She was running out of time.
She knew she was, and with every passing second she was running the risk of being discovered and stopped altogether.
But she needed to do this.
No, she HAD to do this!
"Interlocking mechanism is good, nervegear sheath at full capacity, Alloy holding steady at 95%..."
By 'the rules' she wasn't allowed in the shop during the weekends, especially without her fathers permission, but this took priority over a light scolding and grounding.
"Movement is twitchy, I'll need to patch the software before attempting to install…"
Who else would give her skull masked buddy the same quality craft?
"Hiya dad!" Mei exclaimed, turning to look at her father, a thin, wiry man with crazy salt and pepper hair and thick coke bottle glasses; the retired engineer was currently dressed in his bathrobe and carrying his newspaper.
"What are you doing? It's four in the morning...you didn't go to sleep did you?"
"Sorry pops! But science waits for no man! And development is constantly developing!" she declared as she turned back to her project.
"How did you get past the security system this time?" he griped, walking over to a PC terminal, "you...rerouted it all to the liquor cabinet?"
"Yep, moms gonna get one hell of a surprise at her seven o'clock whiskey." she hummed.
"...you're gonna be the death of me sweetie."
"Sorry dad, but I have to get this done by tomorrow!"
"What's so important that it has to be done two days before you go back to UA?" he asked, walking over and stopping slightly as he sees what's on the table.
"It's something a friend needs." she said dutifully, "Powerloader said he would be given the best UA can provide...but I know I can do better then some generic machine!"
"Who is this friend that warrants this level of engineering?" He questions his daughter.
"His name is Midoriya, Izuku, Quirkless hero student extraordinaire! The second day of school he shot me in the chest!" she said giddily.
"...do I need to go check my meds again? Or have you just not slept this entire weekend?"
"What do either of those have to do with this situation?" she shook her head, "I kinda blew up the lab, and his itchy trigger finger sent one of my custom SIM rounds into my chest! We then got to talking about weapon designs and armor platforms and he agreed to let me work on his gear!"
"So potential client in need of repairs." he mumbled, walking over and looking at her design, "this is a good basis, but if we're going to get this ready by tomorrow then we'll need to start rerouting these servos, you've got four of them inverted and five aren't even sautered right."
"THAT'S WHAT I WASN'T GETTING!"
"That's what happens when you don't sleep for three days...let's get to work."
Two days later.
Bakugo could feel the tenseness in the air. The foreboding feeling of the unknown that seemed to grip everyone who walked into Class 1A.
It was to be expected, five days after facing villains and seeing a fellow classmate so close to death would set a mood like this no matter what but what made it worse was that none of them had any information on what would become of their Class Representative.
"Hey Bakugo." Uraraka greeted him quietly as she stepped into class, stopping at his side.
"Morning." he returned softly, sparing the girl a side glance. She looked dead on her feet. Eyes holding barely concealed bags under them.
Bakugo doubted he was much better.
"Have you heard anything?" She asked.
He shook his head, "I only know he's stable." he sighed.
"That's good, right?"
Bakugo gave a non committed shrug, "how are you holding up?"
"Oh! Never better!" she said, giving him a brave smile that didn't seem to reach her eyes, "Just...tired…"
"You'll get through it." he said, giving her shoulder a slight squeeze before they both moved to their chairs.
The door slid open again and everyone looked up as Yaoyorozu walked in, looking slightly haggard as she walked towards her chair.
"Hey Yaoyorozu," Kirishima greeted, doing his best to keep his voice jovial, "How you doin' today?"
She gave them all a tired smile, "Much better than I was before the weekend," she said, "thank you for asking."
"Have you heard anything?" Sero asked, about Midoriya, being unspoken but implied.
"Nothing." she said regretfully, "but I'm sure Mr. Aizawa will have some news for us."
"It feels weird," Kaminari said, "after everything…"
"Dude." Sato admonished him.
"What!? I'm not just gonna ignore the elephant in the room dude, you gotta admit it's freaking you out too!"
"Perhaps we should just all come clean and say what we really want to know." Todoroki began, "what's happening with Midoriya?"
Instantly everyone was quiet, Yaoyorozu was looking down, and Jirou was doing her best to keep her hands from shaking.
