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Demons of the Past

Chapter Text

"Natsuo?" Enji knocked softly at his son's door. He waited anxiously, but there was no reaction from the other side. Enji knew Natsuo was in there though, he could hear him behind the door. Angry for being ignored, he moved to slide the door open, then he suddenly stopped, his hand against the wood. He was…afraid? Natsuo had shouted and raged against him earlier, now Enji desperately needed to talk to him. Make things right…somehow. But he couldn't just burst in.

He knocked again, more forcefully.

If Natsuo could just listen for a moment, let him explain, allow him to apologize. Enji silently begged the door to open. If his son denied him that chance…he'd go back to university tomorrow, back to his dorm, away from Enji, perhaps for good.

Still no answer. Should he just enter? It was his house, after all! Was it cowardice that stopped him? "I would like to speak to you, Natsuo." Nothing. And there were no sounds from the inside that would indicate that the boy was even contemplating opening the door.

Enji closed his eyes, leaned with his forehead against the door, waiting, then he sighed in what felt like defeat. "Come out, when you're willing to talk," suggested Enji. "I'll be here." He left the door and the young man behind it as it was.

Back in the dining room, he found Fuyumi cleaning the table. "Is Shoto already gone?" asked Enji as he took some of the bowls and followed her into the kitchen where he helped her put them away into the dishwasher. He was aware of her wondering glances at him, as he normally didn't do much work in the house. He had a tight schedule and earned enough to hire a maid for most things.

"He could only stay for dinner, really," she explained after a moment. Then she laughed lightly. "And he couldn't really let that teacher of his wait for too long."

That was true, Enji assumed, remembering the hero he had seen when he had arrived here. Still, he'd hoped to have more time.

When he finished putting the dishes away, he straightened and turned around only to see Fuyumi staring at him. "They'll come around," said the young woman suddenly as if to reassure him. "I can see you mean it and that means a lot to me. They'll see it too and …"

She didn't finish the sentence and after a moment of just looking at each other she shrugged helplessly. "Shoto will," she finally declared.

With Natsuo, he knew himself, that even should his middle child realize that his intentions were true, he might not be willing to look past Enji's prior transgressions. He'd have to live with that if that were the case.

"Tea?" asked Fuyumi after a moment of silence and ten minutes later they found themselves sitting in front of the TV with steaming cups of green tea in front of them.

They watched the first few minutes of the news, but when his battle with the Nomu came up and he watched himself battle with the dark beast for the first time on TV, he noticed Fuyumi looked a bit pale. He himself hadn't seen the TV -footage yet, and watching his own face getting ripped open like this made him physically uncomfortable. Still, he'd have to scrutinize that fight soon, to iron out some performance issues and mistakes that were made during the battle. Enji found himself watching intently, even if it wasn't a nice sight. The cameras were far enough away that he couldn't see too much detail, but it was enough to get an idea of how bad it had been.

"Can you …?" Fuyumi mumble next to him and as he glanced over at her, he realized she looked almost worse than he felt remembering those injuries. She was obviously uncomfortable.

He quickly changed the channel at random until he was sure they were at a channel without any coverage of his battle. It was a bad soap opera, but Fuyumi seemed to feel better immediately with the sappy romance and cheap humor, so he left it on.

When he felt her touch his arm after a moment, gripping his sleeve, he turned to her again, surprised at the sudden contact, but she was looking at the TV-screen. "I thought you would die," explained Fuyumi after another moment. "We all did, I think."

Enji didn't know what to say to that. There had been a point in the battle when he himself had thought he would die, but that was probably not what she wanted to hear now. He put his hand on hers still grasping onto his sleeve. "I'm fine."

She laughed hoarsely. "Yeah? You don't really look …" He knew she was speaking of his scar, and maybe it was a good thing she couldn't see the other scars most prominently on his left arm. The beast had pretty much flayed his skin there. "I … Natsuo and Shoto were worried, too," she said after hesitating for just a moment. "I know it. Natsuo got really angry, whe-…"

Suddenly, they got interrupted by loud steps hurrying across the corridor behind them.

"Natsuo?" Enji asked , turning around, but he hadn't even turned completely when he heard the front door open and forcefully shut again.

Enji wanted to stand up and follow him, but Fuyumi didn't let go of his sleeve. She didn't say anything, didn't explain whether she wanted him to leave Natsuo alone or just give him some time or whether she wanted her father to stay with her for a bit longer. He didn't ask her about it and just sat back down silently.

That evening he waited until late into the night, long after Fuyumi had already gone to bed, for Natsuo to come home. Sometime in the early morning he fell asleep for a few minutes and then decided to retreat to his bedroom. He still felt a bit sore from the fight and needed the rest.

"Did Natsuo come back again?" he asked Fuyumi when he met her for breakfast.

"No. He went back to his dorm, I think." She looked at her smartphone then back at him, but she didn't tell him what he had written exactly. "I think he just needs a bit alone time."

Enji nodded. They ate in quiet conversation. It was a bit awkward. He tried not to talk about his work, which didn't leave him with much to talk about, so he let her do the talking for the most part.

"And Ikkaku finally learn ed to control his quirk," she told him happily. "I've told you about him."

"The flower-kid," Enji remembered. She had told him the story about how a kid who had the ability to make flowers grow faster, had lost control over his ability in class leading to the lone indoor plant that had adorned Fuyumi's classroom to take over the entire window front.

"Don't call him that," reprimanded Fuyumi with a frown. "I told you he doesn't like it."

He raised a hand apologetically. "Alright. I'm sorry, I forgot. So, what did he do?"

Fuyumi explained to him how the boy had grown a few beautiful Forget-me-nots. Fuyumi even rushed into her room to show Enji the bundle of flowers and a piece of art a different kid had gifted her. Enji didn't really care that much for the quirks and hobbies of his daughter's students, but he had realized a long time ago that she liked talking about them a lot.

He had taken this day and the next one off after his battle to recuperate and rest. So they spent the day together for the most part, until Fuyumi had a call from one of the parents of her students leaving her occupied for a few hours.

It was an altogether uneventful but nice Saturday. In the evening he checked his phone, found no new message and called Natsuo for the third time that day. As always it went straight to voicemail. Natsuo apparently had his number blocked. He didn't even know why he kept calling, when it was obvious that this was to no avail.

He wanted to ask Fuyumi whether he could have her phone but let the idea slide after short contemplation. He called Shoto instead.

Shoto let it ring three times before he picked up. "Father?" he asked into the phone, then hesitating for a moment. "Dad, what's up?"

Enji didn't even know what to talk about. "Hey, yeah, it's me. Nothing, really." There was an awkward pause. "I just wanted to know how you're doing."

There was a short moment of silence. "Dad …" started Shoto in a tone as if to tell him off, that he had no time to talk if there was nothing important. But then he seemed to decide differently. There was an obvious shift in tone. "Yeah, I'm fine. How about you?"

Enji couldn't help but laugh at the awkwardness of the phone call. He sat down on the couch and stared blankly at the wall. "I'm pretty horrible at this, huh?" He paused shortly, but Shoto didn't say anything. "No, I'm fine too. How is school?"

"Nothing eventful happened." There was another longer pause, in which Shoto apparently waited for Enji to say something, but Enji remained silent. A sigh came through the line. "Aizawa-sensei had us run laps around the training field. And Sato helped me bake a cake for Eri-chan."

"Eri-chan?" he asked. He didn't really know Sato either, knew hardly any of Shoto's classmate s unless they'd stood out during the Sports Festival or made the news through some other event. But he should probably not ask about too many people in Shoto's life, to not make it obvious how little he actually knew.

"Oh … She's Aizawa-sensei's foster child … or something. He takes care of her. So, she's going to live with us. She had it really rough, I heard, but I don't ... I really only know what Midoriya told me."

That was probably that kid, Sir Nighteye, Eraserhead and the other heroes had saved a few weeks ago. He wasn't really privy to the details, but he knew that they had saved a girl that had remained in quarantine in the hospital for quite a while because of something to do with her quirk. He'd heard that Eraserhead had taken over guardianship.

Whatever had happened there, much of it was classified to such a degree that even he didn't have access to the full report of that mission, despite the League of Villains being involved. The League of Villains … "Be careful," he heard himself mutter. He didn't know. Maybe the League was interested in this Eri-chan and if that was so, it would draw another target on UA.

"Midoriya?" he repeated the name, because it was probably not legal or safe for them to talk about classified information on their private phones. Talking about it with Shoto – who still had no security clearance or connection to the case in the first place – wasn't allowed anyway, even with what little information Enji had. Talking about another of Shoto's classmates was a safe topic he guessed. He at least thought he remembered this Midoriya. "That's this All Might-Wannabe, right?" He remembered him from the tournament mostly.

"Father …" Shoto's voice was somewhere between exasperated, uneasy and defensive.

Enji suddenly realized it probably wasn't a wise choice mentioning All Might in front of his son just yet. Just hearing Enji talk about him probably gave Shoto flashbacks to his harsh training with his father.

"He's the one you fought against during the tournament," added Enji hurriedly to distract from his prior comment.

He heard Shoto breathe audibly. "Yeah," came the answer in a calm voice. "He is a lot like All Might, I guess. He admires him," relented Shoto after a moment.

"Shoto," started Enji a bit helplessly. "I know I'm … We don't have to talk about All Might."

"It's probably better," agreed Shoto.

"Yes." He waited for a moment. "Look, I know, I … I made a lot of mistakes. I'm sorry, you know?" There was an unintelligible answer from the other side of the line. "We don't have to talk about it now. Or ever, if you don't want to. I just want you to know."

"I know," said Shoto after a while.

"Good. I'm glad you like it at school." He looked at the clock. It was getting late. "You probably want to … Anyway, it was nice of you to visit yesterday."

"It was good," came a quiet response. Enji waited for more, but nothing else came. He was a bit disappointed at the lack of response.

"Have you heard from Natsuo?" He asked after a moment.

"He's back at his dorm. He sent a message … early today." Shoto didn't offer any new information. Again, there was an awkward pause.

Enji nodded stupidly – Shoto wouldn't be able to see it. "Alright. I guess I'll leave you be, then. Bet, you don't want to spend your entire evening … Well, nice talking to you."

"Likewise." There was another pause and Enji was about to end the call when he heard Shoto's voice again. "Dad? I … I mean it. I mean, I told you I couldn't forgive you so easily …" Enji nodded blankly at the wall, once more. "But I do appreciate…this."

Enji smiled wistfully. That was a first step, he assumed. "Take care," answered Enji. Then he hesitated again. "And Shoto? I hope you know you can call me, right? When you need… when you have a problem."

The silence was a bit longer than it probably should be. "Yeah," said Shoto, finally, but Enji didn't know if he really meant it.

Chapter Text

Natsuo didn’t pick up the entire Sunday either. Nor the next few days. Enji just let it be. He kept calling, but he stopped the call as soon as he got voicemail. He’d just have to give him time, like Fuyumi had said.

He also stopped asking Fuyumi and Shoto about Natsuo. He didn’t want to pressure them into a situation where they had to decide between answering his questions and betraying Natsuo’s trust. Even more so, since he had the distinct feeling that even with Fuyumi putting obviously a lot of effort into their growing relationship and Shoto seemingly warming up to him with time, they would probably still choose Natsuo over him. And then he’d lose what little progress he had made.

He just had to give him time. Only a few days had passed after all.

He went back to work on Monday, apprehended a few minor villains, but spent most of his time going over his fight with the Nomu to find the mistakes to prevent the next time and analyze the beast and his encounter with Dabi more thoroughly.

Thursday, he found himself thinking the Nomu attack over again. It didn’t leave him any peaceful moments anymore. There were so many open questions.

Why had the Nomu attacked? What had they wanted to achieve? Had Endeavor and Hawks been its target? It clearly hadn’t been interested in destroying the city, only in fighting somebody strong. Then, if so, the damage to the city might just have been collateral damage. If they had come specifically for Endeavor and Hawks, how had they’d known they’d be there. Even seeing the two heroes walking through the town, it was unlikely they had just spontaneously come up with their plan of attack from scratch. Surely the Nomu must have been prepared for an attack already and had been waiting in the area to be let loose.

It gave him a headache thinking about the possibilities. Had the League of Villains planned to attack the city long before Endeavor had arrived? Then Hawks alone might have been the target. Had they only planned the attack spontaneously when they found the top two heroes at one place? Then that would mean they could mount an attack of that magnitude seemingly out of nowhere at any given place and time. Had it all just been a coincidence? He refused to believe that. Or had the target actually been Endeavor, or both Endeavor and Hawks, the top two heroes? It might have been an attempt to bring down the top two heroes publicly thus weaken the people’s trust in heroes even further. But then that would mean that – assuming they couldn’t just mount an attack like that without careful preparation – they must have known about Endeavor and Hawks meeting.

A traitor maybe? Another traitor … He suspected there must be one in UA, already. But UA wasn’t informed about his trip, so he might be looking at a second leak. Somewhere in his or Hawks’ office or maybe they had been spied on during the Award Ceremony, where they had arranged their team-up.

