and turn into jab. Into jabs.
Afterimages blurred. Izuku's bobbed and weaved. Each punch pierced the air and left it with the crackling sensation of static. Each attack was comparable to a barrage let loose from a semi-automatic, and Izuku's heart raced as dodge the pair of fists that had become legion. Dodging pushed him back, backed him up until he reached the door, and finally –
Izuku's own fist extended, outward, slamming into Denki's face, only to be caught by a hand, and Denki's own fist, extended, directly into Izuku's face, only to be caught by Izuku's hand. They were deadlocked into a position wherein neither could attack or defend any further.
The echo of plastic on ceramic resounded louder than anything either had ever heard –
The pen which signified the start of their fight had only just hit the floor.
"…Whoa." Denki said. "You're… really good."
"You're augmenting your muscles by stimulating them with electricity." Izuku observed. "But that wouldn't make them move that fast. You're… bypassing commands from your brain entirely and using electricity to move your muscles…?"
"Hey! Hey! No dissecting my secret techniques! Not cool." Denki didn't look all that offended, despite his words. "You were dodging on instinct, weren't you? That's sooo broken. Even when I could tell what direction you were going to dodge in and adjusted my attacks to land where you'd be, you'd adjust again and I'd adjust again and we did this back and forth but you adjust so quickly that I could never land a hit."
"I couldn't hit you either."
"Well… yeah. Cause you're not meant to." Denki said it as though it were obvious. "But really, Midoriya, you're scary, man. Real scary. Your reflexes are faster than electricity. That's no joke. What's your quirk called?"
Denki let go of his hand, and Izuku let go of Denki's hand. The older boy grinned at him and gave him a thumbs up.
"Cool." Denki said. "You're cool, Midoriya. Way too cool for Mordor."
"What just… happened?" Shiozaki asked.
"I don't know." Shinso exhaled. "I couldn't see anything."
"Did anyone catch that? They were standing apart and all of a sudden they were at the door?"
Izuku exhaled, and scratched the back of his head. The only one who seemed to have been able to follow their fight was Kacchan. Judging by the look on his face, Izuku could tell that Kacchan couldn't believe it either.
I've never been cornered before.
Precision wasn't omnipotent, Izuku knew. But he would not deny that he did have some sort of belief in his untouchability. Denki just shattered it. There was no doubt in Izuku's mind that if Denki had decided to use the 'flashy' aspects of his quirk, if he had charged his blows with electricity or so much as grazed him with powerful currents –
I would have lost.
"How did you… learn to do that?" Izuku asked. "Channel electricity into your muscles."
Denki scratched the back of his head. "Well… I told you. If I use too much electricity, I end up short-circuiting my brain." He pointed to his skull. "So I figured it'd best to learn a way to fight and defend myself that doesn't use my brain… else I won't really be much of a hero. Imagine how lame it would be if All Might blew away baddies with his punch and immediately reverted his IQ to that of a three-year-old. So freaking uncool, right?"
The image was amusing, but Izuku couldn't deny it.
"I don't wanna be uncool, so I learned to channel electricity in my body and be able to fight even if I'm braindead. Somewhere along the way… I just started fighting without using my brain. Just pure electricity firing in my body, controlling my arms and legs and doing it faster than I'd ever be able to by just relying on brain signals."
Fighting without using his brain? Izuku could not understand it. That doesn't make any sense. He still required his brain if he wanted to make decisions in a fight. What Denki was doing wasn't that. He was treating his brain as a middleman which he could cut out and use his quirk, but that wouldn't work unless –
Izuku's eyes sparkled as he stared at Denki.
Quirks don't lie in the brain.
Such an obvious thing he'd completely overlooked.
Quirks don't lie in the brain.
Quirks lay within the quirk-factor, within blood and bone and deoxyribonucleic acid. Even if you were to lobotomize a person, that individual would still have access to their quirk. Completely remove a person's brain and even then, they would still be able to utilize their quirk.
Denki is activating his quirk, charging them literally from his cells.
