Izuku sat on the dull grass by the beach of the lake as the 'guest speaker' spoke. small insects crawled onto his old, redish-brown, handmade, boots helping cure his boredom as spoke about the history of bending.

Apparently was a veteran of the hundred year war, while he served he was a top general. thus why probably wanted him to talk to there class for a stupidly long amount of time. He had a short gray ponytail poking out behind a helmet that resembled a literal block. The rest of his body was also covered by the material that surrounded his head. Making him look like an aged slab of rock, nearly completely grey in color. A cape with animal furs on the shoulders adorned his back while he wore a military uniform. They were currently out here because thought it would be better for his speech if the students were 'in tune' with the earth.

Earlier he had introduced the class to the skill of more precise walls when earth bending, the example did was impressive but izuku was about a hundred percent sure it was just a more polished version of a basic earth bending move. It was a valuable skill for combat but it wasn't necessarily needed to win a fight. Though at the mastery level that Sir. Ishiyama had with it, he seemed like an impenetrable opponent.

But after that vaguely interesting example happened that he did, ruined it by immediately getting into a speech that would last the rest of the school day and even a bit after. Currently he was getting into bending, with the sub-topics being, history, techniques, how to be rid of the fire nation, as well as the avatar. Izuku knew all about bending including mostly everything about the avatar so instead of paying attention he took this chance to zone off and look at the lake.

There had been three 'failed' avatars since the war started, the fire bending avatar was killed by the fire lord. The air bending avatar was killed along with all the other air bender children by the fire nation. The water bending avatar fought for decades to end the war but was soon betrayed by their comrades and forced into torcher if they wanted their remaining allies to survive. Eventually she passed away from a fatal lighting strike delivered by a fire nation solider. And over a decade later they still had not found the earth bending avatar.

the fire nation still proceeds forward as the world is frozen in fear waiting for the next avatar to end the never ending war, that was now referred to as the hundred year war. Some people had given up hope of the avatar coming back. Some think the next one will come back only to fail in defeating the fire nation, as the past three avatars had.

Izuku had never seen the war up close. He had seen the aftermath, his father had been lost to the war. He knew that he would get a viewing of the war up close soon though. 16 was the drafting age for people in the earth kingdom in recent years. Once he turned 16 it was off to the army with him and everyone in his village. It used to be an older age but panic had gotten higher recently with more and more people ending up lost to the war.

Millions, as the rumors around his small village went.

He grabbed a rock that was buried under the grass, then he threw it towards the lake. To his astonishment and his classmates besides him it skipped 3 times across the water before sinking. Few of the people who saw it seemed entertained by it.

"That was so cool! You should do it again." Ojirou's eyes gleamed, he was a non-bender but excellent at martial arts.

"Izuku!" Sir. Kamui, or nishiya as he heard the others call him yelled.

Izuku sat up from the grass surprised, "uh- Yes sir?"

Sir. Kamui scowled, "were you paying attention to what was saying just now?"

Izuku looked around at the his other classmates sitting on the grass around him, then towards his teacher, then back toward the grass.

"I was paying attention Sir." He lied while looking down at the ground.

"Then repeat what just said." looked at izuku with suspicion as he seemed to panic for an answer. ultimately coming up with nothing except a silent confession to lying and not paying attention.

Sir. Ishiyama shook his head in disapproval. " as I said before, not listening in combat or to your fellow solider can cost you and your team death or worse. Sometimes you feel like it's ok to not pay attention but you never know what's important. What's not important in the moment can mean life or death the next. Let your classmate be an example for you."

Izuku sighed and sat back down as Sir. Kamui gave him that iconic 'you're in trouble' glare. When did the topic change from bending, to tips for war?

If he was being honest the war terrified him, some would argue that everything terrified him, but the war was definitely in his top three. Everyone else in his class seemed to be almost excited. To show their bravery or honor to the village.

Some seemed to think it was just an opportunity to be stronger and better than everyone else. Normally it turned to strength competitions whenever they had a training exercise. Unfortunately every time they held a training exercise izuku would end up severely behind. If the embarrassment in the moment wasn't hell then the jokes afterwords would be.

