Hayami’s Home, Musutafu, 9:43 AM.
February 25th, 2149.
“Well, you may as well give it to him now,” Sajin said dryly, hand pressed against his cheek. “It’s not like he doesn’t know about it already—not exactly a surprise, eh?”
Hayami sighed at the comment and gave him an annoyed glance.
“Yes, yes,” Hayami said, exasperated.
Hayami slipped her hand down into the back pocket of her jeans and retrieved a single silver key on a loop before stretching out her hand and offering it to me with a smile. I took it gently from her proffered hand and slowly wrapped my fingers around it.
“Thank you, Aunt Hayami,” I said, smiling.
“You’re most welcome, Hisoka,” Hayami smiled, “I won’t ask you to look after it because I already know that you will. I want you to remember that this isn’t permanent, okay? If you ever feel lonely or worried, you can always come back here at any time—you know that? I’ll be coming to see you every weekend, and I’ll call you when I’m free—or you can always call me.”
“I will,” I promised. “Thank you.”
Sajin clapped his hands together, pleased.
“I’ll be coming by after work every afternoon to check up on you as well,” Sajin promised, before surreptitiously glancing at Hayami, “Don’t worry, It will only be for a few minutes at most; your girlfriends will just have to hide in the bathroom.”
Hayami looked alarmed at the idea.
“No girlfriends in the apartment!” Hayami said quickly, and Sajin starting cracking up almost immediately. “Oh for the love of—grow up you idiot! Stop laughing!”
The key felt like a solid step forward as it rested in my hand—the promise of support was encouraging, but the oversight was less so. There were things I wanted to do that the constant visits might interfere with—I’d have to schedule it around those visits.
Sajin was a man of routines—probably the reason why he was completely at ease with working so often and for such long stretches—so he would no doubt set aside a time each afternoon to check on me, and he wouldn’t deviate from it without a good reason.
As long as I was careful, I would have the freedom to do several things I had wanted to try for a while, one of which included leaving the city—not something I had been able to accomplish prior. It would take careful planning before I was comfortable with attempting the trip—I would be on a strict time limit to make it there and then return in time for school.
If I was caught leaving the city, that would be the last time I would have the chance—as that definitely would be in the ‘dangerously irresponsible’ category of actions and end with my current hard-earned privileges being revoked.
“Don’t worry about moving any of your things yet; it’s still a couple of weeks before we need to think about that.” Hayami said happily, “The last week of march is probably the best time, what do you think?”
It was a good a time as any—there was nothing I could attempt straight away; it would be several months before I could make an attempt once I had availed myself to the new routine.
“That sounds good, Aunt Hayami,” I said, smiling.
“Well, that’s that then!” Sajin said easily, “What are you going to do about transport to U.A from the apartment?”
I’d researched it thoroughly the very second I’d found out the general location Hayami had been looking into. There were several options available, including a five-minute journey by subway or a fifteen-minute bus ride. I could probably just walk as well or even run if I wanted to add some more exercise to my daily routine.
I explained the options I’d found in vague terms, suggesting that I would be researching it later on that night to avoid showing that I’d already done so. I wanted to hear Sajin’s thoughts on the matter without polluting his opinion with my own—he had a tendency to suggest things that I’d overlooked on occasion.
“Train’s probably your best bet,” Sajin said thoughtfully, “We had some pretty physically intensive days back at Shinketsu, and I can’t imagine that it won’t be similar at U.A—don’t want to tire yourself out running to school every day.”
I nodded at the thought that hadn’t crossed my mind—I wouldn’t want to appear tired or exhausted; it could potentially give the impression that I wasn’t able to manage my time responsibly without adult supervision— which could, in turn, end up having an adverse effect on my new living situation.
“I will take the train,” I agreed.
Sajin looked happy enough that his suggestion was the one I chose, and Hayami didn’t really care once the problem had been dealt with.
Hisoka’s Apartment, Musutafu, 9:43 AM
March 28th, 2149.
