WHO Ochaco Uraraka and Tenya Iida •
WHAT Facing their fears •
WHERE The Overlook Hotel •
WHEN 10/8 morning •
WARNINGS Some blood, mentions of violence, inferiority complexes, and general fear of failure.
Having the USJ around was proving to be really useful. Even though they’d opened it up to other Outlanders, Ochaco and Tenya liked to train there at least a couple of times a week. Sure, there really wasn’t much use for their particular skills in Vallo, but still, it was nice to keep up on their toes. Tenya would usually launch into a lecture about “the importance of staying ever vigilant just in case the opportunity to use our gifts arises”. And most of the time, Ochaco listened. Usually. Occasionally. Okay, she’d started tuning him out when he got into one of those lectures. But she probably had most of his speeches memorized by now.
Today, they’d been working in the flood area. They both wanted to work on their skills in water rescue type situations, especially since they didn’t have someone like Tsu around here. It was nice to be able to be prepared for anything. Once they’d completed the simulation, Ochaco turned to Tenya and gave him a wide grin.
“I think we did pretty well,” she said. “Want to go grab some breakfast? We’ve got time before school starts.”
“I agree,” Tenya said, nodding vigorously. “Already, our scores are showing steady signs of improvement. Given enough time, we may yet set new records!”
He was not, as a whole, given much to relaxation. He’d spent much of his life in training, in emulation of his older brother and his other family, with only one goal in mind: enter UA and become a Hero. He had achieved a portion of that goal already, and done so on his own merits, though his family could have easily earned him a spot as a recommendation student like Todoroki and Yaoyorozu.
Here, without the regime of UA’s intense training, he had found himself growing restless and uneasy. The USJ was going a long way towards reducing that. That he could help Ochaco further her own readiness was an additional bonus.
He smiled. “Breakfast sounds good. I am in definite need of orange juice, if nothing else.”
Ochaco smiled, pumping her fist in the air. “That would be awesome!” She said. “Maybe we can beat the All Time High Record!” Of course, she didn’t know exactly what the all time high record for the USJ was or who set it (though she’d guess probably All Might). But still, it was nice to have goals.
Ochaco had allowed herself to slack off in her training a bit since arriving in Vallo. She didn’t feel the need to go as all out as she did back home. Though it was nice to keep up with her training, she liked getting to do things that teenagers who weren’t in training to be superheroes back home would do. Like being in the new musical, spending time with friends, or dating Ben. Especially dating Ben. Though she had a crush on Izuku back home, she didn’t have time for dating or a boyfriend. She liked that she was able to do that with Ben here.
“I want a giant stack of pancakes,” she said, as they made their way to the waypoint. “And orange juice. Ooooh and a little bowl of fruit.” Back home, she would have never eaten a full meal like this. But being in Vallo, she didn’t feel like she had to constantly ration food.
Tenya nodded his agreement. For all the differing people that were here, Vallo seemed to overall lean somewhat towards American style foods and things. It was a bit of an adjustment, but not overly difficult. “I think some eggs are in order as well,” he said, “but I am otherwise in agreement.”
Being part of the stage building crew for the next musical was definitely a blessing. It too helped to direct some of his restless energy. It was a project with specific goals and deadlines, obligations that he well understood. He knew there were those who considered him uptight, but a regimented schedule helped him shape his day into what he wanted it to be.
“How goes your part in the new musical?” he asked.
Ochaco nodded, her stomach rumbling at the thought of eggs. “And bacon, too,” she said. She definitely didn’t mind an American style breakfast. “All part of a well-rounded balanced breakfast.
Ochaco had a feeling that getting Tenya to try out for the musical wouldn’t be as successful as she had planned. Though she had gotten a bit of a giggle at his audition. The stage crew definitely seemed to be a better fit for him. Her definitely had the barking out orders part down.
“Pretty good!” she said, as she started to look for a diner at the waypoint. “It’s a little different playing an evil stepsister, and I don’t like being mean to Sabrina, but it’s all pretend, and Sabrina knows it’s fake. It’s a little fun getting to be the bad guy, actually.”
Ochaco found a diner not too far from the apartments where they could get breakfast, then go home to change for school after. She waited until Tenya placed his hand on the waypoint before selecting. The familiar feeling of getting dragged to another place started to take over.
And when it stopped, Ochaco was definitely not in her intended destination. In fact, she seemed to be in some sort of...creepy hotel, it seemed. Even worse, she couldn’t find Tenya at all. Had they gotten separated somehow?
Ochaco looked around, trying to find her friend. “Tenya?” She called out, not getting a response.
Against her better judgement, Ochaco headed down an empty hallway, looking for her friend.
He was definitely not suited to the world of performing. Though that was something he would have to work on. Being able to assure people that things were all right, to project strength even when you were faltering, to show courage instead of fear, these were important qualities for a Hero to have. Perhaps in time he could fully master those skills. His Villain impression had done well enough, so perhaps it was just an adjustment of mindset.
