Blue flames were the hottest flames that could be produced by a fire quirk user. Their color were determined by their high-oxygen burn, while a yellow fire had this color due to a low-oxygen burn that would leave a lot of uncombusted particles.
Izuku knew this. Even if he hadn't, Dabi's scars should have been enough to realize that he didn't have the heat resistance necessary to use such a quirk, and usually, he would have never used so much power for a first use.
That was exactly the kind of stupid mistake with horrible consequences that one would do if he was so tired he wasn't quite thinking straight.
Durability and a circular Air Pressure were called half a second after Izuku started to use the stolen quirk, but it didn't completely save his arm and pain burst into his flesh. That probably saved Dabi's life as Izuku dropped the quirk as fast as he could.
Dabi kept running while Izuku made a point not to look at the damage on his arm. He could still move it, and that was the only thing he needed to know for now.
He needed to ignore the pain. To clear his mind from any worry. Because Vanish wouldn't work unless he was completely calm and if his mind was quiet and peaceful.
Only for a warp gate to appear, maybe twelve meters away from him.
''Seriously?'' Izuku whined.
He raised his arm.
If I aim well enough, can I throw them back through the warp gate?
Only one way to find out, he decided as he flicked his middle finger.
Unfortunately, a warp gate appeared right in front of Shigaraki, swallowing Izuku's Air Blast, and the teenager immediately dodged when he realized where the attack would be transported next. It whistled right above his head, and he sensed the quirk again as Kurogiri tried to grab him.
Izuku jumped back just in time, attacked again to give Kurogiri something to deal with, and he dodged the redirection only by listening to Transfer.
Warp Gate was an incredible quirk who could be used in a million of ways, but it also depended on the coordination of the holder, and it had limits.
Maybe I should take the quirk to know exactly what it does.
The sky had been lightened by a pillar of flames, and Fumikage's heart dropped in his chest as he recognized the quirk that had been used in the forest. Because the only reason why one would use so much power was to smite someone in one powerful attack, and only someone as mighty as Midoriya could provoke such reaction.
Unleashed, Dark Shadow had become a protector and a destroyer, and he had covered an incredible distance as it hunted for light and sign of life, and Fumikage was trapped in the middle of the maelstrom of violence. Too far away.
Prisoner of the darkness that kept strengthening his quirk.
But in that moment, as Fumikage knew in his heart that Midoriya was the victim of this hellfire, he managed to do something. He didn't manage to stop Dark Shadow. Regaining control was impossible now that he had abandoned it, not without outside help, and the shadows of the trees had protected him from being weakened by the light of the flames.
But just for a moment, he regained something else. A need. A will.
And he redirected Dark Shadow to the desolated place he had once fled.
Izuku's world was pain, but he wasn't slowing down. He couldn't afford to when all the members of the League had converged on him as soon as he had managed not to be warped away by Kurogiri once again.
Any long-distance attack Izuku threw was intercepted by Kurogiri and redirected on him. Sometimes, Transfer managed to warn him in time. Sometimes, Shock Absorption was the only thing standing between him and being knocked down by his own attacks. It added to the pain echoing in his skull.
So much speed quirks. So much strain on his body that was begging him to stop, but listening to it meant to die.
Izuku avoided the girl with the knives he never managed to see coming because she didn't seem to use any quirks, and he threw her at Twice so hard they both crashed into the dust. He was about to throw an air blast to keep them down but something pulled his whole body away, and he turned to see Magne.
And see the warp gate on his trajectory.
He kicked the ground with Slide and Glide, his food adhering to it like it was stuck and for a moment, his whole body felt like a piece of chewing gum being stretched. Durability. Just to give himself a second, and for a moment, white pain burst behind his eyes, blinding him.
No matter, he could feel where she was, and still used both Aim and Air Pressure to throw a twin Air Blast at her. His attack was interrupted by Kurogiri, who warped it away from Magne, protecting her, and as Izuku was spreading his senses, sight fully came back to him and he grabbed Spinner who had been sneaking up on him and who had thought he was being discreet.