He found himself pressing the button on his office phone, calling his secretary.

“Mr. Endeavor,” asked the man on the other end.

“Bring me the records of my current employees, please.”

There was a short pause of shocked silence. “All of them, Sir?”

“Yes, I need to check something.”

“I … Of course, Sir. Right away.”

The call ended with that.

Endeavor felt bad about suspecting his colleagues. Most of them were hand-picked, and he had worked with some of them for many years. He wasn’t exactly close to them, their relationship being purely professional, and Endeavor was never one to befriend fellow heroes and sidekicks on the job, but he trusted them. He never hired anybody he felt he couldn’t trust. Many of them had even saved his life on occasion.

Still, he couldn’t just ignore the possibility of a traitor and before he’d bring the issue to Hawks or the event-team from the Billboard Chart Ceremony – before he suspected others – he should probably clean up his own agency if necessary.

He didn’t really know what he’d be looking for in the records, if he were honest. But a first overview over potential suspects, maybe already excluding some, would probably be a good first step, he thought. He’d have to talk with Hawks, though. Sooner or later.

Whether the possible traitor came from his or from Hawks’ side Hawks had to know, regardless. He had brought the topic up with Hawks before, but the young man had suspected the villains had just seen them in the city and planned their attack from there. It seemed unlikely to Endeavor. But it was a possibility he couldn’t just disregard, either.

Weirdly enough, he trusted Hawks. He hardly knew the man and just a week ago he hadn’t particularly cared for him either. During the ceremony he had been sure the winged hero had an agenda of his own, whatever that may be. He still was certain of that, today. However, he was almost sure that their goals aligned. They stood on the same side, wanted the same thing. At least for now. Of that he was certain. The young man had also saved his life back during the fight. Without Hawks’ assistance Endeavor was fairly certain he wouldn’t have made it out alive. If the attack had been an attempt at his life, against Endeavor not Hawks, and if Hawks had been on the side of the villains, he could have just let him die. It wouldn’t even have raised suspicion, with the Nomu being so much stronger than both Endeavor and Hawks. Heroes died during villain attacks all the time.

He looked up as the door opened and he watched his secretary push a cart filled with different folders and files stacked on top of each other into his office. That was more paperwork than Endeavor had expected. Of course his office had also digitalized most information, but due to the danger through hacking, especially with some nasty villains out there that could just steal, obscure or delete digital information – there had been a few incidents – he had gone back to paper a few years back, having the more classified information only on paper and anything else both in paper and digitally to prevent it from getting lost.

“Can I ask what this is about?” asked the secretary carefully.

“Don’t worry, I don’t plan on firing people,” assured Endeavor. Not unless they turned out to be leaking information, that was. “I just have to check something.”

The cart stopped in the middle of the great office. His secretary looked up at him, after he secured the cart, so it wouldn’t roll away.

“I didn’t think you would be firing people, sir,” said the man. “Regarding our current caseload, that would be unwise and financially we don’t need to cut any losses either. That wasn’t my concern.”

Enji raised an eyebrow. Yeah, the man was smart. That was why he was working here, after all. He was of course right. If anything, they should probably be looking for another sidekick or intern and some more people for management.

“Does it have to do with the Nomu-incident?” The man finally brought up his suspicions.

“What do you mean, Inari-san?” asked Endeavor innocently, walking up to the massive stack of paperwork.

“I’ve worked here for eleven years now,” said Inari indignantly. “Five of these years as your personal secretary. You have never before asked for our complete records on all of our staff.”

Enji met his searching eyes, stubbornly refusing to offer any information and fearing that if he evaded that staring match he’d admit to his suspicions.

“Don’t you trust me anymore?”

“Of course, I trust you,” muttered Endeavor at once. He had worked closely with the man for years after all. They weren’t friends, but he did trust him professionally.

“You know what I suspect, sir?” Endeavor shook his head, but he feared the man had drawn the right conclusion. “This … Nomu-thing, it was after you, wasn’t it?”

Endeavor grunted in affirmation. “I think so.” It had talked about fighting the strongest.

“So, it must have known you were there.” Endeavor nodded again. “And despite your stroll through the city when you were probably seen, it seems unlikely that the attack was just a spontaneous decision by the League.” Again, Endeavor only nodded in agreement. “So, the League of Villains, who sent the monster, must have known you’d be there that day.”

Endeavor looked at the dark-haired man who stared back at him defiantly. “I’ve been keeping your schedule for the last five years now. So, it would be logical that I am your first suspect as to who might have leaked this information.”

Endeavor almost winced at being caught out. “Somebody probably did,” said Endeavor. “But I don’t suspect you.” There was a doubtful look from his secretary. “Or anybody specific at this point. I can’t just ignore it, though. So, at this point, you might as well all be suspects … I am sorry for that.”

The man nodded in understanding. “If there is a leak in this agency I am as eager to find it as you are.”

“Good,” said Endeavor not willing to completely disregard Inari as a suspect, yet.

Before they could talk any further though, the phone on his desk suddenly rang. He stared at it a bit surprised. Normally most of his calls came in at Inari’s desk and he would decide which ones to pass on to him. There were only a few people with his direct call-through. He motioned for Inari to wait for a moment, as he went over to his desk. The number on his display was Fuyumi’s mobile, he realized.

“Fuyumi?” he asked as he took the call. “I’m right in the middle of something. Can I call you back?”

“Eh … I … I think …” she seemed to agree rather reluctantly.

He sighed. He had decided to turn over a new leaf with his family. Part of that was that he tried to be there for them when they needed him. “Is something the matter?” he asked quietly, waving to Inari, that this might take a moment and he should sit down for now.

“I don’t … really know?” It was more of a question than a statement. “It’s about Natsuo.”

“What is it with Natsuo?” Had the boy decided he wanted to speak to him now of all times? He glanced at the clock on the desk. It was early evening, and in about two hours he had to go on patrol. He at least wanted to start going through these records before that.

“I don’t know.” This was weird. Did she not know why she had called him? “You see, I haven’t heard from him.”

“Haven’t heard from him?” he repeated sitting down on his office chair. “What do you mean?”

“It means, I haven’t heard from him since Saturday morning.” That was a bit worrying, Endeavor thought. However consistently Natsuo had always blocked his calls over the last year, he had held constant contact with both his siblings and mother.

“What about Shoto and your mother?” he asked after a moment.

“That’s just it. They don’t know either. Saturday … Saturday morning he wrote both of us, that he’d go back to his dorm, to think about some things. He told me he’d call me again later on. And back when we all were together, he had asked Shoto to visit him someday soon at UA. But he didn’t call back again after that.”

“You mean you didn’t have any contact at all for the last five days?” Now, he was worried.

“No. Not me, not Shoto. I thought that was weird. I called a few times, but I never got through. So, I naturally assumed he would just need more time alone to think things through. He had said he wanted some alone time.”

There was more to this, Endeavor knew. A reason why she was panicking the way she was all of a sudden. This morning when he had had breakfast with Fuyumi everything had seemed fine. “Why are you worried just now?”

“I … I visited Mum today, and she has been worried, because Natsuo hadn’t called her. He normally calls every Wednesday.”

Endeavor looked at the calendar on the wall, knowing already what day it was. Thursday. So Natsuo should have called yesterday. “Every week?” He asked to make sure. He felt oddly calm. There was a panic rising in his insides, slowly growing with every word Fuyumi spoke. But still, outwardly he felt calm. As if it was the hero speaking, not a worried father.

“Yes. Since he started university, he called every Wednesday. We … We thought you wouldn’t let us have contact with her while we lived under your roof, so back then the visits and calls were always irregular … when you weren’t there.” She seemed to only hesitate a little at admitting to these secrets behind his back. He wasn’t angry. He had never really demanded they didn’t visit or had contact with their mother, at least he didn’t think he had. It wasn’t like he had actually tried to keep her away from their children. It had just seemed the right decision to put her into the mental clinic. He hadn’t thought about how his actions might have been interpreted by his children, really. It was just one more failure, now, that he had to atone for. But the fact that Fuyumi now so liberally admitted to what she thought might have been a slight against his rules spoke volumes as to how worried she must be. “But after he moved out, he called regularly and visited as often as he could. Mother hasn’t heard from him since before your battle with the Nomu. And neither Shoto nor I have heard from him since Saturday.”

Endeavor let the information sink in for a moment. “I have to make some calls,” he said eventually. “I’ll be home as soon as possible.”

“O-Okay.” It seemed like now, that she had told him, her feelings of fear were finally taking the better of her.

“Did you call Shoto?”

“Not … Not, yet. I asked him if he knew anything, so he might be suspicious. But I didn’t tell …” He thought he heard her cry.

“That’s okay. I will call him.” He hesitated. “You should maybe rest until I’m there. Don’t worry. We’ll find out what’s going on. Maybe it’s nothing after all.” He didn’t really feel very confident in this statement.

As he put down the receiver, Inari looked at him with worry.

“Family troubles?”

“Apparently, … my son is missing.” He stared at the phone for a moment, then at Inari and the mountain of paperwork. He couldn’t do that now.

“Shoto?”

“Natsuo.” He didn’t even know if the man knew any of his other children. Shoto had had an internship here, and it wasn’t like the others ever visited. But Inari didn’t comment about it.

“I see.” They both looked at the mountain of files and folders.

“I can’t do this now,” declared Endeavor.

“Of course. Can I do something, sir?”

Endeavor looked at him. “Would you … sort through them. Throw out everybody who wouldn’t know where I was last week.” Not everybody in this agency knew everything, after all. “And scan the remaining for … anything suspicious. I don’t know.” He shrugged helplessly. “Contacts or a past with the League of Villains. Just … sort through them once.”

It was a lot to ask for, since this was surely not part of Inari’s job description and would take a lot of time. “Of course, sir. Anything else?”

He thought for a moment. “Tell Avalanche that he should take over my patrol today.” Avalanche was his most senior sidekick. A snow-quirk user. “And you might also just cancel all my dates tomorrow morning.” Just in case this couldn’t be resolved in a single evening.

“Of course.”

He walked to the door, not bothering to get out of his hero outfit. He wasn’t sure himself if he was searching for his son as a worried father now, or as the hero Endeavor taking on a new case. It didn’t really matter, he gathered. “And have somebody call my son’s university. The contacts should be in my files. Ask them whether they know anything about his course attendance this week.”

He hurried out of the room and along the corridor to the elevator before he even really heard the confirmative answer by his secretary. He’d already dialed Natsuo’s number in the elevator and as soon as he stepped outside, pressed the green button. As always it went straight to voicemail.

This time, he didn’t just end the call. “This is your father,” he started in a rushed voice. “Your sister just called me. Nobody has heard from you in a while. We’re worried. Call back, if you hear this. Or at least call your siblings.” He pushed the door of his agency’s skyscraper open with one shoulder hurrying outside. “Natsuo? I hope you’re fine. So just call somebody.”

He ended the call with that, rushing to the parking area where his car waited. He landed in the middle of evening rush hour, almost coming to a complete stop several times and cursing loudly, of half a mind to just ditch the car and run for his home. He still was in hero costume, so it wouldn’t even raise any suspicions if he used his quirk to move. Then again … he was the Number One hero and seeing him rushing through the city in a panicked frenzy in the middle of rush hour might just have the effect of throwing the entire city into a state of panic, searching for the unknown threat he was rushing towards.

Chapter Text

In the end, even with the traffic, it still just took him 75 minutes until he was home.

“There you are!” Fuyumi rushed towards him as if she had been lying in wait all this time. She probably had. His advice to rest apparently hadn’t helped. She halted shortly as she saw him in his hero-costume, then she just seemed to accept it. “Have you found anything out?”

“Not yet,” answered Endeavor. “I’ve called him but couldn’t reach him either. Have you already visited him at his dorm?”

“I did earlier today. He wasn’t there but it was probably in the midst of some of his lessons. So he might have just been there.”

Endeavor nodded. “Do you know any of his friends?”

Fuyumi furrowed her brow. “I think he has a girlfriend, but I don’t know her name.” More new information for Enji. “And … I really only know his old neighbor in the dorm.”

“Call him. Ask if he has seen Natsuo. And if he knows that girlfriend.”

Fuyumi nodded brusquely. He looked at the clock. “I’ll go to the dorm myself, as soon as rush hour is over. Don’t want to get stuck in traffic again. For now, …” He pulled out his work phone and dialed the number of his office. With him not in it, the call would either go directly to Inari or to whichever office worker would be free next.

“Endeavor Hero Agency, Taro speaking” he heard the voice of a young woman.

“It’s me, Endeavor,” he said, annoyed that the obviously new addition to his staff hadn’t realized the number calling was his own.

“Oh, boss! Eh, I mean, Endeavor-sama,” she scrambled nervously.

“Calm down,” he commanded. “Is Inari available?”

“I can put you through.”

“No,” he demanded at once. “Look on your computer to check if he’s at his desk.”

There was a short pause. “He is on the phone. Shall I put in a priority call, sir?”

