Before leaving the hospital, Izuku visited Iida quickly. His friend was sleeping, recovering from the exhaustion of the operation and a lot of healing quirks, but he didn't care. He just opened the door to his room, checked he was still breathing, and once Izuku was reassured, he left.
He went back to the room he had shared with Todoroki. The bichromatic boy was in civilian clothes, like Izuku, but he also had a red cap and a mask, which was probably an excellent idea since a flock of journalists had appeared right outside the hospital during the night.
''How is Iida?'' Todoroki asked, proving that the new cup of coffee in Izuku's hand didn't fool at him.
Izuku grabbed his yellow backpack Gran Torino had brought him the day before and tried to put it on without putting his second coffee of the day down. It wasn't that he didn't want Todoroki with him. It's just that he had just wanted to see Iida but he also absolutely did not want to talk to him. There were a lot of thoughts that had been curdling during the night and which shouldn't be said after a sleepless night and too much caffeine.
''Sleeping,'' Izuku answered quietly.
Todoroki didn't seem vexed or anything, so he didn't apologize. The two boys had seen their friends a little after the end of the operation, when he was still full of morphine, and Iida was too out of it to be coherent.
''What are you going to do now?'' Todoroki continued.
Now that your internship is officially over, he meant.
''I have to talk with Gran Torino this morning. And after that... I guess I am in vacations for the rest of the week.''
This was bothering him more that he cared to admit. He loved the idea of having an internship. Of meeting heroes. Of working with them, already starting to help people, and legally. Being deprived of that... was probably a tiny fraction of the punishment he should have bore.
At least, he had free time. Izuku barely had the time to work on his quirks since he had enrolled in UA. Focus and Taser were absolute priorities at this point.
Someone knocked at the door and Nurse Akihiko told them that it was time to escape. They were sneaked into the parking lot and into a car with tinted windows, and they left by the staff exit, while the journalists were none the wiser.
Their driver, a really sweet man in his fifties with blue hair, named Maehara Ao and employed by Endeavor's agency, dropped Izuku at Gran Torino's house, though they first circled the block to make sure there were no journalists hidden in the bushes. Once they were sure none of them remained, Izuku got out of the car.
But still, since he was slightly paranoiac, he checked around, sensing for quirks.
And he sensed All Might inside Gran Torino's house.
It can't be good.
Why are you worrying? It's not like you took an internship with his teacher, disobeyed his order of staying put, get caught red-handed in the middle of some vigilantism where a fellow classmate was stabbed, and almost made him lose his license.
After this lovely thought, it took Izuku twenty good seconds before he dared to knock on the door. Opened, once again, and he half expected to see Gran Torino in a puddle of ketchup. Instead, All Might and him sat at the kitchen table where tayakis and mugs of coffee were already placed.
''We have to talk,'' All Might said, a somber look on his face, without even looking at him.
Izuku's anxiety shot through the roof.
Gran Torino seemed to notice it and he... Well, he didn't smile at him but his gaze warmed and there was no sign of annoyance.
''Take a seat. There is tayaki and coffee. ''
At those words, Izuku's blood got replaced with stress but he still obeyed, marched towards his doom, and nibbled one tayaki. It was that or attacking his nails.
All Might was still looking at the table and he looked like the weight of the world had fallen on him when he wasn't expecting it, and now, he was quietly resigning himself on carrying it for the rest of his life. It wasn't even his thin frame that gave this impression but... everything.
Did I do that ?
Izuku didn't say anything, not daring to accidentally worsen the situation.
He expected them to talk about Stain and how reckless he had been. Instead, they told him about One for All and how it was born.
Izuku wasn't prepared for that.
A man named All for One had found the quirk which would become One for All, accidentally creating the weapon that would be used to defeat him.
All for One who could take and give quirks. Who had brought darkness to the country, controlling men, creating puppets, and he was the one who had injured All Might. Almost killed him.
Izuku starting counting his quirks as soon as he realized the villain among villains had a quirk eerily similar to his. And he became more and more uncomfortable every time he passed on a stolen quirk. Shock Absorption, Stain's Paralysis, some Speed...
You knew you were crossing a line when you took them with no permission. You would be dead without them. Now deal with it.
Izuku could read between the lines. He knew quirks so similar were genetic. Two thousands years ago... Long ago to have a child to perpetuate the bloodline.
Did my dad know ? He had always been so careful about how no one could know about their quirks. Maybe because he knew what kind of villains was at the origin of their quirk. Or maybe he didn't. He didn't need to, not when people were so touchy about their quirks and a quirk like Transfer would always be associated with stealing people's most treasured possessions, as if their quirks were all that they were.
