"Haa… back in the lab." Peter sighed with a grin as he inspected his tattered Urban Suit.

The Support Department was rather quiet this Saturday. Although given the notices he saw of 'Support Midterms' around the lab and outside of the department here in U.A., everyone present must've been decompressing after essentially their own super test.

Well, everyone except for one.

"How did ya do on the evaluations, Mei?" He asked, looking back at the pink-haired girl as she hovered over a workbench.

He recognized his Iron Spider Module on it, resting beside some tools.

"I did good." Mei said with… not as much enthusiasm as he expected. "Made some good armor that a Third Year requested and showed it off. Got a passing grade."

"Awesome to hear." Peter got up from the repair bench and walked over to another table where the Stark Suit was laid out. "Did you go over my suit while I was gone?"

Mei finally turned, smiling brightly. "Yeah I did. Fixed up some of the worn bits. With Karen's help anyway." Mei walked over, standing by Peter's side.

"I needed something to do while you were busy at the License Exam." Karen said through the lab.

"Awesome to hear. Thanks, you guys." Peter said with a light smile as he inspected the Stark Suit. The spots of wear-and-tear had been fixed up with minor and very similar patches to the material used in the suit. To the untrained eye, it would look as good as new. To the trained eye however…

"This will keep you safe right?" Mei asked, turning towards him as Peter's hand skimmed down his suit.

"More or less. It's better armored than the Urban Suit I made, but it was by design to help enhance my Spider Sense." Peter shrugged. "Never figured it would backfire on me like that though. Guess I gotta learn how to improve with stronger and more durable suits."

"Backfired how? I saw you put in a lot of time in that black suit." Mei asked, her telescopic eyes already scanning every fiber of the costume.

"Oh, I got nailed really bad by Gang Orca during the Provisional Exam." Peter laughed a bit at the somewhat painful memory. "Like, point-blank sonar blast while wearing a suit that enhances your senses? Recipe for disaster."

Rather than simply laugh with him, Mei was glaring at him now, an odd look on her face.

"How badly were you hurt?"

Peter turned his head towards her, surprised and a little worried by how serious she looked.

"I… it was an exam Mei, I am and will be ok." He smiled, patting her on the shoulder. "I've been through worse."

As those words left his mouth, Mei froze and her eyes suddenly went blank.

(X)

Been through worse.

Been through worse.

In a flash, the image of a bloodied, exhausted, and wounded Peter appeared before her eyes, the smell of burnt servers, and blood on her hands there and gone in a blink.

She felt her stomach do a backflip and she gulped to steady herself, gritting her teeth.

"If you were to wear that… Iron Spider baby again… would you… not get hurt?" She asked, looking down. Peter was looking up at the diagnostics of the Stark Suit, still oblivious to Mei's shift in attitude.

"Yep. But, I don't think any of the tech we have here can fix it. I've tried, trust me." Peter mused. "We'd need the super accurate microscopic stuff on I-Island's labs to make repairs to the Nanotech Module, the connector to the Arc Reactor, and fixing up the chassis supporting it."

Mei looked back at the box containing the module.

Nothing here in the Support Labs of U.A. could construct something that small and precise to make the necessary repairs.

Nothing here…

Nothing here could do it…

Mei looked back at him, seeing that grinning face of his. "Wanna help? I'm sure you've got some good babies in mind I can use."

She had to ensure that his smile would never go away. No matter what.

(X)

The next day…

"So Gintoki's Ramen is the place to go?" Peter mused, walking alongside his classmates.

"Totally! Best ramen in this district!" Kirishima said as he led the way. "I remember coming by here with my folks too!"

"My parents couldn't stop raving about the place." Jirou replied.

"Maybe because the food's that good." Ochako said as she walked with the group. It was himself, Kirishima, Momo, Ochako, Kaminari, Mina, and Jirou. Shoto was sadly busy, as was Izuku.

"It has a lot of good reviews." Momo mused as she looked at her phone. "Oh, I see some foreign language reviews on here too! Must be good with tourists then."

"We've hit the jackpot!" Mina cheered.

"Now, I hope you've brushed up on your chopstick acumen Peter-san." Momo said, looking his way with a small wry grin. Peter blinked.

"Wha?"

"Yeah, I mean, you've been living here for what… a year and a half and you still don't have chopstick technique down?" Jirou said with a smirk. Peter blushed and looked to the side.

"Have I really been doing it wrong?" He thought he has been doing it right… Then again, he never needed to use chopsticks back home in Chinatown. They always had plastic cutlery.

"You all gotta learn sometime." Kaminari draped an arm over Peter's shoulders as he looked over, the blond boy looking smug. "I can teach ya all the ropes." He said with a smirk, hands positioned as if he was holding chopsticks.

"As if you can, Charge Dolt." Jirou replied with a roll of the eye.

"Oh come on I can do it! Chopsticks are easy enough!"

"I'm sure you can. But can you explain it to our Vice Rep?" Jirou inquired.

"I wish I could, buuut I just followed my parents and how they did it." Kirishima said with his hands folded behind his back as they walked on the sidewalk together.

"Oh! How about you teach him Yaomomo!" Mina asked, smirking somewhat deviously as her eyes darted between the two, while Momo looked to be considering it.

"Come on, let me be the one to school Parker for once!" Kaminari whined.

"You'd just fumble the bag." Jirou smirked at him.

Ochako turned suddenly towards Momo. "Thank you for covering the bill too! I was nervous about having to pay my fee…"

"Don't worry about it. It's my treat." Momo said with a beaming smile as Peter chuckled a bit, taking in the sight around them.

Downtown Musutafu, complete with the shops, restaurants, and clubs for a night out. At the heart of the downtown area was-

"I remember…" Peter murmured as he stopped walking, looking across the street. Situated between several roads was a large park, based around a hill with various trees for people to relax by.

At the peak of the hill was a specific tree. He went across the street, no cars coming down it.

"Yo, Parker!" Kaminari called out. "Where ya going?" Peter looked back, seeing them all look back his way.

"Just gotta make a light detour. Gintoki's right?" Peter showed off his phone. "I'll meet ya in line!" He said as he began to trot up the hill. Some people were sitting down at various benches on the pathways embedded on the hill, but he kept on trotting up.