“No, leave him. I need you to do some things for me, if he’s unavailable.” If Inari was on the phone it was probably to acquire information about Natsuo. “Track a mobile phone number for me.”

“I can’t …,” she started, but then she caught herself. “Right away, sir.” He heard the clicking of a keyboard. “The number?”

He read her his son’s number. There was a short pause in which he paced the room impatiently.

“The phone is turned off,” said the voice on the other end finally. “I can send you the last known location from … Saturday evening.”

It had been shut off since Saturday? Or was at least not sending any traceable signals since then … That sounded bad.

“Send it to my email address.” He hesitated. “And send Silent Tracker and her team to the location.” Silent Tracker was a sidekick he had in his employ for tracking, forensics and crime scene investigation. “Tell her there might have been a kidnapping or an assault at the address on Saturday evening. She’ll know what to do.”

“Of course. Right away.”

“No, before that. Call UA. Tell them …” he hesitated for a moment. “Tell them there is a family emergency for Shoto Todoroki. I’ll get him as soon as I can.”

“A family emergency?” the woman asked baffled. Then she drew her breath in sharply. “The number. It’s a member of your family!”

“Don’t tell anybody just yet.”

“Yes, sir.”

He ended the call there.

“His phone …,” he looked up at Fuyumi who was sitting fearfully on the couch. “His phone has been shut off since Saturday. We have a last location, but … something must have happened.” Fuyumi looked distraught.

“I’ll go to the dorms and … then I have to get Shoto.” He didn’t really know what to do first. He couldn’t do both, he realized. He couldn’t tell his youngest son, console him, console Fuyumi whom he could clearly not just leave alone, and deal with his own fears while simultaneously investigating this case. He … was out of his depth.

He looked helplessly at his phone as it suddenly rang.

“Yeah? Inari-san?”

“Yes, it’s me. Listen, I’ve called your son’s university. They don’t keep attendance. But I could get some of his professors on the phone, and two of them told me they’ve been missing Natsuo during lessons on Monday and Wednesday. Apparently, he is normally very reliable, so the fact that he wasn’t there seemed odd to them.”

“So, it is safe to assume he didn’t go to any lessons for the entire week,” Endeavor surmised.

“That’s not all,” said Inari. “I called both the management and the housekeeping of his dormitory and both haven’t seen him for the entire week. That’s not too uncommon though. They could give me the number of his next-door neighbor, however, a first year called Yahiko Souta, and he could tell me a little bit. Natsuo apparently came back to the dormitory late Friday evening. He was very angry and in a bad mood, loudly listening to music, so much so that his neighbor had to ask him to tone it down. By Saturday morning the situation had calmed down. They went to the park together to study, until Natsuo received a phone call. After that, his mood seemed to drop again, and after he got back home, he quickly packed to visit his girlfriend.”

His girlfriend? That was the second time he had heard of her now.

“Do you have a name or address for this girlfriend?”

“Not really. His next-door neighbor only ever met her once. Lithe, brown hair, light skin tone and a tattoo of an animal on her upper arm. He couldn’t specify which animal exactly though. A squirrel, maybe. First name, Haruka. She’s a student at the university but originates from Yokohama.”

Endeavor nodded in understanding to himself. “Send the information to my email. Have somebody try and find out more about Haruka and if you could get his phone records …?”

“Of course. And sir? I’ve been informed about your inquiry for this phone number. Should we inform the police?”

He hesitated. If Natsuo had visited this girlfriend in Yokohama, he would have to go to Tokyo Central Railway Station. The place his phone had last been located at was between his student dorms and the station. He might simply just be hiding out at his girlfriend’s house. Calling in the police might be premature. Considering his position as Number One Hero, a supposed crime against his family would warrant the complete attention of the police force and would no doubt make headlines as soon as the information got out. Which never took long. He wanted both to avoid sending the police on a wild goose chase if it was nothing, and also keep information from leaking too soon, therefore hindering his own investigation.

“Is Silent Tracker already on the way?”

“She just left the house.”

“Wait for her input. If he concludes we have a crime on our hands, inform the police.”

“Roger that.”

He ended that call. Fuyumi was in the kitchen calling this other friend she knew. For a minute or so, Enji just waited for her to come back with new information.

“Nothing,” she said as she came back. She seemed destroyed over that simple word. He felt similarly.

“What’s his name?”

“Yamato Yamashiro.”

“Did he say anything at all? Could he say something about this girlfriend?”

Fuyumi shook her head helplessly. “Yamato moved out of the student dorms three months ago. Since then, Natsuo and he met about once every other week to go bowling or play soccer. Apparently Natsuo called him Saturday and told him he couldn’t meet on Sunday, because he was visiting a friend.”

“A friend?” he repeated. “Not his girlfriend?”

Fuyumi started for a moment, then she shook his head. “He said ‘friend’. Maybe he misspoke? I don’t know.” Her eyes flipped to her phone as if contemplating trying to call the boy again, to ask if she had misheard anything or if there had been a mistake. This wouldn’t do. She needed to pull herself together. He knew it was difficult, but necessary, if they wanted to find Natsuo.

“It’s okay,” reassured Enji, resting a hand on her shoulder. “A friend. This could be important. Did he say which friend?”

“No, just that it would be a friend.”

“What then?”

“Nothing,” she shrugged helplessly. “There was nothing … no-nothing else.” She was crying he realized, so he suddenly found himself extinguishing the flames on his costume and hugging her tightly to his chest.

“Shh…” hushed Endeavor. “It’ll be okay. We’ll find out what happened. We already know a lot more. Shh…” He wiped away some of her tears spilling over. He had to leave and get to the dorm, to talk to the people there himself. Or he had to get Shoto. But he couldn’t … couldn’t leave like this.

She hiccupped. “Some-something must have happened.”

“We’ll find out.” He held her a bit tighter. “Shh…”

When her tears finally seemed to recede a bit, he let her go. “Okay … You’re okay, now.”

“I’m not okay!” She hissed at him, suddenly angry. “This all wouldn’t have happened, if- …” She cut herself short, snapping her jaw shut and looking suddenly guilty.

“You think this is because of me,” realized Endeavor. Maybe she was right. Maybe it was because of him. Whatever had happened had happened only a day after he and Natsuo had finally talked – even if that talk only consisted of Natsuo screaming at him. Could this really be a coincidence? Maybe his anger or confusion had put him into a position where he was vulnerable to an attack. Or maybe this was a calculated attack by villains to get at him? It was possible, maybe even likely. It was too much of a coincidence to have nothing to do with him.

“No …” mumbled Fuyumi quietly but not really convincingly. “This for once is not your fault.”

Endeavor nodded, neither agreeing nor disagreeing, but thankful for the sentiment nonetheless. “Did this Yamato say anything about the girlfriend?” He brought he conversation back to the topic at hand.

“He never met her,” explained Fuyumi. “But Natsuo talked about her, sometimes. Apparently, this relationship only started about a month ago and they weren’t certain if it was something serious for the longest time, so they didn’t make it public. They met at university, but their first dates were far and few in between. He was head over heels for her, though. Her name is Haruka, she’s from Yokohama and she still lives there with her parents during vacations.”

He suddenly started. “During vacation?” he repeated.

“Yes, she’s a student here, remember?” Fuyumi affirmed with furrowed eyebrows.

How stupid was he? He had assumed what that next-door neighbor had said had been true and he had visited his girlfriend. He had packed – so he had planned to be gone for several days. So of course, Endeavor had assumed he’d visit his girlfriend in Yokohama, where she came from. But she had lessons just as he did, so that made no sense. She wouldn’t be at Yokohama now. There wouldn’t be any reason for Natsuo to miss his lessons while visiting his girlfriend, because outside of holidays she was in Tokyo to study just like he was. So, had Natsuo not gone to his girlfriend after all, but maybe this other friend, the one he had mentioned to Yamato?

This all didn’t add up.

“I have to …” he was interrupted by his phone, yet again.

“Todoroki.” He took the call with a bit of an aggressive tone, before he could catch himself. His bad mood wasn’t the fault of whoever was calling.

“This is Shouta Aizawa,” came a lazy voice from the other side. “I was informed there was a family emergency for Shoto?”

“Yes, can I come and get him?”

“I don’t know, what is going on?”

“I would like to explain that to him myself.”

“Of course, of course. I’m asking for his sake. Shoto is panicking a bit. I normally don’t see him like that, but well … normally we don’t get calls from the Endeavor Hero Agency saying that there is a family emergency.”

Enji started, then he understood. “He thinks I was injured in battle?”

“More like he thinks you were assassinated in your office. There was no battle broadcasted today that involved you.”

Enji gritted his teeth. Of course, that conclusion made sense. Especially since it had been his agency that had called, not he himself or Fuyumi or any actual family member. “No, it’s not me … I’m fine.” It should have rather been him, he thought quietly. If anything had happened to Natsuo... he couldn’t bear to lose another son.

“I hear that. Todoroki, you know we’re on your side.” He didn’t really know Aizawa, so no, he didn’t know that. But he assumed that heroes all stood on the same side, one way or the other. “On Shoto’s side at least, you have to believe that much,” relented Eraserhead. “If you don’t want to tell, it’s fine. But if there’s something we-…”

There seemed to be a commotion on the other side of the line, then suddenly he heard a different voice. “Todoroki?”

He grunted in recognition, as he heard scrawny All Might’s voice.

“Thank god, you’re okay. What is going on?” God, that man had the tendency to get himself involved in pretty much everything, huh? And it was hard to deny him any information. Even more so … Enji was thoroughly out of his depth, he knew that. He couldn’t be both investigating and be there for his children. He – as much as he hated to admit it – needed help. And if UA was willing to help, they certainly brought a few skills to the table, skills he could definitely use. Eraserhead was one of the heroes most well-versed with the workings of underground criminal organizations. And All Might certainly had contacts enough to be helpful.

“I’d rather not talk over the phone. Can you …?” He hesitated.

“What is it?” asked All Might encouragingly, as if he knew Endeavor had trouble asking for help.

“Could you bring Shoto home? I don’t … I can’t leave now, and I’d rather talk in private.”

“Of course, Todoroki.”

He ended the call then.

“All Might is going to bring Shoto,” he informed Fuyumi.

“What then?” she asked, and he didn’t know what to say. “What are we going to do then?” She asked again, when she didn’t receive an answer.

“Wait,” he said quietly, utterly disappointed with that course of action as well. But he couldn’t really leave now that Shoto was being brought back home. He couldn’t just leave Fuyumi either. He couldn’t just go off and investigate. He realized he was a distressed family member here, just like any distressed family member he ever had to deal with during one of his cases. He couldn’t … lead this investigation. All he could do was be there for his other two children. And wait for Silent Tracker to give him new information, then inform the police …

They waited, and because Fuyumi was pale and out of it, he went into the kitchen to make something to eat for the both of them.

They were quietly slurping noodles when the door slid open and Shoto came storming in with All Might following at a slower pace behind him.

“What is going on?” Shoto asked as he burst through the door into the sitting room. His eyes roamed over Enji and Fuyumi, then around the room. “Where’s Natsuo?” he immediately asked. He knew this was a family matter. Fuyumi and Enji were both here, and Rei was secure in her hospital ward. That only left Natsuo. Enji almost winced at the question.

He put a hand on Fuyumi’s thigh as she made to answer. This was his story to tell, he knew. He should tell Shoto.

“We don’t know,” said Enji quietly, standing up from his sitting position and walking over to his son. “We can’t find him. He hasn’t contacted any of us for a week and while we originally thought he just needed his time, he didn’t even make his weekly call to his mother yesterday. He hasn’t been to his lessons and all of the friends we asked said they saw him last on Saturday evening. That is also the time we have for the last traceable signal from his smartphone.” He spoke calmly, rationally, saying everything they knew at once.

Shoto stared at him. Then, after what seemed like a small eternity: “Natsuo is missing?” His voice was small and confused. “He’s been missing since Saturday, and none of us noticed?” He sounded both angry and defeated.

Endeavor rested a comforting hand on Shoto’s shoulder, careful not to go too far, to assume too much of a personal relationship, but Shoto didn’t shy away from the touch, so he gripped his shoulder a bit harder.

“We’ll find him,” he promised. “We …” but he knew not to make these sorts of promises, and he still made them anyway. “Everything will be fine.” And it would be! He was the top hero … shouldn’t he be powerful enough to keep his own son safe? Why else did he have that power?

“We’ll help you, wherever we can,” he heard All Might say from the door, but he only threw the man a quick glance, focusing entirely on his distraught son.

Chapter Text

Three hours later it was dark outside and they had a bit more information. Silent Tracker had called. She had thoroughly searched the last known location of Natsuo’s phone and had come up with precious little. There hadn’t been a violent assault recently, of that she had been sure. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Camera footage from different shops close by showed Natsuo with a rucksack strolling through the street texting on his phone. He was alone and nothing unusual had happened on any of the tapes. They had even found more footage from the time after his phone had been shut off, showing him going further along his path, hands in his pockets all the way to the station, wherein his trail was lost.

