Hero Club @thecartoonfanatic01
The Real World Isn't a Manga

A/N: Hey, everyone! Welcome to my first "My Hero Academia" fic! I've been a fan ever since I properly learned about it during my memorable first visit to Comic-Con last year. Before then, I fleetingly heard its name being passed around in a number of anime circles, but I wasn't intrigued enough to check it out back then. But when I accompanied my cousins to Comic-Con, I learned they were huge fans, they recommended it, and I eventually tried it out when it debuted on Adult Swim's Toonami block. And the rest is history.

Anyway, I was further inspired to write a fic for MHA after reading Ooobserver's own first try, titled "The Turnover". For a first fic for a new fandom, it's a really great piece. Short but to the point, its characterization is spot-on accurate, the plot and humor are excellently written, and its secondary purpose to parody the film "The Hangover" did its quality a superb service. I recommend it if you want to get some laughs from an MHA fic. Anyway, I read the whole thing in two sittings and was super-motivated to try out an MHA project of my own.

And here we are. I sincerely hope this fic will be a good read even if I'm a total newbie to the fandom. Rest assured, I'm trying my best here, even if this is supposed to be an AU fic where the rules are a little more loose than usual.

Alright, I think I'm done talking. On with the first chapter. ENJOY!

Edit: The latest reviews I've been getting as of this writing have convinced me to implement this little disclaimer. There WILL be OOC behavior on the part of some of the major characters for the first few chapters. That is intentional and just a part of their story arcs in this fic. Things WILL get better as we go along, I promise you guys, but for now, you'll have to bear with it.

Disclaimer: I DO NOT own "My Hero Academia" at all! All claims of ownership go to Kōhei Horikoshi and all of the great and hardworking people at Shueisha, Bones, and VIZ Media.


Inside a certain classroom, one boy's green eyes were glazed with hope and idealism as he scanned through the manga that fit snugly in his hands. His soul took in the encouraging and uplifting words that were bursting out from the speech bubbles. The tension, suspense, and buildup to the volume's climactic finale was drawing him further and further into the world he had been invested in ever since he was in junior high.

A world full of superheroes, ripped straight out of an American comic book. Oh, how he wished to be a part of that world. But instead, he was stuck with what he got...

"Midoriya? Midoriya? Izuku Midoriya."

The scrawny green-haired boy didn't listen. Instead, he was totally absorbed in the pages of the newest manga volume, engrossed with every last panel. As soon as he was done with the current page, he flipped it and-

BAM!

"AGH!"

For a fleeting moment, Izuku thought his own book had exploded because he had just flipped to a single panel that took up an entire page, depicting an explosion. In his surprise, he flipped his manga into the air and then, with a cry of terror, struggled to catch it. However, he wound up juggling it from one hand to the next and back, like a poor, struggling circus performer. This pitiful display drew jeering snickers and chuckles from all directions. Once the manga was safely back in his hands, Izuku released a drawn-out sigh of immense relief.

Then, he saw the hand resting on his desk. He slowly inched his head upward, scanning the entire arm, then he reached the shoulder, then the perpetually exhausted and pale, but nevertheless sharp-eyed face of his teacher.

"AGH!" Izuku squeaked. "A-A-Aizawa-sensei!"

With pursed lips, the man's pupils focused on the book in Izuku's hands. The boy held on to it protectively, even though he already knew what the outcome was going to be.

"That's the third time now," Aizawa said with a droning voice, "and we're only in our second week of the semester. Not a very fine record you're setting up for yourself, especially after the last semester."

"I'm-I'm sorry, Aizawa-sensei! I-I promise, I'll-"

Aizawa crossed his arms. "Do you take school seriously, Midoriya?"

Izuku was taken aback. "H-Huh...?"

"I'll repeat myself, Midoriya. Do. You. Take. School. Seriously?"

Unresponsive, the poor, hapless teenage boy stared into his teacher's eyes with terror. Those eyes...surely they were the devil's eyes. A single look at them would leave anyone powerless. And unfortunately, as a common target of those eyes, Izuku could do nothing, except perhaps project a familiar manga character onto his teacher.

Another wave of quiet and mocking giggling swept the classroom. Aizawa's eyes narrowed with a mixture of discontent and irritation, and he snatched the manga out of Izuku's hands.

"No, wait!" the boy cried in what was more of a pathetic squeal than an actual scream. "That's-That's my-"

Aizawa read the cover. "Our Hero Academia. Ah, yes. So this is the manga that's been making the rounds lately."

"Ye-Yeah..." Izuku stuttered fearfully, and with embarrassment at having his manga-reading hobbies exposed so publicly. "So...if you'd please...g-give it back-"

"I'll only give it back if you answer my question. And sit up straight."

Izuku straightened up like a rigid board. "O-Of course! Uh...wh-what was your question?!"

Aizawa's eyes narrowed even more. "You just answered it."

With that, he began walking back towards his desk, manga in hand. Izuku let out a high-pitched scream that was not a far cry from a little girl's, as he reached desperately at his teacher's direction.

"Please, Aizawa-sensei! That's the newest volume!"

"You will have it back when school is over. In the meantime, I want you to think long and hard about your future. In just two years, you will be on the cusp of adulthood and entering a society that expects nothing but the best of your ability."

Aizawa showed the cover of the manga volume to the entire class, and tapped the bottom of the page where the author's name was, and continued, "Like it or not, the world of your manga is not our world. It is simply the creation of one man, Toshinori Yagi." He briefly looked at the cover with distaste. "Seeking solace in a realm of make-believe, no matter how comforting it can be, eventually leads you down a path that's guaranteed to bring you nothing but self-destruction. This is a truth you need to understand, Izuku Midoriya, for your own sake."

