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The Devil You Know

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“So, we never got tea that one time.” A familiar grip settles on Izuku’s shoulder.

“AH!”

The goddamn MINUTE he sets foot off campus, that creep finds him. Of course. He has to admit though, it’s kind of what he wanted. School has gotten downright boring lately, not fearing for his life every week or so.

“Don’t freak out. I decided I don’t want to kill you just yet.”

“…That’s comforting.”

“I know, right? Anyway, where do you like to go around here? I don't come to this side of town much.”

“…There’s a little café a few blocks away that’s quiet.”

“Great!”

Izuku orders, deciding that waitress doesn't need to be permanently scarred by Shigaraki Tomura’s face as he has been. Three times now. He sneaks a glance up as Shigaraki cradles the teacup, one finger on each hand raised. The dude’s lips are really, really chapped, and the dark circles under his eyes look like bruises on his sickly skin.

“Do you ever even go outside?” The thought slips out before Izuku can check himself.

Shigaraki coughs, then sets down his cup. “Um. Well. Not during the day. Or much at all.” He shrugs. “You know what it’s like, right? Getting recognized? It’s exhausting. Either it’s a wannabe hero who thinks they can kick my ass or a wannabe villain who wants a selfie or something. What’s that even about? Since when is villainy about goddamn selfies?”

“Doesn’t it help your whole brand though? All Might told me to always make time for fans.” He cringes a bit. That’s the last name Shigaraki wants to hear, probably.
Shigaraki only huffs. “Maybe. But wouldn't you say we have different brands? It’s not like I want merchandise of me.”

Izuku snorts at the idea of prosthetic hands being sold at storefronts alongside those Stain masks. Shigaraki cracks a grin as well, slightly less terrifying than last time. Or maybe Izuku’s just getting used to it.

Shigaraki looks at the clock on the wall next to him, which is cat-shaped with a swinging tail. Now that Izuku thinks about it, a lot of things in this café are cat themed.
“I should be going now,” Shigaraki says, setting down a few yen on the table, enough to pay for both of their teas. “My pleasure by the way.”

“That’s not very evil of you,” Izuku says.

“Neither is a cat-themed café, Midoriya, but I like to be surprising once in a while. See you later.”

“Are you going to kill me next time?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Surprises, you know?”

Then Shigaraki stuffs his hands in his hoodie pocket and leaves the café. Izuku’s hand goes to his cellphone. Should he call All Might? Ochako? The police?

Nah, he decides. He doesn't want the café to get swarmed by the police or the media. It’s so nice and quiet, after all.

 

The next time Izuku meets Shigaraki, it puts him in the hospital. Not Shigaraki’s handiwork directly, but a crumbling building, which is definitely Shigaraki’s fault. They only meet for a brief moment, both surrounded by allies and enemies at each other’s throats. Izuku kicks a villain out a window and turns around to see a familiar grinning face, shielded this time by a gray, disembodied hand. Shigaraki waves at him, and blows a kiss from his palm along with the dust of some poor policeman. Izuku, caught between being furious and embarrassed, just stares. And then Shigaraki has disappeared in the fray. When the walls start shaking moments later, Izuku knows what’s going on.

He manages to throw the people closest to him outside before the ceiling comes down, but he himself isn’t so lucky. He remembers covering his head with his hands and hoping for the best, and then falling, pinned to the floor by an incredible weight. Ochako fishes him out a few minutes later, more angry than scared, and ignoring his protest she drags him to the hospital where he finds out his pounding headache is most likely a concussion.

He can’t help feeling frustrated. Not with his injuries, he’s used to spending the days after a big battle in a hospital bed, but with his lack of action. He should have been quicker to react. Shigaraki’s guard was down, after all, for that moment. Izuku should take advantage of this weird game of cat and mouse Shigaraki seems to be playing with him, but instead he finds himself flustered. Flustered! He falls asleep berating himself. Flustered by a villain? What the hell?

 

He wakes up to the sound of footsteps by his bed. Is it already morning? Opening his eyes, he finds that no, it’s still night, and that someone has entered his room. The figure places something by his bedside table, and turns to leave.

“Wait a sec,” Izuku says.

The person turns around.

“How did you even get in here?” he asks.

“I can be subtle. It’s my brand.”

“Your brand? Subtle?” he snorts. “Collapsing a building on my head doesn’t really scream subtle.”

Shigaraki shrugs. “Fair, but I did what I had to. You know.” He takes an appraising look at Midoriya, not gentle, but not manic like usual, just calm, maybe a little apologetic. “Sorry about your head, though,” he says.

“It’s fine.” Is it? Izuku guesses it is. “I get it. Sorry about your friend.” Police had arrested the villain he’d kicked out the window.

“It’s fine. You did what you had to, as well.” Shigaraki turns to leave. “Remember to take it easy. Concussions are serious. You’ll want to listen to the doctors and not strain yourself too hard for the next few days.”

Izuku looks at him.

“Your teacher, Eraser Head, gave me one when we first met,” he explains. “You did too, once or twice. I know the drill.”

“Maybe you should wear a helmet,” Izuku says. A helmet made of hands. That would be interesting.

“Hey, I’m not the one in the hospital right now.”

“Touché.”

Shigaraki turns the door handle.

“See you later,” Izuku says without thinking.

“See you later, Deku.”

Izuku stays awake for a while after that, still puzzled, but less frustrated. Maybe it’s for the best he didn’t fight Shigaraki when he had the chance. Maybe the little talks they had were actually kind of pleasant. He’ll leave the ass-kicking to another day.

 

The next morning, a nurse wakes him up with some breakfast.

“Oh, it looks like someone left this for you during the night.” She hands him a card that was lying on his bedside table. On the front is a beaming All Might giving a thumbs-up. Feel better soon, for I am here! it says in bright red ink on the inside. Under that in chicken scratch is written, “don’t die without me or I’ll kill you”. It’s unsigned.