One day, fantasy became reality, and the world devolved into chaos.
Until the government stepped in, bringing order and control over the new laws of reality. Heroes of justice, determined to protect the innocents and to fight the villains.
Only heroes had the right to use their quirks.
Only the strictly innocents would be protected.
And the villains would be shown no mercy.
People are not born equal.
On the morning of the last days of Izuku's exam week, the fourteen-year-old teenage boy woke up before his alarm rang, groggy because of the lack of sleep but unable to go back to the sweet slumber. He stretched. Yawned. And he looked at his phone and at the Clamor server he was moderating.
One in many on the web, but this one was slightly different. It had started as a support group, a virtual place where people could vent, talk about their problems or their success, and share advices or at least some support. For a year now, it had become something else.
Izuku quickly skimmed through the activity, then gave more attention to the request he had received. The user, Harker222 was in the middle of a divorce and their wife was supposed to have the kids because their quirks were similar. In consequence, the Quirked Minor Law applied and they would go with the adult who was supposed to help them nurture their quirk.
It was the third time someone asked help because of this law. There wasn't much he could do if the parent in question wasn't unfit to be a parent, but if not, he would have to contact Gwen and Defendersofthebrave, the first to make an intensive background check on Harker22, the other because she was the lawyer who had helped with the previous cases.
Izuku sent a message to Gwen. She was perfectly able to find Harker222's identity and to make sure they were legit. He had never been keen on taking risks.
Then, with a willpower bordering on heroic, he dragged himself out of bed, not used to wake up this early. That was the advantage with being home schooled : he had his own schedule.
As always, the house was quiet and devoid of any activity, so he walked to the living room, put the TV on to have some sound, and started preparing himself.
Izuku's mom was a Chef, and a damn good one at that, currently in New York. She had to travel all around the world for her job, which was great and exciting -and it payed well, which was something they desperately needed at some point- but most of the time, she was far away from home. Izuku missed her but he knew this was necessary and when he would finish high school, nothing prevented him to follow her.
It wasn't even that lonely anyway.
Izuku put on a white shirt and black pants, but then change because he became self-conscious about the scar on his back, a Lichtenberg figure starting from his right shoulder and covering a little more than quarter of his back, which could be seen if one had keen eyes and if he was wearing anything white.
Usually, it wouldn't be a problem. But usually, Izuku avoided his former middle school like the plague, and he didn't want anyone to be reminded of why he had left. Not that things would be great anyway.
Despite having been home schooled for two years, Izuku still had to go to his old middle school to take the exams, and that was his least favorite activity, because everyone in there knew he was quirkless.
The teasing was endless.
Izuku was twelve the first time he had lied about his quirk. He had stopped going to school for two months, had stopped hiding in his apartment for one, and he had started to frequent a sport center, the kind which provided all kind of physical activities and quirk training.
He had needed the activity. At first, it had been dreadful. He had kept going before it was a necessary training to be a hero. And little by little, he had learned to enjoy the activity.
But more than anything else, he needed the social contact. Being alone was eating him alive.
And of course, his new friends had asked about his quirk.
He hadn't manage to tell them the truth. The ''I have an analysis quirk.'' had passed his lips before he had the time to think about it. No one had been surprised.
It was stupid. It wasn't like he could change anything on the quirk record, not unless he proved it. And if his new friends had met anyone from his past, the cat would have been out of the bag.
But the change had been immediate. No one had thought he was useless or weak. People had asked him how to improve their quirks. Had been listening to him despite his young age. And he had helped them, starting his quirk counselling work but that was a story for another day.
Heads were turning his way as Izuku was walking down the hallways of the middle school, but since he was the only one not in uniform, it wasn't surprising, and Izuku ignored them.
Since Izuku had the time to get unused to them, his eyes kept lingering on the colorful posters hanging on the walls of the school.
The right path for the right quirk.
Strength, mind, quirk.
Join the Exemplars.
The last one, one of the only posters which didn't have the word 'quirk' in it, was a little misleading because you had to be invited by the Hero Commission to enter the corps.
All those paths offered, depending on which quirk you have.
Online, there were support groups for people with villain-like quirks, or with plain ones, but nothing for quirkless people. It was as if Izuku's group didn't exist. When quirkless people were mentioned, it was either in movies where they died and the hero who failed to save them would mourn about how powerless they had been, or -his favorite- it was revealed the quirkless one had an incredibly powerful quirk they didn't know about all along. And it was a commonly admitted fact that quirkless people were a dying specie.
In a world where quirks dictated your path, no one knew what to do with the quirkless.
Which meant that since he didn't have a quirk that could steer him on a predetermined road, he could walk down any path with enough effort. He had the choice.
And Izuku wanted to be a hero.
When he entered the classroom which was assigned to him, his former class by the way, everyone was already on their seats and his former homeroom teacher was really concerned about how he was almost late and how Izuku needed to be more careful, and so on.
Kacchan was at the front row and when he glared at Izuku, the latter immediately looked at his feet. With his former childhood friend, the rule was to be invisible but even that wouldn't save anyone from his temper.
But his quirk was Explosion and everyone knew he was destined to become a hero. Allowances had to be made for special people like him.
The test started and Izuku went through it easily. His notes had skyrocketed since he had started studying on his own, and he had stopped being nervous during exams.
And like always, he finished half an hour in advance.
He gave his test to the teacher and went back to his chair and to the little table in the back of the class, his notebook in hand. He wasn't actually allowed to leave class before the end of the exams, but he didn't like to waste time here. He absolutely didn't want to have time to think when he was in a place where he had been... Well, a place he had never really belonged to.
Izuku ignored how accurately aware he was of the Lichtenberg scar on his back, and he started working on the temperature change quirk he was given details about. On his server, as SmallMight1541, people came for him to ask how to improve their quirks, and they were even paying him for that, which was a nice bonus.
He managed to work for ten minutes when his former teacher approached and paused in front of Izuku's desk.
''Midoriya...'' he whispered, or at least that was what he thought. ''I was wondering where you were planning to go next year?''
Why ? Why are you talking to me right now and right here? You're not my teacher anymore. Forget about me. Please. Pretty please. With a cherry on the top.
Sadly, he didn't get the message and he waited for his answer. Oh, what Izuku would have given for a telepathic quirk or for a mind-wiping one.
''I am going to attempt UA entrance exam,'' Izuku said as he closed his notebook, not wanting to
A flash of surprise passed on the adult's face. UA was a great school, but more known for one course in particular. ''Oh, the Gen Ed or the Management?''
''The hero course.''
He had whispered it but in a silence only interrupted by the noise of pens writing on the paper, he had no choice but to be heard and several students turned their heads towards him, but at least it was discreet despite the disbelief on their faces. What wasn't discreet was Kacchan turning his head towards him, like a demented own, then he gave Izuku a scowl that upgraded his neck-turning to something that should have necessitated several exorcists to deal with.
The teacher just smiled awkwardly, embarrassed, and left as if he hadn't just exposed Izuku to the rest of the class.
As soon as the exam was over and that the students started to give their forms, Izuku grabbed his backpack and started to make a break for it, but Kacchan and his friends immediately rushed towards where he was and they cornered him.
Kacchan smiled. The expression was unnatural and vaguely terrifying, and to add insult to the injury, their teacher chose this precise moment to leave the room.
''Hey, Deku! Did I just hear you saying you were going to UA?''
One day, Izuku would find out why his mere presence unnerved Kacchan. This day didn't need to be today.
''You did,'' he admitted, looking around but there was no way out.
Kacchan sighed: ''Why do you insist on pissing me off ?''
But everything pisses you off.
''I don't even know what I did,'' Izuku reminded him.
He wasn't only talking about today. Once, Kacchan and Izuku were always with each other, even after he was declared quirkless. And one day, his childhood friend had started despising the very sight of him.
Kacchan showed his teeth, pure contempt coming in waves from him : ''You're a nobody breathing the same air as me. You're useless and you couldn't even deal with middle school. Why the fuck do you think you would survive near a hero high school?''
Izuku didn't answer. He just looked at him, ready to bolt if Kacchan ever used his quirk. He would look ridiculous and he would be laughed at but if he could avoid firecrackers on his skin, he didn't care.
And his former friend almost immediately proved him right..
Kacchan's arm crossed the air and though Izuku almost jumped out of his skin, he wasn't the target. Kacchan grabbed the notebook which had still been on the desk, his note and analysis, and the pages crackled as firecrackers started to destroy it.
Izuku could only stare at what he was doing.
Before irremediable damage was done, Kacchan threw his work behind his back without looking. ''If you want to be a hero that much, why don't you take a dive from the rooftop and pray to have a quirk in your next life?''
An incredible silence fell on the classroom, so heavy it was almost physical. Students looked at Bakugou and at each other, their eyes wide, unease written in everyone's body languages.
No one on this room liked Izuku but everyone of them realized that Kacchan had just crossed a line, and it was like everyone was holding his breath.
But no one said anything.
Neither did Izuku. He took what was left of his notebook and his backpack and he left without a word.
He saw his teacher as he went out. The adult looked at his ruined notebook, then looked at his own feet, obviously uncomfortable, but he didn't say anything.
It didn't surprise Izuku.
Proving that life had a sense of humor, and Izuku was the punchline, he was going back to his apartment when a villain tried to kill him. He remembered drowning. He remembered trying to fight for his life.
Then, All Might appeared in what was obviously a fevered dream created by a brain who had been deprived from oxygen for too long.
Except it wasn't.
The things he learned that day.
''I am quirkless. Do you... Do you think I can be a hero ?''
This was a stupid question. Izuku was aware of it before he even asked, but he couldn't help it. It was pathetic but he needed the validation. He needed someone to tell him that yes, his dreams weren't foolish. That he could so something.
All Might took a deep breath, his head slightly shaking from right to left, and Izuku knew what was his going to say because his body language had already answered. Hope died within him before All Might even said the words and he braced himself to hear the actual words.
''Without power, can one become a hero? No, I think not.''
It was like all the air had fled Izuku's lungs. Even though he knew it. Even though he was prepared for it.
''If you desire to help people, becoming a police officer is always an option,'' All Might continued. ''That's an admirable work.''
This actually help Izuku anchor himself back to reality.
Because of the sheer stupidity of this suggestion.
The police discriminated on quirks. Not that they actually used them but they wanted their members to have them ready if there was a problem, and there was a project of law that would keep people with certain quirks from enrolling, so a quirkless person could never approach a post.
''It's not wrong to dream. However, you need to be realistic, kid.''
It was at this moment that Izuku realized what was happening.
All Might didn't understand. He couldn't. All Might had a quirk. He had the most incredible quirk Izuku heard about. He couldn't realize the difference in their lives.
We don't live in the same world.
After All Might left, Izuku stayed a long time on this roof. Just thinking, while leaning on the handrail.
Explosions were shaking the place as Bakugou was fighting back, desperately trying to breathe as the Sludge Villain was wrapped around him and trying to get inside him, and Izuku was terrified because he knew. He knew intimately what was happening, how he was fighting for air, how it was impossible to fight against this villain.
And it was his fault because he had accidentally allowed the villain to escape when he had grabbed All Might.
Izuku's body moved on his own.
He had been looking at the heroes, wondering what the hell they were doing as someone was getting drowned on dry land, then he saw how scared Kacchan was, and then, he was already in movement.
His legs carried him, and he crossed the place before anyone had the time to hold him back. Unless they had a Speed quirk, they wouldn't caught him, not when he ran every day at full speed.
Not that Izuku had a plan. He just knew that the Sludge had eyes that didn't change not matter the form he took so he clawed at them, making him scream and for a moment, Bakugou could breathe.
And then, the Sludge Villain lunged at Izuku, determined to finish what he had started earlier this day.
Izuku knew he was dead.
But All Might appeared from nowhere. Saved him once again, punching the air to hit the Sludge Villain. And then, he disappeared. No doubt that he was closing on his time limit.
Leaving Izuku alone with Kacchan who was silent for once and a dozen of heroes who congratulated him for his quirk, how he could easily be a hero. Some also encouraged Izuku, telling him he had been brave.
At least until they realized Izuku was quirkless.
''You could have been killed !''
''Lucky to be alive.''
''You need to be realistic.''
It was the middle of the nigh and Izuku was consulting his phone on the roof of his former middle school. Entering here had been ridiculously easy, more than what he had expected.
He had wanted to be away from everything, and somewhere quiet, but not the quiet of his apartment. He had considered the place All Might had accidentally taken him to, but he couldn't access it, so school without any students was the next best thing.
And here he was, on his phone, finishing the work he had as an administrator. Gwen had already treated his request, and he contacted Defendersofthebrave to ask her if she was willing to help Harker22. Izuku was now waiting for her answer.
Izuku was considering dropping the server. They didn't need him. Gwen would probably make a much better job. And it wasn't like the people he knew on the server were real friends.
It wasn't like Izuku had any friends. Or anything.
Izuku just needed to finish this. He just needed to finish this request. Then, he could quit.
That was the plan. One last job. Then he would quit and be done with all this. But someone reached him through the server. Someone who didn't want to talk to the administrator of the server, but to SmallMight1541.
Izuku had started chatting with Snowdrift about a year ago, first because they both liked All Might. Then, they had shared more and more. And this time, Snowdrift really needed to talk, and honestly, Izuku needed the distraction.
The chatted for a long time.
Two hours later, Izuku left the roof without looking back. He had decided not to delete his account about ten minutes after they had started chatting.
Izuku grew his network. Anyone who had a problem, he helped as long as they didn't want to harm others. A favor for a favor, and he started using them, knowing more and more people, everywhere.
More and more people found him. More and more people who had problems because they didn't have the right quirk, or because someone else had a more interesting one and laws and rules tended to bend for those.
Most of the time, Izuku just put people in contact. Facilitated exchanges of services or transactions. Made researches thanks to Gwen so he would know who he was dealing with and would make sure he wasn't hurting anyone. This was his server, so it was his responsibility.
But they didn't to Smallmight1541, of course. Smallmight1541 was a user who could analyze quirks.
No, they went to the administrator of the server.
Username : Anyone.
The day of the graduation, Kacchan received his invitation to the Exemplars in front of the whole school, delivered by the principal himself, who congratulated him on his heroic behavior. Kacchan looked like he wanted to rip apart the letter with his teeth.
And Izuku was here, because as a home schooled student, this school was where he was supposed to have his certificate delivered. He even clapped with everyone else to congratulate Kacchan. The Exemplars were the elite of the hero course, young people with great quirks who showed talents and a heroic fortitude. They could go into any school they wanted and once they graduated, they would access the top of the Hero rankings. Chosen by the Hero Commission.
And about ten minutes after Kacchan had received this great honor, he followed Izuku to an isolated spot.
''Deku...'' he growled, stalking towards him.
''Congratulations, Kacchan,'' Izuku said politely.
He tried to grab Izuku by the collar.
Maybe to push him against the wall. Maybe to blow his face off.
Izuku never let him the time to try.
He dodged, grabbing Kacchan's wrist and he kicked his knee, the articulation making an almost pop sound under his foot. Unbalanced, Kacchan crashed to the ground, and before he could jump at Izuku's throat once again, the green-haired boy stepped on his wrist, but without putting all his weight on it.
Kacchan froze completely, and Izuku, his heart beating so loudly in his ears, completely in control. Even if Kacchan's face hadn't betrayed how shocked he was that Izuku was fighting back, he would have known. Because this wasn't supposed to happen. Kacchan was the symbol of victory while Izuku was quirkless. Despite the grren-haired-boy's training, they stood a world apart and Izuku was supposed to be defenseless.
But now that Izuku had realized he didn't have anything to lose, things were simpler.
And with his foot on Kacchan's wrist, his childhood friend was realizing there was a lot he couldn't risk.
Izuku saw himself hitting breaking his wrist. He could almost hear the cracking sound the breaking bone would make, how with two other kicks, Kacchan would never be able to use his quirk again without atrocious pain.
But Izuku didn't.
''Goodbye, Kacchan,'' Izuku simply said.
There was a ring specialized into giving people new identity. Like a Witness Protection Program for people who were born with the wrong cards like being related to a villain, having a villainous quirk or a weak one, etc.
Izuku had thought about it for a long time. Quite honestly, Midoriya Izuku had no future. Not in this country. Quirkless people didn't have interesting jobs.
Midoriya Izuku, quirkless and pretty much worthless, disappeared.
Akatani Mikumo, white-haired boy with a analysis quirk, took his place.
Five schools had accepted Izuku, except that they had actually accepted Akatani Mikumo, who had an analysis quirk and the same grades as Midoriya Izuku. He quickly wondered if he would have been admitted without his quirk, but refrained from going further. There was no point.
UA was one of the school which accepted him.
He considered it, but not for long. Kacchan would go there and if there was one person who could identify him, it was the angry pomeranian disguised as a teenager. So he chose Kohaku. Great school, not far, great program. Also, there was a lot of lessons online, so Izuku could continue to be homeschooled and to enjoy his free time.
And to work as Anyone.
Then, a crazy plan was born inside Izuku's mind. Something that was based on a nothing tangible, but it was an opportunity. He thought about it. Debated it.
Then, since he realized he wouldn't be able to pull this off on his own, he decided he would abandon the idea if those who could help him refused.
[I must warn you that some part of this project might be motivated by pure pettiness.]
Humans being were conditioned to ignore risks. They could know about it, they could take precautions against it, but they didn't fear them until consequences were ripe and about to punch them in the face.
Toshinori knew he had less and less time with One for All, not because of the quirk in itself but because his body couldn't take the stress and it just stopped every time he reached his limits. There was no way to circumvent that so he was reduced to check his time again and again, and to make sure not to go beyond, which was quite ironic.
But it worked. It had always worked.
So somehow, Toshinori had managed to convince himself it would always work.
First, it was the car crash. Then, someone fell into a river. There was an accident on the road so Toshinori had to bring them himself to the hospital because there was no doctor on the site. Then, a bank robbery. A car chase. Even for Tokyo, accidents and misdeeds were everywhere on this specific day.
Toshinori knew he was investing too much time, a time he didn't have. He also knew there were other heroes who could handle such situations.
But he didn't manage to slow down. He couldn't take the risk that someone could get hurt because he wasn't fast enough. Because what if the hero who was supposed to answer didn't have the right quirk for the situation? What if someone died trying to help?
He was in the middle of a closed construction site when one of the metal bar tried to fall on his head, and quite honestly, it wasn't the worst that had happened to him today.
Until something made him lose his footing.
It was as simple as that, but when he did, it was as if One for All completely abandoned him. He crashed into the ground, and everything became black. When he opened his eyes again, he was laying on the ground, trapped under a lot of metal.
Toshinori tried to get rid of it, but there was nothing. No strength, no energy, just an intense cold that didn't leave place for anything else.
Except for fear, of course. The last time his body had failed was when he had almost died.
''Is there anyone here?'' someone young called.
Toshinori didnt dare to say anything. He was too scared to call out for help. He was the one supposed to save people, not the other way around. But still, he looked in the direction of the voice, and saw who was running toward him.
And Toshinori recognized him. Young, green-haired, wide green eyes, and even wearing an All Might hoodie.
The boy froze when he saw him.
He got extremely pale when he looked at what Toshinori couldn't see from his body behind the metal pipes.
Confirming what the intense feelings of numbness and pain were trying to tell Toshinori all along.
I don't know his name, Toshinori realized. He had never asked. Even after the second Sludge villain attack, he was expecting to learn his name in the news but there was nothing. He had meant to do some researches, but he had been too busy to do so.
The boy looked at the mess of metal and pipes. He looked terrified, probably because his hero was approaching his end, and none of them could do anything about it. The boy pulled out his phone in a second, calling for help. Good reflexes, but it seemed to be too late.
''Come closer, please,'' Toshinori asked, feeling colder and colder, his strength leaving him.
And the boy did, still looking afraid but trying to hide it. Brave kid.