Natsuo was clearly going to the station of his own free will, and he might have just turned off the phone himself or run out of battery.

That was everything Silent Tracker could tell them. At the station, Natsuo’s further steps were lost in the massive crowd of people traveling to and from Tokyo on a late Saturday evening. At least now he knew Natsuo hadn’t been taken. Why hadn’t he turned on his phone again, though?

Why had he turned it off in the first place?

From this information, though, they didn’t know if it was opportune to inform the police just yet.

He didn’t go to the dormitory himself in the end. One of his colleagues went there instead in civil clothes to prevent the undue attention that would inevitably come with heroes marching into a student dormitory. But that particular trail didn’t offer much new information. Nobody knew more than they already did and even searching his room only yielded the information that he must have packed for about two days leave.

“So he probably planned to leave for the weekend, but expected to be back on Monday,” concluded Silent Tracker from the information. They all sat in the Todoroki’s living area around a table now littered with paper with pieces and scraps of information written on them.

“And we don’t know why he didn’t come back then. But we know he left of his own free will.” That was All Might, looking at the pictures from the camera footage of the street where his phone had last been located.

Endeavor grunted in affirmation. “Something must have happened on Sunday or Monday morning.” He glanced over the arrival and departure schedule from the station. “If we assume he went to Yokohama, which is still our best guess, he probably took the train at 21:43 or at 21:59. He would have arrived somewhere between 22:10 and 22:37.”

His phone rang again. “Anything new, Inari?”

“Not for now. We requested the phone records, but we won’t have them before tomorrow. The same is probably true for the information on this Haruka-girl.”

“Is the university squeamish about handing out information?” He knew that might be an obstacle. Without the police, they couldn’t demand information be given to them. Most institutions were still very forthcoming, but apparently this university was not one to hand out information on their students without a warrant.

“I fear so. Office hours are over by now. We’ll have to wait for tomorrow one way or the other. That aside, we were able to find a few more people who know Natsuo and get a better description on this Haruka-girl. Twenty to twenty-two years old, a bio-major. She doesn’t live on campus.”

“Where does she live?”

“We don’t know yet, but in so far everybody seems to agree on one thing; apparently, she is not very dedicated to her studies. We spoke to another bio-major who was surprised when he found out they had essentially the same schedule, because he claims he never saw her in his lessons.”

“So …” He didn’t know what to make of this information, yet. “Thanks. Call, if you dig up something else.”

“There’s also the other matter … you had me look into.”

Endeavor hesitated. “Not now. I can’t deal with that now. Can you compile a list for me with everything you found?”

“Of course, … but, you should probably give it a quick glance.”

Enji looked at the people around him looking at him expectantly. “I … will look over it as soon as I can.”

He relayed the new information on Natsuo to the people around him but left out anything on the other matter.

“That … doesn’t fit to him, at all,” commented Fuyumi. “He has always been dedicated to his studies. Most of his friends are from his classes or the dormitory. How would he even meet that girl, if she doesn’t live on campus, doesn’t have his same subjects and doesn’t even attend her own classes?”

Shoto nodded and Enji had to agree, even if he didn’t know the boy quite as well as the other two. “They don’t seem to have anything in common, none of his friends know any details and he hasn’t even given you any information about her,” summarized Endeavor. “We need to find out who she is. But for now …” He glanced at the clock, it was already past midnight. “We should probably call it a day.”

“What?” gaped Shoto. “You can’t mean it! We still don’t know anything! We can’t just stop looking.”

“You need to rest,” said Endeavor calmly.

“If you want to rest, go ahead. I won’t just leave it at that!” Shoto balled his fists in helpless anger. “How can you just …”

“Shoto!” Endeavor cut him off. “We all need to sleep. We won’t be able to find out anything new for now.” He gritted his teeth in anger at the suggestion that he wasn’t doing everything he possibly could. “Tomorrow morning, we’ll have more information and we need to have our wits together then.”

“But …!”

“Your father is right, young Todoroki,” said All Might reassuringly. “We’ll meet back here tomorrow.”

However much he needed his rest, sleep proved elusive, and he assumed he wasn’t the only one in the family who couldn’t relax. Tomorrow started early, and he made his way to the kitchen to already find his children at the breakfast table eating quietly.

“Anything new?” asked Shoto instead of greeting.

“Not, yet.”

Shoto looked at him utterly lost. “What if …?”

“Everything will be fine,” interrupted Enji.

“You can’t know that!” hissed Shoto angrily.

“No,” relented Enji. “But …” He would make sure. Whatever was happening here, he would solve this. He would find Natsuo and bring him back, no matter what!

They didn’t talk much after that, until the bell rang and All Might came in. He had Tsukauchi with him, which irritated Endeavor.

“I brought my friend Tsukauchi,” declared All Might, “He’s a detective at the--”

“We’ve met,” interrupted Enji, shaking hands with the man. “We worked together in Kamino, did you forget?”

“Oh, of course.” All Might rubbed his head, a bit embarrassed. “Right. I thought I should bring him along, to look over what we know so far.”

Enji thought about throwing both of them out again. He hadn’t wanted the police involved quite yet. Maybe it was because he didn’t want them to take over the reins of this investigation, pushing him into the position of ‘worried family member’. As soon as the police took over the case, he felt like he had to step out of the way and let them take over. Professionally, he knew he probably should do that anyway … but he couldn’t just sit around, to wait and trust other people with finding his son.

“Come in,” he uttered angrily, holding the door for the two men.

“Toshinori already informed me of the rough details,” said Tsukauchi as they moved towards the living area where the evidence so far was assembled. “I would like to take the case,” admitted the detective. “I know we have no evidence of a crime yet, but with your position, I think we should take this seriously.”

Enji gritted his teeth. “Of course,” muttered he. “I’m aware of the implications.”

“If this is an attack against you rather than your son or just a misunderstanding, then this might be an attack against your position rather than your person.” All Might explained what Endeavor had already understood.

“Or against both you personally and the position. I’m certain you probably have a few enemies?”

“Some,” he confirmed. Countless really. He was not a man easily loved. Even his own family at some point might have counted as an enemy.

“But before that … Is there a reason why Natsuo would leave on his own accord?”

They sat down on the couch. Fuyumi brought tea, and Shoto and Enji sat opposite the newcomers. Enji looked a bit unhappy with the question. When he didn’t answer immediately, Shoto did instead.

“Don’t tell me you want to keep it secret, even now, Dad? I had thought …” he seemed somewhere between disappointed and angry.

“Yes,” Enji admitted. “He certainly had reasons. Our family … has had a few issues in the past years.” He looked at Shoto shortly, who glowered at him, but didn’t offer more information for the newcomers. “We didn’t have a good relationship for years. Recently, I tried reconnecting with Natsuo, but he said he needed some time alone. It was the reason we didn’t suspect anything when we didn’t hear from him for a few days.” He frowned. “But he lives alone. So there would be no reason for him to run away like this. Shut down his phone, maybe, but not to leave the dormitory and ditch his studies.” Shoto too nodded at that.

“He wouldn’t do that,” confirmed Fuyumi as she came back with the tea, sitting down with them.

“And you only realized something was off when he didn’t call his mother?” asked Tsukauchi. “Could I talk to your wife?”

“Rei is …” he hesitated. “In the hospital. I would rather not worry her.”

“Father,” said Fuyumi disapprovingly.

“You want to tell her that her son is missing?” asked Enji honestly. Because he himself didn’t know what the best decision was here. He hadn’t seen her in forever, but the doctors kept him updated on her mental state. According to her healers, her mental state had vastly improved, but was still fragile. They feared even seeing him could set her off on a downward spiral again. Finding out her son was missing, especially when she couldn’t offer any information and they couldn’t give her any assurances as to his safety, would surely affect her. “Maybe Fuyumi can talk to her again. But I’d rather not have her talk to the police like this. I can’t imagine she would take it well.”

Fuyumi seemed to concede to that.

“Okay,” nodded Tsukauchi. Before he could ask anything else, Enji’s phone pinged. He had an email.

“Wait a minute,” he asked, opening the attached file. It contained his son’s phone records. “We have …” He sent the file to his printer. “We have his phone records.”

Shoto immediately dashed for the printer, coming back with a stack of papers and laying them out on the table.

Chapter Text

The phone records gave Enji and the others a detailed picture of what Natsuo had been doing Friday and Saturday.

On Friday afternoon he had called a number none of them knew when he’d still been in the Todoroki household. He’d left the house an hour later to go back home to his dormitory, where he angrily listened to music until his neighbor asked him to tone it down, exchanging several text messages with that same number during that time.

Saturday, he had seemingly calmed down, messaged his siblings and visited the park with that same neighbor and two other friends. At around 2 pm he received a phone call from Enji and let it go straight to voicemail. He deleted that message without listening to it and called the same number he had been texting with before.

After that call, he left his friends to pack his things for a ‘weekend at a friend’s or his girlfriend’s house’. He called a different number then, Yamato, to tell him he couldn’t meet him on Sunday. At around eight in the evening he left his dorm, walking to the station, texting two different people while on the way, before being called by the second number.

Shortly before arriving at the station, Enji called again. Apparently, it was then that Natsuo decided to turn his phone off. A few minutes later, he arrived at the station and disappeared without a trace. On Monday he didn’t come back for his lessons.

Enji stared at his own number in the phone records. His son had turned his phone off because of his call. Had he not called … maybe he would have left the phone on and at least Fuyumi and Shoto might know where he was.

There were two numbers on these records they couldn’t identify. Whoever these people were, Endeavor gathered, they would know where his son was.

Endeavor’s work phone rang again while they were still putting together the events.

“Yes?”

“This is Tora, from …”

“Yes,” he interrupted quickly. He remembered his young employee that had been so nervous yesterday. “What is it?”

“We … Inari had me check the two unknown numbers on your son’s phone records, sir.”

“And?” He asked a bit impatiently.

“The second number is a prepaid phone. We can’t say anything about it. But the first …”

“What is it?”

“There is no official registration under a name with the provider, but we found out … the number is registered at two different places.” She hesitated, and he was about to ask, when she answered. “First the number is documented as the contact number of the student Haruka Michiro with the administration office of the Tokyo University.” Haruka Michiro … The girlfriend. But there was apparently more.

“What else is there?”

“The number was also used as a contact number with our agency.”

He started, confused. “The agency?” he repeated. “Who registered the number?”

“The number was noted down in the application forms for an internship. The applicant was a Shiketsu second year. Camie Utsushimi.” The name rang a bell with him, but he couldn’t place it.

“She was rejected?”

“After the recent incidents at UA both schools decided to only allow internships with agencies closely connected to the schools. As you may remember, it was a difficult time for our agency after All Might’s retirement. We didn’t have the time for a new intern and the teaching body of Shiketsu decided that our agency was too far away from the school to begin with. Camie retracted her application a short time later.”

“Thanks for the information.”

“There’s something else. When I mentioned this to Inari, he told me to tell you to … read an email he sent you? Something like that, sir.”

Endeavor stared at the phone for a moment, then he nodded to himself. “Thank you. Call if there’s something new.” He ended the call.

“What is it?” asked Shoto as Endeavor only stared at the people present in the room.

“We couldn’t find a name for the second number, but this number …” He pointed to the number Natsuo had the most contact with, “it’s registered with the Tokyo University for the student Haruka Michiro.”

“Haruka?” asked Fuyumi smiling. “Then that must be Natsuo’s girlfriend? That’s a good thing, right?”

Endeavor nodded to the first question but shook his head to the second. “I don’t know for sure. The same number was also used for an intern application at my agency a few months back. While talking he scrolled through his emails until he found the one from Inari. “A Shiketsu …

It was just a short text, with a rather big file attached. His voice trailed off as he read the text Inari had written.

“Attached are all potentially relevant information about our current staff. Before you dive into the document, there is one specific thing you should read first. There has been an intern application by one Camie Utsushimi from Shiketsu. She retracted her application only a few days later, so she landed with all the other rejects, without her application even making it to the first stage of admission. She had a provisional license from the recent exam, but that hero ID is invalid now.”

Endeavor stopped reading at this point. Camie Utsushimi … of course. She was the girl whose identity had been taken over by the League of Villains’ Himiko Toga.

“Camie Utsushimi,” Enji said after a moment, staring at All Might.

The former Number One just blinked back at him.

“What’s with her?” asked Shoto.

“You know her?”

“Of course, you met her, too. At the training for the provisional license? She’s the girl from Shiketsu with this weird manner of speech. What’s with her?”

“So, it was her?” he asked All Might to make sure. “The girl who had been used to--”

“Oh, yes!” All Might interrupted him with a panicked glance at Shoto and Fuyumi. The information was kept secret from those two, he remembered.

“Right,” Endeavor said. “This number. It belongs to Haruka, Natsuo’s girlfriend, but the number was also used by this Camie-girl to apply at my agency.”

While Fuyumi didn’t seem to understand what was going on – after all she didn’t know Camie at all – and while Shoto looked utterly confused – “What do you mean? What does this have to do with anything?” – All Might suddenly blanched.