Yes, this tree.

He recognized it.

Where he made his memorial so long ago. He had stopped visiting when he began attending U.A…

At last, he made it to the top. Standing before the tree as he looked out, he could see the hills of Musutafu and in the distance the Tokyo Skyline.

The words he had carved in English had begun to fade lately, but they were still there.

Uncle B.

Mr. S.

Aunt M. Ned. MJ.

Peter Q. Drax. Mantis. Dr. S.

Never forget, love you always.

"Hey everyone." Peter spoke lightly in English, hands in his pockets. "Been awhile… Sorry for not coming by to visit lately. Been going to school. Hero school if you can believe it." He smiled softly.

"And things have been going okay… just some high school stuff. I've… made some great friends. Ned, MJ, I bet you'd like 'em. There's this one girl in class that kinda reminds me of you MJ, but she is a bit more… I wanna say, vulnerable at times? She can be flustered in some spots where you would have made some tactful quip, and she has like, super strong hearing thanks to her earlobes too. And Ned," He laughed, cringing a bit. "Star Wars is but a distant memory man… but there is Galactic Legends, which may be the future version of it. I plan to start watching tonight or so. And if there's anything good, I'm getting the best Star Destroyer or Death Star-equivalent they have." He gave a thumbs-up. "I'll make one, for you buddy." He took a deep breath, eyes settling on the top names.

"Aunt May… You'd get along with Yu… she's been awesome." Peter had his hand on the tree. "You could definitely give her some pointers on how to cook and clean up an apartment though. She also wants to spoil me a lot lately… guess being a hero beats doing community service work everyday of the week, huh." He mused aloud.

"Well, there's worse jobs, like being a beat photographer or soup kitchen guy… not like they're not important and all. But she wants to do right by me and…" Peter licked his lips. "Sometimes I make her worry and… I wish I couldn't, you know. I dunno… it's complicated, I guess."

Peter's eyes drifted up towards the top names. "I have been taking steps to become better than you, Mr. Stark. And using my powers to make a difference and being responsible for it too Uncle Ben… I…" He remembered back to when he got here. His experiences… His failures.

"Do you think… that I am becoming better? I…" He paused, hands on his hips. He looked up at the tree branches, seeing the stars in the sky above and taking a deep breath. Unsure of how he could finish that sentence.

"I hope I am…" He said, resolving at that for now. "I-"

"You don't seem to be alone Peter." Karen spoke in his ear. He was about to mention Mr. Stark to Karen as he turned around.

And standing about ten yards away were Kirishima and Momo. The former perked up, looking awkward at having interrupted a private moment.

"Oh ummm, hey Ace."

"Oh, hey." Peter smiled lightly. "I take it that Jirou and the others are in line?"

"Yes, they were going to get checked in. I am footing the bill after all." Momo replied. "I wascurious to see what made you want to come up this hill."

"Yeah, same here. First I thought you were trying to get a good view, but you're Ace! You can get any view you want so…" Kirishima craned his head lightly, and he was able to see the carving on the tree. "You were talking to a tree. What for?"

Peter licked his lips, taking a deep breath. Well, guess that's out of the bag now as he looked back at his friends.

"Well… just talking to some…" Peter murmured. "-friends long gone."

"Long gone? What do you mean by-" Kirishima paused, Momo being silent as she observed as Peter looked to the side.

"Never forget, love you always…" Momo reiterated in Japanese. Kirishima looked back and forth, the redhead blinking. "So… as in…" She paused, not finishing it, looking to the side.

Then it clicked for the brawler.

"Oh ummm… I'm… I'm sorry about that, Ace. I didn't know you were, p-paying your respects." Kirishima uttered as Peter shook his head.

"It's fine. I … I just wanted to catch up, that's all." Peter shrugged. "What with going to U.A. and everything… just lost track of time."

"School can do that." Momo mused, not sure what to say.

"I notice an Aunt and an Uncle on there Ace… are… are they gone too?" Kirishima inquired, Peter looking up at him.

"Yeah… there's nothing left for me to go back home to in the States." He admitted, seeing little point in lying more than he already was.

Nothing left.

"Yu's a family friend so… once I get my legitimate hero license and graduate U.A., I plan to become a hero here in Japan full time."

"Even though you have U.S. citizenship?" Momo tilted her head, and Peter took a deep breath.

"Yep… just… rough memories back home is all…" He gave a big smile, ear to ear as best he could, even if it felt… awkward.

Not like he could go back to the States even if he wanted to.

"Well… if you say you're fine Ace…" Kirishima walked up to him before laying a hand on his shoulder. "If there's anything you need to say though, you can count on me ok?" He had a thumb directed at his own chest. "What friend would I be if I didn't hear ya out, huh?" He said with a big sharp-tooth grin.

"Yes Peter-san, if you need anything at all, we can help." Momo said, nodding lightly.

"Thanks, you guys." Peter nodded. "Well, let's get in line. I'm sure Mina and Kyoka are waiting on us."

"Of course." Momo said as they turned around and began to walk down the hill.

"Sorry I couldn't let you speak to Mr. Stark, Karen." He sent a message to his own cell number and got an immediate response.

'It's alright. We can always come again later'

He walked alongside the redheaded brawler and obsidian-haired beauty as they managed to make it to the bottom as Momo began to talk about nutritional facts.

'Yeah.' He sent as he heard loud music as they passed by a loud club of sorts, various sorts of characters hanging outside of it wearing dark-tight clothing, spiky collars, and dark makeup.

"Goodness, what is that abhorrent music…" Momo murmured, hands over her ears as Peter picked up on it. Yep, that was Death Metal.

"Man, that's some screaming going on in there…" Kirishima mused, before grinning. "I bet whoever is yelling must be one manly guy!"

Peter chuckled. Yeah, that was some throat-killing roaring over the guitar and drums inside as they made their way around the crowd of joyous metal fans. He even spotted someone covered in spikes as well. Makeup or a legitimate quirk? He didn't know but hey, they're living their best life.

