When the class had decided to come and visit him, Katsuki had done his best to kick them out because there was no way in hell he would be okay with them seeing him in a hospital bed. But those idiots were fucking stubborn and they had also bought him a watermelon, which was something Katsuki actually liked.
Five minutes later, he realized that the watermelon had been a trap.
“Your hands can still reach him!” Kirishima dramatically declared after exposing his plan of going to wherever the noumu from the Summer Camp was, in order to rescue Deku.
Katsuki just stared at this moron, not having the words to describe how stupid his idea was. Actually, stupid wasn't the word. Fucking moronic was closer. The stupidest thing that had ever left a mouth since the beginning of the humanity.
A very dumb form of social suicide in any case.
Katsuki knew that Kirishima could be a fucking moron when he wanted. But it couldn’t be the only one in this insane plan. The vice prez had to be in it since it was her emitter. And one glance at the rest of the class allowed him to guess that Half and Half and Round Face were also in it, just by the look of determination in their eyes.
But the rest of the class was obviously uncomfortable with the very idea.
“This… This is nonsense,” Glasses stuttered, and he almost looked scared as he was staring at Kirishima. “This is against the law!”
Ah, he might be smarter than he seems.
Katsuki sighed. He couldn’t believe he had to be the voice of reason.
''You bunch of extras are aware that we are not allowed to use our quirks, in any case since we are hero students, unless we have a pro hero's permission?” he asked the whole class. “That means that if we are caught on a rescue mission, we can say goodbye to any hope of a career.''
Some of them nodded, all too aware of what they were risking. But Half and Half, Round Face, and Kirishima didn’t react.
Not because they didn’t know or didn’t care. Just because they were going to do it anyway.
“However,” he explained Kirishima, “The quirk law is a fucking detail compared to what will happen if I escape this hospital to run towards the bastards who were specifically targeting me. This would create a shit storm of biblical proportions.''
Kirishima hesitated, because this was obviously not the answer he was expecting.
“Are you saying…”
“That’s the right thing to do,” Glasses said. “Actually, I can hardly believe you would ask something like that!”
The relief spread through the class, everyone willing to let the heroes handle this. Glasses, in particular, was almost hysterical at the idea of them taking matters into their own hands. Which was fucking IRONIC since one of the reasons his brand had improved so much was because of a fight without a license against a villain.
But Kirishima was still looking at Katsuki, fighting a smile. The only one who had noticed he hadn’t outright refused. Just explained how this was a bad idea. Fuck. How can this bastard know me so well?
Those fuckers of villains had attacked the camp to get at Katsuki. They had targeted him. They had hurt a lot of people trying to get to him.
Even Birdface was still out of commission since Dark Shadow had been hit with flames.
And now, Deku was fucking gone because he had the audacity to think his help had been needed.
Katsuki had to prove him wrong.
Especially as the pros didn’t seem to be doing anything.
One by one, all the heroes who had ever studied in UA were called.
All of them answered Nedzu’s plea.
Toshinori was just leaving a reunion with the rest of the teachers when he received a phone call from Nighteye. Before he even answered it, he knew what it would be about.
He was going to rescue Young Midoriya tonight. And he would probably face All for One himself.
And if he fell, One for All would be lost.
He knew where his duty was. Each one of his predecessors had sacrificed themselves to make sure that the line would continue.
“We have to tell Mirio who you’re going to face,” Nighteye said as a greeting.
This would immediately make Young Togata agree to take the quirk. Because he was a good child and he would want to help.
This was cold and probably manipulative, but it was necessary to ensure a bright future.
And despite that…
“Don't tell anything to Young Togata. Please.”
Don't do it now.
That was the thought punching Toshinori in his remaining guts every time he even considered the question, and he was the first one surprised by it. Even if his time was decreasing, even if he had some important organs missing, and even if there was a good probability that he would be facing All for One.
Despite all those excellent reasons, everything in Toshinori refused it. It was like giving up. It was like accepting that he was already done.