If anyone realizes you have the same quirk as a villain, you life is over.
There would be no forgiveness. Izuku would be guilty by association. Any dream of becoming a hero would die, and so would any hope of a job worth the name in Japan. His mother would pay the price too.
''I thought my generation had managed to bring him down,'' All Might finished and he looked exhausted. No doubt that thinking he was finally free of the burden placed on every One for All holders only to realize this wasn't the case was crushing. ''But he survived. And now, he is on the move again as the brains behind the league of villains.''
Izuku passed his cold fingers on his face. Don't cry. He took a deep breath.
And he looked at Gran Torino.
All Might wouldn't have told him the story of One for All and All for one in front of his teacher if the latter didn't know about Izuku's quirk.
''I met All for One,'' Gran Torino confirmed, ''And I recognized the power that can be gained from multiple quirks at the Sport Festival. That's why I called Toshinori for confirmation. And that's why I wanted to meet you.''
There wasn't any suspicion in his gaze, just quiet worry because Izuku was obviously not hiding how much he was freaking out as well as he thought. But Izuku didn't care. He wasn't thankful about his consideration, because Gran Torino wasn't supposed to know.
''I'm sorry,'' All Might apologized, his head hanging in shame. ''It wasn't my secret to tell.''
''He didn't say anything,'' Gran Torino assured. ''I guessed and I know when he tries to lie to me.''
Izuku drank some of his coffee, fortunately with a decent amount of sugar, and pushed any emotions under a lid of absolute control. They were going to talk about this. But later.
''Back at the USJ, the noumu had several quirks,'' he remembered. ''I thought this was because of a drug called Nectar. I did researches and I saw that people sprouted new manifestations of their quirks.''
He had explained to Nagisa a whole theory about how several generations of quirks where hidden in everyone's DNA, which was why some people had mutations that had nothing to do with their quirks. Nagisa had been pretty enthusiastic about it and helped him look for papers online, even took a class and brought some questions. Genetics was quite fun, especially since the apparition of quirks.
All Might shook his head : ''A DNA test proved the noumu has strands of genes that don't be belong to him. Trust me, I already saw that. This is All for One's work.''
Now, the real question.
''Do you think I have something to do with that ?''
''No,'' All Might and Gran Torino bluntly answered. Izuku would lie if he pretended some part of him wasn't pleased by their lack of hesitation.
Maybe they are lying again.
All Might didn't lie directly. Gran Torino, not at all. Now that I'm aware of the misdirection, I can deal with it.
''The only reason why I am telling you that is because All for One was always interested in powerful quirks and we can't exclude the possibility of you being targeted,'' All Might explained. ''He cannot find out. Being related to him or to One for All will only put a target on your back.''
There was a point when there was so much things going on that one could rise above the maelstrom of emotions and reactions, and reached a place beyond where the stress was so powerful that one was almost zen.
Izuku was starting to get there.
He was fifteen, and since he had manifested his quirk for the first time, he had collected a certain amount of quirks. Some given to him by his dad. Some donated. And lately, some taken from people trying to kill him. But numbers weren't the most important thing. One good and trained quirk was worth a dozen of never used ones, and Izuku trained all his quirks as much as he could.
All for One was two hundred. Izuku's mind had trouble wrapping around so many years. And he didn't even want to think about how many quirks he had and how much time he spent training them.
Izuku's father had had associates living in the shadows and one day, he never came home and they had to run. Izuku didn't like to think about it.
But what if All for One had found him ?
Izuku leaned on the table and took a deep breath. He hadn't stopped counting his quirks since the conversation had started. But now, his chest was hurting.
All Might put a hand on his shoulder.
Izuku thought about batting it away, which said a lot of his state of mind.
''There is a real possibility you're related to All for One. But also to One for All, because longevity quirks damage fertility. But it doesn't matter. I was absolutely honest when I said you would be a great hero one day. As One for All demonstrated, good things can be born from evil.''
Izuku didn't need All Might to know that ill-omened quirks could do great things and helped a lot of people.
But it was good to hear that from his hero.
However, All Might wasn't over. He glanced at Gran Torino, silently asking for support but he got what would quickly appear to be a 'You're on your own.'' look.
He got on his feet and bowed, far too low for the number one hero.
At least, until he told him that the only time Izuku had told what his quirk really was, his answers were being monitored because All Might had to be sure he wasn't affiliated with All for One.
When Izuku's mom was angry, she counted to ten. But not Izuku.
Because he didn't get angry. Ever.
''Are you okay ?'' Gran Torino asked in a little voice after a while.