More amazingly, he did not even seem to understand the ramifications of what he was doing. Izuku stared at Kaminari Denki and regarded him with utter amazement. The boy in front of him was the textbook definition of an idiot savant. Denki was doing ridiculous, high-level feats without even realizing he was doing it. Perhaps it was because he didn't understand how impressive the things he was doing were, that made him able to do them.
Izuku's breath was taken. Kaminari Denki… is a natural quirk genius.
The door behind them burst open. A tremendously tall, considerably built young man with buzzed, dark brown hair and black eyes marched into the room, his voice rolling over them like thunder. He wore their school uniform with a black coat over it, and he slammed his fist into his chest upon immediately enter the class.
"SUBARASHI!" He roared.
Izuku winced from the volume. The boy slammed his hand into his chest again.
"PASSION!" He said again. "Yes! That was it! I knew I did not make a mistake in choosing to come here! You two, Midoriya-san, Kaminari-san, that was peak SUBARASHI!"
"Oi… who the hell are you?"
The boy's dark eyes gleamed in the room. "I am the No. 1 Ranked Applicant for the UA Recommendation Exams!"
A gust of wind blew around him. Izuku realized it was intentional. Wind swirled around his form and levitated him up into the air, granting him a figure larger than life within the entire class. He can… fly?
"To think I almost withdrew my acceptance into UA… but I am glad I did not! Indeed! I have seen the passion in your eyes! Let us all be passionate together!"
The boy slammed his hand into his chest again, grinning like a maniac. "I AM YOARASHI INASA! PLEASURE TO MEET YOU!"
Big fucking fish in little fucking ponds…
Something was eating at Bakugo. The duality of the situation pissed him off and he did not know how to handle it. On one hand, his classmates weren't pushovers. On the other hand… his classmates weren't pushovers. Watching Izuku get forced into a deadlock stalemate by the same goofy looking, lax dude who tossed out cheesy electricity puns was a shock to his system – pun fully fucking intended.
Katsuki felt as though someone had just dropped a bucket of freezing cold water over his head. Seeing the Denki kid do something that he had never managed to do was like swallowing the bitterest pill on the surface of the planet.
Then, as if that wasn't enough, another troublesome bastard showed up, casually flaunting his quirk – which seemed to be wind based – without so much as batting an eye. Inasa's eyes gleamed. The bastard was like a hyperactive hamster, but Katsuki took one look to his built figure and muscles and knew instantly that he was no fucking pushover. No one got that built by sitting on their ass. The Number 1 Ranked Applicant in the Recommended Exams?
Katsuki's gaze flicked over to Izuku, and then back to Inasa.
Another bastard showed up that could kick Izuku's ass. Izuku's reflexes were fucking inhuman, but no matter how good his reflexes were, he couldn't fight a fucking tornado. From Inasa's casual demonstration, it was obvious that he was superior to Izuku in a pure battle of quirks.
Big fish in little fucking ponds…
They'd grossly overestimated themselves. On one hand, this made Bakugo fucking pissed. On the other hand…
He was hyped.
For the first time, he would have to compete with individuals at or above his level. What was the point of being the strongest, if everyone around you was weak to begin with? No, this was fucking perfect. If the competition brought their full A-Game, then being the best here meant being the best of the best.
"HAHAHAHA! Yes, I couldn't resist waiting outside once I heard a friendly spar was going to take place! I would love to join in but…" Inasa rubbed the back of his head. "My quirk, Whirlwind, isn't well suited for indoor fights. I'd end up wrecking the entire classroom."
"Oh, cool! Cool!" Denki clapped. "So, we've got lightning," Denki pointed to himself. "Wind," he pointed to Inasa. "Darkness," he pointed over to Tokoyami. "And Grass –"
"Excuse me?" Shiozaki quirked her brow.
"St this rate, we might get all the pocket monster types! Who do you think is gonna come through the door next? Water? Fire? Ground and Fairy?"
"Fire is confirmed," Inasa's grin faded. "As is ice."
"A rather unpleasant individual I took the exams with. He was ranked Second and he was not passionate at all. That lack of passion…" Inasa snapped his hand into a grip. "Heroes need passion! Heroes need –"
"To be quiet, for a few minutes." Shinso drawled from the back. "Do you mind using your indoor voice?"