"The guy's tough right?" Jirou asked, looking up, "wouldn't that mean we should give him the benefit of the doubt?"
"He lost his arm." Tsu pointed out bluntly, "he won't be able to do everything he had done before."
"-but he can still train and overcome that!" Kirishima exclaimed, "come on, you guys saw the same video I did, he took down that beak thing no sweat!"
"He almost died taking out that beast thing." Iida said, pushing his glasses up, "if the injuries were too serious…'
"I'm a little insulted Iida."
The playful drawl made everyone stiffen, and as one the class looked to the door, where a tired eyes Izuku was leaning against the door frame, smirk making the upside down crescent scar on his cheek a little more prominent, his hands lazily hanging out of his pockets.
"You think a couple of punches would do me in?"
"MIDORIYA!" Kirishima whooped, charging forward alongside a few others. "Dude we were worried!"
"Come on, it was just a flesh wound." Izuku dismissed them, right hand coming out of his pocket and waving them away.
"You already have a prosthetic?"
"Yep." he said, rolling the sleeve up on his right arm to show smooth metal plating, looking to be made of hundreds of interlocking components; it's movements were smooth and there was barely any sound as Izuku ran his hand over the black tinted metal. "Friend of mine in the support department rush-ordered it when she heard." He looked to his class, "I'll tell you guys more later, right now we got class to start. To your desks!"
They all complied, many welcoming him back as he walked towards his desk.
"It's good to see you on your feet again Midoriya." Yaoyorozu told him as he sat down.
"Thanks Yaomomo." he said, giving her a genuine smile that made the heiress's heart flutter.
"Alright everyone." Aizawa began as he entered the classroom, "we have a lot to cover so…" he trailed off as his eyes skimmed over his class and he saw Izuku sitting at his desk, "you're supposed to be in the hospital." he said pointedly, making Izuku stiffen.
"I uh...hehe, got released early." he said, avoiding his teacher's gaze.
"...anyways, I wanted to take some time right now to talk about what happened at the USJ.' Aizawa continued, gaze moving away from Izuku. "Per the Principal, the entirety of Class 1A will be seeing Hound Dog for debrief and counseling. The first meeting is not up for discussion; you WILL have an hour session with Hound Dog, whether more sessions will be scheduled will depend on Hound Dogs assessment."
"I do want to say, however, that the way you students handled yourselves in the face of villains is commendable. And further reinforces my belief that you all will be amazing heroes in your own right."
A few of the students shared bright smiles amongst each other. With Izuku smirking slightly.
"Now that i've said that, know that your battle is far from over."
"The UA sports festival will begin in a month."
Instantly the room was in an uproar as everyone began to excitedly talk about the event that had rivaled and surpassed the olympics. Izuku leaned back in his chair, listening with half an ear as he discretely massaged his right shoulder, the pain of his surgery shooting through the newly sautered nerves.
"You should have full control over it." Hatsume explained as she presented the arm to Izuku, Powerloader and his mom standing off to the side. "The nervegear I rigged throughout it should easily connect with your nervous system! It'll be like you've never lost your arm!"
"This is impressive Hatsume." Powerloader commended his student, "but we can't possibly approve an untested-"
"-i'll do it." Izuku said firmly, giving Hatsume a smile, 'her armor is what kept me alive during the USJ, so if she says this prosthetic is the best, it's the best.
Izuku looked up sharply, blinking in confusion when he realized that the classroom was mostly empty, his classmates gathering their things and leaving for lunch, in front of him, Aizawa was standing, looking down at the class rep with slight irritation.
"I was informed that you would be in recovery for at least a week." he said pointedly, narrowing his eyes at the boy."
"All I was doing was sitting at home lifting a five pound barbell." Izuku grumbled, "I Could do that here."
"You can't rush this-"
"-i'm not." Izuku said firmly, "I just...didn't want to be alone at home." he ran a nervous hand through his hair, wincing when a bit of hair was caught between the metal pieces. "That's gonna take some getting used to." he sighed.
Aizawa rolled his eyes, "I won't send you home, all honesty I'd do the same thing you are if I were in your position. But if the old lady catches you, I know nothing."