To his own surprise, Izuku quickly shot up from his chair and shouted defiantly, "But Aizawa-sensei!"

"But what, Midoriya?"

Aizawa didn't speak any further, but his voice was extremely deadly and the class fell silent. Izuku knew right away what the consequences were if he continued that discussion, so he sat back down with defeat.

"Nothing..." he replied, his voice barely audible.


"So, where do you guys wanna go for the weekend?!"

"I dunno, Ashido. You're the one who plans these events; you tell me!"

"Oh, come on, I can't be the only one with an idea, Kaminari! Come on, suggestions, suggestions!"

Izuku sighed as he plucked some rice out of his mother's bento box with his chopsticks. He stared at the individual grains and took notice of a slightly discolored one before throwing all of them into his mouth.

"Hey, guys. Is the study group still on?"

"Indeed. Yaoyorozu just received express approval from her parents to invite us over to her fine home."

"...What Iida said, Shoji."

Izuku stared longingly at the teacher's desk, which had been unoccupied since the start of lunch. Following the incident during homeroom period, Aizawa had left specific instructions for the other teachers to keep the volume under lock and key until the end of the school day. Every last teacher was quick to acquiesce to these instructions.

Usually, Izuku would wait. But Aizawa just had to spot him while he was in the middle of an exciting action sequence!

"We'll be swimming for P.E. first thing next week, Tokoyami. Ohhhhh, I can't wait to see the girls in their rocking school swimsuits! And then I'll sneak into their locker room and I'll-"

"You really have no shame, do you, Mineta?"

Izuku gritted his teeth at the unbearable sight of the desk. The brand-new polished wooden frame was almost mocking him, taunting him about his recent loss. He desperately wanted to get the volume out of there and continue reading it to his heart's desire, at least until lunch was over.

But, knowing the likes of Iida and Yaoyorozu, he would be ratted out the moment Kayama-sensei entered the classroom.

"H-He-Hey, O-O-Ojiro..."

"Oh, hey there, Koda! You wanna review our history homework?"

"Mm-hm, mm-hm!"

"Okay! Lemme just get out my binder..."

After contemplating his decision for just a brief moment, Izuku decided against that risky course of action. Instead, he unzipped his torn backpack, reached inside, and pulled out another volume of Our Hero Academia, the penultimate one in circulation as of now. With a smile, he opened up the manga and went to the first page. Even if he finished reading it a while back, it was still a treat scouring through its pages again...

He had gotten to the fifth page when a hand plucked the book out of Izuku's hands without warning.

"H-HEY!" the boy shouted.

Izuku was expecting to see Aizawa's razor-sharp eyes again. Instead, he was greeted with a pair of fiery pupils.

"Hey, Midoriya," Katsuki Bakugo said, his voice slow and venomous as a mocking sneer formed upon his face. "Whatcha reading?" He looked at the cover of the manga and let out a single, derisive laugh. "Another one of your retarded otaku manga? Gimme a break! D'you ever spend a day not reading this steaming pile of crap?!"

"Yeah, you tell the otaku, Bakugo!" called one of the sycophantic voices from Katsuki's close-knit circle of friends.

Izuku wanted to protest, but he couldn't muster the energy in his vocal cords to utter out a single sound of defiance. And how could he? Katsuki was everything he was not; he always had been ever since they were children. Excellent at sports, popular in school, girls gushing in his presence, a natural-born leader with a bright future ahead of him... To defy a pillar of the student community was a sin of itself!

Therefore, all Izuku could do was tremble in his seat and hold back tears. It was the same old story every time.

Upon observing his inferior classmate's terrified form, Katsuki's sneer became even more pronounced, and he started to wave the manga tauntingly in front of his face.

"What's the matter, Midoriya?" he asked. "Want your little storybook back?"

"I-I-It's not a storybook, B-Ba-Bakugo!" Izuku protested, his brain reeling from the task of finding the most appropriate words to say next. "It's-It's-"

Katsuki arched an eyebrow. "Oh, really? Not a storybook, you say? Well, lemme take a look for myself..." The blond boy opened up the manga volume and slowly flipped through the pages, his smirk still in place. "Gay, gay, double-gay..." He paused on one particular page and immediately burst out into rambunctious laughter. "Da fuck is this shit?! Guys, come here, come take a look at this!"

Springing up from their seats were Katsuki's friends: the sycophantic right-hand man, Eijiro Kirishima; the charming and highly perverted womanizer, Denki Kaminari; the dim-witted lackey, Hanta Sero; the conceited, irritating Frenchman-or-not, Yuga Aoyama; and the seductive ganguro, Mina Ashido. They all joined Katsuki in viewing the manga volume, which further compounded Izuku's embarrassment.

"'Sup, Bakugo?" Eijiro asked. He peered over Katsuki's shoulder, his spiky black hair grazing and mingling with the other boy's blond hair, and spotted the manga panel in question. "What the hell?! HAHAHA! That's fucking hilarious!"

The others joined Katsuki and Eijiro in their revelry. Izuku lowered his head to his desk in embarrassment, issuing a soft, almost inaudible moan. He could not see what page Katsuki was on, but judging by the amount of pages he flipped and his expression of sheer, mocking joy, he was probably on the part where the protagonist, Mikumo Akatani, was literally crying powerful geysers out of his eyes.

"Wow, Midoriya!" Mina squealed. "That kid looks a lot like you!"

"Yeah!" added Denki. "And he has to be as lame as you if he's crying like that!"

"Indeed," Yuga said dramatically, "the stupidity of this one is magnifique!"

"Hey, remember when Bakugo dunked his notebook into the toilet last week?!" Hanta exclaimed, his eyes brightening up with nostalgia. "Midoriya was so close to looking just like that dweeb!"

