A/N: This is an honest to god self-insert. I had always kind of wanted to do one, since joining the FFnet community and read a couple of good ones, but never really managed, largely because I was always thinking of my younger self and my flaws. Now, I sort of thought, hmm, what if I really just went in with myself as now, acting on my best judgement, and see what'll happens. Then it sort of clicked and now I'm writing this story. I'm interested in seeing what you guys will think, but I guess that's not why I'm writing it. It's more for myself. I don't know if anyone else will really be interested in this, anyway; it's not super flashy or exciting, but maybe more real.
The beginning is definitely slower-paced, unless you're interested in the life of a college student. I tried to make it pretty accurate though, so welcome to my head. As far as I'm concerned, however, as soon as "myself" ends up in a fictional universe, this person is no longer me and is their own character. It's like having a clone. Obviously, clone doesn't share my consciousness, so they are not me, though I might understand the clone better than other people would and enjoy talking to the clone (I hope). You'll see what motivates the story as it goes on.
Anyway, hope you enjoy and learn something useful from its murky depths.
WARNING: Manga spoilers and Vigilantees spoilers abound.
A Look Into Another Life
Chapter One: Introduction
The day started out like any other.
Blackness. Murkiness. A desire to cling to my dreams, but an awareness that I should probably get up. An equal awareness that that day my classes started slightly later, so I could afford to sleep in a little bit. I was so comfortable. I didn't want to move.
So I didn't. For the next hour, I faded in and out of awareness. My cat meow'd at me a few times. I did have to blearily raise my hand every now and then to give him a reassuring scratch, but didn't manage much more than that, instead slumping back to sleep.
So, it was a pretty ordinary start to the day.
When I did finally get up, I clambered to grab my phone. In theory, if phone light was supposed to make you stay up at night, it could help you wake up in the morning, right? It was an excuse, and I was trying to train myself out of looking at the phone, but I excused myself as having a fuzzy morning brain, even if it was a lie. I often could give little excuses like that to myself if I was in some sort of altered state of mind, it was only fair game.
So I pulled out my phone, curling back into my comfortable blankets. I was firm in my desire to become a brainless phone zombie, so I opened up the internet to see what interesting tabs I had open. Google immediately opened a blank tab for me, with feed recommendations. Great, my tabs collection had died out randomly again. Well, it was time for a fresh start anyway; it wasn't like I was likely to go back through all those seemingly-important tabs anyway; sometimes a clean start was a good thing. I was only sad that I no longer had the over-one-hundred-tabs smiley face that google gave me every time I surpassed the limit.
I blinked, then scrolled down on the recommended feed.
"Captain Celebrity saves the day again! Check out the latest and greatest news on…"
Reddit and google always seemed rather fond of recommending my My Hero Academia content, for some reason. I had always liked it when my feed started out chock full of interesting science or history updates, since I always made promises myself to read those and be on the more up and up, but it seemed that the auto-detection algorithms had figured out that in reality, I usually only clicked on and read about comic updates.
A thought suddenly crossed my mind, and I suddenly paused in my scrolling, face turning sour as I scrolled back up, just before the article icon would again appear on my screen - then paused.
Damn it. A spoiler.
I was torn between checking the article again and never looking at it again. My thumb hesitated, on the brink of this very important decision.
Hold on. Wasn't that weird? Captain Celebrity was supposed to be back in America at this point in Vigilantees. Had he come back somehow, to help Koichi? How had that come about? Why had he come back? Had Makoto told him something?
I decided not to click on the article, successfully controlling my impulses, and decided to close out of the tab. Next, I opened my email, going to my internet account I reserved for spam, games, and fanfiction. No fanfiction updates. Damn. What time was my lecture again? It was Friday, so probably about… 12pm. Yeah, it was good recalling that stuff in my head. No more selling my brain to Google. I could control and manage my own time better that way; this was something I was actively working on.
Finally, I hopped out of my floor mattress. I looked around for my cat. He had decided not to hang out with me anymore. When he was younger, I thought he was concerned with my sleeping habits, but now I think he was bored of me sleeping late in the mornings and not giving him attention. I thought it was an admittedly fair assessment.
I couldn't find him now, so I went to get his food, which usually sat in a box right next to the foot of my desk. When I walked to my table, however, the box was missing.
