Actions

Work Header

Ascendant

Chapter Text

Six years ago, somewhere in America

 

It had been two days since Hisashi was missing and the only think that kept Inko from going steer-crazy was the little boy playing in what was actually a disguised panic room. She had left Izuku with Chiyo an hour ago as she paced through the safehouse where they had been taken as soon as the first fights broke out, but she knew that she would be back soon. She couldn’t bear to stay away from him for too long.

She peaked by the window, which was supposed to be forbidden but Chiyo could bite her. Further away, she could see the lights of people moving in bands, looking for a fight or travelling in packs for safety, she didn’t know.

There was no lights in the streets, first because the power had been cut off at some point, then because no one dared to use generators or make fire because lights marked them as targets. Though, as far as Inko and her little tribe were concerned, they were supposed to be safe. Not much could make a dent in this house.

But Hisashi was supposed to be safe too.

No one was sure about what had happened. They just knew villains and heroes had been involved, even All Might himself, and since then, part of the State had plunged into absolute chaos. Power still wasn't back in some neighborhoods and those who had electricity were too scared to use it. And no one knew where Inko's husband was.

You can't keep thinking about that. You will drive yourself insane.

If that's not already the case.

Unable to keep waiting on her own, she walked down the stairs to join the other residents of the house.

The panic room was large, colorful, and Izuku was on the floor, drawing as if nothing else existed. On the couch right next to him, Chiyo was half keeping an eye on him, half typing something on her phone when Inko returned to the room. Older than Inko, black hair cut short and her bare arms showed her muscles, she had at first started as Izuku and Inko's unofficial protection detail, but she had become something more. She also had a Shock Absorption quirk, something Inko could never forget because Izuku kept asking more and more questions about it.

Chiyo smiled at Inko, immediately picking up on her anxiety, and Inko forced herself to smile back.

She couldn't let Izuku see how scared she was, and she sat next to him before ruffling his soft curls. Her son hadn’t asked where dad was because that was how it happened. Sometimes, as far as Izuku was concerned, Dad was here, and sometimes, he wasn’t. It was something Inko had encouraged because it was better than to have to answer impossible questions.

Inko kept passing a hand though Izuku's curls and he kept drawing. She braced herself, ready to see another All Might drawing but instead, she saw a dozen of colorful stars maybe, in a dark sky.

‘’It’s pretty.’’

Izuku nodded, and didn't stop drawing. Inko hugged him without making him move. Her son answered the hug with one arm.

Then, he yawned, which reminded her how late it was starting to be. Inko turned to tell Izuku was going to retire for the night, and was surprised to see Chiyo was still on her phone, not paying attention.

Inko hesitated, but finally didn't say anything.

It appeared that Izuku was more tired than they both thought because he stopped moving as soon as his head touched the pillow. She exited her son's bedroom, her phone in hand, and she almost jumped out of her skin when she saw that Chiyo was waiting just behind the door.

Her friend apologized as Inko was trying to keep her heart in her ribcage, thank you very much.

''Sorry... Izuku gets more adorable everyday.''

‘’He does,’’ Inko agreed with a smile. A smile that dropped quickly. ‘’I think he is waiting for his father.’’

They walked away so Izuku wouldn't hear them.

''It's going to be alright,'' Chiyo assured her, a hand on Inko's shoulder. ''Your husband is the greatest man I have ever known. I hope you know that.''

Inko hesitated.

Then she hugged this woman.

''Thank you, Chiyo. I don't know what we would do without you.''

Chiyo leaned back into the embrace, smiling.

And as soon as Chiyo left, Inko look at her phone and confirmed that the cloning with Chiyo's had been successful.

Because her friend had been on her phone a lot these days, and it was just a little bit strange because she usually watched Izuku like a hawk.

And it was probably nothing.

But Inko wasn’t willing to take any risk.

[Maybe we should drop it.

It's too dangerous.]

[You’re the one who told me the villain who fought All Might

was pronounced dead at the site.]

[I don’t know… It could be a ruse to have the boyscout off

his back and if he finds out you tried to steal something

from him, he will make us eat our own limbs.]

[Trust me.]

[The kid is worth millions.]

Inko reread it several times. She could barely breathe. It was like she was under water, pressure on her chest and all the air in her lungs refusing to be breathed.

