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Hypothetically... Could... I be a hero? Could someone like me, I mean, hypothetically, if I wanted to.note 
"You either die a Hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the Villain.
Or, you're raised a villain, rebel when you're nine, and fight against the odds to become a Hero anyway.
That's how it is in Izuku's case."
—The story's tagline
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Inko Midoriya loves her son Izuku with all her heart. He's constantly swaddling himself in plush toys and blankets as he locks himself away in his room, only coming out when it's time to eat or if he needs to ask her for something.

But he's... special.

After taking him in when he was "about" nine years old (she had no way of knowing for sure), she learned that he has boundaries. He hates being around people. Not because he dislikes people, but because he's afraid of them. He's afraid of what he can do to them. He tells her to have friends over anyways, because he knows it's not healthy for her to do nothing but take care of him. But he hides from them until she asks them to leave.

He dyes his black hair green. "Black is scary," he says. "Green is pretty." It makes him happy. She thinks it's because he wants to have the same hair color as her. It's expensive, but she allows him to indulge in this habit.

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He has recurring nightmares. Many times he would go to Inko's room and ask to sleep with her, squeezing her in a death grip as he trembles in her arms. But he never cries or talks about what he dreams about. She would never make him relive whatever horrible things he saw.

He also has knives. Lots of knives. He can't go anywhere without them. They make him feel safe. He needs them to protect himself. It's what he was raised to use.

He was raised to become a Villain. A murderer. A monster.

But beneath it all, he doesn't want to hurt anyone.

But could someone who was raised as a Villain really become a Hero?

Live a Hero is a My Hero Academia Alternate Universe Fic written by BeyondTheClouds777, who is also known for writing Dis(associate). A self-titled "Reverse Villain AU", it follows Izuku as a troubled boy who was raised to be a Serial Killer for the League of Villains. Plagued with nightmares, paranoia, a dangerous Quirk, and a disconcerting ability to handle knives, it follows his journey to become a Hero in spite of it all.

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It can be read here.

Now has a character page. Needs assistance.

Beware of unmarked spoilers.

Live a Hero provides examples of...