But Toshinori already knew that. Only someone brave would run at a villain to save someone. Why hadn't he talked to him that day? He should have said something.
''I am sorry, young man. I am sorry I told you you couldn't become a hero.''
The young man looked horrified. ''Forget that. It's alright.''
''No, it's not,'' Toshirnori corrected. ''I was afraid. For you. What it meant for me. But now, I need your help. My time is up.''
And he wasn't just talking about his quirk.
''My quirk... My quirk is named One for All. It didn't appear with me, you see, but it was passed down to me, like a torch of eternal fire. I inherited the ability to transfer power.''
The boy's eyes comically widened.
Of course he couldn't believe it. No one had heard of a quirk which could be transferred. But All Might had one responsibility as a One for All holder, even more important than fighting All for One or to be the symbol of Peace.
''Find Gran Torino. He will help you. He will explain you everything.''
''Don't say that. You're going to be fine!''
Toshinori didn't have the time for comfort, so he plucked a hair from his head and put it in the boy's hand. It's a boy, really a boy. Even younger than I was when I lost Nana. The green-haired-boy looked at it without understanding.
''To inherit my quirk, you have to consume a piece of my DNA,'' Toshinori explained.
The boy's face immediately became blank.
''Do it!'' Toshinori growled.
The boy put his hand to his face so fast he pretty much smacked himself on the mouth and he gulped down the hair.
Toshinori closed his eyes, serene because he knew that One for All wouldn't die with him. Gran Torino would handle it. He already did once. Everything would be alright.
And when he opened them, there was no metal, no pipes, and even though the ground was cold under him, like it had half frozen over, All Might was feeling completely alright.
And his quirk was gone.
Izuku ran, put back his cap and his mask to hide his face, avoided cameras, took two buses, and then and only then, he sent the signal so everyone would stop using their quirks.
He needed as much distance as humanly possible between All Might and him when he would realize what had just happened, if anything had happened at all. Apart from being weirded out by swallowing a hair, Izuku couldn't feel anything different.
One for All. A rumor few could find and fewer could listen to.
None of this would have happened without Anyone. The massive operation had been a combination of quirks and a lot of favors were called. The worst had been to make All Might run around and to exhaust his quirk so he would be easier to trick. Izuku had chosen All Might's innocents to rescue specifically because of their quirks, to make sure they wouldn't be in actual danger.
Izuku rubbed his arms, trying to get warm up a little. He had been so cold over there, at All Might's side, but he couldn't show it because the hero had to believe the cold was from his injuries and not from an ice quirk. Combined to several Weakness quirks, an illusion one, a dizzy mind quirk, and a multitude of people who had used their powers to make the number 1 hero believe that he was actually getting weaker. Implemented by the bump of the head when he had slipped on ice and fell.
When Izuku felt like he was far enough, Izuku checked his phone, and confirmed with his warper for the day that everyone was back home with no problem, Snowdrift included.
Izuku sighed in relief. He had secured this warper's services because he didn't want anyone willing to help him to risk suffering All Might's wrath.
Yes, you're the one who will have to take responsibility for that, a little voice in his head mocked.
Izuku pushed the thought away. He had just executed one crazy plan, was still alive, and now, he was going to stay low for a while.
Half a second later, a little girl rammed into Izuku's leg, but since there were some hamsters bigger than her, Izuku didn't bulge and she fell, tears in her eyes, which immediately made him panic.
''Are you okay?''
She flinched when he tried to give her his hand to help her go back to her feet, and Izuku froze, because this reaction was just a drop in a sea of red flags. The little girl was maybe five -Izuku didn't know enough children to guess correctly- with white hair, red eyes, and a horn on her forehead. She was wearing what looked like to be a grayish nightgown who wasn't enough to protect her from the wind that was biting at them, her arms and legs were covered in bandages, and she was barefoot.
And she looked terrified.
Izuku crouched down slowly, making himself smaller and less scary.
''Do you need help ?'' he asked her
Her red eyes, like a baby rabbit, widened and she looked around her, as if she was scared someone had heard Izuku.
Unfortunately, she was right to be afraid.
''Eri!'' someone called from the darkness of the alley, obviously unamused.
Izuku got up just as a man with a bird mask got out of the alley. He took one look at the girl -Eri – who was still on the ground and Izuku realized he couldn't let her go with him.
''Look at what you've done, causing so much trouble to a stranger. Come back, Eri.''
It wasn't the mask. Plenty of people wore them in an age where mutations were common. It was the absolute absence of care in his eyes. Usually, when someone looked at a kid, they were some warmth, a hint that people were actually seeing something small and cute that belonged to their species. But not here.
Eri turned towards the man with a bird mask and she hesitated, clearly not wanting to go with him. She looked at Izuku, but then immediately dropped her gaze and she thought furiously. She wasn't expecting him to help her.
And she wasn't expecting Izuku to gently ruffle her hair. She looked up to him, her big eyes filled with interrogation and some mistrust, but Izuku didn't let see how bothered he was by this. Instead, he stayed calm. Looked at her.
I am here. It's going to be alright.
And there it was. Hope.
Good. At least one person who believe I can find a way out of this mess.
''You know her?'' Izuku asked, smiling as if he wasn't considering screaming his head off to alert a hero who would be near-by. Hell, even All Might if that was necessary.
''She is my daughter,'' the masked man said as he was removing a glove. He seemed bored. No doubt that he wasn't passionate by this conversation. ''She is at a difficult age. Sorry for the trouble."
''She doesn't look like you.''
The masked man looked at him and it was as if the temperature suddenly dropped. He looked at him like Izuku's life meant nothing. Like he was a bug, annoying and harmless and that crushing him under his foot wouldn't bother the man. He would just do it and live on with his life without ever pausing on his existence.
''Move along, brat,'' the masked man said, a last warning, a last chance for Izuku to get the hint and to run for his life.
He is going to kill me.
''I... I don't think if I can do that,'' Izuku said lamely.
He didn't have anything on him. Sure, he could fight if needed but the man had just removed his glove so his quirk was contact-based and Izuku didn't want to leave him the occasion to lay his hand on him. And there was the little girl. He could ran like hell but would he be fast enough if he was carrying her
But the adult was tired to wait.
''Eri?'' he called, making her flinch. ''Remember this is your fault.''
He lunged at Izuku.
Raw terror drenched the teenager and he raised his fist, reacting on instinct because he knew that this man was about to kill him.
And then, the world was drown in a sea of pain.
Someone knocked on Ao's door in the middle of the night and she went to greet them with a baseball bat. Not that her unexpected and unwelcome guest didn't warn her he was coming but still, there was a certain protocol when someone dared to wake her up.
She knew it was Akatani. She knew he was accompanied by a child, a little girl with long white hair and red eyes, like a baby rabbit.
But he had obviously forgotten to mention his arm : completely purple, irremediably broken if quirks like hers didn't exist. Akatani was breathing slowly, as if he was trying to keep a well-earned scream of pain inside his throat. He was pale as death and there were drops of sweats on his forehead, making his now green curls heavy, but apart from that, nothing would indicate that his arm was a mess of broken bones.
''Ao?'' he asked, and his voice was almost calmed, though strained. ''I'm sorry to ask you that but I think I need help.''
In a dark cell of Tartarus, surrounded by machine guns, his brainwaves monitored, and strapped to a bed, a shadow of a man was taking refuge inside his head. By all account, he should be dead. The Symbol of Peace had ripped off his arms, and destroyed his face, and when his comrades had barely managed to bring him back from the Great Beyond, the Symbol of Peace had found him again, and threw him into this purgatory without showing him the mercy of killing him for good.
He didn't know for how long he had been there. At first, he was sedated. Almost constantly. Little by little, he had fought the effects, starting to claw his way back to the land of the awaken. It might be a year or two. Four at the most. The guard who was taking care of him and who kept talking even though his prisoner neither answered nor acknowledged him hadn't seem to change much.
Solitude was a torture. One of the thing that was keeping him sane were his guards, who tended to chat in front of him, unaware of how he was feeding on every distractions. The other was how deep he could plunge inside his own mind. How he could almost touch remnants from other ages.
And, at this precise moment, since he was so far inside his mind, he felt it. The moment where his quirk, the quirk he had given to his little brother, found a new holder.
When the letter from the Exemplar program arrived for Shouto, no one in the Todoroki household was surprised. As the son of the Number 2 hero, going to UA was just a formality. Endeavor said something Shouto didn't listen about this letter being the first steps on a glorious road. Fuyumi congratulated him. Natsuo send an email with a lot of exclamation points.
And Endeavor became more and more insistent about Shouto using his flames. About how Shouto had a destiny to fulfill, how he had to walk on his father's path, and how his childish rebellion had to stop or he would be ripped apart by the other Exemplars, though somehow, Shouto was superior to all of them because he was Endeavor's son. Whatever. It made the usual amount of sense.
Shouto had learned from a young age to mute whatever his old man was saying, but not this time. Because his old man was - and he couldn't believe he was going to admit this- right. Going to UA would be the first step to become like Endeavor. No doubt that the Hero Commission was already excited at the idea of having another hero with as much offensive power.
He couldn't smother his old man's fire. As much as he tried to, he looked like him. More often and often, he could feel the same anger inside him.
Even if Shouto didn't use his flames, even if he wasn't drafted into Endeavor agency, there would always be the risk of becoming like Endeavor. Always.
So he decided to run away.
Shouto didn't warn Fuyumi because even though he loved his sister dearly and his sister loved him back, she would have warned their old man in the second. So, one day, he secretly prepared a bag, with some cash and enough clothes to last a week, and he left as if he was leaving for school. He changed as soon as he could in a gym and he didn't look back, knowing that he had the rest of the day before his family realized he wasn't coming back.
At no point did he worry about what would happen to him. He had a strong quirk. That meant that he would always have a way to survive any situation.
Shouto's first stop was to a library, because his escape had been a rushed decision and he needed a place to think about what he would do next, and a connection to the web his old man couldn't look at. His own phone was off, so he wouldn't be tracked down with it and no one would be able to contact him. If he heard a message of Fuyumi begging him to go home... He wasn't sure he wouldn't cave in.
As soon as he had access to a computer, he searched for the one person who understood what Shouto was trying to do : Todoroki Touya.
His older brother, Fuyumi's twin, had left the house when he was sixteen, and that was all Shouto was remembering about him. His childhood was a blur where he had been isolated from his sibling, always training to be molded into Endeavor's perfect creation, and he didn't have as many memories as most people.
So, he had no way to know if Touya even wanted to meet him. Shouto knew that Fuyumi didn't have any contact with him, and she had been the closest to their eldest brother. And he had also left after Shouto had manifested his quirk and a little before his face was scarred.
For all he knew, he was blaming Shouto for being the catalyst of their family's breaking point.
His research didn't lead to anything, and he could hardly look for anyone having a fire quirk and a hatred for Endeavor, but he realized Touya may not have wanted to keep the Todoroki name, so he looked for a Yukimura, his mother maiden name.
Now, Shouto didn't find a Yukimura Touya.
Instead, he found a Yukimura Shizuya and a Yukimura Fuyume. White-haired and grey eyes, they lived in Kyoto. Elderly though their skin didn't show it much -which wasn't unusual with some quirks- and they were laughing and smiling, both of them wearing traditional clothes.
They were familiar even though Shouto had never seen them.
He didn't need to search much to confirm they had a daughter named Rei.
They looked happy.
Do they know? Do they know what happened to their daughter?
Do they know about us?
Shouto didn't know what to think about it, so he looked away. Took his phone and checked it.
Fortunately, the old man or Fuyumi hadn't called yet. The school probably hadn't warned them yet, and since they would contact Fuyumi first, he still had time.
After an hesitation, he went to the familiar app.
Shouto had found the Clamor server when he was looking for ways to improve his ice. He had stayed away from personal conversations, and had simply lurked from quirk meta to quirk meta, until he had actually accepted to expose the only side of his quirk he was interested in. Little by little, he had delved deeper, until he realized who was the administrator and what he could do.
Anyone dealt in favor. If someone could help him find Touya, or even a better situation, it was them.
But ultimately, Shouto didn't ask. Instead, he went to someone he had talked a lot with, at first about how to stop being so affected by the drawbacks of his ice (and he remembered being stupefied when he was asked why he wasn't using a warm and water-proofed jacket), then of other things, more personal.
It was strange to think that SmallMight1541 was the person closest to Shouto and he had never met him.
He started typing before he had the time to think about it.
[It might seem sudden but I would like to meet you.]
Shouto looked at the green point indicating that Smallmight1541 was online, and realized what he was asking, so he deleted the message immediately.
But his friend had seen it anyway.
Shouto hesitated for a couple of seconds. Then typed again.
[As soon as possible.]
[Send two pictures of you, one showing two fingers, the other showing three.]
Shouto frowned. A picture was already something that just wasn't done on this server, everyone preferring to remain anonymous, but the extra conditions were just odd.
[I am making sure you're not a pedophile.]
Five days before the entrance exam and a full day after he had ran from home, Shouto entered a shopping mall, looking for Smallmight1541, and he paused when he found him.
SmallMight1541 wasn't looking in the direction of the gates but was slightly turned, looking at screens behind a glass, and Shouto wasn't surprised to see that one of All Might's latest feats was on.
He... He didn't quite look like the photos he'd sent.
It was the same person, but he didn't feel the same. Shouto had seen a boy his age, nervous and now, this same boy was calmer, at ease, and there was a melancholic air about him as he was looking at All Might. SmallMight1541 turned towards him, maybe because he had felt Shouto's gaze, and as soon as their eyes met, he tensed, and became the awkward kid Shouto had seen once again.
Well, I can't back down now.
He told him his name was Midoriya Izuku.
Five seconds after talking to him, Shouto realized how awkward the situation was and that coming here was a mistake.
Half an hour after that, they were both eating ice cream, Shouto had told him he had ran away and didn't need any help, and Midoriya had a notebook opened in front of him as he was creating a plan so Shouto would have a plan that went beyond 'fleeing this bastard's house'.
A few hours later, they were still talking.
And Shouto had realized he had to go home. That he had to use what was given to him, be it UA, the possibility to have a licence to use his quirk, and a real education. He also had to go back to Fuyumi.
He still asked Midoriya why he was willing to help him to this extent. This guy was already ready to pull favors and to help him with all he had at his disposal and they had just met IRL.
Mdioriya hesitated. ''Do you remember, about five months ago, when you message me because you weren't feeling well, and we talked all night? We roasted Endeavor together.''
Shouto perfectly remembered because it had been the day where he had incinerated the UA pamphlet left in his room. It had already taken his vow of not using his left side at the time, but when he had realized Endeavor had come into his room, trespassing on the only place that belonged to him, he had seen red and before he even thought about it, his flames had awoken.
It had disturbed him to know that his resolve was so weak.
Midoriya just smiled but there was no joy in this expression. Kindness in his eyes, and something Shouto didn't manage to recognize.
Ultimately, he didn't reply and said instead : ''Take care of yourself.''
Endeavor was furious and relieved at the same time when Shouto returned home. Made him go to his room until the day of the entrance exam.
But only to Fuyumi.
They kept meeting after that.They ate together. They went and watched movies. Sometimes, they sparred, even if Midoriya had decided not to apply to a hero school.
A shame, as far as Shouto was concerned.
They were talking about the server and Anyone when Shouto told him everything about his family, making Midoriya choke on his tea. He told him who he really was. He told him about Endeavor's goal. How it had broken his mother. How he didn't remember much of his childhood, and how it wasn't only as of late that he had started wondering where his eldest brother was.
''I considered asking Anyone, but I still don't know enough about them to ask for a favor,'' Shouto explained, letting his friend the time to deal with all those new informations.
''You could have asked,'' Midoriya finally said carefully. ''They would have been happy to help you.''
''How do you know?''
''Because I am Anyone.''
In the end, Shouto didn't ask Midoriya to help him find his brother.
Ultimately, he didn't think Touya wanted to have anything to do with him.
When Izuku saw Todoroki after his hair had become white, almost silver, his friend was visibly disturbed by his new hair color and he reached out twice as if he wanted to touch the curls, but stopped in time. It would have been amusing if Izuku hadn't been so stressed that his leg was twitching.
He had just became Akatani Mikumo and he needed to talk to his friend. Todoroki had been nothing but honest, and he would feel guilty as long as he would keep deceiving him.
And then, he chickened out.
There was a lot of reasons for that. Todoroki was the only person he could call a friend. He also had a hero worthy quirk, so Izuku wasn't certain he could completely understand what Izuku wanted to explain. There was also the fact that as soon as he had found out he didn't have a quirk and would never have one, his friends had ran for the hills and those who didn't had tried to 'correct' his behavior.
Izuku really didn't want to take the risk of losing his only friend. So he decided to keep living in the lie, and to enjoy a good movie with improbable quirks with his friends.
Sadly, Todoroki had a pair of functioning eyes.
''Midoriya?'' he called as Izuku was delving into dark thoughts. ''You seem distracted. Do you want to tell me something?''
Izuku gulped but played it cool. ''Why do you say that ?''
''You keep trying to drink your milk-shake even though it's been empty for ten minutes.''
Argh. Izuku thew his empty goblet in a trashcan.
''Midoriya?'' Todoroki asked again, not especially surprised by Izuku's antics.
The green-haired-teen had done worse in front of him. And it wasn't even talking about his quirk rants, which Todoroki listened to with a saint-like patience.
Do it. You want to say it and if it doesn't work out, it meant that this isn't a friendship you want to keep, just one you're dependent on.
The words didn't escape his lips. On the contrary, Izuku had to push them out, and they were thown in the air, tumbling into each other.
''I am quirkless, Todoroki.''
Whatever Todoroki was expecting to hear, it wasn't that. For a brief moment, he looked at Izuku as if he couldn't believe it, then the surprise disappeared and his usual stoicism remained.
''I thought you had an analysis quirk,'' he said carefully.
You and everyone else.
''No, analyzing quirks is just something I like to do,'' Izuku smiled. ''I always had trouble making friends. I am controlling myself when I am with you but I am kinda weird. I used to freak out people when I mumbled about quirks.''
This was a conversation that asked for a quiet place and no eye contact, so they found a bench in a nearby park, and Izuku talked himself out of running away. He was torn apart between wanting to tell his story, this stupid and ridiculous story, and wanting for no one to know how he hadn't managed to fit it.
Todoroki waited without a word, leaving him time to make his decision. It was probably why Izuku talked.
''When I was twelve, a girl got tired of me mumbling about quirks and she electrocuted me in front of my classmates. No one did anything.''
He could still remember him expecting for someone to intervene. To say something.
But just like Izuku hadn't reacted, had waited for someone else to do something, all his classmates had done the same. Bystander syndrome at its finest.
Izuku should have been the one to say something.
''It didn't hurt at the time. I remember that. I remember the violence of the charge, but it only hurt afterwards. At least, some of them asked me if I was okay, but I was a little too stunned to answer.'' Too late, when she was already gone, but at least, they did. ''I passed out later, in the street, and fortunately, someone drove me to the hospital. It turns out that being electrocuted sucks.''
''Was she arrested?'' Todoroki asked.
''Of course not,'' Izuku smiled. ''The school hushed it out. We made a deal with her parents to be compensated, she left school, and so did I because... Well, I study better on my own.''
Izuku shrugged. ''That's life. A trial would have been pointless anyway. Quirkless people are known to be more fragile, and at the time, we desperately needed the money. It was far from a bad deal.''
At the time, the money Izuku's father had left them was almost non existent. His mother had been out of the job market for a while, and thanks to this money, she had been able to breathe long enough to become a chef.
Funny how things worked out sometimes.
''But still, I wanted one person to know,'' Izuku explained even though he wasn't sure Todoroki would understand. ''At least one.''
Soon, no one would know who Midoriya Izuku was. Those who would remember would remind themselves of this quirkless boy who fled his school, fled the hardship, and who would never amount to anything.
A quick glance made him see how Todoroki, expect for his clenched fists, his knuckles white.