"Parker-san!" Called out a voice, making Peter perk up as they made their way around the crowd and onto the main sidewalk.

"Hey, did someone call out for you?" Kirishima asked.

"Down here!" Wait, that sounded familiar! Peter looked down, and just below his waist standing up was a small lady with a unique tail and ears, with a lot of black and white makeup on her face in intricate patterns and… collars and black clothes with grim reapers holding guitars. And she even had skull-shoulderpads!

But he knew that tail.

"Nakiri-san!" Peter smiled. "It's been a while!" He said, kneeling down a bit.

"You know her, Peter-san?" Momo inquired.

"Oh, you're that Creati girl that worked alongside Yoroi Musha!" Nakiri Shizune said with a beaming smile. "Sorry that our first introduction is like this." Her voice sounded a bit raw too… Was she screaming her heart out in there? "I didn't expect you to be around here Parker-san. Out with friends?"

"Yeah, was gonna try out some ramen at Gintoki's." Peter gestured behind him. "You here for a metal band meet-up?"

"Yep! Gotta see how the newbies are doing." Shizune giggled a bit. "I'm glad to see you're doing well. Weren't you at I-Island during that fiasco or something?"

"I was, yeah. I take it that was mentioned in the news a bit?" Peter shrugged.

"A little, although you should have seen Mirko-san when she found out." Shizune said, and Peter felt pinpricks in his gut at the mention of the name.

"I-I see…" Peter mused, eyes to the side. "How's… Mirko been doing?"

"Mirko-san's just being Mirko-san. Doing her cross-country patrols. She came back a few days ago on call for the HPSC in case they were going to ask her to take part in the Provisional License Exam too. She wasn't contacted, so she was a bit miffed at them for wasting her time." Shizune shrugged. "But she's resting for a bit now, going around Endo and Tokyo as a whole." Her smile softened. "I'm glad to see you're having fun with your friends Parker-san. High school life is all about making best friends…"

There were unspoken words in there as she looked to the side.

"Jirou is saying they're at the front and it's time to head in." Momo commented, Peter turning to see her glance at her phone.

"Oh! I'm sorry to have kept ya. I only went outside for some fresh air." Shizune said with a smile as she waved them goodbye.

(X)

The next day

"Peter-san."

Peter perked up, looking up from his spot after he finished some stretching exercises with a little help from Ashido. Most of Class 1A was out in the training field or the Battle Centers to hone their quirks for the Monday afternoon.

It was Izuku, standing in his U.A. gym uniform.

"What's up Midori?" He asked, standing straight up as he felt a soft pop in his back. "Ooooh… needed that. Bothered me this morning…" He smiled towards Mina and gave a thumbs-up. "Thanks!"

"Any time dude!" She beamed at him with a toothy smile. "Okay, let's go to a Battle Center you guys. I'm all warmed up!"

"Same here, although I'll have to get my web shooters. Which Center are you going to?"

"Theta. See ya there!" Mina and the others began going their separate ways as Peter turned towards the green-haired boy. He looked… a little serious.

"So, what's up?" Peter asked.

"Peter-san I…" Izuku took a big gulp, and then bowed deeply. "Can you please fight me!"

"You don't have to yell, dude." Peter laughed lightly. "Or bow that deeply." Izuku immediately raised his head, blushing at his own enthusiasm.

Izuku shook his head. "Sorry but…" When he looked at Peter the fierceness of his expression took the American aback a bit. "I mean that I want you to fight me Peter-san. A serious fight from you."

Peter blinked.

"I… guess, sure. But what brought this on?" Peter walked towards Izuku, and the boy took it as a cue and walked beside him. They were likely going for the open gym by the looks of it as they climbed the steps from the training field.

Izuku was silent for a time, seemingly mulling over his answer.

They got to the door, and inside they saw Ochako doing parkour atop of… raised cement spires!

"Hey Cementoss-sensei!" Peter called out, waving towards the Cement Man. The man turned, offering a bright big smile.

"Ah, Parker, Midoriya. Come to use the gym I see?"

"Yeah, me and Midori here just gonna spar for a bit." Peter gestured towards the green-haired boy as the Cement Hero nodded.

"Do as you wish." He gestured, walking around the gym with his hands around his back while humming to himself.

When they reached the open area of the gym, Izuku looked at him, seemingly ready to answer his previous question.

"Do you remember back then… when we started at U.A. and you helped me? Training with me on the beach, before the Sports Festival?" Izuku then smiled wryly at the memories.

"I've gotten stronger and stronger since then… That's why… I want to measure myself. To see how far I've come. That's why I want to fight you." He raised his fist at him. "You're one of the strongest kids here Peter… and I need to know where I stand next to you! And grow stronger still!"

Peter blinked. "Gosh, put me on the spot here…" He rubbed the back of his head, thinking about what he was asking for.

A chance to cut loose…

Peter looked at Izuku. Really looked at him.

He had gotten stronger. Much stronger. And if his theory about his connection to All Might was true… then Midoriya was gonna keep getting stronger.

So… it made sense that he wanted to push himself. Test himself.

Peter could do that… It'd been a while since he'd given it his allo. Not since his spars against Mirko.

He nodded.

"Alright Midori." He grinned, legs spreading out, hands clenched into fists as he made himself ready. "You asked for this buddy!"

Izuku's smile was one of pure anticipation.

When the fight started, it started quick-

Charging at one another Peter delivered a haymaker, and Izuku a jab as Peter dodged, the glowing green-haired boy using his hand to brush away the blow. They landed on the ground, exchanging rapidfire blows in quick hit and run attacks.

They darted in and out, weaving and ducking through each other's strikes as Peter began to up the speed and power of his attacks.

One slipped through, sending Izuku stumbling across the floor before he rolled back to his feet, hand favoring his side before he charged back once more. As Peter felt the impact of Izuku's blows against his hands as he either misdirected or blocked, he could tell that Izuku was beginning to ramp up as well.

Distantly, he became aware of the other 1-A students stopping their exercises, watching the exchange from their various vantage points. His awareness of them dimmed and vanished as he was forced to use his Spider Sense more and more as his opponent's speed kept increasing.