… Had I moved it earlier? Did my roommate move it for some reason?
I walked out of my room, knocked on my roommate's door. She was the kind of person who was awake at 6am everyday, and I thought I could hear her on her computer. I wasn't concerned about her still being asleep.
"Hey, Lei," I called. "Did you move my cat food by any chance?"
Negative response. I frowned, then walked back into my room. If I were to move the cat food somewhere… where would I have moved it automatically? It was too heavy for the cat to have moved it, so it must have been me…
I found it on top of the closet. My books had been pushed back to accommodate it, and I felt an irrational burst of frustration. I would remember moving the box up there. Had Lei really moved it instead?
No, that was unreasonable. I had probably just forgotten. I moved things automatically without thinking all the time. I didn't see a reason for why I would have moved this thing, but it was the only reasonable explanation. Besides, regardless, it wasn't the important point now.
I returned the box to its original spot, then pulled out a can of cat food. There was less of the cat food than I remembered too, but I only could frown at that, now. I'd have to get more. I walked out of my room to the kitchen. My cat's bowl wasn't in the sink, so I walked back to my room. It wasn't there. I walked back to the kitchen and used a normal bowl.
"Food food time!" I called out in Finnish. I always used it to talk to animals. "Foodie foodie time!"
Strangely, Alder didn't appear this time to follow me with the bowl. Usually, he appeared and was pretty excited every time he would get his food.
I put the bowl back in my room, then went back to the kitchen to get food. The dorm apartment was pretty small; I could find him after I ate breakfast. I went to the fridge to grab some milk for my cereal.
I blinked, stopping midway. The fridge looked cleaner. It no longer had the oxidized rust coatings that had characterized it, and also didn't have our pictures or magnets. Had Lei magically figured out how to clean the fridge this morning? If so, she had my props. I had tried many times with bleach but it hadn't worked. Where had she put my magnets and drawings though?
I continued my morning routine, grabbing the milk, pouring out the cereal and milk. I ate it, walked around. I checked in the bathroom. I looked in the bathroom. I stopped. There was a cat there, but it wasn't my cat.
The cat was gray, with soft young paws. As I blinked up at the cat, the cat blinked up at me, and meow'd.
What the hell? Where was Alder?
Maybe this cat ate him.
I shook my head, then returned my journey back to Lei's room, scooping up the cat into my arms. He protested a bit, wriggling around, but I kept him in my hands.
"Lei?" I asked, opening my roommate's door. She was on the computer, headphones in, and it took her a moment to take them off. "Who's cat is this?"
Lei had taken care of a friend's rats once before, so I figured it was probably something like that again. Even if it was technically against our dorm rules. But before she had asked me about it beforehand? Had there been some cat emergency?
"It's your cat," she said. She looked between me and the computer. "Sorry, I have to study. Can we talk later?"
I blinked. "Sure."
Then I turned away, and tried to figure out what to do with the cat.
… Had she been joking? Or was this Alder secretly in disguise?
I set the cat down. The cat went to my room, then started eating from Alder's food bowl. I didn't stop him, I figured if Alder wasn't coming right now the other cat could eat too, I guess.
Had they gotten into some cat fight?
Shit, was Alder injured and bleeding under some table somewhere?
I scurried about the house, suddenly frantically checking every corner and under-table, and even cabinets. It seemed unreasonable, but it was always worth checking. My worry, however, only grew when I couldn't find Alder. It was probably all okay, it usually was, but -
There was an itching sensation, and suddenly, water burst out from my hand.
I stared at it.
What the hell?
Water literally burst out of my hand. No water, then next moment, water just jutting out, exploding outwards. It fell to the floor immediately, wetting the carpet, and I stared down at it, wondering why water had just exploded from my hand and also hoping that it wouldn't stain the carpet.
This was my first real clue that something was significantly, awfully different about the day.
For a second, thoughts about Alder escaped from my mind, and I began tallying up the discrepancies I had noticed this day. My tabs. The box. The fridge. The cat. That Lei had called the gray cat my cat. That my cat was missing.