He threw the Stain fan in front of him just in time for the redirected Air Blast to hit him.
Izuku still hanged on to Spinner, completely planning to use him as a hostage, but the golden sound of a quirk right next to him made him drop him and he dodged just in time for Mister Compress to not manage to compress his head. Without the rest of his body.
Izuku, snarling, kicked him in the chest with Strength, and he felt ribs cracking under the sole of his shoe as the magician flew away.
Only for Shigaraki to decay the ground under him, making him fall and allowing the villain to jump at him.
Izuku didn't even try not to fall. He embraced the call of gravity and crashed into the ground, but that was the simple part. The hard part was when he put his hands on the ground, pushed his body up, and spun, low to the ground, into what almost looked like a breakdance move, Air Pressure in tow and pushing away everyone around him with a circular air blast.
It bought him a couple of second, the satisfaction to see Kurogiri flat on his behind, the time to get back on his feet, and two seconds to breathe. It didn't buy him anything more because Shigaraki, despite being blasted away, ran back at him.
It wasn't the first time Izuku's attacks were basically brushed off by Shigaraki Tomura. He was ridiculously resistant and fast, and Izuku just let him come to him, watching him bridge the distant in seconds, his hands already reaching out to Izuku.
His body begged him not to, but Izuku still did the flip, using Shigaraki's shoulders as a base and he landed right behind him. Shigaraki turned, not fast enough, and Izuku would have punched him in the head and sent him to sleep but Twice jumped at Izuku with the firm intention to cut his head off.
Izuku still quickly kicked Shigaraki into the side of the knee, sadly not enough to dislocate the articulation, but enough to hurt, then he shoulder-slammed Twice in the stomach because at this point, he was too tired to think of anything else.
End the fight now. End the fight as soon as possible.
He tried to run, and Kurogiri's warp gates blocked the way again, forcing him to run into another direction, and he took the occasion to flip Toga over his shoulder. Her knife grazed him but he barely felt it. Compared to the general pain he was in, a scratch wasn't even a distraction.
Or compared to the despair that was crashing into him in waves. Pure, undiluted despair at the idea of never seeing his mom again.
Or his right arm, the one who had been broken by the noumu an eternity ago, who was pulsing with pain. Not that it prevented him to use this same arm to elbow Spinner in the face.
Or the general feeling that his body was about to crash down, because he wasn't strong enough.
Just one last miracle, he thought as he kept fighting on instinct, letting Transfer warn him when a quirk was being use, letting Acceleration save him when it wasn't the case. One last trick so I can survive my mistakes.
That was what heroes did, right? They somehow beat the odds.
Izuku delved within himself. Remembered a time where he wanted to be strong, so he wouldn't lose anything else. So he wouldn't lose anyone else.
He abandoned everything else to focus on all his Strength quirks, on Air pressure, and on Resistance.
Atsuhiro was in pain every time he breathed. The familiar sensation of broken ribs was burning through him, something that would slow him down, and getting back against the monster Dabi had brought was asking for death.
Midoriya was supposed to be a hero student. He was supposed to be at its limits. And yet, since they had caught back with him, no one had managed to hurt him. At times, he became a blur, avoiding their attacks, hitting in a flash before taking cover, and Atsuhiro was quite certain that if Kurogiri hadn't redirected most of his attacks, the Vanguard wouldn't have lasted long against him.
The showman that he was marveled at the display of strength and seemingly unlimited unforeseen developments. The man with broken ribs, and who had watched a teenage boy avoid attacks on attacks with what looked suspiciously like a preternatural sixth sense, wanted to cut his losses.
But their fearless leader was determined to end it. Atsuhiro hadn't thought much of Shigaraki, still had doubts, but he could recognize that he refused to be stopped by details like bone-crushing shockwaves.
For a moment, the villain and the hero looked at each other, both panting.
Midoriya's eyes were burning with something extremely cold.