And then, she cried. She cried because a woman she considered her friend, a woman who had watched over her son for years, was willing to sell him to the highest bidder.

But she couldn't cry for long. She couldn't stay. She recognized the names. They belonged to two people who belonged to her husband's circle.

That meant there could be more. There was more.

Now that Hisashi wasn't here, the absolute protection she had made the mistake of leaning on had disappeared. 

In the middle of the night, Inko packed a bag with all the necessary items, put on dark and comfortable clothes, and sneaked in her son’s room.

‘’We have to leave. Don’t make a sound. Like a mouse.’’

He did just that, of course.

She was scared he was going to ask if they were going to Hisashi. But he didn't. He never asked what had happened to his dad.

So Inko never said anything.

 


 

Nowadays

The good thing about fighting All Might was that when you arrived the next day with an enormous purple bruise on your face, everyone assumed it was his fault. And since Izuku had woken up with the All-Mother of all muscular pains, he could understand why they would assume that.

But to Izuku’s horror, a lot of his classmates were alarmed and circled around him, and Jirou, seeing his awkwardness, even proposed to hide it with concealer. Ashido also proposed to draw Ojirou’s lost eyebrows. Whatever had happened with Power Loader, he had passed his trial by the skin of his teeth. On this day, Izuku learned that concealer and make up depended on skin tone, and the conversation was diverted to make ups and how the cosmetic industry didn’t offer enough choice, and everyone forgot about him.

And the chatter allowed Izuku not to think of how he was going to lose Taser. How he hadn’t done much of what he wanted with this quirk, how he would never test the railgun…

But as always, Aizawa-Sensei was determined to remind them they weren’t safe anywhere and the caterpillar man appeared from behind his desk, making everyone scream in surprise because no one had noticed he was sleeping behind it. By that time, every time had noticed how Mineta and Bakugou were late, especially Izuku who was surrounded by empty places, and their teacher explained why.

''Bakugou and Mineta are suspended for three days. Both of them attacked their partners, and this behavior will never be allowed as long as I teach here.''

At those words, everyone, except for Todoroki who already knew, looked at Izuku, realizing he had misdirected them.

He had no regret about that.

At least, until the end of the class, when Aizawa-Sensei called him.

 


 

Midoriya seemed sad. He made sure not to show it in front of his classmates, but there were dark lines under his eyes and every time he thought no one was looking at him, his expression dropped. And after what had happened during the final exams, he was wondering if it was usual for Midoriya to hide everything from his classmates.

The student didn't even seem surprised to be called. He just waited for Shouta to talk without showing any curiosity.

Shouta's eyes keep going back to the student's face. Though he didn't condone Bakugou's way of venting, far from it, he was also under the impression that Midoriya's quirk allowed him to withstand most traumas. It appeared there was another condition.

There was too much he didn't know about his student. The intel on his quirk was minimal, he didn't have his number and couldn't reach him, and before that, he didn't feel the need to look more into it.

If he was honest, there was actually a reason why Shouta liked to think as Izuku as difficult to hurt. Something Shouta hadn't realized until All Might had mentioned how he had panicked during the test, and Shouta had allowed himself to think about why himself could barely sleep these days.

He still had nightmares about the USJ and the bone-chilling scream Midoriya had made in the noumu's hand, while Shouta was unable to do anything. He hadn't even been able to look at him, to see what was going on, and at the time, he had thought one of his students, who had barged in to save him, was going to die.

After that, knowing how strong and durable Midoriya was had helped. Made him think that he wasn't in as much danger as he thought.

It was illogical.

''All the tests were designed so the student who would undertake them would learn how to deal with one of their weaknesses,'' Shouta started. ''Mainly, yours was your relationship with Bakugou.''

''Ah.''

No reaction here. This was starting to be concerning.

''I apologize, Midoriya.''

An emotion finally appeared: surprise.

''Why are you apologizing for, Sensei?''

''I had realized this rivalry of yours was one-sided. But I still pushed the both of you to become partners. Bakugou needs to learn to cooperate with others. And I found out that knowing how to deal with someone contradictory is an useful skill. But when I learned what had happened with Bakugou, I realized I was forcing you to teach your classmate and to deal with the unfair situation I had just created.''

To his surprise, Midoriya didn't say anything for a long time, thinking about it. Then, finally, he nodded.

''Yes, that was actually unfair of you. Does that mean I won't have to be partnered with Bakugou anymore?''