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     A-D 
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In canon, Izuku was raised by his loving mother and had a mostly pleasant home life aside from being bullied and beaten constantly in school. Here, he was raised by the League of Villains to be a Serial Killer. He was abused, malnourished, and treated like a tool until he was rescued by Ingenium and taken in by Inko. He also had to watch his older sister, the only positive influence in his life up to that point, be murdered right in front of him.
    • Kirishima also has his fair share too. On top of his existing neuroses, he has to deal with the questions surrounding his adoption, the responsibilities he has as One For All's current bearer, as well as his constant worry for Izuku's well-being.
  • Adaptational Badass: Compared to his Quirkless canon counterpart who had to be rescued by All Might, Izuku is able to handle the Sludge Villain completely on his own without using his Quirk. Kirishima also inherits One For All, allowing him to wreck the zero-pointer on his lonesome at the cost of a broken arm. He later learns how to use his Hardening Quirk to minimize the damage.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Izuku's sister called him "Kitten" because of how meek he was and his proficiency with knives. He called her "Ko-chan" in return.
    • Mina starts calling Izuku "Midori" and Tsuyu calls him "Midori-chan".
    • Izuku begins affectionately calling Kirishima "Kiri-chan" as they become closer.
  • Adaptational Superpower Change:
    • Izuku's canon counterpart was Quirkless until he gained One For All. Here, Izuku was also born Quirkless until he had his Quirk forced upon him by All For One, giving him the ability to amplify and twist the senses of anyone around him. While Canon!Izuku was a pretty normal, nerdy kid, the Izuku in this story is a Knife Nut trained to be a serial killer.
    • It's also confirmed that Kirishima became the inheritor of One For All.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • Bakugou and Izuku are childhood friends in canon. Here, however, they are strangers to each other. Inko isn't a close friend of the Bakugous too because of this.
    • In this story, Hisashi left Inko years before she took in Izuku. Inko is also a lawyer instead of a housewife.
    • Aizawa is Izuku's mentor and father figure rather than All Might, though this isn't from lack of interest on All Might's end. He's simply too out of his depth in helping Izuku deal with the trauma he's gone through, resulting in Aizawa offering to help Izuku while he helps and trains Kirishima.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Izuku is trying to convince Shigaraki - who was left Brainwashed and Crazy by the villains he is allied against - that the League of Villains are the evil ones and that Izuku is not the one who is brainwashed, he tries to give him a folder of their information that reveals the truth of the abuse they suffered from. The doctor tries convincing Shigaraki to capture Izuku, but he tries to make sure that he does not see the folder, leading to...
Izuku: If I'm really so wrong... then why won't the doctor let you see the folder?
  • Bad Liar: Kirishima is a terrible liar and easily jumps and gets nervous when pressed. It's easy for Izuku to deduce that Kirishima received One For All, but decides to let Kirishima tell him himself. When he finally does, Izuku is expecting a much worse secret and brushes it off as if it were nothing.
  • Book Dumb: Kirishima struggles with his studies, but it's more because he tends to rush ahead rather than digest the whole problem rather than actually being stupid. Izuku points out that Kirishima got three questions in a row wrong because he wrote the equation down incorrectly, which affected all of his answers.
  • Break the Cutie: Izuku wasn't wanted by his biological parents, leaving him and his sister for dead by handing them off to the League of Villains when they were just one and three-years-old respectively. He was then beaten, abused, and forced to undergo Training from Hell in an attempt to turn him into a Tyke-Bomb, frequently being forced to use his own sister for target practice with throwing knives. Although he's as miserable as any kid would be, his sister made sure to instill a good sense of right and wrong in him and gave him some feeling of normalcy and love in the hellhole he was thrown into. When he was nine years old, he was forced to watch as his sister was brutally murdered in front of him by the series' Big Bad, who then decided to test Izuku's reaction to having a Quirk forced onto him, leaving the boy in excruciating pain as his body was torn up from the inside by the Quirk transfer process. Although he managed to hold onto his sanity and humanity, he was left a very broken, paranoid, and dangerous young boy whose only saving grace was that he was taken in by Inko, who offered him a loving home despite the difficulties he created and put him on the path to recovery.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Neito Monoma gets one when he copied Izuku's quirk which results into a Traumatic Superpower Awakening for Monoma himself. So much that he dropped out of the Hero Course after self-analyzing himself and decided to better himself as a person before he decided to return to the Hero Course again.
    • If Bakugou's more subdued nature after the Sports Festival is any indication, his loss to Kirishima taught him a thing or two on humility.
  • Brown Note: Izuku's Quirk, forcibly pushed upon him by All For One, allows him to twist, amplify, or even take away the senses of others, causing excruciating pain or leaving others blind, deaf, or otherwise. It also fills their minds with static, preventing them from forming any coherent thoughts. Worse still, he can't turn it off, and he has to constantly turn it inward in order to prevent himself from hurting others. While using it against others, his dialogue is rendered in barely legible static, and he shuts down everyone else's ability to properly think on top of making the Sludge Villain beg for mercy. By the end of the encounter, the Sludge Villain is catatonic and hasn't responded since Izuku got out of the hospital.
    • When Monoma copied his quirk during the Sports Festival, Monoma ended up traumatized at the activation and experience itself.
  • Cliffhanger: Chapter 22 ends during the Cavalry Battle, just as Neito Monoma copies Izuku's Quirk.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Due to his gaseous physiology, Kurogiri is one of few individuals immune to Izuku's quirk.
