A/n: Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it!
Provisional Hero Licensing Exam
Katsuki scowled as he gently cleaned Izuku's blood-matted hair. As soon as he did, the long cut along his temple began bleeding again. Head wounds were such a fucking bitch! The skin was scraped raw around the cut, making it hard to butterfly closed, but flesh glue helped with that.
"We're at ninety-three," a tired voice announced. "We're almost at capacity, so hurry up. I need a nap."
Izuku's foot bounced nervously, his eyes glued to the door. The large room had a first aid station, of course, but Izuku had refused to stay there, so Katsuki had pilfered the stuff he needed and grabbed a stool, knowing Izuku would only sit still if he was near the door to watch for the last of their classmates.
"Nintey-six! There's room for only one more team!" the man called, a little more animated. "Who will it be?"
"Kacchan…" Izuku said lowly, voice tense.
"Sit still, Deku," he growled, hating how fucking tight his own shoulders were. The fucking extras would make it or they wouldn't. There wasn't anything they could do.
"We should have looked for them…" Izuku said in a guilt-laden whisper.
"They have to fucking make it on their own, Deku. We can't do everything for them," Katsuki snapped, angrily slamming the glue down into Izuku's hand. "Fucking hold that. I'm going to butterfly it now."
"ONE HUNDRED!" the announcer called. "Finally! Everyone who has not passed, please make your way to an exit. We need the arena cleared."
Izuku's jaw tensed as he clenched his teeth. His glove creaked as his hand fisted tightly around the tube of flesh glue. "It could be them," he said with breathless desperation. "They could have still made it."
Katsuki stood silent and tense, pressing the sticky strips of bandaging to his boyfriend's temple.
"Yaoyorozu!" Izuku suddenly cried happily, leaping to his feet with an enormous grin. "Everyone!"
Katsuki's head whipped up, glaring murderously as the last of their class staggered through the door. Octo-boy carried a slowly blinking Froggy in his arms while Ears and Ponytail stood next to him looking battered. It was clear they had just barely won the fight. Katsuki crossed his arms, unimpressed. "About fucking time," he growled, annoyed.
"You're the last group back!" Izuku cried, ecstatic. "We made it! We all made it!"
The extra's eyes went wide at that before huge smiles spread across their faces.
"I am so glad to hear that," Yaoyorozu said, her shoulders slumping in relief.
"Everyone's further inside," Izuku continued. "There's a snack table with food and drinks, and there's couches to rest on, too! Come on!" He practically dragged Ponytail after him as he darted through the crowd of one hundred hero wanna-be's.
Katsuki trailed behind them, a satisfied smirk slowly softening his glare. They'd fucking done it! All of class 1-A had fucking made it in the top one hundred. His smiled widened into a outright grin. He hoped IcyHot had remembered to take a picture of Aizawa's face for him.
Todoroki had his phone in hand, but was focused entirely on the entrance of a building in the urban zone. Sure enough, Yaoyorozu's team came out, their targets lit up green. Smiling in relief, he quickly looked to the side and angled his phone, subtly taking a picture. Aizawa had the binoculars to his eyes and didn't notice, a rare smile cut across his lips.
"That was close," Iida said with a shaky laugh as he lowered his own binoculars.
Todoroki nodded. "A little two close."
Aizawa huffed in agreement and leaned back in his chair. His smile gone as he tucked his chin into his scarf. "We'll run more melee combat drills when we get back to class."
Joke laughed and elbowed him roughly. "Lighten up, Mr. Serious. Your kids passed! All of them! And as First-year students! It's impressive."
"They have not passed yet," Iida contradicted the hero. "That was merely the preliminary round." He turned his attention to Aizawa. "Do you know what the actual exam will entail?"
Aizawa didn't answer. His attention was focused on the group of Shiketsu students who hadn't passed. They'd returned to the stands to sit with their teacher, waiting to see if the rest of their classmates would succeed. Their teacher was busy helping a student who was covered in hair run a large brush through his tangled mop, so the man didn't notice the way Yoarashi was turned around staring up at them.
Even as Aizawa watched, something hardened in the teen's face, and he blasted forward on hurricane force winds. Aizawa was tempted to erase his quirk and have him tumble into the stands, but he had a feeling it wouldn't stop the boy. Sighing, he decided to see what the teen wanted.
"Todoroki!" Yoarashi yelled, coming down hard on the stadium chairs directly in front of them.
Todoroki stared up at him in surprise. Iida, however, shot to his feet in a defensive stance.
"What is the meaning of this, Todoroki?" Yoarashi leaned down into Todoroki's space, using his size to intimidate.
