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Still Breathing

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It was August 25th.

Izuku closed his eyes and tilted his head towards the sky, feeling the bark of the tree he was propped against dig into his back uncomfortably. August 25th... he didn't particularly care about it anymore, if he was being honest. Those days were behind him, and they'd never happen again. Breathing out a long sigh, he slowly opened his eyes again to face the sun, feeling the warmth of it soak into his aching skin. He tilted his head down to look at Katsuki, who had long since lost interest in ripping out the grass by his hands and was more intent on dozing on Izuku's shoulder at the moment. Izuku brushed a leaf out of his hair and let out a short, breathless laugh when another leaf made a home in the blonde monstrosity that lived on Katsuki's head immediately after. Katsuki stirred and peeled his eyes open, frowning up at Izuku. 

"What're you gigglin' about?"

"Leaves just like this mop, I guess." Izuku ruffled Katsuki's hair as he spoke, giggling when Katsuki went cross-eyed to look at the leaf that landed on his nose a heartbeat after. 

Katsuki puffed his lips out in a pout and thocked his fist against the tree, grimacing and shaking his hand out in mild pain before he eloquently grit out, "Fuckin' tree." 

"Hey, you be nice to my tree." 

"Not when it's being a bitch." 

"Oh, hush." Izuku bumped his head against the trunk and smiled broadly when a leaf fell upon his eye. "See, it kissed me."

"Why are the fucking leaves falling in August, anyway?" Katsuki groused, brushing some of the thin leaves off of his shoulders. "What kinda bullshit is that?"

"It's nearing September; fall is upon us already, I guess." Izuku shrugged, eyeing the browning leaves that were a distance away with a small frown. 

Katsuki rolled his eyes and let his head fall upon Izuku's shoulder. "Your stupid ass husband is going to go ape shit over pumpkin spice, isn't he?" 

"Yeah, probably." Izuku began to sigh, giving up on it half-way in favor of laughing. "Shouto just really likes pumpkin, okay? Leave him be. You know Eijirou going to lose his fucking marbles for Halloween come September 1st anyway." 

Katsuki groaned loudly and chucked a rock a distance away. "Jesus Christ, don't remind me."

Izuku hummed in response and the two sat in silence for a good couple minutes, just watching the leaves sway and being content in the other's company. 

"Y'know..." Izuku breathed, fingering a small stone by his thigh. "this is the first autumn I'm going to be spending with Shouto after two years. It--It's just hard for me to grasp that sometimes." 

Katsuki chewed on his bottom lip and looked up at the tree. "I swear, if you tell me the proposal story one more fucking time and make me cry again I'm gonna--"

"Oh, shut up." Izuku smacked Katsuki lightly on the shoulder and smiled at the narrowed eyes he got in response. "It's just...it's really nice to have him back."

Katsuki sobered at this and buried his face deeper into Izuku's shoulder, wrapping both his arms around Izuku's. "You seem a lot happier." 

"I am." Izuku nodded, reaching over and brushing Katsuki hair away from his face with his left hand before settling again. 

Katsuki breathed out a long sigh and closed his eyes, saying nothing more. 

"I never..." Izuku began softly, before tapering off. 

Katsuki opened one eye and implored him to finish. 

"I never did tell you how it all began, did I? Never explained why I worry so much about you kids." He finished quietly, chewing on his lips. 

"...Are you going to tell me?" Katsuki sat up and stared at Izuku with barely veiled excitement. 

"I've kept you in the dark long enough, I guess. And it's over, so it...wouldn't hurt." Izuku shrugged, squeezing Katsuki's hand. 

"Tell me." 

Izuku sucked in a long, long breath, and he said, "It all began August 25th, 2018..."


 

The rubble strewn around the street scraped beneath Izuku's feet as he slipped and slid in search of Uraraka. Every three or so seconds he'd slide and veer in a random direction, but the adrenaline pumping through his veins gave him the lack of presence of mind to ignore the numerous scrapes beginning to litter his shins.

"Y'know, kid...you should really check on your friend."

Nine words had been all it had taken to freeze the blood in his veins.

He squeezed his eyes shut as he begged and pleaded in his head, Please, no, no, no! Ochako, please, be okay-!

Something warm and acrid in smell dripped onto his nose. Izuku skidded to a halt so suddenly and so quickly that he unceremoniously crashed to the ground, his skin of his forearms reduced to ribbons against the asphalt beneath him.

Wh-

He looked up and-

There was Uraraka.

Hanging above him.

On a the light pole.

Her stomach ripped open, intestines visible like a gruesome art display.

Her face frozen in a scream.

-and it only took a second for the world to stop spinning all at once.

The world span in a myriad of color and froze simultaneously. He couldn't look away. Her brown eyes, always lit up with joy were frozen and pale, the ghostly image of a past scream. His heartbeat throbbed in his ears and his legs shook as he stood, his head floating up before him and ears ringing loudly.

"Uraraka…?" His voice didn't sound like him at all.

It sounded tight, terrified. Like a four year old calling for their mother in the darkness.

Move. Please, just move. Anything. Give me a sign, give me anything that'll tell me that you're not--

--you're not--

--not--

Dead.

Someone was grabbing his shoulder, pulling him, urging him in a horrible, desperate, terrified voice, "Sweetie, you have to leave, please, you have to go-"

He moved his feet with a blank face, stumbling as he was ushered away. All he could see was Uraraka hanging there, her limp hand dangling, stretched, as if reaching out for help. He turned back around. She was still there.

She still wasn't moving.

She was still dead.

And on the ground beneath her. 

Written in bloody, chunky red. 

It said. 

Traitor.

His jaw fell open and he screamed.


"There is nothing more terrifying than a man who has lost everything."


September 9th, 2018. Age 17.

There was a moment, just a moment, that Izuku and Present Mic locked eyes.

Present Mic didn't look afraid.

He looked almost...resigned. As if he'd thought it was only a matter of time.

He had…

He had smiled reassuringly at Izuku before he closed his eyes.

He was there for one moment, and gone in the next, his head splattered across the ground, deep red staining the concrete beneath him.

The noumu stood there, looming over them all like the visage of death.

Aizawa screamed.

For just a moment, Uraraka was there too, and Izuku forgot how to breathe.


He still had something.


November 3, 2018. Age 17.

Izuku had never thought an ajar door could've been such a terrifying sight.

Utter panic flared with enough force to mentally bowl Izuku over. Every single facet of his mind shut off and he flung himself inside, the door slamming loudly against the wall.

"Mom!?" Izuku almost tripped against a lump in the carpet, scrambling into the living room. "MOM?!"

Mom came running out of the kitchen, looking terribly startled but okay, and the relief that washed over Izuku turned his knees into jelly and his eyes into rivers. Mom's face softened and she hurried towards him. She cooed and took his cheeks into her soft hands, wiping the tears with her thumb.

"Oh, sweetheart, what's the matter?" She whispered, moving one of her hands to his back and rubbing up and down. "What happened?"

"I-I...the door, i-it was open a little a-and I thought-!" Izuku blubbered, reaching forwards and clutching Mom like a lifeline.

Mom chuckled lowly in her throat and brushed the hair from his face. "It's okay, I'm alright." She frowned a bit, furrowing her eyebrows. "I could've sworn I closed to door all the way shut, though."

And then, Izuku froze because she wasn't alright because something was wrong, something was wrong, something was WRONG, MOM, MOVE, THERE'S SOMEONE BEHIND Y-!


November 18th, 2018. Age 17.

All Might comfortingly rubbed a hand up and down Izuku's back.

"Are you sure you want to do this, my boy?"

Izuku nodded shakily, pressing against All Might's hand.

"I don't want her to go, but I can't let her stay. I can't go to her funeral too."

A tear slid down All Might's face as Izuku handed him the pen.

"My boy…I'm so sorry."

He knew why, of course he did.

"I know."

All Might signed his name on the adoption sheet.

Toshinori Yagi. That was his name. Izuku wondered why he'd never thought to ask.

Especially since Izuku Midoriya was now Izuku Yagi.

Exhaling shakily, Izuku pressed his face into Toshinori Yagi's neck as he was pulled into his lap. Toshinori said nothing as Izuku wept. His shaking shoulders said enough.


December 5th, 2018. Age 17.

Mom was permanently in a wheelchair with tears in her eyes.

"Izuku, I love you. I love you so, so much."

Those were the last words Izuku heard from her before he sent her far, far away.

He wouldn't let her die, even if that meant he'd never see her again.

At least he'd know she'd be alright.

"I love you too, mom."


He still had something.


December 7th, 2018. Age 17.

Izuku was frozen, stock-still, staring.

The police chief, Tsuragamae, was slumped in his chair, a gun clutched in his cold hand and a mosaic of blood splattered on the wall behind his head.

There was blood on the wall behind him.

There was a hole in the side of his head.

Yagi opened the door with a Styrofoam platter of coffee. It crashed to the floor a moment later, the thick brown liquid splashing against Izuku's ankles as Yagi yanked him back, covering his eyes and ushering him out of the room with a cry for help to the other officers.  

It was ruled as suicide.

It wasn't.


He still had something.


February 18th, 2019. Age 17.

Eri tearfully waved goodbye as Mandalay, her new adoptive mother, held her hand. Kouda wrapped a small arm around his new sister's shoulders. Izuku wished his chest would stop aching as he watched her them. Aizawa squeezed his shoulder and ruffled his hair.

"Why didn't you keep her?" Izuku couldn't help but ask. "Why now?"

Aizawa's face changed, morphing into an expression Izuku couldn't place.

"I'm not enough for her." Aizawa said, his voice cold and grim. "She needs someone better."

Izuku didn't like the look in his eyes.


September 9th, 2019. Age 18.

One year.

It had been one year since Present Mic had died.

One year since a ring appeared on Aizawa's hand.

And

It'd been twenty minutes since Izuku had gotten a text from Aizawa.

"I'm sorry." It had read.

The rope creaked as Aizawa's pale, lifeless body swung in his bathroom.

There was a note by his shoeless feet.

His phone was still on, laid on the bathroom counter top.

There were tear tracks on his cheeks.

His fingernails were as pristine as always.

With shaking legs, Izuku turned to the side and vomited before stumbling outside, where Toshinori was standing.

"Well, is he alright?" Toshinori asked, no small amount of worry in his voice.

Izuku said nothing.

Toshinori went inside himself and came out a minute later, his face a ghostly white. Toshinori laid a heavy hand on Izuku's shoulder and turned him around.

"Izuku…" Toshinori trailed off. He wasn't sure what to say, but his face said enough as Izuku's tears finally began to fall. "Oh, honey."


He still had something.


October 27th, 2019. Age 18.

Izuku's ears rang and everything went fuzzy as the car collided with the guard rail. The door on the left side of the car was gone, torn apart by the shock of the impact and lying in shrapnel twenty feet away.  He tumbled out onto the asphalt, his head cracking as it struck the road. His vision span as he dragged his aching body towards the driver's seat.

"Midnight-!" He choked and spat up blood. "Midnight!"

There was no response. He craned up his neck and her hand dangled out of the car window. A droplet of blood splattered against the bridge of his nose.

There was an explosion behind him, but all he could see was Uraraka, just for a moment.

Ragdoll was running towards him.


He still had something.


October 27th, 2019. Age 18.

Izuku wasn't all too sure about what was going on, but Ragdoll was there, whispering in his ear,

"It's gonna be okay, kitten. You're okay, just stay awake and don't make a sound. Stay here, don't move. I'll come get you soon."

She never came back.

It was only when Toshinori was there, smoothing his hair back and sobbing in relief that Izuku noticed her crumpled body a few yards away, her pale eyes staring unseeingly in his direction.


He still had something.


October 29th, 2019. Age 18.

He was in the hospital.

Todoroki held his hand and ran his fingers up and down Izuku's knuckles, looking very relieved.

"You scared the shit out of Yagi-san, Izuku." He said.


January 28th, 2020. Age 18.

He had been the one to find Pixiebob, blood creating a crimson pool beneath her head and her back bent oddly, her shoes still on her feet but still thrown from the roof.

It was terrible to realize he was starting to get used to seeing corpses.


He still had something.


February 4th, 2020. Age 18.

It had taken awhile to scrape Tensei off of the front of the train, apparently.

There wasn't much left of him to bury.

Izuku cursed whichever villain had pushed him in front of the train, because seeing Tenya's tears had hurt more than anything else.


He still had something.


March 13th, 2020. Age 18.

Stain.

It had been Stain who had killed Tensei, pushed his wheelchair in front of the train as it came as some sort of half-assed vengeance. Tenya had gone after him.

Izuku crashed to his knees and slammed his palms against the gritty sidewalk in the alleyway. Gut-heaving sobs spilled past his lips and he shrieked his sorrows, pounding his fists against Tenya's lifeless body.

"You idiot, you fucking idiot!" He wailed, giving up his pounding and laying his head over Tenya's still chest. "What is your mother going to do?"

What am I going to do?

Tenya did not respond. Red spilled into the alleyway from the cut on Tenya's neck.

No one was able to fully rinse the word "STAIN" written on the wall with Tenya's blood. The gruesome watermark bled through every layer of paint.

When Tenya's mother was found dead a few days later, a suicide note in hand, Izuku couldn't find it in his heart to forgive Tenya.

He hated himself for that.


He still had something.


October 19th, 2020. Age 19.

"Congratulations, Yagi-san. We've found an organ donor for you!"


November 3rd, 2020. Age 19. 

"You don't need to be this. We can still save you." Izuku plead, reaching his hand out to him. "Anyone can be saved." 

.

.

.

He found out that wasn't true when a searing hand met his back a moment later and everything went white.


 

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November 4th, 2020. Age 19. 

"There isn't much we can do to prevent a scar. If you don't want it there, we can do our best, but it could cost the visibility in that eye--"

"My eye. I don't care about scars. Save my eye." He forced out. 

It was the first and last thing he'd say for weeks.


 

November 27th, 2020. Age 19.  

The world finally came back into focus.

Izuku didn't want to look in the mirror.

So, he didn't. 

He did his best to ignore the faces his remaining classmates made when they thought he wasn't looking. 

He didn't want to be pitied. 


 

May 4th, 2021. Age 19.

The last time Izuku had seen Jiro during their dual internship, she had been darting off into the night towards the villain's base of operations, intending to stick her ear jack through the wall.

He was the person who was called in to identify her electrocuted body, since his contact information was found in her pocket.

As he hugged her weeping parents, he couldn't help but be grateful that she'd at least come prepared for death, so if she were to die her parents wouldn't be left wondering.

He wished she'd never had to think about that.


He still had something.


July 18th, 2021. Age 20.

For a moment, Izuku had thought Sero was Aizawa.

But there was a difference.

Aizawa's fingertips were pristine. He hadn't struggled.

Sero had pulled and yanked at the rope, trying desperately to live, to breathe, and his fingertips were mangled and red.

Izuku shakily exhaled.


He still had something.


July 21st, 2021. Age 20.

Todoroki Shouto kissed him softly on the cheek as they cuddled together on Izuku's couch and told him that he loved him.

Izuku loved him too.

They were happy.


July 24th, 2021. Age 20.

This celebratory dinner for me and Shouto getting together was a mistake, Izuku thought, as Shouto retched off to the side and Satou's blue-faced body stared up at him with bloodshot eyes, white foam pushing past his thick lips.

He held his face with his hands.

At least Shouto was okay.


He still had something.


July 25th, 2021. Age 20.

All they found of Mineta was a simple bloodstain on his kitchen floor.

They never found him.


He still had something.


August 19th, 2021. Age 20.

Izuku pressed the blade into his thigh.

It hurt.

He wished it hurt more than his heart.


 September 9th, 2021. Age 20. 

20 years old was way too early for some of his hair to be losing it's color, but apparently, it was possible. 

He stared at the strands of white glowing in the fluorescent bathroom light and sighed. 

Stress was a bitch. 

When Toshinori saw them a few days after Izuku spotted them, Izuku pretended not to notice the tears beginning to swim in his blue eyes. He wasn't sure if it was for Toshinori's sake or his own. 


September 28th, 2021. Age 20.

The day was long, but the night was beautiful.

As they listened to a quiet song on their shitty radio underneath the tree they'd stumbled across no longer than a few hours ago, Izuku leaned in and kissed Shouto for the first time.

Though they had met five years ago, this moment was when they really had.

"Hey, sunshine," Izuku said softly. "what do you think about living with me?"


 

November 3rd, 2021. Age 20.

On the third anniversary of the day he couldn't stop Mom's attack, Toshinori walked in on him with the knife on his thigh.

It had taken three hours for Toshinori to stop crying on and off. 

He still hadn't let go of Izuku yet. 

Toshinori's tears sure were hard to ignore. Izuku wished he could stop being the reason for them. 


August 10th, 2022. Age 21.

Kouda's bloodshot eyes and bashed in skull reminded Izuku all too vividly of Present Mic.

Shouto rubbed his back and murmured reassurances as he vomited.


He still had something.


November 3rd, 2022. Age 21.

It had been a whole year since Izuku hadn't held a blade towards himself.

He celebrated with half a bottle of tequila and the loss of his virginity.


December 25th, 2023. Age 22.

Aoyama had said he was going ice skating.

Shouto had been the one to fish his half frozen body out of the lake.

The bruises on his shoulders said it hadn't been an accident.

With his blonde hair glittering in the snow, strewn above his head like a makeshift halo as Shouto dialed 119, Izuku couldn't help but hysterically imagine Aoyama as the angel on top of his Christmas tree.

Shock blankets were really itchy.


He still had something.


December 31st, 2023. Age 22.

"Ojirou." Izuku swallowed thickly, his heart hammering in his chest. "Hagakure. You don't have to do this."

Ojirou looked apologetic but resolute. "I'm sorry, Izuku, but we have to. I'm sick of this cycle of death."

"Me and Ojirou aren't going to be the next victims."

Hagakure raised her gun and pointed it towards Shouto's crumpled form a few yards away.  

The bullet pierced the air as the New Year's bells rang out, and Izuku slumped to the ground. 

As sirens began to wail and other heroes began to close in, Ojirou didn't bother shooting again to get Shouto too. 

Hagakure and Ojirou disappeared into the night alongside the villains, leaving Izuku to bleed out from the bullet hole in his chest.

But Shouto was there.

What a great start to a New Year, Izuku thought as he slipped under. At least I've still got Shouto. At least I still got something.


XXXX, XXXX. Age ?

It was warm.

"Hey, kid."

A slightly sweaty yet comforting hand touched his cheek.

"Oh, god! He isn't….he isn't dead, is he?" A woman cried, hurrying towards him.

"Oh, no, no, no. Sango, don't fret. He's okay, well, in a manner of speaking. He's comatose at the moment." The person holding his cheek said with their soft, meek voice.

"Oh, that's why he's here." Rumbled another voice, a heavy foot clunking in front of his head. "Hey, little man. I'm Kenjiro."

Izuku looked up at Kenjiro tiredly.

A woman with short, black hair and a mole on her cheek had her hands over her mouth. She took a tentative step towards Izuku and removed her hands from her mouth, smiling shakily.

"You're Toshi's kid. I'm...I'm Nana. Good to see you." Nana raked her eyes up and down Izuku looking thrilled at his presence. "Mirai is the one holding your cheek."

Mirai waved shyly, pulling Izuku to his feet.

"Where am I?" Izuku asked, feeling dizzy and tired.

"Where One for All holders like to hang out. It's a special little limbo. We've been keeping an eye on you." A woman with silver hair explained briefly, reaching out and squeezing his shoulder. "You've seen a lot of shit, sweetie. Before you ask, I'm Shiro, the 4th holder of One for All. Would you like everyone to introduce themselves? I think you're going to be here for awhile."

Izuku nodded.

Mirai looked up at Izuku. "I'm Mirai, the 1st holder."

Kenjiro just held up two fingers.

A man with wavy blonde hair smiled and said, "Name's Renzou, 3rd holder."

Sango brushed her purple hair from her face and said, "Fifth."

A tall man with red hair said, "I'm Rokuro, the 6th holder. You already sort of know Nana, the 7th."

Izuku nodded, leaned into Shiro's shoulder, and closed his eyes.

"Poor honey." Sango cooed, spreading something soft over him. "I hope he wakes up back at home. That Toshinori needs him. Shouto too."


XXXX XXX. Age: ?.

When he woke up, Mirai was standing in front of him.

"Hey, buddy." Mirai said softly, squeezing his knees. "You're gonna actually wake up soon, so I need you to listen to this and not forget it, because you need to know. I don't have a lot of time to explain this, and this is the only time I can see you without Akio interfering."

"Who's...?" Izuku murmured, unable to recognize the state of vague panic Mirai was in as he spoke quickly, too busy fumbling to understand his words.

"Akio, my brother, is All for One. He's gotten too powerful, too hungry for power, and he needs to be dead. I need you to understand why Yagi didn't--why he couldn't kill him. Yagi isn't like me, isn't--isn't like you."

"What are we?" Izuku croaked.

Mirai's eyes widened in horror and pain and he grimaced. "Of course, of course you wouldn't--just-- listen to me. His heart. It's the center of his power. If you destroy it, if you destroy the heart of a Z̸̻̓̀2̶̹̼͐̔9̵̨̄̿k̴̬͔͗, he'll die. It's... cliche, but that's the point. You'd never expect it from him. The perfect logical ruse. And only a Z̸̻̓̀2̶̹̼͐̔9̵̨̄̿k̴̬͔͗ can kill another, and--" The ground rumbled and Mirai breathed out a fearful sigh. "You have to destroy the heart. Please. Bring him back to me." 

 

Izuku nodded.

Mirai visibly relaxed and a watery smile spread across his lips. "You take care of yourself. I'll see you again one day. Go home."

Mirai let go of him and the world span. Mirai began to change, his form shifting and melding into colors that Izuku couldn't see--couldn't understand. 

His eyes were blue. 

So blue. 

Tears were rolling down his cheeks.

"What is your name?" He asked. 

His hair was longer now. Darker. 

"Izuku." 

Izuku's ears rang louder and louder and louder and the world got brighter and brighter and brighter. 

Mirai's face twisted in anguish. 

"You look like--"

The world went white, and Toshinori's face swam into view.

Though there was static in his ears, Izuku croaked,

"Hi, dad."

Toshinori burst into surprised laughter and cradled Izuku's cheeks with his big hands.


April 6th, 2024. Age 22.

Kaminari had been trapped under a burning pillar, the reports had said.

Izuku frowned, looking closely at the paper, so close that his vision swam.

He sniffed. Forgery, and not very good forgery.

He sighed deeply and rubbed his face with his hands.

Shouto came up behind him, placing his hand on Izukus's back as a gentle warning that he was there.

"Who?" Shouto asked, knowing that sigh well.

"Kaminari." Izuku breathed through a sigh, slamming his fist on the kitchen table. "Dammit."

Shouto squeezed his shoulder and kissed the top of his head.


He still had something.


April 28th, 2024. Age 22.

Well, Shouji had lasted a pretty long time.

Still, he didn't exactly make for a pretty pancake after being run over by a semi truck.

Thanks, Kurogiri.


He still had something.


July 21st, 2024. Age 23.

After three years, Shouto proposed beneath their tree.

It was kind of a disaster. 

Izuku said yes anyway.


September 19th, 2024. Age 23.

Tsuyu.

God, why did it have to be Tsuyu? She'd finally found the time to come over and personally congratulate Izuku and Shouto on their engagement alongside Tokoyami, who was yet to be found. Izuku was going to appoint her as Best Woman.

He stood over her body in the morgue as she laid on the cold table. He nodded to the officer next to him.

"That's her, Tsuyu Asui. She was coming to visit me and my fiance."

The officer nodded, wrote something down, and left.

Izuku brushed the green hair from her face and, leaning on the table, wept bitter tears.

Suffocation was a hell of a way to go.


He still had something.


September 24th, 2024. Age 23.

They found Tokoyami behind a dumpster with clear signs of torture on his body.

Izuku had to identify him too.


He still had something.


October 6th, 2024. Age 23.

At least the morgue had been able to straighten Mina's neck for her funeral.


He still had something.


October 8th, 2024. Age 23.

Izuku was really starting to pity the people who worked at the morgue. Momo's body was no doubt really hard to reconstruct.

Was dismemberment really necessary?

He hated himself for starting to not be so affected by death. He was a fucking monster.


He still had something.


December 3rd, 2024. Age 23.

Recovery Girl passed away peacefully in her sleep.

Izuku wept over her too, not only from sorrow, but from relief too. He wondered if she would've lived longer had she not always been so stressed out.

She'd lived to be 82.


He still had something.


August 10th, 2025. Age 24.

"So, you and freezer burn." Katsuki huffed a laugh, reaching over and squeezing Izuku's shoulder. "Can't say I didn't see it coming."

Izuku smiled. It was small, yes, but it was genuine. "I sure as hell didn't. He got down on one knee and I thought he was about to tie my shoe or something, and boom. Ring." Izuku held up a hand to show off the glittering emerald on the intricate silver band. "I mean, for fuck's sake, it fell out of his pocket when he tripped on the way down."

Katsuki howled with laughter and slammed his water bottle in the trashbin.

Izuku bit back a laugh himself and continued with, "He said he saw the ring and immediately thought of me, and he knew right then and there he was going to marry me."

"What a fucking sap."

"Oh, leave him be." Izuku leaned over and swatted Katsuki.

Katsuki took a drag from his cigarette and blew it out, laughing halfway through his exhale. "If you had told fifteen year old me that you'd be marrying somebody, I would've probably killed you."

Izuku chuckled in his throat. "You were a douchebag kid."

Katsuki had the decency to look ashamed of himself. "I...know. I know I've apologized a shitload, but that doesn't make up for it."

Izuku nodded. "It doesn't, no, but as I always say, your actions now are enough of an apology for every time you threatened death upon me. Don't worry about it anyway, it's...been a really long seven years. I can't muster up the energy to be bitter."

"Me neither. I just kind of want to forget about the cunt waffle I was." Katsuki sighed, rubbing a hand across his face tiredly, his expression turning solemn. "The day pink-cheeks was killed...that's coming up soon, isn't it?"

Izuku nodded, his throat suddenly closing. "Fifteen more days. I've been seeing her everywhere."

"You still taking your meds like you're supposed to?"

"I am, don't worry."

"I wasn't worrying, nerd."

"Yeah, okay, bitch."

Katsuki laughed loudly, but it lost its humor halfway through. "She woulda been so excited about your wedding. Have you two morons picked a date?"

"November 3rd."

Katsuki stopped in his tracks. "Deku, that's…"

"When I couldn't save my mom. I know."

"Then...why?"

"That day is the clearest memory I have of her. This is my way of associating a happy memory with that day and having her sort of being there, just in my mind."

Katsuki, for just a moment, looked misty eyed. "Yeah. You figured out best man and shit like that? I mean, you don't exactly have many contenders but that's kind of important."

Izuku bit his lip. "Actually...that's what I asked you to come hang out with me about."

Katsuki cocked his head and narrowed one eye. "Oh, there's not a chance in hell that you're asking me to be your best man, is there?"

Izuku looked up and shyly nodded.

"Me?"

"Yes, you."

"Deku, you know you're fucking crazy, right? I...yes. Yeah, I'll be your best ma-"

A gunshot rang through the air and the breath in Izuku's lungs froze.

Katsuki tumbled to the ground, gone.

Izuku stared at Katsuki's fallen body.

For the first time in years, he screamed.


It didn't feel much like it anymore, but he still had something.


August 11th, 2025. Age 24.

"No, no, NO! Goddammit, Eijirou! Goddammit!"

There was a note on Katsuki's side of Eijirou and his room. There was a gun in Eijirio's hand. There was a hole in Eijirou's chest.

Izuku clutched Kirishima's corpse to himself and screamed his sorrow.

He'd been the last 1A kid, save for him and Shouto.

Naomasa was outside, comforting Toshinori as he wept.

Shouto grabbed Izuku's arm, and pulled him away.

"Baby, we gotta let him go, we need to call 119-"

"Shut UP!" Izuku's voice cracked in one million different places as he let out his guttural cries. "He was the last one, he was family. Everyone's gone, Shouto, I-I can't-!"

"Do you think it's any easier on me?!" Shouto broke right then and there too. "Dammit, Izuku, they were my friends too!"

"You didn't see half of their bodies!"

"I went to all of their funerals!"

"Boys!" Naomasa's voice thundered as he yelled, tears streaming down his face. "Is this really the time?"

Izuku sobbed.


He didn't have much, but he still had something.


November 3rd, 2025. Age 24.

When Izuku was just one block away from his wedding, the happiest day of his life, everything went to hell.

It had only taken a moment. Naomasa was driving, and he'd looked back at Izuku with a big grin on his face. Toshinori was smiling in the rearview window, practically quivering in excitement because his son was getting married today!

And then came the explosion, and suddenly the car wasn't on the road anymore. Izuku's heart dropped to his knees.

The ground was coming in fast.

"Am I really going to die on my fucking wedding day?" Izuku thought wildly before someone screamed his name and a heavy weight crashed on top of him before the car could hit the ground. The car roof caved in as they landed upside down. Naomasa or Toshinori, Izuku couldn't tell which, shrieked a curse word. Instead of his head slamming into the waiting pavement, his head collided with something very fleshy and warm.

It took all of two seconds for Izuku to realize Naomasa had jumped on top of him to protect him.

The world shifted on its axis and Izuku leapt into action.

"Naomasa!" He cried, scrambling off of the crumpled man. Blood trickled out of the corner of Naomasa's mouth and Izuku's heart seized. "No-!"

Naomasa coughed, splattering his blood across the front of Izuku's suit. His chest constricted and Izuku scrambled out of the car through the broken window and flipped it over. Izuku couldn't see Toshinori anywhere, but the sound of fighting nearby was enough of a tip off. Hurrying to the car door, Izuku pulled Naomasa out and laid him on the street, assessing the damage.

Naomasa gurgled out a laugh as he choked out, "Dammit, and here I was...t-thinking I was going to make it to your wedding day."

Izuku shook his head wildly, clutching Naomasa's hand. "No, no, no, Naomasa, you can't."

Naomasa's eyes filled with tears and he shakily reached up a hand, stroking Izuku's cheek. "Go." He said, his voice thick. "I can feel a lot of internal damage, you know this is the end of the line. Go to Toshinori and help him. He may have all his organs back, but he's old. He needs you."

"need you." Izuku's voice broke, tears spilling over. "Please, you can't leave me too."

Naomasa's face twisted and he pulled his quivering lip up. "Honey, please don't cry. Just go."

"I can't!"

"Izuku. Look at me."

Izuku looked into Naomasa's eyes.

"I love you so, so much, but Toshinori loves you more and he needs your help. You can't save me, and that's okay."

"Naomasa-"

"Izuku, please."

Naomasa looked pleadingly into Izuku's eyes.

"I love you." Izuku choked out, tears dripping down his cheeks.

"I love you too."

Naomasa let go of his hand.


He still had something. He had Toshinori, and he needed to find him.


November 3rd, 2025. Age 24.

Izuku's ears rang and his heart pounded as he stumbled towards Toshinori's crumpled body, his chest heaving unevenly as he gasped with every breath.

A keening whine rose in Izuku's throat as he mindlessly shook his head. "Naomasa's g-gone, you can't-you can't leave too."

Toshinori looked up into Izuku's eyes and the regret swimming in the blue irises told Izuku enough.

"My boy." Toshinori wheezed, his breath crackling as he exhaled. "Come here."

Izuku took a shaky step towards Toshinori.

"Dad, please don't."

Toshinori tried to smile but it was so strained, so fake it made a better grimace.

"It's my wedding today." Izuku's voice cracked as he fell to his knees next to his father.

Toshinori choked on a sob and opened his arms, his eyes saying enough. Izuku fell forward onto Toshinori's chest and curled up beneath his arms, and the dam broke.

Thump...thump...thump…

"Why!?" Izuku shrieked, pounding against the pavement. "WHY!?"

"I don't know, sweetie. I don't."

Thump...thump...thump…

"I've already lost so much, I can't lose you too! Not on my fucking wedding day! Why today!?"

"I'm so sorry, my boy."

Thump….thump….thump….

"I don't want to go to my wedding without you!"

"I want to be there, I do but I can't."

Thump…..thump…..thump…..

"Izuku, listen to me. Please listen."

Izuku swallowed thickly and curled closer.

Thump…...thump…..thump…..

"You've got S-Shouto to take care of, and he can take c-care of you. You gotta keep fighting, okay?"

Thump….thump…...thump….

"Nev-ver stop fighting. Keep your chin up, you're g-going to be amazing."

"YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO SEE IT!"

Thump….thump…thump….

"I know, and I'm sorry I can't."

"You promised me."

Toshinori's chest heaved.

Thump…..thump…..thump….

"Izuku, I'm running out of time."

"No!"

"Izuku, I'm scared. I've never been scared of dying, why am I now?"

Thump….thump….…...thump…..

"Izuku, never, ever forget how much I love you. My….prince of nonsense….my beautiful boy...I love you so much."

"I love you too, just please-!"

"I love you."

Izuku locked eyes with Toshinori as he cradled him, each of them bathed in Toshinori's blood.

Thump…...thump…..thump…..

Izuku understood right then and there that this was...this was goodbye.

Thump…...thump…..thump…...

His hair tumbled over his face and Toshinori swept it back. His hand was weak and cold.

Thump…..thump…..thump…..

He smiled, small but real, so briefly before his breathing became a noisy rattle…

Thump…..thump….

…..

…...

And the light….

…..

…...

…...

…...

…..

...Faded from his eyes.

Izuku walked into his wedding, twenty seven minutes late and covered in the blood of his father.


He had...he had one thing left. That was enough.


January 13th, 2028. Age 26.

There was a knock on the door.

Every nerve in Izuku's body screamed and Izuku gave Shouto a look. Shouto nodded and pulled out the gun hidden beneath the couch, tossing the one in the end table towards Izuku. They crept towards the door, and with one hand, Izuku flung the door open and fired a blank towards the sky.

There was…

...absolutely no one around.

A trembling cry bubbled up from Izuku's feet, and Izuku stumbled backwards, nearly dropping his gun. That sounded like-!

He looked down in a state of utter bewilderment at the two babies in a cardboard box in front of his door. He turned back and shared an incredulous look with Shouto, lowering his gun. His eyes flickered to the piece of paper sticking out of the box. 

"Did we just fucking get storked?"


 You don't know me, and I hope you never do. 

This world is deeply broken, and so am I. I am dying, and I can no longer provide for my children. I know it's a lot to ask of you, but I trust you to put them somewhere safe. You're a good man, Mr. Yagi. 

Their names are Chihiro and Itsuki. Chihiro is the girl, Itsuki is the boy. They are twins, 2 months old, and their birthday is November 8th. Please never let them forget how much I loved them.

Thank you.


March 29th, 2028. Age 26.

Izuku and Shouto were very weak men.

Chihiro hung out in the baby swing, gazing at her twin brother with mild interest as he fussed in his crib across the room. Shouto clucked and hurried towards Itsuki, lifting him up and excusing himself.

"Mr. Yagi, just sign here and they're yours."

Izuku picked up the pen with shaking fingers and suddenly understood exactly what Toshinori felt a little less than a decade ago.

Later that evening, Shouto giggled as Izuku murmured, "Do you think they'll call me Mom?"

"What makes you think they will?"

Izuku shrugged and frowned exaggeratedly. "I-uh, I'm more feminine than most dudes, I guess, and I mean--I was raised just by my mom. I don't know what the fuck it's like to be a dad." 

Shouto snorted and shook his head. "Well, if they do, I suppose it'd be less confusing for them. Though if we're talking about femininity, considering that I'm the one who takes it up the ass, gender-role-wise, I'd be the--"

"Shouto. Our kids are sleeping right there."

"They're not even six months old yet!"


He still had something. He had three things left.


February 11th, 2029. Age 27.

Itsuki, while looking directly at Izuku, said, "Mama."

Shouto slid Izuku twenty bucks. 


February 12th, 2029. Age 27.

Not one to be shown up, Chihiro looked directly at Shouto and said, "Dada."

Izuku smiled at Shouto smugly.


June 3rd, 2032. Age 30.

"Goodnight, mama. Love you."

"Night, daddy. Love you."

Shouto and Izuku slowly turned to look at each other as their kids trooped off to bed, mouths agape. 

True to himself, Izuku started bawling first. 

Shouto wasn't ashamed to admit he cried longer, though.


November 8th, 2033. Age 32.

"Happy fifth birthday!"


November 3rd, 2035. Age 34.

"You two stay with daddy, okay? Mama's gonna be back soon, I just gotta take care of the bad guys."

Izuku pressed a trembling kiss on Chihiro and Itsuki's head.

"I love all three of you."

Shouto drew Izuku into a lasting kiss.

"Love you too, dear. Come home to me."

Izuku nodded.

"I will. After all, it's our anniversary, isn't it?"


He had three things left to fight for, and he'd protect their futures with his life if he had to.


Novermber 3rd, 2035. Age 34.

Izuku was really starting to hate November 3rd.

The stench of smoldering ash and cloying smoke sank into his lungs with the weight of the scorching sky up above. Izuku closed his eyes and curled his bloodstained hands into a fist, bringing them up to his chest and lowering his head. It was done, it was all done. Every single person associated with the League of Villains was dead, and he was free to live in peace with his husband, with his kids. He was free to cultivate a happy life in a world that would no longer be broken. Yes, he thought, it was all over. It was done.

All except for one thing.

He opened his eyes, and there he stood.

"Hello, All for One."

All for One did not move.

"Hello." He seemed to weigh his words before he spoke once again. "I'm sure you know what I must do."

The already tight, waning smile faded from Izuku's lips, leaving behind a cold, unwavering face.

"What else would there be?"

All for One held out his hands, taking a carefree step towards who could very well be his killer.

"A fair answer, Izuku."

Izuku felt his lip curl at the manner in which All for One stepped. It was measured, confident. Like he was certain of his victory, certain that he would be the one walking away from this battlefield.

It made his blood boil.

"What sort of answer could be fair here, Akio?"

And there it was. The pause in All for One's steps that he was hoping for. The falter. The surprise.

God, he'd been waiting for that for so long.

"...Now where on earth did you learn my name?"

"Mirai had a lot to say when I was in that coma years ago."

All for One said nothing.

"This is it, isn't it?" Izuku chanced a step towards All for One. "The end."

"It is. This is the day that you die." All for one gave pause. "Or, perhaps if you're very lucky, the day that I finally do."

"There's only one way to find out."

All for One nodded once. "True. But, I do believe in civility between...those of us who have fought for longer than we haven't. Seasoned warriors, if you will. Before we do what we must, I have three questions for you. Would you spare me the precious moments to ask them?"

"And why should I?"

"Why should I not attack you now?"

Izuku didn't have an answer to that.

Heaving a long breath, Izuku sighed, "What are your questions?"

All for One clasped his hands together.

"Izuku Midoriya, why do you fight?"

Ochako, dangling above him with an expression of terror frozen on her pale face.

I still have something.

Present Mic, eyes glazed over and a slow trail of blood trickling down his cheek.

I still have something.

Mom, bound to a wheelchair and tears in her eyes.

I still have something.

Tsuragamae slumped in his seat, a mosaic of blood behind his head.

I still have something.

Aizawa, swinging limply with pristine fingertips.

I still have something.

Midnight, her hand dangling out of the car window.

I still have something.

Ragdoll's ghostly face staring emptily into his eyes.

I still have something.

Pixiebob, her back unnatural and face contorted.

I still have something.

Tensei, nothing left to bury.

I still have something.

Tenya, glasses cracked and eyes white, alleyway stained red.

I still have something.

Jiro's charred body contorted by electricity.

I still have something.

Sero swinging limply, his fingertips raw and bloody.

I still have something.

Satou, white bubbling out of his throat and his fingers clutched to his throat.

I still have something.

Mineta, a simple bloodstain left behind.

I still have something.

Kouda's bloodshot eyes staring unseeingly into the dark.

I still have something.

Aoyama's blonde hair splayed in a halo around his head.

I still have something.

Ojirou and Hagakure, looking solemn but resolute and a bullet in his chest.

I still have something.

Kaminari's, unrecognizable yet there, burnt.

I still have something.

Shouji, flattened on the road and his skin pale.

I still have something.

Tsuyu's nose crushed and her cheeks stained with blood-streaked tears.

I still have something.

Tokoyami, his beak cracked and body broken.

I still have something.

Mina's neck curved too far to the left, a ghost of a grin on her face.

I still have something.

Momo, her head only attached to a torso.

I still have something.

Bakugou's bloodshot eyes, his face frozen in an expression of surprise as blood trickles through his teeth.

I still have something.

Kirishima, the ground the same color as his hair with a hole in his chest in a gun in his hand.

I still have something.

Naomasa, blood spilling past his lips and his face growing too pale.

I still have something.

Yagi Toshinori dressed in a suit and clutching Izuku to his chest in his last moments.

I still have something.

I still have…

Shouto.

Chihiro.

Itsuki.

Izuku doesn't hesitate. "Because I still have something left to fight for."

All for One nodded.

"Next question. Did you ever wonder why all of your predecessors fell before me?"

Izuku stopped and considered for a moment.

"Because you took everything from them."

All for One nodded. "Very good. Now, last question; are you ready for me to take everything from you?"

Izuku's stood stock-still. No, no, NO. Shouto and the kids are safe, there's no way he-

"Allow me to rephrase that: did you ever wonder why I never touched your children?"

All for One raised his hand, and from the ground emerged Shouto, Itsuki, and Chihiro's trembling bodies.

"Izuku." Shouto said, his voice shaking and tears dripping down his cheeks. "Save the kids-"

All for One plunged a hand through Shouto's back.

Shouto choked and gasped, "Izuku, I love yo-!" before his eyes rolled back and he went still.

"I did this to Mirai, and I'll do this to you." All for One hissed, lip curling in disdain as Shouto's body crumpled at his feet. 

Izuku couldn't move. Couldn't breathe.

How could he? His mind was starting to fail, like an engine that turns over and over, never kicking into action. He couldn't formulate a thought.

He could feel the sweat drenching his skin, the throbbing in his chest, the ringing screams of his children vibrating in his ears, and his thundering heartbeat pounding in his ears. His fingers were curled into a fist, nails digging into his palm. He couldn't hear his rapid breathing, but he could feel the oxygen flooding in and out of his lungs. Terror engulfed his conscience, knocking all other thoughts aside. Despite the sky burning up above, the air scorching his lungs, his skin was icy, all blood diverted to core organs. It was only then that the adrenaline hit such a fever pitch that "freeze" wasn't an appropriate description, too simple of a word. His legs exploded into violent motion. 'Save the kids' flooded every thought alongside I fucked up I fucked up oh God I fucked up please don't take them don't take them from me please-

Izuku choked out a sob but kept his eyes open.

Goddammit, goddammit, goddammit-

Izuku wasn't a religious man; he never was and was never going to be. But in that moment, in that one moment, he prayed to any god that would bother to listen to him that they wouldn't take his kids. He could feel the wind from All for One's approaching hand with every second that ticked by too fast, he could feel it so vividly that he couldn't stop the tears from dripping down his face.

Izuku had used to believe, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself," but he'd known what utter bullshit that was for a long time. In the world he lived in, such a concept was ridiculous. There were so many things to be afraid of, and so many things worse than fear. He knew that firsthand, and he knew it now because his kids, his babies were going to die and he was too slow and he couldn't do anything and he needed them to stay with him, he needed his kids, please don't take them from me, please. He moved faster than he'd thought possible.

But he wasn't fast enough.

He was never fast enough.

Itsuki was right there.

If his arm was long enough.

If he was a second faster.

If Itsuki was an inch closer.

He

Wouldn't

Be

Lying

On

The 

Ground

And

Chihiro

Wouldn't

Be

Gone

Too

And

He

Wouldn't

Be

A

L

O

N

E

And

He

Wouldn't

Be

S

C

R

E

A

M

I

N

G

The paralyzing pain spread through his body like icy, liquid metal. He clenched his fists as he hesitantly took each small step. He noticed his feet tremble. His legs twitched and his throat closed. He sucked in a breath as slowly as he could. It trembled in his throat. His jaw tightened, static burning in his ears. Fire in the form of water stung his eyes and he clenched his teeth over his lip harder than he ever had. Salty blood filled his mouth, the pungent taste choking him. Slowly, his brain picked up his feet in an unbalanced gait, more weight piling onto them with every harrowing step. Reality tried to tap its way into his marching brain's rhythm.