That point, however, immediately became moot upon realizing that he was not at their intended destination. It appeared to be a hotel by the decor, but it was not a place he recognized. “Hello?” he called out. “Is there anyone there? I did not mean to intrude, but there seems to have a been malfunction with the waypoint…”
Only silence greeted him. Was the hotel not operational? Or perhaps all the staff was simply occupied with other tasks? But if so, were there any guests? He would hate to be a disturbance.
Strange, though. There was something about it all that put him ill at ease. Even the pattern of the carpet seemed slightly wrong to his eyes, in a way that he could not identify.
Carefully, he proceeded, to see if he could find Ochaco.
Ochaco hadn’t spent a lot of time in hotels. Her family never really had the money to spend on vacations, so they didn’t travel a lot. Still, she’d been in a really fancy resort when she visited I-Island with Momo and Kyoka. And even though nothing about this seemed nearly as the resort that she’d stayed in there, Ochaco was fairly certain that hotels were not supposed to be this...vacant. There didn’t appear to almost anyone there. No staff, no guests. The whole atmosphere of the building just seemed...off. Like something about it wasn’t quite right.
Ochaco definitely didn’t want to stick around long enough in one place to find out. She wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible. But she couldn’t do that without seeing if Tenya was there, too. She had no idea if he’d gotten dragged there with her or not. She couldn’t just walk out knowing that her friend might possibly be in there somewhere.
Ochaco continued down the hallways, calling out for Tenya, not hearing any response. Eventually, she spotted a shadow in the distance. It looked like it might be tall enough to be Tenya. Ochaco felt a little lighter, racing towards who was hopefully her friend.
“Tenya!” She said, heaving a sigh of relief. “I’m so glad that I found you! I was so-”
Ochaco stopped dead in her tracks, confused. There was definitely someone familiar in front of her...but it wasn’t Tenya.
He was having no luck in finding Ochaco. In fact, he was having no luck finding anyone at all. It seemed as though the entire hotel was deserted. Tenya did not believe in ghosts or hauntings. He was far too logical and reasonable for that. Certainly, there were Quirks which could produce similar effects, but that was a different matter entirely.
But he was forced to remind himself, the usual rules did not apply here. There seemed to be a whole host of supernatural entities afoot in Vallo and he did not understand the parameters by which they operated. He would have to maintain his guard if he wanted to get himself and Ochaco out.
He hoped that she was safe. But he was all too certain that he had seen her drawn in with him. Which meant she too was trapped somewhere inside.
The sound of squeaky wheels caught his attention and his head snapped to the direction of the sound. “Br-Brother?!”
Ochaco moved closer to the version of her teacher in front of her. Something about this seemed off. Mr. Aizawa couldn’t really be here, right? Surely, if he’d been pulled through her and Tenya would have found out some other way. Everything about this was setting off alarm bells in her head. This couldn’t be right.
“Mr. Aizawa?” she asked again, cautiously moving forward. No response. He just stared at her, his eyes glowing red as they usually did when he used his quirk. Why wasn’t he answering her? Sure, her teacher wasn’t the most talkative of people, but this was just out of character, even for him.
Out of nowhere, Mr. Aizawa sprang forward, his signature capture tape shooting out in front of him, ensaring her ankle. Ochaco fell to the floor, throwing her hand behind her to avoid hitting head on the hard ground. She looked up, seeing her teacher leering over her, eyes glowing red. Ochaco couldn’t help but let out a scared whimper.
”Sloppy,” came her teacher’s voice, harsh and full of criticism. ”But of course, that’s to be expected. After all, you never belonged at UA to begin with.”
It was his brother. Tensei! His inspiration! His brother cast a long shadow, one Tenya was determined to go beyond.
His brother smiled easily. Even in the wake of his injuries, he never stopped looking ahead and staying positive. He had accepted that his time was done and was ready to see Tenya take his place.
He was not smiling now. Instead, he was as serious as Tenya had ever seen him, his mouth set in a grim line. “I’ve got to say, little brother, I’m pretty disappointed in you. You let us all down with that stunt with the Hero Killer. And going on an unsanctioned rescue mission? Not exactly the kind of behavior people expect from the Iidas.”
“I… I make no excuses for my earlier actions,” Tenya said. His hand twitched, the nerve damage suddenly acting up. He clenched it closed and tried to force it to stop trembling. “But based upon what Ochaco has said, I believe the latter actions were the correct choice.”
“I don’t know,” Tensei said, shaking his head. “Starting to think it was a mistake telling you to continue the Ingenium name. All that shiny armor’s not worth a damn if what’s underneath is tarnished.”
All Tenya had wanted was to do good. To make his family proud. To live up to the proud Iida legacy.
Had he failed already? And so young? Were his mistakes too much?
”I never understood why they even let you in the first place,” Aizawa said, pulling Ochaco in closer with his capture tape. Ocacho struggled to, trying to use her quirk, but it felt like it was failing her. She didn’t know if it was her teacher’s own quirk of Erasure preventing her, or her own fear. Maybe it was both. All she knew was that none of this felt right. She wanted to scream, but she couldn’t even manage a sound.