“Why?” Nighteye asked, dumbfounded.
“Because I am not going there to die,” Toshinori explained. “I will save Young Midoriya and Ragdoll.”
And that wasn’t the only reason.
“This is reckless,” his former sidekick said, a note of disapproval he wasn’t even trying to hide in his voice.
Toshinori was aware of that.
“Don't tell him,” he repeated, and this time, there was iron in his voice. “I want it to be his choice. No one should have this kind of burden placed upon them without a real choice.”
Hawks, in the building containing the offices of the Hero Commission, almost laughed when at the high-ranked members’ words, but the flying hero stopped as he realized they weren’t joking and where actually dead serious about their intentions.
“What do you mean, I am not going?” he still asked.
Because even though UA was trying to be discreet, right now, an enormous operation was being prepared to crush the League of Villains.
“UA is dealing with it,” a high-ranked member of the commission explained. “Nedzu called all his alumni. They have the situation handled.”
“The League attacked hero students. They almost killed my intern. Don't you think this is a situation where it's all hands on deck?”
The members of the Commission all looked at each other while Hawks was standing there, not understanding why he had to ask their permission to go help and save someone, but deeply aware that he would have to listen to them. The Commission was obviously aware of something Hawks didn’t know despite keeping his ears low to the ground, and it was unnerving.
They seemed to realize that despite his absolute loyalty, he needed a reason.
And they gave him the one he could have never suspected.
“Hawks, you don't understand the situation. No one here is worried about the League. We are worried about the villain who crippled All Might. If something goes wrong, we need you to be the last rampart.”
Katsuki’s arm was a mess of burns and cuts, all of them healed but the scars would be a lasting reminder of how mangled it had been. And despite the various treatments, since he had removed the splint, he could feel how pain was never far when he moved it.
A splint the doctor had told him not to remove. He had also told Katsuki not to do anything strenuous with this arm, but what would he know about it anyway?
The teenage boy finished drying his hair, put his shirt back on, and made a bandage on his arm. He got rid of the box of hair coloring, put a jacket on, and he left the hospital.
The others were already waiting for him outside, being conspicuous as fuck. Round Face actually didn’t recognize him now that his hair was black, and if he had cared about someone else’s opinion, it would have comforted him in his decision to change his description in order not to draw attention.
And Katsuki was just about to tell them they didn't have any more time to waste when Glasses popped out from nowhere like a fucking mushroom.
“You said this was a stupid idea!” he screeched at Katsuki.
Ochako would have been impressed by Iida’s stealth skills or by how well he knew them if she wasn’t horrified at the idea he would be able to convince Momo to renounce their plan. It had taken hours and hours of discussion for her friend to finally relent and create a second way to find the emitter she had put on the noumu.
“I can’t let you do that,” Iida muttered, almost for himself, until he turned towards Todoroki. “You of all people should realize what mistake you are about to make! Because I got swayed by my emotions, I put you in danger, both you and Midoriya!”
He had almost chocked on the last word.
“Midori is already in danger,” Ochako reminded him.
And she couldn’t let her friend in the hands of people who would hurt him. It was beyond her.
“Don’t you think I know that? Don’t you think I am sick of worry for him? But I learned the hard way what happened when you but in hero’s business!” he screamed, his hand slapping on his chest, where his lung had been touched by Stain’s attack. “And I was lucky. This could have been worse. So much worse. How do you think I would react if one of you is injured like my brother?”
It was like someone had squeezed Ochako’s heart, and then, guilt stabbed her because Iida was probably constantly reliving the trauma of what had happened to Ingenium since Midori had been taken.
But one of them didn’t have as much heart, or at least had buried it under layers of anger and spite.
“We are not your brother,” Bakugou reminded Iida. “And you are not responsible for us.”
“Of course I am! I am your class president!”
A position that was supposed to me Midori’s job until he refused it, now that Ochako was thinking about it. No doubt that it had never left Iida’s mind.
“And you shouldn’t even think of approaching the League!” Iida continued. “You said it yourself! You were the target!”