Izuku's fists crackled with green lightning, bolts of static leaping off of his knuckles to dance across Peter's flesh with tingles that made the thin hairs of his neck stand on end.

His Spider Senses tingled, the intensity increasing in frequency from Midoriya's kicks and fists, until his very presence was a living, moving lightning rod of crackling danger. His senses were screaming at him to get the hell out of the way, not that he wanted to.

The punches and kicks that once could be blocked started leaving his forearms and legs numb where he met the boy blow for blow, dodges that had been so clean were now hasty things or narrow nicks. Midoriya's quirk seemed to roar like a furnace inside him, the bellows finally letting loose to build up fire and heat.

Peter didn't even notice the smile spreading across his face as he kept his pace.

(X)

Izuku felt the ache in his arms as he and Peter separated. The world became a blur around them.

Izuku's face contorted throughout the fight as Peter's counter-punches, kicks and shoves sent him sprawling, only for him to recover and get back on the offensive. Anticipation was there.

But so was the growing competitive frustration.

He was pushing as hard as he could while not breaking anything and yet…

And yet…

"Gnnnngh… Nineteen Percent!" Izuku yelled, his body glowing hotter and brighter as Peter's eyes widened.

Izuku rocketed forward, the world becoming an indistinct surge of white at the edges of his vision as he came at Peter with a flying kick, he had the satisfaction of seeing Peter's surprise before that kick cracked into the American's forearms, sending him skidding back on his heels.

The exchange this time sent claps of sound and air pressure around them, kicking up dust and tearing across the arena grounds.

He wasn't done yet.

He could see Peter's smile.

A part of him… felt a little pleased.

But the other part of him, growing all the more, felt frustrated.

Was he still… still so far behind him?

The world kept calling Peter the Next All Might. Izuku had sworn an oath to that man to be better than him in that park. And he had been getting better…

How then…

How could he become the greatest hero when he can't even surpass his classmate?

'More… I need…' Blocking a roundhouse kick from Peter as he brushed it aside… only for his strike to miss as Peter twisted his body… and Izuku felt pain in his head from the dropkick that knocked him to his knees.

Peter threw out both hands, the impact sending Izuku rolling across the ground as he got back up.

"I'm not done yet!" Izuku screamed, his body aglow as lightning arced from his limbs.

Izuku was on his opponent, leaping at him as the ground cracked under the force of his charge. He had the satisfaction of seeing the white of Peter's eyes before the American raised his arms in a hasty block.

The blow punched through, raw power slamming into Peter's ribs, sending him tumbling before he recovered. The sneakers on his feet pushed for traction as the American rushed to meet his next charge.

Push past the limits. Surpass them! Surpass All Might!

Another blow landed, pushing Peter even further back.

Surpass him!

Go… PLUS ULTRA!

Izuku smiled, and he felt the surge of power within him grow under his control.

Twenty… percent!

He landed behind Peter as the boy turned back in surprise as Izuku came back for the follow through, toothy grin bared in competitive fire and adrenaline as he saw Peter take backsteps from his punch. And the air gust that came from it blinded the American as he backed off, leaping towards the rattling windows. He was on the backfoot!

Izuku kept up the momentum, charging after him as he wound his arm back, the other arm used to aim as he saw his reflection against the giant set of glass windows…

And in his reflection… he saw eight shadows with glowing eyes behind him.

And then it came and erupted from his limbs. Darkness surged forth as Peter's mouth opened and his eyes widened in surprise, shock, and fear. Izuku couldn't hear him, the wind and the crackle of One for All consuming his hearing.

The darkness erupted, and Izuku screamed.

(X)

"Cementoss!" Shouta yelled as he burst into the gym, Yagi panting at his side as the Cement Man had his hands on the ground, stone and earth surging to contain the writhing darkness. Uraraka was near the wall holding her arm as she looked at the darkness in horror.

"It's from Midoriya! It came when they were… sparring!" The man shouted, concentrating. "With Parker!"

"They're in there!" Uraraka wailed.

"Oh no!" Yagi gasped, and Shouta's Erasure blazed on as he gazed at the black sun as he ran towards it and heard… screams.

The black writhing mass that was as large as a three story house began to evaporate. Shouta opened his eyes as far as they could go, the red gleam cutting through the tendrils of black.

The black mass disappeared, letting two figures fall to the ground. Midoriya hit his knees, panting, while the other dropped from the wall.

Shouta ran, sliding and catching Parker in his arms.

"Parker! You alright?!" The teacher shouted, his heart racing as he held the boy, hand cradling his head and his back. He winced, and Shouta felt wetness on the back of his head and he turned, seeing a red stain along the wall above the glass ceiling, rays of light pouring in thanks to the explosion of those black tendrils.

Parker groaned, eyes looking up at him in dazed confusion as he blinked and groaned. "Anyone get the number of that bus?"

"Iida, get Parker to the infirmary and Recovery Girl. Have him checked." The taller boy immediately saluted and took the American in his arms.

"Right Sensei. Parker, you're going to be fine." Iida held him up.

"Everyone's on break. Get some water, rest." Shouta said before the rest of the students dispersed, talking amongst themselves. Yaoyorozu looked pale in particular with her hand over her mouth, but Kirishima was by her side, he too looking stunned.

Bakugo was still staring at Midoriya, face unreadable. "Bakugo." Shouta said again, and the blonde nodded.

"Yeah yeah, I hear ya." He turned, walking off. Shouta turned, seeing Yaoyorozu standing beside Parker and Iida, Kirishima right by her side and making small talk with them, albeit in hurried and concerned tones. Todoroki and Mezo were present as well, but both of them were silent.

Shouta turned towards Cementoss, who had an arm around Uraraka.. "Uraraka, are you alright?" He asked, walking up to the brunette. "What happened?"

"My arm got caught by one of those black tentacle things that came out of Deku…ow…" Shouta looked up at Cementoss as he checked on her arm… pressing a hand on the bruise already forming, it was hot to the touch.

"Might be broken." He muttered. "You're probably still on an endorphin high and adrenaline." The girl looked at her arm, eyes widening at the sight of it but she nodded, her lips tucked in as Shouta turned towards his colleague.