Inasa frowned. "You don't seem to be passionate, my friend." Inasa gave him a thumbs up. "Fear not! I'll ignite those hidden passions in enough time!"
"I'd rather you didn't."
"No need to thank me, I'm merely doing my best to spread –"
"I swear to God, if he says he's spreading the flames of youth, I'll commit seppuku."
Inasa blinked. "Flames… of youth?" His eyes sparkled. "SUBARASHI! Where did you come up with such a term? I love it! Love it!"
"Dark Shadow! You have unleashed an unspeakable evil! Why, Dark Shadow? Why?!" Tokoyami lamented.
"Subarashi! You're a swell guy, Dark Shadow!"
"Cool! Cool!" Denki laughed.
The entire class was turning into a madhouse, and Katsuki couldn't help the grin slowly bubbling up with him.
They aren't extras.
None of them were. It was completely different from his Middle School days in Aldera Junior High. He'd gotten so used to seeing his classmates as irrelevant, weak, nameless extras in his quest for the throne of No. 1 Hero. Class 1-A was shaping up to be the opposite. Everyone in this class was someone to watch out for, everyone was a potential rival for the spot of No. 1.
Izuku sat beside him. He was silent.
"Oi. What's with you?"
"Hm? Oh, nothing." Izuku smiled. "We seem to have some interesting classmates, that's all."
Katsuki snorted. "Don't tell me you're getting cold feet now that you know you actually have to bust your ass if you want to keep up?"
"I…" Izuku pressed his lips together. "…to be honest, Kacchan, it's kind of hard to take it all in. I always thought you and I were… different."
"You mean special."
"Yeah…" Izuku laughed. "We've never really had anyone good to compare ourselves to, have we?"
Katsuki gave a long hard stare to his friend. Long and hard did not even begin to describe it. Now that he thought about it, Izuku's change was more than just physical. Sure, he'd become less and less dweeb-like, but there was something fundamentally different here. Katsuki had already accepted the fact that there was always going to be bigger fish, because he'd spent the better part of the last year, chasing after, and trying his damned hardest to beat Izuku. Someone just had not given Izuku the memo.
"Oi… Izuku, did you… did you really enjoy feeling you were… special?"
"Bullshit!" He snarled. "Bullshit, Izuku." He reduced his voice to ensure that no one else would hear their conversation. "I know bullshit when I hear it, and right now, you're shoving my ears with it."
Some people would find it hard to read Izuku's expressions. He always wore that damned polite smile on his face that made it hard to know what the fuck he was thinking. Katsuki Bakugo was not most people. Over time, he learned to know what each look meant. Izuku probably didn't know how much he studied him. Izuku would probably be disturbed to know how much effort he spent observing his every facial expression and habit, if only because he kept scrutinizing them for flaws.
Without a word, Katsuki blurred his left fist forward. Izuku did not dodge. His right hand came up, automatically, catching the fist before it slammed into his face.
"What was that for?"
"I get it. Believe me, I fucking get it. Even if you don't say it, I know what it feels like to be the big cheese who gets fucked over by a mice. Right now, do you know who you remind me of, Izuku? You remind me of me."
"Listen, you haven't lost." He withdrew his fist. "Not yet. You haven't fucking lost. You only lose once you believe you have. So wipe that loser-look off your face. You're the guy in first place Izuku – the guy I'm supposed to beat."
Katsuki turned his face away.
"If the guy I strive to beat sees himself as a loser, what's that make me?"
"…Kacchan…" Izuku's right hand landed on his shoulder. "I didn't know you cared so much –"
He tossed several wide swipes at Izuku, to which the boy weaved and dodged all of them, laughing as he did.
"I think I like this side of you Kacchan."
"Don't say shit that can be taken out of context bastard!"
The doors to the classroom swung open for what felt like the bloody umpteenth time that morning. This time, the manner in which the door swung open caused everyone in the classroom to turn their gazes directly towards it.
Katsuki knew at first glance that he was not going to like this bitch. She was stupidly pretty, which was already a huge minus in his book. Her uniform looked almost exactly like the standard UA Academy uniform, but Katsuki could tell at first glance that it was made from a completely different material. One that made everyone else's uniform look like cheap knockoffs in comparison. Her black hair was styled immaculately, her nails were long, dark and stylized, she had big fucking knockers, wore long earrings, and had what he could only describe as a resting bitch-face.