Atsuhiro had noticed how he did that during the fight. The teenage boy sometimes looked at them like he wasn't seeing them, but at something hidden deep within, and that was incredibly disturbing.
''I hate you!'' Shigaraki said as Twice, Toga, Spinner and him were closing on the boy.
For a moment, Midoriya just looked at him, expressing nothing.
Then, his face distorted in a feral grimace, something insane with rage revealing itself.
''I hate you too.''
Midoriya lunged at them, his fist raised, impossibly fast.
Kurogiri spread himself between the vanguard and the hero student.
He didn't manage to warp all of the blow, and something still hit them. A fraction of what should have landed, but the shockwave still swept through the battlefield, drowning everything in it.
And when it was over, Midoriya was gone.
Izuku kept pushing on the quirk, not sure it was working. It had to or they would still be attacking him, right?
He couldn't think. Nothing made sense. He just wanted to sleep. The soft grass was calling his name, promising that this was a nightmare and that when he would wake up, everything would be over and he would be back to the Summer Camp. Hell, maybe his mom would be fine.
One look at his arm and to the darker lines of the skin was enough to make this idea pass.
He forced himself to walk, picking a direction that inspired him, and he put one foot in front of the other. He couldn't use quirks while he was hidden by Vanish, it would shatter the protection offered by the quirk, but that didn't mean he couldn't keep going.
The League wasn't far. He could hear them. One of them, the girl in an uniform, was laughing.
Keep walking. One foot after another. You can do it.
And he did. Shivering. Exhausted.
He leaned on a tree, a very comfortable oak, and he breathed for five seconds, just to stop panting, then started walking again.
Only to realize someone had appeared next to him. Maybe he had warped. Maybe he had simply found Izuku who had been too exhausted to notice it.
Whatever the reason was, Izuku only saw a tall figure, what looked like a bespoke suit, and a hand just in front of his eyes, then cool fingers and a warmer palm on the top of his head.
For a moment, Izuku sensed quirks. So many quirks that it seemed like stars in the sky.
And before he could react, he felt himself falling, darkness surrounding him and sleep finally claiming him.
Dabi tried to run after Midoriya, wherever he had disappeared, because he couldn't afford to lose him. He had stayed away from the fight, trying to understand what had happened, and he had to admit the impossible: the kid had his quirk.
He never managed to run after him as Magne grabbed him by his arm and managed to stop him dead in his tracks.
''What were you doing?'' Magne asked him, still freaked out. ''All the heroes are going to run here now that your flames were seen!''
Dabi realized that she was thinking he was the one who had thrown this pillar of flames through the sky. Everyone did.
When this kid had done it. Somehow.
''I...'' he started, not sure how to explain. ''I...''
Admitting that he was suddenly quirkless in the middle of a group of villains when he had no other ways to protect himself or to be of any use was not a good idea.
''You can't panic because of a kid, Dabi! Think about your reputation!'' Twice interrupted him before changing his voice again. ''It's okay! I panicked too. I have never seen anyone so scary. What the hell are they feeding those UA kids?''
They all looked at the forest.
They couldn't know where the student had disappeared, and in which direction to look for.
However, they could find the other one.
He wasn't exactly discreet, the quirk bulldozing its way through the forest in a mad run. With a little luck, they wouldn't even need Dabi. All they had to do was to lure him out. Or not. By ear, he seemed to be coming back.
But they were also all exhausted because of the fight. Spinner was still holding his face where he had been elbowed, and Kurogiri looked like he wanted to go back to his bar and have a drink.
''Tomura-kun, what are we doing?'' Himiko asked as she stopped fussing over Spinner, fascinated by the blood. ''I want to find Izuku-kun, but I don't want to die.''
Their leader didn't answer, his expression hidden behind the hand he was wearing on his face.
But Dabi didn't have the time for that. He had already lost too much time and the longer he waited, the longer his quirk was disappearing in the wild.
And he couldn't let anyone kill Midoriya before he had his quirk back.
''I am going after him,'' Dabi declared, not asking for permission.
