Ayano wakes up one morning and sees herself looking through the eyes of another.

She knows, instinctively, something of what's happened to her. The last time she had gone to sleep, she was dying of cancer. And now she was here, in a room decorated for a young child, maybe even a nursery.

Rebirth isn't something that shocks her. It's certainly a surprise, but she's experienced much worse. The pain is distant and dulled from time, now, but she still remembers the faces of her family and friends. She tried to keep in touch, despite them all drifting apart. She only succeeded partially. She still knew of any important events, but they never got together as a gang ever again.

She can't help but feel the same feeling here. She's moving, but it's not her that's doing the moving. It's someone else. Someone else's body. She has no control over what the body is doing. She's just tagging along for the ride, a vague consciousness in the back of someone else's mind.

A blurry figure enters her vision. She can pick out a feminine body and green hair, but the rest remains stubbornly hazy.

"Izuku! It's time to eat!" the woman cooed.

The body- Izuku- babbles. She's picked up, placed in a baby seat, and spoon-fed baby food.

She forcibly tunes out the world. She can't deal with this. It's so embarrassing. She feels like she's intruding on someone else's life, someone else's family. She doesn't have any right to peek into these people's lives.

Izuku babbles some more. She's never felt so awkward.


She learns that Izuku is a boy through a very unfortunate trip to the bathroom.

She changes her mind. This is the moment where she's never felt so awkward.

She learns quickly how to tune out the world around her.


When Izuku is three, he asks a life-changing question.

"Who's All Might?"

His mother smiles and takes him to the computer. "He's a pro-hero. I'll show you the video of his debut."

The video loads. There's crushed buildings, wrecked cars, and rubble. Fire jets from the carnage. In the distance, a muscular man climbs over a car, a jumble of people slung over his shoulders. He's grinning the entire time.

She's never seen anyone grin so widely.

"It's okay!" he calls. "Why? Because I am here!"

Izuku gasps. She can feel the emotions rush past her. Happiness, awe, admiration.

She smiles to herself. Even though she knows he can't hear her, she asks him anyway.

Do you want to be a pro-hero?

A swell of joy answers. She's taken aback. He had responded. He had responded. He had never done that before.

Maybe he can hear her, just a little bit.

She chuckles. Maybe, in this world of Quirks, she could be a hero after all.


Izuku is Quirkless.

She wants to scream. With a genetic roll of the die, all his dreams are crushed, and he's branded the outcast. His supposed friend Katsuki turns on him, bullies him, and calls him names. The rest of the school- not just the class, but the school- follows afterward. The teachers only sit back and watch.

Deku, they call him. Useless.

She can't help but believe them.

Not that Izuku is useless. Izuku is so smart and kind and forgiving. Even if he didn't have a Quirk, he couldn't be useless. He was alive, after all. He was the body.

She was not. She couldn't stop the kids from bullying him, she couldn't prevent them from hurting him, and she couldn't even tell Izuku how worthwhile he was.

She's never, ever felt so helpless. So useless.


Izuku watches the video of All Might's debut. This is the third time he's done so after he found out he was Quirkless. He doesn't really know why. He still wants to be a hero. He still wants to be a hero who brings smiles to everyone's faces.

I still want to bring them happiness.

Again, the fire and brimstone roll across the screen. Again, All Might's voice drifts into the air, the words branded in his heart. Again, the tears prick his eyes.

He doesn't really know why he keeps doing this to himself. It only makes him want to cry. It's not doing anything for him, so why does he keep returning?

In the darkness of the room, the screen burns his eyes. Again, he asks himself the same question he asked his mom.

Can I still become a hero?

He sniffles and tears his eyes away. He already knows the answer. He's been told the answer a thousand times, accompanied by tears and taunts and jeers and explosions.

They're wrong. You can. You can become a hero.

