I dismissed the text box as I walked onto the arena. Todoroki and I glared at each other and I looked at his level.
“Won’t this be a cool fight, folks?” Mic-sensei shouted.
“Both Midoriya and Todoroki have proven themselves to be capable of great feats of power,” Aizawa added. “Be on the lookout for flying ice.”
“Alrighty, I want a clean fight, you two!” Midnight declared. “Try not to freeze the audience again. Go!”
Todoroki started the fight off by sending an encroaching wall of ice at me. I waved my hand, causing the ice to shatter before it could even get close to me. I was still struck with a wave of biting cold, but I just warmed myself back up with some fire magic. Then I infused myself with ice magic. Snowflakes fell off my body as frost spread along the ground by my feet. Todoroki shot another ice wall at me, but I destroyed it again. This time, though, the cold didn’t even bother me. I could feel it, but with Ice Aura active I was much more resistant to the cold. I activated Open Mind to try to get a better read on Todoroki.
“-get in closer so he can’t… Wait, what is that magic? It’s almost like he’s… Hang on.” For some reason the Wii theme music and the Wii Shop Channel music started playing over each other in his brain.
Todoroki took advantage of my confusion to charge at me by surfing on a wave of ice. Before he could touch me I sublimated the ice he was standing on and punched him in the gut with low-power OFA. “Were you able to sense me reading your mind!?” I asked him incredulously after he slammed into an ice wall he made.
He blinked. “Yes.” I deactivated Open Mind. “Can you not sense magic?”
“I can see magic if I use a certain spell, but I can’t just sense it…”
“Oh. I assumed you could because of how you draw in ambient magical energy to replenish your mana reserve.”
My eye twitched. I inhaled and clasped my hands together. “Okay. This… is neither the time nor the place for whatever the hell exposition you have. Can we… Can we talk about this later?”
Todoroki shrugged. “That’s fine.” Then he clenched his fist. The frost by my feet surged up, trapping me up to my waist in ice. “This battle won’t last long, anyway.”
I used a partial application of Ice Embodiment to walk through the ice. “I wouldn’t be too sure about that, Todoroki.” I shot a beam of ice magic at him, which he blocked with a wall of ice. I Flash Stepped into his ice wall, merging through it and to the other side. I saw his eyes widen right before I punched him in the face with an ice-wreathed fist. He tried to catch me between two ice walls, but I switched on Ice Embodiment at just the right time to merge with the ice. I exploded out of the ice, caught the shards I’d made, and threw them at Todoroki. He blocked them with yet another wall of ice, but I noticed something before he did.
“Just like I thought, you’re getting cold,” I said after using Sound Embodiment to get behind him. He turned around, slower than he would have before, letting me see that his right side was covered in frost and he was shivering. “That’s the thing about Quirks. They have the potential to be even more powerful than magic even when less energy is used, but they usually have some drawback. Kacchan’s Quirk lets him make powerful explosions, but it hurts his arms. Uraraka’s Quirk lets her erase gravity, but it gives her nausea. Tsu has frog powers, but also a weakness to extreme temperatures. And you? You’re resistant to your Quirk, but not immune.” He sighed, his breath visible. “Sure, you’d be fine if you used your two sides in tandem, but you don’t. Here everyone’s going all-out, but you’re only using half your power!”
Todoroki glared at me and tried to hit me with another ice attack. It was weaker and slower, though, so I dodged it easily. “Did my father bribe you into forcing me to use his power? And after what you told me…”
I growled and tossed his ice at him. “This has nothing to do with him!” He tried to charge at me again, but I threw him away even easier than the last time. He was almost thrown out of the ring before he managed to stop himself with a wall of ice. It looked like he’d switched to using ice mana instead of his Quirk, which meant he traded the high power he was used to to not be affected by his ice, but the damage was already done. He was covered in frost and visibly shaking. “Everyone here is giving it their all and here you’re holding back half your power, literally!”
Todoroki dashed at me with a significantly smaller wave of ice compared to before. I made blades of ice on my shoes and skated away. “Why are you doing this?” he asked me.
“How could I call myself a hero if I couldn’t save one person?” I asked. “Now show my your full power!”
“I refuse to use my father’s power,” he said.
I growled. “IT’S YOUR POWER, NOT HIS!” I screamed. I saw a flash of something in Todoroki’s eyes, and flames danced off his scar.