It left me feeling disconcerted. I was a huge fantasy believer, sure. I suspected, but did not really believe, that magic existed in the world; there were stories that I heard, from people that I trusted, that could not be fully explained. I had the occasional thought projection just in case there was a telepath reading my mind - a fact I had never shared with anyone. So I was quick to think of conspiracy, fantasy theories. Even if they were just a joke, they made good jokes for like-minded people, and it was good material for writing too. So I had a strong habit of coming up with these unreal theories, and as such, one immediately came to my mind, in light of these many discrepancies I have noticed.
Fuck I have amnesia and my life is a lie and for some reason water suddenly bursting out from my hand is a world rule that can happen that I didn't know about and I have to find out why this thing can happen and I forgot what happened when I moved this box because my head isn't right -
As such, however, I also had experience dismissing the kinds of theories as unreal.
I turned my mind to more rational, and productive pursuits, while breathing in and out slowly, to steady myself. Yes, I had confidence in my understanding of the tenants of reality. They could not so suddenly be proven false, after careful years of developing a reliable framework of the world inside my mind. I had to think about this rationally. Something was weird, but I just had to trace back the causation to find a rational explanation.
Still, I couldn't plausibly explain why water had suddenly, presumably, decided to condense in the air and burst outward from my hand. It defied the rules of entropy - that the universe would generally always propagate from a more ordered state to a more disordered state. Water vapor molecules grouping up and becoming pressurized enough to suddenly become water liquid was a distinct act of creating a more ordered system.
So I went to the internet to find my answers.
I'd continue my search for Alder later, I justified to myself - he'd probably meow if he was stuck in some cabinet I hadn't thought to check and I could find him. That had happened, before, with a cat. Cats were sneaky. I'd just check this first, just to make sure.
In my room, at my desk, I opened my laptop.
My laptop icons were ordered differently.
I opened Chrome.
A list of Chrome tabs opened that I was unfamiliar with popped up.
Pausing, I looked at the windows bar and checked the date.
Very not good. Someone had likely messed with my computer on the year part - or maybe I had in my amnesiac past for whatever reason - but at least the day was right.
Then I turned to google search.
"hand bursting into water" I typed.
Surprisingly, I got many results that matched with the idea of my keywords. I had expected something stupid, or something offtopic, or some fantasy forums, but there, the first link, was literally "Medical MD: Quirk classifications, water quirks and possible side effects to be aware of - a full guide"
I stared. The list of summaries on the google search were all much of a similar variety. I clicked on the first link. A new fantasy conspiracy theory made its way to my head.
The link described all kinds of effects that can come from having a water quirk. Accidental dehydration for some varieties, overhydration for others, bad water transmutation effects for others. It described it in a serious tone, and warned water-quirk users to be careful of their dietary intake and to consult a professional for cases that didn't fall under the above addressed quirk classifications.
Then, I opened my calendar.
My classes were listed on it in a similar format to how I had always had them. But the class schedule was entirely different. I had missed my morning class.
I closed out of my calendar.
I opened the news.
"Captain Celebrity saves the day again! Check out the latest and greatest news on…" popped out at me deliberately. On an official news site, I noted.
I clicked on it.
I read an article about a real hero, with crisp clean 3D images of a rugged face carrying a windswept hair-style, saving some kids from a villain. The article mentioned "villain", like it was a common keyword and to be taken seriously.
Then, hesitating briefly, I looked up "All Might".
A whole slew of results appeared, mostly news articles. When I clicked images, a whole slew of very-3D images of a very muscled man in a bombastically red-blue suit, with distinctive blond hair shaped up into V-shaped bunny ears. There were some inappropriate images there too, and I clicked out of the tab before settling back on my chair and closing the lid of my laptop. I stared instead at the blank wall in front of me, trying to collect my thoughts.
Obviously, the most immediate conclusion that came to my mind, considering my hobbies, was that I was a mere simulacrum of my own selfish desires, a thought inside of a book, expressed to others in words and characters, while feeling very real and self-aware to my own perspective.
I was in a self-insert fanfiction, and my life was now a mere simulation.
I had read too many of these kinds of stories to believe otherwise. This sort of thing just didn't happen in real life.
Nonetheless, many years ago, I had already decided that if I did live inside of a simulation, it wouldn't matter, nor should it affect my own fundamental decision-making or the set laws of the universe. So I refused to accept this as an explanation.