Izuku hold out a finger, asking for more time to deal with that.
All Might was still bowing when Izuku found his voice again and he repressed anything he needed to suppress. All Might looked distinctly nervous.
''I can understand that you needed to confirm I wasn't affiliated with this man,'' Izuku finally said.
It hurt, it hurt so much. To know that his hero had gotten so close to him because he wanted to be sure he wasn't a villain.
''But my quirk is personal. I don't want people to know. It's my choice for people to know about it. Because you think that you told that to trusted people, who knows about One for All and who knows how to keep a secret. But that was your choice, a choice you robbed me off and now, I have to live in the fear that my quirk will one day be known and any hope of becoming a hero could be shattered just like that.''
Izuku had never been close enough to anyone for him to even think about telling the truth about his quirk. But he liked to think about it. About someone he would trust, someone he could reveal a secret that shouldn't even be one if some people weren't morons.
''I wouldn't tell anyone,'' Gran Torino intervened.
''You don't know that,'' Izuku cut more harshly than he intended to. ''When I told All Might, I thought no one else would know. I made a mistake when I share this information. I have no right to ask anything to you, Gran Torino, but you made a promise,'' he reminded All Might. ''You should have told me that someone else knew. Because if this breaks out, if people know I have this quirk, I have to be prepared for what will happen.''
If All Might had looked terrible when Izuku had arrived, it was nothing compared to now. He looked like he was devoured by guilt.
All Might had done something wrong, but there were reasons. It was because of All for One, and to prevent further harm. It wasn't because he had just kicked in the wasp nest that constituted Izuku's fear and anxiety that the teenager had to vent his stress at him.
''Just... Don't do it again, okay?'' Izuku finally asked lamely. ''Please.''
''I won't. I am sorry, and I assure you that I just needed to confirm what quirk you had but the day I met you, I knew you couldn't be linked to anything nefarious. I sought you out to know more about your potential relation with All for One but if it was just for that, I... I would have kept our relationship strictly teacher-student-like.''
Izuku thought back how easy it had been to talk about their respective quirks to each other.
How great it was to not hide to someone.
''I did lie to you first,'' he admitted, starting to get embarrassed by how he had acted. ''And you didn't do that to hurt me.''
''Midoriya,'' Gran Torino called his attention. ''You have my word that I won't reveal your quirk to anyone. I know how people can be especially stupid.''
''Thank you,'' Izuku said even though he didn't know himself if it was for keeping his secret or for understanding the prejudice he would have to face.
All Might sat in his chair and he slouched on his chair, as if the
''Now, take a tayaki,'' Gran Torino ordered. ''The both of you.''
All Might and Izuku obeyed.
''Any groundbreaking revelations to add? No? Good, because now that All for One is back, we cannot tolerate heroes being alienated from other heroes. United we stand, divided we fall.''
Someone glanced at Izuku, looking straight at him but fortunately, didn't seem to recognize him thanks to the grey cap and black mask he had bought in Hosu. Izuku stopped using Focus and the passerby looked away, probably not understanding what had caught his attention.
The other side of Focus refused to come to Izuku. Horns had managed to be almost invisible but he had the indelicacy of not loudly explaining how he had done it.
A woman with a young child looked straight at him. No hostility. No fear. She just had to look at Izuku.
If it was triggered by intent, it should have worked. Izuku wanted nothing more than to disappear, but Focus either slipped away or did the opposite of what he wanted.
This was one of this day where he needed for things to work. Between Iida, All for One, and people knowing about Transfer, he needed for something to be right, as soon as possible.
And since Focus refused to unleash its full potential and to offer a beautiful distraction to the mess that had become Izuku's life, he decided to heal his woe with some fried chicken.
He braved the crowd of people who had the same idea as he had, and without even using any quirk, even though Shock Absorption kept reminding itself to him, after a legendary tale of endurance and courage, he finally reached the counter and ordered a giant bucket.
The worker told him he might have to wait a little, he waited for his food to be ready, trying not to be swayed by the crowd again.
Places packed with people had never bothered Izuku. His mom had taught him it was easier to hide in a crowd. So many people, all with their own problems, their own thoughts, but with this awareness of each other. His mom called it crowd instinct and told him to be careful of it, but when he was little, he liked to think about it and to clear his mind to focus on the general emotions of several people in the same place. It was like disappearing.
Izuku emptied his mind. He didn't think about not being seen, he stop thinking altogether. Accessed Focus. And when he didn't feel it slip away, he focused on this feeling of nothingness. Of not being here, without any parasitical thoughts.