Awhile ago he started deliberately falling behind to make the people around him laugh. Because of this behavior the few teachers that did like him lost interest because of his lack of effort in almost everything.

He tried to convince himself that one day if he actually gave something his best he would be amazing at it, But soon he realized that even his best wouldn't be good enough for the war he would soon be apart of.

Izuku cut off his train of thought and focused into what the guest speaker was saying. He seemed to be almost done; seemingly in the middle of his conclusion about bending.

"As people of the Earth Kingdom bravery and responsibility runs through our blood. Throughout these tough times remember who you are, and be proud. You all will be honorable people one day very soon. And you will either die for the safety of us as a savior. Our return able to tell the tales of our great fallen men, who sacrifice their life for our own safety, one day you will be in history books shown as the gods chosen victors!"

A few student seem to be incredibly moved, while most were in awe of what told them they could become. 'Savior' and 'the gods chosen victors' must have sounded really good to them.

Izuku looked away towards the lake, uneasiness settling in from his words. made it sound like he wanted them to die.

While looking towards the lake with his still conflicted emotions he noticed pieces of the ground and sand ever so slightly lift up. His eyes widened and he yelped, then all the dirt fell back into its place. He let out a breath he didn't know he held in, maybe he was seeing things.

Then he heard the snickers and stares aimed towards him. Izuku internally panicked, had izuku just interrupted Sir. Ishiyama? He looked towards Sir. Kamui, who glared at izuku as he calmly spoke, " I will be seeing you in my office after we get back Izuku Midoriya."

Other students looked at him with wide eyes, a few holding back their laughter, Izuku nodded.

"You have continued to be a disruption to the class midoriya! And even while an important guest was around you still seek to make a fool out of me and your peers!" Sir. Kamui was standing over his desk while izuku sat practically curled into his chair.

"You started off so well midoriya but now you are simply a waste! You humiliate your class, fail in anything physical, and barely listen when someone important is speaking! Really! Where did you go so wrong?"

Izuku messed with his tunic to distract himself from 's words.

continued, then sighed." For your punishment you must assist with the farms...as well as clean up after the ostrich horses."

Izuku groaned. He had been tasked with cleaning up the stables of the ostrich horses before but to have to help with the farm as well?! Those farms spread for miles! And winter had wrapped up recently! he'd be tasked with removing weeds from the edges of the farms, as well tilling soil and planting new crops! Although it didn't sound like hard labor it very much was.

Izuku groaned again realizing that he'd have to come home to his mother telling her he broke the promise he made to her, 'that he would stay out of trouble so she could see him more before he had to leave for the war that took his dad.'

He walked out of the dreary school building, cracks littering the walls of the now decades old school house. Although it seems big from the outside the inside often feels claustrophobic. It was almost always either way to hot or way to cold in the building. Perhaps it was the weather or perhaps it was the fact that each room had at best two windows. The most refreshing part of the day was walking out of the school building. Letting the smell of sweat and tears of students leave as the distinct scent of tea and herbs flooded through from the local tea shop only a few steps away.

But only a second into the beautiful fresh air he was basically jumped by a man with sharp smiling teeth and spunky red hair.

"Izuku! Are you good?" Kirishima said smiling but still concerned.

"Yeah, for now at least, is making me clean up after the ostrich horses and help with farm work." Izuku grinned.

Kirishima winced," that's so unfair! You barely did anything!"

Izuku shrugged, "tell him that. Plus I'm starting to think he despises me for being an 'embarrassment' to his class."

They started walking away from the school house together, both seemingly wanting to continue the conversation.

Kirishima giggled," an embarrassment huh?"

While walking they passed some of their classmates as well as the some people in there school who were not there for the guest speaker.

"You two should've heard him! We're gonna be 'the Gods chosen victors!'" Tetsutetsu's voice was incredibly hard to miss even while idle chatter took place around it.