"That was three days ago, idiot," Katsuki spat, but he was still grinning wildly. "But yeah, I do remember that." The blond leaned in towards Izuku, so he could speak directly into his ear. "Though I really don't think anyone can outclass Midoriya in terms of dweebness, whether or not they're in some stupid kids' manga!"

Izuku's head shot up, and his green eyes met Katsuki's deep-hazel ones.

"I-It's not a st-st-stupid m-m-ma-ma-ma-"

He was so close to completing his protest, but words seemed to fail him at the last minute. He could only stare into those horrendous, bestial eyes with helplessness gripping his very soul like a vice.

"What's wrong, Midoriya?" Katsuki ground his teeth together with glee, and the aura flowing from his body was becoming predatory. "Can't bring yourself to convince me that your lil' piece of shit manga is anything but?"

"He probably knows it's shit," Eijiro suggested. "He just keeps readin' it because they go hand in hand."

Denki laughed out loud for a moment before replying, "Well of course a douchebag knows a fellow douchebag when they see one!"

The group started boisterously laughing in unison, further reducing Izuku into a powerless, neurotic blob. The boy sat in his seat miserably and simply took it all in as his lower lip quivered.

"Awwwww, looky here, guys!" Hanta cried, forming his trademark toothy sneer. "Lil' baby Midoriya's gonna cry again!"

"My God, how pathetic!" replied Mina, her voice loud and boisterous. With a horrific grin, she tapped Izuku hard on the forehead with her index and middle fingers, using enough force that Izuku's head was left reeling. "Are you really gonna wimp out and cry over a silly manga?!"

Suddenly, Katsuki got an idea, and he clasped the fingers of his right hand over a single page. As for his left hand, it took the spine of the manga and started pulling at it lightly but precariously. Izuku could hear the paper strain a little from the force Katsuki was putting into his grip.

"Hey, hey, hey..." he snarled viciously, catching the attention of his peers. "Let's see how this baby reacts when we tear this dumb thing apart!"

Izuku felt his heart stop beating, and he could already imagine the group of six mercilessly ripping up the whole book to shreds, like a pack of hyenas feasting upon the corpse of their latest catch...

Another hand suddenly placed itself Katsuki's shoulder, catching his attention and interrupting the debauchery. He turned around and scowled nastily at the newcomer.

"Whaddaya want, Four-Eyes?!" he snapped.

Tenya Iida frowned disapprovingly at him and replied in a frustratingly professional tone, "I believe that's enough of your harassment. As your class representative, I cannot allow you to continue tormenting your classmate in this manner. Not only are you six disturbing him, but you are also disturbing your other classmates as they are enjoying lunch in here. It is very disrespectful of all of you to bother your peers right before the next period begins! Kaminari, look at me while I'm talking to you!"

"Yeah, yeah, I heard you, Dad," Denki responded nonchalantly. However, instead of heeding Tenya's order, he continued to stare at the well-endowed chest of a female classmate, his lips glistening like they were caked with glaze.

"If you six insist on continuing this distracting activity, then you will leave me with no choice but to inform the teacher!"

"Fucking tattletale," Katsuki spat. "You've got no business telling me what to do, you stuck-up fa-"

"Watch your mouth, Bakugo!" another voice shouted; it was the girl that Denki was ogling, Momo Yaoyorozu. "You don't want to be sent to detention again, do you? And right before this weekend's baseball game?"

The blond boy cursed violently under his breath, while the rest of his group went back to their original spot, one by one, with ambivalent and irritated expressions. Knowing that he now had Katsuki cornered, Tenya held out his hand.

"Now give the manga to me," he ordered sternly.

Katsuki cursed inaudibly again before forcing the book into the class representative's hands. Izuku winced as the page he had been planning on tearing was ruthlessly crumpled in the process.

"Here," Katsuki said with a guttural voice. Then, he gave Izuku a chilling glare that he could be clearly read as "Be lucky Four-Eyes was here to cover your ass" or something along those lines. Nevertheless, the boy breathed out a sigh of relief when Katsuki stomped back to his group.

"Thank you, Iida," Izuku said once the bully was out of earshot. "I-"

"As for you, Midoriya..." The boy froze at the terrifying sight of Tenya's sharp, judgmental stare. "You were given explicit instructions to stop reading this manga in the classroom."

"H-Huh?! B-But-"

"I don't care if it's lunch right now. Class is about to begin in a few minutes and you've had a bad habit of preoccupying yourself with these...these subpar works of literature while your teachers work very hard in instilling knowledge into your mind, knowledge that is infinitely more useful than this." He raised the manga so Izuku could stare at its colorful cover helplessly. "Tell me, Midoriya, why do you choose to prioritize this manga over your academic studies? What value does this have for it to draw you away from your schoolwork?"

Izuku blushed lightly with embarrassment. He could tell Tenya so many things about why he valued manga, but he knew the two of them lived in virtually different worlds. His verbal manifesto would be met with confusion and disapproval.

"I...I just like to read..." the green-haired boy replied simply.

Tenya's lips puckered noticeably, and his lower lip jutted out a little from under his upper lip in a way that made him look unintentionally snobbish. "Well, by that definition, Midoriya, textbooks can be read just as easily as this manga, yet you'd space out before you even complete the first sentence."

"Well, textbooks are different! They're...They're, uh..." Izuku struggled to find the most appropriate adjective that he can use. "B-Boring..."

"Boring," Tenya repeated.

Izuku nodded meekly. "Mm-hm..."

"I see. So your inability to learn stems from the lack of entertainment you perceive within this education institution."

"I...I guess..." But Izuku tilted his head like a confused puppy. "C-Can you repeat that in five words or less...?"