At first, it didn't work. Izuku's mind hadn't been quiet since he was a child. But in a true 'Fake it until you make it' spirit, he pretended to be above all those swirling thoughts and emotions.
He lost Focus -or is it Vanish now?- several times. Picked it up again and again.
And then, hold it as long as he could, picking it back up every time he dropped it. He continued after his order arrived, because it wasn't like he needed to eat right now, and honestly, quirks would always be the priority.
Until he saw someone familiar grabbing several drinks from the soda fountain, right next to Izuku, but he was too focused on his task to see him.
''Tokoyami?'' Izuku exclaimed, happy to see his classmate.
The bird-headed boy jumped so high he almost flew, startling Izuku and making Focus slip away once again. The half filled soda cup jumped with him, and though Izuku caught it, helped with Speed, he couldn't catch back the actual soda inside and it drenched his sleeve. Meanwhile, his classmate had a hand on his heart and seemed to be fighting a heard attack.
''You appeared like a ghost in the night, Midoriya,'' Tokoyami accused him as he was looking for napkins.
''Sorry.'' I forgot I was playing with my new quirk. ''I was just so happy to see you.''
The napkins were found, Tokoyami apologized, Izuku blushed because he shouldn't since it was his fault, and both of their cardiac rhythm stabilized again.
At least, until Tokoyami decided to be a nice and concerned human being.
''I learned about your encounter with the Hero Killer. How are you? And Iida? And Todoroki?''
That immediately put a damper on Izuku's enthusiasm. He rolled up his stained sleeve to give himself the time to think.
''You saw the video?'' he asked.
Tokoyami nodded, which meant he had seen what happened from the moment they had existed the alley and Iida had been stabbed in the back to when he was yelling about the corruption of society, trapped in an ice coffin.
''Iida was injured but he is expected to make a full recovery. And Todoroki and I are fine, so don't worry.''
''I will worry. And I realized we didn't exchange our phone numbers,'' Tokoyami added while rummaging in the pockets oh his hero costume.
Both of their phones were out and Izuku was worrying about the growing number of people having his phone number - he had picked the habit of not giving personal information easily and even UA didn't have his phone number or his address – when a man in a suit and with white, gray, and black feathers for hair appeared, startling Tokoyami again. Not his day.
''Tsukuyomi! Everything is alright, you're taking your time...'' He stopped when he realized Izuku was here. ''Hello?''
At this moment, Tokoyami and Izuku realized they had both forgotten about the sodas he was supposed to be here for, half of it being on Izuku's white sleeve. Well, less white now.
''Forgive me, I didn't realize I was taking so long. This is Midoriya, my classmate.''
''Midoriya... Why do I know that name ?''
Unlike Tokoyami, he was wearing civilian clothes, and Izuku wasn't recognizing him, so he probably wasn't a hero. Maybe a sidekick. He didn't know all of them.
Izuku took of his mask : ''I'm Midoriya Izuku. You might have seen me during the Sport Festival if you watched the First Years.''
''Ariel? You are Ariel?''
Or while watching this video with Stain, apparently. That's right, Ariel is my hero name and people are going to call me that.
Izuku didn't have the time to confirm that that the feathered man was already shaking his head, looking positively cheerful.
''I am Takahiro Kaname! It's a pleasure meeting you. I am working in public relationships with Hawks Agency. The whole team is having lunch upstairs, you have to join us!''
Am I emotionally prepared to meet the number four hero? To interrupt his lunch? I only came here to have fried chicken!
Just as Izuku decided that he longed for nothing more than going home and just not think about Hosu, about Iida, about the new quirk in his hoard, Takahiro basically dragged him upstairs, insisting how it was going to be great. Tokoyami joined them a moment later, the sodas in hand.
The second floor offered several large table, and Hawks and his sidekicks weren't difficult to find. Their masks or helmets were on the table, they still were in costume, and one of them was at the edge of the table to accommodate giant crimson wings which were moving as he was telling some story, talking with his hands.
At least, until one of his sidekick noticed them and immediately say, panic in his voice : ''Tokoyami is back, stop talking.''
''Oh right,'' Hawks said just as he was turning, and he raised an eyebrow when he saw Izuku.
For a moment, his face showed absolutely nothing. Not the blank expression people had when they were too tired to react to something or weren't listening and then didn't know to react. It was the absolute neutral face of someone controling everything in order not to reveal anything they didn't want.
It disappeared quickly and Hawks went back to the amused/neutral/blase face he always showed in front of everyone.
''Look who our intern found downstairs!'' Takahiro announced just as Izuku was wishing for a permeability quirk so he could disappear into the ground. ''I invited him.''