Todoroki pushed to his feet to stand next to Iida. "Can I help you?" he asked clearly confused.
"Do you think you are exempt from the exam?" the bulky teen yelled angrily. "Is that why you are not fighting with your class?"
Joke snickered loudly from her seat, both hands pressed desperately over her mouth as the drama unfolded. Aizawa sighed.
"You are mistaken!" Iida defended his classmate staunchly. "Both Todoroki and I will be taking the next exam in January!"
Yoarashi was completely deaf to Iida's explanation. The teen leaned even closer to Todoroki, their faces less than a foot apart. "You dishonor your classmates who are working with such passion! Being a hero is something you earn, Todoroki! How dare you use your father's connections to bypass the exam!"
Aizawa lifted an eyebrow as Iida's hand came down in a hard chop on the larger teen's shoulder. Yoarashi reeled back, hands coming up in defense. Aizawa's hair lifted as his eyes glowed a sullen red, erasing the teen's wind quirk before he could think to use it.
"You are jumping to incorrect conclusions, Yoarashi," Iida said with surprising intensity, his eyes steely behind his glasses. "I, myself, have a history of doing the same thing, so when I tell you continuing this will only lead to regret, I know of what I speak!"
Iida chopped him again, making the teen flinch further back, his mouth falling open in shock. "I do not know what reason you feel justifies your behavior, but I do know that the only time Todoroki has acted above the rules, he did so to rescue his classmate. Todoroki knew the consequences would be severe indeed, and yet he still chose to put the safety of his friend over any punishment he may receive. I went with him on this unauthorized mission, so I know! It is for this reason Todoroki and I were not given permission to take this exam. Your attack on his character is unfair and unjust!"
Yoarashi looked completely bewildered. He looked at Todoroki. "Do you even remember me? I took the entrance exam for recommended students with you. To get into UA. I tried to befriend you, but you looked right through me with cold eyes. Your father did the same when he shoved me away when I tried to get an autograph as a boy. I saw Endeavor for what he was that day. He was no hero, and you have that same exact look! Like no one else matters! Like everyone is beneath you! You don't know the meaning of the word 'hero'!"
Aizawa frowned, glowing red eyes narrowing in warning.
"You are judging my classmate based on one interaction?" Iida demanded, arms swinging. "That is hardly heroic! And I find it cruel of you to bring up his father, whatever your opinions of him as a hero, when Endeavor fell in battle so recently!"
Todoroki suddenly bowed, back stiff, much to Yoarashi and Iida's surprise. "I apologize for my rude behavior during the entrance exam," he said softly, voice rough. He straightened, meeting Yoarashi's eyes unflinchingly. "I was still under my father's influence that day, but…" He lifted his chin, his right hand crossing his body to rest over his phoenix tattoo. "My friends helped me get free of that legacy. I am not going to be like my father."
"Return to your seat, Yoarashi," Aizawa growled, eyes burning with the need to blink. He was done with this farce. "I've had enough of you."
Yoarashi looked hit in the head, completely bewildered, but he turned away obediently. Aizawa let his quirk fall so the boy could blast back to his class, the teen shooting one last bewildered look over his shoulder at Todoroki. The Shiketsu students and their teacher instantly surrounded Yoarashi, visibly scolding him. The hulking teen sank into a seat, head hanging low.
"Are you well?" Iida asked Todoroki carefully.
Todoroki returned to his seat, back straight. "I'm fine. I was already aware that I still have things I need to make up for from my past." He looked at Iida. His expression strangely intense. "I am glad to know that you are not allowing first impressions or assumptions to form your opinions."
Iida's expression closed off, but he did not drop Todoroki's gaze. "I am trying to give more thought to serious matters before casting judgment, but that does not mean my original assessment will always be wrong."
Todoroki narrowed his eyes, voice low with warning. "And there's some things that do not require your opinion at all."
Joke could no longer hold it in. She burst out laughing, words choked out between loud peals. "… should get…. tv deal… the drama… through the roof…"
"Shut up," Aizawa muttered irritably. He tucked his chin into his scarf and closed his eyes. He wondered what was behind the interchange between his two students. He couldn't help but think his problem children were involved somehow, which only made him feel more exhausted.
Joke continued to laugh loudly next to him.
Izuku listened with great interest as Yaoyorozu described her group's encounter with an all girl team in one of the high rises of the urban area. He was really impressed with Yaoyorozu's quick thinking. Tsu seemed to be more awake now. It had been bad luck that she had been in a team attacked with cold.
Everyone around Izuku grew quiet as the administrator's voice came over the speakers.