“So, the League of Villains is involved?” he hissed.

“What!?” Shoto growled. “Camie is with the League? She … she can’t be!”

“No, Shoto,” answered Enji, not caring for the warning glares both Tsukauchi and All Might gave him. “What? My son is in the hands of the League of Villains and you don’t want me to tell them?” Enji hissed at the two, but they only looked away guiltily. “Then you tell him, All Might!”

“Young Camie is not part of the League, of course,” said All Might to Shoto, exchanging a glance with Tsukauchi.

“There are … implications, though we can’t be certain, that Himiko Toga from the League invaded the license exam posing as Utsushimi-san.”

“You mean …” Shoto’s voice seemed to die out. Fuyumi laid an arm around his shoulders almost on instinct.

“Toga’s quirk allows her to take on the appearance of other people,” explained Enji.

“And … that number, Natsuo’s girlfriend … She’s … It’s Toga?!”

Enji shrugged helplessly.

“Dad?” But Enji didn’t want to say it. “SAY IT, DAD! The League of Villains took Natsu and you’re just sitting here!”

“Shoto!” hissed Fuyumi.

“NO! I mean, we all are thinking it, right!? It’s because of him! Because he’s number one, that’s why they are targeting him. Nastu is just their tool to get to him!” He had angry and helpless tears in his eyes. “They wanted to infiltrate the agency first, and then they tried to kill him, so that pretty much proves it. It’s all because of-!”

“SHOTO!” Fuyumi bellowed. “Stop it!”

“But …” Shoto looked at her helplessly.

“We know,” mumbled Fuyumi. “We all know.”

Endeavor looked down at the ground for a few seconds. Oh, he knew. Had feared it for a while now. They had gone after his son after they had failed to get at him directly. He balled his fists and turned back to the information on the table, reading it all over again, as if he had missed something.

“But this time, it’s not his fault,” whispered Fuyumi at Shoto. “You know it’s not.” Shoto didn’t answer, but he didn’t seem to agree entirely. Instead, he just shrugged once more, sadly.

“If the League is involved, we can finally treat this as a crime,” informed Tsukauchi. “On top of that, since the attack is against Endeavor, not the boy specifically, we can almost be sure that they will show themselves sooner or later.”

He was right, Enji knew. He only feared the information the League would give him then. Would they try and play with him, demand a ransom or just kill the boy? “We can’t just wait until they show themselves,” hissed Enji. “As far as we know they’ve had him since Saturday. Almost an entire week. As far as we know, they could have al--“

“STOP!” screamed Fuyumi. “Don’t say it. You were the one who promised us everything would be alright, weren’t you?” Enji looked at her a bit surprised. Right … he had promised. Maybe he shouldn’t have. But he had meant it. Still did … “Then don’t take it back now!”

He stared at his two children standing arm in arm. “Right …,” muttered Endeavor. “Why haven’t they made contact yet?” He wondered out loud.

“Maybe they are waiting for us to make the first move?” All Might suggested.

“Which move, though?” asked Endeavor.

There was a small pause while the former and current number one, as well as Tsukauchi, Shoto and Fuyumi thought over everything they knew.

“We … We don’t know where they are hiding, right?” asked Shoto. Tsukauchi shook his head.

“We could go to Yokohama, try finding Haruka’s address there,” suggested Endeavor. “The chance that they are there or that the address is even real in the first place is unlikely, but … It’s as good a place as any to start.”

“We will definitely investigate the girl, whatever we know. But if it is Himiko Toga, it seems likely all we will find in Yokohama is the real Haruka Michiro.”

All Might nodded, then he suggested something else. “We could make the search public.”

“Public?” asked Endeavor. He furrowed his brow. “Wouldn’t that … What would the people think, if they knew I couldn’t even protect my own son?”

“Is that really what you are worrying about now?” asked Fuyumi in shock.

“It’s not what you think,” defended Enji. “If it were just me, I would …”

“Would what? He’s your son! Don’t tell me your number one title is more important!” exclaimed Shoto.

“Young Todoroki,” All Might spoke up. “Your father is right. He is not just a number one hero, after his battle with the Nomu, he is THE Number One Hero. The new Number One.” Shoto and Fuyumi both looked at him questioningly. “The People have finally started trusting him.” All Might raised a hand to stop them from interrupting as they were clearly about to do. “Trust me, when I tell you, being the Number One is more than just a title. Endeavor, reinforcing the trust in himself as the top hero also reinforced the trust in hero society as a whole. His son’s kidnapping making the news would discredit not just your father, but the entire hero society, and strengthen every villain out there.”

Shoto didn’t talk back anymore, but Fuyumi seemed about to, before Tsukauchi spoke up again.

“It’s probably exactly what they are after. Should they topple you, I don’t know how the Japanese hero society would ever get over a second heavy loss in such a short time. The country is still reeling from All Might’s retirement.”

“I refuse to do what they want,” hissed Endeavor. “They can’t play me like that!” The very idea made him angry. It wasn’t just that he didn’t want to--he simply couldn’t. The top hero following the whims and wishes of villains? That would bring the hero society to its knees.

“Then what?” asked Fuyumi quietly.

“We go to Yokohama,” declared Endeavor, then he looked down at the phone records. “In the meantime, we should try and get a location on these numbers.”

Chapter Text

Tsukauchi had left, taking the phone records with him to do some more investigating and to open an official case file with the name ‘Natsuo Todoroki’. All Might left shortly after for UA to inform his colleagues of the new revelations and get a bit more input. That only left the Todoroki family alone with their fears.

Endeavor busied himself with preparing for a trip to Yokohama. He made some more phone calls with Inari, informing him that he would likely take the whole next week off, rearranging his sidekicks’ work schedules. There was a moment when Shoto ran past his home office glaring at him disapprovingly, no doubt incensed that he could still waste time with his mundane everyday hero work, but Enji didn’t care for once. Even such mundane schedule work was better than doing nothing, and no matter what Shoto or Enji both thought was more important, he was still the number one hero and he couldn’t just take off work for several days without prior preparation, or else his area and – if the information got out – the whole of japan would drown in a new surge of villain activity the way it had right after All Might’s retirement. Whatever personal matters Endeavor had to deal with, he also had his responsibilities to the rest of Japan.

It was only an hour after All Might had left that Todoroki realized it had gotten awfully quiet in the house. Until now, Fuyumi and Shoto had paced or argued or discussed the case and hadn’t been able to calm down, remain still or even rest. Now he looked up from his papers, his phone on speakers as he went through his sidekicks’ schedules for the week with Inari to hear … nothing. It had gotten really quiet all of a sudden.

“Wait a second,” he cut Inari off. His secretary quieted at once. Enji tried to listen to his surroundings, but he struggled to hear anything. “Can I call you back?” He had a bad feeling. Like his instincts screaming at him that something wasn’t right, that his children were doing something and likely doing something stupid.

He went to Shoto’s room first and found it empty. Then he heard whispered voices from the living room.

“It’s a bad idea, Shoto. We should wait for the police to …”

“To what, Fuyumi? I can’t just sit and … shh!”

There was a silent pause while Enji hurried to the living room. Then suddenly Shoto spoke again.

“This is Shoto Todoroki. Is this Haruka? Or Himiko Toga, whoever you are?” He sounded passively aggressive but oddly subdued. “Yes. Where is …?”

He had called the number, Endeavor realized suddenly. Of course he had. Endeavor should have realized he’d do that. He had been about to act himself and just call the number from the phone records. But what would he achieve with that? Let the League know they were on their tails? No, calling was premature, since they still didn’t know anything. He had known that. It was too early to contact the villains, especially since from what they knew of the League they would probably not shy away from hurting Natsuo or even killing him. But of course, Shoto didn’t know that. His kids were intelligent, but inexperienced. They had probably just glanced at the phone number and immediately committed it to memory.

“What are you doing?” he hissed angrily as he came into the room. What were they thinking? He wasn’t really angry, but … this could go so wrong. He didn’t want his children to call the League of Villains.

The two stared at him in shock, then Shoto got distracted by something said on the other end of the line. He glanced at his father listening intently. “Yes, he is here.” He listened again. “Why?” Shoto seemed irritated, ignoring both Fuyumi’s and Enji’s questioning glances. “No, I want to speak to Natsuo! Let me talk to …” He was apparently cut off. “Fine. But if you’ve hurt him … If you’ve hurt my brother, I’ll hunt you down myself!” Shoto was obviously angry as he jerked the phone away from his ear, stood up and shoved it against Enji’s chest. “They want to talk to you.”

Of course, they did … Enji wasn’t surprised by that information. He nodded and took the phone. “Yes?” He didn’t even try to sound civil with his son’s kidnappers.

“’ello, ‘ello,” it wasn’t a woman’s voice on the other end. He threw Shoto a confused glance. By Shoto’s earlier question if he were talking to Haruka or Himiko, Enji was sure he had at least talked to a woman. This was clearly a male though.

“Who are you?” Enji asked immediately.

“Oh, take a guess, Enji Todoroki.”

He knew that voice, he suddenly realized. “Dabi,” he said, not a question but a statement.

“Bingo,” there was a sound as if the other man was clapping his hands on his end. “Now, your children have taken it upon themselves to call us. I bet because you couldn’t be bothered, could you?”

“What are you talking about?” Enji asked frowning. What a weird thing to ask him. What did this Dabi-character think he knew?

“Ah, come now. We both know you don’t exactly have much love for your children now, do you?” Enji stared angrily ahead. If Dabi had been in front of him, he’d burned those words right out of him. How dare he?

“How dare you!” He hissed furiously.

“What? How dare me?” There was cackling from the other end that didn’t belong to Dabi. Enji must be on speakers he realized. The entire League was listening in. “Don’t think I don’t know who you truly are, Enji Todoroki.” There was a chill down Enji’s spine. What did Dabi know and how? “The world might finally see you as the greatest hero you always wanted to be, but I know what you truly are, Todoroki. A vile villainous and cruel creature. Whatever the world might see you as, I know better.” There was that cackling again. A woman’s voice. Himiko Toga maybe. “Your son knows too.”

“What have you done to him?” Enji asked angrily now that the other man had finally mentioned his son.

“Done to him? Oh, nothing. He came of his own free will. What did you think? That we needed to force him to join us?”

To say those words didn’t hit him where it hurt would be a lie. But he tried to focus on the positive. “So, my son is fine?” he asked intently. “You haven’t hurt him?”

“No, there was no need to. Your son is healthy and dare I say happy?”

Enji looked relieved and when Fuyumi and Shoto saw his relaxed mimicry they threw each other relieved glances.

“What is it?” mouthed Fuyumi. “Is he unhurt? He’s fine, right?”

Enji nodded quietly.

“Can you put on speakers?”

Enji did as asked and put the phone down on the table. “Can you let me talk to him?” Enji asked.

“He doesn’t want to talk to you, of all people,” Dabi answered with a bit of glee in his voice.

Shoto frowned. “Can I talk to him?” He asked loud enough for Dabi to hear. “This is Shoto, again.”

“Oh, you put me on speakers,” Dabi realized. “I fear I can’t let you talk to him, either. Where would be the fun in that?” Shoto looked angry.

“What do you mean? What ‘fun’?” asked Fuyumi furiously. “Give us back our brother.”

“Fuyumi? Is that you?” Enji and Fuyumi exchanged confused glances. The league had clearly done its research on the Todoroki family. “I’m sorry if our actions worried you. But rest assured, your brother is fine and unhurt. And if your father does as we demand, he will stay so.”

Oh, so now they came to the crux of the story. After all, as much as Dabi wanted to emphasize that Natsuo had apparently come of his own free will, he was still very much a hostage. And they had demands for Enji specifically.

“What do you want me to do?” asked Enji at once while his two children only frowned.

“Ah, have a bit of patience, number one hero. I’m talking to your daughter. Fuyumi?” Dabi paused for Fuyumi to answer.

“Yes? I’m still here.”

“Rest assured, I don’t want to hurt your brother, if I don’t have to. It will all depend on the greatest hero, now. But if everything works as planned, I’ll free you of your suffering and worry by tomorrow.”

“My suffering?” Fuyumi squeaked in surprise. Shoto and Enji also looked confused. “What do you mean? You’ll let Natsuo go?”

“I will.” For a moment it sounded as if there was something else he wanted to say. But then he only sighed. “Now, I need you and Shoto to stay in the house for the rest of the day. Enji Todoroki, take the phone and put it on silent again.”

Enji hesitated. Shoto shook his head. He obviously wanted to hear what was going on. So instead of putting the phone on silent, Enji just took the phone and held it to his mouth.

“What now?”

“Ah ah ah,” sang Dabi, annoyed.“Are you already ignoring my commands. Is the life of your son worth so little?” Enji glanced around in alarm. “Put me on silent.”

Enji didn’t hesitate again. “I thought you didn’t want to hurt Natsuo. But it doesn’t take you much to threaten his life.” He breathed in to calm his anger. “The phone is on silent now.”