  • Cool Big Sis: Izuku's older sister was the only person who managed to keep him sane and somewhat happy while being trained by the League of Villains, assuring him that none of the injuries she sustained while being forced to act as a target for Izuku's throwing knife practice were his fault. She shrugged off the scars she got from him and never resented him for a second, promising that they'll one day both be free of the League. She spent her last moments with her brother trying to ensure that he knows what the League of Villains was evil to steer him onto the right path by refusing to murder her own abuser.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Izuku's sister, Kowareta, died after having every bone in her body broken on top of having all of her internal organs damaged beyond repair when All For One forced a Quirk on her. Izuku had to watch all of this.
  • Cute Kitten: Izuku takes in a bunch of cats despite his mom's protests. One of these cats happens to be pregnant and he's left with an entire litter of kittens that he takes care of. He's doting and affectionate towards them and the feeling is mutual. He gives them names like Snowball, Fistfight, Fiddlesticks, and Rainbow.
    Rainbow: [translated through Kouda] This one’s mine [places her head underneath Izuku's chin] He has lots of problems. He likes you, he thinks you’re nice. You’re quiet. He doesn’t mind being with you. [curls up against Izuku's chest] He’s my kitten, I love him very much.
  • Cute Mute: Yatchi, a deaf girl Izuku encounters while out on a walk, doesn't speak except through sign language. Izuku is the only one nearby who could speak to her because of his own knowledge of sign language. Izuku himself was extremely reluctant to speak to others until they gained his trust, answering questions mostly in nods or shakes of his head, and even this took months of building trust with him. After particularly bad breakdowns or nightmares, he might also go mute for a few days as he copes, returning to his old pattern of nodding and shaking his head at everything.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Izuku can't turn off his Quirk on his own, requiring Aizawa's intervention or the use of Quirk suppressants and overuse causes Izuku to bleed. Seeing Aizawa's still, bleeding form at USJ causes Izuku to throw off any semblance of restraint, cranking his Quirk to full power and single-handedly incapacitating every single Villain at USJ, including the Nomu. But he nearly loses himself to his power and lust for revenge, barely restraining himself from killing Shigaraki. After this, he begins puking up blood and not even Aizawa's Erasure can stop Izuku's Quirk, forcing him to inject Izuku with his Quirk suppressants. Unfortunately, this also worsens Izuku's already frail condition and he flatlines twice while in the ambulance.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Izuku is heavily scarred, has been a trained assassin since he was one, possesses a Mind Rape Quirk, and has some very eerie mannerisms, but he's a fundamentally good kid who wants to save people from going through the same hell he went through in his early childhood. Ironically, he's nyctophobic.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: After being left to the League of Villains by his parents, Izuku was abused, malnourished, and given Training from Hell in hopes of breaking his psyche and turning him into a psychotic murderer. The one thing that kept him sane was his sister, who constantly comforted and protected him even as she suffered along with him. After seeing her brutally murdered before his eyes, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge that causes him to lunge at All For One. Soon afterward, he ended up on the streets during a mass of Villain attacks. By this point, Izuku was so terrified of everyone else that he instantly turns his new Quirk on Ingenium, who bore it until Izuku finally managed to calm down and fell unconscious.
  • Darkness = Death: Izuku's opinion. He hates black and loves colorful things with "pretty patterns", splattering the walls of his room with red, blue, green, pink, and purple paint. His favorite hoodie is tie-dyed blue and white like a sunny day with fluffy clouds and he has plenty of blankets and plush toys to swaddle himself in. He also gets notably gloomier whenever it's about to rain and wears light-up sneakers or holds a flashlight if he has to travel in dimly-lit areas.
    • It's later revealed that he has a pink laptop that's covered in stickers and his schoolbag is purple with swirling tie-dye to resemble stars and galaxies.
    • Izuku's new friends at 1-A are surprised when they find that his Hero Costume is mostly black. He balances this with his light-up boots and the silvery lining of his cape. He designed it this way to be intimidating to Villains without looking too much like them.
    • Weaponized by the villains after Izuku escapes from his room. Fails because of his light-up shoes and hidden penlight.
  • Deadly Dodging: Izuku spends the entirety of the U.A. Entrance Exam doing this because he isn't allowed to bring his knives and his Quirk is useless against the robots. He even brings down the Zero-Pointer bot this way by getting all the other bots to shoot at it, and manages to walk away with the highest score: 81 combat points and 61 rescue points. Uraraka wonders if Izuku's Quirk makes him some kind of master strategist when she sees this.
  • Declaration of Protection: After the Sludge Villain incident, Izuku promises to never let anyone suffer like his sister had again in remembrance of her promise that they'll be free of the League of Villains one day.
    Izuku: I promise. I promise, Ko-chan. As long as I have a say in it... I won’t let anyone suffer like you suffered. I won’t lose anyone else. I promise. I swear it. No matter what.
  • Determinator: When Izuku is hell-bent on doing something, he'll keep doing it no matter what gets in his way. He's fully willing to attack All For One while screaming bloody vengeance for his sister. When All For One tries to slow Izuku down by giving him the excruciating and most likely deadly experience of having a Quirk forced on him, Izuku continued to hold on and just fought harder.
    Izuku: I think… I think he did it thinking it’d...thinking it’d slow me down, or maybe—maybe even kill me. But... [his hands shake] He underestimated the strength of someone who’d already lost everything.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Izuku has little kindness to spare for murderers and snarks at the Sludge Villain's expense after gouging out its eye.
    Izuku: You're a Villain. And you attacked me. What did you expect me to do? "Oh, yes, please suffocate me. I’d love that." I don’t think so.