"Tetsutetsu your nothing even close to 'the gods chosen victor' I bet you loose to Kirishima even in just getting to school on time!" Setsuna spoke flatly.

Kirishima snorted as they eavesdropped onto their classmates conversations.

"Hey! You don't even hold a candle to that guy!" Tetsutetsu said starting to get defensive.

It was true of course, Kirishima was one of the best earth benders this place had, and on top of that he was basically perfect in every way- a prodigy. He knew pretty much every kind of food in the wild that was edible, he was strong, he was smart, and he was heroic.

"Neither do you!" Jurota bellowed, his statement was followed by giggles from most of the surrounding classmates.

Kirishima and izuku passed by them rather quickly not speaking to each other much but walking together in comfortable silence.

People bustled through the streets small carriages carrying more wealthy people. The dirt streets seemed to never go a day without being used or cleaned, evident by the sheer lack of weeds growing. A group of girls soon caught their attention. they were huddled around what looked like an animal that a girl with long green hair had cupped in her hands.

Kirishima rushed over to them without explaining to Izuku . "Huh? Kirishima what are you doing?" He basically whispered as he walked after Kirishima .

Kirishima looked over the shoulder of the shortest girl," what's going on?"

"YEEK!" The girl who he was looking over yelled and izuku realized that it was kinoko, a classmate who had been present for the speech that day.

Kendo looked from Kirishima to izuku then spoke in a panicked tone." it's a turtle duck we found. It must have been separated from its mother."

Ibara held the bleeding turtle duck in her hands, than she calmly proclaimed," it was stepped on. its leg is injured critically."

Kirishima's eyes seem to sadden. "Poor guy. Have you tried a splint maybe?"

Izuku became concerned "or maybe disinfectant?"

Ibara blew the curly green hair out of her face while kendo eyed the duck nervously, kinoko looked surprisingly sad for the duck's injuries, despite her lack of empathy when humans get injured.

Kendo sighed, "I don't think we can do anything at this point."

Kirishima thought for a minute before speaking, " I could try taking care of the little guy."

Izuku looked to Kirishima with worry to which Kirishima looked over with a determined look. Kendo and kinoko's concern only grew.

Ibara's brows furrowed," are you sure you want that responsibility?"

Kirishima nodded and smiled, " of course! I love turtle ducks and it would be totally unmanly of me not to at least try to help!" Kirishima patted the baby turtle duck's head with his thumb trying not to hurt the duck further.

Kinoko grinned, "your such a hero Kirishima!" Kendo nodded in agreement with the statement.

"Aw thank you but I'm just doing what's right!" Kirishima basically glowed when Ibara put the injured little turtle duckling into his hands.

Ibara smiled, " thank you for this Kirishima ."

Kirishima nodded and then looked towards izuku who had stayed a few feet away still on the street. " you ready to head home?"

Izuku looked at the turtle duckling in kirishima's hands, " yeah, yeah I am."

He walked along dirt pathway tiny rocks getting stuck in his boots, grass along the path had become severely overgrown since they first came here.

The fire nation destroyed their village and took his father along with his home, his friends, all his favorite things and favorite foods reduced to ash in what seemed like seconds.

This walk home was full of shame. He had to break it to her one way or another.

He looked toward the door of his home. It was built in a hurry, starting with earth. After awhile his mother recalled the wonderful memories in their old wood and stone cottage. Soon they worked together to build a nice wooden home like his mother and father made for them a lifetime ago. He was seven when he lost his father. But although he couldn't remember his face at times he still loved him. And his mother seemed to carry his warmth with her everywhere she went. Or perhaps that was just her.

the wood was old, he stood at the top of the staircase made entirely of wood. A curtain on the door hid the inside of the house. wood painted a pale peach color lined the home- or cottage would be a better word for it. There was a small gated area on the side of the house, it was meant for their old deer dog Harkie, if they ever found him again he'd need a place to stay. Well at least that was the thought process he had when he was ten. A box full of bandages and herbs was also hidden out here in case of emergency his mother said. Although in case of emergency he would barely be able to use them. He wasn't especially good at fixing wounds or calming people down.