He closes out of the video. They were wrong. He can become a hero. He would become a hero who saved everyone with a smile. He just had to prepare himself. Do better. Be stronger. Be smarter. Work harder. He had to be a million times better than everyone else, and work harder than them too. He can be a hero. He can, he can, he can.

He takes out one of his notebooks and begins writing.


They quickly fall into a routine. Not that Izuku can fully realize or notice, but it was a routine that involved the both of them nonetheless. Every morning, she would whisper words of encouragement and advice to him, things she's picked up over her fifty plus years of life. They would go to school and do their best to block out the hateful words around them, the hostile world around them. At home, Izuku would wrestle with his homework while she tried to guide him through the problems. Then, they would turn on the news.

But not any regular news. The hero news.

Izuku was Quirkless. She knew there was no changing that. Just like how there was no way for her to change Takane and Haruka's illnesses, no matter how much she wished she could. That was why she pushed him to study how other heroes fought. Their Quirks. Their moveset. Their style. Even how they dealt with the aftermath. He had to learn how the pros handled things, so he could increase his knowledge base and think of more ways out of tight situations.

And not just studying the heroes. The villains too, so that he could thwart them before they ever executed their plans.

So that he doesn't repeat the same mistake.

She also nudges him toward physical exercise. The more your body was capable of, the more you could do. She knew that, now. After suffering through multiple surgeries and being confined to bed. After slowly losing all the strength in her body.

After dying and losing her body.

She thinks she's changing him a bit. The weight of his backpack becomes a little lighter. The activities in gym become a little easier. He's changing, slowly but surely, into someone better. Someone like a hero.

Keep up the great work today too, she tells him.

Izuku- as always- does so.


She's changed him a little more than she expected.

Izuku is nine when it happens. He's in a room with his mom, reviewing one of his notebooks. She doesn't recall the exact moment, only realizing afterward that he started muttering to himself. It was quiet, at first. But as time passed, the mutters picked up in speed and volume.

His mom gave a little start and stared in his direction. Izuku didn't seem to notice.

"Present Mic's control is as impeccable as always, do those speakers around his neck help direct it or something…?"

"Um, Izuku?"

He jolted. "Gah! Um, Mom, what is it?"

"You were muttering to yourself, sweetie." She smiled, but it was strained.

He blinked. "...I was?"

"You were."

He frowned. "Oh… Sorry, I didn't realize."

"It's alright, sweetie, no need to apologize."

She's just worried, Ayano chimed instinctively, still mulling over the incident. Did he just literally block out the world like she had learned to do?

...Well. She didn't quite know how to react.

They both made sure to keep quiet around his mom. They didn't want to worry her any more than she already did.


Izuku is fourteen now. Things have stayed mostly the same. Katsuki, or Kacchan, still mercilessly jeers at him. The school still does nothing about it. He walks home and sometimes cries to himself, before drying his tears and getting to work. He still watches and studies the hero news. He still writes notes in his notebook, now on volume 13. He still performs what physical exercises he can in the confines of his room.

It makes her a little sad. So much time has passed, and yet, it feels like nothing has really changed at all. She still pushes him to apply for U.A, but she feels hollow. They both do. U.A. is the top hero school, after all. Why would they ever accept a Quirkless kid? Why would anything change when nothing's changed so far?

She's never felt so bleak. Not since the Kagerou Days.


"Oh, that's right. Midoriya, you said you wanted to go to U.A. as well, didn't you?"

Izuku buries his head in his hands. He had hoped- rather hopelessly- that the teacher wouldn't call him out like this. Then again, nothing's ever really gone his way since the day he was labeled Quirkless.

He tunes out the sound of his classmates laughing. It was all the same. All the same.

A crackle at the edge of his hearing.

Adrenaline rushes through his veins, and he shoves himself away. An explosion blasts through his desk a second later.

"Oi, Deku! Do you really think you're anywhere near the level to get in U.A? On my level? Don't make me laugh!" Kacchan steps around the now ruined desk and advances.