“So what? A class president job stops when we aren’t in school. And they attacked UA,” Bakugou said. “It’s not like I am safe anywhere.”
Wow. Even Bakugou lost a lot of faith in UA.
“Even if you disagree with us, you can’t stop us,” Bakugou concluded.
Actually, all he had to do was to yell “VIGILANTISM!” and the police or a nearby hero might fall from the sky to drop kick them.
But Iida seemed to have another idea as he glared at Bakugou, his clenched fist started to be raised, and Ochako had the dubious honor to stand between the two boys before their class president would punch the attitude out of Bakugou.
It wasn’t as if he would manage too anyway.
“Iida,” Todoroki intervened, “We are not planning to fight.”
“Yes!” Kirishima added. “We aren’t even planning to use our quirks. This is an infiltration operation. Get in and get out without being seen.”
“And I wouldn’t condone vigilantism,” Momo said. “The only reason why I am going is to stop them if they ever think about breaking the law.”
This last intervention seemed to be what calmed Iida. Probably because he trusted Momo to be the voice of reason.
And while they all explained what they were planning to do, Ochako refrained to mention that plans rarely survived first contact with reality and that if someone attacked her or someone else, she would fight with everything she had, quirk included.
“Then, I am coming with you,” Iida said after a long moment of reflection where he had probably cursed them all for being so stubborn.
A hero’s job was to fight villains and to protect people. This last condition was sometimes difficult to apply because most of the time, civilians were a pain in the side. They never backed off when heroes asked them. They tended to stay in the middle of the danger, often with a phone in their hand, when logic dictated to run and to take cover. And worst of all: they complained about rescue they didn’t like.
Because they didn’t only want to be saved. They wanted the best treatment. Pro heroes had to be perfect instead of just doing their jobs.
Shouta was used to this fact. So yes, he tended to avoid people as much as he could, but when he was confronted with some annoying members of humanity, he didn’t take it personally.
However, there was one exception. People so insufferable that they made every hero’s skin crawl. Bloodsuckers who didn’t even have the excuse of a quirk for their behavior.
“Mr. Eraserhead,” one of those buffoons asked, “Even if you claim that this was for the student’s safety, you still urged them to fight in the middle of a villain attack. What were your intentions at that point?’’
Not dying and keeping my students alive.
This press conference was necessary, both for UA, and for the operation currently going on. That was why Shouta and Vlad King, as the homeroom teachers, were stuck here instead of doing something useful. So Shouta pointedly didn’t ask this man if he would have used his quirk as villains were trying to kill him, and he answered calmly and politely.
“Since we had no way to grasp the full nature of the situation, I made a decision in an attempt to avoid the worst-case scenario.”
“Worst-case scenario?” the journalist repeated. “How else would you describe a situation with twenty six students wounded and one who is missing?”
This seemed like a stupid question to Shouta, but maybe one had to be watching a forest catching fire during a villain attack with all their students spread out to fully understand the situation.
So he leaned towards his mic and he looked at the journalist in the eyes: “At this moment, the worst case scenario involved the deaths of my students.”
The principal must have noticed that Shouta was annoyed by how he was so obviously baited because he decided to intervene.
“Our students showed quick thinking and stayed cool-headed in an incredibly tense situation,” Nedzu praised them. “They also have all received psychological evaluations, and none of them seemed to have suffered emotional trauma."
“Is that meant to be a silver lining?”
Keep calm. If you lose your temper here, you won’t be the only one affected.
“We believe that the worst has been avoided as long as the students still have their futures,” the principal answered.
“And can you say for the same thing for Midoriya Izuku?”
The three men (well, two men and someone whose race was still unidentified) didn’t freeze or flinch. They had prepared themselves for the eventuality to hear something like that. But it still hurt.
“A student who showed a real gift for heroism during the Sport Festival and that you have now declared missing. But it wasn’t the first time he had a run-in in with the League. Worse, he was the one to neutralize the S-ranked villain Muscular, and there are rumors that he almost killed him. Why would the League keep him alive after he was responsible for so many of their setbacks?”