''Of course you did,'' Hawks repeated and though he was smiling, there was a certain edge to the way he retorted. An edge which disappeared as soon as he reported his attention back to Izuku.
When Hawks invited him to sit next to him and as far away from Takahiro than humanly possible, Izuku started to suspect the flying hero didn't actually have a problem with him in particular. Chicken was shared, so were drinks, and anecdotes were told.
It was far better than what Izuku had feared.
Izuku only knew two of the sidekicks : Romeo and Dove, but not Aqua, Spriggan and Lima. They were good-natured and joyful, and their conversation was easy. Izuku felt free to stay silent and not to talk to be polite, but when he talked, they actually listened to him. They made Tokoyami and him feel included, and they loved hearing about UA.
Takahiro was the type to ask questions. He liked people to elaborate. Though he wasn't the one to start asking what had happened at Hosu, he was the one who insisted until he realized Izuku wouldn't go into details.
Hawks was surprisingly silent. He answered every time sometimes pulled him in the conversation, and he was never too serious, but he was more interested in listening. Enjoying the company of others while keeping away.
Exactly what Izuku was doing when he came back to Japan. To never let anyone approach.
''Ariel, if your internship didn't work out,'' Lima said, ''We have room for another intern. Don't we?'' the sidekick with a strength quirk asked Hawks.
''Well, thank you for asking me. But yes, we definitely have room for other interns. Join us, Ariel. We have cookies.''
''That's be a great idea!'' Takahiro confirmed.
Izuku imagined the reaction of Hosu's chief of police if he realized Izuku had simply changed agency.
''I would love to but I was asked to take a vacation for the rest of the week.''
''Vacation,'' Hawks sighed. ''I barely remember the concept.''
''Are you going back to school ?'' Tokoyami asked.
''Maybe if I want to use the facilities. But probably not because I prefer to have Todoroki and Iida with me when Aizawa talk to us about Hosu.''
Tokoyami said something something that suspiciously looked like ''All men must die'' but the words were muffled by his piece of chicken.
''Who is Aizawa?'' Dove asked.
''Eraser,'' Lima answered.
''Oh yeah, you should hide, Ariel,'' she confirmed, provoking the general hilarity.
Afterwards, Takahiro insisted in taking a photography of the whole group to put on their website, the conviviality being good for their brand. He succeeded, but only after Izuku was back wearing his cap and his mask, which seemed to disappoint Takahiro and to really amuse Hawks.
Before they left, Hawks gave Izuku his card and asked him if they could talk later this week.
Midoriya had looked like a kicked puppy when the police had firmly advised him not to continue his internship, and though Shouto had felt bad for him at the time, he was now filled with envy.
''Were you scared when you fought the Hero Killer?''
''How is Tenya?''
''Shouto, look here!''
''Are you planning to team up with Ariel when you graduate?''
And so on. Journalists had found him as he was patrolling with Extinguisher, a hero who could smother flames, and since then, they had grown in number, taking pictures and trying to shove microphones in Shouto's face.
Extinguisher had immediately turned around and confronted with a crowd of journalist who refused to let them pass, she had simply walked through them. The journalists had no other choices than to move or to be trampled by a very non-amused hero.
It didn't keep them from asking questions and bombarding them with camera flashes.
''Shouto! What do you think of the Hero Killer's ideology!''
''Do you think you were spared because you were worthy?''
At those last words, Shouto stopped and turned, trying to look for the one what had just said that.
No one had spared them. Iida was the proof of that. As for Stain's ideology, it was just another strain of fundamentalism that would
Extinguisher took him by the arm and made him keep walking until they reached the agency. He never managed to know who had talked, and the flock were ready to keep stalking them until they saw Endeavor, waiting right outside, his arm crossed and he took one look at the journalists.
They didn't move, not asking questions anymore but still taking photos.
Endeavor took one step towards them.
The reaction was immediate. They scattered, maybe because they knew the Flame Hero had no lost love for their kind, maybe because Shouto's old man was literally on fire and people tended to give him his space because of that.
Extinguisher and Shouto sneaked back inside. Endeavor warned him they would work late tonight, and advised him to rest, but Shouto went back to the work space assigned to him, slightly isolated from the other sidekicks but still better than the office originally assigned to him.
He consulted several files and reports on a new drug called Nectar, something that could boost quirks and physical abilities in general, when Uraraka almost made his phone explode. Apparently, Midoriya was being sparse and she was wondering what he was hiding.
Technically, Shouto knew Midoriya was probably avoiding talking about Hosu and simply needed to clear his mind, and he said as such to Uraraka, but he also didn't trust him not to be in trouble and he had time to spare.