It did not help that her uniform appeared modified to show as much skin as bloody possible. Her skirt was more than short enough to make the gazes of most of the boys in the class linger. The sleeves of the jacket were shorter and stylized, and the than what should have been allowed. She wore minor dark make-up with a 'natural' look, accompanying black lipstick.
Her gaze swept across the room as soon as she entered, examining the class, before letting out a sigh. "This is all that UA could afford? I heard this institution was state of the art…"
Inasa waved his hand at the newcomer. "Subarashi! Yaoyorozu-hime, you made it!"
The girl, Yaoyorozu, regarded Inasa with crossed arms. "Yoarashi. Still as loud as ever."
"Heroes have to be boisterous, you know?" Inasa declared, slamming his hand on his chest. "How else will the world know we're heroes, if we don't make ourselves stand out? If our voices are not heard, LOUD AND CLEAR!"
Yaoyorozu rolled her eyes. "It'll be difficult for anyone to hear you once you render them deaf, Yoarashi. Have you already forgotten how the proctors nearly disqualified you?"
Inasa cleared his throat, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "Ah… that was… well…"
Before Katsuki could say anything, Kaminari was on the scene, moonwalking from his seat like a budget Casanova, all the way to new-tits. He spun around, aiming at her with finger guns and a smirk.
"The name's Kaminari, and you're –"
Kaminari's trademark smile vanished for a brief second, before quickly returning. "Wow. I thought you needed to have an electric quirk to shock people."
The girl's lips moved slowly. "Cute."
"Wait, wait, I've got it," Kaminari cleared his throat. "Is there a taser in your heart, or are you just naturally this stunning?"
Her eyes lit up for a brief moment. "I don't know, Kaminari-san. Let's see…" she started unbuttoning the top portion of her uniform, much to the collective disbelief of everyone in the room.
"W-w-what are you doing?" Gospel-bitch was the first to voice her concern, the pitch of her voice piercing the fucking ceiling.
"He asked a question." She answered as though it were the most normal thing in the world to unbutton the top of her shirt and reveal her cleavage. "Kaminari-san, do you see a taser?"
"Ah…" Kaminari blinked. "Wait, there's actually… a taser…?"
A taser emerged from the girl's chest, which she flipped in the air and held out, putting it into Kaminari's hand. "There you go."
Kaminari stared at the taser, holding it as though he'd received the bloody holy grail. "Woah." He turned his gaze up to her. "Cool. Very, cool."
Yaoyorozu turned her gaze to the rest of the room. "I'm Yaoyorozu Momo." She flicked her hand into her hair. "Please try your hardest to entertain me."
"Oi –" Katsuki let out a snarl. "The hell do you think you are?"
"Yaoyorozu Momo." She repeated, crossing her arms underneath her chest. "Were you not listening? Should I be worried about a constant need to repeat myself?" She placed her hand into her chin. "I was told Class 1-A would be made up of geniuses. Told that this would be the classroom of the elite. Was I deceived?"
Katsuki felt his annoyance boil. "Oi –"
"We're not here to entertain you," Izuku interjected. "We're here to be learn to be heroes."
"There's a difference? I was not aware." Yaoyorozu walked straight towards Izuku, examining him with dark twinkling eyes. "Statistically, Endeavor is the better hero with more disasters resolved and more villains captured. Yet All Might eclipses him. Do you know why?"
"Because he inspires people."
"Inspires, stimulates, motivates, the word choice doesn't matter. All Might entertains. Watching him is never dull. An unentertaining hero with a perfect record would be forgotten over a captivating hero with many blemishes." Yaoyorozu smiled. "I adore that. I am fond of the occasional blemish. The intermittent idiosyncrasy. Perfection is so terribly boring."
"If you like imperfect, then look no further than this guy," Dark Shadow pointed straight at Tokoyami. "There's no one better!"
"Come on, we both know I'm right!"
"No, no, guys you've got it all wrong," Kaminari slid unto the scene. "You don't just say you're imperfect. You've got to show it."
