A Friend in Need

Summary: Izuku has been friendless for most of his life. He hasn't dared hoping that UA would be any different.

Despite UA's strict no-bullying policy, Izuku is so used to making himself invisible that he fails to befriend a single person in 1-C. By the time he transfers to 1-A, he's just accepted that he'll continue to be on his own for three more miserable years.

His new classmates strongly disagree.

Chapter 1

"Hey! Take a look at this!"

Izuku cringed away from the voice. He drew up his shoulders even as his head perked up – some weird, confusing mix of emotions where he couldn't decide whether he was afraid of his classmates coming closer or hoping for it.

They passed by without a second glance. A group of students crowded around the phone of the one who'd shouted and laughed.

Izuku's shoulders slumped, and he was left to figure out whether the sharp sensation in his chest was relief or disappointment.

By the time Izuku had realized that UA actually took its no-bullying policy seriously, everybody in Class 1-C had already made friends with each other.

All that time he'd spent on making himself invisible, dodging imagined threats... Why did he have to be so stupid? Of course UA wouldn't be the same as Aldera. The school was crawling with heroes – both those in-training and actual Pros.

He spent a lot of time by himself. He passed it by watching and analyzing his classmates' quirks – most of them not meant for the flashy sort of hero work the Heroics classes favored, but no less interesting. He had made it a personal challenge to identify all of them, which was difficult when more than half weren't clearly distinguishable and they had no quirk training on their lesson plans for convenient demonstrations.

One of his classmates had thick, elephant-like skin that gave them heightened durability against physical force. Another could echo another person's voice perfectly. Yet another always hit the paper basket in the corner of the room no matter from how far away or from what angle.

(Izuku had already filled up an entire page on them in his notebook, trying to figure out whether their marksmanship was due to their quirk or whether it was a natural talent. He hadn't yet caught hints of another potential power, but that didn't mean anything when it could be a mental quirk or one activated in very specific circumstances or even–)

So many of them would make amazing heroes in the future, if they wanted to be. It wasn't fair that none of them had made it into the Heroics class. Of course Izuku hadn't made it, but there were so many applications for a quirk that allowed a person to search collapsing buildings without fear of being crushed, or one that could trick villains during undercover missions, or–

Izuku looked up and wilted under the looks his classmates gave him.

It wasn't the scorn he'd so often faced in Aldera. It wasn't even annoyance. It was more like... unease. He flushed, realizing how weird his staring must seem to people who didn't know him – not to mention the muttering followed by frenzied note-taking. He was making everybody uncomfortable as always.

Izuku closed his notebook with shaking hands, dropped his eyes down to his lap and didn't move for the rest of the lesson, brimming with nerves. He already hadn't made a single friend in his class. That definitely wasn't going to change, now that everybody knew him as the weird stalker kid.

Izuku fought off tears, clutching his notebook tightly. He wasn't being bullied. Nobody was making fun of him. He was starting to think that he preferred the bruises he'd gotten in Aldera to the crippling loneliness of being on his own all of the time.

Weeks passed. Izuku sat alone at his desk, walked through the halls by himself and sat alone at lunch. He came to school on his own and walked to the train station after school. He talked to nobody. Nobody tried talking to him.

He hunched his body over the shame curdling in his gut, listening to his classmates chat and laugh around him. He was so pathetic. UA was supposed to have been his new start.

Maybe he was just too unlikeable to make friends at any school.

"C-Can I sit here?"


Izuku drew his shoulders up to his ears. He shifted from one leg to the other, waiting out the awfully blank stares of his already seated classmates.

"Yeah. Sure," one of them said, not unkindly, but not enthusiastically either.

Izuku already regretted asking them. But the thought of sitting alone in the cafeteria – just like he'd done during every other lunch break since the school year had started – was even worse. So he swallowed down his anxiety, set down his tray (there was hardly any room left) and sat down at the very edge of the seat.

His classmates slowly picked their conversation back up. Nobody told him what it was about, so he was hopelessly lost.

"–Mido-something, right?"