Me : [Why are you not answering Uraraka?]
Midoriya answered him in the five seconds.
Midoriya : [I am busy thinking.]
Shouto couldn't help a smile. No denial here.
Me : [Anything interesting to share?]
Midoriya : [Milk chocolate are the best and anything else is just pretentious.]
Shouto remembered the love for anything sweet Midoriya had showed at the Sport Festival, and he wondered if it was related to his quirk. Satou could augment his strength thanks to his sugar consummation but it was an information he had volunteered and if Shouto asked Midoriya, he had no reason to answer. And it might even be rude.
Anyway, there were more pressing matters.
Me : [Are you not home despite the journalists hunting us?
Me : [Tell me you're not continuing your internship.]
He would. Shouto had no doubt about that.
Midoriya : [My mom won't be back before two days. We already have a ''discussion'' scheduled but right now, I don't want to be alone at home.]
Midoriya : [No, I am not.]
Midoriya : [Are the journalists really hounding you?]
Shouto recognized the change of subject but didn't comment on it. He didn't especially care about returning to an empty house but it was probably easy to say when he had known all his life that Fuyumi would be waiting for him at home, and would always worry about him.
Me : [I can't patrol around the agency because of them but it will be better tonight because we are going to investigate on some drug suppliers, so we won't be followed.]
Midoriya : [Have fun and be careful.]
Fuyumi had also told him to be careful, but coming from Midoriya, it was ironic. As for the ''Have fun''... Midoriya was definitely missing his internship.
What would Natsuo say ? He was the only Todoroki who had friends.
Me : [I promise not to jump in any back alley to fight some serial killer, but I might now be condemned to be bored for the rest of the week.]
Midoriya : [How boring. Learn to live a little.]
Yuuki had never thought he would one day get arrested. How could he? He was untouchable. Even if everything fell apart around him, he knew the rain would never touch him because he had learned how to become a ghost. How not to be seen.
Really, he was born with the perfect quirk. It could open any doors, he knew he never would have to worry about his future, but he still finished in the underworld despite what twelve-years-old him thought at the time.
Bad crowd, mostly. Choices that weren't really choices. An easy path, even easier to fall into. And a lot of money, worth any ethics he could have had.
But now, he was inside a prison transport van, his hands were tied behind his back, the skin between his left horn and his skull itched, his quirk was gone, and life fucking sucked these days.
It had started with a rich old fucker who wanted powerful children and who had bride shopped by watching the Sport Festival. Hero students always fetched a high price. Hero students from UA or one of the other great hero schools were retirement plan on their own.
Go there, they told Yuuki. She is a hero student. We need to surprise her. Just in case. But Uraraka fought like a fury from the old tales, using everything, be it her quirk or her strength. But it wasn't the worse. Some would think that it was the heroes that had dropped on the warehouse, especially the underground one who was surprisingly even scarier than Endeavor. No, the problem was No Face.
Yuuki still had nightmares of the fiend finding him while he was hidden by his quirk. No Face had appeared from nowhere, and walked in their base of operation with no fear. By the time he walked out, he had mercilessly beat Yuuki, left him among a lot of pissed of merchandises, and was responsible for his new accommodations in prison.
Without a quirk.
The prison doctor had said it was because of the concussion. Or the trauma. She obviously didn't really care about how vulnerable Yuuki was in the middle of a lot of quirked criminals.
The transport car stopped so abruptly that Yuuki was almost ejected of his seat.
By pure luck, he avoided landed on his face, and turned towards the narrow window communicating with the driver.
''What the hell is going on ?''
The driver turned towards him and looked at him. He didn't utter a single word. Then, he reached for the and closed the window of communication.
Leaving Yuuki alone just as he was sensing something on his skin, like static electricity if it was comparable to mist, he saw something dark, and before he had the time to react, he was falling on a cold surface that wasn't the floor of the transport van.
Someone helped him to get back on his feet, someone covered in the same black mist which had brought him here, but he was nothing compared to the man politely waiting at the other end of the large windowless room. Even sitting, he was massive and his face was hidden by a black helmet.
Yuuki could barely breathe.
Because of his job, he knew about quirks. How they affected their holders. Those with powerful quirks had this presence, this aura that came with the absolute certainty that nothing could attain them. No Face had hidden it well but once he was in action, Yuuki had recognized the absolute confidence of someone who knew his quirk was powerful and knew he had absolute control over him. But the man in front of him... He made the Vigilante look like a boy scoot.
''Thank you, Kurogiri,'' the man in a helmet said. If dragons could speak, they would have this kind of voice, Yuuki thought. ''If you could leave us, please. Mogami and I have a lot to talk about.''
