Chapter 2

The next day, Kaito didn't get up early. No, he still wasn't a morning person. Instead, he woke up with an adequate amount of time to get ready and make his way to U.A. High School.

Thankfully, U.A. knew that people were coming from all around the country to take their entrance exam and so didn't set it at some absurdly early hour. Kaito had plenty of time to go through his morning routine of using the toilet, washing himself, brushing his teeth, getting dressed, and eating breakfast.

Before he left, his mother fussed over him, making sure he had everything he needed – "Yes, Mum, I've got my phone and a pen, and my weapons are in my bag right here. Yes, I've got a spare pen in case my first pen runs out. Yes, my phone has full charge. Yes, I'm sure. I know, I love you too Mum." – and wished him luck for the entrance exam.

As he sat on the train headed towards Musutafu, Kaito wondered about what the entrance exam might hold. He didn't worry too much about the written portion – he had been through high school and beyond many times in the many lifetimes he had experienced. Although, none of his victims had ever been to a hero school, so perhaps there might be some related questions that would trip him up.

What Kaito was more worried about was the practical portion of the exam. Although all participants are made to sign a non-disclosure agreement pertaining to what exactly takes place in the entrance exam, he had seen some people complaining about it being biased against specific quirks on internet forums.

While he wasn't exactly defenceless without his quirk, it expanded his arsenal against human opponents by a large margin. If the exam was something like an obstacle course or physical test, he would have no advantages. His quirk wasn't very useful against robotic or animal minds, either – although, if it did come down to him versus an animal, he would be able to make it work through brute force. The differences between a human and animal mind just didn't allow for his more subtle methods to work.

Pondering on the workings of his quirk, Kaito thought back to the first time he ever used it.

He was five years old. Most of the other kids his age had already awakened their quirks, yet he still hadn't. He had gone to the quirk specialist with his mother to see if he was quirkless, but the doctor had assured him that he was not – his pinky toes only had a single joint and the scans of his brain showed that it was unlike most people's. His whole body was also slightly different in its makeup than a standard quirkless person's, but it was unknown if this actually did anything. Lots of quirks had secondary effects that changed the body in strange minor ways that might not seem related to the primary quirk, or even do anything at all.

What, exactly, his quirk did was still unknown, but seeing as his brain was the main point of difference, it was likely something mental. His eyes were normal, so it wouldn't be the exact same as his mother's quirk, which allowed her to project her memories through her eyes like a video projector, but it could be his father's super cool telekinesis quirk. Or, maybe, some weird combination of the two!

Regardless of what his quirk would be, he still didn't have it. He was sitting on a bench in the playground of his nursery school lamenting this when one of the other kids – Tatsuo – ran up to him. "Come on, Kaito, we're gonna play tag! Kenji's it!" he shouted, reaching out to grab Kaito's hand and pull him up to join them.

The instant their hands made contact, Kaito's whole world changed. He was Kamiya Kaito, but he was also Yamada Tatsuo. He was both at once. He remembered being brought up by his mother alone, with no siblings, being both curious and calm throughout his life. Yet, he also remembered being raised by his mother and father together, with his older sister taking care of him when they couldn't. He had always been full of energy and rushed through life, trying to do as many fun things as possible.

This feeling of being two people at once – it was amazing. Kaito-Tatsuo wanted to stay like this forever. As his consciousness drew back into Kaito's own body, he tried to cling onto as much of Tatsuo as he could to bring back with him, so he could continue being two people at once. However, he wasn't powerful enough. He only managed to take with him a small part of Tatsuo for himself.

When Kaito's consciousness returned to his body, he didn't remember the experience. No time had passed at all. All Kaito knew was that Tatsuo had grasped his hand, and suddenly he could feel Tatsuo's excitement to play tag with his friends. He must have used his quirk! He had to tell everyone, his mother was going to love it!

But beyond his happiness for using his quirk for the first time and the excitement he had stolen from Tatsuo, in his subconscious mind another emotion had awoken. Anticipation. Desire. Longing, to experience such a thing again.