“Yes, I see,” so they had eyes or ears on them. Maybe somebody watching them. Or even a bug in the house. If Natsuo had changed sides he might even have put it there himself. They could have a quirk suited for spying, though. Whatever it was, it was apparent he was being watched. “Well, you’ll agree we’ll have to put some pressure on you. We are the League of Villains, after all. While I personally would not enjoy hurting your son, I have colleagues who would, don’t doubt it.”

Enji didn’t doubt it. He didn’t even know why Dabi himself would want to spare Natsuo if given the choice.

“Now, make sure your children know not to leave the room or call any backup for the rest of the day.” Enji relayed the message. Shoto looked simultaneously furious and afraid, Fuyumi seemed mostly subdued.

“Well done.” Enji scowled at the unnecessary praise. “Now, step out of the room.” He did as was demanded. As angry as he was, there wasn’t much of a choice if they threatened his son. “Go to your son’s room. Natsuo’s room.” Enji did. “You’ll find his diary on the upper shelf of his wardrobe.” He found it, exactly were Dabi said it would be. “Now take it with you, when you leave the house. I want you to take public transport to Tatooin Station and make sure you aren’t recognized. Oh … and feel free to read what your son wrote in his diary. But leave your son’s phone on. Your own phones you can leave at home. I don’t want you to be traced through them.”

Enji picked a long coat and a scarf to hide half his face on the bus before he left the house. He left his business and private phone in his office. Of course, as a hero he had high-tech tracking devices in them, just in case. But did Dabi really think he hadn’t also equipped his children’s phones with state-of-the-art tracking devices? Especially if they were keeping this call going, he’d be easily traced. He wouldn’t be that naïve, right?

On the bus, Enji only opened the diary once to realize it was not a current diary, but one Natsuo must have written as a child. The dates on the first pages put it only shortly after his eldest son’s suicide. Enji remembered that a psychologist had asked Natsuo to start writing in a diary to deal with the traumatic event. Back then Enji hadn’t really cared for his son’s suffering or his other children’s issues. He had put all his time and energy into work and training Shoto. In hindsight, it was probably one of the worst times for him to behave as he did towards his children, what with Rei already in hospital and unable to protect them from him. Enji didn’t even need to read a single word to know not only how Natsuo would have dealt with the untimely death of his brother, but also his abusive and negligent father. Why he was made to carry the book with him, he could only guess. But it didn’t bode well. In any case, he didn’t even think about actually reading it. It was his son’s private diary; he didn’t want to invade in this sphere. Also, if he were honest, he didn’t really want to read it anyway.

He stepped out of the bus fifteen minutes later to take the metro. When he stepped out of the train onto the Tatooin metro station, Dabi finally spoke again. “Before you leave the station, I want you to buy a new phone and a new prepaid SIM card.”

He did as he was asked. Then he was given a new number to call that he recognized as the other unknown number in Natsuo’s phone records. Only then was he allowed to end the old call and throw Shoto’s phone into the garbage. He gritted his teeth angrily while doing so. Shoto’s phone had been traceable … This one … Well, should the investigators find out what phone he had bought, or what SIM card, then maybe. But it would probably take a while. They had everything ready to now force him to do whatever they pleased, threatening him with his son’s well-being. There was little he could do other than follow and hope somebody would find a way to save Enji himself, and probably Natsuo too, if all this didn’t lead to Natsuo’s freedom.

At Tatooin Station he moved in a way that would hopefully be picked up by the security cameras. He was told to buy a ticket to Yokohama, which he did. Then as soon as he was in the train, he was told to take the next stop and buy another ticket. Again, he moved so that security cameras could pick him up, but he felt less and less hope that he could be tracked in time to prevent whatever the League had planned for him. They sent him on a wild goose chase. Only when he told Dabi that he was out of cash did they finally give him the final station, which was in a Musutafu suburb with high crime density but also a somewhat well-off business district. It was far enough away from his hero agency and home that it would take him two hours to get there on foot without cash. It was already the middle of the night when he arrived there.

Dabi navigated him around the district to a rundown flat. Before Enji entered though, he stopped suddenly.

“If you want me to enter, I need a guarantee that my son is fine, first.” They had rejected any prior attempt to talk to his son. But now, he wouldn’t sacrifice his freedom if he didn’t know Natsuo was at least still alive.

“Of course,” Dabi said nonchalantly. There was a short pause, then:

“Hallo?” Natsuo’s voice. Enji breathed.

“Are you fine, Natsuo? Are you hurt?”

“What?” He seemed a bit confused. “Oh … eh, no. I’m fine. Just do as they say.”

He sounded weird. As if he was truly in on this whole thing, but also as if this wasn’t serious at all. Enji shook the feeling off. He had known Natsuo had likely not been an innocent victim in this whole situation.

“Alright. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine,” he said, but then Dabi answered with his silent laughter and Enji wasn’t sure if Natsuo had even heard the last part.

“How do I know you’ll actually let Natsuo go, if I go inside?”

“You won’t,” Dabi chuckled. “What, do you think we’re suicidal? The moment we let him go, even if you’re already inside, you’re just going to kill us all. I don’t fancy fighting the strongest hero now.”

“You coward.”

“Ah ah ah. Now, you don’t want to anger me.”

Enji gritted his teeth.

“Now come inside.”

He hesitated only for another few seconds before he tested the door. It was open. He stepped inside and found nobody there. It was a corridor, leading to a staircase. “The basement,” commanded Dabi and Enji descended the stairs. He felt oddly calm.

At the end of the stairs there was another wooden door. An apartment in the basement, instead of dark cellars. He didn’t even ask for instructions as he entered. Inside there was still nobody. But there was a table with a set of cuffs. He scowled. “You want me to cuff myself?” he asked angrily.

“You see, we discussed it and decided that none of us wanted to burn ourselves.” Enji frowned, growing angrier as he picked up the cuffs to inspect them. They were steel and obviously made to suppress quirks. He didn’t really fancy putting them on. As soon as he did, he’d be completely helpless.

“I won’t do it, unless I know Natsuo will be safe,” he grunted into the phone.

There was a longer pause. As if Dabi was genuinely surprised by the demand. “You want to …? Well fine. We’ll bring him up to the other side of the house. Should you leave this room or move an inch, we’ll kill him. Do you see the TV? Turn it on.”

They must have been prepared for this demand, he realized as he put on the TV and saw a live feed of the street outside. It was dark but illuminated by street lights. A bus was just passing by. “We also have a live-feed of your room here with us. So, we’ll know exactly what you do.” Enji nodded in understanding. “The moment you see Natsuo on the street, I want you to put on one handcuff. We’ll let him go, as soon as you do. Then you’ll put on the other handcuff. If you don’t, we’ll catch him again and hurt him. As soon as he’s far enough away to be out of the camera view, you will push the key through the crack of the door.”

“What would prevent you from hunting after him as soon as I did so?” asked Enji gruffly.

“In five minutes, a bus will stop five hundred meters away from the house. If we were to catch him again, there would be many witnesses.” Enji nodded in agreement. That seemed fair. At least they wouldn’t be able to hold both he and Natsuo prisoner for long after that. Long enough to kill them … but maybe they really only were after Enji. He had to take that gamble, he assumed. There wasn’t much else he could do. He didn’t doubt the League when they threatened Natsuo. He’d spent enough time working against them to know they wouldn’t shy away from such drastic means.

“Agreed,” muttered Enji. Then he waited. Indeed, after a minute or two Natsuo’s white hair appeared in the door. Next to him was a blond man that Endeavor recognized as Twice, out of his villain costume. They both looked up to the camera. Natsuo looked fine. He didn’t even look afraid. Enji nodded, jaw clenched tight and put the first cuff on his left wrist.

There was a moment when nothing happened, then he saw a bus pass by, Twice nodded once and let Natsuo go. Enji watched as Natsuo hurried a few steps down the streets. Then he nodded again before Dabi on the phone could get impatient. He put the second cuff on. Automatically he could feel his strength get zapped from him. He was still physically strong but being without his flames left him feeling weak and helpless. Still he didn’t turn away from the screen, as Natsuo hurriedly made his way across the street until he vanished outside the camera radius.

Enji Todoroki breathed in relief, as he took the key to his cuffs and pushed it through the crack under the door. Not the door he’d come through, but one leading deeper into the apartment.

“Nicely done,” Dabi commented and ended the call. He heard somebody moving behind the door, apparently picking up the key, then he heard the lock of the door click. He didn’t really care for it. They could do with him as they pleased. Maybe Natsuo would bring help, and he’d even actually survive this experience. But still, it was better this way. Natsuo was safe. He had done one thing right by him. He turned one last time to the TV, then he froze in sudden panic. Natsuo … What was he doing back on the feed?

As the door burst open and two members of the league wrestled him to the ground, he didn’t even look at them as his eyes were glued onto the screen where Natsuo came back to the house of his own free will, talked to Twice as if they were old friends and then entered the house again.

They hadn’t lied, Enji knew at once. Dabi had told the truth. Natsuo had not only come of his own free will-- he’d been in on this from the start. Enji had thought Natsuo might have come by himself, thinking maybe he was only visiting his girlfriend, but then they had forced him to stay there so he couldn’t leave. But no … He had come of his own free will, and he had still been there of his own free will. Maybe he was just naïve, not knowing what he was doing, not believing he was actually in danger, that these people were the League of Villains, not a bunch of university friends. Or maybe he’d been in on it from the start and had never been in danger, and Enji had fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

Whatever it was, it didn’t help him as the villains wrestled him down, forcing more shackles and chains on him in order to restrict his movements. They then dragged him out of the room and deeper into the apartment, pushing him into a room that now was clearly a cellar, a dungeon even, not a rundown sous-terrain apartment.

They closed the iron door, leaving him alone and tightly chained in a dingy stone cell with little light. Only then did he realize that he had left both the phone and Natsuo’s diary with them. And Natsuo, of course, he was still with them, too.

Chapter Text

He had been an idiot. He should have listened to his instincts when they had warned him that Natsuo had sounded weird for a guy in apparent mortal danger. Instead he had ignored the feeling. He could blame it on his overall helplessness, the feeling of being overwhelmed in the situation, of course. His son had run away and gotten kidnapped by the League of Villains, and they had threatened him with his son’s life. And all of that when he had only last week started to try and reconcile with his children. He’d been thoroughly out of his depth, and more importantly, he hardly even knew Natsuo anymore. How could he have expected anything like that when even Shoto and Fuyumi hadn’t?

There were noises outside, coming shortly after they’d closed the door. Surely they were celebrating their victory. Capturing the number one hero without any losses on their side. Not a bad feat. And he had fallen for it like a naïve idiot.

When the door opened, Enji tried to at least straighten up somewhat to retain his dignity and not lay sprawled over the floor, which was difficult with the way they had him shackled hand and foot.

The first who come in was Himiko Toga chuckling madly, then after her trailed Dabi with a broad grin on his scarred features.

“We finally have you,” sang Himiko as she danced toward him and then around the hero. It made his skin crawl having her so close. “Now, what do we do with you, Endeavor?”

Enji didn’t answer, but he leaned slightly away from her prying fingers, touching the side of his face. He wished he had his flames now. He could burn her fingertips easily and … with his flames he would easily deal with them both. Dabi might be a bit troublesome, since he had a fire quirk himself. But still, Enji was confident in his fighting skills. However chained as he was, he could only squirm away from her.

“Yeah, what are we going to do with you, Todoroki?” asked Dabi repeating the question mockingly.

Enji scowled at him. “As if you don’t have a plan. Do what you want, villain.”

Himiko hit him at that, as if she took offense to the word ‘Villain’. It was just her flat palm against his face, but her fingernails traced red lines over his unscarred cheek. Then she grabbed him at the neck, trying to choke him, but with too little strength in her lithe fingers. Enji just glared at her defiantly, breathing a bit louder than necessary. His defiance made her angry and suddenly she produced a knife in her hand and stabbed him in the shoulder. He grunted, the shock of the sudden attack overpowering the pain for a moment. Then when she slid the knife down his chest to give him a shallow bloody cut, he hissed in pain.

“Actually,” she smiled at him. “We didn’t really think you’d be stupid enough to just fall for this. It was such”, she struck him again with the knife, and he barely managed to catch the attack with his shackled hand, so she cut deep into his palm, “An. Easy. Trap.” With every word she lashed out again, until Dabi caught her hand with the last attack. She seemed disappointed but simultaneously excited. “We didn’t really think you’d fall for it. You must really love him.” Dabi’s face twisted angrily with her words. What was it to him?

“Let me go,” Himiko asked Dabi with that childish smile of hers. “I just want to have a bit of fun with him. It’s not like he’s going to die anytime soon. You’ll have him later.”

Dabi seemed about to disagree, when they heard voices outside. “Don’t kill him quite yet,” warned Dabi, “I’ll have to talk to Natsuo.”

His son’s name made Enji look up and ignore Toga for a moment, even though she had her arm raised again for the next attack. Dabi didn’t say what he and Natsuo had to talk about though. He just left and Enji found himself alone with the crazy girl. He barely even moved when her blade sliced across his back. Then he tried to fend off her next attack, so she cut into his arm again instead of his upper body.