  • Dies Wide Open: Izuku's sister, Kowareta, dies in this fashion, having been killed while screaming and in excruciating pain.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Izuku's trainer at the League of Villains frequently called him, "my boy", as did All For One. Because of this, he asks All Might not to call him that because of the painful memories it stirs up.
    • He also takes offense to being called Deku, tackling Bakugou over it even though Izuku isn't sure what it means. It because his old name before he was adopted was "Daku".
  • Dual Wielding: Izuku frequently wields his knives this way, sometimes going so far as to hold three knives between his knuckles in each hand at once.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Izuku's default expression. He's always described as having "dead eyes" except for the few moments where he's pleading, genuinely happy, or surprised at something he or someone else did. Even then, it's hard to tell how he's feeling unless one has gotten to know him.
     E-I 
  • Eye Scream: Izuku inflicts this on the Sludge Villain with a well-placed throwing knife.
  • Fingore: Izuku slices off Shigaraki's index finger when the latter tried to bring him back to the League of Villains.
  • Flat "What": Toshinori's reaction to learning that Izuku can't chop vegetables.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • Izuku is too damaged and unstable to become the inheritor of One For All in this story. It's Kirishima who ends up becoming All Might's successor.
    • Because Izuku placed first in the Entrance Exam instead of Bakugou, Monoma targeted Izuku instead of Bakugou when he plans to gain an upper-hand against 1-A out of petty vendetta. It backfired on him, hard.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Monoma's attempt at getting an upperhand against 1-A backfired as he copied Izuku's quirk and shut down the senses of everyone in the stadium. The end result left Monoma sufficiently traumatized and his team is disqualified as a result.
  • Good Parents: Inko took Izuku in when no one else would, despite the risks of raising such an unstable child. She loves him dearly with all her heart, doing her best to accommodate his shaky emotional and mental state and giving him nothing but affection no matter how dangerous he gets. She is also supportive of his dream to become a Hero, despite his issues and Freakiness Shame. Izuku himself is astonished at her infinite patience for him.
    Inko: [after Izuku asks her "hypothetically" if he could be a Hero] Izuku… is this really hypothetical?
    Izuku: [scraping his knives together frantically] Yes.
    Inko: [gently goes over to him] Izuku... sweetheart, you'd make a great Hero. [Izuku's knives hit the floor as he embraces her in a tight hug]
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Although Izuku is a cat person, he soon loves Cat as much as his actual cats once he's settled in. Kirishima has four golden retriever named Rocky, Kazoo, Fetch, and Max.
  • Heroic RRoD: Izuku suffers severe side effects whenever he uses his Quirk, including nausea, fainting, blindness, and deafness. Kirishima also suffers this while trying to get the hang of One For All, learning to limit it by using his hardening Quirk in tandem with it.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: No matter how much abuse she withstood, Izuku's sister Kowareta had an unshakable sense of right and wrong that she instilled in her little brother. Even when given the opportunity to murder her abuser as part of her "initiation", she flatly refuses because she refuses to become a Villain. Unfortunately, this is also what gets her killed by All For One in hopes of breaking Izuku's psyche.
     K-P 
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Izuku is constantly picking up cats off the street despite his mom's protests. The sight of one alone is enough to make him instantly attached. Aizawa is only marginally better given how he has seventeen cats at his place. Lampshaded, of course.
    Aizawa: This is why you’re the Problem Child. It’s not even because of your past, it’s because you’re a damn cat magnet.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Aside from his school uniform, Izuku's closet is filled with hoodies because he has trouble keeping warm even on sunny days. He also likes the encompassing feeling of softness they provide and the hoods help hide his face and scars.
  • Meaningful Name: Izuku's sister's name, Kowareta, means to be broken or destroyed. Her death was the breaking point that pushed him over the edge and caused him to rebel.
  • Megaton Punch: During the U.A. Entrance Exam, Kirishima launches himself as a human torpedo at the zero-pointer robot, leveling it with One For All but breaking his arm in the process.
  • More Than Mind Control: The third child that Izuku grew up with, Tenko Shimura, better known as Tomura Shigaraki, is insistent in his belief that "Sensei" would have never hurt him and tries to bring Izuku back to the League of Villains when they meet next. When Izuku refuses, Shigaraki assumes that it's Izuku who's been brainwashed.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Kirishima's Hero Costume includes a black long-sleeved shirt in this story, compared his canon counterpart's Walking Shirtless Scene.
  • Nice Guy: Izuku is this at his core. He's always polite and soft-spoken unless someone pushes him into a fight or makes him uncomfortable. He goes out of his way to help a girl he's just met for no reason other than the fact that she asked and wants to be a Hero to keep others from experiencing the same pain he did.
    • Kirishima, as per canon, is also this. He's mindful of Izuku's personal space after seeing his adverse reaction to being touched, tries to help Yatchi, a deaf girl who couldn't hear him, find a police station after she was left behind on a train, and corroborates Izuku's story in the aftermath of the Sludge Villain incident at no benefit to himself.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Izuku's new therapy dog, Cat.
  • Parental Abandonment: Izuku's parents didn't want him or his sister, Kowareta, leaving them to the League of Villains when they were one and three-years-old respectively.
    • Crimson Riot abandoned his son, Kirishima, on his adoptive parents' doorstep.
  • Parental Substitute: Inko adopted him after he escaped the League of Villains and they've been together ever since. His original parents left him for dead with the League of Villains.
    • Both Aizawa and All Might become fatherly towards Izuku, going through great pains to ensure his safety and feeling guilt-ridden when he gets hurt. By the end of the USJ incident, Aizawa has to hug Izuku after the latter flatlines twice.
  • Power Glows: When Izuku unleashes the full power of his Quirk at USJ, the gold in his eyes ends up wrapping around every piece of exposed skin on his body as he brings the League of Villains to its knees.