The static cleared.

Reality crashed upon him.

Every color exploded into vibrancy, every noise became deafening, and feeling amplified with the force of a bomb exploding. The adrenaline surged so fast that he almost vomited, he could taste the saliva thickening in his mouth.

All for One answered the last question for him.

"I never touched them because I wanted to watch you break myself."

The emotion that had washed over Izuku was so indescribably overwhelming and jarring that no string of words would ever be suitable enough to convey the amount of sheer cold fury thrumming throughout his whole body. It was like a vice grip around his heart, a distortion of his very soul, for what he felt was no longer human; it couldn't be. The feelings were twisted, something strong. It burned like fire lacing his veins and creeping up his spine, leaving behind a charred heart and the desire to do nothing but hate. The acidity of it was churning in his gut, waiting to be spewed from every inch of himself. With his heartbeat thundering in his ears and fire scorching his insides, Izuku couldn't bring a smile to his face.

Before he could even think about what he was doing, before he could even think of yelling- screaming, even -he summoned the entirety of the power of One for All and let his fist fly into All for One's gut. Something cracked with alarming volume as All for One was flung backwards and slammed against a crumbling wall. Izuku felt a sick sense of elation at the surprise etched in the noise All for One made.


There is nothing more terrifying than a man who has lost everything...

Izuku yanked All for One towards him and hissed, "I am not Mirai."

...and I have nothing.


Everything became consumed in red. Nothing else mattered, not his injuries, not himself. All he cared about was making this fucking monster burn. Eyeballing All for One, Izuku could tell he was more startled than hurt, so with that in mind, he walked towards him with purpose and reared his foot back. All for One barely stopped Izuku in time, suspending him in midair; the breeze from the force of Izuku's kick ghosting across All for One's mask. Izuku thrashed in his bindings, ripping free of them bit by bit.

"Let me go, LET ME GO!" He shrieked, tearing out of his restraints.

All for One picked himself up just in time for Izuku to lurch forward and grab him by the collar of his shirt. Izuku shrieked, slamming All for One's head against the wall. His head slamming against the wall seemed to snap All for One out of his own stupor and he flung Izuku backwards with wind pressure. Izuku countered it with a well-timed blast and propelled himself into All for One's waiting blast. He screamed as something blasted through his side but paid it no mind, too blinded by fury to give a damn. Izuku didn't care. He just didn't care anymore.

"FUCK YOU!" His throat went raw as he screamed with all of his might.

The air above him whirled as he shot forward, the fire around roaring and burning his lungs. All for One seemed…

He seemed afraid.

He slammed All for One's head against the wall hard, watching as All for One slid down the wall dazedly. He kept kicking and punching and screaming for what felt like ages, but in reality it was only a few seconds. Something else ripped through him but he could barely feel it, just the sensation of emptiness where emptiness should not exist.

"You took everything from me!" Izuku roared as he catapulted himself and All for One as far as he could.

Glass shattered and metal shrieked as they were flung through building after building. Izuku felt nothing.

"I'm going to take everything from you!"

All for One reached up to grab Izuku, but in an instant his arm was thrown far away, ripped from the socket.

"I'LL WATCH YOU BURN!"

The ground exploded, the world ripping at the seams around them as the wind spun sickening circles around them at a dizzying speed. Fire consumed everything, burned everything. The sky shattered, the very air screamed.

 "Of course, of course you wouldn't--just-- listen to me. His heart. It's the center of his power. If you destroy it, if you destroy the heart of a Z̸̻̓̀2̶̹̼͐̔9̵̨̄̿k̴̬͔͗, he'll die. It's... cliche, but that's the point. You'd never expect it from him. The perfect logical ruse. And only a Z̸̻̓̀2̶̹̼͐̔9̵̨̄̿k̴̬͔͗ can kill another, and--" The ground rumbled and Mirai breathed out a fearful sigh. "You have to destroy the heart. Please. Bring him back to me." 

You have to destroy the heart. Please. Bring him back to me.

The world froze.

You have to destroy the heart.

Izuku thrusted his hand forward.

You have to destroy the heart.

All for One tried to back away.

You have to destroy the heart.

He was too slow.

You have to destroy the heart.

Izuku plunged his hand into All for One's chest, ripped out his heart and crushed it.

All for One shrieked.

"No!" He screamed, backing away and clutching his chest. "NO!"

"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?"  He wailed, falling towards Izuku.

Izuku pushed All for One away and defiantly loomed over him, loosening his vice grip against All for One's heart. Dust slid through the seams of his fingers.

All for One lunged towards him.

His hand crumpled to dust before he could reach Izuku's face. He stumbled backwards, horrified, and the rest of him began to glow and tear at the seams.

"Goodbye, Akio." Izuku said. 

All for One's body began to break apart into dust.

All for One looked down, and for a moment, Izuku saw him. Saw his face.

He looked afraid.

All for One looking him in the eye and as he began to fall, he whispered,

"Izuku."

And he was gone.

Izuku heaved for breath and nearly fell backwards.

It was…

Over.

Everything he'd worked for was finally done.

The world was safe.

He was free to live as he pleased, to…

...To live with his family.

His family.

Izuku turned and looked into the distance, where his husband and children's corpses lay.

He had won, but at what cost?

He had nothing.

He looked back at the remnants of All for One, nothing but dust to be blown about by the wind. He looked towards where the fight had begun. He looked down at himself, finally seeing with sickening clarity how injured he was. He looked off into the distance, where the hospital was no doubt still in tact. He could get there easily, or he could get to his family. The decision was easy. Pushing one foot in front of the other got more difficult after each step, but he pushed on until his legs could support him no more. And then he groveled, caring little about the rubble scraping against his stomach. Finally, finally he got there.

Tears brimmed in his eyes as he laid his head against Shouto's unmoving chest. He did his best to ignore Shouto's blood staining his head, and tried to pretend they were at home, lying in bed. That Shouto had him pulled close, and was stroking his hair and kissing his forehead, telling him how beautiful he was and how much he loved him. He tried to pretend that Chihiro and Itsuki were only at school and they'd be coming home soon with wide grins and little voices crying out,

"Mommy, Daddy, we're home!"

He tried to imagine Shouto's chuckle rumbling in his chest as he'd sit up, smiling that same crooked grin at Izuku as he got up to greet the kids.

He tried so hard, but he couldn't, because all he had beneath him was a cold, unmoving chest and no sound at all. He rolled over and collected Itsuki and Chihiro, pulling them towards himself, and positioning them on Shouto's right side. They'd always liked his cold side better. He pressed his face into Shouto's neck and wept bitterly.

He needed no hospital. He just needed his family.

"Love you too, dear. Come home to me."

Izuku's heart ached.

If this was the only way for him to return to them, to return home to his Shouto, he didn't mind. He had nothing left anyway.

People began to call his name.

He gave no response.

He didn't want to be found.

He wanted to go home to his husband and kids.

So, he did.

The almost familiar coldness began to seep into him as blood sluggishly oozed from his injuries, and though every breath was painful, he'd never felt such relief.

He let out a shaky breath and closed his eyes. Something in his chest burned. One last tear slid down his cheek as he thought,

Chihiro, Itsuki, Shouto...I'm coming home.

The last thing he thought as darkness finally overcame him was,

God, I wish I could go back and fix it all.

With his family in his arms, he fell into sleep he'd never wake up from.


But, he does. He does, and there's nothing he can do.

Then again, he did say he'd come home, didn't he?

He never specified how.

Chapter Text

Chihiro and Itsuki jabbered away with each other at the table, comparing drawings and tearing the paper a little as they colored a bit too hard. They loudly munched on their apple slices (they hadn't quite gotten down eating with their mouths closed yet) and broke a couple of crayons, chucking them in the general direction of the trash can. Izuku shook his head at the sight and leaned tiredly on the doorframe, crossing his arms loosely and yawning. Shouto looked up at the quiet sound and smiled softly, rising to his feet and striding towards him.

"Good morning, dear." The pancakes sizzled on the griddle a few feet away while Shouto pressed a soft kiss onto his chapped lips.

Izuku laughed mid-kiss, reaching up and tucking Shouto's bed hair behind his ear. "Good morning to you, too. Looks like all of you got up earlier than me for once."

"Eh, you were out all night patrolling. Can't blame us."

"Well, don't burn those pancakes, please. I'm starving."

Shouto huffed a laugh. "I'm sure you are; I know you didn't eat at all yesterday. Besides, it's too early to deal with their conniption fits if they have to eat burnt pancakes." Shouto jerked a thumb back at Chihiro and Itsuki, who'd just noticed Izuku was up and about.

"MAMA!" Itsuki shrieked in his high-pitched four year old voice, nearly falling flat on his face in his haste to get out of his chair. "Look it!" He brandished a crayon drawing in Izuku's face, waving it vigorously.

"Inside voices, sweetpea." Izuku gently reminded, ruffling Itsuki's hair. "Now, what've you got for me today?" Izuku took the picture from Itsuki's outstretched hand, gazing over the mess of colors.

"You!"

A black kinda-circle took up most of the page with wild, wavy strokes of bright green along the top and trailing to a mimicry of shoulders. Huge green masses, darker than the "hair", filled the top half of the circle and two rows of crooked teeth filled a lopsided mouth. No nose in sight. Well, Izuku sure had no idea he looked this ugly, but that was okay, especially because what looked like "I LOVE YOU" was written in awful Kanji at the bottom.

In short, it was the best picture Izuku had ever seen in his life.

Izuku bent down and scooped Itsuki into his arms, hugging him tightly. "I love it, baby, love what you did with the hair. Did you forget the nose though?"

Itsuki pulled down Izuku's hand and inspected his artwork. "Oh," He said.

Izuku snorted and bent down, kissing Itsuki on the forehead. "You're getting better at drawing every day, kiddo. Keep working at it. Is Chihiro making Daddy one too?"

"Yeah!"

"Okay, cool beans. Go finish your apple slices while Daddy finishes the pancakes."

Chihiro, ever the morning person, yawned and looked up from her drawing while rubbing one eye tiredly with a fist sticky with apple juice at the mention of her name. "Hey, mama?"

"Mhm?"

"Can you come look at daddy's drawing?"

"Sure thing, honey. What've you got?"

Chihiro slid the slightly sticky paper towards Izuku. Well, she was definitely better at drawing mouths, that was for sure. She'd drawn Shouto's eyes with the wrong colors, he had no nose either, ('Why do they keep forgetting noses? I mean, I know theirs are small but come on.' Izuku thought with a frown.), and his mouth was a simple, black line. Overall, looked pretty decent.

"You got the wrong eye colors, but it's fine. He's not gonna notice; I'm not sure he even knows what color his eyes are at all." Izuku whispered conspiratorially, giggling alongside Chihiro as she poorly stifled her own with her hand.

"I don't know how to draw his hair."

"Just do the lines and color one side red."

"Oh, okay. Thanks, mama. Love you."

Izuku's heart melted into a puddle in his chest and he smiled softly, ruffling her hair and kissing her cheek.

"Mama loves you too, honey."

"So, they're drawing us pictures?" Shouto looked up from the pancakes.

"Yeah, Chihiro's making one for you. I've already got one from Itsuki."

"Let me see?"

Izuku held up the drawing for Shouto, who poorly repressed a snicker.

"You're burning the pancakes." Izuku teased as he took his seat.

"Wh- No, I'm not!"

"You're too easy, Shouto."

Shouto cast Izuku an unimpressed look, though the desired effect was lost as his face broke into a smile.

"I love you, Izuku."

Izuku gazed at his family gathered around the table and smiled.

In the softest voice he had, he said, "I love you too, Shou."


When Izuku awoke to soft sheets and the morning light trickling in through his curtains, there was a wonderful, blessed minute of ignorance.

In a half-asleep haze, he rolled over and felt around Shouto's side of the bed, ruffling his hand through the half-warm sheets.

"Shou'." He slurred as he searched for his probably still snoozing husband with his sluggish slapping. "C'mon, baby, you gotta get up and help me get those little shits ready for school."

And yet, his hand met nothing but empty air.

"Shou?"

'Did he get up before me for once?'

The room hazily slid in and out of focus as he blearily sat halfway up, vaguely pissed that Shouto hadn't roused him too but too tired to actually give a fuck. Dammit, he couldn't see shit, not without his glasses. Or…

He could?

Fuck, did he wear his contacts to bed again? Shouto had bitched at him for that a couple times, citing it was very bad for his eyes, which he wasn't wrong about. Wasn't his fault that Marbles the clown had squirted him in the eyes with a fake flower full of diluted acid (which, at the time, had sucked ass, though now it was just absurdly funny). A yawn pushed past his lips and he ran a hand through his hair, frowning at the feeling. Why did it...feel shorter? Kind of? He looked around his room, did a double-take, and hastily reached up to rub the sleep from his eyes and look again because this was not his fucking room. An explosion of Toshinori's "All Might" persona stared into his soul from every direction, that horrible, gaudy grin plastered on his face. His heart sank as he viewed it all, feeling the familiar burn of tears threatening to well up in his eyes. God, he hadn't seen Toshi's muscle form in, what was it, around eighteen years, now? He had never really regained it, not even after getting his organs back some fifteen years ago. God, fifteen years. He was getting old. But that wasn't really a pressing issue at the moment because where the hell was he? Why was he surrounded by All Might? He'd thrown out everything related to him after he'd...after he'd lost him. Peering around, a sense of familiarity set in. It looked a bit like… 'My childhood bedroom? Why would I be here…? Where're the kids? Are they with Shouto?'

He couldn't help but think he was missing something.

That something was very, very wrong.

What...what the hell was going on?

On shaking legs- why am I shaking? -he slid off of the bed, his bare feet sinking into thin carpet. A sense of deja vu rushed over him and his eyes rolled over the room. The unease churning in his gut morphed into something else as clarity began to trickle in. Shouto….Chihiro….Itsuki…

The truth finally swam into view, and the world froze.


When Inko swung open Izuku's door with a cake in hand and a cry of "Happy Birthday!" on her lips, in his place was a stranger.

It certainly looked like him...but he sure as hell wasn't her boy.

On it's own, the sight of what looked like the body of a miniature bodybuilder in the place of her skinny little boy raised one million red flags in her mind, and if that wasn't enough, the aged, silver scars criss-crossing up and down his legs and arms raised about a bajillion more. His left eye sported one of the worst of them; it looked like a shattered mirror, trailing from the top of his left cheek to his hairline. His hair.

Good God, why is some of his hair white?!

Something in her heart was saying "That's Izuku, that's my boy," but it couldn't be. It couldn't be him...unless.

Perhaps against her better judgement, she set down the cake on his dresser and cautiously called, "I...zuku?"

His head swivelled around with enough force to give Inko phantom whiplash pains, and the fear in his eyes froze her in place.

He stared at her, looking at an utter loss.

He parted his lips, and sounding almost as if he didn't dare to hope that it really was her, Izuku croaked, "...Mom?"

Inko's heart began to scream. That's my baby, that's my baby. What's wrong with him, what happened?

Inko took a tentative step towards him.

Izuku stumbled backwards so quickly that he knocked his hand against the lamp on his desk. It swirled in place for a moment before falling to the floor, cracking as it collided with the thin carpet. He looked between the fallen lamp and Inko, backing away slowly, his knees hitting the side of his bed. He fumbled for purchase and fell down on the mattress. Inko looked him up and down and retreated back towards the door, confusion slowing turning into a burning, indescribably strong urge to protect.

"Izuku? Baby, what happened to you?"

Is it still you at all? What can I do? What did I do wrong?

Izuku opened and closed his mouth, his breaths coming out in short gasps. Inko took a step forward, and he made a sound. She retreated quickly and stood in the doorway, her eyes roving over him.

Okay, logically, this was some sort of quirk manifestation, because what the hell other kind of explanation could there be? Probably some sort of strength augmentation quirk if the new body was anything to go by, but that didn't explain the scars or the hair. She'd heard stories of people's hair changing after quirk's manifested though, so she could take that. But the scars-FOCUS! He's panicking, help him, you fucking idiot! What are you doing?! Is this really the time to rationalize why he looks different? He's your son, act like it!

"Baby, look at me." Inko called soothingly, trying to keep the tremor out of her voice.

Izuku jerkily looked towards her, eyes wide as if gazing at some sort of horror she couldn't see.

"What's the matter? What can I do?"

Izuku's lips quivered and he looked up. "W-Why…? Why am I here?!" Izuku toppled off of his bed, unsteadily wobbling to his mirror and staring into it, gripping fistfuls of hair and yanking his head down. "WHY AM I BACK!?"

"Izuku, honey, take a deep breath, it's going to be okay-!"

God, it was so hard to keep her voice steady. What was going on, what happened?!

Izuku looked back up with a wild gleam in his eyes, staring furiously into the mirror.

But, it wasn't anger, it was something else, there was something else-

Izuku reared back his fist-

"IZUKU!"

-And before Inko could stop him, viciously hurled it into the mirror.

Reflective shards of glass exploded from the mirror's frame, sticking into Izuku's fist and scattering across the carpet like a thousand tiny daggers, the light from the sun violently shining off them. His face twisted, contorting into a melding of emotions that shifted at a pace that made Inko's head spin. Angry, bitter tears spilled down his freckled cheeks and he let out an ear splitting, guttural shriek that made Inko's hair stand on end. He threw another punch, breaking the glass-less frame in half, watching with a trembling chest as it clattered off of the wall to the floor. Inko hardly dared to breathe, hesitant to even move. What do I do, what do I do, what do I do!?

Izuku went still and stared at the blood dripping from his hand down to the carpet. His chest heaved unevenly, his voice catching in his throat every now and then. The room was frozen, locked in perpetual tension. With wide, haunted eyes, he turned slowly, an unrecognizable expression growing on his face. He squeezed his fist and more blood slid through his fingers, plipping next to his bare feet as the little droplets stained the skin with the tiniest flecks of scarlet as they bounced.

Inko and Izuku locked eyes, but though she was looking at him, he wasn't looking at her.

Baby, what are you seeing?

Without any warning, he darted towards the door. A startled curse slipped out of her mouth before she could stop it as she scurried out of the way, but he did not stop. Didn't even look at her. He stumbled into the hallway and...made a straight shot towards the door.

"Oh, fuck-"

The front door banged against the wall as Izuku threw it open and all but launched himself outside. Not bothering with shoes, Inko pursued him, chasing him outside with a desperate cry of his name. Her feet burned against the sidewalk and she nearly screamed several exemplatives as she hit a rocky patch. Tough it out, tough it out, tough it out, he needs you less than you need your feet! Good GOD why is he so fast!? Though she tried, she fell behind, panting desperately for air. In a blink, she lost sight of him. He was gone, and there was Inko, standing there, barefoot in the summer sun on the burning concrete.

"Ma'am? Is everything alright? Was that a purse snatcher?"

Inko shook her head hurriedly, bending over and bracing her hands on her knees. "No," She gasped. "That was my son."

"Oh. Is he okay, or should I make a call to the office?"

Inko looked up to see a tall man with short, black hair. He looked down at her, his black irises glittering in the summer sun, his nondescript face creased in concern. He dug in his pocket, pulled out a wallet, and flashes a police badge at her.

Inko shook her head again. "No, I...he'll come home."

Right?

The tall man looked a little unconvinced at her tone, but made no comment. "Alright. Would you like a ride home? I don't think you should walk home without shoes on; you'll burn your feet."

Inko sighed in relief. "I think I'd like that, thank you." Oh, shit, she hadn't introduced herself. "Forgive me for my manners. My name is Midoriya Inko."

The tall man nodded, huffing a short laugh. "Tsukauchi Naomasa. C'mon, I'll get you home, ma'am."

"Thank you very much."

Tsukauchi made pleasant conversation in the car, obviously trying to skirt around the topic of Izuku for her sake. She was grateful for that. He was courteous enough to walk her to her door, and pressed his number in her hand in case she needed anything. "And I mean anything," He'd said. She sighed, placing the number in a small blue box and hiding in in the back of the second drawer of her nightstand. She'd have to keep it in mind, and not lose it. Just in case...Inko let out a long breath, pointedly not looking at Izuku' abandoned shoes by the front door as she shuffled towards Izuku's room. The door remained open.

The mirror shards, stained red and scattered across the carpet, glimmered in the sunlight.

The cracked lamp laid on the ground, untouched.

The cake sat on Izuku's dresser, long forgotten.

Wax from the "14" candle had long since spilled onto the frosting as the little flame hovering above flickered and waved.

Inko sighed and flopped down on Izuku's bed. What was she going to do?

The phone rang.


Katsuki wasn't exactly sure what he should've expected when he opened the front door at the sound of loud-ass banging, but Deku sure as hell wasn't it.

"What the fuck are you doing here, are you that desperate to…fucking..." Whatever Katsuki was trying to say died on his lips as it became clear to him very fast that this wasn't Deku at all.

"Who the fuck-"

Not-Deku pushed inside and grabbed his head rather roughly and turned it up and around, feeling around the sides.

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, YOU BASTARD-!" Katsuki whipped up to blast an explosion directly into Not-Deku's face, but before he could, his hands were pinned down and Not-Deku stared into his eyes, the green irises burning into his.

Katsuki opened and closed his mouth, unsure of what to say. A cold sense of unease crept up his spine, rooting him in place. He wanted to move, to scream, he desperately wanted to but he couldn't.

What the fuck was with this guy?

Mom gunned down the hallway a moment later, "Katsuki, I heard you yelling, which is normal, but it went quiet which is never a good thing! Is everything-!?" Mom slid to a halt, nearly slipping in her socks. "...alright?"

Katsuki rips his eyes away from Not-Deku's and tried to scream "HELP" with them, but obviously the message was missed when she turned her attention to Not-Deku, her eyes widening in surprise. She swept forward and pushed Katsuki out of the way, immediately cradling Not-Deku's cheeks.

"Izuku? What happened to you, dear? Jesus christ, why is there white in your hair?"

Not-Deku made a noise, and Katsuki did not fucking appreciate what it did to his chest, thank you very much. Why the fuck did he care? He had no fucking clue who this was, and he wasn't keen on finding out.

"Mitsuki...chan…?" Not-Deku croaked, his voice catching in a sob near the end.

"Honey, should I call Inko? Oh, holy shit, did you take up weight lifting? You're built as hell, kid-whoa, hey, hey, hey-!"

Not-Deku pushed past Mom and- holy shit, what the fuck, he was built as hell -wrapped his arms around Katsuki tightly. A cacophony of curse words erupted from Katsuki's mouth as he struggled to escape Not-Deku's clutches, and they increased in intensity as he found he could not, in fact, break free. Mom stood in the doorway, looking rightfully baffled.

"What are you just standing there for, you hag!? Get this creep off of me!"

Mom narrowed her eyes. "Izu-chan is not a creep. Don't fucking call him that."

If Mom thought this lunatic with white streaked hair and scars and a shitload of muscles was Deku, she was out of her fucking mind.

"Mom, this is not Deku!"

"What the hell are you going on about?"

"It's not! Deku's a wimp with no scars and no white hair!"

Mom had the decency to look confused by this, but nonetheless pressed, "Then why did he know my name? And why would he come here?"

Those were...admittedly good points, but there was no chance in Hell that he'd tell her that.

Katsuki struggled to keep the whine out of his voice as he gritted out, "He's hugging me."

"Oh, boohoo." Mom's voice softened as she closed the front door. "I don't know about you, kid, but I think it's pretty clear that some sort of shit happened. Don't know what, though." Mom heaved a sigh and ran a hand through her hair, leaning over Izuku. "Hey, buddy. What's got you freaked out?"

Not-Deku gave no response.

"You gonna let go on my shithead or nah?"

Not-Deku shook his head vigorously and hugged tighter. Katsuki made a low noise as it got a bit harder to breathe.

"You're gonna make him suffocate, kid."

The hug lessened in intensity. Katsuki wasn't going to show any indication that he was grateful, though. He wasn't going to do anything for this freakazoid who'd taken Deku's place. Once Mom was out of sight, he was going to beat the shit out of him. He could take him, easy.

"Can I trust Katsuki not to murder you?"

Not-Deku didn't move. Damn right, motherfucker. Mom snorted.

"You aren't sure, are you?"

Not-Deku nodded against his shoulder. Mom paused before she exhaled loudly and snapped,

"Oh, for fuck's sake, hug him back, Katsuki."

"Wh- no! What the fuck would I do that for?"

Mom gave him the Look. Katsuki looked her dead in the eye and stared, but after a solid thirty second treatment of the Look, he huffed aggravatedly and angrily wrapped his arms way too tightly around Not-Deku. Needless to say, when Not-Deku almost seemed to relax at the tight grip, it amped Katsuki's pissed-off level from a solid 6 to a fullass 10.

"You're not supposed to enjoy that, fuckface." He hissed into Not-Deku's ear. "I don't know who the fuck you are, but you aren't fooling me. Once Mom leaves, I'll fucking kill you."

Mom waved her hand towards the stairs. "Try to get him up the stairs, I'm going to call Inko and see if she knows anything."

Upstairs. He could do that, it'd give this fucker less of a chance to run away. Once Mom was out of sight, Katsuki attempted to shove Not-Deku off of him. Key word: Attempted; because Not-Deku refused to budge. Like, at all. Grumbling under his breath, Katsuki growled,

"You heard that hag. Off. Upstairs. Now."

Slowly, Not-Deku pulled away from him. Katsuki would admit; he was a little startled at the tears on Not-Deku's face; he hadn't even felt shaking, and since Not-Deku was seemingly trying to melt himself into Katsuki, that was surprising. Not-Deku raked his eyes up and down Katsuki, looking almost as if he were staring at a ghost. It was...unsettling, especially with that ominous scar on his eye and-holy fucking shit, what the hell happened to his hand?! Were those glass shards!?

Katsuki hastily grabbed Not-Deku's hand and pulled it to his face for inspection. Okay, yeah, definitely glass shards. What the fuck.

"What in the everloving name of fuck did you do to your hand?" And where the fuck did these scars come from? They looked old.

"I…" Not-Deku's voice came out slowly as it trembled in his throat. It sounded almost breathy as he looked at his own hand, seemingly surprised by the state of it too. "I punched my mirror...I think…?"

"You...think? What the fuck does that mean?"

Alright, promises of murder put aside, now he was just fucking curious. He was going to get some goddamn answers before he beat the hell out of whoever this was. Not-Deku's eyebrows creased, his face unreadable other than an expression of utter loss.

"I...don't know."

...Okay. He wasn't sure what the hell was tipping him off, but maybe this was Deku, but definitely not the fucking Deku he knew, he was 100% sure of that shit now.

"Well, I'm going to need a straight fucking answer."

"I don't have one."

Yeah. No stutter, so definitely not the one he knew.

"For fuck's sake-" Katsuki whirled around and tugged Maybe-Deku towards the stairs, not giving a flying fuck about the injuries on the hand he was gripping. "Let's go, you have a lot of shit to explain before I kill you."

Maybe-Deku said nothing, not even when Katsuki slammed open his bedroom door and shoved him onto his bed, grabbing a baseball bat.

"Now, tell me what the fuck is happening, and if you try any shit, I'm going to bash your fucking skull in."

Maybe-Deku looked around his bedroom, a strange expression crossing his face. "I'm...really back, aren't I?" His voice came out subdued, almost defeated.

"What the fuck do you mean you're "back"?!"

Maybe-Deku's face didn't waver, but his eyes began to leak.

"Oh my fucking- could you at least make an expression if you're going to do that shit?"

The only sort of change he got for that was Maybe-Deku's eyebrows furrowing. "What?"

"Just-you're not even making a face while doing-doing whatever you're doing with your face!"

Maybe-Deku's face shifted into pure bafflement and he slowly said, "Crying…?"

"Whatever! Listen, just-fucking talk! Why are you all buff, why are you punching mirrors, where the hell did those scars come from, and why in the fuck is there white in your hair!?"

Maybe-Deku waved his hand helplessly, before gesturing generally to his body. "Training. A lot." He gestured to the scars. "Fighting for my life." He gestured to the hair. "Stress."

Katsuki didn't say shit for a couple seconds before letting out a series of garbled noises, snapping, "Since when the hell did this happen? You were a skinny fucking pencil yesterday! Listen, I don't know who the fuck you're supposed to be, but either way, you're not the Deku I fucking know. Just tell me what the fuck happened to you and why! Quit it with this vague bullshit!"

Maybe-Deku parted his lips and dropped the ultimate fucking bombshell, "...I saw you die. died."

He saw me... WHAT!?

Katsuki wasn't sure how the fuck he was supposed to respond to that. He stared incredulously at Maybe-Deku, mouth ajar.

And he swung the baseball bat.

Hard.

And it would've clobbered Maybe-Deku point blank in the head had he not caught the bat, yanked it out of Katsuki's hands, and pinned Katsuki to the ground...in all of three seconds. Okay, maybe there was some merit of truth to the whole 'fighting for my life' bullshit. Maybe-Deku and Katsuki locked eyes for a moment, and Maybe-Deku's eyes widened in realization. He scrambled off of Katsuki and all but threw the bat back at Katsuki, retreating to the corner of the room, eyes blown wide and face pale.

Katsuki propped himself up on his elbows and, small but heartfelt, said, "What the fuck was that?"

Maybe-Deku looked down at his bloody, glass-riddled hand, not meeting Katsuki's eyes. "Reflex. Sorry."

"Fshskks- Reflex!? For fucking what?! Spit out, already!" There was two conclusions he could draw from this and he really, really didn't fucking like either of them, though one of them would be way better than the other. "What the fuck do you mean you saw me die, that you died?! I swear to fucking god, if this is some sort of fucked up joke-!"

Maybe-Deku shakily rose to his feet, looking around. "I...I watched you die. You were shot through the head, completely random. And I...I was killed too. Later on. I-I shouldn't exist, I shouldn't be here, I shouldn't fucking exist-!"

The realization was cold. He wasn't...joking. He wasn't fucking joking.

"You...came back?"

Maybe-Deku-no, just Deku stared at him with manic, desperate eyes and a shaking chest.

Katsuki's head spun. "Do you even have any idea what the fuck you're implying!? Deku, there are four recorded cases of time traveling quirks. Four. Do you even know what the fuck this means?!"

Deku shook his head vigorously. "No, no, this isn't time travel, I-I fucking died. I've come close a few times but I know, I know I died. I-I...I died next to...I-I...I didn't want to come back. I was ready. I did it all, I saved everyone I could've, why did I..." Deku's eyes abruptly overflowed with tears and he covered his mouth, crashing back against the wall and sliding down. "Oh god...they're still alive. Everyone I've lost a-and...and the ones I killed. The ones I had to kill. I have to-I have to-!" Deku's voice strained as the hysteria grew, and he began to breathe unsteadily and raggedly.

Katsuki stumbled to his feet and lurched towards Deku, landing a hard slap on his face.

"Get a fucking grip! Who the fuck is back, who did you kill?! If you're fucking with me, say it now!"

Deku gave no response, and Katsuki swore to god-

Deku didn't get the chance to say anything else, because in that moment, his eyes rolled back and he slumped over, his head cracking against the edge of his dresser. Katsuki stared in horror for a good ten seconds as red began to spill across the hardwood floor.

"Jesus fucking CHRIST-! MOM!"


Izuku woke up to the painfully familiar feeling of bandages wrapped tightly around his head and hand. His head throbbed dully with phantom pains of...something, and his hand burned. Whenever he was, it was dark, quiet, and smelled faintly of middle-schooler cologne. Someone snored quietly across the room, muttering curse words under their breath. A sense of nostalgia sank over Izuku like a blanket and he reached up a heavy hand to wipe away the tears beginning to prickle his eyes.

God, he was back at the start of it all. It was such an overwhelming concept. He just couldn't believe it, it just wasn't setting in.

How could it?

He was in a completely normal world. A world untorn from an all out war between heroes and villains. Schools didn't have bullet proof glass, self-defense classes didn't have a waiting list, rationing was a foreign concept, inflation was nonexistent, and cities were still standing. He had come from a borderline apocalyptic world into this...utterly mundane, still one. It was unnerving. The lack of sound made his skin crawl. Silence meant something was about to happen, but nothing ever did. He kept holding his breath for no reason. He kept waiting for the clowns behind the bushes to jump out and scream, "Fooled you!" (and then pull a gun on him) but it never happened. Reality kept sinking further and further in.

He was scar-riddled, PTSD ridden, walking Vigilante veteran who, in this world, had done absolutely fuckall.

Everything he'd done, everything he'd worked for, cried for, screamed for, bled for...it was for absolutely fucking nothing. Every twinge of pain, every scar he gained, every tear he'd shed, every drop of blood he'd spilled meant nothing, because now he was back at the very start. Shigaraki, Twice, Dabi, Kurogiri, Toga, Chisaki, Magne, Gigantomachia, Stain, Muscular, Moonfish, Mustard, Mimic, oh god, the Noumu, All For One...too many to name. He had to track them down and kill them all again.

Could he even do it again at all? It was hard the first time around, even with-

Izuku's heart froze in his chest, because it was right then and there that he realized he couldn't feel it.

He couldn't feel One for All.

He didn't have One for All

He was  quirkless.

A cold sense of sheer terror washed over him. He had good reflexes, a killer body, good instincts, but...without One for All, he really couldn't do shit. And if he didn't have One for All that meant that, unless they were still training...Toshinori...had no idea who he was. Uraraka, Tenya, Aizawa, Shouto, they were all alive but they didn't know him. Good god, he was...alone. Completely, utterly alone. He couldn't even hope to touch All for One like this.

What the fuck was he going to do? Hunt down Toshinori? No, that'd be hella creepy-Jesus Christ, Toshinori was missing his stomach and one of his lungs at the moment -and even if he found him, how would he impress him enough for Toshi to take him on as his son-successor again? Toshinori wasn't even in Musutafu; he didn't know where the hell he was, though a quick Google search could help with that. No, no, he'd have to wait until the Sludge Villain- when was the Sludge Villain coming? How old was he? Toshinori had started training him in early June, 2016, since he'd had his 15th birthday while training. Surely it was near that date?

Izuku slid off of Katsuki's bed and peered for in the dark in search of a calendar. He scrambled towards it, eyes roving over the scorched out dates (Jesus Christ, Katsuki was so extra) in search for one that wasn't. It wasn't difficult; about half of the calendar was sufficiently mutilated. HIs eyes landed on...he blinked harshly and stared at the calendar on Katsuki's wall, eyes wide and unblinking.

July 15th, 2015.

2015.

He had fucking met Toshinori June 19th,  2016.

He nearly had a whole fucking year to wait for the Sludge Villain.

...and it was his fourteenth birthday.

He'd...gone running out of his house, scaring the hell out of his mom (he still wasn't over it- Mom. Mom. He hadn't seen her in...in almost seventeen years. It was like seeing a ghost, but entirely worse)...on his fourteenth birthday.

He'd missed his 14th birthday...which was three days after summer break had started. Jesus Christ, what was he even learning in class when he was 14? He'd sure as hell have to figure that out, that was for sure.

At least he was fluent in English already, so that wouldn't be hard. He'd definitely need to figure out where the fuck they were in classes in time for September though...which was a while away. Okay, he should be fine. Fuck, shit...money. He needed a source of income to get what he'd need once he got back One for All-SHIT! He needed to rewrite all three of his fucking books! Goddammit! Shouto really liked his second one, too-

Shouto was gone-SHUT UP!

"Who the fuck is Shouto?"

Izuku nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of Katsuki's sleepy voice.

"I-I...a friend." Ah yes, good bullshit right there. "Well, not anymore. He doesn't know me."

Wait, why the fuck was Katsuki asking about Shouto? (he's dead, he's dead and so are your kids because you couldn't fucking save them, you worthless fucking-)

"Whatever. Stop fucking mumbling and go back to sleep. I'm too tired to deal with your shit."

Dammit, and he'd thought he'd finally gotten over that mumbling shit.

"Sorry. Go back to bed."

"Don't tell me what to fucking do, you asshole." Katsuki muttered before promptly dozing back off.

Izuku huffed a short laugh at that, shaking his head. He'd almost forgotten how much of a douchebag kid Katsuki had been. He reached up and raked a trembling hand through his hair.

Okay, calm down. Evaluate.

You are fourteen. You turned fourteen today or...yesterday.

It's two in the fucking morning. Shut up and be quiet.

You have your muscles and scars. Same hair too. Somehow, you still have your physical characteristics, but not all of them. For example, eyesight. You can fucking see. Amazing. Does eyesight even count as a physical trait?

Your husband and kids were murdered and you could do fuckall because you're worthless.

Your husband is 14ish and currently doesn't know you. No one fucking knows you, actually. You are entirely alone.

Every villain you permanently stopped is currently alive and well.

All for One is alive and well...kind of. He has no fucking face.

You don't have One for All

You died, and went back in time but retained physical characteristics.

You are completely, utterly, royally  fucked.

.Especially because Katsuki knows you somehome came back. Shit, fuck.

Jesus christ.

Why the fuck did he tell Katsuki about any of this? What the fuck was he doing? What was he thinking?! Probably that oh, you're back to fucking 2015 and everyone you loved died but now they're alive but you can't even see them because they have no idea who the fuck you are.

Izuku wobbled back to Katsuki's bed and sat down, suddenly feeling lightheaded. The darkness of the room was suppressing, suffocating. Light, light. You sleep with a- you used to sleep with a nightlight for a fucking reason. God, fuck, he just needed to leave. Toeing over Katsuki, he lifted the window and climbed on the ledge. Just two stories, just a quick blast from One for All could...couldn't do anything, because he didn't have it.

Fuck.


Thankfully, Izuku managed to escape the Bakugou household with no incident, other than Katsuki stirring a bit as Izuku put him in his rightful bed and tucked him in. Katsuki didn't quite wake up though, so he was probably in the clear. Unless Katsuki was the one stalking him at the moment, which he found highly unlikely. Izuku grumbled under his breath, mumbling several obscenities. This was just his luck, wasn't it? First day back and he was going to get raped and murdered. Whoever the person was behind them had better fuck off before he took this next turn, because if they didn't, that'd mean they'd taken 4 rights with him and that would cement that he was being followed. As he rounded the corner, the presence still lingered in the back of his mind.

For fuck's sake.

"Listen." He stopped short, spinning to face the probable general direction of his pursuer. "You've taken 4 rights. You're following me. Knock it the fuck off before I beat the shit out of you."

There was no response. Only silence. Izuku quirked an unimpressed eyebrow.

"I can hear you breathing."

Something shifted in the dark. "Damn, you've got some great ears, kid." His pursuer huffed a laugh, straightening up in the darkness. "You're pretty confident for an eleven year old out at two in the morning with no shoes though."

"Eleven?"

"There's no way you're older than that, kid. Where're your parents?"

Izuku got the distinct impression that it wouldn't be a good idea (nor would it be convincing) if he shared that he was, in fact, 34...in a 14 year old body. Come to think of it, he did look rather young.

"I have…" No parents. Yes, I do. Mom is back. Stress the "A", that'll save it. "a Parent. She's at home."

"And why aren't you there?"

"Why should I tell you?" Izuku quirked an unimpressed eyebrow. "I don't know who you are, nor why you're following me."

His pursuer scoffed and stepped into the light, revealing a short, blue haired man, face hidden by a black bandana. He was clad in combat boots, tight jeans, and a flannel that no doubt hid weapons beneath. Black studs glinted in his ears underneath the streetlight. "Absolute Zero. Just following you to make sure you get home safe."

Izuku didn't trust that shit at all. "What for?"

"Kind of a Vigilante's job to be a silent protector."

Izuku looked over Absolute Zero, noticing no telltale body language showing a lie. He sucked on his teeth and sighed, turning away from him.

"Well, tail someone else. I can handle myself just fine. And if I were you, I wouldn't test that."

Absolute Zero clucked his tongue, trotting up behind Izuku as he walked away. "Hey now, no need for hostility."

"No need for some wannabe vigilante following me." Izuku countered, voice cold and sharp. "You're not going to last a minute out here." Then again, not many heroes nor vigilantes ever last long…

...Back home, that was. And he wasn't home. His home no longer existed.

Absolute Zero seemed rather offended. "Wannabe? I won't last a minute? What makes you the judge of that?"

A number of fucking things, actually. You ever even looked at All for One? I looked him in the face and told him to go fuck himself.

Gritting his teeth, Izuku pointed at the white hairs on his head before pointing to the scar on his eye. "These."

Absolute Zero whistled, prodding at the old scar. "And what's that from?"

Shigaraki, when I was 19. You should see my back, fucker.

"Not from purse snatchers, that's for sure. And given that those are most likely a challenge for you, I can say with confidence that if you don't know how the fuck to sneak up on a 14 year old, you're screwed in the face of the villains that I've seen. Get a better fucking job before the world eats you alive, kid."

"Kid?" Absolute Zero laughed incredulously. "The villains you've faced? What the fuck, dude?"

Izuku rolled his eyes and power walked a little faster. Absolute Zero seemed to take this as a challenge and walked alongside him. Izuku, in turn, walked faster, and thus ensued a sort of game in which they tried to go faster than the other without bending their knees, resulting in some sort of strange imitation of a chicken in human form running.

Jesus Christ, this is stupid. Quit it, you moron.

Izuku stopped short, blinking hard and shaking his head. Absolute Zero trotted beside him, looking entirely too satisfied for a grownass man tailing a fourteen year old at two in the morning while partaking in an imitation of a chicken run. Why was he following Izuku at all? What the fuck was he getting out of this?

Upon voicing this, Absolute Zero shrugged. "I don't know, you just seem funny. Hey, this is going to be a really weird question, but would you interested in like, checking out vigilantism? I could take you to my homebase, I've got a bunch of friends that I think will like you. Especially Yoshio."

Izuku closed his eyes tightly and pressed his lips in a line. "Dude, you have no fucking idea who I am. I could be an undercover cop. Why the hell would you bring me to your secret base full of vigilantes?"

"The fact that you're asking that proves you're at least somewhat trustworthy."

"What the fuck kind of logic is that? Hell no, I'm not going. I don't want to become the protagonist of a shitty yaoi manga, nor a shounen manga."

Izuku missed the odd expression that crossed Naoki's face as he turned away. 


Somehow, Izuku found himself in the super secret base, wondering how the hell he became the protagonist of a convoluted mix of a shitty yaoi manga and shounen manga at the same time. 'Yoshio' stared down at Absolute Zero, looking utterly exasperated and more than a little pissed. Slowly, he reached up a large hand and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Naoki." He rumbled, visibly restraining himself from yelling. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"I thought you'd like him. He's a good kid."

Yoshio's eye twitched. "And how did you know this?"

Izuku supplied the answer here. "He didn't. At all. Literally, he was stalking me because he wanted to make sure I got home safe. He was not very good at it, and I scolded him before trying to go home. Not sure how the fuck I got here, nor why, but I'm with you. Absolute Zero, or whatever the fuck his name is, Naomi or some shit, he's an idiot and if you don't get him to shape up, he's going to get you all killed."

A black woman with short, teased hair and a nose piercing pointed at his feet and slurred, "Why aren't you wearing shoes?"

Izuku looked up at Yoshio, and Yoshio locked eyes with him. Izuku saw a flash of true, honest pain in Yoshio's pale blue eyes and Izuku returned the look. Yoshio gave a grunt of approval and nodded, waving his hand towards a door.

"Come with me, kid."

Izuku stood rooted in place, a skeptical look on his face. "You got a knife or a gun for me first?"

A girl with crackling, purple hair and no nosed folded her arms, sounding suspicious as she asked, "Why would you need a knife?"

"In case he," Izuku jerked a thumb towards Yoshio, "tries to pull any jackassery with me, I'd appreciate one."

"Why would we give you one?"

"Because you're all stupid enough for that, I think."

An expression of something akin to approval crossed Yoshio's face. He dug in his pocket and lobbed a folded pocket knife at Izuku. Izuku inspected it closely, and deeming it worthy, kept it in hand.

"Come on then, boy. We haven't got all night."

Izuku sighed and followed Yoshio, closing the door behind him and upon spotting a window, locked it for good measure. Yoshio cast Izuku a frown at that, quirking an eyebrow.

"Why'd you lock it?"

"If they hear commotion, the locked door in their way gives me enough time to escape through that window and get the fuck out of dodge."

"And if the windows locked?"

"Break it. A scratched leg is better than one on a dead person."

