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Stolen Chances

Chapter Text

 

                In hindsight, that was the day everything started. Not that the green haired boy on the playground knew that at the moment. He  had only realised it a few months later when it was too late to fix it. Right now, the boy was hugging his knees, sobbing under the trees.

The kids were so mean, they had always been mean. He would have a Quirk, he knew he would. And it would be awesome, it would be strong, and powerful, the Quirk of a hero.

                (The same boy would spend the next decade telling everyone he was quirkless.)

                Izuku flexed his small fingers, seeing the first shades of bruises creeping slowly on his pink skin. Rough housing was fun, playing was fun. Three Quirked kids against one wasn’t. Kacchan was mean. That wasn’t really a surprise, he was always mean. But he was so cool! He was so strong, so powerful, so confident. He always said he wanted to be a hero and, with a Quirk like his, Izuku was sure he would be one some day.

                Although....at the moment, the green-haired boy found it hard to picture his friend as a hero. Weren’t heroes supossed to protect people? Weren’t they supossed to be good and kind like All Might? He knew that they couldn’t be all like All Might, All Might was unique, he was the best and the greatest, and Izuku would be like him one day (even if Dad said he had to be his own hero).... but the others could at least try. Kacchan wanted to win. But wasn’t he supossed to also protect?

                (Not all heroes think like that)

Izuku wiped his tears and got up. He would protect the poeple Kacchan couldn’t  save. He would make sure he saved everyone. He would make sure that his friend became a great hero. He streched his limbs and squinted as the sun entered his eyes. It was late, and Mom would be worried. He didn’t want to worry Mom. The park was empty, which was odd. The other kids probably didn’t want to anger Kacchan after is outburst. But he couldn’t let his friend bully that boy.

That boy left soon after and didn’t look back. He didn’t come back to help him after the other boys left him bruised and battered on the ground none of the others did.

Many people want to be heroes, but not everyone has te heart for it. Dad was right. Then, he would just have to make sure he had the heart of one.

Determined steps kicked the ground behind him and Izuku turned to face his angry-looking friend.

"Kacchan, what are you doing here? You’ll miss lunch!" Izuku was worried. If Kacchan missed lunch, he would be cranky and if he was cranky there was a bigger chance of attaching other kids.

"Don’t tell me what to do!" he barked."I came back because those stupid extras couldn’t make a decent villain. You’re the only one who knows how to actually monologue, so come. I wanna kick your ass."

Izuku pouted."But I don’t want to be a villain!"

(I’m not a villain)

Kacchan frowned."Fine, next time you’ll be the damsel! Now come, we don’t have all day."

"But I don’t want to play!" Izuku said, standing his ground, for the first time without tears in his eyes. He was dirty, and tired, and hungry and didn’t want to spend the rest of the day in the sun.

Kacchan glowered."Come already, you stupid Deku" he said it in a low, dangerous voice, a voice that promised burns and bruises and hours of tears in the dark, sobs quiet enough to not wake his parents.

!No."

The blond got mad."When I tell you to come, you come!" he yelled as he roughly grabbed the smaller boy and started dragging him away. Small yet merciless fingers burned his skin. Izuku was scared, cold sweat down is spine. Why was his friend attacking? Why was he hurting him? Izuku grabbed the chubby childlike wrist and tried to pry it off.

"Let go!" he screamed. Tears prickled at the corners of his eyes, but he wouldn’t cry, he couldn’t cry. What kind of hero would he be then?

Kacchan turned around, wild, eyes filled with fury. He lifted his fist, small sparks in his hands."Shut up you stupid Deku!" he tried to punch the younger, but Izuku caught his fist. The moment  his fingers made contact with the blond’s wrist, Izuku felt something. It was like thread, strong and hot and angry somewhere inside the blond. As he was trying to fight off the boy, he instinctively reached for it. It felt foreign yet right. He tugged once.

It was strong, but not permanent. It felt like a thread of hair, holding tight but ready to fall when pulled hard enough. He tugged again and the thread snapped. Something snapped inside Katsuki too.

Izuku didn’t pay attention to his friend falling to his knees, panting heavily and clutching his chest. He couldn’t. He was overwhelmed by the sudden surge of warmth and power, power, power. White hot power racing through  his veins, from the top of his head to the tips of his small fingers.

Kacchan got up, more angry than ever. He jumped at the grenette, hand ready to blow him up. Izuku held up his hands, ready to take the blow.

But the blow didn’t come.

Opening a lid first, then the second, Izuku watched his friend staring incredulously at his fingers. His palms were up but no explosions came, no spark, no smoke.

 Nothing.

"Kacchan?" Izuku said but regretted a second later when the blond turned his red angry gaze to him. But this time it was different. Different from the other times, different from usual. Because, behind the anger, behind the confidence and the power, there was now fear. Pure, feral fear.

"What. Did. You. Do?"

"Nothing!" he lifted shook his hands in a useless attempt to appease him. This new power was building up in his throat and beneath his skin. It was suffocating and it wanted-needed-to get out. So, when the explosive blond lounged for his throat, he let it go.

It wasn’t much. Really, it, was almost nothing compared to other things but, on the sweaty surface of his palms, small angry sparks erupted. They were loud, like the firecrackers kids throw to scare cats or unsuspecting adults, but both boys stopped.

Red, horrified eyes looked at him in fear.

"You stole it!" he whispered in shock."You stole it!" he yelled this time louder, but his voice was trembling.

"I... I, I didn’t... I"

"You stole it, you stole it, give it back!" tears were streaming down the blonds cheeks.

No, that couldn’t be right, Kacchan was strong, he never cried.

(But he did)

Kacchan kept yelling, kept crying, but didn’t get any closer.

(He did, and you made him cry)

Izuku took a few steps back. E didn’t steal it, did he? He, he couldn’t have stolen it. Stealing was bad, and he wasn’t bad. Heroes didn’t steal. Only villains ever stole. Only villains ever hurt people and made them cry. And.. and he wasn’t a villain...

....was he?

(I’m not a villain)

Izuku turned around and ran. He ran as fast as his small feet could carry him, he ran until his mom opened the door and hugged the distressed boy while trying to understand the mash up of words trough his sobs.

He ran that afternoon away from his friend, away from his Quirk.

(And he kept running ten years after).

-0-

               

                Izuku tried to ignore the chattering of his colleagues, choosing instead to stare out the window. Unfortunately, a boy with horns was blacking the view. The teacher was talking about their next high-schools.

                "But you all wanna be heroes anyway" he said and the class erupted in an amalgamation of people using their Quirks. Izuku rolled his eyes and kept doodling, since it was obvious he couldn’t stare on the window,

                "Don’t lump me in with these extra, Sensei, I’ll be the number on hero while you side characters will end up sidekicks to some R-rated loser at best!" the explosive blond of the class said and Izuku sank in his chair, trying to stay out of his radar. Of course he would brag and boast, he was one of the few people who actually had the chance of becoming heroes...

                "Now that I think about it, Midoriya wants to go to U.A. too." there was exactly one second of silence, one agonizing tick of the clock before laughter  filled the classroom. Izuku let out a long-suffering sigh before ignoring them and going back to doodling.

                Thank you very much, Sensei.

                "How can you be a hero, you don’t even have a Quirk!"

                Yes, I do and if you knew you’d wish I hadn’t.

                "You can’t get in on good grades alone."

                Watch me.

                Two calloused hands slapped o his desk and he jumped back, his chair collapsing under the sudden change in balance. Everyone just laughed harder but Izuku’s gaze was trained on the explosive blond looming over him.

                "What the fuck are you thinking, you fuckface! Are you challenging me, you think you’re better than me?" he yelled.

                "No" Izuku said. He was tense and guarded, waiting for any sign of the next strike. Laughter and taunts were surrounding  him, fast, strong and merciless, but he only payed attention to his childhood friend. He was the closest thing to a threat in here.

                He knew he wouldn’t attack him. Kacchan hadn’t touched him in almost ten years, but explosions could be used for long range hits. Even in class, he knew it wasn’t very probable for the teacher to stop him.

                "Now, now, don’t do that in class, fix your problems in your own free time" the teacher said, although he didn’t seem too keen to intervene. Better late than never, although Izuku knew both of his parents would have had something to say about the how little that intervention actually helped. Thankfully, Kacchan only scowled and walked back to his seat.

                Izuku got up from the ground and brushed the dust and whatever could be found on the floors of a public middle school and sat back in his chair. The teacher kept talking, but Izuku was ignoring him in favor of trying to keep from scratching the phantom itch on his wrists. He gave in and offered a little bit of relief to the scars beneath his uniform. He knew though it was only psychological. He had completely lost feeling on the two hand-shaped patched of angry red skin.

The doctor had said he had been lucky. Tenth of an inch deeper, and on the right he would have had permanent nerve damage. The doctor didn’t say it but Izuku knew the chances of using a pen would have been close to zero with damaged tendons.

                The bell rang and Izuku started to gather his things. He prepared to pack his notebook when he found his desk empty. Said notebook magically materialised a second later in the hands of his self-proclaimed arch-nemesis.

                "I’m the only one from this shitty school to go to U.A., you hear me?"

                "It’s not a competition, I’m not challenging you. We can both go there." he said keeping the tremor out of his voice as fear spiked deep in his gut. He knew Kacchan hated it when he looked innocent, but he couldn’t really manage a poker face right now. Kacchan growled.

                "Give up, already, you and I both know you’ll never be a hero."his fist clenched around the notebook, crumbling the cover.

                With your Quirk being so much of a villain’s remained unsaid. It was true and none of the two need to say it out loud. Izuku’s face darkened.

                "That’s for me to decide. Now Give.It.Back" he extended his hand towards the notebook.

                It wasn’t just a request. It was a challenge. The words from long ago rand between them in the silence. Wether there were still people in the class or they were alone, he couldn’t care less. It could’ve been a volcano or an abandoned planet for all it mattered. In that moment there was nothing besides the two boys and the wall of memories between them. It was also an unspoken threat.

                Katsuki seemed at loss o f words before growling and throwing the notebook at the smaller teen. Izuku caught it right before it smacked him in the face. Bakugou and his lackeys left the class and the grenette gathered his things and walked the different route home. He didn’t feel ready to face the blond once again.

                Dread raced through his veins the moment he stepped under the bridge. A clanking of metal on concrete and he suddenly couldn’t breathe.

                "Invisibility cloak, medium size" a slimy voice said. Green, cold mud started rolling on his skin, down his throat and into his nostrils. He moved and trashed, lungs begging for air, but nothing happened.

                I’m gonna die, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die.....

                "Quit struggling, it will only take forty five seconds at most" the thing said. His thread was as liquid as his exterior. Izuku tried to grab it, but it was slipping through his fingers. His vision was turning blurry.

                I don’t want to die, please, please, someone, I don’t want to die...

                His eyes were closing, his limbs were getting numb. The villain was saying something, but Izuku couldn’t hear it anymore.

                Please, someone...

                A blur of gold, a rush of air and darkness.

-0-

                The faithful moment of awakening came with someone not really gently slapping his chin.

                "Kid, kid, you alive?"

                Izuku slowly opened his eyes and was greeted by a face he would slap himself for not recognising, since it was plastered all over his walls.

                "All Might?! What are you doing here?!". The hero wasn’t wearing his costume, but normal clothes.

                "Yes, my boy. I was doing my groceries when I saw this villain wreaking havoc. He managed to get away, but I found you before it was too late!" he said in a boisterous voice.

                "Can you sign my notebook?!" Izuku pulled out his notebook and saw the huge signature already written on the pages. "Thank you, thank you, tank you, I will trasure it for the rest of my life!"

                "That’s the spirit! Now, excuse me, I have business to attend to.." he turned to leave.

                "Wait! I have so much to ask you...."

                "You can send it on my fan page!"

                The man was going to leave fly, to leave Izuku to his own devices. Izuku was never going to see him again, never going to know.

                Sorry, but I can’t let that happen.

                In hindsight, grabbing the foot of the number one hero before he took flight was not the brightest of his ideas. He could hear his mother’s voice scolding him and his father saying that he didn’t deserve that big brain of his. He knew that if they knew, he would be grounded for the rest of his life.

                But All Might landed them on a roof, so no harm done, right?

                "Geez, kid, that was risky. What have you been thinking, you could’ve died!"

                Izuku panted as he was sitting on all fours on the concrete."Sorry, sir, I find it really hard to take no for an answer..."

                He couldn’t finish the sentence, All Might was suddenly surrounded by smoke. Izuku stared at the unnatural phenomenon until the smoke cleared. And his jaw slacked.

                Ten minutes later, after a story and some close calls heart-attacks, Izuku stood in front of the skeleton who had been (was)  All Might. The man turned to leave before the teen yelled the one thing he desperately wanted to know since he was four years old crying in his room with bandages around his hands.

                "Can I be a hero with an evil Quirk?!"

                All Might sighed, as if he’d heard this question many times before."Kid, there is no such thing as an evil Quirk. Is only what you do with it that makes you a hero, not anything else. Whatever destruction or mind reading Quirk you have, there are always ways to use it for good."

                "It...it’s not that. My Quirk is not just dangerous, it’s amoral." Izuku looked down, not meeting his favorite heroes eyes.

                "Come on, kid, it can’t be that bad." All Might looked almost sympathetic.

                "Believe me, it is."

                "What is it?"

                "I can steal other peoples Quirks."his voice was low, ashamed, afraid of the hurt and rejection heard many times before.

                A pin might’ve dropped on the other side of Japan and Izuku would have heard it. When the silence stretched too much, the boy lifted his head to see the Number one hero in the world staring at him with an expression of mixed confusion and horror.

                "What...?"

                "See!? Even you think it’s evil!" he cried, feeling tears clouding his eyes" I don’t use it, I never use it. I tell people I’m quirkless, because the moment people know about it they run, they stay away. They’re afraid of me." a tear rolled down his cheek."I don’t want them to be afraid, I only ever wanted to be a hero. So" he sniffled "Can I be a hero with an evil Quirk?"

                The silence stretched and the man seemed to ponder. To think, to rationalize. He seemed to be dealing with an existential crises. Izuku’s heart thrummed irregularly, waiting for the final verdict. In the end, the man said.

                "There are powerful villains out there. Fighting them without a Quirk is impossible. But the only way you could defeat them is by taking another person’s Quirk. Though there are no laws against that, you said it yourself that it was immoral. Taking someone else’s power and using it for your own benefit will only make you a villain, no matter the end result. So, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’ll never become a hero."

                The boy felt the distinct moment his heart broke. It was painful. The shards of his last hope were grinding like glass against his ribcage with every tear that escaped his eyes. He swallowed and got to his feet. Tears were streaming doen his cheeks, but no sounds left his throat.

                "Don’t look so down kid, you can still help people." All Might tried. Shut up. "You could become a policeman. They are not so popular, but..."

                "All Might." he interrupted the hero, something he wouldn’t have dared to do fifteen minutes ago. The man stopped."I appreciate the effort, but please stop." his voice was dead and he didn’t even look at the man as he left the roof. If he had, he would’ve seen the broken expression on the man’s face and how his hand was stretched as if he wanted to say something.

-0-

                Five heroes. Five. Five people trained to save people against one villain and no one did anything.

                Izuku could no longer hear the crowd, the shouts, the fires. He could no longer hear the heroes screaming at civilians to stay away. His hearing disappeared, replaced by the sense of dread as he saw his childhood friend suffocating. His airwaves closed on his own and his heart was pounding in his chest.

                Kacchan.

                No one was doing anything. They all just sat there. The blond was looking left and right, searching desperatly for a way out. His eyes were filled with bitter tears.

                I would’ve died if All Might didn’t come. But All Might wasn’t coming. He said so himself. He didn’t have any time left. And neither did Kacchan. It was barely a moment, but his eyes locked with the blond’s. For the first time in years, they weren’t filled with rage, or disdain. They were filled with fear.

                Give it back!

                Izuku found himself running before he could properly understand what was happening. But once he did, he knew what he had to do. So, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’ll never become a hero.

                But I can at least die as one...

-0-

                The concrete was chipped and broken. The street was empty. Izuku was feeling tired. He barely had the energy to put one leg in front of the other. The heroes had scolded him for saving Kacchan. For saving him. You could’ve gotten hurt..

                So could he, you asshole!

                You shouldn’t get in the way of the heroes.

                Great fucking job there, you were letting him die, you incompetent brute!

                Izuku puffed some air as he calmed himself. It wasn’t doing him any good to dwell on those things. They had praised Kacchan for his cool Quirk, not for how he was using it. They yelled at him for wanting to help, but not at the blond for panicking and putting even more people in danger.

                They had done this all your life, you can’t expect now to be diffrent.

                True.

                Feet hit the asphalt in a hurry, steps echoing in the empty street. Izuku turned around and saw a certain blond stopping a few meters in front of him. Speak of the devil. Kaccan was heaving and he looked like he had been running all the way from the comotion here.

                "Saving me changes nothing!" he yelled "I don’t and I never needed your help. This won’t make us even, and one act of kindness is not enough to make you a hero. So, when you finally catch up to the fact that you’re only suited to be a villain, prepare, for I will take you down!" he yelled. He finished and turned to leave and Izuku didn’t have enough of a spark left in him to respond.

                Let him be, you cannot change his mind.

                He watched his friend disappear before a rush of wind hit him in the face. He was met with the smiling visage of his favorite hero.

                "All Might?!" he yelled, too surprised to remember he was mad."Weren’t you assaulted by media?"

                "A good hero always knows how to escape the media!" he said before he shrunk in a puff of smoke. Seeing it the second time made it no less traumatizing, but Izuku kept his face in check.

                "Then why are you telling me this?" he left the affordable amount of bite in his voice and the blond had the decency to look embarrassed.

                "Because, young Midoriya, you can be a hero!"

                Izuku felt his blood drain his face. No, All Might, please don’t do this, please don’t toy with my emotions....

                "But you said..."

                "Yes, what I said it’s true and I stand by it, but there is a way for you to become a hero without taking someone else’s Quirk"

                "How..?" he asked in a trembling voice, too scared to hope.

                But he listened. He listened his hero saying he could achieve his dream. He listened to his hero offer to make him his successor, to train him to become the next Symbol of peace. He listened how the man told him he could become a hero without hurting anyone, without using his original Quirk.

                So, when he was offered the choice, he couldn’t say yes fast enough.

-0-

 

                "Hey, Mom, I’m home!" he yelled as he dashed for the kitchen and hugged his mom. Inko hugged him back and ruffled the already tangled mess of green curls. The colours may be hers, but the texture, much like his drive, came from his father.

                "Aren’t we cheerful today?"

                "Mom, I met All Might today and he said I could be a hero even with my Quirk!"

                "Sweety, that’s wonderful, I knew you could do it!" she laughter and kissed his forehead.

                "Is Dad available? I’d like to tell him too."

                "Yes, he is."

                "Great!" he rushed in his room, dialing the number he could as well recite from memory. It rang three times before the familiar voice answered.

                "Izuku, how was your day?"

                "Great, Dad, you won’t believe what happened: I met All Might today and he told me I could be a hero even with my Quirk."

                "I’ve been saying the same thing since your Quirk manifested, but you needed a stranger to tell it to you for you to believe it."

                "It’s not that" he said quickly, a  drop of guilt in his voice."He didn’t say that it was evil or tried to get away. He seemed interested and wanted to know more. Granted, he was a bit wary at first, but he reacted better than the others." the lie felt bitter on his tongue, but telling the truth wasn’t really an option.

                "Relax, I’m teasing you." he let out a  small chuckle."but are you still sure you wanna be a hero? I support you in whatever you choose, but you could be better in literally anything else."

                "Dad, we’ve talked about this, I wanna be a hero."

                "And you will be. You’ll be one of the best out there who do it for people rather than money or fame."

                "Thank you, Dad"

                "No problem, good night."

                For the first time in years, Izuku went to sleep with a smile on his face.

Chapter Text

 

 

                One may say that training was hard. Izuku thought that that was an understatement. Rough didn’t quite fit either. Hellish. Yeah, that was it, hellish because he felt like he was somewhere between circles six and seven of suffering and he had no idea if it would or could for that matter get better. The only reason he didn’t say the ninth circle of hell is that he knew from experience that it could get worse. So much worse.

                Don’t get him wrong, he wasn’t ungrateful nor unused to physical effort. He had done martial arts for a few years when he was younger and admired All Might for years... but said training didn’t really focus on building muscle mass per se and no matter how hard he analysed his heroes movements, he couldn’t quite translate written information in muscle memory.

                But he tried, and he was still trying. All Might was everything he aspired to be in a hero. He knew other heroes weren’t like that. Most of them did it for fame or money and didn’t really try to hide it. But he was determined to become a hero, the next Symbol of Peace. He had always wanted that, had always dreamed of being a hero, but knew he never could with that Quirk. Becoming a hero with his Quirk would mean stealing someone else’s, depriving someone of their own chance at greatness. But now was the first time he had the chance of doing it the right way. He had the chance to be a hero with a Quirk willingly given and Kacchan would swallow his pride and apologise before he gave up on it.

                But, even with his determination and positive attitude, the training was still killing him.

                The biggest, yet, easiest to accomplish change had been his sleeping hours. He never understood how much eight hours of sleep actually meant and, how foolish he had been to take them for granted. His normal program had been to go to sleep pretty late (heroes and such news tended to wait until late hours to appear) and wake up in the morning to go to school. But, now, with half the night gone, he stole a few hours at noon, right after school, woke up, study, then go to his night training. And, though he didn’t like to admit it, it did have its perks.

                The diet had helped him gain muscle, a feat he had thought impossible a few months ago. He was so exhausted, he fell asleep the moment his head touched the pillow. He also had a shitload of stamina and speed to run away for hours, even though that wasn’t that much of an accomplishment. He had always been good at running away (he was very bitter about it). But he couldn’t really help it. Even though Kacchan hadn’t touched him, that never stopped the other bullies.

                He had told his parents about the training, but never the specifics of it. His mother still thought he did some type of martial arts. She perked up at the thought and more or less had taken his food programme hostage to try new things. Izuku didn’t know how she had time to do it with her full time job, but people always said moms were magic. His father had tried once again (and failed once again) to convince him to try something else.

                That was something his father always did, starting with the moment he first said he wanted to be a hero. He never discouraged him from trying, at least not openly. He never said he couldn’t.

                He shouldn’t, yes, it would be difficult, definitely, you’d be great at literally anything else, of fucking course! But he never said his Quirk was evil.

                No Quirk is truly evil.

                He never looked down on him for being functionally Quirkless most of the time (hell, every time if we take it this way). He was the one who helped him realise it was the same for most heroes. There were a lot of cases when some heroes Quirk wasn’t suited for a certain situation and said heroes had to rely on physical abilities and wit alone to save people. Even with his parents was like this. Just because Hisashi could breathe fire, that never meant he did it all the time. From this perspective, Izuku never understood why people made such a big deal out of it.

                „Quirks make them weak” his father explained. „People rely so much on them they tend to forget that they are still human. Once their Quirks are gone they don’t know what to do. They are not helpless, far from it, but they have conditioned themselves to think that Quirks are everything and fail to realize they are ignoring any other possibilities. But the human body and especially the mind” here he tapped Izukus forehead with a gloved finger” are the most important assets a person may have. They are capable of many things, amazing things if you remain open to ideas and possibilities.”

                “So” his six year old self said `”Could I be a hero even if I don’t have a Quirk?”

                His father had looked him in the eyes, with a look too old for someone his age and said “Believe me when I say I have seen enough to know that you don’t need a Quirk to hurt people. Why do you think you’d need one to save them?”

                That was what pushed Izuku to train even harder than before. He knew he had to try twice as hard as the other students. He knew what people said about his Quirk. Kacchan reminded him every time there was no danger of being heard. For some reason Kacchan never ratted him out and Izuku was grateful for that. Whatever bullying he got for being Quirkless, he knew it would be worse if his quirk was evil. He always preferred looks of pity to those of fear.

                The one thing he loved about the training was the sunrise. He loved the way he could just sit after finishing his morning training, covered in sweat and grime and watch the sun through the trash before going home to shower and go to school. The day it was clean enough to get the full view he cried.

                “So” All Might said one day after their training as they lay on the sand “What’s the full extent of your Quirk?”

                It was a Saturday morning and Izuku didn’t have to worry about going to school. His mother had gotten home late last night, merely an hour before he left and he didn’t worry about going home either.

                “Oh!” he perked up and rubbed his neck nervously. “Well, I can pretty much give and take Quirks through physical contact. How long it takes depends very much on the Quirk and my compatibility with it.”

                “Compatibility?”

                “Yeah, you see, since I wasn’t born with them, some react weird when I take or use them. It’s similar to how an organ might have a negative reaction to a new body if they are not a mach.”

                “Hmmm” the blond rubbed his chin “So, taking a Quirk might have a negative, almost harmful effect on you.”

                “Yes.” Izuku said before palling. “Wait, you think One for All will react negatively to me? What if it kills me?! Oh my god, I’m sorry, what if I’m not good enough? What if it doesn’t match and then you’d have wasted all this time for nothing!” he was panicking. No, what if this was it? What if his only chance would go away and he couldn’t do this. Then he’d disappoint All Might, his mom, his dad... well, his dad wouldn’t really be disappointed, he never wanted him to become a hero, but still....

                “Kid, kid, kid, calm down” All Might was gently shaking his shoulders. “You’re fine. One for All is especially created to be passed down. You’ll probably have a very hard time getting the hang of it, sure but it won’t outright reject you.”

                Izuku calmed down and wiped away his tears. As his heart turned from an alarm to its normal clock-like pace, Izuku blushed and looked down at the thought of his overreaction. All Might waited a few seconds before asking. “Why are you so worried about this? I mean, you could always just take away someone’s Quirk and become a hero this way? I know I said it’s not good, but it’s not like this is your only chance.”

                “That’s what everyone says, why don’t you just steal another Quirk? Well, I don’t want to steal. I don’t want to take some other person’s chance just to help myself. It doesn’t sit well with me. I could never live with myself if I had forcibly taken someone’s Quirk to achieve my dreams.” through the tears, he smiled at the older man. “That’s why I was so happy when you offered to train me. If you, the number one hero think I can do it, if you offered me a Quirk because you think I deserve it, then I’ll make whatever I can to make you proud.”

                All Might hugged him. He pulled him tight against his chest and rubbed his back. But it felt...wrong. Like he was apologising for something. They stood like this for a few moments, none of them too keen on letting go.

                “So” All Might said after he let go “How did you discover it?” he seemed sheepish, almost ashamed to ask this.

                “Well, when I was little, this boy attacked me. I tried to defend myself and accidentally took his Quirk” All Might rose his eyebrows. “Don’t worry, I gave it back” Izuku violently shook his hands, misinterpreting his teachers look.” my parents helped me figure it out. I learned to use it on their Quirks and I never did it on accident since then.”

                “Hmmm” All Might thought, suddenly being hit by  a new idea.” could you try to take mine?”

                “What?!” Izuku jumped three feet away from his mentor in shock “What do you mean? You said you would give me your Quirk when I’m ready, I can’t possibly be ready yet, and, even if I was, I can’t privet the world of its Symbol...”

                “Calm down, kid, that’s not what I meant.” All Might was Quick to soothe him. Izuku stopped flailing.

                “Then wha..?”

                “I just wanna test something. There’s no need to worry, if you actually manage to take it, you can always give it back.” the man smiled softly. Izuku gulped, but nodded and extended his hand. The hero placed his bigger, thinned one on top of it, long, skinny fingers wrapping his own.

                Izuku closed his eyes and reached slowly, gently to the chord, tapping into his Quirk factor. Long gone were the day he would violently pull it away like a rabid animal in search of shelter. He moved with softly, giving the older man time to pull back at any time. He didn’t.

                The green eyed boy found the thread, bright and warm, swirling in abstract patterns inside the small frame. But there was something wrong with it. It was pale, weak, like the dying ambers of a once great fire.

                Izuku wanted it.

                He wanted to chase the emptiness away. He hadn’t known about it until he held Kacchan’s Quirk. He hadn’t known how horrible the emptiness was until his being had been filled with the red and orange fire flame of his friends firecrackers. For the first time, there had been something there. He was happy, full, complete for the first time in is life.

                Then it was gone. After he gave it back, the emptiness took back its rightful place and here came the longing. The ache of holding another Quirk, of feeling full again. He could feel people’s Quirks by touch and, even if he was ashamed to admit it, every time he saw a new Quirk he had the unspoken desire to take it. There were always those few seconds where he considered taking it and making it his own, but he snuffed them out as soon as they appeared. A hero wouldn’t hurt other people on purpose.

                There was times he regretted giving Kacchan back his Quirk. Hs consciousness came kicking full force a second later, and he remembered it was his Quirk to begin with. But he couldn’t help but feel bitter at the thought that someone with his temper had such a powerful Quirk. Such a great chance handed to him on  a platter.

                So, when he felt the thread, he greedily grabbed it and pulled it almost on instinct.

                Or, at least, he tried to.

                His metaphorical hand passed right through it, like it was a mere illusion, not a (meta)phisycal thing (oh, you get it). He tried again, reached again. And again. And again.

                Strong. Fast. Gentle. Sneaky. Each new attempt, each new strategy failed, the bright thread glowing faint, almost tauntingly at him. He approached with care, wrapping his fingers around it and held.

                Nothing.

                The warmth, the strength, the force, they were all there, but the Quirk remained too far, as if it was a memory engraved in his skull, trapped behind the realm of touch.

                With a frustrated sigh, he gave up and opened his eyes. All Might was staring curiously at him. “I can’t” he said, rubbing his hands in the cold morning breeze. “I can see it, feel it, get close enough, heck, I can probably taste it if I try hard enough, but I just can’t take it.” he shook his head.

                “Oh” All Might said.

                “What did you wanted to test?” Izuku suddenly asked.

                “What?”

                “You said you wanted to test something. What is it?”

                The No 1 hero rubbed his neck nervously. He was avoiding the question. Suddenly, it clicked.

                “You’ve seen it before, haven’t you?”

                “What! No, no, you’ve got it wrong...” All Might started, but Izuku didn’t let him finish.

                “The way you reacted when I told you about it. Most people either nervously try to pretend it’s alright or say it’s a villains Quirk. You looked a little bit scared. But I’ve seen a almost all of your clips and fights and you fought people with destructive Quirks without a flinch. You had no reason to be scared of a little kid, no matter their Quirk. I wasn’t a threat. That means you’ve seen it before. Also, the fact that you wanted to test it just proved you’ve seen it before and wanted to see if it’s the same Quirk!” Izuku looked so enthusiastic and proud of himself while All Might stared flabbergasted at the kid in front of him.

                “You’re too smart for your own good, you know that kid? Why did you pretend to be Quirkless when you could have said you have an analysis Quirk or something?”

                “Yes, I’ve been told before, I never thought about it and don’t try to change the subject!”

                All Might sighed, not looking at the kid. Izuku knew he was only avoiding him, because the seagull overlord on the broken tire couldn’t be that interesting. ‘Yes, it’s true, I’ve fought someone with a similar Quirk before, but please don’t ask, I can’t tell you” he took a deep breath and shook his head, at least not yet. All I can say is that it doesn’t matter right now.” he mused for a second. “You said your mom doesn’t expect you until later?”

                “Yes?”

                “Would you like to have breakfast? My treat.” All Might smiled. Izuku looked like he wanted to protest for a second before nodding and gathering his clothes. Smiling, the mentor and the student started searching for a place to be open at this ungodly hour of the morning.

-0-

                Days passed and, faster than it should have the right to, the exam day arrived. Izuku was standing in awe in front of the gates of his dream school. He had woken up at fuck-o-clock, as Kacchan would sagely say it, gotten One for All and almost broke his neck falling off a fridge after screaming his frustrations into the void. He was now (showered and fed) waiting to enter the school.

                He had to make it in the Hero Course. He knew he could probably make it in General Education (Dad was hoping he will and get attached so he won’t want to leave, and he didn’t even make it a secret), but transferring would be harder. So, taking a deep breath of fresh air (or as fresh as one might get in the city) he took a step forward.

                And tripped on his own feet, plummeting forwards face first.

                That’s it, here I die.

                But, his long known acquaintance, also known as the floor failed to greet him. Opening an eye, he found himself hovering a few inches above the ground, his nose barely brushing the dirty concrete. Slowly, the force keeping him horizontal turned vertical and he heard.

                “Sorry to use my Quirk on you, I just thought it would be a bad omen to trip on the first day!” the chirpy voice of a cute girl with a round face and bob brown hair said. It took a few seconds for Izuku to acknowledge  it.

                Girl, girl, girl, shit, what do I do?

                Don’t get him wrong, he had talked to girls before, but things like hey, can you give me that pen? And such. But he was a man, he was going to become a hero, so he took a deep breath and stuttered a response before she left.

                Great job, Izuku, a stellar first impression.

                His phone buzzed and he was greeted with the perfect grammar emoji-less text of his father:

                Dad: Good luck. You’ll make it.

                He smiled and typed back:

Thanks (*!^): Me

                He silenced his phone and entered the exam hall.

-0-

                Izuku stood in the shadow of a tree, munching on a Kit-Kat. The wrapper of his pickle-and-cranberry-sauce sandwich were neatly crumbled near his feet (sue you, I like mixed spices). The exam hadn’t been extremely difficult and he was confident he would get a decent score. The subjects were mostly memorising with a little bit of logic here and there. He had a pretty good grasp at logic and memorising was basically mandatory for his hobby (he couldn’t carry more than one notebook at a time, unfortunately). The students had been left to rest between the exams.

                While chewing, he tried to formulate a battle plan. He couldn’t use One for All, at least not in the beginning. All Might had mentioned some backlash and he didn’t want to be rendered unconscious or incapacitated until the last moment. All Might had let it slip that there was such a thing as rescue points, so he’d have to see what he could do with that.

                The new Quirk was perfect. There was no other way to describe it. It was different from any other Quirk he had held before. Kacchan’s had been raw power and energy. Dad’s had been burning, melting his insides similar to a hot cup of cocoa after a day in the snow. His mom’s made him feel lightweight, like all his internal organs had suddenly been removed.

                But One for All was different. The sneak-peek he got when All Might tried his experiment didn’t hold a candle. This new thread was special, was different. Other Quirks were foreign or outright hostile when he took them. One for All was welcoming. It wrapped tightly around his limbs, a constant warmth embracing him from  every side. It wanted him, accepted him the way nothing ever did before.

                It felt right.

                His phone buzzed.

                Dad: How was it?

                                                                                                                                                              Good, I think:Me

                Dad: Great, I think it’s enough. Why don’t you go home and rest, you’ve studied plenty.

Me:
Dad, I still have the physical exam

                               

                Dad: I was hoping you’d forget about that?

Me:
  Daaaad
L

                Dad: Ok, ok, good luck

Me:
Thanks

                He responded his moms text of good luck, knowing (with no small amount of disappointment) meme-ing was a lost art to his parents and entered the school.

                He got into the big hall and, because the gods above decided he had too much luck for one day, he just so happened that, out of every student there, he just had to sit next to Kacchan.

                “Looks like they put us in different arenas even if we are from the same school” the blond’s gruff voice suddenly said. Izuku looked and saw that yes, one was in the arena A the other in B.

                “You’re right, they must not want us to help each other.”

                “Stop looking at my papers” Katsuki growled.

                “You talked to me first” Izuku deadpanned.

                Their discussion was cut short by Present Mic walking in and starting explaining the exam.

-0-

                Ochako was running through the fake city, looking for more robots to destroy. She dodged a guy with a French accent shooting lasers out of his belly and rounded the corner. More debris.

                In the corner of her eye she caught movement. She saw the guy from earlier moving parts of metal off the ground. She stared at him for a second before a person emerged from under the debris. The boy helped them up and Ochako started running again. She couldn’t waste any more time. She hoped she’d see him later, he seemed nice.

                The girl had to finish quickly. She had already thrown up three times already and she knew she couldn’t go on much longer.

                The earth shook beneath her feet and the huge silhouette of King Kong blacked the sun. No, not King Kong. It was a vaguely humanoid shape made out of metal. A zero pointer. She turned to run. She had to run. But her feet turned to jelly as her stomach had nothing else to throw out. She had to run. She had to move. But, now, of all times, her body betrayed her. In the fear, she lost focus and a piece of debris fell on her. Ochako cried as she watched the robot approaching. She was going to die, no, she couldn’t she couldn’t die, she couldn’t.

                She vaguely heard people running and yelling. No one came to help her. She couldn’t run, she couldn’t save herself.

                Suddenly, steps neared her. Ochako looked up and saw the freckled boy from earlier approaching her. His steps were strained, his body shaking, but he pushed forward. “Don’t worry” his voice was horribly shaking, he was as terrified as her, but he put on a smile- a fake one-nonetheless.

                “Don’t worry, everything’ll be fine.”

                And walked towards the zero-pointer.

-0-

                Izuku rescued another teen who didn’t even bother to thank him (Jerk). Not that he was expecting him to, but it was rude nonetheless. He looked around, looking for another one pointers to bash his wrench into when the ground shook. The huge shadow of the (what the actual fuck?!) zero-pointer blocked any sky and hope left in sight. Everyone started running. He prepared to do so to when he spotted something on the ground. It was the nice girl from earlier, writhing and trashing under a piece of concrete too big for her to move. She looked tired and stuck under some debris.

                Sorry for using my Quirk on you.

                Why was no one helping her?

                I just thought it would be a bad omen to trip on the first day

                She was going to get crushed.

                Many people want to be heroes, but not everyone has the heart for it

                He made his decision. Going against the flow, he walked straight towards the girl. There was too much debris and too little time. He couldn’t get her free.

                You can be a hero, young Midoriya.

                Steeling himself, he put on a smile and walked forwards. Blood was pumping in his ears and he looked at the girl.

                “Don’t worry, everything’ll be fine.”

                He tapped into the thread and wrapping it around his limbs. If what All Might said was true, then he will break some bones. There were only a few minutes left, anyway, it wasn’t like he could do much more now. He took a deep breath...and jumped.

Chapter Text

 

 

                Ochako walked through the halls of UA. They were empty, so different from a few days before, and it was unsettling. It feld somehow dead, as if all hope and happyness was gone with the students. She didn’t hurry, walking at her own pace, musing over her next words. She knew she had a decent number of points to pass. She didn’t know if she could afford to lose any. Was this really a good idea...?

                No, she couldn’t think like that.

                That boy had gotten severely injured trying to save her. Saving her. Saving the others. She could have died and no one would have helped her. The thought of her unconscious (dead) body on the school grounds was terrifying. Would she have done the same? She doubted it. During the whole exam, it didn’t occur to her, not even once, to help the others. Heroes were supposed to help, god dammit! They were supposed to save other people, to risk their life to make sure others won’t have to.

                But only one person seemed to understand it.

                Yes, she had trained very hard. Yes, she had studied her ass off, spent countless nights throwing up her guts from overusing her Quirk.

                But how would that help her, were she now dead?

                Making her decision once and for all and before she could change her mind, she knocked sharply at the principals door and entered.

-0-

                Izuku woke up in the infirmary and the pain of failure almost outweighted the pain of many broken bones. Almost. He had gotten home after Recovery Girl yelled at him a good storm, but he really couldn’t be worried about something like this. He only had 17 points. About three from the one pointers he managed to trash with the conveniently placer wrench and the rest from dragging other students from under the rubble. There was only one who thanked him although the tired visage and the Einstein purple hair made it look like he did it out of manners other than real gratitude. But a thank you was a thank you nonetheless.

                He now hoped he’d get into GenEd. He may be able to transfer later and he’d make (even for a short time) his parents proud. He’d get into the departmant with a low rate of injury. As the train moved forward and images flashed before his eyes, Izuku realised that he was going home.

                To his parents.

                After he broke an arm and two legs.

                Fuck.

                His mom would worry for a bit, see that he was OK, get mad, yell for a bit then tell him not to do that again. Even through the phone or text, his father always managed to send his cold disappointment perfectly, always leaving him squirming in guilt.

                The worst was that he would have to face All Might. After all this time, after ten months of intense training, of blood and sweat, he had failed. He had failed so badly, he couldn’t stand the thought of facing his idol.

                Would All Might ask him to give One for All back? He desperately wanted to talk to him, but, at the same time, he was too afraid of the sheer disappointment in the blond hero’s eyes. He’ll think about it tomorrow, he decided. After he would have slept over it and maybe cry a little more.

                The next morning, when he opened his phone, he found something unusual, if not outright strange. Someone had sent him a friendship request on facebook.

                That literally never happened before.

                He cliked on the profile and the bubbly face of the girl he saved the other day surrounded by family and different school photos greeted him. He pressed accept and, five minutes later, he got an equally bubbly message.

Uraraka: hey, sorry if I woke you, I just wanted to thank you for saving my life.

Izuku:
No problem

Uraraka: Really, you got pretty banged up?

Izuku:
Yeah, I’m fine now. Not that I’m ungrateful  or anything, but how did you get my contact?

Uraraka: the list of participants is public.

Izuku:
Oh, yeah, sorry

Uraraka: no prblem. Hey, would it be ok to talk on skype a little later. My parents are currently sleeping and I don’t want to disturb them.

Izuku:
Sure, msg me later. Also, your Quirk is super cool, btw. Can you lift yourself or it works only    on things outside your body? Do you have a time limit?

Uraraka: save them for later, I’m not that fast at typing

Izuku:
Oh, right, srry. Ttyl?

Uraraka:Sure J

Izuku:
*Wave*

                Apparently izuku didn’t need to worry about talking to All Might since the hero wouldn’t be answering his god damn phone. The boy quickly gave up after the fifth call that day. On a more positive note, he and the nice girl-Uraraka- had gotten along well enough. After they talked on skype, they had met in the park and spent the afternoon socialising. It felt good, she was really nice and really the first friend who actually admitted they were friends in a long time.

                But, nothing good ever lasts and the results finally came one day.

                `Izuku, your results are here!` his mom called from down the hall. Deflating, he got up from his desk and walked to the kitchen, hesitant steps as if he could slow the time and never have to face the disappointment of being rejected. He plucked the paper with shaking fingers and headed for his room.

                `Open it` Mom said, trembling with excitment. Izuku gave her a wobbly smile and entered his room.

                Inko would never admit to evasdropping, but she didn’t know any other word to describe the way she was leaning on the door, trying to get the slightest hint of what was going on inside. That’s why she almost collapsed when the door was wrenched open and her boy, who had grown taller than her, hugged the life out of her body. She returned the hug as he was sobbing on her shoulder. She would have comforted him, if it wasn’t for the words: I got in, I got in reaching her ears.

-0-

 

                Toshinori didn’t know one could feel so proud yet so guilty at the same time. He had been in the room, watching the footage and almost had a heart attack when his protege attacked the zero-pointer. He knew what the kid had been thinkng and had been very proud when  he rescued that girl. He had also been very impressed with how the boy handled the fight before that. Even without the use of his Quirk, he had managed to gather rescue points from helping the other teens, a thing not many people actually thought about.

                He had been worried he wouldn’t make it into the Hero Course. Toshinori had been surprised when he heard the boy applied for General Education, but he understood his reasoning. Yes, a hero must be confident, but he must also have a backup plan. If that were the case (and it almost had been) Toshinori knew it would have been his fault as a teacher. He knew the kid needed some training before mastering One for All and givin it right before the exam had been just reckless irresponsible. Gran Torino would whack him over the head if the news ever got to him. He shuddered at the thought.

                He hadn’t been in the comission asessing the scores, and the boys acceptance had meant so much more this way. He felt bad for not responding the him, but he knew he wouldn’t have been able to keep the results a secret and Nedzu forbid him exactly because of that.

                But, behind the pride, there was a thick layer of guilt that spoiled his happiness. Because, when he took the kid in, he never intended to give him the power.

                His Quirk was too similar, almost identical to All for One’s. Something smelled bad from the moment he heard it. He knew there was a connection between the boy and his nemesis. Maybe a long lost relative of the younger brother to carry the dormant gene. So, he had agreed to train him for the sole purpose of keeping an eye on him. No matter how skilled the actor, if you spent enought time, something would crack, something would reveal the person for who they truly were.

                But it never came. Midoriya remained pure and genuine during their training. He worked hard to accomplish his tasks and, even when complaining, he still carried it till the end.

                Toshinori also noted the true heroic spirit in the boy. He genuenly wanted to be a hero to help people, not for money or power like almost every other one these days. Toshinori hated what the title had become, but he couldn’t do anything about it.

                What he hated the most was how much he related to the boy. Growing up Quirkless, he knew how horrible bullying could be. The fact that the kid was enduring it for the sake of not being hated was truly touching and the thin man hated that someone so good could have their life destroyed by a genetic mutation they had  no control over. But, by that point, he had already decided.

                He would make the boy is successor. This charade would no longer be a lie and he would help the boy become a hero, because fate be damned if he didn’t deserve it. But, even so, he couldn’t stop the lingering guilt at how he betrayed the boy’s first trust.

-0-

                Katsuki was mad. Not pissed, not angry, mad. After all this time, the little rat had the gal to apply to UA and actually make it there.

                That insufferable little shit did it again!

                Katsuki remembered the time he was friends with the nerd. It was so long ago, he should by all accounts have forgotten about it, but the memories persisted. And they just had to be good memories. Couldn’t he remember them with pain, or sorrow ar an thing to fuel his hate? No, he just had to remember the good times, the games, the sleepovers, the way they cheered on All Might cartoons.

(A part of him knew he didn’t really have bad memories about Deku)

                Well, there were only two bad memories and he didn’t like to think about them. He still woke up with his heart trying to escape his chest and the scent of smoke in his lungs. He still double checked every time he woke up to make sure his Quirk was still there and he still felt a pang of terror when it went out without his accord.

                Deku was laced in most of his memories, the ones he remembered most clearly. He didn’t remember the names of the goonies who had been following him aroung since day one. He had a vague memory of his past birthdays, every one being more or less the same. But he remembered when he was four and Deku was the only one without a Quirk. He remembered how he tolerated him and, when he realised he wouldn’t fight back, how he started tormenting him.

                In retrospect, he regretted it. If he wouldn’t have attacked him, Deku wouldn’t have fought back and he would have never discovered that cursed Quirk.

                Katsuki hated that Quirk. He remembered the feeling of empty, of gone in his chest when his own Quirk disappeared. He remembered all those times he had tried to use his Quirk out of habbit, only to painfully remember it wasn’t there. Those had been the most terrifying two weeks of his life.

                But the nerd still wanted to become a hero. He could’ve stolen any Quirk, become as powerful as he wished. He could’ve destroyed Katsuki with a single touch. Yet he pretended to be Quirkless. He pretended to be weak and shy, yet never cowered in fear of more powerful Quirks. Why? Because he knew he could take them any moment. He knew he could render everyone defenseless. But he said he was Quirkless.

He wanted people to underestimate him, to let their guard down, so he could crawl under their skin. He saw how everyone thought he was harmless, how everyone turned their backs on him. They were so reckless, so easy to stab, leaving themselves wide open.

                He knew the boy was a villain in the making. Who else would hold countless notebooks full of Quirks and their weaknesses if not to figure them out? If not to use them later?

                The genetics didn’t really help him either. Auntie Inko may have looked harmless, but the blond remembered the fierce mama bear she became when other people bullied her child in front of her. When he was little, before realizing how not to get caught, he had feared her, how she stood up to people twice her size and beat them in the ground with nothing but her words. His father was evil incarnate and no one could change his mind. He had been so relieved when the man had left to work overseas, if only to get away from his unearthy gaze and the feeling of plain wrongness coming from him.

                Katsuki was almost the carbon copy of his mother, save for age and gender. Deku got his mother’s waterworks, so the rest had to come from the fire-breathing bastard. And it wasn’t like that motherfucker had any redeeming qualities.

                But, no matter how much Deku said he wanted to become a hero, his Quirk and that blasted mind of his would surely turn him into a villain. Yet he remained silent. He never warned the other extras of the boy’s potential. The loud, obnoxious part of him that controlled most of his personaliy said he didn’t care. Less rivales, more chances of getting on top.

                But you know you’re just scared he will give up the act. You’re scared he will reveal himself and take away your Quirk once and for all. You’ll be just as useless as everyone else.

                All his life he tried to make him give up his dream. Katsuki was awesome and he would become a hero, but no one would want a villain to have proffesional training and information on the inner ties and secrets of the pros.

                But the exam had been the cherry of the fucked up cake that was his childhood friend. He had acted all deflated the whole week and Katsuki tried his best to snuff out the last sparks of hope the boy had towards heroism. Though he would never admit it (and would horribly murder anyone who said otherwise) Deku was smart. Second best in class when it came to academics (he was number one, obviously) the green eyed boy would be pretty good in careers that didn’t involve heroism. Heck, he would probably do his overprotective parents a favour by keeping them from an early grave out of worry.

                But, after the week was over and the results came, the nerd had the same score as him. They were at a tie for the first place and if that wasn’t a literal spit in the face, he didn’t know what was. So the nerd had finally broken his fucked up moral compass and stole something to win. And Katsuki didn’t see it. Some poor bastard must have lost their Quirk and Katsuki let it slide.

                He was the only one who knew the truth about the villain-to-be and it was his responsability to make sure he didn’t hurt other people. And he failed. He let it slide and now the boy was one step closer to becoming that horrible excuse of a person who shared his blood.

                He was going to fix this.

                He couldn’t let himself be scared by this wimp any longer.

                He waited until the day was over, making sure he kept the stalker in sight (that didn’t make him a stalker. He was gathering info). After the boy left the building alone (pfff, like anyone would actually wait for such a loser) he grabbed him by the tie and dragged him behind the building. He felt shivers down his spine when his skin touced the others for the first time in almost a decade (he avoided phisycal contact for fear of loosing his Quirk. Not anymore), but he swallowed it and started yelling:

                `Who’s Quirk did you steal?!`

                `No, no one’s,Kacchan!` the boy cried when his feet could no longer reach the ground as the bigger teen pressed him in the hard brick wall of their school.

                `Bullshit! You couldn’t have gotten that many points without one and this skinny little body of yours is not strong enough to take down a little kid. Do you really expect me to believe you took down robots?!`

                `I got a lot of rescue points!` Izuku cried. Katsuki glared and had to conciously keep himself from strangling him.`I was walking around helping people who were hurt or injured.`

                `There’s no way you got 77 points that way alone. I heard people talk about a guy who took on a zero-pointer and broke his arm and leg. You came to  school on Monday with your arm in a sling.` a horrified expression spread along the boy’s features and Katsuki felt  a spark of guilt. He snuffed it out and kept talking.`I decided to be merciful and I’ll give you a chance to explain. Give it back and I won’t tell the police.`

                `Ok, OK you got me, I used a Quirk that wasn’t mine! But I didn’t steal it!` he was chocking on tears( or the little oxygen, who knows?) `It was given to me. The previous holder could no longer use it and he said I could use it in his stead. I didn’t steal anything, it was given willingly!`

                Katsuki dropped him.

                `I want to meet him.` he growled, sending his most intimidating stare to the dishevelled boy on the ground.

                `Wha....?` Izuku chocked, looking up as he tried to right himself.

                `I want to see it for myself. To make sure you’re telling the truth and, if you are, who in their right mind decided it would be a good idea to give you of all people a Quirk.`

                `But...` he started and stopped when he found a calloused hand spread open over his face.

                `Call them now or I’ll blow your face up and make sure you don’t get to become a hero.` he growled. Deku clamped his mouth shut and dialed a number. He placed the phone on his ear, glaring at the blond through his spread fingers before saying.

                `Sensei, sorry to bother you, but  a friend of mine wants to...`he didn’t get to finish as is classmate pulled the phone from him with his free hand.

                `Oi, this nerd says you gave him his Quirk willingy. Is it true?`

                There was silence at the other end before a tired yet wary voice responded `What about it?`

                `I want to meet you and tell it to my face. If you don’t, i’ll assume he stole it and report him to police. Since, for some reason you seem to give a shit about this rat, I don’t think you’d want to destroy his chances at being a hero.`

                `I see` he sighed `Where would you like to meet?`

                `The Mirai Park, half an hour.`

                `Very well, see you there.`

                Katsuki ended the call and tossed the other boy his phone back.`Get up.` he ordered. Deku scrambled to his feet and the explosive teen grabbed the back of his neck and started dragging him to the train station. His hold loosened as they approached more people and, if it weren’t for the grim expression on Deku’s face and the angry one on his, one might say they were friends.

                The train ride was quiet, none of the boys attempting any conversation. It was out of character for the greenette, who would usually blabber or mumble to anyone interested (or not interested for that matter), but now he was silent and Katsuki was sure as hell he wouldn’t start chatting.

                The train finally pulled into the station and Katsuki dragged the red-shoed teen into the park. At the entrance he saw a man who looked like walked out of a concentration camp and lived to tell the story. He was tall, taller than any japaneese man had any right to be, and emanciated, with a mane of wild blond hair sticking in every direction.

                `Sensei!` Deku yelled and the man looked at them. For a second, under that killer glare, Katsuki froze. There was something oddly familliar about him.

-0-

 

                Toshinori knew something was wrong the moment Izuku said „sensei”. The boy never called him that. He started talking before a new, gruffer yet familliar voice took his place.

                 `Oi, this nerd says you gave him his Quirk willingy. Is it true?`

                Toshinori frowned. Izuku would never give up that information on his own accord. He needed to thread with care.` What about it?`

`I want to meet you and tell it to my face. If you don’t, i’ll assume he stole it and report him to police. Since, for some reason you seem to give a shit about this rat, I don’t think you’d want to destroy his chances at being a hero`.

So young Midoriya didn’t tell him about One for All. From that wording alone he could gather that the boy knew about All for One and thought his protege stole it from him. In theese types of situationd, less is more.

`I see`. He sighed. `where would you like to meet?` the kidnapper told him the details before hanging up. Toshinori was glad he wasn’t in the middle of a chace as he headed towards the park.

It was safer to assume the boy hadn’t revealed the true nature of his Quirk, nor his identity. He coughed a little more blood as he kept walking. The other boy most likey thought his own Quirk was gone for good. He needed a proof that Midoriya didn’t steal it, so, a reason for the man to give it away. He didn’t know what other information the  boy shared so, just to stay safe, he would wait for the other to ask questions before revealing anything.

He sighed. He didn’t like it. He knew Naomasa would probably fix  it but if the word got in the open, the media would chew the poor boy and spit him out. He would be lucky to get a job at a fast food.

No, he didn’t like it at all.

He crossed his fingers and hoped for the best.

 

               

 

               

 

Chapter Text

 

                Katsuki waited to get within ten feet of the walking skeleton before he released the nerd. The boy dashed to the familiar blond (where the hell have I seen you before). To his credit, Deku didn’t hide behind him, rather he stood in front of him protectively.

                “My name is Toshinori Yagi” the man started.

                “So” Katsuki cut in “Is it true, what this fucker says? You let him take away your Quirk?”

                “Yes, it’s true.” The man responded sounding too tired to be out of bed.

                “Why?”

                 The man lifted his shirt, revealing a gross-looking scar. The skin seemed to have been melted and then sewed together before it fully healed, creating a grotesque mosaic of skin and muscle. “ A few years ago I fought a villain who hurt me and rendered me incapable of using my Quirk.”

                “So you’re a hero then?” Katsuki interrupted.

The man froze, seeming to realize he might have given up an important piece of information.

                “Yes, an underground one. You’ve never heard of him!” Deku jumped in, too quick for it to be natural, although, at this point, it could’ve just been the fear of failure.

                “Shut up, Deku!” he didn’t want them to exchange information, in case it was all a ruse.

                “I was highly disappointed that I could no longer help the people” the man said “So, when I met young Midoryia, and found out I could pass my Quirk onto him, I was relieved that all my work wouldn’t go to waste and I could help another student reach their potential,”

                “Let’s say you’re not selling me bullshit. Why Deku?”

                “What do you mean?”

                “What I mean is, why would you give someone like him, of all people a powerful Quirk. He already has the Quirk of a villain, why would you give him a boost on top of it? Why would you risk making him powerful enough to be a threat?” Katsuki said unable to understand that man. Surely, a hero couldn’t be that stupid. He knew not all heroes were as bright as him, but you couldn’t become one without at least some common sense.

                The man frowned, black sclera glaring down at him threateningly. “Because, Bakugou, being a hero or a villain, doesn’t stand in the Quirk, it stands in the choice. It’s what you choose to do, what you choose to believe in, that makes you a hero. Midoriya chose to save your life that day. He chose to be a hero despite the bad card fate has dealt him. What did you choose?”

                Katsuki wanted to yell something in return, but something in those words struck a chord. The man continued. “You said his Quirk is suited for villainy. Wouldn’t you say the same about yours? Explosions are capable of hurting and maiming a lot of people” Nearby him Deku flinched.

”Even on your way here, by the way you were holding your classmate, I’d say you threatened him to get him to bow to your whims. That doesn’t seem very heroic, does it?” the boy clenched his fists but froze as a sudden thought occurred to him.

                “How do you know my name?”

                The man seemed caught off guard for a moment before regaining his composition.”Even if I’m retired, I’m still a hero and a personal friend of the principal. I didn’t have a say in the assessment, but I watched both your performances. You have a powerful Quirk, Katsuki. Make sure to use it right.”

                The ashen blond wanted to yell, but he held back. Huffing angrily, he spun on his heels and stalked away, leaving mentor and the student alone in the park. Izuku waited until he was out of sight before finally breathing in relief and turning towards his teacher.

                “I’m so sorry, All Might. He cornered me and threatened to tell the police. I’m sorry, I panicked and I…I…”

                “Shh, my boy” All Might said as he led the teen to a bench and seated them.”You reacted well under stress and didn’t reveal any important information. I for one am just relieved our stories didn’t contradict each other.” the boy nodded but was still tense.

”Is he the one that helped you discover your quirk?”

                Izuku huffed.” Helped is a bit too much to say, but yes, he’s the one.”

                “Is this the way he’s been acting like this around you? Calling you a villain and all that?”

                “If you don’t count the physical manhandling, today he was almost tame,” the boy laughed mirthlessly. He wasn’t prepared for the thin arms to pull him closer, or for his idol, the number one hero to envelop him in a hug.

                “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you had to go through that. Has no one actually helped you before? Stopped them before?”

                “Whether you have an evil Quirk or none at all, no one helps you. They either think you deserve it or that you are too useless to be worth the effort. It’s a lose-lose situation whatever you get.” they sat in silence a few moments before All Might finally said:

                “Would you care for some ice cream?”

-0-

 

                When Izuku headed home that day, he took the long way around so he wouldn’t have any chance of meeting Kacchan. Even when Kacchan held back, sparks still escaped his fingers so now he had bruised burns on the back of his neck. He wasn’t mad, not really. He had expected it to happen sooner or later, but the fact that it happened so suddenly was what took him by surprise.

                He hadn’t been scared for the most part. Only in the beginning, when all his fail safes froze  and he was a four year old once again, with no Quirk, no power and the bigger boy looming over him. He’d realized, after a few seconds, that he could take the blond down, take away his Quirk and be done with it. It would’ve been painfully easy to take it with the calloused hand plastered over his face, the thread dancing teasingly at the edges of his grasp.

                But he didn’t. He wouldn’t do that, not again and especially not now when he no longer had the excuse of childhood negligence. So he played nice, he played the scared little boy about to have his face blown off.

( That last part hadn’t been pretending, it still took him thirty seconds at the very least to take a Quirk and, the moment the boy felt anything he might have activated his it.)

The scars on his wrists itched again and Izuku held back from scratching them.

But then Kacchan started talking. And Izuku realized just how much hold the ashen blond had over his future. He knew how people reacted to the true nature of his Quirk- it had been the reason he pretended he didn’t have one in the first place. As a child, after the incident, he had seen the look the policemen gave him when he tried to explain.

Childhood negligence wouldn’t work again.

He knew that, if word got out that he stole a Quirk to become a hero, any chance he had would go down the drain. Media would destroy him and no agency would hire him. Hell, no one would hire him. No matter his merits, fear was a powerful thing and no one would trust someone who could destroy them.

So he held back. He kept silent and Kacchan didn’t ask him anything. What a wasted opportunity he’d thought. He could have asked for details and confront them later, looking for inconstancies. But he didn’t and the retired hero and the one in training managed to scrape by. Kacchan even got scolded. He felt like giggling as he remembered the look of surprise on his face. He would cherish that memory.

The blond never got scolded, never critiqued, because he had such a useful, awesome Quirk. Getting a scolding from a pro hero, retired or not, must have been a blow to his pride. That was the only moment Izuku wished the boy knew he was talking to All Might. Being critiqued by his role model would have been so satisfactory.

Don’t think like that, it’s not hero-like. His nagging inner voice scolded. He got home, greeted Mom, sent a good night text to Dad and flopped down face first into his mattress.

-0-

 

                The downside of waking at four AM for almost a year was that it stuck. He woke up at the usual hour, only to remember he had at least two more hours of sleep. He managed to force another half an hour before his inner clock grew arms and legs and started hitting him over the head. At around 4:45 he admitted that sleeping the usual amount for a normal person was a losing battle.

                He took is time showering and getting dressed and spent the remaining time browsing the internet for any hero news he might have missed while being taken hostage. When the decent hour of 6:30 rolled around, he got up, ate, kissed his mother and went to school. On the way, the automatism seemed to fade and he suddenly remembered this was his first day of school.

                At a hero school.

                With Kacchan as his classmate.

                Fuck.

                He slowly walked the halls, heading for his classroom. He opened the door and was greeted by the normal chaos present in a high school classroom. Kacchan was keeping his feet on the desk as the boy with glasses and robot movements was scolding him. The explosive teen spotted Izuku and growled which attracted the blue haired robot’s attention to him as well. He made his way to the green haired boy.

                “I must apologize for my rude behavior on the day of the exam. You clearly were the only one to realize the subtleties when none of the others could.” He said

                “It’s alright, no bad blood or anything...” he started before the human personification of a hello kitty sticker popped into view.

                “I’m so glad we ended up in the same class!” Uraraka said, hitting his shoulder a little harder than necessary, causing him to trip.

                “Yeah, me too.”

                “So you were friends. Then I must apologize once again, you probably just wanted to tell her good luck” the boy whose name seemed to be Iida bowed once again.

                “Actually, we officially met after the exam, but your intentions were good. Just assess the situation before assuming next time, ok?” Izuku smiled before the door opened and something fell on the floor. They shut up and saw a human sized caterpillar looking at them.

                `It took you eight seconds to shut up. Bad. Take this and meet me outside in ten minutes.` he handed them some gym clothes and crawled out of the classroom. The kids stared for a few seconds before heading for the locker rooms.

                Once they were out in the glaring sun of the morning, they followed the overly tired unknown hero to a huge pair of gates that revealed a copy of the city they were supposed to trash for the entrance exam. Aizawa-sensei turned to face them and Izuku couldn’t shake the feeling he was supposed to know him. The man was all dressed in black with a white scarf around his neck. His lithe silhouette was revealed by the lack of his caterpillar sleeping bag and the way his clothes hung around it with almost no shape. The best way Izuku could describe him was as a professional hobo.

                “You may have gotten in through the entrance exam” he started “but this is not a normal school. Right now, you will take another test so I could see how you deal with the different types of situations that you might encounter.”

He pulled out a bag out to nowhere and kept talking. “Here are some slips of paper. Each one of will pull one. Along the city, there are different obstacle courses that might intersect. You may help the others, or ignore them. However, you are not allowed to sabotage them. You can use your Quirks; actually, you have to. You have half an hour to complete the course”

                “Well, that’s not so bad” Uraraka said.

                “Also, whoever comes last is expelled.”

                “What, you can’t do that!” several kids exclaimed.

                “I’ve already told you this isn’t a normal school. You have freedom, so do I. Now come and choose your poison” he held out the bag. One by one, students went and pulled slips of paper out. Izuku apparently had to find a building at the corner of 13 and Dragon. They all lined up at the gates and Aizawa-sensei blew the whistle.

                He wanted to use this opportunity to gather information on his classmates, but he had to pass. He looked around, noting everyone’s determination before giving Uraraka a thumbs up. The whistle blew and they all dashed into the arena. It didn’t take Izuku long to find the address. He got there and found a fire extinguisher.

                It must be here for a reason. He could feel his classmates on the parallel streets, before a different thread popped in his radar. He looked up and saw Aizawa-sensei, on a telegraph, sitting in a very Batman position and owning it.

His thread felt different from anything he had felt before. True, no thread ever felt the same, but there were always similarities. Fire based Quirks had the same heat, albeit different from Quirk to Quirk. Same went for mutation, emitter and transformation.

                But his teacher’s Quirk was different.

                Since he had gotten One for All, his original Quirk had been amplified. He could feel the threads on a thirty meter radius and could recognize people by them. As long as there weren’t any walls, he could do it. The tired mans Quirk was, not cold, but it lacked any warmth. It didn’t have any distinctive energy. Actually, scratch that, it absorbed energy the same way his dark clothes seemed to absorb light. Threads didn’t have colors, but if they had, his teacher’s would have been grey.

                 His dark gaze suddenly shifted on him. Izuku remembered this was a test. He hauled the extinguisher on his shoulder and started running. His classmates were doing the same around him and he almost got blasted by the laser guy.  He reached his next destination.

                An empty street.

                This was so obviously a trap it only lacked an unguarded treasure chest in the middle.

 Izuku looked around for any way of passing the street without touching the ground. But what if that was the point? What if the walls were booby trapped? Or maybe infra red?

                How could I have trained for this? He felt like yelling. Stop, you’re wasting time, he chided himself. He took a cautionary step forward and a brick sunk under his foot.

                Of fucking course.

                A dart erupted from one of the walls and he only had time to dodge. Deciding he’d already screwed up royally on his first obstacle, he darted forward through the darts, and, when he had less than two meters before he reached the end of the street, the floor disappeared.

                His nails dug into the concrete as he hung only by one hand. He threw the fire extinguisher over the edge.

                Come on, come on you weakling. You didn’t carry out All Might’s training from hell just to give up now!

                 And (surprisingly) it worked. Quicker than he would have ten months ago, he hoisted himself over the edge and rest on his back. After carrying that fridge it should have worked, he thought as he heaved from effort. Lifting himself in a sitting position, he grumbled.

                “Where is my fucking ark?”

                 Looking around, he saw a paper on the wall. It was a simplistic map towards his next obstacle. Dusting his uniform and grabbing that damned weight, he ran he followed the instructions towards his next assignment.

                That extinguisher better be worth it, he thought as he walked trying to preserve his energy. He looked at the watch on his wrist: half the time had already passed. Crap, he’d only completed one obstacle, who knew how many left. He steeled himself, and walked faster. He couldn’t lose, wouldn’t lose, not when he was this close to succeeding. He reached a big mass of water with barrels floating in it. The place was empty, save for and apparently sentient female gym suit hanging desperately off one. He looked left and right. No way to go around.

                “How deep is it?!” he yelled.

                “Don’t know” the invisible student answered “but be careful with the water. They did something to it, you cannot swim.”

                “Ok, thanks” he said and kneeled near the water. He sunk his hand a few inches.

                She’s right, they seem to have modified the gravity somehow. Is it a Quirk? Did they put something in it? Did they chemically remove most of the Oxygen? He started mumbling. Stop it, you can geek out later he mentally slapped himself.

He looked at the barrels: they were too far away one from another for safe jumping. With All for One he could probably get to the other side, but he couldn’t risk breaking his legs so soon in. He preferred not to break anything at all, but that sounded too optimistic for all the curveballs fate decided to throw his way on a daily basis.

                Think, think, think. The fire extinguisher would be a liability he considered weather to drop it or not, before something clicked.

                Don’t fire extinguishers contain liquid nitrogen?

                He threw a rapid glance at the label and yup, he was right. Izuku grabbed the tube, pulled the pin and tentatively pointed it at the water. Slowly, it started to freeze. Childish giddiness filled him as he lifted the freezing wind as far as he could reach. The range was a meter and a half at best and he stopped before he consumed it all. He didn’t want to remain stranded in the middle of the lake.

                 The ice seemed to hold, but he didn’t risk it. He got on all fours and started crawling. It protested, but held. He could feel the intangible thread somewhere to his right. “Try to grab it and move yourself,” he yelled without looking.

                “Oh, OK” she said and, if the water sounds and position of her thread were any indication, she did just that. As the ice started to thin, he brought his now best friend forward and extended the cold bridge beneath him. He crawled as fast as he dared, but he knew the clock was ticking.

                Things went south when the extinguisher ran out. He had about a meter left to the shore and he had no idea how to get there.

                “What now” the girl asked, holding onto the ice for dear life.

                “I’m thinking” he rubbed his chin.”If I use this to push you to the other side, do you think you can drag me up?”

                “I guess” she seemed uncertain. He was sure something would go wrong, it always did. Nevertheless, the girl gripped the blunt part of the fire extinguisher, he grabbed the handle to get a decent grip and pushed.

                Her hand (or where he assumed it was) was a few inches from the shore. He leaned forward, but the ice cracked and his hand sunk right in.

                “Aaah!” he yelped as he righted himself. But, his little mishap gave the girl enough momentum to grab the shore and haul herself over.

                “Your turn” he panted. That’s when he realized the problem. She couldn’t reach the fire extinguisher.

                No, no, no, he had gotten so far.

                Stop it! Use that big annoying brain of yours and find a way out!

                “You can throw it to me” she said, stopping his train of thought before it could crash in despair.”Then, you jump as far as you can and try to grab it”

                “You think it will work?” he panted.

                “Do you have a better idea?”

                “No” and he had no time. He threw the red, hard object as hard as he could. The girl caught it and he prepared himself.

                Breathe. He followed his own advice and grabbed the edges of the crumbling ice. I’ll regret this later he thought as he pushed himself off the makeshift bridge. The ice cracked for good and he hit the water, sinking the next second. He kicked and thrashed, but the unstoppable force that was gravity pulled him down. The long, snake-like chord came into view and he wrapped his frozen fingers around it. In one strong movement, the girl pulled him up and dragged him on the shore.

Izuku started spitting water and she rubbed his back. He hackled and heaved until all the water was gone from his lungs and he breathed deeply.

                “Thanks” he spit more water. ”I’m Midoriya, by the way.”

                “Hagakure” she shook his hand.

                They got up, water pouring from their soaked gym clothes, found another map and walked forward. Not before long, they got onto the main streets again. Looking at his watch (and really, thank God for waterproof watches) he saw he had six more minutes left.

                “We have to...” he turned around and noticed he was alone “finish”. Well, there were a lot of students still running around, so that’s why he didn’t see her leave.

                Not the time to focus on this he thought as he walked forward. He had no energy left for running. I hope I finish. I don’t think I can go on any longer.

                He took a corner and saw the finish line. Less than fifty meters. There was only one obstacle in the form of a very explosive blond, which was in no way correlated to his Quirk. Izuku stayed silent, but approached cautiously. The boy seemed to just have finished an obstacle and was panting.

Unfortunately, his steps weren’t silent enough for his childhood friend, because Kacchan turned around and was actually surprised before the trademark glare took back its rightful place. Explosions erupted in his hands as he propelled himself forward.

                “Kacchan wait!” he yelled, but it was already too late: the shockwave destabilized the garbage around, which, in turn propelled the bricks and everything that was supposed to be fixed in place on the ground. A huge wall of garbage stood between him and a passing grade. He looked at the time: three minutes left. He couldn’t go around; he knew he wouldn’t find the exit in the urban maze before time went up.

                He had to pass the wall. He had two options at this point: he either One for All-ed his way over the wall or he punched it. He would have preferred the first option, but he couldn’t run on broken legs, and that only came when, no if he survived the landing. He had to punch the wall. Hopefully, Recovery Girl won’t get too mad.

                He called the familiar feeling, the golden thread in his right arm. He felt it build, much like the pressure builds in a geyser and threw himself forward.

                Long, white bandages stopped him a few inches from hitting the wall. Turning his head towards the source he found red eyes glaring at him. All for One was gone. All the threads were gone: his teachers, his classmate’s, even his own.

                “Eraserhead” he whispered before he could control himself.

                “Are you going to break your bones every time you fight? If so, leave right now and stop wasting my time” the man growled. Izuku, who was quick to get over the fact that his teacher was the famous underground hero who basically proved his father’s point right, exclaimed:

                “But, how am I supposed to pass?!”

                “I don’t know, but figure something out. There is no point in training someone who only has one shot at saving people. Think carefully” he said and unwrapping the scarf.

                Aizawa-sensei was right. Looking at the horrible monstrosity once again, he realized:

                I don’t have to blow it up, I only have to make room to move.

                Taking a step backwards, he took in the structure, the random pattern the garbage took when it hit the ground. The strength pillar! He spotted it and took mare steps backwards. Aizawa was sitting comfily on a lamp post, so he wouldn’t have to worry about accidentally crushing his teacher. That would make a bad first impression he thought before mentally smacking himself. Stop it, you’ve got no time!

                Pulling his pointer with his thumb, Izuku aimed and released a mighty Texas Fillip on the main strength pillar. The air vacuum blew everything away from them, clearing his path to the finish line. I guess I didn’t need a hole arm to blow it up he mused as a huge grin spread along his face. His two broken fingers were burning, searing pain plaguing his mind. He turned to Aizawa, (as stoic as ever, still on his lamp post) and grinned:

                “I did it. I didn’t break my arm!”

                “You’ve also got one minute left.”

                Keeping the back pat for later, Izuku broke into a sprint and made it to the finish line with thirty seconds left on the clock. After giving a slightly scorched Uraraka thumbs up (not the broken one) he promptly collapsed on the ground and waited for the clock to ring.

Chapter Text

 

                There were five students left on the obstacle course and Aizawa waited for them even after the time ran out. The last one was the boy with electric Quirk –Kaminari. The teacher looked at each one of them, some prouder than others, some skittish, some downright exhausted and collapsed on the ground. He waited a few moments before speaking.

                “Even if you came in later than others, you might find yourselves above them. I watched all of you and ranked you accordingly to how well you used your Quirks or how well you approached the situation at hand. I also gave points on collaboration or lack of it” he threw a meaningful look to the human explosion-Bakugou- before continuing “and creativity. These scores are final, I won’t change my mind. I expect the ones in the lower category to evolve until the next assignment or there’s no point in training you any longer.” he let them fret for a few moments before showing them the results.

                “WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M BENEATH DEKU?!” came the first protest not a second later.

                Ah, the joys of teaching.

                Aizawa looked towards the explosive blond who looked a few seconds away from having an aneurism. He also noted the excellent survival skills of his class as they got away from the potential danger. He turned his unimpressed gaze towards the raging teen before lifting an eyebrow.

                “Excuse me, who?”

                “That would be me, sir” came the meek response. All eyes turned towards the green haired boy who was fidgeting nervously under all that attention.

                “Shut up you fucker, I never asked you!” the blond yelled back, explosions popping in his palms. The boy in question seemed troubled for a moment before deadpanning:

                “No, he did.”

                That seemed to be the last drop, as the blond lounged at the young menace, yelling and preparing for an explosive swing. But it never came.

 Bakugou found himself frozen, tied up in restraining scarves under Aizawa’s crimson gaze. His Quirk had stopped the blond and the green eyed boy –Midoriya- got to live another day. Apparently, Aizawa had been wrong in his assessment of his student’s survival instinct. Or maybe it was just stubbornness. Either way, Aizawa could work with it. Shifting his attention from one kid to the other, Aizawa strengthened his hold.

                “The reason you were ranked where you were is because of your actions. I have already told you that you cannot sabotage your classmates. You clearly saw Midoriya, and intentionally almost dropped the wall on him. You also attacked him just now, so be glad I don’t suspend you for bad behavior,” he said as he released the teen. Bakugou was, for lack of a better word, fuming, and probably whished his Quirk could be controlled remotely by the way he was glaring daggers at Midoriya. “Also, I lied, no one is gettng expelled.”

                A collective sigh of relief was released when the kids heard. Actually, he planned on expelling the last one, but the invisible girl –Hagakure- seemed to have potential, by how fast she had passed the poisonous gas. The others had been decent, although the girl with acid Quirk-Ashido- got stuck in the moving sand and literally avoided the rest of the course.

                “Go to your classroom and grab a syllabus. Study it, you’ll need it tomorrow. Midoriya!” he called when the boy prepared to leave “Go to Recovery Girl for those fingers. Here’s a note” he handed the soaked boy a slip of paper and turned to leave.

                “Oh, one more thing, Sensei!’  He turned around and saw the stiff boy with glasses approaching him, voice a tad too loud for his preference. “ How were we supposed to use the items we found?”

                “However you felt like.” he answered simply.

                “I mean, what was the purpose of them being there? What was the right way to use them?”

                Aizawa sighed. ”There was no right way to use them. They were chosen and placed completely at random, for me to see what you’ll do with them. You could have dropped them and kept going or found ways to make them useful. As a hero, you’ll often encounter difficult situations and you need to know how to use the environment to your advantage. But also, it’s important to know when to give up things that hinder you. I said I’d also give points on creativity. This is what I meant by that.” and with that he turned around and left before the brats could pester him any longer.

-0-

 

                This couldn’t be happening; this couldn’t be real, fuck! Katsuki violently threw his backpack into his wall. His parents weren’t yet home, so his mom wouldn’t come yelling at him to stop yelling.

                How had he fallen this low?

                He had ended up beneath Deku. Deku of all people. He had been better, had finished faster, heck, he had even pulled that motherfricking grape guy out of a wall. Granted, his wails were giving away his position, but that didn’t matter. He had helped that little piece of shit and got there before Deku. Yet, he ended up beneath him.

                He hadn’t sabotaged him. If he would have, that little fucker would be in hospital right now, threading the line between coma and consciousness. Hell, all things considered, he had been quite polite.

                That’s what I get for playing nice the first day. He growled as he slammed his fists on the table. He couldn’t stand the green haired boy. His smile, his optimism, everything about his former friend irked him, offended him on a personal level. Why did he keep pretending? Why did the boy still act innocently and shy when he could be at the top. He had even tricked a pro hero into giving away his Quirk to satisfy that petty excuse of a moral compass.

                Yes, Izuku had been shy as a child. But he had also been witty. He had also been cunning, knowing what to say to adults when they were caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Every time they played heroes and villains, the boy fell so naturally into every role, it was unsettling. Many times throughout the years the blond had wondered: is it all an act?

                The boy was a threat. Katsuki just hoped the teachers would see this before it was too late. Even though none of his past teachers had noticed it, this was UA. These were heroes. The blond flopped onto the bed, staring at the singed ceiling from the time he learned how to hate the alarm clock. They dealt with full-fledged villains on a daily basis. Surely, they could recognize one in the making.

                Couldn’t they?

-0-

 

                When Izuku got home that day, he didn’t even look in the direction of the kitchen before surrendering his consciousness to the pillows. He had taken a shower at the school after the test and the warmth still lingered in his aching muscles. He was glad the first day of school was always shorter than the rest. Even if today was different from the past years, he hoped he could regain control of his limbs before tomorrow morning. His mother wouldn’t be home for another few hours, so he had time to take a mid-morning nap before studying the syllabus (which in and of itself in itself could be considered a weapon by its sheer weight).

                He couldn’t believe it had been a ruse. He’d actually thought he was going to get expelled. Though, that nagging feeling in the back of his head hinted that the teacher fully intended to expel the last student on the list. He giggled when he remembered the look on Kacchan’s face. It had been priceless. Izuku wished to have caught it on camera, if only to have a physical reminder of the day his homeroom teacher accomplished what he had been expecting from public school.

Kicking Kacchan off his high horse.

                He admired his childhood friend, of course, and he could only wish to become the kind of hero that he would. However something had to be said about how his temper always got the better of him. He was too prideful, too arrogant to accept any kind of help from anyone and Izuku knew his stubbornness would take him to an early grave if left unchecked. This was for the best.

                But soon, his body put its metaphorical foot down and the stamina taken from healing his fingers turned promptly kicked him to sleep.

                The next morning found him in his basic hero training when All Might burst through the door.

`I ENTERING A DOOR LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!` he said in a very  poor imitation of a normal person. After putting on their costumes, they shuffled to yet another copy of a city’s residential area.

How many of them do these people have?

                “Shall we begin my wards? It’s time for battle training!” All Might said, booming voice close to rivaling Present Mic’s.

                “Sensei, this appears to be the same field from the entrance exam.” Iida said in what appeared to be his usual way of speaking.”Does that mean we will once again performing cityscape maneuvers?”

                “No! You’ll be moving to step two: indoor anti-personal training!” he waited a few seconds.”Villain battles are most commonly set outdoors, but statistically speaking, the most heinous,  villainous acts are more likely to happen indoors. Between confinement, house arrest and black market deals, the worst of villains lurk beneath the public eye.” he lifted his finger “You’ll be split into teams of heroes and villains and face off in two-on-two indoor battle”

                It wasn’t a moment before the questions started to pour:

                “What determines victory?”

                “How much can we hurt the other team?”

                “Is this assignment under the threat of expulsion?”

                “How do we proceed do split ourselves into teams?”

                “How fabulous is my cape?”

                “Slower, I don’t have super hearing!” he paused for a second as a piece of paper suddenly materialized in his hand.”The villains will be guarding a bomb somewhere in the building. The heroes have a limited amount of time to either secure the bomb or capture the villains”

                It’s like a generic video game, Izuku rubbed his chin. All might pulled a box out of seemingly nowhere-(seriously, where did he keep them?) and said.”We’ll be choosing teams by drawing lots!”

                “Is this really the best way to do this?!” Iida said.

                “But it makes sense!” Izuku found himself speaking before realizing and didn’t care enough to stop. “Heroes often have to team up with people from other agencies on the spot during emergencies!”

                “I see, I apologize for my interruption”

                “No worries, let’s get started!”

Team A: Jirou and Yaoyorozu

Team B:Bakugou and Uraraka

Team C:Iida and Mineta

Team D: Midoriya and Tokoyami

Team E:Tokoroki and Kaminari

Team F: Shoji and Sero

Team G: Kouda and Ashido

Team H: Asui and Satou

Team I: Ojirou and Kirishima

Team J: Aoyoma and Hagakure

Izuku turned towards the bird headed student: he was wearing a black cape that covered most of his body. His Quirk was either related to darkness in some way or he was really, really attached to his aesthetic. Maybe both.

“The first to compete are-” he pulled two slips of paper out of two boxes “Team E as heroes against Team G as villains. Team G, you have five minutes to cook up a strategy. After that, the heroes will enter the building and try to defeat you. The rest will watch from the CCTV”. Izuku threw the heroes a glance. The heterochromatic boy seemed to be the polar opposite to the boy with the lightning bolt in is hair. He was either a Pokémon fan or someone was really drunk when creating the designs somewhere up there. His thread was jagged and lively, much like a heart monitor during a seizure. If his Quirk wasn’t in some way related to electricity, the green clad boy would be very disappointed.

They went to the camera room and looked at the screens.”Tell me, students, who has the biggest chance of winning?” All Might asked. No one said anything.

“Statistically, the villains have it easier; they just have to stall until the time runs out. But we have to consider their Quirks. Todoroki’s was listed on the recommendation forms as having both ice and fire. He must be a Chimera. He’s a long range fighter, which might play into their advantage...”

“Mido-kun, you’re muttering” Uraraku whisper-yelled.

“No, don’t stop, this is interesting!” the spiky haired boy said. Izuku felt heat creeping up his face as his colleagues giggled.

“Even if without meaning to, young Midoriya here makes a good point. Someone’s Quirk and ability might highly tip the balance in one direction or another. One has to also consider the past experiences and training both allies and enemies might have.”

