Chapter 6 - We Shall See Visions
Izuku was never comfortable with hospitals, not since that first day, and this time was no different. Waking up in a cold and unfeeling room with nothing but flat white surfaces was never a good way to start off a morning.
“Oh good, you’re feeling alright,” sighed the old woman at her bedside. Dusting off the lapels of her lab coat, she frowned, shook her head and began to scold her. “You really should be more careful than that, though! Playing the hero is all well and good, but that was just plain reckless.”
“Wh-where am I?” Izuku asked, blinking deliberately. Well, a hospital, presumably, but why? She didn’t remember going to one; in fact, the last thing she remembered was—
The entrance exam.
The entrance exam that she was actually in danger of doing well in before she made a stupidly impulsive decision and screwed up any chance of actually getting into the school of her dreams.
The entrance exam where she decided, at the cost of everything she had spent the last year working towards and her entire life hoping for, to save the life of a friend she had only just made.
The exam where she fell ten meters onto flat concrete and passed out.
Suddenly, everything made sense.
“Do you not remember?” the woman - or, the nurse, she supposed - asked. “You took a pretty bad fall during the practical exam earlier, so we took you to the school hospital to recover. I got you all patched up, so it’s just about when you feel ready to head back home at this point.” She smiled down at her from her bedside.
“Wait, the exam! Do you know if I got in?” It was maybe a bit foolish to be hopeful, but she had to at least know. Or try to know.
Her nurse shook her head and said simply, “They haven’t been announced yet.”
Izuku tried to think about that for a moment, but her head was too clouded to articulate any kind of response, and she settled for a dumbfounded nod before gently whispering, “I think I’m ready to leave.”
The nurse stared down at her through her visor, looking skeptical, and then nodded back and reached out a hand to help her out of her bed. “You sure you’re okay? I don’t wanna have to find you on the ground outside this room and check you in again.”
She wasn’t sure if that was a joke or a threat, but regardless, she gritted her teeth and pulled herself into a sitting position. “Don’t worry, I got this,” she responded, and then took to her feet and started walking.
15:47. Every sixteen minutes, thirty-three to travel. Next one’s at 16:02.
Railcard. Backpack. Start running. Right. Left. Another left. Wait. Board.
Think. No. Bad idea.
“Are you alright, miss?”
Blink, look around. Who?
Why is the floor so close?
“…Long day.” Whisper, high-pitched. Hope that’s enough.
Look again. Familiar. Too familiar.
Stand up. Get to the door. Run. Keep running.
Gate. Porch. Door. Darkness.
“Oh, you’re home! How did the exam go? Do you think you passed?”
“…Izuku? Everything alright?”
Things were a blur for a while after that.
The first day Izuku remembered was a Tuesday. She was laying in bed, wondering why it was so bright, and then it occurred to her to actually check the time. Running downstairs in a frenzy, she nearly crashed head-on into her mother, but before either of them had the chance to react Izuku blurted out, “Why am I not at school?”
“Because you asked not to be?” her mom answered, more than a hint of confusion in her voice. “Gosh, are you still that shaken up? Do you need anything? Food?”
“U-um…” That was a lot for her to take in at once, but there was one thing she definitely processed. “Food would be nice.”
Moments later, the two of them were sitting in the kitchen, listening as popcorn sounded off in the microwave next to them. There was something oddly contemplative about the entire experience, though Izuku wasn’t entirely sure what there was to contemplate. Besides the obvious.
“So, uh, is everything okay?” Izuku asked. She felt a little silly even as the words came out of her mouth, but she wasn’t expecting her mother’s response to be a stifled giggle.
“I’m sorry, it’s not like that,” she clarified after stopping herself. “It’s just— well, I was expecting to ask you that question.” Reaching over, she pressed the button to open the microwave door and pulled out the bag inside. “To answer your question, though,” she continued, opening it and pointing it towards Izuku, “my daughter is hungry and hasn’t eaten yet, so everything isn’t okay yet.” She grinned slightly and gestured with the bag again before Izuku reached in and grabbed a handful.
As much as she was worried, snack food was definitely appealing to her right now, and one handful was quickly followed by another, and then another. “Thanks, Mom,” Izuku said between bites.
She wasn’t sure how to feel, exactly. The present situation certainly seemed plenty normal, but there was something distressing about normalcy being her primary concern. Were things really alright? Was she alright?
“Honey, you’re fine! Just fatigued, is all, and I can’t blame you for that.” Her mother put the bag down on the counter and wrapped her arms around her. “I mean, from what I’ve heard about your exam, that doesn’t surprise me one bit.”
Exam? What exam— wait, the exa—
Monday. Hearing her first alarm of the morning go off, Izuku turned off her phone and rolled over, lying face down on her bed.
What even was the point? Sure, she could head into school and suffer through lessons she had already read months past on her own, or enjoy the privilege of being misgendered and made fun of by most of the class, but for some reason that seemed less than appealing today. Especially since there was no way her eight points in the practical would ever be enough to pass; most people had to wait until they were older than fifteen to have their dreams crushed, but she guessed she was lucky.
Izuku pulled her blanket over her face, sinking down into her sheets.