”You know you’re not as good enough as your peers,” he continued, ”And it shows. Did you really think you’d be a successful hero? That you’d be able to give your parents the life that they could never give you? Even if you had the skills, which yes, your quirk is impressive, but Rescue Heroes like you are a dime a dozen, do you really think you’d be able to handle the pressure? You’re soft enough to begin with.”
Ochaco struggled against the capture tape, trying to avoid being pulled further in. No, no, no. He didn’t mean what he said, right? Ochaco knew that she didn’t have the flashiest quirk, or a lot of money to really get herself started. And there were a lot of rescue heroes out there, sure. But she could do it. She was working hard, and she knew she was pushing herself harder than she ever had before.
Still...what if he was right?
His brother’s disapproving look was almost more than Tenya could bear. All his life, he had looked up to Tensei, tried to follow his example, wanted nothing more than his approval. And now… was his beloved brother right? Was he a failure?
“You know I’m right,” Tensei said. “Three generations of the Iida family, and you managed to let us all down in your first year of school. That’s got to be a new record for disappointments.”
He wheeled himself closer. “You’re just not Hero material, Tenya.”
Tensei was right. He was a failure. A reckless disappointment who had already repeatedly proven he had no respect for the rules or laws of their super-human society. He was no better than Stain, no better than the League of Villains. He had no business even trying to be a Hero, not when all he did was bring dishonor on his name…
Honor that his brother had tried to get him to bring, by taking on the Ingenium name. Something he was as yet unsure of. But something his brother had insisted upon.
His brother. Who had always, always, loved and supported him, no matter what. Who wanted him to take up his name.
Who, even when he was disappointed in him, would have never, ever spoken to him like that.
Tenya pushed his glasses up. “You are not my brother.”
Did her teacher really feel like she wasn’t going to succeed? Did her parents think that she was just going to fail? Did her friends feel sorry for her? Was trying to be a hero really going to make her successful? Ochaco felt her body go limp. They were right. Of course they were. She was just a failure. She wasn’t going to go anywhere. A lot of heroes never made it past the sidekick stage. Of course she was going to be one of them. If they didn’t expel her from UA before then.
Ochaco shook her head, digging her knuckles into the ground to avoid being pulled further. No. Whatever this version of Aizawa was, he was not right. Ochaco was better than what he was telling her she was. She’d done nothing but push herself since arriving at UA. She held her own against Katsuki Bakugo, one of the most terrifying people (villains included) in the Sports Festival to the point where he respected her. And Ochaco knew that respect wasn’t easy to get by a longshot. She’d lost, ultimately, in the end, but Ochaco had pushed herself and put up the best fight possible.
She had done so much more than she ever believed she was capable of. She’d come so far, and she was proud of her accomplishments.
She had come up against so much in her first year in UA alone that would have broken others. And there were a few times she did want to break. But she didn’t. No, she moved forward, and if anything, she made herself better. She belonged in UA just as much as any of her friends did. She would be successful. She would make a name for herself. And she would give her parents the life that they had never been able to give her growing up.
“You’re wrong!” She exclaimed, springing to her feet, pulling against the capture tape. “I do belong at UA! I’ve earned my place! I’m stronger and better than any of the bad things you could say about me!” She launched herself forward, kicking the version of her teacher square in the chest.
“Now, if you would excuse me, I’m going to find my friend!”
“It is true I have made my share of mistakes,” Tenya said. His hand was twitching again, but he ignored it. “But my brother, bless him, would forgive me all of them. So I know that you are not him.”
He took a single step back. “And I have come through those mistakes stronger, more certain of what a true Hero is and what I need to do to become one. You cannot dissuade me from my goals and I will no longer allow you to chip away at my confidence.”
He had friends who trusted and believed in him. A brother and family that loved him and were looking to him to be the next champion of their line. Even Manual, whose trust he had betrayed, had left him with no hard feelings.
The only person who questioned him… was him. He had thought himself past it, but it seemed he was not. But now… now he would. Heroes grappled with all kinds of threats, including threats from within, to themselves.
This was a battle he could, he would, he must win.
His Engines fired and his speed carried him past the duplicitous version of his brother, slamming into him with enough force to send him rolling down the hall at high speed.
“Ochaco! Where are you?!”
At the sound of Tenya’s voice, Ochaco started sprinting towards it, leaving the apparition of Aizawa behind her. “Tenya!” She cried out, running as fast as she could, “I’m over here!”
She wouldn’t stop running until their paths collided.
Tenya skidded to a stop as he neared Ochaco. He wouldn’t be able to use his Quirk for the next several minutes. Reckless, perhaps, but ultimately necessary.
“Ochaco!” he called out. “This is a most foul and unnatural place,” he said. “I thought… I thought I saw my brother.”
Ochaco gave him a hug. “I’m so sorry, Tenya,” she said. “I saw Aizawa. It...wasn’t good.”
She held out her hand to him. “Let’s leave this place
Once he took it, she’d make sure they got out as quickly as possible.