Ashes @my.hero.xiii
Chapter 8

Round 3: Leveling Up.


We all stood in the student tunnel, the thunder of the crowd making everyone nervous, Kendo breathed deep, shadowboxing. I stretched and snapped on my gloves, the thrumming of One For All in my ears.

"Hey? You doin' okay, Tenko?" Nana piped up, "Seems like everybody's pumped up…" I nodded, and she ruffled my hair.

"It's okay to be nervous, just smile! Or is it about Tomura…?" she asked.

I nodded again, and she sighed, "Look, you're not him, okay? You might look like him, but…"

"That's what's wrong with me… I look too much like him…" I mumbled, "If he keeps going, no one is gonna trust me again…" Nana grabbed my shoulders, eyes steady.

"Ibara trusts you, Toshinori trusts you, Itsuka and all of your class trusts you, why else did they look at what you did in the USJ and rallied behind that?" she asked, "You got this as long as you show the world why you're as strong as you are,"

A vine wrapped around my arm, tugging me into Ibara's waiting arms. She looked at me with a cute tilt of her head. She was so pretty, but so nervous at the same time. She threaded her fingers through my hair.

"It's getting much more azure…" she sighed, "But do not worry, my love…" she kissed me for a quick second, "You're still the only one that relaxes when you feel the touch of my vines…" she giggled softly and caressed my cheek.

"I-Ibby! S-stop… you know that embarrasses me…" I muttered, "You know I could decay you…" Ibara scoffed.

"Oh please, you wouldn't survive without your daily dose of Ibby Kissies," she smiled once I hesitated.

"Fine… I would…" I admitted, "So get to it," I pointed at my cheek. She kissed it, other cheek, kissed it. Then she kissed my number, and just when she was going to kiss my lips…

Monoma came over, "Hate to break up this tender bonding moment, but… we got the fest to get to, and they're not here to see you two's cute little rom-com," he said.

"Save it for the bedroom," Togaru snarled, clacking his mandibles. We blushed, and I tied back my hair, with Ibara twirling her vines around her fingers, I stood at the front of the two lines, with the signal to go out being…

"HEY THERE WORLD! THIS IS PRESENT MIC COMIN' AT'CHA RED HOT AN' READY FROM UA'S VERY OWN SPORTS FESTIVAL! THE FIRST YEARS ARE REAL FIRECRACKERS THIS YEAR, BUT THERE'RE TWO STUDENTS THAT'RE PREDICTED TO RANK PRETTY HIGH UP! Both Katsuki Bakugou and Tenko… Tenko what? Just Tenko? Or the one on the pa- TENKO SHIMURA!"

"Other than that… Reffing for us is the R-rated Heroine: Midnight!"

A bunch of vines yanked me back and Ibara buried my face into her chest, protectively holding me.

"Holy bosom!" Shihai yelled, smiling as he spread his hand dramatically over his face before it pressed me into darkness.

"Holy bosom!" Togaru yelled.

"Please refrain from any inappropriate behavior, Miss Shiozaki! Even though Tenko seems to enjoy being pressed against your, ahem, Holy Bosom!" Jurota yelled, With Manga making a 'Wow…' sound effect. Setsuna was losing it.

"Pahahahahaha! Really?! Ha hahaha! It's on live TV NOW!" she cackled, with Monoma shaking his head.

"So sorry, Miss Midnight, but it seems our rep is all tied up at the moment…" he sighed heavily, before I came up for air.

"Haah! Don't smother me like that!" I gasped, "You could've triggered my Decay…" Ibara pouted and hugged me tighter, my haphephobia starting to bother me. I broke away and faced who Ibara was 'protecting' me from. I scuttled up next to Katsuki, dodging those blue eyes with my own red, I wish I had a hood on this thing…

She had dark purple hair and wore a dominatrix outfit, but I paid more attention to Katsuki. He looked at me.

"Tenko," he stated.

"Katsuki." I said flatly.

"You wanna go first? Or should I?" he asked. Why was he nice to me? That smile didn't look right. Not at all. He brushed past me and took up the mic.