Kurogiri left, to Yuuki's absolute horror because he didn't want to be left alone with this man. He had just been abducted from a prison transport van. The driver knew about it. That meant bribery and men inside. And only organized crime would do that.
The man in an expensive black suit got to his feet, easily two meters tall.
If this was a criminal looking forwards to take the operation Yuuki used to belong, Yuuki could deal with that. Hell, maybe he could find another job. It was his world. And to survive, he absolutely could not show any fear.
''Well,'' he smiled, ''I guess I should thank you for getting me out of this...''
He never had the time to finish as his face was grabbed one-handed before he had the time to react. Yuuki gasped, tried to get away from him, and pain burst through his skull, fast and hard. He felt on his knees, his legs refusing to carry his weight and each cell of his body refusing to move in fear of the pain reappearing again.
Is that his quirk? If this was a pain quirk, he didn't need Yuuki, he just had to torture him to have every answer he wanted.
The masked man hold his head for a long moment, the iron grip just soft enough not to crush his skull and Yuuki had no doubts he would be able to and willing to do so, so he just waited. Begging his quirk to work, to make the villain forgot Yuuki was here.
But of course, it didn't work.
Yuuki didn't know how long he stayed on his knees, the sound of his beating heart so loud in his ears, a taste of metal and copper on his tongue. But finally, he let him go, and his whole demeanor changed.
''I heard you had quite an interesting encounter before you were arrested,'' the scary son of a bitch said, almost cheerful. ''I would be delighted to know more about it.''
Yuuki told him anything. He didn't even hesitate. He even told him everything about how his quirk worked because somehow, it was important to the man in front of him. But before that, he explained how he had seen this shadow entering the cells, freeing their merchandises one by one with some unknown device or a quirk. Obviously trained, guaranteed to fetch an high price.
He had obviously underestimated the training part and he realized it when the vigilante had jumped at him. Yuuki hadn't planned to shoot him but his finger was on the trigger and... It didn't matter. He had lost, and he had been left alone and unconscious in a room full of young people he had helped capture to be sold.
Yuuki still had the bruises.
He supposed it was fair.
The man who almost crushed his skull stayed quiet for a long time. Or maybe panic was stretching the seconds, he wasn't quite sure.
''A man or a woman?'' he finally asked.
''A boy, I think'' Yuuki couldn't be one hundred per cent sure. ''A teenager. His face was covered and his clothes were loose.''
The villain nodded.
''So a potential teenager destroyed your operation, and when you tried to shoot him, despite your quirk, he overpowered you.''He marked a pause and Yuuki could have bet his life he was smiling behind his helmet. ''And when you woke up, you couldn't use your quirk anymore.''
Those last words... There was a special kind of mockery over them, as if he knew something Yuuki couldn't suspect.
''Do... Do you know why can't I use my quirk?''
Did No Face do something? Did he erase my quirk? Is that his quirk and how he managed to get rid of my colleagues?
''It's a shame you don't have your quirk anymore. From what you told me, it could have been incredibly useful. But I suppose someone is happy about it, and that's not so bad.''
Yuuki didn't understand what he was talking about.
''Is this about my job?''
Is he talking about people I can't help to abduct anymore?
''That's something else. Did you know that not too long ago, there was no quirk traffic in Japan?''
Yuuki nodded. The market had freed itself these last years. Some member still refused to approach quirk trafficking, fearing something but never elaborating. But criminals were a superstitious lot, so Yuuki had never paid too much attention to it.
''And you never wondered why?'' the masked man asked, an horrible smile in his voice.
The driver didn't say anything when Mogami reappeared into the van. He simply called the hospital, telling them a prisoner had dropped unconscious during a transport and he couldn't find a pulse.
He already knew they would only pronounce him dead from a heart attack but he still drove.
Something with a sweet scent woke up Tenya and he looked up to see a blurry form on the chair near the window, curled up on himself. It was too blurry to see anything but he manage to identify the green mop of hair and the red sneakers.
''Why does it smell like chocolate?'' Tenya asked Midoriya.
''I bought and gave a box to Native. He is very grateful we saved his life, and he is recovering one floor below you.''
His voice was strange, but Tenya's myopia refused to let him see the facial expression of his friend, so he reached for his glasses on the table. He always put his glasses at the same place because the problem was that once they were off, he literally had to look for them blindly.
As he did, the wound on his back flared up, reminding him that yes, moving would hurt for some time. Actually, breathing would also hurt. It was Tenya's fault of course. He had asked for less morphine because it made him loopy and sad.