"The two were sparring fine. It was getting a little intense but nothing truly dangerous for either of their strength levels" Cementoss replied. "Almost looked like they were having fun… then when my head was turned I heard them screaming." The cement man sighed, likely blaming himself for such a slip up.

Shouta took a deep breath, nodding. "Okay. Can you escort Uraraka to Recovery Girl's office?"

"Of course. Let's go young lady." The man said with all the kindness of a supportive and loving uncle, his big wide hand on her shoulder.

The black-haired man took a deep breath before he reached into his pocket for his eyedrops. He applied them and turned.

He saw Yagi and Midoriya walking towards one of the doors.

"Midoriya." Shouta said out loud and sternly enough to make the boy flinch as if he had been whipped, recoiling as he turned. Yagi had a hand on his shoulder as Shouta walked cautiously towards him.

"What was that?"

Izuku flinched again like someone had planted a fist in his stomach. Shouta sighed.

"No one thinks that you wanted to do that at all, Midoriya," Shouta said calmly, "But we need to know what happened."

The boy looked back down at his hand. His eyes wide and wet, face becoming as pale as a sheet and lip quivering.

"He's terrified...' Shouta realized. 'Of himself…'

No way in hell he did this on purpose. But still, what was that?

"I… I don't know."

Shouta raised an eyebrow.

"I-I mean it!" Izuku said, "The power welled up, and I-I couldn't control it! I… I just wanted to push myself and… and…"

He stared at his hand, the fingers shaking in his vision.

"It's like… something that I've believed in suddenly turned on me. I was scared and… I hurt Parker and Uraraka!" He shuddered, looking at the bloodstained window, almost ready to cry.

A hand dropped to his shoulder, and the shaking stopped. Above him, Yagi offered a soft smile. The smaller form of the Number One Hero somehow still seemed to stand above even Shouta at that moment, and he had to look up to him instead of the other way around.

"I'll take full responsibility."

"Not the point." Aizawa sighed, rubbing at his forehead, already feeling a headache coming on.

Discovering… mechanics of quirks was nothing new. The classic example was the girl who they originally thought was a water generator but she was instead a hydrokinetic. But the fundamentals were largely still the same. Midoriya was a 'simple' power type quirk. Not any type of emitter or energy-based quirk.

Problem child was still a problem.

"I can make an announcement of an unexpected power development if anything gets out," the teacher promised. "But Midoriya."

The boy perked up, worry still clear on his face.

"Even though you didn't mean to do it, but wanting doesn't mean that people didn't get hurt," Shouta said sternly. "Your first and only priority until I say otherwise is getting that quirk under control. You've done it before, you can do it again. Am I clear?"

His student gave him a shaky nod, then Shouta gestured to the door with his head.

"Get going."

(X)

Toshinori really didn't know what he just saw.

That Quirk wasn't One for All, but it had come from young Midoriya regardless. It was like nothing that he'd ever seen before. A quirk that went wild? It was as if the boy had just woken up one day with a quirk and used it against someone without meaning to.

A child's reflex, that's what it looked like.

But why was Young Midoriya the one to have it?

"Are you feeling okay?" Toshinori asked.

The man sat in a visitor's chair in Recovery Girl's clinic. The nurse had given the two some privacy, letting the Number One hero look at his successor as the boy stared down at his hand.

"Physically… I think so."

Toshinori sighed.

He figured as much.

"You can't blame yourself, Young Midoriya, there's no way you could have known."

"You would have." He uttered, looking to the ground still.

Toshinori shook his head.

"No, no I wouldn't have," The blonde said with a small shake of his head, "It would have exploded during the middle of a fight that even I couldn't prepare for. And likely with even worse results."

Izuku shook, his fingers closing into a tight fist.

"But-"

No, none of this.

"I'm not perfect, Young Midoriya," Yagi stressed, "If I was… the world would be a much better place."

Bringing as much courage as he could, he placed a hand on Midoriya's shoulder comfortingly.

"So don't think that you'll have to be perfect too. People got hurt, but that's it, they'll recover, and I've no doubt that they'll forgive you."

At least, Toshinori hoped.

"But you did surprise me in a way that I could have gone without," Toshinori said, leaning back in his chair. "What was that?"

The question brought a bit of focus back into young Midoriya's eyes, his fist opening and closing reflexively.

"Like I said, I-I don't know. I saw some shadows when I was pushing One for All and then…"

He paused, looking up.

"What kind of shadows?" Toshinori asked, leaning in closely.

"They… they looked like faces. Eight sets of eyes, just staring into me."

Eight?

Izuku stopped, his palm remaining open, allowing some sparks of One for All to dance along his fingers.

"I felt like… they were expecting something out of me. Like they wanted me to do something."

"Scary," Toshinori intoned.

The boy jumped.

"Th-that's how it felt! I didn't think it would be too scary but now that you mention it-!"

"Breathe," The skeletal blonde said easily, holding his hands placatingly, "I just meant it as a joke."

The boy took a few breaths and nodded.

"But it does bring up the question," Toshinori continued, "'Cause I never saw anything like that when I ever used One for All."

"Nothing?" the boy asked.

Toshinori shook his head.

"Not even a peep, or even a cool vision," he said, pausing to rub his chin, "I remember my mentor mentioning something about voices once upon a time, but I never really gave it too much thought."

"Is… is something happening to One for All?" Izuku asked, and Toshinori could hear the fear in his voice.

"Maybe," Toshinori said, holding up a hand to stop the ranting, "But that might not be a bad thing. For all that we know, the quirk is evolving in a way that I couldn't expect given how it went from me to you."

"So you don't have any ideas?" Izuku asked.

"Not many no," Toshinori admitted, "I had it twice as long as my mentor did, but at the end of the day, it was just a tool to help me in the pursuit of justice. I never really stopped to wonder about its nature or how it really worked. The important things were already there, or were beaten into me by some good teachers. But I doubt it's anything bad regardless. Even the most dangerous quirks couldn't manipulate or destroy One for All, so the chances of any quirk making it go crazy are pretty slim."

He leaned back over and patted the boy on the back.