Did he just…
That was a thought Shouta had been careful not to think about since he had learned that a large amount of blue fire had been used in a spectacular fight against Midoriya. Largely enough to cremate a teenage boy.
“And worse,” the journalist continued. “A child who was going to have a brilliant future on the heroic path was taken as he was saving Bakugou Katsuki.”
Shouta knew exactly where this was going. Midoriya was the one who had defeated Stain and his reputation was impressive since the Sport Festival. Even if they had known he had broken Muscular’s spine, no one would bat an eye at him because he was currently the golden child of UA, something whose loss would be blamed on the shortcomings of the school.
But there was someone else to crucify.
“Despite an impressive record and winning the Sport Festival, Bakugou Katsuki showed a rather violent side of himself after his victory. An attitude that persisted through the award ceremony. We’ve already caught glimpse of his temper and of his mental stability. And since he was targeted by the League, they also noticed it. And yet, Midoriya Izuku didn’t hesitate to sacrifice himself for him. Do you think there is still a future for both those students?”
A kid. Just a kid who was hiding it but who had to be traumatized what what had happened. Someone who was already blaming himself for Midoriya being taken.
And those adults didn’t hesitate to throw him under a bus.
How dare they?
Shouta got to his feet.
Vlad freaked out.
The journalist smirked.
And Shouta bowed with deference.
“Any lapse in Bakugou’s behavior is my failing. He behaved that way at the Sport Festival because he has strong convictions and ideals. More than anyone, he pursues the title of top hero with everything he’s got. If the villains have mistaken that for a mistake, then their thought process is superficial."
The journalist was about to ask something else, but Shouta wasn’t done.
“As for Midoriya… At his core, he is someone who never gives up. I have faith that he is still alive and that he can’t be kept down for long.”
And as he said those words, Shouta realized that despite all the evidences to the contrary, he believed it. Midoriya was more than his quirk, for he was also pure determination. If someone could survive being kidnapped by a hostile League of Villains, it was him.
Afterwards, Nedzu started answering, letting Shouta the time to calm down. And to think.
How do they know?
Because yes, Muscular had been captured while screaming Midoriya's name as he was carried away, but for the rest... How could the journalists know Bakugou had been the one targeted, and that Midoriya had been taken trying to rescue him?
The answer was simple, of course : there was a traitor. Probably the same one who had informed the League of villains about the USJ.
And all that had happened to his student was on this traitor’s head.
All of them, disguised and determined, where looking at the screen while Shouto was looking at Bakugou’s face. He hadn’t reacted when the journalist had started to accuse him of being a bad seed and responsible for Midoriya’s disappearance. Maybe because he didn’t care, or maybe because he had the time to get used to it.
But when Aizawa had taken his side? Surprise and relief had passed on his face.
In any other circumstances, it would have made Shouto smile. But he was also paying attention to the people around them in Kamino, as they were openly blaming UA for what had happened.
The trust in the whole hero system was at stake.
Tomura rarely felt anything.
No, that wasn’t quite true. Mostly, he felt annoyance. Sometimes, hatred. There were things he liked to do, but it didn’t really register in him. But seeing that his plan had worked so well was dangerously close to put him in a good mood.
At least, until someone opened his mouth.
“Wasn't the plan to convince Bakugou or Tokoyami to join us?” Spinner asked even if no one had asked him anything.
Tomura pointedly didn’t turn to glare at him, and finished his drink. Soda, nothing more.
The rest of his League preferred Kurogiri’s cocktails, be they alcohol-free or not, and those were probably the reason why none of them wanted to leave the bar.
“It was,” Tomura admitted as he kept watching the screen and UA squirming around to justify how inept they were, “But our action served our purpose well enough. Look at them: they are just realizing how full of shit heroes are. They can't protect them. They can't even protect their own students. People are only realizing how fragile their precious peace is.”