Tenya's glasses suddenly shone from the bright, golden light that peered through the windows right next to Izuku. This intimidating look brought a sudden chill down the boy's spine. Every time he saw that stare, he knew Tenya would be a great disciplinarian of a teacher, in the vein of Aizawa.

"You think school is boring."

"B-Boring?!" Izuku hesitated before slowly answering, "I don't think so..."

Tenya was clearly not convinced. Even Izuku was not convinced by his own claim. Immediately, the class representative pursed his lips even more and closed the manga; the soft clap of its paper filled the room for only a split-second. At that point, Izuku realized that everyone's eyes were trained on him, their stares just as judgmental as Aizawa's.

Then, Tenya's next words cut through his heart like a new sword against a fabric curtain.

"You will never accomplish anything in life, Midoriya."


"Thank you, Ishiyama-sensei..."

The rotund, stern-faced man gave Izuku a disappointed look as he stuffed both manga volumes into his backpack, taking great care in doing so. Then, with a heavy sigh, the green-haired boy walked out of the classroom and joined the rest of the student populace in the hallway. The evening sun shone brightly through the windows, bathing everyone with light. Due to Izuku's smaller stature, he happened to be cast in the shadows of everyone else.

"You will never accomplish anything in life, Midoriya."

Izuku sighed again. "Iida's right. I've never been good at anything. I scrape through all of my classes by just a couple of points. I'm the last person anyone wants on a sports team. I can only last one full minute in a conversation before I start stuttering and embarrassing myself. There aren't any school clubs that catch my interest. Even the Manga & Anime Club turns me off because the members have realistic expectations of themselves.

"And even if I made an effort to care about my future...it'd be for naught. I've never been able to connect with anything in society. I don't know if I have some mental condition or just a pure lack of emotional investment. Either way, the only thing I really care about is manga and the worlds that they present to readers. Especially Our Hero Academia." He sighed once again. "I wish we were living in that world, not here. At least I can connect to the rules of that world..."

He stopped just a couple of feet away from a classroom door. It was open and students were filing out, ready to go home and call it a day. He watched each and every one of them carefully, all the while absorbed in his thoughts.

"No one could understand how I feel. No one. Even I know how silly my beliefs are, yet they're the only thing I have."

He spotted her, but this time, the sight of her didn't lift Izuku's spirits, a rare occurrence, a phenomenon in its own right. Nevertheless, he still followed her and her friends as they chatted about things that weren't of his concern.

"Uraraka has a dream that's within her reach. She wants to get a good job in a great business so she could help her folks back home. That's something anyone could do. ...Anyone except me, that is."

Izuku stared into the back of her head, admiring how her flowing chestnut-brown hair just glimmered with the sunlight, as if it was like a waterfall of chocolate. He could barely hear her voice over the cacophony of the other students, but it still wasn't too hard to decipher. If he was close enough, he'd smell the soothing fragrance of the shampoo she'd use. Of course, he couldn't touch her skin, lest he be reported for sexual harassment, but he could easily imagine it being rather smooth and soft, like silk.

Izuku sighed again.

"Uraraka definitely has her future thought out already. She knows what she wants in her life."

By that point, the student body was pouring out of the school building and dispersing. Izuku followed her group for a few steps and saw them turn left as soon as they reached the sidewalk. The girls walked side by side, a unified group bound by common interests, things Izuku wouldn't concern himself with, ultimately. They were most likely heading towards one of their homes so they could have a sleepover or something. Girl stuff.

Izuku was tracing their steps, guided almost by instinct.

"Uraraka knows what she wants...and it doesn't involve me in any way..." He finally broke away from the group of girls and headed right, towards the setting sun. "I guess it's just me and my silly little daydreams."

Izuku kept his head low as he entered the town that neighbored his school to the east. It had no distinctive hallmarks to its name, simply having the usual convenience store, pharmacy, flower shop, and so on and so forth. Pedestrians milled on the cracked, outdated sidewalks, with nothing to do except possibly clean up the grimy, unsightly articles of trash that littered the streets. Not that anyone wanted to put the time and effort to do so...

This was a daily sight in the dainty, moderately-sized town that Izuku called home. Normalcy was the word of the day all the time...at least during the day itself...

Izuku entered the convenience store; grabbed one of the colored, labeled baskets sitting next to the door; and pulled out a faded, crumpled sheet of paper from his pocket. After unfolding it and smoothing it out, the green-haired boy read the familiar handwriting of his mother.

"Alright, let's see..." he said to himself. "Milk, bread, eggs..."

He proceeded to go down the aisles in search of the required groceries. It didn't take long for him to find everything his mother wanted; after all, it was a medium-sized convenience store with a layout even a five-year-old could memorize. A couple of minutes passed when Izuku grabbed the last item, stuffed it in the basket, and strolled up to the cash register.

There, Izuku saw Kyoka Jiro, a fellow schoolmate, standing behind the counter. Her face was emotionless and wearing a bored frown while she tugged uncomfortably at the collar of her work uniform. All the while, she was listening to some of her favorite rock music on her iPod.

Izuku wordlessly placed the basket on top of the counter, allowing Kyoka to wordlessly take each individual item, scan it, and put it into a brown plastic bag. Eventually, once the last of the items were scanned, she calculated the price total on the register, her fingertips pressing down on each button automatically and without any sort of gusto, as if she was some sort of robot.

"That'll be 3,000 yen," she droned absentmindedly.

Izuku gave her the appropriate amount of yen, and she gave him the appropriate amount of change. Then, he took the basket and the plastic bags, and was about to leave when he heard a voice shout out to the high heavens, startling them both.

"JIRO! WHAT'D I TELL YOU ABOUT USING THOSE DAMN EARPHONES?!"