He scrambles back. His back hits the wall. He's done this same drill before. He knows the script. "I-I'm just applying. Y-you never know…"

"Shut up! Don't you dare even think about applying, shitty Deku! I'm going to be the only one from this school to get into U.A!"

The teacher finally calls everyone back to their seats. With his words, Kacchan withdraws. Chapter close, scene end.

It makes him feel empty.

At the end of the school day, he scrolls through the news on his phone while packing his things. There's a weird voice at the back of his mind, tense and insistent. Almost as if it was warning him.

He looks up and sees Kacchan marching towards him.

Oh.

His notebook is snatched out of his grasp. Kacchan glances at the title. Sneers. Blows it up. Tosses it out the window.

Snap, snap, snap. Like a camera taking pictures.

A voice at the back of his head growls indignantly. But the rest of him flails and panics. "K-Kacchan, why did you-"

His childhood friend looms over him. "Give up on being a hero already, Deku."

Don't listen to him. Shut him out, shut him out, shut him out.

"A Quirkless like you could never be a hero!"

Shut up, shut up, shut up.

He knows the script. If he trembles and nods enough, Kacchan will leave him alone.

Sure enough, he picks up his bag and heads out the door. But then he pauses. "If you wanna be a hero that badly, there's a quick way to do it."

Despite himself, he starts listening.

"Believe that you'll be born with a Quirk in your next life, and take a dive off the roof!"

He stiffens. Something inside him burns. He whips around-

"What?"

He stops and trembles.

Kacchan smirks and heads out the door, his two cronies following.

He counts to thirty before zipping up his bag and slinging it over his shoulders. "Idiot," he mutters. "What if I really jumped?"

He can almost see it. Climbing over the railing. Perching on the edge. Letting himself slip off. The lurch. The drop. The wind roaring around him. The floor rushing up. The harsh glare of the sun on a hot summer day-

He sucks a breath through his teeth. He isn't going to jump.

He isn't going to repeat the same mistake-

He shakes his head. "You would have been instigating suicide," he mutters. Somehow those words only make him feel more hollow.


The sludge was coursing up his nose, rushing through his throat, and she could feel every last drop. Only, she couldn't do anything. All she could do was watch. And feel. Feel the bile in his throat, the burn in his chest, the slow blur in his head, the pain.

He was dying.

She was dying.

We are dying.

She was scared. No. Terrified.

How did this happen?

Katsuki told Izuku to jump off the roof. Izuku fished his hero notebook out of the pond. He walked under a tunnel on his way home. Then from behind-

A villain. A sludge villain that's now killing him- them.

This is exactly what I wanted to prevent-!

She knew how this story would go. Izuku would die. And she would- again-

A hero isn't coming.

Her mouth parted. A quiet sob escaped her.

Then the wind howled and everything whirled to white.


They were saved. They were saved. She hadn't expected anyone to come, but then he did.

All Might. Symbol of Peace All Might. His hero. Her hero. Both their heroes. Why- How- Why-?

Her eyes burn. Not Izuku, who is too busy freaking out and fanboying and stuttering. She presses her lips together and tries not to cry. She could influence Izuku. She wouldn't embarrass him in front of his idol.

She's so focused, in fact, she misses the entire conversation. And by the time she realizes, she has no time to dissuade Izuku from his absolutely terrible idea please stop-

All Might launches into the sky. Izuku, hanging tightly to his leg, jerks with him.

She screeches. Izuku must have heard her, his hands tightened and he looks like he's very much regretting his decision. To his credit, flying is very amazing, and the view is great, but she would rather be doing this after already being done with recovering from a near-death experience. Right now she was still recovering!

All Might notices early on, thank goodness. If her pulse wasn't shooting sky-high, or if she could actually communicate with him, she would thank him a bunch. As it is, they have to wait until they land on the roof of a building.

When they land, she sighs with relief. Solid ground never felt better. Even if it technically wasn't her who was feeling it.