But when he talked again, his voice didn't betray the intense emotions that were coursing though him.
''The fact you don't have a quirk doesn't matter. You're an incredible person and I'm glad to know you.''
Izuku breathed again.
He hadn't realized he was holding his breath until this moment.
Training with Todoroki was brutal. Izuku had learned how to fight in classes, with people who were here to have fun. Izuku had just been accidentally thrown into a wall when they decided to take a break, which probably motivated his decision of mentioning his plan to Todoroki just as he was drinking water.
Eventually, Todoroki stopped coughing, while Izuku was checking his phone. When he had become the administrator of the server, he hadn't realized how much he would have to work, but he supposed that that one was on him.
''That's insane,'' Todoroki finally said, drenched.
''Maybe,'' Izuku conceded.
Sanity had been overrated for a while anyway.
''I will help,'' Todoroki decided.
And it appeared insanity is contagious.
Izuku put his phone away and raised an eyebrow at the son of Endeavor, who was extremely famous even though he wasn't even in UA yet. ''You can't help. You will soon be a UA student. A future hero. You can't take the risk.''
That seemed obviousto Izuku.
''Do you remember when I met you,'' Todoroki asked, ''the day when I tried to run away, and you told me I was being reckless and impulsive?''
The green-haired-teen frowned. ''I didn't say that...''
Izuku actually remembered being helpful and really logical about it.
''That's what I heard,'' Todoroki said. ''But you also told me that if I needed help, you would be here. So that's what I'm going to do. This is a spectacular bad idea, and I will make sure you survive through it.''
There was a lot of things Izuku would have liked to say but sometimes, there was no word. How could he convey that Todoroki having his back meant the world to him? That he was so grateful he had found him, a friend who trusted him, someone he could be close to?
Instead, he took a full minute to get his face back under control, because there was no force in the world that could prevent him from smiling, and his eyes were trying to leak.
''I just won't tell you when I intend to do that,'' Izuku then said.
Todoroki didn't seem to appreciate Izuku's common sense and emptied what was left of his water bottle on his head.
All Might had lived a long time, collecting new experience, good or bad, and as he had grown older, he had discovered that the emotional reactions to new experience only varied by intensity.
But when he got up in this empty field, One for All gone, this was something new. Something that swallowed him. It was innovative guilt and shame. It was unadulterated failure because he had managed to be tricked into giving the most powerful quirk in the world, his master’s legacy.
It was like being crushed alive.
He ran, sheer fury managing to activate the embers of One for All because he had to find the boy. He had to make him realize how grave this was. Toshinori didn’t know what he would do to him to have his permission and he was afraid to find out, but he would do it anyway.
How does he even know? One for All is a well-guarded secret.
Toshinori ran, sensing how he was going beyond his limits, how his body would make him pay later. He had seen the boy run at the Sludge villain. He was athletic and he could have fled in any direction.
People startled when they saw a blur frantically looking for someone but Toshinori didn’t slow down. He couldn’t find him. He didn’t even know his name. Only that he was quirkless. The quirk database.
But later. The quirk database would be if Toshinori didn’t find him and he had to find him now. Toshinori had to fix his mistake as soon as possible.
A mouthful of blood spilled from Toshinori’s mouth, and One for All started to disappear, sensing that his body was at his limits. He had no choice but to stop.
All Might screamed, an animal sound that didn’t seem to belong to a human throat, and Toshinori reappeared, the ghost of the Symbol of Peace as long as One for All was in the wild.
There was only one place where to go after such a disaster, and Toshinori was terrified at the idea of admitting what had just happened, what he had let happen, but even he could recognize when he was over his head.
When Gran Torino saw him arriving on his doorstep, disheveled, panicked, and in his true form, he didn't make any snarky comments or made fun of him, his usual mode of communication. Instead, his old teacher let him in, a hand on Toshinori's arm as if he was comforting him.
This was the most thoughtful Gran Torino had ever been with him, except from when Nana... Well, all that to say that Toshinori would have preferred the usual jabs.
And when Toshinori told him what had just happened, how he was so easily tricked, how he had lost One for All, his old teacher needed to sit, suddenly looking frail and worried. Because Toshinori had so utterly failed at his mission.
He had done that. All of that was his fault.
''I told him he couldn’t be a hero without a quirk,'' he remembered. ''Is that my fault? If I had… I meant to talk to him. After the Sludge villain…''
He couldn’t remember why he didn’t do it. He had been impressed. He had wanted to recharge One for All a little, then, it had been in the back of his mind. He thought about it, but he thought he had the time. And there was always someone else to save, some other villain to defeat.
''I told him everything,'' he realized, his breathing suddenly so loud in his ears.
He couldn't help it. It was as if there wasn't enough air in the room, while his heart was pounding in his chest, threatening to escape his rib cage.
Until a cold hand grabbed his arm, strong despite the age of his owner.
''Toshinori, focus,'' Gran Torino said, and somehow, it worked. His voice was real, and Toshinori managed to cling to it. To use it to anchor himself back to reality. ''You're panicking. Which is a logical reaction but not what we need. We need to find him. Now.''
And somehow, knowing that managed to cut through the fog blinding Toshinori.
Because he still had a job to do.
Gran Torino and him quickly got to work, investigating from Gran Torino's living room, calling every favor, every help they could use without revealing what it was about.
The quirk database didn't reveal anything.
Did he lie to me?
No, Toshinori didn't think so. There had been a special kind of powerlessness that couldn't be faked when he had asked if he could be a hero, even without a quirk.
But Tsukauchi told them of an accident where a strength similar to All Might's had been involved, not too long ago. By the time the police had arrived, there was no trace of the people involved, but an alley had been almost destroyed.
Just when Toshinori thought the situation couldn't be more concerning.
''You're telling me he used One for All half an hour he stole it?'' Toshinori asked.
What if next time, he uses that on someone?
A villain with my quirk.
Even All for One hadn't managed to put his hands on One for All, and All Might had handed the most powerful quirk in the world to a ghost.
''Maybe he wanted to test it. And that means he must have been screaming in pain as soon as he stopped,'' Gran Torino noted with a frightening smile. ''We have to check the hospital and every doctors. Then, we just have to make him cough it up.''
Toshinori rubbed his temples. A monstrous headache was starting to form inside his skull. That, or every past One for All users screaming that he was a failure.''He is going to stay low. If he is smart enough to make such a plan, he knows that I could break him in two even while running on the embers of my quirk.''
Gran Torino and him went through everything Toshinori remembered. And it wasn't much. He remembered the kid almost dying. He remembered his yellow backpack and the notebooks full of notes about heroes in it, but he hadn't found any ID at the time. He wasn't even wearing an uniform.
''I met him when he tried to save someone,'' Toshinori finally remembered. ''A friend, maybe. Him, I can find.''
Bakugou. He was almost certain his name had been Bakugou. The media had repeated it for weeks as the young man was saluted for his valiant effort against the villain.
While the other boy had been ignored, wouldn't have been known if the Sludge Villain hadn't revealed his existence, what he had tried to do.
''That's a start,'' Gran Torino nodded.
Now, what Toshinori would have wanted to do was to march down to this school, found Young Bakugou, and asked him about his friend in order to arrive at the thief's home and to get his quirk back.
He didn't do that for two reasons. The first being that he didn't want to spread panic. He didn't want people to see All Might frantically scrambling around. The Symbol of Peace could only show his smile.
The other reason was that he was spent. He couldn't use One for All for now while the boy had a full, if difficult access, to the quirk. If he appeared in front of him right now, if the boy panicked and decided to fight, Toshinori wouldn't have the strength to prevent collateral damages.
Despite his instinct screaming at him to run and find him now, it was better to wait, so the boy wouldn't be warned. He had to be swift and subtle.
So Gran Torino and him plotted and planned, and they almost had a heart attack when someone knocked at the door. But Gran Torino swore, which was his way of telling Toshinori that he was indeed expecting company, and that it had slipped his mind because of this catastrophe.
There was only one person who would visit Gran Torino at this time of a day.
''Is anyone here?'' a young voice called, full of light as if life had never hurt him.
It wasn't true but despite that, Tenko carried on and enjoyed every second of his life, unknowingly giving hope to Toshinori and Gran Torino.
They immediately scrambled to hide any plans of nerve-soothing retribution and while Gran Torino went and opened the door, Toshinori made sure to control his face, not wanting his master’s grandson to worry about him.
Shimura Tenko was a nineteen-year-old young man with light gray hair and red eyes who greeted Gran Torino as soon as he was let in, get rid of the archery gloves that he was wearing outside to contain his quirk.
Not that Tenko didn't have a perfect control over his quirk. He hadn’t decayed anything by accident in years, but he was still expected to wear gloves in public places, which tended to annoy him because he thought that neutralizing his quirk was the best way to lose his mastery over it.
And he paused when he saw Toshinori in his true form, surprise passing on his face, then a smile that could have illuminated the night.
‘’Yagi!’’ he exclaimed, his arms already raised as if his body was already automatically expecting the bear hug.
Not that he was wrong. Toshinori almost launched himself at his master's grandson, hugging him as fast as humanly possible. This speed might have something to do with the need to hide his face and to give himself the time to hide any lingering shame.
Toshinori had briefly, very briefly, considered Tenko as a successor. But Tenko didn’t want to be a hero and Nana herself would probably come back to haunt both Gran Torino and him if they involved her grandson on this road.
The hero didn't let go for a while because he needed the embrace.
At the end of the school year, Katsuki was pulled from his class, his vice principal escorting him and watching him like an hawk. A pro hero was waiting for him in the principal's office, and the vice-principal hadn't only fetched him, she had also made sure to warn him.
Nothing could have prepared him to see All Might, in the flesh, waiting with an obviously distraught principal of this shitty school. Katsuki had seen him once before, but it had been so fast, the Sludge villain had been all over him -drowning him alive- and everything had just happened too fast to really realize what was happening.
But All Might wasn't here for him.
Katsuki couldn't believe what was happening when he showed him the footage of Deku, crying and rushing to his aid against the Sludge villain.
''I am trying to find this young man,'' All Might explained, ''but I do not know his name and he wasn't wearing an uniform or anything that could have allowed me to find me again. But he tried to help you...''
Behind All Might, the principal's and the vice-principal's face were completely blank, not showing anything. They must have the best poker face in the world.
''So, I was hoping that you might know him? And tell me where he is?''
Even now that Katsuki was an exemplar, Deku managed to spoil that.
This crybaby he had known since forever.
Katsuki took a deep breathe, the words said by the vice-principal engraved in his mind.
Bakugou-kun, you have to understand how proud the school is to count an exemplar among our students. It would be a shame if some childish antics were revealed. It would compromise your future career.
And none of us wants that.
''I don't,'' he lied to his idol. To the man he wanted to be. Or he would lose everything. ''I never knew who he was.''
A month after receiving his quirk and two weeks after finding a way not to break his bones and crawl to Ao so she would heal him, Izuku was treating requests on his computer when he received a new one, which didn't surprise him. Anyone was getting more and more popular and he had to treat them by order of priority in order not to be overwhelmed.
He had a bad feeling when he saw that it came from Eri's adoptive parents. Izuku was keeping an eye on the whole family because since he was the one who had rescued Eri, he would always make sure she was safe, and he had confirmed she was in a loving family and that she didn't miss anything. They wouldn't write to him unless they needed help.
One desperate plea later, Izuku realized that ''help'' was an euphemism.
Three days ago, people from the government had retrieved Eri when she was at school, thinking about integrating her to the Paragon program due to her interesting quirk. The teacher had let them take the little girl, then informed her parents, because of course, why not trust blindly the government?
The parents hadn't found their daughter back.
People in black refused to let them see her. Money was offered in compensation, enough to make them rich. They had basically told them to shove this money where the sun didn't shine and convinced -corrupted- someone to tell them where their daughter was, because the police wasn't helping, and had explained they had to refer to the same Hero Committee who had taken Eri.
And now, they were panicking, rambling, saying how Eri was in danger, and they couldn't let her there.
[What do you mean? Where is she?
The answer iced Izuku's blood in his veins.
[Eri-chan is in Tartarus.]
Nagisa stared at Izuku for a long time, not saying a word.
Also known as Gwen, she was the hacker and the backbone of Anyone. Older than him, in college, she was an extremely well-dressed young woman whose head bore a striking resemblance to a spider's, and whose long claws helped her navigate the labyrinth of web that covered her house. She had said again and again to Izuku that she despised wastes of time, but under her cold exterior, for anyone with a shovel and a lot of patience, there was a golden heart that couldn't help but to protect the innocent.
That was why Izuku had gone to her as soon as he learned where Eri was, with a plan.
''You lost your mind,'' Nagisa told him.
A plan that might need to be refined.
''I hope you just bumped your head not too long ago,'' she continued, ''because you're obviously not thinking straight.''
Oh, Izuku wasn't thinking. He was trapped in this deep emotional place where concepts like reasons and sanity didn't matter anymore, replaced by a beast whose howl was drowning everything else.
Yes, this was Tartarus they were talking about. An urban legend for a very long time, the place where they kept monsters, but it was real and Eri wouldn't spend a second longer than necessary in that place. Not if Izuku could help it.
Izuku didn't say any of that. He simply waited because in the end, she didn't answer his simple question : could she obtain the blueprints of the most secured prison in the country?
''No,'' Nagisa finally answered after a pause. ''It's no. You're going to get yourself killed. They won't ask questions, they won't try to arrest you. They will shoot you until you stop moving, and then, they will keep shooting.''
That was a risk Izuku might have to take. And he hadn't decided that because of One for All -a flame of a candle compared to the blaze All Might seemed to be able to summon- within him.
It was just that he didn't have it in him to abandon Eri.
Nagisa couldn't help. It was a problem, but it wasn't the end. There was always a solution. Always.
''Then, do you know anyone else who could help me, without leaving any trace?'' Izuku asked.
She crossed her arms. ''No one that would be willing to help. It's too dangerous.''
''I see. Thank you for your time, Nagisa,'' he said with a bow.
As he started to leave, careful of not stepping on any of the sticky spider threads on the floor, Nagisa starting to fidget. Between the pause when she had answered the first time, and how her arms were crossed on her chest, in a defensive posture, it meant that she was either worried about him or had been lying about what she could do.
''Are you going still going to attempt that? Even if you know you're going to fail?''
Yes. I will.
''I will consider my options,'' he answered instead, pausing in a dramatic stand, but not entirely because of his free will.
Nagisa took a deep breath.
''Are you leveraging your life to guilt me into helping you? Because it sounds like that.''
A familiar doubt pierced at Izuku's heart.
Are you taking advantage of good people? Using them to do whatever pleases you?
Inside him, One for All seemed to burn, full of reproach.
Unlike Todoroki, Nagisa wasn't a friend. She was an ally. Someone who had his back, for a payment, but also someone he liked. Someone he cared about.
''I am not. I need a service. If you can't do it, whatever the reason is, I will search for another option. You don't owe me anything.''
''Oh, but I can do it,'' she almost snarled. ''And I can make sure I am never found out. But it won't be free.''
She told him her price.
It was a lot. Not as expensive as it could have been, but not an amount he could get his hands on, not on his own, not even if he asked his mother's help. For a moment, he wondered if Nagisa had taken a look at his bank account. She already knew his name when they met, so it wouldn't be implausible.
It wasn't a real price. It was a wall Izuku couldn't climb so he wouldn't attempt something incredibly dangerous. It was his confrontation with reality Nagisa had planned so he would realize he had to be realistic.
Too bad he hated this very concept.
''I will be in touch,'' Izuku smiled, because he could see the way to the solution. ''But before I go...''
''What do you want?''
He pointed at his red sneaker who was stuck on the floor because he hadn't seen one of the thinnest threads. Nagisa's quirk allowed her to create a web she could navigate easily thanks to her mutation, but to anyone else, it was a trap, and now, Izuku either needed her help to entangle himself or he would have to leave without a right shoe.
Izuku had entered a bar three times in his life, but entered might not have been the right word because he had been warped inside every time, which was really scary because one had to trust the warper not to drop them into a volcano or not to cut them in half.
But on this occasion, he was more serene because the owner of the bar was well-disposed towards Izuku since he had legally kept the place from being demolished.
Kurogiri's good disposition lasted only until Izuku finished asking him to help break into the most secured prison of the country. Now, Kurogiri's alias did not lie and his body was indeed a mass of black mist with two golden eyes, so it wasn't easy to read his face but if Izuku had to try, he would say that Kurogiri was currently wearing a ''Are you kidding me???'' expression.
Izuku gave him a minute, enjoying how his hood had some kind of veil that gave the impression that there was only a mass of shadows where his face should have been. It was like a mask, and masks had power, allowing a dumb teenager to pretend he knew what he was doing.
Kurogiri finished cleaning the glass in his hands, though it seemed redundant since he had been busying his hands with it since Izuku had arrived. Still, he carefully put it on the counter, and focused back on Izuku.
''You're going to get yourself killed,'' he said slowly. ''But that's not important. What's important is that you're also trying to get me killed.''
Why do people always react like this when I ask them to help me break in a prison?
''I am aware of how complex...''
''Demented,'' the warper corrected. ''It is not complex but demented. Why would you do that?''
For a moment, Izuku could only stare at him.
''Is that a real question?''
Kurogiri tilted his head.
''Because there is a little girl who was taken from her parents' arm,'' Izuku explained. ''She is scared and alone, and she thinks no one is coming. And the people who abducted her also think no one is coming from her, so they won't expect it. That's why we can do it. And as for why I am doing that... They think they can get away with it. And it annoys me.''
At that moment... At that moment, Izuku had Kurogiri's complete attention.
So he explained to him how he needed money to complete the plan, and how fortunate they were that he had acquired the itinerary of an armored van which would transport diamonds from the safety of a bank to a jewel store. He even had the exact coordinates, because the friend of the sister of an Clamor user had been dumped by one the men in the security. If only he had a warp quirk which would allow to get in and get out quickly.
It didn't escape him how Kurogiri started to eye the bottles of expensive alcohol.
''If, and I insist on the if, we do this, when are we supposed to commit highway robbery?''
Izuku checked the time on his phone.
''In two hours and fourteen minutes,'' he answered.
Kurogiri was speechless.
''I am sorry!'' Izuku apologized, suddenly feeling self-conscious. ''That's why I was asking for us to meet yesterday.''
Nagisa's face when she opened the Endeavor backpack was a memory Izuku would cherish for the rest of his life -though it might happen sooner than expected if he kept pulling those stunts. Her many eyes became incredibly wide when she saw all the diamonds inside.
She slowly closed the bag again. ''I am not going to ask you how you got that.''
It was probably wise.
''But why the Endeavor bag?'' she asked in a vaguely horrified voice, and at this moment, Izuku had no doubt she was more disturbed by his choice of Hero merchandise than by his decision of breaking into Tartarus.
''Good quality and also extremely cheap because not a lot of people want them,'' Izuku explained cheerfully.
Entering Tartarus was surprisingly easy.
Actually, it wasn’t. But it was surprisingly easy compared to getting out.
Nagisa hadn’t been sure she could hack into the server because there was no wi-fi, only the internal system, and as she said ’Unless I sprout the ultimate hacking quirk, I won’t be in without an invitation.’ So everyone involved in the operation had prayed someone would disobey the rules and use a personal device from inside the prison. Different mails had been sent, Nagisa had her clawed fingers crossed for several days, until one of them had clicked on a link, opening a golden path to the hacker, and suddenly, Nagisa was weaving her web all around Tartarus.
And doing so, she confirmed that Eri was here and she found her exact location.
However, there was the fact like unlike what he did with All Might, Izuku couldn’t afford to simply run and hope for the best this time.
So Kurogiri’s involvement was vital. When the barman wasn’t looking at Izuku like he was seeing a dead man walking, he was confirming what Izuku knew about his quirk : he created a portal from his own mass and he needed the GPS locations. That meant that if the blueprints obtained by Nagisa were wrong, Izuku could be warped through a wall. Which would probably be a source of relief for his two associates, but Izuku had a job to do.