"Alright, alright, I got it!" Kyoka snapped angrily. With gritted teeth, and a single but sharp curse underneath her breath, she removed her earphones and stuffed them into her pocket.

Heaving out a relieved sigh, Izuku returned the basket to the place where he found it, and slung the plastic bags over his elbow. Then, he spotted the tip jar, which still contained the yen he left behind the last time he was there. Nevertheless, he produced some spare change from his pocket and dropped it into the jar, hearing the pieces of metal clink softly upon impact with the glass. He then looked over his shoulder to see if Kyoka noticed, but unsurprisingly, she was still listening to her music. Not that it mattered anyway.

Izuku stepped back outside, being immediately greeted by a soft, cool breeze. He then took a deep breath and exhaled through his mouth. The breeze suddenly picked up a little, and a newspaper article glided across the ground among the rest of the garbage, before finally coming to a halt at Izuku's feet. The bold, aggressive headline displayed itself to him, bare, as if beckoning him to read it.

OUTSMARTED! POLICE RELEASE SUSPECTED YAKUZA MEMBERS

Izuku blinked idly before resuming his walk, all the while lamenting his lack of surprise at the headline.

Speaking of reading headlines, Izuku decided to start where he left off. Stopping by a lamppost, the scrawny boy took off his half-opened bag, reached inside, and procured the latest volume of Our Hero Academia. A legitimate smile crept on his face as he opened up the book and scoured through its pages, seeking out the explosion panel. Once he found it, he put his backpack back on and started walking again, all the while reading absentmindedly.

The Joint Training Arc was in its closing stages, and Mikumo Akatani's team, the last one representing Class 1-A, was in the middle of a combat training exercise against the final team of Class 1-B students. Things weren't going too well for Mikumo's team; the Class 1-B students were gaining the upper hand with their powers, and Mikumo and his teammates were backed into a corner. Then, at the very last minute, Mikumo got an idea, one that could quite possibly turn the tide of the match, though Izuku never got to find out what it was.

He had been so absorbed in his reading that he did not notice the baseball, painted to resemble a green grenade, rolling up onto the concrete in front of him. In one second, he was looking down at the panels of the manga volume. In the next second, he was splayed on the sidewalk, looking up at the evening sky pathetically. His arms no longer felt heavy, and he felt something wet pooling all around his right side.

"Wow, nice going there, klutz!" a familiar voice shouted. "Way to keep your nose stuck in that book!"

Izuku closed his green eyes with disbelief. "Just my luck..." he thought grimly.

"Hey, wait a minute!" another familiar voice exclaimed. "Isn't that Midoriya?"

"Huh?" a third voice asked. "...Oh, yeah! It is him! Hey, you guys! Speak of the devil! It's that wimp Midoriya!"

With a defeated sigh, Izuku sat up and rubbed his sore, wet back, the back of his mind sadly realizing his milk and eggs broke during the fall. Then, he saw about a dozen ominous shadows approaching and looked to his left. Katsuki's group was approaching him, exiting the humble baseball field that was the centerpiece of the small local park. Mina was gone and replaced with even more of Katsuki's faithful followers: the narcissistic Neito Monoma, the cruel yet comically named Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu, the older but timid Tamaki Amajiki, and the stoic Hitoshi Shinso.

"Great," Izuku thought grimly as he took note of the boys' grimy civilian clothes and the silver bat in Katsuki's hands. "I interrupted their baseball practice. As if I didn't have enough trouble for today..."

"Yo, Midoriya!" Katsuki snapped savagely, pointing at him with his bat. "Throw that ball back to us."

"H-Huh?" Izuku looked down at the peculiar ball, which had just innocently rolled up to the side of his foot, almost as if it wanted him to partake in that order. "Y-You mean this?"

"No, I'm talking about that block of concrete- HELL YEAH, THE BASEBALL! What else do ya think I'm talking 'bout? Come on, man." The blond abruptly lowered the sport club to the ground, letting its blunt tip touch the ground while he leaned coolly against the handle. "Throw it over. We haven't got all day."

Izuku knew what was going to happen. This was one of many scripts of virtually the same thing...and if he tried to resist, there would be more hell to pay. No one said no to Katsuki Bakugo and got away with it.

So, he picked up the baseball and, with a trembling arm, feebly threw it over to Katsuki. It bounced pathetically towards the group, the noise of its individual impacts soft and weak. As soon as it got to Katsuki on the fifth bounce, he bent over so he could catch it.

"Weak," the blond said calmly. "Try it again, Midoriya."

Izuku was crestfallen at the defeat of his counter-strategy. "Again...?"

"Yeah, again. I know you're stronger than that." He confidently bounced the baseball on the palm of his hand. "So throw it like you're in a game and your team's one point behind."

He threw it back to Izuku, who screamed and ducked, thinking he put too much force into the throw. As a result, the ball flew over the weak, hapless boy and bounced over on the opposite end of the street.

"Wow, pathetic!" Eijiro shouted. "My fucking grandma wouldn't flinch at that!"

"He's so lame," Neito remarked, flipping several strands of his hair from his forehead conceitedly. "No wonder everyone can sense him from a mile away. His lameness is a smell of its own! He's not cut out for anything!"

"Come ON, man!" snapped Hanta. "Bakugo needs to finish the game before we go home! There's no way we're gonna be left hangin'!"

The other boys, sans Katsuki, joined Hanta in his irritation and outrage, shouting a barrage of insults at Izuku's direction. He looked from the group to the baseball and back, wondering if he should seize this opportunity to make a run for it.

But he knew if he did, he wouldn't hear the end of it once he returned to school...

The boys' shouts were suddenly silenced. Katsuki lowered his raised hand and scowled nastily at Izuku.