"Understood." izuku said, standing and grabbing his bag. Walking out just behind Tokoyami and almost immediately running into his other classmates, "hey guys I-" he began, stopping when Uraraka and Tsu suddenly began to hug him, followed by Iida who wrapped all three of them up in a big hug, "Uh...okay, hey Kirishima what's." he stopped again as Kirishima, Sero, Kaminari and Mina joined in on the hug, quickly followed by Sato, Hagakure, Aoyama and Ojiro, Jirou and Yaoyorozu were both standing off to the side with Tokoyami and Koda, all of them giving Izuku warm smiles. It came to a head as Shoji enveloped the entire class in a hug, the gentle giant not saying a word.
"...this is uncomfortable…" Izuku mumbled awkwardly.
"We're just glad you're okay!" Uraraka sniffled, "we saw them rush you off and it just looked so...bad…"
"Yeah, we were worried about you man!" Kirishima said with a big grin, "and then you just walk in here like you were just on a break or something!"
"Well sorry for worrying everyone." he said, giving Iida a comforting pat as the boy began shaking slightly, "not that this isn't fun...but we do need to eat before afternoon training."
"He's right." Iida said, slowly loosening his grip, "Let's get to the lunch room!"
As the impromptu group hug dissolved, Izuku hung back, eyes searching the hallway until he spied Bakugo against the wall. His former friend slowly pushed off it and walked up.
"You hug me, I shoot you." Izuku threatened.
"Why would I want to hug you loser?" Bakugo retorted with a smirk, before gently punching the boy on his left shoulder, "it's good to see you up and about Izuku, next time don't give everyone a heart attack eh?"
Izuku watched Bakugo walk away, noting how he fell into place beside Uraraka, their hands brushing each other every now and then.
Izuku turned around again, feeling tense as he found yaoyorozu and Jirou still there.
"It's good to have you back." yaoyorozu said with a gentle smile, "though I am surprised they found you a prosthetic."
"Yeah, surprised me too." izuku said sheepishly, "all honesty I expected to be out for another month or so. Then Hatsume just comes bursting into the room with this arm…" he sighs, "look, I wanted to apologize to you two...I uh...the call I made on the mountain...it was…"
"The right call to make." Jirou said, making Izuku look at her in surprise, "don't get me wrong i'm still not...comfortable...but if you hadn't done that…"
"I wouldn't be here." Yaoyorozu finished for her, "I wish I could have thanked you properly then, but..well, it was a shock."
Izuku nodded, his shoulders relaxing ever so slightly, "I thought it would have been a lot more difficult to get your forgiveness." he admitted.
"There's nothing to forgive." Yaoyorozu said firmly, Jirou nodded beside her, "Now, lets go catch up with our classmates, I'm sure they're all wondering what's going on."
Izuku gritted his teeth as Hatsume performed some minute adjustments on his arm.
"One full day and the arms already out of alignment." hatsume hummed as she fiddled with some wires set into Izuku's shoulder. The skin around the prosthetic still looked raw, a few new scars set into the skin where the machinery had been grafted to his body, "has there been any pain?"
"Mostly stiffness." Izuku muttered, "I thought it was because I wasn't used t-SHIT!" Izuku hissed out as Hatsume's tool hit one of his nerves, making his entire body lock up in pain.
"Whoops!" she cackled, "yeah, that's normal, I think we'll need you to come in every day to check up on it." she tapped the arm in a few places and the exposed wiring was covered by the metal plating, "so far it's just small little things that are falling out of alignment; shouldn't affect anything serious unless you're doing some serious damage to the arm."
"Which shouldn't be possible with how you made it." Izuku said.
"Exactly!" she cheered, giving him a thumbs up as he grabbed his shirt and put it on, buttoning it up, "How's your touch reaction?"
"I haven't crushed anything on accident since this morning."
"Yep…" Izuku looked at his prosthetic, a mix of emotions running through him as he slowly pulled on a black glove to cover the metallic appendage, "thank you Hatsume...you have no idea how much this means to me."
"No I don't suppose I do." she said as she went to another of her projects, beginning to fiddle with it, "but I can't have my future customer dropping out because of something as silly as an arm!"