Her heart still thrums steadily. Izuku's too. He's… nervous, and not just because he's meeting his idol or could've died from a hundred-meter drop. There's something different to this nervousness.

"Can I become a hero, even without a Quirk?"

She's silent. Speechless. So is All Might. Her thoughts hang. One second. Two.

Steam rises from All Might.

Izuku keeps talking, but she can't focus on the words. All Might is disappearing in steam. It clouds his form, but there's still a faint shadow. A shadow that… shrinks…

The person standing in front of her isn't the large, muscled body of All Might anymore.

Izuku is shrieking. She can barely hear it. The man in front of them is gaunt, almost sickly, with sharp, bony arms and face. The clothes he once filled out were now baggy and hanging.

She thinks of Takane and Ene. Haruka and Konoha.

It can't be…

All Might warns Izuku not to talk about it to anyone, even accidentally. Then he lifts the left side of his shirt. Half of his stomach is caved in. A reddish purple scar cracks and spiderwebs out. Some of his muscles are still visible, but they're warped, bent towards the scar.

She tries not to hurl. She tries not to cry. She tries not to do both.

"It's an injury I got from an enemy's attack five years ago. Half of my respiratory organs were destroyed, and I lost my whole stomach. I've become emancipated from the surgeries and their after effects."

"Five years ago…" Izuku whispers. "From Toxic Chainsaw?"

He shakes his head. "You're well-informed, but that's not it. This is from a fight that was never made public. The Symbol of Peace cannot be daunted by evil. This is why I smile. Both to show the pressure of heroes, and to trick the fear inside of me."

She never could have guessed. His smile… His smile was always so bright…

"Pros are always risking their lives. I cannot simply say that you can become a hero even without power."

Everything grinds to a halt.

No. No, Izuku can still be a hero. Just because he's Quirkless, doesn't mean he's powerless. He had power, he's smarter than her, and more hardworking, and he's been exercising-!

She stops. She knows what All Might meant. She knows that it's true.

A hero without power is useless.

She just… didn't want to accept it.

"I see," Izuku smiles, but it's weak. Barely solid.

All Might offers other options and then walks away.

She doesn't want to cry anymore. But she doesn't feel anything else either.


He smells the faint tang of smoke first. It's strange but not surprising, for some reason. He looks up and sees black smoke drifting from a street.

A Villain. But why was he here? He must have instinctively headed in its direction, even though…

He shakes his head. One look can't hurt, right? Just one look-

He sees fire and sludge.

He recoils. It's the same green sludge from the Villain who had attacked him. The one that All Might captured. Why was it here? Why? How?

My fault, a voice whispers. My fault, my fault, always my fault.

It must have escaped during the struggle in midair. Because of him…

A bystander comments on how the Villain had taken a middle schooler hostage, and that the situation had been like this for a while. He can't believe it. He thought he was going to die after a few seconds, and this person had been withstanding it for this long?

The pro heroes shout to each other and gesture the crowd back, but they aren't doing anything. They aren't trying to fight. That confuses him for a little bit, until he scans the surrounding pro heroes. None of them are suited to this situation. Except for Backdraft, who is too busy trying to mitigate the fire.

His eyes stay frozen on the Villain. All they can do is wait, wait for a hero with a better, more suitable Quirk. All they can do is wait-

Red eyes.

No.

He bolts into the fire.


She doesn't regret jumping in to save Katsuki. Even after she is scolded by the heroes. Everyone was just waiting for the heroes to do something, for someone with a more suitable power to arrive.

She knows better than anyone that sometimes, a hero never came. A hero never came for the people trapped in the Heat-Haze. A hero never came for the Blindfold gang on August 15.

So she doesn't regret jumping in to save Katsuki. She knows that Izuku doesn't either.

On their way home, Katsuki confronts them.

"I never asked you for help! And you didn't help me! Got it?" He glares at them with shaking eyes. "I was fine by myself! So don't look down on me!"