“Well, it’s a bit smaller than you led me to believe, Sajin,” Hayami said awkwardly, taking in the small room.
Sajin moved to start putting the groceries we had purchased into the refrigerator, giving Hayami and me the chance to look around.
“I did say it was small,” Sajin said bemused, “Sounds to me like Miss Mansion over here didn’t manage her expectations properly.”
I took note of the wording; evidently, Sajin had been the one to actually undertake the inspection, which wasn’t surprising given he lived a lot closer to it than his sister. Hayami wasn’t exactly wrong either; it was a simple—and small—apartment. The kitchen more or less transitioned into a bedroom, but I couldn’t help but smile.
“Is it too small, Hisoka?” Hayami said, frowning around at the area.
I spotted the door that, no doubt, led to the bathroom. It was a small apartment; that much was undeniable and would come off as a poor attempt to make her feel better.
I had never had much need for extra space.
“It is small, Aunt Hayami, but I like it,” I said, smiling brightly at her. “I don’t need a lot of space—although I might find it difficult to hide all of my girlfriends when you come to visit.”
Hayami gave a startled laugh at the sudden joke, and it was successful in drawing her out of whatever thought she was stuck on. Hayami reached out and patted me on the shoulder in her mirth, shaking her head.
“Kid’s right,” Sajin added, grinning, “He may need a bigger apartment after all.”
“Stop it, you two—and no girlfriends!” Hayami chastised, but she was smiling. “You’re a bad influence on him, Sajin.”
The plain brown boxes that continued my clothing sat by a door that might have been a closet. The box that contained my computer sat on the ground by a small study desk that was pressed against the wall opposite the bed. There was even a small window that gave a half-decent view of the road below.
“Come on then,” Sajin said easily, “Let’s get your stuff unpacked.”
It was a very strange feeling, sitting alone in an unfamiliar room, across the city from the place where I had spent every night for the last fifteen years. I wasn’t sure what the feeling was exactly, some kind of strange mixture of anticipation and a vague, undirected sense of guilt.
Hayami had ended up sticking around for almost two hours after we had finally finished unpacking my things—it seemed to me that she was having second thoughts about the entire idea now that the moment had arrived.
Sajin had managed to convince her with some difficulty that she was making an emotional decision that went counter to the much more thought out and rational one she had initially made about the situation. Not that he’d been that eloquent about it, but it wasn’t the first time I’d witnessed either of them argue.
The first day of school was approaching as well—only this time, it would be my first day at U.A High School as an official hero in training.
As per the explanation of the instructors, only three students in each class were chosen from the pool of recommended applicants, which means two others from the exam would be in whichever class I was assigned, and another three for however many classes there were in total—a minimum of three people in my class would have entered through a means different than the rest of the class.
So three recommended and seventeen standard students were placed together, for a total of twenty students per class. Having been one of the three recommended students would be something that could stand out as noteworthy to those who heard it, regardless of whether or not the exam was difficult or easy.
There were a lot of things that could potentially be problematic about standing out and a few things that would be useful.
Some of the times that I had truly stood out in my life, I’d been immediately hit with punishments ranging from ‘could have been really, really bad,’ all the way to ‘severe.’ I know that I hadn’t made the best decisions during those times and my actions had led directly to the problems, I could admit that, but it made me cautious of being singled out never the less.
There were a few rare instances where it had actually been worth it—my breaking the law to defend the school and receiving a recommendation to U.A was one of them. The rest of the student body had eventually been able to return to Pasana Middle school after the Bamboo villains attack.
It had unsurprisingly brought about another wave of muttered comments and nervous glances as the rumors of my first year had once again started to spread, in conjunction with the increased attention from those who had connected the actions of that day back to me.
This time had been different as well—people had started to talk to me in the halls or when they spotted me outside. Something that hadn’t ever really happened other than a few off-handed comments or nonchalant greetings by classmates.