“From a certain point, the villain are actually at disadvantage” a girl with a high ponytail said. Her costume was exposing so much, she must have been toe-ing the line of costume regulations. Her thread was in constant movement, morphing and shifting much like a stew before the point of boiling.”The villains have something to protect, while the heroes can go all out against the villains. Even if the villains are guarding the bomb, neither they nor the heroes want it to go off. More so, the heroes have no civilians to protect so no reason to hold back”

“Very good, miss Yayorozu!” All Might gave her the thumbs up.”The truth is, whoever might have the advantage, there is no way of telling who might win. Teamwork and quick thinking are the bases of being a hero and minimizing damage is a very important part of our work. But that’s it for now. Time’s up, so let’s watch your classmates.

-0-

In the yard, Shouto looked at his colleague in this challenge.”What’s your Quirk?”

“I can release electricity in different quantities by touch or a huge shock wave at once. I can also sense signals and frequencies.”

“Do you have any kind of aiming device?”

“No?” the blond scratched his hair, seemingly confused.

“You should. Since they aren’t carry any electronic devices, your Quirk is no use to us in this situation. You should step away from the building.” the boy took a step back and Shouto placed his right hand on the wall. Ice spread from his fingers to the walls, from floors to ceiling, coating everything in thick, merciless ice. “We’ll split up. Whoever finds if first claims it and calls the other. The villains should be trapped in the ice.” and, with that, he stepped into the building without looking if the other followed. He walked until he found the nuke in the fourth floor.

Shouto entered the room to find the boy with rock like skin shivering in front of the nuke. Ice rose around his feet to his ankles and he held his fists up in a desperate attempt to protect himself.

“Where is the other?” he muttered, his eyes darting around, but, seeing no one aside from the boy and the target.

She must be in another room he mused before he noticed an irregularity in the ice; somewhere in the corner, it looked like it melted. That was his only heads up before a yell alerted his attention.

A flash of pink before his right foot moved, encasing the offending appendance in ice. The girl with the way too colorful costume had her hand a few inches from his face, fingers dripping with what he assumed to be the substance that melted his ice. Her wrist was encased and immobile.

“Nice try” he said drily as he went around her and claimed the bomb.

He unfroze them and all four headed towards the camera room.

“Now, students, can you tell me what went wrong?” All Might boomed. A kid in a green suit that resembled a rabbit lifted a tentative hand.”Yes, young Midoriya?”

“She shouldn’t have yelled her surprise attack.”

“That’s right; you don’t want to alert the villains of your position. You must save the element of surprise. Any other questions or points of intervention?” no one said anything. Of course they didn’t; what was there to say? The mach had been over in less than five minutes. “Alright!” All Might broke the awkward silence “Next we have: Teams A and H. A are the heroes, H are the villains!” said people took their maps and went, appearing a few minutes later on the screens.

The frog girl and the huge boy made their base somewhere on the second floor. They talked for a moment before the frog girl left the room, the huge boy standing in front of the nuke.

“A front attack won’t work, he is too much above them in terms of strength” came from near him. Shouto turned to look at the green, skinny bunny next to him.”They would have to sneak in, but Asui’s mobility might pose an obstacle if not threaded carefully...”

“Quit muttering you stupid Deku!” the explosive boy who probably had a grenade fetish yelled. He had snapped the same way the other day and Shouto realized the green bunny was the boy who came soaked thirty seconds before the time was over in the obstacle race.

“No one’s forcing you to listen, Kacchan!” the boy bit back before the No 1 hero stepped in:

“Now there is no time to fight, we have to watch and learn from the fights presented to us!” he said. “But young Midoriya makes a great point. Anyone else feels like they want to say something?”

“The villains should be careful when dealing with Yayorozu.” the Ingenium lookalike started. ”Her Quirk is very versatile and unpredictable. One must not let appearances deceive them. My information is lacking when it comes to Jirou, but her Quirk shouldn’t be underestimated either.”

“Very good, young Iida” All Might gave them the thumbs up.”Now, let’s watch and learn” the kids quieted and they saw the girls. They talked for a little while before Jirou kneeled and stuck one of her earphone-jack earlobes into the wall. She told the other something before they entered the building by the front door.

That’s a mistake, Shoto thought. The bunny said the frog girl had a mobility Quirk. Entering by the front door was to be expected and predictable. One of them could have taken the window. More so, there was only one villain on the move and splitting up would have been a better choice as to not be caught together.

But they don’t know that, Shoto realized. They’re in the dark.

The girls split up, one taking the right, the other the left. Jirou walked for about a minute before Asui’s small silhouette popped up behind her. Jirou whipped around and send a sound wave in the frog-girl’s direction. The camera didn’t have sound, but it reverberated nonetheless to the control room. It was powerful enough to take a few pieces off the walls. On another screen, Yaoyorozu looked in back before running towards her teammate.

But it was too late.

Jirou’s Quirk might have been powerful, but Asui was faster. She got behind the taller girl and wrapped her tongue around her silhouette, incapacitating her. She tied her up and jumped off the window, dragging the earphone jack with her. They appeared again in the room with the nuke, Asui pulling the restrained hero through the window before gently placing her down.

Meanwhile, Yaoyorozu reached the empty hallway. She put her hand to her ear, trying to contact her teammate, but gave up a few seconds later. In the bomb room, Asui and Satou talked about something before Jirou opened her mouth and yelled something. Satou quickly jumped to cover her mouth, but the deed was already done as Yaoyorozu looked up the window.

She pulled back when Satou looked on his window. He said something to Asui and she nodded and left the room, slamming the door so hard it shook in its hinges. Yaoyorozu waited a few seconds before materializing a grappling hook and disappearing out the window.

She appeared on the window ledge in the bomb room, facing the boy’s back. She reached a hand to touch the bomb when he suddenly turned and punched the wall near the window. The wall crumbled and the girl looked like she might fall, but the boy caught her. He held her outside the building, feet dangling in the air. The girl placed her hand on her stomach, ready to create something when the time went up.

Both teams came into the room under the applause of their colleagues.

“So, kids, can you tell me how it could’ve gone better.” it was Yaoyorozu who spoke this time.

“I should’ve been more careful when trying to claim the bomb. Satou heard me and caught me.”

“I should get better at using my Quirk on a person who can move so fast” Jirou sounded disappointed.

“You could have kept a closer eye on your watch” Midoriya muttered, but it was so quiet Shouto was sure he was the only one to hear it.

“That’s right, but there’s always room for improvement. Thankfully, this was only an exercise and not a real battle, so use this opportunity to learn. Also, on that note, I must say you seemed to work well enough together, villain team. You realized who had the most advantage in this battle and you used your resources and environment. Young Satou broke character for a second to save miss Yaorozu, but I’ll never chastise someone for acting heroically!”

“You’d be the first” Midoriya muttered, but this time more people heard and a few chuckled. His cheeks reddened and All Might ignored the intrusion, going further into the exercise.

“Next are Team I versus Team C. Team I are the heroes while team C are the villains.”

So, Iida and the grape guy as the villains Izuku thought.

“Yeah, bro!” the guy with the spiky hair high-fived the tail man who, reluctantly returned it. They left the room and reached the fake building in no time.

Tenya marched into the building making sure Mineta followed. They chose the fifth level to hide make their base. “Though it pains me to play the part of such foul individuals, this is an exercise and we must act accordingly.” he took a wide stance and lifted his hands to the air, letting out a maniacal laugh.”Heroes shall perish under my terrifying powers!”

“Why couldn’t we be paired with any girls?!” the boy whined in a nasal voice.

“The gender of our enemies doesn’t matter as long as they are defeated. As such, we must craft a viable plan to assure our victory. What’s your Quirk?”

“I can pull sticky balls out of my head and stick them to other things. They don’t stick to me though. Depending on my mood, they might stick to something all day.”

“My Quirk is Engine. I can move very fast and land powerful hits with my feet. Since I have greater mobility, I’ll patrol the building. You stay here and guard the nuke” he knocked it lightly “Papier-mache. Of course they wouldn’t give us, mere students, real weapons. You can use your Quirk effectively by immobilizing any filthy hero that comes through that door. If someone comes, yell and I’ll come in as little time as possible. Do you have any other ideas we might use to maximize our rate of success?”

“No, your plan seems good.” Mineta said, still looking a little bit deflated.

“Very well. I shall now make my leave. Fear not, loyal minion, the heroes will tremble in their boots before the day meets its end!” and, with another well staged punch to the air, he marched out of the room. He strolled down the hall, not even bothering to be quiet. Such a feat was impossible in the full-body amour that was his costume. He could at least take advantage of the echoes and the way sound travelled to trick his opponents. If the enemies thought you were stronger than them, if they were scared, the fight was already half won.

It wasn’t long before he found Kirishima. He marched dramatically from around the corner, taking an imposing stance.

“Wow, dude. That entrance was awesome! Have you practiced or something?”

“I have no time to dwell on the likes of you. Surrender now and your life might be spared.

“Oh” Kirishima said, “So you’re a role-player.”

“I know not of your meaning nor fall into your weak attempt at distraction. Now, reveal your colleague’s position or both of you will suffer a painful death.”

Nah, don’t really feel like it” the boy shrugged.

“So be it, hero. Remember I offered you the chance.” he finished in a low voice before lounging for his classmate. No, not classmate. Here, they were sworn enemies. He aimed a kick to the head, but the red haired teen parried and Tenya felt a wave of pain when his foot collided with the hard rock skin. The hero lounged and Tenya dodged, running behind him and sending a swift kick to the spine, destroying his balance. Kirishima toppled over and hit the floor, his hardened skin leaving a dent in it.

“That wasn’t manly at all!”

“As a hero it is foolish of you to expect a fair fight out of me.” He cackled. The next moment, a high pitched scream came from the room holding the bomb. Iida rushed there and just in time to swipe the bomb out of Ojiro’s reach. Mineta was throwing petty insults from a corner.

“Give up, hero, you’ll never be able to catch up to me!”

Kirishima chose that exact moment to enter the room and block the door. It’s not all lost Tenya thought. I just have to keep it out of their reach enough for the time to run out.

But apparently, Mineta had a second Quirk called reverse mind reader, because he deemed that exact second suitable for panicking and throw balls at random. Tenya would have dodged them, but the nuke in his hands was doing no favors to his mobility. Ojiro ran and claimed the bomb, winning the game.

“You fool!” Tenya yelled, not quite out of character yet “we could have succeeded if not for your stupidity!” he yelled as Ojiro and Kirishima fist bumped.

Chapter Text

 

                Iida and the others entered the control room and were greeted by a few moments of silence before All Might said.

                “That was certainly...interesting. Now, can you tell me exactly how the villains lost?”

                “It could and should have gone better” Yaoyorozu said.” The villains had a decent plan, but Mineta panicked and trapped his comrade.”

                “The plan was viable. Simple, but viable” Izuku said “even at the end Iida could have just carried the nuke out of the room and waited till the time ran out. It wasn’t necessary lack of teamwork, but rather a lack of common sense” he muttered just loud enough for the others to hear and snigger.

                “Whatever. I’d like to see you keep your cool in the middle of a villain attack,” Mineta crossed his arms and Izuku bit back saying he had been in the middle of a villain attack and kept his cool. There was a 50% chance he would be paired with Kacchan in the next round and he preferred not to give the blond any more reason to maim him.

                “Any other suggestions?” when no one responded, the number 1 hero said “Very well. Onto the next mach!” he pulled two more balls out of the box and read:”Team J as the heroes against team F as the villains!”

                Oh, shit, I’m against Kacchan. Izuku silently cursed, wondering how much destiny actually hated him.

                The invisible girl-Hagakure- and the fake French guy, along with the bat-armed Bigfoot and the elbow guy walked out and appeared on the screen a few seconds later. The tape guy and the multi limbed giant entered the building while the blond talked to the sentient pair of gloves.

                “Any ideas for strategy?” All Might eyed him none too subtly. Weirdly, the silent, heterochromatic guy from his right was the one who spoke.

                “It would be better for the villains to stay together. It would be very hard for the villains to catch the girl with her invisible Quirk, so splitting up would be counterproductive. On the other hand, the heroes should spit up or at least arrive in the room at different times. The boy could distract the villains while the girl could slip behind them and claim the bomb quickly” he said

                “Very good, young Todoroki, that was an in depth analysis of the situation”

                “Aoyoma should be careful, he’s actually at a disadvantage here...”

                “If you’re going to say something, at least use a normal volume, it’s interesting!” Izuku started when the spiky haired guy-Kirishima- slapped his shoulder. He blushed but continued nonetheless.

                “I said that the heroes are at a disadvantage. Yes, Hagakure may be good at stealth, but Aoyoma won’t be able to use his Quirk.”

                “And why is that?”

                “Because the exercise consists in claiming a bomb. That boy has a laser Quirk with a long range but little accuracy. In a secluded environment, it’s dangerous to use this since there’s a high chance he’d just hit the bomb by mistake. So, he’ll have to distract them with his physical strength which doesn’t seem to be his strongest suit.”

                “True, young Midoriya. It will be interesting to see what both teams would do. Now, let’s learn” he said, turning towards the computer now that the five prep minutes were up.

                The heroes entered the building through the front door and it seemed like they stayed together. They wasted a couple of minutes searching for the right room and taking a few wrong turns before finally finding the room on the third floor. But there was a problem with the room.

                From ceiling to floor, in thick spider-webbing patterns, tape blocked any view of the bomb or the villains. It seemed as if the whole room was made out of tape. From the cameras, they could see the small patch of un-taped portion of the room, containing the two villains and the bomb.

                “That’s brilliant! The heroes would have to find gateways through the tapes, all while making sure they don’t remain stuck in it. That would waste a considerable amount of time and energy and leaves the villains only one opening Shoji could easily defend just by sitting in it!”Izuku said enthusiastically, temporarily slipping into full fanboy mode, ignoring the chuckles from his classmates.

                But the heroes decided to ignore the common sense and Aoyoma just blasted his way through the tape, destroying the Papier Mache bomb and barely missing the two villains.

                There was a stunned silence before All Might spoke into the microphone “Hero team loses. Come back here now.”

                “Seems like you can’t predict anything, can you, Deku?” Kacchan mocked from the other side of the room. Izuku looked down, embarrassed. He felt his cheeks heat and he didn’t want to look at his classmates.

                They all came back to the room and All Might started.”Can you tell me why I decided to make the villains win?”

                “No idea.” Aoyoma puffed.

                “Might have something to do with the fact that you, complete imbecile, blew up the bloody bomb.” Kacchan sneered.

                “Young Bakugou is right. In an indoors environment especially, bombs must be handled with care. If this had been real, you would’ve all been dead, including any civilians that might have been in the area. The plan was reckless, and you lost via disqualification.” All Might said gravely.

                “Guess they didn’t pay attention to Midoriya” Ashido said lowly, earning a few sniggers and a blush from Izuku.

                “That’s not to say the villains didn’t do good. Your plan was well thought out, and had a pretty good chance at success!” All Might said, blinding smile popping back on his face like it was never gone in the first place.

                “We thought he wouldn’t risk blowing up too.” Sero rubbed his neck nervously.

                “Either way, it was very good. Onto the next and last mach. Team B as heroes against Team D as villains.

                Great.

-0-

                Fumikage couldn’t really say how he felt about Midoriya. Yes, he was shy (or at least easily embarrassed) though he seemed to have some guts for giving the explosive teen lip. The bird headed boy didn’t need to spend more than a day and a half to see how the blonde’s temperament was toxic to him and the ones around him. He could only feel very hostile vibes towards the green haired teen.

                He also knew his teammate was smart. That much was obvious from the fights before. His smile and intentions were genuine, but there was an air of wrong clinging to him. Dark Shadow was gaining his powers from negative emotions in the user. That was the main reason he had such a good control over his own. Having the rage of someone like Bakugou would have ended him in a containing facility for people who couldn’t control their Quirks long before he could even dream of being a hero. That was why the demon inside of him could feel, to a certain degree, the emotions from the people around him.

                And Midoriya screamed danger.

                He couldn’t really point it out, couldn’t really understand it himself. A part of him knew he didn’t want to dig. Because Bakugou was violent and explosive, a bomb with a hair trigger. His danger was that of a shockwave, fast and out of nowhere. Midoriya’s was like a disease.

                It felt like a few thousand bugs crawling beneath a tomb, or the floorboards of a really nice house. They didn’t strike fast, but ate away the foundation and the people inside, slowly but surely, until it was too late to run away. It got under your skin, rotted your flesh and vanished without a trace leaving you empty, a husk of your former self. By all accounts, with such a vibe, Midotiya should have been evil in a trench coat.

                But his smile was genuine.

                Everything about his attitude and feelings per say rang no ill intent. The whole rottenness came from something inside of him. It must’ve been his Quirk. The same was with Dark Shadow. But here, it was somehow worse. Because Dark Shadow was a rabid animal, striking at anything and everything in sight. A pure agent of chaos. Whatever Quirk Midoriya had, it was patient and calm. Dark Shadow hit hard until you were down. Midoriya’s Quirk was waiting for the best possible moment, for the time when you were at your weakest to end you in one strike.

                “What’s your Quirk?”

                Fumikage’s head suddenly snapped towasds his teammate. His Quirk may be evil, but the boy had no ill intent. He of all people wouldn’t be the one to judge others by their Quirks.”What?”

                “Your Quirk, what is it. If we want to devise a strategy, we’d better know what assets we have at our disposal. So, what is your Quirk?”

                “I have a demon in me. His name is Dark Shadow and is sentient and can physically materialize his body outside of mine. I can use it for different purposes, including defense and offense.”

                “Seems pretty volatile” the rabbit rubbed his chin.”If you don’t mind me asking, does your Quirk have, by any chance, a weakness to light?”

                Fumikage froze, though he didn’t let it show.”How did you figure that out?”

                “Call it a lucky guess. My Quirk is a simple augmentation Quirk, it basically makes me stronger and faster, but it also kinda breaks my bones when I use it.”

                Lie. It’s too tame, too loud to be true.

                “Since you have obviously the stronger handle on your Quirk, I think it would be best for you to stay here and guard the nuke. I can go around, slowing them down. Staying in one place is unadvisable for me, and you can probably fight on your own just fine.”

                “But shouldn’t that be more reason for me to go after them and you to guard it? I can stop them before they reach us in the first place.”

                “Strategically speaking, you are perfectly right. More so, your Quirk would work better in the hallways, where you can just break the light bulbs and have the upper hand.” He paused, looking for a way to phrase his next words “ But I know our enemies on a personal level.” he crossed his arms, but had a face somewhere between wary and pleased.”Kacchan’s explosions won’t work well against your Quirk, and Dark Shadow will be weakened in the best case scenario. Uraraka will be the easiest to fight here, since there are no things she could lift off the ground to drop on you later. Kacchan also has a strong grudge on me. He’ll want to defeat me first and win the game second. If I know him well, and we’ve known each other since forever, he’ll probably tell Uraraka to stay put and out of his way while he finishes me off. I’ve only known Uraraka for about a week, but she’ll see sense and come after you on her own before the time is up.”

                “Are you sure you want to take Bakugou on your own, with him being so much more in control of his Quirk?” Fumikage’s concern was genuine. The plan seemed suicidal on the greenette’s part. But Midoriya just smiled and gave him thumbs up, which reminded him so much of All Might it was unsettling.

                “Don’t worry. I’ll distract him and, believe me, it’ll work!” he then blushed and waved his hands “But, if you think you have a better plan, I’d love to hear it. I really am very attached to my limbs and would like to keep them on my body.”

                Fumikage sighed. He didn’t like it, didn’t like it at all. But he didn’t have a better plan “No”

                “Oh, about your fight with Uraraka. You could hide in the shadows and take her by surprise when she enters. I would suggest covering the windows, you know, make it so dark she literally can’t do anything against you. But we have nothing to cover them with, so I think an ambush is the best idea.” he suddenly seemed fidgety.”Is that OK with you? If you don’t like it, we could find something else...”

                Fumikage sighed. “How long did it take you to come up with this?”

                “It just came to me. The last part, I mean. The bigger plan I started cooking when I realized there was a pretty big chance I’ll end up fighting Kacchan.” the bell rand, signal that the time was up.

                “No, the plan is good. Just try not to get too hurt. I get the feeling you do that often.”

                Midoriya rubbed his neck sheepishly, but didn’t deny.”I’ll try. Good luck!”

                As he walked out, the bird headed teen couldn’t help but notice the waves of fear coming off the boy or how he unconsciously rubbed his wrists. The boy had made a strategy like that on the spot, without much time. He had figured out his Quirk’s weakness alarmingly fast. Maybe the dark presence wasn’t his Quirk, but his ability to figure things out.

                But, as he watched the door close, Fumikage couldn’t help but hope that, whatever demons stood on the boy’s shoulders they would keep him safe from his blond classmate.

-0-

                Well, that was interesting, Izuku thought as he ran down the stairs. Yes, he intended to distract Kacchan. No, he wouldn’t make it easy.

                Tokuyami was peculiar. Not only in appearance, because, come on, he stopped questioning it long time ago, but in his quirk. To say Dark Shadow was dangerous was an understatement. The raven’s thread was coiling, moving, like a nest of angry snakes. It was dark, not like the night but like a cauldron of gasoline heated almost to the point of boiling over. A spark of anger, a second of inattention and it would destroy everything on a mile radius. But weirder was that the thread was sentient, yet, at the same time savage. It was destructive, but it held no malice. It was like an animal, with no concept of good and evil, following its instincts.

                Tokoyami himself seemed fine; a little emo, but a decent guy. He had even told him to be careful, which was more than any of his previous classmates ever did. He may have a dangerous, out of the usual norms of the society Quirk, but who was he to talk? He found a shadowed corner, a niche in the wall, and hid there. Kacchan would try to kill him anyway, so being pissed off would lessen his attention. Not that Izuku doubted his ability to piss the blond off, he did that by merely existing in the same universe as him, but a few wasted minutes of searching would definitely do the trick.

                Izuku closed his eyes, focusing and actively searching for threads. It was the first time he tried this, but he could feel something akin to heat signatures a few levels under him. Now he just had to make sure he kept track of them.

-0-

                “Ok, so what’s our plan?” Ochako asked the taller teen. She didn’t really like him, he almost attacked Midoriya the other day, but he seemed to have a plan by the determined look on his face. Plus, he and the green haired boy had been classmates, so he may have a way to counterattack the strategist.

                “Stay out of the way while I get Deku. After I’m done with him I’ll take down bird head and win this fight.”

                “I’m here too, you know? I can help.” he growled and glared at her like she’d personally offended him.

                “This is not your fight, Round Face. Let me do my job and it will end up well.”

                “What if he doesn’t want to fight you? What if he hides? You’ll just waste our time looking for enemies instead of completing the assignment.”

                He didn’t look at her as he entered the building “He won’t be able to hide from me!” and slammed the door in her face.

                What an ass!

                Ochako waited a few moments, just to make sure he was far away before entering the building. There was no reasoning with the hot head, but hell would freeze over before she listened to some guy telling her to stay back and do nothing. So, if the blond didn’t think she was smart or competent enough to help him, she would just have to win this match on her own. And Bakugou seemed to do her a favor by keeping her one enemy occupied.

-0-

                Where the fuck are you, you little shit?!

                Katsuki had been walking for five minutes, had already cleared the first floor and found neither hide nor hair of the green-cladded menace. It was frustrating. Even if he was avoiding him, the blond always kept an eye on the smaller boy, just to make sure he wouldn’t be taken by surprise. When the hell did he become so stealthy?

                He stopped and breathed for a second. This wasn’t working. He needed to think like the boy. Izuku wouldn’t risk remaining with the bomb. It was too secluded, too tight for a proper fight. There were almost no obstacles to put between them and he couldn’t outrun him in an enclosed space. By what he heard from the entrance exam, Deku didn’t really know how to use the Quirk well enough yet.

                He would find him. He would find him and force him to his breaking point. The boy would either use his original Quirk and reveal his inner villain or he would keep the charade and let Katsuki beat some fucking sense into the weakling. It was a win-win.

                He had to think. Raging around would only waste his time (not that he’d ever let Round Face know that). Where would the little pest be hiding? He wouldn’t sit still, trap himself with no way out. That meant he was on the move.

                His thought process was interrupted by a sudden sound. Katsuki whipped around and saw a shadow disappear around the corner. He dashed for the opening.

 The hallway was empty.

                Steps echoed behind him, getting closer. He turned around, explosion ready, but no one was there. Whispers and irregular steps echoed around him, coming from every direction, with no way for him to pinpoint the source.

                “Going full horror movie on me, Deku?! You really think that cheap trick would work for me?!”

                “No”

                He did a one-eighty and found the green-cladded menace a few meters away, leaning casually on the wall. His expression was unreadable, masked by the mockery of a grin on his mouthpiece.

                Bakugou stood for a moment, a part of him thinking that this must be a trap. The other part of him was mad he had to wander for so long and dove in with a yell.

                “DIE!!!!” the boy couldn’t dodge, not in this secluded place, but he didn’t count on that. Instead, he turned around and ran along the corridor.”Stay and face me, you coward!” Katsuki raged.

                “How about no?” a voice echoed as the boy took another corner. Katsuki yelled in frustration and followed. He soon found himself at an impasse. He didn’t really bother to study the buildings layout and now he was at crossroads. Where the hell did the little pest go?

                He felt movement from behind him and turned around just in time to avoid the capture tape aiming for his gauntlet. He dodged, catching the slender wrist in his own and pulling forward. Izuku lost his balance, which was enough for the blond to pin him to the ground. Deku coughed when his back hit the cold tiles but froze when Katsuki grabbed him by the face.

                “Out of tricks already?” he grinned. Deku opened his mouth to say something, but the blond moved his hand to gag him.”No, you’re not allowed to surrender. You can’t and you’ll never be a hero, but it seems I have to teach you that the hard way.”

                Izuku glared, but said nothing.

                Bakugo, stop, that’s quite enough. Capture him and retrieve the bomb. All Might said from his earphone. That was his fatal flaw.

                When he looked down, he yelped and jerked back. Apparently, the little shit managed to free one of his arms and jabbed it ruthlessly in his eye. When Katsuki flinched, Deku took the opportunity and stabbed his knee in the blond’s side. Getting up, he dashed for those god damned corridors and disappeared.

                Not again, you fuckmunch. Katsuki sprinted after him before he had the time to adjust his vision. He furiously blinked the tears away and ran after the villain.

                It’s true, Izuku might have been fast, but Katsuki was fueled by the kind of determination only the need for murder could provide. He launched an explosion and hit the smaller boy square in the back, earning himself a pained cry. Before Deku reached the ground, the blond caught his hand arm and threw him in one of the rooms. He stomped forward and slammed the door shut behind him before the freckled boy got the time to get up.

                “Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Let’s settle this once and for all.”

            It was true, the room was the worst possible place for the boy to fight. No pillars to hide behind, no rubble to use as weapon, a huge empty space and there wasn’t almost any way for Katsuki to miss.  The windows were closed and the only exit available was behind the explosive blond.

Deku gritted his teeth ”Is this really the best plan, Kacchan? Are you willing to stain your perfect record by killing me? You've been literally wasting your time chasing after me instead if recovering the bomb. Is this what you'll do on the field? Risk the lives of civiliand for some petty revenge?”

„Oh, I'll win this game, don't you worry. I'll finish you off in a second and then I'll go after the bird head and win this game.” a wide, malevolent grin that promised bruises and broken bones spread across his face.”And I won't kill you, I'll just beat you 'till I feel better.” and, with that, he released a blast in the villains direction.

Deku dodged and zigzagged around the small room, staying out of the blond's range.

'Stop running and fight already you coward!” he fired more blasts, but a decade of running away honed your evading skills like nothing else.”Come on, now, use that flashy power of yours and go all out. I want to dafeat you at your best!” Deku said nothing, eyes darting arund looking for a way out.”There is no way out.” he growled.

„There's always a way out.” the boy barked, pulling out his capture tape.

„You really think that will work, Deku? If you want a chance to walk out of this alive then go for the fucking kill!”

The boy panted, but still said nothing, looking around, analysing. It was taking too long, Katsuki realised. He had to finish. At this point Deku was just stalling, waiting for the time to run out.”You know how my Quirk works, don't you? My sweat is similar to nytroglycerine. When I light it up it causes explosions. Now, if the losers from support had done their job well, this gauntlets have been gathering my sweat since the beginning. Care to guess what happens next?”

The phisycal impersonification of oh fuck posessed Deku for a second. Katsuki grinned and started pullind the pin. The sheer amount of fuel was too much fot the boy to completly avoid.

Bakugou, stop, you're gonna kill him! All Might yelled in his ear.

„He'll be fine as long as he dodges!” the pin came loose and every person lost sight in the blinding white for a moment. When the smoke cleared, Deku had apparently managed to dodge to the best of his ability. Half of his costume had burned in the blast and the skin left was red and raw. A huge hole was where the wall used to be, showing the beautiful day outside.

If you do that again I'll stop the mach and declare them the winners. You can't destroy the building. Neither of you.

Katsuki gritted his teeth and stepped forward. He had to finish this now.

That wast very heroic of you, Kacchan.” he could hear the smirk in the villains voice. The nerd had a plan.

„Like you're one to talk!”

„Well, you talk high and mighty of defeating me, but you keep attacking me at a distance.'

„You want me to blow up your face up close?! Is that it?!” he didn't wait for a response as he lounged for the smaller teen. Less than a meter away, Deku ducked and slipped beneath his stretched arm. But he didn't go for the door.

Instead, he spun around, grabbed his other gauntlet and pulled the pin.

With no door to keep him in place, Katsuki was thrown back by his own weapon, through the hole in the wall he had created earlier.

On the ground, from the place he had collapsed to avoid incineration, Izuku shakily got up, staggering through the opening. A jolt of horror went through his spine. I din't kill him, did I?

All feelings of fear disappeared when he saw the blond hanging of some steel pipes protruding from the fundation, glaring murder up at him.

„Are you kidding me?!” he exclaimed before he yelled before turning around and running out the door. A second later the bells rang, signalling the end of the mach. Did we win...?

-0-

They didn't win.

Aparently, while he was worsening his childhood problems, Uraraka had fought Tokoyami. The raven forgot to count for the debris falling from the walls and ceiling as he was trying to tackle Uraraka. She had distracted him with the shards of falling concrete enough to get close and claim the bomb.

He gave a thumbs up to Uraraka and tried to console Tokoyami, saying that it wasn't his fault. It really wasn't.

He had to go to Recovery Girl for the burn, which stung but didn't scar, which was really tame by Kacchan's standards. Fortunately, the explososive boy left before him, looking like he would murder someone by the accounts of his classmates, so he didn't have to share an awkward train ride home. Because, even after the fire, they still lived in the same neighbourhood.

Iida and Uraraka walked him to the station and they departed while talking about heroes. Izuku waved his left hand, the sling on his right not being the best tool for the job, and watched the buildings run past him. He smiled, not prepared in the slightest for what was to come.

               

Chapter Text

 

The next days passed quikly. He was excited to meet Lunch Rush and mentally cuffed himself from pulling out his notebook to ask for an autograph and stop the line.  One day, the media had breached the school grounds, which resulted in a mass panick, because of fucking course. Iida had noticed the problem pretty fast, that it wasn’t a villain attack, but soem overzealous reposters, and Izuku did his duty as a friend and crappy class prez and helped Iida become an Emergency sign to help people exit the building correctly, which resulted in his early retirement from the position as class president.

 When he finally got home a few hours later, the first night he didn't have to deal with recovery sleep, he found his mother in bed.

“Mom, you OK?”

She threw him a smile, albeit a pained one.”Sweety, I'm fine. But we got a gift basket from a company and the food is spoiled. I'll be good, but I'll stay home tomorrow.”

„OK. Feel better” he prepared to close the door before asking „But what were you doing home early?”

„A client got violent and we had to call the police. They sent me and some other colleagues home. Guess this just isn't my day.” She didn’t eve bother to smile this time, only sighed tiredly and turned rubbed her temples.

„Is there anything I can do to help you?”

„No, I just want to sleep.”

„OK, good night!” and he silently closed the door. Welp, he wouldn't be telling his mother about his day. Dad wasn't online, hadn't been for a few days now. Izuku was starting to get worried. He ate his supper in silence, scrolling through hero news before going to bed early for his standards, but horrendously late for everbody elses.

While the teen was excited for the naxt day's field trip, he couldn't stop feeling like something was very, very wrong.

The atmosphere on the bus was bubbly and relaxed, a tad too loud for his teacher, if Aizawa's expression gave Izuku any clue. He wasn't really bothered, because for the first time since kindergarden, his collagues were friendly. For the first time he didn't have to sit in the back of the bus and pretend he didn't hear the slurs and insults threw carelessly at his person.

„Your Quirk is oddly similar to All Migths” Asui said.

                Oh, shit, oh, shit, what now. He scratched his head nervously and gave a sheepish smile „Really? I never noticed.”

                They talked about popularity polls and Izuku got to experience for the first time in his life what it was like to see someone bully Kacchan and stay in one piece. But it wasn’t particualry mean, so he guessed it was OK.

                They arrived at the training facility and Space Hero 13 explained to them how Quirks were neither good nor bad, they could hurt or do good depending on the user. Basically, a simplified version of his father’s rants.

Suddenly, in the middle of the plaza, an Inky, black fog swirled and a few dozens of people got out. The man in the middle, who was probably thier leader if you judged by the large handmotions, the butler and the oh my shit, what the fuck is that?! Was tall, skinny, dressed in black, with a lot of hands strapped to his person, that made him look more like a duck than anything else.

He knew what they were long before any of his classmates said anyhting, before Aizawa decided to jump and protect them. Because there was only so much malice a person could give and it came out of those people in waves

 

                Izuku watched as the villains got out of the warp gate, and filled up the plaza.

“Stay put, those are real villains! Thirteen, take the students and go. Kaminari, try to contact the school.” Aizawa said as he put on his goggles.

                “Sensei, your fighting style is to surprise and ambushing your attackers. You’ll be at a disadvantage against multiple opponents!” Izuku said. He couldn’t see the look his teacher threw him, but he was unsettled by the unnatural calm in his voice.

                “No hero is a one trick pony.” with that he jumped into the fight.

                It won’t work, there’s too many of them. Izuku thinks as he follows his teachers and fellow students towards the exit. Suddenly that same inky substance appeared in front of them and a pair of yellow eyes looked out from it in an almost curious way.

                “Do you have any knowledge about the whereabouts of All Might? We believed him to be here?”

                “What do you want with him?” Thirteen said positioning herself between the villain and the students.

                “We came here with the intention to kill him. But, seeing as he’s not here, my young associate will have to settle for you golden eggs. Prepare to perish.”

                Thirteen looked like they wanted to use their Quirk to defeat the villain, but Bakugou and Kirishima jumped in and attacked him (of fucking course) before they could do it. Black mist grew around their feet and the next thing he knew, Izuku was plummeting toward the dark cold water below.

-0-

                This is bad, this is so, so bad.

                Scratch that, this is the worst.

                Izuku could do nothing but watch, frozen, as the giant villain with the exposed brain threw their homeroom teacher around like a ragdoll. That thing was not human. It couldn’t be human. Even from a distance, he could see the amalgamation- the Gordian knot-of different Quirks inside of it; a horrible mess of bright threads tangled together without rhyme or reason.

                Though that wasn’t quite right; there was a terrifying amount of thought put into how the chaotic threads inside that thing were supposed to work together. The threads were tangled together tightly in seemingly random knots, as to be certain it wouldn’t fall apart. Izuku was sure he wouldn’t be able to take away any of them. He couldn’t even begin to try to make sense of what he was seeing, or what was happening but he knew with absolute certainty he couldn’t untangle the loom.

                This was wrong. Plain wrong. There wasn’t supposed to be more than one Quirk in one person. One for All was different, it was meant to be passed on, to be inherited. It was specifically designed to adapt to the user. These weren’t.

                A thought struck him, sending a shiver of terror down his spine. Is this what would happen to me if I used my original Quirk?

                However disturbing that thought might have been, he couldn’t dwell on it right now. Those villains were going to kill his teacher and then they were going to kill them.

                He stood up, assessing the situation. He didn’t look at his classmates as he said “Go around the walls until you find an exit. Try to find and help the others if you can.”

                “What will you do?” Tsuyu asked.

                “I’ll help Aizawa.” He assessed any possible escape routes, any weaknesses in the dinosaur in the valley.

                “We can’t do that, we’re only students!” Mineta exclaimed.

                “I’m not forcing you to come; actually I’m literally begging you not to come.” He spared them a glance, trying to convey as much pleading into his eyes as he could. It didn’t work.

                “We’re not leaving you behind.” Tsuyu said, dragging a protesting Mineta by the neck.

                “You could get seriously injured!” Izuku protested. He didn’t want to drag anyone else after him in this mess.

                “So could you. This way, you’ll at least have someone drag you back if worse comes to worst.”

                Izuku wanted to argue, but there was no time. Self-sacrificing brats. Sighing, he entered the water and moved towards the fight.

                Up close it was even worse. Aizawa was bloody and bruised, with a destroyed elbow and broken sticks that hardly resembled his limbs.

                “Where is All Might?” the hand-covered guy rasped, scratching his neck. His voice was rough and strained, like all the hands around his neck were taking revenge for the time they were alive. It didn’t seem to work. “He was supposed to be here.”

                The mist man appeared next to him. “One of them, the one with the engines has escaped, and will soon be contacting the heroes.”

                “Dammit, Kurogiri, you had one job! If you weren’t our only way out I’d kill you right now.” he sighed. “We can’t fight multiple pros, I guess we’ll just have to leave.”

                “Are they really laving?” Mineta whispered. But the hand-man wasn’t finished.

                “But first, let’s crumble All Might’s pride by killing some of his students.”

                You just had to jinx it, Mineta.

                Izuku didn’t have time to think, before the man leaped in their direction, placing his hands on both his and Tsuyu’s faces. He closed his eyes, prepared for the pain….

                 The pain never came.

                “You're really cool, Eraserhead, you know that?” the man turned towards his teacher and Izuku took the opportunity to drag his classmates back a few meters. His heart was leaping out of his chest in rabid fury, but his mind was still racing with possibilities, with plans, with anything that might help him get out alive.

            Sending a prayer to whatever deity had domain over stupid stunts and idiotic improvisation, he started talking before the hand guy had the chance to attack his teacher.

Let’s hope the movies were right about villains and their love for monologuing.

                “What exactly do you want to accomplish?” the man turned towards him and Izuku gulped under his crimson gaze.

                “We want to kill All Might, of course. We want to shatter the Symbol of Peace and show the world the true side of heroes.”

               

                “Interesting idea, very original. But there’s a problem: All Might’s not here.” thank God his voice wasn’t shaking. The man turned towards him fully, leaving the monster behind him-Noumu- on standby in a way that would have been comical if it wasn’t terrifying.

                “Kill him already and let’s leave, Tomura Shigaraki” the mist man said.

                “Shut up, Kurogiri,” turning towards the teen “Even if he’s not here, we’ll take this chance to break his hope, his drive. We will humiliate him beyond the point of coming back!”

                “Haven’t you accomplished that already?” Shigaraki froze and looked at the teen, slightly tilting his head. Izuku took it as a sign to continue. “I mean, you broke into a high security facility, took down our communications and incapacitated two teachers, pro-heroes nonetheless.”

                So where the hell are the other teachers?

                “At this point, you didn’t only destroyed the public’s hope in All Might but you also obliterated their belief in UA and its heroes”

                “He’s stalling, Shigaraki, Sensei wouldn’t want you to fall for this, kill him and..."

                “One more word, Kurogiri and I’ll kill you, fates be damned.` The words seemed to stir something in the unstable man child` Sensei is not here, he’s too injured to help. I’m the leader and I’ll kill him when and if I see fit and not a second sooner!” Shigaraki sneered. Good, he was childish, easily distracted. Dangerous and unpredictable, but not so hard to manipulate. Izuku waited until the pale haired man turned his full attention back towards him before he continued.

                “Not to mention, all the attention turned towards you. Hijacking the USJ! The media will have a field day. Your group was the League of Villains, right?”

                “Yes.”

                “Then imagine the headlines, the papers, the talk. The League of villains attacks the USJ and injures two pro heroes. Everyone will know about you and your goals, you might even get new followers and people to believe in your cause!” Izuku was fully aware he sounded like a bloody commercial right now, but thankfully, it seemed to work. Shigaraki rubbed his chin and even through his face was covered by that hand, Izuku would bet his All Might collection that he was considering his words. His gaze wondered to his teacher and he found Aizawa looking at him from beneath the Noumu. He couldn’t read his expression but he knew he would have to give one hell of an explanation if-when- they got out.

                “It’s not game over yet.” Shigaraki said. Izuku’s head whipped back in his direction as he rapidly cooked up a new conversation topic.

                “Yes, but the heroes are coming. The villains you already brought are small fry, not a real threat. They don’t stand a chance against pros.” them, not you. “You obviously know your games.” flattery couldn’t do any harm “You know when to save before attacking the big boss. You may be a strong leader” please work “but your party is under developed, under leveled. You cannot win a quest with a weak team.”

                “And what do you suggest?” the question held bite but he still sounded genuinely curious.

                “Leave now, in glory. You accomplished something no one else ever did before. You will be famous” he left the right amount of dramatic silence for the villain to ponder, left enough time for the villain to fantasize before landing the final blow “Why waste the chance?”

                Shigaraki seemed to be thinking hard on this, the speech pushing more than one button, hopefully no wrong one. Kurogiri was glaring as much as a sentient mass of smoke could and the Noumu was still petrified, waiting for another order. Izuku couldn’t see his classmate’s faces but he could imagine the shocked, terrified or outright disgusted expressions on their faces. He could imagine what they were thinking: what a villain. He talks too casually, he is too relaxed.

                If I have to be a villain, I could at least trick other villains.

                He didn’t have time to think more on that issue as one of the USJ walls blew up, attracting everyone’s attention . From smoke and dust, All Might walked into the USJ. His clothes were ripped on his muscled form and his usual bright smile morphed into an angry grimace. Izuku took the opportunity and ran for Aizawa before he was pulled back by his hood. His back collided with the thin man’s chest and four fingers wrapped around his neck.

                “Not so fast, silver-tongue. You are our get out card, so play the nice hostage and you might get out alive” then towards the beast.”Noumu, take him out.” he said as he jerked his head towards the No 1 hero.

                Shit shit shit

                Izuku looked towards his classmates. Tsuyu looked like she wanted to help him, but he just pointed to Aizawa. Shigaraki captured his hands in his four-fingered grip behind his back before turning his attention towards the fight. The girl seemed to get the idea and got out of sight.

                Izuku looked everywhere, desperately searching for a way out. No matter how terrifying- and badass- All Might’s fight was, he doubted he would get out alive while being in the hands of the man-child.

                Suddenly, he felt his thread. It was cool and dark, much like a deep cave or tomb. It was like a shadow that could wrap around your limbs and drag you down to die and fester. Slow even lazy but still plenty dangerous; a dead snake, who’s jaw still retains the memory of its bite. He couldn’t take it without the man noticing and he couldn’t risk disintegration.

                Even so, he reached for it. As long as he didn’t start to pull, he should be fine, Shigaraki shouldn’t notice.

                He started to wrap it around his hand before he stopped. It would take too long. Sounds of fight were ringing in the distance and he risked a glance, but All Might was doing fine. He returned to his still developing theory. He gave up wrapping it around himself and instead looked for an end or a start. He always took a Quirk all at once. What if he tried it little by little?

                Izuku knew this was the worst possible time to develop his original Quirk, but he was also fully aware he might not live to try it again.

                He found the end he was looking for and tugged. The man was keeping the physical contact intact and Izuku felt how the thread left the villain and gently wrapped around his hand. He tugged and tugged until it stopped. He knew that if he tugged any harder the megalomaniac would feel it. So, as he watched the fight, how the Noumu took hit after hit after hit, he focused on the thin thread between the man and him.

                It didn’t feel like his other Quirk, or any he had held before. Those were tightly knit, ingrained into his core. This one had the consistency of a spider web in a merciless wind. He had to be focused to keep it there; one slip and it would return to its rightful owner.

                In the corner of his eye he saw Tsuyu was dragging Aizawa away from them.

                In Shigaraki it felt different. It was no longer wrapped around his core, but loose, hanging by one strong hair attached to it. How did he do it? All five fingers?

                Discreetly, making sure he didn’t draw attention to himself, he placed his hand on the hem of his gym uniform. Slowly, the edges turned to dust and Izuku stopped before he lost his jacket.

                Good. I can temporarily steal Quirks. The more you know.

                The fight was getting closer and Izuku took advantage of a particularly savage punch to place his hand lightly on the material man’s hoodie. He waited until the man yelped and jerked back to wrench himself out of his grip.

                Shigaraki looked at him eyes wide and Izuku knew shock must have sowed under the severed hand. He turned to make a run for it and crashed face first into the Noumu.

He hit the ground painfully and felt a huge, monstrous hand grab him by the face. The boy found himself dangling in the air before the Noumu caught him around his midriff.

                “Not so fast, All Might, unless you want me to crush this kid.”

                Izuku looked at his mentor who was fuming a few meters away from them. His breath hitched as he tried not to hyperventilate. Fuck, shit, fuck fuck fuck, I’m so dead.

                Calm down you useless fuck and figure a way out already! His inner voice- sounding a lot like Kacchan- said.

                “Now, now, Number one hero, you will listen to me and not move a finger if you want this brat to live.”

                Fingers!

                Moving his hands in a motion that he hoped it looked like he was struggling, he placed all his five fingers on the dark skin. He couldn’t see what he was doing, but he hoped it was working.

                “You call us villains when you only use violence to breed more violence. Your perfect society is so flawed that it needs to be burned down and built back up. And the only way to do this is to break it to the ground, starting with its main pillar!”

                The Quirk seemed to have picked up its pace because the Noumu screamed in an inhuman way as decay started to creep up its skin. But it held strong and started to slowly squeeze the life out of the green haired teen.

                Suddenly, the villains stopped. From the corner of his slowly fading gaze, the colorful silhouettes of his teachers appeared. Izuku would have left out a relieved sigh if he had any air left in his lungs. He heard, through the fog clouding his senses the rasping voice of the villain before he found himself flying through the air. It didn’t last more than a few seconds before big, warm arms caught him and a familiar thread appeared in his internal vision.

                “All Might?” he said as he took in a big breath and started coughing. The big man started rubbing his back, giving him time to regain his ability and function normally. His ribs were killing him and it hurt whenever he inhaled, but he was never happier to hear the ragged rhythm of his heart drumming in his chest.

                Huge cement walls rose around them and All Might turned back to his normal self. But he didn’t let him go.

                “I stalled him, I kept him talking. Tsuyu saved Aizawa and Mineta but I could only keep him talking. Oh my god, I sounded so insensitive I…I- I....”

                “Shhhh, young Midoriya” All Might pulled him into a hug and rubbed his back. “It’ll be Ok, the heroes are here and you and your classmates are safe.”

                “O...Ok” Izuku inhaled sharply, wincing at the pain in his chest and closed his eyes.

-0-

 

                Toshinori knew something was wrong the moment Aizawa didn’t answer his phone. After he managed to escape Nedzu, he ran into Young Iida who told him the USJ had been attacked. He had rushed there only to find his successor taken hostage by the man who seemed to be the leader of the villains.

                The fight with the Noumu had been rough and he still didn’t know how he’d managed to win it. He knew it was probably the desire to protect his students, to get his protégé out of the grasp of the villain. He had managed to send the Noumu flying back to his master only for it to trap Izuku in its fist.

                “Not so fast, All Might, unless you want me to crush this kid.” the hand villain said and All Might had stopped.

                If you lay a finger....

                “Now, Number one hero, you will listen to me and not move a finger if you want this brat to live.” Toshinori clenched his fists, eyes darting around, looking for some kind of escape. He didn’t find any. His gaze landed on his successor who seemed to be struggling, yet he had that thinking look on his face. He was planning something.

                The hand guy kept talking but stopped when his monster let out an unearthly scream. Looking at it, All Might saw half of his fist disintegrated, squeezing the now suffocating teen. The boy had taken a Quirk.

                His train of thought derailed when his colleagues arrived. They burst through the door and attacked the villains. He had never been happier to see anyone and almost missed the words the pale haired man said.

                “Noumu, throw him away!” the next second his protégé was flying through the air, plummeting forcefully towards the ground. In that moment, All Might forgot all about the villains, the monster, the heroes. In that moment all the No 1 hero could see was the falling form of his student in imminent danger. He leaped through the air and caught the green haired student before he hit the ground.

                Izuku stirred and finally cracked an eyelid open. His gaze was fogged, unfocused, but he seemed to recognize the man enough to whisper “All Might?”

                Next he was coughing his lungs out and the big man was rubbing his back. Toshinori looked back, but it seemed that the mist villain and the hand one had warped out. The Noumu was still wailing the loss of its gone appendance, inhuman sounds travelling through the air.

                Cementoss rose thick walls around them and All Might finally deflated. He kept the teen close and Izuku, ever the worrier, took this as a sign to start talking instead of, you know, resting after an almost death, like normal people.

“I stalled him, I kept him talking. Tsuyu saved Aizawa and Mineta but I could only keep him talking. Oh my god, I sounded so insensitive I…I-I....”

“Shhhh, young Midoriya” Toshinori hugged the panicked boy. It seemed like his post-stress reaction was rambling as opposed to mumbling. He was looking for approval, for a proof he did the right thing. All Might’s heart pounded as he thought about how much the teen really needed it, but he said as soothingly as he could . “It’ll be Ok, the heroes are here and you and your classmates are safe.”

 

“O-Ok” the teen breathed deeply, wincing in pain then promptly passed out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

                After he woke up sore and tired, All Might took him home where he promptly collapsed in a fitful sleep. His mother was still sick, but that didn’t hinder her innate power of knowing instantly when to open the news to find an article that could be transformed into a life lesson. Which was how now Izuku found himself the next day with a huge breakfast and a sick mother worrying over him about how he almost died.

                He meant to spend his free day relaxing and making sure all is classmates were OK, but with his mother still out of comission, his father had to take over the worry-scolding-trying to convince him to give up heroism. The moment he reached his room, the obnoxiously loud ringtone of his father went off.

                “Hello?”

                “Izuku, are you alright? I heard what happened on the news and I was sure something happened to you.”

                “Just some scratches and bruises” he said, patting his still aching ribs “Wait, since when do they put Japanese news on your television?”

                “I am capable of using the internet, you know?”

                “I’m surprised.”

                “I see what you’re doing there; stop stalling. These methods may work on your middle school teachers, but not on the person you learned them from.”

                “They apparently work on villains too.” he said before slapping a hand over his traitorous mouth. Damn his tired, sleep deprived brain.

                “What?” a dangerously neutral voice asked

                “Yeah” Izuku rubbed his neck, trying to find a way to phrase his next words without letting out any information that might affect his future career “See, some villains were going to kill our teacher, and I’d been thrown there by a warp gate” after defeating a few villains and almost getting killed a couple of times “and they said they were going to us attack anyway” kill us, but what does it matter  “and I remembered what you said when we were watching those movies, a long time ago. You know, villains and their love of monologuing? I took a chance and I managed to keep talking until the teachers arrived.”

                “Don’t you turn this on me, you know I would have wanted you to run. You had every chance to do it too.”

                “It wasn’t that dangerous!”

                “Then what about the monster that went toe to toe with All Might? Not at all dangerous, I’m sure.”

                “That’s not...wait, how do you know about the Noumu? The police didn’t release the information to the press.”

                “People talk, Izuku. It’s easy to find information if you look on the right forums.”

                “How did you know what forums to search?”

                “Never underestimate the drive of an irate father.”

                Izuku knew that this particular conversation was over, so he said. “Well, all in all, I’m fine. Mom is sick and so I can’t really talk right now, is there anything else you wanted to tell me?”

                “Yes, remember Kitanai Tatakai?”

                “Yeah, she taught me martial arts when I was younger, why?”

                “Well, from what you told me, you still don’t have full control over your new Quirk-don’t know what person in their right mind would give you a Quirk right before the exam- and you shouldn’t be totally defenseless without it. All that power means nothing if you can’t properly throw a punch.”

                “I can throw a punch!” he responded, a little flustered.

                “You could throw a punch. When you were ten. Forgive me if I don’t trust your pre-puberty muscle memory.”

                Izuku grumbled, but finally gave in. “Fine. She was nice, so I guess it’s worth it. How have you been doing lately?”

                “Pretty well when I’m not worrying over my son’s complete lack of common sense. You’re giving me a headache.”

                “You’ve been complaining about that headache for the last six years, shouldn’t you have learned to live with it by now?”

                A small chuckle. “I suppose I should have.  I have to go now. Don’t forget to message me and tell me about your day.”

                “I won’t. Bye Dad.”

                “Goodbye Izuku.

                The rest of the day continued without event and he found his classmates well and dandy the next day in school. When he looked around he found Tsuyu eyeing him warily. Oh no, he felt his heart sink as he suddenly realized the girl had heard him talking to the villains. She thinks I’m evil.

                The girl slowly made her way towards him, emotions unreadable on her frog-like face.

                “No offense, Midoriya, but what are you doing in heroics?” Izuku felt his heart skip a beat as he stared frozen at his colleague.” You really should be in Management.”

                Wait, what?

                “Oh, yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask- weren’t all of you near the boss when All Might came?” Kirishima said.

                “I was so scared. For a moment there I thought the hand guy was going to kill you!” Ashido said. All classmates turned towards them and if there was ever a time for the ground to open up and swallow him whole this was it.

                “They almost did. The only reason we’re still here is because Mido-kun kept his cool and dealt with the villain.”

                He shook his hands.” I really didn’t do that much; I think I actually annoyed them more than anything. I’m just glad we didn’t die.”

                “What did he do?” Sero asked, leaning over his desk. Mineta chose that exact moment to open his (usually) obscenity filled mouth and say.

                “He stared talking and convinced the villain it would be in his best interest to spare us and leave. You sounded like a commercial though.”

                Izuku felt his cheeks redden “I did not.”

                “You did, and it worked.” Tsuyu said. “Although it was a bit creepy, the way you were talking about publicity and media impact.”

                “Look, I panicked and said whatever seemed the best thing to say to that sociopath. He looked like he enjoyed attention, so I used that to my advantage.” he said quickly.

                “Dude, chill, we’re not blaming you. If you did that, then you’re super cool” Kirishima slapped him on the back a little harder than usual.”I don’t think I could’ve done it and I’m pretty sure Bakugou would’ve tried to blow him up to kingdom come.”

                “SHUT UP, HAIR FOR BRAINS!” came from the other side of the classroom.

                “You really think that?”

                “Negotiating with villains and minimizing the damage are important skills to have as a hero. Keeping a cool head in stressful situations is also to be admired” Iida said.”There is nothing to be ashamed of.”

                “You…you really think that?” he couldn’t stop the small shards of hope from bleeding into hi voice.

                “Of course!” the others answered. But, even among his classmates who were now supporting him instead of laughing or awkwardly turning away, he could still feel Kacchan’s piercing gaze on the back of his neck.

                He turned around and crimson met green. He didn’t need to hear the words to understand what his eyes were basically screaming louder than his voice ever could.

                Villain.

 Aizawa came a few minutes later, so covered in bandages he was practically mummified. Izuku had half a heart to ask him if he was willing to trade his sleeping bag for a sarcophagus, before realizing he didn’t want detention because of mere sass.

               

                “Are you sure you’re supposed to be teaching today,  Aizawa-sensei? Shouldn’t you rest?” Iida chimed in the moment the teacher entered.

                “I’m fine, Iida. I’m not the one you should be worried about since the school festival is in less than a month. That’s your best chance of being scouted by hero agencies and it comes only once a year, three times in a lifetime. Don’t blow it.”

                After class, he got up and prepared to follow his friends to the cafeteria. Two feet from sweet, sweet food filled freedom the mummy  broke the ancient curse that kept him silent and spoke in his dead tone: “Come with me to my office. There are some matters we need to discuss.”

Izuku gulped and licked his lips nervously before taking one step after the teacher. He followed Aizawa down the hall and through a small room tucked away in a corner, almost invisible to the untrained eye, much like its owner.. The room was small but cozy, the most dominant piece of furniture being a very, very soft-looking couch, but Izuku had a feeling he wasn’t allowed to sit down just yet.

                His teacher turned towards him and Izuku felt like his gaze burning him from beneath the bandages. How he wished he could feel people’s emotions along with their threads.

                “Midorya, at the USJ, what, exactly, did you do?”

                Izuku looked down, Not this again, “I panicked and decided to keep him talking. If I could stall him enough, I could have bought All Might or the other teachers enough time...could have bought you enough time” the last part was mumbled.

                “Midoriya, my job as a teacher is to protect you. You could and did get hurt, almost killed by the villains. That could have been avoided if you had just run.”

                “With all due respect, sensei, the villains were hell bent on killing us anyway. They almost managed to do so and running away would have been hard with us being outnumbered. Yes, the most might have been small fry, but those three weren’t. Our chances of making it out alive were small. So, I took the best course of action that I could think of.”

                Aizawa looked in his direction for an uncomfortable amount of time before finally saying. “I get what Asui was saying about management.” Izuku reddened and looked away.

 “Nonetheless, what you did was dangerous and avoidable. While I appreciate you saving my life, I cannot encourage you to the same in the future, at least until you’re better prepared to hold your own in a fight. Act recklessly one more time and there will be consequences.”

                “I understand sensei.” He bowed.”Is that all?”

                “No. There was something I’ve been meaning to ask. On the first day, when I erased your Quirk, something was off. I finally realized it at the USJ. Most people only have one Quirk so, Midoriya, please explain to me why you have two.”

                Fuck.

                Breathe, breathe, breathe. Tell him the same thing you told Kacchan and Mom and Dad and hope you don’t get expelled.

                He took his own advice, breathed deeply and finally looked at his teacher.”Super strenght is not really my Quirk.”

                Pause. Silence. Then, finally:

                “Sit.”

                The boy did so, but he didn’t feel any better with his much taller teacher now looming over him.

                “My Quirk, the one I was born with, is the power to take away other Quirks. I can also give them back. But I didn’t steal this one!” He said quickly, before his teacher had the time to jump to conclusions “This one has been given to me by a person who could no longer use it to help other people. The reason I started telling people I was Quirkless was because they always looked at me like I was a villain. But, I met this person and they said that I could be a hero and gave me their Quirk so I could get into Heroics. Unfortunately, I only received it on the day of the exam, and that’s why I break my bones when I use it.”

                He had learned a long time ago that the best way to lie was to tell mostly the truth without revealing any crucial information. And everything he had just said was technically true.            Aizawa was silent for a few moments before finally speaking “That does explain a lot, but it also brings up a problem: you have no way of non-lethally using your Quirk; either of your Quirks actually. Is there anything else about your other Quirk that I should know? I need a full image before I decide what to do with you.”

                Please don’t expel me.

                “I’ve only just discovered it at the USJ, but I can temporarily...borrow other Quirks.” He shook his head and looked down “I don’t really take it and I need to be focused to keep it in check, but I can use it and they can’t as long as I stay focused on keeping it.”

                Aizawa mused for a second “That’s definitely a very useful Quirk, but you need to know how to use it.” He nodded to himself, as if he just came to a conclusion “We’ll do it like this: twice a week, after hours, me and another teacher will teach you how to use your Quirks. True, they’re both very dangerous but they’re also very useful and here at UA, we don’t waste potential. But, I have to warn you: if you don’t keep up I cannot guarantee your stay. Is that clear?”

                “Yes sensei. Can I go to class now?”

                “No, actually, there was something else I wanted to tell you.”

                Cold sweat trickled down his spine. What else?

                “At the USJ, I was informed All Might saved you from the Noumu. What do you remember past that moment?”

                He wants to know if I know about his injury. “If you’re wondering about his time limit, yes, I saw it, but All Might already explained it to me. His secret is safe.” he said before adding as an afterthought “The other day I saw Thirteen showing you three fingers. I assume that was the time limit?”

                “Yes.”

                “Well, if it ever happens again, you can let me know and I might be able to move the focus of the conversation elsewhere. It would seem less suspicious from me than from you.”

                “Very well.” Aizawa pulled a slip of paper out of thin air and handed it to him. “Give this to the teacher of your next class, or what’s left of it anyway. I trust you know to keep this conversation between these walls.”

                “Yes sensei” he bowed once more and left for the classroom.

A few hours passed by peacefully before things got interesting when Izuku and the rest went to lunch and found a literal wall of students blocking their path.

                “What’s going on?!” Uraraka exclaimed as they realized they couldn’t get past the mob.

                “No way out! What do they want?!”

                “They’re scouting the competition, small fry.” Bakugou growled as he reached the door. At Mineta’s onomatopoeic exclamation, the blond puffed.”We’re the students who survived the villain attack. Makes sense to look before the Sports Festival.” he straightened his spine and glared intensely at the crowd in a way Izuku knew made most kids, and even adults get out of the way as fast as they could.”No point, though. Move aside, cannon fodder!”

                “Could you please not resort to calling people you don’t even know ‘cannon fodder’.” Iida said.

                “It’s true, we came to look” came from the back as a mess of purple hair that could rival Izuku’s slowly appeared into view.”But you sure are modest.” a boy with huge bags under his eyes came forward, looking at the same time tired yet threatening. Much like Aizawa on a good day. “Though I must say, I’m a little disappointed if that’s what you’re offering.” He lifted his chin to look down on them (which, with his height, wasn’t really all that difficult) “You know, those of us without flashy Quirks, who couldn’t pass an exam that was obviously made only for people with combat related abilities are stuck in the general studies and other tracks. There’s quite a few of us, really. Depending on our results in the Sports Festival, we might be transferred to the hero course.” his look darkened, eyeing every student in view in a silent challenge. “The reverse is also possible for the likes of you. For a Gen Ed student like me, this will be the perfect chance to knock you off your high horses.” his face lit up in a demented grin, much like Izuku imagined Shigaraki wore behind his hand.” Consider this a declaration of war.”

Well shit.

                Their attention switched from evil mastermind to the rage filled wall when a silver haired boy came howling in on their doorstep.”Hey, I’m from class B! Heard you fought some villains, but all I’m seeing is some arrogant bastard! You better not make fools out of the hero course, you assholes!’

                Another daredevil.

                Kacchan threw them an unimpressed look before shoving them left and right, like Moses would have done to the Red Sea if it wouldn’t have bowed to his whims.

                “Wait, you jerk. Look what you’re doing to us! We’ve got a full mob of haters because of you.”

                “I don’t give a crap.” the blond spit to the only person who ever tried to befriend him since the beginning of the school year.”I’m aiming for the top, why should I care?”

                Because one day you’ll need help.

                The boy vanished in the sea of now parting students.

                And there won’t be anyone there to save you.

-0-

 

                 The rest of the day passed in what could be generously described as comfortable silence. After the classes ended, Izuku left Iida and Uraraka at their second stop to change trains and go for the part of town Tatakai was in. The district was far from safe, but the dojo was right at the outskirts of the nice part, a bit like a grey area. Izuku still remembered how Dad brought him here two times a week after school and spent the whole time scrolling through his phone.

                Tatakai-san was exactly how he remembered her, a few wrinkles around her eyes, the new tattoo on her bicep the only difference from their last meeting. She was ripped, like someone tried to stuff a huge amount of muscle in the tall woman and succeeded by compressing them till they had the density of bricks. Her bright red hair was tied in a ponytail and an ink snake was swirling down her neck and disappeared into her cleavage. She wore her thin, white scars like badges on tan skin and always bore a shark-like grin that made him wonder if he would make it back home.

                “Hey there, midget. Long time, no see. You finally decided to drag your tail back here?”

                “Dad dragged my tail back here.” he deadpanned, throwing his gym bag on the mattresses. “So, think you can help me?”

                “Don’t know if I have the time. I’ve been pretty busy lately.”

                It wasn’t true; the martial artist had been waiting for him. She gave his dad the specific hour for him to arrive without other people around. So, he found himself tilting his head and saying “Are you sure you’re still good enough to train me?”

                               He had been expecting it, but it still didn’t hurt any less when his face hit the sweaty ancient mattresses. Her knee between his shoulder blades was painful, but her tone was light. “I see you kept your mouth in the detriment of your reflexes.” she helped him up. “You’ve also gained some muscle. That’s not that good.”

                Izuku frowned “What do you mean?”

                “You’re built for speed, kid. With all this muscle mass you have extra weight and that means we’ll have to work extra hard to make you fast again.” a devilish grin lit her features as she helped him up.”Now drop and give me twenty.”

                He lifted an eyebrow. Really? But he did those push-ups nonetheless.

                The next hours went by in the same manner, both teacher and student bickering while the woman insulted his physical fitness, or lack of thereof. She made him do exercises that, ten months ago would have left him breathless, but were now only mildly inconvenient.

                Izuku had to admit he’d missed her. She was the first person outside his family who he could be sassy with. Teachers in school never appreciated his humor and the lack of an awesome Quirk banned him from any privileges his stronger colleagues had. He could be sassy with his dad, but that only went so far and sassing his mom made him feel guilty afterwards. His mom had that effect. Even Kacchan, when he still visited, toned down his swearing, though for fear or shame, he never knew.

                But Tatakai-sensei was diffrent. She would throw him into the mattress whatever he said, so he might as well go all out. If he ever approached a subject she didn’t want him to bring up, she would just use her Quirk on him.

                It was called Silence, because a lot of people lacked creativity. (But, since he didn’t name his Quirk in the first place, he couldn’t really comment.) It gave the user the ability to quiet any sound. She could choose what or how many people to silence and could silence her own steps, allowing her to give the creepiest jump-scares to the faint of heart.

                How did she know his father, he had no idea and, after learning a lot of evasion techniques from the man, the woman told him simply to stop asking and just let it die.

                The training was tiring but relaxing. He could let all the pent up energy and frustrations go away.

                He was going to the dojo for a total of two weeks when the next big change in his life rounded the corner and slammed into him full force.

                Granted, the little white haired girl didn’t really pack a lot of a punch, but it surprised him nonetheless. He kneeled and helped her to her feet “Hey, you Ok?”

                The girl buried her head into his chest, small whimpers leaving her thin frame. She had a dirty dress and her limbs were covered in bandages.

                “Eri, where have you run off to?” a voice said and a bulky man left the shadows. He had grey, rock-like skin and an exterior that screamed danger. His design wasn’t helped by the doctor’s plague mask covering the lower half of his face. His thread moved so slow, it might as well have been still. His Quirk is not made for speed. “Oh, there you are. Did she bump into you? I’m sorry, she can’t stay on one place for long. Come now, we don’t wanna be late”

                “He’s not my daddy” whimpered.

                She’s in danger, Izuku realized. And I might be too. But I can’t let her go. Getting to his feet he presented the guy with a semi-sheepish smile, as innocent and harmless as he could manage and said. “No problem. Though, I’m more worried about her. She hit her head pretty hard.” pretending he was helping her up, he wrapped her small hands around his neck and got a good grip on her waist.”Why don’t we take her to a doctor?”

                “That won’t be necessary, my boss is a doctor. He’ll look at her all right.” he was getting impatient and Izuku knew there wasn’t much time to waste. Eri stuck herself tighter to him as he got to his feet.

                “Somehow, I don’t believe you.”

                He didn’t get to finish before a slab of concrete flew towards his head. He jumped backwards and dived down the alley. I need to lose him. The small girl was more or less strangling him, but the teen didn’t care. Izuku threw himself to the side as he felt the thread behind him and almost missed being sucker punched by a disembodied hand.

                The offending appendance returned to its owner and Izuku cursed himself as it came to him that he had been lured into a dead end.

                “Give up the girl and I’ll let you live.”

                Like hell, I saw his face, and I can recognize his Quirk.

                Izuku took out his phone and send his location behind his back. The man didn’t see it and got even madder at the teens lack of a response. He punched in his direction and Izuku dodged again, the fist impaling itself into the wall.

                “Whoa, you could’ve killed her!”

                The man smirked. “Doesn’t matter if I break her as long as I bring back the pieces!” Izuku took another step back, a very short distance between him and the brick wall. Crap, what now?

                “Leave now and you won’t go to jail.” the fist flew from the wall and reattached itself to the man’s arm. He could’ve hit me if he aimer more to the right. The boy’s mind spinned around its axis He can’t control it after it’s been detached Izuku realized. I wonder....

                “Listen here, brat, I have business to attend to and you’re in the way. Give. Her. Back.”

                “Well, I have a school tomorrow and your kidnapping is in the way of my grades.” he gently put the girl down and slipped in front of her. His backtalk seemed to do the trick as the man raged and threw another punch. He dodged again, but, this time, he didn’t let the fist fly. When the man called his Quirk back, Izuku caught it and held tight as he lifted his feet off the ground.

                The man didn’t expect him to do that and he certainly wasn’t prepared for the One for All kick to his face.

                He flew backwards a few meters and slammed into a wall. Izuku hit the ground painfully, his aching muscles screaming at the new abuse.

                I didn’t break my legs he noted as he got to his feet and looked at the unconscious thug. Quiet cries reminded him of the reason the thug was in the wall in the first place and he turned towards the small girl.

                “Hey, it’s Ok, you’re safe now” oh my god, I just used my Quirk in public! ... but all his thoughts vanished when the girl jumped into his arms, bawling her eyes out on his shirt. “Shhh, it’s Ok” he soothed her as he run his hands through her dirty hair. She seemed to have calmed down for a moment when the blond typhoon also known as his idol and mentor boomed in the small area.

                “Worry not. Why? Because I am here!”

                He seemed somehow confused by the lack of villains and even more when he saw his successor leaving the area with a dirty lump in his arms.

                “Young Midoriya, why did you call? I was sure this was an emergency.”

                “It was” he said, cradling the girl closer to his chest.”I called you because it seems to be a case of kidnapping. That men right there” he pointed his chin towards the unconscious thug on the ground “was chasing this girl and admitted that he didn’t care if the girl died while he tried to kill me using his Quirk.” he looked down, patting the girl, not meeting his mentor’s eyes.”I’m sorry I called you when there was no need. I really thought I couldn’t take him down on my own.”

                A big, warm hand was placed on his shoulder and he looked up to his idol.”Don’t feel bad for it, young Midoriya. You did the right thing. You shouldn’t have approached the villain, but calling me was the best sort of action. Now, we have to call the police. Thankfully, I have a friend in the force. He knows about our little....predicament” he eyed the girl warily “and it was high time you met him.”

                “About that” Izuku looked away sheepishly and All Might got the distinct impression he would be rubbing his neck had his arms not been full with a crying kid. “I kinda One for All-ed him, so, could you say you were the one to knock him out?”

                All Might let out a booming laugh and slapped the boy on the back, feeling bad immediately when the small girl whimpered.

 

 

                 

               

Chapter Text

                Izuku had managed to pry the girl away from his neck only to shift her to his lap. From that point the girl had all but glued herself to his side, not letting him go for anything in the world. He was massaging her scalp in what he hoped was a comforting motion as he waited for his mom to reach the hospital. It was already late and Izuku had a feeling the night would drag on a little longer.

                All Might had taken them to the hospital after entrusting the unconscious thug to a detective Izuku had ended up meeting. His name was Tsukakuchi and he was the nicest and plainest man the boy had ever met, almost purposely indistinguishable in a crowd.

                The girl seemed terrified of doctors and it had taken a few hours just to get the mandatory measurements out of the way. She didn’t let the doctors touch her and that was how Izuku learned how to take the tension and properly clean wounds. The moment the bandages were off her hands, Izuku’s mood turned particularly...murdery at the sight of multiple puncture marks on her skin.

                After everything was cleaned and accounted for, they decided that keeping her in the hospital would only upset her more, and that’s how Izuku ended up in an uncomfortable hospital chair waiting for his mother.

                He shifted his focus to the girl in his lap. She wasn’t sleeping, bur she had stopped crying. Her thread was...off. Not wrong just weird. It was spinning in asymmetrical circles, like an unknown song playing backwards; it’s impossible to point out what’s different; you just know it’s not supposed to be this way. It’s a lullaby, he decided. Her melody was a lullaby.

Deciding to do something, he patted her slowly, as to get her attention. She turned her big, scarlet eyes towards him, full of wariness. Well, at least it wasn’t fear.

                “Hey” he gave her the most harmless smile he could muster “Do you like flowers?”

                “Flowers?” she seemed confused, like she didn’t know what the word meant and Izuku felt sadness digging in his chest.

                “Yes, flowers. Would you like to see some?” she gave a quick, hesitant nod, as if she wasn’t sure how he would respond. He pulled out his phone and typed flowers in the engine. A few seconds later, the little girl was scrolling through pictures of flowers alone or in arrangements. She didn’t say anything, but her eyes seemed to light up at the splashes of color on the small, bright screen.

                “Is there anything you particularly like?” she looked at him, wordless for a moment before nodding, quicker this time. She pointed her little finger towards a lily and Izuku felt a smile tugging at his lips. “Would you like for me to make you one?”

                Her eyes widened.”Make one?”

                “Well, not a real one, but an imitation; now, if you’ll let me…” he leaned to the side and picked his obnoxiously yellow bag pack that was propped on his chair. He slipped his English notebook out and ripped a page from the end. Sorry, Present Mic, it’s for a noble cause.

                He ripped the paper into a square as best as he could and started folding. The little girl watched him intensely, eyes widened in wonder. Scarlet rings followed the careful movements carefully, not to missing a thing. In less than a minute, a paper lily rested in her hands.

                Izuku had learned how to make them a long time ago, when his mom got sick and he had to spend the night in hospital. While his father was keeping himself from maiming the nurse who refused to give him the information he wanted, he was sitting in an uncomfortable chair, with no tears left to shed.

                Next to him a nice girl a few years older, showed him how to make origami out of an old paper. He’d spent the entire night on that chair, folding and refolding, ripping paper again and again until it had the perfect shape. His father paced the halls nonstop and told him everything would be alright, and Izuku had nodded wordlessly before returning to the inked paper. He kept folding and ripping and crumbling the paper, anything to keep his mind off the body on the hospital bed.

                When he got home a few days later when his mom was discharged, he looked up more patterns and made a small paper garden. His mother loved it and even though he stopped making them daily, he did them when he was upset; the only way to keep his restless hands from shredding everything in sight.

                He’d flooded the house with increasingly intricate models the first months after Dad’s moving overseas.

                “Do you like it?”

                “Yes” she said in a silent voice, barely above a whisper. He pulled out another paper and started again while Eri still admired the lily.

                “What about birds?”

                It seemed like the wrong thing to say, as the girl froze and jerked her head left and right, tears streaming down her cheeks. “No, no birds, no birds. The bird people are bad, bad, very bad. Don’t call the bird people!” she cried as she buried her head in his sweaty shirt.

                Crap, what did I do?! He remembered the beak-like mask on the man. Good fucking job, Izuku!

                “Shhhhh, shhh, bird people are not here.” he stroked her dirty hair.”I won’t let the bird people get you, OK?” he kept stroking her hair until she had calmed down. Tsukakuchi was around the corner, a slow, calm, quiet thread in the swirling ever moving vortex of the hospital. He was waiting for him to finish.

                Izuku looked at the paper crane in his hands and poked the girl. She peered up at him and Izuku gave her the brightest smile he could muster. He lifted the crane and made sure her eyes followed it before he started speaking.

                “See this little guy?” she nodded before looking warily at him.” Do you think he would hurt you?” he flopped the paper wings and moved the bird in front of her eyes.

                “He’s made of paper.”

                “Yes. Do you think he’s scary?” she shook her head. “See? He can’t hurt you. There’s even a legend about him. Do you want to hear it?” a nod. “They say that those who make a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish.”

                “Any wish?”

                “That’s what I’ve heard. Other legends say you’ll be granted a thousand years of good fortune. You would have to string them all on one thread when you’re done. Would you like that?” another nod.”Do you think a bird who grants you good luck is bad?”

                “There are good birds?” she seemed shocked by the idea.

                “Yes. Not all birds are bad. Actually, I have a classmate with a bird head.”

                “You, you.....you do?” her voice waivered and her eyes filled with tears.

                Not good, dammit Izuku!

                “Yes, but he’s not bad!” he said quickly.” He’s really nice and helped me in a fight. He knew I could get hurt and tried to convince me to not hurt myself. He looks really scary, but he’s nice, and his Quirk is actually another bird who talks really funny.”

                “Really?”

                “Yes” he thinned his voice in the best imitation of Dark Shadow he could muster “Kinda like this”.

                Eri didn’t smile, but her eyes seemed less clouded and were lit up by a strange light. Izuku would take anything at the moment.

                Tsukakuchi chose that moment to enter and Eri hid her face in his sweaty gym shirt.

                “Your mother’s here”

                Summoned by whatever powers had domain over irate mothers, Inko Midoriya seemed to appear out of thin air and crushed him in a bear hug. Izuku responded with one hand, the other keeping Eri from falling.

                “Izukuuuuu” she wailed and cried on his already damp gym shirt. When she finally let him go, the little girl threw him a wary look laced with curiosity. Izuku smiled.

                “Eri, this is my mom. She’s very nice. Mom, this is Eri.”

                Inko looked at the small girl and gave her a motherly smile that used to make even Kacchan smile on the time he still visited them. Eri watched her in awe before nodding seriously and lifting a corner of her mouth.

                “Midoriya-san?” Tsukakuchi said. “Unfortunately, we’ve yet to find Eri’s parents. Would you mind taking care of her for a few days?”

                “No, of course not. I’ll tell my husband in the morning, but I doubt he’ll have anything against it.”

                “Would you like that, Eri?”

                She looked at him, worried.”Will you be there?” he felt the exact moment his heart broke.

                “Yes”.

                They got home and the clock showed 01:39 when they entered their home. Toshinori drove them and had a very pleasant conversation with his mother on the way back, before patting Izuku on the head and driving off. The boy had looked after his mentor, still lost in thought, only to be woke by his mother’s voice. “Izuku, could you take Eri-chan to the bathroom and prepare the bath. I’ll look for some clothes for her, but we need to get her cleaned up first. We’ll eat something light afterwards so you can actually sleep tonight.”

                “Ok” he took Eri’s hand and guided her to the bathroom. He put the lid in the bathtub and turned on the faucet.”Keep your hand here and tell me when it’s warm enough.” she nodded and put her hand under the water with determination.

                “Now.” he stopped moving the faucet and kneeled near the girl, watching the level slowly rise. His mom came into the bathroom carrying a towel and what looked like his old All Might pajamas.

                That was the moment Izuku realized he had absolutely no idea what to do next. His mom Giggled and took the dirty rags off the girl before placing her in the bathtub. Eri stood at the edge, skinny fingers tightly wrapped around his wrist. Mom washed her vividly, stating her war declaration to the dirt and grime covering the little girl, but gently enough not to hurt. She tasked the boy with combing and washing her hair, and Izuku did his best to wash and clean the silver strands until they actually looked like hair. He was mindful of her horn, careful not to touch it in case it hurt, but she seemed fine.

                After she was clean, the two Midoriyas dressed the girl in the fanboy’s ancient pajamas-why did she even kept those?- and moved to the kitchen. The clock showed 03:15 now.

                “Just to be sure, Mom, I don’t have to go to school tomorrow, right?”

                “Of course not. You’ll stay home tomorrow. I’ll take the afternoon shift and spend the morning with you two.”

                Izuku sighed in relief and helped Eri to a chair next to him, but she scooted to his lap anyway. “Can’t you call in sick? You will barely have enough sleep as of now, why don’t you rest?” he said as he combed his fingers through the kid’s now clean and still damp hair.

                Inko placed two bowls of warm milk with honeyed cereal in front of them. “I wish, but I have an important case to work on. Don’t worry, though. I’ll get enough sleep in the morning.”

                Izuku munched on the spoon of crunchy goodness before noticing that Eri didn’t eat. He gave her an encouraging smile and she tentatively took a bite. She looked at him, as if asking if it was okay. Ha nodded and she nodded back before digging in the meal. Not long after, both kids were yawning. Izuku got up and Eri lifted her arms in the universal sign pick me up. He complied and took them both to bad.

                The boy’s eyes were half-closed as he dragged his aching muscles into the sweet, sweet cloud of cotton death. Eri snuggled in his shirt and Inko tucked them in like she did when Izuku was little. He was already dead to the world before he placed a kiss on his forehead. The honeyed milk always worked on calming the hyper kid, almost like a drug. She left the room and closed the door, releasing as little sound as humanly possible before heading down the hall to her own room.

                Inko entered the darkness of the lonely bedroom and changed in her own pajamas. She had noticed how attached the girl had became to the boy. Normally, this would have been unadvisable, but she knew that kids were very impressionable and got attached easily to the people they trusted. Tsukakuchi had told her what happened and that man Yagi assured her that it was perfectly normal. She just hoped Eri wouldn’t get too attached, lest she might suffer a trauma when going into foster care.

                Smiling at the image of the two kids snuggled together; she turned off the lights and went to sleep.

-0-

 

                Izuku woke up the next day with the living equivalent of a heater on his chest. It was seven in the morning (absurdly late by his standards, but he was just a human and he needed his four hours of sleep) and there was no chance he would go back to sleep now that he was up. But Eri was so cute and peaceful and it was the first time he saw her like that, so hell would freeze over before he disturbed her sleep. He moved his arm and his hand sensually caressed the floor until he found his phone.

                He scrolled through the news and read the titles. There were less news during the night, not because there were less villains, but because very little journalists sacrificed their sleep and safety to get dark photos that couldn’t be used anywhere. But, there it was, on the third page with results. It was described as an apprehension of a thug and neither him, nor Eri, not even All Might were mentioned.

                He spent the rest of the morning scrolling through news and the memes his colleagues put on the group before the sedentary position became too much. He felt like his torso was falling asleep without his consent and it was getting harder to breathe. He tried to push the girl off of him as gently as he could, but Eri apparently slept as lightly as he did, because the girl opened her eyes and looked at him confused.

                She seemed scared for a second before recognition sunk in and she relaxed.

                “Did I wake you?” Izuku asked and she shook her head before rubbing her eyes and yawning.”Can you go back to sleep?” she shook her head again and stood up on his chest, looking at him with owlish eyes

“How about breakfast?” her eyes went down and she looked sheepish for a second before a growl too big for a girl her size left her stomach.

                Izuku giggled “Breakfast it is.” he picked her up and made his way towards the kitchen with light feathered steps. He gestured towards his mother’s bedroom and placed his finger to his lips. She nodded and he placed her on a stool before opening the fridge.

                “What are you making?” she whispered.

                “Pancakes”

                “What are those?”

                “An American dish I hope you’ll like.” she remained silent and Izuku handled the ingredients. In truth, he hadn’t had pancakes before All Might took him to an American themed restaurant after a particularly hard training session. He had wolfed down the desert and learned how to cook it once he got home. His mother liked it.

                The training regiment had been beneficial to his mother too, although she didn’t know it. Since he got up so much earlier than her, he made breakfast for the both of them. This way, the ever-working woman got to sleep more and wasn’t so pressed to cook in the morning. The habit, much like his suicidal schedule, had stuck, even if his mother insisted he needed to sleep more. Hopefully, the day off would help them both.

                An idea suddenly struck him. He turned towards the girl, who was watching watching him intensely from the stool, not sure if he would suddenly grow wings or vanish. “Hey, Eri, would you like to help me?”

                Her big eyes widened in surprise and she looked around, just to make sure he was talking to her. Then, with a small voice: “Help you? How?”

                “You can help me measure and mix the ingredients. Would you like that?”

                “Yes?” the uncertainty in her voice was painful to hear.

                He gave her a reassuring smile.”Great, come on here.” she climbed down the stool and he took it and placed it near the counter. She climbed back up and she watched with terrifying intensity as the boy showed her how to use the measuring cup and how to break the eggs. He pulled out the mixer and the little girl’s very expressive eyes switched from guarded interest to childish curiosity.

                “Do you know how to mix?” she shook her head.”Would you like to know?” a slow nod.”Can you hold the mixer?” she tried, but it was too heavy for her. He caught the handle before it toppled over and spilled the unmixed ingredients on the floor.”That’s ok. I couldn’t either the first time. I’ll help you. But one very important thing to remember is to hold the bowl. Believe me, the worst possible experience is to have the bowl fly from the table and splatter on the wall.” That stole a small giggle from her. They mixed until the three base ingredients turned to a liquid goo-like substance in front of them.