"Well, for all one hundred of you who passed the preliminary test, please watch this."
Huge screens descended from the ceiling along the edges of the room. They turned on, showing static for a second, before images from around the stadium came through. Uraraka said something, but it was lost under the sound of explosions. Izuku's heart rate spiked in reaction, eyes glued to the screen as buildings burst into flames and crumbled one by one. He could feel it, the vibrations of death and horror traveling up through his feet.
Rubble falling all around him - the pain of being crushed to death - or smothered by bitter smoke - or burned alive - or impaled by metal and glass - death ripping him brutally away, flinging him into the void - and again and again and again -
Izuku's breath came loud and fast in his ears as he bolted forward. Off balance, staggering, something dragging at one arm. A loud fire-cracker pop went off right next to his ear, causing him to flinch and swing around, eyes wild. Kacchan was in front of him. His hot palm sank into Izuku's hair at the back of his head, holding him in place, as the blond pressed their foreheads hard together.
"Kacchan!" he protested, pulling against the blond's too-tight hold. He was breathing fast, hard, NEED TO MOVE! "Got to go… got to… save…"
"Deku!" Kacchan held him even tighter. Forced him to keep still. His voice was harsh and sharp, cutting through the ringing in Izuku's ears. "We need to work together."
Izuku yanked away, took in his class standing around him with wide eyes. They were here! They were going to get hurt! He opened his mouth to yell at them to RUN, terror clawing into his chest, but Kacchan's hot hand slapped over his mouth. Kacchan snaked his arm across Izuku's chest and yanked him back against his chest hard enough to make breathing difficult.
"We can help," Kacchan growled low in his ear. "We'll save more that way."
Izuku clenched his hands into painful fists. Shaking, he stood rock-still and nodded his head sharply. Everything in him screamed at him to Run-Move-SAVE THEM!
"Four groups," Kacchan barked, still holding tight, too tight, too still, GOT TO MOVE! "Shoji - Kami - Jiro - Koda. Find the victims. Everyone else support them. Spread out, but stay within sight of each other. Wave if you need help from someone else's group. Yaoyorozu, be our center. First aid and shelter. I've got Deku."
The walls shook and began falling away. Izuku yelled for them to get down as he spun and tackled Kacchan, trying to shield him with his own body, but the ceiling was already gone! Sun, sharp and painful, pierced Izuku's wide eyes. The ground shook violently as the walls slammed down. In the distance, Izuku could see flames exploding out of fragile glass windows and buildings collapsing. The air was hazy with dust and smoke. It stung his nose as screams and cries just barely carried to his ears.
"We have to save them!" he cried as green static snapped around his body.
Izuku sprinted toward the destruction, the sound of explosions following in his wake. He could hear it now. People moaning in pain, crying out in fear. He dropped down on the edge of the disaster area and flipped a piece of a wall off a young woman who had shielded her child with her body. Blood coated the side of her face, but the child looked okay if badly shaken.
"It's going to be okay," he told them, heart thundering in his chest. "I've got you. Can you walk?"
The woman was shaking, but she stood with his help. Her son stood next to her, holding tight to her hand.
"Great job! You're doing so good!" Izuku encouraged. He made sure they could walk and pushed them gently away from the city. "There's a hero with first aid back that way. You're going to be okay."
Across the street a man began to bang on the inside of his car window. The car had flipped, the tires rotating in the air. The man was trapped inside. Izuku raced over.
"I'm going to get you out!" he promised, aware the car could explode any minute. One For All surged with his panic and Izuku ripped the door clean off its hinges. "Sir, I'm here. Take a deep breath. I'm going to get you out."
The man was screaming in terror, struggling with the seatbelt that was holding him upside down in the seat.
"Catch him," Kacchan growled, suddenly at his side.
The blond reached in and grabbed the lap belt in one hand and the chest strap in the other. Izuku quickly put his arms under the man. Two controlled blasts from Kacchan and the seatbelt snapped in both places. The man tumbled into Izuku's arms with a shriek of fear. Izuku pulled the man out and carried him across the street, away from the car that still might explode. He set him carefully on his feet.
"Can you walk? Are you injured anywhere?"
"I - I - I…"
"You're going to be fine," Izuku said as firmly as he could, gripping the man's shoulder carefully. "It's going to be okay. Take a deep breath."
"There's a hero giving first aid back that way," Kacchan said roughly, pointing. "Be fucking careful where you walk."
The man nodded frantically and scurried away.