So they did the coin test.
One day, Nagisa located a supply closet in Tartarus, Kurogiri created a warp gate, and Izuku very gently put the coin down, so it wouldn’t roll down somewhere. They waited sixty seconds, then Kurogiri warped it back. Along with some dust, but at least, it didn’t end up in concrete.
Unfortunately, it triggered an alarm that sent the Tartarus staff running, and which almost gave a heart attack to Kurogiri.
It quickly appeared that Tartarus had some way to know when a quirk was used. Nagisa never found out what it was, but be it a quirk or a machine, Izuku still cajoled Kurogiri into doing the coin test again. And again. And again. At random hours, at different places, and if the first time, the guards ran at full speed, they quickly became annoyed as they never found anything.
That’s how the response time became slower and slower.
Until Izuku himself was warped inside.
Kurogiri's Warp Gate was like walking into mist. For a moment, it was impossible to see anything, the black fog all around him, ether-like but with a definite weight on his whole body.
And as soon as it disappeared, as soon as he was left alone in the supply closet, fear punched him in the guts and almost left him for dead.
He was in Tartarus. Wearing the black uniform and cap of a Tartarus guard, without any access except for Nagisa's talents with hacking, and a quirk he could barely control.
He hadn't even been that panicked the day he had stolen One for All.
''Yami?'' Nagisa called through the earbud in his ear. ''Do you copy?''
Yami. The other way to read Akatani Mikumo.
Have no fear, so you're not alone here, he smiled.
''G,'' he answered, for they would only call each other by their nicknames. Their villain names. ''Can you guide me?''
Eri had never expected the happiness to last. Those warm meals, her new family with her new parents and her new sister, school with her new friends... She knew she couldn't keep them.
All because of her curse.
''Eri-chan,'' Nurse Natsume called, a lady with purple hair who always smiled. No matter what happened. ''You really have to eat.''
They were in Eri's room, pink and full of toys, but without any window. So different from the room Eri shared with her older sister : small but with large windows that let the moonlight chase away nightmares, painted in blue, and with birds painted on the ceiling. So different, because when she had lived with her family, she was barely in her room, Yoko-nee and her roaming in the house, playing together, and only coming back to the room to sleep.
But since she had been brought here, she lived in this one room, and she only got out when they went to the classroom. A white room where she had to use her quirk. And even if no one was hurting her anymore, it had the same smell as Overhaul's laboratory.
''Eri-chan... You have to eat everything in your plate to become a beautiful paragon.''
Eri looked at the plate, and she felt nauseous at the idea of taking another bite, even if she knew she was eating less and less the days.
She was supposed to be a paragon. The best type of hero, trained by the Hero Committee. They chose special people and they trained them to become the best version of themselves. That's why she was here for now. Because her quirk was powerful but dangerous, and this place offered the best conditions to train her.
At least, that was what Nurse Natsume kept explaining to her. But when Eri asked, the adult never said where they were exactly. She just smiled and asked her to be a good girl.
Eri was reluctantly picking up her fork, and was about to stab a pea with it, when she was interrupted by the heavy door of her room opening. It wasn't an usual door but one without doorknob, and it wouldn't open unless there was an adult.
Nurse Natsume sighed and started to get up. She always accompanied Eri to the classroom.
''You can't just call for her at any time,'' she sighed, then she paused.
So did Eri, raising her head to see a white-haired-guard, in their black uniform. At first, she fought it was one of the women because the guard was short, but she realized she wasn't recognizing him.
Well, at least, not as one of the usual guards.
Neither did Nurse Natsume who gasped and ran in the same breath.
In a blur of green lightning, the very small guard caught her before she could push the red button on the wall, and he pulled what Eri had learned to know as a taser from his pocket. A pocket quirk, as one of the greatest person in the world had called them.
The small guard looked up as soon as Nurse Natsume was unconscious, smiling at her, and Eri smiled back.
Eri ran to Yami-nii's arms, unable to believe he had come for her once again.
Like in a dream, they got out of the room, doors opening for them without Yami-nii touching them. As if even this strange bad place couldn't contain her hero.
Until one of the door remained shut before them, and everything came back to Eri. How things were never good for long.
She realized Yami-nii never should have come. That she would drag him with him.
''Hey, G,'' Yami-nii called, a hand to his ear, unaware of what she was thinking. ''The door isn't opening... What does that mean?''
The door finally opened.
Then, Yami-nii said a really bad word.
The plan was simple. Get Eri. Run back to the drop point. Have Nagisa clear the technological details. Escape and live to see the day.
So of course, something had to go wrong.
‘’That means,'' Nagisa explained between her teeth, ''that there is another hacker trying to kick me out and to find where I am.’’
For a moment, Izuku forgot Eri was right next to him and a word one shouldn't utter in pleasant company escaped his lips. He only realized that there was still a very tiny little girl next to him because he saw her flinch from the corner of his eye.
That just wouldn't do.
He crouched in front of the most courageous person he had ever met. And he smiled, because if he let her be scared, he had already lost.
''Have no fear,'' Izuku said. ''Why?''
This made Eri smile. A tiny, trembling smile, but a smile nonetheless.
''Because you are here?'' Eri said, and she smiled wider, believing that he had the means to get them out, to save the day.
To be a hero.
And Izuku couldn't betray that trust.
''Exactly,'' he said. ''We're getting out. Everything will be fine.''
Full Cowl. 5%.
He hauled Eri on his back and started running, using this stolen quirk of his that would break his bones if he wasn't careful, like All Might's fury reminding him how he had obtained this power.
‘’You can’t let them know who you are,'' Izuku reminded Nagisa who was still at the other end of the line. ''That’s the number 1 priority.’’
The only reason why he had asked Nagisa and Kurogiri's help was because the two of them could make sure not to be linked to the operation. Izuku was the only one to take a risk.
‘’Go back to the drop point,'' Nagisa ordered, probably between clenched teeth. ''Our warper will try to extract you every five minutes, until the last second.’’
He didn't need Nagisa to find the way back. He has studied the plan until they were engraved in his memory.
But he hadn't counted on the alarms that suddenly blasted through the air.
''They know where you are!''
Izuku accelerated as much as he dared.
‘’I am going to try something…’’
She barely finished the word that the alarms stopped screaming in their ears. And one by one, the lights on the wall shut off, leaving only red LED that barely allowed to see the shapes of things.
Suddenly, Eri and him were in the dark and in a complete silence, Nagisa's voice gone.
At least, until they heard the noise of a lot of people coming their way.
Nagisa didn’t often regret what she did. Learning from her mistakes was one thing, but lamenting over what she should have done was useless.
However, when, in a panic, she caused a massive blackout in Tartarus, she stared at her screen for a long moment, wondering if maybe, just maybe, she should have taken a second to think about it.
Then she threw the laptop bought specifically for this occasion in a trashcan, and left the hero festival she had taken refuge in because fee wi-fi and a crowd of cosplayers were always a good thing when illegal activities were concerned.
Good luck finding her in such a crowd.
And good luck, Anyone.
Everything went wrong.
Whatever Nagisa had done, there was no light anymore, no alarms, but the metal doors had still closed on them, trapping them where they were, and Izuku and Eri couldn't count on the support of their favorite hacker anymore.
And yet, it was ridiculously low on Izuku's list of priorities.
''I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,’’ Eri was sobbing next to his ear as a horrible pain was passing through Izuku.
It wasn’t like the three times he broke his arm, to Ao’s fury. It was a normal pain, the kind of pain that was just a consequence of too much force applied to a limb. But what Izuku was feeling… Everything was wrong with it.
Izuku knew it was Rewind. He knew what that quirk could do, Eri had told him what had happened to his father, and her family and him had to work like crazy to convince her she wasn't cursed, that no quirk was inherently bad.
''Don't worry,'' he managed to say. ''Just hold on to me.''
One for All.
''Everything will be fine,'' he grinned.
It was a chance that he had a quirk that broke his bones, wasn’t it?
Full Cowl 100%.
Anyone was dead. Kurogiri was aware of it even before Gwen had called him to tell him everything had started to go to hell in a handbasket, and honestly, nothing kept him from just leaving. He didn’t owe that much to Anyone.
He wasn’t a hero. He had done things that would probably make Anyone’s hair stand on ends.
But Anyone wasn’t a hero either. Despite how honorable he could be, despite how he helped people, he was an enemy of the heroes, refusing to abide by their rules, refusing to be broken by them.
So Kurogiri would stay as long as he could. To honor men and women from another age who didn’t hesitate to stand against the flawed hero system.
Prisoners were screaming at full lungs, some howling with joy, others just making noses, and finally those whose screams were saturated with madness. All of them screaming and hitting the wall when they could because someone was out, their screams following Izuku and Eri.
He would remember this sound for the rest of life.
Eri was on his back as he was running, as fast as he could, One for All roaring inside him. He was trapped between Rewind and pain, the first barely keeping his quirk from crushing him from the inside while the ghost of the second reminding him that what he was doing was unnatural, and that if he hesitated for one second, the consequences would kill him.
Even if he was still in one piece for now, the shockwaves of Eri's quirk were spreading through him, trying to bring him to an unknown place he didn't want to discover.
He never managed to get close to the drop point. Not when every guard in Tartarus was running after him.
At some point, Izuku just stopped thinking. There was no time. Not when those hunting them were so close. So he used everything of All Might's power to run faster. To destroy every metal wall in his way, kicking them or punching them down.
He could not afford to be trapped. He could not allow himself to be stopped.
And so, he delved deeper and deeper into the entrails of the prison.
Until he reached a place where everything was quiet. No prisoners yelling, no prisoners trying to escape. On his back, Eri's fists were burying themselves in the fabric of Izuku's coat.
But as Izuku realized something was wrong, and that he should take the freaking time to pause and to think about a real escape plan, he had taken so much momentum that no force on earth would have been able to make him slow down.
He still tried, even though he knew that this wasn't a good idea since using One for All like crazy was the only thing keeping him from being rewound from existence.
And he crashed into one of the most solid wall he have ever encountered.
Eri got ejected from his back, screaming, and he barely managed to catch her, bringing her against his chest and using himself as a cushion so she wouldn't get hurt.
He couldn't say the same thing for himself and all the air was chased from his lungs, while his shoulder bumped into something metallic, and some whiny sound was heard. After a moment, he realized he was the one making that sound.
Eri rolled off him and to the ground with a plop sound, breathing loudly.
And even though Izuku had stopped using Full Cowl, he was still there and not in any pain of any kind. Rewind had stopped acting.
Finally something that is going the right way today.
He barely finished the thought that several things happened so fast they were almost simultaneous.
Izuku realized what he had hit at almost mach speed had been a bed and there had been someone on it. The someone in question made a noise that belonged to a pissed off predator and certainly not a human throat. And last, but not the least, something passed through the air.
Something intense and terrifying, barely contained violence if violence was cold and ineluctable. Something that gave Izuku's goosebumps and who kept him from breathing for a second, as he hit by the realization that he could easily die. Easily get killed, and no one could prevent it.
Eri, smart girl that she was, ran before Izuku had even the time to process all that. Alas, in a panic, she ran straight into the prisoner that Izuku could barely see.
And of course, Eri did the only thing she would do when she was terrified.
Izuku jumped backwards just as she activated her quirk.
Both the prisoner and the child screamed, the sound chilling Izuku to the bones.
The villain fell to his hands and knees, his whole body shaken by spasms and for a moment, Izuku thought he was about to throw up. He didn’t, tried to get to his feet, and growled. He managed to do it the second time, leaning on what was left of the bed.
As for Eri, she had fallen out of reach. Izuku couldn't use more than 5%, but it was enough and a mere moment later, she was back in his arms, then on his back.
He took a step back, the villain blocking the way. On Izuku's back, Eri was feverish, unresponding.
Now, shadows were still omnipresent but Izuku could guess forms, movements, and somewhat see anything that was pale. So he was perfectly able to distinguish the hint of white teeth on the prisoner's face and to guess his wolfish smile.
Izuku realized they were about to die.
The air was so thick with animosity that Izuku could barely breathe. As for Eri, burning with fever, she was trembling and clinging to Izuku’s vest, her face hidden against his back. He had to get her out, as soon as possible.
The prisoner was tall. That was Izuku’s first thought, and that was coming from a boy who had talked with All Might up close. And when the prisoner talked, he sounded like how dragons would speak if they had a voice.
''An One for All holder, visiting little old me?'' he mocked. ''Oh, you really shouldn't have.''
Izuku took a step back, aware that this man was between him and the way out. He hadn't done anything yet. Hadn't even taken a step towards him. But he knew he was dangerous and he wanted to hurt him.
All Might must have been the one to put him here.
Izuku was no All Might. He barely could handle his quirk without breaking his bones. But he didn't matter. He was the only thing standing between Eri and one of the prisoner of Tartarus.
He would sacrifice every limb, everything he had, to make sure she stayed alive. If she was taken again, she would live. Her quirk made her too precious to be discarded by the staff of Tartarus.
''Foolish successor. All Might should have protected you. He should have kept you away from me, but it seems that he didn't learn his lesson.''
If he knew what All Might thinks of me...
''Tell me, child, will he mourn you?'' the villain asked, raising his hand.
One for All. 100%.
And at this precise moments, all the lights were online again.
Izuku blinked, trying not to get blinded by it. The prisoner didn’t have as much chance and immediately put an arm in front of his eyes, even more sensitive than Izuku's.
For a second, they managed to take a good look at each other.
A man in his thirties, white curls not unlike Izuku's. Pale. Plain.
And for a fleeting moment, there was a look of abject horror on his face.
Izuku looked behind him, ready to see some horrible monster sneaking up on him to devour them with its poisonous fangs or something, for it was the kind of day he was having, but he didn't find anything.
Then he looked up, and his heart missed a beat as he realized they were surrounded by a lot of the machine guns on the walls of the cells. All starting to move.
Izuku full cowled out of here before he even had the time to think, and so did the prisoner. Well, maybe not full cowled but he also got the hell out of there. They were barely out that the sounds of bullets was heard and Izuku jumped behind the wall in case they would bounce out of the room.
And the villain was standing right next to him, listening to the symphony of bullets like he didn't have a care in the world, while keeping a cold eye on the two children.
''Well, I am sure they are very proud of their security now,'' he mocked, his voice raspy. Maybe it was less deep, and just that way because he hadn't talked to anyone in a long time. ''Foiled by a teenage babysitter.''
He probably had more to say but the finest of Tartarus decided to arrive at this very moment. Not that it seemed to bother the villain, so Izuku shamelessly hid behind him. He wasn't fast enough to dodge bullets anymore, after all.
''Speaking of fools...'' the human shield said.
One by one, all the guards stopped, fear on their face.
A dozen of Tartarus guards. All armed to the teeth. And they all paled when they saw who was out of his cell.
Izuku heard the name All for One uttered in fear.
And as the new One for All holder, he decided to take advantage of the situation by letting the guards and All for One having a talk while he escaped with Eri.
All for One's hand gripped his shoulder before he had the time to take one step. Without a care in the world, and without even looking at the teenager, he secured his grip on the collar of Izuku's jacket and he easily kept him in place as if Izuku wasn't using five per cent of the most powerful quirk in the world.
''Gentlemen,'' he called as he raised his other hand, a smile worth of the Cheshire cat on his face. ''I would suggest you to dodge.''
Everyone fled for their lives while Izuku was still hold by his collar.
The rest happened in a blur. A mess of shadows and of quirks, of avoiding prisoners that had managed to break out of their cells because of the chaos Izuku had brought with him, guards fighting to put them back in.
Honestly, it was a good thing Eri was unconscious.
And in the middle of the chaos, All for One, fraying himself a path out of the nightmare, and Izuku, who was too weak to do anything else, followed him.
At least, until they got out of the prison half-buried in the ocean.
Eri woke up about an hour after Izuku managed to lose All for One in the crowd of a train station. Actually, Izuku doubted he had managed to flee, and he suspected that All for One had allowed him to break out of the prison with him as a way to repay him, but he was too tired to care about the details.
It didn't stop him from taking all the counter-measures to make sure he wasn't followed.
By the time he met with Eri's parents, he could barely keep his eyes opened and only stubbornness kept him from passing out from sheer exhaustion. But he couldn't let them know that. Because he was Anyone.
He was carrying Eri in his arms. She could have walked and Izuku's whole body was screaming at the weight, but he didn't want to let her go just yet. He wanted to make sure she was alright.
So, hidden behind a hood, he gave Eri back to her family who had decided to move to Australia where the government was less prone to kidnap children with interesting quirks.
They thanked Izuku, tears in their eyes, and he couldn't bear it because he had been stupid and incredibly lucky at the same time. He didn't tell them about All for One, but he made clear that without Eri, they would have never gotten out of this hellhole.
They didn't care.
And then, things got awkward when they made clear that they couldn't accept the money Izuku had transferred on their account to help them with their new life. Money Izuku had never heard about, but when they told him the sum, he realized it was about the equivalent of a certain hacker's share in diamonds.
Izuku went back to his empty and cold home, unable to realize he had survived being so reckless and stupid. Nagisa and Kurogiri certainly didn't and couldn't believe it to announce them it was indeed better to be lucky than to be smart.
He crawled on his bed, too tired to go under the blankets, and just looked at his ceiling.
His whole body was shivering.
I am never doing something like that again.
Izuku woke up later to the smell of bacon and his body immediately reminded him that he hadn't eaten for far too long despite extensively using his quirk. He smiled from under his blankets, just quietly happy because he may have ten more minutes of sleep before a delicious breakfast with his mom.
Then, he remembered his mom was in America right now and she couldn't be here.
Izuku jumped out of his bed, hazy, and ran to his kitchen, Full Cowl already activated.
There was a man in his kitchen. Tall, almost as tall as All Might, he was wearing a formal wear, though only the black pants and white shirts with rolled up sleeve. His jacket was draped over the back of Izuku's mom's chair, and whatever he was cooking, it smelled like an edible heaven.
All for One turned towards Izuku who was still frozen where he was, unable to currently deal with the situation.
''Just in time,'' the villain smiled. ''Take a seat. Breakfast is ready and we need to talk.''
Just so you know. Izuku returning home and laying on the blanket of his bed, then waking up under the blanket isn't a continuity error. :)
Also, I love how last chapter, everyone was blaming All for One for what was happening to Eri. The guy had been in and out of a coma for the last ten years! For once in his life, he is innocent! xD
Toshinori would always remember the phone call that had changed his life. A phone call from Tartarus.
Ten years ago, Toshinori had fought All for One and almost lost his life. He had destroyed his skull and ripped off his arms, and the bastard had been declared dead on site. And despite Gran Torino and Sir Nighteye begging him to rest, to heal, he hadn't managed to stop. He had to see it with his own eyes.
And he had been right to check for his followers had retrieved him and somehow gotten him back from the Great Beyond. All Might, half dead, had arrested everyone of them, trembling at the idea of what would have happened if All for One had survived while he would have been none the wiser.
Ultimately, he had died from his wounds in prison, in the infirmary of Tartarus.
And the day Tartarus had called to announce that death, Toshinori had known he was now free.
When confronted with the super villain Izuku had accidentally broken out of the most secured prison in the country, a man who had basically walked out of said prison as soon as he wasn't restrained anymore, Izuku did the only thing any rational person would do.
He ran like hell. No shoes, no plan, nothing except Full Cowl roaring in his veins and he fled.
At least, he tried to.
Strong tendrils stopped him dead, then hands picked him up by his shoulders and suddenly, his feet weren't touching the ground and he was forcibly brought to the kitchen table.
''No, no, no,'' All for One said with the tone one would employ with a disobedient pet or a very young child. ''Your breakfast is going to get cold and we have so much to talk about. Sit. Enjoy the eggs. If you don't like them, I can make something else.''