                She looked at him expectantly. ”What now?”

                “Now we fry them, a task I’ll do by myself and you’ll be watching from the table. Ok?” she nodded and sat on the table. He started frying and was two decent attempts at basic kindergarten ovals when he felt his mother’s warm thread approach the kitchen.

                “It’s not healthy to eat that for breakfast breakfast” she said as she took a seat next to Eri. She gave her a sideways glance but didn’t move away.

                “We don’t eat it every day and today we’re supposed to rest. Why don’t we relax at the same time?” his mom smiled before turning to Eri.

                “Can I put you on a chair? It’s neither polite nor easy to eat while sitting on the table.” the little girl looked at Izuku, asking for approval and, when he nodded, she lifted her arms and allowed the woman to pick her up and place her on a stool.

                 A few minute later, two Midoriyas and the little girl were eating pancakes in a comfortable silence.

                Inko got up. ”I’ll be going over some of the toughest parts of this case. You guys have fun but keep it silent. Also, don’t give her too many sweets.”

                “Aren’t you resting some more?” Izuku said, mouth half full.

                “Don’t talk while eating” the boy clamped his mouth shut.”And I really need to make sure things are all right. Also, if you have any homework for tomorrow, make sure to finish it.”

                “Yes mom!”

                Inko left the room and Izuku looked at the girl who had already finished and waited for him.

                “Eri, if you don’t mind me asking, what is your Quirk?”

                She seemed to deflate at that moment, eyes pooling with tears. “…’m cursed.”

                “Cursed? Why would you say that?”

                “I destroy everything I touch” she started sobbing. Shit, what do I do? “I am a monster!”

                Izuku ran to her side of the table and kneeled before her. His hands wavered tentatively above her shoulders befor he gave up. She might not like the contact. ”Eri, Eri, look at me, look at me, Ok.” she looked up and he smiled softly “There is no such thing as a bad Quirk, do you hear me Eri?” she looked at him, desperately searching for an answer. He continued. “My Quirk can be considered evil too. Actually, people told me multiple times that I would be a villain just because of my Quirk.”

                “But you’re not a villain! You saved me and you’re good. You’re a hero!” she cried.

                “Yes, but nobody believed it when I told them about my Quirk.”

                “But you just punch really hard, don’t many heroes have the same Quirk?” she seemed confused for a moment, tears ceasing to fall. He looked around, as to make sure nobody would listen and said in a low tone, similar to that of shared secrets.

                “That’s not the Quirk I was born with.” her eyes widened even more, if such a thing was actually possible.”You see, my real Quirk is to steal other Quirks”

                “But isn’t stealing a bad thing?”

                “Yes, it is. That’s why everyone thought I’ll become a villain. But one day I met a nice man who told me that it didn’t matter. He told me that the Quirk doesn’t make the person.” he waited for dramatic effect “He told me I could be a hero and he gave me the Quirk I have today.”

                “Really?”

                “Yes. So, trust me when I say that it doesn’t matter what Quirk you have, there is always a way to help people with or without it.”

                She looked down.”But I hurt people.”

                “So did I. But my teachers will train me to control it so I don’t do that anymore. I will ask them to do the same with you.” he looked at her, making sure she wasn’t opposed to the idea.”Would you like that?”

                She thought for a second, but nodded determined. He smiled.

                “Ok, we have a few more hours until I have to start on my homework. Would you like to watch a movie?”

-0-

 

                There were three things Izuku learn that evening. First, Eri had never seen a movie. Second, she loved Disney classics. And third, kids get very sleepy after watching movies and eating popcorn. So, they both moved to his room, where she was entrusted with guarding one of his many All Might plushies while they slept as Izuku steeled himself for the homework he had been avoiding all morning.

                He popped his knuckles and grabbed the pen, diving full force into the terror of tenses. Who the fuck invented English?! Maybe I should ask All Might for help…he seems to know a vast array of curses… he mused before he moved to other matters. His mom left for work and, at some point after they ate, he fell asleep after entrusting one of his old coloring books (All Might themed, of course) to the little girl.

                He was going over some of his sketches and analysis on his classmates for the Sports Festival when his dad called. He prepared to answer when he remembered the little girl drawing quietly behind him. Fingers poised above the key, he turned towards her. “Hey, Eri, my dad’s calling. Would you like to say hi?”

                She froze for a minute before she let out a shy and almost scared whisper “Your… your dad?”

                “Yes, my dad. He’s really nice, though he might not seem like it on the first try. If you want, you can remain quiet and I’ll tell him you’re not here.” She thought for a moment, the obnoxious ring of the call filling the air. She twiddled her thumbs before she nodded. He pressed accept and the meme he had as an icon for his dad filled the screen.

                “Hey Dad, how’s it going?”

                “Pretty well. I only have to deal with incompetents once a day now, which is better for my nerves. Your teacher informed me that your shape is not as good as you claim.”

                Straight for the jugular, aren’t you? If this is how you want to play…

                “Well, I’m sorry if I unintentionally deceived you, why don’t you come here, you know, to see for yourself?” he didn’t bother to hide the bite.

                Hisashi sighed. “I want to, but you know how busy I am. Don’t worry, I’m close finding a way to come back.”

                Izuku looked down. “You keep saying this.” The mood hang dark between them, until Hisashi cleared his throat.

                “Your mother told me we have a guest. Is she there, I’d like to meet her?”

                The change of subject was horrendously blunt, but Izuku guessed he really made his father uncomfortable this time around. He looked at Eri, who opened her mouth, but no sound came out. He nodded and she took a deep breath before letting out a very fast. “Nice to meet you Mr. Midoriya!”

                “Hello there, Eri, how are you?” he said in a pleasant voice meant to soothe the girl.

                “I’m…I’m well…” she looked down, grabbing a hold of Izuku’s pant leg. He smiled and let his hand hover near her cheek. She took a few seconds before she leaned into it.

                “I’m pleased to hear that. You didn’t go to school today?”

                “Nah…”

                They kept the conversation to little nothings, until it was eventually a little bit too late for Eri to still be up. Dad told them goodnight, after telling Eri to make sure he actually slept before ending the conversation. After a quick dinner they both went to bed.

 

Chapter Text

                The next day both Izuku and little Eri went to UA. Inko couldn’t stay with her and Izuku had already asked the teachers to help her with her training. All Might drove them there and, even if she was shy, the white haired girl didn’t seem scared of the emancipated man. She actually seemed to like him, but it was too early to tell.

                Izuku took the girl’s hand and walked through the not so empty halls, doing his best to shield her from the curious looks of the other students. She hid behind his legs but marveled at the sheer size of their classroom’s door. He was a little bit late and, by the lack of ruckus he could guess Aizawa was already inside. Steeling himself and hoping the magical powers of child cuteness worked on the stoic hero, he rapped his hands on the door before entering the classroom.

                “Good morning, Sensei, sorry to be late, may I come in?” he asked the living mummy, fully aware of the stares his little accessory was receiving. Aizawa remained silent for a moment in which Izuku wished he could see the man’s expression before nodding.

                “Yes, enter and don’t disturb the class more than you already did.”

                “THAT’S IT?!” the class exclaimed in almost perfect synchronization. The teacher remained undeterred. Izuku took a leaf from his book and pretended everything was fine, nothing was unusual as he made his way to his seat, pulling one for Eri in the process. Thankfully, he was saved from the killed stares by the No.1 hero entering the classroom in the way he considered a normal person usually does: aka slamming it to the wall and loudly announcing his presence.

                Aizawa sighed.

                “Good morning, students! you all seem confused, so I’ll fill you in. Eri-chan here will join you for the next few days in class. She is a little bit shy, so please, don’t stress her too much. Good day!” and disappeared in a swirl of smoke.

                “Who was that?” she whispered loudly enough for most of the class to hear.

                “That was All Might.” she pointed to her T-shirt, which was one of his old ones, since they haven’t gotten around to buying her new clothes.”Yes, like the T-shirt.” she then whispered, half hiding behind him:

                “Why is that man covered in toilet paper?”

                The boy’s answer was drowned by the sudden and completely unrelated fit of giggles that infected the prestige members of class 1A.

                “Quiet down, you pests, let’s start class.”

Said class went pretty well, but all apparent safety was gone once the bell rang and Aizawa went to recover whatever hours of sleep he could on the comfy couch in his office. Once he was gone, his desk was flocked to by students eager to look at the class’s newest addition.

                “Oh my god, she’s sooo cute!” Ashido squeaked as she looked at the small girl.

                “Mina, back off, you’re scaring her”

                It was true, at least to an extent. Eri’s eyes were darting around while her small hand was crumbling the shirt of Izuku’s uniform. The boy in question slowly petted her hair and rubbed her back.”It’s Ok, Eri, they are friends. They won’t hurt you. But, if it makes you uncomfortable, I could ask them to leave.” she nodded violently and Izuku threw the others an apologetic look as they retreated. Thankfully, they seemed to understand and returned to their business. Kacchan was unusually quiet in the seat in front of him and Izuku wished, and not for the first time, might I add, that his Quirk allowed him to read people’s emotions along or instead of their Quirks, just so he could know what the fuck was going on.

                He lifted his eyes as Uraraka got closer, and offered the small girl a friendly smile.

                “Eri, this is Uraraka. Uraraka, this is Eri.”

                The small girl gulped and said in a wavering voice:”Nice to meet you.”

                “Nice to meet you too. I’m so glad to see a new face; it was getting a little bit boring around here. Tell me, are you Mido-kun’s little sister?”

                “Mido-kun?” she tilted her head.

                “That would be me.” he said. The girl looked at him and when he nodded, she turned back towards the bubbly girl.

                “Yes?”

                “That’s great! I’m his friend and, if you’d like, I could be yours too.”

                “Uraraka, haven’t you heard what All Might said? You shouldn’t stress the girl.” Iida appeared once his people-not-obeying-instruction-to-the-letter senses activated. Eri looked at him and buried herself deeper in Izuku’s shirt before he gently coaxed her out.

                “Iida might seem scary, but he’s actually really nice. Give him a chance.”

                “I apologize if my interruption frightened you. I had no intention of causing you more distress and I deeply regret the way my intentions were perceived!” he gestured in wide motions then bowed deeply, leaving the little girl perplexed.

                “Is he a robot?”

Uraraka giggled and Iida seemed flustered, but Izuku responded through his wide grin

 “Not quite sure of that myself.”

                “Midoriya, I’m quite disappointed in you. You know well enough I’m a fully functional human and your jesting might give Eri-chan the wrong idea!”

                Izuku couldn’t hold it in and burst out laughing, cracking a smile on Eri’s small face. Iida’s tirade was interrupted by Cementoss entering the classroom.

                It all went well the rest of the day, and that should’ve been Izuku’s cue to disaster. The moment Eri’s eyes landed on Tokoyami, she started crying and had nothing short of a panic attack. Izuku rushed out of the classroom after Midnight told him to help her settle and ran a few hallways till he was sure he wouldn’t disturb the other classes.

                He placed Eri down and hugged her until she was calm enough to breathe normally.

                Stupid, stupid, stupid, bad bird people, I should’ve known, heck I even told her about him. He mentally berated himself as he wiped away the girl’s tears.

                “Were you scared of Tokoyami?”

                “The bird people, they are here, they found me and they’ll take me away.”

                “Remember what I told you about cranes?”

                She wiped her tears.”That they make wishes come true?”

                “Yes, but apart from that?” she kept looking at him.”I told you that not all birds are bad. I told you about a colleague of mine, the one with the bird Quirk?”

                “Is that him?”

                “Yes, and he’s actually pretty nice once you get to knew him.” her eyes widened in horror.”I won’t force you to get to know him. I’m just asking you to understand that he won’t hurt you. Can you do that for me?”

                She nodded.

                “Thank you. Do you feel well enough to return to class?” she nodded again and he picked her up and carried her back. She kept throwing wary glances Tokoyami’s way, but the boy thankfully ignored her.

                The class ended and All Might popped up once again to tell them to change into their costumes and meet him outside. Izuku led her to the point where the locker rooms separated and realized his dilemma. He kneeled in front of Eri.

                “I really can’t take you inside. Can you please stay with the girls and wait for me to come back?”

                “Do you really have to go?” her puppy eyes were almost too much for him to handle. Almost.

                “Yes. Please, can you do me this favor?”

                “Don’t worry, Mido, we’ll make sure she’s Ok.” Uraraka popped up behind her.”What do you say, Eri, would you like to look at my make-up set?”

                Eri threw him another look before taking Uraraka’s hand and following them inside. Izuku rushed inside and changes into his costume ad fast as he could. He suddenly remembered something.

                “Tokoyami!” the bird headed boy turned towards him “I’m very sorry she reacted like this. She just had some... very unpleasant experiences with birds.” he finished while awkwardly rubbing his neck. Great, that doesn’t sound suspicious at all.

                 “It’s ok, Midoriya. It’s not like it’s your fault and I won’t blame Eri-chan for almost having a panic attack.”

                “Anyway, I told her you’re an okay guy, but it’ll be a long while before she trusts you or anybody else.”

                “Apology accepted.”Tokoyami gave a small bow.

                “Thanks” Izuku smiled brightly, the kind of smile that could rival All Might’s and dashed out the room.

-0-

 

                In the girls changing room, a flurry of colorful costumes and even brighter voices chattered as they changed. Suits were zipped and comments were thrown every which way while a small horned girl looked at the chaos through a mirror. Ochako opened the make-up set she had borrowed from Ashido (who’s real Quirk was stuffing useless trash in her tiny bag and you can fight me on this) and was holding it in front of the little girl. Her costume took a relatively short amount of time to put on, so now she was free to dump her fourteen year old wisdom on the little girl.

                “Eri-chan, is there any color you particularly like? You can choose more than one.” She bit her lip for a second before pointing a tentative finger to a dark shade of green.”You like that?” she nodded. Ashido popped up.

                “How would you like to put it on?”Eri shrugged, no longer so intimidated by the pink girl.”Wait, before that, is there anything else you like? We might make a cute combination”

                “This.... and this one.” she pointed to one blue and yellow, her hand hovering above the red for a second before it retreated.

                “That looks like All Might’s old color palette “Hagakure said out of thin air, making all the girls nearby jump. Her gloves moved vividly and Ashido brightened at the new piece of information.

                “And the green is for Mido-kun! How cute!”

                “Guys, if you’re gonna put make-up on her, you could hurry up a little, I don’t want to be late.” Jirou said, putting the last red paint on her face.

                Ashido’s face was lit up by a smile that would have fitted better a behind-screen mastermind than a high-school girl.”I’ve got an idea.”

                The result ended up being something like the styled version of green war paint, with yellow and blue shades on the edges, highlighting the lower half of her face. She gave them a shy smile and followed Ochako, the only person she remotely trusted outside.

                They found Mido-kun talking to All Might about something and Ochaco wanted to go to them when she felt a small tug on her wrist. Looking down, she saw Eri pointing at the pair.”Why does Izu look like a bunny?”

                A fit of chuckles took over the girls that only grew when Mido came to take Eri and threw them confused glances. He picked her up and the girl instantly started playing with his bunny ears, which earned some chuckles from the boys and a very confused look from the one in question.

                All Might quieted them down enough to explain the exercise: it was a game of hide and seek

~*~*~*~*~

                School ended and Izuku held his charge’s hand as he and his friends headed towards the exit. “Sorry, guys, I’m not going home with you today.” he rubbed his neck nervously. Uraraka lifted her eyebrows.

                “Why not?”

                “Eri has trouble controlling her Quirk, which is just above a Quirk counselor’s paycheck. Aizawa-sensei’s offered to help her control it. We’ll be doing that for at least a week, sorry for that.”

                “That is no problem, Midoriya!” Iida said.”Having full control over a Quirk is a very important part of a person’s development. Getting a good grasp on it while still young, especially if thought by pro- heroes is a development you should take full advantage of. Therefore, I won’t keep you any longer and let you be on your way.” Iida said in his usual manner, and Eri retreated behind Izuku, though a small smile could be seen gracing her lips.

                “Good luck, Mido-kun! Just make sure you don’t push yourself too hard” Uraraka said before her and Iida walked out of the building. Izuku waved slightly before pulling the slip of paper Aizawa had given him a few days prior and started walking down the halls.

                 He wondered the fast-emptying halls of the school of his dreams, holding the hand of the little girl and shielding her as best as he could from the other students. After a few minutes of endless walking, he found an underground gym-like room and a few teachers waiting for them. All Might was there in his true form, along with Aizawa, Cementoss, Ectoplasm and Midnight.

                “You’re late” his homeroom teacher said drily.

                Well, this place is fucking huge and it’s not like you gave me a map or anything, he thought, but the only thing leaving his mouth was an embarrassed “I’m sorry.”

                “How about we start with Eri-chan’s Quirk, since we don’t know much about it? This way we could get it out of the way.” Aizawa said. Izuku nodded. It seemed viable. He turned towards the little girl, who was trying to mash herself to his foot.

                “Come on, Eri. What do you know about your Quirk?”

                “It- it’s bad and it makes people disappear and I don’t want it!” she buried her face in his leg.

                “Shhh, Eri, it’s Ok” he petted her hair “Is that all you know?”she nodded and he turned to his teachers.

                “It might be some disintegration Quirk” Midnight said while rubbing her chin.

                “Well, it’s all we’ve got.”Aizawa said.”We should start by having her use it on diffrent materials.” on cue, Cementoss created a slab of rock. Eri eyed it warily, before looking at Izuku for advice.”Let’s give her some space, we don’t know her range.” they all took a little more than a few steps backwards and Eri seemed lost.

                “Come on, whatever you do, no one will get mad.”Izuku gave her the thumbs up.

                The little girl gulped, but nodded and approached the slab of rock cautiously. She placed her small, scarred fingers on the surface and her horn started to glow. But nothing happened. She seemed to put a lot of effort into it before she finally stopped. She looked a little bit confused, but the human bandage roll spoke.

                “I think that’s enough, it obviously isn’t working.”

                “Maybe it only works on biological things?” Izuku mused.

                “Worth a try” Ectoplasm said and a clone emerged from his mouth. Weirdly, Eri didn’t seem frightened by his scary appearance, only eyed it warily. The clone approached her. She looked at the teacher.

                “Won’t it hurt?”

                “No, I don’t feel anything my clones do, so don’t worry about it.” the kid nodded and approached the clone. She placed her hands on it and he started glowing once again. But, the test subject didn’t vanish. It started melting until it was nothing but a puddle on the floor.

                “Is this how your Quirk acted before?” Izuku asked. She shook her head and Aizawa spoke.

                “Ecoplasm, this time, could you make more, I want to see something” Ectoplasm complied and five more clones appeared. Eri tried again, much with the same result before she started wobbling on her feet. She sat down, blinking sleepily.

                “I think that’s enough for today, I’ll call Recovery Girl” Midnight said before walking away. Aizawa hummed.

                “It seems like her Quirk brings biological things to their initial state of matter.”

                “I think it actually rewinds things, in a manner of speaking,” Izuku said and almost regretted it when all the teachers turned towards him.

                “Why do you think that?” Cementoss said for the first time that day.

                “That’s how her Quirk feels. It seems kinda...backwards.” he said as best as he could, which he knew probably didn’t help a lot. Recovery Girl chose that moment to appear.

                “Off, you are teachers, you should know when to stop students from over exhausting themselves!” she scolded before turning and kneeling in front of the girl. “Hello there sweetie. Can you come with me to make sure you are Ok?”

                The tired girl turned towards Izuku and he gave her an encouraging nod before she passed out. Ectoplasm gently picked her up, trailing behind the small woman as they left the training room. Aizawa spoke.

                “We will continue tomorrow, maybe we can find out more. That brings us to the current problem right now” he turned towards the only person in the room young enough to still qualify as a kid “Your Quirk.” Izuku looked down and rubbed his wrists nervously “Nedzu already told the teachers the basics of it, but I’d like to hear it from you so I can make an opinion for myself.”

                Izuku shrunk under the teacher’s bandaged gaze. He glanced at All Might, who gave him the thumbs up before taking a deep breath and starting “Essentially, my Quirk can basically take and give Quirks. I recently discovered that I can temporarily borrow Quirks, but I only did it once, so I have next to no idea how it works.”

                “You said something about feeling the nature of Eri’s quirk?”

                “I can feel the Quirks in my vicinity. I don’t know the exact range, but I every Quirk has a unique signature. I can usually recognize a person even if I don’t see them.”

                “This could be very useful for reconnaissance.” Midnight mused.

                “True. We’ll have to test that. Now, about the other Quirk you told me you have.”

                “It’s a strength enhancing Quirk. I got it little before I entered UA and didn’t have much time to practice with it. Unfortunately, the man that gifted it to me passed away, so he can’t teach me anymore.” he said the last part so they wouldn’t be so keen to search a person who didn’t exist.

                “It’s true” All Might chimed in.”The man was an old friend of mine. We had similar Quirks and trained under the same teacher, so I know a little about it. That’s how I met young Midoriya. Unfortunately, our student is a different person, so I can’t use the same teaching method with him. Your help would be appreciated.”

                While Izuku was grateful for the intervention, he just hoped the teacher trusted the No.1 hero enough not to look into it. It would be hard to explain and could even get him expelled.

                Aizawa seemed to buy it because he said “Then, we’ll do this in a different way. All Might has a better grasp on your gifted Quirk, but we still don’t know much about your original. The second characteristic could be used in a way similar to mine. Today we’ll be training your original Quirk, which we should name while we’re at it. All Might can train you later, but we need to understand the limits of your Quirk first.”

                “Sounds like a plan.” Izuku nodded. Midnight chimed in.

                “How did you discover your Quirk?”

                Izuku rubbed his covered wrists before stopping, cancelling the dead-giveaway. The teachers most definitely noticed, but were kind enough not to point it out.”When I was young, one of my playmates attacked me. When I was trying to fight, I accidentally took away his Quirk. Don’t worry” he said quickly “I learned to control it. I can’t take Quirks by accident unless I’m in a state of stress I can no longer think straight, and even then it takes some time to take them. Depending on the nature of the Quirk, it can take longer to take them.”

                “What is the average speed you can take Quirks with?”

                “The shortest amount of time was a minute and a half, but after practicing with the Quirk for about a week or so. I never tried mutation or transformation types but, judging by the way they move, I think it would be harder or take longer.”

                “How’d you practice?” Aizawa asked.

                “Well, after I took that friends Quirk, I wanted to give it back, but had no idea how. My parents helped me through it, they let me take and give them back their Quirks until I could do it smoothly and relatively painless- it’s just very uncomfortable.” he thought for a second before he remembered the last part that seemed to be at least somewhat important “I can also give people Quirks that weren’t originally theirs.” he shuddered as he remembered when he accidentally gave his mother the wrong Quirk. Inko with explosions had been terrifying.

                He failed to notice how All Might’s face darkened for a second.

                “It’s certainly a relief to know you’re not a complete novice at this. Most people who are scared of their Quirks don’t practice and end up causing more harm than good.” Midnight said.

                “There’s something more to that: I get the current power or potential of the Quirk, but none of the practice.” Cementoss rose an eyebrow. Izuku clarified “I don’t get the amount of power the owner had when they first received it, I get the current ‘fire-power’, but none of the skill in controlling it. If, for example, if I took take Kacchan’s Quirk, I’d probably mess up my shoulders after a few tries, since I don’t know how to control the mass of fire and my using those certain muscles isn’t ingrained in my muscle memory.”

                “That would most certainly prove detrimental in the future” Aizawa said. ”You should learn to analyze the Quirks on the spot and come up with a way to use them without risking injury.” All Might couldn’t hide his chuckles, but Izuku wasn’t blaming him, since he wasn’t much better himself. A huge grin covered his face.

                Quirk analysis. Finally, something simple.

                “For now, I think it’s safe to try to use your ability as a cancelling one.”Midnight said.

                “I can’t really use it the same way Aizawa sensei does. I have to focus to keep the Quirks in me and it’s pretty hard to focus on the outside world while I’m at it.”

                “We’ll remedy it. Also, we’ll have to determine your range and see how we can expand it.”

                That’s how they proceeded to do. Izuku borrowed Midnight’s Quirk, looking very apologetic while doing it, though she assured him it was fine. He took off his gym jacket and tried to pretend the teachers weren’t staring at his scars. All Might had asked him the first time he saw them, but the boy’s embarrassed expression convinced him to let the topic die.

                The R-rated hero’s Quirk was tricky. As strange as it might sound, it was like a perfume, or, more accurately, scented smoke. It was diaphanous and hard to catch, and Izuku had a hard time wrapping the Quirk around himself. Sometime during his intense focus, Ectoplasm had returned and had been filled in. After finally making that damned thread stay, he focused it through the surface of his skin.

                The coils sent small tingles under his skin, but small puffs of purple smoke left his pores. Thank god he was immune to it. As he focused, one of Aizawa’s scarves came out of nowhere and bitch slapped him.

                The thread uncoiled and rushed at top speed towards its rightful owner.

                “Hey!” he rubbed his reddening cheek.

                “We need to work on your focus.”Aizawa said drily. Izuku frowned but nodded. They kept trying with Cementoss’s Quirk, which went a little better through because of the fact that the statues didn’t crumble when Aizawa shut down his Quirk.

                Using Ectoplasm had been creepy as fuck, and he was sure he’d be scarred for life by seeing the slime he had to vomit turn into a perfect copy of himself then melt back when he lost his focus.

                They trained for a few hours before the fatigue finally caught up to him and Aizawa had the decency to notice before he collapsed like Eri. Speaking of the little girl, she had woken up in the end.

Since both kids looked like they could challenge Aizawa after night raid when it came to Zombie look-alikes, All Might decided to drive them home.

                They were in the car where Eri fell asleep on Izuku’s lap. The boy was sitting in the back seat, not wanting to risk a ticket or injury in case of accident. All Might eyed him through the rearview mirror.

                “You get home, shower and bed. I know your mom won’t get home till much later, and I don’t want to see you tired tomorrow. Don’t push either you or Eri-chan. You can do your homework later and I’m sure Aizawa would be a little more indulgent with your homework.”

                “Have you met Aizawa?” Izuku deadpanned. All Might chuckled.

                “I know, but I’m serious. Shower then bed.”

                “Yeah, yeah” he yawned “I was going to do that anyway. But there was something else I wanted to tell you.”

                “Huh?” the man’s gaunt gaze met the teen’s sleepy one.

                “Yesterday, I used 100% in that kick.”

                “I’m pretty sure the man felt it.” the skeleton grumbled.

                “It’s not that. It’s that my leg didn’t break.”

                “Oh, that’s good, but not exactly surprising.” the teen perked an eyebrow and the man continued. “When you use One for all on a person on the first time, I assume you don’t want to kill them. Well, that’s why the Quirk comes with a failsafe that stops you from transforming your opponent into a nice splatter on the pavement.”

                Izuku nodded, though his clouded gaze gave away that it was hard to focus “Over the next  few days we’ll sandwich One for All training with All for One training, so you can actually use something till the Sports Festival.”

                The teen nodded again, but the tiredness made the mistake fly over his head.

                “We’re here!” All Might said and the two kids got out of the car. Eri wasn’t even awake, clinging off the teen as he stabbed the lock with different keys, until one had mercy on his sleep-deprived self and agreed to enter. Toshinori watched the kids enter and waited in front of their house for about ten minutes, until a damp haired All Might clad silhouette waved through the window, before pulling the curtains.

                Toshinori drove off before someone called the police on the weird guy creeping around a neighborhood with children.

               

 

 

Chapter Text

                The next three weeks became a routine. Four days a week, he and Eri had afterschool Quirk training, after which one of the teachers drove them home. It was mostly All Might who did this, but once Midnight gave them the ride when the No.1 hero had some...heroing to do, and once even Present Mic drove them in his obnoxiously yellow car.

                Izuku had learned to control his inner fanboy and not geek out over his teachers (more like didn’t have the energy to do so, but you didn’t know that from me). Another thing was that every time different teachers he could train his Quirks on. He never tried Aizawa’s, for obvious reasons that someone needed to stop him from going too far.

                When it came to control.... it didn’t go so well. He had managed to channel One for All in one limb at a time at 5%, but it required focus and he could only use it for short periods of time before he got tired. Keeping it on all the time wore at him and switching it on and off took him time, but at least he didn’t break his bones anymore.

                His original Quirk-which he taken to calling ‘Borrow’-was a completely different story. He’d managed to maintain his focus while dodging his teacher’s attacks, but a strong hit was enough to send the thread springing back to its owner. Aizawa was getting frustrated with the lack of progress, but since Izuku had only discovered that ability a few weeks prior, he was quite proud of himself.

                Eri was advancing quite a bit too. They had finally pin-pointed it as time-reversal or ‘rewinding’ biological matter to a previous state of being (courtesy of several plants-turned-seeds). Still, they had yet to discover a method to measure the time she reminded them by, but at least the girl could control if it was on or off. They also discovered it only worked via direct contact.

                Speaking of Eri, both kids had been called a few days later for questioning. Apparently, the “Bird people” were part of a bigger case, one no one would tell them about (Of fucking course) and they needed all the information they could gather. He had spent an hour with Eri and a therapist, trying to coax some answers out of her, but she didn’t really know much of anything. She knew it was painful. She knew one of them, the boss was her father. And that was it. The therapist ended the session before she could have a panic attack.

                Izuku wasn’t that lucky. He had been interrogated by a hero who called himself Nighteye, who seemed to have a thousand year old grudge against his ancestors for all the shit he put him through. All Might told him they used to work together and that he was in on the One for All, but goddamn, that guy was an asshole!

                After the hero got the gist that Izuku didn’t really know jackshit about the operation and a disappointed Tsk; followed by a phone number and a suggestion (read:order) to call him if Eri remembered anything, Izuku was sent home and spent the ride sulking while Eri and All Might sang a very obnoxious tune. What a day to be alive!

                The other two days were dedicated to training with Tatakai-san. Or more accurately, considering how often she wiped the floor with him, being a glorified mop for a couple of hours. At first, Eri had been scared of the tall, tattooed women, but she’d warmed up to her enough to sit on a mattress with her coloring book as she the teacher threw her big brother around the padded room.

                There were three days left until the Sports Festival when Tatakai-sensei gave him the news.

                “I don’t think I’ll be able to train you much longer.”

                “What? Why?”

                “Calm down, midget, it’s not what you think. It’s got nothing to do with you...” she paused for a second before continuing. “I got a new job offer so I won’t be able to train you from now on. We can keep doing this another month or so, but not much longer. You’ve become good enough but I reckon you should probably find a new sparring partner to keep you on your toes. Only fighting against me will make you pick up weird habits”

                “Oh...Ok” he scratched his neck as he picked up his things.”Then, message me when you think we can start again.”

                She smiled somewhat sadly “I will, but don’t wait and don’t slack off!” she stabbed her finger into his chest. He smiled sheepishly but gave a “Yes ma’am” and a salute before taking Eri by the hand and walking off.

                Once home, his mother literally kicked him into the shower while Eri kept coloring. The little girl had adapted rather well to the new environment. She could spend time without Izuku with exactly three people: his mom, Recovery Girl and All Might in his true form. From class, cartoons and ninety percent of the teen’s wardrobe, she was starting to like flashy hero too, thought she didn’t trust him yet. They had gotten around to buying her own clothes, but she still found his old All Might themed clothes more comfortable.

                The day of the Sports Festival came fast and Izuku woke up early to eat. His mother had gotten ahead of his schedule and, somehow, woke up before him to prepare breakfast. Tough, her vision of breakfast before exam was stuffing him to the point of throwing up. Both her and Eri hugged the life out of the already stressed out teen before shooing him off to school.

                Izuku was lucky he had left earlier, because the trains were absolutely packed with people. He wiggled his way out at his station and made his way towards UA as stealthily as possible and thanked whatever gods were out there for the student ID that saved him from a tragic death by news reporters.

                He got into his gym clothes and met his classmates in the waiting room. They were all in different states of distress, and Izuku couldn’t stop his mind from turning again and again over the conversation he had a few days earlier.

                This is your chance to tell the world “I am here!”

                “Midoriya.” came a cold voice from behind him. Izuku turned around and faced his heterochromatic classmate staring down at him from the few inches he had in height. His thread was one of the most weird he had ever seen. It wasn’t one full thread, or it was, but it wasn’t seamless. It was made out of two halves of other threads braided together, in a harsh symbiosis. They weren’t exactly fighting for dominance, but it felt more like a necessary truce rather than a mutual understanding.

                Izuku forced himself to focus on his classmate instead of his thread and then forced himself not to stare. Which was pretty hard considering he was talking to the scarred version of the Canadian flag.

                “Todoroki, what is it?”

                “Objectively speaking, I’m stronger and more capable than you.” his voice held no emotion.

                Izuku was now thoroughly confused. ”O....kay?”

                “All Might’s got his eyes on you.” he stated.”I’m not about to pry, but know this” now his gaze darkened as if he tried to pin the smaller boy down “I will beat you.”

                Izuku blinked.

                “Oooh, a declaration of war from the strongest in the class?!” Kaminari said. Izuku could feel Kacchan’s glare on the back of his neck.

                “Hey, dude, picking a fight with a friend right before we start? Not cool.” Kirishima caught his shoulder.

                Todoroki pulled away as he said in a low tone of voice “I’m not pretending to be anyone’s friend here.”

                Izuku finally woke up from his what the fuck state and said “Look, I don’t know what’s your deal or why would you chose to say this right now. It’s true you and, most of the others, may be superior in terms of skill...”

                Now he was pissed. Why did always strong people felt the need to make him their enemy? It wasn’t fair! Dad’s words rang in his ears:

                Don’t let people step over you and never show weakness unless it’s to use it to your advantage.

                “Midoriya, don’t be so pessimistic...” Kirishima tried to tame the angry waters.

                “But everyone here is trying their best.” what the redhead didn’t know was that the sharks were out for blood “If you think that a little declaration of war will scare me, then you’re wrong.” He’d grown up with Kacchan after all “I won’t back down and I won’t fall behind.” he took a step closer, getting into Todoroki’s personal space “I accept your challange. Just remember, you pulled out the hatchet” he stared into his dual eyes, not flinching, not backing down “Don’t blame me when I slay you with it.”

                He bumped his shoulder into the taller teen and got out of the room.

-0-

 

                The glares of the other teens dug deep into his back and the whispers were getting loud to the point where they were outright insulting them. Izuku remained unfazed, still thinking if he made the right choice letting Kacchan have the speech.

                “One of you has to say the first year speech” Midnight said.” Both of you scored the same score for the first place.” the blond glared at him. “Unless you’re willing to work together.”

                “No” they responded at the same time. Kacchan glared, as if offended the smaller boy dared have the same train of thought as him.

                “I’ll do it. This nerd here won’t be able to say anything without stuttering. And I’m better anyway.”

                “I agree.” with the first part at least. Truth was, Izuku knew he could probably hold a speech, but didn’t trust his nerves not to pull something like the USJ and blabber for longer than necessary and make a fool of himself and the school in TV. Plus, giving up this position on account of his own faults might appease Kacchan and make him less murdery. Oh, who was he kidding? But still, there was a chance he would only be competitive instead of competitive and pissed off.

                Now, students were commenting on R-rated hero’s costume as she did the introduction. For someone who claimed she wouldn’t stall, she was pretty much doing exactly that. Though it was subtle enough for Izuku to appreciate the skill that probably came from years of not answering the press.

                Kacchan came and claimed that he would win, which was expected at this point. Everyone else was shocked while Izuku just sighed.

                “Geez, overconfident much?” Sero said as the explosive teen climbed down from the podium.

                “Out of my way, losers!” he shoved his shoulder hard in Izuku and passed.

                He’s not overconfident, Izuku realized. If he was, he would’ve been laughing. He’s really trying his best. A smirk grazed his lips at the next thought. If only he would find a way past his emotional constipation, he’d probably be pretty popular.

                His attention returned towards the previously discussed R-rated hero as she started to explain the first event.

-0-

                Aizawa was considering putting ear plugs on and taking a nap. Hizashi was hell bent on causing him hearing loss and it wasn’t like the radio host needed him anyway. But he’d been forced here and he knew that in the-highly unlikely-event that Hizashi noticed he was sleeping, he wouldn’t let him stay asleep. Dammit.

                So, Aizawa watched and commented on his student’s performances. He was a little (just a little, only a small drop) impressed at how they were doing. Impressed, but not surprised. They had faced villains after all. If the USJ had taught them one thing it was no to hesitate, not to hold back. It was a lesson they had to learn, thought Aizawa would have preferred for it to happen later.

                He smirked under his bandages at how Midoriya managed to place first without using his Quirk. That kid was something else. He knew that from the first day the kid had potential and something else in his nugget other than how to use his Quirk.

                He was one of the sad cases who wouldn’t have passed the entrance exam with his Quirk alone. He had been trying for years to convince the board to change the exam, because the only chance for people like him or Midnight become heroes was transferring from the General Department. Which they did.

                He would need to oversee their Quirkless combat skills. Most kids in his class could use the training and Midoriya’s original Quirk was virtually useless against robots or people without Quirks for him to steal. Or to see.

                Well, now it was time for the cavalry battle. The teacher chuckled at the stricken expression the teen had when it was revealed he had the big price on his head. He was eager to see how he’ll worm his way out of this one.

                He leaned back in his chair. This would be fun.

-0-

 

                 

                Ok, ok, ok, he had passed he was alive and could finally breathe. He couldn’t believe he actually passed. He knew his mother and Eri were probably cheering for him at home. He knew Dad was probably proud of him for McGuyvering his way through the first two events. He was heading for lunch when a familiar thread appeared behind him.

                He whipped around before Todoroki had the chance to grab his shoulder.

                “What?” the question didn’t pack any bite, since he had managed to calm down during the two events. Funny, how some high level stress can calm you down once it’s gone.

                “Come with me. I need to speak with you.” he turned around and walked away. Izuku pondered not following for a second before shrugging and doing it anyway. So the second half of his thread was fire. Why didn’t he use it before?

                The boy led him in a secluded place.

                “What did you want to talk about?” the other remained silent for a second.”You know, if we don’t hurry, the dining hall will be packed.”

                Todoroki threw him a glare and Izuku felt a shiver run down his spine. He was intimidating. But not like Kacchan. Kacchan was a hot mass of fire and destruction. He was intimidating the same way a bomb was: volatile and unpredictable. Todoroki was intimidating the way an iceberg is, or a harsh winter. It was there, coming and not holding back. It was dangerous and brought a silent and suffering demise. A bomb could be detonated at will, the same way Kacchan could be manipulated into destruction. Izuku knew it would be hard to either tame or control the winter.

                “Your power felt familiar. Though none of the others, Iida, Kaminari, not even Yaoyorozu felt it, I recognized the same pressure. I felt All Might’s power before. So, tell me...” grey and blue glared into green.”Are you All Might’s illegitimate child or something?”

                Wait, what?

                “Wha...how would you.... ehhh. No.” he finished. “No, I’m not” he moved his hands vividly. All Might’s got his eyes on you, huh? Fuck, fuck, I need an excuse.”That’s not it. And don’t you say this to any of my parents! They’d be very offended” he started a cogs spun inside his head.

                “Interesting way to phrase this: That’s not it. It implies there’s something else between you.” Crap. “but right now, it doesn’t matter. You probably know by now who my father is.” he said nothing for a few second lost in thought.”My father... he’s a powerful bastard, who’s only goal is becoming stronger. He’s gone all out to become a legend, but he always had one obstacle in his path. He’s always been seeing All Might as an obstacle and an eyesore.” he gritted his teeth, seemingly lost on a painful memory lane.”My father could never surpass All Might, so, he came up with a plan.”

                Izuku could feel the dread in the air. He knew something very bad was coming. He didn’t want to hear it but, at the same time, was thirsty for more. He saw that it was a painful subject for the usually stoic boy. But he couldn’t stop, so he broke the silence with the first thing that came to mind ”Todoroki, what’s this all about, why are you telling me this?”

                “Quirk marriages. You’ve heard of them, right?” of course “They started becoming a problem during the second or third generation after Quirks appeared.”

                Izuku knew about them. When he was young and his father still in this country, he and his mom used to complain about the laws and constriction attached to Quirks. His mother worked on a lot of cases and she often got mad at the bureaucracy that sent good people to jail for self-defense. His father despised the current society with a burning passion, ranting about racism and Quirk regulations all day long. Quirk marriages had been only one topic debated at large in Midoriya household.

                “A strong individual would choose a partner and force them into marriage for the sole purpose of passing on a stronger Quirk. The earlier generation were lacking in ethics....”

                “Morals and basic common sense.” Izuku completed.

                “With his money, status and fame, my father made my mother’s family agree to the marriage” his fingers dug into his arms but his voice remained steady “Only to get his hands on her Quirk.” he was trying hard to keep his anger in check, and the green haired boy knew this wasn’t healthy, knew he was going to burst sooner or later “Raising me as a hero to surpass All Might just to fulfill his own ambitions.” his hand hit the wall behind him. Hard.”I hate it! Being no more than a tool for that human garbage!” his voice cracked for a second before he took a deep breath and composed himself.”As I remember it, my mom was always crying... ‘I can’t stand to see that left side of yours’ she said before throwing scalding water in my face.”

                Izuku’s breath hitched as he took a step back and hit the wall. Todoroki continued, with an expression that reminded the younger teen too much of Kacchan.”In short, not using my father’s left side is my revenge against him. Never using my rotten father’s Quirk.... no, rising to the top without it, I’ll have denied him everything.”

                How, how do I even respond to that? We’re both aiming for the top, yet we’re so different. Izuku thought. He wants to prove his Dad wrong, and I....

                He clenched his fists. I have to prove the world wrong.

                Todoroki was starting to walk away.

                “Whatever your connection with All Might is, keep it to yourself if you want. Either way, I will rise above you with my right side only. Sorry for wasting your time.”

                With a back-story like that, he’d be the protagonist of a comic book. So… what does that make me?

                The vill-

                No.

 I refuse to be the rival.

                “You think you’re the only one here who has the right to win? You think you’re the only one here with something to prove?” he was surprised by how steady his voice sounded “It’s true, I’ve been helped before. I’m only here because of the people who helped and supported me this far.” he dug his nails out of his fists before they stated to bleed “I’ve always admired All Might. I have to become strong, just like him. It might seem lame, compared to your motivation, but my statement stands. I won’t back down.” now he stared at the other teen, putting every bit of determination into that look “Just so you know, you should be grateful for a Quirk like that. People wouldn’t treat you this nice with any other.”

                That seemed to spark some anger inside the other teen.

                “Because of this Quirk, I’ve only been a tool for a long as I can remember. People only ever saw me as the number two hero’s kid...”

                “But they never see you as the villain!”Izuku yelled before he could put a stop to his thoughts. His heart was thrumming in his chest, and his shoulders rose and fell as he panted.

                Dammit, Izuku, keep it together for fuck’s sake!

                They stared at each other for a few seconds, mixed feelings passing Todoroki’s visage. He turned around and left without a word.

                Izuku didn’t follow.

-0-

 

The recreational events were introduced, Mineta had apparently tricked the girls into wearing cheerleader clothes and the fight charts had been showed. They were going to be one on one fights and, apparently, Izuku was to fight against a guy named Shinsou. He heard someone behind him say that the previous year had been a foam sword fight. What a waste, I would have liked to do that now. He could already picture his Dad laughing his ass of in his armchair in the front of the computer he was probably watching the Festival from. He knew the sight would have brought at least a smile on Eri’s face.

For some reason Ojiro had withdrawn. While Izuku could appreciate the boy’s sense of justice and pride, he couldn’t help but cringe at such a wasted opportunity. He could always do his best and prove himself in the next round. You couldn’t waste chances when it came to saving people. Pride doesn’t factor into saving someone’s life.

Suddenly he felt a shiver down his spine as a new thread appeared, before a tired voice said from behind him.

“Izuku Midoriya. That’s you, right?”

Izuku did a one eighty and was faced with the purple haired daredevil who challenged Kacchan all those weeks ago. What, will you declare war on me too?

He wanted to answer before a fluffy thing covered his mouth.”Midoriya” Ojiro said as he more or less gagged him with his tail.”Don’t answer him”

The boy chuckled and left as the tailed classmate dragged the greenette away.

“Brainwashing?”

“Yeah” Ojiro nodded “The moment I responded, everything went blank. I think that’s how he uses it.”

“How did you escape it? Did he let you go at the end?”

Ojiro shook his head. ”No. Someone from another team bumped into me. That’s when I woke up.” he sighed. “I know it’s not much, but I...”

“It’s perfect, thank you.” Izuku smiled. ”You helped me so much this way, I won’t drive in blind. I can actually devise a strategy.”

“You’re welcome. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some business to attend to.” the blond teen got up and left the room.

I just have to keep quiet, not respond him. A few weeks ago this would have been easy. He’d been holding back on Kacchan for a few years after all. But if his previous conversations with Todoroki were any clue, he no longer had the same control over his emotions. A few months of a normal, friendly high school environment and I’m already lowering my guard he thought bitterly.

His phone buzzed. Izuku pulled it out and saw he had two conversations open. The first was from his mother, and it was a picture of Eri. She was wearing her (his) All Might shirt and was holding a piece of paper with the words „you can do it!” on it. Her thumbs were up and the smile on her face was the most precious thing he had ever seen. He quickly sent a ‘Thank you!’ and a smiling emoji that would fall on deaf ears back before he made that picture into the screen saver.

He opened the second conversation and saw his father asking him if they could talk. He sent a ‘yeah’ before the screen lit up a second later and the meme he used as his father’s icon popped into view.

“Hey Dad!”

“Hello, how are you?”

“Great. I just passed two rounds and got one declaration of war before lunch.” He said it as leisurely as possible.

Well, that was fast. I thought you didn’t like making enemies.”

“I don’t, he just walked up to me and said he would defeat me.”

Please tell me you don’t believe him.”

“No” he sheepishly scratched his neck “I didn’t feel well, and you know how stress loosens my tongue, so I may have probably, definitely, told him I’ll slay him with his own hatchet.”

A beat. Then another. Than a hysterical laugh at the other end.

“Don’t laugh!” Izuku could feel the heat rising to his cheeks and was glad no one was there to witness it.

“I’m so proud. I taught you so well.”

“Dad, come on, it was a dirty move and the guy had a reason to do it”

His father’s laughter ceased.”Whatever the reason, it was an intimidation tactic. He was just trying to make you back down, to break your confidence.”

“Still. I feel like I should help him.”

Yes, he’d said those words and he had meant them, but Todoroki needed help. The bundle of emotions inside of him was toxic and it was eating him alive, and Izuku knew it would destroy him sooner or later. That little speech from earlier was meant to bring him back to earth and to show him that everyone else had the same right to that first place. Now he had to help him improve and get over it.

“Whatever I say, I know you will do what you want. So, I’ll just say this: do your best, but, if at any given point you feel the need to back off, do it. Neither your mom nor I would ever blame you. Don’t stretch yourself too thin or you might just snap and I’m not sure we can put you back together.”

“Yes, Dad.” a sound came from behind him.”Are you working?” he couldn’t keep the disappointment out of his voice.

“No, but I’m at work. And right now, some of my subordinates have absolutely no respect for their boss.”

“Why are you at work? It’s a different time zone, shouldn’t you be at home?”

“I should, but I’m behind with some things and I had to catch up. I forgot the time and now I’m watching you succeed without a Quirk while someone is throwing a tantrum in the somewhere in the back.”

Izuku felt his lips turn upwards.”Do mine ears deceive me? Did the great Hisashi Midoriya not complete an assignment in time? What’s next? Will the Earth stop spinning? Will Endeavor become a decent human being? ”

“I knew I shouldn’t have taught you sass” he grumbled under his breath “And I thought you didn’t believe in miracles.”

“You didn’t teach me sass. You genetically transferred it to me along with certain other traits Mom always complains about.”

Hisashi chuckled.

“I won’t hold you any longer; remember my advice and good luck.”

“Thanks” he said before the line went dead.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

                Toshinori thought about what the No.2 hero had said. The words spun around his head again and again, yet they didn’t make more sense the longer he tried.

                I’ll mold him into a hero to surpass you. That’s the only reason I created that kid.

                Everything in that sentence felt wrong. The blond was pondering over it when he saw his successor. He seemed more relaxed than earlier, but stress was still present if you took after how he was muttering a storm. Toshinori decided to ease him a little.

                „Hey!” the teen whipped around startled at the sudden apparition.”It took you a while, but you’re finally getting the hang of using One for All outside a secure environment without breaking anything.”

                „All Might...” he looked down „Not really. I don’t have much control and I feel like I could burst any time if I lose focus, even for  a second. I try to do it like I did with that villain, but it’s too dangerous. I can feel it.” he clenched his fists.”Why couldn’t I learn to use it these past weeks?”

                „Don’t blame yourself, you did your best. You can’t expect to learn to use such a Quirk in so little time. Plus, you have your other Quirk to worry about.” Toshinori tried to smile reassuringly, but his smile never had much effect in this form.

                „But still,” he looked down „ I feel like I only got this far through sheer luck”

                All Might chopped a palm over his head.”That’s because you’re always trying your hardest, my dear prince of nonsense! You’ll never be a hero looking so mopey!” Izuku rubbed his head as his mentor said.”Now, listen. Especially when you’re feeling worried or scared...” All Might took his hero form „That’s when you’ve gotta smile! You’ve come this far, so show some brevado, even if it’s fake! Never forget that I’m expcting big things from you!”

                Put on a brave face, so people can’t take advantage of your emotions. If they think you’re stronger, weather phisically or mentally, the battle’s already half won.

                Huh. Who knew his Dad and All Might were se similar?

                                                                                              -0-

                „The first mach!” Present Mic was boming through the speakers.”Making a weird face despite his excellet performance so far, Midoriya Izuku from hero course!! Versus ... sorry, but this guy hasn’t really done anything to stant out so far. Hitoshi Shinsou, from General Studies!”

                His thread was slow and luring, like a cobra ready to strike. He knew the story of how the snake lured the rabbit to look into his mouth, just to clamp his jaws shut and end the poor animal. His thread was smewhat similar.

                Sorry, but you ain’t eating this bunny.

                „The rules are simple. Knock your oponent out of the ring, imobilise them or get them to say „I give up”. Bring in the pain!” oh, really now „We’ve got Recovery Girl on standby! And fight dirty if you must! „Ethics” have no meaning here!

                Izuku could imagine Tatakai-san nodding her head in an I told you so motion.

                „Of course, going for the kill is a big no-no!! You’ll be disqualified. A hero’s fists go only in pursuit of villains.”

                `”I give up” huh?” Shinsou said.”Get it, Midoriya? This will test your strenght of will. If you’ve got any kind of vision for the future, there’s no sense in worrying about how you get there. Now let’s get this started. Like that monkey was blabbering about his stiupid pride.”

                Izuku couldn’t stop a chuckle. He’s trying toget a rise out of me, isn’t he?

                Sorry to disappoint you, but I have practice with this.

                „What kind of dumbass throws away a chance like this?”

                Izuku rose an eyebrow. Shinsou clicked his tongue.”Must be nice, having everything handed out to you on a golden platter.”

                Oh, you really wanna go there, pal?

                „I’m kinda jealous. You people with your flashy Quirks get everything you want.” shut up „No one ever tells you that you can’t be a hero.” you’re wrong.”Thanks to my Quirk’s nature, I couldn’t get past the golden gates. But you wouldn’t know this, you’re naturally blessed.” Shut up! „You people born with awesome Quirks, getting to follow all your dreams”

                „Don’t talk about things you don’t understand!” he yelled and realised a second too late he made a fatal mistake.

                His body went numb. He couldn’t feel anything, not his hands, not his feet, not his fingers. He couldn’t even blink. Shinsou smirked.”Turn around and walk out of the arena.”

                He faintly heard Present Mic and Aizawa sensei talk, but he was only focused on his body. Move, goddammit. No response. Fuck, even after Ojiro warned me, I still fell for it. He got closer to the edge. He never knew he would end up fearing a line of paint on the pavement. He could see All Might telling him not to lose.

                No, not like this. Everyone’s done so much for me. Everyone wants to see me succeed. Mom, All Might, Dad, little Eri. An image of her holding the „Do your best” poster. This is not my best.

                I can’t lose here.

                Static took over his senses. One for All was swirling, boiling, coiling inside his body,as the static got louder. An inner darkness surfaced over his plane of view, eight pairs of eyes whispering in a chaotic cacophony.

                What....

                Don’t don’t don’t don’t

                Is this?

                „You probably wouldn’t think so” Shinsou’s voice somehow reached his ears. His finger twitched. I can mov... „But, this Quirk of mine, is like a dream. Right. You lose.”

                Pain raced up his arm as he broke his fingers and woke up. He panted, foot inches away from the edge.

                „Midoriya! He stopped!”

                No, shit Sherlock.

                `You shouldn’t have control. How did you....?`

                Izuku covered his mouth in order to stop his inner monologue from becoming outer monologue. The finger was all me, but something else woke me up. For a second, all was clear. Who were all those people in my head?

                One for all is a torch passed down from generations. Were those people...is this a sign I’m liked through this power to the past?

                Stop it! It’s not useful right now!

                „What? Nothing to say for yourself?” Shinsou said as Izuku turned around and started walking towards him.”Wow, you broke out on your own, you must be the real deal” the green haired teen was sprinting now. The Gen Ed student didn’t get to finsh, for the hero in training hit him in the chest, hard enough that the boy stumbled back.

                Got you.

                Izuku put his hand to his lips to mask his movement. They may not hear the words, but they would catch up if they saw him speaking.

                „Believe me or not, I understand you. I know what you’ve been through, I’ve been there myself. But, a piece of advice:”he glared at the boy who was getting to his feet.”Don’t assume things you know nothng about.”

                „Walk out.” he said, a little panicked now.

                Izuku smirked under his hand.”Sorry, I’ve gotten too far to give up now.”

                He got closer. He knew he could just order the boy to walk out, but that would be a dick move and would destroy any chance the boy had. if people saw his Quirk in a light worse than they already did, the boy would never become a hero. He didn’t have to look like he used his Quirk to counter attack.

                You just don’t wanna reveal your Quirk. The voice which sounded surprisingly like Kacchan said.

                Shut up.

                He looked his oponent in the eye and attacked.

-0-

 

                Shoto was walking down the halls, away from the rukus. His mach would start in a few minutes, but he was still musing over what happened. Midoriya’s words still rang in his ears.

                You think you’re the only one here who has the right to win? You think you’re the only one here with something to prove?

                What do you have to prove, Midoriya?

                You should be grateful for any Quirk like that. People wouldnt treat you this nice with any other. The way he said it sounded like he was talking from experience.

                What are you hiding?

                But they never saw you as the villain!

                Why would they treat you like the villain? Strenght related Quirks weren’t so uncommon and there was certainly nothing evil about them. Heck, All Might had one. With how identical their Quirks were, the boy would have probably been groomed to be a hero.

                But he had little to no control of his Quirk. The way he had done in the cavalry battle and the USJ showed he was capable of not breaking his limbs, so why did he usually do it? Lack of training, laziness, his father’s voice supplied. Shoto gritted hise teeth and warded the offending sound out of his head.

                He deffinetly lacked training. But why? Midoriya didn’t seem the type to slack off and he knew he wouldn’t have stayed behind if he wanted to get into UA. He saw the scores and he knew he had gotten in only on rescue points. But the boy was too smart to rely on that alone.

                So why wouldn’t he train?

                Maybe his Quirk awakened too late. It was rare, but there were cases when someone had an invisible Quirk or a dormant one that only awakened in certain circumstances.

                He thought of the previous battle. He was in the first row with the rest of the first years and he heard what Shinsou was saying. The way the boy reacted when the other said he was naturally blessed.

                Don’t talk about what you don’t understand!

                That worked with his previously Quirkless theory. If the boy had been considered handicapped, there would have been virtually no way for him to become a hero. The look on his face when he yelled at him and at Shinsou had been real. The pain had been real, the anger had been real. There was obviously an emotional package attached to the topic.

                But why would they call him a villain?

                Was it the intelect? Shoto had seen his strategy and analysis during class. He knew he was smart and, earlier, in the green room, the boy had been outright terrifying. There was also Bakugou’s animosity towards him. That it came from Bakugou, it wasn’t surprising. The boy would probably pick a fight with the sun on firepower if it came to it.

                But the teen had a clear dislike of the usually shy boy. He went after him in the training exercise, and no one could really forget how he attacked him in the first day. There was some bad blood between them. Too much probably.

                He could probably ask him later. He doubted he would get a straight answear, but he could probably pach up something if he censored the obscenities. He remembered some old comic books one of his brothers layed around a long time ago. They were pre-Quirk era where having a Quirk was the only requirement for being a hero. Because, apparently, all people with superpowers were full of justice and the overwhelming desire to do good. It had been corny then, it still was now. But what struck him was the fact that most villains were Quirkess. They carried their nefarious plans  with the help of weapons and obnoxiously big and unpractical robots.

                They seemed to have a fetish for hanging the heroes over volcanoes filled with lava while monologuing. The plans were pretty good but the hero always pulled a last minute solution and saved the day. Shoto had had a laugh that day imagining Endeavour hanging upside down over a pit of lava. Oh, the poetic irony of the pro hero being burned by his own fire.

                But raised a question. Could Midoriya really be a villain? By that logic, if he were Quirkless and ostracized, the chances of that happening were pretty high.

                Off, he couldn’t waste his time untangling the Mistery of Midoriya.

                His train of thought came to an abrupt halt as he heard the voice that haunted his very existence.

                „You disgrace me, Shoto.”

                „Out of the way” he growled.

                „You could’ve crushed both the obstacle race and the and the cavalry battle if you had only used your left side.” Shoto ignored him as he passed by the big man in the narrow hallway.”Grow up. Stop acting like some petulant child” the teen gritted his teeth.”Remember your duty to surpass All Might.” his nails dug into his fists, drawing blood.”You’re diffrent than your brothers, Shoto. You’re my greatest creation.”

                He stopped.”That’s all you’ve gotta say to me?” he whipped around, finally facing the menacing man.”I’ll win this with mom’s power alone. I’ll never use your power in battle.”

                He stomped towards the exit.

                „That may be good enough while you’re in school, Shoto. But you’ll reach your limit soon enough.”

                The teen walked out and entered the ring. He was going to battle Sero. He was going to finish this quick, he wasn’t in the mood to make it last.

-0-

 

                Izuku sat with Iida and Uraraka as Todoroki’s mach was about to begin. Like most of his class, he was cheering for Sero, though he knew there was little chance for the tape guy to pass. And he had been right.

                He had just hoped it would last longer than five seconds.

                As he stared at the ice a few inches from his skin, he couldn’t help but notice how sad Todoroki looked.

                And you just had to say those awful things.

                Shut up! He thought before the guilt could eat at his intestines. What’s done it’s done, you can’t change it. The best you could do is try to fix it.

                But how do I fix him?

                He left that thought on back burner as he watched on. Shiozaki was pretty strong with her vines and the green-haired teen was pretty sure he had creeped Uraraka out with his muttering. Dread filled his being when he saw how Iida accepted Hatsume’s devices. She didn’t seem the type to share out of the goodness of her heart and the evil grin on her face didn’t make him feel better in the slightest.

                He was proven so so right when Hatsume spent the next ten minuted dodging Iida and marketing her „babies”. Well, at least Iida had the chance to prove himself later.

                „Oi, Mido-kun!” he turned around to find his frog classmate pet him on the shoulder.

                „Yeah, Tsuyu, what is it?”

                „With your commercial manipulation and her marketing skills you two could be the perfect business couple!”

                „Tsuyu!” he cried as the others started to laugh at his expense. He was 100% positive he could beat a tomato by the heat he felt in his cheeks.

                „Now that I think about it, they would be a cute couple.” Jirou chimed in.”Her hair is pink, his is green, it would be one hell of a colour palette.”

                „Guys, please!” he whined as Kaminari literally fell off his seat. His colleagues kept giggling and he pulled the collar of his gym uniform up to his nose and sank in his chair.

                His classmates kept laughing until Kirishima managed to calm down enough to get (or at leas attempt to do so) serious.”Mido? can I ask you a question?”

                Izuku turned around, for the boy was behind him.”Yes?”

                Kirishima took a deep breath, as if he was steeling himself for what was to come.”Do you have an evil twin or something?”

                Wait, what?

                „Not that I know of?”

                „Because, the thing you said earlier, in the prep room, that was really scary.”

                Oh, shit. I actually threatened Todoroki.

                Kaminari chimed in.”Yeah dude. It was creepy as fuck. One moment you’re our usual, shy colleague and the next you’re this evil little midget who says he will doom the strongest guy in class.” tha blond looked around, as if scared the said classmate might hear him. „I think you actually scared him too.”

                Izuku let out a laugh, though it felt a little bit forced, even for him.”Sorry if I scared you, guys. It’s just that, when I’m stressed, my brain to mouth filter kinda vanishes and I respond with what seems the most apropriate thing for the situation. And, since I watch a lot of anime...” he didn’t finish, but he didn’t have to. A few of his colleagues winced, while others nodded in understanding. He didn’t like lying to his friends, but he didn’t really feel like telling them the truth behins his weird speech patterns.

                „Wait, if that’s so, what happened at the USJ?”

                „Oh, there I actually managed to think rationally. And be glad for it. I’m pretty sure we would’ve been dead three times over if I started sassying the leader of villians.”

                 A few more snickered.

               

                „I’d better get to the prep room” Uraraka said as she got up. She walked a brisk pace until she reached the room and massaged her temples, trying to calm her racing heart. Bakugou. It wasn’t that bad. Yes, he was strong, but no one was invincible. Well, maybe All Might, but he didn’t count. Bakugou was human and he had to have a weakness. The door suddenly opened and Iida came in.

                „Good work out there, Iida?”

                „Uraraka, are you Ok?”

                „Just a littlle bit nervous” she rubbed her neck.”Guess it shows on my face.”

                „Yes, your oponent is Bakugou, isn’t he?”

                „Yeah, I’m really scared. But seeing you here....”

                The door slammed in the wall and a familiar curly-haired boy entered the prep room.”Uraraka!”

                „Mido? Wait, shouldn’t you be watching the other matches?”

                „Another two matches already ended. They were really short. Ashido managed to damage Aoyoma’s belt. He panicked and she K.O-ed him with an uppercut to the chin. Tokoyami finished with Yaoyorozu in a few seconds. Right now, Kirishima and some guy from class B are dunking it out.”

                „So, I’m next”

                „I can’t imagine Bakugou would give it his explosive all against a female oponent.”

                „No, he will.” Izuku said without missing a beat.”Everyone’s competing here with the dream of becoming nomber one. No one has any reason to hold back. Kacchan least of all.” Izuku took his notebook out of his back pocket.”But you’ve helped me so much, Uraraka. So, I thought I might return the favour.” he held the notebook to eye level.”You need a counter strategy for Kacchan. One that uses your Quirk. I came up with this on the fly, but it might work...”

                „Oh, how fortunate..” Iida started.

                „Thanks, Mido, but...it’s Ok” huh? „You’re amazing. You do amazing things all the time. During the cavalry battle, I thought the best strategy was teaming up with friends. But, actually, I think  was putting all my faith in you. With what Iida said, „I challange you” and all that. That left me feeling a little embaressed about myself.” She looked away.”So, thanks but no thanks. Everyone here is fighting for their futures. Doesn’t that make us all rivals?” she turned and held her thumbs up, though she was obviously on the verge of tears `See you in the finals, Ok?`

                But she didn’t. It had been a massacre. He didn’t expect it to go that bad, but he wasn’t actually surprised. He knew Bakugou was strong but, for a second there, she had had a real chance to win. The sad thing was that she almost did, but she made that one fatal mistake. He was so  in thought he almost walked into Kacchan as he was exiting the arena.

                „Whoa, Kacchan!”

                „What do you want? Looking to die, scum?”

                „No, I mean, I’m going to be next, so I’m headed towards the prep room. Congrats on your win, by the way.” he was hurrying out as fast as he could. He may have been able to put on a brave face with others, but this hallway was empty. No witnesses. For a second he could feel his sweaty hand on his face, ready to blow...

                Ready to kill....

                „You sugested that, didn’t you? That self-sacrificing strategy. You caused me a lot of trouble, there...”

                „I didn’t.” he turned and faced the blond.”Uraraka...she came up with it all by herself, just to beat you. So, if it really was a lot of trouble for you...that was Uraraka messing with you.”

                Kacchan growled and left.

                Izuku entered the prep room.”I guess I lost” Uraraka said as she rubbed her neck sheepishly.”I just got carried away in the end when I thought I could actually win.”

                „Are you hurt?”

                She pointed at the piece of gauze on her cheek.”Just theese little scraps. I’m healing bit by bit so my stamina doesn’t drain away.” she pursed her lips.”But Darn it! Bakugou’s just too strong!”

 No, he’s not.

„I couldn’t put a scrach on him”

No, you did more than that.

”Guess I gotta try harder next time.”

                Izuku took a deep breath.”Uraraka, sorry if this upsets you, but I have to say it. You could have won. You almost did it for real!”

                She looked at him confused.”What do you mean? Bakugou’s just too strong.”

                „Yes, he is strong, but you could have beat him there. You made one fatal mistake.”

                „What?” her voice was slowly dying out.

                „You gave him the heads up.”

                Understanding seemed to dawn on her and Izuku was surprised when she burst in a fit of giggles.”Oh, that’s it. Sorry, you were so serious when you said it, I thought it was some fatal flaw.”

                „But, Uraraka, this is important!” he didn’t know how to properly stress that.

                „I know, Mido, but you worry to much. I’ll keep it in mind for the next time. I mean, you’re always looking ahead for the next challange. I lost now, but I don’t wanna lose again”

                Present Mic’s voice came throught th speakers, announcing Kirishima as the winner.

                „Oh, damn, you wasted all your prep time talking with me. Good luck out there, I’m rooting for you.”

                „Thanks” he said, thought his smile was a little strained. He left the room and started walking out. She didn’t take it seriously. That had been a detail, small, but completly game changing. She could have won. But even after he had pointed it out, she had not considered it important. Izuku laughed mirthlessly. Why would she? No one considered the little details.

                I’ll keep it in mind for next time, she had said. But it was more for his ears than anything.

                Uraraka...had this battle been against a villain he clenched hit fists, there wouldn’t have been a next time.

                His train of thought was violently derailed and almost had an accident when he bumped into the No.2 hero and candidate for father of the year right after fucking Hohenheim of Light. He looked up at the burning trash-can and felt a chill run down his spine as tha lightning blue gaze fixed him in the ground.

                „There you are.”

                „Endeavour, you’re back here...” shit, shit, shit, he’s so intimidating up close.

                „I saw what you did there. That’s quite a Quirk. Creating such a force with a flick of a finger! In terms of power, it seems on par with All Mght’s Quirk!”

                „What are you getting at? I, I have to go..” if he more or less traumatised his own child to get what he wanted, he had no reason to hold back on a possible obstacle.

                Does he know? No....by the way he phrased it, he doesn’t, but he’s the one I have to keep the secret from the most.

                „My boy Shoto...he has a duty to surpass. His fight against you will prove a valuble test.” Izuku gritted his teeth.”So, put on a good fight for him. It would be a shame if you were to lose in a disgraceful way.”

                In short, not using my father’s left side is my revenge against him. Never using my rotten father’s Quirk.... no, rising to the top without it, I’ll have denied him everything.

                „That’s all I have to say” Endeavour was walking away.”Sorry for my bluntness.”

                How...how dare you... the greenete took a deep breath „I’m not All Might”

                „Well, of course...”

                „And Todoroki isn’t you.”

                 He walked away and entered the ring. Todoroki was waiting on the other side of the pit.

                All Might, how do you save someone who doesn’t want to be saved? He remembered the earlies conversation.

                Well, meddling where you don’t technically have to is the essence of being a hero.

                That didn’t answear his question. But he knew what he had to do.

                I have absolutely no reason to help him. It gives me no advantage whatsoever.

                Todoroki glared at him.

                Well, fuck that. I’ll help you, Todoroki-kun..

                And I’m gonna win right after.

               

Chapter Text

 

                Shoto mused over his earlier conversation. Something still irked him about Midoriya. There was something else he felt like he should look out for. Something dangerous, more dangerous than the Sports Festival. He didn’t have the full picture and he knew exactly how dangerous that could be. The lack of some piece of information could be the diffrence between victory and defeat.  

                The door slammed into the wall as Bakugou kicked his way into the room. He froze for a second, looking at the bichromatic teen.

                „Huh, what are you doing here?” he looked around, finally seeing the room number.”Crap, this is room two.”

                Shoto looked at him for a second before turning back to is inner turmoil. That seemed to tick the blond off, as the volatile teen let out one of his trademark explosions.”I get that I walked into the wrong room, but giving a future opponent the cold shoulder? What’s the big idea?!”

                „You haven’t won yet” Shoto said in an even tone.

                „Yeah, like that’s a reason to doubt. The real question is who will I battle with?”

                Shoto tsk-ed at the arrogance, before the thoughts that swam in his head earlier came back full force. „Midoriya. You’ve known him for a long time, don’t you? He said something peculiar about my Quirk, that I should be thankful for it, that people would treat me diffrent if I didn’t have it. Do you have any idea what he meant by that?” that seemed to hit close to home for the blond. He froze for a second,  an unreadable look passing his face before he gritted his teeth and punched the wall so hard he left a crater in the plaster.

                His shoulders were heaving as he gritted his teeth. He was trembling with rage, pure, unadulterated rage. But it wasn’t his normal brand of anger. No, it was a feral fury enhanced ten times past it’s usual amount by fear. Primal fear, the kind that turned brother against brother, mother against child.

                Shoto wondered what the little, green eyed boy could have done to cause such a reaction in the blond. Bakugou panted for a second before he composed himself and looked the paler boy in the eye.

                „Look, I’ll give you some piece of advice so you don’t run in blind. Keep him at distance. And don’t let him touch you!” and, with that, the blond walked out.

-0-

 

                Izuku looked at his oponent. Todotoki was staring at him, an unreadable expression on his face.

                First, he’ll come at me with his ice. As soon as this starts, I cannot let him fire off his power freely.

                Todoroki did just that. He sent a huge wave of ice in his direction. Izuku sacrificed his middle finger and smashed it. But right after, he didn’t hesitate. While the frozen dust was clearing, Izuku rushed towards the other teen. A wall of ice rose behind Todoroki, placed there with the puspose of keeping him in the ring.

                Nice. Good thing I only used a finger. If he could witstand a 100% blow, I would have lost my arm too soon.

                He went for his left side.

                You said you won’t use your left side. You can’t use your ice without risking freezing yourself. So,  you’ll either have to use your fire or lose.

                It was a dirty move. He couldn’t care less at the moment.

                Todoroki responded with a vicious punch to his guts. Izuku took a step back and saw another wave of ice coming towards him. He flipped another finger and smashed it. Pain shot through his arms in electrical pulses, but his yell wasn’t focused on the pain.

                „Use your power, goddammit! Everyone is giving it their all! What gives you the right to come here and half-ass it?!”

                The teen responded by sending another wave of ice towards him. Izuku focused 5% into his legs and jumped over it, landing in front of the boy. He was greeted by another wave of ice, which ended, predictably, with another broken finger.

                „Give it your all, you poor excuse of a canadian flag!”

                „You still haven’t placed a scratch on me.” Todoroki yelled. Izuku smirked.

                „I wouldn’t say that. You’re shivering, Todoroki. Quirks are phisical abilities. You could use your left side to balance it, but you won’t” Izuku dived in and focused 5% in his arm.

                He punched Todoroki at the lowest One for All setting, which was still enough to break a rib or two and destroy the previously established wall behind him.

                „You basically handed me your weaknesses on a golden platter. You cannot do that and seriously expect me not to use it.”

                Todoroki got to his feet and watched the battered teen. His hand was bleeding, fingers broken, but he bore an insane smirk, one that sent unnatural chills down the boy’s body. It was the smirk of someone who had something up his sleeve and was just waiting for a reason to pull that trump card.

                Is he, is he mocking me? Todoroki felt anger, the likes of what he felt for his father take over him.

                „What are you hiding?” he yelled. What was he going to do? Shoto didn’t know and he didn’t like not knowing what to expect.

                „Oh, so you can walk around like you’re wearing a golden crown, with all your issues and expect us to bow, but when I do the same, you get mad?”Izuku yelled. He charged again, but jumped right when another wave of ice came his way.

                „You don’t understand! My father....”

                „I’m not fighting your father!” Izuku yelled back.

„Everything you did up ot this point had been because of your father. You put yourself at a disadvantade because of him. Your main motivation is basically spite. How can you claim to deny him when he still controls every aspect of your life!” Todoroki threw another punch in his direction, a normal one this time. He distinctly felt something crack when his fist conected with the other’s jaw.

                „You know nothing!” he yelled.

                „I know more than you have the right to question! It’s your power, god dammit! Yours, not his! Claim it for yourself. If you wanna defeat me, at least have the decency to go all out!”

                „I could say the same about you!” Todoroki yelled and, for the first time in the tournament, he saw Izuku falter. „I know about your Quirk. I know you don’t want to use it. How can you ask me to use my Quirk when you’re not willing to do the same?”

                Izuku’s face darkened.”You don’t want me to use my Quirk.”

                Todoroki responded to that with a huge wave of ice. Izuku panicked and punched it with his whole arm. A cry escaped his throat as his bones shattered, popping like firecrackers in his limb.

                Even so, when he looked up, he had a satisfied smirk.”Your ice’s getting weaker, Todoroki-kun. What will you do in a life or death situation? Will you let civilians die because of your stupid pride?! If you’re gonna let that happen, then you’re no better than him.!”

                You still want to be a hero, right Shoto?

                Yes, more than anything.

                 Will you let civilians die because of your stupid pride?!

                No.

                I hate him. I don’t wanna be like him. I don’t wanna be someone who bullies mommy.

                A true hero is someone who saves people. Not all heroes are like your father.

                Will you let civilians die because of your stupid pride?!

                That seemed to cut it. In one rage filled yell, his left side caught fire, melting the ice on his right side.

                „You’ve asked for it, Midoriya.”

                „I’m aware.”he grinned.

                The greenette lounged towards him with his left arm. He went for the guts, but Todoroki caugth it and flipped him on his back. Izuku got back a second later and faced him with a pained yet way too satisfied smirk.

                That was the moment Todoroki realised his flamed had died down. He tried to start them again, but nothing happened. Neither was his ice. Something was missing, though not completly. He had never conciously felt his Quirk, but now he did it enough to know it was no longer there. Not completly.

                He looked up. Midoriya was a few feet from him. Small, insignificant flames were rising from his jacket. They were small, and he doubted anyone from the public would see them. But Shoto did.

                You don’t want me to use my Quirk.`

                Because you just stole mine.

                „You’ve asked for it, Todoroki-kun.” Midoriya threw his words back in his face.

                Shoto charged forward. Midoriya may have been strong, but he was down one arm. The boy tried to dodge, but Shoto sucker-punched him in the guts. Then he grabbed his injured arm and flipped him on the ground.

                Midotiya cried in pain and Shoto felt his power rushing back into him. The next moment, Midoriya was trapped in a block of jagged ice.

                Shoto heaved.”You really think Quirk training is the only thing that bastard forced on me?”

                Izuku gave him a pained,desperate smile, tears gathering at the edges of his eyes.”Please tell me you didn’t do this for him.”

                Shoto couldn’t think of a response, for the boy passed out a second later.

                Todoroki goes in the next round!

                He never knew victory could taste so bitter.

-0-

 

                Shoto dragged his feet out of the ring, not looking at the unconscious body of his classmate on a stretcher. He had unfreezed Midoriya for the robots to take him to Recovery Girl and he couldn’t help but notice the multitude of bruises and scrapes on his body. He ice on the ground had cud deep gashes into his skin, wounds that would probably scar over time. His right arm was a tragedy.

                His ribs ached and he had trouble breathing. But the boy’s words still rang in his ears.

                Please tell me you didn’t do this for him.`

                I didn’t. I didn’t do it for him. It wasn’t a lie. During all the years he had lied to himself, he had learned to discern a hopeful lie from the unlikely truth. And this was the truth.

                Everything you did up ot this point had been because of your father!

                This was also the truth, as painful as it was.

                He stopped as the devil himself made a guest appearance.

„So you’re not going to tell me to get out of your way this time?”Endeavour bore a way too satisfied expression on his face.”Without control over your flames, going all out is dangerous. But you’ve put aside your childish rebellion. You’re ready to replace me, surpass me even!” the man rose his arm, as if he expected Shoto to take it.

„I haven’t put aside anything” the teen intrerupted his rant. A bitter smile graced his lips.”As if I could be turned away so easily. It’s just...”

Please tell me you didn’t do this for him

I didn’t.

 How can you claim to deny him when he still controls every aspect of your life!

Not anymore.

„It’s just that...in that moment...in that instant” he clenched his fist and looked his father in the eye „I forgot all about you.”

He started walking past the man” Wether that’s good, bad, or something in between..” he walked and didn’t glanced back „That’s something I’ll have to think about.”

-0-

Izuku woke up in pain. He could hear muffled voices on the background and tried to focus the murky slime of his conciousness on the closest thing to ground him into the real world again.

„His right arm is shattered. First I’ll have to remove the bone splinters from the joints. Healing comes after.”

So he was in the infirmery.

„This boy admires you so much he’s willing to destroy himself for you. You lit this fire. You moved him to this.... I don’t like it, not one bit. You’re overdoing it. Both you and him. So don’t you dare praise him for it.”

The door slammed into the wall as his concerned classmates entered the infirmery.

`MIDORIYA!!!`

`Guys..but, the next mach...` he rasped through a dry throat.

Toshinori jumped.

„The arena is still covered in huge chunks of ice and concrete is out of place. We’re taking a break while it’s being repaired.”Iida said.

„That was scary as hell, Midoriya. No pro’s gonna hire you!” Mineta said. Tsuyu tongue-slapped him.

„Great job rubbing salt in the wounds, Mineta.”

„I’m right and you know it!”

„Pipe down. It’s fine to worry, but he’s about to have surgery!” Recovery Girl said.

„SURGERY?!”

„I’m sorry, young Izuku”, Toshinori said, I wanted you to tell the world you’ve arrived.

„I couldn’t do it...” the boy whimpered”I couldn’t win knowing I’d doom him too. I had to help him.”

„You were trying to bring it out of him.”

The boy nodded through tears.”I wanted to win, I knew I could win...” he panted, „I just wanted to save him first..” Toshinori placed a hand on the boy’s head and started combing through the curly hair. „I was so sure I could win...” he let out a bitter laugh, „But I forgot about my broken hand.”

„It’s Ok, my boy. You did your best. You didn’t have to help him, but you did it nonetheless. That is the essence of being a hero.”

„That’s the most frustrating part.” Izuku swallowed and gritted his teeth through the tears „I’m not sure I managed to save him.”

Recovery Girl rushed his friends out and Toshinori petted his hair as she eased him into the anestethic sleep. She was ready to kick the blond out when the door opened once more.

The son of the No.2 hero was sitting awkwardly on the step.

„Oh, dear, what seems to be the problem?”

Todoroki looked at the unconscious body on the bed, with the bandages and the IV coming out of him. A look of guilt passed his face.”I, I think I broke a few ribs.”

The small woman regarded him with a stern look.”Sit”. The boy complied and she switched her attention to the blond.”And you, out! I cannot work with you here, and mull over what we discussed. I don’t want it to happen again.”

„Yes ma’am!” the man rushed out of the room at a speed too high for someone with his body constitution and the youngest Todoroki was left with the doctor and his unconscious classmate.

The woman gave him a quick kiss and bandaged his wounds in a fairly short amount of time. Shoto was sure another fight had started, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t going to watch them, too busy sorting the chaotic mess that was his brain.

„Will he...” he started, but faltered under her gaze. Regaining his courage he asked „Will he be alright?”

The woman smiled softly, yet the trace of sadness was still present on her face.”In time. he will have a lot of scars to remind him and to, hopefully, keep him from doing this again.” Shoto nodded. He was surprised to hear her voicee again.”But he did this to help you. I don’t know what you’ve been through and I won’t pretend I do. But this boy sufferred grave wounds to get his point across. Please, take a little time and think over it.”

„I will.” Shoto said and left the infrmary.

The sounds and cheers from outside echoed on the empty hallways. The teen found a prep room and sat on a chair, resting his head on the table in a fablee attempt of regaining some of his stamina.

It’s your Quirk!

Never thought about it this way. He looked at his bandaged left hand. Midoriya had managed to land some solid few hits, he would give him that.

                 If you wanna defeat me, at least have the decency to go all out!

                And look where that got you. Bleeding and unconscious on a stretcher. But the boy seemed more upset at his denial than the actual wounds. Has to be the adrenaline.

                Present Mic announced through the speakers Bakugou’s victory against Kirishima. Shoto got up and walked towards the ring. He would finish this quickly. He still had a tournament to win, a bastart to pro...

                Do I ?

                He shook his head and saved it for a later date.

-0-

 

                Katsuki was pissed. No, he wasn’t pissed, he was furious. That, that rat, that pest directly threatened someone. He told that stupid half-n-half he would, or at least could take away his Quirk. But that candy cane had been an idiot in the first place, declaring war in the first round.

                How could he fall for that innocent facade? How did anyone fall for that innocent facade? Was he really the only one who saw behind that stupid smile the poison underneath? But more than anything, he was mad at himself. Izuku had threatened someone, knowing full well they wouldn’t know what it meant. Only Katsuki knew what it meant and he would have had virtually no way to find out.

                Was this a challange? A warning? What?!

                But no matter, he had done his civic duty by warning that bastard not to let the green haired  menace get too close. And it’s not like he had to. That bastard was doing everything out of sheer spite, half-assing it all the way through. He didn’t deserve to win.

                Why do you want to be a hero, Kacchan?

                Shut up. God, why did his concious had to sound like little kiddie Deku? Because he used to be your failsafe. You used to listen to him.

                Yeah, before I found out he was the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

                But even that excuse seemed hollow. In truth, he was kinda hoping the bastard would reveal his true colours. Yeah, it wasn’t very heroic to wish for his classmate to get his powers taken, but if the teachers, if the people found out, they could force the bastard to give them back before expelling him. And, if he didn’t, the candy-cane would lose the interest of his father and that walking trashcan would leave him alone. It was a win-win for everyone.

                And it happened. Like always, the green haired menace didn’t fail to disappoint. He stole the fire Quirk in public, on camera. True, you couldn’t see it unless you were looking very closely, but he did it. He waited for some announcent ot be made, for a teacher to come and tell them he was going to be expelled. But nothing happened. Stepping on his pride, he had asked Midnight what happened.

                He could still bitterly remember her words: We know about his Quirk. He’s getting used to using it, so  there’s no chance of harming someone else.

                Those, those idiots knew! They knew and they were training him! Couldn’t they see the danger?! Couldn’t they see how much of a threat he could become with that power?!

                He had hoped that these teachers, these heroes, would realize the danger. He had hoped they would be more competent than the ones in elementary and middle school who were only lasting on a low paycheck.

                But no. Apparently, everyone but him was an incompetent moron!

                Not that it was really a surprise.

                The match against Shitty-hair had been a good way to vent out his nerves. To blow some of the steam. Of course, the nerd was all better by the time Icy-hot started his mach. He had glared at the boy and he had the decency to look away. He had a new set of scars in adition to his already damaged skin. Suit him well for pulling that stunt.(Katsuki ignored the pinge of guilt at the sight of those handprints).

                But he  had already noticed something bizarre from their fight. Deku had taken too little time to steal the power. Back then, it had taken him acout two or three minutes to take and give him back his Quirk. Now it had taken less than a second, no more than a touch. Had he increased his speed? That would be bad, but not exactly surprising. His own explosions had grown in size over years.