Izuku's head whipped around as he heard a weak voice call out for help. He blurred to the edge of a collapsed building, heart thundering in his chest. "HELLO! CAN YOU HEAR ME?" he bellowed, listening carefully. Katsuki ran up. He pointed to the right. There was one section of a wall still standing. Izuku ran over. In the darkness between the wall and a sheet of concrete, he could see a pale, limp hand.
"We're here!" Izuku called, desperately. "We're going to get you out! Try to stay awake!"
Kacchan crouched, examining the angles. "This is going to be a tough one."
Izuku carefully made his way to the other side where the woman's feet were. Rubble had fallen on her legs. Izuku backed off and leapt straight up, scanning the area. There! Landing, he leapt in a streak of green static. Uraraka gave a shriek as he dropped down next to her.
"I need you!" he said quickly. He scooped her up and ran back to the trapped woman.
Uraraka quickly began to lift the rubble from the woman's legs, following Kacchan's instructions.
Izuku caught sight of a teen waving from a third story window. Fire and smoke poured from broken windows on the bottom two floors. Izuku ran. He crashed through a third floor window next to the teen. Coughing and hacking, he hit the hallway and burst into the room with the screaming teen.
"I've got you! You're going to be fine!" Izuku promised. He ran forward and scooped the kid into his arms before leaping out the window. The kid held on with a vice-like grip, coughing desperately against Izuku's shoulder.
"Is there anyone else in the building?" Izuku demanded as he set the kid on solid ground.
"I- I don't know!" Wavering on his feet, the teen fell to his butt, coughing hard.
A shrill scream came from the left. Izuku moved without thinking about it. A woman and an old man were trapped underground, their fearful cries coming up out of the rubble.
"Don't worry! Help is here!" Izuku yelled down at them. "Hang on! Try not to move around too much!"
"Hurry! My father! Please!" she screamed, hysterical.
Izuku didn't know what was safe to move! But he couldn't just leave them in there!
"I've got this!"
He turned with wide eyes as a blond girl in a hero costume ran past him. She pulled her upper body into her lower abdomen, making herself small, and wiggled her way through a hole in the debris.
"I'm in!" she called, voice muffled. "Okay, it's safe to move this section!"
Izuku ran over to where he heard her slapping at the rubble. He carefully flung it away and opened a big enough hole for the girl to lift the woman and her elderly father reach his hands. Izuku pulled them out and helped them over the rubble to more stable ground. The man instantly dropped to his knees, grabbing his chest and wheezing. He was unable to move on his own. Izuku cradled him in his arms, promised the woman he would be back, and leapt for the sky.
He saw Yaoyorozu and several other heroes making a first-aid station and hurriedly dropped the man off there. He was just about to take off again when another explosion shook the ground. There was someone talking on a loud speaker, but all Izuku could see were dozens of masked people pouring in. They were laughing and shooting at the air with guns, and… Gang Orca was leading them. TRAITOR - VILLAIN - DANGER! The flood of villains was rushing toward the first aid station! Toward all the injured they had saved!
Izuku's expression twisted into a snarl of rage, but before he could attack, a hero suddenly sprinted past wearing a vest of bright green, hair dark and messy.
"I've got this! Get everyone to safety!"
Izuku hesitated, but then Kacchan blast past on his other side.
"I've got these fuckers!"
Izuku instantly turned and ran, knowing Kacchan would handle it. He had to save the people!
Aizawa had leapt to his feet as soon as the first explosion had gone off. He glared down at the arena through his binoculars. As the explosions died down, dust and smoke obscured his line of sight. It took a minute, but he caught a streak of green static blur into the mock-city. Katsuki followed with rapid-fire explosions.
Aizawa watched as Midoriya rushed from one place to the other. He was saving people, but he was moving without strategy. Katsuki was barely able to keep up and support his mad dash. With a sick feeling, Aizawa realized Midoriya had completely lost it. He was likely reliving the destruction of Camino Ward, reality and trauma blurring into one.
Why did it have to be disaster rescue? he thought tensely. Should I stop this? Intervene? If he did, Midoriya would instantly fail this test.
He scanned the lowest level of seats in the arena. Sure enough there were suits with high tech surveillance glasses and gear watching carefully. Could they tell Midoriya was in the midst of a flashback?
Before he could decide the right course of action, a hole in the side of the arena exploded inward and pseudo-villains poured in under Gang Orca's command. Midoriya was right there, dropping off a victim to the first aid station. Aizawa vaulted over the seats to get to the first row, knowing Midoriya wouldn't hold back, would likely maim or even kill the "attackers" in his dissociative state, but Katsuki and one of Joke's kids ran to intercept the villains and Midoriya went back to focusing on rescue.
"Can we help you?" one of the suits demanded, eyes obscured by dark sunglasses.