Even if this was a self-simulation, a damnable fanfiction, there had to be some real and in-verse reason for my arrival here; the best simulators, like perhaps God, made sure to establish clear and set rules to explain how things came to be.
There had to be some explanation, with real-world roots and bases. I just needed to figure it out.
If I considered the rather sudden existence of Quirks and All Might in my life as actually being connected to the My Hero Academia story's universe, there were only a few explanations that I could immediately think of:
Option 1: Someone in real life had some multidimensional power or sight - or had met people from some other real dimension - and had based the My Hero Academia on their supernaturally-gathered knowledge. This implied that there would be discrepancies between the told story and the real story.
Option 2: All works of fiction, like in the good book Inkheart, created their own fictional worlds. In this case, the told story and the real story should be identical… and I had somehow stepped literally into a fictional world.
Option 3: Someone had hacked into my phone and computer and planted false articles and content, somehow knowing exactly which search terms would first come to mind, or just had created an insane amount of content on this stuff in plans to mess with someone.
(This, unfortunately, was fairly ruled out by the existence of my own "quirk" - though it was admittedly also possible that the world just suddenly had superpowers now and someone decided to troll me at the same time. Or I had somehow just suddenly developed superpowers and as a result someone tried to troll me. It seemed unlikely though, there was no sensical reason for that kind of series of events.)
Option 4: I had always lived in a simulation and had for some reason been shifted to another simulation now. In this case, the master Simulation Creator would have access to all data in both simulations and could create entertaining fiction in one simulation by borrowing on content from another simulation. Results could vary somewhere between Options 1 and 2 in terms of accuracy of fictional content.
Option 5: This was all a conspiracy and logic is a lie.
I blinked, then looked around me.
… What did it say about me, or for the multiverse theory, that my apartment was in exactly the same dorm, which had fucking identical rooms and furniture, next to the same school, and that I had the exact same roommate.
It wasn't chaos theory for sure, or maybe I had just stumbled upon a strangely stable point in the timeline: my apartment rental criteria. Likewise, it was rather reassuring that -
What about my cat?
I stood up. I looked down at the gray cat, who was still patiently eating at the bowl, methodical and slow. I then proceeded to scramble about the house again, checking every cabinet, door, and room I could think of, before I gave up and returned to my room, setting my elbows on the table and my forehead in my hands.
Alder wasn't here.
I had woken up in some alternate dimension where My Hero Academia characters existed in credible news, and Alder wasn't here.
This seemed to drive the point home the most.
I was quite possibly in a different dimension, and Alder wasn't here. He was replaced by some gray cat-kitten that I didn't even know. "My cat", Lei had said. If that was true -
If I really am just some simulated result of a fanfiction, I formulated deliberately, just in case and to distract myself, … that… that was a shit move, self. This probably won't do anything, but just in case, if this is really a fucking fanfiction and someone is hearing my thoughts - self, that was a really shitty move and get the hell out of here.
But I didn't have enough energy to put real anger into that thought.
I felt raw and swallowed, my throat feeling heavy and a deep sting lingering behind my eyes and my mouth. Chest clenching. I loved my cat, and this gray cat wasn't my cat. People said they loved their pets all the time, and they usually meant it, but I really loved my cat.
My cat was a strong reason why I got up everyday. He was soft and cute and forgiving and happy. I liked him better than most humans. He followed me on my camping trip several miles, soft feet padding, stubborn and full of courage when I tried to pick him up, insistent on walking on his own. Stubborn and loyal, and wonderful and curious too. His sleeping positions were the best, I loved it when he attacked me (even if I fake cried and maybe sometimes ferociously attacked him back), whether my face or my feet, it made me feel real, and he wasn't… here.
… But, if this really was some alternate dimension, it didn't make sense that my cat would be the very same and that the same random sequence of events had happened that had come for me to find him.
Tears stung at my eyes, a wetness, and I stood up to close my door, unwanting to be caught crying by anyone human. The other cat was still there, bowl licked clean, staring at me from the floor. Shit. I had to avert my eyes.
What was I going to do? I just couldn't abandon this new cat. In theory, this new cat had known me all of his - or her - life. The previous version of me probably loved this cat just as much. This was cruel. I didn't know if this cat was as beautiful as Alder, I didn't know them. I could make guesses, but…
Damn it. I'd find out the cat's name and what he was like. I'd take care of him, and learn what he was all about too. I'd take care of it, take care of him, because I had to.