"You'd better get that ball before it goes down in the gutter," he snarled. "That's my lucky ball, Midoriya."

With a sigh, Izuku crossed the street and picked up the baseball. For a moment, he stared at its painted-green exterior, pondering the strange choice of colors and alarming sense of design. Then, he heard Katsuki call out to him again.

"Throw it from there, Midoriya! And you'd fucking better not gimme any of that girly throwin' again! I wanna see some of that raw power!"

"Yeah!" Eijiro added. "And if you disappoint us again..."

Izuku heard some faint shuffling from the opposite side of the street. He gasped with a horrified realization and looked at Katsuki's group. In his haste to retrieve the baseball, they had raided his discarded backpack and relieved it of the pair of manga volumes that it carried.

Eijiro was holding one in his hand and mimicking Katsuki's earlier posture in school: one hand had a few pages held in its grasp, while the other was tugging lightly at the book's spine. The other one, the latest volume to be released, was being read by Hitoshi, who was smirking with amusement.

"You get the drill, Midoriya," Bakugo growled, his eyes gleaming sadistically. "Now throw it over!"

Izuku let out a girlish squeak and tried to throw it with as much force as he could muster. Unfortunately, the ball bounced a couple of times before rolling over to Katsuki's feet.

"WEAK!" he roared.

Eijiro tore out the pages in his hand and tossed them all over the street, causing Izuku to freeze up in horror.

"STUPID!"

Eijiro tore out more pages and repeated his actions, drawing amused snickers from many of the other boys. Izuku could feel as if a part of his soul was being ripped out as well.

"USELESS!"

The redhead tore out the last of the pages and tossed them as well. Then, he tore the front and back covers in half and then casually tossed them aside. Izuku could only watch helplessly as the pages fluttered to the ground in all directions, covering it like a makeshift snow. Some of the pages drifted onto the pool of milk and egg whites that was still billowing next to his backpack; the paper darkened and became stained.

Through the fog of horror and uselessness, he heard something bouncing, followed by a soft tap to his foot. Izuku looked down and saw that familiar grenade-like baseball.

"Throw it again, Midoriya," Bakugo ordered, his voice soft but alarmingly venomous. "And this time, I wanna see that ball flyin' at me. And as some extra motivation..."

Hitoshi closed the manga and held it up for Izuku to see. Then, Katsuki reached into his pocket and partially pulled it out. As soon as he did, Izuku saw a bright glimmer of silver metal, and he realized what Katsuki was trying to show him. His eyes widened and a strangled, rattling gasp emerged from his dry throat.

"Looks like the wimp gets the picture," Denki said, his light-hazel eyes gleaming tauntingly.

Izuku quickly bent down and picked up the baseball. Once he straightened his back again, he prepared to throw the ball when he saw the smirks on all of the boys' faces. At that moment, he imagined them being enveloped in a shadowy aura and growing in size, all the while developing unnatural bodily features and becoming clad in terrifyingly flashy clothes...

They looked just like supervillains...

Izuku narrowed his green eyes seriously, eliciting a laugh from many of the other boys.

"Wow, what the fuck kinda look is that?!" Eijiro shouted between cackles.

"He looks like he's trying to take a dump or somethin'!" exclaimed Neito as he clutched his sides.

But Tetsutetsu did not look impressed. "HURRY UP, MAN!" he roared. "WE'VE GOT A GAME TO FINISH HERE!"

The only one who didn't speak or react was Katsuki. Instead, the blond stared deeply into his target's green eyes with his own hazel ones, both pairs refusing to yield to the other's attempts at intimidation.

Eventually, Izuku let out a mighty yell and threw the ball with as much force as he could muster. In the briefest second, he thought about his manga volume and prayed that the throw would be more successful, so he could save what was left of his livelihood...

Unfortunately, his ears quickly registered the single bounce the ball made before reaching its owner. He froze in his half-bent position, his outstretched right hand comically aimed at the ground, his hair drooping down and covering his eyes in shadow.

"Awwwww, too bad," Yuga remarked mockingly as he rested his head against his palms.

"How lame," Katsuki snarled triumphantly. He bent down, picked up the baseball, and started letting it bounce lightly on his palm. "You can't even throw a ball from the other side of the street. It's something anybody can do, you dumbass."

"His precious lil' storybook was on the line too," Neito replied, "and yet, he couldn't do his very best."

"That is his very best, Monoma."

Upon hearing Katsuki's latest insult, Izuku finally looked back up with an empty, defeated look in his eyes. The blond saw this, stopped bouncing the ball on his palm, and widened his malevolent grin.

"Look at you, Midoriya," he continued. "You're just standing there with nothing to do or say about it. Four-Eyes was right. You'll never accomplish anything. Your head's up in the clouds, getting high on your little gay books. And once it's pulled back down, you're just gonna crash and burn gloriously, because you can't handle the real world, no matter how much it tries to accommodate for you. That's all that you are, Midoriya. A defenseless otaku."

"A defenseless otaku," Denki replied. "I like it!"

"A perfect name for a miserable little peddler like him," added Yuga.

"Oh, man!" cried Eijiro, his eyes suddenly lighting up with inspiration. "That reminds me of another name that suits this loser perfectly!"

"And that is?" asked Hanta.

"Deku!"

"Deku, huh...?" Katsuki replied. Then, he grinned with approval. "That is perfect. I'm glad I thought of it!"

Eijiro twitched his head at him and uttered, "I'm glad too! You always have the best ideas, Bakugo! And it suits this loser perfectly too!"

"Well, of course." Katsuki proudly raised his baseball bat and rested it on his shoulder. "He's always been that way. Guess all of our destinies are cast in stone the moment we're born. It's gotta be the reason why I am so strong and successful, while he is weak and aimless."