It hurt, but all the wounds were shallow. They bled and that apparently made her blush with twisted excitement. They also burned, but they weren’t crippling. Maybe she thought he was already weakened, as she came a bit too close to him, her stance too relaxed. He lashed out at once, grabbing her ankle and throwing her off balance. She smacked her back on the ground, screaming in surprise, and Endeavor scrambled after the knife she’d let go of. He barely touched it when he felt another sharp pain in his calf, where she had sunk a second knife in all the way to the hilt. Then the door burst open and his right hand that was holding the knife was engulfed in blue flames that burned his skin. He screamed in furious pain as he suddenly found himself surrounded by Dabi, Himiko and Twice – still out of his villain costume.

He had to let go of the knife as the flames got too hot. Then he was kicked in the face by Twice and knocked off balance.

There was more movement in the room as somebody else came in. Out of the corner of his eye, he recognized the white hair. Natsuo.

“What …,” he heard his son ask. “What’s the meaning of this, Haruka? What did you do?” He pushed past Dabi and Twice to stare at the bleeding and hurt hero. He seemed absolutely baffled and shocked, Enji realized. And why did he still call her Haruka? “This wasn’t what we planned,” he screamed angrily at Himiko. Then he knelt beside Enji to stop the bleeding at his shoulder.

Himiko Toga laughed silently, which only seemed to make Natsuo angry. “We didn’t … What did you think!?” He seemed genuinely angry as he looked at his father’s other injuries. His concern baffled Enji. Had he not known? What did Natsuo think this was about?

“Get back, Natsu. Let us deal with him.” That was Dabi talking.

“What do you mean, deal with him?” The boy turned around in confused anger. “Did you know about this? This wasn’t what we agreed on!”

“What we agreed on?” repeated Dabi. “I’m just trying to help you, Natsu!”

“What?” Natsuo shook his head in confusion. “What do you mean? We achieved what we wanted, right? It’s over.”

“Don’t be naïve, Natsu!” Dabi’s voice rose in volume. He spoke to Natsuo as if they were close, Enji realized as he slowly made his way back to an upright sitting position, despite his son clearly wanting him to stay lying down.

“Naïve?” Natsuo didn’t sound quite that confused anymore. Instead he watched Dabi and the other two warily.

“He’s still alive, Natsu!” Dabi screamed angrily. “Don’t you see it? If we let him go now, he’s just going to go back to how everything was before. He’s going to hurt you and the others again!” Enji now stared at him with that same bafflement Natsuo had had on his face earlier, but for a completely different reason. Why did Dabi care about any of this? It sounded as if he genuinely cared, as if he was genuinely angry for what Enji had done to his family. Why would he care? How would he even know? Had Natsuo told him that much or …

“That was your plan? To kill him? We just wanted to test him. See if he cared. And he came!” Natsuo explained desperately. “It’s over. Just let us go home.”

“No,” Dabi answered, suddenly calmer. “You can go, Natsu. We never forced you to stay. But he’ll remain here. I’ll take care of him. I promise, everything will be fine.”

“What do you mean, everything will be fine? You can’t hurt him! Stop it!” Natsuo sounded more desperate by the second.

“Leave, Natsu. I knew from the start that you’d be too naïve for this. Too good. But I’m not. I know what I have to do, the only way to stop him for good.”

“But he changed!” Natsuo tried to argue. “That’s what this was all about. To see if he’d change. And he came!”

“It’s not enough!” Dabi screamed back. “It’s never enough! He’ll never really change, believe me!” There was a crazed look on his face that only twisted more and more with every word he spoke. “Go, Natsu. I’ll deal with this. Don’t worry.”

“You can’t do this,” Natsuo seemed unable to understand that Dabi truly could do it. That Enji was subdued, unable to protect himself. “You can’t kill him. You can’t kill somebody!”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Dabi exploded. “I can … I have killed. All in preparation for this.”

Natsuo stared, gobsmacked. Enji was stunned into silence for a moment. What did this Dabi-guy have to do with him? But he caught on faster than Natsuo. “They are the League of Villains,” Enji said quietly to Natsuo. The boy didn’t seem to understand at first, and suddenly … everything shifted into place, and Enji understood. “You didn’t know …” He whispered it like a sudden realization. That was why Natsuo still referred to Himiko Toga as his girlfriend Haruka.

He had indeed been a part of this whole kidnapping from the very start. He must have asked his ‘girlfriend and her friends’ to help him test his father’s new-found love for his children. Come up with a fake kidnapping to see if Enji really cared. Only that, and while it was just that for Natsuo – a test – it was more for the league. Of course, …they finally had Endeavor in their grasp, the man they had failed to kill with their Nomu-attack not even two weeks ago.

“You’re …,” suddenly Natsuo sounded as if he were close to tears. “You’re the League of Villains? You can’t be. Tou …”

Dabi shook his head. “I’m sorry you had to find out like this. But it’s better this way. I’ll deal with father, and you … you can go home and live in peace, finally.” The wording caught Enji’s attention. What had he said? Father? “Twice, get him out of here.”

“You can’t …” Natsuo shook his head. Then he suddenly turned to Enji and there were truly desperate tears in his eyes. “I didn’t know!” he blurted, “I didn’t know. I swear.”

“I know,” Enji said, but he was staring at Dabi trying to understand his last words.

“You sure we shouldn’t just kill him?” grunted Twice. “He’s going to tell the police. Blow this whole thing.” Then his voice shifted. “But Natsu’s a friend. He won’t betray us, would he?”

Dabi suddenly turned on Twice angrily. “Hurt him, and I will kill you, Twice! He won’t betray us. I know … He knows … this is the best alternative, and he knows! Natsu would never betray me!” The certainty in his voice was baffling. “Go. And don’t harm a single hair on his head!”

Twice put his hands in the air defensively, then he turned and grabbed Natsuo around his arm. “Let me go!” Natsuo screamed and fought. “Let me go. You can’t do this!” He fought all the way to the door.

“NATSUO!” Enji roared suddenly. Everyone stared at him. “Go with him!” At least that way, his kid would be safe. He’d have achieved what he came here to achieve, after all. In a way, it felt like a burden was lifted off his chest when Twice dragged a more compliant Natsuo out of the room and towards the outside world, even if Enji was truly alone with the enemy now. An enemy that hated him, an enemy that …

“Don’t do this! Don’t, TOUYA!” was the last thing, Enji heard.

Chapter Text

His eyes widened minutely. Of course, Dabi had called him father, and he should have understood then. He should have recognized him, Enji thought angrily. Back during the first time he saw Dabi he should have recognized his own flesh and blood, even if he’d been close to passing out. That … maybe that could be excused. But even today, when he had heard his voice through the phone for hours and had been face to face with him for the second time now … Why hadn’t he realized?

Of course, as far as Enji had known, Touya had died six years ago. Enji still remembered the day; he’d never forget it. The moment when he had come home from work to a confused Shoto, a crying Fuyumi and an almost apathetic Natsuo. Even the nanny he had hired to take care of his kids after he had put Rei in the clinic seemed distraught. He remembered the police in front of his entryway and the ambulance. He remembered silent whispering until they saw him, and a detective coming to him, with a somber face and the message that his son had burned himself alive down at the river just after school. There had been witnesses to the inferno and no body left to bury. He remembered the questions and he remembered going to the hospital to tell his wife. He remembered her crying, her cursing and blaming him and himself agreeing with her. He remembered how he had drunken himself into a blind stupor until he was drunk enough that he didn’t feel the guilt anymore. And as he sobered up again, he started telling himself it had been Touya’s own decision. The boy had been seventeen, old enough to deal with his problems. And so he had put the blame on his son, to shift it off himself. It had been the only way he could move forward. But he knew just because he didn’t blame himself anymore, that didn’t mean that Natsuo or the others didn’t blame him.

And now … here he stood. Now that he knew, he wondered how he hadn’t seen it earlier. Sure, Touya had those scars, those horrible scars that were too geometrical to not be self-inflicted. Staples in his face and on his arms around the scar-tissue. He had also dyed his hair to dark brown and he had of course aged six years, was in his mid-twenties, rather than his late teens. But he was still skinny the way he always had been, that physical build that he had inherited from his mother’s family and exactly what Enji had always meant when he talked about his ‘weak condition’. His eyes were the same as Enji’s. His stature aside, Touya had always looked the most like Enji. Even more so than Shoto’s right side. He still had his mother’s build, Enji realized, but most of what looked so much like Enji had been burned off. It was the same for Shoto, he realized. The resemblance to Enji had been burned off him as well. At least until Enji too got his very own facial scar.

“Touya …,” he heard himself mumbling after what felt like an eternity. His son sneered down at him. “How are you alive? This is …,” but he didn’t know how to end that sentence: Impossible, horrible, the greatest thing? His son was alive, apparently; he had never killed himself, but he had been so horribly burned, and he was a villain and trying to murder Endeavor – and not for the first time.

“Don’t use that name!” Touya demanded angrily.

“What? But you’re him, you’re Touya,” For a moment he was confused. Was it all a cruel joke after all? “You’re my son!”

“I’m not your son. Not since you abandoned me. All of us. Not since you took my mother from me!”

Enji stared at him. Oh, right? “I don’t understand,” he said anyway, because there were other matters more pressing to him. “How are you alive? They told me you had killed yourself! There were witnesses.”

“They saw a boy go up in flames. It’s not like they actually dared to get close enough,” Touya explained with a wave of his hand as if this was all unimportant.

“What? Was this what you wanted, then? To fake your own death?” he got inexplicably angry then. Had Touya just gone and faked his death and left them all to mourn him? It seemed so unlike the boy he thought he knew.

“I didn’t fake my death,” Touya roared back at him even angrier than Enji was. “I was angry and confused and …” He cut himself off, crossing his arms. “I don’t need to tell you,” he decided angrily.

“Don’t tell me, then,” Enji bellowed back. He felt relieved that his son was still alive, even though he wasn’t quite unhurt, but still, in good enough health. But he was so confused. “Then if you didn’t want to fake your death, why didn’t you come back!?”

“As if you would have wanted me back. Don’t tell me you weren’t glad you had one mouth less to feed. You only ever had eyes for little Shoto! Don’t try telling me you even cared for the rest of us!” Touya screamed, his decision to not tell Enji anything instantly forgotten.

It felt like a hit in the face, because although he knew he had been a horrible father, it always hurt to get it thrown in his face. But he was over that initial hurt faster than expected. “Not for me, then,” he relented, “but what about your siblings! Your mother! Do you have any idea, how it was, breaking the news to her that her eldest child had killed himself. Or where they all in on it, too?” He suddenly had to wonder. Natsuo knew … who said Enji wasn’t the only idiot actually mourning his son? But no, he remembered how they had been back then. Even Natsuo--that couldn’t have been faked. And his wife, Rei, had completely collapsed. If she’d been in a horrible state before, then surely the news of her eldest son’s death had been the thing directly responsible for taking away what little sanity she had left..

“You don’t know anything!” Touya screamed. “Of course, they didn’t know! Nobody knew! I didn’t plan to fake my death! Natsuo only found out because he recognized me, when we met two years ago!”

“Then why didn’t you come back?” Enji asked again, calmer now, because he still couldn’t understand that, but his initial anger was gone. If it wasn’t planned and Touya obviously hadn’t wanted the rest of his family – Enji aside – to mourn or suffer because of him, then why hadn’t he come back? It seemed so impossible to understand.

“I couldn’t!” Touya screamed at him. “It’s all your fault!” He stomped two steps toward Enji until he stood right in front of him, seething in anger. Enji didn’t evade backwards but he did feel a bit threatened as he saw angry blue flames licking along Touya’s arms. “If it hadn’t been for you …! I wished you were dead! I was hurt, alright? I had lost control, and I burned myself. Some homeless guy pulled me out of the river, and It took days until I healed. But when I was ready to come back you had already told everybody and their mother that I was dead. There wasn’t even a body, but you couldn’t wait to tell everybody the happy news that your no-good loser of a son was gone!” He was crying in anger Enji realized, stunned by his son’s words. “You think I wanted to be dead? You think I wanted to be away from my siblings and mother? But it wasn’t that bad, really! You’d taken my mother, anyway, and my youngest brother, too. Once I realized that, it wasn’t that bad.” He breathed heavily. “And I realized I could finally do what I should have done all along. Free myself of you!”

“Touya …,” he heard himself say, but he didn’t even know what to say to that. It didn’t matter anyway because he wouldn’t have been able to say it.

“DON’T CALL ME THAT!” screamed the boy as he hit Enji with a flaming fist in the face. He hit him twice, but the contact wasn’t long enough that Enji’s clothes or hair caught fire. He was stunned from the sudden attack, though; he had burned a bit of his skin along his jawline and bitten his tongue in the attack. “Don’t you ever use my name again!”