It was distinctly unusual to have complete strangers seek you out, and something I was entirely unused to. Uncomfortable it may have been, I would need to become accustomed to it, especially if the end result got me closer to U.A—closer to learning how to help those in trouble, closer to learning how to find them.
Closer to finding Nanami.
If I needed to learn how to live in the spotlight to accomplish that, I would, or I would simply learn to fake it—I had my goals, and I’d decided on this path a long time ago. It wouldn’t make any difference in the end, as long as I succeeded.
Hisoka’s Apartment, Musutafu, 6:52 AM
April 4th, 2149.
I studied the boy in the mirror critically; Short black hair, grey eyes, a clean unwrinkled uniform—it wasn’t much different than I usually appeared, only the uniform was a lighter shade of grey. I glanced at the clock and moved to the door—I had three minutes to make it to the terminal, two more than I needed.
I’d already mapped out exactly where I needed to go in advance and even took the time to investigate the station. I did one final check of my person to find everything I needed in place and then nodded a final time before I left the room.
The door locked with a click, and I pocketed the key before making my way out of the building.
The apartment Hayami had rented was on the third floor of the building, and I’d already scattered a half dozen sand orbs outside to check for observers. Nobody had eyes on the bottom floor of the stairwell, so I reformed at the orb I’d positioned there and continued outside.
There were quite a lot of people moving about the streets, adults on their way to work, students on their way to class, and families heading for central—but It wasn’t until I reached the terminal that I spotted someone wearing a U.A uniform.
Over the next minute of waiting, more than a handle of other students appeared, waiting patiently for the train to arrive—but once I had actually boarded the train, I started spotting many, many more.
A few of which stood out entirely due to their appearances—A tall boy with spiky blue hair, standing close to a wall, refusing to look at anyone else on the train, along with a short girl with long green hair and large dark eyes—she was also staring straight at me. I stared back at her for a long moment before turning to look out the window when she didn’t look away.
The journey wasn’t a long one, but it certainly made me thankful that I wouldn’t be stuck on a train for four hours—within less than five minutes, the train arrived at a terminal only a small distance from an absolutely massive wall that stretched further than I could see and seemingly contained a towering structure of glass and metal that I could see even from the platform.
U.A High School, the premier school for heroes in Japan—and recognized as one of the best schools in the world.
There were students walking along the pathway outside of the wall that hadn’t been on the train, all heading for a monstrous set of gates, and the students that were exiting the train soon started moving in their direction.
I waited until most had moved and then followed.
There was a single pair of uniformed figures, standing by the large open gates and wearing helmets that blocked out any chance of seeing their faces. No doubt watching the students enter, for anyone who was attempting to sneak in through the front door.
I stepped through the gates unimpeded and followed the mass of bodies to the building, taking note of the sprawling grounds. There were many buildings, and that I soon found that I couldn’t see the edge of the school grounds from inside either.
What a ludicrously large school.
Upon entering the central building, the crowd began to disperse, heading in a multitude of directions, and I stopped briefly next to a map of the school, writ large on a sign, with an indication of my current location.
I snapped a picture of it on my phone before moving on, as others stopped next to it. I pulled the picture up, a few moments of searching provided the floor and room number, and I followed the stairs upwards.
The hallways were polished to a mirror finish, covered in windows, and the ceiling was about three times the height of a normal one—grandiose was a word that would probably have fit the construction—Hayami would have been at home here, or she would have been jealous of the scale of it.
I wasn’t quite sure.
I found the door to my classroom without issue—I doubted anybody could have missed it given the sheer size and the massive red designation painted on the door. There was a barely noticeable indentation on the right-hand side that appeared to be a partially camouflaged handle. A girl—the one with the green hair that had been following me since the train—stopped beside me.
“Hello, I’m Tsuyu Asui,” Tsuyu said curiously, before making a strange noise in the back of her throat.
I turned to her and smiled blandly in greeting.