"And if you can't break it?"

"Extra time gives me those precious few moments to plan and think of an alternate escape."

Yoshio actually smiled at that, sinking into a squeaky arm chair. "You're a smart kid."

"Not smart. Cautious."

"Same difference."

"Not quite."

Yoshio leaned back in his chair gesturing towards the one across from him. "Sit."

Haha, no. "I'd rather stand."

Yoshio nodded, looking up at Izuku in a lazy, calm manner that suddenly reminded Izuku of Aizawa. "You got any ideas on why I'm talking to you like this?"

"A few."

"And they'd be?"

"Threatening my silence. Putting me down quietly so I can't leak your base of operations. Interrogating me for my identity and intentions. Or…"

Yoshio nodded his head, looking faintly impressed. "Or?"

"Asking for something."

Yoshio nodded again, folding his hands in a tent. "Look, I won't beat around the bush. These people aren't the brightest. Fuck's sake, Naoki brought some random kid to our base for no reason, completely unaware of any sort of motivations. They're naive, too trusting, if not a bit odd. I need someone like you, and I think you're suited for the job."

Izuku crossed his arms, not impressed. "And what makes you think that?"

"My quirk."

Oh. That was interesting.

"And what is your quirk?"

Yoshio smiled softly, and slowly said, "It's kind of like foresight, but different. It's fine tuned. If I dig deep, I can see what you mean to do and what you've done. The latter is a bit harder, but it helps locating the villains, whether they be bank robbers or rapists." Yoshio's eyes clouded over into a shining silver. "And you've got a lot of intent to kill some choice people. I don't know who they are, but I know a villain when I see one." Yoshio snorted a laugh and shook his head. "You're even planning to pursue Stain. I don't have any doubt that you could, but if you wanted me to…"

"You'd offer assistance."

"I would."

"At what price?"

Yoshio locked eyes with Izuku. "If I needed your help, you'd provide it as well."

"And what would I, a quirkless 14 year old, be able to do?"

Yoshio looked down at the scars littering Izuku's body. "Boy, look at that body. You aren't going to be quirkless for long."

"You've seen the plan I've got?"

"Yeah. Interesting. You're going to fight a dude made of slime and hang out with a skinny, blonde guy."

"That's...accurate. You're not going to ask about how I'm getting the quirk?"

Yoshio looked up at Izuku with lazy, relaxed eyes. "I got my quirk the same way you're planning. It's rare, and mainly unheard of, but there are always other people."

"Funny that I've met another one so quickly."

Yoshio shrugged. "The world is weird. You never know. That's enough about all of that, I think. So, do we have a deal?"

Izuku looked Yoshio up and down, deciding he rather liked the guy. "Alright. Fine."

"Deal?"

Yoshio extended his hand. Izuku took it.

"Deal."


 

Naoki slipped away from the window and disappeared into the night. 

No one saw him go, save for a man beating the dust out of a rug. Attracted by the sound, Naoki looked back to gaze into the man's eyes. Something deep inside of the man, buried in his primal instincts, stirred in the face of something old.

Something incomprehensible. 

Naoki's eyes burned beneath the streetlamp, shining a piercing, terrible blue.

The streetlamp blew out, and he was gone. 

The man wondered why he was outside. 

Chapter Text

The sun beat down on his back, the sky stretched up above him a brilliant blue. Faceless people flitted around him, their distorted voices and giggles echoing in his ears.

A thin, muscular man with long, green hair decorated with silver streaks turned to look at him. His floaty shorts swirled as he spun to and fro, a brilliant grin raising his freckled cheeks up a smidgeon. His eyes were tired but bright, worn but shining. Dark, but green.

"-, - - - -." He reached out his hand and squeezed the man's shoulder, fondness washing over him. "- - - - - - -."

The cigarette between his fingers smoldered.

The green haired man smiled something small and genuine. He spoke, he did, and yet Katsuki could hear nothing. The man held up a hand to show off a silver ring with a green stone encrusted in the middle. HIs face softened, fond.

"- - - -."
The man's mouth moved again. No sound escaped.

His ears began to ring.

The man leaned over and swatted Katsuki.

Katsuki took a drag from his cigarette and blew it out, laughing halfway through his exhale. "- - - - - - - - - - - -, - - - - -."

The man chuckled in his throat. No sound.

Shame clouded his mind and he hunched his shoulders. "- -. - - - - - - - - -."

The man nodded. His head swam as the ringing got louder and louder.

"- -. - - - - - - - - - - -." Katsuki sighed, rubbing a hand across his face tiredly as a wave of melancholy began to drown him. "- - - - -, - - - - -?"

The man nodded, his face twisting into something that made his heart sink.

The ringing grew in pitch.

"- - - - -."

The man's face softened in amusement.

Katsuki laughed loudly, but it lost its humor halfway through. "- - - - - - - -. - - - - - -?"

Whatever the man said made him go cold with shock. The man smiled tiredly, a touch of pain crossing his face.

Katsuki's eyes began to mist up and he sniffled at the man's words. "-. - - - - - - - - - -? - - - - - - - - - - - -."

The ringing got louder and louder. His heart thudded in his chest. Something wasn't right. The man bit his lip and looked up at him shyly.

Katsuki cocked his head and narrowed one eye. "-, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -?"

The man shyly nodded. He felt nothing but disbelief with a hint of growing joy. "-?"

The man looked fond yet exasperated.

The ringing got louder and louder.

Sweat dripped down his neck.

He wanted to move.

He needed to move.

He couldn't.

"-, - - -"

A gunshot rang through the air.

The ringing became a shriek.

Pain exploded across his skull.

A scream accompanied him into the darkness as he tumbled to the ground and into the cold.

Inky darkness flooded every inch of him, choking the warmth from his body. He thrashed and cried out, unable to move. He was stuck, restrained. He was drenched in cold sweat. His head ached and his throat burned, the remnant of a scream ghosting across his lips.

He was…

He was in his room.

Tangled in his sheets and trembling.

The scream that had woken him up was his own.

Katsuki heaved for breath, tears beginning to well up in his eyes. He was safe, he was fucking okay, why the fuck was he still afraid? He wrapped his arms around himself tightly and looked around, puffing out frantic gusts of breath.

"Katsuki?!" Mom threw open the door with a bang, her bed head sticking up in every direction and pajama shorts halfway pulled up. She scrambled to his bedside and yanked him towards her, frisking him for any sort of injury. Finding none, she relaxed slightly and hugged him tightly. "Holy fucking fuck, what's the matter kid? The hell were you shrieking about?"

Green hair with white streaks, tanned skin, big, bright green eyes, freckles and scars...the gunshot.

"I...I watched you die. You were  shot through the head,  completely random."

The realization came to him along with a sense of coldness in his gut.

He took one look at Mom and burst into tears.


 Izuku, still shoeless, turned the card holding Yoshio's number around in his hands as he walked down the sidewalk. A frown spread across his lips and he narrowed his eyes.

"How good are you with a gun?"

"Give me one, and I'll show you."

"Hopefully without me as your target?"

"I've no intention of killing you."

"Unless I do something you don't like. Don't forget, I can see right through you."

The weight of the gun in the hidden holster on his hip was welcomingly familiar and offered a sense of safety. The ammunition in his pocket jangled dully as he stepped. He really wasn't sure what Yoshio's main goal was, but if he could easily get weapons from him, their 'arrangement' would work quite nicely.

The 'for now', Izuku thought as he pensively thumbed the trigger, doesn't need to be spoken.


The light was blinding. Her ears were ringing. She was sitting in a chair with wheels. She couldn't feel her legs.

Why was she crying?

"-,- - - - - - -."
A boy with bright green hair stood in front of her, tears spilling down his cheeks. He looked just like 
her  boy.

Was he her boy?

His lips moved, but no sound came out.

The ringing in her ears grew louder.

As she was wheeled out of the room, she wished she could get up and run to him.

His crumpling face would haunt her until she drew her last breath.

Inko jackknifed into a sitting position in bed, every nerve in her body thrumming as her son's name flitted across her lips.


Izuku shut the front door to his mother's...to their home and locked it just in time for his mother to stumble into the living room, looking pale and shaky. They locked eyes, twin greens boring in the matching pair only a few long strides away. Izuku felt the air in his lungs knock out of him at the sight of her soft silhouette illuminated by the moonlight with a soft whoosh. Mom narrowed her eyes and tilted her head, looking unsure about whether she were hallucinating or not.

"Izuku…?"

He opened and closed his mouth, his jaw trembling with sudden strain. "H-Hey...mom."

The word felt so foreign on his tongue.

They stared at each other in silence before Mom instantaneously burst into tears, lunging towards him and crushing him in a hug. Izuku froze in her arms, his breath catching in his throat. Like an avalanche of snow in the middle of a blizzard, a sense of safety and comfort seemed to swallow him whole right then and there. Burning tears began to well up in his eyes and he leaned forward, hugging Mom back just as tightly as she was clinging to him.

"I was so worried, you foolish boy." Mom choked out, reaching up to stroke his hair as if to reassure herself that he was really there.

A tear slipped down Izuku's cheek, and down slid another. "I'm sorry." He gasped, his throat tighter than a vice. "I'm so sorry."

I'm sorry I couldn't save you.

"It's okay, baby. It's okay." Mom's voice was muffled but soothing as she buried her head in his chest. "Just...please don't scare me like that. Not ever."

"I-I won't."

They stood there for a long, long time, neither willing to move from the other's embrace. And yet, all too soon, Mom pulled away. He wished she could stay in his arms for longer; maybe his heart wouldn't ache so fiercely. She breathed out a sigh and looked him over as her mouth dragged down into a small frown.

"Well...you got the quirk you were hoping for, I suppose."

Izuku's mind stuttered to a halt.

Quirk…?

"I...can't say I was expecting a muscle augmentation quirk, but those are hard to manifest anyway and I'll assume it came from your...your father's side. With how little and frail you always were, I shouldn't have been surprised you couldn't manifest it." Her lips pulled into a watery smile and she reached out, thumbing one of the scars that lined up and down his body. "That... doesn't explain these, though."

Fuck, shit. How was he supposed to respond to that? His mind whirled, trying to piece together an viable explanation. He came up empty handed, left groping in the dark. For a split second, he almost, almost thought about telling her the real reason. BUt that was an awful, awful idea. Had his son or his daughter come up to him and told him they weren't exactly 7 anymore but, in fact, in their 30s, it would've broken his heart. It would've ruined him. He couldn't do that shit to her! Besides, he couldn't just tell her anyway! What was he going to say? Oh, hey mom, yeah uh I'm 34 years old, I haven't seen you in 17 years and I watched my husband and kids die just yesterday. Good talk! No! He couldn't fucking say that!

"M-Mom, I…" Goddammit, think! "...Would you believe me if I told you they were stretch marks?" Oh, for fuck's sake, Izuku.

Mom let out a startled little laugh, her hand pausing on his arm. She pressed her forehead into his chest and sighed.

"No, no I wouldn't."

Izuku tsked and snapped his fingers in feigned sarcastic amusement with a touch of soft frustration despite every neuron is his brain screaming like the verbal equivalent of zalgo text. What the fuck was he supposed to say? She assumed it was a quirk, which he could use, but…oh.

Oh.

"I...I was afraid of telling you." A plan began to form in his mind.

He could work with this.

"Of telling me what?"

"I've...I had this quirk for awhile." Oof, shocker. Truly completely unexpected. Bullshit time. "But I-I couldn't hold it for long, and I thought you would think I was crazy. I know it was stupid and I knew you wouldn't care but I was...I was still afraid."

It was way too easy to slip into lying. It felt like sliding into a familiar second skin.

The thought made his skin crawl.

Relax your knees. Don't tense. Let your voice come out smooth, natural. Stutter here and there to emphasize your "inner fear". Appeal to what they like. Keep some truth in your lie, cut and splice it if you have to. Act weak, act small, like you're afraid and embarrassed. Don't touch your face. Bow your head and look up at them, but don't look them in the eye for too long. Move a little bit, but don't fidget.

Don't hesitate.

Mom cooed softly and rubbed a hand up and down his back. "Oh, honey…" He leaned into her touch, frowning. Well, he'd joked about stretch marks...Mom had mentioned a muscle augmentation quirk...Muscular's skin had turned that gross pink color from using his quirk too much so...yeah, he could use that.

"If you're wondered about the scars," He lifted a hand and ruffled the hair on the back of his head, looking to the side. "They're from me... overusing it and accidentally hurting myself. D-Don't worry though, it didn't hurt!"

Mom looked at her feet and frowned. "Not all of them can be from that."

Shit.

"Well...uh...they might be from-from other things." Goddammit.

"Other things?" Mom prompted softly, stroking his back encouragingly.

Shit, the only way he could get out of this was telling her about the bullying issue, and...he didn't want to do that. That'd break her heart...but the real explanation would just completely pulverise it. Well, fuck. Sacrifices had to be made.

"Mom...I-I..."

Mom closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. "You're being bullied, aren't you?"

Oh. Shit. Izuku was left reeling, a million questions frantically whirling in his head. How had she guessed? Fourteen year old him had hidden it all pretty well and- oh, fuck. He had to respond.

"...Yeah." He said softly, unsure of how to proceed.

"That's why you've...become so quiet, isn't it?"

Well, when he was actually fourteen, that was indeed the case.

"It is."

Mom's face twisted and she curled her hand into a fist, leaning her face into his chest and punching him gently. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Izuku recoiled at her strangled, miserable words, his heart sinking in his chest as old, bitter scars began to throb.

He didn't have to force his own voice to catch as memories of past insecurities and reasons resurfaced, viciously heaving for air as they spewed out of his mouth with vengeance, "I didn't want you to make you more sad than you already were. Y-Your happiness is worth so much more to me than my own, I couldn't just…" He fumbled for words, his chest writhing with the force of colliding feelings of guilt, resentment, anger, and misery. "...I couldn't hurt you like that, not after what I saw after Hisashi left."

Mom jerked her head up so fast that Izuku heard her neck crack. "You're my son." She snarled, sudden ferocity bleeding into her hushed voice. "It's not your job to- honey, you can't- what kind of happiness was I supposed have when you wouldn't talk to me?! You just-you closed off and I was so afraid that you'd-!" Her voice caught, her eyes swimming with tears as Izuku's head span at the speed of the words spilling past her lips."...I-I tried so hard to get you to open back up to me, and-and,all this time I've suspected but I never pushed hard enough and Izuku...I'm sorry."

"What is there to be sorry about?!" He whispered frantically, wiping the tears that began to slide down Mom's cheeks. "I-I...this was all me, it was my fault, never yours!"

It was his fault. It was his fault Hisashi had left, all because he was quirkless. It was his own damn fault he was bullied so much, because he never had the fucking balls to stand up for himself since he was such a fucking coward, and it was his own fault he never told her because he was afraid she'd just laugh at him or she wouldn't care, and it was his own fucking fault he didn't want to upset her, it was his own fault he wanted to-

CALM THE FUCK DOWN!

"It shouldn't be your fault, you're thirteen!" Mom took a quavering breath and leaned even heavier against her son. "Or...you're fourteen now."

Izuku fell silent and he slowly reached a hand up to rub small circles between Mom's shoulders. "Yeah...we missed it."

The silence stretched, equal parts tense and calm.

"...Who?"

Izuku startled a bit. "What?"

"Who hurt you?"

Izuku sucked in a breath through his teeth. Oh, she was not going to like this answer.

He hesitated before biting the bullet and saying, "...Just about everyone, really. There's never been a primary antagonist."

Well, that last bit was a hell of a lie, wasn't it?

Mom was as tense as a drawn bowstring, her voice straining to hide her rising fury. "And no one did anything about it?"

"...To be fair, I didn't really try to stop it."

"Don't." Mom's voice came out unexpectedly hard. "Don't you dare blame yourself."

"I'm...sorry."

Something akin to melancholy descended over them as they stood there in the dimly lit entryway, the moonlight shimmering on Mom's back.

"No, I am, honey." Mom's shoulders sagged, and his heart clenched at the sight of her exhausted face as she tilted her head to look up at him. "I should've…"

"But you didn't." Izuku's voice came out no higher than a whisper, almost hesitant to break the sudden spell placed over them. "And that's….that's okay. You can't expect to get everything right, it just doesn't work like that, no matter how much we wish it did." His voice cracked in a million different places as his children came to mind. "Just...there's no use dwelling on what we should've done then, what we did wrong. The only thing useful is focusing on what we're going to do now, what we're going to do right." As he thought back on all he had lost, he couldn't keep the touch of bitterness out of his voice.

And it was right then and there that he began to understand what he'd been given. He was back at the start. Once again, he could see Toshinori smile sleepily in the mornings and putter around the living room. He could see Shouto bump into walls distractedly every now and then and stare at them as if they'd personally offended him. He could see Iida whack his hands against things as he violently flailed them around and curse loudly. He could see Ochako's disgruntled face as she spent twenty minutes searching for something only to find it on the ceiling. He could watch Mom fly out of the room like a bat out of hell at the sight of a tiny spider. He could see Katsuki's soft smile when he looked at dogs and laugh as Katsuki cursed him out for laughing. He could watch Kirishima dive away from water after a new dye job, shrieking that he was going to scare children if it dripped. The first time around, he would've given anything to see their smiling faces one last time, to share just one last happy moment with them.

Now, all he had to do was find them, because they were right there.

He could see so many good, good things all over again, and this time, he could save them because he knew everything that was going to happen. He knew what he had to fix. He could stop things from breaking before they'd even begin to crack. There was a whole world of possibilities out there for him right at that very moment. There was so much he could do.

So many things he could save.

It made his head spin and his heart seize with such utter need.

Mom gazed up at him, something Izuku didn't recognize swimming in her eyes. She reached up and cupped his cheek.

"When did you become so smart?"

When I suffered.

He simply shrugged.

Mom slid her finger upwards and thumbed the scar that stretched across his eye. Her face looked so soft, so real. He never wanted to look away from her.

"This one is different," She said, something akin to agony flitting through her eyes.

He never wanted to lose her again.

Exhaustion washed over Izuku as he began to lose the fight to hold back tears. A tear slid down his cheek, and then another. Mom pulled his face down and brushed the tears spilling down his cheeks with quick strokes, humming softly and trying to calm him down. The comfort that washed over him was so painful but so, so good. The familiarity of it all made his throat ache like nothing else and he closed his eyes, letting out a shuddering breath.

"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. Not a word. Just...I love you, Izuku." Mom whispered, her voice soft and achingly full of nothing but fondness and warmth. Nothing but love. "I love you so much."

That's the only thing I've wanted to hear from you for 17 years.

The downpour began to spill over at that and he accepted her tight, tight hug with no complaint.

"I love you too, mom." His chest almost victoriously heaved with the force of the sobs beginning to wrack through his muscular frame as his knees grew weak.

"You silly, silly boy." Mom's strained voice came out tight and choked and she combed a hand through his hair. "My silly boy."

"Don't let go of me, please don't."

Mom pulled his face down and bumped foreheads with him. "Let's go to my bed. It's late."

With her soft hand planted firmly on his back, she guided his fumbling footsteps to her bedroom, closing the door with her free hand before pulling him into bed with her. As if she were a lake in the face of a dehydrated man who'd dragged himself through a desert for days on end, Izuku sank into her warmth, clinging to her, unwilling to pull away at all. As he breathed in her smell and warring feelings of calmness and misery descended over him, he couldn't help but feel like the child he was supposed to be. Mom tucked his head in her should and he nearly sobbed as she carded her fingers into his curly hair and pressed a kiss on the top of his forehead.

"Go to sleep, baby. We don't need to talk about this anymore."

Izuku wrapped an arm tightly around Mom and let out a shuddering sigh. He fell asleep curled in her loving arms.


Izuku's gazed down at his nearly three year old kids, struggling and nearly failing to restrain a fit of giggles that was threatening to trickle past his clamped lips.

"Shouto." His voice caught and he had to forcefully tighten his throat to prevent laughter from spilling out. "I was gone for twenty minutes."

Shouto had the decency to look sheepish, but there was a touch of bafflement in there as he said, "And I was in the bathroom for about three of those minutes, and they managed to do," Shouto waved his hand in the general direction of the kids. " This  in that time."

"Seriously?"

"Honey, I wish I was joking. They must be wizards or something."

"Babe, we're not Harry Potter characters, they can't be wizards." Izuku bit his lip, trying so, so hard not to laugh as he looked down at his kids with the sternest face he could muster (which was honestly not that good). "Well? What do you two have to say for yourselves?"

Chihiro, who was covered in head to toe with flour and eggs with an impressive amount of the former piled on her head, simply shrugged. "We want make pancakes."

"You wanted-." Izuku pressed a fist over his mouth before a snort could come out. "-pancakes. So, you tried to make them yourselves?"

Itsuki, smeared with what he hoped was chocolate syrup and covered in gritty sugar, actually looked a bit sheepish as he said, "We not good at it. We made big mess. Sorry, mama."

Yeah-ahah-." Izuku drew in a long breath and turned around, grinning and shaking with laughter at the wall. "I-I'm sure you are, buddy. You two are gonna help Daddy clean that up after you take a shower."

Chihiro cried, her voice laden with indignation. "No showers!"

"Yes, showers!" Izuku retorted, turning back around to look back down at her. "C'mon, hun."

"I no want shower!" Chihiro insisted, stamping her little foot as if to further her point.

"Well, you shoulda thought about that before you made such a big mess." Shouto pointed out, moving his hands up to rest against his (sexy, sexy) hips.

Chihiro pulled her lips into the mother of all pouts and sat down on the ground, folding her little arms.

"Oh, we are not doing that today, little missy. Get up." Shouto pursed his lips, crouching next to her.

Itsuki slowly trotted away from Chihiro's side and stood next to Izuku, grabbing his hand with his tiny, much dirtier one. "I icky. Clean."

Shouto gestured towards Itsuki. "See? Your brother is gladly cleaning himself. You ought to follow his example. It's not fun being the only dirty one."

Izuku side, patted Itsuki's hair and cringing at the cloud of white the puffed up following his touches. "Divide and conquer?"

"Divide and conquer." Shouto sighed, reaching down and hooking his hands beneath Chihiro's armpits (who, obviously, did not appreciate this and immediately fell limp just to be as difficult as possible).

Izuku nodded, and with a hand against Itsuki's flour-doused back, guided him into the bathroom.

"Thanks, mama." Itsuki said, pulling off his shirt with a small 'yuck'.

"You're welcome, kiddo. Love you."


Izuku woke up feeling safe and secure in a pair of arms that were curled protectively around him, and for a split second, he thought it was Shouto.

When he turned to see it was Mom, feelings of giddiness and misery immediately went to war and he puffed out a sigh, pressing his back deeper into her chest. He stayed like that, her warmth encapsulated him in a bubble of stillness before she began to stir, mumbling unintelligible sentences beneath her breath. She drew in a long, deep breath and let it out slowly, reaching out to stretch her arms and straightening her legs.

"'Zuku?" She murmured, reaching up to pat his head. "Izuku." She murmured with an air of assurance, as if the mountain of floofy hair that rested upon his head was enough of sign that her son was in bed with her.

Actually, yeah, that was probably enough of a sign.

"Morning, mom."

Mom jumped from behind him and let out a startled little laugh immediately after, smoothing his hair back. "Didn't realize you were awake. Good morning."

Izuku simply hummed in response, unwilling to move but knowing that he had to, seeing as people's bladders existed and hey, he was an adult. Well, not anymore, that was. Point was, if he wasn't mistaken, Mom had to pee and that meant he should probably move. Swallowing back the feelings that welled up in his throat at the thought of moving away from Mom ~~and never seeing her again because he's lost her, he's lost her and there's nothing he can do~~, Izuku slowly out of her bed.

"Where're you going?" Mom called sleepily, her eyebrows scrunched and eyes shining with vague hurt.

"...I gotta pee." He shrugged, leaving her to her own devices as he padded out of her room without another word.

He strode into the living room, looking around the vaguely familiar place and feeling, if anything at all, lost. It just...it wasn't sinking in. This was home, the home before all homes. This was the room he'd grown up in.

Why did he feel like such a stranger inside of it?

Scrubbing his face tiredly, Izuku shook his head and blinked harshly, stumbling into the nearby kitchen. First order of the day was making breakfast for Shouto and the kids-

No.

No, it wasn't. It wasn't anymore...

...Fuck it, he was going to make breakfast anyway. Maybe it'd be a decent enough way to apologize for scaring the shit out of Mom the other day. Izuku looked over at the counter in search of the knives (did they have a knife rack? Yeah.) and spied a white and green cake with candle wax dripped all over the middle, the remnants of what looked like a...oh.

Right.

Yesterday had been his birthday.

Izuku heaved a sigh and closed his eyes tiredly, leaning against the doorframe. He was going to make breakfast. Just, breakfast. Focus on the fucking breakfast. Shaking his head, he opened the cabinets one by one until he found the rice. He pulled a nice pot off of the dishrack and filled it with water, sprinkling salt into the water and setting on the gas stove to boil. He rinsed the rice in the sink (was he supposed to do that with this kind of rice? Probably not. Fuck it.) and chucked it into the pot of water as it began to boil, separated the rice with his wooden spoon, and turned down the heat before covering the pot with its respective lid. While that cooked, he pulled two salmon fillets out of the fridge, threw them on a plate and doused them with soy sauce, ginger, and some cut up spring onion to just sit for a bit before getting to work on the miso soup.

The faucet began to run in Mom's bathroom; she was going to shower. Obviously. Well, that just gave him more time to throw together sustenance. In another pot, he boiled more water,chucked in some instant dashi, and...fuck, there was no tofu. Screw it, potatoes would have to substitute. He peeled two potatoes, cut them into smallish cubes and chucked them into the pot. He took a bowlful of the soup, dissolved some miso into it, chucked that back in and let it simmer a bit while he chopped the fuck out of some spring onions and threw those in their too. Moving the pot off of the heat, he thought, Boom. Soup. And now...the fun part.

The fish.

Grabbing a nice grilling pan, he lined the bottom with hot water and as it started to boil, allowed the salmon fillets to migrate to the rack and staring at it as it cooked. Wow. His hand sure looked weird. He had weird hands. Was that even his hand? Probably not. That sure was whack. Sucking a sudden breath (when had he stopped breathing? What the fuck, lungs?) he let he fish fillets flop onto a plate and-

Fillets was a weird word. Fish fillets flop. Flop. Floppery flop flop.

...Where did this bowl come from?

Omelet. He needed to make an omelet.

He cracked three eggs into the bowl he'd gotten from somewhere, chucked in a bit of sugar, some soy sauce, and more instant dashi into the bowl as well before stirring the hell out of and dumping it into a pan he'd placed on the stove as some point. Wow. He sure was using a bunch of pots and pans. That was nice. He'd wash them soon, and then help Itsuki brush his teeth since he still hadn't quite gotten the hang of it since he'd begun to lose his...teeth…

Itsuki was dead.

Oh, the egg was halfway cooked.

He folded the omelet into a semi-circle and then folded the ends inwards, until he had a little egg rectangle and...it was really blurry. He could barely see. Oh, he was...crying. Hadn't done that in awhile, had he? Well, at least tears would make the omelet saltier. He finished the omelet, barely feelings the tears drying on his face as he cut the omelet into 8 little squares. He filled two bowls with rice, placed the fish on two separate plates, spooned some miso soup into two other bowls, and placed 4 omelet squares on each two other plates. He set the food aside and stared at the dishes he'd created, not thinking of much. He...couldn't. What was he supposed to think about? Was there anything at all?

He reached out, grabbed one of the pots, and scrubbed it clean in the kitchen sink. Stray bits of rice swam along the bottom, falling into the drain. He watched them disappear, one by one, as he washed each pot and pan and useless dish before dying them. There was nothing else to clean. There were four grains of rice left in the sink. He wasn't quite sure how long he sat there, staring at the last, lone grain of rice as the other three slid into the drain.

Someone's hand touched his shoulder, all five fingers searing into his skin, and every inch of him screamed.

Shigaraki's voice slid into his ear, his rancid breath ghosting against the shell of his ear.

"Maybe this will teach you to keep your nose out of where it doesn't belong."

A hand pressed against the meat of his left shoulder and it felt like the skin shattered. It crumpled into ash beneath Shigaraki's fingers, floating towards the ground and fading into nothingness mid-fall as blood began to spill over, staining the concrete beneath him a sickening, head-spinning scarlet.

The shock faded, and he couldn't feel his throat.

His first scream pierced the winter evening like an arrow whizzing through the air, lodging itself into a tree it could never be wrenched free from. It echoed through the dingy warehouse, resonating off of the walls and slamming into his pounding ear drums. White hot pain laced his veins, consuming every inch of him, every neuron of his brain wailing. His first cries were of undoubtable terror, laden with the near tangible thought of "I don't want to die.". His first cries were the ones with eyes locked wide and every muscle rigid.

The next were of nothing but pain, garbling and pitiful.

He was on the ground, and could not remember falling.

"Izuku." Shigaraki's face loomed in front of his, towering like the visage of death.

Izuku trembled in place, twitching as tears trickled down his blood-smeared cheeks.

"Izuku." Shigaraki said again, but it was not his voice.

It sounded like-

There were hands on his cheeks.

His cheeks were clean. His shoulder was aching, but it was not burning. It was there. Scarred, but there.

He was home.

He was…

...sitting on the kitchen floor. Flat on his ass. Mom's frantic face swam into view.

"Izuku!? Talk to me, what's going on?!"

"...Mom." Izuku stared into her eyes, seeing but not comprehending.

Mom let out a shuddering breath and pulled him into a relief soaked hug.

Breakfast was...quiet.


After a long, long overnight stay at the police station sorting through files for the umpteenth time, Naomasa, at 7:32am, finally crashed into bed.


A ringing noise filled his ears, his brain buzzing with static.

The world shimmered into view, and he...was driving a car. There was a grin locked on his face and he glanced to the side, seeing what looked like a much healthier Toshinori beaming in the passenger seat, the man nearly quivering in his seat. He turned back to see a man with a shattered mirror scar stretched across his left eye, his hair streaked liberally with the same shade of white he was finely dressed in. He looked excited too. A rush of affection overcame him and his heart swelled with the beginnings of euphoria.

And then came the explosion, and suddenly the car wasn't on the road anymore.

"-!" A name ripped out of his throat.

The ground was coming in fast, but he had time.

He could save the man.

With a flurry of movement, he unclipped his seatbelt and lurched towards the man in the backseat, cushioning him with himself. The car roof caved in as they landed upside down. Toshinori shrieked a curse word. Instead of his head slammed into the waiting pavement as the window shattered, and it felt like every organ in his body exploded.

The world tilted on its axis.

The man with the scarred eye screamed what sounded like his name, and as he opened his throbbing eyes, his frantic face swam into view. Something in his chest seized at the look of terror shattered across the man's face. He coughed, belatedly trying to turn his head to avoid the man's nice suit. The man scrambled out of the car through a broken window and flipped it over, tugging him out with strong, gentle hands.

The ringing in his ears grew louder as something akin to bitterness darkened his mind.

He gurgled out a laugh. "-, - - - - - - - - - - - -"

The man shook his head wildly, his eyes swimming with tears as he clutched his hand like a lifeline. "-, - - - -."

The ringing in his ears grew louder.

His heart sank.

He loved this man. He didn't want him to see him like this.

He reached up a hand and stroked the man's cheek, watching in discontentment as he smeared blood against the rough skin. "-" It was so hard to speak. "- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "

"- - -." Tears began to drip from the man's eyes. He wished he could wipe them away. "-, - - - - -"

Naomasa's felt his face twist and he pulled his quivering lip up. "-, - - - - - -"

"-. - - -.

The man looked into his eyes. He needed the man to understand...to understand…

The ringing grew, overwhelming every sense little by little.

"-, -."

He looked pleadingly into the man's eyes, and for a moment, he saw the shimmering visage of a boy with no white in his hair and no scars. It made his chest seize with something he couldn't hope to describe.

The man...no, the boy said, "- - -."

He felt cold.

"- - - -."

His hand fell limply from the boy's cheek as the ringing overtook him.


Naomasa sat bolt upright in bed, his breath coming out in gasps and tears trickling down his cheeks. A name that felt so familiar yet he could not recognize danced in the back of his mind, just out of arm's reach.

His eyes had been so green.

Chapter Text

Mom placed one of her empty plates on top of the other before stacking her bowls on top of them, rising to her feet with her dish stack in hand. "Well...I'll clean our plates and bowls since you already got the pots and pans." Her voice came out quiet, her eyes not meeting his.

Izuku rose to his feet quickly and leaned forward, reaching for her stack of dishes. "Please, let me do that for you-."

"-Izuku." The distinct crack in Mom's voice made him falter. She closed her eyes and drew in a deep, calming breath. "J-Just...I'll do it."

Izuku slowly lowered his hand, looking down at his feet. "I, uh…" He inhaled sharply, pressing his lips in a line. "I think I'm going to go pay a visit to the Bakugou's...I was a bit of an inconvenience yesterday." He prodded at the tile with his big toe.

Mom nodded, turning and walking away. "Okay, sweetie." Her small steps paused briefly. "I...I love you."

"L-Love you too." Izuku returned quietly, his lips screwing into a crooked, pensive line as he stared fixedly at his feet.

No response came. Izuku sighed through his nose, cursing himself before turning heel and ghosting down the hallway, gazing with detached interest at his strangely unfamiliar surroundings. A flash of his previously rubble strewn, smouldering childhood home danced in front of his eyes for just a moment, and he closed them. Sparing a glance towards the kitchen, he stepped into his old...current room and closed the door behind him softly. His eyes were immediately drawn to the shards still left on his carpet and the splintered halves of his mirror's frame, browning blood still etched into the wood. He bit his lip, looking down at his injured hand before forcefully ripping his eyes away walking towards his dresser. Before he went anywhere, he supposed he should shower. The feeling of sweat crusting his hair was...gross, to say the least. He grabbed a random change of clothes before he darted off to the bathroom and locked the door before stripping, which turned out to be surprisingly difficult to do. He tried to tug his shirt free from his body as best as he could, but once it reached his pectoral muscles (which were...defined.) it was just...stuck. He tugged a bit harder and- RIIIIIP -the shirt suddenly felt significantly looser.

...Fuck.

Well, that was one issue solved. Now, the pants...Jesus christ, how had he not noticed how fucking tight they were?! God, if he just get them over his fucking ASS-!

Oh.

Now the pants matched the shirt.

Grumbling beneath his breath, he unceremoniously chucked his mutilated clothes into the laundry hamper, folded the change of clothes he already had, and placed them neatly on top of the counter. He unwound the bandages around his head and hand and aggravatedly tossed those into the trash before he padded towards the shower, caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, and stopped short. He pivoted, and looked properly. There, staring back at him, was a stranger in his place. Briefly abandoning the idea of a shower, his feet scuffed against the uneven tile as he edged towards the mirror, the stranger inside growing larger with every step. He cocked his head as an odd feeling of numbness cast it's shroud over him. The stranger did the same. The stranger's face was smooth but scarred. The white strands of hair that were nestled within his vibrant green locks shone like powdery snow. His lips were soft and pink, the bottom puffing out more than the top. His nose was small but defined.

And his eyes.

The sunken skin beneath his eyes were a testament to the haunted look that glimmered within them.

God, he looked so young.

Too young to have that look in his eyes.

Hesitantly, he reached out and brushed his fingers against the cool glass of the mirror. The reflection staring back at him mimicked the movement. He brought up his lower lip and hung his head, looking down at his dirty feet. This wasn't a stranger at all, was it? There was...well, there was only one way to be sure, wasn't there? Slowly, he turned around. He could hear his own heartbeat thundering loudly in his ears, thudding like a war drum heralding the arrival of an army he had no hope of defeating. His throat squeezed shut as if caught in a vice-like grip. Was it normal for pupils to feel like they weighed a ton? With the hesitance of an abused dog approaching it's savior, he looked into the mirror.

He could barely suppress the whimper that rose in his throat at the sight of the two scars stretching across the stranger's back.

His scars. His back.

He exhaled shakily and reached up to prod at the one Mom had touched. The skin felt raw, throbbing with pain that had long since faded. He clenched his teeth so hard that he could physically feel one of his molars threatening to crack. Perhaps training my jaw to bite the fuck out of villains was kind of a jackass move… He thought with an underlying note of hysteria, shaking his head. This was...this was fine. Great, even.

Fucking fantastic.

He was fourteen goddamn years old and he had the same scars he had when he was two decades older than that. Same hair. Same body. Same eyes. Just...miniaturized. What was the point of this?! Was this to...to show him he hadn't dreamt everything?! Was there even a point at all?!

How the fuck was he supposed to go to the pool now!?

Izuku reached his suddenly trembling hands up to the sides of his head and tilted his head back, staring up at the ceiling as a deranged sort of hysteria began rise in his throat. He peered at a crack in the plaster ceiling as if it held the answers to all of the questions in the universe and suppressed the uproarious giggle threatening to bubble out of his throat like some sort of chocolate fondue fountain from hell. He nearly fell backwards in his sudden haste to whirl around and lurch towards the shower. Shower, it was time to shower and he was going to do that and never look in a mirror again nor ever stop wearing long sleeves and pants.

Well, now I know why I was compelled to punch my mirror yesterday.

After spending forty minutes sitting in freezing water and staring at the scars on his thighs as flakes of dried blood swirled down the drain, Izuku finally dried off and realized belatedly that he didn't fit into any of his clothing. Not even his boxers.

Jesus fucking christ.

Izuku stood, dripping wet and naked in his bathroom, and cursed as loudly as he could without alerting his mother about any sort of problem. He nabbed the towel from the rack and dried himself off as best as he could and paced to and fro across the dampened floor. He couldn't just go out, naked as the day he was born! Mom would see those scars, and the ones on his back. God, he couldn't do that to her, couldn't let her see. And so...there was only one thing he could do, which was sneak around the house in search of something that might fit. He knew for damned fact that none of his old clothes would fit but...oh, dear. His father's clothes might, if they were even laying around somewhere at all. And if they were, he'd have to track them down while...naked. And avoiding Mom's sight because heaven forbid she saw what had been done to him. What he'd done to himself. He puffed out an angry breath through his teeth and slapped his hand against his bare thigh, his nose crinkling in childish rage. Great, he was doing this. He was really doing this. He was going to sneak around his own home, buttass naked, in search of clothes that would fit him, which were, of course, his estranged father's clothes. Assuming Mom had even kept them at all in the first place. Izuku closed his eyes and sighed through his nose. Well, worst scenario: he locked himself in his room for a whole week and ordered clothes off of Amazon. That was better than nothing.

Oh, shit. He didn't have any underwear. Even if he found his father's clothes what was he...gonna wear underneath?

Dammit. Dammit. Fuck it, he could worry about that later, he had a mission to accomplish. Figuring it would only get in the way, he abandoned his towel in the laundry hamper and slid out of the bathroom, avoiding Mom's sight as best as he could given his situation. Five minutes later, Izuku was willing to admit that tracking down and begrudgingly yanking on his biological father's old clothes (and going commando, God help him), all the while evading his mother's notice proved to be a little more difficult than he was anticipating, but it was doable. In any other situation, He thought, this might be hilarious. After all, watching a buff 14 year old teenager sliding around his house butt-ass naked while escaping the gaze of his mom would've been quite the sight for anyone, provided you yourself were not the 14 year old in question. Alas, he was the 14 year old in question, so it wasn't that funny to him.

Now, if I were a lonely 40 year old woman who missed her estranged husband even though he abandoned me and my son, where would I put his clothes? Well, if he knew his mother well enough, they'd be in the dump by now, but if he was lucky they would probably be in the back of her closet, hiding in a place she would only visit on the days she felt the most lonely. Slipping into her room, he darted towards her closet, slid open the door, and rummaged around. Sure enough, he found them there along with...toys. Toys no child was ever meant to see.

Izuku covered his eyes as he felt the very last remnant of his innocence die. Fuck, fuck, fuck, don't look at them DON'T LOOK AT THEM! He reached out and pulled a random blue shirt free from the hanger, expelling every single thought pertaining to toys from his mind and instead focusing on how depressing it was that his mother kept clothes from her long-estranged husband. Then he paused, and lowered the shirt in his hands. Wait, the fuck am I saying? Since when do I have room to talk about what's depressing? He sighed as quietly as he could, and pulled the shirt over his head. And then, he took it right back off. It was short sleeved; long sleeves would look less alarming. Peering in the dark, he pulled off a long-sleeved black shirt, pulled that on, and almost as an afterthought, pulled the blue shirt over that. Boom. Extra protection. Now, here was the not-fun part; wearing jeans. While going commando.

Oh boy. First order of business; get new fucking pants and underwear to fit around your fat ass.

Izuku mumbled "fuck" under his breath like a mantra as he rolled up the ends of the jeans as best he could and ghosted out of the closet, snuck down the main hallway, nabbed Mom's credit card, and- oh shit, his red shoes! He'd missed these! Thank goodness for gigantification-friendly material; the shoes fit him like a glove, as always -and slid out of the front door.

Okay, it was go-time.


Izuku slipped out of Daiei wearing new jeans and boxers, a bag filled a few more pairs of the aforementioned clothing articles and long sleeved shirts swinging slightly on his wrist. Sorry, Mom. He meandered down the sidewalk on his way to the Bakugou house, feeling slightly guilty about nicking Mom's credit card. But, the lack of a chafed dick lessened the guilt just a smidgeon. Evil was definitely necessary sometimes. Nodding to himself in agreement with his own somewhat stupid thoughts, he hardly noticed the tiny person hurtling full-force towards him until they slammed face-first into his left thigh. Startled, he nearly fell forward in his haste to reach down and steady them before they could eat shit on the concrete.

Said kid who was about to eat shit looked up and smiled brightly. "Hiya mister! Thanks for catching me!" She yelled a tad too loudly, straightening up. "My name's Sayori, who're you!?"

Izuku blinked, caught off guard at her loudness and blind trust. "I, uh...I'm Izuku." Oh shit. This was an unattended little person. The parent inside of him reared their head. "Where are your parents, sweetheart?"

Sayori looked around as if this had just occurred to her. She made an "I-dunno" noise and shrugged.

"Is...Is this not a concern for you?" Izuku tilted his head, crouching down to her level and peering around for any sort of adult that was with her. If there wasn't, he was staying right with her and taking her to the police station.

"Mama always finds me, so it's okay. She's got a cool quirk!" Sayori announced, looking extremely proud of her mystery mother.

Well, regardless of whether or not her mom could find her, little Sayori shouldn't be running around on her own. "She does?"

Sayori nodded vigorously. "Yeah, she thinks real hard about someone she likes and boom!" She threw out her arms in an imitation of an explosion. "She can find them!"

"...Very nice." Shit, that was a cool quirk.

"My quirk is like mama's, but instead of leading me to somebody, it shows me where they were. It's not as cool as mama's." Sayori looked a little disheartened at this.

Izuku pursed his lips, raising his shoulders a bit. "Not quite. If you grew up to be a detective, you could disprove someone's alibi if they said they were somewhere and solve all sorts of crimes by following the footsteps of someone, but backwards. Your quirk could be very useful for police work."

Sayori brightened at this and enthusiastically replied, "I dunno what half of those words mean, but thanks! What's your quirk?"

Izuku paused.

Right...he didn't have One for All. That was really going to take some time to get used to.

"Uh...muscles." Izuku flexed his arm to prove his point, showing it to Sayori.

"That's cool! You're so strong! Are you a hero?"

"...Yeah." Well, that wasn't a lie, exactly.

"Yay!" Sayori reached up and grabbed at his arm muscles, feeling them through his shirt fabric. "Can you pick me up?"

Izuku blinked at the somewhat odd request, but didn't see any harm in it. "If you wanted me to, I suppose I could." He nodded, reaching out his arms.

Sayori squirmed in excitement as he hooked his hands beneath her armpits and lifted her up like an ice skater, suspending her midair with little effort.

Sayori giggled and looked around, waving at someone. "Hi, mama!"

Oh, thank goodness.

A woman who looked vaguely similar to Sayori hurried over just in time for Izuku to set Sayori down gently.

"Jeez, I could barely see your trail through this crowd!" Sayori's mother scolded, ruffling Sayori's hair in exasperation. "Just because I can find you, doesn't mean you can dart off like that!"

"Sorry, mama."