He managed to take two steps when something hit him. Not a physical impact but the absolute certitude that he had to freeze and not draw attention to himself.
''That won't be necessary,'' a deep voice resounded.
Someone walked towards them, unhurried. Tall, wearing a dark suit, his face was hidden by a black helmet, and Dabi could barely breathe in his presence. He wanted to take a step back, to do anything, really, but he couldn't move. He didn't dare to.
''Sensei...'' Shigaraki called from behind Dabi. Not that it reassured him.
Because this Sensei was holding an unconscious Midoriya, by the back of his shirt and the arms and legs of the boy weren't even reaching the ground. He seemed tiny next to the new villain, a villain who had managed to neutralize the student who had hold out against the Vanguard.
The pressure of his mere presence dropped enough for Shigaraki to talk more.
''Did you catch him for us?'' he asked, sounding unsure.
Shigaraki's Sensei stopped close to Dabi, horribly close as far as he was concerned, but he didn't dare to move. Fortunately, whoever this man was, he didn't pay attention to him, preferring to focus on his pupil.
''I am afraid this is not the case. You do know my love for interesting powers, and now that I hunted him, I have too much respect for you to hand out a prize when you still have a chance to seize another pawn yourself.''
Shigaraki sighed exasperated, but he had the wisdom not to say anything.
As far as Dabi was concerned, the other student was the best option, if only because he wasn't in the hands of Sensei. His quirk was not as dangerous as their leader's teacher.
Who chose this moment to lay a hand on Dabi's shoulder, dangerously near his neck, forcing him to turn to face him. His grip didn't hurt but the strength in his fingers left no doubt that he was perfectly able to keep him from running.
''Dabi, aren't you?'' he asked, his voice so pleasant and tranquil. ''One piece of advice: subtlety and discretion are sometimes the only way to stay alive.''
For a moment, nothing existed expect for the cold gaze hidden behind the black metal of the helmet.
''Think about it, won't you? I would hate for someone with such potential to meet a premature end."
Dabi knew when to recognize a threat.
''Now, if you will excuse me, one of my associates use this mountain as his home, and since you drew so much attention, I must warn him that he has to move before the heroes arrive. One is already on their way, so I would suggest to hurry.''
And with that, some black fluid appeared around him, covering him and the hero student, before warping them away.
Right after that, the sound of someone letting themself fall on their asses echoed behind Dabi and he finally manage to turn and he noted that it was Magne who had a thousand year stare, as if she had seen her life flashing before her eyes.
A sentiment Dabi could empathize with.
''I just saw someone even scarier than Midoriya,'' Twice whispered loudly. "Seems like a friendly guy!"
Dabi clicked his fingers, a blue spark appearing to confirm that his quirk was indeed back.
''Didn't you burn enough shit up today?'' Shigaraki complained.
Dabi didn't answer, conscious that he would never be able to talk about this terrifying experience, unless he wanted to face the wrath of the scariest villain he had ever seen.
Finding the bird-headed kid wasn't difficult and that was why someone had beat them to it, stealing their prey and already circling around the manifestation of shadows summoned by the quirk.
Tomura clicked his tongue in annoyance.
The number 3 hero was flying around the brat, trying to calm him down and unable to because that wasn't one of those nice and flashy quirks heroes were fond of. It was a real one, power with a drawback, the kind that was too complex in a society which only wanted bright and simple quirks.
Then, the winged hero saw them, and Hawks did what heroes did best. Run -or in this case, fly- at the occasion to use violence.
''Shigaraki?'' Spinner asked, a touch of urgency in his voice.
Choices. Always choices.
He would have liked to at least get one on his own. He wanted Sensei to be proud. To realize he was right to have chosen him.
But he also knew that Hawks would delay them until other heroes arrives. It just wasn't worth it.
''Kurogiri, get us out of here.''
The warp gate took hold of them, but not before their local pyromaniac threw a blue flame at the hero to buy them some time.