                No, what had been unexected was how he gave it back. It had been quick, seemingly when he hit the ground. Had it been the shock? No, it couldn’t be. He had attacked the boy countless times while he still had his Quirk and not once had it came back. It couldn’t be it unless....

                Shit! Had his Quirk evolved?

                He didn’t want to believe it, but the puzzle seemed to fall into place. If he could take the powers with a touch, but not keep it, that would be an advantage and a liability at the same time. this Quirk, in it itself, wasn’t too dangerous. Yeah, it disabled the enemy, but it wasn’t anything permanent. That would explain why all the teachers were so chill with it.

                He growled. That bastard! You managed to trick your way past authority figures once again. You must be so fucking proud of yourself!

                But there was something else that irked him. What the canadian flag said: are you All Might’s illegitimate child? As if. But now that he said it, Katsuki realised he was right: their Quirks really were similar. And that man from that time really looked a little bit like All Might. Maybe a distant relative? That would explain the similarities, but it didn’t explain the person themselves. A hero with the same Quirk as All Might and they happened to be related? No way this would’ve remained silent. But maybe they weren’t a hero. Whatever the man said, he could always lie.

                Something was fishy. Too fishy. It wasn’t right. He would have to look into this. When he got home, he would get to the end of it, would finally find out what the hell was happening. He shook his head. Get your hand in the game, you can murder him later!

                There was now a break before the last fight. He had left, not willing to spend another second in the background noise. While he was walkin aimlessly on the halls, munching angrily on a Snickers, he accidentally walked in on the Half-n-half bastard. Again.

                The teen graced him with a look before ignoring him.

                „I had told you I’ll be your oponent in the finals! Look me in the eye, two-face!” he yelled as he blew up the wall. The bastard barely flinched.

                „Midoriya basically told me the same thing.” he looked at his hands „He went out of his way to smash what was holding me back. Was he always like that?”

                I couldn’t stand and watch you die!

                I didn’t need your help, bastard!

                Lies.

                Need help? Can you stand? It would be bad if you had hurt your head.

                Shut up, stop lying, you were never innocent.

                Yes, he was, and you know it. You just won’t admit he might still be.

                „That nerd....” he clenched his fists, inches away from drawing blood.”Who the hell cares?” he blew up the concrete alltogether. The bastard blinked.

                „His stupid speeches!” his cursed words „And your family? Your damned feelings? who the hell cares?! Come at me with your left side on! I’ll crush it like I do with everything else!” and, with that, he stormed off before his angry tears could leave the shelter of his eyes.

                He was going to win this. He was going to show the half-n-half bastard who was the real threat here and he was going to prove everyone how much better than everyone he was. Then he would show that stupid cheater just how much he didn’t deserve to be a hero.

                If Katsuki knew how fates will turn his promise on its head, how much he would regret his thoughts later, he would have rethinked this and put a dam to his emotions.

                But he didn’t. He started the fight against his classmate fueled by rage, who’s flame only grew with every ice wave and not one spark of fire. Yes, Katsuki was going to regret this.

                But, in retrospective, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

 

Chapter Text

Stolen chances 14-I’d say I had a set in reason for this, but...

                Izuku hadn’t been surprised when Kacchan won. Not surprised, not mad just...disappointed. He knew Todoroki would have won, had he used his fire side. He knew it would have been the best outcome, a fair fight, not the failed travesty it had been. Todoroki couldn’t focus and Kacchan almost had an aneurism on screen. And it was his fault.

                Had he just shut up, fought Todoroki in his self-crippled state, he could’ve won. He wasn’t sure he would (scratch that, he knew full well couldn’t) have won against Kacchan, but at least it would have been satisfying.

                But no, he just had to do what he thought was best for everyone else, like he always did. He had crippled himself and his chances of being picked by a good hero agency (Mineta was right, no one would choose him now). He had probably further traumatised Todoroki.

                Who knows, maybe the Canadian flag would have won. Katsuki wouldn’t have gotten quite so mad and God knew that boy needed to be kicked off is high horse before his huge ego trampled him into the ground.

                But you just had to screw it up, like you always do, like you’ve always done.

                He didn’t even want to think about poor Shinsou. Even if his colleagues cheered on him, Izuku knew that one or two kind words couldn’t fix an entire mind-set, and having your Quirk stolen could be pretty traumatising, if Kacchan was any hint. He sighed and rubbed his eyes.

                Eri was breathing evenly in his side. He had gotten home the other day, got an earful from both of his parents and a crying hug from his self-assigned little sister. He had collapsed on the bed the next hour and slept till 4 AM because his internal watch, like literally everything else in his life, just loved screwing him over.

                Iida had left before the end because of a family emergency. He had texted to ask if he was alright, but had yet to get an answer.

                His phone dinged. Squinting his eyes at the bright light, he opened the conversation with the troll that made his father’s contact picture.

                Dad

                U up?

Me

Yeah

                Dad

                Can u talk?

Me

 Can’t, eri’s asleep

Dad

K, I’ll text you

You know, your fighting stile’s predictable

Me

How so

Dad

Even after you trained with tatakai, you still make some obvious moves

You move like all might

Me

And….?

Dad

And, you know the same as me someone can predict them if they try hard enough

You have exactly one move, and that’s a punch with several degrees of smash

Me

What do you suggest?

Dad

Try kicking

You know your legs can do that, right?

Me

>:/

Dad

I’m right and you know it

Me

K, I’ll think about it

Dad

Good

                Even dad thinks I messed up. He thought desolated. He turned around and closed his eyes in a futile attempt to return to sleep.

-0-

 

                “You sure it’s Ok for us to be here?” Tsuyu asked as they were ready to knock on the door.

                “Yes, I’ve talked to Midoriya-san and she said it was cool. Mido got hurt yesterday. You didn’t see it, Kirishima, but something happened between him and Todoroki.”

                “Yeah, they kinda tried to kill each other.”

                “Not, that! Mido said he tried to help Todoroki-kun, but failed and he was very down about it.” Uraraka looked down.” Iida won’t answer his phone, and I can’t help him. I want to at least try to help Mido.”

                “Ok, let’s do this!” Kirishima knocked at the door. They waited a few seconds before the door opened, revealing a small, plump woman that had to be Midoriya, if only by the colour scheme. She eyed them curiously before a smile broke her lips and she opened the door for them to enter.

                “Come in, come in. Izuku might still be asleep, but I’ll wake him up in a moment.”

                “Thank you, Midoriya-san” Tsuyu said.

                “It’s a pleasure to meet you!” Kirishima said in his usual, excited demeanour.

                “Uraraka-chan, will you be so kind as to introduce your friends to me. Izuku always tells me about his classmates, I’m starting to forget which is which.” she said as she led them to the kitchen. They all sat down and Uraraka made the introduction.

                Inko went and rapped lightly on a door before returning to the kitchen. ”I hope you would like to join us for breakfast.”

                They didn’t have the time to agree, for a door opened and a very dishevelled Izuku, followed by a sleepy Eri entered the room. Izuku looked at them with owlish eyes, before the sound of the blitz brought his attention.

                That’s when he realised: he was wearing an All Might shirt, with All Might pyjama pants. Eri was wearing basically the same thing in a smaller version. Kirishima’s smirk was way too satisfied to mean anything good.

                “Kirishima, give me the phone...” he said in a low, threatening voice.

                “You kidding me? Ashido will pay me gold for this one.”

                “Kirishima...” they were in a stalemate for a second before the greenette started chasing the spiky haired teen around the house “Give that to me, or I swear to god!!!”

                “But you look cute!” Uraraka laughed as she helped a very confused Eri into her lap.

                “Don’t fret it, dude, All Might is so manly....” the boy laughed as he parkoured over the couch in order to get away from the mad bunny.

                “Kirishima, one more step...” the boy finally caught up to the other, but Kirishima shirked from it by immobilising him in a bear hug as they both collapsed on the couch. All the girls in the room were laughing while Izuku was trashing, trying to get away from the much stronger teen.

                “Come on, now, man, give me this win, I only have one photo.”

                “Don’t worry, dear, I have many more.” Inko said.

                “MOM!” Izuku had a look of utmost betrayal on his face, while Eri and Uraraka giggled.

                “THANK YOU MS MIDORIYA!” Kirishima laughed, finally releasing a glaring Izuku.

                “Now, now, boys, sit down and eat your breakfast. “The guests wanted to refuse, but the look the older Midoriya gave them made them revaluate that decision. They chattered about little to no nonsense. At some point, Tsuyu asked Eri if she wanted to have her hair braided, something the girl agreed after a little encouragement from her guardians.

                By the time the plates were clean, the little girl had a French braid falling down her back, a little cowlick framing her horn. She seemed happy enough with that instalment.

                “Tsu-chan, how can you braid so well?” the girl asked in a timid voice, playing with the colourful elastics.

                “I have a little sister who wanted a different braid each morning, so I learned to do them. My brother said they were lame, but she said he just wouldn’t look as fabulous as her, so they made me braid them both and had a contest which was better.” she smiled at the memory.” They even tried to bribe me to make their braids better than the other’s.”

                “So, you can braid any braid?”

                “If I know how it’s supposed to look like, then yes.”

                A small light appeared in the big, red beads on the girl’s face. “Then, could you braid Izu-nii’s hair?”

                Izuku stopped the spoon, halfway through the way to his mouth. “I never agreed to this!”

                “Come on, Mido, they would be so cute!” Uraraka said, an evil glint in her eyes.

                “Yeah, dude, you’d look so manly!”

                “You guys just want more blackmail material!” the boy cried. None of his colleagues tried to deny it.

                “Please, Izu?” Eri gave him the puppy eyes and Izuku considered. She seemed pretty happy about it and it’s not like he really minded. Sighing, he accepted and wished nothing too embarrassing would leak to his classmates.

                Tsuyu got behind his chair, and took the comb his mother handed her –that traitor. But a few seconds after the offending object touched the crow’s nest that was his hair, a satisfied smirk left the boy’s lips. “Let’s see how you manage to untangle this!”

                Uraraka got up, a determined look on her face. She slapped her fist in her hand. “Challange accepted.”

                That’s when the comedy started. Both Inko and Eri were sitting a few meters away, both smiling, though for different reasons. Eri didn’t really understand what was happening, she just found it funny. Inko was happy that, for the first time since childhood, Izuku had friends. She couldn’t remember the last time she saw him bicker, or the last time someone teased him without the intention to hurt him.

                Both girls were fighting the green, almost sentient mass of moss on the boy’s scalp. Kirishima was encouraging from the side-lines. Eri tilted her head “`Why isn’t Kiri-kun helping?”

                Said boy looked up a little apologetic, though the smile was still present. “I’m not fighting that.”

                “Coward” Izuku hissed in a very faithful Smeagle impression, that had the girls stop for a moment just to laugh their asses off. Kirishima flustered, but didn’t say anything.

                A few minutes, bickering and hair-pulling later, the green-haired boy had a lot of tiny braids, the type people had in summer in the beach, sprouting at random intervals through his normal curls. Tsuyu’s face was pretty emotionless, but the satisfied look on Uraraka’s face was enough to speak for the both of them. The colourful elastics were just the icing on the cake.

                Kirishima insisted on taking a selfie, in which Izuku exercised his best impression of a death glare, or Kacchan’s usual expression as he liked to call it. The teens took it upon themselves to tickle the boy until they got the perfect picture (which was about twenty eight or so takes later).

                Soon, though, the teens had to leave. While Tsuyu guided Izuku through some basics of how to preserve Eri’s braid as long as possible, Inko walked the other two to the exit. “I want to thank you for what you did today. It may not look like it, but Izuku was very down yesterday. Thank you for taking his mind off of those things.” she smiled, warmth seeping through her whole being.

                “It’s no big deal, Ms Midoriya!” Uraraka shook her hands.

                “Yeah, that’s what friends do.” Kirishima assured with both his thumbs up. A wistful look passed her face and she said, more to herself than for the kids in front of her:

                “He hasn’t had a lot of those...”

                The two teens looked warily at each other, a silent conversation between them. The other three kids made their way to the door. Izuku was smiling and so was Eir.

                “Thank you, Ochako-chan, Tsu-chan!” the little girl shook their hands shyly.

                “Yeah, guys, thanks a lot. It was really cool.”

                “Any day, Mido” Kirishima gave the smaller boy a very manly hug, which the boy responded with a flustered wave of hands before his classmates waved goodbye and left.

                They spent the rest few hours on the couch, watching Disney movies. Izuku had watched them as a child, but forgot a lot, Eri just loved them. The surprise came later after they just finished Brother Bear, when the bell rang. Izuku had changed in a different T-shirt and pants since morning, which was the most sensible decision he had taken in his entire life, because detective Tsukakuchi and Toshinori were waiting outside.

                “Good morning, Young Midoriya, may we come in?”

                “Sure” he said, too surprised to do anything else. Once inside, Inko came in and served them some tea. She knew they were coming. And she didn’t tell him. Izuku ignored the bad feeling in his chest as they sat down.

                “Eri, could you please go to your room and do your homework?” Inko asked. The girl was confused for a second before she shuffled in the room with the All Might nameplate on it.

                “Mom, what’s happening?”

                “We did the research into Eri’s past and her connection with the Eight Precepts of Death.” Tsukakuchi started. “From the DNA we took from her, she is not registered in any hospital records, birth archives, or any data base for that matter. By all accounts, Eri shouldn’t exist. Her closest blood relative is a member of the yakuza.”

                “What does that mean?”

                “It means she was probably born within a secluded group. Since she doesn’t have any relatives fit to take care of her, we would have put her in the foster system...”

                “But her Quirk is too dangerous for the a normal Quirk counsellor to take care of” Toshinori interrupted. “We decided to move her into the custody of UA, so we can further train her and also to make sure no other people come after her.” the man sighed. “We wanted to request your help, to make the move less traumatic. We know she is very attached to the both of you, so we were hoping you would be willing to help her settle in.”

                “That won’t be necessary.” Inko said with a smile that was innocent yet reminded Izuku too much of how she smiled whenever a parent on the playground got unusually racist with him. “I don’t think she needs to move into UA”

                “Ma’am, we can’t put her into foster…”

                “I never said anything about foster.” she said. “I actually agree with all that you said. But moving her into a new environment would be detrimental to her health.” Izuku could see the Shark like smile peering from under her lips, like when she had three hidden aces up her sleeve and tried to decide which one will fuck you up the most. Not many people got to see that smile outside court and no one particularly wanted to.

                “You see, a kid needs a stable environment. While I don’t doubt your facility’s ability to protect her, the change will rattle her. Not to mention that she had already gotten attached to us. She trusts us. Removing her from our care will mess with her mind. Even if she sees Izuku every day, it won’t be the same.” Toshinori wanted to say something, buy she silenced him with a raised hand “ And don’t get me wrong, I admire pro heroes and don’t doubt their ability to take care of her, they won’t be able to be with her every moment. Not like a parent is.”

                “Then, Ms Midoriya, what do you suggest?”

                “A quite simple solution. She stays with us. We can become her legal guardians or adopt her, whichever is more convenient. Of course, I’ll have to talk with my husband first, but I don’t think that’ll be too much of a problem.”

                That last sentence was said out of sheer politeness. Izuku knew no one would mess with his mom when she put her head to something. She had loved Eri the moment she became a part of their family. Dad liked her too, from the small conversations they had over the phone and he knew he wouldn’t really protest.

                Both men knew how she wanted to take care of someone else. Izuku had matured very quickly, not wanting to dump his burdens on his parents. Hisashi was abroad and no telephone or chat would ever replace him being here. They were both waiting for when he’ll come back, but, till then, Inko didn’t know what to do. Then Eri came along and the woman remembered how much she loved taking care of her son. That, paired up with the little’s girl need for a family, were reason enough for the woman to make the decision.

                Toshinori sighed. “It’s a very kind offer. We’ll have to talk to Nedzu, but I doubt he’ll refuse. Thank you. We’re very happy Eri-chan found such a good family.”

                Inko smiled.”Izuku, go tell her the good news.”

                Izuku dashed up the stairs.

-0-

 

                The park was full of little kids and adults alike. Running around the swings or camping on the grass, they were happy. Izuku had convinced his mother to take them to the park, to celebrate and to relax. A few (note: lot) of people greeted him and congratulated him for keeping up with Endeavour’s son and for making it so far in the festival. Izuku smiled and nodded, petting the little girl who hid behind his leg. He shook them off as fast as politely possible and walked away. They were near the duck pond when Izuku spotted a way too familiar mane of hair.

                Double checking to make sure he wasn’t about to jump a stranger he turned towards his mother. “Mom, Eri, I saw a colleague. You walk around, I just wanna go and say Hi.”

                “Ok” Eri switched his hand for Inko’s and Izuku ran towards the familiar thread. It was times like this when he loved his Quirk, the ability to identify and locate people in a crowd, without the chance to lose them. The downside was that he needed to either look for them or for them to be very familiar, otherwise the amalgamation of threads confused him.

                So, after doubting his intentions and realising he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if he didn’t at least apologise, he reached the sleep-deprived teen in the shade of a willow.

                “Shinsou.” he said, loud enough not to startle him. He wanted to give the boy a warning.

                The teen whipped around, shock momentarily on his face, before settling on a glare. “What do you want?” he said in a tone that would have been more suited for a threat than anything else. That, of course, didn’t deter the boy who grew up with the winner of the Sports Festival as a former friend.

                “I wanted to talk with you.” he lifted his hands in the most non-threatening gesture he could manage.

                “That much was obvious.” Oh, I can be a smatass too.

                “If it was that obvious, why did you ask?”

                Shinsou tsk-ed and returned to watch the ducks. Dammit, Izuku, maybe that wasn’t the best move. Turn your fucking filter on. He cleared his throat. “Can I sit down?”

                “It’s not like I can stop you.” you won’t make this easy, will you?

                “Some of the things I said or did were unnecessary, and I think I owe you an explanation regarding the end.” It wasn’t like it was that big of a secret anyway. Anyone who would watch his fight with Todoroki could figure it out and heroes had full access to his Quirk registration.

                “I’ll admit I’ve been wondering about it.” Shinsou grudgingly admitted. Good. That means he’ll probably listen.

                “When you said about being blessed with a flashy Quirk and being born to be a hero, you really hit home. You might think I don’t understand, but I do.” the other said nothing, and the boy looked at the still water. “The Quirk you saw, the strengthening one, it…it’s not the one I was born with.”

                The other boy eyed him warily. “What do you mean?”

                Izuku looked down, hands rubbing the scars on his hands. Shinsou noticed. “My first Quirk, my real Quirk, is not what you saw yesterday.” he looked at the taller teen, who only regarded him with guarded curiosity. “My first Quirk, what it really does, it’s stealing other Quirks.”

                “What?!” the boy inched away. Midoriya laughed bitterly.

                “See. You only hear about it and run away. You think that I’ll steal your Quirk.”

                “No, I…” Hitoshi started, but stopped. He did. He did think that. His first reaction had been getting away. He felt like laughing though there would be no mirth in the sound. All his life he had been ostracized for his Quirk and he reacted exactly the same when confronted with someone in the same situation. What a hypocrite.

                “Anyway, I guess you know what followed. The kid who steals Quirks. Talk about being called a villain.” the topic was obviously painful for him, but he kept going. “Not everyone reacted well to it.”

                Both of them eyed his wrists.

                “That sucks.” he said, not knowing what else could make it any better. He suddenly felt bad for throwing all those words at him. He had wondered why the boy looked so hurt, so attacked. He had thought he had a copy Quirk.

                “Damn well it does!”

                “Did they really think you were a villain?”

                “They expected me to be. Teachers always looked at me like I was going to go on a rampage, kids always avoided me. Kacchan made it his life quest to make sure I never get strong enough to become a threat.” he laughed joylessly. “God, you should’ve seen the bullying.”

                Shinsou stole another glance at his mangled wrists, now accompanied by the scars got from Todoroki. `Why would they bully you? Weren’t they too scared?”

                They never touched Hitoshi. They all knew he could make them jump off the roof if they ever layer a finger on him. Not that he would ever do so.

                “My Quirk works through touch. They could still yell threats and trash my things from afar.”

                “That bad?” the purple messy-haired zombie looked sympathetic.

                “Yes. So bad that, when I started middle school I started saying that I was Quirkless.” he looked at his shoes. “The bullying didn’t stop, only changed.”

                “I’m sorry.” Hitoshi said. Midoriya smiled sadly.

                “Don’t be. It wasn’t your fault.” Hitoshi could bet no one ever apologised to him before. “But now it’s better. I have friends now. I still haven’t worked up the courage to tell them, but there are other people out there who know about it and don’t think any less of me.”

                “Your point?”

                “My point is that not everyone is a racist jackass and some people are willing to look past your Quirk to get to know you. And, even if they are, there is always someone who understands and listens. So, if you ever feel like talking about it or yelling your frustrations, just know: I understand and I’d like to help you.”

                “I’ll think about it.” Hitoshi said. A small girl in the distance waved them.

                “That’s my cue to leave.” Midoriya got up.

                “Wait!” the greetette turned around. “Just so you know, you can do that too, if you’d like.” He finished rather awkwardly. The boy smiled.

                “Thank you.” and left.

Chapter Text

            The three blessed days of vacation ended all too quickly and they found themselves once again in a classroom. The news about Ingenium’s injury had already spread like wildfire and the general school populace found itself divided between offering well-wishes and trying to give Iida space. Izuku and Uraraka had done their best to comfort Iida, but he’d accepted their well-wishes with mechanical thanks and carried on with an admirable attempt at normalcy.

Izuku could feel the amalgamation of threads buzzing around the classroom, up to and including the students loitering outside, trying to get a look at the brother of the fallen hero.

However, Ingenium’s injury was only one of two hot topic in class 1A, right beside its newest acquisition, Shinsou; who, having made quite the impression at the Sports Festival he’d been transferred as per Aizawa’s insistent request.

If any of the students were unconvinced they wisely chose to keep their traps shut and not speak against the three most destructive students in the school. Todoroki, cold and threateningly aloof as always, Kacchan who had only solidified his reputation as an explosive menace, and no one really felt like messing with the kid who broke most of his bones for a school activity (not the reputation Izuku would have chosen for himself but he’d take what he got).

No one was transferred from 1A, but due to some (more) complaints from girls against Mineta, the small teen had been moved on the other side of the classroom, leaving the place behind Izuku to Shinsou. After seating himself, he had turned towards the teen and whisper-yelled.

“Why didn’t you tell me you transferred?”

The boy threw him satisfied smirk and said “Why didn’t you ask?” Izuku pouted, but still invited the teen to have lunch with them. He seemed suspicious at first, but did agree.

Aizawa-sensei had finally taken off his bandages, and now his students could see the tiredness and hate on life itself on his face rather than deciphering it from his voice.

Joy.

            Shortly after Shinsou’s initial introduction the class were shown their nominations. Todoroki was above the actual winner of the festival, which anyone with eyes would have seen coming from a mile away. The show Kacchan has put up at the award ceremony had attracted a lot of attention, nearly none of it positive.

            He wished he’d been more surprised by his own lack of offers but he honestly couldn’t blame people for being put off by the way he’d pulverized his bones.

            Aizawa had announced they had to choose their hero names soon after and Izuku couldn’t help but think It’s not like you just showed our names and faces on international television or something.

Midnight proceeded to burst through the door and say she’d assist them. Aizawa promptly collapsed and went to sleep while the woman handed them the plates to write their names on.

 As a kid, he had always thought about what names to take once he became a hero. Most (all) were some variation of or on All Might. His Mom thought it was cute. Dad said he would never be his own hero if he lived in the shadow of a spandex clad attention seeker.

            His dad didn’t like All Might. Actually his dad didn’t like heroes, period.

            However all those names just sounded childish now. Old sweet dreams through they may be, his dad did still have a point. He couldn’t be All Might; no one could. So, rather than a cheap copy like an unneeded sequel, he’d rather be a spin-off. A lame metaphor? Sure. But still fitting for the situation present.

            Besides he also didn’t want to make the connection more obvious than it already was.

            The names presented varied from fitting ( Ashido’s Alien Queen) to weird (I cannot stop twinkling) to oddly nice and thought out (Tsu’s Froppy). Todoroki and Iida went with their given names and Kacchan went with King of Explosion Murder which was shot down as expected (as was Lord of Explosion Murder).

            Take your weaknesses and wear them as armor. That way, people can’t use them against you.

            A smirk graced his lips as he walked towards the teacher’s desk.

            “Are you sure about this name? It might be permanent.”

            “I’m sure. I can’t let the past control my future, so I’ll craft it to suit my goal.” the apoplexy Kacchan almost got once he was stripped of the power he had over him was more than worth it. It was the best way to give his friend/arch-nemesis the metaphorical middle finger. It was petty but, if his father was anything to go by, being a spiteful little shit was hereditary.

            Lunch came quickly, and two people joined their usual group of three. Shinsou, who had apparently lost any and all courage he’d previously boasted, and Tsuyu, who chattered animatedly with Uraraka. Iida contributed little and less to the conversation, wallowing knee-seep in mournful silence. They talked about little meaningless things like school work and weather-yes, it had gotten to weather at some point-and no one pressed Iida to be fine. Shinsou chased away people that were too thick to read the mood. Iida made some slight comments regarding Quirk usage in public, but habitual words couldn’t mask the hint of gratefulness in his voice.

            After lunch, Toshinori had pulled him to his office and told him about one of his nominations.

            “Gran Torino is a very good teacher. He was my homeroom teacher for a year when I was studying here. He knows about One for All and might be able to help you where I couldn’t.”

            “I’ve never heard of him. But if he trained you, he must be awesome! I can’t believe someone actually did it.” Izuku mumbled. Logically, he knew that every hero started somewhere, but it felt surreal for his idol, for All Might to have been anything less that he was now. Dimly he could almost hear dad’s voice saying something along the lines of how did that dimwit even finish high-school, but, like the many voices that claimed domain over his mind, he stuffed in the back of his head.

            But the one thing he thought to give more consideration to was the almost panicked state All Might was in.”Gran Torino is a good hero from the last generation.....but he retired so long ago that I forgot about him” the man turned his back on the student. ”did he draft you because he didn’t think my guidance was enough? But for him to make his scouting pick using his old name from back then. It’s scary. So scary.”

            All Might is literally shaking in his boots! What is this guy?

            “Well, training you is fundamentally my duty...but, he went through all this trouble, so, yeah... I think giving him the reigns is a good idea.” All Might was pretty close to a full-fledged panic attack.

            Just how scary is this guy?!

            “Oh, don’t forget! Your costume has been repaired.”

            The rest of the day went fairly normal. Kacchan was still bitter and murdery, throwing Todoroki mad glances, but not acting on anything due to the pro heroes present in the classroom. The classes ended a little earlier than usual and Iida excused himself, not being able to go with them today, taking a different route to go to the hospital. Izulu invited Shinsou to come with them, but the greenette had the feeling he accepted just because he couldn’t find a good excuse.

            They were heading out when a thread colder than the Arctic winter sent snow storms along his back.

            “Midoriya.” he turned around and met the freezing gaze of the Peppermint Prince himself.

            “Yes, Todoroki?” he asked warily. Shinsou and Uraraka stopped and looked at them, Uraraka unsmiling and Shinsou with an impressive rendition of the death glare.

            “Can we talk? Privately.” he added when the other two tensed. The coldness left his voice, leaving behind a lack of emotion that was at the same time neutral and ten times more unsettling.

            “Sure.”

            “Mido-kun…”

            “Is this a good idea?”

            Izuku turned around and gave them the most convincing smile he could muster, which, after ten years of I’m fine was reaching Oscar levels and said “Yeah, sure. Go on without me, we’ll walk home tomorrow.”

            “If you say so…” Uraraka said, still unsure. Shinsou glared some more, but followed the bubbly girl. Izuku took a deep breath, focusing all his attention on the heterochromatic teen in front of him. The last time they wanted to talk it ended in a verbal trashing on both parts. The boy hadn’t attacked him, but that was before he yelled at him and took his Quirk. Izuku threw a tentative glance towards the window.

            If worst comes to worst, it’s only the third floor.

            “I want to talk to you about the Sports Festival” I guessed that much.

            “What about it?”

            Todoroki’s face darkened. ”We both know you’re smarter than this, Midoriya. I want to know about your Quirk. I want to know why you won’t you use it and what happened there. I told you about mine...”

            “By your own accord.” he didn’t yell. He said it in an even voice just a tad too dark to be neutral “You chose to share your story with me as an intimidation tactic.” his dark aura died down and he looked tired.”But you seem to have a pretty good idea already. Tell me what you know so I can clear any misunderstandings.”

            Todoroki huffed. “I think your Quirk is something dangerous but in a negative way, a way that would make people scared of you. I actually asked Bakugou what it was.”

            Izuku paled. ”You did what?!”

            “He seemed pretty troubled. He attacked the wall” Todoroki continued unperturbed. ”From our fight, you copied my ability, but, during that time, I couldn’t use mine. My deduction is that you have a copy Quirk, or something like that, and you did something to Bakugou that made him both angry and scared of you.”

            Izuku sighed. ”You’re not exactly wrong.” he looked at his hands “Hell, you’re actually right.” he looked back up.”I did something to Kacchan a long time ago.” he laughed mirthlessly “Almost a decade and he still hasn’t forgiven me” he eyed the other teen.”But you figured this out yourself. I don’t know why you would need my help for it. Is there anything else you wanted to say?”

            For the first time, the taller boy looked a little uncomfortable “Yes, actually.” he took a deep breath and continued “I thought about what you said, during the fight. It made me think. The explanation for your hero name also helped.”  he looked the smaller teen in the eye. “You were right: my father controlled my past, I cannot let him control my future. He might have given me his fire, but I’ve owned it for enough time to make it my own.” he looked at his left hand, a sad look flitting across his features. “I also thought about the other thing. If someone died because I wouldn’t use my Quirk...if someone got hurt because of a grudge...” he clenched his hand in a fist “I would never forgive myself.”

            He exhaled and looked back up, the darkness leaving his face in peaceful indifference.”I also want to apologize for the amount of damage I caused you. It was never my intention to hurt you, only to incapacitate.”

            Izuku stayed silent for a moment before he exhaled and let a small smile grace his lips.”You know, if you started with the thanks, I would have probably been more willing to let you know about my Quirk.” Todoroki looked confused. ”You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

The mirth left his features.”But, in all seriousness, I’m glad could help you. I was worried my lack of tact hurt you even more.” he rubbed his neck nervously “Really, for me, that counts as a win.”

            “But you didn’t get any recommendations.”

            “That was me recklessly breaking my fingers, it has nothing to do with you.” he smiled “I actually got one recommendation, and apparently, they can help me improve my Quirk.” he smiled sheepishly “As for the wounds: I grew up with the Lord of Explosion Murder who made it his life’s goal to make sure I never got to be a hero” the split second his face was full of hurt didn’t go unnoticed to the heterochromatic boy “I’ve built up some pain tolerance.”

            Shoto had lived with abuse all his life, and could recognize the dormant trauma inside the boy. Midoriya either didn’t realize or didn’t want to accept how toxic his and the blond’s relationship actually was. But he would stay silent.

            For now.

            “Do you take the train to get home?” Midoriya asked out of nowhere.

            “Yes.” what did this had to do with anything?

            The boy moved his fingers in a nervous gesture.”Well, I kinda need to get home to take care of Eri, so maybe we could walk together to the station. Only if you want, of course!”

            Shoto was truly amazed by how quickly the boy could change moods. He was a bit flabbergasted; it was the first time a colleague had offered to walk home with him.”Sure.”

            The walk was...nice. They talked about school and other neutral things. Until Midoriya surprised him “Would you like to spar after class some day?”

            Shoto stopped “What?”

            The boy seemed embarrassed “Well, I’ve only been training for about a month, but it wasn’t enough. Since the main use of my Quirk is making other people Quirkless, I need to take them down physically at least. My teacher can’t do it anymore, and you’re really good at it, so...” he stopped when he realized he was rambling. He took a deep breath and put on a shaky smile.”What do you say? Wanna bury the hatchet?”

            Todoroki regarded him with a weird look as they entered the station “Didn’t you want to slay me with it?”

            Izuku blushed and burst into laughter at the same time.”God, I’m so sorry for that! I panicked and said whatever crossed my mind.”

            “Yeah, I’ve actually been wondering. You seem to switch moods and personality traits quickly. No offense, but do you have a mental illness?”

            Izuku sighed “Todoroki, there were probably one hundred more ways to say that with more tact, and they brilliantly flew right over your head.”

            So people have asked you this before Shoto mused. Not surprising.

            Izuku looked down. ”Actually, I have a reason, but can you promise not to tell anyone?” Shoto nodded with all the seriousness he was capable of. “When I was young, I used to be bullied a lot. But Kacchan never was. So, when I feel threatened, my brain kinda switches to Kacchan mode, because he was too badass to feel threatened.” he looked down “I know it’s lame.”

            “You admire him a lot.” he said it neutrally.

            Izuku smiled in a nostalgic way,  that spoke of dear times, lost too long ago to matter.”He is very strong. He’s going to make a great hero.”

            My dad is considered a great hero.

            Shoto saw how his admiration for the blond teen held him back. He saw how unhealthy it was. But he couldn’t say anything for now.”After class I usually train. But every few days my father has to work late, so I could spar.”

            The boy beamed. “That’s great, Todoroki-kun! You can find my number on the group chat. Give me a call whenever you can.”

            Shoto couldn’t stop the small tug he felt in his lips.”I will” he suddenly remembered something.”Why did you do it?”

            “What?” Shoto lifted one eyebrow. Midoriya scratched his neck sheepishly then looked down.”You needed saving more than I needed to win.”

            Midoriya’s train arrived. The doors opened and the boy stepped in.

            “One more thing, Midoriya.” he turned around, big green eyes looking at him in confusion.” When I asked Bakugou, he looked scared. But your borrowing ability is more or less harmless.”

            A sad look passed the smaller boy’s visage “I only found out recently it could be temporary.”

            Shoto wanted to say something, but the glass doors shut in front of him and the train started, leaving the Todoroki heir alone in the station.

-0-

 

            At the end of the week, Aizawa drove them to the train station.”You’ve got your costumes, right? Wearing them in public is strictly prohibited, but don’t drop them, ok?”

            The kids cheered and left, either for their trains. Izuku spotted Iida walking away. He remembered the news reports and the comments about the hero killer: Stain. He had killed 17 heroes and permanently incapacitated 23. Iida hadn’t mentioned a thing to either of them.

             Izuku and Uraraka ran towards their friend, catching up to him.”If it ever gets too much and you need to talk, call us, alright? We’re here for you.”

            Iida avoided their gazes for a second. When he finally met their eyes, his face bore an unsettling smile, the kind that held great pain and hid dark desires. “Sure.”

            Izuku would soon have to live with the fact that he knew his friend was not fine, that he was lying...but he trusted him enough to believe the  I’m fine.

 

-0-

 

            The train ride was short, about forty-five minutes and then he reached his destination.

            A hero who scares the pants off of All Might. I’ve never heard of him, but he must be one awesome hero.

            Izuku looked at the address and then at the building. Then he repeated the action. And he did it again. He studied the piece of paper again and again, but, no matter how many times he stared at it, the letters stubbornly remained the same, as if they were mocking him for the dilapidated state of the building.

            Inside, there was a thread suspiciously close to the floor.

            He lightly rapped on the door, and it swung open. The light inside was off, and Izuku took a tentative step inside.

            “Hello? I’m Izuku Midoriya, from UA high scho-”his introduction was interrupted by his traitorous throat that let out an unholy wail at the sight of the body in a red puddle on the floor.

            “I’m alive!” the corpse woke up.

            “He’s alive!”

            He staggered to his feet with the help of his cane.”To slip and fall while carrying ketchup-covered sausage links. How clumsy of me.”

            Did he take a nap while he was there, his thread hadn’t moved for like a minute?

            His thread felt strong and fast enough to knock you off your feet. The man looked up. “And who are you?”

            “My name is Izuku Midoriya. I’m from UA high...”

            “Who?”

            “Izuku Midoriya.”

            “And who are you?”

            Shit, I knew he must be old if he taught All Might, but I didn’t think he was senile.”Excuse me, I have to make a phone call.” I have to let All Might know this guy’s off his rocker. He turned around to leave, when his voice, surprisingly lacking the amusement from earlier.

            “Fire off an attack! I want to see your One for All!” he rummaged through his suitcase.”I want to see to what degree you can control it.”

            What’s up with him? This sudden change...

            “Nice costume. Put it on and come at me!” when Izuku failed to answer on time, the dumb expression returned to the man’s face.”Who are you?”

            Izuku took a deep breath.”Look sir, I need to get this power under control as soon as possible.... because All Might.... he doesn’t have much time left. That’s why...I don’t have a time to mess around with you, sir.” he turned to leave when he felt his thread suddenly move and dodged right before it nailed him in the back.

            “Then I’ll tell you once more” a terrifying look graced his features “Come at me, neophyte.”

            The man rested on a wall. “The way you used it at the Sports Festival, huh, that justice obsessed fool All Might sure is a novice when it comes to teaching.” he looked down, a wicked smirk on his face. “Shall we begin my ward?”

            The same phrasing...the same way of playing dumb...this guy is

            “He can’t watch over you properly, so that means I’ve gotta do it.”

             Definitely All Might’s teacher.

            Izuku put on his costume and, by the letter the support course had put in his suitcase, he realized it was either Hatsume who fixed it or someone with the same skill and affinity for disaster. Which could be literally anyone in the support course, since he once saw some kids making a mini rocket launcher out of a can of Pringles. He shuddered and decided not to comment.

            “Ok, I’m ready.” he stopped as his over active mind started to worry. “Is it really okay, though? To be honest, I still have little to no control with this power. Shouldn’t we try this in an open space? You know, so I don’t damage anything you might actually like?”

            “You sure talk a lot” the old man said, and Izuku felt his thread rather than heard his voice behind him.”I’m getting inpatient!” the next moment he was sent forward with a kick in the back. He steadied himself while the man flew around the room, bouncing on every surface available.

            “Wait! Fighting already? I thought you said you wanted a demonstration?!”

            “It seems you couldn’t perceive my true power before.” the man smirked. “To choose this little wet blanket as the ninth successor? All Might is a novice among novices.”

            He’s trying to get a rise out of me. Too bad that he doesn’t even hold a candle to Shinsou.

            His inner monologue was his mistake, as he was hit two more times in the back.

            Focus, loser, focus! Too fast! What kind of Quirk is this?! No, forget that, I don’t have the time for an analysis now! He looked around, letting his inner detector follow the thread. Gotta stop his movements somehow. He already hit me twice in the back. One for All zapped through his arm.

            The moment the thread got behind him, he ducked and punched the air.

            Gran Torino dodged, caught his hand and immobilized him on the ground. “Tryin’ta analyse and predict?” he flexed his extended hand “So stiff.... and your special awareness is a mess...” he only saw a gloved hand before his head hit the dirty tiles.

            “But I was sure I had you...” Izuku grunted.

            “No, because.. I noticed it in the cavalry battle and I’m sure you realized it by now.” he took his hand off his face “Your respect for All Might, your sense of responsibility are only shackles holding you back.”

            “Shackles…?”

            “You said you have to get stronger and that’s very true. Time waits for no one, neither for you, nor for your enemies. They won’t wait for you to get stronger. You’re thinking of One for All as something unique.”

            “Then what should I do?”

            “You’ll have to figure that out yourself.” gee, thanks “I’m heading out to get some grub. In the meantime, clean up this place a little bit, will you?”

            Son of a...

-0-

            In a bar of an undisclosed location, three people with body counts too high to care were sitting in a tense silence.

            “I get it, you’re the one who assaulted UA” the ninja said “And you want me to join your little gang.”

            “Precisely. When it comes to being evil, you’re a pro.” Shigaraki said, a harsh voice coming from under his father’s hand.

            “And what is your purpose?”

            “Well, we want to kill All Might, eventually. But I also want to destroy the things I don’t like. I want to get the things I like and make them mine.” he lifted a picture, a boy in UA uniform on it, during the Sports Festival.”This one’s interesting. I want him too.”

            Stain growled.”I can’t believe you had my interest for a second.” he glared, even thought he couldn’t see the man’s eyes. ”You’re...hhhrgh...you’re the type I hate the most.”

            “Huh?”

            “As if I’d ever team up with a childish tantrum throwing brat.” his anger was thick in the air.”Bloodlust without conviction is meaningless.”

            The man turned towards the glowing screen behind him.”Sensei. Shouldn’t I stop him?”

            “No, this is fine. There’s no sense in simply telling someone the answer. He must achieve it by himself. It’s the only way he’ll ever mature. After all, that’s what education actually is.”

            There was barely a second between the computer’s answer and the moment Shigaraki found himself pinned to the floor, with his limbs numb and a fanatic metal clad freak above him.

            “To truly accomplish anything, one must have both will and conviction.” the man said, in a low voice “Those without it are weak and will be weeded out.” he placed two knives on either side of the silver haired head.”That’s why you’re about to die.”

            “You’re strong” the man let out a distorted giggle.”Kurogiri, send him back.”

            The mist man tried to move, but he was just as immobile as his fallen master.”I can’t move. Must be his Quirk.”

            “The word „hero” has lost its original meaning...in this corrupt society filled with fakers and shams. Criminals who aimlessly throw their weight around...” he leaned in “You’re all the targets of my purge.” a small clinking noise could be heard as his knife reached the metal edge of the hand.

            “Whoa, whoa, hold on. Not this hand... not this one.” he stared through the spreaded fingers as he caught the edge of the knife “I’ll kill you.” the blade turned to dust.” You sure like to hear your voice. Conviction, huh? I’ve don’t have anything as grand as conviction. But if I had to say what drives me...I’d say it’s All Might.” a maniacal grin stretched the already chapped lips.”That piece of garbage... and society worships him.” he let out a blood curdling laugh ”That’s my conviction.”

            Stain jumped away just before he got to share the same fate as his knife. The man slowly got up.”My wounds had barely healed. We don’t have a healer in our party, you know. So, why don’t you take some responsibility for what you’ve done?”

            “After you.”

            “Huh?”

            “Our respective goals couldn’t be further apart. But destroying the status quo, that’s the one ambition we have in common.”

            “Get lost!” Shigaraki spit. ”Go die in a hole or whatever. Aren’t I the type you hate the most?”

            “I was testing your sincerity. People always reveal their true colors in the face of death.” the man looked incredibly smug.”You’re an odd one...but your will...I can see the seed of some warped conviction in there. I wander what that seed will yield. I’ll deal with you properly once I have that answer. It might not be too late for you.” he turned towards Kurogiri. “Send me back to Hosu.”

            “Deal with me? You’re nuts. Kurogiri, I don’t want this psycho in our party.”

            “His presence might be useful...” the mist man started.

            “I’m not joining you. Now send me back.”

            The metal clad man left the area, leaving the injured man unharmed.

            “That was certainly an interesting discussion.” the computer said.

            “I’m gonna kill him, sensei.”

            “You can try, but I doubt you’re ready yet… About that UA student” Shigaraki whirled around to stare at the blank screen “Targeting a specific person for no clear goal will only distract you. For now it would be best to leave him alone.”

            The man nodded, but unfortunately, the hero killer had been right in one aspect: Shigaraki had the mind of a child. A no touching sticker on something isn’t a restriction- it’s a challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

                My respect for All Might is shackling me. I should understand how to use it. I’ve been thinking about it more unique than it actually is. Is this why my movements are so stiff? But, in this context, what does stiff even mean? I guess the opposite would be loose....

                The metaphorical lightbulb popped above his head as he rushed to his notebook.

                Of course, One for All is a Quirk. Just a Quirk. Quirks are physical abilities. All this time, I’ve been thinking of One for All as a last resort, some deus-ex-machina to save me the last second! But no, I have to us it more evenly.

                Gosh, I can’t believe I didn’t realise this after all this time I’ve been watching him up close.

                Izuku kept muttering, not noticing the man watching him from the doorway. The rest of the day passed fairly quickly, with Izuku spending all his time in his mind castle, only to find his teacher fast asleep a few hours after.

                He basically just observed me all day, nothing heroic. I searched his name online and came up blanc. For a hero who taught at UA, even for a year, he’s certainly mysterious. He walked out the door and, after checking outside and on a fifty meter radius, he finally walked out and entered a side alley. I can’t let people see me, Gran Torino might get in trouble.

                I gotta make it flow more evenly. For Kacchan and everyone else, it comes as easy as breathing. I have a decade of training to catch up to. He stopped as it hit him. I’m not Quirkless. He had a Quirk, he always had a Quirk. I may not steal Quirks on a daily basis, but the other side of Borrow is active all the time. Two people were waling parallel to him and Gran Torino was still in bed. I don’t really turn it „off”. He sighed. I’m an idiot. Why didn’t I do the same with One for All? 

                If I train, I might even manage to pull something like Kacchan. If I put five percent in my limbs all the time, my mobility would increase and I’ll be able to move faster. If I master my Quirk, both of them, I will certainly find out things no one ever thought of before.

                He remembered his Dad’s words: Just because something works, doesn’t mean it can’t improve or change for the better. People miss a lot of new things just because they are too arrogant or lazy to try something new.

                Aizawa came right behind him, with sage words in a swarm of panic: No hero is a one trick pony.

                “I’ve gotta practice my Quirk”

                He focused his Quirk in his legs. Imagine the microwave....don’t crack the egg… he jumped..

                And promptly face walled the building. Well, that happens he thought as he crashed into the garbage sacks below.

                He started muttering. “I need to brace my legs, I also need to cushion my arms. I don’t have time to visualise...” at some point some threads passed him and left in a hurry. Izuku barely noticed.

                He remembered at some point that he needed to sleep and collapsed on the cot Gran Torino had prepared for him, stealing a few hours of rest, but that didn’t stop him from being a zombie the next day. Maybe he should ask Aizawa for advice. Did he have a guide for this, something like How to function on minimal sleep without turning your blood to caffeine?

                Nah, I’ll ask Shinsou. He probably has the whole series. He stopped that train of thought when he realised how mean he was. It wasn’t good, not even in his head. If he kept having thoughts like that, he never knew when they might leak out.

                “What’s wrong with you, boy?”

                Ok, so it was visible. Seriously, he had to ask one of them for tips. He scratched his neck. “I had an idea last night and decided to practice. I kinda lost track of time.” he looked down “I might have figured something out, but I still have a long way to go.”

                “Every real challenge begins this way. Though, it’s understandable you’d get that king of thinking from All Might. That man could wield it properly from the first go. He had the muscles and the body going for him. You’re different, so I’ll have to teach you a totally different way”

                Izuku sighed “Of course All Might was awesome at it the first time.” he looked at his arms, at his scarred skin on his right hand. He had overdone it and was paying the price. “I’ll never be able to measure up to him. I’ll never be able to take his place as the Symbol of Peace.”

                Gran Torino karate chopped him. “Stop underestimating yourself. You have many strengths that knucklehead lacks, and I have a feeling your shortcomings will be easier to fix.”

                “Ok” he rubbed his sore spot. “Wait, how was All Might in school?” Izuku’s inner nerd surfaced.

                “We did nothing but spar until he was ready to puke.” so that’s why All Might is so scared of him. “I couldn’t half-ass his training.” a wistful look passed the old mentor’s face. “He was entrusted to me by a dear friend of mine before she departed.”

                “All Might’s predecessor, had already passed away at that point?”

                Their conversation was interrupted by the microwave delivery. Gran Torino faked ignorance at the fact that he had broke it a day previously.

                Surprisingly, but maybe not so much, his realisation came in the form of a frozen fish-shaped cookie.

                “I only thought about this power on a basis of an on/off switch. I have to keep it at 5% along my body at all times!”

                “That’s more like it!”

                They sparred for about three minutes and Izuku tried (and failed) to land a hit on the old hero.

                “You’re not bad, but if you keep only fighting me, you’ll develop bad habits.” he said to the teen slumped upside down against the wall. “We will widen your experience, but we first need to work on your original Quirk too. Explain to me how it works.”

                Izuku did and Gran Torino rubbed his chin. “How have you used it so far?”

                “More or less like Aizawa. If I take someone’s Quirk, that basically ends up a fight between two Quirkless people, and they might be above me in terms of physical strength. So, I have to be above them in terms of technique.”

                “Seems legit. We’ll do it like this: I’ll see what level are you on and then, I’ll train you to the best of your capacity. Then, we’ll start the real part of your internship.”

                They did just that. After about half an hour in which Izuku got thrown around the same way as before, but without the advantage of his Quirk cushioning the fall and fifteen minutes of massaging his sore muscles, they left the run down building.

                They took a taxi to the train station and, during the long ride, Izuku learned about how the population and the villains affected the number of agencies, and how to inconspicuously spy someone through a rear-view mirror, since their driver seemed to have it down to an art.

-0-

                “Sorry patrolling isn’t all that exciting “Manual said to the armoured teen. “Recently, crime rates had lowered a lot.”

                “I actually think it’s better this way.”

                A grim expression fell onto Manual’s face. “Look, I hate to ask but...You’re after the hero killer, aren’t you?`

                Tenya was glad for the mask, for he wouldn’t have been able to explain his expression otherwise. “Well...”

                “I can’t just think of another reason why you’d chose my agency. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled you are here! It’s just....you shouldn’t let yourself be motivated by personal grudges. Even as heroes, we don’t have the authority to make arrests. Just because of the regulations are we allowed to use our Quirks at all. Not that the hero killed should go scot free, but I see you’re really serious about it!”

                “I appreciate the warning.” Tenya said. But he knew he wouldn’t follow. Because, no matter how much he respected and appreciated heroes, he couldn’t forget the sight from a few days before.

                The room held the sterile scent of hospitals, one Tenya will soon learn to hate. No matter how professional, it held none of the warmth, none of the compassion he always associated with his brother. Tenya was the serious one, the strict one. Tensei was nice, laid back. He was a good brother. He didn’t deserve a room so void of life. He didn’t deserve the wound in his spine or the multitude of wired coming out of him, like miscellaneous guts spread over the sheets.

                He was laid on the hospital bed, lids barely open, gaze hazed by drugs and painkillers. He wasn’t even there. He should be lucky to be alive, the doctor said. What will happen to him? What will he do? Will he ever be a hero again.

                Unlikely.

                Tenya knew that, if he ever met the Hero Killer, he wouldn’t hold back. He would get his revenge, his brother’s revenge, law be damned!

                Because maybe it wasn’t legal, but it was right.

-0-

 

                Gran Torino and the teen got onto the train. The wheels, even though new, creaked and squeaked before they finally started moving. When the retired hero had heard of the boy’s Quirk, he felt like strangling Toshinori through the telephone line. The kid had All for One, for fuck’s sake. And now that old man, with a hart too big and a brain too small had decided to give that runt its mach.

                He had listened to his old student assure him the boy was good and the correlation couldn’t be more than a coincidence. After a few hours of yelling, begging and more accounts from his neighbours to shut the fuck up, the retired hero agreed to take him in and see for himself if the boy was really a threat or not.

                Apparently, the boy had the potential, but not the drive.

                From the few hours of watching, coupled with his files on the boy and the USJ recording, the  man got the conclusion that the boy was smart and kind. He recognised at the Festival exactly how his analytical mind could benefit both good and evil and how he wasn’t afraid to exploit other people’s weaknesses.

                But he also saw how the boy cared more about others rather than himself. He had sacrificed his arms and chances of success to help a classmate and, when he randomly brought it up during breakfast, the boy had been sheepish, not regretful. He only seemed to damn his lack of caution and adrenaline induced frenzy.

                In one word, the boy was so much like his predecessor, Gran Torino knew he would be more than a simple pain in the ass. He would be an astral pain in the ass, a test from gods, from Nana herself to see if he still had his skill, his patience. It was a challenge, and the man knew that, if he failed to train the brat, the woman wouldn’t give him a moment of peace once they reached the afterlife.

                “Is it Ok that we’re going at night?” the brat asked.

                “Night’s perfect. There will surely be more incidents now, it’ll be more fun.” Gran Torino enjoyed the half alarmed look on the boy’s face.

                “I hear you, though I don’t really know how much fun we’ll have” he pulled his phone out and Gran Torino tsk-ed.

                “On your phone again? I swear, this generation, what are you even doing on that?”

                The boy didn’t respond, thought he seemed troubled, an expression of intense thinking on his face.  He licked his lips and looked out the window with a frown. A robotic voice came through the speakers:

                Passengers, please remain seated. We’re making an emergency stop...

                The boy pushed him down before the wall in front of them crashed and a hero came flying through. A second later, a creature with multiple eyes, a vague humanoid shape and a gross brain spilling out of its skull came in.

                The hero heard Midoriya gasp “Noumu?”

                It was one of the creatures from the USJ. Quickly, he kicked the creature out of the train, yelling at his charge to stay put.

                But the kid was so much like Toshinori, Gran Torino should have predicted it would never happen.

-0-

 

                Tenya didn’t expect the blow, neither the noise. He didn’t expect the Noumu to appear or the street to delve into chaos.

                But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t ready.

                He heard Manual yell something at him, probably to follow, but he didn’t listen. He walked into a stray alley and found the subject of his hate. He didn’t think. He didn’t have a strategy. All he had was blind red fury and that was all it took for the young hero in training to attack.

                He should’ve known that the Hero Killer would be harder to surprise. But he didn’t think, and that’s why he got hit and almost knocked unconscious in one blow.

                “Get out of here” the murderer said. “This is no place for children.”

                “A scarf red as blood.”Tenya panted “Armed to the teeth with blades. You are the Hero Killer, am I wrong? I’ve been pursuing you, though I didn’t expect to meet you so soon. I am...” a blade was in his face, a few inches from his eye before he got the time to finish.

                “You’re out for blood, I can see it in your eyes. Choose your next words with care and they might not be your last.”

                “My last... I’m here to get revenge and you don’t even consider me a threat! “he got to his feet, eyes burning with rage for the metal cladded man in front of him. “Listen here, criminal. I am the younger brother of a hero you attacked. He was one of the most amazing heroes and the best brother I could have ever asked for.” he looked up “I’m here to avenge my brother, since he can’t do so anymore. So remember this name for the short period of time you’ll still be alive. I’m Ingenium. And I’m going to take you down!”

                The Hero Killer glared “Is that so?” he lifted his blood coated sword and pointed it towards the teen. “So be it.”

-0-

 

                Izuku more or less ignored the train conductor and ran out of the train. That was a Noumu. It was the same as the USJ, the same amalgamation of Quirks, jumbled together in one person, too far to be even called a human to this point. And, if they  were here, then the League of Villains couldn’t be far behind.

                Iida, please tell me you’re all right.

                He reached a plaza and was frozen for a solid second. Three Noumus. Three, not one. Shigaraki, how many do you have?

                He saw Manual, Iida’s mentor calling out for him. Wait, this was Hosu. The Hero Killer never left without at least four victims. Please, whatever god may be out there, please let me be wrong.

                “Stay out of the way, the heroes will handle this.” a young heroine yelled at him. “Follow the police to safety!”

                “Ok” he said as he ran in the opposite direction. As if.

                The Noumus in the same city as the Hero Killer at such close intervals. Can’t be a coincidence. All the reports had said the victims were found in back alleys, not too close to public eye. Most of the heroes went looking for the villain. Izuku jumped over the buildings, looking for the place to find his friend.

                He found it and didn’t really think before Detroit smashing the villain.

                Shit, even with a hunch, I should’ve persuaded a pro to come with me.

                 “Midoriya! What are you doing here?!” Iida yelled from the ground.

                “Right now I want to whack you with a wrench for how idiotic you are, but I’ll keep it for later!” he yelled as he pulled out his phone behind his back. It worked with Eri he thought as he sent his location. “Can you move? Make for the main road and get some heroes to help us!”

                “I can’t! Must be his Quirk!”

                Shit!

                The Hero Killer got to his feet and watched him with something akin to interest. His thread was tangled and quick, liquid bloodlust curling in the air. Izuku found it hard to breathe, hard to stay focused with the suffocating Quirk sending its claws his way.

                Focus!  “They talked about that. So he needs to cut you to paralyse you.” he spotted a fallen hero. Fuck! If it was just Iida I could’ve carried him out.

                “Midoriya! Don’t intervene! This has nothing to do with you!” Iida said from the ground.

                “Like hell it doesn’t! You’re my friend, I won’t let you die!”

                “Brave words you’ve got there, kid” Stain took a step forward. “But I have the duty to kill these two. If you chose to get in the way, then, naturally, the weaker one of us will perish.”

                Shit! He’s the real deal.

                It was true. He wasn’t like Shigaraki. The hand man had been a tantrum throwing child. He could be persuaded with the right words. Stain wasn’t like that. He was a true killer. Cruel. Ruthless.

                Effective.

                No matter, I have to stall, I have to keep him at bay all by myself until someone shows up.

                I’m not prepared for this!

                “No! I told you to run, this is none of your business!”

                “No!”

                “Leave and save yourself!” Iida begged.

                Izuku saw red. “Then get up and make me!” he panted and stared the Hero Killer in the eye. “Giving help when no one asked for it is the mark of a true hero!”

                Stain grinned, and it sent shivers down his spine.

                He prepared to attack him when a wave of fire forced the ninja to dodge. The ninja groaned. “So many interruptions, one after another.”

                “Midoriya” a voice as cold as arctic winter said “Learn to write more specific instructions. I was almost too late.”

                Izuku had never been happier to see Todoroki.

                “Listen here, kids. I only want to kill those fakes. Run while you still can and I’ll let you go.”

                “We can’t let you do that” Todoroki said.

                “Why would you want to kill them?!” Izuku yelled as he stepped near the taller teen, creating a barrier between the ninja and the two fallen heroes.

                “The word „hero” has long lost its meaning. People nowadays only do it for money and fame. The moment the act of saving people required compensation, the true heroes died, replaced by fakes. Society is broken, and it won’t change unless someone does something about it.”

                Izuku growled and yelled “Don’t you think I know that?!”

                The Hero Killer stopped for a second, and Izuku could feel Todoroki’s stare on the back of his neck. He continued nonetheless. “It’s true, heroes are not what they are supposed to be. But people need saving. It’s because of villains like you that they are in danger. It’s because of people like you we are in need of fake heroes. People need saving and we can’t afford to wait for the pure of heart to do so.” he panted before yelling one last time “As long as heroes save people, it why does it matter why?!”

                Stain stood silent for a second before a smirk spread along his chapped lips and he let out a chuckle. “Shigaraki was right. You really are interesting.”

                Izuku felt his blood freeze in his veins, an overall numbness going along his muscles. “What?” his voice was barely above a whisper.

                Stain only grinned and attacked. Todoroki sent a wave of fire his way, but the man jumped and threw a knife towards Iida. Izuku jumped in front of him and deviated it. Izuku felt a warm trail trickling down his face. He activated One for All as he had learned the day previous and jumped towards the villain.

                “Don’t let them cut you!” Iida yelled. Kinda late for that. But Izuku found something out: it’s not the cut that paralyses.

                Stain dodged in mid-air, but caught Izuku’s hand and threw him at Todoroki. The dichromatic teen used his ice to cushion his fall, but Stain had already reached the knife. Izuku only saw him tracing his tongue along the blade before he lost control of his limbs.

                “He paralised you by ingesting your blood!” Izuku yelled.

                “Good to know. “Todoroki responded before forming another wall of ice between his friends and the Hero Killer.

                “Obstructing your own vision against an opponent faster than yourself? Not a very good strategy.”

                “You’d like to think so.” Todoroki said a he assaulted the assassin with a wall of fire. Stain dodged.

                “You’re not bad either” he said as he fell from the above. He didn’t expect the weather changing kick to the face from the teenager previously on the ground.

                “Midoriya!” Todoroki yelled.

                “Somehow, I can move again!” he yelled as he threw the villain almost out of the alley.

                “So it has a time limit?”

                “No way, he was the last to get hit!”

                “I have a theory!” Izuku yelled. “It’s either shorter with the number of people he incapacitates. It depends on the amount of blood ingested or....it’s the blood type.”

                Stain smirked. “You got that last one right, kid. You also knew how to exploit my blind spots and weaknesses. I’ve decided: you’re one worth keeping alive!”

                “That terrifies me even more.” then, he swiped his tongue over his lips and whispered to Todoroki. “I’ll attack him, I’m better in close quarters. You come with support from behind.”

                “Good idea, but he might cut you.”

                Izuku gave him a pained yet half crazed smile “He already said he won’t kill me.”

                Stain lounged again and Iuzku jumped to keep him busy. “Stop it!” Iida cried. “It’s my duty. I have inherited my brother’s name! I have to kill him!”

                “Your brother’s name” Todoroki said, not taking his eyes off of the fight in case his friend needed his immediate help. “The Ingenium I knew never had that look on his face.”

                Todoroki threw a jet of fire, barely missing the green haired teen. Iida felt a movement in his muscles, before realising he could actually feel his muscles. With rough movements, he managed to lift his arm, then, in the same painful manner while his friends were fighting for their lives, for his life, he got up.

                Izuku got thrown back with an unnecessary amount of force, and Iida caught him before he hit the ground. While cradling the smaller teen, a look of pure relief washed over his face.”Iida, you’re Ok!”

                Iida put Izuku slowly on the ground. “This had nothing to do with any of you” he said “I’m so sorry.”

                “Not that again.”

                “That’s why, I can’t let you lose any more blood today”

                “Pfft, stop pretending. A person’s nature doesn’t change so easily.” he lifted his sword and pointed it at the teen. “You are the cancer that plagues this society wrapped around this concept of heroes. You’re nothing but a fake who wants to accomplish only his selfish desires.”

                “So you’re a fundamentalist” Todoroki said. “Iida, don’t even think to listen to this guy”

                “No, he’s right. I only wanted to help myself. I have no right to call myself a hero. But even still, I won’t let him break me. Because, if he does....”

                Iida’s monologue was interrupted by the green haired menace jumping from above and landing between Stain’s shoulder blades. Both teens looked around, they hadn’t noticed Midoriya leave their side, but the smaller teen had knocked the villain unconscious. As the green sparks died, Izuku looked at them with his best done expression and said.

                “Sorry for interrupting your monologue, I was taking the villain down.” the sarcasm was dripping from the boy’s voice and his expression was so pissed he could probably rival Bakugou.

                “Let’s tie him up and get to the heroes” Todoroki said. Native had finally woken up and helped them take knifes out of places neither of the teens had even thought of checking.

                He also insisted on carrying Izuku to the doctors, and even thought the teen protested, he was outvoted by Todoroki who said he looked moments away from collapsing.

                “I’m so sorry, I’m supposed to be a pro, but all I did was get in the way.”

                “Don’t sweat it. It would’ve happened to anyone in a one-on-one fight against the hero killer. And his Quirk is so strong.”

                “Even in a three-on-one fight, we won just because he screwed up. He was so mad at Iida, he forgot about Midoriya.”

                “I forgot about Midoriya “ Iida mumbled.

                “Well, I didn’t forget about you!” Izuku all but spit and the armoured teen flinched. Izuku just glared and, even though he would never admit it, he felt a shiver run down his spine.

                “Well, I still feel bad for not being able to help you.” Native said.

                “There might be a way for you to help us now.” everyone turned towards the carried teen (minus the carrier). Izuku sighed. “We weren’t under our supervisors, and the fact that Iida, then me and Todoroki attacked the Hero Killer, knowing full well it was a threat can be considered vigilantism. We could actually get arrested. But if you say that you specifically asked for our help when you realised you couldn’t move, then, technically, we were under your supervision, which makes it legal.”

                Everyone looked at him for a second. “Of course, it’s the least I could do” Native said.

                “Midoriya, how do you know so much about this?” Todoroki asked, a little troubled by the information.

                “My mom is a lawyer and she specialises in Quirk regulations and such. If the Hero Killer randomly attacked Iida and me and Todoroki randomly stumbled upon you, we could have gotten away scot free.” he sighed. “But I have already texted the message to everyone, so, at the very least Todoroki will get in trouble.”

                “It’s Ok, I’ll find a way for you kids not to get in trouble. Though, I must say, it was incredibly reckless what you did.”

                “We know.”

                Something seemed to struck Todoroki. “Midoriya.”

                “Yes?”

                “When you sent that message a few months back, was that an emergency?”

                Izuku looked down. “Yeah. But All Might was passing by, so no harm done.”

                “Is that your subtle way of telling us you have All Might’s private number” thankfully, he was saved from answering that particular question by the yellow cladded mentor of his mentor.

                “WHY ARE YOU HERE?!” Gran Torino yelled as he kicked Izuku to the ground. “I told you to stay in your seat!” he breathed deeply, before calming down enough not to have an aneurism. “Well, I don’t know what happened here, but I’m glad to see you’re still alive.”

                The next moment, voices could be heard and more heroes appeared. They started talking one after another. Izuku could grasp pieces of words here and there like „Endeavour”, „ambulance” and „Hero Killer”, but at this point he was too tired to care.

                Todoroki asked the important questions before Izuku got to his senses. Iida then bowed deeply.

                “Both of you... because of me you were wounded deeply and I am terribly sorry....I was blind” he sniffled “I lost sight of everything important.”

                Izuku clenched his fists “I’m so mad at you right now.” his voice was trembling with anger. Iida looked up. “I don’t know what you were thinking and the only reason I’m not kicking you right now is because I don’t want to make your injuries worse!” he yelled, glaring at the older teen. “I..uh, I..” he stopped and clenched his jaws “I’ll stop before I say something we’ll both regret.”

                Iida was frozen for a second, then looked down, not being able to hold the boy’s killing gaze.

                “GET DOWN!” was all they heard before Izuku felt a pair of claws digging their way into his side. The next moment his feet were no longer touching the ground and he was dangling in the air.

               

               

Chapter Text

 

Move, he urged his body, but no energy was left in his limbs. He was tired, so tired and it was going to get him killed. He vaguely heard yells, screams, someone calling out for him, but his own blood in his ears was too deafening for him to cover.

                Suddenly, a scream, a lot of heat and he was falling. He didn’t have the time to register the panic before a hand wrapped itself around his waist and deposited him almost gently on the ground. Said hand moved to his back and made sure he remained there.

                “...Are targets of my purge” his head finally cleared enough to hear. “All for the sake of a better society.”

                Izuku started trashing, but to no avail. “Get off of me!” the hand on his back kept him in place.

                Endeavour appeared and started throwing with fire. The Noumu was dead. Izuku could see the body, yet it was devoid of any thread. Nothing. He focused on the thread he could feel. When he took other people’s Quirks before, they were destabilised, even for a second. Izuku hated the thought of the liquid bloodlust inside of him, was terrified of the thought of becoming like Noumu....But maybe they’ll catch the Hero Killer.

                Begging any lucky stars that may guard him up above, he reached for the thread. Stain was still talking.

                “You fake, you’re all fakes...” he drawled, his bloodlust spreading in the air like the stench of a battlefield two days after the massacre. “This society must be cleansed, must be purged. The title of a hero needs to be restored.....None of you deserves to be a hero.” he stopped and looked down, smile too wide spreading along his messed up face. “You do. You’re worth keeping alive.”

                Izuku felt his heart stop for a moment as the Hero Killer let him go and headed for the heroes. “The only one allowed to kill me is All Might.”

                Izuku grabbed his thread and pulled as hard as he could. The man stopped, frozen in the air. Everyone in the crowd had lost it’s movement, and Izuku knew it had nothing to do with the man’s Quirk.

(\(\

(-.-)

(_(_o

 

                They found out only later the Hero Killer had punctured his lung. The time Izuku took away his Quirk had been the last hit, the last shock to take him down. They had been transferred to the Hosu General Hospital.

                All three boys shared a room, beds facing each other. Izuku woke up before the others and spent about an hour staring outside the window, watching the sun rise and wondering what his friends were doing in their internships. A stray thought of how pissed off Kacchan would be that he got more action than him made him smile. But, this was Bakugou they were talking about. The blond could probably beat Stain’s defeat to the first page if he put his mind to it. Something stirred to his right.

                Shifting his sight, he saw Todoroki sleepily rub his eyes. His heterochromatic hair was messed up, no longer split in the middle, but something akin to his own hairstyle. The boy eyed him owlishly.

                “How long have you been up?”

                “About an hour.”

                “How’s your leg. You sprained it with that last kick.”

                “It’s good.” Izuku wanted to scratch his check and met the gauze on it. “What a day.” he said awkwardly. He looked down. “It’s a miracle we’re still alive.”

                “Yes, he definitely let us live.” Todoroki said. “I’m just glad we managed to save Iida and Native.”

                “I can’t apologise enough for putting you two in danger” came from the other bed. Izuku’s head whipped in that direction, spotting Iida, who was trying to sit up, a difficult task with both hands in slings. The green haired boy glared, but remained silent before looking out the window.

                “It was unwise and very dangerous.” Todotoki said evenly.

                “It was not heroic and I am undeserving of...”

                “Shut up!” Izuku yelled. He was trembling and his voice was full  with rage. “You have no right to talk about what’s heroic and what’s not! I should throw you out the window for the sheer idiocy and put you back in kindergarten, because you clearly lack even the smallest shred of common sense!” he panted, then looked away and growled.

                “Midoriya, I’m...”

                “Sorry, Yeah, I heard.” Izuku finally looked at him, jaw trembling with unsaid anger. “Please, humour me: in what possible universe did it seem plausible for a fifteen year old with barely a few months of training to take down a wanted murderer who had already maimed and killed pro heroes with a years of experience behind them?!`

                Iida remained silent and Izuku could feel Todoroki’s eyes on him. Izuku felt his anger fade away, tears filling his eyes. “Why didn’t you talk, Iida? It didn’t have to be me.” he looked down and sniffled.

                “Midoriya I... “ but he couldn’t finish.

                “I’m sorry.” Izuku finally said. “That was harsh of me. I guess it’s also my fault. I saw that you were sad, I saw how you acted, I knew it was a lie, that you were not Ok, and I did nothing” He buried his face in his hands, pulling viciously at the roots of his hair. “I should’ve done something.”

                “Midoriya, it’s not your fault. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have survived. I put both you and Todoroki in danger, but I will do anything in my power to make it right.”

                Izuku looked up. His face was wet with tars, but his eyes, even when red, were dry and cold, devoid of any emotion. “Even though I understand why you did what you did, and I have no way of knowing I wouldn’t have done the same, I can’t find it in my heart to forgive you. At least not yet.”

                Iida looked down. “I understand. I know I am not worthy, but I will do anything in my power to atone for it.”

                “Just make sure it doesn’t happen again” Izuku said, warmer this time.

                His head jerked to the right when he felt a few threads outside their door. Said door opened the next second and three people entered the room.

                “Oh, look at that, the little wounded warriors are awake” Gran Torino said as he entered the room.

                The other two people were Manual and the chief of police, Tsuragame, as the dog headed man had introduced himself. What he said next was what rattled them.

                “....Those who inflicted injury without explicit instruction from the police and powers that be, even if they were against the likes of the Hero Killer, such action is a severe breach of the law. You three, as well as your pro hero mentors, Gran Torino, Endeavour, Manual, the six of you must be dealt with strictly and impartially.” the man finished his speech.

                “Hold on a minute!” Todoroki sat up. “If Iida hadn’t acted, Native would’ve died. And if Midoriya hadn’t shown up, both of them would’ve been dead!” Izuku pulled at his classmate’s sleeve, but to no avail. “Are you suggesting we should let people die in the name of the law?”

                “Todoroki!” Izuku tried once again. And failed once again.

                “Isn’t it a hero’s job to save other people?!”

                “Todoroki!” Izuku yelled again. The boy turned and glared at him.

                “What?!” he barked. Izuku didn’t even flinch.

                “Remember what I said yesterday.”

                The taller teen seemed to calm down a bit, enough for the man to continue. “That’s what I legally have to tell you as a police officer. We could have swiped all this under the rug and put the success on Endeavour. The burn marks were evidence enough for that, and we wouldn’t have to stain your school record. But that there’s this...” he pulled out his phone and the three teens gathered around it.

                For the next few minutes, they watched a clip in which Stain was painted in a positive light. The one who took the recordings had caught the part where the Hero Killer had saved Izuku perfectly, as well as the part where the No.2 hero would have roasted the teen, had it not been for the heads up. His speech and last stand had been in high definition and, by the end of it, Izuku felt like he was going to puke.

                Tsuragame sighed. “Here, you can clearly see you kids dragging him out of the alley, and we can hear Native saying he needed to be saved by you. Also, it’s obvious how Endeavour arrived later. We can’t take it down, and this is too professional for us to say it was Photoshop. We don’t really know how to do this.” the man admitted.

                Both Iida and Todoroki looked at the green-haired teen, and Izuku took a deep breath, hoping he could talk his way out of this one too. Would it work if it wasn’t a life or death situation?

                “From what I understand, we are basically charged with vigilantism. Am I right?”

                “Yes.”

                “Well, you said we would be charged for inflicting injury without specific instructions. But, a civilian can use their Quirk in a villain fight as long as a pro hero requests them to. In the middle of the chaos, the hero Native could have asked us to stall the Hero Killer until backup arrived. We just managed to incapacitate him before that. That way, he technically gave us the jurisdiction to do this.” Izuku finished.

                Manual was surprised, Gran Torino’s jaw was open in disbelief, but the chief of police was rubbing his chin. “This might work, we just need to wiggle our way around this.”

                “You can contact my mom about this. She’s a lawyer and she specifies in Quirk law. Inko Midoriya?”

                A look of understanding seemed to dawn on the man. “That explains a lot. Very well, I will talk with her. But, even so, take care, all of you. As a responsible adult, I can’t condone your actions, but as someone interested in keeping peace, I cannot thank you enough.” he bowed.

                “The feeling is mutual.” Iida said. Gran Torino burst out laughing, whacking the boy over the head.

                Both Iida’s and Izuku’s mentors scolded them for a few good minutes, before Tsuragame turned to leave.

                “Wait!” Todoroki said. All the eyes turned towards him.

                “Todoroki, what is it?”

                “At the end of the video , you saw Stain calling Izuku a worthy hero.` Izuku looked down , shoulders hunched at the thought of being praised by the Hero Killer. Tsuragame looked at the both of them before nodding. “He said the same thing in the alleyway. But, before that, he said something else” he paused for a second “He said that Shigaraki was right. That Izuku was interesting.” he looked down. “I have a feeling my friend might be in danger.”

                Izuku looked at him, eyes wide. Tsuragame seemed to ponder for a little longer. “Now we have the confirmation that the hero Killer and the League of villains work together. Worse, you have been a subject in one of their conversations. I will think about this. In the meantime, I will leave a few officers to guard you.” and, with that, the three adults left.

(\(\

(-.-)

(_(_o

 

                Izuku returned to their room with a skip in his step after he just finished talking to Uraraka. I just talked to a girl! . Granted, she probably hadn’t seen the news to actually be worried. His smile vanished once he met his friend’s defeated gaze.

                “Iida just got his diagnostic.” Todoroki clarified.

                “My laft hand joint have permanent damage.” he said. He continued by explaining exactly how big the damage actually was and how it could be fixed with a nerve transplant surgery. “But, as much as I hate him, the Hero Killer was right. I have to be a hero, to save people before anything else, and what I did was a huge risk to both your lives and mine. So, until I have succeeded in becoming a true hero, my left hand will serve as a reminder.”

                “I feel the same way.”Izuku said after a few moments of silence. “This power, as strong as it is could cause a lot of damage. So far, I only broke my own bones. But, if it ever hurts an innocent person, I’d never be able to forgive myself.” he clenched his scarred fist. “So, I’ll keep this hand as a reminder too. I’ll get stronger and make sure I never injure anyone with it.”he looked in his classmate’s eyes.”Let’s get stronger together!”

                “I’m sorry” Todoroki suddenly said.

                “What for?”

                “Whenever I get involved, it seems like people’s hands get messed up or something. I think it is a curse or something.”

                Izuku stood still for a moment before both him and Iida burst into laughter. “Todoroki, I never took you as someone to joke.”

                “I’m not joking, just call me the „hand crusher”.

                “The „hand crusher”?!” Izuku giggled. “You know, that might actually be  a good idea. Maybe it will scare Shigaraki away.”

                Iida continued laughing and even Todoroki released a  smile. A few minutes later his phone got a notification. Izuku’s smile died down when he saw it. He grabbed the remote and opened the TV, switching sporadically until he reached the news.

                Every programme explained in detail how the Hero Killer was apprehended by three UA students, and more or less how the pro heroes couldn’t do a thing. They saw once again that horrible clip, and not only one channel put under light the Hero Killer declaration of war and how he more or less played favourites with Izuku.

                Some talked about the two figures standing and watching on the roof of a building at the unfolding chaos.

                “You know, Midoriya, when you asked me if I wanted to spar, I hadn’t expected it to be this soon...or on TV.” Todoroki finally broke the silence. This managed to rip a giggle out of Izuku and lighten the already tense mood in the room.

                Izuku shut the TV a few seconds before two very familiar lights burst through the door and into his arms.

                “Izu-nii!” Eri cried as she buried herself into his stomach.

                “My baby!” Inko said as she crushed her two children in a bear hug. Izuku hugged them, until his consciousness felt threatened.

                “Mom, Eri, I can’t breathe.” they finally let him go and Inko slapped him.

                “Don’t you ever scare me like this!” she was mad. Eri poked him a little harder than usual, but Izuku could only look at his mom. “You could’ve called someone, taken a pro with you! Do you have any idea how scared I was?!”

                Izuku looked down. “I know. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t think of anything else.”

                “Just, don’t scare me like this ever again. When I got that text, I was so scared. Eri almost had a heart attack when she saw the news.” the little girl nodded din his chest.

                Izuku looked down. ”I’m sorry. I know I should’ve done something more, but I didn’t think of it until I was face to face with him. I never thought Iida actually found the guy, I was going on a hunch. But you are right. I was reckless and I’ll try not to do so again.”

                The two women enveloped him in warm hugs, until all the Midoriyas were no longer crying. “That was my part.” Inko said, wiping the last traces of her tears off her cheeks. “You still have your father to worry about.” Izuku eyed the phone with something akin to terror.

                Eri  looked at the woman warily. “Will Midoriya-san hurt Izu-nii?”

                “No, sweetie.” Inko patted her head. “He will just yell for a few hours in a language I’d rather not repeat, until Izuku understands the consequences of his actions”

                “Ok” Eri nodded before pulling something out of her (his) All Might backpack. It was an origami flower. She gave one to Izuku, before going to Iida with another one. She seemed conflicted as to where to put it, since the boy didn’t have the arms to take it before placing it in the pocket of his hospital clothes. Iida thanked, but the little girl was already strolling towards Todoroki. She gave him another flower, and he graced her with a smile. “To feel better” she said.

                Inko giggled and pulled out a box of pastries. She gave each of the teens at least one, before talking about harmless, non-hero related things. In the span of two hours, his friends found out about his most embarrassing childhood stories and got a full look of the pictures in which him and Eri wore identical All Might pyjamas ( when did she get that many?).

                If it wasn’t the pictured that brought smiles on their faces, it was the shade of red the boy managed to reach in the span of a few seconds.

                The door opened, for the third time this morning, and the three boys were met with the sight of a red-haired mess in the form of a panicked Kirishima.

                “Are you guys Ok, I just saw the news!” he yelled as he entered. He was his civilian clothes, but they were rumpled and crinkled, as if he had put them in a hurry. He spared exactly one second before all but crushing Izuku in a hug, not different from his mother.

                “Hay, Kirishima.” Izuku hugged back, even if a little bit awkwardly. The boy refrained from hugging the other two, Iida having both arms injured and Todoroki being just… No.

                “I got your message the other night, but I was... I never thought...” he seemed panicked. “I’m sorry!”

                “It wasn’t your fault” Izuku said. “Really, you have nothing to apologise for. Heck, you were a few districts away, it’s not like you could’ve done anything.” Izuku tried to pacify him.

                “But I didn’t realise it was an SOS message until this morning. Gosh, I could’ve been in town and not move a finger to help you.” he nervously pulled at his roots.

                “Oh, man, that was so awesome!” everybody turned towards the silver haired boy in the door.

                “Don’t encourage him!” Kirishima exclaimed.

                “Tetsutetsu? What are you doing here?” Izuku asked, surprised to see his colleague from the parallel class coming. They never really exchanged any words.

                “Fourth Kind let us come to make sure you were Ok, after Kirishima almost had a panic attack. He send me to make sure he makes it Ok. Also, I really wanted to see the guys who took down the Hero Killer.”

                “Thanks, Tetsutetsu.” Izuku smiled.

                “Well, I guess I’ll leave you guys to it.” Inko said before taking Eri’s hand and walking out, not before the little girl hugged Izuku once more and high fived Kirishima.

                The boys spent like half an hour talking and laughing before the other two trainees had to leave. Izuku got an angry yelling tirade from Uraraka because how dare you tell me nothing happened! And a few other ones in form of text from the other classmates.

                “Why do they all call and yell at me?!”

                “Iida was listed as the most injured and I don’t really have....friends to yell at me.” Todoroki said.

                “Oh.”

                “Midoriya, I wanted to ask you something.” Izuku looked up. “When we were with the Hero Killer, you said you didn’t believe there were true heroes. Was that true?”

                “You of all people should know very little heroes deserve that title.” Izuku looked down. “But I don’t believe in his ideology. I think that people should be saved regardless of the reason.” he sighed. “I’m just disappointed there are so little heroes wanting to save someone for the sake of it.”

                “Then you must consider me petty.” Todoroki sounded almost...hurt?

                “It’s not like that!” he waved his hands vividly. “It’s just that....I know you want to help people. I still appreciate and admire you, and really want you to be my friend. I just don’t know if you would have done it if it wasn’t for his father.” he finished meekly.

                Todoroki nodded and looked up. ”Thank you for telling me.”

(\(\

(-.-)

(_(_o

 

 

                “Toshinori, where the hell did you find this kid?”

                “Gran Torino, I...”

                “Really now, two days in and he makes me lose my teaching license for six months, defeats one of the most dangerous serial killers out there and almost gave me a heart attack!”

                “Gran Torino...”

“I’m starting to think One for All takes away the users self preservation and basic common sense!”

                “I’m sorry.” came the defeated response from the other end.

                “You’d better be.” Gran Torino calmed down enough to continue without yelling. “Seriously now, where did you find him. I’m talking about his Quirk. It seems to be the same as his, if not a little bit stronger. But that might be the influence of One for All over it.”

                “I know you might not like it, but I spent ten months with him. You must have seen his heroic potential!!”

                “I did, and I don’t doubt he will become a great hero. But what are the chances of him having the exact same Quirk as All for One?”

                “He might be a lost relative of the first user. Genetics can stay dormant for generations after all.”

                “Let’s hope it’s that. Because the alternative would be too bad to consider.” he paused for a moment.” There’s something else.”

                “What?”

                “Stain said that Shigaraki was interested in him. That Noumu also tried to kidnap him. It’s too big of a coincidence. I think it’s safe to assume All for One has his eyes on him.”

                “If he lays a finger on my boy...” Gran Torino could hear how his voice suddenly gained some echo, signalling All Might’s transformation.

                “Well, you’ve got to make sure he doesn’t” he waited a few seconds. “The boy admires you, Toshinori. You have to tell him about One for All and All for one as soon as possible. It’s not a question of pride, but of safety.”

                “I will” Toshi finally said.

                “Good. Now we need to talk about something else. When I looked at Stain...”

                They talked about the impact Stain would have over the media and the power the League would suddenly gain. The future looked grim and neither of the heroes wanted to see what will happen next.

                Little did they know, the tables had already turned, and it was too late to save anyone anymore.

-0-

 

                Izuku was trying to focus in the buzzing of the class.  The rest of his week had been uneventful, he had even managed to learn more hand to hand combat from Gran Torino. The problems arised when he had gotten home and got to check his mails. The video had been widely spread and the opinions were scattered.