Aizawa didn't turn his head or answer. He kept his eyes glued to Midoriya.
Katsuki grinned as the freak did something to the ground. It cracked and shuddered, knocking the wave of villains off their feet. Katsuki came down hard and fast on the leader, flipping his hands around and making the hottest explosions he could in a rapid-fire burst that flung him back and away from his target. He could tell the fish didn't like that. Gang Orca crossed his huge arms in front of his face, hunched in tight, and shied away from the heat.
As soon as Katsuki touched the heaving ground, he was blasting up again. A sharp pain in his head and ears made him wobble, but he blasted even higher and the pain fell away. That big fish had his mouth open. It was an attack! A sonic burst! The freak was twitching on the ground, having been hit full on. The ground stilled and the villain extras began to climb to their feet.
Katsuki landed among them from above, taking them by surprise. Bright pops exploded from his hands, sounding like shotgun blasts. He took them out at the legs, making sure they couldn't get up again. They tumbled down like bowling pins, his explosions the bowling ball.
The fish came for him, but now Katsuki was mixed in amidst his lackeys, keeping low to the ground and moving fast. The fish couldn't fire that fucking sonic burst without taking the idiots out, too. The lackeys tried to shoot him, but Katsuki blasted whatever the fuck that gunk was out of the air and used the idiots for shields.
They were yelling in confusion and anger, falling fast under his assault, but then the fish was right up in Katsuki's face, mouth open. Katsuki screamed, burning hot hands slamming to his ears instinctively, but it did no good. Invisible blades sliced through every cell of his body. The assholes nearest him fell screaming, too.
The ground began to heave. The pressure let up. Katsuki's vision swam in and out. He was on one knee and didn't even remember falling. The fish had turned away; he was going to launch an attack on the freak to stop the earthquake! Gritting his teeth, Katsuki lifted his gauntlet and pulled the trigger.
Midoriya guarded the backs of the injured civilians as they ran into an underground bunker. The ground shook and rumbled, and Izuku eyed the few remaining buildings in the distance. There were people out there! He had to save them! Suddenly four heroes ran forward with civilians in their arms, and Izuku felt a wave of desperate relief.
"Villains are here! Guard the shelter!" he yelled as he ran past them, sprinting toward the rubble of the broken city. Skidding to a stop, he cupped his hands and called, "HELLO! ANYONE HEAR ME?!n
Bodies - People lay broken and unmoving - hands limp and bloody, sticking out from under piles of grey cement - weak cries of despair and fear came from everywhere - Izuku didn't know where to turn! He stood panting, spinning in a circle. The dead were everywhere! Izuku ran from one to the next, checking for a pulse, sobbing when he had to leave them behind, desperately searching for someone he wasn't too late to save.
"ANYONE OUT THERE?!" he screamed desperately, wading through broken corpses.
Fish-face was down. The minions who could stand ran toward him and dragged him toward the broken wall and escape. Katsuki would have gone after them, but sitting up was all he could do at the moment without passing out. Bile burned the back of his throat. His arm hung limp, dislocated at the shoulder, and he desperately clawed at the twenty pound gauntlet strapped to his forearm. A whine of pain slipped past his lips as he unclasped the last latch and the weapon fell heavily onto the dirt.
Through tear-blurred vision, Katsuki looked up to see Kirishima sprinting toward him. Other members of his class had arrived with him to provide backup. They were mopping up the leftover villain extras.
"Holy shit!" The redhead stared down at him in horror. "Don't move! I'll get help!"
"I DON'T NEED HELP!" Katsuki roared, riding a wave of nausea and agony. "Fuck! Just need to knock it back into place."
"The test isn't over, shitface," Katsuki growled, soaked in sweat, palms cracking and popping ominously. "We went over this in class. Fucking set my fucking arm and stop bitching about it!" Then softer, breathless, "I gotta find Deku before they notice."
"We only practiced once, and it was on dummies!" Kirishima protested, but he sat next to him instead of running away, thank fuck. "If I mess this up, you better not blame me."
Katsuki grit his teeth and swallowed his screams as Kirishima helped him lay flat on his back. The redhead slid Katsuki's dislocated arm away from his side at a forty-five degree angle and braced his torso with a booted foot. Kirishima grabbed Katsuki's wrist, holding tightly.
Black crowded Katsuki's vision. He was going to either pass out or puke. "JUST FUCKING DO IT!"
Kirishima pulled firmly and Katsuki screamed in agony. Suddenly there was a crunch sound as his arm slid back into place. The pain instantly cut in half. It was enough to leave Katsuki gasping and dazed.