Right before Tomura was warped away, he saw the number four hero dodge, while the mass of shadows behind him didn't have this chance.
Toshinori was relaxing in his bath, enjoying the delicious sensation of soaking into hot water after a long day of work. For now, he hadn't found anything better to get rid of the fatigue and the stress, and he was completely in the moment.
At least, until his phone rang, making him sigh.
Work had the unfortunate habit of calling him back as soon as he started to relax, and he started to get out of the bathtub which was made to accommodate his form when he was using One for All.
The Symbol of Peace almost met an unfortunate demise because he had slipped on water, managed to survive this dangerous enemy, grabbed a robe, and answered the phone, surprised to see that Aizawa-kun was calling him. Knowing the man, he didn't expect to have any news until they all came back to school.
Surprised, but still pleased.
He quickly lost his smile.
Powerlessness was being just a little too far away to rescue his friend before he was taken away. It was realizing that despite all the training, all the quirks, all the sacrifice, it was not enough.
Powerlessness was pain. A pain that had made Shouto scream Midoriya's name so loud that it had hurt his throat. He had no idea he could scream so loud before, then that had turned into a void, eating him from the inside because there was nothing else to do.
Powerlessness was looking up at their teacher, only to see that Aizawa-Sensei was frozen where he was, his eyes wide, something awful haunting his gaze. It was watching Bakugou trying to get back to his feet, not managing to because he had tried to lean on his injured arm, and him just crumbling to the ground and shutting down, though Shouto was close enough to see him trembling.
It was going back to the rest of the group, not knowing what to do, not knowing what to say because it was too late. They had lost. Because they never had as much power as they believed.
It was a wake-up call.
It was watching Uraraka crying, and Yaoyorozu trying to stay calm, to help, and failing because her anxiety now had been proven right. It was watching Iida shut down, and Shouji being extremely quiet next to him.
And it was realizing that the pro heroes were as powerless as the students were.
Izuku was laying on a hard floor when he woke up, in a gray room devoid of windows and with a door that had no handle, at least not on the inside of the room.
He had never felt so cold in his entire like.
Slowly, he sat down. Shivering, nausea was threatening to spill from his lips, but he wasn't in any pain. Not even from the arm burnt with blue flames as white bandages were covering it. Remembering Dabi's scars, he decided that he had a clear idea of what was underneath and that he didn't need to check when he couldn't do anything about it for now.
Instead, he listened, muffled sound reaching him through the walls but it wasn't enough for him to discern any words or to know what was making those noises. But where his ears weren't enough, Transfer sensed several quirks being used. Lightly, the same way UA was never quiet to him.
He slowly got back to his feet, relieved to see he wasn't in any pain. Not even a headache remained, so he reached for his quirks, not even to use Strength and Durability yet to bust through the door, but just to take comfort in their strength as he thought of an escape plan.
Only to find nothing.
Izuku took a sharp intake of air, but he could have been holding his breath for all the good it did to him.
Among all the quirks he had accumulated through the years, the powerful ones, the weak ones, those he had taken only to help, those he had yearned for, those he had polished, only Minor Healing remained.
Enough for any other person.
Izuku was breathing but no air seemed to arrive to his lungs. Cold had seized him, slipping under his skin, seeping inside his bones, freezing his thoughts, his mind, and killing him while maintaining alive.
''Let me out,'' he whispered, not to any member of the League, not to be heard by anyone, but because this was what explained the feeling that was passing through him.
Being completely trapped, with no way out. No option.
''Let me out,'' he said, this time to be heard.
His heart was beating so loud in his chest it was starting to hurt.
An animal sound was heard, saturated with rage, loud enough to bring goosebumps to anyone listening. Something horrible, barely human.
Izuku only realized he was the one screaming as he kicked the door, with all his strength.
Anything to get out of here, to get back to his quirks.
The door, covered in scratch marks, didn't bulge of course. He was a fifteen-year-old teenager trying to escape a vault conceived to hold prime quirk owners.
He didn't stop kicking.
He didn't stop screaming either.