     R-Y 
  • Related in the Adaptation: Inverted. Izuku is not Inko's biological son, having taken him in after he was rescued by Ingenium. All Might even takes note of the fact that they don't particularly look alike while visiting Izuku in the hospital, but her concern makes it clear that she cares for him and is his mother nonetheless.
    • Kirishima is the son of Crimson Riot, who abandoned the boy after his wife died.
    • Izuku and his sister are cousins to Shigaraki and Nana's grandchildren.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Izuku's sister, Kowareta, was brutally murdered in front of him by All For One, serving as the final catalyst Izuku needed to outright rebel against his captors.
  • Shout-Out: The tagline and the title of the story are both plays on Harvey Dent's most famous quote from The Dark Knight.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Izuku has regular visits to a therapist named Kagami and enjoys speaking with him. While he's still far from normal, Inko's love and care as well as Kagami's professional attention have helped Izuku transition from The Shut-In who is constantly on "attack everyone in sight except for Inko because they're going to hurt me" mode to being able to go on short walks outside on his own and control his flight-or-fight response after bumping into Bakugou on the street. While he's happy with his progress, he wishes he could be normal sooner.
  • Training Montage: In the months leading up to the U.A. Entrance Exam, Izuku gets hand-to-hand combat training from Aizawa, who also tries to help him control his Quirk by turning it off whenever it goes haywire. Kirishima goes through one of his own to inherit One For All.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When All For One gives Izuku's sister Kowareta the chance to murder her "trainer" for all of the abuse heaped upon her and her little brother, she flatly refuses, knowing that she'd be nothing but a Villain if she got revenge that way.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Kowareta, meaning to be destroyed or be broken, is an unlikely name choice for any parent to name their child. But given that her biological parents left her and her little brother to the League of Villains to be raised as Tykebombs, it's highly unlikely that they cared. Izuku is also suggested to have had a similar name, but Kowareta called him "Kitten" instead because he liked it better. He also called her Ko-chan because she didn't like her name either. Izuku is the name he picked out after being adopted by Inko. His original one was Daku, which explains why he flipped out when Bakugou called him Deku.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Played straight with the Sludge Villain, who tries to kill Izuku for his body just like in canon, only to get an eyeful of knives for his trouble. Also played horribly straight with All For One, who brutally murders Kowareta in front of Izuku, who could only look on helplessly as her bones are crushed and she screams while blood splatters all over the floor and walls. He then tries to do the exact same thing to Izuku, who only barely makes it out with his life and sanity intact.
  • You Got Spunk: All For One is amused with Izuku's willing to fight against him and his ability to withstand having a Quirk forced on him.
  • You Remind Me of X: Upon meeting Iida, Izuku feels like he should know him but has trouble putting his finger on it. He later realizes that Iida is the spitting image of Ingenium, the Hero who saved Izuku when he was a child.
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