I wasn't finding this very funny at all now.
Confirmation. I needed confirmation.
I pinched myself, because people always tried it in books to make sure it wasn't a dream, and unsurprisingly, this wasn't a dream. I was sitting in a chair in my own fucking room, but now I could see all the subtle differences around me.
The furniture was positioned differently, slightly off. The scratches on the closet were different. My desk didn't have that cool slidey thing for a keyboard. When I stood to look at my books on my to-read stack, they had different titles I didn't recognize. My new medical biochemical pathways poster was missing from the corner of the room, where I had put it to hang up later, and I knew that Lei wouldn't have taken that. My bed was adjusted to a different height. My floor-mattress, where I had actually slept that night, had slightly different colorations than the linens I was used to, and my blanket was entirely different, though it was still the same base color. Little details I had missed.
It was still me, stuff I might have chosen, but in many ways, it was the room of a stranger. I could think of no other plausible causation for why everything was so subtly different, not when my real roommate still was just next door, and when the internet was all different, filled with data from a fantasy world, and water had illogically burst from my hands.
Yes. It was very likely. I had somehow woken up in another dimension. I wasn't fully convinced - it still had to go outside and check, talk to other people - but the conclusion seemed too likely to dismiss at this point. The water bursting from my hand was the most compelling evidence. That didn't happen in normal reality. I had to figure out how to deal with it.
I was in another freaking dimension, another world, with Quirks, and All Might, and had a superpower.
So what should I do with that information?
I got to my feet, wrapped on a nearby jacket, grabbing keys and the phone. All were subtly different. I had no mask in sight or in my pockets. I pushed myself out the door, almost blindly, in a rush, until I had stumbled my way down the dorm through unfamiliar-familiar corridors, all oriented in the wrong places until I had made my way outside.
Walking. Walking would help me think. Fresh air always did wonders.
Again, everything outside was different too, in far less subtle ways than they had been inside, but I instead pushed my way forward, needing to move, feeling an itch in my feet that needed to be satisfied.
When I saw a heteromorph on the street, blue and scaly skin without anyone giving him a second look, no mask on his face, I didn't stop to stare, only took it as simple confirmation, and fled into my thoughts.
What do I do?
Maybe I'd have figured in most cases, I would have just continued on in my life after this realization. I had read enough books and fantasy to be convinced that in the end, superpowers didn't matter much if there was no world-ending catastrophe or enemy to confront with them. My Hero Academia had already incorporated its hero system with the legal system, and the only way to become a hero was to get trained and get a license. That took work, an ability to react during pressure, time, and training I all didn't have, at least not now. The world was fine without me.
(The walking steadied me. I was able to gain a rythm to my thoughts, much like the rythythm of my feet against concrete, pounding forward, step by step.)
Besides. If I was in this dorm, this school, this city, then my past self had also obviously decided to become an engineer or scientist as well. Surely, I would have dreamed of becoming a hero like most boys and girls in my younger days, but… if I had taken this route, then obviously I hadn't reached out for it in reality, only dreamed of it.
I realized I had a choice ahead of me.
This life seemed very similar to the one I had previously. I could study, continue on with my quiet ambitions. It was the most reasonable option. After all, despite this world-shaking revelation, life hadn't changed very much. My real-world considerations all still applied: my ambitions, the world economics, my logical mindset, the effectiveness of STEM fields, positioning myself for being able to get good pivotal positions or research that I liked, good career outcomes, and on and on.
Like I had previously determined, even if this world had been proven to have some simulation-like qualities and weird janky multi-dimensionalness, it didn't ultimately matter for how I chose to live my life. I would have to get used to the other cat, subtle differences in the people around me, the existence of quirks, a new culture and world, but with some work and effort and excuses, I could get back on track.
Except… it did matter. It really did matter.
Things were different now. I had somehow interacted with the tenants of reality, had some more information that likely no one else around me had. I had somehow changed dimensions.
I could characterize the future, more fully, than anybody else at this time - assuming that no one else had been mystically transferred in the timeline like I had. I would have a different perspective than other people. Importantly, I would know the fate of All Might - who hadn't retired yet given the news articles I had seen - and the impact that his retirement would have on Japan, and the upcoming events in Kamino Ward and Jaku that would ruin hundreds if not thousands of lives.