"So don't worry," Toshinori said with as much confidence as he could, offering that million dollar smile and a thumbs-up. "Whatever it is, we'll figure it out and train with it. I've already gotten in touch with Nezu, he's willing to let us rent out a training facility for privacy until we can get this sorted."

Rising from his seat, and ignoring the way that his back ached from his posture.

"So for now, get some rest. I'll be a call away if you need me."

Izuku nodded, and went back to looking at his hand. The boy clearly wasn't totally okay after that talk, but hopefully Parker and Uraraka would be willing to hit home what Yagi had set up. For now, he left the room with a wave and only then did he let his exhaustion show and asked a question mentally.

'What now?'

(X)

It was getting late in the evening as Rumi lounged on the couch, seeing the news go by as she sipped some rejuvenation drink filled with veggies and fruits. She would normally have blanched at the stuff, but it helped her in recovery and digestion. The rabbit hero had a large bowl at Satonaka's on her return trip to the Tokyo area after going up as far north as Sendai. She had earned the extra large.

"Mirko-san? You awake?" Said Shizune from behind the couch, and Rumi's ear-muffed ears perked up.

"Yeah, just chillin." She replied, going to the next channel on the weather. After a day or two of rest, it'd be time to head towards Nagasaki and the southern end of Japan.

"Well… since you're awake and have nothing to do…" She saw her smaller friend trot up to the front, hands on some papers and the dark-skinned woman rolled her eyes.

'Fuck.' "I ain't gonna take on a work study, Shizune. You should know that."

"Well, I am your secretary. With you being a licensed hero and all, I need to show you some viable candidates to overlook and quote. You still need to sign off on them."

"Just forge my electronic signature for me." Rumi waved. "Like, it's not that fucking hard."

"Forging a signature is a crime." Shizune huffed, her raccoon ears and tail twitching.

The white-haired woman groaned, facing into the pillow. "We do this every yeeeeeaar…"

"Well, our deadline is fast approaching. You need to sign off on which Hero Prospects you'll take on for a work study. They'll have more responsibilities than an intern after all and it's required."

Rumi sighed, knowing she couldn't talk or fight her way out of this.

She rose up, rolling her neck as she walked past Shizune, taking the papers in her hands.

"I could see if Parker-san would like to come back." Shizune asked. Rumi stopped, blinking.

"Huh?" She asked, her brain still trying to catch up.

Shizune turned, looking Rumi dead in the eye.

"I talked to him a couple of days ago." She said, looking down at the ground. "He's been… doing well."

"Bullshit." Shizune flinched. "He's not well until he is. It's as simple as that."

"Yet you were glued to the TV, watching the entire coverage of the I-Island Incident from the news." Shizune retorted. Rumi winced.

"You really need to not butt into my shit, Shizune. For fuck's sake." Rumi had a hand to her nose.

"I didn't even ask, he told me himself." Shizune said, arms crossed. "And I bumped into Parker when I was out with my friends at a rookie metal showcase in downtown Musutafu. I wasn't actively looking for him. It was just chance."

"Then I highly suggest you don't go to the casino or play pachinko then." Rumi stormed towards her desk.

"Look Mir-Rumi." She said, and Rumi looked up as she fired up her screen. "I'm not saying you offer Parker a work study, far from it… I just think that… you and him could benefit from a talk."

"What else is there to say? I told him to go home and think on what he's done with his indecisive ass." She retorted, signing in.

"Yet that night he took the initiative to hunt down Stain." Shizune walked up. "Even when you shut him down. Reminds me of a certain someone who would go off on her own to do what she believes is right."

Rumi was beginning to grind her teeth, her red eyes glaring at her shorter secretary.

"All he took was what he learned from you. And you punished him for it."

"He's fucked in the head Shizune. You don't get to play armchair psychologist when all you did was take a 101 course in college!"

Shizune was silent, looking to the ground. "You think I'm dumb, because I'm your secretary Rumi? I see it too, you know."

Rumi was wide-eyed. Her oldest friend lifted her head up, her eyes sad.

"You're not the only one who sees Shohei in him. Why else would you be so angry at his actions? I get it Rumi…" She murmured. Rumi was silent, arms shaking and fists clenched. "But… why don't you just… talk with him? Like, over coffee or something. See how he is?"

'Fuck this…'

"I'm going for a walk." Rumi rose up, taking her earmuffs off and tossing them to the couch as she walked past the smaller woman before slamming the door. After some steps, she sighed, hand running down her face. 'Fuck me I'm acting like a teenager on her period.' She thought before she stretched out her legs, then took a mighty leap onto the roofs.

The silent night of the Tokyo outskirts was nice here in Endo Ward. The ambiance of cars, nightlife from the bars, TVs playing all around her as she leapt through the air, fading in and out with new sounds as she hopped hundreds of meters in a single bound. The feeling of guilt began to gnaw at her stomach.

She hated that feeling…

'I should apologize… give her a raise too.' She mused, before she went back to her words.

As she backflipped, the moon at her back, Rumi landed atop a lamppost, rising up and looking at her hand.

"You're not the only one who sees Shohei in him." Shizune's words resounded and echoed in her head.

Shohei wasn't as strong as Peter. He got killed because of a lot of stupid fucking decisions made by stupid fucking people around him.

And Peter was as stupid as Shohei was to boot.

Her ears twitched, and Mirko heard it. The sound of running, heavy breathing. Footsteps were soft. No shoes, no socks. Bare feet. Someone small.

Her eyes narrowed, suspicions rising.

Her muscles tensed, and the bronze-skinned Rabbit Hero leapt over buildings, jumping off of a water tower, then a subway station awning before she landed on a sidewalk. Taking a few steps forward, the desperate panting was deafening as she rounded the bend of the alley.

She'd expected a few different possibilities. Someone with a mutation quirk trying to be sneaky, maybe someone just rushing to get home.

A three foot nothing girl in a hospital gown nearly knocking her off balance, crashing into her thigh was not it.

A child, with long gray-pale blue hair… a small horn on the right side of her forehead… arms and legs covered in bloody bandages.