Sayori's mother looked mad for one more hot second before the expression faded, leaving behind nothing but fondness. She looked up and gazed at Izuku, eyeing his somewhat questionable outfit inquisitively.

"Now, what are you doing wear long sleeves and jeans in this weather? It's the middle of summer, young man! You'll get heat stroke!"

Izuku shrugged sheepishly, looking down at his feet. He didn't think it'd be a good idea to say something like "Oh, I'm covered in numerous battle scars and I don't want to frighten passerby." That would raise an eyebrow or two.

Sayori's mother sighed, fanning her face. "I don't know how you can stand wearing that in this heat. Never mind that, though; has my daughter given you any trouble?"

"None at all. You've got a cute kid, miss."

Sayori's mom smiled softly. "That, I do. Thank you for corralling her."

"No problem. I'll, uh...leave you be."

Sayori's mom nodded and with that, she walked down the sidewalk with Sayori's hand in her own. As Izuku watched them go, Sayori turned back and waved.

"Bye, Izuku!"

He raised a hand in goodbye and as Sayori disappeared into the throngs of people, he lowered it slowly. A car whizzed by, leaves billowing everywhere as his hair ruffled in the gust of hot air the wheels created as they rolled past. Sayori and her mother had been so...nice. Very nice. A strange sense of melancholy and...displacement sank over him as he glanced around. Every turn, he expected to see people arguing over meaningless shit, villains running free, burning trash cans, and maybe a corpse if he was unlucky. He expected smoldering ashes and smoke clogging his nose, and a grey sky with dark clouds of smog. He expected parents holding their child close and keeping them quiet. He expected to see the same apocalypse he'd been fighting to end for the past decade or so and yet…

People were smiling and laughing and pretending to fall into traffic like jackasses. Teenagers were running each other over with their bikes and yelling curse words at their friends. Parents were hurrying after their little ones with exasperated yet fond smiles on their glowing faces, just like Sayori's mother had done with her just moments before. There was no smoke. No smog. No ashes. No bodies. There was a bright, shining and clear sky hung up above him, and not a cloud in sight. There was grass. He was surrounded by a completely normal world, and that made him sad, because this...wasn't a normal world for him.

Not at all.

This was his ideal world, the world he had tried-- and failed --to protect.

The world he wished he could've raised his children in.

He lowered his head and breathed out a sigh, his heart sinking back into the grief he was desperately trying to ignore.

Sayori reminded him of Itsuki.

"Hey, you okay there, kid?"

Izuku jumped a bit and turned to face a woman with sunflower petals for hair. Her entirely black eyes focused on him, crinkled in vague concern.

"What?"

"You looked upset. You good?"

Right. People were...kind. This was a world where people were kind.

"I'm...fine. Just a little shaken, that's all." Izuku answered, looking down at his feet. The woman frowned, but shrugged.

"Okie dokie. Take care of yourself. By the way, your hair looks awesome! Is that how it naturally looks?"

"Y-Yeah."

"Sweet. Kinda wish I had normal hair, but hey; it's fun to photosynthesize." As if on cue, her petal hair tilted upwards towards the sun. Or perhaps she was doing that on her own? He couldn't tell.

"Himawari! Hurry up, plant-bitch!" A burly man with what looked like perpetual dirt streaks called.

"Oh, shut up, Daichi! I'm coming!" Himawari yelled back, shaking her head. "Bye, kid. Have a nice day."

"...You too."

Izuku watched Himawari scamper off towards Daichi and she grabbed his hand. He reached over and brushed a stray petal off of her face, casting it aside and snorting at her reddening face. She slugged him on the shoulder and together they walked, hand in hand. 'Funny,' Izuku thought was a touch of melancholy, 'I remember when that was me and Shouto.' Shaking himself, he continued on his quest, trying not to look at the couples surrounding them. Especially the ones with kids. He tried his damnedest not to look at those ones.

Yet, without fail, he always did, and felt the pit in his heart grow deeper.


Well.

He was at the Bakugou house.

Now, if his hand would cooperate and just maybe push the doorbell, that'd be real fucking nice, Izuku. He reached out and experimentally poked the button and oh shit that's more sensitive than I thought, fuck shit I'M NOT READY FOR THIS COMMITMENT- and the door swung open a moment later. And there stood Katsuki, looking utterly unimpressed.

"About damn time," He grumbled, seizing Izuku's wrist and yanking him inside. "You've been outside and staring my door like a creep for like, five minutes. Jesus christ, is it really that hard to press a fucking button?"

"...Yes."

Katsuki levelled an unimpressed look at Izuku, turned, and slammed the front door shut. "What do you want now?"

"Katsuki, who's at the door?" Katsuki's dad, Masaru, called from from the living room.

"Deku!" Katsuki yelled in response, stomping up the stairs and turning back, cocking his head as if motioning for Izuku to follow.

Izuku went to follow but before he could, he was nearly knocked over by a very familiar man crushing him into a huge hug. He tensed on reflex but relaxed before he could alert Masaru of anything.

"Dad, for fuck's sake." Katsuki sighed, exaggeratedly leaning on the stair railing with an utterly impatient expression.

Izuku awkwardly reached up and rubbed little circled on Masaru's arm. "H-Hey, Uncle Masaru, how's it going?"

A chuckle rumbled in Masaru's chest as he reached up and ruffled Izuku's hair fondly. "Sorry, nearly knocked you over there." He pulled away, bouncing on his heels. "I'm just excited! I haven't seen you in so long, I was bummed when I got home and realized I'd missed you!"

Izuku stared up Masaru, feeling oddly...touched. "It's...good to see you too."

"Well, I'm glad to see you and Katsuki hanging out again; Mitsuki did say she was worried about you yesterday, though. Did something happen?"

"Yeah, but don't worry about it. Nothing major." Izuku lied through his teeth, shuffling his feet.

"If you say so." Masaru shrugged dubiously before reaching down to tug at the ends of Izuku's long sleeves. "Now, what are you doing, wearing long sleeves and jeans in the middle of summer?" Masaru fussed, waving Izuku's arms to and fro with his sleeves. "Come on, I'm sure I could tailor some shorts and maybe a nice t-shirt or two for you! This certainly isn't the weather for that kind of outfit! Not to mention one that looks like...whatever that is."

Vaguely offended, Izuku floundered, looking up at Katsuki and screaming "help!" with his eyes. "T-That won't be necessary, I already have some of my own!"

Katsuki got his message and rolled his eyes before bullshitting, "Dad, you can pester him about your fashion shit later. Fucking moron came over to study with me, which I'd very much like to do."

Oh, hey. Katsuki was being cooperative. What a concept.

Masaru heaved a dramatic sigh and ushered Izuku over to the stairs. "Okay, you two go upstairs and do whatever; I know you won't be studying. If you play Mario Cart, please don't throw your console out of the window again when you lose, Katsuki."

Izuku paused and looked back at Masaru. "...Again?"

"SHUT THE FUCK UP, DAD!" Katsuki's face bloomed into a brilliant shade of red and Izuku could barely suppress his snort in time.

Katsuki pulled his lip up in what was his version of a pout and pummeled the stairs with his feet on the way up, not bothering to look back to see if Izuku was following or not.

What a dramatic bitch.

"Jesus, and this was the dumbass who used to scare me to death." Izuku shook his head with a fond smile, bowing his head a bit.

Masaru chuckled lowly and clapped Izuku on the shoulder. "Be gentle with him. He's kind of like a toddler. For example, if you make him think he's the one in control, you can make him do just about anything."

"And always make it seem like it was his idea once he's done the thing you wanted him to do. Never let him figure out that it was yours." Izuku nodded sagely. "Don't worry, Uncle Masaru. I've got a Master's Degree in Katsuki Anthropology."

"DEKU! HURRY THE FUCK UP!" Katsuki yelled from upstairs, a flip flop clattering against the first landing as Katsuki assumedly chucked it in a fit of impatience.

Izuku eyed the flipflop and quirked an eyebrow at Masaru. "Do you reckon we should give him a pacifier?"

"Only if you have a death wish." Masaru smiled softly, as though he hadn't said something as threatening as that about his own child.

Izuku considered that for a moment and clucked his tongue. "In that case, would you please direct me to the nearest pacifier, my good sir?"

Masaru burst into a fit of giggles before ruffling Izuku's hair one last time, pushing him towards the stairs. "Off you trot, before that flip flop is followed by his TV."

Something else clattered loudly against the railing.

"...Or a large, very loud book."

Izuku peered at the title and frowned. "Katsuki, don't fucking disrespect Harry Potter like that!"

"Fuck you!"

Izuku sighed and saluted Masaru over his shoulder before meeting Katsuki upstairs.

"Finally." Katsuki hissed, grabbing Izuku's arm and pulling him into his room, slamming the door shut behind him. "Now, why the fuck did you really come here?"

Izuku paused and considered that for a moment. Why did he come here? He'd bullshitted about going to Katsuki's house to Mom to escape their pitiful conversation...he hadn't really planned this.

Katsuki stared at Izuku with deadened eyes. "...You don't know, do you." That didn't sound like a question at all.

Izuku shrugged, his lips stretching into a sheepish line. "Well…"

"Jesus christ." Katsuki sighed, reaching up to cover his face with his hand.

"Uh…" Shit, what was he supposed to do? "I guess I owe you an explanation?"

"Is that a question or a statement?"

"...What?"

"Do you owe me an explanation or not, jackass?"

"I...do? I do. Yeah, uh," Izuku coughed into his hand, "I mean, you already have a general understanding of what the fuck happened, I suppose I should... fill in the blanks."

At least, he thought so.

"Yeah, you came back in time, one of the only documented cases in all of quirk history, and you're doing fuckall about it. I managed to pick that much up through all of your blubbering."

"...And from when you tried to bash my skull in with a baseball bat."

"That too. Now, if you're so fucking calm and collected, can you maybe tell me what the hell happened?"

"I...um." Fuck, it was really hard to grasp this. Harder than it should've been. "I died."

Katsuki sucked in a long breath and tilted his head back, falling backwards onto his bed. "Yeah, I got that. And you saw me die."

"Yeah, I…" He laughed shakily, bringing up with lower lip. "It was right after I fucking asked you to be the best man at my wedding, too. Just...bang. Right through the fucking head. I couldn't do shit."

God, he would never fucking forget it too.

Katsuki blinked slowly, tilting his head up to stare at Izuku incredulously. "You were asking me to fucking what?"

Izuku pressed his lips into a line, shuffling in place. "I was getting married and I...needed a best man."

"Why me?"

"Because we were...we were close friends. I wouldn't say best friends...someone else held the title for you."

Someone who couldn't bear the pain after you died and fucking killed himself.

"I had...a best friend?"

Izuku winced a bit at the faint, underlying tone of what sounded like hope in Katsuki's voice. Right...Katsuki had been a bit of a lonely kid since he'd spent so much time pushing people away. That was... kind of sad.

...Fuck.

Oh, fuck.

NO! HE WAS NOT GOING TO ADOPT HIS CHILDHOOD BULLY!

Or….

…Or maybe he was.

Dammit.

Okay, be a responsible adult later, he needs an answer.

"Yeah, and...honestly, in retrospect I'm pretty sure it was even more than that."

"Was I...in love with her?" The pure disgust in Katsuki's tone nearly made Izuku snort.

'Her'? Oh, Katsuki, you dumb motherfucker.

He went to tell Katsuki that he'd (probably) fallen in love with a boy, but stopped. If he did that...could that mess things up? Could this ruin his future friendship with Kirishima before it even began? He didn't want to do that, not at all. Shit...maybe he should stay vague.

"...Spoilers."

"What!?"

"I don't want to mess up the timeline too much on accident, Katsuki." Izuku explained briefly, pursing his lips. "But uh...we went to...to school together and all of our classmates were, uh, murdered." Katsuki choked on air. Wow, way to sugarcoat that, jackass. Jesus christ, he's 14. Treat him like it. "I was the last one to be taken out, preceded by…" No. No, he wasn't going to tell Katsuki about any of that. He didn't want to think about it.

"By?"

Izuku shook his head. "No one, don't worry about it."

"Well, now I'm going to fucking worry about it. Who was it?"

The smell of smoke clogged his nose as every limb seemed to freeze into ice. He watched in numbstruck horror as blood spurted from their throats, their tiny bodies slumping forward and falling to the earth beneath them. Itsuki's green eyes stared blankly ahead as red began to stain Chihiro's blonde hair-

He sucked in a harsh breath and hissed, "Katsuki, let it go."

Katsuki recoiled and held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay, Jesus. Why was everyone being... killed?"

"Honestly?" Izuku shakily lowered himself to the ground and hugged his knees. "I don't know. Spite, perhaps. Our class was always cursed. What I do know is that I was saved for last because…" Izuku looked down at his scarred hand, recalling the first time he'd ever used the power of One for All. "...spoilers."

Katsuki sat up and looked down at Izuku, his face crinkling into something akin to concern. Perhaps pity.

"How...how old was I when I died?"

Twenty four. Twenty four fucking years old. You were barely a man. You were taken way too soon.

"Too young." Izuku murmured, clenching and unclenching his fingers. "Far too young."

"What about you?"

A whole decade older than you.

"Not old enough."

Katsuki's face grew somber, and his voice came out subdued as he said, "You said I was in love with someone before I...died. Were you like me? Did you have someone?"

Izuku smiled wryly, thinking for just a moment he could feel Shouto hugging him from behind. "I did. It wasn't easy, not at all…" He heaved a sigh, remembering all of their passionate, furious fights. "Not in the world we lived in. We fought over dumb shit, but we never did mean it." The phantom feeling of Shouto's arms around him faded as he sighed, "He was wonderful. Badass until the end. I just...I wish it would sink in. I keep forgetting he's gone." He pushed back the tears welling in his eyes and swallowed thickly. "Y'know, t-the last thing he said to me was that he loved me. I just-"

Izuku stopped short.

Did I ever say it back?

The world froze in place, the blood rushing through his veins going icy.

"What is it?" Katsuki pressed, looking Izuku up and down. "...Deku?"

The words were so hard to force past the vice-like tightness in his throat.

"-God, Katsuki...I never got to say it back."

He felt the tears running down his face before he recognized that his eyesight had gone blurry at all. They burst forth like water from a dam, spilling down his face. The muscles in his chin spasmed with the force it took to not sob and he turned his face towards the window as if the bright sunlight outside could soothe him. Every trembling breath and pouring tear took something out of him that he didn't know he had left to give. Katsuki stared down at him, his face contorted into a stricken sort of shock.

"Hey, I'm used to you crying like a little bitch but…" Katsuki trailed off, trying to find words that could convey what he wanted to say. "...Um, fuck. Fuck." He reached up and ran a hand through his hair, shifting uncomfortably. "Goddammit, what do you want me to do?! I'm not good at this emotional shit!"

The parent in him wanted to get up and reassure Katsuki that everything was okay, but regular him just wanted to sit and cry. And since he wasn't a parent anymore anyway- since I fucked that up too. Fuck, the last thing my babies saw was my terrified face, they died alone and terrifed- he sat there and cried into his knees. Katsuki hissed some choice words and hastily ripped a few tissues out of the box next to his bed and brandished them at Izuku.

"Take these and-and stop doing that."

Izuku sniffled and his voice wobbled as he weakly joked, "Katsuki, are you ever going to learn how to say the word 'cry'?"

Katsuki paused. "No." He said.

That drew a brief laugh out of Izuku and he shook his head, wiping his face with the somewhat crumpled tissues Katsuki had thrusted at him. "You're incorrigible."

Katsuki blinked at the large word. "Japanese, motherfucker, do you speak it?"

"That, and english too."

"...Fluently?"

Izuku nodded, trying quell the misery boiling in his stomach to focus on Katsuki, who clearly wanted a topic change. "I also learned sign language and I have a grasp on spanish."

"Why spanish?"

"I dunno. It's fun to yell in that language."

"What?"

Izuku swallowed thickly and suddenly yelled, "Vete al carajo, Akio!"

Katsuki jumped a bit, clearly not expecting that. "What did you just yell?"

Izuku smiled ruefully, shaking his head with one eye narrowed. "I just told someone to go fuck themselves, though it could also be understood as "go to hell.", too." Distraction, distraction. Don't fall apart in front of Katsuki, he's just a kid. Don't do this to him. "Hey, do you want me to teach you some spanish curse words?"

Katsuki breathed a sigh of relief. "Fuck yes."

Izuku wiped the last of the tears from his face and pulled himself together, though the metaphorical stitchwork was shabby at best. He steadied his voice before he nodded in assent and said, "Now, don't you ever go repeating these to someone who actually speaks spanish because they could actually seriously offend them. If someone looks even vaguely hispanic, don't say shit. Got it?"

Katsuki puffed his chest out arrogantly. "I'm not scared of any Spanish idiots, they don't even come to Japan."

Izuku quirked an eyebrow, vaguely remembering the time Kaminari made the grave mistake of offending a latina woman and she'd smacked the hell out of him with her sandal. He smiled softly at the bittersweet memory, shaking his head. "Honey, you've never met a pissed off latina. Pray you never do."

"Don't fucking call me honey, I'm not six." Katsuki braced his hands on his knees. "Besides, I'd just beat them up."

"Okay!" Izuku shrugged, lips pulling into a disbelieving line. "Just don't come crying to me when you get your ass handed to you by an angry spanish woman with a sandal, or la chancla, as they're called. Spanish women don't fuck around."
Katsuki rolled his eyes, looking entirely unconvinced. Izuku made a mental note to keep Katsuki at least 45637420 feet away from any latina woman at all times until he began to explain Spanish curse words. Fifteen minutes of loading Katsuki with fresh ammunition later, Izuku sighed and flopped back on Katsuki's carpeted floor, staring up at the lazily spinning ceiling fan.

"So, uh…" Katsuki muttered, scuffing his heel against his carpet, looking oddly subdued. "If you don't mind me asking...how did you die?"

In the arms of my dead husband and children, which I grovelled my way to after being severely injured. I wanted to stay dead.

Izuku sighed through his nose, closing his eyes as if doing so could hide the sight of All for One's ashes floating away in the wind.

Well, honestly was the best policy. As long as he stayed vague, it'd be okay.

"...I fought and killed one of the most dangerous villains of all times. The one who brought about the apocalyptic world I lived in, matter of fact. He was…" A fucking monster. "Horrifying. Absolutely horrifying."

Katsuki clearly did not expect that response. He opened and closed his mouth, absolutely gobsmacked. "Are you…" He pressed his lips in a line, looking down at the ground. "...Are you going to have to do that again?"

Izuku closed his eyes, dread pooling in his stomach as he clenched his jaw.

"I'm the only one who can."

"Why you!?" Katsuki suddenly burst out, slamming his hand on the mattress. "You-You're quirkless, why the fuck are you the one who had to!?"

"Because-!" Izuku clamped his mouth shut and swallowed the words threatening to burst free from his lips. "Spoilers! Okay, Katsuki!? Spoilers! It doesn't make any goddamn sense, I know that, but that's just how it is because spoilers!"

Katsuki heaved a sigh and flopped back on his bed, crossing his arms and glaring at his ceiling. He heaved a sigh and reached over, grabbed an empty cup off of his nightstand, and lobbed it at Izuku's head.

"What do you want?" Izuku sighed, closing his eyes exhaustedly.

"If you're going to be a miserable lump, at least get off of the fucking floor."

Izuku lips stretched into a lazy smile and he chuckled softly, craning his neck to look up at Katsuki from his spot on the floor. "Aw, you do care." He said.

"...Fuck off."

Chapter Text

A book unceremoniously slamming on the table in front of him broke Izuku free of the utterly riveting activity known as “staring blankly at the wall and re-evaluating your entire life as you feel your insides slowly crumple”. Izuku blinked as a gust of air (courtesy of the book’s prior fall) attacked his eyes, and upon reading the title of said book, he scrunched his eyebrows and glanced up at Katsuki.

“What’s this meant to be?”

“A fucking book.”

Izuku raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “No need to be rude; you know what I was asking. Why are you showing me a junior high algebra textbook?”

Katsuki looked vaguely bemused at the reprimanding he’d gotten but seemed to shake it off.  “Unless you forgot, you just came back from the fucking-whatever. I don’t know what the fuck life was like as teenagers for you, but you have to go to class. Consider this a courtesy; I have three months to get you caught back up. You already learned this, so if this is hard I’m going to beat you.”

Oh, that was a good point. School existed. Well, so long as he knew where they were, he could refresh himself a bit and settle back in. Be pragmatic, goddammit. Focus on what you need to do before you worry about how much of a mistake your entire existence is.

“Alright,” Izuku heaved a sigh, curling his legs beneath him on his floor pillow, “Let’s refresh this shit.”

Katsuki blinked and frowned.

“What is it?”

“Nothing, just…” Katsuki narrowed his eyes and shook his head. “Don’t curse. It sounds weird coming out of your shitty mouth.”

“Oh, so you can curse, but I can’t?”

“I thought I made that pretty damn clear.”

Izuku leveled an unimpressed stare at Katsuki. “Hun, you’re like, 9. I’m older than you.”

“I am NOT fucking 9! I am 14 goddamn years old! And when you’re like that, I’M the older one!”

“Mhm, okay. Tell me that again when you stop cursing like a kid in Grade 6 who just discovered Urban Dictionary.”  

Katsuki made a couple of enraged noises and slammed his closed fist against the tabletop.

In the midst of Katsuki’s temper tantrum, Izuku rolled his eyes and said, “Fuck fuck fuckety fuckening fuck.”

Katsuki threw his palm skywards and let a series of small explosions crackle across the tough skin. “Do you want my fucking help or not?!”

Izuku sighed tiredly, resting his head in the crook of his elbow.

This was going to be a long, long day.

“Yeah, sure. Hazing aside, I should probably figure out where we were in our last year of Junior high.” Ugh, junior high math. Horrible.

“That’s what I thought, shit-nerd.” Katsuki huffed, opening the text book and thrusting it towards Izuku. “Right now, we’re on chapter 12 of the book. We’re learning from there to the end of the book by the end of the school year.”

Izuku peered at the chapter titles and nodded slowly. “Okay, I remember this shii...take mushrooms. Yeah.”

“...What?” Katsuki slowly slid his hand towards himself.

Izuku spared Katsuki a glance, citing, “You said I couldn't curse, so, shiitake mushrooms.”

“No, no, I fucking got that part. What do you mean you know this already?!” Katsuki cocked his head and peered at Izuku as if he thought he was nuts.

Izuku, in turn, raised a delicate eyebrow. “I’ve already gone through junior high?”

“Wh--No! That was like, years ago for you though, right!?” Katsuki insisted, flinging a hand towards the textbook as if it could back him up.

What was he trying to say? “Yeah, what about it?”

“T-Then how in the hell would you remember that shit!?”

Oh, right. It wasn't normal for people to remember stuff so well, since people didn't need to know shit to survive . As he skimmed over the chapter in the textbook, Izuku gnawed on his bottom lip, thinking back on his past...er, future. Knowing mathematical skills and things of the like was a highly sought-after skill; if you knew math equations, you could calculate exactly where a bomb was going to land, how many bullets you might need, the position someone would be in so you could shoot them if need be, how much pressure a door could take before it caved in, how many people were probably inside a building, etc etc. Hell, if you had enough knowledge of science to go with the math, you could create your own damn weapons. Izuku himself had had to do that a couple of times. Just in general, all school skills were invaluable; if you knew your shit, you could survive to see the next sunrise. Who knew high school math could save your damn life?

Oh, wait. Response. Katsuki needed one of those.

“...Katsuki, I can recall memories from when I was four year old with startling accuracy. This is just fucking math.”

Katsuki didn’t appear to have a response for that and blinked hard, his pale face twisting into something akin to horror.

He opened and closed his mouth for a moment before, in an uncharacteristically soft voice, quietly asked, “What the fuck was the world like for you?"

Izuku stopped short, his heart ceasing to beat in his chest.

"Oh fuck, I was mumbling, wasn't I?" It was less of a question and more of a statement.

"Yeah..." Katsuki trailed off, looking down at his hands. "Uh...I'm going to get my English textbook for you to read-- oh, wait, no, you're fluent...Japanese one, then."

God fucking fuck, I already scared him. Shit shit shit--

As he slowly rose to his feet, Izuku reached out a hand and tugged on his shirt. "I-uh...I'm sorry, hun. You didn't need to hear that."

Katsuki puffed out a short, distressed sigh and without a word, dug into his school bag and pulled out a few textbooks. He padded back to the table and slid them across towards Izuku before sitting back down again. After a moment of just staring down at the table, Katsuki hesitantly began to speak.

"Look, I-I don't like you, but...the future. I want to know. What the fuck did you live through?"

Dammit.

"I...Katsuki, you shouldn't have to worry about that, you're just a kid--"

"--Don't bullshit me with that! You're a kid too, at least, now you are, whether you like it or not!"

Izuku opened and closed his mouth helplessly. "I-I just don't want to tell you. It's not pretty, not at all."

"Well, unlike you seem to believe, I'm not 9. I'm 14, I can handle this."

Izuku winced at Katsuki's words. "14 doesn't make you any less of a kid."

"It's better than 9." Katsuki snapped, crossing his arms resolutely. "If whatever the fuck you were mumbling about is my future, I kind of want to fucking know it."

Izuku drew in a deep, calming breath and reached up to scrub at his face with shaky hands. "You really don't know what you're asking."

"Good, you can explain it."

Izuku let his palm fall on the table. Katsuki's not going to let this go...fuck it. Vague your way through this.

"Alright, fine. But, I'm not telling you about your own specific future; just the general state of the world. Okay?"

"Good enough for me. Go."

Izuku shook his head and cradled his left cheek with his palm. "God, where do I even begin?" He thought about the past/future and breathed out a sigh. "Well… for the sake of not confusing you, I'll refer to the future I lived in as..." What the fuck had people called it? Something about falling...oh, right. "The Fall. Though it went in full swing when I was about 20, The Fall began in 2018...when I was 17. It was..." Izuku drew in a shuddering breath, the memory of Uraraka's contorted body still fresh even after 17 years. "August 25th when it began for me. That was the day I found the corpse of my best friend. S-She had been strung from a telephone pole by her fucking intestines."

Katsuki made an aborted gagging noise and covered his mouth. "Holy fuck."

Izuku nodded, swallowing the bile threatening to roll up his throat. "It just continued to get worse and worse. I saw so many of my friend's bodies. They just kept dying and I-I couldn't do a damn thing. I was always too late."

"Why...why didn't heroes stop it?" Katsuki asked weakly. "Hell, where was All Might?"

Izuku blew out a shuddering breath. "Heroes...they just weren't strong enough. Not even Yag-- All Might. He...All Might was forced to retire. He lost his quirk."

Katsuki's hands flew to his mouth., eyes blown wide with horror. "He-- what?!"

Izuku nodded solemnly, his eyes burning with the beginnings of tears. "I saw so many bodies of the people I loved. So many. You were one of the worst...but other than--" My kids, my husband. "--well, you don't need to know about them, but I think one of the worst ones for me was m-my dad ." His voice nearly broke and he hurriedly swiped away the tear that spilled from his right eye.

"You--Hisashi came back?"

Izuku nearly laughed and shook his head. "No, no...when I lost m-my mother," His voice cracked and he wrapped his arms around himself, "A...A family friend adopted me."

Katsuki looked down at his knees. "H-How did he...?"

Izuku closed his eyes and trembled at the memory. "Remember how I told you I needed a best man for my wedding? That I got married?"

"Yeah, what about...it..." Katsuki's eyes blew open in realization and he whipped his head up to stare at Izuku, horrified. "Oh my god."

Izuku chuckled bitterly, pulling up his bottom lip and holding up his trembling chin with his hand. "I-I...I walked into my own wedding, 27 minutes late and covered in my dad's blood. I couldn't even get through the fucking vows."

"That's...wow. Holy fucking shit, Deku." Katsuki rubbed his hand up and down his arm, staring at the tabletop. "Horrible life tragedies aside, what exactly led to...to The Fall?"

Izuku composed himself as best as he could, and began to explain. "After All Might lost his quirk and was forced into retirement, crime rate skyrocketed. There wasn't enough heroes to combat the rise in crime, and over time, villains began to run free. The main offenders were known as the League of Villains." Izuku's fist tightened minutely and he closed his eyes, remembering the sight of their corpses sprawled at his feet. He opened his eyes. "The League of Villains was headed by a man known as Akio, the Symbol of Evil. All Might's counterpart. He was over 200 years old and had a terrible, terrible quirk; the ability to steal and give quirks...very painfully. Most people who had their quirks stolen or had quirks forced upon them never recovered, left as husks of themselves; dolls who could not speak, could not move, or eat." Izuku shook his head, deep down feeling grateful that none of his friends had been turned into Noumu. "Akio's League of Villains was especially strong because he created what were called Noumu. Noumu were once human beings, but had multiple quirks forced upon them. The stress of these quirks being forced upon them warped their bodies and minds so viciously that they became immensely strong visages of nightmares that were absolute obedient to Akio and those he gave them to. They were near impossible to kill and entirely loyal to their masters. With the help of the League of Villains, Akio, and the Noumu, heroes, whether Pro, sidekick, or student, were murdered. With the lack of people powerful enough to stop Akio and his followers, villainy became the norm and thus, The Fall began. Life was," Izuku closed his eyes and shuddered, " Hell. The air was always heavy with smoke, buildings were leveled frequently, people argued and beat each other at random, and it became the norm to see...to see bodies on the street. It was very, very hard to live a decent life. You didn't know what the day was going to be like for you; you fought every day just to survive. It took many, many years of training, but eventually, the League of Villains, the Noumu, and Akio met their ends."

"...By your hand."

Izuku breathed out a solemn sigh. "Yes."

Katsuki tilted his head back and sighed. "See, that's the bit that's not adding up. Why you? You're just some quirkless nobody."

Time to fib a bit...

"I'm...not quite quirkless, Katsuki."

Katsuki whipped his head up to gape at Izuku. " What?"

"It turns out that I do, it just took a really fucking long time to manifest. Have you heard of a quirk manifesting in someone's teenage years?"

"...No?"

"It's not a well-known fact, but it is possible. About 0.003 percent of the population world wide has had their quirk manifest in their teenage years. I am among that percentile."

"That is...such a small fucking number."

Izuku nodded his head in assent. "About 210,000 people out of 7,000,000,000. While that is a small percent, that means there's still 200,000 people just like me."

"...Holy shit." Katsuki's face bloomed into genuine excitement. "What's your quirk!? Do you have it now!?"

Izuku shook his head. "Not at this moment, no. It's actually going to manifest when I'm around 15. It's...really fucking powerful. When I first used it, my body was too frail to contain it too well so it, uh, completely pulverized all of the fucking bones in my arm."

Katsuki blinked real hard. "For the love of god, please tell me that changed."

"Yeah, of course! I figured out how to regulate it and I eventually mastered it."

"So, what does it do?"

"Honestly? It's a lot like All Might's quirk. I can jump super fucking high, go super fast, I'm strong as hell, I can fortify my skin to prevent most injury, and one of my favorite things to do is exert enough pure force to create huge gusts of wind. It's a great ranged attack. I even figured out how to use the forcefully created wind to pull someone upwards, towards me, and push them downwards. I once used that to bounce a villain up and down like a bouncy ball; it was morbidly hilarious. You thought it was fucking brilliant."

Katsuki shook his head incredulously, barely able to conceal his own excitement. "No fucking way. "

"Yes, way!"

"No, you've got to be pulling on my dick. There's no way your quirk was that powerful. How? How did you even get that? Hisashi had a fire-breathing quirk!"

Izuku shrugged. "We don't know much about my father's side of my family; we have no clue what kind of quirks they had."

"That...makes sense, actually." Katsuki leaned back in his chair and huffed incredulously. "Holy shit, you aren't some worthless quirkless loser after all."

That wiped the smile right off of Izuku's face. "Hey, just because someone's quirkless, that doesn't mean they're worthless. Get that idea out of your head this instant, Katsuki."

Katsuki blinked at the sudden ice in Izuku's voice and looked up. "But I--"

Izuku held up a hand to silence him. "--No, I'm stopping you right there. Don't you dare try to defend that. That way of thinking is completely unacceptable and I will not tolerate that shit from you. If you want to even be a halfway decent hero, you better get that prejudiced shit out of your head, and real fucking fast. Not cool. Quirkless people are just as important as you and me."

Katsuki pulled up his bottom lip and scowled something fierce. "Yeah? And what the fuck do you know about that? You're not even quirkless."

Izuku narrowed his eyes and coldly hissed, "I might not be, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't for the first 15 years of my life. Don't think for a goddamn minute that I don't know exactly how it feels to be quirkless; I know it better than just about anyone, no thanks to you. Don't think I've forgotten how you treat others either; I may have forgiven you when we were older, but we're not older anymore. You haven't changed yet, which is something you desperately need to do."

"There's nothing wrong with me! It's not like I'm wrong; quirkless people don't do squat! Without a quirk, they're basically helpless!"

"Was I helpless, Katsuki?!" Izuku slammed his palm on the table, his face twisting into frustrated anger. "I could cook, clean, read, do math, brush my teeth, take showers, grow plants, dance, write, draw, analyze, drink, laugh, run, jump, and throw a decent punch! I could do everything you could, the only difference being I didn't have a quirk and people bullied me everyday of my life! I had so much repressed anger, so much resentment, and I still stood tall enough to not crumple! Yes, I cowered, yes, I could barely stop you, and by god, yes, I fucking cried! But you know what that made me!? Really fucking resilient, apparently more so than you if the fact that you lash out at others because you're insecure says anything! Even though people made me feel like it, I was never helpless because I was quirkless! I was helpless because you forced me to be!"

"I AM NOT INSECURE!"

Somewhere inside, Izuku knew that he was getting too heated, too upset over old scars, but goddammit, Katsuki needed to understand this and he need to understand right fucking now.

"Oh, you're not!? Yeah, tell that to the superiority complex you use to mask how shitty you feel inside!"

"I don't--!"

"--You do! Growing up, everybody loved you and praised you, but only because of your quirk. They never looked at you, and you started to think, "I'm not good enough, only my quirk is!". Somehow, you learned that putting others down made you feel less shitty, and you NEEDED that, you needed those good feelings because they were the only thing that could stifle how fucking inadequate you felt! So, you just kept doing it! You kept putting yourself on a pedestal and pushed the people that made you feel threatened beneath you! And because they didn't want to ruin someone with such a "good quirk", everyone indirectly did anyway since they never fucking did anything! No one intervened, they just sat there and let you self destruct! And this cycle just keeps going and going because you feel good for a while but then it goes away, that stupid fucking voice comes back and tells you that you are not enough when you fucking are , and you keep hurting those around you! You are the fucking definition of a superiority complex and it makes me sick that no one ever did anything for you when you were screaming for them to help!"   Izuku heaved a long, long breath and looked up to stare directly into Katsuki's shining eyes. "And you want to know how I know this? When everyone around us was fucking dying, you told me your damn self."

Katsuki parted his mouth, and unwillingly, a small, aborted sound escaped. Katsuki's lower lip wobbled just slightly , and the second between that and the first tear that spilled down Katsuki's face was enough for Izuku's heart to squeeze with guilt.

"I..." Izuku's face softened and he looked down at the table. "Honey, I didn't mean to make you cry. I just--"

"Get out."

Izuku looked up, his lips parting.

Katsuki wobbled to his feet and glowered down at Izuku with watering eyes. "Get the FUCK OUT OF MY ROOM!"

Izuku's heart sank in his chest and he slowly stood. "I'll leave you be. I...I'm sorry."

"Don't fucking lie to me, you're fucking not." Katsuki hissed, furiously reaching up to rub his eyes.

Izuku deflated a bit. "You're right, but that doesn't mean you ought to have said it."

Katsuki said nothing else and simply pointed to the door.

"I'll see you around." Izuku sighed and walked around the table, paused, and after a moment of consideration squeezed Katsuki's trembling shoulder as he walked pass him. He grabbed the bag of clothes he'd left by Katsuki's door on the way out, hanging it on his wrist.

Sparing a final glance at Katsuki, he closed the door softly and padded down the stairs to meet Masaru's concerned eyes.

"Everything okay up there?" He asked, eyebrows crinkled in concern. "I heard yelling."

Izuku looked at his feet. "I'm...going to go." He cocked his head towards the door.

Masaru's face softened and he gently asked, "Did something happen?"

"Yeah, we got into an argument and I..." Fuck, now that it was sinking in, Izuku felt like a real asshole. "By the end of it, I made him cry."

Masaru blinked, clearly not expecting that. "...Holy shit."

"Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing. Look, I...I'm just going to leave him alone. Whether he admits it or not, you're like, his favorite person. Could you go up there and comfort him?" Izuku shrugged, scuffing his feet on the staircase.

Masaru nodded his head hurriedly. "Yeah, yeah. I'll go. I...probably should be upset with you, but I know you're a good kid, Izuku. I know you didn't mean to upset him that badly. I'll go do damage control." Masaru ascended the stairs and ran a hand through Izuku's hair, keeping his palm on the top of Izuku's head. "Hang in there, buddy, and give us a call sometime." His eyes lingered on the scar on Izuku's left eye but he didn't comment.

"...Okay."

Masaru took that as his cue to dash up the stairs, leaving Izuku alone on the stairs. Izuku forced back the tears burning in his eyes and went the rest of the way down, slid on his shoes, and walked outside, firmly shutting the front door behind him.


 

Masaru knocked lightly on his son's door, tugging on his bottom lip with his teeth. "Katsuki? Can I come in?"

"No." Katsuki's thick, tearful voice filtered past the wood, making a jolt of pity stab Masaru right through the heart.

He almost wanted to chase Izuku down and smack the crap out of him but that solved nothing and...well, Izuku obviously hadn't meant it. Masaru heaved a sigh and slowly cracked open Katsuki's door.

"I'm coming in anyway, kiddo." He murmured, eyes falling on the curled up lump on the bed.

"Fuck off." Katsuki huffed, shifting beneath his blanket.

Masaru clucked his tongue and, not heeding his son's words, slowly lowering himself onto Katsuki's explosion-themed bed. He gently laid a hand on Katsuki's shoulder and rubbed small circles.

"Izuku just left; he told me you two had an argument." He started slowly, squeezing Katsuki's shoulder. "He looked pretty upset."

"I don't care--" Katsuki's voice caught and he fell silent, resolutely saying nothing else.

"...He also told me he made you cry." Masaru finished quietly, slowly reached up to stroke the tuft of blonde hair poking from beneath the blanket. "You don't have to tell me about it if you don't want to, but at least let me hug you, sweetie."

"...Don't fucking call me that." Katsuki croaked sullenly, his tense form relaxing beneath the blanket.

Slowly, Masaru slid into the bed behind Katsuki and wrapped an arm around his son's chest. Katsuki let out a shuddering breath and rolled over to face Masaru's chest. Hiding his face in Masaru's shirt only did so much; Masaru could feel the tears bleeding through and wetting his chest. His heart ached with sympathy and he wormed an arm beneath Katsuki's head for him to use as a pillow, leaving his other hand to stroke Katsuki's hair.

"I'm not insecure," Katsuki mumbled into Masaru's shirt as if trying to reassure himself of such.

Ah. That's what the fight had been about, then. Masaru breathed out a long sigh and pressed a kiss on top of Katsuki's head. At least this confirmed what he'd been suspecting for awhile.

"Of course, sweetie." He murmured soothingly, letting his hand migrate from Katsuki's hair to his back.

"I'm not." Katsuki insisted, seemingly to himself.

"I know."

Masaru stared blankly at the posters on Katsuki's wall, absently running a hand up his son's back. When he registered Katsuki had gone lax and still, he puffed out a sigh. RuPaul's Drag race can wait, He thought.


 

Izuku wasn't quite sure how he'd gotten here, but here he was; the vigilantes base of operations.

Well, there wasn't a reason to hesitate, was there? Yoshio appeared to like him, so he was probably okay. He swung open the door and met eyes with a lizard-like man at the bar. He paused, the cup and rag in his hands lowering slightly. He narrowed his eyes before his face softened in realization.

"You're that kid who was here last night. C'mon in; I don't see anyone else with you."

Izuku pressed his lips in a bemused line but shrugged, walking inside and closed the door behind him. The black woman with teased hair from the previous night gazed at him approvingly.

"Look at that; you found some shoes. Good on you, kid."

Izuku looked her up and down and said nothing in response, unsure of what to say in the first place.

"You ain't much of a talker, are you, twinkle toes?" A woman who looked vaguely like a Koi fish warbled, leaning on the bar.

"Not to people I don't know, no." Izuku scuffed his red shoes on the dingy ground. "I'm...not really sure why I came here."

"This place has a way of doing that..." The lizard man paused and sighed. "...say, what's your name? Never caught it."

"Yagi Izuku." Izuku answered reflexively before remembering that, once again, he was 'Midoriya'. Wait, fuck. Why did I tell him my name?

"Oh, nice name. Mine's Goda Daichi. Oi, you two, introduce yourselves."

The woman who looked a bit like a Koi fish introduced herself as Nishi Hikari; Goda was apparently her best friend. The black woman introduced herself first-name first, her name being Aisha Ponto. Apparently, she had a wife at home, though she didn't mention her name. Izuku somehow ended up roped in a conversation with the three of them and learned that they formed a team that mostly worked on busting drug rings. Goda's quirk allowed him to camouflage everything except for himself, which was a problem he solved by wearing a morph suits, whereas Nishi's quirk allowed her to turn into any type of sea critter, though being a koi fish was her personal favorite. Aisha's quirk was by far Izuku's favorite; she could bend darkness to cover herself and sink into it if need be, though she couldn't stay inside for long without being forcibly ejected from it. This meant she could only work at night but honestly; what self respecting vigilante operated in broad daylight? Crazy ones like Knuckleduster, The Crawler, and Popstep; and their business wasn't meant to be interfered with in the first place, so they were irrelevant.

"Anyway, have you thought about a costume?" Aisha asked, running a finger across the grimy bar with a slight grimace on her severe face.

Izuku paused. "A what?"

"Vigilantes wear costumes, dumbass." Goda cited, resuming his task of wiping mugs clean. "So they don't get caught."

Right, yeah. That was a thing.

"You also need a name." Nishi nodded her head as if it accentuated her point more. "Mine's Marina; Aisha is Nightshade, and Go-chan is Chameleon since he ain't creative. Oh, and Miname is Owleye."

Aisha looked over him appraisingly. "If my dumbass tipsy brain remembers correctly, Yoshio called you to his office last night right after meeting you; the last person he did that for was me; and that was because he saw potential in me. You're the sneaky, careful type, aren't you?"

"Perfect description." Izuku agreed, pressing his tongue into the inside of his cheek. Maybe not all of these vigilantes were complete idiots.

Aisha nodded to herself. "My costume is hella fortified to the point that if someone shot me, I wouldn't even bleed. You'd like the same kind of thing, wouldn't you?"

"Yeah. Where would I get that kind of thing?"

"I could hook you up; us paranoid people have to stick together since we're the most likely to survive the goddamn apocalypse."

Believe me, Aisha, I know exactly what you mean. Literally.

Nishi groaned into the palm of her scaled hand. "Oh no...I should've guessed he'd just be over-the-top paranoid like you, Aisha. That's why you like him so much."

"It's not being paranoid; it's called being smart enough to make sure that you won't die in any situation." Izuku defended himself, blinking tiredly. "I've had to do that so much it's reflexive now."

Aisha reached a long finger out and prodded beneath Izuku's left eye. "Clearly. C'mon, kid. Let's find some paper and get something drawn up for you."


 

Forty-seven minutes and 3 crumpled pieces of paper later, Izuku stared down at his vigilante costume approvingly.

Aisha's hazel eyes roved over the paper, eyeing Izuku's immaculate sketch with increasing fervency, a small smile slowly growing on her thick, dark lips. "Alright, here's what we got: a capture weapon, kind of like Eraserhead's, damn, nice. You know how to use those?"

Izuku nodded in assent, suppressing a grin at the look of approval on Aisha's face. "Good shit, dude; I never figured those out. You'll have to teach me. Now, what else... impact resistant helmet with built in night-vision goggles. Nice, you'll need both of those. Reinforced utility belt with a gun holster with a shitload of pouches for...poison and small weapons." Aisha thumbed the sketch, looking faintly impressed. "Didn't pin you for the poisoning type, but hey, that's my own damn mistake. What else do you have here...protective metal gauntlets, lightweight, reinforced black pants and shirt made of the same material… oh, iron-soled combat boots. Interesting choice, but good nonetheless. And, to top it off, a cowl to cover the helmet and your face. Very good, very, very good." Aisha looked up at Izuku, her face the picture of pride. "Well, I think this is the best damn costume I've ever seen a newbie make, kid. Good goddamned work. I'd critique the iron soles, but honestly, can't even bitch. Perfect. And, since it's so dark in color, I presume you'll be working exclusively at night?"