Just then a buzzer sounded and the administrator announced the test was over. Everyone was to gather in the center of the arena. Katsuki sat up with a growl, cradling his still tender arm to his chest. He tried to stand, but Kirishima pressed him down.
"Woah, hold up." The redhead stood and called loudly, "Hey, Cellophane! I need tape!"
Katsuki glared up at him murderously. "I'm fucking fine."
"We'll move faster if we bind the arm," Kirishima argued.
Katsuki grumbled but he relented. He needed to catch his fucking breath anyway.
Tape-boy ran over, eyes wide behind his helmet. "What happened?" he asked, already shooting a line of tape into Kirishima's waiting hands.
"Dislocated shoulder," Kirishima answered and crouched.
"Hurry the hell up," Katsuki grunted. "I got somewhere to be."
It took less than three minutes, and as soon as Kirishima finished, Katsuki reached out his good arm. "Get me up."
The two extras did as they were told, pulling Katsuki to his feet.
Katsuki grit his teeth and began to jog toward the urban area. He had to get to Deku.
Uraraka had stayed in the urban zone even when the administrator announced the arrival of villains. She was the only one who could move the large pieces of rubble to get to the actors playing victim. Besides, the rest of 1-A had gone on to help protect the first aid station and hold off the villains. She was confident they could handle whatever was going on, so she'd stayed with a group of Third-years to finish the last of the rescues. They were really impressive! She'd learned a lot from working along side them. A buzzer sounded and the administrator announced the end of the test.
"Way to go, guys!" a blue-haired Third-year cheered. "We did it!"
Uraraka gave the girl in a cowboy outfit who'd helped her move debris away a high-five. "Thanks for teaching me about shifting rubble."
"It was my pleasure!" the girl assured her. "Come on! Let's go see our scores."
Uraraka caught a streak of green from the corner of her eye. "Actually, I promised to meet up with my class. I'll see you guys later. Thanks again!" Without waiting for a response, she ran in the direction of the green blur, heart thundering in her chest.
"He thinks it's fucking real," Bakugo had explained in a harsh whisper as they cleared the rubble off the actress that Deku had brought her here to save. "I don't have time to snap him out of it, and he'd be useless afterward for awhile anyway. We'll just have to watch his fucking back and hope the fucking losers grading us don't notice."
Watching those screens, seeing the buildings collapse, Uraraka had instantly thought of Camino Ward, sweat dewing along her hairline. And if she'd had that strong of a reaction, she could only imagine how much worse it must have been for Deku. She had to save him! She had to get to him before the proctors noticed anything!
She turned the corner, feet slipping on the uneven gravel and found him on his knees, huge chunks of concrete flying as he tried to get deeper into the building. "Deku!"
He spun, eyes wide and glassy, hair damp with sweat and clinging to his forehead. "Uraraka! Are you hurt?" he asked desperately, blurring forward faster than the eye could see. Green static crackled around him dangerously. "Hold on. I've got you."
She slapped his arm, cancelling gravity's effects, and gripped his wrist tightly to be sure he didn't float away. "I'm okay; it's going to be okay." She quickly scanned the area as he failed and tried to get his balance. There! A narrow alley between fallen buildings.
"Urarka! Let me down!"
She hurried into the shadows, pulling Deku with her. Turning, she pulled her friend close, their faces only a few inches apart. "You're not at Camino, Deku. This is just pretend. No one's hurt. You're taking the licensing exam, do you remember that?"
He shook his head wildly and began to flail his arms. "Let me go! I have to save them! I have to! They're dying!"
Uraraka braced herself as well as she could. Deck's quirk was still active, but he wasn't using it on purpose or he could have blown himself away by now. "Deku!" He wasn't listening. He was too lost. Heart breaking, she pulled him in and wrapped her arms around his weightless form. "This isn't real, Izuku. You're taking a test. You're not there. Izuku, you're safe."
He pushed hard enough to break free of her hold and almost went sailing up into the sky. Heart in her throat, she leapt and just barely managed to grab his ankle. "I have to save them!" he screamed in agony.
She pulled him harshly back to the ground. "They're saved!" she yelled, making him face her. "Deku, everyone's out! You saved them all! You got them. They're safe. They're all safe."
Her friend suddenly went scary still. "No." His voice went completely flat and emotionless as he looked out at the destroyed city. "No, I didn't. They're dead. They're all dead. I couldn't get to them in time." Flat green eyes turned to looked at her, and the devastation in his gaze knocked the air from her lungs. "Don't look, Uraraka. Cover your eyes."