                A lot of people had sent him thanks and „Good Job!”s and a lot of encouraging messages. Tsukacuchi had even said some gifts arrived at the station, addressed to him. Tensei, Iida’s brother had called him and thanked him in tears for taking care  of his brother.

                But then there was the hate mail.

                A lot of people took the fact that the Hero Killer saved his life as a sign that they were acquainted from before. Some even said they used to work together. And these were the sane ones. He couldn’t even begin to count the conspiracy theories that said they might have been related, to the ones that said that Stain was his teacher and they did vigilante work together before Izuku took the right path.

                After the third mail where he was accused of being Stains illegitimate child, Izuku didn’t know if he should laugh or cry.

                Then his father yelled at him for about an hour and he decided he really should cry.

                All in all, the mails which thanked him made him feel better and gave him the courage to show up at school on Monday. Now, his colleagues were talking their internships and Izuku just whished they wouldn’t notice him here. Thankfully, Kacchan’s new haircut seemed to be enough of a distraction in itself.

                “Now, if you want to talk about transformative traumatic experiences, we should be looking at you three!” instantly, all eyes turned on them and Izuku cursed his luck. Why did you have to jinx it?

                “Oh, yeah, the hero killer.”

                “I was so scared, I thought you all died!”

                “I’m glad you are alive, but I can’t believe I didn’t recognise that distress signal!”

                “It was Ok, we are alive, let’s leave it behind!” Izuku tried, but his colleagues were in too deep to let him go now.

                “What happened?”

                Izuku looked at Todoroki for help, who was kind enough to spare him of his misery. “Iida found the Hero Killer trying to kill Native. Midoriya found Iida and sent the SOS signal and I came after that.” the others waited, but the boy remained silent.

                “What else happened, something that wasn’t on the news” Ashido urged.

                “I found out what Asui meant by „Midoriya’s commercial talk” Izuku threw him a betrayed look, but the dual haired teen looked unapologetic.

                “WHAT!?”

                Izuku sighed. “Look, Todoroki and me were the only ones able to move while the Hero Killer was spewing his philosophy left and right. We had no way of knowing when the pro’s would show up, so, I “he scratched his neck “I...more or less pulled a USJ”

                “YOU WHAT?!”

                “I just told him what I thought he wanted to hear and tried not to die!” he shook his hands violently to make them stop.

                “But how did you take them down?” Yaoyorozu asked.

                Izuku looked at Todoroki, but he was acting like nothing happened, looking at him as expectantly as everyone else. Iida had remained silent and Izuku wasn’t going to force him to speak. “Well, Iida was very inspired and lulled the Hero Killer into a monologue, and, while he was doing that, I sucker punched him from the fifth floor.” he finished, scratching his neck nervously while the class gaped.

“Yes. He descended from the sky like a very pissed off green angel” Todoroki said in a monotone voice. The class gasped. After another ten minutes of non stop pestering, they finally took their attention off of him. He was busy glaring daggers at Todoroki for his earlier betrayal when something tapped him in the back.

                He turned around and looked at Shinsou, who seemed really uncomfortable. “Are you... are you Ok?”

                Izuku was surprised for a second before he smiled “`Yes, thank you. How have you been doing? Who did you intern with?”

                “Aizawa.” he looked down `He said he wanted me at top peak since I missed a  whole semester of the Hero Course.”

                “That’s great! He helped me too and I hope he’ll keep doing so, with my Quirk. He’s very good at it.”

                Shinsou sketched a smile, and by the wrinkles around his eyes, he deduced he didn’t do it often. Izuku gave him an encouraging smile before All Might entered the class.

(\(\

(-.-)

(_(_o

 

Fucking Deku and his fucking moves. My moves! Katsuki thought as he watched his arch nemesis jump from place to place like a fucking monkey, using his moves, created through his training to get ahead.

                He stole them, just like he steals everything else!

                But the reason Katsuki was really furious was the current news. Everyone was talking about them, about him. How they defeated the Hero Killer. And it just had to be the three he hated the most.

                Do you really hate me, Kacchan?

                Shut up! He banished the memory before it could affect him. Of course that silver tongue had talked his way out of that situation. And of course, like the petty coward he was, he kicked the villain when he was least expecting it.

                We both know you would have done the same.

                I told you to shut up!

                But he took at least a little comfort when the boy lost the first place and landed face first in the ground. He deserved it. But why did he stay? He could’ve run and survived, he didn’t have to risk his life. It was way too close. From what he had heard in class, they won through pure luck and nothing else. He didn’t approach the boy in class ( though he would have loved an explanation or the acquaintance of the boy’s face with his fist) because he wanted to hear what he said without the risk of scaring the boy.

                Katsuki threw him a look. He was talking to half-n-half, staying eerily motionless during all of it. Only his lips moved while his eyes danced in his sockets. Weird.

 But, why would he risk his life so recklessly. He had to have grown some common sense from their childhood.

                Maybe he’s just not evil?

                Shut up, or so help me...

                The old, childlike voice remained quiet.

 

Chapter Text

                Izuku was tense after the exercise. Judging by the way he’d said it, whatever All Might wanted to talk about was serious. The boy was a bundle of nerves and, even Mineta getting his just dessert in the locker room couldn’t make him feel better.

                Today he’d also been brutally reminded that he’d stolen Stain’s Quirk when he’d licked a stray trail of blood from his nose and suddenly found his limbs locked. Todoroki had noticed and had talked to him during those minutes, though the bicolored teen was way more amused than he had the right to. Izuku had a feeling that, had there not been any witnesses around, he would have probably painted a moustache on him or something.

                He could feel the blond’s angry gaze on his neck, but, surprisingly, the explosive teen didn’t actually do anything.

                The boy entered All Might’s office and sat on a couch as the man put a cup of tea in his face. He listened until he heard something familiar.

                “All for One?”

                “Yes. A Quirk to steal other Quirks. I get you’ve heard of it?„

                “I-I stumbled on the name back when I found out about my own Quirk” Izuku looked down. “But  I never believed the rumors. They were too far-fetched. And, even if they were real, it was too long ago and the theories didn’t help me with anything. These last months also raise another question” he took a deep breath and licked his lips “If holding multiple Quirks could turn you into a Noumu, aren’t I under the same risk?”

                “I don’t think so, my boy. You see, your Quirk is exactly as the villain’s I fought so long ago. He could hold a few hundred Quirks at once and nothing happened to him. If I’m not mistaken, you’ve taken Stain’s Quirk, yes?”

                Izuku looked down. “Yeah, I did that” he was surprised when All Might paced a hand on his cheek and lifted it lightly.

                “No need to be ashamed, Izuku. Stain was using his Quirk to hurt people. You took it away and stopped him from doing so.” an air of nostalgia surrounded him. “Sometimes heroes have to do things we wouldn’t normally do and of which we are not proud, for the greater good. You took away his Quirk, yes, but think of how many heroes you saved by stopping him.”

                Izuku smiled, albeit sadly. His expression changed when he was suddenly struck by something. “Wait, if I have the same Quirk as the villain you fought, does that mean there’s a connection between us?”

                “The chance is too out of nowhere to be considered a coincidence. There’s a possibility you are somehow related to the first brother. Genetics have a weird way of staying dormant for generations, and there was never any wind of All for One having a child.” Izuku sighed in relief “Even so, that’s still bad news. Your records aren’t really public, but not hard to hack into. If you have an almost identical Quirk to All for One, and he is behind the League of Villains, that might be the reason for Shigaraki’s sudden interest in your person.” Izuku’s shoulders slumped. “Do not worry, my boy, I won’t let anything happen to you.” the blond placed his big hand in the curly mess and smiled.

                “If you fought a villain with my Quirk before, how could you trust me when we first met? I wouldn’t have trusted me.”

                Toshinori felt a rock press his heart, but forced himself to smile. “I told you, my boy, I saw your heroic potential back then. I couldn’t just let that go to waste, and you proved me right as time passed.”

                The hopeful smile on the boy’s face stabbed another dagger into the man’s eternally bleeding heart. “You have no idea how much that means to me. You were the first person outside my family who knew about my Quirk and didn’t tell me I would become a villain.”

                Even after their discussion ended and the boy left for class, Toshinori felt the guilt eating away at his heart and none of the sugar coated lies he told himself could soothe it.

-0-

 

                1-A took the news of the exam and training camp with different levels of enthusiasm. After class, Aizawa told him that his training sessions would be cut down to half, since he had to train Sinsou too, but that they’d keep it up. Izuku was thankful he didn’t lose yet another teacher and was approached by Todoroki in the next break.

                “If you’re still interested in sparing, I’m free today. It’ll be good for both of us to learn something new before the exams.”

                “That’s a good idea, Todoroki. Do you know a place we can train?”

                “I know a park we can go to and not get scolded.” he said. He seemed more relaxed around Izuku, but that still meant he was a little bit awkward.

                “Great, we’ll go there after I grab some gym clothes from home.” he thought for a moment. “Hey, why don’t you eat with us today? We would be glad to have more company.”

                Todoroki actually seemed to consider it before turning it down. “I’m sorry, but except for Iida, I don’t think your friends like me all that much.”

                “Oh” Izuku wanted to deny it, but he couldn’t ignore the glares Shinsou threw the heterochromatic teen on every occasion.

                The rest of the day was uneventful, save for Present Mic almost cracking the windows when he saw a bee. Izuku said goodbye to Shinsou as he was in for training with Aizawa and talked about little nothings with Uraraka and Iida on the way back. Iida was still acting a little bit distant, but this time it was more from embarrassment than actively avoiding him.

                He got up, took some gym clothes and left to the address Todoroki had sent to his phone. He’d also braided Eri’s hair before leaving. She loved it since Tsuyu first did it, and his mom couldn’t always do it. It made her happy, so he learned to braid it. As a bonus he’d also discovered some new ways to tame his permanent knot nest .

                The train ride had been short and, after small misunderstanding where Todoroki tried his best to describe his location and Izuku reminding himself he couldn’t use his Quirk in public to run the whole park until he found him he’d found his classmate in a little clearing that was a shielded from prying eyes by a few old, thick trees.

                Seeing Todoroki in normal gym clothes was…weird. He looked out of place but, at the same time, it suited him.

                “Midoriya.” he greeted.

                “Hi.” Izuku sat his bag down. “Uh… just a head up- you, most likely, have a better understanding of actual fighting than I do-I had like three different teachers in the span of two months.”

                “I suggest we spar, and then see what tips we can give each other.”

                Izuku found out that day it was a lot less painful to fall on grass than on the wooden floor of a gym. They sparred for about an hour, and (to the surprise of absolutely no one) Todoroki won most of the matches but Izuku managed to surprise him and get the upper hand every once in a while. Halfway through, Izuku took off his hoodie, because it was wet with sweat and also to avoid Todoroki pulling on it after he pulled the exact same trick on him.

                In the end, they both sat down, panting and covered in sweat. The taller teen threw him a water bottle “I don’t mean to pry, but how did you get those scars?” Todoroki asked “You don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want to.” he added quickly after. Todoroki knew that he would be very offended if someone asked him about his scar but Izuku just looked at his wrists, a sad look in his eyes.

                “No, it’s alright, you told me about yours, it’s only fair I do the same.” he took a deep breath, but his eyes became glazed, like he wasn’t actually there, but stuck somewhere between present and past. “When I first discovered my Quirk, I accidentally hurt my friend. When I gave it back, he got really mad.” he looked down. “That was the last day he was my friend.”

                “You were a child.”

                “So was he.” he still wasn’t looking at Shouto. “It was an accident.”

                “Did he ever apologize?”

                “No.” he sounded resigned, like your friends maiming you was something usual, if a little inconvenient.

                “Then it wasn’t an accident.” they sat in silence. “Was that friend Bakugou?”

                Izuku nodded numbly. “Do you understand why I hated my Quirk? I lost my friend because of it.”

                “He maimed you.”

                “It was an accident!” Midoriya said it a little louder, as if trying to convince himself more than Shouto. The heterochromatic teen realized this was actually the case. The boy had more or less brainwashed himself into this mindset. That actually explained a lot, from the greenette’s little regard for his own safety to his relaxed attitude towards the blond’s abuse.

                The difference between you and me is that I know my relationship is toxic.

                Shouto knew he would have to do something about it. Midoriya had saved him, he would return the favor. But now was not the moment. So, he let the matter die and watched his friend plaster a fake smile on his face, very similar to what his mother did whenever in public and walk away.

                He had been too young, too helpless and he had lost his mother. He wouldn’t lose his friend.

-0-

 

                The next week was hectic. Izuku, Iida, Yaoyorozu had become the unofficial tutors for the rest of the class. Kirishima had somehow convinced Kacchan to tutor him. Not to mention the afterschool training with Aizawa and Todoroki, which left him tired and sweaty, plus his own revising he had to do. Jesus, at this rate it was a toss up between what would get to him first- the villains or the finals.

                Thankfully, both Eri and his mom understood, and Eri was contend to just sit and color while he studied, make him hot cocoa every once in a while and make sure he had the natural amount of sleep necessary.

                Even so, the day of the exams came too fast and not nearly slowly enough, and Izuku didn’t feel any readier than he had a few weeks before. Shinsou was a ball of nerves. Since Kendo from 1B had told them they would have to fight robots, and his friend’s Quirk was all but useless against non-human opponents.

                But, apparently, that wasn’t the case. “You see, fighting robots is not the same as fighting actual, real villains. Some Quirks are much more effective against flesh and blood opponents. Not to mention the fact that there is hardly a strategy to be built against mindless robots you only have to destroy.” the principal got on both feet on Aizawa’s shoulders. “It is critical that our teaching imitates the experience as closely as possible. As such, you will be battling one of the teachers present here!”

                Shit.

                But, if he thought that that was bad, he felt like jumping off a roof top was a more pleasant alternative to pairing up with Kacchan against All Might.

                He looked at the sky. Why me?

                “You’ll have to work together.” All Might said in his usual upbeat manner “So, come at me, you two.”

                From the look the explosive blond gave him, he knew he would prefer to use Izuku as cannon fodder rather than work things out.

                The bus ride to the facility was tense. All Might saw his two students sitting as far away as possible from each other. Bakugou was glaring at the air around him while Midoriya was muttering a very panicked storm. The teacher was convinced he would be having a panic attack, but All Might knew he would do just fine.

                “How about a word game?” he tried.

                Bakugou turned the other way, while Midoriya smiled, though it wasn’t his usual smile. This one was shaky and fearful, like he was on the verge of tears. “This’ll be a disaster.” he whispered, more to himself than to his mentor. All Might turned his attention back to the road, ignoring the sinking feeling in his chest.

-0-

               

                Aizawa was looking at the road when he heard Todoroki speak.

                “Sensei, I think you made a mistake in the pairings.”

                “Todoroki, I’m sure you and Yaoyorozu will be able to think of something to help you pass.”

                “It’s not us.” Aizawa looked through the rear view mirror at his student. Todoroki seemed almost worried. “I was questioning you decision in pairing Midoryia and Bakugou.”

                “I paired them because they get along so poorly. This way, they will be forced to get past their differences and work together in order to win.”

                “With all due respect, sir, I doubt that’s a wise decision. One of them will get hurt. Bakugou is not ready to work with Midoriya.”

                Aizawa sighed. “I have confidence in this plan. Now, stop pestering me. Their exam is none of your concern, so I suggest you mind your own test.”

                Todoroki didn’t look convinced and Aizawa heard him mutter “Let’s hope it works your way” before he and Yaoyorozu started whispering and scribbling plans on a piece of paper she had created, probably not to give him any clues to their plan.

-0-

 

                The facility they arrived at resembled a city, much like the one from the entrance exam. All Might had given them the instructions and a five minute head start to plan but Kacchan simply ignored Izuku and started stomping forwards, forcing the boy to hurry to keep up with him.

                “Kacchan, please, wait for me!”

                “Get lost, loser! I’ll defeat All Might and win this thing, so stay out of my way!”

                “You know you can’t defeat All Might! He’s All Might! Our only chance to win this is to escape. We need to run!”

                The blond glared. “I’ll tell you this once, so you better listen. Take your cowardice and your stupid Quirk and run off. I’ll win this thing and I don’t want you in the way of my victory.”

                Izuku was left a little behind as his classmate stomped harder, but he caught up to him quickly. “You want to fight him? Fine, you suicidal bastard, but at least let’s make a plan. You’re strong, but we would have better chances of success if we worked together. Please, use me, use my Qui…”

                He wasn’t ready for the punch that sent him to the ground. He couldn’t prepare for the kick to the stomach or the foot on his chest that pinned him to the ground. Pain bloomed in his chest as the blond kicked him a few more times, for good measure, before he found himself pinned to the ground by combat boots.

                “Listen here, you nerd.” he kicked him again “I don’t need you, your help or your stupid Quirk! I’d rather lose than use your help or your Quirk. So, stay out of my way and let me win this thing, and I won’t have to turn you into a casualty.” he finished the last statement with a complementary kick to the guts.

                He didn’t wait for the boy to get up before stomping away. But, even if it was rasped and coughed, he still heard the voice of his childhood friend’s whimper.

                “Do you really hate me that much, Kacchan?”

                The blond clenched his fists, but didn’t look back as he walked away. He just left and Izuku saw how his former friend walked away, leaving him panting and hurting on the ground.

 It took him a few more minutes to get up. He was still looking for the blond, even if he was long gone. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, but, he didn’t feel helpless. On the contrary, his chest was burning with fury born of heartbreak and despair. He clenched his fists and he knew that without his gloves he would have drawn blood.

                “Is this how you want to play, Kacchan?” he asked the air. “Is this what you really want?” his tears were forming small dark spots on the ground, but he let them fall, there was no one there to see them anyway. “Fine, have it your way. You’ll live to regret it.”

                He expanded his radius and instantly knew where both blonds were. Determined, he walked through a side alley and disappeared in the shadows.

                Little did he know how much irony would twist his words later.

-0-

 

                It didn’t take long for All Might to find young Bakugou. As expected, the teen attacked him right away. Even with the weights and his time limit, he could keep up, albeit hardly. The explosive blond seemed to be angrier than usual, which was an accomplishment in and of itself.

                On his way here, the No.1 hero couldn’t spot young Midoriya. His fight with Bakugou kept him busy, but he was still keeping an eye out for Izuku. That almost got him blasted once when the boy he was currently fighting decided to blast a grenade in his face. He managed to dodge it, but he couldn’t help but wonder where the other boy was. A surprise attack. That seemed like Midoriya, but it was a little too obvious.

                Bakugou got the jump on him and All Might threw him in wall a bit harder than intended out of force of habit. Ouch. The boy came once again and the teacher punched him in the gut. The blond doubled over as he threw up and All Might planted a foot in his back.

                “Where is your partner, young hero? Shouldn’t he be attacking me, as well?”

                The boy tried to get up, but the man was too strong. “I don’t need his help to win.” the bell signaling the end of the challenge rang. All Might looked around. It couldn’t have been half an hour already. Bakugou howled and trashed, so the man swiftly knocked him unconscious.

                When All Might reached the gates, he found his successor leaning under the ridiculously cheery face of the principal. The teacher wasn’t smiling.

                But he noticed some things that unsettled him. The boy’s face was covered in bruises and coated in blood, most likely from his nose and lips that seemed to be worse for wear. His costume was battered and bruised and his arms were holding his stomach like he was in pain. But what unsettled him the most was the look on the boy’s face. It was absent, devoid of emotion, not looking at him. He didn’t even seem to have noticed his apporach.

                “Young Midoriya.” he said. The boy’s head whipped around and it felt like a dam broke. Simultaneously, anger, sadness, despair and guilt danced on his face. He looked close to tears, but they wouldn’t come, not because he held them back, but because there were no tears left to shed.

                The green eyed boy clenched his teeth before looking at the No.1 hero, an absurd amount of pain in his eyes. “I tried, All Might. I tried.” then, he avoided his eyes and limped to the recovery tent, holding his stomach while the teacher carried his unconscious classmate.

                Neither had known victory could hurt so much.

-0-

 

                Aizawa held his head in his hands, rubbing through his hair. How could he screw up so badly? Never, in his entire career as a teacher had he failed so miserably, so spectacularly. The man wanted to punch himself. He lifted his eyes as his fellow colleague entered. In his skinny form, All Might was usually frail looking, but now he was downright miserable.

                The man looked at him, both of them holding the silence for a few moments, not wanting to address the obvious problem they were both facing.

                “They’re both fine now.” All Might finally said. Fine. Ha, what a word to use for the situation. “Young Bakugou has quite a few bruises, but nothing broken. He’ll be very sore for a few days, but he will be fine in time for the trip.”

                “And Midoriya?” Aizawa didn’t beat around the bush. He knew what the problem was and, as much as he dreaded to face it, he knew he had to in order to fix it. All Might knew it too, but he still fidgeted, not meeting the younger’s eyes.

                “He came in with a few broken ribs and some internal bleeding. Chyo fixed him, but it’s going to be a while before he wakes up.”

                Broken ribs and possibly punctured organs. And the kid never met All Might in the field. Aizawa rubbed his tired eyes, wanting nothing more than to slip into his bag and go to sleep, wake up to this being just a bad dream. “And I had been warned.” All Might looked at him and the man continued. “Before the matches started, Todoroki told me I shouldn’t have put them together. But I thought…” he sighed in despair. “it doesn’t matter.”

                “What… what happened?” Toshinori’s voice was so quiet, not at all like his usual one. He sounded like he was afraid one wrong word would shatter the younger man. Or, who knows, maybe his skeletal form couldn’t stand much more shock.

                Aizawa pulled his laptop and opened the camera feed. On the screen, the two silhouettes of his students were visible. Midoriya was trying to catch on to Bakugou who was clearly ignoring him. The teachers watched how the smaller boy was trying to talk with the blond, at one point pleading. The moment he touched him, Bakugou turned around and punched Midoriya at full speed with his gauntlet.

                To the horror of one teacher and the disappointment of the other, the older boy started kicking his classmate, yelling something not hearable on the feed. He then walked away, leaving the boy in the dust. The camera remained on the boy crying on the ground. The teachers watched as he got up and limped through back alleys, precisely avoiding All Might’s sight when he passed overhead. The only reason it took so long for the boy to reach the gates was because he was limping and wincing in pain all the way.

                “He said that he tried.” All Might said, barely above a whisper. He had a somewhat lost gaze. “On the road, he said it would be a disaster, and I dismissed him. I really thought they could work it out. When I reached the gates, you know what he told me? I tried.”

                I tried to make work with him. I tried to talk to him, I tried to make you proud.

                Aizawa rubbed his temples. “You know what’s the real tragedy here? I could have done better without another team planning. It wouldn’t have affected anything. I could have just switched Midoriya and Todoroki.”

                All Might looked conflicted. “I don’t think that would’ve worked. Midoriya and Todoroki work well together but they wouldn’t have evolved. And I doubt Bakugou and Yaoyorozu would have gotten anywhere.”

                “I meant the other way around. Both Bakugou and Todoroki rely on brute force and strength. Putting them against an opponent they can’t just throw firepower at and hope to win would have forced them to cooperate. Not to mention, some of the animosity between them might have been fixed. Either way, they would have learned to work together or fail.” he looked up “And a few minutes spent with Midoriya would have been enough to built up Yaoyorozu’s confidence. The boy lost the Sports Festival to help Todoroki. He could probably have fit a psychotherapy session sometime during the match. Not to mention, with my Quirk, they would have both been forced to fight Quirkless. Izuku is very good with strategy, and decent at fighting Quirkless. But his analysis is based mainly on Quirks. With mine, he would have been forced to make a plan for two Quirkless people with little combat experienced against someone very good at it.”

                “You couldn’t have known…”

                “But I should have,.” he straightened in his chair. “The irony is that, strategy wise, Midoriya’s was perfect. He was injured and avoided the fight, saving his energy and putting an end to the battle.”

                “We both failed as teachers…”

                “Yes, but I’m going to fix it.”

Chapter Text

The exams had been a few days ago, and he, along with Kacchan had passed. Still Izuku couldn’t stop feeling bad for what he’d done so here he was sitting at his desk trying to ignore the guilt stuck to the insides of his skull like a particularly sticky bit of caramel.

                You left him behind. What if that was a real villain attack? He would’ve died and you would’ve been too hurt to do anything.

                If this was a real villain attack, he left you to die first. He incapacitated you and left you behind. In a real fight, there was nothing you could have done.

                He could imagine the metaphorical angel and demon on his shoulders arguing, two little Izuku’s trying to make sense of each other.

                Kacchan could’ve died. And for what? For your spite?

                His ribs still ached. They’d been healed, but the fatigue had lasted over the weekend.

                Recovery Girl had fixed him, and let him watch the other matches. It had been a good way to get his mind off of things. Seeing most of his friends win their matches had been a very uplifting experience. Todoroki and Yaoyorozu had realized pretty quickly that something bad had happened and thankfully stayed away from the subject. He left before he could meet his other friends and Todoroki accompanied him until his stop, citing the “I’ve got some errands to run in the area” excuse. It was a blatant lie, but Izuku appreciated it and the comfortable silence they sat in the whole ride.

                His parents congratulated him and Eri made him a cake (Mom had made the cake but Eri had put on the frosting). He had smiled and thanked and the girls saw how distressed he was and let him be. He didn’t tell his mom what happened. She wouldn’t see anything wrong with it, mostly because she had stopped liking Kacchan a long time ago and was very keen on his self-preservation instincts. But she would tell dad. And Izuku couldn’t stand how downright proud the man would be. Not right now.

                So, he spent those two days sitting in bed, ignoring his phone calls, messages (some of which were most likely vivid descriptions of his death from a certain blond) and watching anime. Occasionally, Eri would bring his food and they would both sit in bed and watch stupid cartoons or documentaries.

                Now he was in class, trying to relate to his classmates’ drama, though he only felt like shuffling out of class and breaking into Aizawa’s office. The man had to have another sleeping bag, or at least some blankets and the couch was comfy enough to swallow his problems. However the reason for his guilt threw the door open and forcefully stomped into  class proving that fate had other ideas.

                They stared at each other for a few tense seconds, neither saying anything, neither backing down. Then, out of nowhere, the blond threw his school bag at him (with terrifying accuracy) and yelled “DIE!!!!!!”

                Izuku dodged, getting out of his seat and taking a fighting stance. The blond aimed a swing with his right (you never learn Kacchan ), but Iuzku dodged and kicked him in the guts, sending him a few feet back.

                All thoughts of guilt and regret vanished in a moment. The shorter teen stared the blond down, where once was fear, now was anger. Katsuki didn’t wait for long before throwing another punch “I told you to fucking stay down! I told you to stay out of my way, but you just had to go on your own!”

                Izuku dodged another kick and punched him in the nose. The boy staggered “The world doesn’t spin around you, Kacchan! I wanted to win too, and I wasn’t going to lose just because your god complex makes you too stubborn to see basic common sense!” he yelled as he aimed a kick at the boy’s knee.

                The blond howled and threw himself at the teen. They both crashed to the floor and Katsuki threw an explosion enhanced punch at the boy. Izuku dodged and was unharmed. The floor, however, couldn’t get off the hook that easily. Jabbing him hard in the ribs, Izuku rolled over his classmate and punched him...

                Or, at least, he tried to. Before he could move an inch, strong arms wrapped themselves around his middle and took him off the blond. As soon as he was up, more pairs joined and, in no time, he was too restrained to move. Kacchan was receiving a similar treatment.

                “Let me go!” the blond yelled “Let me have at him!” he trashed and jerked around, but to no avail.

                “Break it up, you two!” Shinsou got between them. But they hadn’t responded to him, so they he couldn’t control them.

                “You should be happy, Kacchan!” Izuku yelled, completely ignoring his friend in the middle. The blond stopped trashing for a second to glare at the grenette. “You said you’d rather lose than work with me. I won while you didn’t nothing, so, congratu-fucking-lations, you refused my help and lost the chance to be the best!” he knew what he was going to say was cruel, but at this point, he no longer cared. “You’ll never rise above your level at the Sports Festival. You’ll never be the best.” he glared and, for a few seconds, he saw the boy falter.”You’ll never win. Give up before you embarrass yourself even more.”

                A pin could’ve dropped on the other side of Japan and they would have heard it. His classmate were staring at him in confusion and fear, eyes switching from one raging teen to the other, not sure what to do.

                “What the hell is happening here?!”

                They all turned towards their homeroom teacher as Aizawa entered the classroom. He was taking in the sight before him, stoic mask close to cracking, anger glimmering from beneath it.

                “Nothing, Sensei” Shinsou said.

                “Shut up you fucki-”

                “Go to your seat.” the purple haired teen said Katsuki’s eyes glazed over and he walked to his seat. Izuku was released (Kirishima and Shoji had been the ones restraining him) and brushed his clothes angrily. He glared at the sleep deprived teen, who returned an unimpressed stare.”You too.” but he didn’t control him. He gave Izuku the chance to walk on his own feet. Shinsou sat in Izuku’s seat, effectively creating a shield between him and Bakugou.

                “Fear the wrath of those prone to peace.” he heard Kaminari whisper.

                Aizawa eyed them with his teeth clenched, before turning back towards the class. The air was so tense you could probably hack through it with a saw and the boy didn’t miss how his colleagues kept throwing him sidelong glances. That outburst had been out of character for him and way more violent than usual for Bakugou.

                Great, you punched him where it hurt and now they think you’re evil.

                But the atmosphere slowly eased as their teacher revealed once again that he was a complete sadist who enjoyed toying with the teenager’s emotions. They would all be going to the training camp, but those who had failed would be having more lessons. By the smile on Aizawa’s face, Izuku knew it would be worse than hell and he couldn’t help feeling bad for his classmates.

                Lunch break rolled around and his classmates got up to leave for the cafeteria. Izuku remained seated. He didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t hungry and he doubted he would be welcomed to a table. Even if he was, he couldn’t stand the looks they would throw his way.

                A tall person shadowed his desk. He looked up to see Todoroki staring down at him. Here it comes...

                “Are you coming?”

                “What?”

                “To lunch. If we wait any longer the cafeteria will be crowded.”

                Izuku felt a smile, a weak one but a smile nonetheless. Todoroki, you saint! He nodded and got up. Shinsou followed without a word.

                As they were going to leave the classroom, Aizawa’s voice rang through the air, cold and unforgiving. “Midoriya. Stay, we need to discuss.” Todoroki, Shinsou and Uraraka (who had magically appeared at one point) stopped and waited. Aizawa eyed them with a pointed glare. “The rest of you are dismissed.”

                The kids turned to leave, Uraraka looking worried, Todoroki pokerfaced and Shinsou only said “Come outside after this.” before dragging the other two out.

                Izuku found himself alone with his homeroom teacher in the empty classroom. He stood there frozen, not knowing what to do. Liquid dread ran frigid through his veins under the leveled gaze of the Erasing Hero. “Midoriya, take a sit.”

                Izuku pulled himself a chair and settled before his teacher.

                Aizawa opened his mouth, but the kid beat him to it “I understand if you want to fail me.”

                The man blinked “What?”

                The boy looked down “I acted cowardly and left my teammate alone, against an opponent far above him in terms of strength and experience. I ignored the objective of the mission in favor of achieving my own goals and of a personal grudge. I perfectly understand if you want to fail me.”

                Aizawa sighed and rubbed his temples. It’s going to be one of those discussions, isn’t it? “Kid, remind me again, what was the objective you said you ignored?”

                “We had to either defeat the villain or escape together.”

                “No, together was the best case scenario, but at least one of you had to escape. That one was you.”

                “Yes, but I left him behind!” he looked down, all fire from earlier gone. Replaced by fear and panic “I left him in the hands of a villain. Even if it was just All Might, I-I could have- should have helped him!” he looked on the verge of tears “I let my emotions get in the way. I could’ve tried harder to make him see reason. I could’ve...”

                “Midoriya!” the boy stopped and looked at his teacher. Aizawa was pinning him down with an unearthly glare. That look demanded respect and silence and the boy briefly wondered if his Quirk had the power to stop his heart “Please do tell me, I’d be very interested to hear how you could have helped him? How exactly were you going to fight All Might when you were minutes away from collapsing?” the boy remained silent. “You had a pretty decent strategy. You knew All Might would expect you to come and attack. You knew Bakugou would keep him busy. You played with their expectations and chose the easiest and most effective way out with the state you were in at the moment.”

                Midoriya seemed confused.”I literally just walked out the gate.”

                “The best solutions don’t always have to be complicated.” Aizawa said.”I saw the footage. You knew where All Might was and specifically avoided him. That wasn’t just blind luck, you knew what you were doing.”

                The boy still didn’t look convinced.”But I left Kacchan behind.” he said, barely above a whisper.

                Aizawa sighed.”Midoriya, please tell me, what happened when you passed through the gate?”

                “The bell rang?”

                “And?”

                “The exam ended?”

                “The fight stopped. Let’s say this was a real fight. You had two options: either help Bakugou in your injured state and get both of you killed, or run away and call for backup? Which one seems like the better choice.” the boy didn’t respond, only looked at him with huge, pained eyes “As heroes, we are forced to take difficult choices for the greater good. Choose to not save a civilian to save many more. Let the villain get away in order to rescue a hostage” black stared into green. “Leave a colleague behind and bring back backup.” he remained silent for a moment.”Self-sacrifice is good only when there’s something to save. Running away is not cowardly if it’s the right choice, the same way staying and fighting isn’t bravery if you can save yourself without endangering the others.”

                The boy stayed silent, musing over the words of his teacher “Bakugou was the one to leave you behind. Bakugou was the one who compromised the mission because of a grudge. You saved it, even if your reasoning may have been selfish. Do you understand?”

                Midoriya nodded. ”Good. I won’t fail either of you, though I will have a similar discussion with him. If you ever have a problem, please, don’t hesitate to come to me. It’s my job to make sure you’re all right, and that includes your mental state.”

                The boy looked at him for a few seconds before he sniffled softly. He tried to keep it in, but his eyes became wet and tears started rolling down his checks.

                “What’s wrong?!” Aizawa asked, trying not to sound panicked.

                “Nothing” the boy sniffled.”You’re just the first teacher to ever say that to me.”

                Aizawa didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing. He pulled a package of napkins and handed them to the boy, who took them gratefully “Go wash yourself and eat something. I don’t want Recovery Girl on my case because you passed out in class from lack of sugar, got it problem child?”

                Izuku nodded and smiled brightly, a sad, broken smile, but smile nonetheless and walked out of the class, leaving his teacher confused as to what to do next.

-0-

 

                Aizawa had realized, pretty soon in his career as a teacher, that he hated grading papers. They were boring, useless, and he could grasp a student’s intelligence better from a five minute talk than a one thousand word essay about the environment. But Nedzu insisted he graded kids on something that could be actually verified. But, he had to admit, some were actually worth it.

                He was preparing to make their average and he had given his students from both classes of heroics the same assignment of assessing a hero and having the media and public data as sources. That had been the test he had given the Management on the first week.

                And while most were pretty objective (Yaoyorozu) while others dived into the territory of hardcore fanboying (Kirishima), there was something deeply satisfying in reading Midoriya’s academic and step-by-step roasting of Endeavor.

                Someone knocked on the door to his office, a little more forcefully than necessary. Glad to have a distraction from the self-implied assignment, he called “Enter”

                The door opened and the subject of his next discussion stepped in. “I want to retake the exam.” Bakugou said.

                Aizawa sighed, looking longingly at the paperwork. “Sit” he gestured towards the couch. The boy closed the door. He didn’t bang it, so he was most likely willing to act civil, at least in the first part of the conversation. He sat on the couch and let out a small, almost inaudible yelp when he sunk into it. That couch had two different purposes.

                One was obvious, his office was the place he went to relax, to sleep, to escape his overly excited friend when he didn’t have the energy to deal with everyone’s bullshit. The other had more strategic purposes: the couch was very comfy. People tended to relax, even instinctively when they sat in it. That made them let their guard down, to feel like they found a safe place and let their tongue a little looser. The hard chairs near his desk were for the interrogations.

                Right now, the boy was a packet of nerves and while Aizawa knew the couch wouldn’t affect him that much, the chairs would make him more unstable.

                “I want to retake the exam.” the boy repeated.

                “I heard you the first time” the teacher said. “And my answer is no. You passed. I didn’t give your colleagues who failed the luxury to retake it, I have no reason to do so to you.”

                The boy sat up.”But I passed on a technicality, and you know that! I have to retake it, without that stupid screw up to be in my way!”

                The couch wasn’t working, not that Aizawa had really expected it to. He gestured to the chair, one of the less stiff ones, but stiff nonetheless. The boy pulled in front of the desk and waited for the teacher to make the first move.

                Aizawa wanted to wait at least a day before confronting the boy, to let him sleep over the problem and how his words had affected his usually tame classmate. But the boy took the fight to him and Aizawa wasn’t willing to have any casualties.

                “You won the fight. You passed the test and you got to fight All Might. Even when disappointed, he admitted that you were very good in your combat and, save for a few glaring mistakes, you could have actually won. That having been said, I’m not going to let you retake the test.”

                The boy clenched his fists instead of banging them on the desk. He got up and turned to leave. “We aren’t finished.” Aizawa said, cold and calculating. Bakugou was smart enough to recognize and order that couldn’t be contested.”Sit” this time, it was a command.

                The boy shuffled to his seat and threw metaphorical nukes from his eyes. Aizawa didn’t even flinch.

                “Bakugou, why do you want to be a hero?”

                That seemed to take the teen by surprise, as he wasn’t expecting such a question.”What?”

                “Why do you want to become a hero? Why do you study here? What do you hope to accomplish?”

                “What kind of question is that? I want to win! I want to be the best! I want to be the number one hero and surpass All Might!”

                “Uh-huh” Aizawa said, clearly unimpressed. ”Tell me, Bakugou, why do heroes win?”

                “Ummm...” he seemed thunderstruck, like there being a reason for wanting to win was the most foreign thing to ever cross his mind.

                “We win, the same way we fight and we rescue, to save others. Our purpose in society is to protect people, no matter how weak or incapable to fight they are. That’s the reason we do it, to help those who cannot help themselves, and even if they can, to help them shoulder the burden. Now tell me, Bakugou, when was the last time you saved someone?”

                The boy was at loss of words, not knowing what to say or do. But Aizawa was merciless “Do you have any idea what you did to your classmate?”

                The boy clenched his teeth.”I told that stupid loser to stay out of my way! He went off alone and ruined it!”

                “The assignment was specifically crafted to force you to work together. And, at first, Midoriya tried. But you didn’t listen.”

                “I didn’t need his help!”

                “But he may have needed yours!” Aizawa shouted. Bakugou froze. “Realistically, what do you think you did to him?” the boy opened his mouth, but nothing came out.” Three broken ribs. Not bruised, not cracked, broken. They almost pierced his internal organs and he was a few steps away from spitting blood. He barely had the strength to walk towards the gate. You only had a few bruises and scrapes. He got worse wounds than you, who were fighting All Might. He came out in critical state out of a fight where he never even met the villain. If it weren’t for Recovery Girl, he would now be in hospital and stay there for many weeks.”

                The boy remained silent. Aizawa wasn’t done “Do you know what would have happened if this was a real scenario? You’d have left your partner wounded and unable to defend himself at the mercy of a villain. If this was a real case, it’s likely he wouldn’t have survived. You ignored the mission and almost compromised it because of a grudge. Your colleague, however, completed the mission while you were fighting. And, when he did what he was supposed to, you got mad and wanted to maim him for surviving.”

                Bakugou was silent. He wasn’t looking at his teacher. His fists were clenched in his lap, his lips glued shut “If this was real, would you be able to stand it?”

                The boy’s head whipped upwards.”What?”

                “If this was a real situation with the worst case scenario, would you be able to stand it?” Aizawa stared for a moment, but the boy said nothing. “You didn’t have to attend a colleague’s funeral and I don’t wish that experience upon anyone. It’s horrible, sad and it can scar you in ways not able to fix. But, would you be able to stand it? Would you be able to drag your partner’s corpse out of a war zone?” as he spoke, the boy’s eyes widened, realization lighting deep within “Would you be able to stand near their casket while his friends and family mourn and cry, knowing that it was your fault? Knowing the reason they are no longer there is because of your pride?”

                Bakugou was watching him with big, terrified eyes. Aizawa had never had to tell any of his previous students this. He knew it was a heavy burden to place on someone, that it was cruel and traumatizing to picture, but the boy needed to understand the consequences of his actions before they were too broken to be repaired.

                Aizawa gave the boy a few moments to think, a few moments to ponder. A few moments to compose himself for what was to come.

                “What you need to understand is that every person has a breaking point. Especially the quiet ones. You let your rage drive you, you’re loud, you express yourself. Midoriya keeps it under check, but it’s there nonetheless and, by the outburst I witnessed today, I think you guessed that there is a lot of it. Your classmate hasn’t quite reached his breaking point, but that is a moment a person it’s at their lowest. That is the turning point that decides whether a person will rebound and get up, or if they will give up. I’ve seen angels fall. It’s painful, tragic even. Midoriya is very close to falling and, so far, you didn’t give him any reason to get up.”

                “You have potential. You have talent, you have drive. One day, you may become a great hero. But that day is very far away. You can’t keep treating people like pebbles, like stepping stones. Why? Because one day you will need help. One day, you’ll need someone to carry your injured and unconscious self to safety. You’ll need someone to push you out of a bullet’s path. Keep antagonizing your classmates, your future allies, keep treating people like dirt and, when that day comes, you’ll find yourself alone.”

                “What are you saying? That I’m not fit to be a hero? That I can’t be a hero?!” he was angry, but it was anger born from pain and doubt. It was the fear of someone who had been thinking about this and needed the confirmation it wasn’t too late.

                “Right now? No. If you change, one day you might be. The only reason I haven’t expelled you yet is because you can change, you can become better. And, because, I still hope there’s some shred of kindness in you that wants to help. To save. I don’t see it and, right now that means you cannot be a hero.”

                “I will...”

                “No, you want to. And wanting something just isn’t enough. Having an awesome Quirk isn’t enough. Speaking of your Quirk, when was the last time you used it to save someone? When was the last time you used it for someone’s benefit other than your own?”

                If glares could kill, Aizawa would be bleeding on the floor.

                “I don’t blame you. From both your account and Midoriya, I get that your teachers don’t have basic human decency, let alone common sense. But I’m not them. I won’t give you what you want just because you stomp your foot hard enough. I actually care about my students. So, for the stunt you pulled today, you’ll be suspended and do work for school the next week. This is a warning: lift one finger against Midoriya or any other student again and I’ll expel you.”

                Silence sat between them. Bakugou was a few seconds from bursting, the pressure too high for him to manage. He sat up.”May I be excused?” he more or less spit the words as he got up and headed for the exit.

                “One more thing, Bakugou.” the boy stopped, but didn’t turn around.”If being a villain gave you a higher status than being a hero, which path would you chose?”

                The boy only turned his head, but didn’t meet his teacher’s eyes.”What? what does this have to do with anything?”

                “Humor me. If being a villain meant being the best, If stepping and maiming the innocent helped you pursue your goals and killing everyone who looked at you sideways would make you look cool, would you still be a hero?”

                The boy forcefully shut the door as he left.

Chapter Text

The day ended quicker than expected and Izuku managed to lift his mood before the last bell, while his colleagues kindly pretended his earlier outburst never happened. He could still feel the wary looks they gave him, but they never said a thing. Bakugou had mysteriously vanished during lunch and Kirishima, as his usual cheerful self, joined them at their table, though he seemed slightly self conscious. That part might have been the not-so-subtle glares coming from the two new additions to his group.

                At the end of the day, right before everyone headed out, Hagakure came up with the brilliant idea for all of them to go to the mall as a class. Katsuki left before anyone had the chance to invite him, though he doubted anyone but Kirishima would have intended to. Izuku didn’t know if he was invited after that morning, but the way the red haired spiked ball of excitement slung his arm around his shoulders as they talked the meeting place, he took it as a given.

                So, that’s how class 1A, minus two fire users, found themselves at the Kayashi mall with vendors calling from left and right just to get their attention and money that came with it.

                “Stores need to do more than cater to body types that differ by Quirk. They have to be prepared for different tastes and....”

                “Midoriya, stop, you’re scaring the children” Tokoyami said and the others giggled.

                “You’re the UA students, aren’t you? Great job at the Sports Festival!” someone yelled.

                “I can’t believe they still remember that” Uraraka said nervously.

Izuku’s gaze was drawn by some guys wearing Stain’s merchandise and were giving him the thumb’s up “You rock!” Izuku smiled nervously before ducking between Kirishima and Shinsou, the latter just grinning at the boy’s discomfort. Izuku poked him in the ribs.

                All of them had different objects to get, so they decided to split up. Izuku found himself alone with Uraraka, the purple haired Einstein vanishing too fast for the boy to notice. The traitor.

                “How about you, Uraraka? I’m looking for some wrist weights...”

                “I’m looking for some bug spray...” her face froze in an eerie smile before she darted away “Bug spray!”

                “Am I the bug?” Izuku asked the thin air, as he had been abandoned by his classmates. He looked left and right, not knowing what to do.

                Well, first order of business was to find a way to the sports section. Kirishima wanted some hiking shoes, so maybe I’ll meet him there. Izuku was wondering where to find a map when a thought occurred to him: could I use my Quirk in such a big crowd? Thinking of that excited him. If he could use his internal tracking system to identify colleagues or villains in a large crowd of people, it would be very useful in rescue missions and recon. A giddy smile spread across his lips at the thought and he closed his eyes and reached out.

                It was overwhelming; so many people, so many threads in constant movement, swirling and zigzagging at different speeds, all around him. The buzz had always been there, but now that he was actively focusing on it, he felt a little bit ill. His feet wobbled and he opened his eyes, tuning down his Quirk. Now that he had acknowledged the threads, they wouldn’t leave him alone, still lingering in his rearview.

                Izuku took a few deep breaths. Slow and steady. Don’t let it overwhelm you. He tried again.  The wave hit again, and the fact that he was expecting it only decreased the shock by a little. He tried a little longer this time, managing to pin point a few of his classmates before needing to stop. He felt nauseous. Focus.

                He tried a few more times and almost threw up after focusing for way too long. What am I doing wrong?

                Maybe you shouldn’t focus.

                The thought hit him. If focusing made him sick, what if he did the opposite? He took a few minutes to regain his breath and clear his mind before he tried again. This time, he let his inner gaze lazily wonder over the crowd. He breathed slowly as he went in his Quirk’s equivalent of blurring the image on a camera. And, take by take, one by one, a few dots of familiar energy popped out in the mass of moving bodies.

                Ok, spotted. Now what?

                He inhaled deeply a few more times and found two spots from earlier. Jirou and Yaomomo. He smiled and tried again. Little by little, he found every one of his friends. The Bakusquad (minus their leader) was on the third floor. Uraraka was somewhere on the second floor. Shinsou and Tokoyami were floating down on what Izuku thought must be some stairs.

                But something was wrong. Very, very wrong. Through the mass of people, he found someone familiar that wasn’t his friend. The cold thread approached him and he realized what happened too late, when four cold fingers wrapped around his neck.

                “You’re the kid who got wrecked at the Sports Festival, aren’t you?”Shigaraki said. ”And you defeated the Hero Killer” his voice was rough and raspy, yet held so much malice and contempt that it terrified the teen. He gulped “Must be nice to have all that fame, all that attention. Man, I can’t believe it though. For us to meet again, in a place like this...” he leaned and whispered in his ear, hot breath sending shivers down his spine. “So many people, so many more potential victims than at the USJ.” he giggled and Izuku felt his long, greasy hair tickle his collarbone “Really now, it must be fate.”

                “Shigaraki” the boy whispered.

                “Now, now, calm down. No making a scene. We’re just pals, ok. Calm down, breathe. No one has to die. I just want to talk, that’s all, so don’t try anything funny.”

                I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die...

                “What do you want to talk about?”

                “Smart move” he could feel the smile in the man’s voice “Let’s sit down for this one,”

                They walked towards a bench and sat down. Shigaraki’s hand was heavy over his shoulder. His heart was thrumming in his chest and he was sure the villain could feel it, by how hard he was pressing his jugular “I’d be so easy.” he said. “I put all five fingers on your neck and in less than a minute you’ll be nothing but dust.”

                “You can’t do this. In a crowd like this, heroes will be after you in a second. They’ll catch you”

                “No doubt. But look at them” he gestured towards the crowd, pulling him closer.”It’s not hard to imagine someone might commit an atrocity at any given moment. So why do they smile and mingle like this? Because the laws and rules are built on their individual morality; they’ve concluded that no one would ever do that. In the time it would take for them to catch me I could take out twenty, no, thirty of them.” he seemed content for a second, almost peaceful “Oh, and no funny business with that copy Quirk of yours.”

                Despite the hand, Izuku’d head whipped in the man’s direction. “How do you know...”

                The silver haired villain smirked “It’s not that hard to figure out once you look close enough. That boy’s Quirk stopped after you touched him and your uniform was singed once they dragged you out. The same thing happened at the USJ. You stole my Quirk and killed my Noumu. Dick move, by the way. So, the moment you think of doing anything weird, just remember” he leaned closer, breath hot on his ear and Izuku could see the shape of a switchblade hidden in his sleeve “I don’t need my Quirk to hurt you.”

                It was true. By the way the villain was strangling him, a quick jab and it would be over. Izuku gulped and trailed his tongue over his dry lips. Stall. “What do you want?”

                “To talk, I already said that. I pretty much hate everyone and anything. I’m not sure if I hate you, though. But what irks me at the moment is the Hero Killer.”

                “Wasn’t he working with you?” stall, stall, stall, shit, what do I do?

                “I never really agreed to it, though society seems very content to think so. And that’s the problem. Everyone’s got their eyes on that damned Hero Killer. Our attack on UA, on Hosu...they’ve just fallen in the background. No one’s noticing me...why?” he looked wistfully in the distance. “He can grandstand all he wants, but, in the end, he’s just destroying what he doesn’t like. What makes us so different, Midoriya?”

                He’s expecting me to respond. Words, please, don’t fail me now. Tell him what he wants to hear

“I think it’s the way people perceive you that makes the difference.”

                “What do you mean?” he leaned closer, voice laced with curiosity.

                “He kills people, yes, but why does he do that? He has a reason, an ideal. Something people can see and latch onto. You, at least from the way media portrays you, don’t”

                “But I do have a reason!” he said, getting mad.”I want to destroy things I don’t like.”

                “But why would people care about it?” shit, my mouth talked before me.

                The man cocked his head.”What do you mean?”

                Izuku sighed and licked his lips. Guards, where are you? “Think about it: Stain wanted to kill people who weren’t worthy, in his opinion. Theoretically at least he wanted to make a better society. People can relate to that, can talk about it, can care and even agree with that. The way the media portrays you so far, you only want to kill people and are especially focused on All Might.”

                “I don’t see your point. We’re still killing people.”

                “Yes, but take that away, and Stain has both a reason and some kind of charisma. He has an ideology. Take away your desire to kill people and there’s not much left for people to care about.” Shit, what the fuck am I doing?

                “I kind of understand where you’re going, but you’re still not making much sense.”

                “Shigaraki, how do your murders affect people?”

                The man looked at him like he was an idiot, which he probably was by the way it was phrased “They die.”

                “Yes, they do. But, let’s spare a second to imagine what would happen if Stain had achieved his goal” he looked at the man, who seemed interested, so he continued “If we were to take his word, society will only be constructed people who want to be heroes because of selfless reasons. You know how most heroes are these days: they do it for fame or money. The reason they love All Might is because he really is selfless and cares about his people, so, naturally, they feel more attracted to him than someone like, let’s say, Endeavor, who would step on corpses to achieve his goals.” Shit, what the fuck am I doing?

                “So, what you’re saying is that people care more about his cause than mine” he seemed thoughtful. Izuku nodded. ”But the end result is the same.”

                “Not really.”

                Shigaraki was no longer murderous, but curiously interested; the same way Izuku was when he got to discuss Quirks with someone. Izuku stopped before he could draw more parallels. “Why is that?”

                “Because his actions affect them.” silence and intense staring “Why do people like heroes? Because heroes protect them. They keep people safe. It affects them in a direct and positive manner. In Stain’s world, heroes would be better so, naturally, people would be more protected.”

                Izuku looked down, only now remembering the fingers on his neck. Breathe, help is coming he lied to himself “People are selfish. They rarely do anything if it doesn’t benefit them or someone they care about. That said, your cause doesn’t benefit anyone but you.”

                Realization seemed to dawn on the man “So, what you’re saying is that as long as they don’t get anything out of it, they don’t care. It’s like a trade: if I want people to notice me, I need to do something that affects them personally.” a wide grin spread along his lips “Thank you, Midoriya, you helped me unlock an important clue. You set me on the right path. I’m so glad we got to have this chat.”

                Izuku felt the fingers tighten around his neck and tried to breathe “Hey, no squirming. Do you want to die? Or maybe, you want other people to die. Pretty ironic, don’t you think? We’re polar opposites, but I’ll use his ideals and convictions as a stepping stone.”

                It was getting harder and harder to breathe. Izuku tried to stay calm.

                “Mido-kun?”

                Uraraka was worriedly looking at him, Kirishima wasn’t far behind her “It’s fine, don’t worry!” he said quickly.

                “Oh, I didn’t realize you were here with someone? My bad.” the man took his hand of his shoulder and stretched. A hint of malice slipped into his next words “I’ve decided Midoriya. I like you. You’re a very interesting item. Now, I’m off. You know what happens if you follow me…”

                “Wait!” the man stopped “All for one. What’s he after?”

                The man giggled and threw him one last look. “Wouldn’t you love to know?” he said before disappearing in the crowd.

                Izuku panted as his friends checked for wounds. He saw Uraraka pull out her phone and dial a number. He was scared. His heart was pumping too much blood and his head was spinning. As the adrenaline still worked full force and Kirishima tried to talk to him, all Izuku could do was latch on to his friend and break down in tears.

-0-

 

                Izuku sat on one of those uncomfortable chairs in the interrogation room, explaining everything as best as he could to Tsukakuchi. He had calmed down enough after a few minutes, so none of his other classmates had to see his nervous breakdown. Kirishima just held him until he had calmed down and Uraraka had petted his head soothingly until the cops came.

                He had waved his friends goodbye as he entered the police car, thankfully taking the shotgun. He wouldn’t know what he would’ve done if he had to be taken to the police station like a criminal. He had retold the nice detective the story, trying to remember as much as he could.

                “He said he liked you?”

                Izuku’s head shot up.”I didn’t mean to make a good impression. I just...” he looked down “Panicked.”

                “Like at the USJ?” his words might have been accusatory, but his tone was kind. Izuku trusted him enough to know he was genuinely curious. He nodded.

                “I-I told him what he wanted to hear. He seemed to want answers. I stalled him as much as I could. I’m sorry if I gave him any ideas.”

                Tsukakuchi petted his hand “Don’t worry, kid, it wasn’t your fault. At least we found out they aren’t really in league with Stain. Judging by what he said I think it’s safe to assume he is still after All Might. You did good.”

                Izuku looked down. “I just wish I could’ve done something else, ended it right there...”

                “He threatened you and other civilians. Most people in your situation would’ve gotten scared and started panicking” he said as he got up and gestured to the kid to do the same “It’s thanks to your cool head that nobody got hurt.”

                “I did panic” Izuku mumbled and the detective ruffled his hair.

                “Young Izuku! Tsukakuchi!” a familliar voice said. Izuku turned towards the emancipated man coming close to him.

                “All Might! Why are you...?” he didn’t get to finish, for he was enveloped into a bone crushing hug that left him speechless.

                Shyly, he wrapped his arms around the taller frame and closed his eyes. The two identical threads danced in sync, following the same song unheard to humans. All Might’s thread, older and smaller circled the teen, reaching towards the younger thread protectively. Izuku let himself be cradled by the taller man and his caring thread.

                “He wanted to see you in person.”

                “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to save you.” Toshinori said.

                “No...” Izuku started before he remembered the man’s words. “Was there…?” he stopped, not sure if he should continue.

                “What, my boy?”

                “Was there ever a time you couldn’t save someone?”

                All Might’s breath hitched.”Yes, plenty of times.” he stopped and stood for a second, seeming to remember things too far away. “Somewhere on the planet, right now, there might be someone dying, someone suffering, and I can’t do a thing. I’m only human.” he looked at the sky.”But that’s why I have to smile. I’m the Symbol of Peace. The heroes, the villains, the civilians... they all need to know that. They all need to see my Light and know that I am here...”

                “Is what Shigaraki said still bothering you? He’s probably just a sore loser. Every time he attacked, there wasn’t any person that couldn’t be saved.” Tsukakuchi said. “It’s getting late. Here’s your family”

                Izuku turned around and found himself buried in his mother’s tight embrace.”Mom?!”

                “Enough already!” She said through the tears.”My poor heart can’t take it anymore.”

                “Mom, mom, I’m fine, I’m fine, nobody got hurt.” he tried before a projectile of smaller proportions launched herself onto his waist.

                “Izu-nii!” Eri cried. ”Are you Ok? Are you hurt? They said you’re gonna leave me, please don’t leave me!” she wailed.

                Izuku fell to his knees and cradled the girl to his chest.”I’m not gonna leave you, I’m never gonna leave you.” he broke the hug and looked her in the eye. The skin around them was pink and her cheeks were stained with tears.”Look at me, look at me” she did “I’m never gonna leave you, ok? I’m here and I’m never gonna leave you. Do you believe me?”

                She sniffled but nodded “Promise?”

                “Promise.”

                “Pinky promise?” she held out her little finger and he wrapped his bigger one around it.

                “Pinky promise.”

                She sniffled once more and buried her head in his neck, in what could be considered strangulation rather than a hug. He petted her back until she calmed down. He then caught her waist and lifted her up.

                “I’ll take you home” All Might said. Eri turned around and looked at the skeleton.

                “Eri, do you remember mister Yagi?” Inko said. Eri lifted her small hand and waved before keeping it steady. The man seemed lost for a second before he petted it with his much bigger one in a very awkward high-five. The little girl’s lips twitched before she returned to bury her head in her big brother’s neck. They walked towards the car and Izuku spent his ride home staring out the window with the discussion of the two adults in the front a very calming background noise.

-0-

                Aizawa was positively done with this bullshit. He had already decided that this was the thing that would end him. Not ruthless villains with huge body counts. Not disasters or natural causes, not even diseases. No, the ultimate thing that would be his end, the reason his grave would have a plate with a too early date and some cheesy quote about heroism will be his homeroom class and the No.1 problem child in it under the name of Izuku Midoriya.

                He didn’t care what official papers said or what he had proven so far. The kid’s Quirk wasn’t super strength or stealing other Quirks. No, the kids Quirk was something more, invisible, something no one really bothered to check. Aizawa was sure the boy’s Quirk was being a villain magnet.

                And he was now determined to send the kid to therapy.

                He had planned to try something like this from the moment he had talked with the boy. The way he switched from anger to sadness, to almost despair was concerning and Aizawa didn’t have the necessary expertise to say whether or not the boy was mentally ill. He had to talk to Nedzu about getting a better school councilor, because the teacher was this close to snapping.

                Out of all his students, the boy was the one with the most stress thrown upon him. He was captured at the USJ, he had fought Stain and now this. It was normal for a hero to be put under a huge amount of stress, but after they graduated. At this pace, Aizawa wasn’t even sure his student will get to that.

                The boy was cracking. The man had seen it in fellow heroes, how the trauma had affected them after years of service. Midoriya was not quite there, but his emotional state was a mess. He needed guidance. And Aizawa was going to fight the principal before he lost a student to stress.

                Right now, the kids were chattering. Aizawa sat in front of the class and pulled out some papers.”So, given what happened” he said holding the papers in front of them “We’re on the lookout for villains. And we’ve had to cancel our usual accommodations at the last minute.” he ripped the papers. “We won’t reveal our actual destination until the day of our departure.”

                “Oh, and I had told my parents...”

                “That’s the point. The school can’t control who gets the information, so they keep it secret from everyone.”

                “Exactly..” he started.

                “You” Bakugou said “Broken bones or not, you should’ve killed him.”

                “Come on now, Bakugou, didn’t you hear how it was for Midoriya? Plus, using Quirks in a public place is illegal!” Hagakure said, but Bakugou didn’t seem to hear her. He was frozen over something Midoriya had whispered in his ear. The blond was all but paralyzed, different emotions battling on his visage while the greenette was leaning back in his chair, a grim yet somewhat satisfied expression on his face. Aizawa would have to see to that too. There was something very unsettling about the younger boy when he let go of his emotions.

                Which reminded him.

                “Midoriya!” he called. All heads turned towards him. “Come here.”

                The boy got up and walked towards the desk, a somewhat worried expression on his face. Good.

                “Sensei?” he played nervously with his hands. Aizawa had to fight a smirk. He pulled a small, black device out of his pocket and handed it to the boy. The device had a little chain dangling from the end.

                “Take this and keep it with you at all times.”

                “What’s this?”

                “A homing beacon.” the boy looked at him questioning. “Since you seem to take a special delight in giving me more paperwork and running in with villains with too high body counts, I decided to give you this. Whenever you run in with a villain, press the button and a message will be sent to me, All Might and another bunch of heroes nearby.” the button was protected by a plastic lid, so it couldn’t be activated by mistake. Midoriya was battling a tomato for the color while small giggles came from the class.

                “Is this really necessary?”

                “You either take it, or you’re grounded here until we come back from the camp, got it, problem child?”

                The boy looked down and nodded, letting a small “Yes, Sensei” out before returning to his seat. Laughter came from around the classroom and the boy literally pouted when he sat down. He could hear Shinsou pat the boy on the back and whispering “Are you ok, problem child?” to which said problem child stuck his tongue out, causing even more laughter. Aizawa allowed himself to smile.

                The next few days passed quickly and the tired teacher found himself next to Vlad King and their classes in front of two busses.

                “Everyone got everything?” he asked. A bunch of ‘yes’s’ came from the crowd. “Midoriya?”

                “Yeah, yeah, I’ve got it!” he said before class 1B got the chance to find out about his predicament. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop class 1A from giggling. The kids got on the busses and Aizawa had to spend the next hour with twenty erratic children going to a camp. But he let it slide and gave them time to have fun before the training.

                He put up with his over enthusiastic colleagues and honestly horrifying introduction that was more than unnecessary before they threw his students into the forest. Their faces while they fell were priceless.

                Yes, sometimes he really loved being a teacher.

Chapter Text

 

                The trek through the woods did not take three hours. It took nearly thrice that long. After a whole day in the woods, the kids of class 1A were dirty, hungry and very close to collapsing in the mud beneath their feet.

                Izuku was leaning heavily on a tree while Shinsou was leaning on him. The teen felt bad for the other since being in the General Education for half a semester didn’t do anything good to his physical condition. At least he and Todoroki got to train together in the meantime. Maybe I should’ve invited Shinsou too Izuku thought and a pang of guilt shot through his chest. I’ll do it when we get back. Definitely when we get back.

                He and the others fortunately discovered that, since the earth beasts were technically a part or Pixi-Bob’s Quirk, Izuku could feel small traces of threads in them. Not much, not like any real threads, but if he focused, he could pin-point where a beast was going to emerge. It had taken the better half of the day and a great deal of teamwork but they’d managed. The ability didn’t really help much with combat, but, as they found out, half a second heads up meant the difference between  being thrown violently in tree or not.

                As an unexpected side-benefit Izuku also found out that the beacon Aizawa gave him was more or less indestructible. After being thrown from tree to tree, the little box dangling from his key chain was still very much intact.

                But, after much time and many bruises, class 1A finally made it to the facility. Needless to say, they didn’t make it in time for lunch.

                “ ‘It’ll only take you three hours’ yeah right” Sero said as he tried to breathe.

                “Oh, yeah, that’s how long it would’ve taken us to do it” Mandalay giggled. Izuku threw Shinsou on the ground as gently as he could and turned towards the beacon of negative light in the yard.

                “Aizawa-sensei, I’m getting a little tired of your logical ruses.” The man ignored him and they turned their attention towards the blond hero.

                “We actually thought you’d take longer. The way you dealt with those Earth Beasts wasn’t bad; especially you four.” She said, looking at the trio who fought the Hero Killer and the winner of the Sports Festival. “I’m guessing your past experiences allowed you to fight without hesitation.”

                Try hunger and the overwhelming need to pee Izuku thought but kept his mouth shut. He didn’t have the mental fitness to hold an argument right now.

                The woman smiled hungrily. “ I call dibs on you in three years!” she said as he hovered around them.

                “I didn’t know she was like that” Aizawa said.

                “She’s nearing that age and is worried about remaining single forever…” Mandalay sighed, as if her colleague hovering over stranger man and saying weird shit like that was normal.

                “Marriage?” he looked at the small boy who was glaring at them in a way that would’ve made Kacchan proud. “Then, whose child is he?”

                “Oh” Mandalay said turning towards the boy “He’s actually my nephew. Kouta, come and say hi, you’ll be spending the next week with these kids” the kid trotted towards them, never stopping his glare.

                Izuku extended his hand. “Hey there, Kouta. I’m Midoriya Izuku from the UA…” he didn’t finish, for the little kid punched him in the jewels. The green haired boy doubled over as Iida and Mandalay started scolding the kid. Said scolding had absolutely zero effect on the boy.

                “Why did you do that?” the woman said.

                The boy only glared. “I can’t abide jerks who want to be heroes” he said as he stormed off. Presumptuous brat Izuku thought as Shinsou helped him up.

                “You OK, problem child?” he said and Izuku threw him an unimpressed look. Shinsou sketched a grin and made sure Izuku could stand on his own. The greenette punched him lightly and went to take his things to their room.

                The dinner was what someone would expect from a bunch of kids who didn’t eat anything in a day after intense physical training. The food wasn’t particularly good, but it tasted like heaven on his tongue.

                “Don’t expect the pampering to continue. We only cooked for you today. Starting tomorrow you’ll cook your own food.”

                They finished not long after and headed for the springs. They got in, laying in the liquid oven and, at this point the green haired hero would’ve been content to just melt away and become part of the water forever. Sadly, he was sure Aizawa wouldn’t allow him to do so.

                “To be honest, the food’s whatever to me. After all, that’s not what I’m really after.” Mineta said. Izuku made the minimal movement necessary to turn his head towards the grape head.

                “What are you planning, Mineta?” he tried to convey I’m too tired to deal with this bullshit and I’ll send you into the stratosphere if you make me get up with a single look. The creep was either fearless or downright stupid since he ignored the tired teen and kept looking at the wall.

                “What I’m after is right in the other side of this wall here…” he pressed his ear to the wall.

                The girls have the same schedule as us Izuku realized, something heavy falling in his gut as he started to understand what the boy intended. He had a feeling he wouldn’t be enjoying the relaxing bath for much longer.

                “They’re really there…” he mumbled in ecstasy “Guess boys and girls have the same bathing times. An accident, yes, we might just have a little accident here…”

                “Mineta, no” Shinsou said but without an answer he couldn’t activate his Quirk. Izuku sat up, preparing to jump while Iida took it three steps further and popped up next to the guy.

                “Stop this at once! What you’re intending will bring shame to us and our female classmates!”

                “Why so serious?” he said and the next second he was climbing the walls with his balls “Walls are meant to be scaled! Plus ultra!”

                “Don’t defile our motto like that!”

                Thankfully, the grape didn’t make it to the top. Just when he was about to reach the edge, the small silhouette of Kouta popped up. “You want to be a hero? Try being a decent human being first!” and, with the wrath of class 1A after one semester near the pervert, he kicked Mineta of the wall.

                The boy fell and crashed in a way that should’ve been immortalized for blackmail purposes later and they all looked at Kouta, standing like an unforgiving god over the wall. In that moment, the kid had become an honorific member of 1A.

                Sadly, like many great people before him, his glory didn’t last long, as he lost his balance and crashed over the wall. Before he could properly register the situation, Izuku had launched himself and caught the unconscious boy before he hit the ground.

-0-

                “Must’ve passed out from the fear of falling” Mandalay said as she pressed a wet cloth over the boy’s forehead. “Thanks. We put him there because Eraser said one of you was the `human embodiment of lust`. Girls these days sure develop quickly, don’t they?”

                “I’m just glad no one got hurt,”

                “You sure did act fast, though,”

                Izuku thought about the boy’s earlier words. “He doesn’t really like heroes that much, does he?” Mandalay raised an eyebrow. “I grew up surrounded by people worshiping heroes. Only my dad seemed to not like them” he avoided the word despise “But that was after a life working and seeing all the faces of heroism. A kid this young…”

                She sighed “Naturally, there are a few people in our society who don’t think too much of heroes. He would probably like them too if he were raised normally….”

                “Normally?”

                The door opened and Pixie-Bob entered. The two women told him about the boy’s parents and their tragic demise at the hands of a villain. At that time, he had watched the news, like everyone else and was glad the villain was apprehended. The Water Horses got a great funeral and the people talked about an honorable death. But he couldn’t believe it.

                He remembered a similar case almost a decade ago.

                The heroes were called the White Sharks. They were a team of four who had taken down a huge villain organization. The room was dark, lit only by the TV, the sound low as not to wake his mother. She had come home after a hard case and collapsed on the bed. Dad had placed some food in the fridge for her, closed the curtains and took his hyperactive son on the couch to watch TV. Cars were driving outside, and the two Midoriyas watched the news.

                Izuku had been excited. He felt sorry for the heroes, of course, but the villains had been caught and the civilians had been saved. It was his father’s words after that news that were what stuck with him, a permanent reminder of the truth.

                “Is this what you want, Izuku?”

                “What?” he looked at his father who was watching the TV with an unreadable expression.

                “To die and for people to only be glad you did your job well?”

                “But they saved those people!” Izuku stubbornly pointed at the TV.

                “What about their families?” Hisashi looked at him. “What about their friends and the people they cared about? Do you think they care they died as heroes?” Izuku didn’t respond and looked at the TV, but he could no longer hear the words. His father continued. “If me or your mother, or any of your friends died, would you be happy we died in glory?”

                “You won’t die, will you?” he looked at his father, clutching the dress shirt desperately in his small hands. “You and mommy, you won’t die, right?”

                His father smiled sadly. “I’ll try my hardest not to. But what you need to understand, Izuku, is that being a hero isn’t all just glory and fame. It’s also death and pain and not knowing if you’ll live another day” Izuku sniffled and buried himself in his father’s stomach. The man started rubbing his back. “Now, Izuku, please don’t cry. I didn’t mean to make you sad.” He sighed. “I only wanted to show you the other side to the media’s coin. Before you do anything reckless please remember…” he lifted the boy’s head and looked in those watery eyes. “Death isn’t about you. It’s about all the people you leave behind.”

                That memory was still vivid in his mind, even after all those years. So, when he saw the Water Horses died, all he could do was hope they didn’t leave anyone behind to cry. To mourn. To remember and regret.

                Izuku looked at the small child. I’m so, so sorry, he thought and left for the rooms.

                He got there when everyone was preparing to sleep. Since he had left the bath pretty quickly and didn’t put on any clothes, he was now shivering. He changed in a shirt and some pants and sat on the last mattress left, coincidentally, the one between Shinsou and Todoroki. Kirishima looked at him from the mattress across Mineta.

                “No All Might this time?” Izuku threw the boy an unamused look, thought he could feel heat creeping up his cheeks.

                “What’s this about?” Sero asked.

                “It’s just that Midoriya has a very manly pair of All Might pajamas and I was wondering why he didn’t bring them.”

                “Kirishima, I’m warning you.” Izuku said as he slowly got up.

                “What’s the big deal, I bet everyone of us had some All Might pajamas at one point or another.” Tokoyami said.

                “How do you know how his pajamas look like?” Shinsou pointed out, which was probably a much more sensible question. Izuku wanted the mattresses to swallow him so he would be spared the humiliation he knew was going to come.

                “Both him and Eri have the same outfit. Me, Tsu and Uraraka went to him after the Sports festival” Kirishima pulled out his phone. “Tsu even braided them both.”

                “Kirishima!” he got up and jumped after the boy, but something wrapped around his leg and pulled him down. The next second Sero and Kaminari had thrown themselves at him and had him immobilized on the ground.

                “Kirishima go!” they yelled as the redhead got to the safe distance of being close enough to Kacchan’s futon.

                “Todoroki! Shinsou! Help!” he yelled from under the fleshy weight above him.

                “I actually want to see that” Todoroki said as he got up. Shinsou threw him a mischievous look as he passed by.

                “Traitors!” he snarled.

                The boys giggled and teased him for a bit, but somehow, it wasn’t like anything he had in middle school. Sure, it was a slightly embarrassing, but it wasn’t really that bad. The others let it die after a few minutes, and Izuku had the distinct impression they weren’t laughing at him. Todoroki at least seemed truly interested and Shinsou teased him with the same light-heartedness he called him `Problem child`.

                They slept soon after and Izuku was half awake when Aizawa entered the room banging a wooden spoon on a pan and calling them outside.

                Thankfully, everyone seemed to be in the horrible mood of “I want back in bed, let me sleep!” so Izuku felt a little better about his zombie like state. Well, Shinsou was better than most, but he was a zombie on a daily basis, so that didn’t really count.

                Aizawa quickly proved to them that, while their bodies and minds had improved, their Quirks didn’t really grown at all. He gave them one of his terrible smiles and told them to stay alive.

                Wo-hoo, nothing better to keep up the morale.

                The first part of the day consisted of being thrown left and right by Tiger. The only difference between him and Gran Torino was the size and the environment. Now, instead of being thrown by a small old man into walls, he was thrown by a big, middle aged hero into trees. After long hours of bruises and pain, the man decided to give him a break and he limped towards Aizawa.

                “How will I train my original Quirk?” he said as he panted on the ground. The man gave him a critical look before turning back to watching his other students.

                “Have you discovered anything else we can use?”

                “Well, I can more or less pinpoint the location and movements of someone, but that’s limited.” He scratched his neck “My range has increased. I used to have about thirty meters, but after your training I had reached around…one hundred? If I strain, like, really really hard I can make about one hundred and twenty. But then I lose focus of the real world around me.” He looked up, ignoring the screams of pain coming from his classmates. “I also took Stain’s Quirk”

                “You what?!”

                The teen looked at his teacher. “I didn’t tell you?” The man regarded him with an unamused look. “Must’ve slipped my mind”

                Aizawa sighed and shook his head. “I think I have an idea for your Quirk training. Come on,” the boy got up and followed his teacher. Aizawa called Kirishima, Ojiro, and Shinsou and pulled them together. He handed Izuku a piece of material.

                “Tie it around your head. The rest of you, you will attack him. You are allowed to use your Quirks”

                “What?!” Izuku jumped and looked at his teacher.

                “You said you can detect the movements and position. Doing it blind, you will have to rely on your Quirk alone. This is beneficial for the rest of you. Shinsou, your Quirk is not physical, so we have to make sure you are physically fit enough to take care of yourself. As for you two, Midoriya can neutralize your Quirks, so you will learn not only to use them, but how to adapt if you lose them in the middle of the battle.”

“Cool, that’s all fun and dandy for them, but I can only see movement, I have no skill with the details!”Izuku tried.

“Too bad” Aizawa deadpanned.

                “It’s still three against one” Izuku tried. Aizawa looked at him and the boy could see the slight quirk in his lips. I knew he was a sadist, but I didn’t imagine….

                “A fight with a villain will never be fair” the teacher said and pushed the scarf in his hands. Then, towards the others “Try not to break him too much” gee, thanks for the vote of confidence Izuku thought as he walked to the center of the land and put on the blindfold.

                He focused his Quirk and looked around. He knew where everyone was. Shinsou and Kirishima he could maybe manage to borrow their Quirks. But Ojiro was a Mutation type. He couldn’t take his Quirk, the most he could so was incapacitate him.

                Shinsou didn’t wait or hesitate. He dived right at him and his thread moved a little to the right. The next thing he knew was a vicious pain in his side. He staggered. Ok, when he moves in a direction, you have to dodge. This wasn’t really any help, since the threads were always in constant movement. Kirishima and Ojirou seemed to have lost their inhibitions and came at him with full power. Izuku saw an opening between them and dived, rolling on the ground and running away. He put a decent distance before stopping to catch his breath. He could feel shapes in the threads.

The Quirks ran all over the body, even if they were focused in a special part. As he concentrated, he could make out the limbs and head. Nothing precise, but he could somehow see the movement. Kirishima was the easiest to see. His Quirk ran along his skin, so he basically had a very blurry Kirishima shaped mass of glowing thread coming at him. Ojirou’s thread was focused on his tail leaving most of the rest of him with only the faintest glow. Shinsou was the hardest to see, his thread coiling like a snake in his throat faintly spreading along his limbs.

Kirishima came at him from the right. He starts with a right hook, like Kacchan. Izuku dodged the fist (though not good enough, he could feel it through his hair) and petted him on the ribs. He grabbed his thread and focused it on his arms as he shielded himself from a kick from Ojirou. He is more focused on the tail. The shock sent him backwards and he lost hold of the thread. But, even without it, Kirishima was still strong and grabbed his middle before throwing him to the ground. The redhead more or less sat on him to keep him down, not that Izuku was planning to get up any time soon.

                “Again” came Aizawa’s cruel voice. Why must you ruin my dreams?

                The boys helped him up and went to their sides of the ground. Izuku turned towards his teacher. “I think you just like to watch me suffer.”

Ragdoll was near him when the man responded “Next time remember to tell me when you discover something about your Quirk. Or take one for that matter.”

Izuku huffed and turned in time to dodge a swipe from Ojirou. Izuku’s only advantage was that he had studied his colleagues enough in hand to hand combat to know the moves they favored. Even so, he was heavily outmatched. It didn’t help that he only fought Shinsou once, before he got his training together. Damn it, I should have definitely invited him to the training sessions with Todoroki! The next rounds went as well as the first. In the second, Shinsou sucker punched him in the guts. In the third, Ojirou swiped his legs from under his feet.

“I can barely keep up when I see!” he yelled.

“You still have your ears!” Aizawa responded. Izuku could feel other threads stopping and he knew they were probably watching. Great, I’m getting my ass kicked in front of the whole heroics department.

                 He realized after a few minutes that he needed a strategy. He felt like punching himself, because that was the most logical course of action and How dare you forget that, his dad said with the imaginary swipe on the back of his neck. Shinsou and Kirishima are pretty good hand to hand fighters with or without their Quirks. So is Ojirou but without it, he has a useless mass of flesh to dangle around he mused while he broke into a sprint for the hills.

Izuku slowly formed a plan. He turned around and dashed for the redhead, which must’ve seemed pretty weird when you looked at it. When Kirishima prepared to dodge, he changed direction and attacked Shinsou. The boy was prepared and punched him in the jaw.

It stung, but it was worth it as he got a little further. He turned towards Kirishima while keeping a close eye on the other two. “Really man, I thought better of you. Three against one, who is blindfolded, is very cowardly. For you, it’s hardly a challenge.”

As predicted, Kirishima tried to defend himself. “Look, man, these are the rules…”

“Kirishima, attack Shinsou!” he yelled, activating the boy’s mind control. The teen suddenly changed direction and went for the taller student. Though he couldn’t see, Izuku could imagine the glazed expression on his friend’s face.

He turned towards Ojirou. The tailed boy took a fighting stance and the green haired teen lounged for him. He faked a punch with his right and, when the boy leaned back, Izuku touched his arm. Ojirou was outside his centre of gravity when the other limb became useless and he lost his balance. Izuku took advantage of it and jumped on him, successfully pinning him to the ground.

Shinsou yelled something somewhere in the distance.

They both panted before they heard Aizawa say. “That’s it for today.” At the powerful words that promised heaven and rest, Izuku collapsed near the tailed boy and pulled away his blindfold. He released  Kirishima and breathed deeply as Aizawa made his way to them.

“Good. You didn’t die.” He said looking at the teen sprawled on the ground. “You’re bleeding.” Izuku took his hand (or whatever was left of it) to his nose and felt blood. He eyed his bloody fingers.

“Looks like I have a limit.” He said before turning his head slightly to the two approaching colleagues.

“That was a dirty move.” Kirishima said.

“That whole match was a dirty move.” Izuku panted from the ground.

“He was at a disadvantage and used all his resources to win.” Aizawa said, ignoring Izuku’s comment. “He did Ok. Now, come, you have to cook your dinner” and with that, he walked away.

“Can you move?” Shinsou asked.

“Yeah” the green haired boy tried to sit up before promptly collapsing back on the ground. “No, please help.”

The boys laughed before Shinsou and Ojirou helped him on Kirishima’s back. The redhead caught his legs and Izuku wrapped his two now useless fleshy appendances around his neck. Ojirou walked forward, but Shinsou kept the pace of the two boys.

 Izuku had been right. Quite a few students from both class A and B had stopped what they were doing to watch the fight. Apparently, watching three students kicking the crap out of a guy wearing a blindfold was quite entertaining.

“You OK, man?” Kirishima asked only slightly turning his head.

“Yeah, it’s just a little pain” Izuku closed his eyes and rested his head on the spiky sacrifice to hair gel that was his friends head. He missed the looks the other two threw each other. They reached the common area and Shinsou yelled.

“Oi, Thermostat, bring this meat lump some ice!” Izuku cracked an eye open and threw the boy a Really look. The purple Einstein didn’t even glance at him.

Todoroki and Uraraka appeared in front of them.

“What happened?”

“Aizawa is a sadist.” Izuku responded.

“Yes, we already knew that, we need details” Uraraka said.

“He put three against one and now he is too exhausted to move” Shinsou supplied. “Also, he and I kinda need some ice.”

“Let’s set you down and we’ll see after that, ok?” Kirishima said and they approached a table. With care, they lifted Izuku and put him down on a bench. Todoroki gave Shindow and Kirishima some ice, before placing his right hand on Izuku’d back. A blessed chill spread over his skin, blessed numbness on his bruises.

Izuku, honest to god, moaned.

He sat there while his classmates chatted, leaning heavily into Todoroki’s right side in a way most people would at least consider uncomfortable. Izuku didn’t care at the moment and Todoroki didn’t really seem aversed to it, only slightly confused.

After Izuku regained enough of his mobility to have more energy than a ragdoll, he limped with the help of Todoroki to the place they were supposed to cook their dinner.

Their classmates had enough mercy on him and let him just sit and watch, while cheering and fighting with Jirou over spices every once in a while. After the dinner was ready, Izuku could finally understand the true meaning of a starved man finding water in Sahara. He dived in along with everyone else and finished It all too soon.

Through the vivid chattering, the boy saw the five-year old walking away. The poor kid. He remembered how scared Eri was in the beginning. How she didn’t trust anyone but him. Has he even eaten anything? Getting up, he grabbed a plate of curry and prepared to leave.

“Where are you going?” Uraraka asked.

“I’ll take this plate to Kouta, I don’t think he has eaten tonight.”

“You shouldn’t move” Todoroki said,

“Yeah, you might collapse, you’re too exhausted” Shinsou continued.

Izuku felt warmth in his chest at how much his friends cared for him. He was still getting used to people outside his family caring about his wellbeing. He smiled at them trying to be reassuring. “The curry gave me some more strength. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. If not, I still have Aizawa’s beacon” he patted his pocket. “He’ll be pissed, and Kirishima will have some new blackmail material.”

“If you say so” Todoroki said, but watched him as he entered the woods.

Izuku followed the small footprints into the darkness.

Chapter Text

 

 

                Izuku followed the footprints until the small trace of a thread popped into view. Careful not to exert himself (passing out in the middle of the forest would be embarrassing) he headed towards the source. He was telling the truth when he said he was a little bit stronger because of the curry, but it was more the habit of pushing away exhaustion with granola bars and collapsing on the bed than actual feeling better.

                He reached a rock and found the little boy glaring into the abyss. He reminded him so much of Kacchan, but he had pain instead of arrogance. Taking a deep breath and hoping he wouldn’t screw it up too badly, he entered the light and said. “I bet you’re hungry. I brought you some curry.”