And he dropped him on his chair, before putting the plate in front of him. Then, he sat at the other end of the table, facing Izuku, his own plate in front of him and he started to eat. Slowly, his manners perfect, while Izuku was dying of sheer stress over there.
Then, he looked at Izuku. Then at Izuku's plate.
''You're not eating?''
Izuku took one bite to shut him up and to have some time to think about an escape plan but it wasn't over. After his swallowed the piece of grilled bacon, All for One just looked at him, like he was expecting Izuku to say the most important thing in the world.
Manners taught by his mom kicked Izuku in the face.
''It's good,'' Izuku assured, also because his heart wouldn't take it if the fiend decided to cook something else just for him. And he wasn't even lying. Under the taste of raw terror and probable evil, it was actually quite delicious. Not bad for a last meal.
''That's great,'' All for One said with a smile so genuine that it creeped out Izuku. ''I didn't cook for so long, I wasn't sure I still knew how.''
Izuku could remember how he was unable to move back in his cell. Izuku couldn't have stood it for two days, and this man had to be locked away for years. Not cooking, not moving, not really living.
''How long were you in prison?'' Izuku couldn't help himself to ask.
''Far too long for my taste. How come there is no adult here? Where is your mother?'' he asked while showing a photography of Izuku and his mom, when Izuku was far younger.
''Far away,'' Izuku answered, as vague as All for One himself and while.
Too far away for you to reach her.
The air got thick with an intensity not unlike All Might's, but Izuku knew the Symbol of Peace wouldn't hurt him. That he was a hero, and as such, it was okay for him to be so powerful. But the man in front of him escaped rules, and wouldn't hesitate to destroy everything standing between him and what he wanted.
''I would love to know why an One for All holder is acting as a vigilante and why All Might didn't put you in safety as soon as he learned Tartarus had been breached,'' All for One asked with the smile of someone who already knew he would be answered.
Izuku told him everything. Well, he was very discreet about Anyone, but apart from that, he told him what was the story between All Might and him. And why he had to get Eri back.
It seemed logical. All for One obviously didn't like All Might, so the last thing Izuku needed was for him to think they got along. And fortunately, he didn't even had to lie about it.
As he'd talked, All for One had listened to him, his elbows on the table, his hands joined in front of his face, half hiding it. And as Izuku finished his story, All for One's expression got somber and he hid more and more of his face until he dropped his head, taking deep breaths. His shoulders were trembling, probably from anger.
And then, he made some noise. Tried to make it stop. Did some more. And Izuku realized what was happening when All for One stopped holding his laughs in and just burst out laughing, barely breathing.
''You stole his quirk! I can't believe it... Nine generations of pain in my a... side and you just...'' He laughed some more, suddenly looking very young. ''I can't believe it. His face when he realized it... I would pay money to see it.''
Izuku glanced at the door, wondering if All for One's hilarity would allow him to flee, but the villain saw him looking and immediately sobered up.
''So you went through hell to retrieve an innocent. How heroic,'' All for One mocked. ''But now, I have a problem. Every One for All holders so far had been an enemy of mine, and they almost all died by my hand, but I am somehow fond of the quirk.''
So was Izuku, so no surprise here.
Nine generations of One for All holders meant this man was extremely old. And he either had the most versatile quirk ever seen, or he had multiple quirks. The latter was supposed to be impossible but so were transferable quirks.
''And since you provided such a lovely diversion for my escape, I am willing to let you live if you give this quirk back to me.''
Izuku just stared at him.
''I have an arsenal myself,'' All for One continued, ''and I am not opposed of giving you one of mine in exchange. And I take only interesting ones, so I am sure you will find what you want.''
The nerve of that guy. Izuku had planned during several months to steal this quirk, two more to actually survive it, and this man thought he could just waltz in and claimed his work after admitting he had spent eight generations of failing at taking One for All for himself.
Only the memory of walls exploding with a mere thought and of the sea of prisoners and guards deciding to be somewhere else as soon as All for One approached allowed Izuku to bite his tongue.
Instead, he ate more bacon. If he had to die, he wanted to be full of crispy, bad for his health, bacon on his way to the afterlife.
Once he was done, he gave his answer. ''I don't know a lot about One for All. But I am fairly certain that you're powerful enough without it.'' A little flattery never hurt. ''And anyway, this quirk tries to break my bones every time I use it, so I don't have the means to be your enemy...''
''Isn't that a great reason to change quirk, then?''
''There is also the fact that I don't trust you,'' Izuku admitted.
All for One stopped smiling, and that was almost better. Izuku didn't trust smiles.
''Then, I guess I will have to take it from you,'' the villain said.
No, you won't.
''Then why didn't you do it when I was asleep? Or back in Tartarus?'' Izuku asked.
The villain shrugged and ate more bacon. That man went through masks quickly and easily, but Izuku would always remember the monster in the dark who was about to kill him just to spite All Might.
''Now, I won't pretend I am an expert on One for All or your own quirk'' A quirk which could take and give quirks. That sounded absolutely amazing and Izuku had to control himself not to ask questions. ''But it seems to me that there is a reason why you didn't simply retrieve the quirk for all those years.''
All for One looked at him like he was the most interesting thing in the world, which was more unnerving than any threats he could have thrown at Izuku.
''You're a bright child. A reckless, unconscious, and powerful child, but under this utter disregard for your safety, there is some cutting-edge intelligence.''
The silence spread between them, thick and weighting on Izuku like giant pillow smothering him. Though All for One didn't seem to mind. He was just watching Izuku intently, fascination in his eyes.
''Now that I refused your proposition,'' Izuku asked matter-of-factly, ''are you going to torture me or to kill me?''
To force him to give One for All to the villain. Not that he would manage to.
Izuku wasn't a good person, but he had stolen the equivalent of a nuclear bomb. He was now responsible of everything that would happen because of it.
All for One actually dropped his fork.
''I wouldn't hurt you. I am not a monster,'' he pouted like a child, all offended.
Forgive me if I hurt the supervillain's fragile feelings.
''You tried to kill me in Tartarus just because you thought All Might might be sad because of it,'' Izuku reminded him.
All for One shrugged. ''I am always cranky when I wake up. Pay no attention to it.''
Izuku would do no such a thing.
''You're pale. You could use more bacon,'' All for One decreed and actually walked away to cook more of his delicious food.
But as he passed near Izuku, he did something that just made the teenager freeze, not understanding what was happening at the moment.
He only saw him move, and felt the weight and movement on All for One's hand on the top of his head, in a mere moment, then he was leaving, and it was only as he started to throw more bacon on the frying that Izuku realized his hair had just been ruffled.
No. Just no.
''What do you think you're doing?'' Izuku heard himself asking, incredibly creeped out.
All for One shrugged. He was still cooking, his back to Izuku, but the teenager just knew he was smiling.
''It seems obvious,'' the holder of multiple quirks said. ''Children should be taken care of, and it's the adults' job to do that. Since there is no other adult here, it's normal for me to make sure you are fed.''
Izuku wasn't understanding what was happening, he didn't want to understand what was happening, but he definitely knew what he wanted.
''Get out of my house.''
All for One turned towards him, his eyes glimmering with trolling humor. He was enjoying this.
''But I have nowhere to go,'' he said, pretending to be saddened, a hand on the hole where his heart should have been.
''It's great,'' Izuku said, now on his feet as he forced himself to smile like All Might. He has always thought it was to ward off fear, but maybe it would work against evil. ''The world is full of opportunities and if you have nothing now, you can only ascend.''
''I will be lonely,'' All for One whined, so proud of himself he would need a mop to get rid of all the smugness. ''You're the only one I know now.''
''Make new friends, preferably some you didn't meet in prison.''
''I am sorry, Izuku...''
Argh. The name on his lips was unnerving. No one called him by his first name, except for his mother, and she has the right for she was the one who had brought him into this world.
''But since your mom is working abroad and there is no one watching over you and taking care of you, I feel that it's my duty as a responsible adult to make sure you don't jump into something you won't be able to survive.''
''You're not a responsible adult, you're a felon! And you just want to stay around to steal my quirk!''
The willingly given condition was no joke, and Izuku's bad karma for tricking All Might was coming back to haunt him.
''Actually,'' All for One shrugged as he kept fussing over the bacon, ''I never went to trial, so I can't be considered a felon since I was never judged.''
He didn't say anything about One for All but his silence was enough confirmation.
''Also,'' the villain continued, ''since you didn't mention that All Might told you about his quirk, I would love to know how you learned about it. Did someone, in that charming network of people All Might couldn't save, tell you about it? Anyone, isn't it?''
At no point did he mention the name of his organisation, and when he had mentioned its involvement in the quirk heist, he had just mentioned volunteers who didn't know what they were really doing.
How does he know?
''We have a friend in common,'' All for One answered as if he was reading his mind. Hell, maybe he had the quirk for it. ''He was the first one I visited, actually. I got some clothes back, some news about the world, and you have no idea how amused I was to know we're using the same warper. Though he obviously didn't realize he was hired to help steal One for All.''
That traitorous son of a mist.
It was a phone call that destroyed everything for All Might.
The loss of his quirk and his diminishing time were a slow and festering wound. But that one call from Tartarus? It almost stopped his heart.
After everything I did... After everything I did to stop him, and it was for nothing...
So now, they were in Tartarus. In the warden's office, a woman with white wings, blond hair, and blue eyes underlined by dark circles. Her name was Inoue Saya, her quirk was Protection and allowed her to be immunized to the effects of most quirks, and she looked like she wanted to bury herself under a nice rock.
Tsukauchi-kun, a police officer and Toshinori's friend, had been invited in order to obtain some answers. As always during an interview, his face didn't betray anything but professionalism and he probably already know what questions to ask.
Gran Torino had been invited because God himself couldn't have prevented from coming, and to signify an adequate amount of disapproval about the bastard's unfortunate and unfair survival.
As for Toshinori himself, he was wearing his costume, One for All was activated, and he was sitting on a chair that was turned so the back was facing the warden, and he had to be careful so his hands whose knuckles were white would not break anything.
He didn't say anything. He was just looking at them, his smile gone, and letting his allies do the talking.
''We were led to believe that All for One was dead,'' Tsukauchi-kun started. ''Actually, that's what you said to us.
''The man is asking why you fucking lied to to us,'' Gran Torino informed Inoue.
The warden sighed and passed a hand in her hair, ruffling them even more. It was obviously not the first time and that might to do with the giant and barely covered hole in her prison.
''Listen, I will be frank with you,'' Inoue said.
''That would be a change,'' Gran Torino snarled.
She paused, and nodded, as if she was acknowledging the old teacher had a point.
''I am not sure of why my predecessor said that,'' she continued. ''What I can tell you is that the villain named All for One died from grievous wounds in the infirmary, but revived himself, maybe because of a quirk, later.''
Gran Torino was breathing through his teeth and if anger had been explosive, the prison would have disappeared.
''And then what? The damn prison forgot how to use a phone during the next ten years? Or to go and warn the hero who arrested him? Because you could find him at the huge golden tower in the middle of Tokyo!''
Tsukauchi-kun slightly moved so he would be in position to catch Gran Torino if he decided to kick the warden in the teeth. He would fail, but his function probably forced him to at least try to prevent harm.
Inoue Saya saw the danger coming and leaned back in her chair, behind her large and sturdy desk.
''What I am going to say is only speculations. My predecessor is dead and will never be able to answer our questions. But I read on the file that this villain... He had some gruesome wounds, didn't he? Both arms ripped off... His face had disappeared... I mean, you know the stigma that follows heroes who use too much strength...''
At those words, Gran Torino choked on sheer wrath. No doubt that he estimated All for One deserved more.
''So I think that the previous warden was trying to preserve All Might's reputation, through a very misguided method. To make the problem disappear, if we can say, while maintaining the best security measures.''
''That's still a crime...'' Tsukauchi-kun said at the same moment Gran Torino was exclaiming : ''That's bullshit!''
Inoue looked like she wanted to hide under the desk. That would have probably been wise.''Again, I would love to have my predecessor explaining his choice. But since I have no quirk to speak to the dead, I will just have to deal with the first mass evasion ever witnessed in this establishment.''
Several dangerous criminals, from what they were told. They also didn't know whose criminal the intruder had decided to help break out. From what Tartarus knew, cells had been randomly opened, probably to blur their intentions.
But the three men here had no doubt that All for One had always been the prize. It couldn't be a coincidence that he would reappear after One for All's loss.
''And that's not the worse...'' the warden admitted.
''How can this not the the worst? Is a meteorite about to land on Japan?''
Inoue ignored Gran Torino. ''We have no idea of the what the intruder looks like.''
A heavy silence answered word.
''What do you mean?'' Tsukauchi-kun finally asked, astonished.
''Are we in a prison or in a fucking theme park, fucking open for fucking everyone from 9 to 5 ?'' the old hero snarled.
''Someone was accessing our cameras and deleted every recording. We don't have any footage of his face. No doubt that it was the work of a very powerful technological quirk...''
The police officer facepalmed.
''Is your staff entirely composed of blind and very slow people?'' Gran Torino inquired with a shark smile. ''Because that would explain a lot.''
''What my colleague is asking is : did no guards manage to see him?''
''He was wearing a cap that was obscuring his face...'' Inoue mumbled, obviously uncomfortable.
''For fuck's sake...''
''… And the only moment where they could have a clear view of whoever it was, he was right next to a supervillain who managed to be a challenge for the Symbol of Peace himself. Half of them admitted they were so focused on All for One that they didn't even realize someone else was here.''
On that one, they all begrudgingly and silently acknowledged that yes, the son of bitch tended to take precedence over everything.
''What was the quirk of the intruder?'' Tsukauchi-kun asked.
''Probably the technological quirk that allowed him to bypass security.''
More questions were asked. At no point did Toshinori intervened. He just watched and listened, keeping himself from reacting for now. Finally, they left, and as soon as no one and nothing in Tartarus could listen to them, Tsukauchi-kun and Gran Torino started to argue. Tsukauchi-kun wanted a mass hunt to find the ghost of a child who had stolen One for All, and to alert everyone about All for One. Even though it was impossible, because, as Gran Torino reminded him, One for All like All for One were a secret so no one would panic and no one could take advantage of it.
''What are we going to do?'' Gran Torino finally asked, and there was no anger in his voice now. Just absolute exhaustion.
And for the first time since Toshinori had received this phone call and uttered the worst invective ever spoken in the English language, he allowed himself to think about what was going to happen, turned towards his teacher and his friend, and he unclenched his jaw with difficulty.
''We found him,'' he managed to say, unholy rage saturating every word. ''And I will pass him through a grinder until he turns into bloody mist. Let's see if he comes back from that.''
This fic is either extremely serious, either pure crack. There is no in between.
The warp gate appeared in front of Izuku and he hesitated, because until now, Kurogiri had been a work relationship. He came to him when he needed something and had something to pay him, be it a favor, cash, or, in one occasion, diamonds.
Now, he was a problem, a potential leak, and Izuku needed to know what he had told All for One about Anyone, because the last thing he needed was a super villain being interested in a network of people not afraid to ignore the law a little to help others.
So Izuku took a deep breathe and walked through the warp gate, because he didn't have a choice. He was transported into the bar, Kurogiri already waiting for him.
Izuku slapped his Anyone mask on his face, not a real one, not even a hood, but the appearance of someone who knew what he was doing.
Hiding his face was unnecessary since Kurogiri was the one who had transported Izuku, with his face bare, in Tartarus. In return, Izuku knew where he lived, knew his favorite alias, and had enough information to burn the bartender if he ever decided to betray him. The teenager believed in mutual assured destruction when his close allies were concerned.
You are Anyone. And you are here to obtain answers.
He took a deep breath, focusing on the warper in front of him, ready to grill him about what he had said about Anyone to All for One, but before he could, the mass of black mist put a hand on his shoulder.
''Thank you,'' Kurogiri said, his voice full of emotions. ''I don't know how you did it, but thank you.''
Izuku took one step back because people were far more touchy with him these days.
''What do you mean?''
''You freed Sensei. Did you know he was there? If that was the case, I didn't need you to pay me. I would have done anything to help him.''
Well, that was good to know.
''By Sensei, you mean...'' Then Izuku interrupted himself by realizing something. ''Did... Did he give you a quirk?''
Kurogiri carefully avoided to straight up answer, which was an answer in itself.
''I owe him everything,'' he said instead. ''We lost a lot the day he was arrested. Everyone thought he was dead.''
Izuku suspected the we was the villain community, which was going to be a problem. The last thing he had wanted was to give back their terrifying Godfather to anyone willing to use their quirks to hurt others.
But that was secondary.
''And yet, you told him about Anyone,'' Izuku noticed, his voice incredibly cold and he wasn't even faking it to sell his Anyone persona.
The stress of the last two days was starting to get to him. Or more precisely, he was realizing that he had just escaped the most secured prison of the country, that his body had went through the grinder of Rewind, and that when he had been asleep, a criminal, a killer, had been able to walk in his home and anything could have happened to him.
''I always respected your privacy, Kurogiri,'' Izuku continued, and he realized how mad he was starting to become at the invasion of his privacy. At how his mom was in danger, now. But he couldn't show it, so he was getting colder and colder. ''I believe that one should not throw someone else under the bus for no reason. And yet, you gave informations about me to someone dangerous, without my consent, without my knowledge, leaving me completely unprepared.''
Here it was. The crux of what was bothering him.
Kurogiri hesitated. On some level, he probably realized that he had put Izuku into one hell of an uncomfortable situation. However...
''My loyalty lies with him. It will always lies with him first. I owe him a debt that can never be paid.''
It wasn't even Kurogiri's fault. Izuku could recognize he had rushed into an almost suicidal enterprise, not caring anymore, and he was now paying the price.
''Kurogiri, I don't care. This man just appeared where I live while I was sleeping and cooked me breakfast. He could be your personal savior and I would still need to know what you told him.''
Kurogiri froze and for a moment, he was completely still, like a cat who had just been surprised and who didn't know how to react. Finally, he tilted his head, didn't say anything for five more seconds, but at last, managed to regain the ability to use his voice with a small : ''I beg your pardon?''
''What. Did. You. Tell. Him. About. Anyone?''
''No,'' Kurogi shook his head. ''Before that.''
''You heard me. And he...'' Izuku continued before realizing what he was about to explain.
The villain kept trying to steal One for All. Not that it was surprising, and honestly, Izuku was more serene when he knew where All for One was, but the problem was that his quirk was activated by contact.
So he kept petting Izuku's hair. And he suspected there had been an attempt at what ominously looked like a hug, but he couldn't be sure, and was almost certain -and hoping- he was wrong.
There was no way in hell he was going to tell that to Kurogiri.
''… Don't change the subject and answer the question!''
And Kurogiri did.
What he had revealed about Anyone wasn't so bad. How the server functioned, how he had found it, and the details of the transactions exchanged with Izuku. Even if one of those transactions concerned the greatest quirk heist, Izuku had already revealed how he had obtained One for All, and in this case, Kurogiri hadn't even know that Izuku had left with one brand new quirk at this tome.
They migrated to the bar and Kurogiri had the kindness to prepare Izuku a cocktail -without any alcohol, of course- so they could deal with the rest.
The first thing Izuku had done as soon as All for One had left his apartment was to message Nagisa and to ask her to find everything she knew about All for One. She had freaked out because she hadn't known until now if he had truly managed to escape from Tartarus, then she had freaked out even more, thinking Izuku had met this villain in the prison, and had congratulated him on still being alive despite meeting the boogeyman.
With the hindsight, Izuku could admit that telling her the boogeyman had just finished cooking him breakfast hadn't been his brightest idea.
But he liked to check multiply his sources, especially when the first one came from rumors on the web, and Kurogiri was happy to confirm what he had heard.
All for One was indeed merciless. He had been a villain before the word even had an official meaning in their society. Though Kurogiri talked about him like he was a freedom fighter, it didn't change the fact that it was a man used to violence and murder, and who had ruled through fear for a time.