"Like what, perform tricks?" Dark Shadow interjected. "I am pretty bad at juggling…"
"Perhaps arm-wrestling?" Inasa suggested. "The most imperfect one would be the victor!"
"Uh, Inasa, buddy, I don't think that's how this works."
"I know," Inasa sighed. "It is unfortunate, but I am too subarashi to be imperfect…"
Katsuki locked his gaze on the girl. "You're another one from the recommended exams. What's your rank?"
"Are you trying to determine my place in the hierarchy?" She placed her hand into her chin. "That's adorable. Do not worry yourself. Simply know that my place is above you."
A small, sharp burst exploded in his right hand. "You wanna run that by me again, bitch?"
"An explosion quirk? How dangerous. I'm fond of explosions, you see…" She spun her hand out. A red stick suddenly emerged between her fingers. The red stick had a notable fuse, which immediately started burning down. "…they tend to be anything but boring."
"Oi, oi, oi, is that a –"
"Hey, um – that isn't real, right?" Kaminari nervously chuckled.
"Of course it isn't." Shinso spoke up. "No one would actually bring a stick of real dynamite to their first day of school. The taser was one thing –"
"Ahhhh, I should have mentioned, Yaoyorozu-hime's quirk… is Creation…" Inasa's voice was sharp. "She doesn't bring things… she creates them… so that dynamite –"
The fuse started to rapidly burn down. Katsuki glanced at the dynamite, and the person holding it. "You're bluffing."
The girl's eyes colored with mirth. "Am I?"
"Woah, woah, woah – this is getting a bit real here –"
"I don't believe anyone would light a live stick of dynamite in a class… right?" Izuku added.
No. You're… wrong.
Katsuki examined her eyes. He'd seen those type of eyes before. The conviction in those eyes. They reminded him of the look Izuku used to have, when he was quirkless, struggling and fighting and searching each day for something. The look in those eyes were the look of someone committed to a goal, no matter how impossible or insane –
That dynamite is real.
Katsuki Bakugo stared into the eyes of Yaoyorozu Momo and came to one immediate conclusion: This bitch is fucking crazy.
He grabbed the dynamite from her hands, rushed towards the window, swung it open, and tossed it out the window. The fuse hit the bottom – and Katsuki dived for the ground, preparing himself for the shockwave.
A light, 'pop' went off.
He turned his gaze back, out the window. Confetti and glitter rained down from the 'dynamite' spraying out into the words:
Yaoyorozu crouched by him, lightly placing her right hand on his shoulder.
"As I said," She smiled. "My place is above you."
That was the impression Izuku got from the girl. Dangerous. It was not merely her quirk, even though, that quirk was in fact a cause for concern. No, it was that intelligence. The cunning sharpness in her eyes. The fact that with a few words and actions, she had gotten Kacchan to play directly into her hands.
For kacchan to have acted as he had, it meant he had been absolutely guaranteed that the dynamite was real. He had felt, without a fraction of doubt, that Momo was the type of person who would create and light a live stick of dynamite in a school classroom merely to prove a point. Kacchan did not make mistakes like that often, if ever.
Izuku could not determine at what moment it stopped being a stick of death and became a prank object. The moment it left connection from her hands? The moment it went airborne?
Izuku walked up to his friend, aiding him up. "Kacchan are you –"
He was not fine. Kacchan looked ready to explode. His face was so red that it almost appeared as though it would burn merely to touch it.
"I just need… to get… some fucking air."
He marched out of the classroom, without uttering another word, apparently bumping into someone on the outside as he did so. An uncomfortable silence crept into the classroom at such a rate that it was hard, if not impossible, to ignore.
"So…" Kaminari clapped his hands. "That was awkward."
"That was unnecessary, Yaoyorozu-san."
The girl idly swept hand through her hair.
"And you are?"
"Pardon me, Midoriya-san, I felt just the contrary. Your friend was thoroughly entertaining." Yaoyorozu beamed with an almost innocent smile. "I can hardly remember the last time I had such fun."
"You think it's fun to mess with people?" Shinso interjected.