                “You! How did you find my secret base?!”

                Great start, Izuku, great start.

                “I followed your footprints.” He looked at the still warm peace offering in his hands. “I thought you might be hungry.”

                “Don’t want it, don’t need it, so you can go away now. I don’t feel like fraternising with you people. Now get out of my secret base!”

                “Secret base…?” Izuku looked around. True, it was pretty hard to find. The boy kept talking.

                “Training your Quirks, stretching them to the limit, you’re just show-offs!”

                “Your parents were the Water Horses, weren’t they?”

                “Did Mandalay tell you?!” he seemed outraged. Izuku pulled back.

                “Sorry. We were talking and it just came up.” He took another breath. Come on, Izuku, just don’t mess it up, OK? “I know you probably heard that a lot, and it won’t mean anything coming from me. But it was very unfortunate that it happened and you didn’t deserve this.”

                “Shut up, you know nothing!” he looked away. “All of you are just insane. Calling yourselves heroes and villains and killing each other over it, you only want to show off!”

                He doesn’t only hate heroes, but Quirks and society in general.

                “What the fuck is your problem?! If you’re done, leave me alone!”

                Izuku places the plate gently on the ground. “I can’t and won’t force you to like heroes. I won’t try to explain myself to you. But life ain’t fair.” He sighed and looked down. “I have a Quirk that can and did hurt people. Today I discovered it can hurt me too. I didn’t chose it, yet I got it anyway.”

                “Your point?” Kouta growled.

                “My point is that no one choses the life they are given. You didn’t deserve what happened to you, and I’m sorry you had to suffer…” he turned around and started to leave. “But take a piece of advice of someone who was there and who saw the fall. I saw people get up and people giving up” he looked the boy in the eye “If you keep avoiding the problem, it might hit you too hard to get up.” And the boy left the kid alone on the rock.

-0-

                Katsuki watched the green haired menace enter the woods with a plate of curry. He waited the necessary amount of time so it wouldn’t be considered suspicious and followed. He would find answers tonight.

                After the Sports Festival, when he had calmed down enough not to tear everyone apart, he had done his research. There was no hero, flashy or underground to have a Quirk even similar to Deku’s. Underground heroes, despite being underground, had some kind of record. Some photo, a stray article, anything. Hell, even Eraserhead had a few spottings, and he avoided media like plague. But there was no record about a guy with a strength enhancing Quirk that broke bones.

                After that he searched the name the boy gave him. Surprisingly, Toshinori Yagi existed and he seemed to match the photo. He was listed as a police consultant and All Might’s assistant. That would’ve been plausible, after all, he saw the man around the campus once or twice. That would also explain All Might’s sudden interest in his arch nemesis. The rat had gotten a good word in with the hero. Really now, it all matched up…

                Except for one thing.

                Toshinori Yagi was listed as Quirkless. Every document he could find on the guy, every piece of data (Which wasn’t really much) said that he didn’t have a Quirk. That just didn’t add up.

                And then he remembered the USJ. Even if the villains didn’t see him, he had been there. He had wanted to attack the warp fucker, but the hand guy had his classmates hostage, and he wasn’t that much of an asshole.

                Most people saw his anger and rashness and thought he was reckless and dived head in in a battle. Too bad for them, they didn’t know what was coming. Because Katsuki knew when the odds were against him. He knew when to bide his time to make a strategy. He just didn’t have the patience to do it on a daily basis.

                So, at the USJ, he had hidden behind a rock and waited for an opening. He had heard the hand fucker talk and he heard the rat stall. Though he would never admit it, it was pretty creepy to hear the usually soft classmate talk with such confidence and ease about publicity under the threat of death. But had Katsuki realised that he was stalling. After all, you don’t live next door to someone for all your life and don’t recognise when they are scared shitless. He had watched the boy grow from a shivering mess to a mask of constant I’m fines and knew the signs.

                When the boy was captured by the Noumu, he hadn’t moved. He didn’t know why, but maybe some part of him didn’t want his former friend dead.

                But there was something that irked him. The hand guy had said his sensei was very sick. Izuku had called the sickly looking man sensei.

                But no, if they would work together, why would he be scared? They would be working together. Shigaraki said he would kill Kurogiri if he wasn’t their way out. He clearly didn’t give a fuck about his colleagues. So, if Izuku screwed up, it would be rational for him to be scared. But why would he be scared? The albino was expecting All Might to be there and basically threw a temper tantrum when he found out he wouldn’t come. So, his information had somehow been flawed and of course he would be furious about…

                Katsuki froze at the realisation.

                ….the informant.

                It was sickening how much sense it all made now. The man called Sensei was sick and Izuku said he got his Quirk from a sickly looking man. The league had information that All Might would be there and the kids didn’t find out he wasn’t until they reached the facility. The villains wouldn’t have found out until someone told them.

                They also needed some resources to create the Noumu and gather the troupes. They needed people deep inside to gather the intel. And who would suspect All Might’s Quirkless secretary to be a traitor.

                Ok, ok, so, logical timeline: Deku realises he wouldn’t enter UA without a strong Quirk. He meets this guy, who is an evil mastermind and offers him a Quirk, probably from one of his minions in exchange for becoming a spy, because they would need someone twenty four seven on the job. Izuku accepts when Katsuki realises and his sick boss shows up to cook up a lie. Then, Shigaraki gets the info about the USJ and loses his shit over the mistake, and Deku tries to ease things between them without blowing his cover. It made sense.

                But Katsuki had a gut instinct that something was wrong, that he missed something. Maybe it was those childhood memories banging his head over the fact that Izuku wouldn’t knowingly send his classmates to certain death. Maybe it was that small, almost dead part inside of him that didn’t want the boy to be a villain. The certain thing was, he would get to the end of it tonight.

                He was fairly certain he would be safe. He was strong enough to beat the rat on a daily basis and the Quirk training today had exhausted his resources. He had watched the fights. The boy barely had enough energy to move, and the bleeding in his nose was sight he had overused his Quirk. So, Katsuki followed the trail and saw the boy turning back to the camp in the distance. He increased his pace and ended up behind him.

                “What do you want, Kacchan?” he said without turning around.

                “I want the truth.” Deku sighed and turned around. He looked half dead and ready to topple over at any second.

                “I gave you the truth. You chose not to believe it.”

                “Don’t bullshit on me!” he yelled, rage fuelling unintentional sparks in his hands. Deku eyed them warily before tensing and turning his full attention on the blond. Good. They were too far from the camp for anyone to hear them. They could maybe finally settle this once and for all.

                “I’m not!” it may have been intended as a yell, but it lacked any power behind it.

                “I’ll ask you this once, and you better answer: are you a spy?”

                Deku looked at him dumbfounded for a few seconds. “What is with you people dragging me and accusing me of all these stuff. Is it a running gag or something?” he almost exploded. Katsuki was taken aback for a second before remembering the Todoroki theory from the Sports Festival.

                “Answer me!”

                The boy looked exasperated. “No, I am not. Jesus, why would you think that?!” he run his hands through his hair in a desperate motion.

                “Oh, I don’t know, maybe because you said you got a Quirk from a guy who was already registered Quirkless, a guy you called sensei and who looked like he just walked out of a grave. Now, let’s see, Shigaraki said that his sensei was too sick to come, and you looked to be on awfully good terms with the man who supposedly wanted to kill you.” Even if it wasn’t true, he wanted to see what kind of reaction he would get out of the boy. The greenette gaped at him for a few moments before exclaiming:

                “Sensei if a fricking honorific!

                True, but he wasn’t going to let it show. “So you don’t deny it!”

                Izuku looked around, as if asking the trees is this guy even serious? “Of course I’m denying it, are you mad?!”

                “Then explain yourself, because it doesn’t make any sense.”

                The boy opened his mouth before he stopped. A wave of anger washed over him and he clenched his fists. He fixed the older boy with a killer stare that almost made the blond step back. “I owe you nothing” he spit. That was all. The green eyed boy turned around and limped to the camp and Katsuki remained frozen under the trees.

-0-

                The next day only proved that Aizawa had only gone easy on him the first day. Because, yeah, yesterday, Izuku had to fight a mutation, transformation and emitter types. That was in his advantage, because the first two types had Quirks attached to their bodies. Shinsou’s Quirk was kind of self-explanatory. Yeah, he got knocked around a lot, but he could at least see the moves. Today he found out that fighting against an emitter type while blindfolded was a horror house on two chicken legs chasing him around. Because, when he fought emitters, he only got a direction before being hit by said person’s specific Quirk.

                Not to mention that he had the advantage of being familiar with their fighting styles for almost a year. With the B students, he saw the right arm move, but he couldn’t make the  difference between a hook and a punch in the guts. They threw him around until the teacher called it quits. The training had lasted half an hour at most, because Izuku simply couldn’t get up afterwards.

                Aizawa had put class B students to fight him this time, because he didn’t have the benefit of knowing their Quirks. After all, he only saw them at the Sports Festival and he didn’t really have time to fanboy then. A lot of people were watching whenever they could get away with it, because, apparently, watching someone getting their ass handed to them was very entertaining.

                Now, he was sitting on the ground next to Aizawa’s feet, drinking some water under the morning sun.

                “You need to up your stamina” the teacher said.

                “I know” Izuku sighed. “I’ll get up in a second, I just need to breathe.” He said and his teacher handed him a handkerchief. He looked at it quizzically before wiping his nose. I came away stained with blood. “Thanks” he muttered.

                “We need to figure out your limit and how much we can push it. I don’t want to give you permanent damage.” The man stared him down “That’s why you’re not allowed to use it past normal without a teacher present. Got it?”

                Izuku wanted to say something, but a glare from his teacher shut him up. He only nodded and looked away.

                His sore muscles sure didn’t help the matters. It was almost a year since he participated in the All Might themed and taught boot camp, and his muscle memory was enough of a dick to remember the movements, but forget the resistance to physical effort. His fights with Todoroki were good enough that he wasn’t falling over after five minutes, but didn’t hold a candle to the amount of solid pain they were fed every day.

                Both man and teen looked at the redhead approaching them. Kendo stopped and looked at Izuku before she spoke. “Your Quirk is a copy one, right?”

                Izuku looked at Aizawa before responding “Something like that”

                “And it allows you to hold multiple Quirks at once?”

                “Yes…?”

                “Shouldn’t you be focusing on your own training, Kendo?” Aizawa said.

                “Yes, definitely sensei” she seemed a little enthusiastic “But you see, a colleague in my class also has a copy Quirk that allows him to hold only one Quirk at once. I was wondering if he copied Midoriya’s Quirk, could he hold more than one?”

                Izuku looked at Aizawa and shrugged. “It’s a valid theory.”

                “Right. Bring your classmate here, and let’s test this.”

                The girl smiled and came a second later dragging a very confused Monoma towards them. Both dark haired males from 1A regarded him with a weird look as the 1B big sister explained her theory to him.

                Izuku looked at the boy. They weren’t really on the best terms, but, then again, the blond would have a bone to pick with a pen if it happened to belong to class A. His thread was somewhat similar to Aizawa. It didn’t have a solid form, a solid consistence, it looked more like some sentient slime, morphing constantly in accord to the people around it.

                Monoma seemed to have caught up with the things around him and looked at the exhausted teen on the ground. They stared at each other for a few seconds before Izuku initiated World’s most awkward fist bump ever. The green haired boy watched in awe as the sentient slime morphed and shifted, not quite taking a form. That’s how my thread looks like Izuku realised. He couldn’t really point out anything about it, it was a shapeless thing and it didn’t let him focus on it. It was like, the moment he tried to focus, his attention would be automatically drawn somewhere else. Something told him he wouldn’t be able to distinguish it if there were other Quirks present.

                The most comical thing was Maonoma’s reaction to his enhanced senses. His head whipped around, from student to student, like he was trying to make sense of what the actual fuck was going on here. Izuku giggled. He understood why this could be a little overwhelming. He had lived with the threads all his life and the change from feeling them through touch to sensing them had been gradual. He couldn’t remember the exact moment he started sensing them. Receiving all that information at once had to be at least a little too much.

                “What are… what are..?”

                “Those are people’s Quirks. I call them threads.” The blond threw him a weird look.

                “You see them all the time?” Izuku nodded. The other boy nodded. “How do you copy them?”

                “When you touch someone, you try to grab it and pull it out. Not all of it though.”

                “Ok” the boy said and, after both teacher and student gave their permission he tested it on Kendo’s Quirk. Izuku couldn’t help but giggle. He knew the others probably saw nothing, but he saw two clumsy threads chasing each other in the vain attempt at use. They tried it more times, since the boy’s time limit kept wearing down, but, after half an hour, he finally managed to borrow the girl’s Quirk. Fortunately (or unfortunately) he seemed to have a decent grasp on the big hands and didn’t really humiliate himself with it.

                But then, Iuzku got an idea. “Sensei, could he technically copy only one Quirk from me instead of my original?”

                Aizawa looked at the boy who had eventually gained enough strength to sit on his own two legs. “It would be interesting to try, but the only Quirks you currently have are one that breaks bones on the first use and one that paralyses the victim by tasting their blood. I don’t think we can afford to test them.” Monoma visibly paled and Izuku took a moment to enjoy it before saying:

                “Yes, but I see the Quirks. I can see what Quirk he copies. He doesn’t have to use them.”

                Aizawa thought for a second before shrugging. “Ok, let’s do it.” Monoma looked like he wanted to protest, but you needed a certain experience and amount of guts to refuse the erasing hero and, and the straw haired boy possessed none.

                They fist bumped again and the slime rushed towards his original Quirk. No you don’t Izuku thought as he pushed Stain’s thread in the front as a shield. The slime tried to fight, but the liquid bloodlust was having none of it and, a few seconds after the fact, Monoma was the proud (and temporary) successor of the Hero Killer’s Quirk.

                Izuku supressed a shudder at the sight. The other three people looked at him expectantly. Oh, that’s right, they can’t see it. Izuku cleared his throat and nodded “It worked”.

                They all nodded and returned to their business.

                The training continued the rest of the day. He switched back to fighting Tiger, since his One for All was far from decent and currently, his only combative Quirk. He was a little bit disappointed to find out All Might wouldn’t come, but his spirits were lifted a bit when he found about the courage course.

                The day passed and they got to making the dinner. He was lighting the fire when he felt Todoroki walk behind him. He didn’t turn around, waiting for the other boy to speak first.

“So, what did you want with All Might? I heard you speaking with Aizawa about it.”
“I just wanted to talk to him about Kouta.”

“Kouta?”

“Mandalay’s nephew” Izuku looked down, focusing on starting the fire. “He seems to have something against heroes and Quirks in general. I know I can’t force him to agree with me, but his hate is toxic and bad for him and people around him. If he keeps this up, it will only hurt him
more. I tried to get him to come around, but I don’t know what to say.” He stopped for a second and gazed into space. “I’m just wondering what to say. I know All Might would probably know, but he’s not here. What would you do, Todoroki?”

The heterochromatic teen took a deep breath, no doubt preparing himself for some heavy
talking. “Look, Midoriya, I know it’s probably impossible for you not to throw yourself at any person in need of helping, but you shouldn’t meddle in other people’s business. Without knowing their background, having a talk come from a stranger can only be annoying. I don’t know about him, but I for one wouldn’t listen.”

                “But you did listen.”

                “Yes, but I chose to tell you. I really doubt you found out about his situation from his mouth.” Izuku looked down. “Moreover, it wasn’t just your words that convinced me. It was you fighting against me, proving to me that I was wrong.” He threw the other teen a somewhat sympathetic look. “Words alone, no matter how powerful can do little in changing someone’s view. You need to act and prove you can back them up. Otherwise, you’d be just a hypocrite.”

                Izuku remained silent for a few seconds. Then, a smile, a genuine happy smile spread along his features. “Thanks, Todoroki-kun.”

                “You’re welcome”

                To the disappointment and despair of his colleagues, the remedial class didn’t get to participate in the class courage test. He felt bad, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying the course. They drew lots, and the green haired boy looked at his number.

                “Who’s number 8?” he yelled.

                “Here!” Shinsou yelled and made his way towards the shorter teen. “Why are you smiling?”

                “I’m just glad I got paired up with a friend.”

                Shinsou seemed conflicted, like it was the first time someone said he was glad to see him. Or called him a friend. Izuku could relate, but smiled brightly nonetheless. They waited their turn to enter the forest.

                “You know, I can use my Quirk to tell when other people are coming. Or you want to get the experience of being scared by a vengeful class out for blood?”

                Shinsou smiled and shook his head. “Tsk, tsk, tsk, Midoriya, I never took you for a cheater.”

                “Don’t act so high and mighty, you know you’d do the same.” He scolded, but couldn’t help the smile creeping up his face. “And it’s not like I can turn it off. I’m just asking if you want a heads up?”

                The purple mad scientist mused for a second. “You know, I really want to beat Monoma…”

                “Yeah, me too” they looked at each other and nodded when Mandalay’s voice rang in their heads.

                Everyone! We’re under attack by two villains and there might be more around here. All those who can should return to the camp at once. If you run into a villain, don’t engage, retreat!

                “Time to get back!” Shinsou said as he grabbed Izuku’s arm and started dragging him back.

                “Wait! Go on without me!” Izuku wanted to pull himself from the hold, but Shinsou held tight. Damn, he is strong.

                “Haven’t you heard?!” his voice was full of shock and exasperation. Izuku felt his blood curdle.

                “You don’t understand! Kouta, Mandalay’s nephew, he’s out there. I know where, so, please, let me retrieve him!”

                Shinsou frowned before reluctantly letting him go. “You come back right after.”

                “Yes, of course…” he stopped as his body froze.

                “You come back right after” Shinsou said and Izuku heard a voice that sounded like his own agree. “Good.” His movements unlocked and he glared at Shinsou before diving into the woods.

-0-

 

Kouta recognised the caped man. Back then, when the news were still fresh and before gave up watching, they had showed that villain’s face everywhere. He had given up after the things started repeating and he could no longer stand all those people praising his parents. But he remembered the face. He remembered the words that said he would have a huge scar, but the words couldn’t compare to the gruesome reality of mangled skin, stretched over his face, surrounding that demonic eye, that looked like it had crawled from the depths of hell.

The villain started talking, but Kouta couldn’t focus. He was alone. He was alone with his parent’s killer and no one was coming. Mandalay wasn’t coming, she couldn’t come. Mom, dad, I’m sorry he thought as he felt his cheeks wet and glossy.

The villain lifted is fist preparing to strike. He closed his eyes, not wanting to wait for the hit.

The hit didn’t come.

He opened his eyes and found himself cradled at the chest of the jerk from last night. Midoriya put him down and stepped in front of him. “Sorry to be late. We’re gonna get out of here, you hear me?”

“Oh, you’ll save him? What a heroic thing to say. Always sprouting out things about justice and such whenever you show up.” The man looked at him head to toes. “You’re Midoriya, aren’t you? Well, too bad you’re on our capture list, I would’ve loved to kill you.” He looked at the kid hiding behind the teen. “But there’s nothing saying I can’t kill him.” He laughed before stopping as if he had just remembered something. “By the way, do you know where the Bakugou kid is?”

They are after Kacchan?! Shit!

“You don’t know? Too bad!” muscles ripped through his skin and wrapped themselves around his limbs. His metallic eye glinted maniacally in the moonlight as he lounged for them. Izuku grabbed Kouta and dived out of the way.

Not good. Maybe if I can jump…

“Let me see some blood!” the man punched the ground, which cracked, the debris falling in a tempest over the two kids. Izuku pushed the smaller out of the way before he was grabbed and thrown into the rock wall.

His yelped when pain jolted through his back, but couldn’t help the smile when the man deflated. His thread was brutal and vicious, zigzagging under his skin, pushing and burning, demanding to be released. His arms yelled when muscles broke the flesh barrier and covered him.

The man seemed confused for a second before he dived in and punched his jaw. His teeth smashed violently with each other as he collapsed to the ground. Even without his Quirk, the man was still sickly strong, and that punch made him lose focus.

Muscular was standing above him in his horrifying glory, smirking wickedly at the teen. “Think you’re smart pulling that trick? I’m still stronger than you” he grabbed his face and smashed him in the wall, earning a cry of pain from the teen “Shigaraki said to get you alive, not unharmed.” He leaned in closer, whispering way too close to the teen’s ear “Let’s see how many limbs I can tear off before you break…”

The blond lifted his hand, ready to strike when something splashed behind him.

“My parents” Kouta cried “The Water Horses. Did you torture them like that too?”

“The Water Horses? You’re their kid?” he burst out laughing. “Oh, God, that must be fate!” he knocked his fingers gently on his glass eye “They gave me this.”

“Because of people like you things always end up like this!” the boy yelled.

Kouta, no, run away…

Muscular sketched a smile, still pinning the boy to the rock “Brats like you sure know how to pass on the blame. That’s not good. I don’t hold a grudge against them for my eye. I only wanted to kill people and they tried to stop me. We all did our best and had to deal with the results.”

Izuku got a hold of the thread once more and punched the villain with a 10%. The man flied and smashed into another wall. The teen staggered to his feet. “Kouta, are you OK?”

The boy was speechless, words lost to him as Izuku approached. The teen kneeled in front of his charge and put a hand on his shoulder to steady himself. “Let’s get back to the camp, Ok? It’s not that far…”

Rock moved behind him and both kids turned and watched in horror as the man got up.

No way…. No fricking way…

Muscles shifted behind him and went back to his skin.

How…

“You sure telegraphed that punch, kid”

He must’ve regained his Quirk before he hit the rock….

“Not bad, Midoriya….” I have to…  “Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough” he wiped blood from his lip.

His muscles cushioned the hit. I have to… realisation dawned on him and Izuku pushed away the pain in his arms I have to hit him without letting him use his Quirk.

He stood protectively in front of the smaller boy. “Stay back!” he yelled in a futile attempt to end this quickly.

“Not a chance. Here I come…”

I have to stall “What is the League of Villains after?”

“Like I care. I just want to kill people.”

I should’ve known this wouldn’t work every time. He pushed the boy away from the edge.

Izuku stood tall, facing the villain. “I’m telling you one last time, stay back!” you can’t bullshit your way out of this one, Izuku!

“Suddenly grew some guts?” the man taunted “That’s cute, kid, but the fun’s over. Just pray you pass out quickly.”

Izuku didn’t wait for the man to finish, for he lounged first. He ducked under the stretched arm, punched him in the ribs (which must’ve felt like a gentle pat to the man) and grabbed his thread. His muscles shredded his skin once again, and Izuku focused One for All in his punch. The kid tried to hold back, he did. He tried to focus only 5% in the hit. But he was tired. He was panicked. He was scared and he had a little kid who reminded him too much of Eri to protect.

So, in the end, he forgot to temper the amount of force he put in the hit. He forgot he held All Might’s power in his arms and hit the temporarily Quirkless villain with a 100% punch.

-0-

Aizawa was running through the smoking trees, ducking any fires. If they’re not after the teachers, they must be after the students. If there was one thing Aizawa wouldn’t allow, that was more harm brought to his kids.

Suddenly, a deafening sound rang in the distance and Aizawa watched in awe and horror as the small mountain exploded. Rocks flew in every direction, but a projectile smaller and lighter than the others flew through the air and crashed through the trees a few hundred meters away from him.

Please don’t tell me….

The teacher ran in that direction as fast as his legs could carry him, too scared for what he might find. He reached the lake and froze, his mind taking too long to process what he was seeing.

The trees were fallen, crashed, knocked down in every direction, like they were nothing but Legos at the mercy of a tantrum throwing child. In the middle there was a crated at least a ten feet deep. But the most disturbing sight was the form of one of his students doubled over in the middle of it. The form heaved and sat up and Aizawa saw a small child ¬Mandalay’s small child¬ curled like a Koala around his middle.

“Midoriya!” he called, wanting to….what? he wasn’t sure what he wanted at the moment.

The boy lifted his head and looked at the teacher. A huge, relieved grin spread along his features and he staggered to his feet. “Sensei! You have no idea how glad I am to see you!” he tried to climb out, but his hands were just too tired to do the job. Aizawa wrapped his scarves around him and helped him up, catching him in a tight embrace to steady him. He could feel two small hearts beating erratically against his own.

Midoriya leaned in for a second before detaching himself and putting the boy down.

“Look Sensei, I have to go, there’s something Mandalay has to hear. Take care of Kouta. He has a water based Quirk and can help you put out the fires.” He turned to leave before the scarves wrapped themselves around him.

“Wait. What happened?” his tone left no room for excuses.

“We don’t have time right now, but I promise sensei, I take care of this and return to the camp!” he pleaded.

“If you do that, tell Mandalay to tell everyone that Eraserhead authorised to use your Quirks for defence only!” he stressed the word. Izuku nodded and left in a green blur while the man lifted the kid and ran back.

-0-

Izuku threw caution to the wind and scanned the forest for familiar threads. He spotted Mandalay and ran in that direction. Sorry, Shinsou he thought as he ran towards the danger. Considering how much he had been thrown around, his Quirk had lost his effect, but that didn’t stop the guilt that came with lying to his friends and homeroom teacher.

The moment he had punched Muscular, the force had destroyed the mountain and propelled both children off the cliff. Izuku had managed to get a hold of Kouta and used One for All in his legs to cushion the fall. His whole body throbbed, but it wasn’t like he wasn’t used to pain.

On a more useful note, if he used One for All while having a ridiculous amount of muscle mass, the power had room to spread and it didn’t shatter his bones.

He entered the fall where the last two heroes standing fought the villains.

“Mandalay!” he yelled. “Kouta is safe!” he panted and got in faced the villains. “I have a message from Aizawa sensei: all students are allowed to use their Quirks for self-defence! Also, the villains are after Kacchan! Tell everyone!”

 He dashed for the woods. Magne looked at him. “Hey, you’re one we have to capture!”

The villain raised their club and Izuku felt something surrounding him and pulling him towards the villain. As he was dragged through the air, his muscle memory remembered something a few months prior.

It worked then…

He angled himself and put 5% in his kick as he approached the villain at top speed. They didn’t have time to dodge and Izuku smashed his foot into their face. He rolled on the grass broke into a mad sprint into the woods

-0-

Hitoshi was running through the woods when something tackled him out of nowhere. He trashed and fought, but he soon found himself under a girl with a mask with tubes in it. He tried to move, but she was hella strong and kept him down.

“Oh, look at this, finally a boy!” she trailed her finger down his chin “Cute, but not really my type.”

“What is your type?” he asked, still trying to move.

“Oh, you see….” She stopped as her eyes became faded. Hitoshi smiled.

“Get off of me” she complied and he got up. “What are you after?”

“Two classmates of yours.” She responded, voice dead and emotionless.

“Who?”

“Bakugou and Midoriya”

Shit, not good.

“Is that all?”

She opened her mouth, but didn’t get to say anything because a wave of blue fire came from behind her. Hitoshi barely had time to dodge and dive for the bushes.

Dabi walked into the clearing and patted Toga on the shoulder. She jumped and looked around. “Where’s that boy?”

“He brainwashed you.” Dabi deadpanned.

“And you came to save me? How cute!” she cooed but the scarred man ignored her. He turned and melted back in the shadows and the chirpy girl entered the woods.

Meanwhile, Hitoshi was running, trying to find any of his classmates. He had heard what Mandalay had said earlier, and he was 99% sure Midoriya found out and completely ignored his order just to save that high pressured artisanal nuke.

Fuck!

He had no way of getting back, he had lost the road. His best bet was to find some other classmates or to wait to stumble over the path again. If he was lucky, he wouldn’t get killed.

When am I ever lucky? His mind supplied.

Well, not this time, since he had just manages to run into Lord of Explodo-Kills and Thermostat against a guy in a strait jacket. What kind of straight jacket kept your mouth wide open?

“Need any help?” Hitoshi asked.

“I wish I could say yes, but he doesn’t seem conscious enough to control” Todoroki said.

“It’s worth a try…” Hitoshi panted. But, he never got to find out, because, the moment he opened his mouth, no sound came out. No, it wasn’t that, it was that all sound died, an unnatural silence falling over the clearing.

“Sorry, kiddo, can’t allow you to try that.” They turned around to find a redheaded woman, built like a brick house walking from behind the bushes. She smiled and tilted her head, placing a finger above her lips. Meanwhile, the bastard in a strait jacket kept attacking them.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, the number one cause for disaster in their class ran towards them at breakneck speed, a chaotic mass of demonic energy wreaking havoc behind them. The next moments would remain ingrained in Hitoshi’s memory as he watched the demon inhabiting his classmate’s body throw the toothy villain around until there was nothing left to throw. He watched Tokoyami cry and apologise and it took him a few minutes to regain his bodily freedom.

When he looked around, the woman was gone and his voice was back. He grunted and swore to keep an eye for her before returning to the green haired hurricane.

“Right now, one of the villain’s main targets it’s Kacchan” Midoriya said. “We need to make sure he gets back to camp”

“We need to make sure both of you reach the camp as fast as possible” he said. Everyone turned towards him. “They have two targets to capture: Bakugou and Midoriya. We need to make sure both of you are protected” he turned towards the green haired boy “And Midoriya: you’re not allowed to use your Quirk anymore”

“What? Why?”

“Have you looked at yourself?” he pulled out his phone and turned on the camera. The boy looked like a horror movie victim. If you didn’t take into account the wounds and scrapes and the red splashes on his ragged clothes, blood was pouring out of his nose, his ears, and from the corners of his eyes. The boy stared at himself for a few seconds before handing the phone back to his friend.

“Doesn’t matter, I’m the only one who can get us back and keep watch for villains.” He wiped his nose” And I can’t turn it off guys, remember?”

“Shinsou’s right” Todoroki said, now free of the charge resting on Shoji’s shoulder. “You don’t have the stamina to keep this up and we can’t fight if we have to carry you. Keep it at the lowest setting and don’t overuse it. You may already have permanent brain damage. Now both of you get in the middle and let’s get the hell out of here!”

They made a formation guarding them from all sides and started walking. Izuku didn’t look at his childhood friend, thought he didn’t need to, he could feel his glare burning the back of his neck. The blond had tried to fight, but he was unanimously shut down. Izuku staggered as he tried to stay upright. Adrenaline was seeping out of his body and exhaustion was starting to catch up.

Even so, he felt the foreign thread approach and got the time to yell.

“Watch out!” blue fire came out of nowhere and only Tokoyami’s reflexes saved him from being toasted. When they could look, the human personification of a broken voodoo doll stood in their path.

“I’m getting really tired of this shit!” Bakugou yelled. He prepared to jump when Izuku pulled him behind a tree. “Get off of me, nerd, before I use you as cannon fodder!”

“You can’t dive in!” Izuku yelled.

“Don’t tell me what to do!”

“You don’t understand!” Izuku yelled back, keeping close tabs on the villain, who seemed content to just sit and listen to them “The hotter the fire, the darker the flame. At this colour, his fire doesn’t burn, it fucking cremates!”

A slow clap came from the villain. “Well, look at this, there is someone with more than a brain cell in your group. So, be smart enough to know when you’re outmatched. Come quietly and you won’t have to watch your friends die.”

Izuku panted, his mind working a mile a minute. He turned towards Kacchan. “Stay here” Bakugou looked like he wanted to protest, but Izuku just glared and turned towards his friends hidden behind other trees. He put his fingers to his mouth, signalling them to shut up and left the cover of the tree with his hands up.

“The deal is for the both of you” the man cracked a smile with his stitched lips.

Izuku just glared as he looked at the man, slowly walking towards him “If we do this, will you let them go?”

“If I’m still feeling generous after you waste my time”

Izuku gritted his teeth as he got within a meter of the man. Then, with a speed enhanced jump, he punched the villain in the mouth. The man reacted almost immediately, catching his left hand and slamming him in the dirt, knee buried deep into his spine.

“That just earned you a friend’s funeral.” He whispered in the teen’s ear as he pulled on his hand. Pain spread through his arm and he couldn’t bite down the cry of pain that left his throat. Izuku felt Kacchan’s thread leave the hiding place.

“Come and face me, you fucker!”

“Brat”, the villain spat, but the distraction gave the boy enough time to take his right hand to his lips and lick the small red stain on his knuckles.

The villain froze. Izuku got up from under him, wincing in pain as he moved his wounded shoulder and staggered to his feet. If looks could kill, Izuku would be a pile of ash on the ground next to the wounded paralysed man. He ran towards his classmates. “Quick, we have eight minutes tops!”

“That was so reckless, you could’ve gotten killed!” Shinsou yelled.

“I know” Izuku managed as he kept running. His feet were aching, his arm was killing him and his right hand was throbbing with pain from he had smashed his knuckles into the man’s teeth. They ran for a few more minutes, until they were sure they had put a reasonable distance between them and the villain. When they stopped, it was only to Tokoyami’s reflexes that he didn’t outright collapse.

“I’m sorry. I’ll get up in a minute!” he scanned the area, but it appeared to be clean.

“You idiot!” Todoroki yelled. They turned towards him, who was positively fuming. “You’re bleeding and I doubt you can get up. You shouldn’t be getting up!” he run his hands through his hair “You could’ve been killed!”

“I could’ve been killed ten times since this all started” he yelled. “Once more doesn’t matter!”

“You’re hurt.” Shouji, the voice of reason stated. Izuku blinked the red away as he looked at his arm.

“It’s not broken”

“No, idiot, it’s dislocated!” Bakugou came from behind the group, looking angrier than ever before. He kneeled near the boy and pulled him closer. Todoroki took a step forward, but Kacchan snarled at him “Keep your pants on, Half-n-Half, I’m putting it back”

With a surprising amount of gentleness he took his shoulder and slowly rolled it and popped it back in its socket. Izuku winced in pain, but breathed deeply afterwards. “Thanks Kacchan”

The boy glared. “Whatever, you’re just a liability otherwise.” Izuku tried to get to his feet, but he just crashed immediately after. He no longer had any energy to move. He panted and shook his head.

“I can’t. I’m sorry, I just can’t”

“Dark Shadow may be strong enough to carry you” Tokoyami started.

“No” the greenette shook his head, more violently this time. Bloody tears were trickling from his eyes and from his ears as he searched for his classmates. “It’s too dark, we can’t risk getting attacked. You must go on without me.”

“No.” it was unanimous.

“I’m literally only slowing you down. You have a better chance to make it without me.”

“Not negotiable” Shinsou said as he slid under the boy’s right arm and helped him to his feet. “Which way?”

Izuku opened his mouth but stopped when he felt more foreign threads coming towards them. “You’ve gotta run! They are coming!” he pushed Shinsou away and leaned heavily on the tree behind him. One by one, villains appeared into view, successfully surrounding them. Izuku nervously licked his lips…

…..and froze.

All threads disappeared, people looking like before he got One for All.

“Todoroki.” He whispered “Do you remember the first day after the internships?”

The heterochromatic teen stood still for a moment, horror dawning on him before sending a huge wave of ice the between him and the villains. He tried to get close, but the wall crumbled under the heat of the blue flames. Todoroki jumped back as the scarred villain appeared. Bakugou seemed to have disappeared and Shouji and Tokoyami were keeping up with a reptilian looking villain. Shinsou was dodging a girl in a school jersey with a knife.

The scarred villain looked at him before kicking him in the guts. Izuku crashed and the villain countered a wave of fire with his own before stepping viciously on his stomach. Izuku gagged, but couldn’t move. The villain fought Todoroki a little longer before he managed to throw him into a tree.

From his limited perspective Izuku saw a familiar warp gate open. He was lifted by his shirt and tossed unceremoniously on the man’s shoulder. Izuku still couldn’t move. His friends seemed to be knocked out, Shinsou bleeding far away from him. Todoroki was slowly getting to his feet, preparing to charge.

Shoto gathered the last remains of energy and staggered towards the villain. Midoriya looked at him, wide eyes still bleeding. “Don’t” his hoarse voice whispered. Shoto started walking and Izuku looked at him in horror “Todoroki-kun, please don’t!”

His words may have said something, but his eyes pleaded something else. Because, no matter how selfless, no one can deny their instinct for survival.

He broke into a sprint as the villain approached the gate. Shoto was close…so close. He reached for his friend’s immobile hands to drag him off the villain, but right at that moment, the man turned and punched him in the gut.

 Shoto collapsed and tried to gather his breath, but the villain grabbed him by the collar and whispered in his ear “Poor, little, Shoto Todoroki”

The teen fell to the ground and the last thing he saw was his friend, eyes begging for help, getting stolen through the black mist.

 

Chapter Text

            Hitoshi woke up in a foreign room. The smell stung, but the light was nice. The way it was seeping through the window, landing clearly on the bland sheets. This is a hospital. Why am I here? He didn’t remember being in a hospital. He was in the training camp. What had happened?

            Fire. Lots of cold, blue fire. Blood. A knife. A giggle too cute for the person it came from. His Quirk not working. Why didn’t it work? He’ll have to ask Midoriya about it.

            Midoriya…..

            His eyes widened as the memories crashed into him, breaking the blissful barrier of painkillers. He sat up in bed, nausea hitting him like a truck. He closed his eyes, white spots dancing in his vision. The villains. The camp. The blood. Midoriya’s blood.

            He rubbed his eyes and noticed the heavy bandages on his face. Gauze covered his arms and he could feel the strain of stitches in multiple spaces in his skin. What happened? Where are the others?

            A light knock on the door and Uraraka’s bob popped up in his view. “You’re awake!” she said, though her tone lacked the usual chirpiness. “Can we come in?”

            He managed a tired nod and, one by one, his classmates poured through the door. What were they all doing here? He wouldn’t have been surprised if Iida and Uraraka showed up, but he wasn’t expecting it either. Todoroki seemed like the type to check up on him to make sure he was ok. Kirishima wasn’t out of the equation, since he seemed to have a heavenly duty to be a healing ray of sunshine….

            The lack of Midoriya sent shivers through his guts. Please, let him be too injured and unconscious to come, but he knew the possibility was low.

            Ok, five were accounted for. What about everyone else?

            “You ok? Have you seen the news? Everyone’s all over UA!”

            He looked at them. “What are you guys doing here?”

            “We wanted to make sure you were ok!” Uraraka said. “You had some pretty nasty wounds when they brought you in.”

            Hitoshi turned towards the heterochromatic teen “Midoriya? Is he Ok?”

            Todoroki shook his head and looked out the window. “They took both him and Bakugou.” His face remained emotionless, but Hitoshi recognised the small subtle gritting of his teeth.

            “Dammit!” The purple haired teen punched the mattress, pain flaring up his stitched arms. “I could’ve done something!” he looked down “What good is brainwashing if I can’t save anyone with it?”

            “None of us could’ve done anything” Tokoyami said. “They were too many and too strong. We were outmatched.”

            “Still, I…I was defeated in hand to hand combat. No Quirk, no power, no disability. And I lost. If I was….”

            “Toga was too vicious” Uraraka stopped him. “Both Tsuyu and me were against her and almost lost. You have nothing to be ashamed of….”

            The boy laughed mirthlessly. “I appreciate you trying, but we both know I could’ve done something” he stared at his classmates “And I didn’t.”

            “You can do it now.” Kirishima said. All heads turned towards him.

            “What?” the boy’s voice was low, as if a higher tone would blow away the ember of hope sparking in his chest.

            “You didn’t do anything then, you can do something now. Let’s go save them!”

            “How?” don’t hope, don’t hope, you know it will only hurt more…

            “Me and Todoroki came up with it yesterday: Yaoyorozu put a tracker on one of the Noumu. The heroes are planning to go after them a few days from now. If we can convince her to make another device, we can help too!”

            “We can’t do that, we have to leave this to the pros!” Iida yelled. “It’s not our place to intervene, you fool!”

            “Don’t you think I know that!?” Kirishima yelled, though the edges of his eyes were wet. “It’s just that…” he looked down “When I got the message that they were after my friends, I couldn’t do anything! I didn’t do anything!” he glared the taller teen “If I don’t even try to help, forget being a hero, I can’t even call myself a man!” he whipped around, watching the bandaged teen. “Come on, we can still save them, it’s not too late!”

            That was the moment a heated debate started, most of their classmates agreeing that they shouldn’t go. In the end, Uraraka said. “I understand what you feel like, and believe me, I want to save them too. But please think about what they would want: Bakugou would hate having to be saved and Mido-kun would never forgive you if you get hurt.”

            Hitoshi wanted to say something, but a nurse came in and started shoo-ing them out. Kirishima gave him one last glance before he left: “I know you actually care. I don’t know if you can even move with your wounds, but, if you can, you’ve got till tomorrow to think about it. At eight in front of the hospital.”

            And all his classmates left, leaving Hitoshi to mull over his options.

-0-

 

            The day was sunny and warm. Katsuki was glad that school was finally over and he could spend the rest of the day outside. He enjoyed walking around and lying in the sun. School was boring; it was nothing he didn’t already know.

            The ten year old walked away from the main building. The yard was empty, most students having left already. He had stayed a little longer to make sure no extra would follow him home.

Then he heard fighting and muffled cries.

            As he turned around, he watched three side characters drag that devil’s spawn behind the building. They were from different classes, but couldn’t be older than him. He approached them with silent steps, not wanting to give himself away. He didn’t know if they were worth fighting for and today, surprisingly, he had no steam to blow.

            The words “Quirkless” and “Hero” were coming from the boys. Two of them were holding Deku while the third punched him repeatedly in the stomach. The boy looked pitiful. His hair was dishevelled, his clothes wrinkled and ragged, with what appeared to be puke on his lips. The boys were laughing.

            Pfft. Pitiful. Katsuki knew the boy could save himself. He only had to take one Quirk and they would leave him alone. But no, he had a façade to maintain. The boy lifted his head and their eyes met. He was crying, tears streaming freely down his dirty cheeks.

            “Kacchan!” he cried. “Kacchan, help me!” the boy pleaded. His eyes begged for him, like all those times when they were kids and he managed to get attacked by his rivals. He was trying to fight, but the attempt was pitiful.

            The thugs turned towards him. They watched him, as if they expected him to help the loser. It wouldn’t even be that hard. Yes, they were three, but he had his Quirk, which was obviously better than anything they had. He was strong and they would probably run just by knowing his reputation.

            The one who looked like the leader looked him in the eye like he was asking would you really help this loser? Katsuki knew a challenge when he saw one, but his sight left the thug and looked back at his childhood friend. It really wouldn’t be that hard. He threw another glance at the scrapes, the tears, the despair.

            “Help yourself” he said as he walked away. The boy’s cries followed him home.

            The blond jerked awake, eyes darting madly left and right. He was in a bar. The mist fucker and the handy cocksucker were chatting quietly at the counter. They turned their attention towards him.

            “Look who’s awake!” the hand fucker’s voice was hoarse, like all those scratches were finally getting to his vocal chords. Katsuki ignored him in favour of assessing his surroundings. The bar was dimly lit. A huge box and a set of chains were covering his arms, so that he couldn’t blow anything but his arms up. He looked to his left and found Deku in an even sorrier state.

            His arms were chained to the armrests of his chair, the chains running around his chest too. His clothes were thorn and his head was bowed, the boy still unconscious. But for the first time, Katsuki got to look closely at the full extent of his injuries. By far, the most disturbing thing was the blood.

            It had caked on his skin, thin rivulets from where blood had flowed from his ears and eyes and nose. It was grotesque, the lower part of his face pretty much covered in it.

            Out of nowhere, his earlier dream came to mind. Why did it come now of all times? It wasn’t the first time the fucker had been bullied because of his supposed Quirklessness, and it surely hadn’t been the last. Aizawa’s words from a few weeks prior came to mind.

            But he might have needed yours.

            Shut up!

            More villains came in, and Deku finally steered awake. Finally!

            “Good now, you’re both awake!” Shigaraki started.

            “Where are we?” the nerd interrupted, still kind of groggy.

            “Here.” the man supplied.

            “Why are we here?”

            “It’s quite simple. You see, I want you two to join me.”

            Both teens stared for a moment. Izuku blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

            Really? “You can take your offer and shove it up your ass!” Katsuki growled.

            “Now, now, don’t be like that” the girl said, leaning into his personal space. “We only want to be friends!” Katsuki pulled back as much as he could, head hitting the headrest. He had a feeling he wouldn’t like her brand of friendship.

She looked around and her eyes landed on Izuku. A grin spread along her features as she slipped away from the blond and into the other boy’s lap with a predatory look on her face. The boy seemed pretty shaken by that and, for the first time, Katsuki wasn’t going to give him shit for it. “Aren’t you a cutie? All covered in blood like that….” She leaned in closer, swiping her tongue across his cheek, crumbling some of the caked blood. The boy stood still, probably scared by the proximity of her teeth.

            “Anyway, we want you to join the League of villains.” Shigaraki said again.

            “What part of fucking no don’t you understand?”

            “I have a feeling she doesn’t really understand the word no” Deku said, pointing not so subtly at the girl on his lap. She just giggled and bit his ear, licking some more blood off his skin. Shigaraki opened the TV where the people were blaming UA. Protests and riots were shown in high definition on the small screen.

            “Why are they criticizing heroes, huh? Their only crime was doing too little, too late.” Shigaraki spread his arms “Their job is protecting people, but everyone is allowed to screw up every once in a while, right? Why are people expecting them to be perfect?” the man wasn’t really expecting an answer and Katsuki let him monologue. He was still trying to find a way out. “Heroes today sure have it rough, am I right, kids?”

            “The moment saving people started requiring compensation, heroes stopped being heroes. That’s what Stain taught us.” The reptile said “Save someone and get power and fame. Sounds weird to me. And in this society rules are everything. People aren’t cheering for the losers, telling them to fight another day. They are blaming them.” He scratched his neck “Though I don’t understand why we took greenie here. Stain deemed him good enough to be a hero….”

            “I don’t care what Stain thinks! I’m the leader and I get to choose!” the silver haired man snarled. He turned back towards the teens, Deku now free of being molested by Toga, who had retreated near the fried fucker. “Our war is based on a few simple questions: what are heroes? What is justice? Is this really the way society’s supposed to be like? Once we get people to think about this stuff, we’ve won…” he leaned closer to Katsuki, corpse hand inches from the blonde’s skin. “And I know you love to win…” his head whipped in the scarred man’s direction. “Dabi, untie him.”

            “He’ll just go wild, you know?”

            “Doesn’t matter. We want to recruit them, so we must treat them as equals. Besides, before he throws a tantrum, our little UA student here should be smart enough to know he can’t win” Katsuki glared. A not so subtle cough of “I wouldn’t count on that” came from Deku and the blond switched his focus on the other teen.

            “Twice, you do it.” Dabi said.

            Said man started waving his hands “Do I really have to? I’d rather take my chances with the other one” he jerked his head towards the other teen “He seems….tamer” Deku raised an eyebrow.

            “Fine, if you really want to untie the one who took down both Stain and Muscular, suit yourself.”

            The man considered the words for a second before going towards the blond. Katsuki spared a moment to feel offended. They consider him a bigger threat than me? He gritted his teeth. As the man kneeled and started untying him, the magic motherfucker started “We apologise for our…uncomfortable way of transportation. But we need you to understand that we’re not some small thugs working in the name of some aimless evil, not in the least. It wasn’t by accident that we spirited you two away. Everyone here has a different story to tell, but we’ve all suffered some way or another because of other people.” Deku was throwing him warning glances, no doubt knowing what was to come. “Thanks to heroes, we’ve all felt suffocated.” The shackles fell “You should know that better than anybody….”

            Shigaraki didn’t get to finish before he got an explosion in the face. All villains jumped. Izuku felt like face palming.

            “Thought I was going to die of old age before you stopped talking. I hate people like you who just can’t get to the point.” Deku was definitely banging his head against the headrest now. “What you’re basically saying is “We wanna cause trouble, be our pal!” what a joke.” He laughed as he stood up, him against the villains “I always loved to see All Might win!” he opened his mouth to say something else when the word went black.

            He woke up a few minutes later, tied to the same chair, the same restrains on his hands.

            “Told you.” Scarface said.

            Something nagged at the back of the boy’s neck and he turned around just to meet the unearthly glare of his kidnapped classmate. In other circumstances, he might’ve been impressed.

            Izuku took a deep breath “Tell me, Kacchan, did you perhaps hit your head too hard on the way down? Because I cannot otherwise understand how bloody idiotic can you be?!” he yelled the last part. “What part of your oh so sound plan of lashing out right now seemed like a good idea?!”

            “At least I did something! What did you do? You just sit there like a coward, waiting to be saved!” the blond growled.

            “There’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity, and I’m starting to think you jumped it too long ago!” he huffed “God, do you ever think past your own ego? Do you ever think that there may be a sounder plan of getting the fuck out of here other than throwing firepower until they fall?! Because let me tell you, we’re kind of outmatched in that department!”

            Katsuki fumed “You call me an idiot, but you’re the one who paralysed himself because he forgot he had a Quirk!”

            That seemed to shut the boy up, and the teens could finally hear the giggles in the background. Most of the villains were laughing or something similar. Dabi was not so subtly leaning towards Shigaraki and saying “Please don’t tell me you took him for entertainment purposes.”

            Shigaraki just shrugged. He waited another half a minute for the laughter died down before returning to his prisoners. “Anyway, we’ve all been hurt by heroes. We’ve all had prejudice placed upon us.” He looked at the blond “How many times were you stopped from using your Quirk because it was too dangerous?”

            “Not that many” the nerd mumbled, though it was loud enough to be heard. That had the unfortunate effect of bringing the man’s attention towards him.

            “But what about you? Surely, with a Quirk like that, no one ever let you do anything!” he came closer and leaned towards the boy, who had no place left to cower “ You can only take away, you can never give back. I’m surprised they even let you in…” he grabbed the boy’s chin, holding him upwards “Has no one ever told you it’s bad to steal?”

            Katsuki felt the shard of a memory in his chest. He didn’t know what was more terrifying: the fact that the villain was so close to the truth, or the fact that the matters he had tackled were the tamer ones. Izuku’s eyes widened, before a now familiar boredom covered his eyes.

            “Never thought I’d get lectured on morality by a villain with numerous kill counts.”

            The man laughed and let him go, walking to the other side of the bar and sitting at a stool. “Spinner, put the kids to sleep, I don’t feel like dealing with them anymore.”

            The Stain rip-off approached them, soaking a rag in something. Katsuki growled and yelled “Touch me with that thing and I’ll shove my foot so fat up your ass, your dentist will clip my toenails from your mouth!”

            “Aren’t you a violent one?” The misty cocklamp stated the obvious, ten years too late.

            Deku, of course, jumped at the occasion to use his new-found guts and trash him while he was tied up and couldn’t teach him his place. “Wow, Kacchan, getting called out on your bullshit by a villain who wants to recruit you. It will look dashing on your resume, I’m sure” the boy mocked.

            Katsuki saw red. “In case you’ve forgotten, they took you for the same purpose too.”

            Daku huffed. “Please, they took me for my Quirk. They took you for your personality.”

The blond wanted to yell some more, but the lizard jabbed the cloth into his face and he fell in a matter of minutes.

-0-

            The moments the brats were asleep Kurdgiri decided to speak up.

            “Tomura Shigaraki. Sensei wants to speak with you.”

            “When did he say this?” he asked as a chill ran through his spine.

            “About an hour ago.”

            The man gritted his teeth. “Then why didn’t you say anything, you imbecile?!”

            “He wanted to make sure you had finished what business you had here since the conversation is apparently going to be…lengthy” the Mist bard said and Tomura heard the distinct voice of the deep fried fucker chuckle in the background.

            It’s not worth the time. You can’t make Sensei wait.

            He settled on a homicidal glare as he walked through the warp gate. He got out of the gate and stepped into the too brightly lit hall. The tiles were white, but mildew spread along the edges. The lights were obnoxiously neon, sucking whatever life was left in the white haired man. He just hoped he wouldn’t run into Tsubasa. That man made him uncomfortable and he honestly had no idea how he had managed not to kill the guy by now

            He looked at the hallways of the medical facility. Kamino, huh? The silver haired man started walking at a brisk pace. He wasn’t scared; he just didn’t want to keep Sensei waiting. He was a busy man after all, and he already had to wait because that stupid NPC didn’t deliver the proper info.

Tomura reached the door and quietly rapped his knuckles on the metal. He could hear his heart pumping blood in his chest, waiting in anticipation for it to open. It was about half a minute before a “Come in” came from inside.

            He entered and closed the door behind him. The room had all the luxury that had been spared the rest of the building. It didn’t have a lot of furniture, but what was there was of quality in order to keep the sole occupant in peak condition. Or at least peak condition for someone hooked to more machines than a quantic computer. Except for the wheelchair, the room had a lot of computers, a bed and a chair. The floors were empty, but heated.

            “Sensei?”

            The man tilted his head almost imperceptibly to the right. “Sit”. Though the sentence held no malice, Tomura was smart enough to not take it as anything but an order. He scurried to the chair, now facing the man. Even if he had nothing to fear from his sensei, he couldn’t shake the anxiety that came with knowing he might’ve done something wrong. It reminded him of all those years ago, before he’d realised the true nature of heroes, when he would be called to the principal’s office after doing something he wasn’t supposed to. And, even now, after all those years, he still felt that anxiety. Even if his feet could now touch the ground, he felt like nothing but a child under his teacher’s eyeless gaze.

            “Kurogiri said you wanted to talk to me.”

            “Indeed. I take that the attack on the training camp went well?”

            “Yes, it went great. We got the brat. We still have trouble bringing him to our side, but there’s still time.” He shrugged “If he proves to be too much of a hassle, we can turn him into a Noumu. It’s not like we can have too many.”

            “I see” the blind man said “But, from what you told me, you only wanted one student. Why did you take two?”

            Oh, so that was it. Tomura breathed in relief. “That was a last minute decision. I knew the Bakugou kid would be hard to convince, so I took the other to have a backup. He seems to have some common sense and, if it doesn’t work, we can use one to blackmail the other.”

            Sensei sighed and rubbed his nose (Or, where it used to be) “I should have seen this coming.” He looked at the man, who felt now like a child more than ever. “I believe I told you to leave the boy alone”

            “But he’s useful!” he said before a sudden thought struck him. I didn’t make him mad, did I? Horror filled him. I disappointed Sensei. I disappointed Sensei….

            “Are you…are you mad?” his voice sounded childish and small, and he hated it.

            The man sighed. “Not at you.” He rubbed his temples “I should have seen it coming” he lifted his head and looked at the boy in front of him. “Tell me, do you remember what I did before the accident?”

            Tomura was confused. Where did this come from? But he answered nonetheless. “You used to leave for weeks at a time. You called and you seemed happy.”

            “Yes. What did you think I did during those times?”

            “I don’t know. You seemed happy and you smiled. I asked you once, but you didn’t answer.” He looked down “You didn’t smile so much afterwards.”

            “Well, I will answer that question now, since you not knowing might become problematic.” He took a deep breath, searching for the words for it. Which was, of course, impossible. Sensei always knows what to say! “I had, and still have, a family.”

            “What?” he couldn’t have heard that right.

            “Yes. I was married. Not long before I found you, my wife gave birth to my son. They have no idea of my other life, and I would’ve loved to keep it that way and to keep them out of danger. Now tell me, Tomura, do you want to know what my real name is?”

            Tomura knew he wouldn’t like what was coming, he just knew. But he asked nonetheless “What?”

            “My real name is Hisashi Midoriya”

            The boy’s brain froze. He didn’t have any idea how he was supposed to react, what he was supposed to think. He remained in one place, eyes wide. In the end, a crooked voice that didn’t sound like his made his way out of his throat.

            “What?” he took a few deep breaths, his heart beating erratically in his chest. “Midoriya? Like the….”

            “Like the kid currently unconscious in the bar, yes.”

            “Wha…how?”

            “I’m pretty sure you know how children are made…”

            “That’s not what I meant!” Tomura almost yelled, too shocked to acknowledge he was lashing out at his Sensei. “How can he be related to you? If he is, why did you let him become a hero?”

            “He is my son, I can assure you of that. As for why did I let him become a hero, believe me, I tried to snuff out that spark all his life.” He sighed “Unfortunately, he is a lot like my brother in the aspect of heroism and too much like me when it comes to stubbornness. My brother who got thrown down and kicked all his life by everyone” He didn’t have eyes but, if he had, Tomura suspected he would look with melancholy in the distance “That didn’t stop him. It pushed him forward. I-I tried to protect him…” he stopped for a moment and took a deep breath. It was the first time he had seen Sensei anything other than absolutely composed “In the end, it only got worse. He died and left behind a legacy of successors hell bent on ending me. I won’t make the same mistake twice. I’m telling you this to make sure you won’t let him get hurt more than necessary.”

            Tomura thought about the boy bleeding from his eyes and realised he was a little bit too far to worry about that. Even so, he said “I’ll do my best, Sensei.”

The man smiled. “Good. And I hope you know that telling him or anyone else about this conversation is off limits” his words were sweet, but Tomura could detect the edge, the unspoken threat left outside for him to see. It was an order, a clear order, and Tomura knew he wouldn’t like the consequences if he didn’t obey.

 

Chapter Text

                Izuku was tied to a chair and it was starting to get itchy. Kacchan kept throwing him glares, but that was understandable considering the small show he put on the other day. A show which had achieved its purpose. He didn’t put up a fight, he didn’t argue or annoy the villains. His jabs were only directed at his classmate, not at his kidnappers.

He was confident he‘d managed to paint the image of two rivals, one angry and one harmless. Though he wouldn’t lie to himself and pretend he didn’t enjoy speaking his mind.

                Alright now all I need is a way out. Izuku knew he wouldn’t get anywhere with those chains on. Same went for Kacchan. He had to find a way to untie them both. For now though, he waited. He took in any amount of information he could. So far, the villains seemed pretty indifferent to him. Well, except for Toga who clearly had no concept of personal space and was way too handsy for him to be comfortable with her anywhere near him.

                Dabi seemed pretty OK. He didn’t take any more payback for that punch other than those first kicks back at the camp. Spinner was constantly gushing out Stain’s ideology, so much so that Izuku was prepared to break into Tartarus and make them meet, just so the lizard could satisfy his fanboy crush on the villain and shut the fuck up.

                God, I wasn’t like that, was I?

                But far the most unsettling one was Shigaraki. The man kept throwing him weird glances, and the teen couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. It wasn’t the crazed look he’d had at the mall, when he’d more or less been a child throwing a tantrum. No, the look in his eyes right now was...analytic for lack of a better word. Like the man was trying to figure out just how many layers he would have to peel off of the teen before he could truly appreciate what was inside. He had no idea what the man was thinking, and he knew the access to that information could be both game changing and scarring at the same time.

                His childhood friend was avoiding him. Izuku would have to talk to him sometime in the future; if he hoped to escape, he would need the other teen’s help.

                Please, let this work.

-0-

 

                Tomura was conflicted. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t like not knowing what to do. He understood what was happening, but he still couldn’t completely wrap his mind around it. Sensei had a child. Sensei had this child. What the fuck was he supposed to do?

                The man looked at the boy for what was probably the third time in ten minutes. He did look a little bit like Sensei before the accident. His messy hair was green instead of black, he was shorter, but the built was similar. He seemed to have Sensei’s gift for words, and the childish alternative of the man’s wit. The Quirk was a slightly different, but that was evolution for you.

                No, what the man couldn’t get over was the overwhelming feeling of betrayal. Sensei had a child. And he never told Tomura about it. The man couldn’t stop the slight hint of jealousy he had towards the boy. It wasn’t fair! The gamer had to stop himself from stomping his foot into the ground. To think he had grown up with Sensei there.

                He glared at the floor, than at the boy. No, I can’t think like that, Sensei would be mad if I killed him. I’ll have to find another way to deal with this.

But what Tomura really couldn’t understand was why the boy loved heroes.  What was there to love? Why did he want to become a hero?

                They probably didn’t manage to hurt him yet. He didn’t get to realise how fucked up the society is, not like me and Sensei. Which... ok that made sense.

                Tomura felt another surge of anger. Sensei had said he had tried to convince the boy to give up heroism for many years. That he’d tried to show him the truth. But the boy still believed in them. How bad were the media and the society, if a boy raised by Sensei trusted those spandex clad monkeys more than his own father?

                Ugh! This was giving him a headache!

                Tomura thought on the mall incident. After he had returned and the news spread, he had gotten a call in which Sensei had scolded him. Yes, the man had kept his composed exterior and had only chided him harsher than usual, but Tomura could feel the waves of anger and something else rolling off the man. Sensei had said that what he did was reckless and drew the bad kind of attention towards them, but Tomura knew there was more to it than usual.

                Now it made much better sense.

                That weird feeling? It had been worry. Sensei had been worried, even scared for his son. That meant he cared. Tomura could remember bits and pieces from before Sensei. They were small and mostly blurry, but he recalled the warmth he’d felt for his parents. He remembered the pain he felt when they were gone. He also remembered the fear and pain after All Might broke Sensei. He never wanted to feel anything similar ever again.

                Sensei had threatened Tomura. He had scolded and revealed an important secret to make sure the brat wouldn’t get hurt. That meant he cared. He cared about the boy almost as much as the Tomura cared about Sensei.

                Sensei had cared about his brother too. In all the years Tomura had known Sensei this had been the closest he’d seen him to losing composure. The man had remained calm and calculating for a decade and a half, but one painful memory had almost made him vulnerable. Tomura never wanted to see his Sensei like that. Ever.

                So, it was simple: he had to keep the brat alive. Alive and well. If he died, Tomura didn’t know what would happen to Sensei, but he didn’t want to ever see the man vulnerable again.

                So, he had to make sure the kid was safe. Now, if only he could manage not to kill him first.

-0-

 

                Katsuki didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what to think. And he hated it. Everything was confusing. First, the boy he had considered the spy had been kidnapped by the villains. But he still acted innocent. Of course, he could pretend, but the uneasiness he expressed when that crazy chick jumped on him felt genuine. Of course, the others could let happen as punishment or something, but even he wasn’t that petty. There was also the fact that his capture seemed for real. So, in light of this new evidence, he would give the fucker the benefit of the doubt.

                But that didn’t explain the sudden set of guts he’d decided to grow. He had remained silent for ten years and now he started trashing Katsuki? Something seemed fishy. He remembered what the fried cocklamp said. Shigaraki wouldn’t kidnap him for entertainment, would he? But the villains seemed pleased, and the albino cocksucker thought he would join them, so that theory was still on the table.

                He ignored the slight hint of concern for the nerd. Yeah, he didn’t want the fucker to die, sue him! Aizawa’s discussion had rattled something in him, and the thought of the freckled teen dead made him feel very uncomfortable.

                The TV was on, going over the media’s trashing of the UA. Katsuki would risk his wrists just to turn that shit off because it was pulling at his already frayed nerves. The lizard was the worst of all. He kept going on and on about Stain and his ideology, and even Deku seemed fed up with it, if the rolling eyes were a hint.

                “I just don’t understand why you are so against it” The lizard tried to argue when Izuku made the fatal mistake of engaging in a conversation with the man.

                “Look man, I agree that some of them shouldn’t be there; and there is a special place in hell for the person who gave Endeavour his licence” the nerd started and Dabi’s attention was suddenly drawn towards him. “But whatever’s your justification, murder is still murder.”

                “But they don’t deserve to be heroes! They only do it for money and fame!”

                “Most of them actually do want to help people. You’re blaming them for having any other interests beyond that” the boy argued.

Now tell me, Bakugou, when was the last time you saved someone? Fucking Aizawa and his speech.

                “Well, what do you say about that classmate of yours? He’s clearly was in for the revenge” the man leaned forward to the tied up kid.

                He didn’t seem very impressed. “Sure, blame the kid in pain and grief, whose brother almost got murdered for getting driven by emotion and not noticing the man beside him.” He shook his head and sighed. “Really now, the only thing those heroes had in common was their pride and lack of common sense for jumping on the guy who was clearly stronger.”

                The man leaned back “So you say that if you were there again and you didn’t have any backup, you wouldn’t do it?”

                The boy gave him a slightly smug smile “I’ve already been there and I jumped in even if I didn’t have any backup” he chuckled and released a sigh “The only thing I’d change would be the strategy”

                The lizard seemed like he wanted to say something, but the TV decided to show something different for once and all people turned toward the image of the Erasure Hero and Blood King on the screen at a press conference.

                “We regret to announce that our unpreparedness was the reason harm came to 27 of our first year students.” Aizawa said. “Though ours is an institution for heroes in training, we were nonetheless negligent in our defences against villains and we understand that that had made many of you uneasy. We apologise deeply and sincerely, there is no excuse for what happened.”

                What the fuck?

                The camera switched to a man who stood up. “Question form NHA: this is the fourth time your students were attacked by villains.” Yeah, and Deku was solely responsible for half of those “Given that some of them actually got injured this time, what explanation have you given to their understandably concerned families? Furthermore, please tell us in concrete terms what measured you have taken to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future?

                This time, it was Nedzu who spoke. “We’ve increased surveillance around the surrounding areas and ramped our school’s security system. And we’ve explained to the parents that our stand against villainy will keep the students safe”

                It sounded weak even to Katsuki. The blond wasn’t a talker, but he could already see how the media was going to chew them out. It was just a speculation, wishful thinking. From his point of view, it was either they didn’t stand strong enough the first time, which invited the question why the fuck? Or they stood strong and it did jackshit against villains. Katsuki cursed, this wasn’t good.

                “Mr Eraserhead” some other fucker said “You claim it’s for your students safety but, in the middle of it all, you encouraged them to fight. What was your intention at that point?” is this shit serious? We would’ve died if we didn’t fight! A pained sigh came from his classmate.

                Aizawa said, keeping a perfect pokerface “At that time, we had no way of grasping the full extent of the situation. We allowed the students to defend themselves to avoid the worst case scenario.”

                “Worst case scenario? How else would you describe 26 students injured and 2 kidnapped?”

                If all of us died you fuckface! Apparently, Aizawa was also a long-distance mind reader because he said “At the moment, the worst case scenario seems the death of all my students.”

                The man didn’t seem impressed. Nedzu quickly jumped in “It became clear that the gas responsible for most of the injuries belonged to of the villains. Kendo’s and Tetsutetsu’s quick thinking was responsible for minimizing the damage. The students have received psychological evaluation and none seemed to have suffered emotional trauma.”

                “Is that supposed to be a silver lining? Speaking of psychological help, what about the two kidnapees? Bakugou won the Sports Festival, he struggled valiantly against a villain during the sludge incident, and his records show he has the making of a hero. Yet, he showed a rather violent attitude after his last match, attitude which persisted during the award ceremony.” The blond winced. That... hadn’t been his best moment. “We’ve already got glimpses of his mental instability. What if those very instances are what turned him into a target? What if a skilled manipulator gets him and sends him down the path of evil?”

                Aizawa kept his face but, at the same time, he looked close to an aneurism. His words came to mind again:  If being a villain meant being the best, if stepping on and maiming the innocent helped you pursue your goals and killing everyone who looked at you sideways would make you look cool, would you still be a hero?

                He can’t still think that, can he? No, Katsuki wouldn’t be a villain, he wouldn’t!

                Aizawa took a deep breath…and bowed “Any lapse in his behaviour is my failing as a teacher. His behaviour at the Sports Festival is only proof of his strong conviction and ideals. More than anyone, he pursues the title of hero with everything he’s got. If the villains have mistaken it for weakness, then their thought process is indeed superficial.”

                “Ha, fuckers! Do you see that?” he grinned, but Fuckface McMike was still focused on the screen.

                “You seem to guarantee for one boy, but what about the other?” Izuku seemed to perk up at that “He didn’t really stood out for the first part, but he has shown lack of self-preservation in the Sports Festival….”

                “I what?” The villains giggled.

                “….not to mention the incredible amount of times he had found himself in villain’s clutches. Both Stain and the League had shown interest in him, multiple times, yet the school took no measure of protection for him. Don’t you thing the trauma he had already been through had a negative effect against him?”

                “His mental state was within healthy perimeters before we left for the camp” Aizawa said.

                “How do you know?” Dabi said, but Katsuki was focused on Izuku’s what the fuck expression.

                “Healthy perimeters, you say. Then, how do you explain the death of the villain known as Muscular?”

                Izuku paled

 “What?” he breathed

                “Reports proved that the villain was disfigured by the huge amounts of force applied to his body as the result of a Quirk. The only way they even identified him was by the DNA left at the crime scene.”

                “I-I...I didn’t...kill him” the boy seemed to be in shock “I didn’t-kill him, did I?” his voice was small, eyes wide, chest heaving. Dabi smirked.

                “You blew up a mountain, what do you think that did to a human body?”

                Holy shit, that was Deku?

                Shigaraki leaned over his shoulder, four fingers digging into his collarbone “Too bad you couldn’t keep his Quirk, it would’ve been very convenient, wouldn’t it, Mido-chan?” the boy seemed to be in too much of a shock to pull back. Katsuki looked everywhere but the guilt wretched teen, his gaze falling once again on the TV. Aizawa looked positively murderous.

                “It seems you’ve forgotten the situation he was in, so let me remind you: the kid in question was against a powerful villain and had a kid to protect. Said villain was going to beat a five year old to death and had already deeply injured the boy you so eagerly jump to blame. Now you tell me….” Shigaraki turned off the TV and left the green haired boy to deal with his existential crises.

                On the counter, the computer suddenly lit up, showing the sound only. An old, scratchy, yet somehow familiar voice came through the speakers.

                “Tomura. I see that your plan got the desired effect.”

                “Yes Sensei, it worked. Those heroes had lost the people’s trust. Not before long, the society will be too buried in their own feud to be able to fix it.”

                “I see. Have you thought about our earlier discussion?”

                The man behind the hand seemed to freeze for a moment. Not subtly at all, he said “Yes, I thought it over. I understand what you say, so, don’t worry, I’ll make sure everything goes according to plan.”

                Ok...that’s weird. It was the first time he saw the man-child even remotely unsettled. Something was fishy.

                “Good. Now, I’d like to have a little conversation with young Bakugou here. Kurogiri?”

                “Hey! What the fu-?!” but the black mist enveloped him before he had the chance to protest.

-0-

 

 

                The clock was ticking at a horrendously slow pace and Kouta felt like blasting it off the wall. He was sitting in one of those hospital chairs that were so fucking uncomfortable, they must’ve been imported from hell just to cut off the taxes. He hated this. He hated that he had to wait for the “grown-ups” to finish talking. What did they know, anyway? This was stupid. Why didn’t they listen to him? What, just because he was a kid, did that make his opinion any less important?

                He remembered how Midoriya had come to him. He was nothing but friendly, yet Kouta had punched him in the balls. He had even brought him food and gave him advice. He also saved him, even if he didn’t have to. He put himself in danger just to save a little kid who had been a jerk to him. Kouta kicked his legs, mad his sneakers couldn’t reach the tiles.

                The hospital had been crowded when they arrived. Now it was almost empty, probably to make room for the ghosts that could no longer leave the building. Stop that, Pixie-Bob will be fine!

                His injuries had been minor, so they just gave him a lollipop and told him to wait until one of his guardians could take him home.

                White tiles, cold room, two unmoving forms on stretchers.

                No, not again.

                I’m so sorry, Kouta…

                Shut up…

                They were brave..

                I don’t care!

                Not again. Never again.

                The door suddenly opened. A small, plump woman entered the hall, holding a little girl by the hand. She was about his age, with white hair and a small horn protruding from her head. The woman led the girl to the chair next to him and set her there. She had dark green hair and green big eyes. Midoriya’s mom Kouta realised. The woman kneeled down and placed her hand on the girls shoulder.

                “Stay here till I get back, ok? I’ll talk to the teachers and let you know when we’ll get him back.” The girl nodded and the woman left in a hurry, not before placing a kiss on the girl’s forehead. Kouta watched her disappear behind the door and watched it swing back and forth in the empty hallway. Now there was only Kouta and the girl, if you didn’t count the nurse dozing off in her seat.

                He remained silent for a few seconds before the sound of his own thoughts became too loud to remain contained between the walls of his head. “Are you Midoriya’s sister?” he asked and wanted to slap himself for his lack of tact. If someone had approached him back then he would’ve punched them in the balls or the female equivalent. The girl’s head jerked in his direction, looking at him with eyes filled with fear and a bunch of other emotions. Kouta felt bad and averted his eyes. It was none of his business anyway.

                So, after a few moments when the girl finally answered in a meek and small “Yes” Kouta’s head whipped at her so fast he almost cracked his neck. He looked at her, thinking of what to say. She averted her eyes, mingling with the straps of her All Might rucksack. Finally, deciding he couldn’t make this any less awkward he said:

                “He saved me.” He said, as if it was supposed to explain everything. It wasn’t the most poetic thing he could come up with, but it was the only that came to mind and damn if he was going to let fear hold it back.

                 A small, nostalgic smile made its way on her features. “That’s what he does.” Well, apparently, it did explain everything. She pulled her backpack off her shoulder and searched through it. After a few minutes she pulled some coloured, slightly crumbled sheets of paper. She looked at them, as if she had just forgotten what she wanted to use them for.

                “What are you doing?”

                She jerked awake and suddenly looked at him again. “Izu taught me how to do origami…” she said as she started to mingle with a sheet of paper. “He said…” she sniffled “He said that, if I made one thousand cranes, a wish may come true.” Her hands stilled, lost in thought and her eyes watered. “I used to be scared of birds. Really, really scared of birds. I still am. They are mean and bad and scary…..” her small fists crumbled the paper in her hands. She looked at it before putting it away and grabbing another one. “But, if it brings him back, if it gets my brother back here safe…” her lip quivered and she wiped a stray tear, but her eyes were set. “Then I’ll make as many birds as I have to.”

                Kouta remembered how they did origami once at the kindergarten. The teacher had explained the meaning behind some symbols and animals. The boy didn’t find it overly interesting, but it was a useful way of wasting time.

                That’s stupid. How is a piece of paper supposed to make a wish come true? Birds can’t bring people back, it is impossible!

                The girl looked at him with big, bright eyes, so similar to her brother, nor in colour, but in that desperate hope that everything would be alright despite the odds. “Would you like to help me?”

                This was stupid. There was no way it would work. It was nothing but a stupid superstition and wish fulfilment. It would only bring hope where there wasn’t room for any.

                “Yes”

               

 

Chapter Text

 

                It took Katsuki a few seconds to realise he had regained his vision because it was just so fucking dark in the room. Seriously now, how did anyone see in here?! His question was answered when he saw the man in the wheel chair, who’s upper half of his face had been melted and, as such, had no eyes. The man tilted his head, as if he was watching him.

                “Young Bakugou, what a pleasure to meet you.” The man said in a voice of molten horrors that sent spikes of familiar fear through his neck. This man was a horrible person, the malice pouring off of him in waves. It was a scarring feeling, like that of a thousand centipedes crawling over his skin, entering through his ears and nose, caving their wat through his skull.  He shivered but lifted his chin, decided not to give in.

                “Yeah, I’m here. Care to explain to me why?” he would’ve thrown in a threat for good measure, but he was tied up and instinctively knew this man was not to be meddled with.

                “Why the hurry? I for one quite enjoy a relaxing discussion over some tea. It’s a beautiful day, don’t you think?” the man said like he didn’t have a care in the world. Katsuki refrained himself from lashing out. It would do him no good to be killed by this man because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He hated people who dragged the discussion too much, and the man must know so if he acted like this.

                “I don’t know what kind of day it is, and I don’t know how you know if it is.” He had to make at least a little jab. The man clicked his tongue.

                “I see you’re still an impatient. Can’t say I’m surprised, you were always a bratty and disrespectful kid, but at least you gained some common sense over the years.” He sounded somewhat… disappointed. Katsuki tensed. All his speech was way too familiar, but for the love of god almighty, he couldn’t point out where the fuck from.

                “I was always... That means you knew me before, but I can’t remember any eyeless evil bastards in my childhood.” He snarled. The man sighed.

                “I suppose you’re right. Back then, I still had eyes and a whole deal of more sanity than now. Taking care of Shigaraki can be quite exhausting. Most people now know me as All for One. Sensei if you please. But back then, most people, including you, knew me by another name.” the man gathered his hands in his lap and smiled condescendingly “Tell me, does the name Hisashi Midoriya sound familiar?”

                Katsuki froze. His blood turned to stone, his guts to ashes as his brain was desperately trying to compute the new piece of information. No, that’s not possible. It couldn’t be possible, it couldn’t. But why not? The tiny voice of doubt said. You knew that man was bad. You knew that he was evil, yet no one believed you. You finally have the proof.

                How? Why? It doesn’t make any sense.

                No, it makes too much sense.

                Katsuki looked up, panting violently. The man-Izuku’s father-had the audacity to wait for him to come to terms with his existential crises. A pleased smile graced his lips, no doubt enjoying the boy’s shock. The blond gulped. His heart was racing a mouse’s, blood flooding his ears with static. It can’t be, it can’t be…

                Because Hisashi was the only person who terrified him. The only person who left the unmistakable trace of horror on his memories and mind. Izuku had scared him. Hisashi had scarred him.

                The man had been the ever present shadow in his childhood. A presence he couldn’t escape or outrun. Most four-year-olds were scared of monsters, of the boogieman. Katsuki was scared of the man next door.

                And now, he was tied up and defenceless against said man, after almost a decade of bullying his son. No amount of obscenities could accurately describe how fucked he was at the moment.

                He looked at the man once again. He had questions, but, at the same time, he was too afraid to want the answer. His voice was aching to break free, yet his tongue was frozen in fear. He flexed his fingers inside the box. His wrists and joints were aching from the position, yet his body wouldn’t move.

                In short, he was terrified.

                After god knows how long, his traitorous voice finally climbed its way up his throat and he managed to croak a pitiful word.

                “Why?”

                The man chuckled. “Katsuki, you’ll have to be more precise, there are a lot of answers I can give to such a vague question. Why I do what I do? Simply put, I started long before quirked people turned from outcast to ordinary. Why did I talk to you? I wanted to give you some perspective, a heads up regarding your next words and actions, a warning, if you will, to consider them carefully.”

                How old is he?

                He had a million question, yet he decided to voice the one that made the littlest sense. “Why did you let him become a hero?”

                Hisashi sighed. “A lot of people seem to have the impression that I somehow let him throw himself in this paid suicide business. Katsuki, I won’t insult your intelligence, even though you made some mistakes that would be funny if they weren’t tragic, but I will ask you a question. You’ve known my son for as long as you’ve lived; please, tell me, do you think that anything I, or anyone else would have said could have changed his mind?”

                No, his mind supplied. No, it wouldn’t have changed his mind. Teachers, colleagues, friends had been telling him he couldn’t be a hero for one reason or another, and nothing ever moved the boy.

                “Why are you telling me this?”

                “I didn’t think that, besides proper conduct, you lacked hearing too. I already explained that I’m giving you a warning.”

                The blond gritted his teeth. “Why are you giving me a warning? You hate me, you always hated me. You even tried to kill me once!”

                The man sighed, as if the memory gave him pleasure. Maybe it did. Katsuki shuddered at the thought. “I won’t deny that I despise you. My son, however, thinks quite highly of you, and I know that murdering you would hurt him greatly. Finding out the truth about me would hurt him as well and I’m not sure how many more hits his mental health can take. So, consider this the last warning: if Izuku finds out about me, or is put in any more jeopardy because of you, let’s just say that a Noumu with explosion powers would be an excellent addition to my collection. Am I clear?”

                Katsuki nodded quickly, trying to swallow the huge knot in his throat. “The fire, it was you, wasn’t it?”

                The man gave him a pleased smile. “Who else?”

                “What’s your Quirk?”

                “The same thing as Izuku, though his seemed to have received an upgrade.”

                “So it was you who gave him the new Quirk?” Katsuki had to know. The man laughed.

                “Ha, like I’d make that mistake again.” He was lost in his own thoughts for a second. “No, whatever he fed you and the school staff, it’s probably true.”

                “But I thought-”

                “Katsuki” the man pinned him with his eyeless stare “Do you honestly think I’d give my already reckless son a Quirk that breaks his bones on use?”

                The boy looked down. “No”. Hisashi leaned back, apparently satisfied. Katsuki, against the last shred of common sense, said: “Why are you doing this? Why are you conducting the League of Villains? Why are you letting Shigaraki in charge?”

                “To put it plainly, this society is highly broken and deeply flawed. Over the last century or so it has shown no signs of changing, except, maybe, for the worse; someone has to force the change. The world can either comply and change or crumble and let me built it back. Either way, change will happen.”

                “What’s wrong with it? Are you mad heroes are catching villains?”

                “I’m upset at how the world perceives said heroes. I’m mad at how Quirks are viewed and what the stigma of having an evil Quirk or none at all has become.”

                “What do you mean?” he knew he wasn’t supposed to entertain the villain, but he couldn’t deny he wanted to know.

                “Tell me, why do people want powerful Quirks?” Katsuki was shocked to realise he didn’t know. He had had a powerful Quirk all his life, yet he didn’t know. The man quirked a smile. “Let me tell you. People want to have powerful Quirks to be heroes. They want to be powerful, they want to be famous, they want to be worshiped. But not everyone can be a hero. You can’t be too strong, because then you’re a villain, and god forbid you’re Quirkless, because then, you’re not even a person. Kids are brainwashed from birth into seeing heroes as the best thing you can be. Anything else and you’re a failure.”

                “That’s not true!” he lashed out before remembering who he was talking to. The man didn’t seem discouraged.

                “Oh, isn’t it? Then tell me: how many people told Izuku that he could be a hero after he started saying that he was Quirkless? How many people suggested anything else, how many people told him, or you for that matter, that being a hero isn’t the only way in life. How. Many. People?”

                Katsuki pursed his lips “None”

                “Exactly.” All for One leaned back in his chair. “Because in this society, Quirks are everything. If you have a good Quirk, you are guaranteed to be a hero. It doesn’t matter that you don’t care about any human being, it doesn’t matter if you are a despicable person in desperate need of therapy or a straight jacket, you have a good Quirk, you can be a hero. Actually it’s almost like some kind of duty, as if you’re obligated to pay the world back for your good genes.” Katsuki couldn’t deny that  “As for my other point, do you have any idea about the student injury rate of the UA alone?”

Katsuki shook his head

“Let’s just say that, if it wasn’t for Recovery Girl, nearly half the students wouldn’t get to graduate, be it from death or permanent injury. Heroes die, and all you can do is praise them for their sacrifice. Why? Because kids have been told, for as long as they can remember, that you have to die for the state to be anything important in life, and that, when you go you should do so with a bang that saves as many people as possible. Not a bad philosophy in and of itself, but in excess it becomes toxic.”

                Katsuki was speechless. He didn’t know what to say. He wanted to deny, he wanted to say that that wasn’t true, but, the more he thought about it, the more those traitorous thoughts dug their way into his skull. The villain seemed pleased.

                “I’ll let you mull over this.” A warp gate opened and started swirling around his chair. “One more thing, Katsuki. You know what’s the difference between you and my son? He deserved his power”

                The mist swallowed him whole.

-0-

 

                Shinsou was dressing himself while watching the fast setting sun over the city. His stitches were itching, but he couldn’t scratch them to relieve his pain, so he was more or less stuck in that uncomfortable state. That crazy chick didn’t hit any important organs and any blood vessels that might’ve been hit had been closed with the help of a mix of Quirks and medicine he didn’t even try to understand. The only thing remaining were the possible scars, but the thought of Todoroki’s face and Midoriya’s entire body at the hot spring made him feel, if not better, then less worse than before.

                Midoriya….

                Shinsou had mulled over Kirishima’s proposal. He knew there was little they could do that the heroes couldn’t. They were looking and that, by itself, should’ve been enough. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t enough. Shinsou couldn’t forget the bloodied face of his classmate or how he had pushed himself over the edge to save everyone when he could just as well return to the camp. To safety. He couldn’t ignore his desperate voice begging them to leave him behind.