"Listen up! I'm not here to compete! I'm here to win! Now let's shut our cake holes and get this going, I got a medal to collect!" he shouted. I scuttled forward as he flipped off Monoma. I sighed and fumbled around in my pocket.

"H-h-hold on… I- I uhm… g-g-got uhm… Note cards! Uh… uh…" I mumbled, feeling nervous as they all fluttered to the floor, "Uhm… w-well…" I felt the entire area constrict around me. Seeing no one, everything darkened, and I felt my breathing hitch. This wasn't like after the USJ or even that strategy meeting we had. I felt my brain almost shut down from the sheer panic. My brain was flicking through so many things, the tube, that woman, that man, that girl, that dog. All of them breaking down, then the tube, the warmth of the artificial thing that grew me.

Cold, new breathing, hocking up fluid. Reborn again into… this dark replica of the stadium, all with dark shadows around me. The monster Tomura, all of it slamming in on me like being crushed by glaciers. Stumbling and running towards a light and throwing aside the shadows in my way, I got back to the room, slamming the door behind me, I breathed deep, opening my eyes again and saw myself wedged into the very back corner of the tunnel.

"Bad day, huh?" another voice said. I looked around and saw the older me, "C'mon, Tenko, don't you wanna be me?"

"N-no! I wanna go home!" I tried to snap, but I found myself on my feet.

"If you give up now, there won't BE a tomorrow, or a home to go back to," Older Me said, "If you give up now, there won't be a day you look back and see a brighter day when you finally accepted who you are…" he looked down at a weird black arm.

"Besides," he raised his boot and crushed it in disgust, "You can't just keep that fear in ya…"

"You gotta run right into that stadium, take off those gloves, and show them what'cha got… I get it, you're scared, you're nervous, and you're panicking because you think everyone is counting on you…" he said.

"But they are! I can't go out there! I… I can't… I'm not… not brave enough or strong enough… I can't… because I know that… that I'll disappoint someone!" I snapped.

"Psh, weak! Come on, chin up, act on that fear, make it yours, and throw it away!" he exclaimed. I sighed and walked back out, breathing calmly and with more resolve than ever to get out there and do this thing.

I snatched the mic from the stand and said, "Win or lose, flashy quirks aren't all there are! Like explosion! What matters is the talents we show out there!" I yelled, "So let's go, let's show them all that rivalries don't matter, all that matters is what we do our best…" I left the stage and went back to my class, a lot of them looked a little worried. Clearing her throat, Midnight raised her whip and snapped it down, a roulette graphic rolled on and it stopped at the Obstacle Race.

I took a deep breath, standing with the others in a running stance. I felt One for All thrumming around me, with everyone ready to go. I glanced on my right, there was Bakugou, to my left was a boy with half red and half white hair with a scar on his left eye.

"Here we go, folks! The first event of the UA Sports Festival! It slates three students for greatness! Will it be 1-A's Blasting Boy Bakugou? The Son of Endeavor Shoto Todoroki? Or will it be 1-B's mysteriously powerful leader and tactician Tenko Shimura?"

"On your marks!" Midnight yelled, "Get set…" she continued, One for All Full Bracer activated, "GO!" with the crack of a whip, the turf under me cracked as I burst ahead, running like a pro sprinter would, seeing ice trying to trip me up, I went faster, almost becoming an azure and purple blur.

"Seems like Shimura's really runnin' for the gold medal!"

I got through the tunnel and saw the villain robots from the Exam, seeing a purple-haired kid get thrown my way by one of them, I burst ahead, floating over him and seeing the kid crash into the far wall.

"Ooogh… that's Minoru Mineta with the wipeout! But look at that midair dodge from Shimura! He's using his quirk to his full advantage! But comin' in hot right be-"

"SHIIIIIMURRRRRAAAAAA!" Bakugou screamed, "OUTTA MY WAY!" I sprinted ahead, trying to keep my distance, but one bot got close, making me lash out my hand and use my Decay to turn it into ash. It exploded as I rode off the wave, my clothes burnt and my hand bleeding from the slash I made. I ran onward, Decay spreading around me, seeing Izuku speeding in on a psychically charged Robot-Bike. He was speeding up fast alongside the other three. I then started using Float and One For All Full Bracer in unison, imitating Grandpa's moves.