This Life Is Mine
I smiled. Not only did his level raise by two, but his title changed to something much more uplifting. “Why?” he asked me as his entire left side lit ablaze, warming up his right side and dispelling the ice. It looked like he was also resistant to temperature shock. “Why were you so insistent on getting me to use my fire?”
“It’s like I said. I wanted to save you.” His fire flared.
“Shōtooooooo!” Enji screamed from the sideline. I glared at him. He looked over at me for only a moment, but thanks to Tactician and the fact that I knew what to look for I felt… I guess the best way to describe it was the “level” of fear he was feeling. It was either zero or so minimal that I couldn’t feel any fear on him, but I still felt something there. I pulled on it, raising the amount of fear he felt as high as I could. In the span of a moment, his expression of joy turned straight to terror, and was it just me or did a dark stain appear on his pants?
“Right, so where were we?” I asked Todoroki as Enji slinked off like a coward.
Todoroki smiled at me. It was small, but I definitely saw it. “I believe we were about to get this fight started for real.” His fire roared and he swiped his right arm at me. Incredibly thick ice spread out from all around him, frost spreading onto his hand but immediately melting off. I grinned and jumped towards him, sailing through the wave of ice. I readied a One For All-enhanced punch as he glowed red-hot. The air around him shimmered as he pointed his palm at me. I activated Mana Dome. Before we could even clash, he caused an explosion by superheating the air that had been chilled from our icy fight.
I was blown back by the sheer force of the explosion. I saw the ground sail under me, and in my desperation clawed at it. Ping. Before my fingers touched the concrete, they transformed into sharpened white claws that I used to dig into the ground and slow myself down. Skeletal, another of the past wielders’ Quirks. Hopefully it just looked like ice, though… I still grabbed the two chunks of ground that my bone claws tore up with molten mana and turned them into giant lava shuriken, like a lavabender. I got up and saw Todoroki just barely in the arena, saved just in time by a wall of ice. I chuckled. “You up for more?” I asked over the roar of the crowd.
Todoroki got up. “Of course,” he said.
I threw my lava shuriken at him. He froze one and shot the other with a fire blast. He still had to dodge because fire-based attacks are not the best at stopping molten magic, but I gave him an A for effort. It was good to know he was using his fire, at least. He threw an ice attack at me, which I dodged, and hit me in the face with a burst of fire. That hurt, but not enough to stop me.
I grinned and slammed the ground. “Limit Break!” I shouted. Glowing cracks spread along the ground around me. Lava erupted from the ground and converged on me as I merged with it. “Molten Tiger!” I shaped the lava around me into, as I said, a giant tiger, with varying levels of heat used to make the stripes and other details.
Todoroki gaped at me for a second before giving me a small smile. Small flames danced around the left side of his body, a preparation for the sheer amount of ice he produced and then compacted into the shape of an Eastern-style dragon, which he froze himself by just the feet onto the back of. “Arctic Dragon!” he answered. We roared at each other and charged. I sank my red-hot teeth into the side of his dragon while it dug into my shoulder with teeth made of white ice. Each bite made my MP take a hit, while at the same time my bites did the same for Todoroki. Still, with his Quirk he wasn’t expending nearly as much as me. One for All helped, but it looked like Todoroki was coming out ahead…
I dug my claws into the ground, creating cracks that stretched out under Todoroki’s dragon. Lava erupted, curling around its thin body before solidifying in the chill. That took a big chunk out of my MP, but it was worth it to immobilize the dragon. I swiped at Todoroki with my claws, causing him to eject himself from where he was standing on the dragon’s back. While he was still in the air, I opened my mouth and spat a high-powered fireball at him. While the heat didn’t affect him much, the concussion from the blast knocked him back to the edge of the arena. Before he even landed, I slammed my front paws into the ground. Cracks spread along the ground, and right after Todoroki landed the ground he crashed on was sent flying backwards by an eruption of lava. While he was able to immediately chill it enough to turn the lava into a surprisingly stable column, the concrete gave out from the sudden changes in temperature and he fell out of bounds.
Midnight cracked her whip. “Todoroki is out of bounds! The match goes to Midoriya!”
Todoroki sighed and slumped down. My Molten Tiger collapsed as I left it and then walked over to Todoroki. The left half of his uniform was almost completely burned away from his own fire. “You okay?” I asked. I rubbed the back of my head. “Sorry, I might have overdone it a bit…”
Todoroki shook his head. “I’m fine,” he assured me as he got up. “I suppose if I’m out of the tournament anyway, I should talk to Shuzenji-sensei?”