Izuku flinched at that, but he tried his best not to give in. There was no way he was going to feed this spreading fire. So, he clenched his fists and stared at Katsuki with a calm and unwavering look on his face.

"I'm not weak and aimless, Bakugo," he said determinedly. "I'm not a defenseless otaku either. You just give me the ball again, and I can throw it over to you like you want. I can-"

"Expecting you to do something as simple as that is like ordering a baby to walk on its first day of life," Katsuki brutally interrupted. "And you're just saying that because you wanna save your little fairy-tale book."

He tossed the baseball in the air, letting Denki catch it. Then, he gave his baseball bat to Neito. Next, he took the manga volume from Hitoshi's hand with his right hand, while his left hand reached into his pocket and pulled out what Izuku had been fearing all along: a cigarette lighter, its newly polished metal gleaming brightly with the evening sunlight.

"What makes you think I'm gonna give you another chance?" the blond boy asked. "We both know what's gonna happen, Midoriya. You're like a walking script that anyone can memorize. You try to do something, but you just can't do it right. A weakness like that...it's in your blood. It's a law of nature."

Katsuki activated the lighter, prompting Izuku's resolve to break. Before he could stop himself, the scrawny green-haired boy cried out, "PLEASE, KACCHAN! DON'T DO IT!"

An awkward silence fell upon Katsuki's group. Then, Eijiro asked, "Who the hell is Kacchan?"

Katsuki didn't respond, instead staring at Izuku with a horrifying silence that could only indicate something boiling within him. Then, he calmly replied, "I dunno. Probably some fucking gay pet name he gave to this lil' storybook."

Before Izuku could say anything else, Katsuki brought the volume directly over the orange flame, his eyes widening with so much triumph that it almost bordered giddiness. Izuku hitched his breath at the sight of the flames eating away at the pages, blackening and destroying everything within, everything he'd grown highly invested in. It was almost like he was witnessing the destruction of his own life's work.

Then, as the flames spread even further and continued to devour the manga, Katsuki dropped it into the pool of milk and egg whites. Some of the flames were extinguished by the white, viscous liquid, but the small, flickering fire continued to eat away at the volume cover, turning it as black as a dusk sky.

With that, Izuku collapsed on his knees; his kneecaps hit the pavement really hard, but the boy didn't register the pain. He wanted to cry, but he did enough crying in his lifetime to fill up a lake. And at this point, his body had totally given up on expressing his true emotions. This whole scenario was following the same script everyone used day to day. There was no point in crying over something that kept happening over and over again.

"Look at you, Midoriya," Katsuki growled jeeringly. "You're on your knees like the hopeless little reject that you are. Just a few seconds ago, you looked all high and mighty, but now, it seems like you've finally learned your rightful place in this world."

"Someone like you isn't gonna do anything right for society," Neito added, his voice particularly haughty. "You're just an extra, a background character. The kind of person who sits in the sidelines and just roots for no one while waiting for the game to end, all while caught up in his own stupid little thoughts and concerns."

"Even worse," said Tetsutetsu, his voice a low, steely snarl, "you're going to be the type of person everyone has to carry around on their shoulders! The pain in the ass that people have to turn around and come back for!"

"You're gonna die alone and unfulfilled, Midoriya," said Hanta. "Just look at you! The future is as clear as day with you."

Izuku lowered his head in shame and regret. He had made his move thinking it would signal a turn for the better, but it ended in utter failure. Now he was left to reap what he sowed, and that was the truth.

"They're right," he thought. "There's nothing I can do that will turn my life around. I can't do anything right. I'm going to be nothing more than a burden to society. I wish I could do something about it, but I can't. I...I just can't..."

Izuku glanced at the discarded manga volume as the last of the flames coiled in one last, desperate flicker of life before being snuffed out by the wind. He could still imagine the bold, bright, beautiful colors on its cover, showing him the ideal world where he could've been of use.

A world full of superheroes, ripped straight out of an American comic book. Oh, how he wished to be a part of that world. But instead, he was stuck with what he got.

The bleak, boring, unfulfilling real world.

"Awwwww, look at Midoriya!" Yuga exclaimed, his body swooning irritatingly. "The poor boy is crying! Pathétique!"

Indeed, tears were flowing down the green-haired boy's cheeks as his mind reluctantly accepted reality. He did not think he would cry this time; he had been denying the possibility just mere seconds ago. But perhaps it was because he finally realized the hopeless condition he was in. For many times, Izuku had been inconvenienced by roadblock after roadblock, but he would usually ignore it and look towards tomorrow, thinking there would be a better day ahead of him. But now, it seemed Aizawa and Tenya's words hit harder than he expected. And now, the dam was officially broken.

Or perhaps this was one denial too many. Or perhaps it was both. Either way, Izuku could now feel the weight of reality bearing down on him like a press.

Upon seeing this sudden development, Katsuki's sadistic grin became even more pronounced.

"What's the matter, Midoriya?!" he called tauntingly. "You see the dead end ahead of the road now, you loser?!"

Izuku didn't respond. Instead, he continued to cry, his tears quickly dripping from his cheeks and onto his pants, staining the fabric.

Just then, he felt a shadow envelop him, followed by a familiar voice shouting, "Hey! Get lost, you damn kids!"

"Why does it matter to you, skin-and-bones?!" snapped Katsuki.

Izuku stopped crying and looked up. Standing beside him was a man so skinny that he lacked muscle, and his skin clung to his protruding bones like a carcass that had just begun to rot. His long arms dangled precariously from his shoulders, and with the full shopping bags he was carrying, they looked like they might pop off at any second now. Even his skinny legs, hidden behind baggy green cargo pants, looked like they could barely support the rest of his wiry body. His blonde, unkempt hair flowed wildly with the breeze, and in spite of his weak, thin form, his bright-blue eyes, usually sunken and lethargic, shone with a deadly energy as he trained them on Katsuki and his cronies.