And feeling the bite of this pain was a good reminder.
Midoriya got on his feet, the movement fluid and he breached the distance in an instant, as if he was using his quirk but Tenya doubted he would do that on a non private property. He leaned forwards and put Tenya's glasses on his nose, and the world was clear again.
And Midoriya's face was blank, except for his eyes. They didn't show any emotions but they were red, as if he had cried recently.
''You can't do that again, Iida,'' Midoriya said quietly.
He seemed exhausted, and that was Tenya's fault. He had almost gotten them all killed.
Midoriya took a deep breath, sat back on the chair. His hands were fidgeting on his knees.
''I'm sorry,'' he said, to Tenya's absolute horror because Midoriya wasn't the one who should be apologizing. ''I fucked up. I was the one who thought he was unconscious, I should have hit harder or made sure he couldn't get up again. I was the closest to him but I messed up and didn't react in time. It's my fault.''
Tenya found his voice back too late but once it was here, there was no half measure.
''IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!'' he accidentally screamed, startling Midoriya. ''Don't you understand? It's mine! I was so blinded by hate and rage... You could have died because of me.'' Tenya felt the tears arriving but he certainly coudn't stop them. ''Stain was right. I am not worthy of being called a hero.''
''But I won't ever make that mistake again. I won't ever let my hate or my fear overwhelm me. And I apologize to you, Midoriya!''
His friend leaned forwards and put his hand on Tenya's, before squeezing it. Tenya squeezed back, and they stayed like that for a moment, Midoriya hanging his head so Tenya wouldn't see his face, and they too comfort in each other presence.
''I understand,'' Midoriya finally said as he took his hand back. ''Someone hurt someone you love. You wanted that to never happen again. You didn't want for anyone to go through the same pain. And you couldn't live with the frustration of someone capable of harming your brother getting away with it.''
That was exactly what had happened.
How could Midoriya be so comprehensive? He had almost died. He was forced to use his quirk without a licence.
''How can you be not mad?'' Tenya asked.
''Mad?'' Midoriya repeated with a sweet smile.
Then the smile dropped as if it had never existed.
''I am not mad, I am furious,'' Midoriya said slowly, as if he was controlling any emotions that could slip up.
Tenya braced himself. Tensei had already screamed at him, his mother had promised a talk, and it was his friend's turn. Midoriya checked on Tenya, as if to be sure he was in a state to be lectured -which was honestly more than Tenya deserved, and he talked, not hiding anything anymore ;
Tenya was ready.
''I was scared,'' Midoriya said. ''I thought you were going to die. I searched for every alley in Hosu. I arrived almost too late. I was on the roof and I knew I wouldn't have the time to get down there.''
Midoriya continued while guilt was piercing at Tenya's chest. His friend wasn't crying. He wasn't getting mad either. His face was blank, and he was constraining himself to an unnatural calm, the same calm he had fighting Stain.
''But you know what's the worse ? I had a hunch. That's the only reason why I looked for you. If I hadn't saw Manual looking for you... You could be dead in an alley somewhere. Your family wouldn't know. Your friends wouldn't know. Do you know what that does to a person?'' Midoriya asked and there was something akin to desperation in his voice. ''This simmering feeling that something is wrong, that you try to ignore, until it's impossible? Just. Not. Knowing.''
At this moment, Tenya realized that something must have happened in Midoriya's life. Something had explained why he had worked on his quirk so it would be that powerful. Something that explained why there was such absolute focus every time he fought.
''But you would have been found, eventually,'' Midoriya reminded Tenya. ''I won't pretend to know your brother but can you imagine what your death would put him through?''
Something worse than what Tensei's wounds had put him through. Because his older brother would have blamed himself for the rest of his life. It would have destroyed his family.
Tenya had never realized how selfish he could be until meeting Stain.
Midoriya passed a hand on his face, looking exhausted. Actually, he probably was. Pale face, dark circles under his eyes. Worse, he looked on edge.
''I am not mad that you decided to find Stain. I don't know if you wanted revenge or justice. But you were reckless. You should have come to me. You should have come to Uraraka. We would have listened to you. We would have tried to help you deal with your pain. And worst case scenario, I would have come with you to back you up.''
''You would have come with me?''
Midoriya nodded as if it was obvious. Not because he wanted Stain to pay but because he was willing to break the rules to make sure Tenya was safe, and he was even thinking Uraraka would do the same thing.
Because they are my friends, he realized.
Midoriya looked at him like he was an idiot. Maybe that was the case.
''You are not alone, Iida. You have people who love you. And if you forget that once again, villains will be the least of your concerns.''