“Dabi, then …,” Enji muttered, not willing to fight with his son over that point, but still not really knowing what he had wanted to say. “Listen, I’m sorry, I …”

“Keep your empty apologies. I’m not Fuyumi. I’ve not been waiting for this impossible moment when you would finally change. I know you better than that.” Touya seemed oddly calm now, as if hitting Enji had alleviated some of his stress. “You might even mean it now, but first chance, it will all be the same again. No, I’ve freed myself of you. And now, I’ll free my siblings of you too, for good, this time.”

Enji stared at him. “You really want to kill me?” It seemed ridiculous, but there was a serenity in Touya’s eyes that made Enji believe every word.

However, before Touya could say anything else, suddenly the door burst open. “We have him!” It was Shigaraki Tomura. “I can’t believe it. We actually have the number one hero.” He came sauntering in, walking up to where Enji knelt in the center of the room right in front of Touya. There was an impossibly wide smile on dry lips, visible because he didn’t wear that ridiculous hand over his face. “Ah, isn’t that great! I wish we’d also gotten All Might this way.” He moved his hands towards Endeavor. “Tell me, do you have a good idea, how to get to All Might?” he asked as his hands made contact with Enji’s shoulders and chest. Enji didn’t flinch away although everything in him wanted to evade contact at any cost. It wouldn’t help for long though, and for now, he’d rather look defiant than meek, even if it might end in his death. “Or Toshinori, that’s his name now, right? It’s a shame that he’s all so well protected in that school since his retirement. You don’t know a way to get in there now, do you?”

Enji felt his shirt getting brittle with Shigaraki’s touch, then it flaked off him in grey dust. Immediately he could feel the searing pain from Shigaraki’s decaying quirk. He hissed in pain. Before now, he had only ever read about it. Eraserhead had reported on this ability; the hero still carried a scar on his elbow from their encounter at USJ, but Endeavor himself had never actually fought with the new leader of the League of Villains. The quirk was even more painful than he had imagined. He could feel his skin die off layer by layer, the quirk’s power seeping into his body slowly and superficially but with indescribable pain.

“Well, Number One Hero? Why don’t you help us get inside UA, huh?” There was this wide smile, but Enji wouldn’t give in. This was horribly painful, but he was the number one hero … he had a responsibility that did not allow him to just cave in. So instead of answering, he turned away slightly, screaming in pain, as Shigaraki’s hands shifted a bit on his chest and ripped two more palm-sized patches of skin off his chest, leaving his flesh open and bloody.

Shigaraki laughed maniacally, then he pulled his smartphone from his pocket. “Did you know we hacked the hero database months ago?” he asked with a broad evil smile on his face. “Sadly, half the information is hidden away under extra layers of security, but with your fingerprints, retina scan and password … oh, we’d be able to get so much new information, don’t you think?”

Enji shuddered a bit. So Touya would kill him, that much was clear, but before that Shigaraki and the League would torture him for information. He knew he was in for hell on earth, when Shigaraki’s fingers moved to grab him again.

Half an hour passed, until they thought he was ready, and indeed he didn’t have much more to give. He guessed that they probably were also pressed for time. While Touya seemed sure that Natsuo would not betray him, Shigaraki was not so sure, so he wanted this whole affair over in an hour, max. Enji had been able to grasp that much between his bouts of pain and agony, but mostly he’d just tried to think himself away and not think too hard about anything connected to the League. He was nauseous, felt light-headed from blood loss, and his skin was hurting from the combination of burns, Toga’s knife wounds, and Shigaraki’s agonizing way of flaying him alive. His injuries were mostly superficial, he guessed, though he bled a lot. But still, they hurt like hell.

It was then that Shigaraki finally used Endeavor’s fingerprints, scanned his retina with his smartphone camera, and asked Endeavor to say the password into the microphone. Enji had to say it himself, for voice recognition.

“Now, Mr. Hero,” sneered Shigaraki, oddly serious. “The password please.”

But Enji wasn’t that far gone yet. “Compromised,” he mumbled into the microphone and at once his whole access to the database shut off immediately. Shigaraki was furious, but not too surprised. They were under pressure and Enji realized getting to the database had only really been an added plus to what they already considered a very successful day.

“End it, Dabi,” demanded Shigaraki as he stood up and moved to the door. “We’ll leave soon. Hurry a bit.”

“I told you, not to worry,” Touya answered almost a bit bored. He had watched the entire ordeal of Enji’s torture, even participated in some of the burnings, but obviously he was mostly in for the killing.

“Take however long you need,” Shigaraki relented, “But in the end, he’s dead.”

“Oh, he will be,” assured Touya, “Rest assured.” There was a short pause, then: “Would you mind giving me a quirk erasure bullet?”

Shigaraki only laughed at that. “Quirk erasure?” He drew a gun and threw it at Dabi. “We only have a hand full of those. No sense wasting them on dead men.” He pointed at the gun that Enji’s son held somewhat awkwardly. “If you wanna use a gun, that’s more than enough.”

Touya seemed unhappy about this, but he accepted it after a moment. “We’ll leave you at that. Bet you’ll want some alone time.” Toga grinned, as she followed Shigaraki back out of the room.

When they were alone, Enji drew himself back to his knees. It took all his willpower to not immediately topple over from pain and exhaustion, but if he had to be shot by his own son – and what a horrible fate that was – he wanted it to happen while there was still some defiance left in him, at least sitting as upright as possible.

But Touya didn’t shoot him. He also made no move to free him, though. Instead, he suddenly had Natsuo’s diary in his hand.

“12th of May,” he read and Enji felt a sudden dread, a feeling even greater than the pain and torture twisting his stomach. “Touya’s death is seven days ago. I tried to speak to Father, but he doesn’t even look at me. I want to visit mom, but Father does not allow it. Shoto isn’t allowed to be with us either,” he read on, “Father takes him to train every day and I can hear him cry in the night. Fuyumi cries, too, sometimes, when she thinks I can’t hear. I hate it. I wish Touya was here, he always knew what to do. He was the only one who dared to stand against Father. Sometimes I wished he had died instead of Touya.”

Enji hated hearing his son’s words from the mouth of his other son, but he knelt quietly for a moment, hoping it would be over soon.

“13th of May, I found Shoto crying in the kitchen. He’s been scratching his scar. Father told him he was weak because he couldn’t stop scratching. It only made it worse. Fuyumi sent me to buy some ointment.” Touya paused shortly and looked down at Enji, then he proceeded. “14th of May. Hurt my wrist in school. Father didn’t even realize, when he made me do chores. I didn’t dare tell him. He’d just say I’m weak. Instead Fuyumi helped me. Haven’t seen Shoto all day. I want to visit mom, but Father says it would be bad for her. She didn’t take Touya’s death well.”

Enji wanted it to stop. Natsuo wasn’t a passionate diary writer, maybe that was the reason he had only ever written in a diary just this one time right after his brother’s supposed death. The entries weren’t long or detailed.

“16th of May. Father is out on patrol all night. I had a nightmare about Touya. Fuyumi brought me to the doctor while Father was gone. My wrist is broken and a bit infected.” Again, Touya made a short pause before proceeding. “17th of May. Skipped school today, because of broken wrist. Father found out. He came home from work after the night shift and immediately flipped his shit. Called me a weak No-Good. He didn’t even really look at me. Sometimes I think, he’d rather I were dead than Touya. At least Touya had a somewhat decent quirk. He left to train Shoto the rest of the day. I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t have to see him again.” Another short pause. “18th of May. Fuyumi lost it today. She just started crying in the middle of the day. It’s because of Touya, but she also tries to stay strong for all of us. Father just up and left to train Shoto.” It went on like that and Enji just stared blankly at his son, letting the words wash over him. 19th of May, Shoto had been hurt in training. 20th of May, Enji trained his son despite his injury to the point of vomiting. 21st of May, I skipped school again, but Enji didn’t even find out until the next day. 22nd of May, Enji screamed at me for a solid thirty minutes until he vanished to work and didn’t come back until two days later. 23rd of May, I played with Shoto after school and 24th of May, Enji came back from work and was angry that Shoto hadn’t kept up training without him there. He had forbidden Shoto to play with his siblings at all until Shoto caught up in his training, which was most likely never. 25th of May, I visited a friend without telling father, and stayed there for two days and Enji didn’t even realize. 26th of May, Fuyumi called me at my friend’s house saying that she wanted to visit mother, but called again later that day to say it didn’t work out after all. I stayed with my friend. 27th of May, The school called Enji because of another missed school day. He called the police and let them drag me back home and grounded me for a week. 28th of May, Shoto vomited during training, Fuyumi drove him to the hospital, they prescribed rest, Enji actually allowed Shoto the rest of the day off. 29th of May, I felt guilty that I hadn’t protested when Enji started training Shoto again that afternoon. 30th of May, I wanted to plan his birthday celebrations, but still had house arrest, so his birthday party would be cancelled. 31st of May, Fuyumi came home from university with a test she’d written an A in, Enji didn’t even acknowledge it. “1st of June,” read Touya after surely another half an hour had passed. “My Birthday. No Party, still can’t visit mom, Shoto is training, Fuyumi baked a cake. I miss Touya.”

“Stop it,” Enji finally demanded. Only now did Touya look up at him with a raised eyebrow.

“You can’t even listen to your son’s words.”

“I’ve listened to it for the last thirty minutes”, he countered. Touya seemed angry with that comment, but before he could say anything else, Enji spoke on. “I know what I did. I know you don’t believe my regret is genuine, and maybe you’re right and I’ll relapse in a short time, but I know what I did. I’m sorry. You can’t imagine how sorry I am. Reading my son’s six-year-old diary to me won’t change anything. I know this already.”

Touya shut the book furiously and stomped towards him, though he didn’t seem to have an exact plan, so Enji took matters into his own hands. Suddenly he grabbed his son’s hand that held the pistol loosely at his side. He gripped it too hard for the weak hero to take it from him, but that wasn’t what he wanted, anyway. Instead, he held the gun to his own temple, glaring up at Touya.

“Reading that diary to me won’t change a thing,” he hissed, “I don’t even know what you want to achieve with that. I know what I did. And if you want to shoot me for it, do it! I might well deserve it. But once you do that, maybe you can come down from your high horse. Once I’m gone, who is there to blame, huh?”

Touya stared at him, first shocked, then stunned, then dumbfounded and then angry again. “Blame? You think this is about blame? You destroyed my life. This is about justice.”

“Justice?” spat Enji. “Fine, take it. I told you, shoot me, if that’s what you want. But what then? What about your own crimes, huh? I see it clearly. You feel bad about not coming back, don’t you? You read those words, and you feel it’s partly your fault because had you come back, maybe Natsuo and Fuyumi would have been happier, maybe your mother would be, maybe Shoto would have an older brother to stand up for him. You’re probably right. But you know what, I’m happy to take all that on myself. That’s my fault, I know that. And if you think my life is the only way to make up for that, so be it.” He breathed in heavily. “But for the other part, I’m not willing to take the blame.”

“What other part?” Touya asked, actually confused, ripping the gun out of Enji’s grasp at his forehead.

“You’re a killer, Tou—” Bang. He hadn’t even finished saying the name, when the shot fell and the bullet burrowed deep into his side until it hit his hip bone. For a moment he gasped more in surprise than pain, then he stared at the barrel of the gun, dumbfounded. Right, he remembered now, he wasn’t supposed to use that name. “Dabi,” he hissed through clenched teeth. “You’re a killer, Dabi. A murderer, an arsonist and a villain.”

“Because you …”

“No,” Enji cut in, “So, you’re going to shoot me, and in ten years you’re still going to say ‘oh, but my father…’? You’re a 24-year-old man. You’re older than I was when you were born. Take some fucking responsibility, son!” This time the shot was just meant as a warning shot. It just scraped past his shoulder and Enji wasn’t even sure if it dug past the first layers of skin at all.

“What do you know about taking responsibility? You nev-…” He was suddenly cut off.

“This is the police!” a megaphone enhanced voice announced. “Surrender and no one will come to harm.”

Touya seemed utterly confused, then. “How …?” he muttered. But it was obvious, despite everything Touya had believed in, that Natsuo had called the police.

“I repeat. Come out with your hands up over your heads and surrender and nobody will be hurt.”

“Shit,” Touya hissed and raised his gun again. It seemed like he didn’t even think about using his quirk. Enji just waited, but instead, the seconds dragged on into minutes.

“You should surrender,” Enji heard himself say. “They won’t harm you if you surrender. Or you could run …” He could hardly even believe that he had made the suggestion, but now that his son was back alive, he couldn’t bear the thought that he might get shot by the police. “I could-…” Bang.

The third bullet hit him in the chest. For a second, he realized that it was a bit off, not quite right, not quite where the heart was. He didn’t even fall unconscious right away. Instead he felt himself fall face down in front of his son, and he felt his chained hands move above his head blindly grabbing his son’s trousers. He didn’t even know why he held onto them, maybe his fingertips also only got stuck in them, but as Touya pulled away, he didn’t let go. Then there was a fourth loud bang and Enji lost consciousness before he realized where in his back the fourth bullet hit.