"Can it be...?" he thought.

"Have you punks ever heard of the phrase 'picking on someone your own size'?" the man asked, his voice low and shaky, but still bursting with pure determination. "Maybe the person who originally said that had a reason for saying that. So I suggest you kids follow that advice and find a target of your caliber before I report you to the authorities for creating a disturbance! After all, I live nearby and I'd rather spend my beauty sleep in peace."

Katsuki's cronies suddenly looked concerned at this, but the blond boy himself wouldn't budge.

"You've got a lotta nerve threatening to go to the police like a damn tattletale!" Katsuki growled. He started walking over to the skeletal man, his teeth gritted. "And I fucking hate tattletales!" All of a sudden, he cracked his knuckles loudly and threateningly, causing the man's skin to pale. "Let's see how much punches your stupid lil' face can take before it breaks like a twig-!"

"BAKUGO, DON'T!" Eijiro cried. He dashed forward and grabbed Katsuki's arm. "Look at this guy! The cops are definitely not gonna give us a pass for beating up Jack Skellington! Don't get booked for assault, man!"

"And especially before the game!" warned Denki.

Katsuki looked irritated beyond belief, but his posture seemed to calm down at the cautionary advice of his friends. With that, Eijiro tugged at his arm.

"Come on, man," the redhead said, his voice lowered to a whisper as he eyed the skeletal man warily. "Let's continue our game somewhere else. We've wasted enough time on the baby as it is."

Katsuki bared his teeth even more at the prospect of defeat, and he glared at Izuku, who was now cowering behind the man's skinny legs. His cheeks were still glistening with tears, but there was an expression of immense relief on his face. Eventually, the blond boy huffed aggressively and turned away, all while lightly striking the asphalt with his baseball bat.

"Fine," he spat. "Let's forget the retarded otaku, guys. We've wasted too much precious oxygen on him." His lips curled into a triumphant smirk as he started bouncing the grenade baseball on his palm again. "I think we have more important stuff to do now."

The other boys parted to let the snickering Katsuki pass through them and walk towards the sunset. Then, they followed right behind him, laughing and talking jovially amongst themselves. Izuku and the man watched them go for a moment, before the former scrambled towards the remnants of his manga volumes and picked up as much of the wreckage as he possibly could. As for the latter, he let out a sigh of relief, put down on his shopping bags, and wiped the beads of sweat on his forehead.

"Man," the skeletal man said. "For a moment, I thought that one kid with the temper really was gonna pummel me. It's a good thing his friends are apparently brighter than he is. Otherwise it would've been bad for me-"

"AGH!" Izuku screamed in a high-pitched, girlish voice. The wind had just picked up and blew several torn pages further down the street, causing them to mingle with the pieces of dirty, discarded trash. "NO! OH, NO, NO, NO!"

He was about to run after the pages, but the man's voice stopped him.

"Forget it, kid. Even if you get all those pages, it's not gonna fix that manga overnight."

Izuku wanted to disregard the man, but he knew how right he was. Even if he did restore the two manga volumes to the fullest extent, reading them would no longer be the same...

Watching as the green-haired boy sunk further and further into despair, the skeletal man walked over to him and patted him on the shoulder consolingly.

"Come on, Midoriya-kun," he continued. "I've got more copies over at the manga café. I can open it up for a bit and get you some new volumes, free of charge."

Izuku gasped and looked up at the man. "Re-Really?" he replied.

The man smiled down at him. "Hey, anything for my favorite customer- AGH!"

Without warning, the boy hugged his body tightly, tears spouting out from his eyes like fountains.

"THANK YOU SO MUCH, SHIMURA-SAN!" he cried loudly.

"Okay, okay!" The man tried to gently tear Izuku away. "Jeez, let go before you break something!"


A/N: And that should be a wrap for now! Hope you guys catch the references I make. ;)

Anyway, not much is happening right now, but I promise, things will get pretty interesting soon. Now, onto why I decided to write this kind of fic.

I've seen AU fics where everyone lives normal lives in a Quirkless world, such as "Writing and Drawing, Books and Love" by Arawn-Tolbert and the one-shot "Keeping Score with your Fiancé" by FlaminkoMage. Good fics, which I recommend by the way. Anyway, one day, I thought, "What if things got really meta, where MHA is a manga in their Quirkless world, but it inspired the kids to become superheroes?" Basically, like the movie "Kick-Ass". Being the boundary-pushing madman I am, I fell in love with the idea right away and decided to settle with that as the basic plot for my first MHA fic.

Then, as I toyed around with that idea, I saw the movie "Unbreakable", a really, REALLY great movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan during the height of his career. So, I removed the black-comedic and hyper-violent aspects of "Kick-Ass" from that idea and replaced it with the more dramatic soul-searching themes of "Unbreakable". A little bit of "Fight Club" was thrown in for good measure, as you can tell from the title. And thus, this fic was born!

In regards to the characters, especially the ones with unique appearances like Fumikage Tokoyami and Mezo Shoji, well, I'll put out the disclaimer that EVERYONE is appearing in this fic. There will be no exceptions. I've taken creative liberties on how they'll be portrayed in an entirely Quirkless setting, stuff that I'm sure is pretty clever, or perhaps not. You'll see as the fic goes along.

Also, I apologize for the OOCness of some of the major characters. Trust me, things will get better as we move forward.

Well, hope you enjoyed this first chapter! TheCartoonFanatic01 is out. PEACE!

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