And Kurogiri confirmed Izuku's final suspicion: All for One and All Might had fought a decade ago.
To be more precise, All Might had almost killied Izuku's favorite prisoner, and he had obviously thrown him in jail. Without his arms and his face.
No wonder All for One had considered killing Izuku as soon as he had approached. The new holder of One for All had been incredibly lucky the super villain had changed his mind at the last second.
''So, he hates All Might,'' Izuku summarized, still dealing with the fact that the number one hero had maimed a villain.
''That's an euphemism,'' Kurogiri confirmed.
All Might killing a villain wouldn't have surprised him. Unlike most fans, Izuku understood that there were times where it simply wasn't possible for a hero to held back enough to arrest a homicidal villain without lethal force. But what Kurogiri was talking about... It felt like rage, and something personal between the two men.
''So, All for One will probably go after him?''
All Might, who didn't have One for All anymore. He hadn't stopped appearing and using his quirk after what Izuku had done, to the teenage boy's relief, but it was less frequent. His time was probably decreasing.
He was weaker. Vulnerable. Because of Izuku.
Kurogori nodded : ''Without a doubt.''
This was going to be a problem.
Izuku left the bar and for a moment, he looked at his phone, desperate to talk to someone who would understand the situation and who would tell him that everything would be alright.
He looked for Todoroki's contact info.
But any words not implying Izuku hadn't massively fucked upt would be a lie. And that would be a weight Todoroki hadn't asked for, but that Izuku would thrust on him, and his friend would gave everything to help him, because that was what Todoroki did.
That was selfishness talking, and Izuku, once he recognized it, destroyed it with a thought and he put his phone away.
Izuku kept walking on auto-pilot, following the sound of a commotion and before he even realized what he was doing, he was among a crowd watching a hero fight.
Kamui Woods was taking care of a woman with a mutation quirk, thorns covering her back, her shoulders, and mistaking themselves for her hair. It was the end, as the hero was restraining her a meter above the ground, and they were talking.
You should find All Might. Because of you, he is a sitting duck and you just freed his nemesis who might have one hell of a grudge.
The woman was screaming something, her features contorted by rage, and more and more spikes were appearing even if the tendrils of woods were keeping her still. It was probably an effect of her emotions on her quirk, and not an actual attempt to get free.
And it was a good thing she was facing Kamui Woods, someone with a mutation quirk. A lot of heroes who didn't study quirks didn't realize that and could have mistaken it for a threat.
Kamui Woods kept talking to her, and she listened. No one could hear what they were saying. Not at this distance, and not with all the noise of the city and of the fans.
Find All Might. Give him back his quirk. You know it's the right thing to do.
One for All flickered inside Izuku.
Just as the woman with the thorn quirk started to cry, and Kamui Woods moved so his body would hide it, protecting her privacy and she just started sobbing.
And you know you won't do it.
Izuku walked away, from the crowd and from the too honest of a voice inside his mind, and he disappeared behind a building, and as soon as he was out of sight, he used Full Cowl.
It had been less than twenty four hours since Izuku had almost been riddled with bullets in a prison that would make Alcatraz look like the Club Med, and that had been only the start of the descent into the madness, so he could recognize the signs telling him that he was exhausted, needed a break, and to sleep. Instead, Izuku came back to his apartment in the evening and he discovered that not only was All for One inside, but he had bought some groceries and was currently putting them in the fridge.
He had changed clothes, donning a navy blue suit that looked expensive, and he was currently... not humming, but close. He seemed happy, as if he had woken up this morning and realized that life was beautiful.
Izuku was downright envious. When he woke up, he usually cursed his alarm clock.
All for One turned, a smile on his face, probably about to greet him as if he was home instead of being one of those cats who wouldn't hesitate to invite themselves in other people's home, but his smile dropped in a second when he saw that Izuku was wearing an All Might hoodie. For a moment, he stared, something between pain and sheer offense fighting on his face, and Izuku had rarely felt so satisfied at accidentally messing with someone.
Izuku didn't say anything. He just stood there, his hands in his pockets, One for All simmering under his skin, ready to be used at any moment, and he stared at the man who was probably responsible for All Might's injury. In some way, Izuku had finished what All for One had started.
All for One close the fridge, leaned his back on it, and crossed his arms, waiting for Izuku to say something, anything. Not that this would happen. Talking would be giving him an opportunity to mess with Izuku's mind and to troll him into doing whatever he wanted.
So they both waited in silence, waiting for the other to blink.
Izuku was hit with how large All for One was. Izuku had met All Might, and the two men were about the same size, but All Might had never looked at Izuku like he was trying to see what he was hiding, and that went beyond the most powerful quirk in the world.
Surprisingly, All for One was the first one to talk.
''How was your day?'' he finally asked.
''Well, I came back home to see that a strange old man had decided to move in, so not great.''
All for One raised an eyebrow at that : ''Old?''
Oh, I am sorry. Is that what's offending you? After you kept breaking into my home?
''Yes,'' Izuku confirmed, ''I think that anyone who is still alive despite being present for the rise of quirks can be qualified as such.''
The villain who had prepared breakfast for him this morning just looked at him, and for a moment, Izuku saw his life flash before his eyes.
He took one step back, One for All ready to spring as soon as he would need it.
''So you know about me,'' the villain said, his arms still crossed over his chest. ''Even though you couldn't have been older than five when I was sent away. What did you learn?''
Izuku gulped down. ''You can take and give quirks. You make deals with people, giving them powers in exchange of their loyalty. And you steal quirks that you like.''
All for One raised an amused eyebrow at that, and Izuku understood that the villain wasn't going to be lectured about being a quirk thief by the current holder of One for All.
''You killed a lot of people,'' Izuku continued.
''I did,'' he confirmed, not quite cheerfully bit it was clear he wasn't losing any sleep over it. ''I started at a time where people like me and their family were hunted down by the government, then I kept killing because they never stopped trying to kill me.''
Izuku squinted at him. He couldn't help it.
''Only because people tried to kill? Always in self-defense?''
''From a certain point of view,'' the sociopath nodded.
Izuku wasn't going to start crying because he was a grown boy who couldn't afford a full breakdown at the moment, but he deeply regretted this fact.
How I am supposed to prevent him from killing All Might? All Might himself was barely able to, and that was at peak strength.
Izuku had never regretted it taking One for All for himself. At the time, he had also known it was a heavy burden he had decided to carry.
But somehow, he had still managed to underestimate how much problems it would bring.
''What do you want? Why are you here? And why do you want to cook in my kitchen so much?''
The last question was a mistake as All for One immediately jumped on the chance to change subject.
''I have been fed some gruel, that I would never call food, for a decade. Excuse me if I want to sustain myself with something that a human being with functioning taste buds can enjoy. And maybe you might want to eat a meal that wasn't cooked in less than five minutes. How can you survive on instant meals? No wonder you're... ''
He made a vague gesture referring about Izuku's height. Coincidentally, it was the same gesture Izuku had once used to talk to his mother about an adorable kitten who was incredibly small and cute, and that annoyed the hell out of him.
''I have more pressing concerns than your culinary quest.''
''Like this destructive quirk that was used to pester me for a little less than two centuries?'' All for One asked, and for someone who kept insisting that this quirk was destructive and dangerous, he seemed to really want it.
''No, like the fact that I have to deal with a stalker, and have no time for that.''
''Who is stalking you?''
Izuku just stared at this man who had broken into his home and was using his kitchen like his own, and two seconds later, it finally dawned on the villain.
''I am not stalking you. Just keeping an eye on y... that quirk that belongs to me.''
''Well, since I am currently the one possessing it, and before that, it was All Might's, I am not sure to understand how that ownership works.''
This was the wrong thing to say.
As soon as Izuku pronounced the name of the number 1 hero, All for One's face became blank and something... Something horribly cold started to spread in the room, giving goosebumps to Izuku.
All for One took a deep breath, his eyes absolutely glacial, and Izuku just wanted to have a quirk that would make him vanish. Some half forgotten instinct of when his ancestors were monkeys climbing trees to escape predators was screaming at him that in the absence of any high refuges, the best thing to do was to stay still, hoping the danger in front of him wouldn't notice him.
But Izuku had never pretended he had any common sense, and he walked towards the cupboard.
All for One watched him as the teenage boy started boiling some water, then when he grabbed some tea.
The villain slowly regained control as Izuku was preparing tea and when the cold his temper has summoned finally disappeared, he took two mugs, one with a sleeping white cat, the other with a green rabbit, and put them on the table before he decided to handle the kettle himself. Maybe he had a quirk allowing him not to be bothered by the burning metal. Or maybe he didn't trust Izuku with boiling liquid in his hands.
''How was One for All born?'' Izuku asked as he sat at the kitchen table. ''You can tell me since you were there.''
''Knowledge is power, Izuku,'' All for One reminded him as he was pouring them tea. ''Why should I give you power with nothing in exchange?
Izuku took his cup, the one with the white cat, while All for One claimed the green rabbit one.
''Well... I let you use my kitchen this morning,'' he tried.
All for One gave him a smile that would make a shark pause. ''Of course, I can still stop being such a charming guest and lock you up somewhere to pluck One for All piece by piece.''
They both know he couldn't do that or he wouldn't be playing this charade, but Izuku didn't say anything. He simply grabbed the sugar pot and added an astronomical amount of sugar in his tea without breaking eye contact with the villain.
Strangely, that made All for One chuckle.
''Answers for answers?'' he proposed, already in a better mood.
Izuku thought about it while he made sure his tea had cooled down enough.
''You first,'' he finally decided.
Because he didn't trust this man farther that he could throw him, and despite having a really good enhancer quirk, he was certain that All for One had enough quirks to neutralize it.
So All for One started his story, with the enthusiasm of a man who had spent too long not talking to anyone and who was delighted by the occasion to make up for lost time.
''You have to understand that when quirks started to appear, people possessing those abilities were outnumbered and not a lot of them were combat oriented. That made everyone possessing a power... a quirk, I mean, a target. Before the government even started to hunt us down, civilians were doing the work on their own. Militia who wanted to purge the world from out presence. And as soon as one of those morons realized that quirks were genetic, anyone who was thought to be related to a quirk user was in danger.''
Izuku had learned about that in history books, but not like that. He knew this had been an age of chaos, and even though the government had suppressed some early quirk users, every history books strongly implied that it had been villains, and that this had only been done in order to protect everyone.
But even though Izuku didn't trust All for One, he didn't trust the government either, and how the villain in front of him was talking... He was truly remembering what had happened.
He had lived through it.
The fifteen-year-old had trouble wrapping his mind around that, and he listened, fascinated.
''This was a bloodbath,'' All for One continued, his voice gaining something. Not like he was traumatized, or in pain, but more as if he was still annoyed by how nonsensical this tragedy had been. ''The government did nothing for so long... Someone had to do something.''
He smiled at Izuku.
''So I did,'' he declared, obviously still satisfied about it.
He drank his tea and Izuku did the same because this conversation with a cryptid was slowly putting him on edge.
''I was fair. I took the quirks from those who didn't want them. I gave quirks to those who asked for them. All I asked in exchange was for them to watch my back. To protect us.''
On this last world, there were less old man rambling about the good old time, and more intensity, so it immediately drew Izuku's attention.
''Your group?'' he asked, feeling incredibly young since this conversation had started.
''Them too,'' All for One nodded as if yes, his comrades had been concerned, but not the priority at the time, ''But at first, it was just my little brother and I.''
He had a family? Good to know that some evil deity hadn't touched the ground with its scepter and proclaimed ''There shall be a terrifying force of nature,'' with All for One springing into existence, fully formed, wearing a bespoke suit, and already stealing quirks and ruining lives.
''My foolish, adorable little brother,'' the villain continued, unaware of Izuku absolutely roasting him from the safety of his mind. ''He always had a weak health. And I always took care of him.''
His whole face changed when he talked about his little brother. He must have loved him very much.
''And so, in order to protect him, I find a quirk for him. A stockpiling quirk that even someone whose body wasn't suited to strong quirks could handle. That quirk would become One for All. At least, as soon as he transferred him to his successor. He found his quirk, and turned the one I had offered him into a weapon against me.''
Well, so much for the loving sibling relationship.
''Why?'' Izuku asked
All for One shrugged. ''Propaganda, mostly. He believed the government's bull... lies about how quirks should only be used for the greater good, never for one's own benefit, and always under the control of the higher powers.''
All for One smiled at Izuku's wince, suddenly all smug and happy, and Izuku wiped the expression from his face.
''But how did One for All was used against you if it was born from a member of your family?'' Izuku insisted.
''First, it was made my me,'' and All for One put emphasis on it. ''That quirk originally belongs to me. One for All was then used to stop me. As a counterpower.''
Izuku was an only child so he wouldn't pretend to understand the bonds of brotherhood, but from what he had heard, siblings weren't supposed to try to hard when they attempted to murder each other, and there was always a reason. Often stupid, but there was always at least one.
''There is a difference between believing something, and creating a line of heroes dedicated to end you... '' Izuku thought out loud, until something really obvious hit him in the face. '''When you say you offered him the quirk, he agreed, right?''
For a long moment, All for One didn't say anything.
Then, he finished his tea.
And finally, he mumbled under his breath, without looking at Izuku in the eyes : ''Well, he used it afterwards.''
Oh My God.
''Did you force a quirk down the throat of your little brother? At a time where it was a death sentence?''
The human disaster shrugged. ''I believe I am owed some answers, now.''
''You mean, after this bunch of half-truths and reminiscences about the past?''
''Exactly. I talked about my family. The least you can do is to tell me about yours.''
''Of course. I can tell you about one family member,'' Izuku assured.
All for One glanced at the picture of Izuku's mom.
''I have a father that I didn't see in years, and honestly, this is all there is to say,'' Izuku answered truthfully.
The villain made a strange face for half a second, and then, he regained control. Someone was not happy to have the short end of the stick. He would get an answer, but nothing to leverage against Izuku.
Of course, he could threaten Izuku into talking. This cold rage could reappear.
But that would be an answer in itself. That would be more logical that whatever mask he was showing Izuku.
But All for One simply played with his cup, and told Izuku : ''I am going to need more than that.''
''With all the lies you dared to try to feed me, I think I am being extremely compliant but his name is Midoriya Hisashi. I don't have a lot of memories of him. Last time I heard about him, he was working abroad but I don't know where. I do not concern myself with him.''
Actually, Izuku rarely thought about him. It was Izuku and his mom, and they didn't need anyone else. However, All for One seemed interested, leaning towards Izuku as if he could physically take the answers from him.
''Distant father?'' he asked,
''Non-existent,'' Izuku admitted. ''He disappeared a little after I was declared quirkless.''
''That's why he left?''
''Probably. Things changed in two centuries. Quirkless people are shunned, and honestly, no one wants to have anything with them.''
All for One went to drink more tea, realized his mug was empty, and he crossed his arms, before putting them back on the table again.
This man had lived through a time period where people with a quirk were ostracized, and now, it was the opposite. Izuku would have thought he would find amusing how the tables had turned, but instead, maybe he was annoyed to see how things didn't really changed. They just shifted.
''I don't really care,'' Izuku reassured him, which was stupid because he doubted the villains could actually feel emotions. ''I don't even blame my father, at least not for leaving.''
All for One looked up, and there was something like hope or faith in humanity in his eyes.
''He had every right to not want to be part of this family anymore,'' Izuku continued. ''But he abandoned my mom when she needed him. And he stopped supporting us when I was five. And that's despicable.''
The hope died in All for One's eyes and he passed a hand on his face, then on his hair, slowly, as if he was removing something.
''You mean that for your family received no money, nor any kind of child support, for ten years?'' he slowly asked for clarifications.
Do I really care if All for One learns more about my father?
The fact that Izuku honestly didn't care was probably worrying, but the villain could have grabbed any random person on the street and they would his father and them would have the same worth as hostages.
Also, it had the benefit to make All for One realize that even if he found this specific family member, he wouldn't gain anything from it.
''He used to send us money at first, and little by little, it decreased so much that it wasn't enough to allow anyone to survive with it,'' Izuku answered. ''Now, everything is fine and my mom has a good job, but at the time... This was a very bad situation.''
What had ironically saved them was when Izuku had been injured by a classmate. Almost killed, if he had to be honest, but at least, the settlement agreement had allowed them to keep their head above the surface long enough for his mother to find a good job, and now, they didn't need anyone to live comfortably.
''I am sorry,'' All for One said quietly.
Izuku immediately perked up.
''If you are, can you get out of my apartment?''
''Not a chance,'' All for One smiled back.
Everything is okay. You know me: I am boring, so I don’t have to a lot to tell you. Except that I enjoyed my holydays and that many heroes had their quirks analyzed. I, however, as a soon-to-be adult, stopped running after them for autographs. (No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact I already have ALL the autographs.)
I am soon going to go to my new high school. I am especially excited about the possibility to have internships and to be able to analyze quirks in a professional setting.
And don’t worry. Those stories about yakuza (can you believe they still exist?) coming back to life are just that. Stories. Even if they weren’t, you know me. I run at the first sign of danger.
I miss you. But Dubai is Dubai and if they extended your contract for two months, it means they recognize your talents, so they are smart. Please, have fun and send pictures.
I shall do my best to keep our home in one piece.
Your favorite (and only but that’s a detail) son, Midoriya Izuku.
Izuku read the email again. Once he was satisfied, he clicked on Send.
At seven am in the morning, an ungodly hour where no one should be awake, least of all of good Japanese teenage boys, a key scratched on the lock of the front door. It scratched again as the key simply didn’t fit, and Izuku couldn’t help a smile in his mug of coffee.
A smile that disappeared when the door still opened with a click, revealing the bane of his existence entering with his bags full of groceries. Which didn’t make any sense because he had done that the day before and the fridge was still full of food.
But the most annoying thing was that he was holding a key that he wasn’t supposed to have.
“Hello, Izuku,” All for One greeted him with a smile, as if he was really happy to see him. “I didn’t expect to see you up so early. Also, there is a problem with the door…”
He stopped dead on his tracks as he saw the new decoration Izuku had made on the door of his bedroom.
It was covered in All Might posters and All Might stickers. One couldn’t even see the wood underneath.
For Izuku had very complicated feelings towards All Might, but he knew All for One hated him and the teenage boy was ready to use any advantage to ward off evil.
“There is nothing wrong with the door,” he explained while pretending he wasn’t seeing All for One’s glare. Not towards him but towards the All Mights. “I just changed every lock in this house.”
That distracted the villain long enough to stop glaring and to give Izuku what suspiciously looked like a worried glance.
As if he wasn’t exactly feeling welcomed.
“Though I am impressed by how quickly you managed to do that, it’s a waste of money,” All for One said as he was getting rid of his bags full of groceries.
“About wastes of money, you have a quirk to break in my place, don’t you?” Izuku asked.
The villain didn’t even slow down, making his way to the kitchen and getting a mixing ball.
“Just to lock and unlock. Don’t worry, I am not damaging the lock.”
For a couple of seconds, Izuku watched him taking out flour, eggs, and sugar, and baking soda.
“I am not worried about that," the teenager informed him. "I am wondering why you have a key you don’t need to my apartment. Especially as there are only two keys, mine, in my pocket, and my spare, who is in my closet and which hasn’t moved from there for several weeks.”
Of course, maybe he had found it. Hence the new All Might protections.
“Yes, I found it,” All for One confirmed as he started preparing pancakes.
Izuku pretended to be surprised.
“That’s strange, because it’s not in my closet but in my drawer.”
All for One’s back was still to Izuku but the teenage boy was certain that the villain was looking up, then closing his eyes, and taking a deep annoyed breath, the same way his mom did when Izuku sometimes teased her when she procrastinated something.
That was an adult thing.
“Fine. You have a neighbor named Takahashi Kyoko. I know that because you have a set of keys belonging to her, so I assumed you or your parent had done the neighborly thing to exchange keys in case there was a problem.”