“Oh, yeah. That’s probably a good idea! You might not even miss out on too much, there’s a TV in the temporary office.” I thought for a moment. “Do you want me to take you there?” I asked. “I know where it is and I’ll back you up if your father tries to talk to you.”
Todoroki considered it. “Sure. I’ll tell you about how I can sense magic on the way.” He held his hand out.
I shook his hand. “Let’s go, then,” I said with a smile.
“I believe I promised to tell you about my ability to sens-”
“Shōto,” Enji interrupted. “It’s good to see you using your fire. You should train, though. You have no control over it. Just look at your poor shirt!”
“Enji,” I growled, taking a step forward. He flinched before I even thought to use Fear again. Good. I could live with my friend’s abusive father developing a conditioned fear response to me.
Before I could actually use Fear, though, Todoroki stepped forward and put his arm in front of me. “Let me, Midoriya.” He glared at his father. “I forgot about you, out there. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, though, so I’ll think about that.” He walked past Enji. “We’re leaving now, Midoriya.”
I glared at Enji as I followed Todoroki. You’d better believe I used Fear on him.
“As I was saying, I believe I promised to tell you about my ability to sense magic.”
“Yeah, how did that happen.”
“To be perfectly honest I have no idea.” He was silent for a moment. “I technically know what caused it, but not really. About a year ago, maybe a little less, I was resting after a particularly… intense… training session with my father.” I winced. “I don’t know if it was that I was in a bad state, or if it was something that would have happened to me anyway, or what, but while I nursed my wounds I felt… something. It was a wave of magic, more powerful than anything I’ve seen since, yet at the same time I didn’t see anything. Perhaps it was just because I wasn’t used to my new sense, though. I passed out, and when I woke the next day I could feel magic teeming in everything. It was… an adjustment… but eventually I gained a feel for it. It was a tremendous help. I could feel the fire within my father, letting me know where he was and how agitated he was without even seeing him.”
I winced again at the implications. “Soooo… what was it you said about me absorbing ambient magical energy?”
Todoroki shrugged. “Everyone does it, as far as I can tell, but I’ve noticed that you do it much more, and you seem to increase your intake at times.”
I nodded. “That’s probably Meditation or Mantra. I’ve tried to teach other people how to use them, but nobody seems to be able to figure it out. If there’s a part that I’ve been doing automatically, probably due to my Quirk, that’d explain that.”
“I see. You said that you can see magic, right?”
“With a spell called Eye for Magic, yeah. It doesn’t seem to pick up the ambient magic, though. Just spells and stuff.”
He stopped walking. “Watch, please.” He closed his eyes. With Eye for Magic I saw that his mana was acting in what looked like a similar way to how mine acted when I used Meditation. It was a bit different, though… “It’s nowhere near as good as yours, but it helps in a pinch…”
“That’s… interesting. Do you think you could teach other people to do that?”
He shook his head. “Not likely. I was only able to figure it out because I could sense the magic, which I don’t know how I figured out in the first place.”
I sighed. “Oh well.” I saw the sign for Shuzenji-sensei’s office. “Right, we’re here. Do you want me to go in with you or..?”
“No, that’s fine. Go watch the tournament.”
“If you say so.” I pulled out a small piece of paper and wrote my number on it. “Just in case you need someone to talk to,” I offered.
He accepted it. “Thank you, Midoriya.”
On the way back to the stands, I bumped into Aoyama. “Are you okay?” I asked. He looked really queasy.
“Ah, non non,” he said. “Don’t worry about me, ça va bien!” He had an uneasy smile.
“Are you sure?” I asked. “Your belt was melted.”
Aoyama smiled for a bit before sighing. “You see, my belt… it was made to help me control my Quirk, as my power is too much for my body to handle. I don’t know if I can do this without it…”
“I believe in you,” I said. “I’m sure that if you do your best, you can do well. And remember that even if you don’t think you can use your Quirk, you still have magic and your fists, right?”
Aoyama beamed at me. “Merci,” he said with a twinkle.
“De rien,” I replied.
He gasped. “Tu parles francais?” he asked excitedly.
I nodded. “Oui, un peu.” I confirmed.
He sparkled some more. “I didn’t know anyone else in our class spoke French!”
I rubbed the back of my neck. “Learning. I don’t suppose-”
“Oui! Of course I’ll help you with your French!”
I smiled. “Thanks. If you want I’ll help you with magic. Speaking of which, good luck with your match!”