She listens, this time. She really, truly listens to him. She doesn't know why. Maybe it was the eyes. Maybe it was the shared experience. Maybe it was something else entirely. But in those eyes, she sees an apology. An achingly familiar guilt.

For a just a moment, instead of Katsuki, she sees Shuuya.

"I'm sorry."

She blinks, and the image is gone. So is Katsuki.

A bitterness wells in her. She… doesn't know what to feel, doesn't know what she is feeling. Is it regret? Nostalgia? Sadness?

She doesn't know what Izuku is feeling, either. It's a strange mess of relief, regret, and happiness. He turns to leave again, when All Might bursts onto the street.

"I am here!" he shouts, and promptly deflates.

Izuku shrieks. Ayano panics and frets over the man's health.

All Might wipes the blood off his mouth. "Young man, I come with thanks, a correction, and a suggestion."

Her mind halts. The top hero wants to thank them? But why?

"If you hadn't told me about your life, I would've turned into a guy in a bodysuit who was all talk. Thank you."

Izuku fidgets. "That can't be… It was my fault in the first place. I got in the way of your work."

Ayano agrees. It was her fault, always. She was the one who pushed Izuku to keep chasing a foolish dream. She was the one who failed to dissuade Izuku from taking his reckless actions. She was the one who didn't notice the sludge monster until it was too late.

"Wrong. It was because it was the timid, Quirkless you at the scene that I was able to act."

For some reason, she remembers her childhood. She remembers red eyes wide with fear. She remembers the feel of a red scarf slotting into place.

Tsubomi. Kousuke. Shuuya.

"Top heroes have stories about them from their school days. Most of their stories have one thing in common: their bodies moved before they had a chance to think."

They told her how much she meant to them, after the incident was over. They told her that she was always their hero, and cried. They told her that her actions meant the world to them.

"That was true for you too, wasn't it?"

It gave them hope. It gave them freedom. It gave them happiness.

She clenches her chest. Her eyes burn. Izuku is already crying.

She thought she knew the script. She thought she knew how the scene would end.

She thought it was hopeless. She should have known better.

"You can become a hero."

She crumbles to her knees and cries.


It's not over, of course. Izuku still has ten months of grueling training if he wants to get into his dream school, U.A. Training that she can't help much with. She was never the smartest, nor the strongest. All she can do is cheer him on as he tries to clean Dagobah beach, and provide what little advice she can to help him study. Most of the time, she tunes out the world. This is Izuku's dream. This is Izuku's test. It's only fair to make this Izuku's chance to prove himself worthy.

And Izuku does.

He cleans beyond the section he was told to clean and receives All Might's quirk. On the day of the exam, he meets an adorable little girl whose warm nature reminds her of Haruka. When the exam begins, she's taken by surprise with Present Mic's abrupt start, and is late to urge Izuku into action.

The other robots are quickly mopped up by the other examinees. She feels a crushing sense of despair and panic. Izuku worked so hard. This can't be the end.

Then the 0-P robot arrives. It's huge. It towers over them. She urges Izuku to move, but he's frozen. Panic and fear assault her. She shakes her head and tries to clear them away. There's no time for this, no time, no time-

She sees the adorable little girl trapped under debris. The 0-P robot looms over her.

Hibiya, about to be crushed under a truck.

They move.

The power surges through Izuku's legs. The muscles wind up, the bones tense-

He pushes off. Pressure explodes from his legs. He flies.

Ayano feels fire blaze in her legs.

She chokes on a scream and curls up. The pain claws at her. It's horrible, but she takes hold and doesn't let go. She won't let Izuku suffer.

Not like she did, cancer clawing at her and tearing her open, piece by piece-

An explosion punches her arm. She grits her teeth and absorbs that pain, too.

Wind whips around them. He's falling, they both are. Izuku screams. She latches tighter onto the pain. Her legs burn, her arm burns, her chest is tight-

She blacks out before she hits the ground.


They get into U.A. When the letter arrives, she cheers and bounces up and down. Not even her sore legs and arm can stop her.