"Correct." Izuku confirmed, leaning back in his chair.

"Alright, sweet. Maybe, if you're lucky, I'll consider partnering with you. Got a vigilante name yet?"

That, Izuku shook his head at.

Aisha frowned at that but didn't seem surprised. "Yeah, took me a couple o' days to figure out mine. Tell you what; I'll help you." Aisha slid into the chair across from Izuku and looked him up and down with an appraising eye. "You look like the type who'd do his work quickly and cleanly. And when I say 'quickly', I mean fast as fuck. And since you work under the cover of night, here's a suggestion for you to either take or base yours off of; Eclipse."

Izuku paused at that. Eclipse actually kind of summed up what he wanted to go for, but it wasn't... it. "Eclipse sounds like what I'm looking for, but it isn't it."

Aisha nodded. "I would've been surprised if it was. For me, my name has meaning. Not only is it a dual way of saying dark; night and shade, but the poison that killed my older brother was mainly composed of nightshade. It's significant for me. I'd suggest something similar for you."

Izuku cocked his head and blinked. "You're...forthright about your brother's fate."

"No use in hiding it; what's done is done and it does me no good to keep that shit inside." Aisha responded simply, her eyes briefly fogging with something before she looked at her hands. "...You ever lost anyone, kid?"

My friends, my father, my mother, my husband, my children, my...my everything.

Aisha glanced up from her hands, her eyes soft in understanding. "Yeah, you don't even have to answer..." She trailed off and heaved a tired sigh. "I know that look."

"...And what look are you talking about?" Izuku chanced, picking at the ends of his shirt sleeves.

"The look of someone who's lost everything. It ain't easy, is it? It's always quick too; one second the lights are on and in the next, you're caught in a--"

Blackout.

Izuku inhaled sharply, indirectly cutting Aisha off.

Dear god, it's perfect.

Aisha raised an eyebrow. "What is it?"

"Blackout."

Aisha blinked. "That's...what I was going to say, yes."

Izuku shook his head hurriedly. "No, no, you don't understand. Blackout. Aisha, it's perfect."

Aisha stared at him, not computing for a moment before her eyes lit up in understanding. "Oh, fuck. Yagi, that is perfect. That's what you're going to go with?"

Izuku nodded, his lips stretching into a smile. "It is...that's what my name is. Blackout."

Aisha smiled and held out her hand for a high five. "Alright, good work. You've got a name, and I'll send your costume to my friend Yaoyorozu Takashi and have it to you soon."

Izuku stopped short.

...Yaoyorozu?

"Hey, uh, odd question; does this Takashi have a daughter named Momo?"

"...Yes. How on earth did you know that?"

Holy.

Fucking.

Shit.

Izuku shook his head, trying and failing to push back the slight shock thrumming in his head. "I...used to know her. Huh. That's...wow, okay."

Aisha looked bemused at this but seemed to brush it aside. "Now, before you go anywhere, I need to get your measurements for Takashi. Goda!"

Goda's raspy voiced yelled in response, "What!?"

"Bring me the measuring tape; I need to get Yagi's measurements!"

There was silence, shortly followed by footsteps scraping across the floor. "You sending his costume to Takashi or somethin'?"

"Yeah, actually."

Goda whistled. "Damn, Aisha really likes you, kid. Hold still for her while she gets your measurements down; you need anything else?"

"Nah, we should be okay."

"Thanks, Goda-kun." Izuku mumbled, holding out his arms for Aisha.

Goda wandered away from the area as Aisha took Izuku's measurements, making quick notes on the paper Izuku's design was on.

"So," She began distractedly. "Villains. You going to straight up kill em or get them arrested?"

"...Killing them."

"What for?"

"They're dangerous." Izuku said resolutely, tilting his chin up to let Aisha measure the stretch of his shoulders. "Jailing them won't be enough; they could break out easily. On top of that, most of them are unstable. I can't offer redemption to someone completely nutty. Killing them is merciful, in a way."

"Ain't nothing more merciful than murder if what you say is true." Aisha nodded solemnly, wrapping the measuring tape around his waist. "Not to be inappropriate, but you've got a huge ass, kid."

"...Thanks...?"

"Yeah, that's a compliment, even if it's a bit of a weird one. Alright, I'm just about done. Let me just jot this down and you can go on your merry way."

Izuku nodded and waited until Aisha finished what she was doing. "All done?"

"Yeah. You staying longer, or...?"

Izuku shrugged. "It's about time that I get home, Aisha. You send the design to Y-Yaoyorozu-san and I'll start figuring out which villains I want to put an end to first."

Aisha seemed appeased by this and nodded. "Okay, you run along home, then. Make sure to keep Yoshio and I updated. See you whenever, Yagi. Don't stay away for too long."

"I won't, Aisha. Er...when should I expect my costume?"

"Takashi should have it done by the end of the week. He's on a business trip at the moment, so he ain't getting home until later this week."

Izuku nodded. "Okay, see you around. Bye."

"Later, kid."


 

"I'm home!" Izuku called into his house, toeing off his red shoes.

"Welcome home, sweetie." Mom called from the kitchen. "How was the Bakugou's?"

"It was alright. Uncle Masaru is as nice as ever."

"Good to hear. Anyway, now that you're home, could you help me find my credit card? I seem to have misplaced it somewhere."

Izuku glanced down at the bag on his wrist, and without a second thought, chucked it into his room without blinking.

Oh shit, He thought. Where is a good place for Mom to "conveniently" find her credit card?

Chapter Text

“Izuku?” Mom called, a confused note in her tone as she called from the living room.

Izuku poked his head inside, tilting an eyebrow. “Yeah?”

“Did you go to Daiei and buys clothes or did someone else use my card?” Mom looked down at the credit card in her hands. “I know I didn’t; if it wasn’t you, I’m going to have to cancel this card.”

Izuku bit his lip, looking down at his covered legs. “I did buy clothes, yeah.”

“Why didn’t you ask first?” Mom frowned, looking vaguely disappointed in him.

Oh boy.

“I...um.” He stepped fully into the living room and gestured loosely at his ass. “Didn’t have anything to wear.”

Mom looked him up and down. “Can’t you...go back to your normal self with your quirk?”

Izuku paused. “I’m...kinda stuck.”

“...Stuck?”

“It, uh...I’m pretty sure this is my normal body now because I-I’ve tried and I can’t go back.”

Mom blinked, bewildered.

Izuku bullshitted a little harder, elaborating with, “I’m pretty sure that the form I’ve been holding all this time is the skinny one to keep up appearances and...this is just me now.”

Mom seemed to actually buy that. “...Oh.” She breathed. “Wait, so you didn’t--”

“--Yeah, I literally had nothing to wear and I, uh, wasn’t keen on showing off my...my goods.”

Mom held her hand over her mouth and closed her eyes, holding her nose between her fingers before opening them real wide and whispering in a strangled fashion, “Why didn’t you just use a towel?”

Uh.

“The one I grabbed...wouldn’t go all the way around...y’know.” Izuku waved a hand in front of his ass again.

Mom’s face bloomed a brilliant red and she buried it into her hands. “Oh my god, Izuku.”

...Mission accomplished.


 

It was 8:49pm, thirty minutes after Mom had gone to sleep, when Izuku had slipped out of the house and made his way to the vigilante’s base of operations. Along the way, he kept an eye out for any sort of crime he could help with and, thankfully, found nothing. Ghosting towards the decrepit building that housed the base, he’d hardly taken a step into the door before a box was unceremoniously shoved into his hands. He reflexively reached down for the knife that was usually holstered on his hip before remembering it wasn’t there. Shaking his head, he reached up and steadied the box before it could topple to the ground and frowned, bemused. He looked up to meet Aisha’s expectant face.

“Uh, hi?”

“Costume.”

Izuku paused and looked down at the box, cocking his head. “Okay…?”

“Open it, dumbass.”

“Woman, I just walked in here. Gimme a damned second.” He muttered, pushing past Aisha to collapse onto a creaking chair and set the box on the dingy table in front of him with a soft thump and just kind of...stared at it. Well, here it was. He was really doing this. He’d joined a band of fucking vigilantes and here was his costume. What on Earth would Shouto say? What would DAD say? God, they’d both be like “What the fucking fuck are you doing, Izuku?” Jesus christ, I’m a hot mess. Sucking in a grounding breath, he pulled the top of the box and gazed down at the articles of clothing and weapons in the box. Aisha made a noise of approval when he immediately reached down to grab the weapons. He eyed a holstered pistol appraisingly and moved the silencer next to it before he pulled out the jet-black knife by the handle, tugging it free it’s holster and marveling at the glistening, midnight metal. He prodded the sharp edge of the blade with his pointer finger and couldn’t restrain his grin when it made a tiny cut at the smallest touch.

“Sharp enough?”

“It’s fucking perfect, Aisha. You can bet your ass this is staying holstered on my hip at all times.”

“As it should be.” Aisha nodded, poking her tongue in her cheek. “Inspect the rest.”

“Will do.”

He clipped the knife’s holster onto his hip, covering it with his shirt before he threw his inner monologue about his fall from grace into vigilantism to the wind and eagerly dug through the box before him. He tugged his capture weapon free from underneath his costume and hastily twined it around his fingers, feeling the fluid-like fabric curl around his fingers, recognizing it’s owner. God this looked just like his old one from...before he came back. The first time, if you will. Suppressing a chuckle, he catapulted the fabric forward and wrapped it playfully around Nishi’s neck, yanking her backwards off her barstool. The flippers that took place of her ears wiggled in indignance as she struggled to turn around to see the culprit of her attack.

“MINT LEAF!” She bellowed, tugging uselessly against his capture weapon. “KNOCK IT OFF, I’M TRYING TO BEAT GO-CHAN IN TIC TAC TOE AND YOU’RE MAKING ME LOSE!”  

Izuku frowned, setting her free from his capture gear and quirking an eyebrow. “What did she call me?”

“Oh, that’s what she’s been calling you during your absence since you’re short and you’ve got green hair.” Aisha mumbled distractedly, gazing down at Izuku’s capture gear with poorly disguised awe. “You...you really do know how to use that thing. That was incredible . I’ve only seen that level of skill from--from fucking Eraserhead!”

Izuku froze, feelings of warm pride and cold fear battling it out in his stomach. “Oh my god, you know Eraserhead?”

“Yeah! He isn’t a vigilante, he’s got a license and everything--” Oh, thank fuck. Bumping into Aizawa-sensei here would be a fucking disaster. “--but I’ve watched him fight villains off with his capture weapon and quirk alone. It’s amazing. Do you know him as well?”

“I do!” Izuku gusted out through a long breath. “He’s…” Izuku thought back on Aizawa’s fight in the USJ in his first year at 1A, how he’d fought with all he had and saved their very lives. “...fucking amazing. One of the best heroes I know.”

Aisha actually clapped her hands in excitement. “Oh, fuck yes. No one else here knows about him, but he’s one of the finest heroes I’ve ever come across. The more I learn about you, the more I like you, kid. Go ahead and put your capture weapon aside and looked at the rest of your shit.”

“Uh-huh.” Izuku nodded quickly, tossing his capture weapon aside and rummaging through the box and pulling out his boots.

Ripping off his red shoes, he yanked one of his boots onto his foot and zipped it up. He sprang to his feet and did a test walk, the smile on his face growing in intensity. Even though they were definitely iron-soled, they were thin and durable. And even better; he could easily keep quiet in these. These were perfect. Aisha eyed the grin on his face.

“Good shit?”

“Stellar.”

Darting back to the box, he pulled out his gauntlets and pulled those on, flexing his fingers experimentally. They were a bit too stiff for his liking, but that was nothing a little bit of use couldn’t fix. He whacked his hand against the table and he didn’t feel a damn thing other than an odd jar; the table, however, made a cracking noise and sagged a bit.

“Oh, fuck.” He muttered, gritting his teeth sheepishly rubbing the top of the table in apology.

Aisha raised her eyebrows and blinked. “Damn, you must have one hell of a punch, kid. It’s fine; these tables are broken at least once a week.”

“Ah, okay. Gauntlets are stiff, but using them will fix that. And they definitely will protect me just fine.” He reported, pulling off his boot and the gauntlet. “And now...utility belt.” He murmured beneath his breath, pulling it free from the costume itself.

He inspected it and nodded approvingly, feeling the metal inlays that had been installed into it. Definitely had no chance of breaking. And the pockets were fine; the zippers were of high quality and wouldn’t get stuck no matter how much he yanked on them. He let Aisha know it was fine before he pulled out the cowl and helmet. The helmet was thin enough to not be seen through the cowl, but durable enough to withstand nothing short of a warhammer slamming against it, and though the cowl was for vanity’s sake, it covered what it was supposed to and close enough to his body that it probably wouldn’t get caught on anything. The helmet fit just fine and so did the cowl, though it was a little different than he’d designed.

“Takashi doctored that one a bit.” Aisha explained at his frown. “If you ever fall, he figured it might blow up and show off your face, so he made it a bit like a modified ski mask. You keep the cowl over your head, but pull up the inside part to cover your nose. Your eyes will be covered by your goggles, which he also messed with...just a bit, don’t worry. I dunno, he’s been into Skyrim lately and your costume reminded him on the Nightingales or some shit so he made the outsides of the goggles glow, though you can turn that off.”

He’d probably keep the glowing function off but...what the fuck was Skyrim?

“Skyrim?”

Aisha shrugged. “Just some video game.”

Video game...oh, right. He knew what she was talking about...kinda. If he remembered correctly, he could vaguely recall Dad yelling at some character named Mercer while playing it when he was really sick and having an….anthropomorphic blue cat as a companion. He could also remember him bitching about how Skyrim lacked decent mods for clothes, only gross ones. Right, right, he knew what Aisha was talking about now.

“Oh, that Bethesda game that people make a shitload of sexual mods for. That one.”

Aisha shook her head, smiling painfully. “That’s the one. I’ve played it a bit myself; it’s not that bad. It’s just ugly, though the decent mods can fix that. My wife, on the other hand, loves that fucking game. She’s been playing that shit since it came out like, four years ago. Do your goggles work?”

Izuku pulled them over his face and switched them on. He looked around at the green tinted room and nodded.

“Work just fine, yeah. Now...the outfit.”

“Ah, about that.” Aisha began, grabbing Izuku’s attention. “Takashi decided to just make it into a jumpsuit instead of pants and a shirt. Easier to get into. He was going to put a fucking cape on it but I stopped him there since those get caught on fucking everything. I had to compromise by letting him throw in a detachable armored cloak.   

Izuku frowned but made no comment, giving only a shrug in response. “Good enough for me. Should I go try it on?” He asked, pulling out his costume and inspecting it loosely.

“Yeah, bathroom’s back down that hallway.” Aisha pointed down a damp, dim hallway with one of the lights off. “Actually, why don’t you just put on the whole damn thing? Might as well see if it all works together.” Aisha picked up the box holding all of his costume and held it out to him. “Go on.”

Aisha had a good point. “Good idea, got it.” Izuku nodded, trotting down the hallway Aisha had pointed out with the box in tow.

After checking to make sure no one else was inside, Izuku ducked inside of the bathroom and shut the door tightly, making sure to lock it before he stripped as fast as he could to limit the time he was inside. He tugged out his supposed jumpsuit and whistled approvingly as he hesitantly ran a hand along the fabric, immediately feeling the quality and durability. Damn, that was strong as fuck. And-- oh god, it had little footies. That was appalling. Fuck it, he didn’t specify so this is what he got. It was a little difficult to contort his body past the metal tunic thingy Takashi had put on it but once he did, the suit fit just fine. Thankfully, while the legs had the footies attached, the hands had no gloves so it was relatively easy to get that part on.

Once he was sure the jumpsuit was on like it was supposed to be, he did some test jumps and twists, finding little resistance. Well, fuck. Your dad might be into some shady shit but at least he knows what the fuck he’s doing, Yaomomo. Izuku snorted at the thought and bent down to pull his boots on. They went over his covered feet with surprising ease and felt fine, so he pulled on the rest of the shit, looked at his final product, and smiled. Everything looked absolutely perfect and he felt as sturdy as a brick wall. Nothing short of a bomb could hurt him too badly with this on. And, on top of that, he looked fucking scary.

Gonna make fucking Shittyraki piss his pants when I track him down. Izuku thought with a touch of glee, far too excited about the possibility of murdering somebody. With that said (er...thought), Izuku tossed his regular clothes in the box before he went to open the door-- only to come face to face with Yoshio’s outstretched hand. Yoshio nearly knocked on his face before he lowered it with a blink and straightened.

“You adjusted quickly.” Yoshio coughed, flattening his lips is a bemused yet approving line.

“Well, if I want to murder people, gotta get ready fast, don’t I?” Izuku joked lightly, shrugging. “What do you think of the costume?”

“Looks good, and durable. Aisha got that done for you, didn’t she?”

“Yeah. Yaoyorozu work.” Izuku affirmed. “Does she normally do this for people?”

“Actually, no. She does have Taka-chan-- excuse me, old nickname for Yaoyorozu --make the weapons for us, but she’s only had someone’s costume done for them one other time, and that was for Owleye.”  Yoshio’s chuckle seemed to rattle in his throat. “I should be surprised she took to you so quickly, but I’m not. You two are practically birds of a feather.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“You’re both smart and are super paranoid, though paranoia is a stone’s throw away from being smart so I suppose they’re one and the same.” Yoshio looked Izuku down appraisingly with a tilted eyebrow. “With the costume design she made for you, I’d say she’s trying her damnedest to keep you breathing.”

“Oh, no. She didn’t design this; I did.” Izuku corrected, gesturing down at himself. “It’s not the most fashionable but it’s functional and will keep me from getting murdered.”

Yoshio’s eyes blew wide and he raised his eyebrows. “Well, I’ll be damned.” He muttered, shaking his head. “She didn’t let Owleye even see her costume until it was done. There’s no wonder she likes you so much though; look at that. Nothing short of a bomb is going to do you in, kid.”

“I know; I made sure.”

Yoshio reached out and slapped Izuku’s shoulder before squeezing it warmly. “Even if you’re quirkless at the moment, you’re going to do just fine around here. Which reminds me; come with me. Aisha’s been organizing a job for you to do as payment for her getting that costume for you, and I think there’s something about it that might interest you.”

“Oh?”

“Aisha’s waiting in my office with Goda and Nishi; I noticed that three particular people look a bit like some of the villains you intend on stopping...permanently. If I’m correct and they’re a couple of your targets, Aisha and her little team are going to join you.”

A flutter of excitement flew through Izuku’s veins and he could barely keep the pep out of his step as he trotted behind Yoshio’s towering back. Oh, he really hoped Kurogiri was one of them; that’d just make his fucking night. Or that shitty Mr. Compress dude. Especially that Mr. Compress; he still hadn’t forgiven him for that shit he’d pulled with Shouto’s ice in first year. Yoshio held open his office door for Izuku and followed behind him, collapsing heavily at his desk. Aisha looked Izuku up and down, an approving smile gracing her lips at his costume. She was already dressed in her own, which consisted of a jumpsuit that looked pretty similar to his own and metal plating covering her joints, a helmet with a mirror-like visor covering her face. Upon his entry, she had already reached up and pressed something and the visor flew up to reveal her face. After looking over his costume, she lazily smirked in greeting and turned her attention away.  Goda and Nishi were dressed too in less protective gear; Nishi had scale-themed leggings and a form fitting tunic, whereas Goda was wearing a...rather unflattering morphsuit with the cap off. At least they were dressed in dark colors.

“Alright, Izuku. I had Haktsu, our resident computer geek, break into the security cameras in the location. It’s a yakuza related drug ring we’ve been observing since the day before you came waltzing in with Naoki and we’re pretty sure that tonight is when they’ll be transporting the drugs. Obviously, the objective here is to either ensure their arrest or kill them, though I’m assuming you’re going to want to go for that last one. We’ve been picking out faces and these--” Yoshio turned his laptop to face Izuku. “--are the people I think you’ll recognize.”

Fuck yes he recognized them; that lizard due was Spinner and the woman was Magne, both of which among those who had attacked the training camp in first year, and the other dude was one of the Yakuza members who’d kept Eri captive before Izuku had come there, guns blazing, and fucked them up when he was sixteen. They weren’t his high priority targets, not by a long shot, but just them being dead would hinder All for One’s plans, and later on, Chisaki’s plans. It was probably for the better that they weren’t so powerful; Izuku had a fuckton of brute strength, but without his quirk, he still couldn’t do a lot. It was in his own best interest that he picked off the little guys from an objective standpoint.

Yoshio nodded his head with a small smile on his face. “Exactly. Good thinking, kid.”

Izuku was briefly confused before he realized, oh shit, I was mumbling.

“...What do you mean, without your quirk? And who the fuck are Chisaki and All for One?” Goda questioned hurriedly, eyeing Izuku up and down.

“I’d like to know the same thing.” Aisha clipped, folding her arms and raising an eyebrow. “There something you’d like to tell us?”

“...I don’t have my quirk at the moment and All for One, quite literally the most terrifying villain known to mankind-- especially because not a damn person knows about him-- is a dude who’s over 200 years old that can take and force quirks upon people, and Chisaki is one of the main heads of the Yakuza.” Izuku explained hastily, looking back at the grainy images of Magne, Spinner, and the Yakuza dude (Shin Nemoto, if he wasn’t mistaken).

Nishi waved her hands back and forth. “Wait, wait, wait.” Nishi blurted. “Hold the phone. All for One can do what?”

Izuku looked up to see that everyone’s horrified eyes were trained on him, including Yoshio. “...Right.” Izuku mumbled, feeling vaguely embarrassed that he’d forgotten that All for One wasn’t common knowledge at this point in time. “He can steal someone’s quirk and force quirks on people. He’s...got hundreds of quirks. He’s insanely powerful; I don’t think anyone, save for All Might and later on, myself, have enough power to even so much as touch him.”

Goda’s reptilian lips (or lack thereof) stretched into a frown. “What do you mean...later on?”

Izuku spared a glance at Yoshio, who nodded minutely.

“There are such things are transferable quirks. They are incredibly, and I mean incredibly rare. It’s to the point that they’re basically unheard of. When I’m on the cusp of turning fifteen, I’m going to become the next holder of a transferable quirk, and it’s…” Izuku looked down at his gauntlet covered right hand, imaging the aged scars still pulled taut around the crooked skin. “...very powerful. At its full potential, it could level a building with minimal effort.”

Nishi leaned back in her seat, looking dumbstruck. “No fucking way.”

“Wait.” Goda held up a finger. “When you’re on the cusp of turning fifteen? You muttered something about being sixteen just a minute ago.”

Aisha narrowed her eyes in suspicion. “That’s right, you did. What’s that about?”

Just before Izuku could go through his regular mantra of “fuckfuckfuck”, Yoshio held up a hand to keep them quiet.

“As I thought.” Yoshio suddenly huffed a laugh, shaking his head before dropping the bombshell on Aisha and her group with little ceremony. “You don’t really think all time-travel related instances are documented, do you?”

Aisha whipped around to openly gape at Izuku. “Holy--” A hand flew to her mouth and she turned her face away, hunching over herself. “Yoshio.”

“...Surprise?”


 

After a brief explanation of “Yes, I come from the future.” and “No, I don’t know if you had a wife or anything, I didn’t know you.” and “I’m pretty fucking sure I didn’t know you, Goda, stop asking if your wife was hot, for all I know you died.”, they all managed to work out a plan; Spinner, Magne, and Shin were their priority targets. Since Spinner was kind of a dumbass and easily distracted by pretty girls, they would corner him in an isolated or low-populated area and Nishi would distract him by flirting while Izuku snuck up close enough and shot a bullet through his skull. Once Spinner was down, they’d migrate to Magne and get her with another bullet since her quirk was dangerous in an area as sparsely populated as possible. Once they both were down, they’d have Izuku slit Shin’s throat or something knife related if possible as he was the apparent watch man and gunshots, even silenced, work alert all of the nearby people. Aisha and Goda were in charge of coverage; when in the shadows, Aisha would bend the darkness to cover them, whereas when they were on the move in lightened area, Goda would use his chameleon quirk to make them blend in. Nishi was supposed to turn into a small fish and swim along the pipes, gaining as much intel as possible through the walls after her role with Spinner had been played.

After the three priority targets were silenced permanently, the rest of those involved were fair game. Aisha was obviously going to have a field day slicing and dicing the lesser villains, whereas Goda and Nishi were just going to set the warehouse on fire and destroy all of the shit that made whatever drugs were being developed beyond repair. Izuku...wasn’t sure about what he’d do with the lesser villains. He was pretty sure he was going to join Aisha on killing them since they’d pose a potential threat later on in the future, though he’d probably do it while keeping an eye on Goda and Nishi since they, with his luck, would probably get themselves killed otherwise. With that in mind, he followed Aisha, Nishi, and Goda out into the main bar and sat on a barstool, waiting for when the clock would reach 10pm.

“...So.” Aisha murmured, looking over at Izuku tiredly. “Time travel. Who the fuck are you?”

Izuku looked down at the bartop and sighed through his cowl, closing his eyes tiredly. “I think a more suitable question is, who the fuck did I use to be?”

“Then answer that.” Aisha grumbled, downing the shot Goda slid towards her quietly.

“Do you want the long version, or the short?”

“It’s near 10; gimme the long one later. I’ll settle for the short.”

“Okay…” Izuku racked his brain for something to start with. “Uh...I’m 34, but in my 14 year old body. I have the same physical characteristics I did from when I was in my thirties, just...in this little, condensed form. It’s not fun.”

“Thirty four. You’re thirty four. Jesus fucking--Goda, gimme another shot. I’m no lightweight.” She downed the shot Nishi pushed towards her and cleared her throat. “Did you have any family?”

“I lost most of them to villains.” Izuku sighed, pushing away the sudden weight in his chest to somewhere he could dwell on later. “All I had left was my husband and too kids. Had.” Aisha didn’t miss the catch in his voice at the end.

“...Who?”

“What?”

“Who killed them?”

“That, Aisha, would be All for One.”

The smoke returned, clogging his nose. Itsuki’s head rolled to All for One’s feet, his glazed, green eyes, so much like Izuku’s in color, gleamed with unshed tears. Blood rolled past his tiny, pink lips and his purple hair stuck to his ashen, scarlet-stained face. His pink truck shirt dyed with blood as he laid there, limp, separated, his tiny hand reaching out towards Izuku, begging, screaming to be saved--

Words became harder and harder to push through his throat. “He...blasted a fucking hole in my husband’s chest and decapitated my fucking--.”

Aisha’s hand suddenly slammed against the flat space between his shoulder blades and he gasped. He glanced up to see her face twisted in horror, her eyebrows scrunched and eyes wide.

“Holy fuck,” She gusted out through a hushed breath. “Just...breathe. You won’t see that again; you’re going to save them the second time and it’ll be alright.”

Izuku let out a trembling breath and bent down to bury his face in his trembling hands. “What if I’m not strong enough? What if I can’t kill him again? What then?”

“You’ll live just long enough to come back again.”

“I wasn’t living when I came back, Aisha.”

“...What do you mean?”

Izuku barked a humorless, short laugh. “I died. Once I was sure that son of a bitch was dead, I crawled to...to my family’s bodies and laid next to them before I just gave up and let myself die to.” Izuku swept a hand around the room. “Believe me when I say I wasn’t planning on coming back to this shit.”

Izuku tensed reflexively as a pair of arms wrapped around him from behind, but he could see Nishi in his peripheral vision. The sight of tears running down her face made his heart seize in his chest.

“Oh, Nishi.” He clucked, turning to wipe her tears with his metal gauntlets. “There’s no need to cry.”

“Yes, there is.” She murmured, reaching up and holding his hand as another small tear slipped down her plump cheeks. “You aren’t doing it, so I gotta do it for you.”  

Izuku huffed a quiet, bitter laugh. “I’ve been crying myself to sleep every night since last week, hun. You don’t need to cry for me; I’ve done so more than enough.”

“Guys,” Goda’s voice suddenly sounded from behind the bar, sounding strangely raspier than usual. “I don’t mean to interrupt that touching moment, but it’s just about 10pm. It’s go-time.”


 

If Izuku were any less desentized than his job as a hero and general time living in the fucking apocalypse had made him, maybe he’d be sweating. Maybe he’d be shaking. Maybe he’d be holding his damn breath. But he was doing absolutely nothing of the sort; he was just sitting in the shadows, and watching. Waiting for the exact moment to strike, because this was an all or nothing thing.

C’mon, Nishi. Where are you, sweetheart?

As if on cue, Nishi rounded the corner, looking...actually, pretty damn natural.

“She makes a damned good actress.” Goda hissed in his ear quietly. “Never challenge her in Improv; she’ll destroy you.”

Spinner looked up and eyed her up and down. “Who the fuck are you? I don’t recognize you.”

Nishi frowned and bent forward, making sure to give Spinner an eyeful of cleavage. “Oh, you must be that Spinner guy Shin-chan was talking about, ‘cause you’re the only lizard man I’ve seen. Nice to meet you! I’m Marina.” She cheerfully chirped. “I was just doing my rounds and stuff.” She sent a pointed look towards them in the shadows; Izuku’s cue to move. “Can I just say that I really like your teeth? They look so cool, just like all of those scales you’ve got!”

Spinner, damn him, rubbed a hand on the back of his neck sheepishly and his scales darkened in color. “Y’ think?”

“Oh, yes! You’ve also got such defined muscles on your arms; you must be so strong!”

Izuku got close enough to be sure that his shot wouldn’t miss before he sucked in a quiet breath and aimed, waiting.

“I guess I am, yeah.” Spinner chuckled, flexing a bit for show. “Do you need me to pick anything up for you, little lady?”

“Uhh, yeah, actually! My weak little noodle arms can’t do much lifting; I came back here to get that crate open since one of Spin-chan’s guys wanted something in there.” She pointed at a large crate with a dainty hand. “D’ya think you could pry it open for me? I’m sure you’ll have no trouble since you’re so big and strong.” Nishi crooned, biting her bottom lip and looking up at Spinner with doe eyes.

“Yeah, you got it, girlie.” Spinner puffed his chest assuredly and strutted towards the crate, prying up the crate top easily with the help of his claws. “Easy as--”

A silenced gunshot pierced the air and Spinner went toppling backwards into the crate, blood dripping down his forehead. His eyes glazed over almost immediately and Izuku shakily exhaled. Holy fuck, I just killed someone. I’ve only been back for a week. What the fuck. Nishi hurried over and slammed the crate lid on top of Spinner, hiding his corpse from any passing eyes. Boom, just like that. Cleanup easy. Aisha pulled up the shadows that had shrouded Izuku, panting a bit with exertion from keeping them up for so long.

Nishi nodded approvingly at Izuku. “Good work, Mint Leaf. I’ll be swimming around in the pipes and getting info; you guys do what you do best.”

“HEY!” A voice suddenly boomed from behind them. “WHO THE FUCK ARE--”

Izuku dashed forward at breakneck speed, driven purely by instinct and in panic, wildly slashed his knife across the drug transporter’s throat to silence them. Their eyes rolled back and they toppled backwards, and it was only after Izuku shakily exhaled that he realized holy fuck, that was Magne.

“...Jesus Christ, Blackout.” Goda whispered, eyeing his stained black knife as crimson dripped to the musty concrete. “I haven’t even seen Aisha move that fast.”

“Wait, fuck, that was Magne.” Nishi pointed. “Look.”

Aisha blew out a short breath. “Fuck, that scared the shit out of me. Good work, Blackout. Let’s hide his--er, her body and get moving. Two down, one to go, then we can fuck this place up.”

Izuku nodded and picked up Magne’s corpse, chucking it in the crate with Spinner after Goda held the lid up for him before slamming the lid shut once more.

“Any intel from Haktsu?” Goda whispered, nudging Aisha as they walked down a brightened hallway, shielded by Goda’s quirk.

Aisha looked down at her phone. “Uh, yeah. Shin’s in a populated area outside; we’re either attacking him dead-on or sniping him. One’s obviously better than the other. Blackout, how good is your aim?”

That, Izuku could answer honestly with, “Near perfect. If I’m somewhere high, I can shoot him down from that coverage. I’ll just need someone to keep me out of sight.”

“Got it. Stairs.” Aisha pointed. “If I’m seeing this right, we need to get to the third floor. He’s in the eastern lot, outside.”

“Let’s go.” Izuku nodded shortly, making his way upstairs. “Hold on to my capture weapon so it’s easier for Chameleon to keep up covered.”

He was given no response, both Goda and Aisha just grabbed his capture gear and let him lead upstairs.

“Left.” Aisha whispered into his ears. “Fourth door, right. Floor plans say there’s a balcony there.”

Izuku nodded and made his way down the hallway, holding his breath as three people passed by, talking in hushed voices. Once they were out of sight, Izuku slipped into the room alongside Goda and Aisha.

“Hah?” Someone smoking a cigar at the desk called out as the door swung open slightly. “Who’s over there?”

Izuku jerked his head back to look at Goda and Aisha for advice. They held their fingers to their lips.

“Just stay silent.” Aisha barely whispered into his ear, hardly audible.

The man, shortly thereafter, slouched back in his seat and grumbled something about “fuckin’ drafts in this shittyass building.” Making sure to silence his footsteps as best as he could, Izuku led Aisha and Goda behind the man and gestured towards him. Aisha got the message and, creeping behind him, suddenly dashed up and stabbed him through the side of the head. She lowered his corpse to the ground silently moments later, and that was all there was to it.

“You two going to be okay here?” Goda whispered, eyeing the cooling corpse at his feet. “I was going to run downstairs and start wrecking shit.”

“You do that.” Izuku nodded. “Nightshade and I ought to be fine. You know where to meet Nishi?”

“Yeah.”

“And where to meet all of us?”

“I would never forget that bit.”

“Good. Don’t get caught, Chameleon. Let’s go, Nightshade.”

“I’ve got your back.” Aisha unlocked the door that lead to the balcony and pushed it open, forming a bubble of darkness around them, letting Izuku follow her towards the ledge.

“Can you see him?” Aisha murmured lowly. “If not, we’ll have to move.”

Izuku peered in the darkness, calibrating his goggles to zoom in a bit and scanned the faces of those out in the main lot, loading an egg-truck full of whatever they were planning on transporting. “No…” He muttered, before suddenly catching sight of him. “Wait! There he is.” He slowly zoomed out on his goggles and nodded. “And he’s in an open enough space. Okay...now, all this is going to take is decent aim and sheer luck. Let’s hope this bullet hits where it’s meant to.”

“Good luck. Take your aim and fire, Blackout.” Aisha muttered, backing away a bit.

Izuku drew in a deep, long breath, held it, closed one eye, lined up his gun, fired and--

Shin went toppling to the ground, and chaos ensued in the lot.

Thank fucking god.

“What was that shooting noise!?” Someone called from down the hall. “Who’s in there?!”

...Or maybe not.

“Shit--” Aisha yanked Izuku aside and pushed him inside of the room just in time for the door to slam open...to reveal a police officer.

A police officer.

“Oh, fuck me sideways--Nightshade, fucking move!” Izuku yanked her by the hand and barrelled past the officer, who yelped and scurried out of the way. “Police are here to bust this place too!”

Aisha suddenly stopped and pulled Izuku into the shadows, obscuring them just in time for the officer to race past. She covered his mouth and held her breath until she was sure he was gone, then bent down and whispered. “Police don’t bust drug rings without help. There’s going to be fucking heroes here.”

Izuku’s insides went cold.

“Fuck.” He whirled to face Aisha. “We need to find God--Chameleon and Marina. Now.”

“Are you--”

“-- Yes , I’m fucking sure, let’s go.” Izuku yanked Aisha from the shadows and barrelled down the hallway with Aisha in tow.

Halfway down the hall Izuku just mentally screamed FUCK IT! And, even though he was a whole head shorter than Aisha, picked her up and continued running since he was apparently much faster than she was. It was a little awkward but doable-- right until he ran smackdab into Endeavor’s fucking abdomen. Why in the FUCK does God me hate this much--

Endeavor, if anything, seemed to be caught by surprise at Izuku’s sheer speed and the split second he spent blinking in a state of bewilderment was enough time for Izuku to shriek “FUCK OFF, ENJI, YOUR SON IS HOT!” before darting down the hallway and throwing Aisha towards the exit.

“GO!” He bellowed, whirling to keep an eye on the quickly approaching Endeavor. “MEET CHAMELEON AND MARINA AT THE SPOT; THEY’RE PROBABLY ALREADY THERE, I’LL BE FINE! HEY, TODOROKI-SAN, COME AT ME! I’M THE ONE WHO SHOT THAT DRUG DEALER DOWN IN THE PARKING LOT!”

Endeavor sucked in a harsh breath and roared, “STOP RIGHT THERE, VILLAIN!” scrambling to grab any part of Izuku as he pursued him, hot on his heels.

“I’M A FUCKING VIGILANTE!” Izuku yelled back, dodging a meaty hand.

He was too busy evading Endeavor to notice Naomasa until he was near-tackling the poor man.

Izuku glared down at Naomasa to meet his bewildered, slightly terrified eyes. And, for just a moment, he caught a glimpse of Naomasa’s face as it had looked little over a decade ago, slackened and bloodstained on the crumbling road.

“Naoma--” He breathed, a strand of green hair falling free from his cowl.

“BLACKOUT!” Nishi’s sudden cry snapped him out of his stupor and, sparing one more glance at Naomasa’s fallen body and Endeavor’s quickly approaching one, he sprang to his feet and shot out of the exit, fleeing into the night.


 

Naomasa was left on the ground, a memory of green hair and green eyes flashing in his mind.  

He knew that hair.

He knew those eyes.

Who…?

“What are you just sitting there for?!” Endeavor snapped, yanking him upright by his collar. “Pursue them!”

“Naoma--”

“He…” Naomasa shook his head and swallowed. “He knew my name. Why does he…?”

Endeavor huffed, aggravated. “Yeah, and he called my son “hot”, whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean.” Endeavor hissed sardonically, his tone scathing. “Of course he’s hot; part of his quirk has to do with fire.”

Chapter Text

Distorted storm clouds that sagged heavily in the churning sky was where the pale face of the moon hung, illuminating roiling waves of gray and black in a silvery glow as it peeked through the spaces between. The rain seared down the sky in torrents, bullet-like drops of stingingly cold water ricocheting off of his agile, muscular silhouette. The heavy, humid air swirled around him, carrying with it the soft smell of grass and metal within the seething storm. Silver and green strands of hair glimmered as lightning flashed, blown askew and sent billowing behind him like a banner in the inky sky. A flash of lightning screamed across the sky once more as the wind howled, two rings of wild green and a scar marring his left eye glowing a luminescent, ominous silver in the light.

The villains could only watch in horrified awe as karma stared them in the eye, reached up a steady hand to his face, pulled down his goggles, his helmet, and his hood. They could not run. They could not hide. The angel of death that stood before them spread his wings and leapt. The wind sang through his cloak, sending it spiralling up above him as he ripped through the shrieking sky, looming above them as the harbinger of their dooms. The villains stood, frozen in terror as the lights went black and they were embraced by the shadows, left groping in the suffocating darkness surrounding them.  

Blackout had arrived, and with him, retribution.


 The rain pattered against the top of Izuku’s umbrella as he strode leisurely down the deserted sidewalk, the misty city lights glimmering in the puddles that snaked down the walkway. Izuku sent ripples through them as his path guided him through the puddles, the water, he noticed with a grimace, wetting his socks slightly as he trudged along. It was no matter though; the hearty weight in his pocket and the new deaths under his belt were enough to keep him sated. For now. There were still too many goddamn sex traffickers in the world. A lonesome car or two ambled along the road, small spritzes of water bouncing off of Izuku’s heels as their wheels rolled through the pools on the sides of the road. The stairs to his apartment complex came into view beneath the yellow glow of the streetlight and Izuku ascended them quietly, nearly stumbling on the second to last step as he held his bag tightly to himself so it wouldn’t bump into anything and make a racket.

As quietly as he could, Izuku keyed into his apartment and toed off his shoes at the front door. Breathing in the blessedly less humid air of his home, he shucked his bag towards the general direction of his bedroom, wincing at the somewhat quiet (but not really) clunk it made as it hit the corner of the wall on the way. That had probably been one of his vigilante-ing boots, which was, of course, the only object in the bag with the potential for the loudest sound possible. Fuck, he hoped that hadn’t woken up Mom; she didn’t particularly appreciate being woken up at 2 in the morning by loud noises (or, for that matter, her son sneaking back in during the middle of the night when he should definitely be in bed and not murdering people).

Izuku paused and focused, trying to listen for any sign of Mom waking, whether it be a quiet call of his name, a pillow hitting the wall, or anything. The apartment remained silent. Izuku puffed out a relieved sigh and padded into the kitchen, ambling towards the sink and  washing his somewhat grimy hands before shaking them off in lieu of using the dish towel that was literally three feet away from him. He groped for the glass of water he’d left out for himself before leaving, chugging the lukewarm liquid and washing the faint taste of dust out of his throat. He sighed and leaned against the counter, tipping his head back and smiling as he palmed the rolls of bills in his left pocket. Haha, it looked a bit like a boner.

Boner jokes aside, though, Izuku supposed it was probably a little immoral to take stolen money from the sex traffickers he’d murdered less than an hour prior, but he had never claimed to be necessarily moral in the first place, had he? Besides, since he’d stolen the money from the very people who’d stolen it in the first place, the double-crime probably cancelled out. Probably. In the end, it didn’t even matter; he was trying to do something useful with the money, unlike whatever rich asshole it’d been stolen from. Which...if he was correct, this was stolen from the Fukunoshiri family, a family of which that was notorious for their shady dealings with those sex traffickers themselves and... for the drama circulating around about them disowning and subsequently outing their transgender daughter.

Hm.

Alright, for the sake of morality and the goodness of his heart, he’d donate a quarter of the money to the Polaris Project Japan, and another one to an LGBT safe house. Just to be a bitch. Maybe he’d even find their estranged daughter and wire the third quarter to her to spit in their faces a little more. Maybe Estranged Daughter would like to learn they were dead? Augh, fuck it, I’ll have to do that later. Maybe. Fuckin sex traffickers.  
He’d have to keep the last quarter for himself though. He had a car payment to make; vigilantes had to get around somehow and hey, he was a good driver. Sort of. Okay, he was a good driver in the fucking apocalypse, so he was fantastic at driving super fast without killing anyone, drifting, stabilizing a car when it was spinning out, and staying calm when shit was exploding behind him. He was...not-so great in a completely normal world. He was shitastic at turning. Fuck, still gotta work on that. Alright, once the car’s paid off, I’ll put whatever’s left in my bank account. Unless I have enough left over for the modifications I wanted.

“Izuku?”

Thoughts suddenly interrupted, Izuku jumped and turned just in time for the kitchen light to flicker on. And lo and behold, there stood Mom, looking just about as tired as Izuku’s body felt as she squinted and rubbed her eye.

“Uh.”

Mom frowned and looked him over, tilted her head, and puttered over towards him. “What are you doing awake, sweetheart?”

Oh, thank god he was wearing sweatpants and a soft shirt. His hair was fucked up enough to pull this off too. Mom’s eyes flickered down to his pocket and she flushed a bit, pointedly looking at his face instead. Good job, boner money.

“One of books fell off my shelf and the noise woke me up.” Izuku bullshitted, lifting his glass of water to his lips and taking a long sip. “Was just getting some water before going back to bed.”

Mom nodded distractedly, sleepily wrapping her arms around him (pointedly avoiding his general pelvic region) and nodding her head against his shoulder. “That explains the thump that woke me up. Just go back to sleep, you’ve got school tomorrow. Now get down here and let me kiss you, sweetpea.”

Izuku grimaced at the reminder of school but bent down, letting Mom press soft kiss on each cheek and his forehead. He melted under her soothing touch, simultaneously feeling vaguely childish for becoming so malleable underneath her soft fingers but entirely unwilling to pull away.