Izuku's head snapped up. "U-Uh!" His heartbeat picked up. "Y-Yup! Midoriya! Th-That's me!" He wanted to die. He wanted to stand up from this table, crawl into some dark, hidden corner and die. Why was he like this. Why couldn't he be normal.

The nice girl who'd spoken to him muscled on. "So what's your quirk?" she asked. "Was it no good for the entrance exam or did you apply to Gen Ed in the first place?"

Izuku wrestled down his urge to grimace. He wished that quirks weren't such a popular conversation starter.

"I'm, uh... I'm actually..." He bowed his head. "I'm quirkless."

"Oh." She trailed off, salvaging the conversation by changing the topic altogether.

Izuku wouldn't have known what to say in reply, either. If anything, he was grateful. No answer at all was better than taunts or pity.

None of his classmates asked him to leave, but the conversation quickly moved on to topics Izuku didn't have anything to say about.

Nobody asked him another question. (Was he supposed to come up with something to say by himself?)

Nobody introduced themselves. (Was he supposed to have learned all their names from their introduction on the first day of school?)

Nobody even looked at him. (Had they already forgotten he was there? Did they remember his name, even if he didn't remember theirs?)

At the end of the break Izuku trailed after the others to class, but none of them turned to check whether he was still behind them.

He decided not to sit with them again the next day.

Nobody mentioned his absence.

(They'd probably forgotten all about him already.)

"You've been so quiet," his mother told him at dinner, a frown etched onto her face. "Is everything alright?"

"Yeah!" Izuku mustered the widest smile he could. "I'm just tired from studying. UA sets really high standards."

"I hope they're not overworking you." Her frown softened around the edges. "You shouldn't spend all your time on your studies. You need to relax once in a while."

"It's okay," Izuku muttered. "I have to stay on top if I want to make the transfer to Heroics."

His mother's expression faltered. Izuku tried not to hunch in on himself. "Of course!" she said, overplaying the moment with a smile that only wobbled a little. "If anyone can do it, you can!"

Izuku couldn't lie to save his life. That was something he'd inherited from her.

She was trying. Izuku knew she was. He tried telling himself that her faltering encouragement was still better than her apologies.

He just wished there was somebody in his life who genuinely believed in him for once.

That night, Izuku pulled out his phone and looked at its screen bleary-eyed. No messages. No notifications.

He supposed he could always go to bed early.

"–go to your house? You've got the most space."


"Your parents won't mind?"

"Nah. Dad's got a late shift and Mom's gone till the weekend. Got the house to ourselves."

"Do you want me to bring–"

His classmates' voices faded as they walked out the door. They always waited for each other so they could leave together.

Izuku stared at his desk, making no move to pack away his things. The classroom around him was silent.

Vicious jealousy burned in his chest like coal. Why was it so easy for everybody else? What was he doing wrong?

He sat alone in class. He sat alone in the cafeteria. He walked alone to the train station.

He only talked when answering his teachers' questions. There was nobody to talk to.

What was he doing wrong?

He stopped coming to the cafeteria. The visceral clump of nausea of having nobody to sit with among hundreds of chattering students had gotten worse with every lunch break.

He stopped analyzing his classmates. None of their indifference had morphed into disdain thus far, but he didn't want to risk it.

He started to watch the Heroics student instead. His fear of somebody thinking him weird was somewhat soothed by the knowledge that no Heroics student would ever pay attention to some friendless, quirkless Gen Ed kid like him.

They were all so amazing. Izuku felt bone-curdling shame at having thought he might be able to compete with them. Watching them now after having failed the entrance exam they'd all excelled in, the thought that Izuku might belong in the same class as them was outright laughable.

Kacchan was...

He was...

Izuku was glad. Kacchan had noticed him during their third week at UA, but luckily for Izuku he seemed to have decided that General Education was so below him that he no longer cared about Izuku having wormed his way in.

That was okay. Kacchan would make a great hero one day. Izuku could cheer him on from the sidelines in secret, even if Kacchan didn't so much as look at him in the halls. Even if they hadn't exchanged a word since starting UA.