Izuku is more subdued, but not even he can hide the rush of happiness and accomplishment.


Izuku steps in the classroom and is confronted with Kacchan and the scary boy in glasses.

He grinds to a halt. Was it too much to hope that they wouldn't be in his class?

The scary boy- Tenya Iida- rushes up to him and enthusiastically greets him. He flails a little, but Iida's a lot nicer than he expected. Just… a little earnest.

The nice girl comes behind him, introduces herself as Ochako Uraraka, and congratulates him for passing. He flails a little. He doesn't know how to speak, doesn't know what to say.

Just be natural, a voice says with a laugh. Be yourself.

He flails a little. He has no idea what to do.

"Go somewhere else if you want to play at being friends."

He freezes. Uraraka slowly rotates.

There's a man with tired eyes lying in a yellow sleeping bag. He rises from the dead and slips it off. "My name is Shouta Aizawa. I'm your homeroom teacher."

There's something about the man's voice. Something about the tired tone, and the inflection…

He has an aching urge to run up to the man and hug him. Which is absolutely ridiculous. He doesn't even know him yet.

So why does he feel so achingly familiar?


It's not until the Quirk assessment test that she realizes. It's not until Izuku gets his Quirk erased that she realizes. It's not until Aizawa's eyes flash red that she realizes who it is.

Shintaro, she yells. It's me, it's me! Look at me!

He doesn't hear her.

Of course he can't.

"You're the underground hero, Eraserhead!" Izuku says. She screams.


There's an indignant buzz, even after the Quirk assessment test. He doesn't know why. But he has his suspicions.

Ever since he was young, he had been different. Sometimes, strange images and thoughts would flash in his head. They always slipped by too fast for him to grasp, but this time…

Shintaro.

He doesn't know who that is. But for some reason, that's the name he thought of when Aizawa-sensei used his Quirk.

After he gets home from school, he spends his time researching.


On the second day at U.A, they have Hero Basic training. For the first time, they put on their costumes.

Ayano is excited, of course. She's finally going to be a real hero.

But a part of her still dwells on Aizawa- Shintaro. She knows it's him. It has to be. Even the age matches up. He had died earlier than her, in a bar fight. She had cried at his funeral and regretted that she couldn't stop him from drinking.

Now he is here. But is it a complete reincarnation, like the stories she read? Or is he like her, trapped in someone else's body?

She has no way to know. And she has no way to find out. Izuku can hear her, but only a little bit.

All Might ushers them to a training field and explains the scenario. Two teams face off as Heroes and Villains. The Villain team tries to protect a bomb for fifteen minutes while the Hero team tries to retrieve it.

The teams are picked with lots. Izuku is with Ochako, and they're facing Tenya… and Katsuki.

Katsuki glares at them, but there's something strange in his eyes. A certain glint. For just a moment, she sees Shuuya again.

She doesn't know why. Maybe Shuuya is trapped in Katsuki's body, like her. Maybe he's not. But she knows that it can't be Shuuya reincarnated completely as Katsuki. Shuuya would never bully anyone else, not when he knows what it's like.

And there's a regret in those eyes. A familiar one. If there's a chance that Shuuya is in there, even a small chance, she has to help him.

"I'm sorry."

She puts on her best smile, and sends as much reassurance as she can. "It's okay."

"I'm sorry."

"It's okay."

Katsuki blinks and rips his gaze away, a scowl on his face.

Ayano continues smiling. "It's okay."

Even though it hurts.


He wakes up in the infirmary. The walls are a pale washed out white. A curtain hangs from his right.

Recovery Girl sits in a gray rolling chair to the side. Aizawa-sensei leans against the far wall, a stern set to his face and an unreadable glint in his eyes. He stares straight at him. For a moment, his face blurs.

"Are you awake?"

He blinks. Recovery Girl is in his face.

The memories come rushing back. The combat trial. His match against Kacchan. His plan to win.