Then, forcefully, said the word “No” and threw herself out of bed.
Depression is bad, but staying at home won’t help. Eight wasn’t a great score, but the written exam is still coming up. Nothing’s certain, and that’s still a chance to make a good impression, but that means keeping up with school, which means going to it. Only one month left.
Reluctantly, she pulled on her uniform and headed for the door.
Friday. Hopping off the train, the magnificent glass palace of UA High School towered above her, and she almost pulled back before finding the courage to step towards the door. Sure, nobody else seemed to be here yet, but you can never be too early for an exam.
Walking along the pathway was an oddly nostalgic experience; it hadn’t even been a week, but the events of the practical exam had still been burned into her mind. That patch of grass is where she was standing when Katsuki walked past, and that tile was where she and Ochako had met - she jumped over the crack between the tiles with a flourish before heading towards the door.
And finding it locked.
Was this the wrong day? No, the exam was definitely today. Or was it yesterday? Wait, isn’t today—
Tuesday. Lifting her head up, Izuku looked around to find the entire class staring at her. She mumbled a faint apology before picking up a pen and returning to her notes. This wasn’t like her. And yet.
Thursday. It wasn’t all that uncommon to have trains delayed because of villains, but did it really have to be today? The school staff would probably be understanding if there were transport delays, especially ones happening so close to campus, but she would rather not take any chances if she could avoid it.
Checking the news on her phone, hoping that the obstruction would soon pass, she felt a drip of liquid on the back of her shirt and turned around and suddenly her breath and vision were taken away—
Izuku got home from school, dropped her things at the door, and collapsed on the sofa.
The past week had been a nightmare - sometimes, more literally than she could have hoped. Her written exam was… well, she didn’t remember it exactly, but considering her disaster of a practical, it would take a miracle to get in. She didn’t have a miracle, though; she had maybe two hours.
“Don’t worry, honey!” came a voice from the next room over. “Whatever happens, it’ll work out in the end, I promise.” Her mother walked in and placed a hand gently on Izuku’s forehead, which caused her daughter to promptly burst into tears.
“What if it doesn’t, though?”
Almost as soon as she had got the words out, she felt her mom’s arms wrapped tightly around her.
“Listen to me, Izuku,” she gently whispered. “I know you want to be a hero, but that’s not the only option for you. I promise, there are so many more things that would make you happy, and that’s what’s most important in the end. Even if this doesn’t work out—”
Her words of comfort were interrupted by the ringing of a doorbell and the sound of the mail slot being pushed open.
“Y-you know, we don’t have to look at that right now,” she stammered. “Maybe after dinner?”
In response, Izuku shook her head and headed solemnly for the door. “Better to know sooner than later.”
After locking the door behind her, Izuku sat down on her bed, trying to puzzle out the small cardboard box in her hands. It had to be a response from UA - the logo on the box said as much - but then why was it not the size of a sheet of paper? She couldn’t fathom what was inside, but she was still a little too afraid to open it.
No time like the present, though. Grabbing a pair of scissors from her desk, she cut the tape over the seal and tore open the box, only to end up more confused by the gray plastic circle inside, and then by the glowing blue light coming out of the top, and then—
“Never fear, I am here!”
“…as a projection!” The blue, holographic form of All Might, transformed and awe-inspiring, rose up from out of the box and nearly filled the room; Izuku scrambled to place the projector onto her desk and sit down, during which time the image shifted into full color. All Might was standing in front of what looked like a theater stage, wearing a yellow suit and aggressively posing.
“So, my girl, I’m sure you’ve been eagerly anticipating this day. My apologies for not reaching out to you sooner, but I wished not to have the stress of your results over your head when we spoke in person.”
“Eager” was one word for it. Why did she have to hear the bad news directly from him? This was already going to be hard enough.
All Might cleared his throat and continued, just as boldly as before. “So, I’ve been informed that I should be keeping these recordings short—” a thumbs up flashed from the side of the projection? “—and unfortunately that extends to you as well. So I’ll keep this brief: your written score was fairly impressive, but a score of eight in the practical exam is not enough to get into UA.”
“Fortunately, you didn’t score nearly that low.”
Suddenly, dramatic orchestral music rang out from the speakers as the camera panned back, and All Might broke out into a passion. “You see, my girl, we judge our prospective students not on their ability to destroy, but on their ability to be heroes. Sure, you were less good at defeating the training robots, but those were not the point. Rather, you strayed from the beaten path to patrol those your compatriots ignored; you defeated your enemies in a way that minimized the impact on both people and property; and most profoundly, you recognized a danger no one else noticed, acted when no one else could act, and saved the life of a classmate for no personal gain. What kind of hero school would we be if we neglected such obviously heroic actions?”
This can’t be real.
“So rather than just assigning arbitrary points for defeating obviously false opponents, your true score in this exam was determined by a panel of judges - instructors, former students, and professional heroes. Worry not, though,” he mock-whispered, placing a hand to the corner of his mouth, “there is no doubt of their neutrality; I was sadly not invited to the panel.”
No. No way. Was she really—?
“And by that metric, you, my dear Izuku, received full marks.”
“See you in April.” He bowed, and then the screen shut itself off.