Tears soaking her cheeks, heart feeling like it was breaking into tiny pieces, she tore her helmet off. With shaking hands, she cupped her friend's pale face in her hands. "Izuku. Look at me. Really look at me. I'm right here. We're safe. Everyone's safe. This was a test. Nothing's wrong. No one's dead. Not one single person. You hear me, Izuku? I'm right here and no one's dead. We're taking the provisional hero licensing exam. It was all staged. It was all fake. No one's hurt."
Izuku's breathing became harsh. His cheeks flushed and he blinked his eyes rapidly, tears spilling over the rim and running along her hand. He began to tremble, confusion and pain striking across his face. Uraraka pulled him in, hugging him tight.
"Do you remember getting on the bus? Do you remember the tent at the dorms? Come back to me, Deku. I'm right here. Everyone is fine. It was fake."
"U- Uraraka?" His arms came up around her. "I-It's fake? Th-They're not there. Th-The bodies?"
"There's nothing there," she promised, tears thick in her voice but trying to be strong. "No one's hurt. I promise there's no bodies, okay? I swear to you no one died. They were actors and we got them all out."
Deku was shaking, but he gave a soft "O-okay" against her shoulder. It was clear that he still wasn't sure. That he could still see them. The dead. Uraraka held him tighter, trying to hold him together. She didn't know what to do! Didn't know how to bring him back!
Relief struck hard and fast as she heard Bakugo call her name. She lifted her head, not letting go of Deku, and watched as the blond ran over, one arm taped to his chest. Kirishima and Sero were with him. Their eyes went wide on seeing Deku shivering and crying in her arms.
Uraraka reluctantly let Deku out of the hug and released her quirk. Deku stood still and silent, staring blankly with tears coursing down his cheeks. Bakugo leaned down to look into his eyes, his free hand running over Izuku's sweaty curls. With a sigh, Bakugo straightened, his expression hard.
"He's checked out for awhile. Close ranks around him. Try to keep the fuckers from being able to see him too closely," he ordered.
Uraraka nodded and stepped even closer to Deku's side, her arm slung around his waist. Kirishima took Deku's other side, his arm curling over hers as he wrapped it around Deku's back. Bakugo took the front, Deku instinctively following right on his heels, still trembling and crying quietly, head hanging low. Sero followed right after on Deku's heels.
The ceremony or whatever it was had already started by the time they reached the center. A purple stage had been erected. The exhausted guy from before stood at a podium, making some kind of speech. Bakugo walked casually up to the back of the crowd, posture calm. Uraraka tried to mirror him, hyperaware of the faint tremors running through Deku's frame.
"… Anyway, the names of those who passed are listed in syllabary order. Please check the list, keeping in mind you are listed by your Hero name."
Uraraka immediately looked for the name 'Deku', but she hadn't found it yet when she heard Bakugo curse hotly in front of them. "What?" she demanded urgently. "Bakugo?"
"We all fucking passed…" he said angrily, voice dropping into a growl. "Except Deku. Fuck!"
"Bakugo, keep it cool," Kirishima said lowly, reaching forward to put a hand on the blond's tense shoulder. "We might be able to challenge the score, but you have to keep it cool, bro."
"Fuck off!" Bakugo snarled, but he said nothing else and stood rigidly still.
Uraraka breathed a sigh of relief and checked on Deku. He was crying quietly, shoulders hunched with his arms wrapped around his chest. Was he even aware of what was going on around him?
"Um, next we will pass out your results. They will have the breakdown of your scores, so please look over them carefully."
People in suits began to thread through the crowd, stacks of printed reports in their hands. She pressed closer to Deku. So did Kirishima. The crowd became animated as everyone began exclaiming over their scores. Deku leaned forward, pressing his forehead between Bakugo's shoulder blades. She could just see the side of Bakugo's fierce glare as one of the suits approached. The man handed a report to Bakugo and then passed another to Kirishima. A woman approached on Uraraka's free side. Uraraka took the paper with a dimpled smile, trying to play it cool.
The woman looked back and forth between her and Deku, a paper in her hand.
"He's not feeling well," Uraraka said with a casual shrug and embarrassed smile. "I'll take it for him, thank you!"
The suit turned and left. Bakugo snatched the paper from her hand as soon as she did. Uraraka scowled at the back of his head.
"I got 84 points!" Sero exclaimed excitedly. "Look, isn't it amazing?" He shoved the paper in front of Kirishima and then her faster than they could actually see it. "I'm kind of good at this, huh? What about you guys?"
"80," Uraraka answered, smiling a little. As worried as she was about Deku, she couldn't help feeling a bit proud of herself.