“G’night, mama.” He muttered, smooching her on the forehead in return and pushing her hair out of her tired face. “...Love you.”

“Love you too, baby boy. Go back to bed.”

Izuku sighed and heeded her orders, tossing his cup in the sink as he passed by before maneuvering down the dim hallway. He pushed his ajar bedroom door open, closed it, locked it, yanked off his pants, irately hurled them at the wall, and unceremoniously toppled onto his bed. He sighed into his pillow and tucked his left leg beneath his blanket, glaring at the electric green numbers that shone on his shitastic alarm clock.

02:48, they read.

“How the fuck am I going to handle school tomorrow? Before I left, I was a fucking fourteen year old twink. How am I going to play off being... this?” He hissed quietly.

The numbers, predictably, gave no response. That was probably a good thing. He might’ve freaked the fuck out if they had.

He sighed into his pillow once more and curled into it, hooking his right leg over the other pillow that was already near his thigh and wrapping his arms around the one beneath his head. The moonlight outside made the scars on his elevated thigh glow white in the dark. He stared at them, thinking of nothing at all as his exhaustion finally gained on him.

If I squeeze hard enough, maybe I can pretend this is Shouto.


 When Izuku comes to, he’s laying on something soft, his sight is blurry, and his head is spinning. There’s a hand running up and down his back, edging towards the crackled, red skin that makes up his left shoulder. Reflex flashes. His heart leaps into his throat and his shoulder burns. Thoughts tinged with an edge of fear run rampant through his mind as he stills, feigning sleep as he gauges, Who is it? Is it an enemy? Are they going to hurt me? His back stiffens, and the hand pauses.

“Just me.” A voice, soft and sweet, croons from somewhere above him.

The voice is smooth, placating. Familiar.

The person’s hand on his back is familiar too. As the chilled, dry skin of their hand runs up and down his back, Izuku can feel the scar on their thumb, the blisters underneath their three middle fingers, the cracked skin on the flat of their palm, and the bandaid on their pinky finger with near-frightening intensity.

And it’s…

...It’s okay because it’s Shouto’s hand. His Shouto, his goddamn Peppermint prince, is here and for the first time in months, the world is still. Shouto’s hand is trailing lazily down his back, tracing phantom letters into the taut, freckled skin. And for once, he’s able to doze in and out without the visages of his dead friend’s faces searing themselves into his eyelids, their scarlet stained mouths mouthing a question, just one word that he cannot answer. Izuku shudders as Shouto’s fingers trail from his left shoulder, to his neck, to his eye. The touch on his eye is less of a touch at all, more like the ghost of one. It makes Izuku’s hair stand on end. In a good way…and also not.

“I didn’t think I’d ever see you drink.” Shouto comments idly, the sound of ruffling paper filtering into his slow brain as Shouto’s hand pulls away. He wishes it’d stay longer. “I always figured the lost of control would be too much for you, y’know, since you’re such a control freak.”

“Mrphf.” Izuku grunts non committedly, shifting his back in search of his love’s hand once again.

He’s not insulted by his boyfriend’s words; they’re true anyway, and he’s well aware of it. It’s a good thing he’s such a functional drunk.

Finding no touch, Izuku sighs into Shouto’s pillow (which, he idly realizes, is the soft thing his face is smushed into) and nestles further into it. It smells of the melon perfume Shouto insists on wearing everyday.
It just smells like Shouto in general.

He sighs again.

His face is still tacky and damp from earlier. 

“What happened?”

Izuku thinks of the scars on his thighs. He thinks of Toshinori’s face when he saw them. He thinks of the anguish he’d seen.

“It’s been a year.”

Shouto’s hand abruptly returns to his back, tensed before it relaxes a moment later. “Oh."

That didn’t change that Izuku had felt it.

“Peps? Something wrong?” Izuku tilts his head to catch a glimpse of Shouto’s face, whose lips fleetingly quirk up at the stupid nickname, but his slight smile falls away just as quickly as it had appeared. “I just…” Shouto’s voice comes out stilted, odd, his thin eyebrows furrowed. “I don’t like looking at them.”

“You don’t like my scars.”

It’s not a question.

Shouto does not answer anyway.

“Do you think they’re ugly?” He cannot keep the hurt out of his tone.

“No, no, no, that’s not it, Spear.” Shouto backtracks quickly as he takes to lazily trailing a finger up and down Izuku’s back. Izuku knows he means it; he only uses the counterpart of his stupid nickname when he means it.

“They...they just make me sad. I hate thinking about how you did that to yourself.”

Izuku sighs, the breath coming out short and tired. “Me too, Peppermint Princess.”

The jab is soaked in love, and Shouto knows it.

Shouto chuckles from up above him, breathy and soft.” Shut it, Spearmint Bitch.”

Izuku, though the moment is bittersweet, laughs. 

Peppermint Princess and Spearmint Bitch. Peppermint and Spearmint. Peps and Spear. Shouto and Izuku.

The fucking candy cane duo.


 

Upon waking and feeling no less exhausted than he already had, there were tears already rolling down his cheeks and a pit in the place his heart was supposed to be. Izuku breathed in a shuddering sigh and lifted his suddenly heavy forearm to his eyes, covering them and forcing down a sob.

Fuck.

Fuck.

It’s been nine goddamn weeks, he’s still alive here, why can’t I...why can’t I just let go? He’s not coming back, he’s NEVER coming back, I fucked up and he died, he’s gone, so why won’t he just fucking leave!?

A sudden surge of anger seized Izuku’s heart and he viciously twisted in bed, ripping the pillow underneath his head away from himself and savagely hurling it towards his closet. The doors rattled loudly as it slammed against them and he huffed in satisfaction, angrily swatted the tears off his cheeks with his thumb and slamming his hands on his mattress. That pillow was not Shouto, he couldn’t pretend because Shouto wasn’t here because he was the dumbass who’d fucked up, and someone as fucking pathetic as him didn’t fucking deserve to pretend. He didn’t...fucking…. deserve it. Izuku shut his eyes tightly and buried his face in his hands, struggling to regulate his breathing.

Get your shit together already, you psychotic, worthless sack of shit. You’ve had nine goddamn weeks to get over yourself. Stop throwing fucking tantrums and get a grip. You’re fucking pathetic, you know you didn’t deserve him anyway. What were you expecting from someone as fucking worthless as yourself? You never meant shit, you never made a difference, so shut the fuck up and quit the whining. Get off your ass and get ready for school, or just fucking kill yourself already.

Izuku tilted his head back, breathing in deeply and rubbing his teary eyes, composing himself as best as he could before sliding off his bed onto slightly shaking legs as he pointedly ignored his thighs. He mindlessly yanked on his school uniform (thank goodness Mom had bought him a new one) and tried to tug on his shoes, realizing belatedly that he was trying to put them on the wrong foot. After somehow managing to dress himself coherently, Izuku stumbled outside, shutting the front door behind him. He was halfway down the stairs when Mom came flying out of the door. He paused and looked over at her, frowning.

“Mom?”

“Where on earth are you going at 5:47am?”

Oh. Right. Fuck. Time existed.

“Uh...I was gonna go to school.” Izuku weakly tossed his hand in the direction of downstairs, suddenly feeling very foolish.

Mom eyed his generally bedraggled appearance, including but not limited to; a lack of a backpack, his backwards tie, and mismatched socks, and flattened her lips as she leaned on the door frame. “Right...uh, it starts at 8:00, not 6:00, so you’re okay, hun. Come back inside.”

Without much else to really do with himself, Izuku wordlessly followed Mom back inside, feeling like a massive idiot. Of course you get so fucking distracted by your own bitching that you don’t realize how fucking early it is. Good job. Now Mom’s worried. Asshole.

He kicked off his shoes at the door and trailed behind her to the breakfast table as Mom hurried ahead to go back to tending to whatever she was cooking. He moved to help her but she held up her hand, her way of saying “go sit down”. Izuku, after a moment of mental debate, sighed and acquiesced as wandered over to his designated chair and sank into the cheap padding. Mom’s lip tilted at his mildly disgruntled expression but she said nothing, simply focusing on the omelet she was making.

Izuku just sort of...stared at the wall, not exactly sure what he was meant to do with himself other than think about shit to entertain himself with. Uhhh...being fourteen again was strangely...well, liberating would be a good word to describe it, yeah. All of his responsibilities fell under the categories of sleeping, eating, cleaning, and shitting. That was it. There was no parenting, no cleaning child-vomit, no making breakfast, no murdering villains out of necessity for societal safety (though he did that anyway), no fighting for his own goddamn life every day, no fucking his husband into the shower wall (he sure did miss doing that...he was gonna stop thinking about it because an aching heart and interested dick did not make a good combo), no holding his kids (fuck), no going to work every morning (he’d gotten so bored this summer that he’d landed himself a job just shy of August), no parenting, no….no heroing.

Being without One for All was difficult.  

So was being without his family.

A plate thunked in front of him and Izuku jumped slightly, tilting his head up to look at Mom’s tired face. “I cut some orange slices for you, sweetheart. I know you like them.”

Izuku stared up at Mom uncomprehendingly before it clicked. She’d noticed he was acting weird. He forced a slight smile and tilted his head down at his plate. Oranges. God, Chihiro had hated oranges so much, she always threw them at Shouto when he brought them home and-- stop. Izuku closed his eyes and clutched his hand to his right cheek, leaning his head back as he sucked in a long breath. He let his hand fall back on the table with a thunk as he let out the breath, muttering, “Sorry,” in tandem.

“What for?” Mom asked, her voice no higher than a murmur as she sank into her own chair with a bowl of rice.

Izuku shook his head. Right. Mom knew he was being a depressed idiot and now she was gonna worry all day. “I’m being stupid and sad. Don’t worry about it.”

Mom let the silence gather as she stared down at her bowl of rice, not moving. “About that…” She suddenly began.

Izuku’s eyes flickered up to her face, which was scrunched with something Izuku could only describe as the beginnings of resolution. Oh jeez, he thought.

Mom leaned back in her chair and cast her eyes to the side to poorly mask her uncertainty. “I’ve been thinking for awhile. I’ve noticed that this summer you’ve just seemed...really sad. Much more than usual. And you’ve just--you never stay home for long, so I haven’t been able to really broach this with you, but it just feels like you’ve pulled away so much. And that--that’s okay, I don’t mind that, but what I do mind is that...that I don’t why. I don’t know what’s going on in your life other than that job you landed at the library, which you seem to enjoy; you’ve always liked books, and just--” Mom suddenly broke into a sigh and she hung her head, looking down at the table morosely. “I don’t know how I can help you, because...whatever’s going on, I know it’s eating away at you, and I don’t expect you to tell me about it, something like that is hard to do, so...I was thinking…”

Oh god. She wasn’t suggesting…?

Mom cursed under her breath before finally finishing with, “Maybe you could try out therapy?”

Damn, that sounds nice, but I sure wish it was that simple.

Izuku sighed deeply and slowly raised an orange slice to his lips and bit down on it, blinking tiredly as slightly sour orange juice (urgh) pooled on his tongue. He chewed for a minute as Mom stared at him expectantly, waiting. He swished the orange slice around in his mouth in mock-thought, mashing it with his teeth and rolling it before he swallowed his pulverized orange bolus and said, “No.”

Mom deflated. “Izuku.”

Well, here came the fun part. Bullshitting a reason that was not “I can’t go to therapy because there is no conceivable way that I can tell someone “Hey, how’s it going, Karen? Haha yeah, I’m here today because I’m a 34 year old man who watched his father(s), friends, husband, and kids die, died himself, came back into his 14 year old body, and I’m currently struggling with PTSD while balancing the strain of killing the villains that caused the wholeass apocalypse without my quirk. And oh, did I mention the abandonment and trust issues?”” There was nothing for him to talk about that wouldn’t get him thrown in the looney bin.

Hmmmm… “I don’t want to tell some rando about my problems, it just kinda...freaks me out, I guess.” That was a start. “I’d rather talk to someone I know and…n-not you because you’re my mom, you know?”

Izuku suppressed a sigh of relief when Mom slowly nodded. “Yeah, I do. But I can’t...can’t just let this go, sweetie.” Her eyes flickered to the left side of his face and she looked down at her lap. “I can’t help you if you won’t let me. I have to do something.”

Izuku pressed his lips into a line, wracking his brain for something that might appease her. “How about...a compromise, maybe?”

“A compromise?”

“You want me to get better and stop being the definition of depression. So do I. That’s our common interest. What isn’t our common interest is the method by which we want to tackle this. You want me to get therapy, I want to ride it out. Can you think of an equilibrium?”

Mom blinked, her chopsticks hovering above her bowl as her face morphed slowly into bafflement. “...What?”

Izuku frowned. “What?”

“You-You sound like a dictionary.”

Oh, shit.

“...I’ve been reading lots of encyclopedias lately.”

Mom nodded slowly, pushing her tongue in her cheek. “...Alright.” She sucked in a breath through her teeth. “Do you...consider yourself depressed?”

Consider yourself depressed…? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!?

Izuku couldn’t stop it; his face broke into a helpless grin. “Mom, I legit just said I’ve been acting like the very definition.”

“Well, I don’t know how to ask this!” Mom smiled too; mission accomplished. “How am I supposed to ask that!?”

“Just say ‘are you depressed’ and call it a day!” Izuku picked up an orange slice and pointed at her.

“That’s insensitive, Izuku!” She tried so hard to sound frustrated, but the effect was lost in an involuntary chuckle.

“No, that’s to the point!” Izuku countered in response, flicking a bit of orange ring at her.

Mom flicked it back, trying to frown in lieu of smiling and failing miserably. “Well, are you?!”

“Yeah!” His heart fluttered a bit as he admitted it and Mom’s smiled wilted, and he quickly elaborated with, “But it’s alright, okay!? I’m gucci as fuck right now, I swear it.”

Mom sighed, the ghost of a smile lingering as she pressed her lips together and creased her eyebrows. “First of all, don’t say ‘fuck’, young man, and secondly...that’s now, baby. What about tomorrow?”

“...I don’t know that.” Izuku shrugged, holding his palms out and clapping them back together. “It’s kind of like bingo, but worse. Bingo from hell.”

“Well, I don’t really like that version of bingo, dear.” Mom sighed, cradling her cheek with her palm as she frowned.

Izuku and Mom kinda just stared at each other until Mom’s frown softened into a thoughtful one. “I...I have heard of medicine that can help. Antidepressants.”

Oh.

OH! How the FUCK had he not thought of that!?

“Why don’t we do that, then?”

Mom shrugged smally, pursing her lips. “I don’t really know how to feel about them; I heard they can make it worse for awhile and they’re just fake happiness anyway.”

Izuku frowned at that. “Well, the first part of that is right, but the second part, that’s not it at all.”

“What?” Mom furrowed her eyebrows, peering at Izuku with a tilted head.

“It’s not fake happiness; that’s just a myth perpetuated by people who stigmatize meds.” Izuku hastily elaborated, belatedly realizing he sounded like an encyclopedia again. “What antidepressants do is balance the neurotransmitters or whatever in your brain when it’s being a dumbass. It...kinda just helps push the depression out of the way to make room for you to feel your own happiness for once. It’s not fake because it is you feeling happy; just with assistance. It’s kind of like a leg-up, y’know? It helps you not be miserable and like, get your shit together enough that you don’t need the antidepressant anymore. Sometimes, people need antidepressants long-term or even indefinitely so they don’t, like, kill themselves, but usually, the goal is to use antidepressants long enough to get back on your feet, figure out ways to cope when you actually have the energy, and taper off on them until you don’t need em. Does that...make sense?”

Mom nodded slowly, raising her eyebrows consideringly. “It...does, actually. Where did you learn that?”

My psychiatrist when I was like, 19.

“Uhh...I’ve got a friend named Aisha, and her wife had to use antidepressants for a bit. She told me about it.”

“You’re friends with someone who’s married?”

Wait, fuck.

“...Yeah.”

“How old is your friend?”

“Um.”

“Izuku.”

“She’s...25.”

“Why on earth are you friends with a woman who’s a decade older than you!?”

“She’s good with knives!?” Oh, that was the exact wrong thing to say.

“She’s what?!”

“Mom, we’re talking about me being a depressed dumbass, can we please focus on that and not the fact that I know a chick who’s good at stabbing things!?”

“That is the exact opposite of reassuring, young man!”

“MOM.”

“Okay!” Mom threw her hands up, looking down at the table. “Fine! But I’m meeting this Aisha AND her wife later, got it?”

“Got it.” Izuku tilted his head skywards and sighed. “I got it. It’s all good.” Izuku titled his head back down and stared at his orange slices. “So, with what I told you in mind, can we like, go and get that done?”

Mom bit her lip. “Would our insurance cover it?”

“If the doctor deemed in necessary, yeah. And it’s a lil necessary since I think, y’know, thoughts about death are no bueno.”  

Mom nodded slowly, looking down at her hands. “Okay. I’ll call your doctor today and see what we can do.”

Izuku looked up at Mom and could almost physically see the stress rolling off of her in waves. “...I can set up my own appointment, Mom. This was...not easy for us to talk about. I know that. So just…” Izuku sighed heavily, “let me do it. I’ll call while I walk to school.”

Mom’s relieved smile was wobbly and watery at best, but it was still a smile nonetheless, and that was the best Izuku could’ve hoped for. “What did I do to deserve such a good son?”

Izuku shrugged.

Probably something terrible, since I’m kind of trash, really.


 Once 7:00 rolled around, Izuku dressed himself in a way that looked less like he’d gotten run over by a truck full of rabid chickens and called his doctor’s office prematurely, knowing he’d be on hold forever. He meticulously organized and reorganized his backpack, and before he knew it, it was 7:20 and he was kissing his Mom on the cheek in goodbye before he was out of the door, going back to junior high for the first time in two decades.

It was 7:37, halfway through his walk to school that Musutafu General Hospital finally took him off hold.

“Good morning, this is Aki, calling from Musutafu General Hospital. How may I assist you today?”

Izuku took his phone off of speaker and raised it to his ear. “Good morning to you as well, Aki. I’m calling on behalf of my mother, Midoriya Inko, to set up a doctor’s appointment for myself as soon as possible.”

“I’ll pull up her information now; do you have any insurance providers?”

“Yes; we use Cigna.”

“I see...Midoriya Izuku?”

“That’d be me, yes.”

“Okay... I see your regular doctor isn’t in today; is it alright if we use a different doctor for you?”

“Yes, that’s fine.”

“And what is the purpose of this visit?”

“Specific concern about depression; hoping for a referral to a psychiatrist.”

“Ah. Is there anything else you hope to get from this visit?”

“No.”

“Alright. You mentioned you wanted this done as soon as possible; would you like me to list available times for you to come in today?”

“Please.”

“We can have you in at 9:30am, 10:45am, 12:15pm, 2:00pm, 3:45pm, and 5:30pm.”

“The 3:45pm appointment sounds perfect.”

“I’ll put you in immediately; the doctor you’ll see will be Dr. Sakimoto and your co-payment will be $73. Please bring a copy of your insurance card, your medication list should you have one and your list of blood pressure readings. If you are running late or need to cancel or reschedule, please call me at 555-1234 and I can reschedule you. Dr. Sakimoto uses the cancellations to fit in other patients who need immediate care.”

“Got it.”

“We’ll give you a call back around noon today to confirm your visit. You can find our hospital at 1234 B Street on the 2nd floor. Free parking is available. You can check in on the
1st floor. Thank you for calling Musutafu General Hospital.”

“Thank you, Aki. Have a nice day.”

“You too, sir.”

Izuku ended his phone call just in time for him to spot the back of Katsuki’s blond head. Ignoring the other kids around him who were giving him strange looks, (‘ What, never seen dual colored hair before? Just wait until you see Shouto at the Sports Festival.’) he pocketed his phone and jogged up to Katsuki.

“G’morning, kiddo.” He clapped his hand on Katsuki’s shoulder in greeting. “Did you sleep well?”

Things between Izuku and Katsuki had been...tumultuous, especially ever since their first fight, but Katsuki seemed to have quietly accept most of the dumb shit about their relationship and gotten over himself--

“Who the FUCK do you think you’re talking to, you fucking idiot!?”

--or not. Izuku frowned and sighed, lifting a finger and flicking Katsuki on the forehead. “Knock it off; it’s too early for your bullshit.”

“I’ll fucking blast your dick off you worthless sack of--!”

“Some people consider sperm to be an anti aging treatment, as it has a tightening effect on the skin.”

Katsuki’s jaw slammed shut with an audible click as his face grew bright red.

Izuku suppressed a chuckle; this was a new tactic he had been using. Whenever Katsuki was being a shit and not relenting on it, Izuku would spit out some random sexual education fact to make him shut up. It was a strangely effective punishment.

“We’ve talked about this, hun. You don’t need to overcompensate just because it’s me. My very existence isn’t a threat to you.”

“Fuck off.”

“Good morning to you too. Anyway, yeah, I slept terrible. I was dreaming about the first time my husband and I banged, but I didn’t get to the good part at all. All I got was when he came home that day to find me somewhat tipsy on his bed and then I woke up crying. Wasn’t fun.”

Katsuki cast Izuku a vaguely wounded look. “Gee, fucking thanks for sharing. Definitely needed that depressing fact to start my goddamn day with.”

“Yeah. I threw my pillow at my closet and without even lookin’ at the clock, I threw on my uniform and left, not even with my backpack. I was halfway down the stairs when your aunt was like “Izuku where are you going!?” that it suddenly occurred to me that it probably wasn’t 7:00am. Lo and behold, it was like, 5:30. I didn’t even have my tie , and Mom just kinda looked at me and we had a long talk and uh, yeah, I just got off my phone with my doctor so I can go in today and get some fuckin meds, so that’s nice.”

“...You’re getting antidepressants?”

“Yeah. Honestly, it was just a matter of time before your aunt called me out on being a depressed bitch.”

“Jesus.”

Izuku snorted and shrugged. “That doesn’t concern you though; don’t worry about it. So, how do you think I’m gonna do today?”

“You’re gonna fucking die.”

“Yeah, probably.”


 

In a wild turn of events, Izuku did not die.

In fact, he was doing pretty goddamn good. I had no idea I’d remember all of this useless shit, but apparently, I fucking do. Izuku wasn’t sure what the fuck the point of Sohcahtoa and Law of Cosine was, nor what it was useful for, but he knew what the fuck was up in regards to it so he couldn’t complain.

He also couldn’t complain about the fact that all the kids around him were too terrified of him and his ‘new’ form to fuck with him.

There was something strangely liberating (cathartic, even) about looking at the faces of all the kids who made you want to actually kill yourself when you were fourteen and seeing nothing but mild terror and bafflement, and hearing said kids whispering shit like “Is that really Midoriya?” and “What the fuck happened to him? He’s jacked. I’m not fucking with that; he’d cream me.”

It gave him a strange emotion that he could only describe as, “Yes, look upon me fear your new God, children.”

...Oh jeez, he hoped that wasn’t the beginning of a developing a God Complex.

When he voiced all of this to Katsuki-- who was now becoming a bit like a placebo son to him, which was a disturbing thing to think about --during lunch, all he could think to say in response was, “You’re just a dumbass,” which, yeah, was pretty fair.

Izuku eyed the clock as he chewed slowly on his rice, which read 11:54, as he vaguely remembered the lady over the phone mentioned he’d be called back for confirmation at noon. He swallowed his mouthful of rice and leveled a light stare at Katsuki, who was more focused on stabbing the shit out of his chicken than Izuku’s probing eyes.

“So, I’ve been thinking…”

“Don’t hurt yourself.”

“Katsuki.”

Katsuki raised his eyebrows up quickly in a challenging way and tilted his head to look at Izuku properly in lieu of responding.

Izuku rolled his eyes but brought a clump of rice to his lips. “Would you be interested in learning how to drive?”

“To-- what?”

“Drive.”

“With what car?!”

“My car, dumbass.”

“You don’t have a fucking car.”

“Yeah, I do.”

“And where do you keep this imaginary goddamn car, then?”

“Aisha and Andromeda’s house.”

Andromeda was Aisha’s wife, who Izuku had become acquainted with over the summer after he had to drag Aisha’s ass home to her. She had a bit of a strange name, but she was very nice, matronly even, if not stern. She looked a bit like someone you didn’t want to cross, but also like someone who’d hug you in you were crying on the train. Katsuki had met them both in passing earlier in August when he and Katsuki had run into them at the mall. He seemed to like Andromeda but was definitely intimidated by Aisha (though he would die before he admitted it). Speaking of Katsuki, he was staring at Izuku with an unimpressed yet bemused expression that was on the cusp of begrudging acceptance.

“...You really do have a fucking car, don’t you.”

It wasn’t a question; more of an exasperated, exhausted statement.

“Don’t tell your aunt.”

“How did you get a car?”

“I murdered some sex traffickers and stole their money.”

“Deku.”

Hey, he wasn’t joking. Katsuki just didn’t know that.

“I thought I told you to call me Izuku, not that godforsaken name.”

“Deku.”

“Kacchan.”

“...Okay, if you don’t call me Kacchan, I won’t call you Deku. Deal?”

“Deal.”

Izuku’s phone suddenly began to ring and he glanced at the clock. 12:03.

“That’ll be my doctor. I’ll be back in a sec; I just have to confirm my appointment today.”

“Wait, you’re going today?”

“Yeah. Hang on.” Izuku hurried into the hospital, pressing ACCEPT and holding his phone to his ear.

“This is Izumi from Musutafu General Hospital. Is this Midoriya Izuku?”

“That’d be me, yeah.”

“Good afternoon, Midoriya-san. I’m just calling to confirm your appointment for 3:45. Does that time still work for you?”

“Yeah, it’s still fine.”

“Good to know. If you’re running late or need to reschedule, please call me at 555-1234 so I can move you to a better time.”

“Noted. Thank you, Izumi.”

“Thank you for choosing Musutafu General Hospital. Have a good day, sir.”

“You as well, dear.”

Izuku hung up the phone, pointedly shoving it in his pocket as a teacher strode down the hall and gave him a look, and re-entered his classroom.

“For the LAST FUCKING TIME, YES, THAT’S MIDORIYA! Leave me the FUCK alone!”

“Katsuki?”

Katsuki whipped around to level a menacing glare at him that Izuku understood as “fucking help me or I’ll gut you”.

Izuku looked between the kids that made up the small crowd that had amassed around Katsuki and frowned, leveling the best Mom Staredown he could muster towards them.

“Leave him alone and get back to your cleaning duties if you’re done eating. Now.” He gently demanded, making his voice as utterly cold and authoritative as possible. He watched in satisfaction as several sets of shoulders hiked up and the kids all slowly meandered away.

Katsuki gave him a face that was the Katsuki-Equivalent of gratitude and went back to moodily stabbing at his chicken (‘For heaven’s sake, you’ve mutilated it enough, eat it already, dear.’ his mother-voice nagged in his head). Izuku puffed out a sigh and he slid into his chair next to Katsuki.

“So, driving. I was thinking...maybe a week after I take my antidepressants, I’ll know what my symptoms are, and if all goes well, I can start teaching you.”

“Why would I even want to learn how to drive?”

“It’d give you a leg-up over these idiots, driving is cathartic, you don’t have to worry about full trains or no seats, better air conditioning, you can go places trains can’t go, and it costs less over time to use a car rather than pay for the train if you get a fuel-efficient car.” Izuku listed off, adding as an afterthought, “And you can play whatever music you want to in your car. Driving is nice.”

Katsuki actually seemed to think about this and nodded slowly after a minute. “Fine, whatever.”

“Okay, cool beans. I know some good spots we can practice; I’ve had to use them myself, actually. I was great at driving in apocalypse standards; not quite suburban standards.” Izuku paused and flickered his eyes around in a mock-conspiratorial way. “That’s a fancy way of saying that I really fucking suck at turning.”

Not even Katsuki could resist laughing a bit at that. Not that he’d ever own up to it, though.


 

The doctor’s office had a strange sort of smell to it, like, it was clean, but also a bit...musty? Izuku had never been able to describe the smell of a doctor’s office; it was just...doctor office. That was it. Mom sat beside him, fidgeting in her somewhat uncomfortable chair and tugging on her bangs, clearly more agitated than Izuku was. Izuku wasn’t comfortable, but he wasn’t uncomfortable either. Just...somewhere in between. The door to the central hospital opened and a darker-skinned man in a duck-patterned scrubs and red-rimmed glasses poked his head into the waiting room.

“Midoriya Izuku?”

Mom nearly whimpered. Izuku froze at the sound and, pressing his lips in a line, gently prodded Mom on the side.

“Mom...you just, stay here.”

“Izuku--!”

“I’m the one who has to do the talking anyway; just chill out here, maybe get a cup of coffee,” Izuku eyed her trembling form, “...Second thought, don’t. You don’t need any caffeine, just...get some hot chocolate if they have it, some water if they don’t, and simmer down. It’s okay.”

“Honey, I don’t want to make you just go in there by yourself and--”

“--Mom. I’ve got it. Just hang out here and relax; I’ll come and get you if you need anything.”

Mom wrung her hands helplessly but sighed. “O-Okay, okay. Fine. But you come to me right away if you need something, do you understand me?”

“Yeah, I do. Don’t worry so much; I’m just chattin’ with my doctor, not giving birth.”

Mom graced Izuku with a laugh at that. “You’ll never give birth anyway, you’re a boy.”

“That’s what you think.” Izuku joked, pressing a kiss on her cheek. “I’ll be back soon, like I said, hot chocolate if they have it, water if they don’t. Love you.”

“Love you too, baby.” Mom whispered, her hand lingered on top of his until the very last second.

Izuku nodded over at who was presumably Doctor Sakimoto (a lanky man with strikingly blue eyes) and followed him into the main hospital, smiling at Mom as the door closed.

“Well, I’d say good afternoon, Mr. Midoriya, but judging by why you’re here, I suppose that’s inappropriate.” Dr. Sakimoto joked lightly, gently bopping Izuku on the head with his clipboard. “Now, I was reading over your records earlier, and might I congratulate you on your sudden quirk development? Like, that’s super rare and frankly, impressive. I’m just a little baffled since you’ve got that pesky little toe joint, but eh, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.”

“I’m not either.” Izuku shrugged, trailing behind Dr. Sakimoto. “I’m just happy my...kinda-friend has no reason to give me shit anymore, especially since he knows I could kick his ass into next week now. Takes a lot of the annoying parts of my life away.”

Dr. Sakimoto snorted at that and stopped, gesturing to a scale. “As per the standard with visits, I gotta check your weight, height, and vitals. Do you have your blood pressure readings?”

Izuku frowned and dug inside what Mom referred to as his man-purse (even though it was literally just a purse) and pulled them out, handing them to Dr. Sakimoto, who made no comment on them and simply directed Izuku to a squashy chair and wrapped a blood pressure band around his arm. He stuck that finger-heart-monitor thing on Izuku’s finger and began the process.

Izuku nearly smiled at Dr. Sakimoto looked between Izuku’s past blood pressure readings and his current ones in slight bewilderment, knowing for damn fact that there was a significant difference between them. Thanks, stress.

“Well, that’s not any good, is it?” Dr. Sakimoto laughed shortly.

“It’s a lot higher than it should be, isn’t it?” Izuku smiled wryly and nodded as he spoke, suppressing a somewhat-humorless-but-not-really laugh.  

Dr. Sakimoto shook his head and opened his eyes real wide with a strained sort of smile that edged on humor. “Very much so. At least it’s healthy enough that I can truthfully say you aren’t dying. Any reason it’d be so high?”

“Well, I eat healthy and exercise a shit-ton, so I’d chalk it up to a fuckload of stress.”

Dr. Sakimoto stuck his tongue in his cheek and tried not to laugh at Izuku’s use of fuckload. “Any reason you’re so stressed?”

“Number of reasons, the main one being that my Mom’s scared I’m gonna like, hang myself, which I kind of want to do sometimes, but I don’t want to stress her out so I just stress myself out instead.” Izuku huffed a short, quick breath. “Tis’ a brutal cycle.”

Dr. Sakimoto’s smile slipped into something sadder and he took the armband off of Izuku and gestured towards the scale. “Let’s get your weight and height, and then we can get to the mumbo jumbo depression extravaganza.”

“That...is a fantastic way of describing this. I’m totally stealing that.”

“If you do, I’ll have to sue; it’s trademarked.”

Izuku snapped his fingers in mock disappointment. “Damn. Next time, then.”

Dr. Sakimoto laughed as Izuku stepped on the scale, and peered at the dark numbers and clucked his tongue. “Now, you weigh about 73kg, which...for your whopping height of 159cms, shouldn’t be healthy, but you look as thin as a toothpick so...where on earth are you hiding those 13 extra kilograms!?”

Izuku held out his arms, flexed it, and gestured to it with his other hand. “Touch.” He said.

Dr. Sakimoto slowly reached out and grabbed his arm, and shortly thereafter, his eyes bugged out of his damned head. “Oh. You’re ripped.” His voice was laughably flat.

“Yeah.”

“Nice.”

Izuku snorted. “So, I haven’t even hit 160cm yet?”

“Nope.”

“Dammit.”

“Hey, it’s better than the, rather diminutive, actually, height of 150 you had the last time you were here.”

“Shit, you’re right. Must be the testosterone. D’ya think I could hit All Might’s height if I keep it up?”

“Y’know what? You just might.”

“Fucking yes.”

Dr. Sakimoto snorted and prodded Izuku off the scale, scribbling on his clipboard and pushing him down the hall. “Now, it’s time to talk about this depression you speak of. Second door on your left is the one we gotta go in.”

“Sweet.”

Izuku pushed open the door and hopped up on the hospital bed, bumping his heels on and off of the side as Dr Sakimoto sunk into his spinning doctor stool, pushing up his glasses with his middle finger and seemingly belatedly realizing that he was holding up that particular finger.

“Alright, let’s start; what made you take the steps into coming in today in concern about depression?”
“Well, this morning in particular, I woke up in tears over a memory-based dream, got mad, threw my pillow and experienced violently self-hating thoughts including one of suicide, could barely dress myself because I was too busy flipping the fuck out internally, and left the house at like, 5:30 without my goddamn backpack. I was like, halfway down the stairs when my mom called out to me like “where are you going it’s 5 in the morning” and I realized ‘wait, it’s not 7am, what the fuck am I doing?’ and followed her inside. She and I had a talk, and we agreed that maybe antidepressants would be good for me, short-term, so I can like, calm my shit.”

“You’re experiencing suicidal thoughts?”

“On and off, and I consider it, but it’s not to the point that I’m going to seriously do it. It’s just a recurring problem I don’t particularly appreciate. Should I...just kinda list off symptoms?”

“That’d be ideal, actually.”

“Alright, cool. The main ones include suicidal ideation, intense feelings of worthlessness and self hatred, insomnia, restless sleep, loss of appetite, and like, isolating myself. I also experience bouts of apathy where I just kinda shut down and stare at nothing in particular; usually the floor beneath me. Those particular bouts scare the shit out of my mom. Other than that, irritability, agitation, overthinking the SHIT out of stuff, breakdowns when I’m by myself, and like, little interest in shit I used to enjoy are all there too, just less intense than the shit I said earlier. I’m kinda just the damned textbook definition of clinical depression and I just...it’s not very fun, and since it’s freaking my Mom out so much, I figured I’d get off my ass and do something about it.”

Dr. Sakimoto sighed, finishing his scribbling on his clipboard. “You seem...to have a lot of focus on your mother.”

“She’s just about all I have, and I know she cares way more than she ought to; honestly, if she wasn’t around, I’d probably be dead right now, so that isn’t very good.”

“Yeah, no, it isn’t. Well, I was directed to you because I have the authority to prescribe things, and that suicidal ideation is enough for me to prescribe something for you asap. Are there any medications that you’ve taken in the past that didn’t work, or just anything in general that you’re pretty sure wouldn’t be effective?”

“Actually, yeah.”

Izuku remembered the process he and Yagi had gone through a decade and a quarter ago when Yagi had all but dragged him to the doctor to get something prescribed for him, which had enlightened him on the fact that he reacted very poorly to SSRIs. He had taken Prozac (which had been newly legalized in Japan, hooray!), which had been alright for a hot second before it had him barfing his guts up, falling over every 10 minutes because his coordination was all fucked up, passing out a lot, and hallucinations. There was also the one seizure that made poor Yagi crying from relief for like, twenty minutes when Izuku had come to in a fuckin ambulance. So, that had been no bueno.

Then, they had tried Lexapro, which had also been a clusterfuck. That one had caused a high fever, motherfucking eye pain, more vomiting, more passing out, another, thankfully less severe, seizure, and a strange case of erectile dysfunction (which was something that he, at the time, would have killed himself before he even dreamed of telling Yagi about). Finally, they had tried Celexa, which had given him some dandy ass chest pain, shallow breathing, muscle cramps, slurred speech, more loss of coordination, passing out, and-- as per the usual --vomiting. At least he hadn’t had any seizures. By then, they had determined that maybe SSRIs weren’t a good idea and given him some old-fashioned shit that worked great. He couldn’t remember what the fuck it was, just that it had actually worked and he’d only had brief, not-shitty side effects for a hot three weeks. That had been tight as fuck.

But...Dr. Sakimoto needed a response.

“I don’t know much about my father’s side of the family, but they did have a history of depression and poor reactions to SSRI’s.” Izuku semi-bullshitted, shrugging. “So, if possible, just a precautionary thing, I’d like to avoid those.”

“Understandable. Now, with that in mind, I have to go get you a sheet to fill out, and once that’s done, we can talk more about what would work best for you.”

Izuku just kinda sat there, twiddling his thumbs until Dr. Sakimoto came back with another clipboard, a sheet of paper, and a pen.

“All I need you to do is fill this out, and I’ll score it. Just read the key and you’re good to go.”

“Will you tell me what I scored in the end?”

“If you want, sure.”

“Awesome sauce. Gimme.”

Dr. Sakimoto handed him the clipboard and pen and Izuku stared down at the instructions.

“Please read each statement and circle a number 1, 2 3, or 4 which indicates how much the statement applied to you over the past week. There are no right or wrong answers. Do not spend too much time on any statement. The rating scale is as follows:

1 Did not apply to me at all - NEVER

2 Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time - SOMETIMES

3 Applied to me to a considerable degree, or a good part of time - OFTEN

4 Applied to me very much, or most of the time - ALMOST ALWAYS”

Alright, that was pretty self explanatory.

I found it hard to wind down

Solid two.

I was aware of dryness of my mouth

Okay...now that he thought about it, that was a two.

I couldn’t seem to experience any positive feeling at all

That was a solid three but he put down two anyway.

I experienced breathing difficulty (eg, excessively rapid breathing,  breathlessness in the absence of physical exertion)

...Two.

I found it difficult to work up the initiative to do things

I mean, I held off on this shit for like, 2 months. The only thing I haven’t been holding off on is distracting the fuck out of myself. That made a two.

I tended to over-react to situations

Okay, yeah, he threw a pillow because he had a sad memory dream, and that was mild for him. Three.

experienced trembling (eg, in the hands)

Well, his hands were shaking right then and there, so, two.

I felt that I was using a lot of nervous energy

THREE. LOTS OF THREE.

I was worried about situations in which I might panic and make a fool of myself

One.

I felt that I had nothing to look forward to

THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE FO--

I found myself getting agitated

THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE F--

I found it difficult to relax

THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE THREE F--

Okay, bitch, calm down.

I felt downhearted and blue

That was a two on the cusp of three.

I was intolerant of anything that kept me from getting on with what I was doing

Haha, yeah, that was a two too.

I felt I was close to panic

Hm...two.

I was unable to become enthusiastic about anything

Ha, mood. Two.

I felt I wasn’t worth much as a person

DAMN. THREE, MAKING ITS COMEBACK.

I felt that I was rather touchy

He was literally screeching in his own head, so...two.

I was aware of the action of my heart in the absence of physical exertion (eg, sense of heart rate increase, heart missing a beat)

That was a two.

I felt scared without any good reason

HE AIN'T FEELIN NO GODDAMN FEAR, HE AIN’T NO BITCH--two.

I felt that life was meaningless

Well, he thought he was meaningless, not life itself, so...one.

Oh. He was done. Izuku held out the sheet to Dr. Sakimoto, who took it gently and looked it over, writing small numbers on his clipboard. He took about 3 minutes, but once he was finished, he looked up and said, “Well. This was to test you on depression, stress, and anxiety. You scored extremely severe for all of them.”

Oh, awesome.

“Wow, so I’m just a clusterfuck of issues all around.”

“For the lack of a better term, yeah.” Dr. Sakimoto nodded, flattening his lips. “You scored a 20 for stress, when the minimum for extreme severity was 17, so, good job, anxiety was capped at 10, you scored an 11, and you scored a 16 for depression; which is 2 points above the minimum. So,” Dr. Sakimoto clapped his hands together, “You definitely need some meds for a bit, so, let’s discuss.”

“Now you understand why my blood pressure was so fucked up.”

“Aha, yeah. So, you referenced a history of bad experiences with SSRI’s in your father’s side of the family. Do you know what kind of things they experienced?”

“Yeah; surprisingly, no weight gain, but they were fainting, having seizures, and throwing up, mainly. None of which are any good. There was also chest pain and loss of coordination, which, since my school has a lot of stairs, that could go terribly, horribly wrong.”

Dr. Sakimoto nodded in assent. “Okay, we’ll keep you off those. Are you planning on using medication long term or short term?”

“Definitely short term.”

“Do you have a definitive range of time?”

“Yes, actually. I was gonna do anywhere between 6-9 months.”

Dr. Sakimoto clucked his tongue, smiling smally. “In that case, I might have something in mind for you.”

“Oh?”

“Now, normally we don’t prescribe benzodiazepines as they are mainly used in sedatives and can be highly addictive, but if I put you on a smaller dosage for short-term treatment, it shouldn’t be a problem. What I have in mind with a tricyclic antidepressant call Limbitrol. It’s used for depression that’s paired with anxiety, which you also exhibit lots of signs of. This drug duo can also help with that insane amount of stress you’ve got going on, so your blood pressure will thank you.”

“Sounds pretty alright. Any side effects I should worry about?”

“A few; let me pull it up on my computer and I’ll read it off to you.” Dr. Sakimoto rolled off towards his computer and, after a couple of clicks, began to read. “Common ones include dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, restlessness, tiredness, constipation, loss of appetite, bloating, strange dreams or nightmares, stuffy nose, blurred vision, decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm. Severe ones that you should call me about immediately include hallucinations, easy bruising or bleeding, loss of balance, persistent heartburn, mental or mood changes, shaking, decreased sexual ability or desire, signs of infection, persistent nausea or vomiting, severe abdominal pain, dark urine, and yellowing eyes or skin. You also need to get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including, black stools, chest pain, severe dizziness, fainting, fast or irregular heartbeat, seizures, slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body, eye pain that includes swelling or redness, widened pupils, vision changes, vomit that looks like coffee grounds. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: rash, itching, swelling, especially of the face, tongue, or throat, severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.” Dr. Sakimoto grimaced and swiveled in his chair to look at Izuku. “I know most of that sounded scary, and it is, but most of it is super rare. I’ve been a doctor for over a decade, I’ve prescribed this before, and the worst side effect I’ve seen, excluding the fourish outliers, was easy bleeding and bruising, and you look like a hardy kid; just eyeballing you, you’re just going to experience the increase in depression for the first week or so, and from there on out, it’ll be smooth sailing. Do you want to try it out, or do you want to look for something else?”

“...Y’know what?” This dude was the doctor here; he knew shit better than Izuku probably did. “I’m down. Let’s try that out.”

Dr. Sakimoto smiled smally. “Alrighty. Well, follow me, then. I’ll get some paperwork for your mother to fill out, and while she fills that out, I’ll put in the prescription for you, and it should be in the nearest pharmacy in an hour or so.”

“Got it.” Izuku nodded, following Dr. Sakimoto out of the room, stretching his slightly-numb legs.

Dr. Sakimoto had something printed off for Izuku and he instructed Izuku to give it to Mom, have her give it to the receptionist, and then he could be on his way. Izuku bowed in thanks to Dr. Sakimoto and left with the paperwork in hand, feeling vaguely light. Mom perked up as soon as Izuku re-entered the waiting room. She abandoned her styrofoam cup and leapt to her feet, meeting him halfway and hugging him tight.

“Did it go well?” She asked, cradling his cheek. “What did the doctor say?”