“Hisoka Higawara,” I said simply, smiling. “Nice to meet you, Tsuyu; what was that sound just now?”
Tsuyu turned more fully to face me at the question, or perhaps the casual use of her given name.
“It’s a side effect of my quirk.” Tsuyu said easily, “First names already?”
I nodded in understanding; it was a risky start to a conversation with someone whose pattern I didn’t know yet, but she didn’t appear to be upset by the question or the first name. Perhaps I could share a story with her so that we could find some common ground.
“There was a boy in my second year of middle school with a vocal tic.” I said honestly, “His quirk leant him the characteristics of a parrot—he would often say things out of turn or repeat phrases that were said to him.”
Tsuyu raised an eyebrow in interest, and the same vibration in her throat rumbled for a moment.
“Was he very popular?” Tsuyu said after a moment of hesitation.
“No,” I said pleasantly, “He was picked on by the other students.”
There was a long pause before Tsuyu rumbled again.
“Oh.” Tsuyu said weakly. “I see.”
I nodded, turning to the door and sliding it open, revealing the inside of the classroom. There were a few people already inside, including a tall boy with glasses who was standing near the door with his hands behind his back, ramrod straight—He was tall enough that he could have been from a year above them.
There was also a floating uniform, another girl with bright pink skin. Further back was a boy with bright red hair, styled up to a peak, and a boy covered in black feathers, with a sharp beak, and dark eyes. Another really tall boy with brown hair and angry eyebrows.
There were also two of the others from the Recommendation exam, both of which were staring. Neither of which was Setsuna Tokage; either she had failed the written test completely, or she passed but was in one of the other classes.
The first was the boy with white and red hair, parted down the middle, and an angry burn mark covering one side of his face. The other was the girl with a large amount of hair pulled up into a high ponytail—the same girl who had questioned the validity of my solution to the obstacle race.
I stepped closer to the front of the room, searching for a seating plan, even as megane-senpai shook Tsuyu’s hand enthusiastically. I found it quickly and spent a few moments matching the names on the list to the faces seated at those locations.
Toru Hagakure, Mina Ashido, Eijiro Kirishima, Fumikage Tokoyami, Rikido Sato, Shoto Todoroki, Momo Yaoyorozu, respectively—I took a picture of the list quietly and pocketed my phone. I located my own seat, ’10,’ in the back row, next to Shoto, Momo, and somebody called ‘Ochaco Uraraka.’ It was unlikely a coincidence that all three of the recommended students were in the back row, but I couldn’t fathom a guess as to the purpose behind it.
Megane-senpai was still talking to Tsuyu, so I made my way past them both to my seat. Shoto stared at me for a moment before looking away; Momo leaned back in her chair to keep eye contact, smiling at him.
“Congratulation on getting in!” Momo said happily, “I saw your name on the seating plan, Higawara.”
I smiled; it was good that she was no longer upset, but she must have been under considerable stress at the time, so it was understandable.
“Thank you, Momo,” I said simply, taking in her surprise. “Congratulations to you as well.”
Despite the words she’d spoken, I didn’t feel like celebrating—getting here was the easy part; a single exam and an obstacle race was nothing in scale to the rest of my life. The difficult part would be attaining the hero’s license and learning what I needed to accomplish my goals.
Shoto, seated between the two of them, made no move to acknowledge their existence, and I was happy to reciprocate the silence.
Several more students had trickled into the class over the next few minutes, and I’d witnessed their arrivals with the sand-masses I’d left around the campus on my way in.
I caught the moment a blonde boy with spike hair slammed the door open and strode up to the board. The action was a confident one, or perhaps aggressive was the more appropriate term—he was establishing himself to his peers by showcasing how comfortable he was in unfamiliar territory.
He found his seat a moment later, glaring around at the others before kicking his leg up on his desk. It was both a statement of defiance and a challenge to anyone who might contest his ownership of his immediate surroundings.