The loneliness settled like a boulder in Izuku's chest, soon as familiar a weight as the growing collection of notebooks in his backpack. But it was okay. Kacchan would become a great hero, and Izuku...

He didn't dare finish the thought. His dream felt both selfish and arrogant, but Izuku couldn't help but to wish for what he did.

He started using all of his free time to train. Better too tired and sore to think much of anything than being all alone with his rapidly spiraling thoughts.

He watched the Heroics kids spar from afar and tried copying their moves, researched self-defense techniques online and practiced what he'd learned in the dojo he'd been visiting for a couple years until he felt he could do them in his sleep.

He could no longer visit the dojo during the week, but he tried cramming as many lessons as his trainer was willing to give him into his weekends.

It wasn't the same as being trained by Pro Heroes, but it was something. If nothing else the training distracted Izuku from his thoughts of dropping out of UA for good. He wasn't yet ready to accept that what everybody in his life had been telling him since he'd been four years old had been true all along.

The Sports Festival arrived. Izuku somehow made it through the first round.

He almost broke his neck using mines to catapult himself over the finish line in the desperate attempt to still make the cut, but Izuku couldn't begin to care when this was the one thing he'd ever really wanted.

He didn't remember the second round. It must have had something to do with his purple-haired teammate. Izuku recognized him, but in all of his weeks of cataloguing and analyzing quirks, the other boy hadn't shown even a hint of having one.

Once or twice Izuku had even hoped...

But of course not. Izuku had never met another kid like himself. It was silly to assume that would change in a hero school of all places.

"Your quirk," he said quietly, staring at his feet instead of the other boy, "is it something like persuasion?"

His classmate – Shinsou, that was his name – stiffened. "Something like that," he said coolly.

Izuku fidgeted with the hem of his uniform. "It makes perfect sense that you'd try keeping it a secret. The longer you can hold out revealing how it works, the bigger an advantage you have."

Shinsou said nothing. He watched the other two of their cavalry team withdraw, claiming they hadn't earned their spots for the third round.

Maybe Izuku should do the same. If they hadn't earned it, then he definitely hadn't, either.

"You gonna drop out, too?" Shinsou drawled, a mocking scowl on his face. His expression looked tight.

Izuku looked away, and didn't speak up. The brackets for the one-on-one's were filled in – Izuku's name included.

"No," he muttered, staring at his shoes.

He may not have earned his spot, but he'd already accepted that at least about this he was going to be selfish. He wouldn't get another chance, so he was digging his claws into this one and not letting go until somebody tore it away from him with force.

Aoyama from class 1-A was first.

Navel laser. Much power, little versatility. Little to no maneuverability. Long-range fighter. Only ever moved when forced. Lost most spars against his classmates.

Izuku dodged his first blast, ran straight at him, heaved him onto his shoulders and tossed him out of bounds before his opponent could figure out that years of dodging bullies and having nothing better to do than to train had made him both faster and stronger than he looked.

(The audience was surprised, but recovered quickly.)

(Gen Ed students were rare to make it past the first and second round, and this year there were two of them.)

(People loved an underdog, and this one had cleared his first fight without even revealing his quirk.)

Yaoyorozu was next.

Quirk required encyclopedic knowledge of composition of her creations. Near unlimited applications. Slow to adapt to surprises. Quickly overwhelmed. Poor self-esteem. Slow to recover once unbalanced.

Izuku rushed at her the second the match began. He dodged her startled attack with a hastily conjured staff, grabbed her by the shoulder, flipped her on her back and dragged her towards the edge of the arena by her uniform.

She reached for another half-formed item, but Izuku changed his grip, yanking her to her feet by the staff still clutched in her hands. She let go just when Izuku shoved her hard enough to make her stumble over the boundary line.

The win was neither pretty nor impressive, but Izuku had to take what he could get.

(The audience muttered amongst themselves, speculating about the Gen Ed student's quirk. Was it touch-based? Mental? How had he kept the Heroics student from using her own quirk?)

(Neither of his fights had been impressive, but he'd now cleared two fights without revealing what exactly it was he could do.)