''Not for some time. If his behavior improves, I will consider it. But why didn't you tell anything to All Might, during or after the test ? He had to guess and since there was no cameras, I had to confirm it with Bakugou.''

Midoriya gave him the ''Are you actually serious ?'' look. ''Would that change anything?'' he wondered, more to himself that for Shouta's benefit.

Shouta was starting to suspect that Midoriya simply didn't trust people to take care of him. He probably wasn't bullied, not with a quirk like his, but something must had happened to make him so independent and unwilling to ask for help.

You might have played a role here.

''Of course. We need to know when something like that happens so we can put an end to the behavior. And you, as a student and a child, have to talk to us when you're having a problem. We are here to help and martyrdom rarely solves anything.''

Midoriya didn't answer, starting to blush.

''Is there anything you want to talk about?'' Shouta asked.

''I am worried about my results and to not be able to go to the Summer Camp,'' Midoriya finally admitted.

 


 

''I am worried about my results and to not be able to do to the Summer Camp,'' Izuku lied straight to his teacher's face.

For Izuku had a deep dark secret he never told to anyone.

He. Hated. Giving. A. Quirk. Back.

If he hadn't had the quirk for long, it was still okay. He made sure not to get attached to a quirk before a week after obtaining it, just in case. But the longer the quirk was with him, the more he worked on it, and the less inclined he was to giving it back. They were his. His treasures. Yes, they were given to him, but for most of them, he polished them until the quirk was almost new. He brought them to new potentials.

And he had worked on Taser. He was far from the Railgun but with more free time, he could have it. He had even learned how to modulate the impact!

Honestly, Kacchan’s temper was so far down on his list of priorities that he was surprised when Aizawa-Sensei called him for that.

But no one needed to know.

Fortunately, Aizawa-Sensei believed him and assured him that he didn't need to worry about that. He also refused to let him leave until he gave him his phone number, something he had carefully omitted when he had filled the student form.

 


 

Ochako was watching Midori intently as he was barely eating, and he was answering automatically, obviously not in the conversation. Something was bothering him, and it had to be Bakugou. He wouldn't have fought with anyone else.

She exchanged a meaningful look with Momo.

Should we talk to him? Momo silently asked.

Since they were now living together, they had worked on this famous silent telepathy close friends developed after a while.

I have no idea, Ochako answered just as quietly.

Midori was a private person, and if he hadn't talked about it earlier, he probably didn't want to mention it now. All they could do was make him understand that they were here for him. He could try to hide it as much as he wanted, but he obviously had to be affected by what had happened with Bakugou

And Ochako had her theory about why Bakugou had so much animosity towards Midoriya.

He was scared of Midori.

She wasn't sure of why. Todoroki had also an incredible quirk and training that allowed him to destroy the ring of the Sport Festival too, but even though Bakugou obviously didn't like him much, it was nowhere near the level of violence he showed Midori.

It's almost like he is scared, so he wants to distance him. While Midori is almost friendly with him.

Maybe it was because of that. Bakugou didn't want a friend, he wanted a rival, while not being able to stand anyone being stronger than him.

But honestly, whatever, the reason was, Ochako didn't care. It was unfair and there was no excuse for it.

And it was unfair how Midori had to deal with that.

They were supposed to be safe. Why did people refuse to grant this simple courtesy?

Midnight's arms preventing Ochako from falling on the ground, but the teacher didn't manage to completely catch her, so they both slowly knelt in a controlled descent.

Right after she had been thrown from a moving car.

Ochako shook her head, getting rid of the bad memory.

Just as Monoma, from Class 1-B arrived, his lunch trail in hand : ''Well, 1-A, I heard that two of your students were suspended for fighting. Isn't that strange for those who are supposed to be UA's representatives?''

Fortunately, Kendo was here, and she began to drag him away with her now giant hand, apologizing on his behalf and wishing them a good day, which Momo and Ochako reciprocated. Kendo was really nice and Ochako knew that Momo and her had been on the same internship, the one no one should talk about.

It would have been the usual 1-B interruption if the blond boy hadn't touched Kendo's hand and used his quirk on her.

''You realize I can do that too, right?'' Momona asked, his hand suddenly the size of a pizza.

To say that it brought Midori's attention was an euphemism.