A quick glance at the captured seating plan on my phone showed that this boy was one, Katsuki Bakugo.
“Excuse me!” Tenya said, greatly offended, “Remove your foot from that desk! Such action is insulting to those who came to U.A before us, as well as the craftsmen who made the desk!”
“Huh? You got a problem glasses? Like I care about stuff like that!” Katsuki said aggressively, smirking. “Which school did you come from, you damn extra?”
Tenya looked lost for a moment at the sheer hostility before he managed to rally.
“I am from Somei Private Academy, and I am not an extra,” Tenya said firmly, “My name is Tenya Lida.”
“Somei?” Katsuki laughed in his face, “A stuck-up elitist then? How about I blow you to bits?”
Tenya looked stricken at the outright threat of violence.
“Blow me to bits?” Tenya said, shocked, “Do you even wish to be a hero? You’re terrible!”
Katsuki let his chair legs settle on the floor and leaned forward over his desk, without fear.
“I’m going to be the best hero in the world,” Katsuki said dangerously, “You going to argue?”
The door opened again, cutting through the tension, as a boy with green hair stuck his head inside, looking nervous. Tenya had apparently had enough of Katsuki’s aggression because he moved to greet the newest face.
I ran the interaction over in my mind, wondering about the two boys. They had both done things that had obviously stepped over a line, apparently completely at ease with doing so. Tenya hadn’t even paused for a second before scolding the other boy for his disrespect—but he did so from some kind of perceived level of authority that didn’t actually appear to be present.
Had he been a class representative at his previous school? That would have probably instilled in him the set of behaviors needed to call people out so readily when they stepped out of line.
Katsuki, on the other hand, seemed to be in possession of a personality that I had seen before—much more common as well, if I was being honest. There always seemed to be a few who were completely comfortable with doing whatever they pleased and were willing to threaten violence when they were met with a challenge—Haru had been the first of that personality type that I had encountered, although he was by no means the only one.
The last student to arrive had to be ‘Uraraka’ because it was the only desk left without an occupant—a hand appeared on the almost closed door, halting its slow progress back to rest. Long dark hair, a thousand-year stare, and a face full of stubble greeted them.
“If you’re here to socialize, then you may as well leave now,” The man said blandly, pushing the door open. “I don’t have time to waste on children—This is a hero course, not a playground.”
“Sorry!” Uraraka said quickly, moving back to the only remaining seat.
The man stopped next to his desk at the front of the room and stared at them all for a long moment.
“I’m your homeroom teacher, Shota Aizawa,” Shota said carelessly. “Pleased to meet you.”
He sounded anything but pleased, and he gestured to the cabinets to the side of the room with the back of his hand.
“Gym clothes are in there, get changed, and head out to the grounds,” Shota said dryly, already heading back towards the door. “Use that room there to get dressed, don’t keep me waiting.”
Nobody moved until the door clicked shut, and then a flurry of conversations broke out as everyone moved towards the cabinets. They were stacked on top of each other, nothing more than a pull out drawn two-foot deep—each adorned with its respective student’s nametag.
I waited until most of the others had retrieved their clothing and lined up at the door at the back of the room before approaching my own. The gym clothing was a simple two-piece tracksuit, blue and white in color with the letters ‘UA’ forming a pattern that stretched from the shirt’s collar to the foot of the pants.
The line moved quickly, Shota’s warning ringing in their ears.
I reformed just out of sight of where the class had moved and joined them, as I was the last one to change. Shota watched me as I approached, and I came to a stop beside a tall figure with more arms than a regular boy.
“Before anything else, you will all be participating in a test of your quirks,” Shota said calmly, and a muttering broke out amongst the class.
“The entrance exam was different,” Shota cut across them, “It’s a waste of time to think about that any more; if you want to be a hero, focus on the present and the future.”
The class settled down once more at his tone.
“You obviously don’t know it, but U.A is known for its freestyle educational system, and that applies to the teachers as well,” Shota said derisively, “You could be asked to do any task on any given day; whining about it isn’t going to help you—understand?”