Now, ten years later, Kaito more or less understood the mechanics of using his quirk – which had been aptly named "Memory Thief" – via experimentation.

He could sense minds around him. The more powerful his quirk grew, the further away he could sense – he could currently sense people from about two hundred meters away. However, the further away someone was from his body, the harder it was to steal their memories.

When he decided to steal someone's memories, time froze while he was inside that person's mind. His own mind merged with theirs and it was as if he were both people at the same time. However, with his original mind's prerequisite knowledge of what was happening, as well as his cumulative life experience via the stealing of other people's memories, his own mind took control. If he had ever stolen the whole life of someone older than him when he was younger, it wouldn't have been good for him – the older person's mind would have subsumed his own and taken over his body. As it were, Kaito had cumulatively made his way up to that point – absorbing larger and larger memories into his own consciousness both increased the "size" of his mind and tempered his willpower to remain in control of his own mind.

When inside someone's mind, Kaito had time to deliberate which memories to steal – although, the time he had available seemed to grow with the strength of his quirk. When he left the person's mind, he would forget about his time in their mind, taking with him only the memories he chose to steal. The difficulty of stealing a memory depended on a few things. Firstly, as previously mentioned, was the distance – the further away someone was from his body, the harder it was to steal their memories.

Secondly, was how well the person remembered the memory. If the person didn't have a clear memory of something, Kaito had to dig deep into their mind to find it – and that took effort.

Finally, was the willpower of the person to hold onto the memory. Stealing someone's immediate thoughts was difficult – the person was thinking about them right at that moment, after all, so they were exerting willpower to continue remembering those thoughts. However, stealing the thoughts someone had twenty seconds ago was quite a bit easier – people lose track of what they were thinking twenty seconds ago all the time, anyway.

Kaito had also come up with a bit of a trick in this regard. In a person's train of thought, they tend to go over the same things unconsciously, double-checking their thought process. If Kaito specifically targeted those duplicate thoughts, it was easier for him to steal them. The person kept their train of thought with little difference, and Kaito got the gist of what they were currently thinking.

This trick worked even better with memories. A person was unlikely to want to forget the memory of a precious moment, making it difficult for Kaito to steal said memory. However, many times in a person's life, they reminisced on their precious memories. They weren't attached to those memories of reminiscing, and so didn't exert much willpower to continue remembering that moment. If Kaito stole the memory of the moment when they were reminiscing, it would be like stealing a copy of a memory. The more often the person reminisced on said memory, the more copies there would be available to steal. The person might remember the precious moment slightly less than before, but it wouldn't be noticeable to them. Doing it this way wouldn't take much effort for Kaito to steal the memory. However, it also wouldn't fulfil his desire to experience someone else's life – it would be like watching a video of said moment rather than living it himself.

When it came to a person's current emotions, it depended on how much he stole. If a person was angry, that state of being subsumed their whole mind. In order to steal all of a person's anger, it would take a lot of effort. The result would be the person becoming calm, while Kaito became angry – though he had a good mental discipline to be able to handle such things from experience. What was very easy, however, was stealing just a little bit of that anger for himself. The person would become slightly calmer, and Kaito would get a hint of what the person was feeling.

That was the foundation of how he used his quirk. When scouting, he would sense the minds of the people around him and steal a sliver of their emotions to get a feeling of their current attitude and what they were doing. If there was a priority target or certain helpful information in a person's mind, he would steal that, too – though if said person was too far away for him to steal said information, he would steal a bit more of their emotions than usual, which he would take as a signal to get closer and try again.

When gathering information, he would steal memories of memories, so that the person wouldn't realise he had done it.

When fighting someone, he would steal duplicate thoughts so he could read his opponent's movements and battle plan while trying to get closer and make contact in order to continuously steal their current thoughts, rendering them immobile.

And when he wanted to live someone's life as his own, he would sneak as close to them as possible, as quietly as possible. While doing so, he would continuously scan their mind – if they had any suspicious thoughts then he would steal them before they snowballed into anything substantial. Then, when their guard was down, he would make contact, stealing all of their memories at once.

He just hoped it would be useful for the entrance exam.