This information gave me a responsibility. I had to tell someone about these dangerous events, even if they wouldn't believe me. Besides, in this world of quirks, it was possible to verify my information, with truth-detectors like Detective Naomasa or his sister Makoto. I could give relevant details that no one else should know - like All Might's injury, or knowledge of All For One's existence - to confirm it.
There were two problems with that.
One. I didn't know how accurate my information was. Because I didn't know how or why I had theoretically woken up in an alternate dimension, I couldn't know how accurate my information was. If I gave false information, then I could make things worse. The information in the manga might be loosely based on reality, it could be exactly on par, or it could be a flat-out lie and maybe someone like Midoriya Izuku never even existed at all.
Two. It could severely mess up my own life, and it would be a lot of trouble to get someone specific like Naomasa on the line to talk to them and explain myself. I would likely have to travel to Japan to accomplish it. It cost a lot of money to go to Japan. If authorities poked into my life it could be inconvenient. They might want to keep talking to me. It could end in all sorts of bad things if someone who shouldn't have gotten wind of it had gotten wind of it. If Naomasa wasn't the kind of trustworthy guy that I imagined him to be, he could get me into all sorts of trouble.
But I had lived my life wanting to prove myself. If it was a matter of personal convenience stopping me, then I wouldn't be able to live with myself. I would have to do it, in some way or another.
Which brought me back to point one.
I grimaced, letting out a mutter. This was too much to keep track of, my mind fudging at the edges. I need to write this all down. I sat down on a brick ledge on the side of the street, out of the ways of other walkers, pulled out my phone and a notetaking app, and outlined the major problems and the two possible paths I had.
To act, or not to act.
Well, hell, damn it, I would act. I'd been waiting my entire life for this kind of opportunity, waiting to step into some kind of adventure story - so what kind of pussy would I be if I backed down now? Stepping into some kind of alternate dimension was a significant event. There were tangible villains. I had to do something.
And - I thought - thinking of the gray cat, who had looked up at me so curiously when I had stormed out the door -
I want to know.
I wanted to know how I got here. I wanted to know if it was permanent, or not. I needed to know if, at the roots of this, what had gotten me here. Which option it had been that had taken me here, that connected my own world-basis and knowledge to this different, quirk-filled world. How much of what I had known had been real? Was I the crazy one here? Or were my speculations the truth? And if so, which one?
What all had I lost? If my cat was gone, had I also lost friends? Had I never lost some friends? Gained new ones I awkwardly wouldn't know the names of? How was my family?
I needed to find out.
And first, I needed confirmation.
Real confirmation, not just guesses and hints.
That night, when I returned, I had a quiet conversation with my roommate, confessing about some ideas about not belonging, about the world suddenly being or feeling different. I told her my water quirk had acted up; she wasn't surprised, but sympathetic, and gave me some tips based on her quirk. I asked about the cat, and she told me his name. Niksu. It was an obviously Finnish name, and I knew that I had named the cat myself, unlike Alder. I had to ask her if she remembered if his vaccinations were up to date, and she didn't know.
Then, I looked up travel guidelines and plane tickets. I had to hunt anew for airline sites that offered the best deal. To my relief, bringing pets on board seemed simpler than normally in my world - possibly a result of quirk mutations - and there was no coronavirus in this world to stop me from travelling. I looked up Midoriya Izuku and found his name, luckily uncommon, on some school's news article for listing academic achievement. Then, I carefully gathered plane ticket deals, after some finnangling sent an email to my school counselor stating that I would need to do an emergency withdrawal for the semester, cross-compared prices for the dates closest to today, and bought tickets to Tokyo, for one pet and one human, one-way because I didn't know when I'd be back.
By the end of it, I felt my heart beating faster, hands feeling a little nervous and shaky. This was really happening. I was doing it.
I was dropping out of school and going to Japan because I had fucking woken up in an alternate dimension with a cat that wasn't my own and I wanted to find out why.
Now, I just had to learn Japanese and hope that I didn't screw everything up. Whether my own life or the lives of the people I had some shaky, sketchily-sourced foreknowledge of.
Fun times were ahead, I was sure.