Shota moved over and swept a lazy hand out over the field.
“Softball throwing, standing long jump, fifty-meter sprints, endurance running, grip strength, upper-body training, seated toe touch,” Shota rattled off, “You’ve done all these before in physical education—all perfectly normal for most schools.”
I studied the man as he studied us.
“Quirk use is prohibited for the purpose of averaging those records out,” Shota said, annoyed, “Gives us a baseline, but tells us nothing about the individual’s talents or quirk enhanced performance—it’s completely irrational and a waste of time the way it’s currently organized.”
Shota frowned before clearing his throat, realizing perhaps that he had almost derailed his prepared speech.
“Bakugo,” Shota said without care, “How far could your throw in middle school?”
Katsuki didn’t even pause before answering.
“Sixty-seven meters,” Katsuki said, frowning.
“Fine. Now step up into position—this time you’re doing it with your quirk, just don’t leave the circle.” Shota instructed dryly. “Don’t bother holding back.”
A test to determine how we stacked up against each other, and the records they had on file of all the other students that had passed through U.A.
“Eh?” Katsuki grinned, “This is awesome.”
Katsuki skipped forward a step, reeled back, and a wave of force rocked the grounds as he launched the ball into the air with an explosion of fire and smoke. The ball vanished from his hand with a crack, and into the distance, far out of sight.
“Die!” Katsuki shouted gleefully.
The small monitor that Shota had been carrying showed a rising number, and then he flipped it around so they could all see it.
“It’s important for us to know our limits,” Shota said seriously, “Quirks are a part of you, whether you recognize it or not, and you need to know what you can do—that’s the first step to figuring out exactly what kind of heroes you’ll go on to become.”
“Seven-hundred, and five meters!” Eijiro said, amazed, “Seriously? That’s crazy.”
Katsuki looked pleased with the number.
“Don’t get too comfortable,” Shota interjected, settling them down once more. “You’re hoping to become heroes; it’s not going to be fun and games—if you think that’s the case, then I’ll have to up the stakes.”
Shota placed his face in his hand in annoyance before pushing his hair up so they could get a clear look at his face for the first time and revealing the dark bags under his eyes.
“The one with the lowest score across all eight events will be dropped from the hero course,” Shota said manically, “In other words, you’ll be expelled from U.A.”
“The lowest score will be expelled?” Uraraka said, alarmed, “It’s only our first day! Even if it wasn’t, we all passed the tests to get in—This is totally unfair!”
Shota let out a mocking laugh.
“Natural disasters. Highway pileups. Rampaging villains,” Shota listed one after another before he glanced at me for a moment. “Calamity is always right around the corner—I’d say that Japan is full of unfair things; you’ll have to get used to it eventually.”
Uraraka looked stunned.
“Heroes are the ones who are trained to correct all that unfairness,” Shota said seriously, “If you were hoping to spend your evening hanging out with friends, and braiding each other’s hair, playing games on your computer, a bit of gossiping even? Well, I’m sorry to tell you a lot, you won’t last very long here.”
All of the positive energy that had pervaded the group at the beginning was gone now, and they all looked worried.
I was still trying to figure out why a homeroom teacher would have the authority to expel someone in the first place—that was a job for a principal, or at the very least a panel.
It seemed fairly unlikely that they would go through all the trouble of testing, filtering, and sorting the perfect choices for the hero course over months, only for a homeroom teacher to make a snap decision on who got to stay and who didn’t.
It was most likely a trick; its purpose could have been to ensure that each of them tried their absolute hardest, so they could get a more accurate baseline for their skill levels—or perhaps it was something more obscure.
I didn’t know, but either way, I couldn’t risk it.
“We’ve wasted enough time already,” Shota said evenly, watching them. “It’s time to begin.”
I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.
My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.
I now have a website that has links to all of my original works to date.