“Well, I scored super high in depression, so he prescribed me something and he’s sending my dosage to the nearest pharmacy, which will be done soon. It went alright, though. He just needs you to fill out this paperwork, give it to the receptionist when you’re done, and we can be on our way.”

Mom nodded tiredly and took the paperwork from Izuku, wandering back to her chair and sitting down. It took her about ten minutes to get through the first three pages, but once she hit the fourth, she frowned worriedly.

“Izuku, what he’s prescribing you, these side effects look scary. Are you sure this is right?”

“The doc said the vast majority of those are super rare, and y’know what? He’s the doctor, he’s been one for over a decade. I’m just gonna trust his judgement.”

“If you’re sure…” Mom mumbled, finishing off the rest of the paperwork quietly.

Finally, at about 4:49, Mom finished and gave the receptionist the paperwork. She smiled at Mom reassuringly and told her which pharmacy was filling his prescription, giving her their phone number. As Mom left with Izuku’s hand held firmly in her own (she’d grabbed it when the receptionist had been talking to her in anxiety and Izuku hadn’t had the heart to pull away), she stared pensively down at her feet.

“Hun…” She began, but suddenly cut herself off, pressing her lips closed as she squeezed her eyes shut.

Izuku could feel the anxiety rolling off of her in waves; he wasn’t going to let that fly. “What is it?”

“It’s nothing, sweetpea.”

“Mom.”

“Just--” Mom slumped her shoulders and shook her head. “Are you sure this is what you want?”

“Yeah. Don’t fret so much about it; like I told you, the scary symptoms are rare as all fu--heck, and on that note, most symptoms die down after the first couple weeks. It’ll be fine, and if it isn’t, all I have to do is call the doctor again and have something else prescribed until we find something that works.” Glancing at her still worried expression, he softened his voice and continued with, “Sometimes, things just have to get worse before they get better; it sucks , but it’s just how it is. I can’t change that, and neither can you. And there’s nothing wrong with that, we can’t control everything. And when it’s something we can’t control, there’s no use in worrying about it so much; we just have to accept the blows as they come and persevere…” Izuku thought of Yagi. He thought of Shouto. He thought of his kids. “...No matter how hard those blows are.”


 

Izuku was two weeks into taking his limbitrol, and so far, he felt...absolutely fuckall.

That was to be expected, though; antidepressants only started to actually take effect after six weeks, and it had only been two. He had felt some side effects though; mostly, it was what Dr. Sakimoto had described. Loss of appetite, being strangely tired, nightmares, dry mouth, and…lack of sexual interest. All of that had been a problem in the first place though, so he was generally unperturbed.

He also had been experiencing strange dreams; he had one where he had a quirk that involved him being part cow, which granted him the ability to shoot pressurized milk out of his udders. He wasn’t sure, but he was pretty sure that he had drowned All for One with milk, which was pretty fucking wild. For some reason, he’d woken up in tears after that one. He also had a weird dream where his name was AJ Skotnicki and he had a cute son named Sequoia (which was such a white person name) and apparently, he was a college professor in Oregon. That one had been strangely nice, if not a bit out of place. Why was he dreaming about being a nearly-thirty year old white single mother living a domestic, quiet life in Oregon? He had no fucking clue, but he had enjoyed the dream. Another one he’d had involved All Might becoming a bunny and living with him and Mom for awhile, and some dude who was apparently Hisashi was there and like, involved with his life, which had been pretty fucking tight. He hadn’t had One for All in that one, though.

He’d also had a bombass dream where Endeavor had been the one to go back in time and deal with all the fuckery he had to now, and he was like, attempting to be a decent dad. Shouto was a cute fucking baby. He couldn’t remember much about it, but he did remember Enji apologizing to Rei before shit could even go wrong, which had been sweet. There was also a rad one where Aizawa was his older brother, which was great, and another where he had Saitama level strength even though he was still quirkless, another where he could see dead people and hung out with Nana, and another where he could literally eject his own fucking ghost. That one had been his favorite. Essentially, most of his nights had been full of fucking wild adventures, save for the one about AJ, though he’d actually rather enjoyed that one since it had been so calm, and it was...sort of fun.

“You seem to be in a good mood.” Andromeda, Aisha’s wife, commented as she took a sip of her pepsi.

Izuku, Aisha, and Andromeda had gone out for dinner for the evening, as had become the tradition nearly two months prior on Friday nights.

“Yeah, I am. I’m still being a depressed idiot, but I’ve been having some bombass dreams lately, which has been pretty cool.”

“Oh, really?” Aisha asked, nudging her wife to the side a little as she slid into their booth. “What about?”

“A bunch of wild shit. Like, you’re not even going to believe some of the shit I’ve been dreaming about, but fuckin, I remember all of it.”

“Which one has been your favorite?” Aisha asked, passing Andromeda a tiny paper cup full of ketchup.

“Last night was my favorite, but augh, including that one, there are three I want to tell you about.”

“Start with last night’s.” Andromeda hummed, dipping a french fry in her ketchup as she spoke.

“Okay, okay. You’re not going to believe this, but I could literally eject my own ghost from my body.”

“Oh, shut UP.” Aisha shook her head disbelievingly.

“It’s true! It was fucking insane! I called it ‘disassociate’, which was metal as fuck, and get this; at the USJ, I summoned the ghosts of all the previous OFA holders and kicked some mega ass. I mean, yeah, I nearly died, but it was fucking cool. And like yeah, I’m pretty sure AFO tortured me with electric shocks at one point, but I was gucci as fuck.”

“He did what.”

“Tortured me with electricity, yeah. That was no bueno.”

“Izuku.”

“Hey, it was just a dream!”

“You’re fucking crazy.”

“Yeah, and you know what else was crazy? The dream I had about my quirk essentially being me, but part cow, and I could shoot out pressurized streams of milk that could cut through metal or some shit. I’m pretty sure I fucking drowned AFO in milk.”

“There is no goddamn way you dreamed that.”

“I wish I was fucking joking, Aisha!”

“...Are you sure this antidepressant is good for you?” Andromeda sighed, pushing her plate of french fries towards Izuku.

“The weirdass dreams are better than the nightmares.” Izuku shrugged, nabbing a couple of her fries.

“That’s fair. And the third dream?”

“It was...so weirdly calm. Get this; my name was AJ Skotnicki, I was a lesbian, single, american white mom who lived in Oregon. I was a fucking college professor, I had a son named Sequoia, which is such a white person name, and I had a secret love for something called My Hero Academia. I wrote a shit-ton on the side, and like, I was apparently pretty good at it. I think I was like...28ish? Sequoia was a cute fuckin baby, though.”

“Wait, if she was a lesbian, how did she have her kid?”

“I don’t fuckin know, ask her yourself!”

“She ain’t even real!”

“Exactly! So I don’t know, I can’t tell you!”

“Sperm donation exists, guys.” Andromeda supplied, taking another slow sip of her pepsi. “That’s what I’d do.”

“Oh, fuck, you’re right.” Izuku blinked; he’d forgotten such a thing existed.

Andromeda put her cup back down on the restaurant table. “Now, why did you like that dream so much?”

“Since it was like, so disgustingly domestic and calm. AJ was depressed too, but she really loved her son and was pretty happy. It made me happy; I woke up feeling all fuzzy and warm.”

“You don’t suppose these dreams are from alternate realities, do you?”

“...Why would you make me think of that, Aisha?”

“Oh, fuck. That’s scary.”

Yeah.”

“Oh, stop it. They’re not even real. Now, I think that’s our food coming over; relax, and we can eat.”

Aisha and Izuku calmed down enough to eat, and the rest of dinner went by smoothly. Eventually, the time to go home rolled around, and Izuku paid for the bill before bidding Aisha and Andromeda goodbye.

“Hope the murdering business goes well, dear.” Andromeda had said before he’d gone on his way, not without a hug from her first, though.

As Izuku walked down the sidewalk, he brushed past a couple; a man and woman pushing was looked to be identical twins in a double stroller, laughing and sneaking kisses. He watched them go by sadly, his eyes lingering on the twins as he thought of the ones that had been his. Chihiro had been such a sweet girl; she was markedly quiet, much like her father, but was so courteous and full of adventure; she had been very solitary, but always made room for her brother. Her eyes had been even greener than his, and her blonde hair had been so, so soft. Her hair had looked a bit like Yagi’s, even. He would’ve loved her.

He could scarcely think of a time he’d looked at his children and thought about how much Yagi would’ve adored them. He would’ve made an amazing grandpa; he had always told such wonderful stories. And oh, his Itsuki. With his purple curls and dark green eyes, he’d been so damned cute. Izuku had been been able to resist that little dimple on his left cheek or his long eyelashes. He had always known exactly which face he had to flash to stop Izuku from being mad at him for long. Chihiro had always been Shouto’s girl, whereas Itsuki had been his boy. His cute, little baby boy.

He remembered the first time Itsuki had gotten sick, how much he’d panicked. He had been no older than 7 months old. Chihiro had been fine; just fussy since she was teething, but oh, poor Itsuki. His little face had been bright red and he’d been in so much pain that if Izuku put him down, he’d start wailing in the most horrible, miserable way immediately. Poor babe had been completely inconsolable if Izuku wasn’t around. The very thought of Itsuki’s warbling, pitiful cries made Izuku’s heart ache in his chest. And oh, if Shouto hadn’t had the brilliant thought of icing him over when they couldn’t get to a hospital, his baby boy could’ve died from the damned fever he had been running. Izuku had never been so scared in his life. The relief he’d felt when Itsuki’s fever had broken had been so great he burst into tears on the spot and cried himself to sleep, too exhausted to stay awake any longer. He’d never forget the happiness he’d felt when he’d woken up to Itsuki crawling on his chest, slapping at his face with his tiny, pudgy baby hands and grabbing his nose as Shouto hovered above him with the dopiest grin stretched across his soft, kissable mouth.

Something wet dripped down Izuku’s cheek, and he realized with a start that he was crying. Izuku breathed out a sigh and tilted his head skyward, staring up at the stars that hung in the inky black up above. He hastily wiped his face and looked around, seeing nothing but an empty street. A street lamp flickered and died momentarily and he stared at yellow light for a while, face blank, and closed his eyes as the weight settled in his chest again.

My babies...I miss my babies…

.

.

.

Izuku snapped his head up.

....Smoke? Why am I smelling smoke? What’s burning?

Izuku turned around to peer around, and saw nothing at all. There was no telltale flickering lights in any direction, there was no sirens wailing, no people running to look.

Just an empty street.

“Mama.”

Izuku froze. His heart sank right through her skin onto the asphalt he was standing stock-still on. In seconds he was down the street, looking around wildly for the source of the voice, of the voice of his son. He was calling her from a dark patch of grass now, his little voice edging on fear. Izuku whirled around, trying to see him, because that was his voice, his baby, I will never, ever forget my baby's voice, where is he, where is my--!

A cold hand brushed against his own, and his skin broke out in goosebumps at the phantom, static feeling.

He whipped around and--

His hand flew to his mouth.

The apparition was no more than a distortion of the light, a human cut out of colors that weren't right. Where it moved the things behind it appeared bowed, as if looked at through a mild fish-eye lens. It had no footprints, no clothing, no nothing, just a mass of jagged black. It began to writhe and twist, contorting itself into...into the visage of his boy. Where an instant before there was no one at all now stood his boy, his baby boy, covered in soot with dirt-streaked cheeks. He stood in a grimy pink t-shirt emblazoned with a yellow tractor, and though the street was clear, the smell of smoke clung to him. He stood barefoot underneath the dim glow of a dying streetlamp, almost translucent. His little face was contorted in a troubled expression, the same face he always made when he was about to cry.

“Mama.” Itsuki’s voice was far away, like a song echoing in a well, and yet it trembled as fat tears began to roll down his scarlet-stained face, his curls matted against his pale face. “I’m so scared, mama. It’s so dark, and I’m cold. I can’t find daddy or Chi-chan. Where are you? I can’t see.”

Abruptly, a red line appeared across his throat and red began to drip down at his bare feet, staining the pale skin a nauseating red. Izuku whimpered. 

He reached out his hand to do something, anything, but it hung in the air, frozen. “Baby…h-how…” Izuku’s eyes burned and his chest constricted, squeezing so tight and again, he flung his hand out to touch his boy, his baby boy, give me my baby, give him BACK--

His hand met nothing but cold air, and his skin erupted in static.

“Mama…” Itsuki began to sob as his form began to quiver and flicker, the yellow light up above shining through him as he rubbed his eyes and gasped out, “Why didn’t you save me?”

Izuku's heart stuttered to a stop in a chest.

This wasn't Itsuki.

This wasn't his baby.

His baby, his sweet baby boy, he was dead. He was dead because Izuku couldn't save him.

His crumpled body splayed across the rubble-strewn street, a pool of sickly red fanned out beneath him. His glassy eyes stared unseeingly into Izuku's own, tears still stuck to his pudgy cheeks. His hair swayed slightly in the wind, his lips blue and cheeks stained red. His baby boy was dead. He hadn't been good enough.

Itsuki's head fell free from his narrow shoulders and toppled to to asphalt just as he disappeared.

Izuku watched the blood on the street pool around his feet, rising up higher and higher until it began to seep into his lungs. He raised his hands to his throat and held them there, aborted, choked sounds escaping. He sank to his knees in the tiny patch of grass Itsuki had been standing in, not caring for the damp mud that dirtied his jeans. And that was when the agony took over him, digging, twisting so deeply into his very soul that it choked the air from his lungs from the inside out, distorting his heart and leaving nothing behind but grief. The torment that lashed out inside of him, tearing apart his insides and leaving nothing behind, it seemed to roll off of his crumpled form in waves, ripping free from his very flesh. He sobbed into his hands and the tears dripped between his fingers, raining down onto the green grass trapped beneath his knees. He was noisy, his skin was blotchy, and he trembled with the force it took to keep from tearing into pieces, but there was no one there to witness it, not one person around to comfort him. He was glad; he didn't deserve it anyway. He could run a mile in any direction and not find another soul. For what felt like hours, though it could've been no longer than a few minutes, his crouched figure remained unmoved. There was nothing left, nobody left, no reason to move. Something began to boil in his throat, thrashing around furiously in his lung, howling like a rabid animal inside of him. His eyes blew wide and he sunk even lower, pressing his forehead into the damp grass beneath him. All at once, it tore through him like a shard of glass. It burned through him as hot as lava, churning inside and hungry for destruction. The pressure of it raged in his chest, pushing the air from his lungs. He pounded his fist to the earth, cursed up a storm, sobbed, yanked on his hair, and writhed. 

The pressure grew and grew, thrashing, biting, kicking, howling to be set free. 

He tilted his head skyward, and screamed.

Chapter Text

Katsuki muttered a few choice words under his breath and erased the misspelled word on his English test with quick, jerky movements, shaking his head minutely. God, he hated english tests with a passion. Izuku had said some shit about how Spanish was objectively worse conjugation-wise but Katsuki was a hair’s width away from calling bullshit on that and lobbing his bookbag at the back of Izuku’s head while he was at it. Fucking english and it’s stupid, incomprehensible conjugation rules. Who the hell decided to say “i” before “e” except after “c” when that was clearly not the goddamn case!? Scouring his notes, he frowned and squinted at heisty, heinous, heist, weird, beige, foreign, neighbor, and god fucking fuck , the list just went on and on and on and on and he swore to God that if he was misspelling forfeit he was going to set something on fire or, better yet, destroy his English textbook somehow. At least he was allowed to use his notes on this test in the first place, which Izuku had helped him with since the fucker was fluent in English for some fucking reason and--

--Forfeit.

That was the bitch.

Mother fucker.

Katsuki slammed his palm on his desk, earning him a few looks here and there which he redirected with a glare that promised murder to whoever’s eyes lingered. Hunching down in his chair, he bent his neck down low and took a deep breath to avoid losing his shit on the spot entirely, pushing his tongue against his teeth. He let his eyes rove about the room like a van full of ducks who were making honest effort to not crash into a pole despite having no real destination in search of anyone who could probably fit his textbook up their ass. Finding no one with an ass large enough (save for Takeshi over there, but if he was honest, Katsuki begrudgingly appreciated his presence), he slumped down lower in his uncomfortable seat and found his furious gaze drifting over to Izuku. He sat up a little straighter. He looked his not-teenage not-friend up and down and involuntarily relaxed, only to immediately become doubly pissed when he realized that he had done so. Fucking Izuku and his fucking calming, parental charm shit or whatever. Fuck him. Katsuki didn’t fucking need him. Not one bit. Not even when he suddenly felt like bursting into frustrated tears and…

Katsuki sighed shortly, ripping his eyes away and fighting the urge to slam his own head on his desk. I don’t need his fucking approval, I fucking DON’T. I’m fucking fine without him. Forfeiting his test entirely for a moment (a spike of irritation shot through him at the thought of the word) he laid his cheek on the chilled top of his desk and sighed, resigning himself to this daily activity of simply staring at Izuku until he turned and made a stupid face at him or some shit. Izuku was... completely blank faced and gazing down at his presumably finished test, focused on absolutely nothing at all. It almost seemed as if he was chasing after the fleeting image of a pleasant dream within the confines of his own head, leaving behind the husk of his own body in favor of his endless pursuit. Katsuki eyed the dark lines that had long since taken refuge beneath Izuku’s drawn eyes and frowned at how deep they’d sunken. Suddenly uncomfortable, he turned away just as quick as it had taken him to look at all and sat up, looking back down at his test.

If Izuku was acting all fucked up, it wasn’t his problem. He didn’t care.

At least, that was what he was trying to convince himself of when Izuku snapped back into reality with a dazed sort of expression, looking around the room as if he wasn’t quite sure about where he was. Katsuki scrutinized Izuku’s slackened face out of the corner of his eye and tried to forcefully swallow the feeling of worry to no avail. His petty attempts of luring himself into the bliss of apathy suddenly felt cheap. Izuku’s eyes flickered up and a small line made a home between his white-flecked eyebrows. On pure chance, Katsuki locked eyes with him and immediately felt the hairs on his neck stand on end.

That…

Izuku isn’t supposed to look like this , Came the thought he didn’t want.

Izuku gazed into his eyes with an unsteady look to his own before he turned away just as quick as it had taken him to look at Katsuki at all. As his glance flitted away, Katsuki fought down the shiver that rattled his spine, the sight of glazed, bottle glass green eyes burned into his retinas. He shook his head and tried to focus back down at his test, but he found the sight of his eyes clinging to his mind like a hair you can’t reach on your back no matter how far down you crane your arm.

The whole time, he couldn’t shake the unerring feeling that something was terribly wrong.

Maybe I do care. He thought, immediately following that betraying voice in his head with, Fuck off.


 Izuku stared down at the dark, red stain spreading across the carpet near the chalkboard.

A cold hand slipped into his and his arm erupted in pins and needles.

“Help me, mama.” Itsuki whispered.

Izuku closed his eyes.

“It’s cold.”


 The world tilted a bit on its axis as Izuku spun around the metal pole in front of him, dodging Compress’s sight. He did his best to ignore the dripping noise above him, long since having realized that it wasn’t real, and closed his eyes, trying to focus when spots began to erupt at the corners of his eyes.

Think, think, think! You don’t have One for All to save your ass right now, you’ve got your gadgets and your greatest weapon--your BRAIN. Where is he, where is he--

BEHIND YOU.

Izuku flung himself to the right before Compress’s hand could so much as graze his back and bit back a yell as he put weight on his injured leg. Compress loomed up above him with the nastiest grin Izuku had seen in years and slowly raised a gun to Izuku’s face.

FUCK.

The world seemed to slow down from there. Izuku eyed the barrel pointed at his nose and looked up to the ceiling for no more than a second, but that was enough. If he could spring backwards in time, he could make it up there and have some time--time-- time, give me more time, I’m not done yet, I’m not -- As Compress’s finger began to press on the trigger, a tinge of fear choked the air out of Izuku’s chest and-- I’ve felt worse. Izuku ducked his head to the ground and spun around, kicking Compress’s ankle in a split second decision. Compress let out a startled curse and fired the gun. Izuku’s ears rang but as he looked up, he saw the bullet had harmlessly lodged itself into the wall above him. Taking the chance he had, Izuku ripped the gun from Compress’s hand and slashed the wrist connected to the hand that had held it before he sprang up and scaled the wall behind him, ducking into the rafters as Compress yelled an exempletive and clutched his half-severed wrist. Gunshots followed behind Izuku as he dashed across the rafters-- oh, great, he’s got another one --and Izuku slid behind a generator, climbing on top of it before sliding down the adjacent rafters and falling behind some crates, trying to simultaneously draw in breath and be as silent as possible.

“I know every inch of this building, boy.” Compress taunted from somewhere in the darkness. “You can’t hide from me.”

He sounded far away. Good. It was time to plan. Time to think. What can I do, what can I use? Izuku crouched down and looked around and--

Oh, are you fucking joking?

There were cans by his feet. Old beer cans. Loud cans. One wrong move and he’d be in some hot water all because of fucking cans, of all things.

Wait.

...All because of cans. Cans he could throw.

Now, that’s an idea.

Peering behind him, Izuku caught sight of Compress skulking around the area Izuku had left him, ripping open crates and compressing a bunch of things Izuku could hide behind. Izuku kept his eyes on Compress before he reached down, eyes darting to the cans. He grabbed three of them and stuffed them in his belt, praying they wouldn’t creak.

By the grace of whatever merciful God that had decided to tune in for a hot second, they didn’t.

Once Compress’s back was turned, Izuku slid behind the crate adjacent to the one with beer cans and peered over it, lobbing the can overhead and nearby the crate behind Compress. As expected, Compress turned around and smiled, dashing towards that crate.

“Amateur mistake there, wannabe--” Compress stopped short and looked around. “Oh. Oh, I see what you’re doing. Trying to play a game with me, hero? Good luck. Tell you what; we can make this more fun. Raise the stakes. Enjoy the game. Whoever wins gets to the kill the other, okay? You might even have a chance at winning; you got my wrist pretty good there. It hurt. Say, when I find you, I’ll make sure to do it to you too.”

Izuku suppressed the age-old urge to roll his eyes at the status-quo villainous taunts, even though it did make his skin crawl a bit (though that was less of actual feeling and more reflexive, if anything). He chucked another can at his old hiding spot and he rolled to the side, hiding behind a semi truck. Compress took a peek over and chuckled.

“Now I see what you’re throwing. Didn’t think you’d just be carrying these around. Where are you, little hero? Come out, come out wherever you are…”

He was so close to Izuku that Izuku could hear his breathing. Sucking in a silent breath, Izuku took his third and last can and threw it over his head, silently pleased when it landed at it’s mark: Compress’s head.

“Okay, not gonna lie, that sort of hurt. Ouch.” Compress whined, rubbing his forehead, turning towards Izuku’s direction. “Now, you wouldn’t be so stupid to show me your little hiding spot. No, no...you must be behind me.”

That’s where you’re wrong, jackass. Easy trick; you don’t expect it.

As Compress turned his back to Izuku, Izuku took his chance. He dashed forward and swung his knife as hard as he could, smiling victoriously as he felt the familiar sensation of bone hitting blade. Compress let out a choked yell and Izuku brought his left hand in an arc, slicing off what was left of Compress’s left wrist entirely, watching in glee as his left hand toppled to the floor. Compress whirled around just in time for Izuku to get the rest of the right one off too (goddamn, he fucking loved these knives), and Izuku took that moment to tackle Compress to the ground, slamming his head on the concrete over and over again until his eyes went unfocused and---and

--And until Naomasa’s corpse was staring back at him.

Izuku’s heart sank in his chest.

Fuck, not now, NOT NOW!

Naomasa’s dead eyes bored into his own, glazed with tears and the touch of death. Izuku halted and stared, unable to look away even though he wanted to, come ON, move, move, MOVE! And then there was Dad, Dad was on the ground and there was red, there was red red red and he was screaming screaming screaming and yet there was no sound at all. He could hear Mom’s wheelchair rounding the corner, the echoes of her tears ringing in his ears- and there was his husband, his kids, oh god, his kids--

They weren’t real, they weren’t real.

“Getting cold feet?” Compress gurgled, blood spilling past his lips as he coughed out a laugh. “You won, you get to kill me. That’s what you’re here for, right?”

It was. He was here to get rid of this man, to get rid of Compress so the corpses he was seeing on the ground wouldn’t have to be there.

The corpses that he’d been seeing for weeks now.

The corpses that weren’t real.

Mom, Dad, Naomasa, Tokoyami, Kaminari, Aoyama, and...and…

No. Don’t think of them. Don’t think.

The list just went on and on and on and on and Izuku was going to lose it. Sometimes he saw Tenya; he was mainly sprawled in the alleyways he had to dash through in pursuit of someone destined to become familiar with his blade (or bullets if he was feeling particularly vindictive) and it nearly sent him careening into walls every time. It didn’t help that, without fail, his killer’s gruesome watermark was pretty fucking clear despite it being no earlier than 12:00am every time. The browning red that was painstakingly etched into the concrete walls with his blood was only marginally less nauseating than the phantom crunch of glass beneath Izuku’s boots are he walked around Tenya’s mutilated head.

God, Izuku couldn’t fucking wait to get his hands on Stain.

If it wasn’t Tenya, it was Ochako, and that was a nightmarish extravaganza of its own right. She could be found hanging from the telephone poles he passed under, her intestines torn out and dripping and her face frozen in her dying shriek. God, the smell of it was the worst part. He couldn’t fucking handle it anymore. Especially when they spoke. The two of them hardly ever did, but when such an occasion arose, their voices were garbled and fragmented. It had taken him awhile to piece together why, but once he had, he’d quickly left class to go vomit so violently that he whacked his head on the toilet rim. The day had blurred into a mass of nothingness from there, but Izuku could clearly remember staring into the dingy bathroom mirror and not recognizing the person in front of him anymore, his head too full of discord and chaos to focus enough. He had wondered just how much else he could lose. He’d forgotten their voices, how long would it take for him to forget their faces? How long would it take him to forget who they were entirely?

When had he begun to forget at all?

But when it wasn’t them, it was Katsuki. Katsuki was one of the worst, and yet unusually rare; probably because Izuku saw the actual Katsuki all the time. But even with that in mind, even though he knew he was okay, he had to be, that didn’t stop him from seeing him every now and then. Every time he turned a corner Izuku was afraid he’d see Katsuki crumpled like a wet leaf on the sidewalk, his blonde hair matted with the color that he hated so much, that he loathed, complete with his face eternally etched with the ghost of surprise.

Katsuki’s voice was the clearest. It was always the clearest.

“You were right there, Izuku.”

Izuku slowly, slowly turned, unable to stop, and there it was. Katsuki’s wavering body was there, slumped no more than a few feet away. Red trickled past his pale lips as they cracked open, his voice distant but undoubtedly nearby as he watched from the sidelines.

It was only then that Izuku realized the knife in his right hand was buried in Compress’s chest, the man being miraculously still alive. Ripping his eyes away from Katsuki, he drove the knife in deeper, slashing through tissue, sinew, and tendon. No matter how hard he tried to make it so, gurgling choking couldn’t drown it out.

“Why didn’t you hear it? Why didn’t you even move? You just stood there and stared at my body. You don’t even know who killed me.”

Tokoyami’s eyes stared back at him over a cracked beak, red eyes blown wide in fear but it wasn’t him. It wasn’t. It was--It was Compress, and it was going to stay Compress. It was going to stay Compress, stay the man who’d taken Katsuki away from Izuku the first time around. It was going to fucking stay, it had to. God, Izuku could hardly remember what had happened the first time, the First Time; it was so drowned-- saturated, even --in terrible memories. Compress had...come up behind him, Tokoyami, Shou…

No. Don’t think about him. Don’t think.

…... Shou ji. Compress had come up behind them all and taken Katsuki, taken his friend, and Izuku had tried, tried so hard to reach him, to get him back, GIVE HIM BACK---

“Don’t come, Deku.”

A rising cry erupted from Izuku’s throat like a wail in the dead of night as he thrust the knife in deeper-- deeper --- d eep er.

Compress stared up at him with a shard of glass poking out of his left eye. Tenya was looking up at him for a moment, gone as soon as he’d come.

Kacchan?” Compress wheezed as he weakly pawed at Izuku with stumps for hands, somehow managing to look fucking insane despite the fact that he was bleeding out on the ground. “Who’s…?”

“You saved me from him all those years ago, you got me out, even if you couldn’t pull me out of the portal. Why couldn’t you do it again? Why couldn’t you save me? I was right next to you. You heard the bullet before it hit. You could’ve moved. Why didn’t you? You’re fucking worthless.”

“Hey, h-hey, murder-kid, who’s Kacchan?”

Black rose around the corners of Izuku’s eyes and static filled his ears.

The knife fell to the floor with a clatter.

He ripped the gun from it’s holster, gasped, hissed, “You’ll never know--” before he cocked it and squeezed the trigger and--

“Why did you let me die?”

Izuku froze.

The world swam and tilted on its axis. Suddenly, the only sound beyond the rushing in his ears was his own heavy breathing.

“It’s okay, my boy.” Whispered a voice in his ear, a familiar hand running through his hair.

Goosebumps rippled up and down Izuku’s neck and his hair stood on end. Static jolted through every fibre of his being and he whimpered.

“You’ll be fine.” Yagi murmured in Izuku’s ear before his right side suddenly felt very wet.

Izuku didn’t want to look down.

He didn’t.

He didn’t want to see it.

As if under a spell, his head tilted forward and there it was. His wedding suit. Red. So much--so much red seeping into the right side of the fabric.

And there was Yagi. No longer behind him. In front of him. Staring up at him looking so, so resigned. Tired. Ready.

No. NO--No.

Car exhaust and iron filled his nose.

No, no, no, no, NO--

It wasn’t real.

Izuku closed his eyes, and the black material of his vigilante costume returned. The car exhaust left. Compress was still sprawled on the ground.

“Go do what you failed the first time.” Yagi’s words dripped of honey but stunk of acid.

Burned like it too.

Not real.

Never real.

Yagi would never say that. Dad would never...wouldn’t...

The gun joined the knife on the floor as the burn of tears welled up in Izuku’s tired eyes.

He spared no thought into giving into them. He was so, so fucking tired. He just wanted to sleep, why can’t I…?

Seconds trickled into minutes, and minutes trickled into what must’ve been hours as he sat next to Compress long after he bled out, long after he’d gone cold, long after his knees had gone numb, and long after he could no longer breathe.

It was only until red and blue lights began to flash, it was only then that he picked up his gun, his knife, and the shards of his fucking heart, and absconded into the night, leaving nothing behind save for disembodied hands he angrily kicked beneath a crate and twin fists on the floor that were soon swallowed by the surrounding red.


 Naomasa pulled up from his crouched position next to the unidentified corpse and sighed. “Yep,” He wheezed as he stood, hissing as his hip popped when he straightened. “Definitely “authentic” work of Blackout. Call in the coroner to figure out their identity, time of death, and all that jazz. I’ll have someone bring the body van around and bring in the trauma cleaning and biohazard removal specialists. This one’s pretty messy. Hey, if anyone finds some disembodied hands, point them out for the specialists.” He directed, watching with little interest as one of the cops scurried out of the room in search of the coroner.

“Blackout’s been on a bit of a spree lately, haven’t they?” Sansa muttered, jotting something down on a notepad and peering at the semi-mangled corpse.  “Hard to believe we can’t find a trace of them.”

“Yeah, we don’t even know if they’re a boy or girl, though Naomasa thinks they’re a dude.” Another cop frowned, leaning on the wall and peering at the corpse. “How much do you want to bet that this is another villain?”

“That seems to be the status-quo for Blackout. I’m not putting money on otherwise.” A cop-in-training shrugged as she labeled evidence, her mouth hesitantly scrunching up as she continued with, “Y’know...I hate to say this since it’s like, super controversial but I can’t really be mad at Blackout, y’know? He’s getting rid of some real dicks.”

Naomasa frowned at that, nodding at the coroner as they came in clad in their scrubs and gloves. “Even if they’re dicks, they’re still people. You can’t dehumanize them like that, it’s disrespectful.”

Sansa frowned at that. “Naomasa’s right, as always, but even then...I do see where you’re coming from, Kishinuma-san.” Sansa flipped shut his notepad and stared down at the body, his face morphing into something melancholic. “There’re just some people beyond our help. Sometimes it’s almost...merciful, in a way. It stops them from hurting anyone else around them and it stops them from suffering from a broken mind for the rest of their lives. It’s...sad.”

“Yeah, sums up my thoughts entirely.” ‘Kishinuma-san’ nodded grimly, scuffing his boot on the ground.

The conversation swelled and idled on and off for a few more minutes before Sansa nudged the coroner with his boot. “Any luck on figuring out who this guy is?”

Naomasa looked down at the coroner to see a ghost in their place, frozen where they sat and the color sapped from their face.

“You good, Tanaka?”

Tanaka, the coroner, slowly shook her head and raised a hand to her mouth as she whispered. “This...is Atsuhiro Sako. B class villain, Compress.”

A sudden hush swept throughout the room and Naomasa’s knees went weak.

“...Oh, Blackout did not just fucking kill the Compress.”

But he did, and there was nothing they could really do about it since, y’know, Compress was dead on the ground and Blackout left literally no fucking biological evidence that they could scan.

“Well...that explains why his hands are gone.”

“...D’ya think Blackout might’ve kept them as a souvenir?”

“Sansa.”

There was a kid, hardly a teenager, laying in a hospital bed with both of his arms in heavy casts, sleeping fitfully as he murmured quietly to himself, shifting in his sleep. The boy mumbled something, his eyebrows scrunching momentarily as he curled into himself a little tighter. Toshinori buried one of his hands in the kid’s mop of green curls and and sighed heavily, closing his eyes and suddenly looking less like a man and more like a weather-beaten scarecrow, cowed over by the wind and washed out by the rain.

But there was no wind, and there was no rain.

There was just a boy, Toshinori’s son, laying pale and exhausted in a hard, all too large hospital bed.

“This kid, Naomasa…I don’t know what I’m going to do with him.”

“Tsukauchi-san?”

Naomasa blinked, and a strange wave of sadness descended him before disappearing, gone as soon as it had come.

Kishinuma peered up at him, his face drawn and tired yet still pulled in concern. “You alright?”

Naomasa looked down at the corpse at his feet and sighed, an echo of something that sounded akin to a wail of a name , someone’s name ringing in his ears.

“Naoma--” Blackout breathed, a strand of green hair falling free from his cowl.

Green. Green. Green was important. Green was...was...

“I’m...alright,” He said.

But he wasn’t. It wasn’t-- Everything wasn’t alright because there was something Naomasa was missing.

What is it?

“GUYS! I FOUND THE HANDS!”


 Izuku limped through the front door at precisely 3:39am with bloodied knees, a stark white face, and trembling shoulders, and that, quite frankly, was enough for whatever slew of scolds Inko had prepared hours before to die on her tongue. He stared at her with tired eyes that still shone with the tiniest flicker of defiance despite how utterly exhausted he looked. He raised his chin in challenge, daring her to question him, to yell at him, to reprimand him, to hit him.

She reached for him instead.

“Izuku,” She called softly.

He pulled away, and the earth opened between them.

“...I’m going to bed.” He said.

He brushed past her without a glance, without another word, and as his bedroom door clicked shut, Inko looked down at the shoes he’d left behind. Her shoulder tingled where his own had brushed it. Inko looked down at the solid ground beneath her feet, and even then she couldn’t help but feel as though she were about to fall.


 Izuku looked down at his pills and ignored the black mass behind him whispering the same thing over and over and over and over again into his ear.

Kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourse--

He reached out a trembling hand, grabbed them, and stared at them as they lay innocently in his scarred palm.

He popped them into his mouth, swallowed, and sighed.

They’d go away soon.

It would stop.

He just had to…

...had to wait.

The thought wasn’t very comforting when Chihiro was peeking at him from beneath his bed, dark red spreading across the carpet.


 “Izuku?”

Izuku peered over at Katsuki at his quiet call, slowing to a stop in his car and glancing at the red light glaring up above. Since Izuku was pretty sure he knew all the side effects of his antidepressants now, it was as good of a time as any to start teaching Katsuki to drive. So long as no hallucinations popped up out of nowhere, Izuku was pretty sure things would be okay. He’d gotten good at discerning them from reality anyway.

“What’s up, kid?”

“I…” Katsuki rubbed his grass-stained sneakers on the carpet beneath his feet, his brows furrowed in uncertainty. “You’re on your antidepressants, right?”

“Mhm.”

The light turned green.

“But you just...seem worse. Aren’t they supposed to be working by now, or is your brain that fucking dumb?”

Izuku ignored the jab at his intelligence, knowing it didn’t mean anything, and instead pursed his lips. “It takes awhile to see improvement; six weeks is the usual range of time that they start. I’m only a month in; it’s going as planned, so don’t worry too much about it. I’m fine.”

And I’m three weeks into seeing you as a corpse on the ground that’s gurgling my name.

“Oh,” Katsuki mumbled pointlessly, looking out of the window at the passing cars (there wasn’t many; most people didn’t own a car in the city) and peering at the road signs. “...Do you think they’re going to work?”

“Maybe.”

“That’s not a reassuring answer, asshole.”

Izuku drew in a long, long breath and let it out, stopping in front of the railroad tracks before continuing on. “I know.”

They sat in pregnant silence before Katsuki quietly asked, “...We nearly there?”

Izuku shrugged and slowed to a stop by a stop sign. “About twenty more minutes, give or take.” He said, waving at a kid on a bike to show it was alright to go ahead. “Do you want to stop and get something to eat before then?”

Katsuki seemed to consider this for a minute and muttered, “Yeah.”

Izuku frowned at Katsuki’s poorly-masked troubled expression but didn’t comment for the time being, instead squinting at the signs outside of plazas that read what shops were in them. “Okie dokie...there’s a Matsuya, Freshness Burger, which, if you know English, is a ridiculous name, there’s a Fakkin, which is even funnier if you know English, and...I think they still have that Pizza place, unless it’s already been destroyed by that bomb-quirk villain. What year was that in?”

Katsuki stared at Izuku blankly.

Catching the meaning in Katsuki’s flat gaze, Izuku flushed and cleared his throat, suddenly feeling very stupid. “...Right, you wouldn’t know that.”

Katsuki shrugged and leaned his head on the window, piping up a moment later, “Are you talking about that shitty Pizzala?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.” Izuku nodded, flashing Katsuki a quick smile that he was proud to say wasn’t strained in the least.

Katsuki seemed to be put more at ease at the sight of it and made a noncommittal hum. “It’s still there.”

“Oh, nice.” Izuku nodded, stepping off the gas a little bit when the speed limit changed.  “Anyway, of those I ever so helpfully listed, which are you feeling like?”

Katsuki peered out the window and frowned. “Well, we just passed Matsuya, so that’s out...hamburgers sound good, I think.”

“Freshness Burger it is.” Izuku affirmed, switching lanes to pull into the plaza it was in. “... God that names sounds so stupid to me.” He added, halting behind a red car.  

“I don’t speak English, so I don’t care.” Katsuki sniffed a bit as he spoke, suddenly looking vaguely pissed about something.

“You speak some English.” Izuku gently corrected, leaning a forearm on the steering wheel when it became clear that for the time being, they were stuck behind the red car due to opposing traffic.

“And I hate all of it. English is a stupid goddamn language.” Katsuki scoffed and frowned darkly as he spoke and this time, looked clearly pissed rather than vaguely.

Izuku was suddenly reminded of Katsuki’s test score on their last english test and bit back a knowing smile. “Well, if you wanted me to, I could teach you some curse words in English like I did for you in Spanish. Y’know, to compensate for how shitty it is to learn it.”

This seemed to grab Katsuki’s attention. “...Okay.”

“I won’t go into too much detail now since we’re in the car and all, but I’ll teach you one.” Izuku said before peering over at Katsuki and, in english, said, “Shit.”

“Shit?” Katsuki mimicked the english version of the curse.

Izuku rewarded him with a smile and chucked, “Yeah. Personally, that’s one of my favorite english curses, though “fuck” trumps all of them.” Izuku paused and pushed his tongue in his cheek before slowly continuing with, “Actually, personal anecdote for you: did you know that All Might’s favorite english curse is shit, too?”

Katsuki disbelievingly rolled his eyes at this and slumped back in his chair. “No fucking way,” He muttered, before his eyes flickered to Izuku and he said, “...Really?”

“Oh, I’m telling the truth. He used to yell it all the time. My personal favorite would have to be…” Izuku bit back a snicker when a memory came to mind. “Well, I remember once that some kid with a zombifying quirk--a temporary one of course, relax --I remember that the kid spread it to a bunch of people while we were training in a forest and the zombified kids surrounded All Might and I heard him scream SHIIIIT in english but…” Izuku shook his head and laughed a bit, remembering how Yagi used to look before he’d gotten new organs when Izuku was twenty. “The funniest part is that he was like, so old or something that the zombified kids recognized him as one of their own even though he, of course, wasn’t, and that was the last I saw of him until I...got so injured I was wrapped in enough bandages to look like a shitty mummy prop for a racist, low budget Cleopatra movie.”

The tale of Romano and his stupid friends was certainly an old one but Izuku hadn’t lost amusement for it. He smiled fondly at the memory, remembering the insane aftermath and profuse apologies on Yagi’s part. Yagi had been such a dork too, especially when he’d brought Izuku some cake that he couldn’t eat since his entire face was covered in bandages. That had sucked at the time, but in retrospect, it was absolutely hilarious. Yagi was so sweet.

Yagi… Dad…

Something cold settled in Izuku’s chest and he frowned, finally turning into the plaza that held Freshness burger and pulling into the parking lot. He thought of his younger years, when life was good, when it wasn’t so...so awful.

“That’s the funny one though…” Izuku mumbled in a noticeably solemn tone, staring down at his hands before continuing softly, “Another personal favorite was probably the time one of his students accidentally launched a huge fucking chunk of debris in his general direction and it singed half of a piece of artwork that I--” Izuku stopped himself short, blinking. “--That someone made for him. He screeched it so loud that his...his friend thought he had like, gotten stabbed or something so he ran over with his gun drawn and at the ready. Let me tell you, he was very confused when he found Yag- -All Might crumpled like a wilted flower and staring glumly at a half-ruined picture. I thought it was kind of sweet, though. How much he cared about something so…” Izuku swallowed. ”...Small.”

Katsuki peered over at him as he fell quiet. “You good?”

“...” Izuku sucked in a sharp breath and unclipped his seatbelt. “Fine. I’m...fine.”

Katsuki wisely chose not to push and unclipped his seatbelt, opening his car door. As they made their way to the entrance, he commented, “I didn’t know All Might was a teacher. Or that you knew him personally.”

Izuku stopped in his tracks.

“Shit.” He said, in English.

Katsuki snorted.

“You weren’t supposed to tell me that, were you?”

“No.”

“So, you gonna tell me about how you met him?”

“...Can’t. Spoilers.”

“Shit.”

Izuku chuckled at the English curse and held the door open for Katsuki, who frowned at that but surprisingly made no comment. Izuku swung open the door and breathed in the smell of calorie-jacked burgers and sighed, holding his arm up to let Katsuki duck under. Lunch went by with little event (other than Izuku being mistaken for Katsuki’s babysitter, which made the latter very, very mad), and before Izuku knew it, he was back in the car, the leftovers from lunch crinkling in the plastic bag by his feet.

“Where are we, anyway?” Katsuki asked as they neared where Izuku would let him take the wheel, eyeing the empty road ahead of them.

“It’s where I learned to drive when I was younger, actually.” Izuku explained, gesturing out of the front window and at the October-touched trees, leaves brown and falling. “Down here, on the edge of the Agnoli Woods, they were gonna build a mall. But they lost funding suddenly and the project was abandoned. Not a lot of people know about it because it was made really hush-hush since like, the money was stolen by the CEO’s kid or some shit, but the parking lot is still here, and it’s huge.”

“Oh, these are the Agnoli Woods?” Katsuki pressed his cheek to the window and squinted. “I think I went camping here with my dad once, but we didn’t come across any malls.”

“It might not have been around back then.” Izuku shrugged, peering over at the trees and frowning. “Agnoli Woods...other than the whole driving thing, I feel like that name is familiar. I dunno, I’ll probably remember it later.” Sure enough, something itched at the back of Izuku’s mind but he brushed it aside for the time being, opting to focus on Katsuki.