"Thanks." Izuku said dryly, "anything else you wanted to discuss?"
"Hmm...no, oh! I got the wrist gun fixed, so it should be good for the Sports Festival."
"I don't even know if they'll allow me to take it in." Izuku sighed, "Nezu was talking about how things were going to be different this year since I was quirkless…"
"Well, they can't bar you from participating." she said helpfully.
"But that doesn't mean they can't limit me…" he shrugged on his dress jacket, "I'm sure we'll find out more soon...thanks Hatsume."
"Anytime Skull guy!" she said as he walked out of the room, "make sure you document any feelings of pain! And if the arm suddenly shuts off!"
"Got ya!" Izuku called back as he walked into the hallway, immediately stopping when he runs into a familiar face, "Oh, Yaomomo." he greeted, taking a step back out of her personal space. "It's late, I'm surprised you're still here."
"I was looking for you actually…" she said, fidgeting slightly as he raised his eyebrow.
"Well, here I am." he said slowly, 'what did you need?"
"I um...are you doing anything this afternoon?" she asked hesitantly.
Izuku slowly shook his head, "just heading home, i'm not allowed to do heavy exercise until next week."
She nodded at that, "do you...would you like to come with me to get some Ramen?" she asked, playing with her ponytail.
"Ramen?" he asked.
"yes...Kyoka was just telling me about a well known stand just down the way from UA and I've been meaning to try it."
Izuku stared at her, then slowly nodded, 'yeah sure. Doesn't sound like a problem." he said, giving her a smile that came off more like a grimace.
"That's good," she said with a tight smile, 'we can get my driver to drop us off then."
Izuku blinked as Momo began walking away, 'Uh...excuse me, driver?"
Izuku uncomfortably sat at the small ramen shack that Kyoka had suggested to Momo, behind them, a limousine was parked; it's driver reading the daily newspaper while they waited for their food.
"This place is quite quaint, is it not?" Momo asked Izuku, who nodded.
"Yeah, it's nice." he said politely, "so, what brought this on?"
Momo blushed a bit, "I...wanted to thank you properly for saving me back at the USJ." she said, "and Kyoka said that buying you dinner would be a good way to go about that."
Izuku nodded slightly, "well, I'm not one to turn down a free meal, but you didn't have to-"
"-but I wanted to." she said quickly, "you saved my life doing what you did...and I know how much a decision like that can affect you so…"
Izuku gave her a warm smile,, "thank you for this Yaomomo," he said softly, "I do appreciate it."
She gave him a smile as their orders were placed in front of them. They ate quietly. Mostly making small talk when compelled and soon they were both done and walking back to the limousine.
"This was fun." momo said quietly, "we should do it again."
Izuku's easy smile fell, "Momo…' he began as she opened the door, looking back at him with a raised eyebrow, "what do you want to come from this?"
Momo immediately lit red, "don't read too far into this!" she admonished him, fighting the blush as best she could, "I just-wanted to thank you!"
Izuku chuckled softly, "sorry, forget I asked anything." he said, beginning to back up slightly, "i'll see you at school tomorrow Yaomomo."
"You have a good night Midoriya." she said as he started off down the sidewalk. Quickly Momo stepped into the limousine, closing the door with a small frown.
"You're a coward Momo…"
One Week Later.
"So you felt like you had no other choice?"
Izuku sighed as he looked at Hound Dog, the last thirty minutes had been spent on the USJ, and Izuku was honestly ready to just go home for the day.
"Yes, I felt like I had no other choice." Izuku said, "he had my vice rep in his arms, and he was more than willing to kill. If I hadn't done anything then Yaoyorozu would have been killed."
"How did you feel when you had to do it?" Inui asked.
Izuku shifted uncomfortably, "I...I wasn't proud of it." he admitted, "It was what needed to be done and I couldn't dwell on it after the fact…" he shook his head, "I stowed it away.'
"Did you revisit it before now?"
"I...talked about it with my Master, he just told me not to stow it away forever.'
"Doing that could be detrimental to your health." Inui said with a nod, "talking about it can help you gain the closure you need to move on."