(Down in the arena, Momo held back tears. All of her training, and she'd been so busy contemplating what the unknown kid's quirk might be that she'd completely frozen when he'd gone for a physical attack instead.)

(He hadn't needed to use his quirk at all. How shameful. She needed to be better, or how else was she supposed to make it as a hero?)

Shinsou won his first fight, but lost against Endeavor's son. Izuku's heart sank. He hoped it would be enough for him to be transferred.

Izuku may not have earned the chance he was given, but Shinsou had made it this far on his own merit.

Iida was careful after his classmates' defeat.

Engines in his calves. Too fast for Izuku to dodge. Lost maneuverability with increasing speed. Didn't know that Izuku had no quirk. Had no clue that the second he would get his hands on Izuku, the match would be over.

He charged at Izuku before he could take the initiative, his engines roaring to life. Izuku didn't bother trying to dodge. He set his stance, held his hands at the ready and forced a grin on his face he prayed didn't look too shaky.

Iida veered to the side, cutting his charge short. He frowned, narrowing his eyes at Izuku.

The fight went on, Iida charging at him with his quirk but cutting off his attacks whenever he ran into danger of being touched by Izuku. Izuku simply turned and waited, never outright dodging.

Iida soon grew frustrated. He rushed his next attack, but by now Izuku had seen enough of his moves to have noticed a pattern.

This time, he didn't hold his ground.

Izuku shifted his stance, leaped into the air and over his opponent's shoulders and pulled Iida's shirt over his head.

"What–!" Iida put distance between them with a short burst of his engines (within bounds, not nearly as close to the border as Izuku had hoped), freeing himself.

Izuku followed him silently, using all of his expertise of pretending to be invisible.

He kicked the back of Iida's knee before he could regain his bearings. He was too burly to drag out-of-bounds like Izuku had done with Yaoyoruzu.

He changed tracks, looped an arm around Iida's throat and let himself drop, taking him into a choke-hold. He should have been able to pry him off, but maybe he was too surprised by the dirty tactic coming from a Gen Ed student to react in time.

Izuku held on despite Iida's struggles – twisting in his grip, his engines sputtering – and pressed harder.

Iida wheezed.

Izuku held his grip.

This was his only chance.

This was his only chance!

Iida tapped out.

The crowd's baffled muttering was almost as loud as their cheering.

He was supposed to fight Kacchan.

He'd tricked his way into the finale somehow, and now he was supposed to be fighting Kacchan.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Kacchan bellowed, loud enough that the whole stadium must have heard. "You want me to fight the quirkless nerd? Fucking seriously? What stupid kind of victory is that!"

The crowd's murmurs swelled. Whispers grew louder in a rising tide.


"He's quirkless?"

Kacchan snarled. "How fucking dare you ruin this for me," he shouted, charging at Izuku with sparking palms.

Cries of outrage rained down from the audience.

"Somebody stop him!"

"He's gonna kill that kid!"

Izuku dodged, Kacchan's explosions singing his sports uniform.

His heart fluttered in his chest. Every instinct he'd formed since Kacchan had turned against him for the first time in grade school screamed at him to cower, but he forced himself not to run.

He was terrified, but every observation he'd gathered on the rest of 1-A paled in comparison to what he'd learned over the years he'd spent watching Kacchan.

Kacchan swung back for his favored right hook. Izuku grabbed his arm – his attack was stronger and more refined, but he'd been using this move since they'd been small – and flipped Kacchan over his shoulder.

Kacchan hit the ground hard. He wheezed, looking stunned.

Izuku leaped back, half expecting an explosion to burn off his face. His heart hammered in his chest.

The crowd was deathly silent.

"Bakugou Katsuki is out of bounds."

Kacchan's expression went lax in shock.

Izuku was frozen, tension wound tightly around his shoulders. Every single person in the arena seemed to be holding their breath.

Midnight stepped over the boundary line, keeping Kacchan in her line of sight. "Midoriya Izuku from General Education is the victor of the Sports Festival!"

A/N: Beta'd by the lovely Igornerd, To Mockingbird, fishebake and lilahri!

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