                He could’ve done more. He could brainwash, for fucks sake, but, apparently, his Quirk was pretty useless when people knew its weakness, which had been broadcasted live and international. He cursed. There were so many things he could’ve done to save his friend. Yes, Midoriya was his friend. His first friend. It wasn’t just his personality (although that too was a major factor), it was the fact that the green haired boy was the first person he could actually relate to. The others were great, and friendly, and honestly better than anything he had encountered after the age of four… but they didn’t understand.

                They were born with powerful Quirks, good Quirks, hero Quirks. They couldn’t understand the stigma, the bullying, the pain and despair at being born wrong. But Midoriya understood. He had been in the same situation and he managed to get through it. Hell, he’d probably had it worse, since he chose to say he was Quirkless, which was as bad as, if not worse, than an “evil” Quirk . He’d felt a little bad when, after his confession, Shinsou had pulled back. It was even more unsettling when his reaction was to laugh it off, barely hiding the hint of hurt behind the smile. Shinsou was, in that moment at least, no better than the people he despised, since his Quirk could actually work on its own. Midoriya was functionally Quirkless without Quirks to copy.

                There was also that something around him that forced you to get attached. The teen had seen it on Todoroki, after they’d almost killed each other on stage, he had seen the small hints of concern in Aizawa and damn if the rest of the class weren’t in on it. The only person immune to the charm was probably Bakugou, who seemed to carry some pretty heavy baggage.

                The fact was, the boy had some serious mental problems. That degree of self-sacrifice was too much, and the sudden mood-swings couldn’t be healthy.

                Shinsou gathered his belongings and went for the stairs. He trotted down the steps and got out through the exit. Kirishima and Todoroki were waiting in the front.

                “Shinsou?”

                He shrugged in the most disinterested way. “Well, Midoriya and his saviour complex saved us more than once. I guess it’s his time to get his ass saved too.” He looked at his two classmates “Are we doing this or what?”

                “We’re waiting for Yaoyorozu. No matter how fired up we are, we can’t get anywhere without her help.”

                The doors swung open and the boys turned. Yaoyorozu and Uraraka were walking out. “Wadd’ya say, Yaoyorozu?” Kirishima started.

                “Wait!” they turned around (again) to see their class president marching towards them. He marched towards Todoroki, ignoring the other teens “You of all people should know better! You criticize me for my actions, yet you do the same thing when it comes to it!” he looked down, trembling in rage “The school is already under the public eye! What do you think your actions will cause?!

                “It’s not like that.” Todoroki said in a monotone voice, even if the sharp edge in his voice could cut steel with its bitterness.

                Iida punched him. Todoroki swung back before the taller teen grabbed him by the collar. “I regret it too! I’m class president, I’m worried about all my classmates, not only them. When you came back all battered and bloodied, it reminded me of my brother.” he paused to take a breath “What will happen when your little vigilante act takes you too far? Don’t you care about how I feel? About how Midoriya feels? What will he say if you die while trying to save him?”

                Todoroki grabbed his wrist “I had him, Iida!” he lifted his head and his eyes were filled with fury born from fear “He was five feet away when they took him. I could’ve grabbed him, I could’ve done something!” he looked down “But I couldn’t, I didn’t and they took him. They took them.”

                “But, don’t you remember what he told us, what he told me that time in the hospital?” he grabbed the other boy’s shoulder and looked him in the eye.

                “At least like this he will get to be mad at me….” He took a deep breath “And maybe live long enough to forgive me.”

                Thankfully, Kirishima came to the rescue “Wow, wow, wow, guys, you don’t think we’ll smash down their door guns blazing, do you?”

                “This will be a covert mission” Todoroki said, freeing himself from the other teen. “We’ll get them back without fighting, on the right side of the law!”

                Yaoyorozu found that moment to speak “Todoroki, I trust your judgment but, if worst comes to worst, I’ll be there as backup. That’s the reason I’m coming too.”

                “Yaoyorozu!?” both Iida and Kirishima exclaimed.

                “I don’t know why, but being able to save them and not doing anything just doesn’t sit right with me.”

                “I see there’s no convincing you. I’ll join you too” Iida gave in.

                “Why? Your reason’s not that convincing?” Uraraka said.

                “But what’s your reason? You seemed pretty adamant to go after them?” Shinsou, ever the sceptic asked.

                Uraraka looked down. “You’re right to say Mido-kun wouldn’t like to put ourselves in danger and Bakugou would probably hate having to be saved…. But I realised I don’t really care what he’ll think if we manage to save him. Like Todoroki said, he can be mad all he wants, but at least he’ll be alive to do so.”

                “I’m sorry I hit you, Todoroki. It was unnecessarily violent and uncalled for from me. As for your other question, it’s exactly because I don’t agree with you that I decided to join.” Shinsou raised his eyebrows “If I think, even for a second that things will devolve into a fight, I’m pulling you out of here. I’ll be your guardian, got it?”

                “That’s the exact reason I’m also joining” Yaoyorozu said. “This is a job for the pros and we shouldn’t interfere. But I understand how you feel, so this is a compromise.” She pulled out a device, which Shinsou assumed was the tracker.

                They ate and planned on the train ride. Once there, they decided to change their appearance to remain inconspicious. Yaoyorozu threw a dark hoodie on Shinsou, which, whan combined with the bags under his eyes, made him look even more like a drug addict. At least he fit with the crowd now. Uraraka had, by far, the weirdest change, because she had somehow managed to completly change her skin-tone to silver, with a vivid pink wig and clothes like a skater. Shinsou made a mental to beware of the girl’s makeup skills, he didn’t want to mess with that.

                All turned to hell when Aizawa and Vlad King appeared on the screen and, as they apologised, the crowd turned against the heroes.

-0-

 

                Katsuki woke to the scent of smoke. His eyes opened and, through the haziness, he saw his flaming curtains stretching to grab him like two phantom hands out of hell. Fire, fire , fire, why is there so much fire? The flames didn’t have an answer. He got out of bed so fast, he tripped over his legs and fell onto the floor. The flames covering the rug licked his skin, leaving it pink and tender. He dashed for the door, hitting and tripping over furniture in his rush.

                The handle bit viciously into his skin, but he still managed to wrench it open. The rest of the house was made of the same hellish landscape.

                Mom! Dad! He threw himself at his parents’ door, which gave away under his weight. His shoulder was throbbing, but he could only focus on the two unmoving silhouettes on the bed. He jumped on it and started shaking them while yelling as loud as his smoke-stained throat permitted.

                “Mom, Dad, wake up, wake up!”

                His parents woke up and wasted exactly one second to take in the flaming nightmare before his mom grabbed him and ran out the door.

                Everything after that was a blur. He remembered the red and blue lights, the wailing of the hooter, the paramedics. He remembered his father’s hand combing through his hair and his mother’s voice trying to soothe him. He remembered the white tiles of the hospital, the antiseptic smell, the doctors.

                He also remembered a pair of green eyes and bandaged hands when he entered the wing for burn victims. He remembered the fear of the silhouette hiding behind the door, and the worry that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

                He also remembered the tall man pushing the kid back inside and the quirk in his lips as he shut the door.

                Katsuki groaned as he opened his eyes. That damned dream again! He thought he had gotten over it last year, but no, still there, full force.

                “Kacchan! Kacchan, you all right? What happened, what did he do to you?”

                Oh, you’re still here. Katsuki groaned and glared at the teen still tied on the chair next to him. Deku lifted an eyebrow, confusion still present on his face. Katsuki ignored him and glared at the wall.

                It had been more than a decade, yet he could still smell the smoke. The distinct scent of synthetic material burning and the adrenaline induced strength that gave him the power to wake up his parents. It was the first time he had feared for his life.

                The case was classified as an accident. No matter how much Katsuki said it had been Hisashi, no one believed him. The man had been all day there taking care of his injured child, there was no way he could’ve done something like that. And he wasn’t the only person with fire-related Quirks in the neighbourhood.

                The man had the absolute gall to accuse Katsuki of accidentally starting the fire. After all, the boy had just gotten his Quirk back after two weeks of disuse, of course he could’ve done that. But no one believed Katsuki. No one believed the traumatised child.

                Of course they didn’t.

                He had almost died that night.

Maybe you deserved it.

 Shut up!

The blond eyed the scars on his classmate’s wrists. At least you got away without any scars. He didn’t have that luxury. It was true. A few healers had been brought for the other boy’s wounds, and they were still in the hospital when the blond arrived. He had been healed as fast as they could and had been released after about a day.

                They changed the house, but not the neighbourhood. A house at the end of the street had been put for sale, pretty cheap and the only thing their insurance allowed them to buy. He had begged his parents to move somewhere else, but they refused. Every time he crossed the street, he looked both ways, not for cars, but for Hisashi.

                A month after the incident, he was playing in the small park near the forest. Now, it was but a patch of grass with some swings and a slide, but it had been huge through his eyes as a child. Those extras he could never remember the name of were swooning over him and his new ball.

                He remembered the small, tiny voice that startled him.

                “Kacchan?” the blond had turned around and saw the green eyed boy. He was small, hiding in the shadows, afraid to step into his light. He was scared, clutching an All Might themed lunchbox into his hands. The day was hot and the short sleeved shirt revealed the bandages still present over his wounds.

                He knew what was in that box. He could smell it from there. It was filled with cupcakes, the kind they’d shared before. The boy was standing there, scared and away, waiting for the blond to invite him in. A peace offering. An apology.

                Katsuki had growled and turned fully towards the boy. No words were exchanged between the two, though no words were needed. Katsuki glared as the boy took a step backwards, widening the rift between the two.

                Keep to your shadows, I don’t want you to stain my light.

                The blond had left for the forest, for a new adventure. For the first time since forever, the green boy didn’t follow.

                Now he was decided to not look at the boy. The feeling of his terror still lingered and he couldn’t get rid of it. He could still taste the malice at the back of his throat. But what he didn’t want to admit was that, in that evil filled place, his classmate’s presence was almost…relaxing.

                Shigaraki came in, followed by the rest of the villains. He started talking when a knock on the door interrupted him.

                “Hello, Kamino pizza delivery!”

-0-

 

                Aizawa hated the media. He had always hated the attention and the questions. He had always hated those vultures of reporters who had no regard for sensitive matters and would interrogate the traumatised victims to the point of tears just to get their hands on a story.

                But he would put up with them. He owed this to the parents, to the students, to his fellow colleagues who were preparing the rescue mission. He owed it to Inko Midoriya, who had stared down at him, despite their obvious height difference and demanded an answer.

                “I don’t want the “We’re doing everything we can”. I don’t want fake reassurances. I want to know when you will bring my son back”

                He didn’t know what to answer. He told her they’ll do it soon. He never knew how scary a mother could be but, standing in her living room, he knew her vengeance would be great if they didn’t rescue her son. So he promised he’ll bring him back no matter the cost.

                Aizawa knew and he had always known that he couldn’t make such promises as a hero. There wasn’t always possible to keep them and he didn’t want to give her false hope. But that promise wasn’t in vain. That was a promise he intended to keep. He had a feeling his students were still alive, still within his reach. And he wasn’t going to let them down.

                Unfortunately, he couldn’t participate at the mission. Neither him nor Vlad were allowed to help. But they had heard the plan. They came up with suggestions and helped the big scheme of things. And now he was the decoy. He only had to put up with this horrible excuses for human beings for a press conference. This should be easy. He was a high school teacher after all, and he had 1A in his homeroom.

                He could do this.

-0-

 

                Katsuki couldn’t believe what was happening. First, the heroes had arrived and captured the villains. Edgeshot had knocked out Kurogiri while some hero unchained the two teens. Shigaraki started throwing a tantrum when a weird inky substance appeared in the air and Noumu’s started sprouting from it. The same substance filled his lungs and the next thing he knew, he was in a destroyed ward surrounded by villains, fallen heroes and the unconscious body of his classmate.

                And Hisashi was there.

                “Apologies, young Bakugou” then, turning towards the hand fucker he ignored the teen “You failed again, Tomura. But you mustn’t lose heart. There will be more chances to set things right. That’s why I brought along your little band… and the kids. That’s why I’m here, to help you learn.” He extended his hand “It’s all for you…”

                That was the moment All Might decided to show up. After the first punch, the only thing plaguing the boy’s mind was how strong is Hisashi? He just took a full blow from All Might. How strong is he?

                The man proceeded to stab Kurogiri with some weird shit growing out of his nails. A warp gate opened before All Might blew him away.

                “Grab the pawn” the magician said.

                Apparently, the fates were for once in his favour, because the freckled teen woke up. “What’s happening?”

                “Wake up, nerd, we have to fight!”

                That seemed to be enough for the previously comatose teen, because they sat back to back and waited for their enemies to attack. He leaned back and whispered, loud enough only for the blond to hear “Our classmates are here”

                Fuck!

                The villains attacked all at once. He blasted his way through them while Izuku punched his way out. The boy was doing a pretty good job of staying out of his range, so Katsuki didn’t have to worry about incapacitating him. He hated to admit it, but he needed all the backup he could get.

                It’s not just me, this fuckrags are also running on emergency mode. Unlike a minute ago, they are trying to take us by force. Deku jumped from behind him and punched Spinner. The reptile turned into a little marble. Good, that motherfucker was going to be a problem.

                Toga jumped at him but, in a green blur, he was at the other end of the clearing. All Might and Hisashi were fighting in the background. “Nice of you to drop by” Izuku said. The purple Einstein and Peppermint Prince popped up from behind the debris and pulled them in.

                “It’s not like you gave us any choice!” Uraraka replied. The other started guiding them out of that place.

                “I didn’t need your help, I had it handled!” Katsuki growled.

                Shinsou rose an eyebrow “Fine, we came to save Midoriya.” He deadpanned. He was struck for a moment before Kirishima dragged him away. They ducked and crawled through end alleys, until the sound of the crowd reached their ears.

                Katsuki dashed forward wanting to get to the public as fast as he could. He gained speed and was a few meters away from the light when the familiar smoke swirled in front of him, crippled hands bursting out of it. Katsuki couldn’t stop, his momentum was too big to slow down. He was going to fall…

                Except

…..he didn’t.

                Because, in the last possible moment, like every time before this, his direction was disturbed by the freckled menace of his childhood. Rolling on his back, he lifted his eyes and saw his childhood friend trashing and fighting in the relentless grip of those hands. They were in his hair, on his clothes, clawing mercilessly at the abused skin beneath.

                Deku had pushed him out of the way.

                “Kacchan!” he screamed, already half sunk in the smoke. His eyes were wide with fear, pleading for a friendly hand, fingers clawing for closure. The blond staggered to his feet and reached for the boy. He was a few inches away when his traitorous thoughts plagued his mind and froze his body.

                Should I?

                Hisashi was All for One. He finally had the proof he was evil. Surely, he couldn’t let his son…

                Deku’s eyes widened in despair, with a hint of ever growing betrayal, as he was realising what was happening. “Kacchan?” his voice was small and broken, nothing like the previous cries.

                Of course I should…

                Katsuki lounged for the boy, but it was too late. The portal was already closing and his hands grasped at thin air, looking for a pair, when they found none. The mist dissolved and Katsuki fell into the dirt. As his heart was beating, he was dawned by the realisation he had just abandoned his friend when he needed him the most.

Chapter Text

                Izuku hit the floor with a painful thud. Someone slammed their knee into his back, but the pain felt dull and far away. He was panting, heart slamming against his ribcage, tears clouding his vison.

                Do you really hate me that much?

                Dully he registered someone gathering his arms behind his back and lifting him on his knees. Even if he’d had the energy, he was too tired, too wasted to do anything.

                A harsh slap sent his head to the right so hard it could’ve snapped his neck. ”You” Shigaraki growled, grabbing his chin and trapping his jaw in a four fingered death grip ”You couldn’t just sit put!” he kicked him in the stomach and Izuku wheezed, but kept looking down. He didn’t have any fight left in him.

                Shigaraki kicked him a few more times before Kurogiri took pity on the boy and turned on the TV; on the screen,All Might and All for One were fighting. Izuku watched in terrified awe as they fought and stopped every few minutes to exchange words. The villain’s words seemed to have an effect on the hero, seeming to fuel his rage.

                Izuku watched in mute horror as his idol, his mentor lost his muscle form. He couldn’t take his eyes off the screen even if he’d wanted; he was frozen, watching All for One throwing All Might left and right like a ragdoll.

                Get up, All Might, get up...

                The villain taunted the hero.

                You can do this, just get up....

                Toshinori staggered to his feet, the camera focusing on the determined expression on his face.

                You can be a hero one last time, be the symbol just once more, you can do it....

                .

                .

                .

                And he did.

                Izuku watched, hope blooming in his chest as his teacher stood up for the last time. He felt his tear stained smile break the surface of his skin as his hero defeated the villain. He felt unmeasurable pride when his mentor stood, strong and bright once again and challenged the world with that you’re next...

                He felt Shigaraki’s foot hit him full force as he collapsed on the floor.

                The man was mad. He kept kicking and hitting, and yelling words the teen couldn’t understand. Izuku didn’t fight back. He didn’t have the force to. He didn’t have the drive.

                At least I could see All Might win one last time...

                He curled up in a tight ball, trying to leave exposed as little of himself as possible and hoped it would be over quickly.

 It wasn’t.

                Shigaraki kept kicking and kicking until Izuku was sure there was no spot on his skin left untouched. At one point the man threw himself over him and started carrying punches to his face. Finally a solid punch to the temple sent Izuku straight into dream land.

-0-

 

                Katsuki was frozen. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t do anything. He could only stare at empty air where his friend stood a few seconds ago. Where his friend begged a few seconds ago.

                Where he’d abandoned his friend a few seconds ago.

                Arms wrapped around his waist and lifted him to his feet. Familiar voices close yet far away at the same time reached his ears, hands on his shoulders shook him, but he couldn’t focus. More hands dragged him away and his feet started moving on autopilot, one step in front of the other as static took over his mind.

                The proximity of people was at the same time relaxing and suffocating. Mixed emotions plagued his mind, his body stopped feeling like his own.

                I left him…

                He could feel angry words directed at him, but none of it made sense. His head snapped to the side and it took him a few seconds to realise he had been punched. Todoroki was glaring at him, teeth bared as Glasses and Ponytail held him back.

                “You left him!”

                His eyes were boiling blue, not the colour of ice, but of fire too hot to burn. Fire to cremate. Katsuki just sat and stared, not able to utter any words. The anger that had fuelled his actions so far had vanished, and he no longer knew what he was supposed to do without it. He couldn’t access it, couldn’t be mad, a block of green, pleading eyes between him and power.

                The crowd shifted and they all turned towards the big screen in the plaza. All Might and Hisashi were fighting and it wasn’t good for the No.1 hero. The crowd cheered and yelled as they fought. No words left his throat, but the numbness left his body for a moment and his mind chanted with the rest of the crowd.

                Get up, All Might…

                You can do it!

                Please get up….

                He watched with the rest of the people, with his classmates, as his idol turned from the strong icon they had always had into the skeletal man Izuku had called Sensei all that time ago. His breath hitched, his blood froze and his thoughts stopped moving.

                He watched his idol’s one last stand. He watched Hisashi fall, yet he couldn’t bring himself to cheer. He couldn’t make himself move forward. A hand wrapped around his elbow and started dragging him through the dispersing crowd. He moved mechanically, following whoever still wanted to touch him, whoever still thought of him as a person. He didn’t know for how long he had walked, he just knew that, at some point, he stopped.

                He looked up, at the banner of the police station. The others were gone. The only person still there was Kirishima.

                Kirishima wouldn’t meet his eyes.

                Men in uniforms exited the building, surrounded him, asked him questions. Their words flew through his ears, without leaving any mark on his memory. They guided him towards the entrance.

                Katsuki looked back. Kirishima was still there, but he wasn’t looking at him. He seemed lost. Devastated. Disappointed.

                “Thank you” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. The redhead looked up and, for the first time since he could remember, he didn’t smile.

                “You’re welcome.” His eyes were hollow, his words barely sounds with a shape, no emotion giving them light. The cops pushed him inside and he glimpsed the silhouette of his friend walking away before the doors closed.

-0-

 

                One of the differences between Aizawa and All Might was how they dealt with their emotions. So, when Aizawa found out what happened, he remained calm, keeping his fury in check and focusing on finding a solution. When All Might found out what happened, he transformed back for a second and threw the IV stick into the wall, in a fit of rage.

                He deflated a second after, burying his face into his hands and sobbing. “I was there. I could’ve saved him! I-I…” he breathed heavily a few times, hands pulling at his hair “I was so sure they were ok…”

                Aizawa left the man have his moment of weakness in silence before speaking: “We need to find a way to get him back. Unfortunately, we have no knowledge of where he might be, so we have to wait until….”

                “Aizawa please…” the retired hero interrupted him “I know you mean well, but please, I can’t take it anymore…” he looked down, fat tears rolling off his cheeks and onto the bleached sheets. “What do you think will happen to him in the hands of Shigaraki?” he covered his eyes with a bandaged hand and leaned back. “I saved a lot of people, but my power gave up on me when it mattered the most.”

                Aizawa was never good at comforting people; he was good at saving them and helping them get better. He’d never particularly liked All Might, but that didn’t stop him from trying to comfort his colleague. “There was nothing you could’ve done. He’s alive. We just need to find a way…”

                “How can you be sure? For all we know he could already be in a ditch somewhere or…” he hiccupped, eyes glazing over for a moment “Or worse.” He gulped “What if…what if they turn him into a Noumu?” he stated shivering, even if the temperature wasn’t low enough for it.

                “He’s not-”

                “How can you be sure?” the blond yelled.

                “Because he’s my student too, goddammit!” Aizawa yelled back. “He’s my student and he got kidnapped in my care! I met him and I let him run off, when I should’ve told him to go back!” the brunet clenched his teeth and breathed heavily, not falling prey to his own destructive emotions. There’ll be time for vengeance later. “As for how am I sure he won’t be turned into a Noumu? The guy making Noumus is currently in our custody. Even if they could force more Quirks onto him, his brain is hard-wired to deal with multiple Quirks at once. Giving him anything else would only make him stronger.” He didn’t say he wouldn’t be tortured. They didn’t know for sure and Aizawa knew nothing hurt more than broken hope.

                “How are you sure he is still alive?”

                The man had reasons to worry. Shigaraki wasn’t the most stable person in the world, far from it, and the loss of his sensei would have affected him greatly; there was no knowing what the man-child might do.

                “A gut feeling. After a few decades of heroing, I thought you’d know to trust those” Aizawa said, keeping his stern exterior. Toshinori quirked his lips, a pale echo of what his hero persona showed before. But there was something much more genuine in this smile than hadn’t been there before.

                “What about young Bakugou?”

                Aizawa frowned and looked out the window. “He is fine, physically, but he seems to be in a state of-I’d say shock, but he’s responsive enough to answer most of the questions.”

                “Disassociation?”

                “Most likely.” The man sighed. “But there’s something bothering me. Before you woke up, I managed to talk to the kids involved in his rescue and how they took him. From what I could gather, they initially wanted to take Bakugou, but Midoriya pushed him out of the way.”

                All Might sighs “Of course he did. He always does that. I’ll have to knock some common sense when we get him back” it wasn’t much, his tone held none of the mirth he was trying to mimic, but at least he was trying to stay positive.

                “You’ll have to wait in line, I dibbed the position long before you.” He smiled a little and closed his eyes. The small amusement was gone the next second, for when Aizawa opened his eyes, he was serious “Apparently, Midoriya reached for Bakugou; I can’t say for sure if what I’m about to say in one hundred percent true, since most of them had a problem with Bakugo beforehand, but they say that Bakugou let him get kidnapped; he was reaching for Midoriya but he stopped.”

                All Might’s face darkened “Did they really say that?”

                “Through very creative choices of words. Shinsou was…upset just isn’t the right word. Todoroki and Uraraka were mad. I managed to get some decent info from Iida and Yaoyorozu, but they didn’t have the right angle to see if he let go or not. Kirishima is confused.” Aizawa got up and rubbed his eyes. He wouldn’t get a good night’s sleep until he found his student, he knew that. Even if he tried, the image of his student running away bloodied and bruised was enough to keep him up.

                “I’ll leave you to rest. I won’t take any decision before I speak to the boy myself and I’ll let you know what I find.” He walked towards the door and touched the handle “Try to rest. You’ll be no good to him exhausted” and left the room.

-0-

                Katsuki woke more tired than when he went to sleep. He sat up and rubbed his temples, trying to blink the sleepiness away. He had tossed and turned all night, eventually falling asleep only to be left prey to burning houses and hands reaching for help.

                You killed him….

                He never knew you could have more than one nightmare per night but the discovery didn’t improve his mood. He looked at his hands, calloused but clean compared to the raw flesh peeling off his skin they had been a few minutes ago.

                The room was simple and Spartan. He only had a few minor injuries, like scrapes and cuts, but they took blood samples and insisted he stay at the hospital for at least a night. The hospital gowns were scratchy, the sheets thin and worn out.

                I killed him….

                He was worn out.

                He had no energy left in him, only guilt. He tried to drown it in anger, in fury, in any emotion he knew how to deal with but he couldn’t. No matter how strong his inner fire was burning, any spark, any ember left in sight were snuffed by the frigid breath of an abandoned tomb.

                I left him behind… I let him get captured…

                He slapped his pillow onto his face, to stop his scream or his tears, he wasn’t sure. Maybe both. He screamed his lungs into the cotton brick and, when he took it away, the material was damp. How could I have gotten it se wrong?!

                All his life he had been convinced the boy was evil, that he would be a villain. But he never understood what a villain truly was until he had met Hisashi. It’s funny he thought I never recognised true evil until it slapped me in the face.

                How could he had been so wrong?! He had always thought that Izuku would become a villain. He had stolen his Quirk. He was related to his father. He always was a little wicked, not traits usually associated with heroes…

                Ha laughed bitterly. Yes, the boy was smart. He was petty. He hit hard.

                But that that was nothing was compared to the pure bloodlust he received from Hisashi. The man took pleasure in tormenting him; in pouring vinegar over his wounds. If Shigaraki was a club, a cleaver, an object that required force, passion, emotion to wield and could end you in one blow or leave you cripple Hisashi had the dangerous aura of a scalpel. The terrifying precision of surgical tools. Not cutting but peeling, layer by layer, piece by piece in long, suffocating amounts of time until no coma or anaesthetic could save you.

                Hisashi took and took until there was nothing left.

                Izuku always gave back.

                The boy had always been genuine, had always wanted to help. Because behind all the rage and the bitterness, he never wanted to hurt. He should have seen it a long time ago.

                Izuku never tried to hurt him, he kept his distance when he demanded it. He tried to make peace. He saved him after all those years of torment.

                You just didn’t want to accept you might’ve been wrong. You didn’t want to think you were the villain in his story, not the other way around.

                But he was. He wanted to be a hero, but he had pushed his oldest friend over the edge. And he might not have the strength to get back.

                You killed him, you know? Do you really think Shigaraki will let him live after Hisashi got captured?

                He didn’t have the strength to shut it up.

                The door opened and Katsuki looked at the intruder. Uraraka closed the door and glared at him from the frame. The makeup from the other day had washed up, revealing the nasty look, so different from her usual expression. He gulped and looked out the window. He had no idea what to say and the way she glared at him was too much like his inner voice.

                “Are you happy?”

                His head whipped in her direction “What?”

                “Are you happy?” she crossed her arms and glared at him “You hated him so much you left him to get captured. I almost believe you were the one to push him.”

                “I didn’t…”

                “Shut up!” she yelled and, for the first time in a very long while, Katsuki listened. “You know what’s the messed up part? Until the very end, he tried to save you. He didn’t have to push you away from the gate, but he did. He didn’t have to take you away from the villains, but he did. He only ever wanted to help you!”

                He always wanted to help me.

                Uraraka wiped a few stray tears from the corners of her eyes. “I don’t really know why you want to be a hero in the first place!”

                “Uraraka, that’s enough.”

                Both teens turned to face the third. Kirishima was leaning on the door, unsmiling. His voice had been lacklustre, devoid of emotion and he wasn’t looking at any of them. The girl huffed, sent them both glares to move death itself and stormed out of the room without a word.

                Kirishima looked up. “You’re lucky. They only sent her because she had the least chances of actually killing you. Todoroki didn’t want to risk anything and no one could prevent Shinsou from telling you to jump off the window.” He sighed. “They consider me a traitor. I’ve more or less been exiled from the Deku Protection Squad.” He tried to laugh, but nothing held any mirth anymore.

                Katsuki opened his mouth, but no words actually came out. He swallowed a few more times before setting his eyes down. “How’s All Might?”

                Kirishima rubbed his neck. “It really hard to tell. None of us have been permitted to see him, but he must be pretty low. The media is all over the place with his forced retirement. They are even considering banning him from his teaching position. Apparently, he’s ‘No longer qualified to teach our children’ ” he used air quotes. “Geez, where’s the respect for the Symbol of Peace, you bastards?” Kirishima was sporting a weird mix of anger and sadness, two emotions that should never appear on the redhead’s face.

                “How about everyone else?”

                “They’re mostly Ok” the redhead run his hands through his already dishevelled hair. It was usually spiky, but now it was slowly turning into a mess. “Jirou and Hagakure are still unconscious from the smoke. The lot of you got injured, but are mostly alright….” There had never been an awkward silence between them but the redhead seemed unwilling to start a conversation. Katsuki didn’t know what to say either. Every possible answer seemed bad, insensitive.

                He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know what to do. He hated it and, for the first time in a very long while, he had no one he wanted to take it out on. He played with the sheets, calloused fingers rolling the worn out material until wrinkles covered that small surface. He took a deep breath and opened his mouth “I’m…”

                “UA wants to start a dorm programme.”

                “What…?”

                “Yeah, they want to keep us safe, so Nedzu wants to start a dorm programme. Our parents have to agree to let us.” He clenched his teeth. “They should be focusing on…” he didn’t finish, but he didn’t have to. The unspoken Midoriya hung in the air between them, a barrier not previously there. Katsuki didn’t know what to say, so he looked out the window.

                “Aizawa got pretty mad.” He suddenly said “He threatened us all with expulsion for trying to save you. Not just us six, but every student who knew about it. He said we have to regain his trust.” He looked somewhere behind the blond “he’ll probably come to interrogate you too sooner or later.” He rubbed his neck nervously. “Look man, I get that you didn’t like Modoriya, but…” he stopped, not words fitting for what he truly meant. “What you did wasn’t manly at all.” He finished lamely.

                Katsuki cracked his knuckles, more out of habit than anything else. He gently pulled every fingers, taking silent pleasure at every pop. He wanted to rage, like he would usually do. He wanted to yell that he didn’t care or that Hair for Brains should go to hell, but all that came out was a weak “I know.”

                The redhead opened the door and walked out. He was halfway through when he looked up. For the first time since the other day, orange met crimson. “If it wasn’t for Aizawa, we’d probably try again. If it was only him to be taken, I would’ve invited you, but now…” he looked away and walked fully out the door “I don’t think you would’ve wanted to come.”

                “Kirishima!” Katsuki tried. The door shut with finality.

                The boy looked at the closed door, at the final proof of how royally he fucked up. He never had any real friends. Followers, sure, but he never had someone he could fully trust. He never had someone he could count on, someone who enjoyed his presence… Katsuki never realised how much he liked Kirishima until the boy was gone.

                Why do you drive everyone away?

                The boy looked down and clenched his teeth. Tears brimmed the edges of his eyes, and, for the first time, he let them flow. You have no right to be unhappy. It’s your fault for messing up everything in the first place.

                He grit his teeth until it hurt, but didn’t allow any sound to pass his lips.

                The door opened and closed. Katsuki got one look at his homeroom teacher before violently rubbing his cheeks to erase any trace of tears. But he knew it was no use, the man had already seen him cry. Still, he tried to retain any traces of dignity he could.

                Aizawa was impassive. He walked towards the bed and pulled himself a chair. He sat down and looked at the teen in silence. Katsuki was unnerved to say the least. He turned away, but he could still feel his teacher’s deadly stare in the back of his head.

                His shoulders slumped. “You were right.”

                “About what?”

                “I can’t be a hero. I left him behind… I left him to die” tears kept streaming down his cheeks, and he put no effort in stopping them. Aizawa knew he was crying, so what was the point? “I can’t believe I did that?”

                “So you didn’t want to push him?”

                “I didn’t push him!” he yelled, panting erratically.

                Aizawa remained impassive. “What happened?”

                Katsuki looked down “Didn’t they tell you? Why do you need me?”

                “Because I want to hear your version of the story first.”

                Katsuki took a deep breath and flexed his fingers. “We were running away from the fight” he wiped his nose “That warp fucker opened a portal and I was going to run into it. Izuku pushed me out of the way, but they got him instead.” He looked out the window “I wanted to grab him, I really did. I just… hesitated. Because of a stupid childhood grudge” he laughed mirthlessly “I held so tightly to that grudge, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face”

                “And what was that? What was that grudge.”

                Katsuki breathed again and waited for a solid half a minute before answering. “When we were kids, he took my Quirk. When he gave it back, I got really, really mad and did something I now realize was very fucked up. Things went overboard way too fast and I refused his attempts at fixing it.” He finally looked at his teacher. His poker face was neither soothing nor accusing. “I got it into my head that he was evil and going to become a villain. Because of his Quirk and his dad and I tried to stop him from becoming a hero.”

                “Why?”

                “Because you don’t want your enemy stronger than you could take them down” he pointed his teacher with a stare. Aizawa was unimpressed. “Anyway, I even came up with this weird theory that he was the spy working for All for One….”

                Aizawa frowned, the first break in his façade in a long while. “Why?”

                “Why what?”

                “Why did you think that?”

                Katsuki sighed and rubbed his tired eyes. “Shigaraki said, back at the USJ, that his sensei was too injured to help them. After he passed the exam, I was convinced he took away someone’s Quirk and confronted him about it.” You almost blew his face off. He winced at the memory “He said someone had given it to him willingly, so I asked to meet them. The man was very sick, barely standing on his legs. Now I know he was All Might, but, at that time, I thought he was the leader of the villains. There was some paperwork that didn’t make complete sense and I took it for proof.” He looked at his teacher “Long story short, I left my friend to die because I couldn’t let go of childhood stupidity.”

                “Do you regret it? Leaving him behind?”

                “Yes.” He looked at the clock, counting the seconds “Yes, you have no idea how much I want to turn back the time and grab his stupid, scarred hand” he clenches his teeth and blinked rapidly. “Now, every time I think of him, all I can see is a fucking grave I know it’s empty because they’ll never find a body.” He run his hands through his hair and pulled at the roots. “And here I wanted to become a hero. I never helped anyone, and I officially killed the one person who thought there was something good in me.”

                “There is something good in you”

                Katsuki looked up, so fast his neck cracked “What?”

                “I said that there is something good in you. You regret your actions and want to help him. Don’t get me wrong, what you did was inexcusable, and you’ll have high and mighty to pay for it later, but there’s still some hope left.”

                Aizawa sighed “Look at me. Izuku is alive. Alive, you hear me? He is alive and, at the moment, we are doing everything in our power to save him. Even if they don’t say it, I know everyone else has more or less given up the hope of ever finding him alive, but you and I both know he didn’t give up living. He’s not a quitter and neither are you. So, you can at least keep hoping, and, when we find him, you can try to fix this.” Katsuki nodded. Aizawa seemed satisfied. “Now, rest. I’ll question you more tomorrow. I trust the police, but I don’t think they got everything out.”

                Katsuki nodded when he was hit by a thought. “When is All Might allowed to have visitors?”

                Aizawa looked at him. “You can try to visit him, but he’s in no mood to take in any student. And, even if he could, I don’t think he is strong enough to allow any of you to see him.”

                The blond shook his head. “It’s not that. There is something he needs to know. So, when can I see him? I need to tell him, it’s very important.”

                “You can tell me.”

                Katsuki shook his head. “He needs to hear it from me. You can come too, but I have to tell this, and I don’t think I can do it twice.”

                “I’ll see what I can do.”

                And, with that, the man left the room.

Chapter Text

 

                Izuku ran down the street in the bright summer sun. It was almost  noon and most kids were already at home hiding from the scalding heat; but mom was at work and dad was caught up in his papers, so he didn’t really look at the time when he agreed to let the boy go out.

                Izuku sprinted towards the park, bright and angry thread pulsing in his chest. He wasn’t sure if he would find the other boy but he hoped so.

                He reached the playground where, to his relief, the blond was sitting on a lonely swing, feet dangling lifelessly.

                “Kacchan!” he called. The boy looked up, an angry look crossing his puffy features.

                “What do you want?” he sneered. Izuku wasn’t deterred by the hostility since he’d been expecting it.

                “I know how to give your Quirk back!”

                The blonde’s head jerked up, eyes filled with hope and guarded trust. “Really?”

                Izuku nodded violently, holding up his hands as a gesture of peace. “Mom and Dad helped me learn how to do it”.

Katsuki climbed down the swing and approached the other warily. Izuku waited, hands outstretched in silent invitation. The blond took his wrists and placed his chubby fingers on the pale skin.

                The younger boy closed his eyes and let his mind tap the thread. He had learned that he shouldn’t force a thread to go back- most of them wanted to return, and the clash of wills would only make the process harder. Instead, he guided the Quirk back to its owner, let it wrap and climb on the fiery scaffolding. The thread settled nicely in its previous place and the warmth the boy associated with his friend disappeared, leaving him hollow and empty.

                He wanted it back. He wanted it back so badly. But it was Kacchan’s so he had to give it back.

                But Kacchan didn’t let go. He kept the boy’s wrists in a tight hold. He started squeezing, hard, and Izuku became uncomfortable.

                “Kacchan, it hurts!”

                The blond leaned closer. “Your Quirk is evil. You’re nothing but a villain.”

                Kacchan’s hands started to burn. Big, fat tears started streaming down his cheeks, lip quivering “Kacchan, please, it hurts!”

                The older boy didn’t back up. “Never touch me again, hear me? I’ll become a hero and make sure you can never steal anybody else’s Quirk, no matter how strong you get.” The heat became unbearable, and the younger boy cried in pain. “So, if you ever come near me or my Quirk again, you’ll regret giving it back!” with that final threat, he released the fire he had missed for so long onto pink skin.

                Izuku screamed.

                Katsuki released the boy, who collapsed to the ground, cradling his appendages to his chest. Maybe I went too far Katsuki thought as he looked at the crying boy. Even so, he turned around and walked away, trying to get his playmate’s screams out of his head.

                He still remembered ten years later.

-0-

 

                Izuku woke up to a dimly lit room made out of rock. To say that his body ached would have been an understatement; bruises covered his already scarred skin to the extent that Izuku felt like he was one giant bruise.

Why did I remember that now?

The memory was old and, even though he’d rather not think about it, he still had the handprints on his wrists enough of a reminder.

                He really hates me after all Izuku realized with a pang of pain. He really, really hates me. He sniffled and leaned back on the wall behind him. It was the brick were cold and it sent shivers down his spine, but he couldn’t help it. He couldn’t care.

                He left me to die. Tears flowed down his cheeks, but he didn’t have the force required to stop them. He tried to keep his sobs quiet, but some pathetic whimpers still left his throat as he hugged his knees and buried his face into his legs. I don’t want to die.

                He’d been a fool to think there was still something good in the blond. He’d latched desperately to the little hope he had, to the good memories before his Quirk had appeared. He’d wanted, so desperately, to get back his friend. He wanted to hope there was still something good in the boy. He had wanted to save him,

                And look where it got you…

                His childhood friend was gone. The little boy he played with when they were kids was gone. And he had been too blinded, too hopeful to let go of that ghost, had been too wrapped up in the good memories to realize it had turned into a poltergeist.

                Learn to let go. He’s already given up on you. Give up on him and get out of here.

                Right.

                Izuku tried to get up ; he staggered to his feet and forced himself to stand but collapsed almost immediately into the wall and slid down the cold surface until he eventually hit the floor. Not good. I’m too tired to move. The adrenaline, effort and savage beating from the other day had caught up to him and he couldn’t stand up.

He also noticed that these weren’t his clothes; his jeans and shredded shirt were gone, replaced by something light colored non descript- the kind of clothes you’d seen in a hospital. He was barefoot, which also didn’t help with the cold.

                Izuku tried not to think of how and who had changed his clothes. He really didn’t want to know.

                He tried accessing One for All, but the mere presence of the Quirk in his limbs caused him pain. One hit and I’m out. I’ll have to wait until I’m strong enough to have a chance. This, unfortunately, meant he had to wait in the presence of the League of Villains, currently led by Shigaraki, right after his Sensei had been captured by All Might.

 Great.

                If they haven’t killed me yet, that means they’ve got plans for me. They kept me alive for a reason. Izuku remembered Dabi’s earlier comment about Shigaraki kidnapping him for entertainment. I’ll have to tread carefully. He groaned as he realized he’d have to kiss the man-child’s ass longer than originally planned. I also have no idea of his mood. I have to be very careful.

                He cursed his fate. He cursed the villains.

                Fuck you Bakugou!

-0-

 

                 Tomura had been mad. No, scratch mad, he’d been livid.

                How, how dare that petty excuse of a human take away Sensei? How dare he? Walking around smiling, acting like there was no one he couldn’t save. He hated him. Tomura hated All Might, and now he had all the more reason to hate him, after he took away his sensei. He felt like murdering the kid just to spite him, but the lingering voice of reason in the back of his head kept reminding him why that would be a bad idea.

                Sensei wants him alive. Sensei likes his kid. Sensei would be mad if anything happened to his kid.

                That kind of bummed Tomura, but he still got to take his nerves out on the boy. He was alive and nothing was broken. Who cared for a few bruises, and the kid had had worse at the Sports Festival anyway!

                He wished he had some regeneration Quirk or something. That way, he could have sent the stupid Symbol a limb or two without the risk of angering Sensei. Oh well, what can you do?

                Right now, his best bet was trying to get the boy on his side. Too bad he was so into heroes and heroism. He would have to work hard to get him onto his side. Tomura didn’t like hard work, but he’d have to get used it if he wanted to make Sensei proud. And right now, that meant bringing the brat to his side.

                His friend left him Tomura mused. Maybe I can use that to my advantage. The man had been left by heroes a long time ago too. Sensei had rescued him and took care of him. The boy had been abandoned by his friend. Well, they didn’t seem much like friends, but they were classmates and, even if the man couldn’t really remember kindergarten, he suspected there was at least some loyalty between comrades.

                But he’d still been left behind.

                Too bad I can’t hurt him too bad. A metaphorical light bulb popped above the man’s head. But he doesn’t know that. Tomura remembered the USJ. The boy was bold, but still trembling in his boots. He seemed to like to live. How much can I threaten him before he calls my bluff?

                Sensei would escape sooner or later. He had no doubt about it. And he wanted to make him proud. Even if he said that it was all for his sake and that he could fail as many times as he liked, but he was still feeling bad. He wanted to surprise Sensei. He wanted to make him proud, to show him he was worthy of being his successor. What better way than to bring his son to our side?

                It’s not like he’s not important anyway. He’s smart and pretty strong. If I really can’t convince him, I can at least keep him as leverage so they don’t hurt Sensei. He’s like an item I need to learn to use.

                He turned towards Kurogiri. The barman was wiping a glass, waiting for him to have his life changing discovery. The others were… he didn’t know and didn’t really care. The only one there was Dabi, who was scrolling aimlessly through his phone. Toga was going on and on about seeing Izuku, which was starting to piss him off so Kurogiri sent her away before he killed her. The man turned towards the mist. “Is he awake?”

                The man opened a small gate somewhere and Tomura saw the kid trying to get up but falling and sliding back down. “Should we feed him?” Kurogiri asked.

                “Nah, I’ll wait a little longer. I want to think about what I’m going to tell him and he might be a little more cooperative if he’s hungry.”

                “As you wish. Just don’t forget.”

                “If I forget you’ll do it anyway” the silver haired man waved him off. Though, he wasn’t going to starve him, the weaker he was, the less likely he was to put up a fight. A stray thought hit him. “Did you know about his connection with Sensei?”

                The mist man froze for no longer than a second before he forcibly relaxed his ever-changing form. “I’ve been notified not long ago. Sensei told me you knew and I didn’t think you or him wanted his family connections known.”

                Tomura nodded, still somewhat suspicious.

                “The kid’s related to your boss?” Dabi said from a chair, still not looking up from his phone.

                Both villains whipped around to stare at the third, still scrolling aimlessly through his phone. “You were listening?”

                “Yeah.  So? Are they related?” Tomura sighed. He didn’t intend to share this information with anyone, but Kurogiri was completely useless, like usual. He turned towards the deep fried fucker and grunted.

                “Yes. The brat’s Sensei’s son. We can’t kill him or permanently maim him if that’s what you’re wondering. We’re currently still trying to get him on our side. Don’t tell anyone else.”

                “So that’s why you didn’t kill him.” He seemed to think for a second. “Ok” he shrugged and returned to his phone. Shigaraki rolled his eyes and turned towards Kurogiri, who was putting together a decent meal of bread, meat, a sliced tomato and a bottle of water.

                How long could I keep food from him before he gives in? No, Tomura, you’re still trying the nice way. He took the tray and walked down the hallway, balancing himself on the stairs to the basement. He reached the cell and rotated the key in the lock. The door opened and the man was greeted with the sight of the kid cradling his knees near the wall, much like he had been when he saw him through Kurogiri’s gate.

                Mido-chan lifted his eyes and watched him warily through squinted eyelids. Dark bruises coated his pale skin, rivaled only by the burn marks on his wrists. I want to know that story.

                “You’re awake.”

                The boy only looked at him with terrifying intensity, a frown a few steps behind a glare. The effect wasn’t in any way weakened by him only doing it through one good eye, the other too btuised for it. Tomura smiled. “Ignoring me won’t take you very far.” He set the tray down and closed the door, leaning lazily against it. The boy sighed and tried to get up. He wobbled a little on his bruised feet, everything seeming to finally catch up to him. He hadn’t moved the past days and that, combined with the beating, must have weakened him. Good.

                The teen took a few unsteady steps towards the man. A few feet from him, the greenette attacked, green sparks covering his fist. On a good day, he might’ve landed a hit. But he was weakened and Tomura was prepared. The man sidestepped the punch and kneed the boy in the stomach.

                While doubled over, Tomura swiped his feet from the ground and pushed him on the floor. While he pinned both his hands with one of his, He pressed his palm on his forehead, keeping one finger teasingly a few inches above his eyes. “That didn’t work on Dabi, what made you think it’ll work on me?”

                The kid huffed and looked away “It did work on Dabi.” The man’s response was to jab his knee into his gut again. Izuku grunted in pain. Tomura smiled.

                “Do you think the heroes still think you’re alive? At this point I’m pretty sure they’re looking for a body not a boy.” Izuku gritted his teeth and glared at the man who smiled. “The search teams will give up soon enough. They won’t be looking for you for long.”

                Tears started brimming at the corners of his eyes, but he didn’t let them fall. “They are. They are looking for me.”

                “Who’s looking for you? The Symbol of Peace? Please, what can he do right now, in that weak body of his?” he leaned closer, breath hot on the boy’s ear “Nothing.” He moved one finger in the boy’s palm “I wonder how many fingers it would take for him to give up as well…”

The boy froze then started trashing him his grip. Tomura smiled and let go of the kid. The hero in training scurried away, putting as much distance between him and the man as possible. Tomura took a step forward and Izuku matched it with one backward. And another. And another. But, in the end, there was only so much space in a room one could retreat before they were cornered. Tomura crouched before the scared teen. “They’re not coming. Know why? Because they don’t care. Why would they? You’re just a student who got taken in the middle of an attack. They already saved Bakugou, the publicity is enough. They don’t need you. With All Might out of commission, no one will focus on one little casualty. By this point your best bet is joining us. Make them care!”

Izuku remained silent and looked down. Tomura smiled and walked towards the door. “One more thing…” izuku looked up and Tomura knocked lightly on the walls “These are made for nasty Noumus; shock absorbing. Don’t try to escape” the or else remained hanged in the air as the man closed the door.

-0-

It took a few minutes for Katsuki’s feet to remember how they worked after a long night in the hospital, but he was eventually good to go. Aizawa waited patiently for him to regain his composure before the teacher and the student walked out the door.

The hospital was a mess. People were hurrying left and right, doctors and nurses running around with errands. A lot of people had been injured the other day and the hospital was close to being overworked. Katsuki followed his teacher through the havoc, when a familiar green bun caught his eye.

Inko Midoriya was sitting there, arguing with a nurse. A small girl was clinging to her arm, big red eyes looking around the room. Their eyes met and, in a second, she was dashing through the crowd towards him. She latched onto him, burying her face into his pants. Her All Might hoodie was stained with snot and tears.

“You were with Izu-nii, weren’t you? Where is he? Do you know?!” tears were rolling down her cheeks and Katsuki was at loss for what he should do. Should he comfort her? Yes, I know where he is. You’re not going to like it and it is my fault.

Inko was making her way towards them and she kneeled and hugged the girl. “Eri, grabbing people and shaking them won’t give you any answers.” Even though she wasn’t looking at him, Katsuki knew some of it was directed at him. The woman tucked the sniffling girl to her chest and faced the two males.

“I understand you weren’t able to save my son.” Her words held an unspoken threat and her gaze was merciless. She was all but glaring at the teacher and Katsuki allowed a healthy dose of respect for the man for not cowering in fear.

“We’re doing everything we can. Izuku is alive and I will do whatever I can to find him. I will bring your son back.” The unquestionable resolve in his voice was what probably saved him from being utterly destroyed right then and there. Inko glared at him for a few more moments before turning her eyes towards the teen. Katsuki looked down, not able to hold her gaze.

The blond remembered the woman from his childhood. He remembered how she took care of him when his parents couldn’t, how she looked at him and her son and was just so happy when they still got together. He also remembered how utterly heartbroken she had been that night at the hospital and how much he hated himself that he brought so much pain to her.

Now you took her son away, I hope you’re proud.

A warm hand found its way onto his cheek. She was shorter than him, but that didn’t, by any means, diminish her gaze. He looked into her eyes and, for the first time since the incident, her eyes held something other than disappointment and disdain.

“Katsuki…” she rubbed her thumb on his cheek and he couldn’t help but lean into her touch. “I know you and Izuku haven’t been on the best of terms for a long time, but he always wanted for you to still be friends. For you to make up.” Katsuki gulped. “I’m glad that at least you’re safe” guilt stabbed his heart as he blinked rapidly. “When we get him back, try to make peace with him, ok? He always admired you and only wanted for you to become a great hero. So, when we get him back, try to talk it out, will you?” her smile was wary and tear filled, and Katsuki swallowed.

He probably hates me right now.

If he’s still alive.

He knew he should tell her it was his fault. He knew that she would hate him, but at least it would be the truth. Telling her would be the right thing to do. She would hate him and he deserved to be hated. He had to tell her the truth.

The smile was wobbling on her face, tears barely held at bay.

“I will” he said.

Coward. Liar. Killer.

She smiled and hugged him. He never felt dirtier than the moment he lifted his arms and wrapped them around her frame.

Aizawa knew the truth and allowed them a few moments of silence before he pulled them apart and told the woman they needed to question him. The blond had no idea whether to feel spiteful for the loss of contact or grateful for the small quieting in his heart.

They walked and stopped in front of the door, but Aizawa didn’t open it. He instead turned towards him and placed his hand on his shoulder. “The next conversation will probably be even more draining. If you think you’re not ready, we can always return later.”

Katsuki shook his head. “You need to know this as soon as possible” he took a few deep breaths to calm himself and nodded. “I’m ready. I can do it now”

Aizawa clearly didn’t believe him but he nodded nonetheless. “If you’re sure…”

 “I am”

The teacher opened the door and both entered the room. All Might was leaning on the headboard, both hands bandaged and his eyes lost. He looked exactly like he did all that time before, though there was something wrong about him. The man looked up and his eyes held none of the warmth they held before. “Young Bakugou” he spoke, voice rough and lifeless. “Though I am glad you are all right, I’m not really in the shape to have visitors right now. I appreciate the concern, but please, make sure you recover.”

It was a shameless attempt at telling him more or less to fuck off. Katsuki expected it, but it didn’t make it hurt any less. He looked down.

“I understand that you probably don’t want to see me right now.” He took a deep breath and looked at is childhood hero. “But there is something you really need to know and the faster we do that, the faster we can find a solution.”

The blond seemed conflicted, but nodded nonetheless. Katsuki leaned on the wall, but Aizawa pulled him a chair and he took it, not knowing if his legs would last him the conversation. The dark haired man also sat down and now Katsuki was left facing both of his teachers. He breathed deeply a few times, if only to calm his rabbiting heart and looked down.

“The second day of our capture, All for One had me teleported to him. He told me something. I-I don’t know if he did it to scare me, or warn me, or whatever, but it really rattled me, especially because I know it’s true.” He took another few breaths, but neither man rushed him. He looked out the window. “He told me his name is Hisashi Midoriya.”

A beat of silence.

“What?” Aizawa breathed

“It’s true” Katsuki nodded, not looking at any of his teachers. “That bastard is Izuku’s father.”

“That’s not possible” All Might said “He he can’t be.”

“He is.” Katsuki took a deep breath looked up “I remember the man from when we were kids. He has the same mannerism, the same speech, the same vibe and blood curdling presence as he had back then.”

“No, t-this…this can’t…” All Might was stuttering.

Aizawa, who had been silent for the past confessions, finally spoke “Let’s assume, for a second, that what you’re saying is true. Let’s assume that, for some reason, the biggest supervillain in Japan allowed his son to become a hero. What next? Are Izuku or Inko in danger?”

“No. One thing he always did was protect his family. That was the main reason he called me there in the first place- to threaten-warn me. He said…he said it would break his heart if he found out.” He sighed. “His survival now depends on whether or not Shigaraki knows about it. If he doesn’t, Izuku’s probably dead. If he does, he might kill him out of jealousy or something” Katsuki looked away, not able to face his teachers.

“How…how can this be?” All Mght’s voice sounded broken. The kid winced. “Izuku is-he’s so good, so…”

“That man is pure evil” the hero in training said without hesitation. He was pouring all his resentment towards the man in this conversation, just not to remember what terror felt like in his veins. “Izuku is not like that, though it took me too long to see it.” The last part was whispered, but both teachers heard it.

“What do you mean?”

“I… “ he gulped, not able to finish.

Aizawa placed his hand on his shoulder and said in a calm voice. “I know it might be painful, but we need to know everything we can. Even the smallest detail can be of use. Please, Bakugou, we need to save him.”

Katsuki nodded and looked down. “Izuku’s Quirk first appeared when we were fighting. It was over something really stupid, but I attacked him. He then took my Quirk” he took another breath. “He kept it for two weeks. Those were the worst two weeks of my life. You have no idea how it is to lose your Quirk” he looked at the teachers as his voice cracked. He forced it out anyway “It feels empty, like a part of you cracked inside and there is nothing you can do to fix it. I would try to use my Quirk and feel something pulling at my insides, tugging something that isn’t there. I still wake up and set things on fire, just to make sure my Quirk’s still there.” He shook his head and went on “After two weeks, he came to me and told me he could give it back. He told me his parents helped him learn to use his Quirk and that he could return mine.” He looked at his shoes “He did.”

He panted, warding the betraying tears away from his eyes. “But you need to understand that I was scared, Ok? I was panicked and mad and didn’t want to ever lose it again. So, I burned his hands and told him to never get near me again.” He looked at his teachers, who waited for him to finish in silence. “I’m not proud of it, Ok? I regretted it. I know I went overboard. If only I would have told him that too.” He blinked and looked at the heart monitor, focusing on All Might’s steady pulse. “That night, my house caught on fire. Me and my parents managed to escape, and I knew it was Hisashi, but nobody believed me. He even accused me of setting the fire.” He drowned his rage. “From that day, I kinda concluded that Izuku must be as evil as Hisashi and that he was going to become a villain. I set my goal to stop him from it, or defeating him when it would happen.”

“You don’t believe that now?” Aizawa said, face unreadable.

“No” he shook his head. “You know how they say you don’t know happiness until you’ve seen suffering? Well, you don’t know the difference between evil and pettiness until you spend a few minutes in the same room with Hisashi. I used to rationalize everything he did through the villain behavior, so to speak. Now I realize I just didn’t want to accept the truth” he swallowed. There was a silence in which he didn’t look up before All might spoke.

“Thank you for sharing this with us.” His voice was definitely kinder this time. “I now it must’ve been hard for you to say this and I appreciate it. We need to discuss this, but we’ll keep you updated.”

Katsuki nodded and stood up, recognizing a dismissal when he saw one. He was now literally drained and didn’t have the energy for any more emotion right now. He walked out the door and was half out when the retired hero spoke “I know it seems dire right now, but we will find Izuku. We will find him alive. He is alive.”

Despite the situation, Katsuki felt a smile creep its way up his lips. “Of course he is. That kid is too stubborn to die.”

Chapter Text

 

                Izuku woke up shivering. He shook his head and stretched his arms and legs, gaining a nice creak from his joints. His limbs were still sore, but he didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. The meal from the other day was good and it had kept the hunger at bay, but the energy had worn off after one night and he was hungry again.

                He had tested Shigaraki’s claim. The walls didn’t react to One for All, not even a scratch; and, on closer inspection (read: ten minutes of intense focusing and a slight nosebleed) he’d felt the teeny-tiny remains of threads, which meant that the wall had been built using a Quirk. There would be no punching his way out.

                Alright, Izuku, use your nugget and find a way.

                Attacking Shigaraki was a no go. The man was surprisingly fast and strong, and Izuku really didn’t want to piss him off and have him make good on his threats. He was at a disadvantage and couldn’t rush things out. His Quirk was close range and it only worked when he put all five fingers on an object or person. Wait, is it five fingers or all fingers? If I cut one, would it still work with the other four or would he become Quirkless? Izuku shook his head. No time to dwell on this now.

                Kurogiri could be especially problematic with his ability to warp the Quirks against their owners. Dabi’s Quirk was self-explanatory, but still dangerous. Magne had a …telekinetic Quirk? Izuku wasn’t sure, he didn’t get a very good view. He had no idea of what Toga’s or Spinner’s Quirks were, unless pulling a ridiculous amount of blades out of your ass was a Quirk. Compress was annoying, but not really hard to beat. From what he had seen, he wasn’t really good at combat and his Quirk activated on touch. If he kept his distance, he would be golden. Twice- Izuku honestly had no idea what his combat skills were, and he didn’t know how many clones he could make simultaneously.

                The heavy door opened with a creak and Izuku squinted. It took him a few moments to accommodate with the light, but, eventually, he could make out the silhouette of Dabi in the frame.

                “Get up” he said. Izuku got up and walked towards the door. The villain waited for him to get up before turning around and walking down a hallway. Izuku followed, two steps behind.

                “Where are we going?” he asked, eyes poised for any sign of aggression or annoyance. Dabi didn’t turn around, just said in a bored voice.

                “Breakfast.”

                Ok, so I didn’t piss him off. Trying his luck, he spoke again. “Where’re my clothes?” Dabi shrugged.

                Izuku abandoned the meagre attempt at conversation in favour of looking around and trying to memorise the way. They reached the stairs and Dabi climbed them without once looking back to see if he was still behind him. Izuku followed him out the door. So I’m in a basement.

                The room they entered had the layout of a flat living room, only bigger. There was a couch and a TV, a small kitchen with a counter and bar stools, but not much else. The windows were covered, leaving only neon light. The room was lifeless, missing the warmth of someone living in it. Even the previous bar had had something more than this. Only Dabi, Shigaraki and Kurogiri were inside. Kurogiri seemed to be cooking, Shigaraki was violently assaulting his hand-held controller, and Dabi was brooding, sitting on the couch, glaring at…air.

                There only seemed to be two doors. The one he’d come through and another, on the other side of the room. He didn’t even consider running towards it. Dabi was close enough to roast him and he had no idea of the building’s layout. Izuku sat at the counter and Kuragiri placed a plate with an omelette and bacon on it. He muttered a small thank you, to which the villain responded with a curt, nod and he looked at the food.

                Sighing, he stabbed his fork into the omelette and took a bite. He almost felt like crying at finally having real food in his mouth. His past confinement days he and Bakugou had been fed energy drinks, the type Aizawa enjoyed, for the purpose of practicality, and he was sick of them. Tasting real, well-cooked food was a blessing. But, since he didn’t want to give them any satisfaction he just licked his lips and kept on eating.

                Toga entered, bubbly and bright. “Good Morning!” she said. Shigarki grunted, Dabi rolled his eyes and Izuku not wanting to draw any attention to himself said nothing.

 He found the girl unsettling. He didn’t like how she stood so close to him and touched him every time she had the chance. He had been tied that time and couldn’t really do much except tell her to stop, which she promptly ignored.

                Unfortunately, sitting still wasn’t a viable camouflage tactic, for she plopped into the chair next to him and leaned on his shoulder. “Morning, Izu-chaaan.” She stretched the last syllable, a smile playing on her wide lips. Izuku felt uncomfortable, but didn’t really know how to extract himself without pushing her off of him. He turned his attention towards Kurogiri.

                “Do you have a deck of cards?”

                The mist man didn’t have eyebrows, but if he had, he would have probably lifted them by the way his eyes slit. “Why?”

                “I’m pretty sure I can’t escape with a deck of cards” he deadpanned.

                “Wouldn’t be so sure” Dabi murmured from the couch where he still had his staring contest with the void. Kurogori probably had an expression right now, but he pulled a deck out from beneath the counter and handed it to him. Izuku started mixing the cards, trying to ignore the girl invading his personal space.

                Shigaraki disintegrated his console and huffed angrily. Izuku watched him from the corner of his eye, while seemingly paying attention at the cards he was stacking over each other. The silver haired man-child hit the counter. “God, I hate that guy! He pisses me off!”

                Kurogiri nodded, cleaning the same glass he had been cleaning for half an hour. “I know he isn’t the most savoury individual, but right now we need all the help we can get.” Shigaraki huffed and Izuku wondered how much the bartender was payed to be his babysitter. Probably not enough. Definitely not enough.

                Toga apparently got bored and started chattering. Izuku only listened to her with half an ear while his eyes focused on the other villains. Dabi had left to god knows where while Shigaraki had pulled out a notebook and was furiously writing in it; or hacking the paper. Most likely both.

                Izuku turned to Kurogiri

 “Who’s he mad about?”

                Before Kurogiri could answer, Shigaraki whipped in his direction and growled. “That presumptuous fuckwit pisses me off and if anyone mentions him again I’m gonna shove this chair leg so far up their ass, they’ll be picking the wood from their teeth for the next week!” he threw his half deformed glass away and kept fuming. Izuku realised he had close to no chances of getting out of this unscathed, so he returned to his card castle and trying to push Toga off his lap (When the fuck did she get there?)

                Twice slid into the room and gestured his good morning dramatically. He plopped himself onto the stool previously occupied by Toga and turned towards them “So energetic! You look sleepy! What are we doing today?!”

                Izuku gathered his cards and lifted Toga and dumped her into Twice’s lap before moving to a different stool. “Izu-chan, that’s rude!” she whined while cradling Twice’s lap, the man for the first time at loss for words.

                “Climbing onto other people without their consent is rude.” he replied as he kept mixing the cards, still trying to follow everyone’s movement from the corner of their eyes. There wasn’t a watch nearby, but his internal clock said it had to be late morning. If I keep their schedules in mind I might see a pattern.

                “Can you play?” Twice said pointing at his cards.

                “Yeah, I know some games. What do you know?”

                Twice rubbed his head, but Toga (who had climbed down his lap and was now sitting comfily on another stool) was the one to say: “Poker?”

                “I’ve got nothing to gamble” he gestured at his hospital clothes.

                “You do have two pieces of clothing….” She said smiling in an innocent way.

                “No.” Izuku said, trying to keep the redness off his cheeks. By the satisfied giggle that came out of Toga, he was failing. He turned towards Twice, who was still thinking the previous question. “Do you know Bullshit?”

And that was how, half an hour later, Spinner entered the room to find a very pissed off Shigaraki and three people playing Bullshit on the floor. Naturally, he joined.

                This game had a second purpose other than drive away his boredom (though the first one was weightier than he would have liked)- to observe them.

 When Izuku was in middle and elementary school, every once in a while, his class went on field trips. At the end of the day, before they went to sleep, kids used to play different games, mostly cards, because they could hold multiple people and were fairly quiet. Plenty of times he had been left out, because no one wanted to play with the freak kid. But, since he didn’t want to go to bed, he used to hang somewhere behind them, and watch them play.

                Card games mostly consisted of some kind of deception and quick thinking. And everyone had some kind of nervous tick, some giveaway when they were hiding something. Analysis came naturally to him so while everyone was trying to trap the others, he had watched them. After a few hours, you recognised certain pattern, a certain behaviour. You also learned important things about someone by how they reacted to losing. Bakugou had always been a horrible liar, his giveaway being a visible twitch in his nose. He also reacted very poorly to losing, but that wasn’t really a surprise.

                The same went for villains. Even though Twice would be somewhat problematic because of his mask, but the man gestured so wildly he was bound to reveal something. If he acted close enough to them, he could learn things about their personalities, maybe even find a way to trick them. Plus, he was kinda cooperating, so Shigaraki couldn’t say he didn’t try.

                It was exactly one hour before the silver haired villain gave up and joined them. Izuku had then the show of a lifetime as the man started screaming Bullshit at Twice and Spinner every round. He and Toga were actually pretty good at the game, so he didn’t put really that much effort and let himself lose more than once. Watching the villains fight and argue was much more entertaining.

                After one spectacular win for Shigaraki (and a spectacular loss from everyone else) the man looked at his phone, mood souring immediately. “Get up.” He told the green haired teen as he stood up himself. Izuku followed and the man walked towards the door.

                “Where are we going?” he asked as he followed the man down the corridor.

                “Back to your cell. The asshole I mentioned earlier is coming to secure a deal and I don’t want him to see you here.”

                “You mean you don’t want me to see him.” Shigaraki shrugged. “If you want me to be a part of the League, shouldn’t you let me see this kinds of things?”

                “Nice try, but to see this deals, you need to be a part of the League in the first place. You’re not, you are, at best still on probation. And I don’t trust you.”

                They reached his door and Shigaraki ushered him in. Before he got the chance to close the door, Izuku stopped him.

                “Wait!” he said as he said the freezing of the floor on his bare feet. He tried to put on a helpless cover, to paint a submissive image to his captor. “Can I…can I get a blanket or something? It’s really cold in here.” He rubbed his arms for emphasis.

                The man tilted his head and smirked. “Ask me nicely.”

                Izuku knew what the villain was doing, he knew what he was asking of him. He wanted the teen to beg, wanted to throw away his pride. He wanted him as an ally, but more importantly, as a subordinate. And establishing who the boss was the very first step.

                Izuku glared. He really, really didn’t want to do this. But his feet were cold and he was shivering. He really didn’t want to spend another day like the last. What is pride when you have to live?

                 So, slowly, he bent his legs and fell on his knees in front of the older man. He bent his head down and said in the most miserable voice he could manage “Please Shigaraki, I’m cold. Could you give me a blanket or something else?”

                He felt a four fingered hand combing through his curls and he could distinctly hear the smirk in his voice as the villain said “I’ll see what I can do”

                The door closed and Izuku leaned near the wall. In the off chance he was coming back, looking like he had been waiting would make him even more miserable, and it wasn’t like waiting near the other wall would be more comfortable. (Another part of him ¬the freezing one¬ was really waiting for the man to come back. He didn’t like to think about it)

                You win this round, Shigaraki he said as he hugged his knees.

                The man really did come back. He gave him a blanket and a pillow before he closed the door.

-0-

                Aizawa rubbed his tired eyes. He had been staring at the papers for what was close to two hours by now and he was starting to physically feel sick. He knew he had to sleep and the power naps didn’t really do any good other than extend the long periods of agony when he was awake. He sighed and leaned his head onto his desk.

                Nothing. Nothing at all. No sightings, no suspect behaviour, nothing to even relate the case to anything else. It was like the League of Villains had vanished. His colleagues didn’t help him either. Yes, they tried, but they had stopped long ago looking for a student and started looking for a corpse.

                Midoriya was alive. He knew it. Aizawa had realised long ago, at the beginning of his career, that he should follow his instincts. There had always been something, a nagging feeling deep in his gut that told him if there was a trap, if a civilian could be saved, if he should continue or retreat. It had always been there and it never failed him once.

                Maybe it was his attachment to the student. Maybe it was the fact that he couldn’t believe Midoriya, the kid who passes his test and two stages of the Sports Festival almost Quirkless could be defeated this easily. Maybe it was the fool’s hope that refused to die, refused to see reason and accept that his Problem Child was dead.

                Even so, he had promised that woman he would find her son, and he would. He also couldn’t stand the look on Toshinori’s face. True, he never particularly liked the man, but seeing the Symbol of Peace so utterly broken was something he hoped he never had to see, ever again. So he worked. He sacrificed his already frail sleeping pattern to find Midoriya.

                A knock made him switch from staring blankly at the papers to mildly acknowledging the door.

                “Come in” he said, voice rough and gruff. The door opened and Hizashi entered. The last events had taken a toll on everyone, especially the teachers. Weather one wanted or not, you got attached to your students. And life and death situations tended to bring people together. Hizashi loved the kids and he was never shy to show it. So, the fall of All Might, combined with the kidnapping of Izuku had taken a toll on him more than the other teachers, surpassed only by Aizawa. The Erasure hero tried not to get attached. He always tried to keep a relationship as professional as possible (he just failed most of the time).

                Hizashi had always been a very sociable person. He opened his heart and wore it on his sleeve, got attached really easily. He had always done so. He was also a big worrier. When they had been in school, he had always more or less forced his friend to sleep and take better care of himself. He was too empathetic, could suffer too much from other people’s pain. So, seeing his friend in so much physical and psychological turmoil was hurting him too.

                “You know, you won’t be able to save him if you’re literally too tired to stay awake.” He tried to keep his voice light, but Aizawa could hear the strain to keep the positive attitude.

                Aizawa rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I can’t give up now.”

                “But there aren’t any leads!!” the blond tried to rationalise.

                “I can’t give up.” He tried to be determined, but it only came out tired. “I’ll surely miss something.”

                “Look, Shota, I know you’re trying your best, and there’s nothing wrong in hoping but….” He hesitated, which was very uncharacteristic for him. Aizawa knew what was coming, but it didn’t hurt any less. “You need to get used to the idea that we might not find him. Not in one piece at least.”

                Aizawa sighed and forced his eyes open. “He’s alive, Hizashi. He’s alive and we will find him.”

                Hiazahi looked very uncomfortable. “There’s nothing wrong with thinking like that but… we both know it will only hurt more.”

                They were interrupted by another knock both teachers looked at the young girl as she entered the office. Uraraka stood a little awkwardly in front of the teachers before clearing her voice. “I’m sorry if I’m interrupting something, but I’ll be quick: I think there is a way to save Mido-kun”

                “Ok, then, please share.”

                She fidgeted. “Remember the beacon you gave him on the first day. Can’t you…can’t you locate it?”

                Aizawa looked down, shaking his head. “I thought about it and tried it when they were first kidnapped. It seems the device was somewhat damaged during the camp attack. We can’t locate it, at least not right now. We might be able to, and our men are working on it, but it would be faster if Midoriya activated it on his own. We can’t control it remotely, only detect it.” he sighed for what felt like the thousand time that night. “I appreciate your advice. If you or any of your classmates have any ideas, please, don’t delay coming to us.”

                The girl nodded and left in a hurry. “I’ll do something about that beacon when we get him back.”

                Hizashi sighed. “Please, Shouta. Go to sleep. I’ll look at those files while you do that. Maybe you’ll wake up and see it with new eyes, and a different perspective never hurts.” The utterly broken tone in Hizashi’s voice stabbed self-loathing spikes into his heart. His eyes were killing him and he was starting to see double. “Fine” he said as he got up and crashed on the couch. He could distantly hear his friend typing something before he was dragged to the Shadow realm.

-0-

                Shigaraki liked playing cards. Now, three hours after the meeting, which, conveniently, no one told Izuku about, he and the silver haired villain were caught in a vicious game of poker, with candies instead of chips, curtesy of Kurogiri, who Izuku realised was the babysitter/ mom friend for the ragtag gang of villains.

                The teen flipped another card and threw in a peppermint. The man rubbed his chin under the hand, whom he called Father for a reason Izuku really wasn’t interested in. He threw in two jellies. The last card was turned and Izuku threw his cards on the table as the man collected his prize.

                “You’re way too enthusiastic about this” Dabi said from a neighbouring stool.

                “Fuck off, Scarface!” Shigaraki sneered, enjoying his prize. Izuku had lost the last few rounds, if only for the fact that the man got pissed after the first two won by the boy. Izuku didn’t want to test his reaction, after the meeting, which had left him very sour. And watching the villain win a non-video game was something pretty funny. He looked so much like a child.

                Izuku really tried not to compare him with a child. They were innocent. He was not.

                Shigaraki stopped once he looked at his phone. He let out a pain filled groan as he sat up and walked out the door, taking his candy with him. Izuku sighed and started gathering the cards. There weren’t many villains to observe, only him, Dabi, Kurogiri and Toga left. He already knew pretty much about them and engaging in a conversation with the purpose of making a personality profile was next to impossible.

                Kurogiri seemed able to carry a normal conversation, but he had no idea what the fuck they could talk about. Toga was obnoxious and talked too much about blood for his liking and Dabi was just….no.

                Toga plopped herself on a seat next to him, leaning way too suggestively on the counter. Izuku was sure she was doing it just because it made him uncomfortable. “Izu-chan, I’m bored” she grabbed his arm and started shaking it.

                Izuku tried, to no avail, to push her off of him. She ignored him and clung even harder onto his arm. Dabi got up and left the room. Izuku curled his toes when the cold air met his bare toes. If I only had my clothes…

                He blinked as the figurative light bulb popped above his head. My clothes.

                He got up and walked towards the couch. He sat down and took a relaxed pose, leaning his head on the backrest. Toga plopped on the couch next to him a second later, leaning onto his shoulder. This time, instead of pushing her away, he rested his head on top of her head. “Hm?” she looked at him a little surprised.

                He just shrugged. “You’re warm”

                She looked at him for a second before a huge grin split her face and she crawled completely into his lap. She was heavier than she looked, and the way she was circling his neck was almost a chokehold, but her remained calm. “Can you please move a little? You’re pretty heavy.”

                She pouted “But we were just getting close to each other!”

                What the hell am I doing? He thought before he leaned in a little closer, whispering in her ear “I don’t think we can really get close with him here?” he tilted his head towards the barman, hoping she couldn’t hear his rabbiting heart.

                A predatory grin spread on her face as she moved to straddle his lap “Oh, naughty, what are you thinking about?”

                He didn’t need to fake his blush, he didn’t need to fake his embarrassment as he looked away. She giggled and playfully bit his nose. Izuku felt like gagging, if he wasn’t more scared than disgusted. “I, I don’t know…” he looked down, cheeks still burning.

                “You know, I do have room...” she trailed off, voice sickly sweet. God, please, don’t let it come to that.

                “I, I think I have something….” He lowered his voice conspirationally and she leaned in “But it is in my clothes. Do you happen to know where they are?”

                “Oh, naughty, naughty. Does that little floaty girlfriend of yours know about that?”

                Uraraka?! But he only looked her in the eye and said “She’s not my girlfriend.” The ear splitting grin was all the warning he got before she grabbed him and started dragging him towards the other door. Kurogiri threw them a look, but the girl just waved him off as she dragged the other teen out in the hallway. He tried his best to memorise the landscape, but his mind was mostly numbed by the sheer amount of obscenities that were crossing it at the moment. How the hell do I get out of this?

                She opened a door that led to a room that was bigger than a storage closet and closed the door. The swift click determined the moment it locked. Shit.

                “Hurry up and find it already” she whined as she leaned on the door. Izuku looked around until he found his old clothes. They were in tatters, but his jeans were not very damaged. He searched the pockets and felt like crying in relief when he found the small device Aizawa had given him before the trip still attached to the keys. He pressed it quickly (five times, just for good measure) then turned towards his present problem.

                “Sorry, it seems I was wrong, I don’t have it” he tried to brush it off, but promptly stopped when the girl pressed herself to his back. He stopped as she trailed her hands down his chest, feeling his muscles through his hospital clothes.

                “Do we really need one?” she purred as her hands slipped under his shirt, cold fingers sending shivers along his skin. Fuck, fuck, fuck, what do I do?

                Her hands reached his waistband and were slipping beneath it when he caught her hands. “Yes, we do.” he breathed, trying and failing to stop his heart. “Let’s leave it for some other time…”

***

He yelped when she sunk her sharp canines above his collarbone. Fuck.

“How about no…?” she purred before turning and pinning him to the wall. He tried to pry her hands away, but she was stronger than she looked. Toga pinned his hands above his head and bit his neck again.

He tried to push her away, prepared to use One for All, but she placed a well aimed kick into his jewels. He cried as he hit the ground, pain searing through his crotch. She kicked him in the stomach, rolling him onto his back and straddling him.

Her hands roamed up his chest, her tights keeping him in place. She pinned his hands to the ground and pressed her lips to his. Izuku tried not to gag as she frenched him. One hand of hers moved off his arms as the other roamed below his waistband.

***

The door was wrenched open and a gruff voice said “What the hell is happening here?!”

Izuku never thought he would be glad to see Shigaraki.

The man looked them over once, sighed and pulled them apart. “He’s supposed to be in his cell. What if he escaped just now?” Toga huffed and threw both males glaring daggers.

“Fucking tease!” she spit before walking past them and out of the hall. Izuku waited until he couldn’t hear her footsteps before letting out a huge sigh of relief.

Shigaraki lifted him to his feet and pushed him forward. Izuku walked near the man, trying to calm his breath. The villain said nothing and Izuku appreciated it. They eventually reached his cell and Izuku walked in without complaint.  Right before the man could close the door, Izuku let out a small, almost inaudible “Thank you.”

Shigaraki stopped for a second before he tsk-ed “Watch it, brat” and shut the door.

Chapter Text

 

                Aizawa and the other heroes were closing in on the building, scanning every direction to make sure they wouldn’t be spotted. The location was inconspicuous, seemingly abandoned, with boarded windows and peeling plaster. But research brought to light that water and electricity had been used the past days.

                This was it. His phone woke him up about two hours ago, the location from Midoriya’s device bright on the screen. That moment, all tiredness had vanished from his eyes and, in less than an hour, they had assembled a team of heroes and Nedzu helped them bake an action plan. Time was of essence, since they didn’t know if Midoriya was still alive.

                Aizawa watched the building through his goggles, making sure there was no one to stagger nearby. Endeavour was near him, flames down, waiting for the go ahead. It was primary a stealth and rescue mission, but they knew they would need firepower to capture the villains.

                “I know he’s your student, but you do understand he’s probably dead, right?” Endeavour said. Aizawa sighed and turned towards the man.

                “It’s far more likely still alive. And even if he isn’t we have a duty to return his body to his mother” he said as emotionlessly as possible before turning back towards the entrance.

                Don’t you dare die on me, kid.

                The order came in and he went on. While the others took the front and back doors, he pulled himself up to a broken window and slipped inside.

                The room was empty and full of dust, clear that no one stepped inside in a few years. His job was to find the student. While that was the objective of the mission, the others had to secure the exits and incapacitate the villains. He was solely focused on finding Midoriya. The floor seems to be empty, the man came to that conclusion after he threw a wary look inside every room only to find it as deserted as his entry point. The stairs were cracked, but made out of concrete, so they didn’t squeak under his legs. Nothing on the first floor.

                The ground floor was filled with people working in silence, documenting the place and looking for traps. Aizawa nodded towards one of them. Clear. The room had two doors, and one of the others kindly pointed towards the one they came from.

                He silently opened the other door and was greeted with the light eating darkness of some stairs going down to what seemed to be a basement. Horror movie much? He thought as he took step by step down, flashlight in hand, keeping calm as he ventured into the abyss. Darkness was one of his weaknesses; if he couldn’t see his enemies, he couldn’t erase their Quirks.

                New problem: the hallway was lined with doors. They were made out of steel and looked impenetrable. He reached the first and landed his ear on it. No sound, though he doubted he could’ve heard through the door regardless. He twisted the knob and the door opened- the room seemed to be empty but he double checked it before going onto the next. He tried and checked every door on that hall, none were locked.

                The basement was like a maze, some rooms empty, some were full of medical equipment, and some looking suspiciously like torture chambers. The cells had walls half a meter thick and plated steel doors. They were also made out of a very sturdy material. The light of his flashlight didn’t make it any better.

                He finally reached the first door that was locked. It was a lab door and he easily forced it open. Empty, except for the huge desk in the middle of the room. Trap, Aizawa realised as he walked away. They’d have to check that later, but he didn’t want to risk. He found more locked doors, which he broke into by melting the lock with a very corrosive acid the Support team came up with. It was quick, but the man was starting to get worried.

                He finally reached another cell, the first one to be locked, and entered it quietly. The flashlight revealed a small shape curled up on the floor, wrapped tight in a big red blanket. He approached with care, but the shape didn’t move. Cautiously, he lifted the upper part and was greeted with the freckled face of his problem child.

                “Midoriya!” he shook him lightly. The kid groaned and opened a tired lid, only to blink owlishly and do a double take.

                “Sensei?”

                “Yes. Can you stand?”

                The boy nodded and stood up with no small amount of effort. He punched a light switch in the process and Aizawa blinked rapidly to drive away the spots in his vision. He looked his student over.

                His skin was covered in scratched and cuts, blue and black bruises littered all over his face, hands and feet. The hospital pyjamas he had on were a bit big and thin, not protecting the teen in any way form the cold in the dungeon, fact proven by how he was shaking.

                “We’re going get out of here. Can you run?” Midoriya nodded. “Good. Keep silent and try to keep up.” Another nod. Aizawa wanted to say something else, but the blaring sounds of fighting and yelling interrupted him. He let go of a long suffering sigh and shook his head. “I guess stealth just went out the window.” The boy lifted one corner of his lips and the man nodded and walked out the door.

                Midoriya ran behind him, not quite able to keep up. Upstairs the main room was in a state of pure chaos, villains and heroes fighting tooth and nail to get the upper hand. They were so caught up in it they momentarily didn’t notice the little escapee behind the black-cladded hero. Aizawa dragged the boy towards the other door. It opened up into a larger hallway with flickering lights and chaotic madness all around. He turned towards his charge. “Do you know the way out?”

                Midoriya shook his head and the hero cursed. He walked at a brisk pace down the hall, and stopped right before he could enter the view of the mist villain. Kurogiri was keeping more heroes at bay, and had yet to notice the pair. Aizawa knew he could help, but the permanent risk of darkness was hanging over his head. If the villain got the drop on them, he could teleport the teen away and that would be it. No, Aizawa’s job was to rescue his student. He could return to help later.

                He turned around and took the stairs he used when he got in. Midoriya followed with steps so light, the man had to turn around just to make sure he was still there. They reached the floor and Aizawa ran towards the room he had broke into the first time.

                “Stop!” someone yelled. Aizawa turned around and came face to face with the hand covered villain standing above the stairs. His one visible eye was glaring with righteous fury and his hands were shaking. Aizawa prepared for him to run towards them, prepared to erase his Quirk.

                He didn’t expect the villain to pull out a gun.

                Shigaraki aimed and shot. Aizawa heard a swift sound and prepared for the pain…

 

… The pain didn’t come.

                The body of his problem child fell slack against him.

                No.

                Aizawa caught the kid and looked at the man, who eyed the device in his hands with surprise. “Shit, this actually works?”

                This can’t be…

                While the villain was distracted, the hero hoisted the hostage over his shoulder and dashed into the first room. Don’t you die on me, brat. He broke the window and looked down. Not far, but definitely too high to jump. He wrapped one of his scarves around the door handle and stepped out the window. Glass shards bit into his skin and he tried to protect the student as best as he could. Izuku’s breaths were ragged and panicked as they fell for a few meters before he touched the ground.