"78," Kirishima said with a grin.
"Tch." Bakugo clicked his tongue. "91. Got docked five points for using that final attack and blowing out my fucking shoulder."
Urarka stared in awe. Wow!
"Ahem…" The administrator coughed lightly in the microphone. "You should all have your results. So, the cut off score was 50 points."
"The hell?" Bakugo hissed. "I thought it was 70 or some shit!"
"Why? What's wrong?" she demanded, heart pounding in reaction to the fury in his voice.
"Deku got 71 fucking points! That's passing!" Bakugo growled. "Why the fuck does it say 'Failed' at the top?!"
"Maybe it was a clerical error?" Kirishima suggested carefully, frowning.
"We scored you based on a demerit system. You started with one hundred points and lost points based on your performance during the rescue simulation. You can see which actions lost you points listed on the printout. For those of you who passed, from now on, during emergency situations only, you may exercise authority the same as that of pro heroes. In other words, you may act on your own judgement in these cases without the direction of a hero."
A cheer went up, but it wasn't everyone. Uraraka saw a lot of disappointed faces in the crowd.
"However." The administrator's voice grew sharp and focused, no longer hazy with fatigue. "This means that each and every one of your actions carries with it a responsibility toward society. I'm sure you all know that All Might has used up all of his power saving us one last time. His existence played a large part in suppressing crime. With that deterrent gone, impudent people will definitely appear, and you young people will become the center of society. So you all must become exemplar heroes and become great enough to suppress crime, but in a new way. Single pillars have proven to be temporary. We are looking for a foundation on which society can stand. On teams of heroes who work together as one and can smoothly pass on that responsibility to the next generation and the next."
Uraraka shared a determined look with Kirishima from over Deku's bowed head. She completely agreed with the idea of switching from single superheroes to hero teams. Kirishima nodded. They both tightened their hold on Deku.
"And for those of you who did not pass, there is no time for you to feel dejected. After you attend a two-month-long special course and pass an individual test, we plan to issue you a provisional license at the end of October."
A huge cheer went up from all the people who had failed. Uraraka looked around at all the tearful faces that were now shining with hope and she smiled. Uraraka looked to Bakugo to see his reaction to the news, but the blond's face had gone cold. The look honestly terrified her.
"The intensive lessons will keep you pretty busy on top of your current studies, but we hope you'll take us up on our offer. In order to deal with the future, we need as many good heroes as we can get. Once your inadequacies are corrected, all of you have the potential to be even greater than those the heroes of the past."
"We're leaving." Bakugo turned and snaked his arm around Deku's shoulders, pulling him from Uraraka and Kirishima. "I can't listen to any more of this fucking bullshit. I need to talk to Aizawa."
Bakugo stomped toward the exit, Deku pressed tight against his side, and as out of it as Deku was, they still walked in perfect synchronization. If she tried to walk that close to anyone, they'd both end up flat on their faces, but those two didn't stumble in the slightest.
"Please use the locker rooms to change," the administrator was saying. "Those of you who passed, please pick up your provisional hero license on the way out.
"I need to get my helmet," Uraraka said softly, still shook up over everything. She'd passed! They'd all passed! … But Deku hadn't. Deku wasn't well. He was hurting. And she didn't know how to help him.
"I got it." Sero lifted her helmet. She hadn't even noticed him carrying it.
She took it gratefully. "Thanks."
"You think he's going to be okay?" Kirishima asked worriedly. "When he realizes he didn't pass?"
Uraraka winced. "Probably not."
She looked over to see Yaoyorozu and the rest of the class moving through the crowd.
"How's Midoriya?" Yaoyorozu asked worriedly.
Uraraka shared a look with Kirishima and Sero before turning to the class. "Not good. He was caught in some kind of flashback. Thought he was in Camino Ward and real people were hurt and dead in the destruction. Bakugo has him."
"He didn't pass," Sero added. "He got a seventy-one points, but it was stamped 'Failed' and his name wasn't up on the board."
Everyone looked disheartened at the news.
Uraraka forced herself to smile. "I'm sure Aizawa-sensei will fix it, but even if he can't, then we'll just have to cheer him on. The intensive course sounds interesting! I bet he'll learn a lot. We'll have to work hard to keep up with him."
"Yes, of course." Yaoyorozu straightened her shoulders. "Come on, everyone! Let's go get our licenses and see if we can't find our classmates and teacher."
Uraraka fell in with them, careful to keep the up-beat smile on her face. It was what Deku would want, what he would do if their roles were reversed, and she wasn't going to let him down.
A/n: I feel like this went too fast? What do you think? :D