Izuku nodded, "I didn't want to kill him, and I hate that I was placed in that situation."
"If you had a chance, would you go back and change your decision?"
"No." Izuku said firmly. Looking Hound Dog in the eye, "to change what I did means Yaomomo would have died, and I wasn't going to let that happen."
Inui nodded, "let's talk about Yaoyorozu."
Izuku tensed, "what about her?" he asked carefully.
"You two seemed to have gotten closer." Inui said.
"She's like my other classmates." he said dismissively, "Happy to have me back, and with a closer bond because of what we've been through."
"You've mentioned Kirishima, Todoroki, and Bakugo before, but Yaoyorozu is the only one you seem to have a nickname for."
"I...well she told me to call her that." Izuku stuttered. "I didn't question it, I just...well went with it."
"Do you consider her a friend?"
"...yes." Izuku said quietly, "just a friend."
"Why make that distinction?" INui asked.
"For my own peace of mind." Izuku muttered.
"Care to elaborate?"
Izuku groaned, "well...I...here's the thing." Izuku leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees, "yesterday, she came up to me and invited me to a nearby Ramen stand...she said it was so she could thank me for saving her...but...I felt like she was trying for more…"
"You think she has romantic interests in you?"
"Maybe, I don't know, if she doesn't then great; nothing to worry about...but if she does…"
"If she does?" he prompted.
"If she does then I'll have to break her heart."
"...you know about my last girlfriend, we spoke of her our first session," he looks away from Inui, out the window where he could se a class of 2nd years on the field, "she died and...well I was lost...I had promised her the world, promised her safety and failed...how can I turn around and do that again with another girl? That would be betraying Mia…"
Inui nodded his head slightly, "I don't think it would." he began, making Izuku look at him, "Ms. Watanabe loved you, and I think above everything else she would have wanted to see you happy after she was gone."
Izuku leaned back, letting his eyes fall to his lap, 'Can we move on?" he asked stoically.
Fifteen minutes later Izuku was walking out of the office, promising INui to think upon what they talked about. Today he actually reached class before it started, taking his seat behind Bakugo and tuning everything out until classes began.
With the Sports Festival coming up, classes began to shorten, giving all students a chance to train and prepare. Once Izuku was given the green light he was back to work on his skills. Spending most of his time at the shooting range with the wrist gun.
It was here that Principal Nezu found him, the small rodent climbing onto the bench behind him to watch.
"I believe you'd give Snipes a run for his money." Nezu said, making Izuku look back at him.
"Not too sure about that." Izuku said, "he can change the trajectory mid flight. I can't."
"And yet you've punched out the center of the target...and from what I can see, punched two holes in to properly store the target.'
Izuku grinned, "better than any hole puncher." he said fondly, unloading the gun and turning towards the principal. "So, what can I do for you today Sir?"
Nezu's smile dropped a fraction, "i'm afraid I've come with bad tidings Mr. Midoriya...I have put you in an unwinnable situation…"
"What do you mean?"
"With the Sports Festival coming up, and with the USJ Incident, the Hero Association has flexed its power and has put several new rules into affect…" Nezu sat down on the edge of the table, "they have decided that hero course students are only allowed two pieces of support equipment for the Festival, and they must be related to the students quirk, and the use of projectile firearms are prohibited."
Izuku felt his blood run cold, "which means I won't have my guns…" he muttered.
"They tried to include your new arm as 'support equipment' but thankfully Recovery Girl was able to convince them that it was against their best interests to try and include that." Nezu said sadly. "I cannot prove it currently, but it is abundantly clear that the association wishes to try and 'edge you out' as it were."
"But why?" Izuku asked in confusion, "What have I done to make them want to limit what I can do in the festival?"
"I believe it has to do with your mentor, Deadshot." Nezu said, "he is the last of the second generation heroes, and was one of the most devoted advocates for killing villains. The association has worked very hard to keep those kinds of ideals out of the Hero business as a whole, and having Deadshots protege, a boy who's already killed two villains, would most definitely set them back in that regard."
"Heroes kill villains all the time, it's an occupational hazard-" Izuku began.