"It is entertaining to watch people thoroughly deceive themselves." She extended her hand out, and from it, a playing card emerged, the Queen of Hearts. "Such as with magic. By now we've all come to accept that magic is not real, yet we still enjoy the entertaining thrill of a good magic trick."
She tossed the card into the air, and it morphed into handkerchief. She plucked the handkerchief, wrung it around, spun it, and thus appeared in her hand, a bouquet of flowers. Izuku identified them as lilacs, hyacinths and gardenias. Before he could question it, she plucked the petals clean off the flowers, and the stalks had morphed into a magician's stick, whereas the petals in her hand morphed into a magician's hat.
His eyes had watched the entire process happen in slow motion, but even then, he had failed completely to be able to identify how she made the switches. His brain was telling him that it was a series of insanely quick sleights-of-hand, and even then, he couldn't break down the exact moment and points at which the switches were made.
She placed the hat on her head with a tilt, and idly waved the magician's stick in his direction.
"Midoriya-san, do you not like a good magic trick?"
"That dynamite –"
"Was clearly not real." She said. "I know better than to try something so dangerous. My expressions, on the other hand, were real. Your friend is frighteningly good at picking up on subtle facial expressions, even though he does not at all look the sort."
Yaoyorozu removed the hat, dropped the stick into the hat, and then folded the hat out of existence. Kaminari rushed over to her, his gaze sharply trying to find where the hat had gone to, much to Yaoyorozu's amusement.
"If I did not know any better, I would say he has lived his entire life relying more on non-verbal communication cues than he has on words. Does he have any mute family members, by chance?"
Mute family members? "Kacchan doesn't have anything like that."
"How strange." Yaoyorozu murmured. "He does seem to be rather easy to rile up for someone who appears so outwardly confident. Perhaps all that confidence is merely a mask?"
Izuku's lips thinned. "Yaoyorozu-san, that's going too far."
"If you insist Midoriya-san," she said curtly. "…Kaminari-san, what are you doing?"
Kaminari was darting around Yaoyorozu, before he stopped and started scratching his head. "You gotta tell me how you did it. Made the hat and stuff appear and disappear."
Yaoyorozu gave him a curt smile. "A good magician never reveals her secrets."
"Oh come on," Kaminari almost pouted. "I'll give you a thousand yen?"
"Are you trying to bribe me?"
"Magicians take bribes, don't they?"
"You've mistaken them for politicians, Kaminari-san."
Kaminari waved her off. "I mean, they both get paid to deceive people, don't they?"
Izuku wanted to believe her. Her words sounded comforting. Was the dynamite really fake? He did not know, for sure. There was no way to know for sure. She could have merely claimed that the dynamite was fake in an attempt to save face. She could have switched out the real dynamite for that fake one in the brief moments before Kacchan grabbed it.
She likely did.
She'd already demonstrated an absurd level of skill with sleight-of-hand. Izuku was not one to consider things absurd, but when even he, with his Precision quirk, was unable to break down and spot the flaws in her movement, it was no exaggeration whatsoever to call her skill absurd.
A large hand almost rested on his shoulder. Izuku swept out of the way before it did on instinct. He noticed it was Inasa, who was blinking at him.
"Ah… sorry, instincts."
"It's fine." Inasa said. His voice was notable less boisterous now. "Yaoyorozu-hime is rather fond of getting a rise out of people… but she always does it for a good reason." He made a sound that was a cross between a sigh and a cough. "During the practical portion of the recommended exams, she baited one of the Pro-Heroes acting as villains to break character and go crazy with attacking her…" He nose scrunched up. "…turns out that Pro-Hero was drunk and had been vindictively attacking applicants in the name of playing the villain."
"You jest." Shiozaki was the one to interrupt. "There's no way a Pro-Hero would do such a thing – "
"Positive, the Upbeat Hero." Inasa said. "Yaoyorozu-hime baited him until he broke down. It turned out that his partner Negative, was recently killed by a villain called Stain. He was not… in the right frame of mind."
"Why would they have allowed him to Proctor?" Izuku asked.