                He broke into a mad dash and passingly heard Shigaraki yelling from the window, but he paid him no mind. Instead, he focused on running towards the paramedics. “Sensei, Sensei, please, I’m not hurt….” His voice was off and distant, like the kid wasn’t quite there. Probably shock.

                He arrived at the ambulance and settled the boy on a stretcher.

                There was no blood.

                The white hospital shirt was clean, no shade of red staining any part of it. In the right side of his chest, a small dart broke the fabric. The kid looked at him with wide, scared eyes, brimming with tears.

                “My Quirk….” He stammered, huge heaves leaving his chest “Sensei, I can’t feel my Quirk…”

-0-

 

                Aizawa was waiting inside the hospital for the doctors to tell him he could visit his student. After the horrifying realisation, Midoriya had fallen into a full on panic attack, and the hero had to restrain him while the paramedics sedated him. He had cried and screamed the entire time, digging his fingers into Aizawa’s shirt, scared to lose him too. The hero held him and comforted him until the drugs kicked in, but his words fell on deaf ears. When the boy collapsed, they had to pry his fingers off the hero and they took them both to the hospital. They insisted on checking Aizawa too and, even thought the hero refused, he now had to keep an ice pack on his chest, because the unearthly grip the young hero in training had on him left him bruised.

                Izuku had jumped in front of the bullet. It had been aimed for him, but the kid took the damage. Aizawa wanted to be furious, but he could only be relieved that it hadn’t been a real one. He wasn’t sure the kid would have made it otherwise.

                That had been five hours ago. It was now morning. The heroes were still at the site, taking care of the villains that they had managed to capture, because the ones that escaped couldn’t be traced. Damn Kurogiri and his fucking Quirk.

                But Aizawa was more worried about his student. The wounds from the camp had not been treated, and the man could only hope they scabbed before they could be infected. The other kids had told him about the unfortunate effects Quirk overuse had over the green haired child, and the hero was worried he might have brain damage. They really needed to check it out.

                There was also the problem of his Quirk. Aizawa couldn’t help but worry if it was permanent or not. Izuku already was mentally unstable and in need of therapy before. The teacher planned to send him to a counsellor after the camp, but, with the stress of being kidnapped and the loss of his Quirk, however temporary, the man feared for the boy’s mental state.

                But Izuku was strong. He had potential, he had the will to pull through. He would make it. It will take a while, but Aizawa wasn’t going to give up on his kid. Especially when his kidnapping had been his failure as a teacher. He had seen the state the child was in when he had fallen off the mountain. When he heard that the villains were looking for both him and Bakugou, he had been livid.

                But his student was safe now. Physically at least. The hardships of treating him started only now.

                A small doctor walked towards him just as he sent the message to Ms Midoriya. He had forgotten to call her, and when he tried, she didn’t answer. He looked at the short woman and stood up.

                “He’s conscious, but might still be a bit dizzy after the drugs. I highly disapprove of this, but he keeps asking for someone and, for now, you are the only person here.” She pinned him down, with a stare similar to Recovery Girl’s. Geez, did every, doctor had that stare, or was it only women. “And don’t you dare try to interrogate him! I know you need the information, but you might hurt him more than help him.”

                “I understand” he said. The woman eyed him for one more second before she walked away, the hero close behind her.

                They entered a room and Aizawa focused on the figure plopped on the mountain of pillows on the bed. The nurse threw him one last threatening look and left the room. The man pulled himself a chair, and sat near the bed. The boy turned his head slightly, eyes glazed and blinking owlishly. The drugs, probably.

                “Sensei…” he spoke, voice hoarse. He tried to sit up, but his teacher pushed him back down. His hands were covered in bandages and he was wearing a different hospital gown. The bruises on his face were covered by gauze, so the boy only had one expressive eye instead of two to peer into his soul.

                “How are you?”

                “Better?” he shrugged. The teen sighed. “I’m fine, don’t worry. They didn’t really do anything, if you don’t count for the mental scarring.” He said, though the attempted joke just fell flat.

                “If you’re not ready, I can come…”

                “No” he shook his head “I need to do this anyway and I don’t want to have to repeat it…” he buried his face into his hands. Aizawa hated to do this, but the boy would only feel betrayed if he got his hopes up and found out later.

                “You’ll have to give a report to the police too.”

                He groaned “I know, but I’d rather do it now, with you, than in front of a stranger. To prepare or something…” he covered his eyes with his forearm. He laid there for a couple of seconds before he seemed to remember something “Oh, my Quirk came back.”

                Aizawa kept his poker face, but felt relief. “It did?”

                “Yeah” he yawned. “When I woke up, it was there. Whatever they shot me with, it was temporary.”

                “That’s fortunate, but there’s something else we need to talk about:” the boy peered from under his arm “You need to stop endangering yourself.”

                “I didn’t….”

                “Back at the camp, you overused your Quirk to the point of bleeding from your eyes and ears. You keep throwing yourself into danger, and, as much as I enjoy being alive, you didn’t have to take that bullet.”

                “I was the only way out, back at the camp. And I don’t know what….”

                “Midoriya, I’m not stupid” the boy clamped his mouth shut and the man continued “The shot was aimed for me. You jumped and took it in my stead” he let his voice grow in volume as the boy retreated even more into the pillows “What would’ve happened if it were a real bullet?”

                The boy lifted his eyes and looked at him with a new resolve. “Then you would’ve gotten out”

                Aizawa sighed and rubbed the base of his nose. Forget the mood-swings, we need to do something about that self-sacrificial streak.

                “Ok then. Please tell me what happened, from start to finish. If, at any point, you need to stop, tell me, all right?” the boy nodded and his fidgeted his fingers. He took a little time before finally starting.

                “After the training camp, I woke up in that bar. They tried to convince us to join them, but it didn’t work. Me and Bakugou started arguing and they put us to sleep. At some point, they took him a way, it wasn’t long, half an hour at most but… he came back…scared...” he didn’t finish, lost in thought. Aizawa knew what had happened, and the boy was right to be scared. He wasn’t going to tell the Izuku about his father. It would surely traumatise him more, he wasn’t ready. He just had to wait until he was, and tell his mother first. She was to decide if he needed to know. He didn’t bring up Bakugou either since Izuku was clearly angry with him.

                The boy continued. “After Kamino, they took me to the last location, the one from last night. After All for One fell, Shigaraki threw a fit and…” he gestured to his body. “The next day they served me breakfast. I’m not sure what they were doing. Half of them just weren’t there, and those who were didn’t do anything. I asked Kurogiri for a pack of cards and somehow we all ended up playing” he licked his lips and looked away, somehow ashamed. “Shigaraki mentioned some possible work partner who pissed him off, but they refused to tell me anything and locked me back up during that meeting. Last night, I” he trailed off as if trying to find the right words “Tricked Toga into showing me my clothes and used the beacon you gave me. Brilliant idea, by the way.” He sighed “After that, Shigaraki dragged me back to my cell and next thing I know you woke me up.”

                Aizawa nodded, musing over what he heard. “Did they hurt you?”

                “What?” izuku’s head jerked up, a little bit alarmed.

                “Did they hurt you?”

                The boy scratched his neck, “Shigaraki took his nerves on me on the first day, but that’s about it. Honestly, he seemed to enjoy telling me how everyone thought I was dead, that no one would come for me that my best bet was joining them, yada, yada the most. He also threatened to cut off my fingers and send them to All Might.” He licked his lips once more, not looking at his teacher. “He also loved to abuse the power he had over me” he looked down “Made me beg for a bloody blanket” the last part was mumbled.

                He’s ashamed he gave in Aizawa realised. “You did what you had to in order to survive. No one will blame you for that.”

                “They almost did after the Stain incident” he mumbled, and Aizawa had nothing to say to that.

                “Had anyone else done anything to you?”

                “Well, there was Toga…” his voice died and he looked away “She didn’t get to do anything, so there’s that…” the last part was whispered so quietly, Aizawa knew he wasn’t meant to hear it.

                “If anything happened…”

                “I don’t want to talk about it, ok?” the teen said forcefully, before clamping his mouth shut and glaring out the window.

                “I understand” Aizawa nodded. He wanted to say something else, but the door opened and colourful flash yelling “Izu-nii!” dashed past him and onto the bed.

                “Eri!” he exclaimed, pulling the girl towards him and snuggling into her hair. Ms Midoriya walked in and ran to her son, hugging him gratefully.

                “We’ll finish this conversation some other time. Rest for now.” He said standing up and walking towards the exit.  A hand clamped itself around his hand.

                “Thank you” Midoriya Inko whispered.

                Aizawa allowed himself to smile “I promised I’d bring him back, didn’t I?”

-0-

                Izuku had spent the next hour or so in the company of his mother and Eri. Inko was a stress baker and had made a lot of sweets the nurse looked sideways at before she allowed them. Eri was just so happy to see him and wouldn’t climb off of the teen, pressing herself into his stomach. Izuku loved Eri, but he was starting to miss his legs. Inko was just happy to see him well, and Izuku pretended he didn’t see the bags under her eyes, or tiredness in her frame. She would hate him to worry.

                Even so, at some point it just became too much, so Izuku bit the bullet and asked: “Mom, what’s wrong?”

                Her smile wavered and she looked down. “I can’t reach your father. He had been very supportive for the last week, but I can’t find him now. His company’s not responding either, and I’m starting to get worried. I talked to Naomasa, and he says he’ll handle it, but nothing so far.” She sighed. “I’m worried”

                Izuku placed his hand above her shoulder “I’m sure he’s Ok. I’ll talk to All Might, maybe he knows something.” His mom nodded and pulled both her children into a hug.

                But all good things come to an end, when she was forced to leave the hospital, visiting hours nearing their end. She kissed him goodnight one more time and left, carrying the little sleeping monkey in her arms. Ok, here came the hard part. He had to fall asleep. He wasn’t sure he could manage that without sedatives, and he didn’t have his phone, so he couldn’t browse the news. Though, he wasn’t sure he wanted to browse the news. He didn’t want to know what people said about him. If the Stain incident had been bad, he reeled at the thought of what people would say about the League of Villains. Especially after that reporter questioned his sanity and loyalty on live TV.

                What, what was his problem? Soon into his hero training career, he came to realise why exactly Aizawa hated media with the burning passion of a thousand Endeavours. They were ruthless in their quest for a good story, so ready to tear apart any piece of information and walk on corpses and sanity to get it their way. And the worst part was that it was legal!

                Izuku had nothing to do but think. But thing is, he didn’t want to think, because his mind would helplessly wander to his days of captivity, and that was something he really didn’t want to think about.

                A light knock woke him up from his daydream and he turned to see All Might in his true form standing shyly in the door. He was also in hospital clothes, one arm in a sling, and he looked uncharacteristically small and skittish in the doorway. Izuku felt frozen for a moment before a huge grin spread across his face, tears streaming down his cheeks in heaved happy sobs.

                The man panicked and moved forward, good had reaching hesitantly towards the teen. “Young Midoriya?”

                Izuku just pulled him closer and buried his face into his chest. He sobbed as the man tentatively started patting his hair with large, soothing strokes “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there…”

                The boy said nothing and the retired hero waited for his tears to dry. “Are you all right?” Izuku wiped his tears.

                “I should be asking you that…”

                Izuku waved him off “I’m fine. Nothing happened.”

                The man sighed. “You were kidnapped.” The boy looked down.

                “I know. But I’m fine now. They really didn’t do anything per se” he scratched his neck.

                “Something’s bothering you.” It wasn’t a question. Izuku looked away. “Please, my boy, I promise I won’t judge you. But it’s clearly bothering you and it can’t be healthy….”

                Izuku felt like laughing at how similar his words were to what he said to Kouta almost a week ago. He took a few deep breaths and looked down. “When I was, when I was there…. I tried to get information out of them. I tried to make them trust me…” he gulped. “We played cards”

                All Might was a little confused. “Young Midoriya, I don’t understand…”

                “The thing is that I...liked it?” he interrupted before he looked down. “I knew they were bad, that they were villains, but… there were...moments where I could almost forget. There were moments, conversations that were really interesting and I…”

                All Might nodded in understanding. “You are afraid they aren’t so evil.” Izuku nodded. The man sighed. “Young Midoriya, the world isn’t all in black and white. There are thousands shades of grey. A hero isn’t necessary a good person, and a villain isn’t entirely evil. We’re all just humans, with flaws and qualities. But, even so, the villains chose their path and we chose ours. We might want to save them, but not everyone wants to be saved.” He looked down “Some of them don’t deserve to be saved.” He took a deep breath and looked at his successor. “Even so, seeing the good in a person doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. You just need to trust your judgement and make sure people don’t get hurt.”

                Izuku nodded and the man enveloped him in a hug. “Please remember, if you ever need anything, anything at all, come to me. I only want to help you.” Izuku nodded in his chest.

                Then, he looked up. “Not that I’m complaining, but how are you here? Visiting hours are over.” The man gave him a smile, not as bright in his small form, but ten times as genuine.

                “People still have some respect for the old Symbol of Peace.”

                Izuku nodded when he suddenly remembered something. “Mom says my dad’s not answering his phone. She talked to Tsukakuchi, but he didn’t say anything. Do you happen to know?”

                An unreadable expression passed his face, before it turned neutral. He shook his head. “Not yet.” He stood up and tried to stretch. “Well, you should probably sleep. Your classmates were very worried about you and I’m pretty sure they will assault you tomorrow. You’d better be well rested.”

                “Alright” the boy said as he laid down. He looked at his mentor’s back as he exited, but, if he saw his face, he could’ve read the crushing guilt coming out of his frail frame.

-0-

 

                Katsuki stood in front of the door, hand poised to knock. He had been there for ten minutes, yet didn’t move an inch. It was 22:43 and the hallway was empty.

                Come on, coward, you owe it to him.

                He told himself over and over again, but he still didn’t move. He had steeled himself, prepared to come here, to do the right thing, yet his feet froze solid in front of the door. He tried to convince himself to move. His limbs wouldn’t follow.

                He had been relieved when they brought him alive. The moment they announced he could get visitors, he wanted to go and talk. But he couldn’t. Inko appeared and Katsuki decided he needed her more than him. Then, when she left, he tried again, but All Might came, and he didn’t want to interrupt. Not was pretty late, but the explosive teen was pretty sure his childhood friend was still awake.

                Come on now. Nothing stopped you before. Just walk in and say you’re sorry!

                But it wasn’t that easy. It was never that easy. He had no idea how to start. I’m sorry I left you for dead? I’m sorry I treated you like shit for ten years, I was just scared. I know you love your father, but he’s actually evil incarnate, so it’s cool, right.

                Yeah, sure.

                You are an ass, and you know it. You have always been an ass. A one-minute conversation won’t solve anything.

                Yes, but I have to start somewhere, don’t I?

                He took a deep breath, lifting his hand, prepared to knock. He stopped before his knuckles touched the wood.

                It was 22:44 and the door was left untouched.

 

Chapter Text

 

                Shoto had been jittery all the way to the hospital. The train ride had been pretty quiet, or who knows, he might have just turned deaf to the outer turmoil to purposefully focus on his inner one. Usually, he could keep everything in check, but today, there was this aura of anxiety hovering about him.

 Aizawa had rescued Midroiya. He’d been very relieved when he found out. Fuyumi had hugged the life out of him when the news reached them and, through he wouldn’t admit it, he had even spilled a few tears.

                The raid had been fairly successful, though most of the villains escaped, which slightly appeased his father’s rage at becoming the No.1 hero without his consent. Shoto couldn’t really care less about his father, but he had to be thankful. The news would be publically released today, so he had a few hours’ head start ahead of his classmates.

                He had nothing against them, of course, but he’d always liked privacy and didn’t think he could properly express himself with the entire class buzzing and fussing around him. There was also the guilt. He knew he wouldn’t be able to apologise properly if he were surrounded by his classmates. I was five feet from him. Twice I could’ve saved him, but I failed.

                The train came to a stop and he walked the last hundred meters from the station to the hospital. It was early morning, probably too early for the boy to be awake, but Shouto wouldn’t mind it. He wouldn’t mind waiting, since he had absolutely no idea what to say. Is he going to be mad? He hoped not. On one hand Midoriya wasn’t really one to be mad on the other everyone remembered the outburst from after the exam.

                Shouto frowned when he remembered the blond. His fists clenched before he could stop them. He knew his explosive classmate didn’t really see eye to eye with his friend. He knew Midoriya was more than reckless with his lack of self-preservation when it came to others and was probably brainwashed into caring about the other boy.

                But he’d never imagined Bakugou would willingly let the other get captured. Shoto has seen that exact scenario happen; Bakugou had reached to grab Midoriya, had reached to save him, to drag him back. But he’d stopped. He could’ve saved him, but he stopped. He hesitated. And that had been enough.

                In heroism there was no room for mistakes. There was no room for hesitation. Because one moment too late, and you could lose someone. They almost lost someone. And Shouto wasn’t going to forgive and forget. He wasn’t going to turn a blind eye, wasn’t going to stay on the sidelines. Not anymore.

                The day wasn’t exactly gloomy, but it wasn’t sunny either. It was pleasantly warm, the sun covered by the clouds, a small breeze in the passing. It was a nice day. Shouto stepped into the hospital and was met with the cold air of the AC. He walked towards the counter and asked for directions. Aizawa had put the entire class on the visiting list, and the heterochromatic teen wasted no time reaching the room.

                He waited for a few minutes in front of the door, taking a deep breath and gathering the courage to enter. He rapped his fingers on the door and waited a few seconds before opening it.

                Midoriya was sitting on his bed, looking out the window. The moment the door opened, his head whipped in his direction and a huge grin spread along his features.

                “Todoroki!” he exclaimed, eye shining from beneath the bandages.

                The teen was at loss of words for a few seconds before he nodded and took a step inside, closing the door. “Midoriya. I’m happy to see you’re well.” He looked away. No reason to delay it. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you. You deserved better, and even after everything, I couldn’t help you…”

                The greenette’s smile died on his face, and something died in Shouto along with it.  “I told you to stay behind, that one time. It’s not your fault the League were stronger. It’s partly my fault too” he laughed mirthlessly “to forget such an important aspect of my Quirk. I was really an idiot…” he buried his face in his hands.

                “You were tired.” Shouto tried.

                “You’re not denying that I was an idiot”

                “No, not really” Midoriya smiled sadly and looked out the window. Shouto didn’t really have any idea what to do, but he tried nonetheless.

                “I should’ve done something the second time, I could’ve-”

                “There was nothing you could’ve done.” The statement was definite. There was no room for argument in his voice, and the steel sheen of his eyes held something dark behind it “There was nothing to be done. The only person who could’ve done something…” His voice died in controlled rage, fists clenching as the smaller boy glared out the window like it personally offended him. Shouto stayed quiet as Midoriya breathed a few times, then took a deep breath and turned towards his friend. “Come here…”

                Shouto took a few wary steps until he found himself near the bed. Midoriya turned towards him and wrapped his hands around his middle, burying his face into the taller boy’s stomach.

                “You tried” his voice came muffled through the shirt and Shouto could feel small sobs wracking the tiny frame. “You tried, and that’s more than any other person has ever done for me. That’s more than could ever ask of you or anyone else. When I saw you guys there….” He sobbed “When I saw you there, you have no idea how happy I was. Even if you didn’t succeed, you were there, you wanted to help. You have no idea what that means to me…”

                Shouto was frozen. Then, slowly, he lifted his arms and wrapped them around the smaller frame. He gently rubbed soothing circles into his back, threading his free hand through the soft curls. The boy sobbed until he couldn’t, before lifting his head. “Thank you.” He wiped away his tears.

                “No problem” he said before sitting on the bed and letting Midoriya lean his head on his shoulder “Are you ok?” he asked.

                “Better than I could’ve been.” This wasn’t all that reassuring, but Todoroki stayed quiet. “But I’m tired; so, so tired...How are the others?” he suddenly asked.

                “Fine” Shouto said. “I mean, Aizawa gave us an entire lecture about how we weren’t supposed to do what we did and I’m pretty sure he’ll do it again, just so he could emphasize how stupid we were….” He shuddered at the memory. “Iida and Yaoyorozu were bummed by this. Me, Uraraka and Shinsou were pretty mad at Bakugou for…”

                “Stop.” The word was told with barely any volume or emotion about it. A robotic voice would’ve been livelier “Don’t… don’t talk about him…” Midoriya lifted his head and looked him in the eye. His only visible one was somewhat dull “How-How’s your mother?”

                “She’s getting better.” And it was true, she was smiling a little bit more every time they met. He and his two siblings were visiting pretty often. “When she found out about you she was pretty upset. She wished you would be found quickly.” It was more than that. When she found out her son’s first friend had been kidnapped, she’d spent his entire visit holding him close and whispering reassurances in his ear, just like when he was a kid. He’d held onto her for dear life and wasn’t ashamed to admit, a least to himself, that he cried. It was the first time he’d cried in a very long time, and, through it was draining, it helped.

                “I’ll visit her after we’re done here, to tell her you’re back.”

                Midoriya smiled. “Then, please send her my best regards and thank-yous for believing in me…” he looked down. “I have a feeling very few did.”

                Todoroki knew there was something more to it, but, before he got the chance to ask, the door slammed open and Kirishima, Uraraka, Iida and the rest of class 1A¬minus Bakugou¬ entered the room. Kirishima wasted no time in lifting the former hostage off the bed and hugging the living daylights out of him.

                “Kirishima, Kirishima, I missed you too, buddy, but, please, can you let me go. I’m having trouble breathing.”

                The redhead seemed to realise and let the other go, placing him gently back on the bed. “Sorry. I-we were all very worried.” He corrected himself at the last second.

                “Understandable.” Izuku nodded.

                They all asked him if he was all right, if he needed anything, if there was any way they could help. After he assured them all that he was fine, no, I don’t need any help, please stop babying me! They all fell into normal topics. The majority of the class dissipated afterwards, leaving only the Dekusquad, as Uraraka and the others called themselves now and they spent the next few hours goofing around. Shinsou was pretty quiet, save for a few mean commentaries, which were nothing but harmless jabs, and the way he stabbed his hand into Izuku’s hair, which must have been is equivalent of a hug.

                Izuku felt good. For a few hours, he allowed himself to forget the last few days.

-0-

                Izuku was now sitting with Eri and his mother, playing on her phone. She was going to buy him a new one, the previous now in an undisclosed location on the Pussycats territory, but, for now, he had to read the news and try not to cry from his mother’s phone.

                The opinions were so biased, he had to fight to keep a straight face and erase the history to make sure his mom wouldn’t get to read that. It would probably affect her even more.

                On forums, a lot of people felt pity for him, and that wasn’t really….bad. But a good chunk of comments chose to wildly debate his loyalties, mental stability, and be just outright mean towards him. Jeez, have some respect for the people.

                He was apparently saved when Aizawa and All Might came in. Inko stood up and greeted them, but there was something weird in her pose. She seemed cold, if not a little bit hostile.

                “Afternoon, ma’am” they bowed their heads. Both of his teachers were wearing formal clothes, and Izuku had a very bad feeling about this.

                “Izuku will be released soon enough. We would like to discuss the UA dorm system with you. I believe you’ve received the letters, didn’t you?”

                “Yes, I did.” Inko took a deep breath “I’m afraid I can’t allow it.”

                “Mom!” Izuku said, lifting from his place on the pillows.

                Inko ignored him. “As a citizen, I appreciate what you did for this city” she turned towards Aizawa “While I’m grateful to you for rescuing my son, the fact of the matter is that this it is your job to do so; never mind the fact that you are the ones who let him get captured in the first place.” she took a deep breath. Tears were glimmering at the corners of her eyes, but she didn’t let them fall, keeping her expression steady. Izuku was looking at her shocked and betrayed at the same time. Inko still wouldn’t look at him. “I know I may seem like a problem parent, but if that’s what it takes to keep my son safe than so be it.” she gulped “It’s not like I want to take away his dream. If he really wants that bad to be a hero, he can go to other schools. It doesn’t have to be UA”

                Izuku lounged for the nightstand and grabbed something. He held it close and unwrapped it. It was a note, a piece of paper with writing on it. “Look at this, mom! It’s a letter, from the kid I saved in the camp.” He looked at the scribbled writing “He hates heroes, he hates Quirks. But even so, he thanked me. I know it’s wrong to make you worry, and I’m sorry you had to go through this, but, even for a second, this kid made me his hero…” he squinted his eyes, a few stray tears rolling past his cheeks. “And it made me so, so happy” he sniffled and buried his head in Eri’s hair. After a few minutes he finally looked up. “So, I don’t care if it’s UA… I’m gonna be a hero anyway.”

                “Young Midoriya…” they turned towards All Might, who was in a deep bow. “ You already are one. I deeply apologise that I couldn’t be there for you. I am so sorry for taking advantage of his admiration and neglecting his education. Even so, I am sure you are on the right path of succeeding me, of becoming the nest symbol of peace. I know my path is drenched in blood, and that’s exactly the reason I won’t allow him to walk it alone.” He took a deep breath “I know UA is not in the best position right now, but believe that us, the teachers, understand this, and realise we have to change. So please, find it in your heart to forgive us and look, not at how UA is now, but at what it will be. Would you allow me to pour all my might into Young Izuku? I swear I will protect him, even if it costs me my life…”

                Inko pulled the blond to look at her. “Don’t say that! Izuku admires you too much, cares about you too much. I can’t allow you to die.” She sniffled, looking the man in the eye. “I don’t hate UA, I just want my son to be happy. So, don’t throw away your life so easily. Please, keep living to take care of him. He needs you. If you can promise me that, then I will consider it.”

                “I promise.”

                Aizawa, who had been silent for the past few minutes, finally spoke “There are some more things you need to take into consideration. If you could please follow me outside?”

                Inko nodded and followed and Aizawa ignored the betrayed look on his student’s face. Once he and the woman were outside, he walked her a few meters away from the door, just to make sure no one could hear.

                “Mr. Aizawa, what’s this about?” she frowned.

                “First of all, I need you to understand that, whatever your choice is, you will have full UA support in this matter.”

                “I don’t understand, what is this about? Why did we left the room?!”

                Aizawa sighed. “The next topic might upset your son, and he might try to get out of it. I need to tell you this without him intervening. It’s for his own good.”

                She crossed her arms “I’m listening”

                Aizawa took a deep breath “The attack wasn’t random. Other than destroy the school’s credibility, the villains had two clear objectives in mind. Your son and Bakugou. Shigaraki had his eyes on Izuku for quite a long time, this had been premeditated. In this circumstances, I’d suggest we put him in witness protection services, but I am afraid it wouldn’t really be the wanted result. UA is currently preparing special protocols against the villain with the warping Quirk.”

                “So you’re saying I either send Izuku to UA, or he gets kidnapped.” She woman glared.

                “No. Even if you refuse, heroes will still be stationed near you twenty four seven until we can work out a proper arrangement.”

                “I see your point, but I don’t understand why we had to leave the room. Izuku would understand it.”

                “Actually, the upsetting part comes right around here” the man took a deep breath. “From about the beginning of the semester, I noticed certain issues with your son. Please don’t take it the wrong way, but your son’s mental health is in a precarious state. I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t noticed the gravity of it until it was too late, but there is still time to fix it.”

                “I don’t really understand it, please explain.”

                “He lately showed signs of mood-swings, anxiety and toxic behaviour towards his classmate. I was going to talk to you about therapy after the training camp, but I didn’t really get the chance. There is also the issue of his self-sacrificial tendencies. There’s one thing to be heroic, but he presents a concerning lack of self-preservation when it comes to other people. He’s very smart, very creative and can find ways out of certain situations very easily. But all that seems to vanish when it comes to the benefit of someone else.” He took a deep breath and looked at the woman, who seemed to be lost in thought. “Please tell me, Ms. Midoriya, has he been bullied before?”

                “You know how kids can be. There wasn’t anything I could do to stop them, and the teachers didn’t really do much to help.”

                Aizawa nodded. “I got that at least. During one of our conversations, he seemed awfully surprised about the idea that someone would care about his well-being.”

                Inko looked down. “Only I and his father ever believed in him after he got his Quirk.”

                “There’s nothing to blame yourself over. There was no way you could control the kids or the teachers, especially if he stopped telling you about them. This might be the cause of his anxieties. He might even have depression, though it’s too hard to tell yet. We need to also take into account the recent trauma he went through. He needs therapy and counselling for it. But here lies the problem:” he inhaled and exhaled “The information about the League of Villains is strictly confidential, and can’t be released to the public. You know that he’ll be more or less placed under a gag order, and no matter the patient- doctor confidentiality, he won’t be allowed any normal doctors. I already talked to Nedzu, and, if you agree, we could set up a special therapist for heroes to consult and supervise your son’s health.”

                A smile with no real joy behind it found its way on her face. “And let me guess, it will be easier to assure his recovery if he lived at the dorms”

                “I won’t deny that that is a point. But you can choose not to. It’s entirely your choice, but please consider this. We only want to help him. Will you let us?”

                She lifted her chin and looked him in the eye “I’ll consider it”

-0-

                Aizawa and All Might walked out of the hospital. The way came a little difficult for the retired hero, who wasn’t really used to only using one arm. They reached pavement and entered the car.

                “Aizawa… I never got to properly thank you for saving him” the man said. Aizawa lifted an eyebrow.

 “It’s my job and he is my student too, you know.”

                The blond smiled sheepishly. “I know but… I feel like I have to thank you. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. I regret not being able to save him.” He sighed. “I’m just glad that wasn’t a real bullet”

                “Me too. But that brings the prospect of the League using guns.” He looked at the road. “I really don’t like that.”

                “There’s also the dart” All Might’s face darkened. “Have the results come in already?”

                Aizawa nodded grimly. “They can’t really pinpoint how it works, but it has Eri’s DNA in it.” All Might let out an English curse and looked out the window. “Yes. It look like her Quirk can rewind even Quirks, or at least the body to the state before it had a Quirk. We know for sure that the people who did business with Shigaraki the other day are either the “bird people”, or working with them.”

                “I’ll have to tell Nighteye about this.”

                Aizawa tsk-ed. “There’s one more thing that bothers me: this one was, thankfully, temporary. But what if they have something permanent?”

                All Might gritted his teeth. “It would overthrow society. If this gets out, even as a rumour, people would panic. It would be an uproar. We need to find a way to fix this, and quick”

                Aizawa nodded. “What do we do with the other problem?”

                Toshinoi groaned. “Which one?”

                “Our student’s wonderful family tree” Aizawa deadpanned.

                The blond buried his face in his hands. “We can’t tell him. He would be devastated.”

                “We’ll have to, at some point. If he finds out on his own, then realises you knew and kept it from him, I don’t think he’ll ever forgive you.” The retired hero didn’t respond and the younger teaches sighed. “We’ll have to tell the mother first. She might be able to deliver the news better.” He released another breath and shook his head “But how do you convince a woman who deeply loves her husband that he is a criminal mastermind who might or might have not had a part in her son’s kidnapping?”

                The blond looked away “I don’t know…”

                “Well, I hope, for both our sakes that we will find out.”

Chapter Text

Izuku spent two more days in the hospital, because no one trusted that he was okay just yet. Well, we can’t really trust you on that, can we? Shinsou had said when he complained about it.
                “But I’m fine!” he’d huffed from his seat before crossing his arms.
                “You said you were fine while bleeding from your eyes and ears” the purple haired teen deadpanned. Izuku huffed again and glared out the window while the taller boy tried to goad him with a piece of apple like a baby. Izuku glared at the offending piece of fruit, but his friend just kept it obnoxiously close to his face. Shinsou started poking his cheek with it and Izuku finally gave up and ate the damn fruit.
                “You’re enjoying this way too much.” The greenette said seeing his friend’s satisfied smirk.
                “Well, someone has to” he said throwing a piece of apple into his own mouth and chewing loudly. The playful expression disappeared a second after. He looked down and started playing with the fruit his colleagues had left behind. “Look Midoriya, I just wanted to say” he took a deep breath and looked up “I’m sorry. I couldn’t help you…”
                “Please, not you too!”
Shinsou looked up and saw the smaller boy with his face in his hands and shaking his head. “Not you too. Everyone’s been coming around telling me how sorry they are and I’m sick of it!” he looked at his friend and grabbed his shoulders and forced the taller boy to look into his eyes “Look, there’s nothing you could’ve done. And even if you could’ve, there’s nothing you can do about it now. The deed’s done, no one got killed, I’m fine, let’s get over it!” he said, voice rising towards the end.
Shinsou blinked, at loss of words.
Izuku sighed and looked down. “Please. If there’s anything you blame yourself for, I’ve already forgiven you.”
Shinsou caught his wrists and gently pried them away from his shoulders then, very awkwardly, pulled him in a hug. He rubbed his back as the boy wrapped his arms around his broader frame.
“Still. I could’ve done something”“It’s ok.” The boy pulled himself from the hug and laid back on his pillows.
“You tried.”
The boy gritted his teeth and looked down. “Trying isn’t enough.”
Izuku’s eyes softened “Then make sure you do better next time”
Now he was at home, on his couch, with Eri nodding off comfortably in his lap, his mom asleep in her bed. They’d been watching movies all day but she’d given up after the first two, because of all the tiredness of the past days and the relief of finally having her child back in her house.
His father’s company had finally answered and told them he was busy with some foreign guests and couldn’t get a hold of his phone. His mom had yelled up a storm about not contacting them to tell them something was wrong and Izuku had the feeling she’d put the fear of god in the poor operator at the other end.
Izuku reached for the remote and turned off the TV. In truth, he was glad to finally be home too. He pulled the blanket over them and tried to get comfy on the couch. Going to their room would    be such a drag and effort he wasn’t willing to make right now. He closed his eyes and tried not to remember the cold fingers creeping up his neck, his hands.
The bite marks on his neck were still bandaged and he hoped they wouldn’t scar. He didn’t want to live with the reminder of Toga on his body. He could still feel her hands trailing down his chest to his waist band.
Her teeth sinking into his skin, piercing cutting…
Her tongue on his cheek, licking the dried blood...
He closed his eyes and shook his head. He looked down, at the sleeping girl in his arms and hugged her tightly. He wouldn’t remember it, wouldn’t even try. He was home. He was safe. He breather in Eri’s strawberry shampoo and closed his eyes.
-0-
A week before the new semester, Izuku left his house after hugging his mother tightly.
“Take care, ok? Don’t do anything rash and call me every night!”
“I will”
Eri latched onto his legs. “Don’t go! I don’t want you to go! I won’t let you go” she held onto him like a Koala bear with trust issues. He kneeled and hugged her.
“I’ll call every night, ok? You still have to go to UA for your Quirk training, so we’ll meet” she looked at him, pouting with tear tracks glimmering on her cheeks.
“Wait!” she said and dashed up the stairs. She came back a few seconds later with a plushie toy. It was a green rabbit, that wasn’t his; it must have been one of the new ones Inko bought for the girl. She thrusted it into his hands and looked at him determined. “Take him! To keep you safe!”
Izuku was a little surprised, but smiled and stuffed the stuffed toy into his backpack nonetheless. Kissing his mom and sister one more time, he walked out and headed for the station.
He honestly wanted to take Eri withe him. She calmed him and his classmates loved her. But mom said no. UA was alreadya target. He had been specifically put in danger and was from now on. The spy was yet to be aprehended and theyknew villains wanted Eri. There was no reason to put her in the spotlight.
He kept his hood up on the train, careful not to be recognised. His face had been plastered everywhere on the news the past few weeks, so he knew better than to draw attention, good or bad, to himself. He got down and walked towards the school. The dorms stood high and mighty and only three days old.
If only they’d use these powers for normal citizens housing problems would disappear overnight he thought bitterly.
Everyone was there, except for Mineta. Apparently, his parents didn’t let him stay, but no one seriously missed him. The others were not so subtly throwing him worried looks, but none had the guts to step forward. Uraraka and Kirishima were distracting him while Shinsou lingered somewhere in the background and Todoroki was brooding in the distance. He felt someone staring at the back of his neck and turned around to catch Bakugou turning away. He gritted his teeth and focused on the familiar thread.
Aizawa stepped out of the shadows, like the overworked and completely done uncle of the people in Assassin’s Creed. He stood there, a beacon absorbing the light around him and glared at the teens until they noticed the impending doom above their heads and shut up.
“First things first, class 1A” he said in a voice so monotone, reading the text from a paper would’ve been livelier “We are very glad you are all safe and sound”
“We are glad you’re alright too, sensei” Tsuyu said “When we watched the press conference, we were so worried you might not be with us again anymore!”
“I’m also surprised” he said “Right now, I’ll be giving you a brief explanation on how the dorms work, but first we have to address how we’ll be inquiring the provisional licences we planned to get at the lodge.” His look darkened “ Kirishima, Todoroki, Shinsou, Uraraka, Yaoyorozu, Iida! On that night, you went to rescue Bakugou and Midoriya.” The class looked around. Some gasped. “And judging by your reactions, you all knew they were going to do this. Up until now, I’ve been shelving things left and right, so let me get this straight: had not All Might been forced to retire, save for Midoriya, Bakugou, Jirou and Hagakure, I would’ve expelled you all.” Izuku heard his classmates gulp, but he wasn’t reassured either, because he knew, had places been reversed, he would’ve gotten without question. “The six going are a given, but all of you knew about it and did nothing wouldn’t have gotten away scot-free either. Whatever your reasons, it doesn’t change the fact that you betrayed our trust.” He looked them in the eye and glared. “So, I’d appreciate if you restored that trust, by going through the proper, legal channels.”
His stance relaxed and he turned around. “Now come on, we don’t have all day.”
He gave them the tour and their rooms and let them to it. Izuku spent the better part of his afternoon unpacking his things and setting his obsessive fan-crush on place. After he set all the big parts, he pulled out a few photos and set them on his desk. A picture from when he was little, with both his parents in it. A picture from when hit parents took him to Disney land when he was six. His mother had taken the picture while he and his father had been fighting on pancakes. There were a few more pictures with him and his parents and a very recent one that had Eri in it. He pulled another one, that seemed to be in the range of what Kirishima had taken from his mother, in which both him and Eri were wearing All Might PJ’s, and his hair was defying gravity. He smiled and put it up. The class had already seen it, it wasn’t like they could use it against him.
He took the pictures and pinned them on a magnetic board with All Might magnets. Izuku smiled as he looked at the pictures once again. He looked at the one with his father and Disney Land. We’ll have to take Eri there at one point he mused. After dad comes back; we’ll go there for old time’s sake. He smiled at the thought. Taking a deep breath, he returned to unpacking his All Might memorabilia.
After everything was in place, he wiped the sweat off his forehead and walked to the common room where he promptly collapsed on the couch near his classmates. He listened to Iida pulling some educational benefits out of this, a discussion he honestly didn’t have enough energy for and relaxed on the couch. A few minutes later, the girls popped up and peer pressured them into showing their rooms.
“No, no, no wait!” he yelled, but it was already too late. His well-known All Might obsession was in full sight, ready for all to see. He buried his tomato cheeks in his hands as they marvelled around.
“There’s nothing wrong with it, Mido!” Uraraka tried as she rubbed his back. He peered an eye out as his classmates were looking all around. The boys were giggling and the girls were ogling over his family pictures.
“Is this your dad, Midoriya?” Kirishima asked.
“Yeah”
“You look a lot like him” the boy continued. Izuku rubbed his neck and shrugged; many people were very quick to point out the sticking resemblance between him and his father, always joking that he looked like a carbon copy but on a different colour palette.
“You like stuffed animals, Mido?” Sero said, lifting the green rabbit he had left on the bed.
Izuku turned around and smiled sheepishly “Eri gave it to me. She said it is to keep me safe”
The boys stopped giggling and looked at him with something akin to sadness. Kirishima saved them by hitting his chest and saying with tears in his eyes “Taking a stuffed animal to soothe your worried little sister? So manly…”
Everyone laughed and moved to the next room.
Two steps into Tokoyami’s room and Izuku was decided: I’ll definitely get myself a sword.
After Satou was declared King, Uraraka told him and the rest of the squad to come outside. They all trudged on the stairs were they were met with the sight of their Tsuyu fidgeting in the lamp light.
“Tsuyu has something she wants to tell us” Uraraka said.
The frog girl looked down “I always say what’s on my mind. But sometimes, I don’t know what to say. Do you guys remember what happened at the hospital?” Izuku didn’t know what she meant, but the uncomfortable way the others looked around, he guessed they did. “I’d hardened my heart and said some very harsh things. But then I found out you went and tried anyway. I was shocked and felt a rush of very terrible emotions….” She sniffled “When I saw that Bakugou came back, but Mido didn’t, I was so worried. I was too shy to stop you, but, at the same time “She hiccupped “ I couldn’t stop thinking that I could’ve helped in some way if we just sat down and talked about it”
“It’s not just you, Tsu” Uraraka placed a hand on her shoulder “Everyone’s filled with remorse and anxiety. We all want it to go away. That’s why we did the whole “King of rooms” thing. We all feel bad about it…”
“But at least you did something!” the frog had finally lifted her head and her eyes were brimming with tears “You all wanted to help, and did something, while I was here and did noting” she looked up “I’m sorry, Mido-kun. I really wanted to help, but going after you didn’t seem like a good idea”
Izuku pulled the girl into a hug and she buried her head into his chest. “It’s ok, Tsu”
“Anyway” she sniffled as he pulled away and wiped her tears “While I didn’t completely come to terms with what happened, I only want things to be the way they were before. I couldn’t keep going if I didn’t get this off my chest.”
“Tsuyu…” Kirishima wiped his eyes “I’m so glad you came to us for this” he joined the hug. Soon enough, everyone-even Shinsou and Todoroki- were dragged in the hug, comforting the small girl.
-0-
The endless chatter ever present on the territory of class 1A was somewhat soothing to the sleep-deprived teen. He had gone to sleep early last night and, even after talking to Mom and Eri, sleep had avoided him. He lied awake for a few hours until he managed to get a wink of sleep, but woke up not two hours later and couldn’t get back. He rubbed his eyes and tried to rest his leaden eyelids. Shinsou seemed to be faring a little bit better, but, then again, the human personification of that #tootiredforthisshit was his usual appearance, so that statement didn’t hold much ground.
Bakugou was unusually tense and fidgety and, a few days ago, Izuku might’ve asked him if he was ok. Now, he just tucked his apparent tenseness in a mental box for future reference and tried to stab him with his glare. Unfortunately, a killing stare was a Quirk he had yet to acquire. If I met a person with such a Quirk, could I maybe trade another Quirk for it? I could do without Bloodcurdle, now that I know my limit… he briefly entertained these thoughts before his moral compass kicked in and stabbed its pointy needle in his heart. Don’t  think like this!
Would it work though?
The chatter died as his homeroom teacher walked in, in all his dishevelled glory and levelled the students with his age-old stare. “As I told you yesterday, your first priority is to akquire provisional licences.” He lowered his head, black eyes pinning each of them from the shadows of his hair “Hero licences are a serious responsibility. They are directly concerned with matters of life and death. As such, the exam to receive qualification is very hard. The average yearly passing rate is about 50%. That’s why, the next month will be dedicated to developing….”
“AT LEAST TWO SPECIAL MOVES!” Midnight, Cementoss and Ectoplasm said as they entered the classroom.
Izuku was now fully awake and seriously questioned his survival over the next month.
They had taken the teens to a huge dome, that was named, ironically enough “TDL”. After the teachers explained the super moves and their roles in hero conduit, Ectoplasm created a shitload of clones for each individual to train with.
Izuku looked at his hands, flexing his scarred fingers, though the marks of his Quirk were hidden by his gloves. My fighting style is too similar to All Might’s. If I can predict his movements, so could someone else. He remembered what Recovery Girl had said not long ago: she wouldn’t treat his wounds if he broke his arms anymore. Well, that’s probably going to keep happening unless I change something.
Izuku also remembered something Tatakai said a long time ago: In hand to hand combat, males usually use their arms more, since they have wider shoulders and big upper body strength and females use their legs more, since their hips are wider and they have better balance. A man also, usually, fights diffrently with another man than he would with a woman since he has toadapt from countering hits to countering kicks.
Also, dad's advice came to mind: you have lwgs, you know?
All this evidence seemed to point on one singular direction: use your legs!
“What are you looking at? Back to work!” Ectoplasm yelled. Izuku jumped and whipped around, trying to get over the mini heart attack he had just now.
He scratched his neck before holding up his arms “About my super move- I can’t really keep using my arms since they seem prone to breaking” the bruise from when Dabi dislocated his arm had stung a lot until it healed. “To be honest, I have no idea what my super move might be.”
Ectoplasm seemed to think that over “It’s true, your borrowed Quirk seems to be the furthest from any semblance of stability. But your Quirk hasn’t set in yet, so you still have time to work something out. Try using your it some more today.”
Like I wasn’t going to so that anyway he thought, but thanked his teacher nonetheless.
He jumped left and right, kicking different boulders, trying to get accustomed to the feeling of using his legs for something other than running. His arms felt awkward now that he wasn’t punching anything with them, and he had to consciously keep them on standby.
He felt All Might’s now almost dead thread behind him and turned around were the skeleton man was approaching him.
“All Might?”
“Some advice,” he said, lifting his god arm “Your arms have a purpose outside of combat”
“What do you…?” but the man had already left to tend to Kirishima.
Izuku blinked and looked at his arms, picturing the scars beneath. Was it really that obvious? Of course, it was. Purpose outside of combat, huh? How can I use my hands to enhance my kicks? The answer came back almost a second later and the hero in training barely kept from face-palming himself. For balance, you idiot!
-0-
 
The training lasted four hours and now the green aired teen was walking the halls of UA towards the support course. There was still and hour until lunch and most of his students were chilling in the dorms, but not him. No, he was going to meet crazy Tony Stark to ask for some upgrades for his costume, and hope the girl will go easy on him. He had a feeling she would be a piece of work.
As for upgrading your costume, don’t ask me, it’s outside my expertise. If you want to tinker with it, you should go to the first floor and ask an expert about it.
He was ready to knock when he felt Uraraka and Iida nearby. He turned to wave them and say hi when the door exploded.
The explosion had been surprisingly tame. The power was enough to throw him behind, barely making him fall over. The smoke held a pink-ish colour and smelled like… strawberries?
Izuku opened his eyes and poured all of his focus in stopping the world from spinning. Voices were talking near him, but he couldn’t really concentrate on them as he was trying to sit up. His efforts were rendered useless, as the next second he woke up with a weight on his chest and opened his eyes to see, lo and behold, the pink-haired devil who he had been worried about earlier sitting on him, her… front resting on his chest.
“Hatsume!” he squeaked, blushing furiously and trying to look anywhere but at her.
“Oh, you’re the kid from back then!”
Legs straddling his chest, fangs sinking into his neck, pain, pain, pain…
Izuku pushed the girl off of him and got up as fast as he could without caring if he looked rude or something. She didn’t seem bothered and went on with her speech. “Ah, sorry about the Kaboom. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? You’re the heroics kids! I forgot all your names.”
Izuku was still trying to calm his racing heart and managed to stutter his name while Iida was gesturing in his well-known movements. “I’m Iida Tenya! The man you used as a personal billboard during the Sports Festival!”
“Ah, right!” she scratched her chin and promptly turned around and walked back in. “Well, I’m busy working on my babies, bye!”
“Wait!” Izuku, who had woken up from his daze finally said “I kinda wanted to talk to Powerloader sensei about some costume upgrade!”
She turned around and magically materialised in front of him, moving at a speed to high not to be a Quirk. “Did you just say: costume upgrade?” the crazed look in her eyes was enough for the small boy to realize he had just signed his death sentence.
Powerloader explained how the business worked and how they better stay on Hatsume’s good side for when they got their licences and needed her.
“So, what do you need?”
Izuku scratched his neck. “I wanted something to take the pressure off my arms and ligaments. Maybe even legs.”
The man nodded. “Anything else?”
Izuku looked down. “Well, is there any way to increase protection without taking from the flexibility?”
“Depends what you mean by that.”
“I was thinking about something along the spine, like, you know how motorcycle costumes have that extra protection?” the man nodded. “And, is there any way to make it bulletproof?”
The man seemed to ponder. “I’ll see what I can do”
Izuku smiled and turned towards his friends. In truth, he wouldn’t have considered the last aspect, had it not been for Shigaraki pulling that gun at him. Even if it wasn’t a real bullet, it might’ve been and the boy didn’t want to risk.
Out of nowhere, foreign hands started petting him everywhere. He froze. “Hatsume, what are you doing?” uraraka asked. Her voice felt eerie, but Izuku didn’t have time to focus on that, his whole attention on not punching that girl away. Even though her hands weren’t trailing lower than his chest, Izuku squeezed his eyes shut and tried to ward off Toga from his mind.
“I’m feeling him up” she said. Oh, god, that’s even worse. “You’re better built than you look” thankfully, she decided to take her hands off of him and he could finally breathe.
After he had calmed down enough, he and the others were put to an hour of torture, in which they were twisted and turned in the pink haired girl’s metallic monstrosities. Izuku almost got crushed by a costume, Iida got thrown into a wall and Uraraka got punched in the stomach by a prosthetic arm suddenly turned sentient. All in all, it was a productive day for class 1A.

Chapter Text

Izuku woke up the next day pretty sore. It was Saturday and, after a week of constant training and improving, they let them have a day off so he didn’t get up. He was content to lie there, on the fluffy mattresses, waiting for it to swallow him whole.
                I should probably get up…
                Nah…
                He mustered that one muscle to move and grabbed his phone, regretting it a second after when the lights of hell assaulted his eyes. Turning down the luminosity, he scrolled through the messages and opened the conversation with Dad. Nothing.
                Izuku was starting to get worried. His father usually responded within a few minutes or hours at most. And when he was couldn’t answer he usually texted a warning beforehand that he’d be busy. But there’d been no warning and the messages weren’t even read. Maybe he lost his phone Izuku thought. But, the hero part of him, the one that had learned to be paranoid due to the sheer intensity of villain attacks argued why hasn’t he mailed then?
                Sparing half a second to look at the hour, he let out a groan when he saw how horribly ealy it was. He knew he couldn’t go back to sleep, so, he did the only sane thing a sleep deprived person would do and entered the group class chat to annoy whoever was still awake at the moment.
Me
[Morning, who’s up?]
[Come on, no one? ]

 

Tokoyami
[Midoriya]
[What are you doing?]
[You should be asleep.]

 

Me
[I could say the same about you]
[What happened while I was gone?]

 

Tokoyami
[Why ask now? ]
[Why not yesterday?]

 

Me
[Yesterday you were having fun]
[Now it’s my time to shine]
>:]

 

Shinsou
[Wtf, assholes, what the fuck are you doing at his hour?]

 

Tokoyami
[I’m trying to talk some sense into Midoriya]

 

Shinsou
[That’s a losing battle]

 

Me
[Shinsou]
[You’re awake]
[Join us]

 

Shinsou
[No]

 

Me
[ :( ]

 

Tokoyami
[I’m going to sleep]
[Dark shadow says hi]

 

Me
[Noooooooooo]
[My chicken of darkness]
[Don’t leave me!]

 

Shinsou
[…Midoriya]
[Midoriya]
[Midoriya]
[What the fuck?]

 

Me
[I could ask you the same]

 

Shinsou
[Insomnia]

 

Me
[Same]

 

Jirou
[Shut the fuck up, some of us are trying to sleep]

 

Shinsou
[Well, that’s it for me, bye]

 

Me
}Noooo]
[Don’t leave me]
[Traitors]
[I’ll find a show you enjoy and make sure to spoil every good thing to ever happen in it]

 

Kirishima
[You-you monster]

 

Todoroki
}Really now Midoriya, go to sleep]

 

Shinsou
[I am literally next door]
[Go to bed before I put you in it]

 

Me
[Well that didn’t sound like an innuendo, not at all]
Jirou

 

[*facepalm*]

 

Uraraka
[Mido, I’ll only say this once]

 

Me
[]Fine, fine, I'll quit]
[Thanos wins!]
                He left the chat before he got the chance to hear their replies. He waited a few minutes, staring at the wall then scrolling through the media and hero news. It had been quite a quiet evening. What, don’t you villains do your thing anymore? He asked before he realized how utterly done he was at the moment with everything and got up.
                Making sure to keep his steps a quiet as possible, he opened the door and, after the guarantee that no one was coming after him, he slipped to the kitchen. He put on some tea in the hope that he might manage to enjoy his Saturday morning like every other high-schooler and waited. Nothing really happened, except that he was more relaxed, but sleep, who? Never met her.
                He started aimlessly looking through the fridge, and decided halfway through to just screw it and make some pancakes.
                Cooking, he had discovered, was relaxing. Dad loved sweets, and Mom had always been a stress cooker. Once she had gotten mad and asked him to make his own sweets. Izuku remembered that day fondly, because he found out that his dad was absolutely amazing at exactly one cake and horrible at every other dish. Izuku had gotten a mix of their talents, meaning that he could bake cook sweets and only sweets.
                So, putting his talents and utter boredom to good use, he started throwing different things in the mixing bowl, some of which would make a nutritionist yell blasphemy, but he couldn’t really care less at the moment. Halfway through frying them, he felt a thread entering the kitchen. Not turning around, too focused on not sticking the batter to the ceiling, he said.
                “Morning.”
                The girl yawned as she sat on the counter. “What are you doing?”
                “Pancakes”
                “Nice Pajamas,” he could hear the smile in her voice.
                He briefly turned around to look at her sleepwear, a warm pink, silk two piece that covered three times as much as her hero attire before looking at his own All M t-shirt. He shrugged. “Everyone saw those pictures. At this point, I might as well just get comfortable and enjoy the morning.”
“Won’t you be embarrassed if All Might sees you?”
                Izuku lifted an eyebrow. “He saw my room. There’s no coming back from that.” He deadpanned. She laughed before looking at the slowly increasing tower of pancakes.
                “Can I have some?”
                “Huh? Sure” he pushed the plate towards her along with a jar of jam and some powdered sugar before returning to his task. He peeked through the huge windows at the slowly rising sun. “You’re an awfully early riser.”
                “You have no right to say that after that conversation. Who even is awake at 5AM?”
                “Me” he said simply before putting a few pancakes of his own on the table and eating his breakfast.
                They ate in a comfortable silence before Izuku felt the numb thread of his teacher popping in the corridor. “Morning Aizawa sensei!” he called. Yaoyorozu jumped as the professional poster boy for insomnia entered the kitchen. Though it wasn’t really honorable, Izuku would admit, at least to himself that he enjoyed surprising people by guessing when they were there.
                “Morning” he said as he went and put to make his own coffee. Though he was behind him, Izuku knew how his teacher was turned towards the girl. She yawned and got up before the teacher occupied her chair and sat in front of the teen. Izuku put down his cutlery and returned the stare, as he finished his morning poison, which ended up, predictably, with a very awkward few minutes of two people who should be in bed having a staring contest over an empty plate of pancakes.
                Aizawa finished his coffee and sighed: “We need to talk about your therapy”
                Izuku looked out the window. “Do I really have to go? I mean, I’m fine!”
                The teacher shook his head. “Your mother and I think it’s a good idea that you visit a therapist.”
                “I’m not crazy” he mumbled as he looked away.
                “I never said you were and going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re crazy. It might surprise you, but every hero is required to do so every once in a while to make sure their performance isn’t in danger.”
                “But I’m fine!” he said, a little louder this time. “I really am! I don’t need anything, I’m ok!”
                Aizawa rubbed his eyelids. “This is just something required by the law and school board. You have to go.”
                “But I’m fine….” He started.
                “Izuku!” Aizawa’s voice left no room for interruptions and the boy’s mouth clamped shut. “You may keep refusing, and I can’t actually force you to go. But your mother only agreed for you to continue studying here because you were going to go to therapy. Not to mention that, as a hero, this is mandatory. If we are not sure that you are perfectly sane, or at least fixable, we cannot trust you with the safety of civilians. Long story short, you won’t be allowed to get your license if you don’t go.”
                Izuku gulped and looked down. He stared at his hands for a few long seconds before he finally spoke. “How long?”
                “How long what?”
                “How long will I have to do this?”
                Aizawa inhaled. “I don’t know. Until we’re sure. But there’s nothing to be scared of. Whatever you talk with your therapist, it will stay between you and them. Patient privacy is a real thing, you know?”

 

“But don’t they have to tell you what we’re talking about?”
                The hero shook his head. “They have to tell me if there’s anything I should watch out for, any situations I should avoid and this kind of stuff. The content of your conversations stays private.”
                The teen sighed. “Fine” it didn’t sound like he agreed. He sounded like he knew resisting would be futile. Aizawa wasn’t exactly happy, but none of this was ideal to begin with. “When can I start, I want to get this over with?” he huffed.
                “Well, if you’d like, I can call her right now”
                “Really?” he looked up, a little bit confused.
                “It’s seven o’clock on a Saturday morning. I doubt she has clients this early.”
                Izuku nodded and let his teacher do the phone call. He followed said teacher to the school building and let himself be lead to an area he hadn’t visited before (which wasn’t that much of a surprise, since the school grounds had roughly the same area as a small country), taking in every detail he could use later. Aizawa stopped in front of a door and knocked before it opened. A tall lady, with grayish skin, a bald head and pointy ears opened the door and offered them a big smile.
                “Good morning” she said. Her face was somewhat ageless, and she wore a lose dress, that kinda reminded the teen of the divination teacher at Hogwarts.
                “Good morning.” Aizawa dignified her with a nod. “This is Midoriya. He agreed to meet with you.”
                “Morning” he used the deadest tone he could muster, and left his expression blank. Aizawa lifted an eyebrow as if to ask Really? And Izuku had to resist the urge to stick his tongue out like a four year old. The woman, for her part, didn’t seem disturbed.
                “Alright then, I’ll give you a call when we’re done here,”
Aizawa nodded and Izuku did his best to develop a killer gaze in the few seconds it took for the door to close. The woman gestured to the couch as she sat behind the desk. “My name is Reza Rirakkusu.” She said. Izuku just nodded and looked around the room; it was pretty big, with large windows with huge curtains. He could see a large portion of the campus from there. Apart from the couch, the desk and a carpet, there was a small shelf with games near a wall.
                What’s her Quirk?
                Her thread was pretty quick, but, at the same time stagnant, the same way a vinyl disk might move at an impossibly slow pace and still let out the most vivid song out there. It gave the teen weird vibes. Probably an emitter type. But, other than that, there wasn’t much to say. Her appearance didn’t seem to be related to her Quirk, so he didn’t really have much to go about. 
                He remained silent for what seemed to be hours, but was probably no longer than a few minutes. She tried to start a conversation with him, but he remained stubbornly quiet.
                She didn’t seem bothered. She got up and walked towards the shelf. “Do you like games?”
                He raised an eyebrow. What the fuck? She gave him a patient smile and brought on a box. She opened it and set a small board game on the table. Pulling out the pawns and dices, she looked at him. “What color would you like?” he shrugged and looked away. She didn’t seem annoyed and just placed a green pawn in his box, keeping the blue one for herself.
                Reluctantly, Izuku started playing the game. She made small talk, with long pauses to let him respond, and then resuming when he didn’t. After about forty minutes of silence, his patience had finally wore thin and he asked “Why are you doing this?”
She blinked and put down her pawn and placed her hands in her lap. “Well, since you weren’t going to talk, I thought we should at least do something.” Izuku gulped and looked down. He knew he was probably rude, but he really, really didn’t want to talk about what happened. Twice had been enough. She sighed, as if she could read his thoughts. “I know you might not want to talk, but you have to at least try. You don’t have to open up right away. You can talk about anything you’d like.”
                Izuku lifted and eyebrow. “Anything?” she nodded. “Fine. Did you know that the oldest known age for a fish was an Australian lungfish. In 2003, it was still alive and well at 65 years old? Or that Starfish are not fish. Neither are jellyfish. “ she raised an eyebrow, a little bit confused. “Oh, or that most fish have taste buds all over their body?”
                He kept talking for the next two hours.
-0-
                Katsuki punched the sack one more time, sending it swinging away and barely avoiding the rebound. His knuckles ached, but welcomed the pain, for it was a distraction from his way too loud thoughts. Come on, coward, there are three words, three damn words you need to say.
He was pretty sure he heard something crack in his fist this time he punched the bag.
                “You know you won’t be able to do much if you break that arm.” He whipped around and, lo and behold, the resident asshole of 1A was sitting in the door, looking as bored as usual in his black attire. “Have you talked to Midoriya?”
                Katsuki’s hold relaxed for one second and his fingers had to pay for it. “Does it look like I talked to him?!” he yelled before turning his back on his teacher. He sighed and unwrapped the bandages from around his hands, flexing his tired fingers “I tried”
                It was true, and he hated that he couldn’t. He had walked up to the hospital door, do his dorm room, stood in front of it, fingers poised to knock…
                And froze.
                Every time he tried, his words got stuck in his throat, his fingers stopped moving. It felt like his mind wouldn’t compute. He ended up leaving every time. It’s not like he wants to talk to me either. In class, training, common room, the green haired boy wouldn’t even look at him. When they were in class, he could feel the boy glaring at the back of his neck, but couldn’t move himself to do anything about it.
                It was a weakness, and he hated it.
                “Well, at some point, you’ll have to. But that’s not why I’m here”
                “Then why?”
                “I want you to talk to a therapist.”
                Katsuki froze. “Why?”
                Aizawa took a deep exasperated breath, like he was done with this conversation and said “Because you’ve been through a traumatic event and I want to make sure you’re not too fucked up.”
Katsuki opened his mouth, but his teacher beat him to it. “And before you say you’re fine, I decided on it after the finals, I just wanted to wait till after the camp.”
                Katsuki sighed. “I don’t really have a choice, do I?”
-0-
                “So, let me get this straight:” Shinsou said as he stabbed his omelet “You went to therapy and spent the whole time talking about…fish.”
                Izuku shrugged and leaned back in his chair, mourning over the empty plate of pancakes. Apparently, him not being in the room had meant a free for all on his last remaining breakfast. Granted, he wasn’t that hungry, but still, you don’t mess with someone else’s food.
                “Yeah, so?”
                Shinsou sighed and Todoroki shrugged, still staring at his morning tea, like he tried to bully it into revealing the secrets of the universe. “You know, therapy is supposed to help you”
                “I know.” Izuku said before looking away. “It’s just that…” He sighed and shook his head “I don’t feel comfortable talking to a stranger about what happened.”
                “You’re comfortable talking to us,” Todoroki said, still harassing his tea.
                “Yeah, but you’re my friends” the greenette stole a piece of omelette from the violet haired teen.
                “Mido-kuuuuuun” Uraraka yawned as she entered the kitchen. She was sleepy and had a mess of bed-hair. She hugged him from behind, resting her head on his. “Why were you up so early? People aren’t supposed to be up that early” she yawned nuzzled his hair.
                “Why are you up this early?” he turned around as much as his new state of being a pillow permitted him.
                “Mina decided to do her early stretches, and I couldn’t sleep. Also, I have some things to do and I decided to come here. Better to hang out with you while we still have the common room for ourselves.”
              It was kinda true. Apart for the four teens, the only one there was Jirou, watching some movie with an unholy amount of explosions on the screen. Her earlobes were jammed in the TV, so no sound came out. Apparently, people really enjoyed sleeping in on weekends. Todoroki was only awake because of habit and he had returned from the gym, for his early training. Shinsou regarded sleep as a foreign, only done when necessary notion and Izuku doubted he had gotten much rest that night. Not that he was the one to talk. But he had the excuse of both habit and insomnia.
                A huge crash came from the floors above, right before the yells. Izuku got up, Shinsou rolled his eyes and Todoroki let out a long-suffering sigh as realised he won’t get to enjoy his tea. Uraraka stretched and lazily made her way to the stairs. Their merry gang of four got to the second floor, and had the wonderful pleasure of seeing half the ceiling collapsed.
                On the side that held the rooms of Tokoyami, Aoyoma, Izuku and Shinsou, from Aoyoma’s room forward, the ceiling gave in and support rods were coming out of the plaster, successfully destroying a good part of the rooms. On the hall, Kaminari, Sero and Aoyoma were not so successfully trying to run away while being contained by a very pissed Dark Shadow.
                Izuku’s jaw fell to the ground. He lifted his arms and held them there in a very suggestive movement “How?” was all he said and all that was needed to say.
                Kaminari rubbed his neck sheepishly while Aoyoma was talking very fast and very aggressive in french. Izuku blinked, waiting for a translation. None came.

 

                Tokoyami looked done.

 

                Fortunately, the dorm’s discount robot and unofficial mom friend dashed in at the highest speed possible without using his Quirk. “What happened here? How could you destroy these rooms? The first week’s not even over!”
“I think the bigger question is how did they manage to destroy the room?” Shinsou threw him the biggest really? Look with an eyebrow raised and everything. Uraraka was cackling, leaning heavily on Todoroki, who seemed content to wait and watch the world burn.
                The hallway door opened once more and they all turned towards the very pissed off Aizawa glowering at them. “We literally just got here” Shinsou said quickly, before they could be accused of anything. The teacher gave an almost non-perceptible nod and switched his attention towards the two captive boys. His utmost glare was enough to send villains cowering, so the two highschool students didn’t stand a chance.
                “We’re sorry” Kaminari said and the shadow demon released them, causing the three boys pain as they hit the floor. They scrambled to their feet and ended up tangled in capture tape. “We only wanted to borrow…”
                “Steal!” Aoyoma huffed.
                “A little glitter and that somehow ended up with us fighting and Aoyoma collapsing the ceiling with his laser.”
                Aizawa just lifted an eyebrow before letting out a long suffering sigh and rubbing his eyes. “You will get a week of detention for property damage and will have to pay for the replacing of the items.”
                A crash came from Izuku’s room and they all ran to look.
A very confused Kirishima was sitting on Izuku’s bed, looking from his classmates to the hole in the ceiling and back. “Sorry, Midoriya, I think I broke your bed.”

 

                Izuku facepalmed.

 

                He then took a deep breath and looked at his room. His desk and drawer seemed to be fine, being placed near the window instead of the wall and protected by not being in the line of the laser. His closet seemed still somewhat functional, but his bed was a tragedy.
                He sighed and pulled out his phone. He waited for about three rings before she picked up. “Mom, some classmates damaged my bed. Could we go later to get a new one from Ikea?”
-0-
                Going to Ikea on a Saturday morning had been at one of his best and worst ideas. Mom had decided to take Eri too, since she never went to the store, and All Might had agreed to come. Eri absolutely loved the place. She dragged Izuku left and right to stare at different pieces of furniture, different pillows and different couches to sit on. She didn’t want to get too far away from her family, and that meant the very amusing sight for passer byes to watch the six year old drag the sixteen year old through the maze. Inko and All Might only laughed.
                After they got him a bed and Eri a green plushie dragon, they got to the self-serving area, because it was lunch and they were starving. Eri, being for the first time there, took a lot of food she couldn’t finish. Not that Izuku fared any better, with his full course. Inko, who had grown up with him, was prepared and had only gotten herself a soup, helping her kids finish the food. All Might would have helped, but you couldn’t really do much with only half a stomach. But his encouraging was good enough.
                Since they were already out, they decided to go to the park and let Eri play a little. Izuku, of course, being the responsible big brother he was, stood under the different machines to make sure the little girl wouldn’t fall.
Fortunately, Eri seemed to possess the same ability as most kids of being closely related to a monkey and not falling off the bars. He stepped aside when more kids asked her to join them in playing heroes and villains, and even agreed to play the helpless civilian in some cases. He had to admit, watching kids quote bad movies was kinda fun and the contest for the best All Might pulled some giggles out of him and some very embarrassed blushes from the skeleton on the bench.
                Maybe it was the lack of chaos that should’ve tipped him off. It was too good of a day too peaceful for the clusterfuck of bad ideas that was his life. Maybe, just maybe, he could’ve prevented this, had he been more careful to the things around him.
                They were walking to the car when it happened. Out of nowhere, a person grew three times their size, their skin covered in rocks. People panicked and Izuku felt Eri’s little hand wrenched out from his. He whipped around and saw a man with a beak mask drag her away, her cries lost in the ruckus.
His body moved before he could make a plan, he dashed after her, One for All coursing through his veins. He tried to take her, but the man held strong. Eri cried and screamed and Izuku made a quick decision and grabbed the man’s arm, squeezing until something snapped. The man let out a painful wail and let go. Enraged, he pulled out a strange vial and tried to stab him with it.
                Maybe it was the ruckus, maybe it was a conscious decision, but the vial touched Eri instead of him. She started trashing and Izuku had to let her go. He distantly felt the man run, but he could only focus on the girl writhing in pain on the pavement. Quirk waves were pouring out of her body, flowers and trees shrinking and disappearing under her touch. Her thread was jumbled and messy, growing in size, shape and form in a grotesque manner.
                This-this thing messes with her Quirk.
                It had been a split second decision and, looking back, he couldn’t say he regretted it. Taking this road, yeah, taking her with him, of course. But, later, he couldn’t bring himself to regret stopping his sister’s pain.
                Before his body was fully aware of what was happening, he ran towards the girl and caught her in an embrace. She writhed and trashed and cried, her thread assaulting him constantly, but he didn’t fight it.

 

                He grabbed it.

 

                In one hard and painful pull, he wrenched Eri’s thread, her Quirk, her curse out of her body and into him. With one cry, she passed out. Izuku followed a second later.

 

Chapter Text

                The first thing he became aware of when waking up was blurry white above his head and the unsettling feeling of right in his stomach. It took him a few seconds to make sense of the greyish haziness. His eyes cleared and he realized he was in a hospital room.

                Again.

                Groaning, he got up and rubbed his tired eyes. The early morning sun blinked through the curtains, pale and lackluster, like the rest of the world outside his window. His muscles ached and his fingers hurt every time he moved them. He swallowed, and his throat was dry.

                Eri.

                Her nimble thread was spinning in his gut, along his limbs, under his skin. It was quick and zippy, but at the same time, soothing and relaxing, the backwards lullaby he had felt the first time he had met her. It was tangling in a rhythmic dance with the liquid bloodlust, two pairs of opposite steps matching the waltz. One for All was as welcoming and homey as ever, a warm embrace, a guiding light for the mismatched outcast threads.

                Izuku never realized what Eri meant by curse. Her thread felt normal inside her, but it was different when he got to experience it himself; it was soothing but most definitely not safe. It was the relaxing and calming effect of a sleeping gas or a poisonous flower.

                He only realized now how dangerous his Quirks could be. Because a blade could cut you down, could render you helpless and in pain. A poison lulled you in with a false sense of security, made you close your eyes with the promise that it would only take a second.

                Then you never woke up.

                I have to be careful. Izuku realized. Eri called this thing a curse for a reason. I mustn’t let her be right.

                With a tired sigh, he let himself fall back. He found it unsettling how right it felt. He’d always loved having Quirks. As a child, he loved to keep them, play with them, and marvel at how they lit up his being. Granted, he’d never held more than two at a time, and never for long, but still. But even as a kid Izuku saw how not having a Quirk could hurt a person. Mom had always tried to hide it in order to help him train, but it had never been enough. She used her Quirk too much around the house and Izuku couldn’t ignore the momentary look of hurt on her face when she tried to use it to grab something but couldn’t.

                His dad never seemed bothered by not having a Quirk and was never impatient to get it back, mainly because he never really used it except for party tricks. Even so, Izuku couldn’t keep it. It didn’t sit right with him, and his dad only smiled sadly before ruffling his hair and changing the subject.

                Right now, the feeling was different, but no less fulfilling. I have to give Eri back her Quirk, he mused, I can’t let her grow up Quirkless. She won’t like it.

                He took a deep breath and looked around. The room was blank, white, and empty except for the bed, two chairs and a table. On the table, a vase of flowers was sitting brightly, mocking the monochromatic theme of the room. Izuku looked up. The cracks in the ceiling looked familiar.

                Is this the same room as the last time? He eyed the rest of the room. I should bring some posters; make it homier if I’m going to spend so much time in here.

                He quirked a lip at his own joke and wasn’t that just depressing?

                 He reached for his phone and opened a news app. The attack yesterday was full of media censoring and, as such, nothing but a big, steaming pile of bullshit, but what can you do?

                They censored it. That means they had something to censor Izuku realized. If it were a normal villain attack, they would have said so. But they didn’t. Izuku didn’t know if the attack had been a coincidence or a diversion, but the bird people had tried to kidnap Eri. And, when that didn’t work, they shot her with something.

                That something affected her Quirk. It had been wild and ragged. Izuku tried to remember how the villain’s Quirk felt like. He hadn’t really been paying attention, but the trauma left a big enough imprint on his memory for him to find some similarities. I think it’s safe to assume that both Eri and that villain were shot with this.

                At least now that I’ve been a part of this, they might be forced to let me in on things.

                He switched from his news to his chats. His father was still MIA.

Me

Hey

It’s me

You know-your only son

I’m in hospital

Nothing.

                The same date was getting further and further away, his last call in being almost two weeks back and still, only radio silence.

                He switched to his class chat.

Me

[Morning]

[How are you guys in the realm of the living]

Shinsou

[Midoriya, for fucks sake, what now?]

Todoroki

[More importantly]

[Where are you]

[You didn’t return last night]

                Izuku looked and noticed he had a few missed calls. Oops! He lifted his pone and took a picture of the room

 

Me

[Picture.png]

Shinsou

[HOOOW?]

[IT HASN’T EVEN BEEN A WEEK]

[HOW IN THE NAME OF THE EVER LOVING FUCK DID YOU END UP IN HOSPITAL]

[AGAIN?]

Todoroki

[Why am I not surprised?]

[Did you move into the hospital? You spend a lot more time in there than in the dorms.]

Shinsou

[AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO FINDS THIS TROUBLING]

Todoroki

[Yes]

[This happens more often than you think]

Shinsou

[THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT BEETTER]

Tokoyami

[Your screaming is upsetting]

[The violence of you caps is found very assaulting to Dark Shadow]

Jirou

[Ok, why the hell, why are ya’ll awake]

Todoroki

[Read above]

Jirou

[Holy shit!]

[Midoriya, how?]

                At this point, Izuku was barely containing his laughter

Me

[Did you hear about the villain attack yesterday?]

 

Todoroki

[Yeah?]

Shinsou

[Don’t tell me you were involved]

Me

[I happened to be there]

Jirou

[And let me guess]

[Your Jimity cricket syndrome Kicked in and you texas smashed the earth or somehtin?]

Me

[No]

[Actually, I don’t even know why I’m here]

[I used my quirk once and passed out]

Aoyoma

[Fail]

Todoroki

[But still, what happened?]

[You know you’re not supposed to use your Quirk in public]

[What if they charge you]

[Again]

Me

[They attacked Eri]

Uraraka

[HE NEEDS TO DIE]

Me

[Uraraka, holy shit, when did you get here]

Uraraka

[This is a group chat]

Me

[Oh, right]

[My bad]

Todoroki

[Are you ok]

[Is Eri ok?]

[Anything broken?]

Uraraka

[Who do I need to kill?]

Jirou

[Hold on, Punisher]

[If you wanna do this right, you can’t discuss it here]

[Too many witnesses]

Shinsou

[How the fuck are you all so calm?]

Jirou

[I’m disappointed in you]

[You’ve been here for almost a month]

[We had one attack, two kidnappings, one mall attack I thought you’d get used to the craziness of class 1-A]

Tokoymi

[Am I the only one who sees a pattern here?]

Sero

[What?]

Tokoyami

[Midoriya]

Me

[Well, I’m part of the class, so you’re stuck with me]

Shinsou

[Until you get yourself killed]

Todoroki

[Which might happen quicker than anticipated if you keep up the whole martyr complex thing going]

Me

[Traitors]

Uraraka

[You should rest]

[I’m telling Aizawa sensei once I’m sure he won’t kill me for disturbing his sleep]

Me

[Do you really have to?]

Uraraka

[Yes!]

Shinsou

[YES]

Todoroki

[Yes]

Jirou

[Are you fucking mental]

Me

[K,k]

[I’m going to sleep]

Todoroki

[You do that]

                Izuku closed the chat and then his eyes before turning on his side and trying to sleep.

 

-0-

                Toshinori waited in front of the door, still fidgety. He didn’t want to open it and see his successor pale and motionless on the sheets. He didn’t want to shatter his fluttering hope that everything was perfectly fine and he had nothing to worry about.

                Get your shit together, Toshinori, this isn’t about you. He needs support right now.

                So, he took a deep breath, and opened the door. Like every other time, his successor was laid on the bed. Unlike every other heart-attack inducing visit, his more or less adopted son wasn’t unconscious and bandaged, but scrolling through his phone I what seemed to be the universal teenager expression for boredom.

                He turned towards him and lifted his head, before sitting up and smiling. Or, at least, trying to. There was something incredibly off in that smile and he gave it up after a few seconds.

                “My boy…how are you?”

                The teen shrugged and stretched his limbs, rolling back his shoulders to get some movement into his sore muscles. All Might could relate. “Alive” he said simply.

                The blond sighed. “Yup, that’s on me, I set the bar too low,” that got a genuine chuckle out of the teen. The smile died on the greenette’s face as he turned serious.

                “Eri. What happened to her?”

                All Might sighed. “She fell down with fever the last night. Your mom switched between the two of you, but fell asleep in her room.”

                Izuku nodded. “Good. She needs to rest.”

                Toshinori was ready to sanctify the woman for all the effort. She had constantly run between both rooms and argued for the better part of an hour with the doctors to put them in the same room. They almost gave in until one resident pulled out some medic-babble that roughly translated to we don’t want your daughter’s fever to infect your son. She had glared the poor man down for what felt like centuries before the former No.1 hero decided to spare him and say he would watch over one while she did the other.

                Though it was obvious she wanted to spend an equal amount on both, Eri was shivering and crying while Izuku was merely asleep. He seemed to have the common symptoms of Quirk exhaustion, so they let him rest. At one point, the nurses got fed up with the blond’s fretting all over the place and, since the former powerhouse wasn’t even close in terms of intimidation as an angered mother, they kicked him out of the room.

                He had spent the night on one of the chairs, swearing to remain awake, but falling asleep about an hour in. He had woken up an hour ago and spent the time to go home and take a shower before visiting his successor. Eri’s fever had fallen down almost too quick for natural standards, and Toshinori wanted to wake Inko up to visit Izuku. But, upon seeing the exhausted woman, he placed a blanket over her shoulders and adjusted a pillow under her head before heading for his successor.

                “Did you discover what those bastards shot her with?” the boy suddenly asked.

                “Tsukakuchi said he will inform us the moment he finds out.”

                Izuku nodded, not seeming at all satisfied with the answer. “It messed with her Quirk. I don’t know exactly how, maybe it was forceful activation or something. But it hurt her” he clenched his fists and gritted his teeth.

                “About that. What exactly happened?”

                All fight died from the teen as he looked down. “Her Quirk was incontrollable. If I let this go on, she could’ve probably rewind everyone too much. So I,” his breath hitched before he breathed in and said “I took her Quirk. Figured that whatever they did couldn’t affect her if she didn’t have a it.”

                “It was a wise decision, my boy,”

                “I hurt her.” he said.

Toshinori sighed.

                “Had you not done what you did, she would’ve hurt many more.” He tried to pat the boy, but he pulled away. The blond sighed. “So I understand you have her Quirk now?”

                Izuku nodded. “Yeah” he reached and took a flower from a vase. Toshinori watched in awe how the rose grew smaller and smaller until it eventually vanished, like a recording of a flower blooming but on reverse. “That’s why I don’t want to touch you. I don’t want to risk erasing you from existence.”

                “ Aizawa and the others will help. They already did it once with Eri. I’m sure they can do it with you too. Also, you were there, so you know most of the theory.”

                Izuku smiled sadly. “I was supposed to use these two months to develop a special move. Now I’ll use them to control a Quirk just to make sure I don’t kill anybody!” he threw his hands in the air and collapsed on the mattress.

                “The move you pulled the other day is enough of a special move to pass. Moreover, everyone at the Sports Festival saw you using your hands, so if you pull kicks, you’ll take them by surprise.”

                Izuku turned towards him and his eyes widened at the realization. “We will be competing against different schools. Who saw us on the Sports Festival and know our Quirks and fighting stiles.”

                Toshinori rubbed his neck sheepishly. “Yeah,”

                Izuku looked his mentor in the eye. “That means they’ll go for us first. I have to tell the others to prepare some aces, or at least be prepared, or UA will be massacred!”

                “Easy there. You can tell them when you get back.”

                Izuku nodded and rubbed his chin. “I should also learn to use my Quirk for recognizance. If I can make it work, it could be invaluable in a team or a large group. I also have to try to come up with something special using it, since almost no one outside of class knows I have it….” He started to mumble and Toshinori leaned back in his seat, content with watching his student lose himself in his routine.

                A soft knock and the world’s most generic detective entered the room. Izuku perked up from his muttering to look at him. Tsukakuchi closed the door and took the other seat. “So, detective” the boy started “What can you tell me?”

                The man pulled out a file and looked both men in the eye. “You must understand that everything we talk about here has to stay between these walls.”

                “What about mom?”

                “I’ll inform her later. For now, I need the both of you to give me your word that you won’t try anything or share this with anyone.” Both One for All users nodded and the man continued “The thing Eri was shot with: it’s a drug called Trigger. We had a case where there was an active trade for it on the black market a few years ago. In short, what it does is enhance the user’s Quirk for a short amount of time while at the same time lowering their mental barriers, kinda like alcohol or normal drugs. Addicts have the side effect of black tongues. I don’t know what exactly happened, but it shouldn’t have reacted the way it did.”

                “It might have been a combination with Eri’s Quirk. It’s a mutation after all” Izuku said rubbing his beardless chin thoughtfully.

                “Why did you both faint?”

                “When I take someone’s Quirk, I get that it’s pretty painful or at least very unpleasant. When I took her Quirk, her age and the drug currently in her system might have gotten mixed up and caused her some kind of shock. I never took an altered Quirk before, so the strain could’ve been too strong for me to handle.”

                Both men nodded. Tsukakuchi turned a page. “Now, onto the secret part of this meeting. The people who took  Eri. The ‘Bird people’?” Izuku nodded “Well we have good reason to believe, they’re actually part of the Yakuza and currently led by a man named Chisaki Kai. We tried arresting him, but we don’t have a solid enough case yet. And, since Eri couldn’t provide us with any information and the man we had taken captive refuses to speak, we still can’t take him in. we don’t have any tangible proof. The bullet you got shot with. Do you remember it?”

                “Kinda hard not to” the boy said drily.

                “Well, they were made using Eri’s blood. We’ve encountered them before. The difference is that those were permanent. Irreversible.”

                “But Shigaraki had them” Izuku blinked. “But he got them only after he had that meeting with possible allies” he lifted his head as everything clicked into place. “The League and the Yakuza are working together”

                “We’re fucked” All Might said sagely.

                “Not necessarily” Tsukakuchi said.

                “What do you mean?”

                “The League only used the temporary ones. It might have been that they didn’t want to hurt you permanently, but since they were aiming for Aizawa , I doubt it. That means that Chisaki gave them the less harmful ones, as a peace offering or as a trade. The question then becomes-why?”

                “It might be that they no longer have Eri….”Izuku mumbled. He lifted his head. “Tell me, detective. Did the use of them decreased after we save her?”

                “Not really” the man scratched his head. “From what I gather, they are pretty expensive on the black market. They had been widely spread across the country and their expansion didn’t seem to have gone any lower. The catch is that only a selective few have access to them.”

                “This limits the possibility of anyone else being involved” Both brunettes turned towards the blond somewhat surprised. The former No.1 hero looked a little bit offended, but went on nonetheless. “If they’re so expensive and hard to find, no one would risk giving them away, at least not to someone as unstable as Shigaraki. That means that they either have access to a huge supply, being the manufacturers and all that, or they traded it for something. But the raid of their hideout revealed noth