Izuku’s keys, the important ones, were with him when his mom was away. But the other stuff was on a bowl on a little table right in front of the door, something he had seen so many times that it might as well had been invisible. And he had completely forgotten the existence of this key that didn’t belong to them.
And now that he thought about it, Ms. Takahashi was the one supposed to keep an eye on him while his mom was away. Nothing serious, just make sure Izuku didn’t drop dead or something. However, as soon as Midoriya Inko had been gone, they had both agreed without even talking that they didn’t need to concern themselves with each other.
“She kept her keys near her window, so I didn’t even have to visit,” All for One explained.
I hope it’s just a bad lie, because if it’s the truth, it’s just disturbing.
Izuku finished his second cup of coffee of the day because he needed it, then got to his feet and walked to the kitchen counter. All for One had finished making the pancakes preparation and he was now pulling out four frying pans on the ceramic hob, so he could bake the pancakes faster.
All for One had no reason to be surprised when Izuku started helping him, because it was the logical thing to do for the breakfast to be ready even faster.
“And did you visit anyone else?” Izuku asked.
“I explored the town. Didn’t take any actions for now. Are you afraid I could track down All Might and murder him?”
That made All for One smile.
“I considered it. But ultimately, I am more amused to know he is in absolute despair. Each second I enjoy my life is a victory over this moron.”
All Might was in despair because of Izuku. He was the one who had stolen his quirk.
The one who had inflicted such harm on someone because he had wanted a quirk. Needed one.
That was something Izuku would have to carry with him for the rest of his life.
However, he wasn’t lost in his thoughts enough not to notice All for One’s hand as it approached his head. Izuku smoothly ducked while still cooking the pancakes.
“My quirk is still impossible to steal!” Izuku barked.
“It doesn’t hurt to make sure,” All for One smiled but he focused back on breakfast.
He looked happy and that was disturbing.
Izuku wondered if All for One used to prepare food for his little brother when they were younger. He was smiling a little, obviously looking like he enjoyed cooking, and two hundred years had to make someone a little melancholic.
Maybe it was because of prison. Maybe he craved for normal things. Little things. Every second I spend enjoying my life is a victory over All Might. It sounded like even before he had been sent to prison, All for One hadn’t have the time to enjoy his freedom.
Izuku didn’t know what to make of him, and it was freaking him out. He couldn’t ignore All for One because you didn’t get sent to Tartarus for loitering, and even if he was willing to ignore this menace unleashed on society, the fiend had decided to move in. But after seeing what had happened in Tartarus, Izuku simply didn’t have the power to stop him if he decided to kill All Might.
They ate breakfast together, both drowning their pancakes in maple syrup. There was also bacon and that was absolutely divine. Since Izuku couldn’t admit out loud, he decided to keep himself from asking All for One if he had a cooking quirk by stuffing his mouth full of delicious food.
Of course, it wasn’t better than what Izuku’s mom could make.
There is a good chance this is not even good, just an upgrade compared to my own cooking, which isn’t difficult.
“I meant to ask you,” All for one suddenly said, breaking the tense silence that they both preferred to evolve in. “Are you always up this early? Because yesterday, it was midnight when I left and you were still working on your laptop.”
The reason why he knew that was because he had stayed around in the living room and Izuku had transferred his work from his bedroom to the kitchen table in order to keep an eye on the multi-quirked menace. But even without that kind of incentive, Izuku had learned not to interact with the general concept of sunrise.
“I have a training today. That’s why I am up so early.”
“You have to train physically this morning and you ate that much of my cooking?” All for one smiled. “Consider me flattered.”
“What can I say?” Izuku smiled back. “I am not a picky eater.”
For a moment, the adult seemed on the fence as to either be offended by Izuku insulting his cooking, or to be amused by his suicidal need to have the last word.
“Good to know,” he finally said instead. “Well, if you don’t mind, I will take my leave for now.”
“Where are you going?”
And by that, Izuku meant: Are you planning to commit something evil on your way out?
“Shopping. I need clothes, and maybe a new carpet for the bar. Why, you want to join me?”
And with that, he gave a look that meant anything to Izuku’s All Might shirt, indicating that a change in his wardrobe was needed, as far as the squatter was concerned.
“No, thank you. I don’t have any place in my closet since I had fun at the last hero convention.” The villain winced as if Izuku’s words were provoking physical pain. “Why does Kurogiri need a carpet?”
All for One shrugged.
Izuku had the habit of training with Todoroki in special gyms, reserved in advance, and paid by the number two hero’s credit card. The kind where one could use their quirk freely.
It was also sound-proof because a lot of destructive quirks made loud noises, and that wasn’t even talking about the actual sound-based-ones, so Izuku decided to inform Todoroki about his little escapade in Tartarus and how a stray had followed him home, in the middle of their sparring.
He was blaming the early rising for that decision.
Todoroki took it well.
And Izuku blamed the heavy breakfast for the fact he hadn’t been fast enough to avoid the ice that had half encased him.
“What is wrong with you?” Todoroki said. He didn’t scream because he never did, but he didn’t need to for Izuku to hear the hurt and the worry in his voice.
Which was worse than yelling.
“So you broke into the most secured prison in the country. The kind of prison where our government throw the worst of the worst to forget them. And at no point did you think to tell about this insane plan of yours?”
“Of course not,” Izuku said as he was hitting the ice with his fist to get free. The trick was to use enough strength to break the ice, but not enough to hurt himself.
Todoroki froze. Not literally like Izuku, but he paused, and there was something on his face that made Izuku realize that he would need to develop his answer.
“You said it yourself. It was insane. And you’re too good of a friend not to try to help. I decided to jump into Tartarus. I was the only one who had to deal with the risks.”
That wasn’t what Todoroki wanted to hear but that was the truth.
For a moment, he was silent, anger silently building inside him. Izuku could feel it.
“I don’t know if you’re arrogant,” Todoroki said, something cold in his eyes. “Or if you don’t care about your own life.”
Izuku, who had managed to half free his right leg, Full Cowled out of the ice coffin. For a moment, the power of One for All, the weakness of Izuku’s body, and the ice, all fought each other, but Izuku flash stepped next to Todoroki without any additional scratches.
“It’s none of that,” he explained, words tumbling into each other because he needed Todoroki to understand, even if he didn’t agree with his decision, but he didn’t know how. “It’s just that a little girl was in prison. They stole her way from her parents and put her in a pink princess room without any windows. It’s a special kind of insanity where I had to do something, no matter the consequences, but I wasn’t insane enough to risk the only friend I have.”
This was selfish.
Todoroki called him out on it, and he threatened him with various punishments if he ever pulled something like that, and Izuku agreed that he was right to be mad, because he would have been screaming at his friend if Todoroki had ever done something like that without involving him.
And when a new wave of ice jumped at him, Izuku managed to avoid it, this time.
Then, they talked about All for One. His strange behavior. And at some point, the conversation devolved into why a Japanese man would keep cooking American breakfasts. Which was probably a stress response to a super villain stalking Izuku.
Then, they thought about solutions. Or at least tried to.
“I can negotiate with my old man…” Todoroki started to say really carefully, probably because the very thought was repulsing him but he was hiding his disgust from his friend.
“Giving the quirk back to All Might would be easier,” Izuku noticed.
“That’s a possibility.”
They silently acknowledged that none of those options would happen.
“Do you even know where he is?” Todoroki asked..
Izuku thought about it, then grabbed his phone and started typing with this usual speed, to Todoroki’s amusement.
“Are you using Anyone to track him?”
“No, he gave me his phone number and I am asking him where he is.”
Todoroki’s eyes comically widened, and by the time he managed to deal with this information, Izuku had received an answer, which he checked before showing the screen of his phone to his friend.
All for One had sent him a selfie, except that his face was hidden by his hand, but Izuku could still see the beginning of a smile on his lips. More importantly, he was evidently in a place that was indeed selling carpets, and a horrible red thing was right behind him. As if someone had killed a bear and dyed the poor thing in crimson after skinning it.
That’s my life now, Izuku realized. Babysitting a two hundred year old monster.
Todoroki and Izuku had just sat at the table of a restaurant when he received an alert on his phone, telling him that someone requested Anyone’s help.
Cuffed to a table and trapped in a police interrogation room, Dabi could perfectly see his future. Even if he didn’t say anything, they would soon obtain his DNA, and Endeavor would know where he was.
It shouldn’t have been so dreadful. If someone could get him out at lightspeed, it was the number 2 hero. But the very thought of seeing this bastard, of being indebted to him... It made him sick, the scars on his face itching as if his battered body rejected the very notion.
He didn't have money for a lawyer.
But he had the right to a phone call, and a rumor. Some way to find help for people who were in trouble.
So he went on Clamor with his prepaid phone and accessed the server. He had no idea of what to do, so he just addressed a message to a username named Anyone, explaining the situation.
To Dabi’s surprise, he answered in the next two minutes, contacting him on a private channel.
[I see. Is time of the essence?]
That was a euphemism.
Inferno more inferyes:
[I see. ]
Anyone wasn’t here anymore. Disconnected.
And half an hour later, a lawyer he had never called appeared in front of him.
Fifteen minutes after that, he was leaving the police station.
After they finished eating, Izuku pondered about a situation he had not been invited to but that he would like to check anyway. One of the members of the server, WorstJeanist, was fleeing an abusive girlfriend but needed to get his stuff back, so he had asked if people who wouldn’t get scared by an enhancer quirk could help him move out. Two had answered, Ilovekittens222 and Mightyshield.
But WorstJeanist had mentioned that the girlfriend was involved in shady dealings, so Izuku would have like to be there in person to make sure everything was alright. If there was a drug like Trigger involved, the situation could degenerate quickly.
Todoroki helped him decide by grabbing one of those black hoodies, the ones that kept their face hidden, from his bag, and he declared that he was coming with him.
“Anyway, the girlfriend isn’t even supposed to come back before tomorrow. I am sure it’s nothing,” Izuku assured.
“Did you have to say that out loud?”
As it turned out, and unlike what Todoroki would say later, it was indeed nothing. Some ugly break up and a man who needed to take his stuff out of the house without his violent drug-selling-girlfriend attacking him. Nothing more.
Everyone had been surprised to see two members of Anyone with their face hidden but they had been warmly welcomed when Todoroki and Izuku had showed they could easily carry the heaviest boxes.
The problem had come after they had finished, from them witnessing someone dragging a screaming woman into a car.
And that explained why Todoroki had caught a woman who had jumped out of a running car and why Izuku was now pursuing said car on foot.
And it hurt.
Full Cowl. Twelve per cent.
He could feel One for All coursing through him, flashes of power threatening to break him if his focus ever weakened. One moment of inattention and the quirk would flare up and break him into pieces.
Izuku ran faster, almost to the car despite the screaming of the motor and the howling of the tires as the driver was taking more and more speed.
Full Cowl. Fifteen per cent.
His legs loudly protested under the added pressure, though the sole of his feet complained even more as they were slamming on the pavement with added speed.
Not only did he catch back the car, but he almost ran into it as the driver took a turn and rushed in his direction.
Izuku didn’t have the time to slow down, he would have stumbled, so he did a flip, landed roughly on the top of a wall, and ran out of reach of the car that was still negotiating its turn before the teenage boy jumped down on the street.
Then, he stopped, turning to face the expensive car.
In this moment, he saw the driver. Completely ordinary. A man with dark hair in a suit, the usual kind of guy who would work in an office and that no one would pay too much attention to.
Except for the absolute fury on his face.
He looked at Izuku as if he hated him. Like he was blaming him for everything wrong that had ever happened in his life. In an instant, because there was no better alternative, Izuku became his personal nemesis and the bane of existence.
And he floored it. Izuku actually saw the exact moment where this man decided to run him over with this car.
But Izuku didn’t move.
One for All was still activated. Red lines were dancing on his skin but none of the green lightnings, not as he was completely still.
From the corner of his eye, Izuku saw Todoroki keeping the woman he had saved from running towards them.
Izuku stopped looking at anything that wasn’t the car, his concentration needing to be absolute.
Full Cowl. Twenty per cent.
Just for a second, Izuku used twenty per cent to jump out of the way, and several things happened at the same time.
Horrible pain spread though him but that wasn’t the pain he had felt the first time he had used One for All. More importantly, Izuku managed to launch himself into the air right before a ton of metal turned him into a pancake.
And the car crashed into the metal pole Izuku had had this back to a moment earlier.
A second later, Izuku landed on one knee, in the position known as a super hero landing. It looked really cool and it had been a completely accident because his legs had refused to carry him any further.
Also, his whole body was hurting and Todoroki appeared behind him to help him getting back on his feet, wonderfully stable under Izuku’s shoulder.
Ilovekittens222, a man two meters tall with a beard and build like he could stop a horse in full gallop by grabbing him, was a nurse and made sure that the driver was still in one piece, commented about the fact he had obviously been drinking, then called an ambulance. While he did that, MightyShield, a pink-haired-teenage girl whose quirk allowed her to turn into a bear, was about to call the cops when the green-haired woman they had just saved and who was still shaking because of the ordeal told her they couldn’t.
Because this jerk was her ex-boyfriend and also a member of the Hero Commission. Cops wouldn’t want to touch him unless it was for something serious. More serious than driving under influence and not respecting a restraining order, apparently.
Anyone couldn’t be known.
Fortunately, WorstJeanist had an idea.
Kazuhito was forty four years old, had a quirk that allowed him to dismantle anything mechanical, and his life was great. Because he knew how to seize occasions, and with one decision, his life had changed for the better.
So he finished his jogging on the beach and walked back to his beautiful house which was right next to the sea. In term of architecture, the building was as modern and as beautiful as what money could buy, all in chrome, fake wood, and glass. And in term of security, it was practically a vault. No one was getting in or out without Kazuhito’s permission.
So he wasn’t prepared to see a white-haired man in a suit eating an apple at Kazuhito’s dining table.
Kazuhito recognized him in an instant, because he had worked for that man during a decade. But it couldn’t be him because All Might had murdered him ten years ago.
“Hello, Kazuhito,” All for One greeted him like an old friend. “You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
Kazuhito took one step backwards and the stranger’s demeanor immediately changed, something cold and violent spreading through the air.
If I move again, he is going to paint the walls with my blood.
If he ran, the most terrifying man who had ever existed would hunt him down. But if Kazuhito couldn’t run, he could explain himself, and the words spilled from his lips, too fast, and his voice too high.
“I didn’t know… I thought you were dead. Everyone did. I never would have done that if… I am sorry…”
Can I reach my cellphone without him noticing? Can I call the heroes before he kills me?
The problem was that he didn’t think a hero that wasn’t All Might could pose any threats against this man.
“I understand,” All for One said, and his voice was so relaxed that Kazuhito couldn’t help but to be hopeful. “Nature abhors void, and I always knew that if I was gone, things would start to fall apart. Some people were always bound to drift away, and to make some mistakes.”
All for One wasn’t just a villain, he was also a business man. If Kazuhito managed to find a deal with him, giving him back the money with interests, for example, maybe even his quirk to sweeten the deal… Maybe he could stay alive.
“I can be understanding,” his former boss continued. “I can forgive some people.”
Kazuhito shifted his weight from one foot to another.
And that’s how he finally noticed the carpet under his feet. Something he didn’t recognize, because he had never bought it, and it had never been in his home before today.
By the time he looked up again, All for One was right in front of him, his hand on Kazuhito’s throat, and he slammed the accountant against the wall so hard that a flash of white light appeared in front of his eyes.
Kazuhito’s hands reached the steel-like grip, but he couldn’t only claw at the fingers as no air was reaching his lungs.
His feet were dangling above the ground.
“But you are not one of them, aren’t you, Kazuhito? Your job was specifically to do what it takes so some things wouldn’t fall apart, and now, I find you in this beautiful house.”
Kazuhito… couldn’t… breathe.
“And I can’t help but wonder how much of it was bought with my money.”
Izuku was sitting on the couch, watching TV, when All for One came back. The bane of his existence closed the door behind him and Izuku heart a jingling sound, which meant he had obtained another set of keys, somehow. The villain then sat on the little couch, so close to Izuku that they were brushing shoulders, but it was more due to his size than a desire to annoy the teenage boy.
At least, until he actually leaned on Izuku’s shoulder.
That would have been a good moment to push him away but Izuku’s whole body was still hurting from his little stunt at twenty per cent, so he had absolutely no desire to move if this wasn’t necessary.
So, he decided to be philosophical about it and he postponed the use of One for All.
“So, what did you do with your day?” All for One asked as he was watching the hero fight on TV.
Well, after Hinata, the green-haired-woman, had revealed the crazy driver was a member of the Hero Commission who didn’t care about details like restraining orders, WorstJeanist had taken a stroll into his ex girlfriend’s safe and grabbed half the drug that was there, and they had dropped it in the trunk.
After that, WorstJeanist had left, while Todoroki and Izuku had led Hinata to the people who had helped Izuku change identity. But from what Ilovekittens222 had said, the policemen had been really interested by their discovery and didn’t seem to suspect someone’s else involvement since the man was smelling of alcohol.
“Nothing worth mentioning,” Izuku didn’t quite lie. “What about you?”
All for One shrugged.
“I bought a carpet for Kurogiri. He liked it.”
Thank you to Pocket for giving me Dabi's username.
Also, All for One bought two carpets, one for Kurogiri, the other not to dirty the floor.
Also, the All Might posters to keep AFO out is inspired by bnha_knarl's comics. They are on tumblr, check their art.
Pain was a familiar companion for Izuku. It was something he had thought he had been used to when he had started training, before he even had a quirk. But obtaining One for All had brought a whole new level of suffering.
This quirk had destroyed his arm the first time he had used it. Only adrenaline and the need to make Eri safe had allowed him to keep going.
The second time, it had been his legs. An accident where he had jumped with a little too much enthusiasm and the quirk had thrown him through the air. If he had landed back on the pavement instead of the roof of a nearby building, he would have died. The worst pain he had ever lived through.
The third and last time had been in Tartarus. And without Eri, everything would have ended in a fiery catastrophe.
So pain had to become something Izuku was used to. Because One for All was a tsunami and Izuku was the dam terribly while also being the one who had to swim above it. He had to train every day with it and he had to have absolute control over the output he was using.
So the day before, when he had used twenty per cent for a second, he knew he could use it without breaking anything. He would have never attempted it if that wasn’t the case.
And during the night, all his muscles decided to remind him that karma was vindictive and he woke up utterly still, his brain having learn that any movement meant pain.
Unfortunately, nature was calling so he had no choice but to move. He hissed though his teeth and dragged himself to the bathroom, really unhappy about being forced to wake up in general and about being forced to move too. Then, he went to the kitchen, made some coffee, and drank two cups, waiting for the nefarious influence of the morning to dissipate. Slowly, light stopped attacking him, noises weren’t as aggressive as before, and the mist of grumpiness that haunted his mind started to disappear.
And that’s how he noticed All for One on the couch, squinting at him.
Those two previous cups of coffee reminded Izuku that he had actually brought back some catastrophe from Tartarus. Some human-shaped disaster that didn’t seem to need to sleep.
“Why are you limping?” the squatter asked, a somber look on his face.
Izuku immediately stood straight and erased every trace of pain and unease. In his posture, on his face, in his eyes. He moved to take another sip of coffee, his movements fluid and relaxed.
He was extremely good at this game. Vocalizing pain helped when he was alone, but the teenager had become a master at hiding any weaknesses since his former friends had started using their quirks on him.
“What are you talking about?” he asked, without any hint of the previous hiss in his voice.
All for One folded the newspaper he was holding, and threw it on the couch without looking, his gestures stiff and too controlled.
Izuku wasn’t sure of what was happening but he could just feel that his roommate was extremely annoyed and that the teenage boy absolutely didn’t want to deal with this. So, he made a beeline to his room, just as the villain was getting to his feet and started to walk toward him. He grabbed some clothes and got out, remembering to late that it could have been the occasion to test his All Might posters protection.