''YOU HAVE A QUIRK THAT ALLOWS YOU TO COPY QUIRKS?'' the green-haired-boy screamed, suddenly standing and stars in his eyes.

Monoma froze, not knowing how to react but there was no stopping Midori now.

I knew he loved quirks, but not that much...

''That’s amazing ! Any quirks? Do you have a trick to deal with the backlash? Do you immediately know what to do with the quirk or do you have to proceed by trial and by error? Do you have a limit to how many quirks you can copy? And people can still use their quirks when you copy them? If that’s the case, that would be so cool.''

Monoma blinked repeatedly, while Kendo was looking at them, trying to understand what was going on. Momo, Todoroki and Ochako shrugged. Anyone knowing Midori for more than an hour would know he adored quirks.

''Yes, I have a great quirk,'' Monoma dramatically declared. ''Almost any quirk around there can be mine. Up to five minutes!''

Midori's expression dropped.

He stared at Monoma, his face carefully blank, all enthusiasm having evaporated.

''That’s impressive, Monoma,'' Midori calmly said, his voice suddenly incredibly flat.

''Thank... Thank you?'' Monoma said, not understanding what had caused the brusque change of behavior.

 


 

There was nothing more mortifying than All Might apologizing about the final exams and promising to do better. Izuku had told him that there was no need to apologize for anything, especially since Izuku himself had been rude to the hero, but All Might found the way to win the conversation by presenting a cake from an expensive bakery, as a token of apology, and Izuku had grabbed it before he had the time to even think about it.

Izuku was weak against sweets.

Then, All Might, who was still smiling because he had found Izuku's weakness, informed him that he was going to see Gran Torino and that he was welcome to go to the 'war council' with him.

''I am going to choose a potential successor,'' All Might explained. ''It’s my choice but I am willing to take all the help I can get.''

A successor for One for All.

The man or the woman who would have to fight All for One.

Instead of All Might.

It made him feel a little uneasy.

''Are you okay?'' Izuku asked his hero.

''Oh course.'' All Might frowned. ''Why do you ask that?''

''I... I have this quirk I have to give back. On Saturday. And of course, I am going to give it back, that's not the problem. But still, separating myself from one of my quirks isn't easy,'' he admitted.

For a moment, All Might didn't say anything.

Until he ruffled Izuku's hair, a smile now on his face.

''I am sorry you have to get rid of one of your quirks, Young Midoriya. But don't worry about me. I knew I would have to transfer One for All before it was even given to me. It's the raison d'être of my quirk.''

And once again, Izuku was in awe of All Might.

All Might drove him to Gran Torino's in an American car so high Izuku had to jump to get out of it. Gran Torino greeted him by calling him ''Toshinori'', he greeted All Might by nagging him about how he never called, and the three of them made their way to Gran Torino kitchen's table. It appeared that for Gran Torino, a war council was the study of several student files, surrounded by tayaki, ice cream, and tea.

All Might's present was also put to contribution : an enormous cake with raspberries and almond paste, probably more suited for a birthday than for one person.

So there was barely enough for the three of them, to All Might's amusement.

Hadou Nejire, Amajiki Tamaki and Togata Mirio were the candidates selected for One for All. UA's Big Three, and though Izuku knew of them, he had never met them and he simply couldn't pass the chance to studyi their quirks from their files. He has some quirk stalkish tendencies he couldn't quite refrain when the intel was in his reach.

Permeation, Wave Motion, and Manifest.

Their quirks weren't just great, they had also be honed by years of training to become something entirely different. Though, Togata Mirio was the one who had made the greatest progress, turning a dangerous quirk into something hero-worthy.

As he was reading the drawbacks, which were the inability to see, hear, and breathe, Izuku couldn't help being reminded of the Nectar Girl's quirk. At least, he had managed to breathe at the time, so if the experience had been scary, Togata must have had incredible mental fortitude to hone Permeation.

''They aren't bad but they are greener than leaf, Toshinori,'' Gran Torino said while giving a new slice of cake to Izuku. ''Have you met any of them yet ?''

''Not yet. I was planning to teach the Third Years, but Nedzu told me that for a neophyte like me, First Years would be complicated enough,'' All Might admitted.

Gran Torino laughed and All Might blushed.

The Third Years' loss and our win!

''Is One for All compatible with any quirks?'' Izuku asked.