"…I think they wanted us to see him, like that." Inasa's eyes narrowed. "Many who took the recommended exams dropped out at that point." Inasa glared at his hand, balling it into a fist. "Many of us who got recommendation letters did so because we have amazing quirks… but for many, they wanted to apply to UA to be a hero because they felt it would be cool, or it would be a quick way to make money, or imitate their idols, or live up to their parents expectations."
Inasa shook his head. "Then we saw a hero, a Pro-Hero, a grown man, break down in tears and crying about his dead partner, angry and vicious and snarling at all of us, seeped in grief and loss. And it hit home. We saw the truth we'd been blind to see."
Inasa's eyes burned.
"Being a hero is not a privilege. Anyone who is here to be a hero for superficial reasons does not deserve to be a hero. At the first true sign of turmoil, their weak convictions will not only harm them, it will harm all others around them. When the going gets truly tough, they will be the first ones to hand over their resignation letters, hang their hero outfits within a closet, and leave the responsibility and burden to those with stronger wills."
"So we're gatekeeping heroism, now?" Shinso dryly stated.
Inasa turned to Shinso, his eyes alight. "Why are you here? Sitting in the corner, barely interacting with your peers, you do not at all have the presence of a hero. You have all the signs of a person who chose to become a hero for selfish reasons."
Shinso got up, turning his eyes to Inasa. "You don't know me. I'd advise keeping your loud, unnecessary opinions to yourself."
"I know that you lack passion," Inasa shot back. "One day, out there, we will be in a situation where we'll need to trust each other to save the lives of people or to save our own lives. Would you trust a person who only chose to be a hero because he wanted fame and fortune, or a person who is a hero because they have the passion for saving lives?"
"Guys, guys…" Kaminari broke in. "Come on, this… this isn't worth arguing about. I mean, our reasons for wanting to be heroes might be different, but we still have the same goal, don't we?"
Inasa pointed his finger straight at Kaminari. "Why do you want to be a hero, Kaminari-san?"
Kaminari grinned. "Me? I wanna be the dude other dudes wanna be, and the dude the girls want to be with. Saving the day, stopping bad guys, getting the girl – the full three course meal."
Inasa frowned. "That's it?"
"Well, yeah?" Kaminari scratched his head. "What else is there?"
"How could you want to be a hero for such a flimsy reason?"
"Woah, woah, hold the phone," Kaminari frowned. "Flimsy?"
Inasa slammed his hand against his chest, roaring with a thunderous voice. "A hero must have PASSION! PASSION! PASSION! The heart must burn with the desire to vanquish evil! To aid the helpless! To be a beacon of strength! If you aren't here with your first desire being to serve the people, why are you here?!"
Yaoyorozu shook her head. "Yoarashi. You have to understand that not everyone who becomes a hero does so for noble reasons."
Inasa looked confounded. He appeared as though someone had just told him that the sky was black and that fire was wet. He stumbled back, sitting on his chair, and scratching his head.
"No one becomes a firefighter because they want to make money. No one becomes a police officer to be on TV or get the girl. Being a Pro-Hero is being a firefighter, police officer, first responder, lifeguard and a public figure all in one. How can anyone see all that… and not realize weight of that burden?"
Inasa turned to Kaminari. "Save the day, stop the bad guy, get the girl? What of the days you fail to save the day, the days the bad guy gets away, and the days the girl dies in your arms? Will you still feel up to being a hero?"
Kaminari flinched. "Woah… er… that's… going a bit dark, there."
Inasa stared at him. "…Dark." He breathed out. "Dark."
Without any other words, Inasa stepped out of the room, the force of his gale winds slamming the door shut behind him. Izuku thought the room had been awkward when Kacchan had left, but it did not at all compare to the sudden chilling cold that was left in the wake of Inasa's absence.
"He's not wrong, you know," Yaoyorozu spoke up. "If we're going purely by the leaked statistics from the Bureau of Public Records… Kaminari-san, there are likely going to be far more days where the girl dies in your arms than there are days when you'll save her."
"Oh, come on, you too?" Kaminari grimaced. "This kinda stuff… shouldn't we, I dunno… not think about it? It's kinda killing the vibe. It's literally the first day. We're students! It'll be a while before we get any sort of Hero License and start worrying about this stuff."