After staring at the door long enough to drill holes into it, izuku finally decided to get it over with and go inside.

He stepped inside and took his shoes off and set them by the door.

A small green haired woman gasped in relief when she saw him. "Izuku! My baby!"

Izuku breathed out a small laugh," what's with the shock?"

She spoke calmly, " oh honey you never come home so late!" She looked at him with fear in her eyes," unless- something happened! Oh sweetie please don't tell me something happened!"

Izuku's eyes widened, it was like she always knew everything. "I.. well I just didn't pay attention today so..."

She looked up at him, eyebrows knit together in concern.

Izuku sighed, "I have to tend to the ostrich horses stables and one of the farms."

She exhaled in disappointment," honey I thought you were going to try to do better."

Izuku reasoned,"I did try this time!-"

"Izuku!" She yelled, "I know you tried my child, but I can't have my baby causing a ruckus everywhere! you know you aren't strong enough to deal with the consequences that comes along with things! You aren't a bender! And You aren't your..."

Izuku's eyes widened, " I'm not my what?!"

Her eyes saddened before she turned toward her room." Dinner is in the kitchen, please have some."

He looked to the floor. He heard his mothers footsteps continue until opening her door and closing it behind her. Izuku could feel himself fill with regret at his actions earlier that day. His gaze shifted to the kitchen full of freshly made food just for him and his mother. Bandages were everywhere in their house, his mother insisted on it. She came from a long line of doctors so he didn't usually question stuff like that. then he shifted towards the creek filled door he just came through.

He put his dirty shoes back on quickly and practically slammed the door behind him on his way out. He could hear his mothers voice in the distance asking where he was going as he ran back down the dirt path. The overgrown grass swayed as he rushed by. The sky was turning from shades of blue to a canvas of pinks oranges and purples with each step farther away he took.

Eventually he found his way into the main town, roads still in crowded even as the sun had gone completely out of view. He made his way through crowds. He bet if Kirishima was in his shoes he would be making up with his mother right now, maybe then he'd go take care of that turtle duckling, study, then get a full nights rest because how else would he stay perfectly perfect.

Izuku grumbled to himself.

He cared about Kirishima, of course he did Kirishima was his only friend after all. And Kirishima lost his mother to the fire nation just as he lost his father so long ago. But Kirishima is so good, so heroic, and so much better than him. Sometimes it makes izuku mad and sometimes it makes him wonder if Kirishima is his friend because he wants to be or because he feels better about himself because he's friends with the failure, the disappointment.

He stopped by a particular building, the library, his mother always told him that his father loved reading, loved books and all kinds of stories. He wondered what his father would think of Izuku's complete lack of interest in reading, other than history, he'd probably be disappointed as well.

The building was old, much older than the school house, carved pillars held up the awning. Lanterns with dimly lit candle hung from hooks besides the door. There were two windows, one closed with flowers visible behind it and one was open, the librarian reading what looked to be textbook could be seen through it.

He walked inside the rough building through the discolored door, a bell chiming as he did so. The librarian seemed disinterested in him and paid him no mind as he walked into a random aisle. Carved stone shelves held a vast array of books,scrolls, and maps.

Maybe his father was wise for loving stories. for awhile izuku found them foolish wastes of time. But a nice story with a happy ending sounded pretty good to izuku right about now. Before izuku sat down at a desk with the few story books he wanted to read he saw two titles that stuck out to him.

'Late blooming Benders' and 'Manifest being a Bender!'

Although they were most likely blatant lies he might as well check just to make sure. Maybe if he was a bender he could make his teachers smile at him again, be on equal ground with his friend, have his father still be here with them, or have his old home back.

He flipped through the pages of the stories and poetry of the books and scrolls as dusk quickly turned to midnight, the light from the lamp keeping him up for hours with every small detail seeming to keep his want for more more intense than his exhaustion.

As the lamp began to dim he sat his head on the rickety old desk now full of stupid hope that would surely disappear as dawn approached. But for the time being he closed his eyes and allowed himself to dream of silly things.