''It is,'' All Might answered. ''One for All was at first intended as a quirk for a frail man in an era were quirks were rare, so now, anyone can be given my quirk. Apart from wanting to be a hero, there is no restrictions allowing us to limit the number of candidates, that's why I am thinking about making my choice among UA's best students.''

''That's good.''

It wasn't the case with the quirks hold by Transfer. Even Izuku himself had to make sure to activate Resistance when he used too much speed or strength, and it wasn't even talking about how most people couldn't deal with having more than one quirk.

''Well,'' Gran Torino interrupted, ''There is still the chance your limbs will blow off if you take One for All.''

''What?'' Izuku screamed just as All Might was coughing a mouthful of blood.

''Don’t listen to him! I didn’t have any problem!''

''Maybe the next one won’t be so lucky...'' Gran Torino nagged on the tone of someone who was amused by the possibility.

The fact All Might was suddenly affirming that even though the first time was always the worst, it got better little by little wasn't reassuring, and Izuku, who didn't know any of the Big Three, could could now perfectly picture them without limbs now that he had read their files.

''Okay, I am willing to give one Shock Absorption quirk to the cause!''

He couldn't believe he was actually saying that – and he actually regretted it as soon as he said it – but if his role in defeating All for One started with making sure the successor would have all their limbs where they were supposed to, he didn't have a choice.

The two adults paused. Looked at each other.

''Young Midoriya...'' All Might started, moved. ''Thank you so much, but that won't be necessary. One for All is enough on its own.''

''Nothing like some bone breaking to forge character anyway,'' Gran Torino said and Izuku was almost certain he was serious.

''Please, teacher, stop worrying him. He doesn't realize you're joking.''

''Am I?''

Whatever faces All Might and Izuku did at this moment, it made Gran Torino laugh in his tea.

''Honestly,'' Gran Torino continued a little more seriously, ''I am more worried about our selling argument. I hope you have something better than : 'Would you be interested in a quirk that will draw a giant target on your back, with a immortal villain who has two centuries worth of quirks ?', All Might.''

All Might nodded. ''It's hard to ask anyone to make such a great sacrifice.''

When Izuku thought about All for One -and it made sure not to think about him too much- he just imagined this being with a multitude of quirks, older than Izuku could really comprehend. If Izuku's ability to stock quirks improved with age and training, he realized how far away he was to rival with someone like All Might's enemy.

And sometimes, when Izuku wasn't quick enough to kill the thought, he wondered if All for One was the reason why now, it was only Izuku and his mom.

''I suppose that the only thing you can do is to tell your successor about the risks so they can make their decisions with all the informations,'' Izuku simply said to All Might, who smiled at those words.

They both silently agreed that it would have been great if it wasn't necessary.

''What about you?'' Gran Torino asked.

''What about me what?'' Izuku asked back like the wordsmith that he was.

''Would you be interested in a quirk which is powerful but which will draw a target on your back ?'' Gran Torino asked with an odd intensity.

 


 

Young Midoriya thought about it while Toshinori was raising an eyebrow at his teacher, who suddenly pretended he was a senile old man.

And Young Midoriya started mumbling, lost in thoughts, and though Toshinori couldn't quite follow what he was saying, he could hear some words such as : ''All Might's quirk... A quirk that would boost all my quirks while giving me even more physical power... Even if there is drawbacks, I should have even Resistance to deal with it... Maybe... And that...''

That's it. Gran Torino broke Young Midoriya.

''It's okay,'' Toshinori assured with an amused smile, he couldn't help it.

But Young Midoriya wasn't done : ''This is an incredible quirk and All Might’s so yes, I would love to have it as one of my own. But it's just that I don’t think I should have it. ''

He looked at his hand, slowly clenching his fist.

His eyes were almost shining but that had to be a trick of the light.

''After all, if I continue to accumulate quirks, I will one day rival with One for All itself. Maybe even with All Might,'' he added, making it clear he was thinking All Might was greater than One for All.

And at this moment, both men paused because in those shiny eyes and pensive expression, there was All for One. Analysing, confident, and someone who would one day rival with a quirk transferred over eight generations.

And then, Young Midoriya sneezed like a kitten, immediately cancelling the resemblance. Toshinori couldn’t help a smile as he was seeing his mentor blink furiously, trying to reconsider the brusque change of intensity.