"Hey there, you okay?" Mirko asked, kneeling down and the girl looked up, her red eyes the same similar shade as the Rabbit Hero as she almost tackled her, hugging her as the woman gasped in sudden surprise. And she felt it.

The shivering. It was September. It wasn't even that cold out tonight.

"Come on now Eri, it's way past your bedtime." Said a voice, smooth, low and male, the source coming from the darkness of the alleway. "And-Oh my. Now this is awkward."

The girl was looking back, still as a corpse.

Yet Mirko's ears knew she was alive, because the pounding of her heart was as if it was trying to claw its way out.

"My apologies Mirko-san." The man came into the light and she saw him. Black pants, a black dress shirt with a matte-gray tie. A green hoodie jacket with a purple fur trim collar that seemed out of place. He had short brown hair and cold yellow eyes that were sharp and on alert. "My daughter Eri has a very… overactive imagination." He said, his voice muffled by the red beak-like mask he wore, adjusting it with his gloved hands. "She just loves to play and always gets a bruise here and there. I bet she's gonna be a Parkour specialist someday, like you in a way. Haha. Kids sure do love their heroes."

Mirko looked down at her, the girl in her arms, Eri, was looking at her chest, not at her… but through her. She could feel her tremble. The rapid heartbeat in her ears. The bandages on her arms and legs.

She looked ready to cry…. but didn't.

Her mouth moved, and barely a whisper came forth. But she heard it loud enough.

"Don't… go… please…"

She was terrified.

Mirko looked at the man.

She tried to smile. What came out was rather more a baring of teeth.

"That so, huh…"

(X)

Later that night

Unable to move. Unable to speak. All around, a dark wasteland. Before him… were several people. Some shrouded in shadow at a distance within this space. But he could see some more clearly than others, and they were the closest.

A stunningly beautiful muscular woman with dark hair and a white cape facing forward. Beside her, a yellow phantom with spiky hair that looked… eerily familiar. A man with a collar that covered his lower face. A man that… appeared similar to Kacchan, save for shorter hair, a somber expression, and a scar on the bridge of his nose.

They were all looking forward… And like something out of a corrupted MP3 file or a scratchy ancient VHS, he saw two figures, phasing in and out of existence.

One was a man in disheveled clothing, a simple aqua long sleeve shirt and trousers, on his knees. Several meters away facing him… was a man standing confidently in a simple tieless suit, hands in his pockets as dark-red wisps emanated from them both. They both had white hair, the kneeling one with long hair down to his chin. The other, well kept and groomed and…

That smile was… uneasy on the man. His eyes were shrouded in shadow.

"I… I can't let you do this…!" Said the kneeling man, his voice young, weak, yet firm. "What you're doing is wrong! You can't… force yourself on the world like this!"

"Oh but I can, dear little brother." The standing man spoke, smirking as he approached, confidently and brazenly. "I am the only one with the power, the knowledge, and the will to act accordingly. I will be the one to rule, and Japan will prosper."

"But not with fear and manipulation! Taking quirks on a whim or the request of vengeful people, giving them to those who follow you… you're not some messiah! You're just amassing an army of sycophants for your own ends! I see how they look at you! You're… you're doing something to their brains when you give them abilities, don't you!?"

Taking… and giving quirks.

Izuku's eyes widened. 'Is this…'

"Yep." Said a voice, and Izuku jumped, feeling an elbow on his shoulder as he turned. The man beside him was rather gruff looking, looking like a biker with a wide and broad jaw, bald head, and leather jacket with yellow goggles. "That's him. One for All's mortal enemy… and its origin."

Izuku's eyes widened. One for All's mortal enemy…

'All for One…'

"So what? Japan will prosper under me." The man stopped before his little brother. "The people I place in power will bring this country back into the light from the dark ages. We will rise to the top, and looked down upon no longer. You only need to join me, little brother." His voice was smooth, yet had a commanding and dark edge to it. "The quirks I can give you to heal and enhance your frail constitution… you need only accept me."

"I won't!" The man shook his head. "I… I won't accept a Quirk from you! Not when it was taken from someone else! I… I may be weak! But I won't submit to you brother! Not after all the things you've done!"

The man paused, and though his face was obscured, Izuku could feel the anger building inside him.

"Our parents… would be alive if the measures I have implemented today would have been there back then you know." All for One spoke, sneering down at his little brother. "I can't believe you don't see that."

"Even so… Mom and Dad… if they had known what you've become… they would have been ashamed!" The little brother wailed, hand over his heart as he coughed. "You only think for yourself! You just want to be like the bad guy in the comics we used to read! I'm not a fool! I know for certain… One day… you will answer for your crimes!"

All for One lifted his head, and Izuku's heart chilled, seeing lavender eyes gazing down at the man as he bore a dark smile. "Maybe, but it won't be this day… I will say this. You are right, little brother…" His hand glowed red, and the brother gasped.

"You are weak." The smile was ear to ear, teeth bared. "Let your dear older brother… help you with that…"

"No! Stop it! No! No!" All for One latched down. Izuku wanted to rush in, to stop it but… his eyes looked down, seeing the familiar dark-teal energy that came from earlier today locking him in place.

'Let… me go!' Izuku growled, trying to budge as the younger man screamed… and All for One's laughter echoed through the wasteland as the darkness swallowed them both.

"And that was how One for All was born kiddo." Said the biker-man, Izuku turning. "And you need to calm down, look at your hands." Izuku's eyes followed… and the wisps of darkness were raging as if they were coming from an angry blowtorch. "Gotta say, never would have thought you would awaken to my quirk first. Hell, I didn't think you'd awaken to any of our other quirks!"

Awaken… other quirks?

Then…

'He's a former user of One for All… then the shade from before with the spikey hair!' Now it clicked. He had memorabilia of him all over his entire room! 'That was All Might!' Yet he was only a fiery shade, not a defined person like this man and the others from before.

"Yep. The name's Banjo Daigoro, aka Lariat." He said, pointing at himself. Banjo had an unfriendly face to him, but his eyes, while sharp, weren't hostile. "And you… need to get it together!" He pointed at Izuku's chest. "After all, if you just go berserk like that and let your emotions consume ya, you'll only wind up repeating what you did earlier today on your buddy!"