"Whoa! Izuku Midoriya joins the fight for first! But what's with Tenko's new strat?! He's imitating Gran Torino! Bakugou and Todoroki are bottlenecking for third!"

I kept going, my eyes fixed dead ahead, the platforms weren't so bad, dodging and hopping from one to another. I kept my eyes dead ahead, not concerned about my placement, seeing all kinds of people traversing them with me. I shut my eyes, and Nana was there, "Keep going, kiddo!" she encouraged me.

"I know! Just keep Float up, okay?! I have an idea!" I yelled, my already damaged hand moving to like I was gonna flick someone. I positioned it behind me and in a burst of air I shot forwards like a bullet, feeling my hand get more and more lacerated. I overshot the platforms and the minefield, going in for a landing as I saw Bakugou doing the same thing. We both slammed down at the exact same moment, I didn't know who won, but… I could barely feel my arm.

Bakugou got off me and saw my limp arm over the line. I smirked and he snarled at me.

"You're DEAD, you hear me? Fucking DEAD." he growled. I stood and saw the others coming, but I tore off a length of my pants to wrap an impromptu bandage around my arm. I sighed and tightened it.

"I DON'T BELIEVE IT! TENKO SHIMURA WON BY AN ARM!"


Looking down at my arm, I couldn't feel it. I couldn't feel it at all. Mostly because I never used it that way before. That flick made the difference, but now… I clenched the headband in my other hand. No one wanted to be partners with me. I sighed and got suddenly yanked into Ibara's arms. She lifted my arm and kissed it, "Mm…" she sighed, "I hate when you get hurt… now come along, I've gathered a few people,"

Why was she so concerned with me? I saw Tetsutetsu and Itsuka, and they waved at us. I nervously joined them and Ibara hugged me tightly. I buried my face close to her heart to listen for a bit. I was getting scared again.

"Shh… it's alright, dear… I know you're terrified. You've been scratching for the past five minutes…" she petted my hair and hummed a little tune, "Shh… it's okay…" It was weird. She was sending me mixed signals.

One minute, she's like my friend, and the next minute, she's cuddling me like she's my wife. Not that I was complaining. I liked it. The way she held me, laying my head against her chest and petting my hair as her vines wound around me.

"I know you're scared, but don't be… we're going to win, right?" she asked, pushing me back a little and kissing me on the forehead.

"Never regret this, okay? You've got a lot of time to develop and grow…" she said. Itsuka and Tetsutetsu took the back and the front, but… we were-

"HEEEEEEEEYYYYYYY!" A salmon-pink blur slammed hard into me, knocking me aside and to the ground we went, "You're the guy in first place! Lemme join in with my babies!" she had bright golden eyes.

"I already have a team, s-sorry…" I mumbled. I looked at her expression fall for a bit, but… I stood up and saw Ibara looking rather smug. Tetsutetsu leaned over to me.

"Dude, Ibara looked SCARY. Just… what's her damage?" he hissed, "I thought she was gonna go full-on Crusader Mode!"

"I dunno why she does that, but it scares me. Every time I'm near another girl it looks like she's gonna kill them," I said. Tetsutetsu snickered and chuckled.

"Tenko, are ya dense?! She likes you!" he exclaimed. I crossed my arms.

"I can tell," I said.

"No man, she's gonna approach you like this…" he grabbed my shoulder, "She likes ya, an' she wants ya, now she can do that the easy way, or the hard way, the choice is yours." I shivered a little, looking at Ibara and seeing her smiling and waving at me.

"W-what's the ha-hard way?" I squeaked. Tetsutetsu shrugged.

"I 'unno… never got as far as you," he drawled, "Alright, form up, guys! We're aboutta hit this shit full throttle! I got a plan!"

"Aren't I the one with the plans?!" I snapped. Tetsutetsu laughed and got in front of me with Ibara wrangling me to be on top. They were in a triangle as I was above them. It was time for the next event…

The Cavalry Battle.

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