''And I was already planning to fight All for One,'' Young Midoriya continued. ''I really think if it's better to fight alongside All Might or One for All.''

Toshinori realized he didn't want this boy to fight All for One. He never wanted the bastard to be aware of his existence.

But Young Midoriya already seemed to have taken his decision.

 


 

''What was that about?'' Toshinori asked as soon as Young Midoriya was gone.

Gran Torino knew exactly what he was talking about but it didn't prevent him from feigning ignorance.

''What? I was just wondering! Hypothetically! If I can't ask questions anymore...''

 


 

Three days after the finals, Ochako was watching Midori like a hawks, ready to wrap him in a blanket as Bakugou was ready to arrive any moment from now on.

Midori had been down since he had been punched, despite what he dared to pretend, and at this point, Ochako was just mad, and she knew she wasn't the only one to be annoyed on Midori's behalf. Other were just worried that they would start fighting.

So, when Bakugou arrived, no one expected Midori to barely look up his notebooks, dropped a sweet ''Oh, hi, Kacchan, welcome back.'', then to go back to what he was writing, not showing any reaction.

Everyone looked at each other. Even Bakugou looked taken aback.

He wasn't depressed because of Bakugou?

 


 

Finally, they were all going to Summer Camp, Aizawa-Sensei having lied again, and when the students growled about it, he promised to limit his logical ruses in the future.

But sadly, the remedial hell was here.

The condemned were Satou, Kaminari, Mina, and Kirishima.

And Kacchan.

 


 

So not only did Stain stole Tomura's credit even though he was the one who wrecked havoc in Hosu while the Hero Killer was busy being beaten by a brat, but now, Giran had brought him a psycho brat and a slightly scorched scarecrow -the latter not even hiding his scorn- while expecting him to integrate them to his league.

''Seeing you in the flesh... You're even creepier than in photo,'' the lanky bastard with patchwork skin who looked like a vampire who didn't apply sunscreen evenly one day and had a nasty surprise at noon, in clothes he might had stolen from a high school sized wannabe delinquent, dared to say.

''So you're the buddy of Stain-chan?'' a brat with stars in her eyes asked, confirming Tomura's awful feeling that they were indeed Stain's fans.

This is just getting better and better.

He crushed the picture of the green brat he had been looking at before being so rudely interrupted.

Tomura politely asked Kurogiri to send them away because he already couldn't stand them. But of course, Kurogiri had to disagree, and Giran already started to sell them to Tomura, urging the two fools to introduce themselves.

''I am Toga. Himiko Toga,'' the serial killer exclaimed. ''Life is too hard! I want to make a world that's easier to live in! So let me join you, Tomura!''

But Tomura really didn't want to...

''I wanna be Stain-chan! I wanna kill Stain-chan!'' she added, blushing. ''So, please, let me join you, Tomura!''

Tomura hadn't suspected it was possible for him to be even less convinced than before, but here they were.

And he wasn't the only one.

''I'm not sure about this,'' the other ''recruit'' sighed. ''Is this group really dedicated to the cause ? I mean, they are about to let this nutjob join up.''

''The nutjob can introduce yourself, unlike you.'' Tomura snarked back. Not that he wanted to defend this one but the other was even more annoying. ''If you're a proper adult, what about trying that?''

''I go by Dabi right now.''

Crematorium.

''That's no good,'' Tomura sighed. He had no use for tacky aliases. ''Your real name.''

''You will know it when you need to. Anyway...''

Not even able to give his real name...

Tomura looked at Kurogiri. They either leave or I clean the place.

''I will be the one to make the Hero Killer's will come true,'' Dabi continued.

Good for you. Now, fuck off.

But they didn't take the hint.

Tomura guessed they were going to make nice piles of dust, then.

 


 

On the day Izuku had to give Taser back, the class decided to celebrate Iida's return by going to the mall. They would prepare for the Summer Camp and eat together afterwards. Even if it hadn't been to celebrate Iida's official bedrest leave, Izuku would have still come. Any moment he could spend with his class was cherished.

But somehow, Izuku managed to find himself all alone as everyone, Uraraka included, was running around shopping.

Typical.

Not that he didn't have anything to do. He had seen some tee-shirts with funny messages and you could never have too many of those.

And he carefully ignored the Stain merchandise when he passed next to the store. He hoped Iida hadn't seen that.