“And how they need real heroes, not fakes,” Spinner nodded.
Most of the members of the League were Stain followers, which was just ironic at this point, but Tomura had learned to be philosophical about it. He didn’t tell them that their great martyr was nothing more than a serial killer, the same way he didn’t remind them that his noumu had done a lot more damage at Hosu that a villain who had been beaten half to death by three teenagers.
But of course, one of them had been…
No, don’t think about him.
But it was too late.
Toga, who was sitting on a stool bar, her legs dangling, turned towards Tomura. He knew what she was going to ask before she even opened her mouth.
“Where is Izuku-kun now?”
Tomura shrugged, not acknowledging that she had asked several times. The truth was that he didn’t want to tell her that the brat was either dead or wishing he was. Sensei didn’t care about his preys after their quirks were taken.
Toga sighed. “It’s just that I miss him.”
Dabi groaned in his drink, and a wave of agreements silently answered him as they all thought about this pain in their side.
''Toga-chan, he kicked our asses,'' Magne gently reminded her.
“So what? He is still cute.”
Magne didn’t quite agree with that.
“By cute, I hope you mean terrifying...”
“Or nightmare-inducing,” Twice proposed, fear in his voice until it changed for enthusiasm. “Seems like a nice enough guy!”
“A hero worthy of Stain,” Spinner added. “But a very scary hero worthy of Stain.”
Tomura didn’t join in because they didn’t need to know he agreed on how kids shouldn’t be so violent these days.
“I can't even blame Dabi for announcing our position because I also would have tried to throw as much fire at this monster, hoping that it works,” Mister Compres chuckled in his drink.
Dabi took a deep breath, like every time he was reminded of his brilliant idea to warn every hero of this country of his position by summoning a pillar of blue flames that had reached the sky. He opened his mouth to say something, closed it, and breathed again.
“Fuck all of you,” he finally articulated, his back to them.
Behind Father, Tomura frowned, but he was promptly distracted by Toga.
“Yes, I know, and despite that, Izuku-kun is still cute! Or maybe because of that…” she blushed.
“Don’t try to reason with crazy,” Tomura warned his League.
Before he could see if they understood his wisdom, someone knocked at the door.
Two knocks. At the door of their secret base. That no one was supposed to know about.
“Kamino Pizza!” a cheerful voiced announced.
Everyone looked at Twice.
''That's not me! At least, I thin...'' he started just as All Might hurled himself through the wall like a human wrecking ball.
Five kilometers away from the bar, Mount Lady grinned because it was not every day she had the permission to destroy a building, and wearing a truck as a shoe to do so was definitely a first time.
With a child-like glee, she stomped on the hangar.
From somewhere deep underground, Izuku’s head whipped as he sensed a massive use of a quirk all around him.
“Where is Young Midoriya?” the man Tomura hated the most asked as his comrades and himself were trapped.
“No one came to save you. That must have hurt, right, Shimura Tenko? Everyone just passed by, pretending not to see, thinking that some hero would save the day. Who decided to make the world this way?”
This man who represented everything Tomura hated in this fucked up society.
The one who had hurt Sensei.
“I HATE YOU!” he screamed with all his heart, wanting only one thing: to kill the Symbol of Peace.
And as if Sensei had managed to hear his plea, more noumu that Tomura had ever seen appeared around him.
Tiger had just retrieved Ragdoll, naked and catatonic, when a deep voice was heard from somewhere in the shadows.
“Sorry Tiger,” he greeted him like they knew each other, “But I had my eyes on her quirk for quite a while. It was just too good. I had to have it.”
Tiger stepped back, half turned to shield Ragdoll with his body. A pure reflex, devoid of any thoughts.
But Best Jeanist didn’t lose his calm and reacted immediately to neutralize the masked man in a suit who was tranquilly walking towards them.
It wasn’t enough to save them.
The attack flattened the whole area.
And unbeknownst to them, six teenagers hidden behind a wall were not spared despite one of them summoning a wall of ice and another hardening his skin, at the last second.