Izuku's lips thinned. Despite Kaminari's attempts at lightening the mood, it was clear that he had not, at all, been successful. Dark Shadow had retreated back into Tokoyami, who in turn seemed to be tuning everything out. Shinso was still antsy, and the boy took his seat back, but this time, he put on a pair of large headphones to signal that he was tuning out the rest of the world.
Shiozaki was still present, but she'd set out a book in front of her, focusing on it and reading to her own devices.
"…Damn." Kaminari scratched the back of his head. "…This isn't going to be how the remaining three years is gonna be, is it?"
Izuku also wondered. Kaminari was right, in as much as that they didn't really have to think about all the lives they would have to save or fail to save until they were no longer students. At the same time, Inasa had been right also, in the fact that if one didn't have the right mindset going in to be a hero… one wouldn't be a hero for very long.
If you froze up on the field because you saw someone get grotesquely injured… that sort of mistake would cost lives.
Let's not think about that for now.
Izuku exhaled, focusing his attention on Yaoyorozu. "You mentioned something about leaked statistics?"
"Remember the Gospelgate Scandal?"
Izuku frowned. "I thought that was proven to be false?"
"Well of course the government would say that" She answered simply. "It's not exactly like they can admit the truth to the world."
"Ugh… What are you two talking about now?" Kaminari groaned.
"Five years ago, there was a B-Rank Villain called Gospel." Izuku grimaced. "He broke into the Bureau of Public Records and briefly sparked a scandal called the Gospelgate by revealing a lot of… unpleasant statistics about Pro-Heroes. He wanted to discourage people from becoming heroes."
Kaminari laughed. "What sort of statistics could make people not want to be heroes?"
"Individuals who become Pro-Heroes for non-altruistic purposes end up retiring on average, three decades earlier than their counterparts." Yaoyorozu lifted a finger. "The life-expectancy for Pro-Heroes is about half the national average." Another finger. "Pro-Heroes who marry non-heroes are about sixty-to-seventy times more likely to be abusive partners and/or perpetrators of domestic violence." A third finger. "Sixty percent of Pro-Heroes have admitted to make heavy use of addictive substances, and suffer from one sort of addiction or another." A fourth finger. "Fifty-five percent of all Pro-Heroes are advised to retire due to being deemed psychologically unfit to continue heroics. Ninety percent of which ignore that advice."
"That – that can't be right –" Kaminari gave a nervous chuckle. "I mean… if it was… wouldn't it be public knowledge?"
"You can't quite expect the government to openly admit that nearly half of all the heroes in Japan are barely grasping on to their sanity."
"Weren't those statistics eventually discovered to be inflated?" Izuku countered. "I remember some sort of conference about it."
"Were they?" Yaoyorozu shrugged. "I don't believe so. The data makes sense. Doctors have an alarmingly high rate of depression, experience significant levels of stress and burnout. Pediatricians especially are forced to partake in monthly therapy sessions. Witnessing the daily suffering and death of children who experiment with dangerous quirks made many quit, and many others commit suicide."
"Oh my god," Kaminari groaned. "Come on people! We're supposed to be excited on the first day of school, not talking about doctor suicide!"
Kaminari ran his hand down his face. "If the next student that steps through that door isn't as excited about being a student as I am, I swear –"
The door swung open. A boy with a dull, irritated gaze entered into the classroom. With one part of his hair crystal white and the other a fiery red, he drew the gaze of everyone still in the classroom directly to him, particularly, to the scar which lay on his face. Izuku knew who he was, because Izuku had been a hero-nerd and read blogs and tabloids about the lives of Pro-Heroes. As such, there was absolutely no way he did not know who the scarred boy was.
"Todoroki-san." Yaoyorozu greeted. "You made it."
Todoroki Shouto took a glance around the room, made no sound whatsoever upon identifying Yaoyorozu, and promptly walked over to take a seat at the back of the class, not bothering to register anyone else's presence.
Kaminari stared at the boy, before sighing. "Three years, Kaminari… it's just three years… in a classroom with people who take life wayyyy too seriously…"
Kaminari banged his head on the nearest wall, mock tears flooding from his eyes.
"Just three years…"