He turned into the parking lot and once they were a good distance away from any curbs, he put the car in park and got out of the car, gesturing at Katsuki to do the same. “Go on, kid. Clamber into the driver’s seat and we can get started.”

Katsuki did just that and Izuku walked around the car, settling into the passenger seat and readjusting the plastic bag with their leftovers before turning to Katsuki and asking, “Alright, you ready?”

Katsuki shifted uncomfortably in the driver’s seat and frowned, staring down at the pedals apprehensively. “I guess so.”

“Okay, good.” Izuku nodded, leaning forward and cocking his head towards the center rear view windows. “Now, first thing’s first; can you see out of the rearview mirrors?”

Katsuki looked up and squinted. “No,” He said after a moment. “Is that important?”

“Very.” Izuku affirmed, glancing over at his charge. “Adjust your mirrors as needed, and then we can start.”

“How do I do that?” Katsuki asked, haltingly reaching up to the center mirror.

“The one you’re about to touch is the only one you need to directly touch.” Izuku said gently, gesturing towards the button panel. “Just fiddle with it; be gentle though, you don’t need to use a lot of force. If you do, you might just rip it straight off the car.”

Katsuki retracted his hand a bit and frowned. “Oh, joy.” Apprehensively, he reached up and tilted the mirror a bit and furrowed his eyebrows. “Uhh...oh, okay, that’s sensitive. That’s not bad.”

Izuku sat patiently and leaned his head back on his headrest. “Keep adjusting it until you can see behind the car, and then we can do the side ones.”

“Okay...got it. I can see out of it.” Katsuki said suddenly, removing his hand and hovering over the button panel. “Christ, what do these all even do?”

Izuku glanced down at the button panel and reached out a hand, pointing at each button as he went along. “Not all of these are important. This one pops the hood, which you should do if it’s smoking. If it’s blue tinted or blackish smoke, get the fuck away from the car, but if it’s white it’s just the coolant and you should still get out, but your car will probably be alright. This one pops the trunk, I don’t need to explain that--at least, I hope I don’t, this thing adjusts song volume, this one changes the station, this turns the air conditioning and heat on, this does the window wipers, this does the back window wipers, and these two adjust your side mirrors. Which buttons should we use right now?”

“The side mirror ones.”

“Good. As you press these, the mirrors will move around. Play with them until you can see behind the car on both mirrors when sitting regularly. Side mirrors are important too.” Izuku explained, leaning back and letting Katsuki do his thing.

After a couple minutes, Katsuki was satisfied with his mirrors and looked back to Izuku for instruction.

“Now, look near your left hand.” Izuku pointed to the joystick by Katsuki’s left hand. “That lever thing is how you shift gears. Right now, we’re in park, which is why we’re not moving. P is park, the one underneath that is R, which is reverse, N is neutral, D is drive, and L is low gear.”

“What do those mean?”

“Well, I already told you park; it just keeps you stationary. Reverse makes the car go backwards; you use that for getting out of parking spots in like, a grocery store parking lot. Neutral is when the gearbox is unlocked; if its on that, you’ll roll on slopes, drive is...just for driving, and low gear lets less fuel enter your transmission while driving. I don’t...actually really know what that’s for, but I’ve been driving for a good decade and never needed it so it’s probably not too important.” Izuku shrugged, suddenly embarrassed that he didn’t really know.

“Should I put it in neutral?” Katsuki asked, putting his hand over the knob.

Izuku gnawed on the inside of his cheek consideringly and said, “...Nah, let’s give drive a go for now. We’ll work on turning first.”

“You can’t turn.” Katsuki said flatly, quirking an eyebrow.

“I know.” Izuku smiled in faint amusement, not telling Katsuki that he’d gotten a bit better at it. “This can be a learning experience for us both.”

“Christ.”

“Oh, hush. Okay, your windows are ready; press down on the knob and pull it down to neutral. It makes a clicking noise on each gear, so try to do it without looking. Listen for two clicks.”

“Okay, uh...got it.” The car began rolling forwards at a slowly increasing pace, not too fast but not slow either. “Oh shit, oh shit, we’re moving.” Katsuki’s voice raised in pitch and Izuku pressed his lips in a line, getting a sudden bad feeling.

“Avoid that curb up there; turn the wheel.” He said calmly, shifting uncomfortably in his chair.

“I’m turning it!” Katsuki raised his voice and turned the wheel slower than he should’ve, and Izuku’s hair stood on end.

“Turn more!” Fuck, if this kept up, Katsuki was gonna crash the car right off the bat.

“IZUKU, IT’S NOT FUCKING TURNING!”

Oh, hell. That curb was coming in fast.

“Yes, it is. Just keep turning it--”

Fuck, fuck, FUCK--

“Okay, Katsuki, just--HIT THE BRAKES, THE BRAKES!”

The car jetted forward even faster and Izuku felt his heart leapt to his chest.

“NO, NOT THE GAS!”

“FUCK! FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK!” Katsuki looked around wildly, looking ten times more stressed out with every passing second.

“HONEY, THAT IS THE WRONG PEDAL!”

Katsuki seemed to snap back in in that moment and he suddenly slammed on the brakes. The car came to a hard stop no more than a hair’s breadth away from the curb. Katsuki reached over and (without looking, Izuku thought with a touch of pride) put the car in park.

“Ohhoho shit.” Katsuki gracefully squeezed out, leaning forward and thocking his head on the steering wheel, making the horn go off.

Izuku made valiant effort to stop his hand from shaking when he placed it comfortingly on Katsuki’s back. “...You did alright, kid.”

“Don’t even bullshit me with that, Izuku.” Katsuki wheezed, tilting his head to half-heartedly glare at Izuku.

Midnight’s hand dangled out of the car window, the smoke curling out of the engine a dark grey that made Izuku’s vision go spotty. Ragdoll was there, yelling at him, stroking his hair, trying to get any response, but he couldn’t look away.

A drop of red splashed on the road and the world went blurry.

“Izuku?”

Izuku shook his head and sucked in a sudden breath, turning his head away from Katsuki and staring fixedly at his feet. “Sorry--” Izuku coughed, suddenly feeling very shaky. “--Sorry. I’m good.”

Katsuki sat up and peered at Izuku, his eyebrows scrunching together in creeping worry. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, why?” Izuku blinked rapidly, pushing his hair back from his forehead and feeling his finger brush against the scar on his right temple.

“It’s just--” Katsuki frowned and looked down at his lap. “Sometimes you zone out like that for a couple seconds, or minutes, and you always look... wrong whenever you come back. Everyone at school notices it too. I heard some of our teachers talking about you in the teacher’s lounge and I just--I didn’t like what I heard.”

“I’m sure the teachers talk about me a lot, Katsuki--I mean, I’m the only quirkless kid in our school and I came back with a huge scar on my face, not to mention the new hair and muscles. That turns some heads, kid. It’s alright.” Izuku weakly attempted to comfort Katsuki, knowing there wasn’t a lot he could really say at this point.

“...That isn’t what they talk about, though.”

Izuku raised an eyebrow. “What do they talk about?”

“Just--how weird you act, how much of the curriculum you know, how quickly you one-eightied, you spacing out, and just--shit like that. And it freaks me out, you know?”

Izuku opened his mouth to say something, anything, but closed it when he found there wasn’t anything that he could.

“...Do you want to take a break for a bit?” Izuku opted to just change the subject entirely. “We can go sit in the woods and finish off our lunch leftovers if you want. When we’re done, we can try again. That was...scary.” Boy, that was an understatement.

“...Yeah. Let’s go.” Katsuki unclipped his seatbelt and opened the car door, pulling the keys from the transmission and slinking off towards the woods. Izuku grabbed their food and left the car, not bothering to lock it since they were in the middle of fuckall nowhere and they weren’t going far anyway.

“You can choose the spot, kiddo. I’ll follow.” Izuku called out to Katsuki, who was a good twenty steps ahead.

Katsuki gave no response other than a weak shrug and tramped off into the underbrush, smacking aside a branch and scowling when it whapped him on the back of the head moments later. Izuku chuckled at that and brushed the same branch out of his way a heartbeat afterwards, feeling the soft leaves tickle the back of his neck. He trotted up by Katsuki’s side and knocked the plastic bag in his right hand against Katsuki’s knee, sending the boy a soft smile. Katsuki slowly, slowly returned it and turned away, picking up the pace a little.

After a minute, Katsuki seemed to catch sight of something interesting and stopped, pointing. “Is that tree good?”

Izuku peered along Katsuki’s hand and frowned, not sure which tree he was referring to. “Which one?”

“The willow, right there. With all the grass at the bottom. It looks shady.”

“Oh, if it’s got good shade it should be…” Izuku paused, and did a double take. “...alright.”

“Yeah?”

“...Yeah--Yeah, let’s go there.”

This looks...really fucking familiar. But there’s no way. There’s no fucking way, is there?

Izuku’s heart thudded in his chest and, mouth dry, he croaked, “...Say, Katsuki? The tree you pointed out, there isn’t a stump behind it, is there?” Izuku pointed towards the trunk.

Katsuki cast Izuku an odd look and frowned. “Why would I know that?”

Izuku smiled wanly at him and gestured ahead. “Go check, please.”

“Why?”

“Just...I think I know this tree.”

“Ugh, fine.” Katsuki stomped ahead and peered around the tree, and his shoulders suddenly slumping told Izuku the answer before Katsuki could. “Uh, yeah. Yeah, there’s a stump here.”

Oh, you’ve got to be fucking shitting me right now.

But he wasn’t being shitted, not at all. Izuku came up behind Katsuki and looked, and sure enough, there was. Something warm unfurled in Izuku’s chest and he smiled, laughing disbelievingly and running an incredulous hand through his hair.

Katsuki peered at Izuku like he was crazy and flung his hand towards the stump. “What’s so special about a stump? Some sort of folklore or some shit?”

Izuku shook his head hurriedly, bracing his arm against the tree trunk and leaning forward, suddenly short of breath. “No...No, you don’t understand. This tree, it-it’s special to me. I had no idea it was here, in these woods, I--I’d forgotten they changed the name of this patch of woods after--after something happen. It just didn’t click.”

Izuku suddenly felt very stupid. Hitosho Woods, where the abandoned shopping mall was. Hitosho Woods used to be Agnoli. That was what he had been forgetting.

These woods...how could I have…?

Katsuki furrowed his eyebrows and opened his mouth before abruptly shutting it moments later. And after a heartbeat, he slowly asked, “Did you...come here before you came back?”

“Yes...” Izuku ran his fingers up and down the bark of the tree, his tree, their tree and gazed around at the patch of grass next to the stump. “This was the tree me and my…” Izuku paused as a familiar ache crept in. He closed his eyes. “... husband used to hang out under. We stumbled across it after a particularly rough battle and just...sorta kept coming back. The first night we found it, we had this deep conversation that, while sort of short, meant a lot to me, and it became a special spot, just for us. He...actually proposed to me underneath these branches, right there.” Izuku pointed next to the tree stump, almost seeing the indents of Shouto’s knee on the grass. “H-He was so nervous too, even though he shouldn’t have been since it’s, well, it’s just me, and because of that he tripped over that stump and ate shit. The ring tumbled out of his pocket-- it was a disaster, really --and-and in that moment I really understood, for the first time, that…” Izuku paused and felt his face slacken a bit. “That he…” Something heavy settled in his chest and his throat began to feel awfully tight. “...That he wanted to spend the rest of his life with...with me.”

Katsuki looked up at Izuku and frowned, shaking his head and blinking incredulously. “Of all the fucking trees I could’ve picked, I picked the one that’s gonna make you cry. What were the fucking odds of that?” He threw his hands up in the air before crossing his arms, frowning.

Izuku shook his head and reached out, gently squeezing Katsuki’s shoulder and blinking back the tears in his eyes. “No, no, just...give me a minute. Go ahead and sit down, I-I’m just gonna breathe for a minute.” Izuku took a deep breath and closed his eyes, counting to ten as Katsuki shuffled around him.

“Just...take your fucking time, I guess.” Katsuki mumbled, sliding down the tree and looking down at his feet.

Izuku felt his heart seize in guilt and he hurriedly slid next to Katsuki, reaching up to ruffle his hair encouragingly. “It’s alright, kiddo. I’m actually really glad you found this tree--I never would have on my own, and it meant a lot to me back then. It brings back some...some really good memories.”

“...What, did you get a blowjob underneath here?” Katsuki crudely joked after a moment of hesitation.

Izuku immediately slapped him on the shoulder. “Not those kind of good memories, you jackass. Jesus.”

Katsuki snickered and leaned back on the tree trunk, staring up at the canopy of leaves up above him.

“So, this is...your tree?”

“Mhm.” Izuku affirmed, tilting his head back and just....just blinking.

“You don’t seem really...surprised?” Katsuki muttered, nudging Izuku’s knee with his own to prompt a response.

Izuku blinked again and just sort of shook his head. “I don’t--fuck, I just...I am surprised, I’m just sort of...processing. It’s not sinking in.”

“Yeah. Seriously, what the hell, though. How did I--” Katsuki gestured around the area vaguely and sighed. “--What in the actual fuck. How did I manage this? I sure as shit don’t know.”

“...Me neither.”

Fucking hell. What were the odds? How did we do this? What the fuck?

Having run out of things to say, Izuku fell silent and closed his eyes, taking a couple deep breaths as it all started to sink in.  

“Y’know...I can see why you would pick this tree. It’s...a nice tree.”

“...It is.” Izuku squeezed the grass beneath his left fingers and dropped their lunch leftovers on the stump nearby. “It’s quiet. Calm. No one ever comes here, since they don’t really know about it, so it’s always pretty.”

Silence fell and it...dragged.

Izuku bit back a sigh and, to fill the silence with anything, began to ramble. “Shouto and I...we actually wanted to be laid to rest here.” Ah, fucking hell. Why was he talking about this? Shut up, brain. “We wanted to be cremated and scattered around the roots, we-we had it in our joint will…I made sure someone knew about the exact location, I had pictures and shit like that...” Izuku’s brain, predictably, didn’t listen and he looked up to the sky and sighed, watching a mass of birds fly by. “I...wonder if they did that for us.” Izuku thought of his end and felt something cold spread throughout his gut. “...Did they put our kids here too?” Izuku looked down at his hands and blinked rapidly, trying to will the impending bad thoughts away. ”I...won’t ever know that, though.”  

“...Izuku, you’re gonna make me fucking tear up. Stop it with the melancholy shit.”

Izuku huffed a breathless laugh and wrapped an arm around Katsuki, blinking back his own tears. “Sorry.”

“Whatever.” Katsuki leaned his head into Izuku’s shoulder and after a long moment, he murmured, “Shouto sounds really nice. You never did tell me his name.”

Izuku stiffened and pressed his lips in a line, hunching a shoulder a bit in a half-cringe. “Ah, hell. There was a reason for that. I’m fucking up left and right today, aren’t I? Oh, the humanity.”

Katsuki ignored Izuku’s end comment and asked, “Will I meet him?”

Well, there wasn’t any point in lying now, was there? “...Yeah, you will. He won’t be my Shouto, and he won’t be as nice, I’m afraid. He was...troubled, in his youth. It wasn’t his fault.”

“Are you…” Katsuki seemed to weigh his words before he bit the bullet and finished with, “...going to help him this time? Like you’ve been doing with me?”

Izuku paused at that and felt the small smile on his face melt into a frown. “...Yeah,” He murmured before, more resolutely, he said, “Yeah, I am.”

Katsuki nodded at that and stared up at the branches swaying above him before he hesitantly asked, “Could you, uh, I-I dunno...could you tell me about him? Who he was?”

“I suppose so, but why?” Izuku furrowed his eyebrows and frowned a bit, gazing at Katsuki.

“I don’t know, I’m just curious, I-I guess.” Katsuki shrugged, turning his face away from Izuku and hiking up his shoulders. “Just--Just forget about it.”

Eyeing Katsuki tense form, Izuku sighed and leaned back against the tree, letting his arm fall from Katsuki’s shoulder and onto the kid’s back. He stayed quiet for a long, long minute before…

“He was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, and in the strangest way you could’ve imagined. He looked so much like his mother.”

Izuku wordlessly reached over for their leftovers and handed the box to Katsuki, who opened it. They took a bite and reveled in the peace and quiet, opting to listen to the birdsong than talk.

“He wasn’t very good at singing. He was better at humming; he enjoyed humming. He always did that, almost unknowingly, whenever he did some menial task. I always knew when he was cleaning the dishes or doing the laundry or something because I could hear him humming. I think he just liked music, really.” Izuku stared down at his cold french fries and swallowed thickly. “I can sing, did you know that? I’m no Beyonce, but apparently I’m good at it. I never sang a lot when I was younger since I was so self-conscious, but he walked in on me singing by myself when I was alone once when I was no older than seventeen, and from there and on, he’d insist that I’d sing for him. He was...the only person I ever sang for, and he loved it.”

“...What did you sing?” Katsuki asked, his voice hushed as if he were afraid that if he were any louder, he’d break the imaginary spell they were under.

“Lots of stuff, but mostly, I just sang sweet, slow things. He liked it when I sang…” Izuku broke off in a chuckle and shook his head. “Lana Del Rey, of all people. She’s this american artist with this really low, husky-ish singing, and he loved her music, even if he had a little bit of trouble understanding it. I sang a lot of English love songs for him to help him learn, actually, and some regular slow songs in English, too. I always liked Sia, though her songs aren’t really slow.”

“Could you play them for me sometime? Like, in the car?”

“Yeah, yeah, I could do that.” Izuku nodded, breathing out a sigh. “Maybe I’ll play them on the way home. God, what else? Well, he would lose his shit when autumn rolled around because he was super into pumpkin spice; that'd be Yaomomo's fault. You'll...meet her one day. She was lovely; a great friend of his. Just-- he...would've loved to be here at this time of year, watching the leaves change color and fall. He thought that was absolutely astounding. A-And he went apeshit when he learned that Halloween was a thing-- his dad forbade him from celebrating holidays in his youth, that dickwad-- and I think the Halloween I took him out trick or treating with me was the best one I ever had simply because he looked so damn excited. Are you excited for Halloween? It's coming up soon. It's the 19th today, right?"

"Yeah."

"Twelve days, then. Are you going out this year?"

"I dunno." Katsuki shrugged. "I was probably going to stay in and just raid the candy aisle on the 1st with my dad." 

Izuku nodded. "That's fair; I used to do that too. Moving away from autumn and all, he...well, he looked ridiculous, but he was also pretty. I never did get over the genetic fuck-up he called his hair.”

“What was wrong with it?”

“He was-- quite literally --split down the middle. He was the spitting image of his mother but he shared a color scheme with both his mom and dad. On his right side, his eye was brown and his hair was this pure, snowy white. And on his left--” Izuku broke into a round of chuckles at the absurdity of it. “His hair was red, and not the red that’s paired with freckles and sunburns, I mean red, like a fucking Valentine’s Day heart, and his eye was this bright, striking blue. I called him “Peppermint Princess” to mock him, though he got me back later when the white started showing up--” Izuku pointed at his hair, “--and he could call me ‘Spearmint Bitch’. It...grew on us both. I took to call him Peps for short, and he called me Spear sometimes. It was so stupid but it was...it was sweet.” Izuku suddenly found himself pushing back tears and he swallowed, staring emptily ahead at his shoes. “He...Shouto was wonderful--I-I loved him so, so much and I’m--” Izuku’s breath hitched, and a tear rolled down his cheek. “--I’m never going to get him back.”

Katsuki looked down at his feet and curled a tad closer to Izuku, shivering a bit in the autumn air.

“Well, I was right.” Katsuki leaned on Izuku’s shoulder. “He sounds like he was awesome.”

.

.

.

Half an hour later, they departed from the tree together, and Izuku turned back to look one last time as they did.

And for a moment, just a moment, he saw Shouto. He saw the Shouto from fourteen years ago, leaning against their tree and smiling so softly that Izuku could feel his heart swelling in his chest. Swelling with unfathomable love, unfathomable joy that he could no longer visualize himself attaining once more.

Those days were gone, now.

But nevertheless, uncaring of the ache growing in Izuku’s chest, Shouto gazed up at him from behind the stump, and Izuku thought that even after fourteen years together, never once did Shouto stop being as gorgeous to Izuku as he was the moment they had met. His beauty had never once faded, never a bit, and every single moment Izuku would look at him felt like a kiss.

He wondered if Shouto ever felt that way about him.  

As he turned away to follow behind Katsuki, Izuku felt, stronger than ever before, that the world could be damned for all he cared. He just wanted Shouto back.

No world without a sun was worth living in.


 “Goodnight, mama.” Izuku squeezed Mom’s shoulder, playfully planting a big, wet kiss on her cheek as an afterthought and grinning cheekily as he passed.

Mom clicked her tongue and swatted his shoulder, trying to look mad as she hissed, “Izuku!” but the dopey smile on her face instantly gave her away.

“I’ll see you in the morning. Sweet dreams.” He called as he rounded the doorframe and entered the hallway.

“You too, sweetie. Love you.” Mom crooned from her armchair, turning her attention back to whatever she was trying to knit.

“Love you too.” Izuku murmured softly from around the doorframe, sliding his fingers off the wood a moment later.

He flung open his bedroom door and kicked off his house-slippers before closing the door and locking it, taking a running leap towards his bed and flopping onto the cool covers face-first. He bounced rather high and quickly grabbed onto the corner of his nightstand before he could tumble back off the bed and eat shit. He stilled and then laughed at himself, rolling over and staring up at the ceiling.

Teaching Katsuki to drive had been an...experience, to say the least, but by the end of the day Katsuki had really picked up on turning; he was better than Izuku at it, and Izuku was the one who’d been driving for years! His speed regulation left something to be desired, though. Izuku had found himself clinging to his chair in mild terror more times than he cared to admit (he tried not to think of what that reminded him of) but either way, things had gone better than he expected and really, it was a great start. They’d meet again the following Wednesday after school and hopefully work on all of that, but for now, Izuku could just kind of relax…

...And not smell fucking cigarette smoke.

Huffing out an irate sigh, Izuku sat upright in bed and glanced out of his window, watching in disdain as cigarette smoke wafted through. Seriously? Grumbling under his breath, Izuku hissed out a sigh and swung his legs off his bed, clambering towards his window and glaring out of it and finding some asshole puffing out a breath of on-coming lung cancer.

“Dude, are you kidding me?”

The guy startled a bit and jerked around, his nose wrinkling at the sight of Izuku. “What do you want?”

“This apartment doesn’t allow smoking, it’s literally on the sign right there.” Izuku gesticulated at the no-smoking sign above the stairwell with a bland stare.

The douchebag-dude snorted and took another drag, letting it out before snapping. “So what? You gonna tell your mommy or something?”

Izuku felt his eyebrow twitch and repressed a sigh. “At least my mommy loves me, asshole.”

The dude scowled at that and leveled a mean glare at Izuku. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Suddenly immensely irritated, Izuku snapped, “You know exactly what. Now, look. Either you put that out or go somewhere else, or I’m gonna put that shit out for you, understand me? Yeah, sure, you may be on top of the world or some shit, oooh, your dick is sooo big, but that doesn’t mean you get to break the rules. Kids fucking live here, dude. Knock that shit off.”

Instead of doing the smart thing, the guy flipped Izuku the finger and took an angry drag of his cigarette before blowing it in Izuku’s face.

Resisting the very, very strong urge to knock the guy’s fucking lights out, Izuku turned around, left his room, grabbed the fire extinguisher from the kitchen, and returned to his room to find the guy snickering to himself and letting out another gust of smoke. Izuku held the fire extinguisher to the window and said, “Last warning, asshole.”

The guy took a gander at the fire extinguisher and grinned mockingly. “Do it, pussy--”

Izuku didn’t hesitate.

He went to bed that night with a gently used fire extinguisher by his door and a cigarette-smokeless room.

He fell asleep looking at the moon.


 Izuku was in the car, and Dad was sitting next to him.

“Dad? Are you excited about the wedding? You don’t think it’s going to go wrong, do you?”

“Not at all,” Yagi said, leaning back in his chair. “Look there. That’s a nice tree.”

Izuku turned his attention back to the front and saw a weeping willow. “My best friend is beneath there.”

“That’s alright.”

“It is?”

“Yeah.” He affirmed, and Izuku turned to look at him to find Katsuki in his place.

“Hey, Katsuki.”

“Yeah?”

“Do you like trees?”

“What kind of question is that supposed to be, asshole? Everybody fuckin’ likes trees.”

The car began to speed up.

The tree got closer.

And closer.

And closer--

The door shattered and Izuku went flying. Naomasa was on the street and he was dead dead dead and Izuku was screaming screaming screaming and Dad was there and it was red red red--

Izuku was in the car, and Katsuki was sitting next to him.

“Do you like fire?”

“Dude, it comes out of my hands. Of course I do.”

It got darker and darker outside. The trees began to morph into stone. Shouto peered at him from behind the weeping willow, his chest red, and he was gone as soon as he had appeared. Something akin to fear began to prick at Izuku’s neck, but he couldn’t understand why.

“Midnight? Why are we going so fast?”

Midnight peered over at him, her face scrunched in worry, and she squeezed his knee reassuringly. “That car behind us, it’s been following us for awhile. It’s okay, though. I’m going to get us away from whoever’s in there. Just...take deep breaths and watch the road for me, okay?”

“...Okay.”

Midnight peered behind her and she frowned deeper, her eyes taking on an expression of fear. “Don’t look back, okay?”

“What?”

The car got faster and faster. Izuku tried to turn around. Midnight grabbed his shoulder and pulling him back forward. “Look, sweetie. I know you and I haven’t gotten a lot of time to bond or anything, but just--I care about you, okay? You’re really strong, stronger than me, and all of us at UA are so, so proud of you. I’m proud of you. If this goes south, I’m gonna need you to stay tough, okay? Can you be tough?”

A gunshot tore through the back window and Izuku cringed, ducking his head and watching the windshield crack in horror. “Midnight?!”

“Izuku, please.” Midnight’s voice got throatier and her hands began to shake on the steering wheel. “Can you be tough for me?”

The car crescendoed in speed as Izuku shakily croaked, “I-I can. I can, I can be tough.”

“Good.” Midnight’s voice broke and she slammed on the breaks, wrenching the steering wheel in circles and gritting her teeth. “Be tough, kid!”

Then there was impact.

And then the world went white.

He was tired, tired, tired

and it

H

U

R

T

And

and

There were hands on his face and blue--blue, blue hair and she was pretty.

“Izuku?! Oh my god, oh god, shhh--shhhhh, it’s okay, it’s okay, please don’t cry, sweetpea. Hey, hey, look at me. I know it hurts, but I need you to be quiet okay? I’m gonna--I’m gonna put you over there, and I’ll come back in a minute, okay? Stay awake--no, no, don’t close your eyes --stay awake, honey.”

Everything got darker, darker, d a r k e r, but he kept his eyes open.

“Dad…”

Help me.

.

.

.

It smelled like

smoke.


 Izuku sat up in bed, trembling.

“Izuku? Are you okay? You kept kicking the wall, baby.” Mom whispered, patting his arm. She eyed his sweaty silhouette and frowned. “Did you have a bad dream?”

“...Yeah. It’s--It’s alright.”

“Is it?”

“Y-Yeah.”

Mom sighed and closed her eyes, pressing her lips in a line. “No...Izuku, I don’t think it is. You’ve been acting weird for awhile now; what’s the matter?”

“It’s fine .” Izuku snapped, kicking his covers aside and curling on his side, away from her prying eyes. “It’s just a bad dream. Can you just--just leave me alone for once?!”

Mom cringed as if she’d been burnt and guilt immediately singed Izuku’s veins. “...Okay.” She murmured, trying to mask the hurt in her voice.

“Mom--”

“Goodnight, sweetheart. Love you.” She whispered thickly before scurrying out of the room.  

Izuku stared out of his open door into the dark hallway and closed his eyes, fighting back an onslaught of sudden frustrated tears. Kicking the hell out of himself mentally, he pulled the cover over his head and tried to regulate his breathing.

He could smell cigarette smoke on his pillow.

He swallowed the bile that rose in his throat and counted to ten.

“I’m okay…” He murmured like a prayer. “I’m not there, I’m not there…”

If it was a prayer, no one heard it.


 School that day was...hard.

That was the best way to describe it, really. It wasn’t exhausting because Izuku had already been exhausted for weeks. It wasn’t difficult because really, Izuku had had a lot worse in his life. It wasn’t stressful because he’d been in a constant state of white-hair-inducing stress since his twenties. It was just hard. That was all.

He was tired.

God, he would love to get fucked up right now. Half a bottle of wine sure as shit wasn’t healthy but boy, it was effective. Maybe Aisha would drink with him. Or Andromeda. Or Goda. Or Nishi. Maybe Yoshio. He liked Yoshio.

He hadn’t seen Yoshio in awhile.

I should visit him tonight, pop in for a chat. I miss Goda and Nishi too.  

.

.

.

I miss my kids.

Grey clouds swirled up above Izuku’s head and he breathed out a sigh, feeling the world move beneath his feet and slowly tilt him towards the metaphorical edge. Sniffling, he leaned his head against the cool, concrete wall and closed his eyes, ignoring the sound of breathing behind him. There wasn’t anyone there. There never was. He shivered and coughed, opening his eyes when a raindrop dripped onto his nose. He was cold, but not really.

He shivered anyway and curled in on himself tighter, pressing his back to the wall a bit harder.

Dissociative episodes were fun.

Kids chattered underneath the rooftop as they burned the day’s trash.

.

.

.

Smoke wafted up from the incinerator, and that was when the world finally, finally fell out from beneath his feet.


Ishimoto Shinsui was an average dude, if he did say so himself. He worked at Orudera middle school as an assistant nurse and ate his lunch up on the rooftop in a little subsection that not many students knew about. It was a little dangerous to get over to, and thus, no one really went over there should they know about it in the first place. It was a good place to read some manga (maybe a porn mag or two if he was feeling frisky) and sneak a beer while on the job, since no one else ever noticed. So, when he came across a student standing there and swaying in the wind with an ashen face, he was understandably confused.

“Hey!” He called out, frowning a bit at the interruption of his day.

The kid gave no response.

Ishimoto frowned and edged closer to him, suddenly a tad unnerved. Okay, at least it was definitely a student, they were wearing the proper uniform. “H-Hey,” He tried again, hunching his shoulders a bit. “You’re not exactly supposed to be over here, kid.”

Getting a little closer, Ishimoto tilted his head.

Are his...lips moving? What’s he saying?

“I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want t…” The kid whispered frantically to no one at all, his eyes moving wildly in his sockets.

Ishimoto stopped short. Oh, hell no, that was some horror movie shit.

...Fuck it, he was supposed to be a teacher.

Lips pulled into an apprehensive frown, he crept non-threateningly behind this weird kid and tapped his shoulder.

“Hey, are you--”


 The world turned into a blur, and so did all the sounds. The taste. The smell. Everything was just gone. Izuku tried to hold back the strange feeling rumbling inside of him that threatened to burst free from his throat but he couldn’t. Smoke filled his nose and his lungs were burning, burning, burning and everything was red, red, red and he was there, he was there , he didn’t want to be there he didn’t--

A hand touched his shoulder and it felt like his hand and it burned and don’t touch me don’t touch me DON’T TOUCH ME--

There was little preamble, no ceremony; all at once, he was falling apart at the seams and couldn’t find a stronger thread. His eyes began to leak, tears spilled over his cheeks in an endless stream and his chest heaved and he gasped for air that simply wasn’t there. His throat burned and burned and burned, and a scream began boiling, churning, roiling, blistering, exploding inside of him.

He felt like he was dying, and this time, he couldn’t welcome it.


 Almost immediately, the kid seemed to break free of his stiff, sluggish stupor and flew into hysterics.

He cried with more violence than an erupting volcano or a villain gone berserk. He didn't break quietly, it was like every atom of his being screamed in unison, traumatized that he should exist at all. He had gone from numbed silence to hanging by a thread, a transformation Ishimoto had no fucking idea how to reverse. Ishimoto stood frozen in place, shell-shocked as the kid let out the most hysterical sort of crying he’d ever been cursed enough to hear, his screaming sobs only interrupted by the his need to draw breath. It was a primal sound, one that rattled him to the very core.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, dude! It’s okay, what the hell are you screaming about!?” He grabbed the kids hands.

Bad move.

All at once he was sent flying backwards, his back slamming against one of the nearby metal boxes.

Oh, thank fucking christ he had an elastic quirk, otherwise that would’ve hurt so goddamn bad.
Stumbling to his feet and eyeing the still wailing kid calculatively, Ishimoto took a different approach and flung his arms forward, stretching the skin and bone to wrap tightly around the kid’s abdomen several times, struggling to keep him still so he wouldn’t end up hurting himself. The kid began screeching , clawing, kicking, and biting his arms-- Good God this kid had a strong fucking jaw --thrashing wildly. He heaved for air, trembling something fierce with wide eyes. Somehow, with the help of sheer dumb luck and the probably grace of God, Ishimoto managed to restrain the boy properly, who returned back to wailing instead of screeching, struggling arduously in his weakened state.


 He was losing his mind again. Izuku could feel it unraveling, the threads of every happy memory he could ever once recall, all but a disarray of strings scattered about his feet. The seams were popping, falling into shambles onto the ground that his knees met as he toppled over all at once, spent. He opened his mouth, but not a sound came out. There was none left. His jaw violently quivered as if there was a drill to the back of his skull. His eyes could see nothing; they lost all sight of what is and what could have been. His mouth was open, an eternal scream, saliva dripping from behind his teeth and onto the ground, stained with the memory of those he loved.

Everything was red.

Stained red.

He couldn’t--

He couldn’t see.


 Ishimoto could feel the kid’s heartbeat hammering away, thundering so loudly that it was even drumming in his own ears from a good eight feet away. Ishimoto grit his teeth and squeezed, holding the kid tightly before he could thrash out of his grip. And, all at once, the kid’s knees fall out from beneath him and a startled curse was pulled from his mouth before he could stop it. The longer the kid didn’t move, the more and more Ishimoto let his arms fall lax. The kid managed to lift his cold fingers up to clutch at his chest. He seemed like he was struggling to get a breath in, and fleetingly Ishimoto thought he might actually be having a goddamn heart attack before he fell forward.

Ishimoto cursed again and attempted to lug the kid semi-upright, but it was a lost cause. He slumped onto his hands and knees and heaved for breath, tears angrily falling down his cheeks and splashing on the concrete. The danger passed, Ishimoto slowly edged towards the kid, pulling his arms back to himself all the while. Everything seemed to hit the poor kid at once. All of the color in his face dropped entirely, and his eyes welled up with tears. His hands began to tremble, the glisten of cold sweat beginning to shine on his skin as he bent forward, hunched in on himself. His eyes, clouded with tears, were wide open as if he were watching someone rush towards him to deliver a final blow. His lips stretched downwards as his mouth fell open, his chin trembling. Ishimoto only had a second to think "oh shit" before the kid let out one last, stricken wail, a last hurrah of sorts as his hands slid to his wet face to clutch and tear at the skin of his cheeks. His eyes stared ahead unseeing as sobs punched through him, ripping through muscle, bone, and guts.

Unsure of what else to do, Ishimoto sank to his knees next to the kid and awkwardly placed a hand on his back, rubbing placatingly as his mind whirled. This seemed to actually be somewhat helpful, as the kid desperately leaned to his touch, clawing for any sort of support that could possibly ground him to the earth. His eyes fluttered shut and he fell quiet, gasping, shuddering sobs making his frail shoulders violently tremble. He might have been physically sitting on the cold concrete ground, but in his mind, he was obviously somewhere else. Ishimoto didn't know what the hell had this kid fucked up nine ways to hell but it was obviously nothing good, and for now, the best he could do was just...wait it out.
The kid eventually began to simmer down and sat despondent on his calves, his head tipped back ever so slightly with a blank expression on his face, his eyes unseeing. At that point, it was almost laughably easy to guide the kid downstairs and to the nurse’s office.

As Ishimoto watched the kid get taken away in an ambulance less than twenty minutes later, he couldn’t shake the image of frightening emptiness in his eyes.

He shuddered and lit a cigarette, ignoring the main nurse’s disapproving scoff.


 When Izuku slid slowly into consciousness, above everything, he felt very disoriented. The only thing that was really registering in his brain was the warmth of whatever was covering him, the dull yet smarting pain coming from his left wrist, and the immense amount of comfort he was feeling from whoever was holding his hand. He stared up at the white plaster ceiling up above him for a long time with drooping eyes, not thinking of much at all. In fact, there was absolutely nothing going on in his mind. Strange. He sucked in breath that rattled in his lungs and rumbled in his bones and he blew it out slowly, feeling his body settle back into sleep as he let his eyes slip shut. It was silent, save for a dull, incessant beeping that crackled in the back of his mind, thrumming absently in the backs of his ears. It was quiet and yet it did not bother him. Usually he hated the quiet, because it wasn’t quiet at all. Quiet simply invited in the bad thoughts. But, the bad thoughts were silent. Oddly, the good ones were too. It was nice to not think, he thought. And he paused. He was thinking. And he was still thinking.

Slowly, the bone-deep content he’d been swathed in began to fade away. He tried to cling to any strand that he could, but try as he might, they slipped from his grasp. Numbness made way for reality as it came hurtling back and he could not suppress a sigh. Dammit. He was exhausted. Exhausted in more ways than one, if that made any sense. He had once thought that there was only one kind of exhaustion, and that was really stupid of him in retrospect. Then again, he’d never claimed to be smart, had he? The world rebuilt himself and every sinew and nerve ached with the weight of it. He closed his eyes, unsure of when he’d opened them at all, and he saw teeth that glinted like blades. He saw fire, a lot of fire. He saw a black mask and sinister smile. He saw a man, a boy, a girl, red, white, yellow, purple. He saw green, and he saw dullness. He saw red. Red. Red, so much red.

He saw dust.

He saw and he saw and he saw and he saw until the world began to rebuild itself and his body was caught in the crossfire.

“Izuku, I love yo--”

The words rang with a strange clarity in his head and it was only then that he realized he was crying.

The world fell apart again.

The numbness of no thought returned.

Help me, he thought. Help me.

He didn’t know who he was calling out to.


 The smell of earth and fall leaves were a welcome change from the dust and smoke from just hours before. It wasn’t suffocating in the least, and it didn’t make his heart leap to his throat as most things similar to it did, though he was moreover afraid of it out of obligation at this point. At least, that was what Shouto idly thought as he ripped the moist grass free from the ground beneath his fingertips just to pile it on Izuku’s thigh. Izuku didn’t seem to mind him doing so; if anything, he seemed rather amused by it, and joined in after a minute.

Leftover summertime cicadas let out whatever remaining screams they had as a sweet breeze caressed Shouto’s sweaty forehead and lifted his bangs away, only for them to come floating down moments later. Shouto tucked his hair behind his ear and slumped down with a heavy sigh, abandoning his grass-ripping to instead stare into the night.

“Pretty long day, huh?” Izuku said pointlessly, though it didn’t seem pointless when it was coming from him.

Shouto hummed non committedly and reached down for their light source, focusing on fiddling with the battery-powered lantern to attempt to make it brighter, shrugging in the meantime. Izuku huffed a quiet laugh at his silence and squeezed his thigh. Shouto watched at the grass piled on Izuku’s thigh slid off and sighed, leaning back against the tree and staring at nothing once again.

“Do you…” Shouto trailed off, finding that there was no reason for him to say what he had had the sudden urge to just moments ago; he already knew the answer.

“Go on,” Izuku softly prompted anyway.

“Do you ever wish everything wasn’t so fucked?”

Izuku thocked his head against the tree bark and sighed. “More than anything, you know that. If I could go back to when I was like, fourteen or something, at the very start, I’d do it in a heartbeat if it meant I could fix this.” He paused for a moment before he tilted his head and looked over at Shouto before he quietly continued with, “But do you know what I wish for even more?”

Shouto shrugged and picked at a rock buried in the dirt under his left hand. “I don’t.”

Izuku stared ahead and something in his face changed. It was so small, so subtle, but all at once it seemed to Shouto that he was looking at someone entirely new.

“I wish I wasn’t so fucked up.”

“You’re not.”

Izuku scoffed, and it was the most bitter sound Shouto had heard, more bitter than he would have thought possible. “Then you don’t know me at all, Shou. I just--” He pursed his lips in frustration and hissed out a breath. “I used to be so different, so full of hope and shit, and then all this jackassery began--” Izuku wildly gesticulated at the general vicinity before slumping back and biting out, “--And it sucked it out of me. I’m twenty; I’m supposed to be a partying jackass with a shitty job and happy life. Not...a soldier. All this death and destruction bullshit has just entirely changed me and--”

No, is what immediately came to mind and it took a half-second for Shouto to realize he’d unknowingly hissed it.

“...No?” Izuku echoed, staring over at Shouto with a strange, unreadable expression.

Shouto fumbled for an answer and mumbled, “It didn’t... entirely change you. Y-You still want to be a hero, don’t you?”

“...I do.”

“As long as that never, ever changes, you haven’t changed entirely. You haven’t been beaten.” Shouto hesitantly looked up at Izuku to see if what he was trying to say was getting through and found someone absolutely stunning staring back at him.

“...Okay.” Izuku said.

“Okay?”

“Okay.”

Shouto gazed at Izuku for a long moment, watching the dim shadows over leaves slide up and down his face in the moonlight. The strands of white in his hair that had begun to appear scarcely a month ago seemed to glow in the light of their shitty battery powered lantern and his freckles shined like little stars on his pale cheeks, the skin smooth and blessedly untarnished. In that moment, Izuku looked like a angel and Shouto felt no different than an ant scuttling at his feet. As he looked into Izuku’s eyes, so green and full of undying spirit, he couldn’t help but stare in silence.

Strangely, it wasn’t uncomfortable. Not in the least.

“Shouto,” Izuku murmured his name as if it was a prayer and Shouto felt something in his chest unfurl. “...You’re so beautiful, you know that, don’t you?”

All at once, Shouto no longer felt like an ant.

For a moment, just a moment, he thought he was as beautiful as he was absolutely certain Izuku was.

“You are too,” He said.

Izuku smiled and Shouto felt like he was dying. “Why does it...feel like I’m looking at you, just you, for the first time? Do you feel it too?”

“I do.”

Izuku leaned in, closer and closer and closer and he murmured so softly, so sweetly, “I love you.” and when their lips pressed together, Shouto felt like he was breathing for the first time. It wasn’t fast, but it wasn’t slow. It was soft, it was moist, and it was wonderful.

Izuku pulled away and stared into Shouto’s eyes, looking so goddamn gorgeous that Shouto could’ve burst into tears on the spot and not have been ashamed.

He laughed quietly, and it sounded like a fucking lullaby. “Shouto, listen.”

“To what?”

“It’s our song.”

And it was. Playing on Izuku banged up speaker was their song.

Izuku closed his eyes and began to sing along to the rest of it, tilting his head to rest on the tree trunk behind him. Their tree. Their spot. Their song.

“When the night was full of terrors…”

Shouto thought back on the day behind them. The fire. The screaming. The death. He shuddered.

“...and your eyes were filled with tears…”

He thought of hours before, just after the chaos was through, when Izuku had broken down in a closet and Shouto was the only one there to see it.

“...when you had not touched me yet…”

He thought of the kiss they had shared there. Their first kiss.

“...Oh, take me back to the night we met.”

Right now. Right now, Shouto could see Izuku, just Izuku. Not the pro-hero, not the soldier, not the martyr, not the victim. Just Izuku.

“I had all and then most of you, some and now none of you.... I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, haunted by the ghost of you…”

Something else. Something else flashed in front of Shouto but he couldn’t understand it, couldn’t see it, and it was gone as soon it had come.

“Oh, take me back to the night we met.”

As their song faded to a close, Izuku opened his eyes again and he looked over at Shouto.

And he said, “Hey, sunshine,”

Help me.

Shouto shot bolt upright in his futon with tears running down his face and an ache in his chest that he couldn’t explain.

I have to--Izuku, he thought wildly, scrambling to his feet. Where is--Izuku. Izuku.

.

.

.

Izuku?

.

.

.

Who is Izuku?

The door to his room slid open and, thank God, Fuyumi poked her head in. “Shouto? I heard you crying, are you okay? What’s the matter?”

Something tightened in his chest when he found that he didn’t have an answer.