There's a dull throb in the back of his mind. Strangely, his limbs don't hurt much.

The clock reads 3:55.

He jerks upright. He missed his afternoon classes, he had to-

Recovery Girl glares at him. "You're not going anywhere yet."

He sheepishly smiles. His eyes stray to the far wall.

Aizawa-sensei isn't there anymore.


He can't put this off any longer.

He grabs an empty notebook and opens it in front of him. He's done research. Most of the time, he is directed to sites about auditory illusions or the subconscious mind, which… yeah, he can understand that. But he feels this is different, somehow.

So he turns to the supernatural.

A lot of them are honestly terrifying. Demon summoning rituals were scary and there was no right for there to be so many. But he just needed a way to communicate with the not-voice in his head.

He takes a deep breath. He was effectively trying to speak with his subconscious in this case. He had to focus. And stop thinking so much.

Are you there? he writes. Then he closes his eyes and meditates.

It feels like falling asleep. A thin haze envelopes his mind. There's a house of red bricks, a house that he's never seen before but feels so familiar. The door is closed tight.

He twists the handle. Locked.

He knocks on the door. The handle jiggles. There's a growing sense of disbelief.

He frowns at the door. How does he get it open?

Abruptly, the haze retreats. He opens his eyes and finds a word, shaky and indistinct, on the paper.

Yes.

He exhales. A smile appears on his face. What's your name? he asks, and closes his eyes.

This time, when the haze descends, he's in a classroom with an array of desks. On one of them is a blank test marked with a bad grade.

He takes a pencil to the page. There's a buzz at the back of his head, a hum of adrenaline, because he knows the script, knows how to end this-

Words are scribbled on the page, inked in red. A tale of heroes in red, of wills to defy fate, of kids who fought against a tragedy, again and again, until they finally succeeded. He sees the name. Shintaro. And next to it-

Ayano Tateyama.

He blinks. The name sits on the notebook, much clearer and firmer. He only vaguely remembers the story, but…

Is there anything you want me to do?

The door creaks open.


"Um… Aizawa-sensei, can I talk to you privately?" Izuku fiddles with his fingers behind his back.

Aizawa-sensei steps outside the classroom and motions for him to follow. "What's this about."

He takes a breath. Is there a way to broach the topic gently?

Probably not.

"You know Ayano?" he blurts out. "She says hi."

Aizawa-sensei freezes.

His mouth takes off. "I know you're Shintaro from another life but I don't know if you're completely Shintaro or if you're only partially reincarnated like Ayano is so I just blurted it out and oh boy this is gonna be really awkward if you're only partially reincarnated and have no idea what I'm talking about-"

"Kid. Just… breathe." He massages his forehead. "Are you Ayano?"

"Kind of…? I mean, not really, she's sort of… trapped… inside my mind. My subconscious. Sometimes I get flashes of what she's thinking or what she's feeling, but it's hard to grasp most of the time. I only figured out she was here yesterday."

He lowers his hand and stills. His eyes, black- so familiar- drill into him. "Can she hear me?"

"Yes. She can see and hear whatever I do."

"Alright then…" Aizawa-sensei- Shintaro- clenches and unclenches his hands. "This is awkward. But. You were always my hero. You… you were the one who inspired me to be better. To be who I am now. To be a hero." He smiles. It's not the wide grin from the Quirk Apprehension test. It's softer, more subtle. For a moment, there's a boy with short black hair in a red jacket. "Thank you."

Something bubbles in his chest. A light, airy feeling, like a scarf blowing in the wind. A release. There's only one answer.

They beam. Bright, blinding, and most important of all, warm. Tears prick Izuku's eyes. "Thank you," they say. "For showing me I can be one."

They can become heroes.


A/N: This ended up way longer than I thought it would whoops

You can probably guess the next one. I'm not sure when it will be done, but given my track record, it's probably going to take over a year. It'll be the final one though unless I think of something else.