Izuku's eyes widened, and Banjo blinked.

"Oh yeah you can't talk… can you nod or shake your head?" He asked, and the green-haired youth nodded. "Okay good. Now, ya gotta work harder now ya here! Sure there will always be others stronger than ya, but don't let it get to you okay?" He said, pointing at Izuku's chest. "It's fine to feel the drive and need to succeed when watching others do so as well, but don't go thinking ill of them or yourself okay! Just keep your head down to the grind and you'll come out on top! The same applies with our quirks too!" He said, holding his hand. "Speaking of, I better tell you what the deal is with my quirk." The black wisps of darkness that looked so familiar to Izuku emerged.

"This is my badass power, Black Whip! In a way, it's kinda similar to what your friend had with those web shooters of his. But, they're far more versatile, have unlimited ammunition and don't need to be built in a garage or something so I say it's a lot cooler than your friend's doohickeys but that's my opinion. Anyway, you can latch onto anything, grabbing any target and bringing them to the curb. Whether it be for capturing villains… or saving others." Banjo stated, the dark whips with a teal tint moved and coiled like serpents in his hand as he twirled it around like a lasso, then forming them into tentacles… or even splitting into a hive of them and sticking to the ground! "It can reach and grasp anything in its range, and I bet, now that I think about it… it's why I manifested in you first!" Banjo nodded. "Yeah, you wanted to reach towards him. Or rather, towards your friend's level. Hmmm… a bit metaphorical and deep… but I think that sounds about right!"

He then got serious. "But, you gotta be careful with this. Black Whip is now being empowered by One for All, and the One for All inside you is stronger than it was when I used it. P equals Q, the Black Whip you'll be wielding will be stronger than when I had it! So you got to be able to reign in your emotions. It's okay to be angry, don't let it consume ya. Control it, as you would any emotion, and you'll be able to handle my Quirk like a ride down the fast lane." He smirked, the teal-dark wisps fading away into his hand as he began to think.

Izuku nodded back, the man cupping his chin. "By the way!" He looked down at him. "I know you want to get stronger. To succeed where all of us have failed and stop All for One… but, growing too hard and too fast can have drawbacks."

Izuku looked down at the ground. "But!" He looked back up. "That doesn't mean you can slack off either! You gotta find that perfect medium between working hard and going too hard ya know! Sort of like how Number Eight warned you about overtraining when you were honing your vessel."

'Wait, how do they know?' Izuku mused, eyes wide, and Banjo smirked, tapping his head.

"Hey, even I get a few glimpses down your memory lane when you dream every now and then. But, One for All is growing inside you. What started as a small spark inside the First user, is now growing into a raging flame. From cinders, to embers, to a firestorm. You need to learn to control this power, even as it grows, before it controls you in turn." Banjo crossed his arms. "Black Whip earlier today activated with your anger and frustration to reach the pinnacle you wish to reach. To surpass your friend… Honestly, looking back, most of the past users tried fighting All for One solo… and look where it got us. Me included sadly…" He sighed, rubbing the back of his head. "Dying and living on as a ghost really gives ya perspective ya know what I mean?"

Izuku couldn't help but shrug and nod, but… he had an idea. Sort of. The man then hissed, wincing, and the boy reacted accordingly. Why was he in pain?!

"Gaaah shoot, my time's running out! I'm gonna be…fading away again! Damn… Heh." Even with a pained grimace, he had a confident grin. "Anyways kid, I know you'll get my power under control. You're not the type of kid to make the same mistake twice, heh, better than me anyway. And… my personal opinion? If you want to defeat All for One… try and share the load ya know? After all, I was in a biker gang myself before I went hero." He smirked, patting his jacket. "Succeeding as a team, with friends by your side, there ain't no better feelin." He pointed at Izuku's chest. "So keep your tabs on your heart like you do your pedometer and fuel tank… and you'll be just fine."

"You're the Ninth User now, and One for All is ready to bloom, once the other six quirks manifest…" He smirked. "Into the force that will defeat All for One. But, don't go at it alone. Be better than all of us. Just some words from your friendly neighborhood biking hero."

Soon the darkness began to swim around Izuku's eyes, and Banjo seemed farther and farther away.

"I know you can do it! We all know you can!"

Darkness.

(X)

Izuku gasped, turning over in bed and panting as he looked at his hands. "Banjo Daigoro… six other Quirks… One for All…" He looked at his scarred hands… and he took a deep breath, even as the smell of fajitas drifted into his bedroom.

His body glowed, and Izuku brought himself up to fifteen percent and focused… He eyed a pen on the nightstand, aiming for it…

Small black wisps, as thin as floss, emerged from his fingers, appearing and latching on as it retracted back to him, disappearing as they went with the All Might pen in his hand.

His face was alight as he reached for his phone. He needs to call All Might ab-

"It's dead…" He mused, the phone screen black as he sighed. He placed it into the charger. He did drop down for a nap the moment he got home after all.

"Izukuuuu!" Mom called out. "It's been an hour sweetie! Time to wake up from your nap! Dinner!"

While Izuku still felt the drain of today on him, the boy couldn't help but smile and get up from the bed with a pep to his step. "Coming mom!" After dinner, he needed to tell All Might about this, pronto!


And there you have it. The final arc begins now(likely 7 chapters left or so minimum)! This was a nice balance of Izuku and Peter focus.

But yeah, been super busy the last month and change. Catching COVID, watching Jujutsu Kaisen, spending time with family on vacation, and work has been picking up too.

But I am able to get some good stuff in. For those of you who don't know, I'm working on a new project utilizing shorter chapters. Heroes of the New World, a One Piece/MHA crossover. Feel free to check it out if you desire.

And again, a big thanks to IKnowNothing and Ld1449 as usual, and to our beta team of Vandenbz , WildJoker000 , and Buried In Ash

And the MHA's final arc is ongoing too as of today (8/6/22). Gonna be interesting to see how Izuku reacts to certain... developments.

All while ComicCon showed how much 'content' Disney peddling out for the MCU and I just feel nothing now. Complete apathy. Still love the Spidey films though.

Hope you all enjoyed! See ya'll in the next one.