"I agree, but Deadshot was known for killing villains indiscriminately, even when other options were readily available." Nezu sighed, "I also think they are still against the idea of a Quirkless hero, they may be trying to use this as a way to show the world that you cannot be a hero as you are."
"Thats...that's bullshit!" Izuku exploded, "who the fuck are they to try and stop me from being what I want to be? To look at my training, and everything i've done and say it's not enough!? He ripped his ear protection off of his neck and threw it at the wall, the plastic headphones shattering loudly, "FUCK!"
Nezu let Izuku vent his frustrations, only continuing after the boy settled back against the wall in a huff, "I understand your frustrations Young Midoriya, sadly my hands are tied. The only concession I can give you is that even without your weapons, you are a force to be reckoned with. "
"Thanks." Izuku muttered hollowly.
Nezu jumped down, patting the boys leg, "i'm sure you'll find a way to come out on top in the festival, you have a knack for proving people wrong." he began walking away, going towards the door.
"...would escrima sticks be counted as related to my quirk?" Izuku he asked.
Nezu smiled, "I do believe an argument can be made for it." he said, "you have a good rest of the day."
Izuku waited until Nezu was gone before he began cleaning everything up, still fuming internally as he left; already planning on talking with Watanabi about what he learned.
Izuku stood with Bakugo and Yaomomo, distractedly puffing on a cigarette while the two processed what he had just told them.
"Nezu really thinks they're trying to set you up for failure?" Yaomomo asked.
"Why else would they specify a no guns policy and limit support items so severely for hero students?" Bakugo asked rudely, "Izuku's the only one who would currently get screwed by these rules. Even Aoyama wouldn't have much of a problem getting his belt approved."
"But this is underhanded! Dirty! Unethical!"
"Welcome to the life of a Pro-Hero." Izuku muttered, making Yaomomo look at him worriedly, "the Association is notorious for trying to crush rookies that they feel don't fit their model of a hero...they're just getting a head start on me."
"But we can't just let this stand! We could protest or...or petition-"
"Petition wouldn't do anything," Bakugo sighed, "only people who would sign is class 1A, everyone else is gunning for us, why would they help us?"
"Same problem with protesting." Izuku said, "if only 1A protests, then they can still hold the festival with the other courses, and probably get all of 1A replaced because of it, not to mention our class needs the festival to make a name and get scouted; I couldn't ask them to risk that for this."
"Then...what will you do?" she asked worriedly.
Bakugo turned his attention to Izuku, likewise wondering what he would do.
Izuku didn't respond at first, simply continued smoking until the cherry red embers began to singe the skin on his thumb, "I'm going to train.' Izuku began as he flicked the cigarette butt onto the ground and crushed it with his boot, "Just like i did for the entrance exam. Push my body to its limits. Then I'm going to go into the sports festival, and I'm going to win." He looked at Bakugo, "they think a quirkless can't become a hero? Fine, they want to limit me and try and take away the tools I learned to use to gain an edge? Okay; I don't need them to show the world that I can be a hero."
"This is gonna be dangerous." Bakugo said, "unlike the entrance exam, you'll be going up against other students. They won't be pulling punches, and if you draw someone like Todoroki in the tournament-"
"-then I'll bash his pretty face in and advance." Izuku said coldly, making Yaomomo shift slightly, "I can't let this stop me Bakugo, you know that."
Bakugo sighed, "yeah, I do…"
"And you better not hold back either." Izuku warned, "you pull a single punch then I take it as the go ahead to ruin your fucking day."
"Tch, you think I'd let a nerd like you off easy?" Bakugo sneered, making Izuku smile.
"Just making sure you understand." Izuku said, turning his attention to Momo, his eyes softening, "that goes for you too Yaomomo." he said, "no pulling punches, no trying to convince everyone to help me. We go into this festival as equals, and we compete as equals."
Momo nodded slightly, "I understand...I just wish there was something else we can do to show the association that this is wrong."
"Only thing we can do is our best." bakugo grunted, Izuku nodding along in agreement, "hell, Izuku making it to the third event will be a big enough middle finger to those assholes."
"And winning it will definitely light a fire under their ass." Izuku sighed and stretched, "Let's get going, we have a lot of work to do, and only a month to get ready."