Izuku and the rest of 1-A had been recognized as soon as they had entered the mall, and though the green-haired-boy had thought about using Vanish, he couldn't quite forget what would happen tonight and how one of his quirks would be lost forever. Because of that, keeping Vanish up was a little too tiring, especially when Izuku could simply use the white hoodie he had brought.

It quickly appeared that it wasn't enough as someone else recognized him.

''Hey, you're the kid who destroyed the ring of the Sport Festival!'' someone in a black hoodie called him.

Older than him, white hair escaping his hood, he approached quickly, and Izuku just let him, wondering how to react.

''And you were in Hosu and even manage to beat the Hero Killer,'' the stranger continued, placing an arm and too much on his weight on Izuku's shoulder.

It made him flinch because someone was touching and he wasn't a fan of that, but he didn't want to be rude but he also wanted space, so he froze, stuck between the hammer of courtesy and the anvil of disliking most physical contacts.

''How funny that we would meet again and here of all place. Maybe it's fate.''

Izuku didn't understand who he was when he saw his face. He brutally realized who he was facing when the stranger with the scarred face and crazy eyes's hand grabbed him by the back of his neck, under his hood, with only four fingers.

Fuck.

''Let's get some tea and chat, Midoriya Izuku,'' Shigaraki Tomura grinned.

His hand was on Izuku's hoodie, so stealing the quirk was out of question. He needed a skin contact and a solid second.

He had seen Aizawa-Sensei's arm, he knew what would happen if five digits touched his skin. A part of him wondered if he could steal the quirk if he was fast enough.

You. Are. Not. Going. To. Test. Your. Speed.

Izuku could feel the grip on his neck.

''Easy now. You're going to act like we're old friends. Don't make a scene. Stay calm, breathe naturally. If you try anything, you will die. The second my five fingers touch you, your neck will crumble inwards,'' Shigaraki explained in an almost dreamy voice. ''You're fast but not that fast.''

If it had been a limb instead of the back if his neck, he would have tried. Losing some flesh would hurt like hell, but it was nothing compared to having his vertebra decayed. With the wrong timing, he would be dead, or at least paralysed and in a world of pain, in a matter of seconds.

Think. Stay alive.

Durability. It wouldn't protect him but it will allow him to gain time.

''What do you want to talk about?''

''Smart move,'' Shigaraki laughed.

They sat, but sadly, still in a crowded area. Shigaraki typed something on his phone quickly, but when Izuku tried to sneak a look, the grip on his neck got stronger. Okay, I understand. No lookie.

Shigaraki didn't stop gripping so hard and put his phone back in his pocket.

''I pretty much hate everyone and everything, but right now, what really annoys me is the Hero Killer.''

''Wasn't he working with you '' Izuku asked, eager for more informations.

Because Shigaraki Tomura was connected to All for One. He had to be, or he wouldn't have access to noumu.

''I've never agreed to that, even this stupid society seems to think so. And that's my problem. Everyone got their eyes on the Hero Killer.. Our attack on UA... The noumu I unleashed on Hosu.. It's all been overshadowed by him. No one is noticing me. I wonder why. You fought the both of us, so tell me. What makes me different from the Hero Killer?''

It was a really good thing they were both looking ahead because Shigaraki could have seen the look of utter disbelief that passed on Izuku's face.

Back at the USJ, he had noticed that Shigaraki was odd, talking in gamer terms and not seeing anyone as actual people, but now, he was actually asking for advice to Izuku?

Shigaraki had seen someone he knew in the crowd, he had a problem, and he had decided to talk about it the same way Izuku would have talked with Nagisa about something bothering him. Not caring about details like he had almost killed him, how he was threatening to kill him.

He doesn't know how to human. He probably doesn't have any real relationships so he took the occasion to talk to me because as an enemy, I must be one of the few people he has a connection to.

This was both sad and terrifying. What do you do to warp someone that much?

Izuku answered carefully. He couldn't exactly tell Shigaraki how both villains were pretty annoying in his opinion.

''I don't understand you. I don't understand what you want. I don't understand why you do those things, or even if you have a goal. While I understand what Stain wants : a world with perfect heroes, all on All Might's level. Which is stupid, by the way, because All Might himself isn't perfect either, no one can, but there is an ideal here. He wasn't doing that for fun.''

Shigaraki froze, something intense coming in waves from him. Before, he had seemed lost and pouting like a child who didn't have what he wanted. Now, it was... Izuku couldn't quite describe it but it felt like all his doubt had been swept away, leaving a focus not unlike Izuku's own quirk.

''I now understand...'' Shigaraki realized just as Izuku was about to end the conversation. ''Why the Hero Killer pisses me off so much... And why you're so damn irritating... It's all about All Might.''

That's... not what I said. And that's some serious mental leap.

''That's the reason,'' Shigaraki said. ''He is the reason why everyone can smile, because everyone think they will come save them. And that's what I have to focus on. Create a world without All Might. And cause enough destruction to show them all how fragile their justice really is. From this day forward… that’s my conviction. It’s all about All Might.''

I forgot he was crazy, Izuku realized.

Shigaraki smiled at him, a sight that would haunt Izuku for the rest of his life.

''Thank you, Midoriya,'' he said, and he sounded almost sincere despite the painful iron grip still on the back of Izuku's neck.

''What does All for One want '' Izuku asked before the villain had the time to go on a monologue or something.

''Who?'' Shigaraki asked absentmindedly, frowning as if Izuku was annoying him. And as if he had no idea of who he was talking about.

Izuku sighed.

Taser.

For what would be the last time, Izuku was able to send electricity through someone and Shigaraki froze, all his muscles locked in a painful grip. Izuku knew from experience how it was impossible to move with so many volts passing through one's body, and he heard Shigaraki's pained gasp with a certain amount of satisfaction.

His hand was still holding Izuku so the teenage boy grabbed it behind him, maintaining the contact so Taser would keep making its wonders and the wrist -the sleeve, not the skin- he had just grabbed broke with an awfully loud noise.

Izuku finally got away from him, which proved to be a mistake.

Usually, people electrocuted tended to stay down. Izuku himself had taken five after he had happened to him. But as soon as Shigaraki wasn't in contact with Taser anymore, he managed to get back to his feet, with difficulty.

And before he did, he touched the ground, creating a hole in the floor.

People screamed, realizing a villain was here, and Shigaraki grinned as he was seeing all potential hostages or victims, and Izuku couldn't let that happen. He didn't even bridge the distance. He couldn't fix the mess he had created quickly. He needed to fix it now.

Shigaraki starting to move, his arm whipping and ready to grab a woman who was too stupefied to move. Because he wasn't afraid of create a carnage to get out of here.

So Izuku needed to make him more afraid of him.

Focus.

''You attacked my friends. My teachers. Your noumu almost killed me. Almost.''

Shigaraki didn't move, all his attention focused on Izuku. He clearly wasn't understanding what was happening, but he didn't matter.

Because Izuku had his complete attention.

''And you, Shigaraki Tomura, are no noumu,'' he reminded him.

Izuku took one step.

Shigaraki ran, in pure panic. He didn't try to use someone to cover his escape. He couldn't. Because Izuku would be just behind him.

If you slow down, I will catch you. If you even think about hurting one of them, I will kill you.

Izuku jumped over the ditch Shigaraki had created -fortunately, they were on the first floor-, and ran as fast as he could, which meant not much because there was a ton of people in his way. Thankfully, Shigaraki had heard his silent warning and didn't aim for collateral damages.

If he did... Consequences would be damned.

Just as Izuku manage to catch up to him, his hand on the black hood and already ready to throw the Decay holder to the ground, he sensed a quirk activation, but Shigaraki wasn't touching anything so it couldn't be him.

Black mist engulfed the villain and Izuku's whole arm. Cold and ethereal, it spread on Izuku's skin, trying to take him too, and he jumped back before it could spread to the rest of him.

The portal disappeared, taking Shigaraki with it and leaving Izuku standing with nothing to show for all the risks he had taken.

That's why he used his phone earlier. He asked Kurogiri to come as back-up.

Damn it.

''MIDORI ?'' someone screamed from upstairs.

Izuku looked up to see Uraraka, Ashido, Iida, and Kaminari, their eyes wide, and an expression on their face that looked like they were collectively taking the decision of never leaving him unattended again.

 


 

Mamoru's heart was beating loudly in his ears, but despite that, he could still here the noise of the crowd, even if he had taken refuge in a deserted alley.

His hands were trembling where he retrieved the gas mask from his schoolbag. Slowly, he put it on.

Showtime.