“How did you hurt yourself?” All for One asked calmly but Izuku didn’t trust that calm.
Izuku stepped in the bathroom just as All for One was almost on him, absolutely towering, and with the intensity of a shark who had just smelled blood.
“I am not hurt,” Izuku lied through his teeth. “I just hate mornings in general.” And this time, he was telling the truth.
And he closed the door in All for One’s face, before locking it behind him. Then, he waited ten seconds to see if the villain would force the door, but it seemed that he had made a good bet in thinking he would respect some boundaries.
Hot water was a blessing for sore muscles but this was immediately cancelled when Izuku got out of the bathroom to see that All for One was still waiting, his arms crossed.
Doesn’t he have anything better to do with his time?
“You said that your quirk tried to break your bones every time you tried to use it,” All for One remembered, blocking Izuku’s way as he tried to flee this conversation. “How many times did that happen?”
Of course, One for All might be a priority over every other nefarious plans.
“If that happens more than once, it means your body can’t handle the strain of One for All,” All for One continued as Izuku wasn’t answering. “This quirk isn’t suited for you. You have to get rid of it.”
Izuku stopped trying to avoid him and faced the villain, One for All right under his skin, waiting to be unleashed.
“I do not have to do anything,” the teenager calmly said.
But All for One was barely listening, his eyes piercing through Izuku, as if he was looking at something hidden inside him.
“You are in pain. This quirk is too dangerous for you,” the villain said, but not to Izuku. He was talking to himself, almost muttering.
And in this instant, Izuku knew All for One wanted to take the quirk that had kept him alive.
One for All was not the quirk Izuku would have chosen if he had any choice. It belonged to a better man. A man that was needed by all and who hadn’t deserved to have his quirk stolen. It was also something that constantly put Izuku’s health in danger.
But the only way for someone else to take his quirk from him, be it All Might or All for One, would be to kill Izuku, and even then, One for All would die with him.
“One for All is my quirk. If you want it, don’t pretend it’s for my sake.”
For a moment, the child’s whole demeanor changed, like an animal backed into a corner.
Do. Not. Touch. Me. That was what he seemed to be silently screaming. If he was pushed too far, he could lash out. And if he ever thought he was in danger of losing this damn quirk, that would cease to be a mere possibility.
Even now, he was a hair away from violence.
It was too dangerous. Especially as One for All, this ticking bomb, couldn’t be taken against their holder’s free will.
The last holder of One for All and All for One glared at each other.
The thief who had taken the most powerful quirk in the world and who had now to protect it with his life, unable to let it go, so the burden was his to assume.
And the villain who coveted it, but whose behavior didn’t make sense.
Everything would have been simpler if Izuku could understand what was hidden behind this man’s glacial gaze.
Calling his former sidekick to beg for help should have been one of the most awkward moments of Toshinori’s existence, but he was at a point where he could simply not fall lower.
First, he was running on embers as someone had stolen One for All. Someone who would have been easy to find if Toshinori had taken five minutes to ask for his name or even to talk to him beyond a speech explaining that quirkless people couldn’t be heroes.
And yes, the irony still hurt.
Second, All for One was alive, probably because even hell hadn’t wanted to welcome him, and he was now free.
To his credit, Nighteye had immediately asked them to come after the call. His agency was empty, Toshinori suspecting that he had sent everyone away so they wouldn’t be deranged, and Gran Torino and him had been led into Nighteye’s office before things got too awkward.
Toshinori didn’t fail to notice that there were less All Might merchandises than a decade ago. Even if it meant that Nighteye had stopped being such a devoted fan, Toshinori couldn’t help but to be relieved. This way, reconnecting with Nighteye felt more real.
And the last time he had been too close to a fan, even for only half an hour, it hadn’t ended well.
“I know why you’re here,” Nighteye said as soon as Gran Torino and Toshinori had taken a seat.
A cold sweat ran on Toshinori’s back.
“You do?” he asked cautiously, trying to reign in the panic.
How does he know? Who else knows? Does the villain realize it? Did it reach All for One’s ears? The level of criminality didn’t rise, so I thought I had manage to fool them into still being intimidated by me, but was it the calm before the storm?
“This seems obvious,” Nighteye smiled, the expression bringing Toshinori back to the time where they were still working together. “I know that you asked Nedzu to have access to Mirio’s files. Am I wrong to assume you’re here because you decided to choose a successor?”
Toshinori choked on his own blood.
There were several things that ought to be said. For example, it would have been good to remind Nighteye that it had happened several months ago and that even at the time, he hadn’t made a decision – though Young Togata seemed to be a good candidate. He could also have told him how a lot of things had changed.
Or even to tell Nighteye than when Toshinori had called, asking for help, it was for a serious problem.
But since he couldn’t breathe, his teacher was kind enough to talk for him.
“That would be difficult since he doesn’t have One for All anymore,” Gran Torino said as if he was talking about the weather.
Toshinori wiped out the blood from his mouth just as Nighteye deflated.
“You… You chose a successor? Already?”
The words Without telling me? hanged out in the air between them.
“It’s… not exactly that,” his old teacher said.
Toshinori and him looked at each other, Gran Torino silently asking him if Toshinori wanted him to explain the situation to his former sidekick, but that was Toshinori’s responsibility. He had even prepared himself in advance.
“Nighteye, I didn’t choose a successor. My quirk was stolen away from me.”
Now, one could have thought that Nighteye didn’t react, but the way he got completely still, not even breathing, was a reaction in itself.
A couple of seconds passed, and Nighteye still wasn’t reacting. Actually, he wasn’t even blinking. So Toshinori decided to get rid of all the bad news.
He explained how he had met the boy, how Toshinori had been stupid enough to give him his quirk, and how he had been unable to find him.
Then, he went to the juicy part: All for One was alive and free.
Toshinori stopped talking when Nighteye hold one finger.
“I am sorry. Would you both excuse me for a moment?”
“Of course,” Toshinori nodded.
Nighteye slowly got to his feet, his hip hitting his desk as he scurried away, but he didn’t even slowed down as he made a beeline to a plain unassuming door in the back of his office. He grabbed the key in his pocket, the keychain showing All Might in his Bronze Age period, and when he opened the door, Toshinori and Gran Torino were greeted by the sight of a dressing room covered in All Might merchandise. Posters, plushies, figurines, cardboards.
Ah, here is the rest of his collection.
Nighteye stepped inside the room and locked the door behind him.
Then, a muffled scream was heard through the door.
“He took it well,” Gran Torino commented.
Nighteye took five minutes to deal with those new informations. Toshinori could hardly blame him. It had been a couple of months and he was still internally screaming about the loss of his quirk.
“If All for One finds this kid…” Nighteye started, slightly out of breath. “In the best case scenario, he will kill him to end the One for All line. In the worst case, he will torture him until he is offered the quirk.”
Or he could go after Toshinori while he was weakened. No one said it, but it was blatantly loud as Gran Torino and Nighteye were badly trying to hide their worry every time they looked at him.
But they had one advantage.
“When I found All for One, he was still gravely injured. He lost both arms and half of his face. Escaping Tartarus must have cost him and he must be constantly treating, especially after spending ten years in this prison. We need to find him, or at least find One for All, before he retrieve his strength.”
Toshinori’s only consolation was that he had hurt All for One more than he had hurt him.
“We have to check hospitals, and every one that can look like a doctor. We also have to find this kid…”
“But first,” Gran Torino intervened. “Could you once again use your foresight on All Might?”
Night had fallen and All Might was on one knee, emaciated, blood on his face as he tried to regain his strength but couldn’t. His time was up.
And villains were closing in. Huge, their brain exposed, they were looking at the weakened Symbol of Peace, ready to snuff his light.
All Might managed to get back to his feet, his smile replaced by a wince of pain and exhaustion, but he manage to activate One for All one last time.
And he paused.
Sir Nighteye wasn’t really there, but he turned, following his hero's gaze.
He saw a child, dressed in black, his face hidden by his hood. Red lines were dancing on his skin and green lightning circled around him as the most powerful quirk in the world was giving him a power he did not deserve.
The villains attacked.
And the thief joined in.
“Nighteye?” All Might called. “What did you see?”
There were times one had to admit he simply was unlucky. For example, when three stupid hero students decided to follow him and to be an annoyance, that was one of those common occurrences confirming that like sucked in general. When the cops arrived just as someone was about to barbecue their feet, that was a genuine stroke of bad luck.
When one of them came back the day after to mess with Dabi just as his hands were full of groceries, even he could admit something must have jinxed him.
The jackass from yesterday was a blond boy who was a third year at some second rate hero school. A lukewarm fire quirk and no discipline. Next to him was a bigger and meaner version of him, probably a big brother or something.
At least, the two other hero students from the day before had the sense not to come today.
“Because of you,” Jackass number 1 snarled, “This bullshit could end up in my file!”
Lord, give me the patience not to smoke them like a ham.
“And that’s my problem because…” Dabi started, but no one seemed intent on explaining how he was responsible for terminal cases of stupidity.
Still, he thought about it. How those three morons had followed him in a dark alley, trying to intimidate him, and how they had paled when they had seen a blue flame, the kind that could cremate a human body and leave nothing behind.
Nope. No matter how many times he thought about it, it was still the jackass’ fault.
“Because this could end my future and if that happens, there is no reason why you should have one!”
A fireball formed just above Jackass number 1’s palm, and he threw it at Dabi. It was slow, not hot enough, and a disgrace to every fire users worth the name. Dabi lazily raised his arm in turn. Unlike what most people believe, fire could be excellent to fight fire, or at least to drown his flame’s opponent.
Except that the blue fire he could summon only for a couple of seconds before he started to cook himself alive barely flickered.
Jackass number 2 smiled at him, all his body stiff as he was probably using a quirk to smother Dabi’s flames.
Several things happened so fast that it was almost simultaneous.
By reflex, Dabi threw away the two grocery bags that were in his left hand because he would need both arms to negate the fire ball. By doing so, he exposed the only food he would have for the week to a fire that would destroy it, so those two jackasses were dead.
Some blur of green moved, too fast for Dabi to really see what it was.
Dabi’s blue fire cancelled the fire ball and a wave of blue flames was redirected on the two imbeciles, Jackass number 2 struggling to keep them alive.
And suddenly, there was someone holding his groceries in one hand and recording the whole fight with the phone in his other hand.
Everyone stopped. Dabi because his blue fire was really recognizable for people who knew it. Jackass number 1 because he was a hero student.
“That’s enough, don’t you think?” the newcomer said.
Young. Definitely a middle schooler. He was wearing an All Might hoodie, and a red cap. A surgical mask was obscuring his features but from here, Dabi could see white curls and green eyes. Maybe a speed quirk. And he had enough faith in it to butt in a duel between two fire users.
“Unless you want that sent to your school, Watanabe Ryu,” the kid in an All Might hoodie said to the hero student, his voice calm, as if he risked his life every day. “Or maybe to the police. I am sure they would be delighted to talk to you again.”
Even Dabi hadn’t known Jackass number 1’s name, but that had to be it because he had paled so much he almost became transparent.
Usually, the cops would be more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt of two people connected to a hero school, especially as Dabi looked like a villain. But a video of them using their quirks wouldn’t only destroy their chances at becoming heroes, but would destroy the rest of their lives.
So they fled, leaving Dabi alone with the boy who had saved his groceries from an unfortunate fate. Groceries that he immediately put out of reach when Dabi approached.
“Give that back.”
“In a second,” the kid assured.
Even from here, Dabi could see that the eggs had been broken even though the bag hadn’t touched the ground. They had probably ruptured because of the speed. People with enhancer quirks needed real training in order not to break what they caught in mid-air
“I didn’t ask for your help,” Dabi immediately clarified, because he didn’t owe him anything.
“Not this time. But I wonder if you would have reached for my help again if you have found yourself back in an interrogation room.”
And just like that, Dabi realized who was in front of him.
Izuku was almost certain something had broken in one of the bags he was holding –probably eggs- and he was sweating buckets because it had to be his fault. High speed brought power, and he should have realized that the content of the bags might not be able to survive the contact.
Something else to work on. A lot of people were more resistant than before the rise of quirks, but Izuku was proof enough that some of them were still pretty fragile, so he had to make sure he wouldn’t accidentally hurt someone while he was using One for All.
“You are Anyone,” Inferno more inferyes realized, taking a not quite step back, but definitely putting himself in this position where he could raise an arm and throw fire without exposing too much of his body to the heat. “And you’re here because I deleted the app right after you helped me.”
He deleted it? Izuku had thought he had just ended his account.
“Well, in a sense. I usually do that through the server but since you weren’t there anymore, I had to come in person.”
Of course, he could have let it go, but after fleeing his own apartment this morning, he had needed a distraction. Unfortunately, just when he needed, no request had come in for Anyone, so here he was, saving groceries and involving himself into other people’s business.
He hadn’t even meant to intervene at first. Just… patrolling. Yes, that was the word.
“You’re living under the name Yukihama Kaname but no one corresponding to a man your age with a fire quirk lives in Japan, so I assume it’s not your real name,” Izuku continued. “However, you’re starting to get known by the police for quirk usage on public property and for a lot of fights. No jobs.”
“So what?” the fire user asked, his voice devoid of intonation but he was starting to get annoyed.
Izuku made sure that the grocery bags were in front of him, a pitiful shield as far as those went. However, it could serve as a reminder that since he had saved them, he should be spared from the flames for five more minutes.
“Anyone offers a good network for people who are searching for a job despite difficult circumstances.”
And by that, he meant villainous quirks or mutations.
Not that blue fire was a bad quirk in itself. The number 2 hero was a fire user after all, even using this exact movement when he needed to use a flamethrower technique, but everything was a matter of perception…
Izuku’s brain screeshed to a halt and tried to tell him something.
“Aren’t you here to ask me to repay the favor?” the fire user asked, with open distrust in his voice.
With what money? From what Nagisa found, you have nothing.
“No, it’s just the quickest way so you won’t be pulled in an interrogation room anymore. I can’t send a lawyer every time.”
But Izuku wasn’t really focused on the conversation anymore, because there was something really familiar about the man in front of him. The way he talked. The quirk. Maybe even the face…
The exact same shade of blue.
“Why are you staring at me?” Inferno more Inferyes frowned.
“You have interesting eyes.”
The fire user took one step backwards just as Izuku realized what he had just said, and his brain decided that would be a good idea to throw the groceries bags at him. They hit this guy on the chest, but at least, it left Izuku the time to leave as fast as he had arrived, helped by Full Cowl.
Shouto was half asleep in his bed after a solo training session when his phone rang, right next to his ear.
It was nine pm when All for One appeared on the rooftop of the modestly high building where Izuku had taken refuge, sitting on the edge and his legs dangling in the air as he was looking at Mount Lady punching the day light out of the villain who also had a gigantification quirk.
Thankfully, the police and her sidekicks had evacuated the zone, because those two were causing a lot of collateral damages.
Construction companies probably sent her chocolate every time she fought somewhere.
“Izuku?” the villain called, and there was something strange in his voice, but at the time, the teenage boy barely paid attention, more interested in the warp quirk he was using. Some sort of black substance that had covered him to bring him here.
All for One stayed where he was, but his whole body was tense. It couldn’t be because of their argument this morning, could he? Because this wasn’t different from any of his attempts to grab One for All.
“How did you find me?” Izuku asked.
All for One slowly started to approach.
Izuku brought one of his knees closer to his chest, one of his feet back on something solid. If someone tried to make him fall, he would be able to kick the floor to propel himself to safety.
“I didn’t,” the villain said, stopping where he was. Maybe five meters from Izuku. “My warp quirk doesn’t need coordinates but bring me to the people I know.”
That sounded interesting. Warp quirks were rare and precious, but most people were automatically thinking about the quirk similar to Kurogiri’s. To be able to access any place at any time. Or at least, a place the user had already seen.
But this one… It allowed the warper to immediately find the person he was looking for.
“Anyone you ever met?” Izuku asked.
“What do you think?’ All for One asked.
One should never ask what Izuku thought about a quirk unless they were prepared to the long answer.
“You probably have to at least talk to them. Or have the time to observe them, just to memorize who they are. A human brain isn’t made to remember every face you ever encountered… You can warp to people but can you warp people to you? And if it’s the case, is it only the one you know or everyone because you, as the receptor, is the one fulfilling the acquaintance condition?”
“Not bad.” All for One’s small smile reached his eyes and managed to give his whole face some tranquil happiness.
“You’re not going to tell me what I got right?”
“I won’t, but I am impressed by your ease at analyzing quirks.”
Izuku didn’t care about him being impressed, he wanted answers. It was unfair to dangle such a great quirks in front of him and not tell him what it could do.
And judging by All for One’s little smile, the fiend was aware of it.
A random thought made the fun of analyzing a quirk disappear.
“Then, are you going to tell me when you obtained this quirk?” the teenage boy asked, because for all he knew, someone was suddenly quirkless because he had jumped head first into Tartarus.
“Is that some note of disapproval I am hearing in your voice, Izuku? For stealing a quirk?”
Suddenly, Mount Lady’s special move was fascinating.
“I know that what I did was bad,” Izuku said quietly, still looking at the pro hero. “I know how much it hurt him.”
One glance behind him confirmed that All for One’s smile had become wolfish.
Every instance where All Might is hurt brings him joy.
“But I don’t think you can say the same things,” Izuku continued. “Once the quirk is in your possession, I doubt people still interest you.”
Izuku wouldn’t pretend he was a connoisseur of good and evil men, but someone had once told him that evil began when one begin to treat people as things. At the time, Izuku hadn’t understand it, but he was almost certain this has something to do where people weren’t seen as people anymore, but as a mean to an end.
All for One confirmed exactly what Izuku was thinking by completely ignoring what he said about people and focusing on quirks.
“It’s not like they even use their quirks. Those people follow the rules and don’t use their quirks without a license. If they do, they hide it in their homes, convincing themselves that those sparks of power are the best they could have. While I can use a quirk to its full potential.”
“That sounds like justification.”
Be honest. You just want to have quirks. It doesn’t go beyond that.
“It’s not. Would you refuse one of my quirk because of how it was obtained?”
That’s some nice change of subject.
Izuku dangled his right leg in the emptiness, and didn’t fail to notice that it made All for One even tenser than before. The villain had been getting closer and closer to the end of the roof, and if something was making him uncomfortable, Izuku doubted it was the height. Not with the kind of quirk that he had showed in Tartarus.
It was strange how things changed once you had the means to survive them. Before, being so close to a fall would have at least elevated Izuku’s heartbeat. Now, he could see the thousands of ways he could slow down his fall, land on another building, or even use fully One for All to survive. He was no All Might and couldn’t simply jump and land on his feet, but his new quirk seemed to make everything more survivable.
And even now, he was calm, because he knew he wouldn’t fall.
But All for One had asked him a question, so he went back to that.
“It’s even simpler than that: I don’t trust you. Even if I did, I don’t need anything else. People don’t always have the mutation to deal with enhanced strength. Things like resistance and shock absorption depend of genetic coincidences. But it doesn’t mean one can’t get used to a new input of power. One for All can be controlled as long as I slowly get used to it.”
“Sounds like someone who hasn’t experienced chronic pains yet would say…” the villain started to mock, his veneer of patience chipping.
Far away from them, the giant villain grabbed a car and tried to slam it on Mount Lady’s face. She avoided it and uppercut him with all the wrath someone who was about to see his assurance augment could muster.
It was a bad move because the villain got knocked out and fell backwards, not regaining a small frame. Mount Lady tried to keep him from falling completely, but she could barely slow him down.
The shockwave never reached them. They were too far. But All for One’s arm appeared near him, so fast it was almost a blur, and Izuku caught it because if someone tried to push the teenage boy to his death, the least Izuku could do was to make them accompany him.
But All for One simply grabbed his wrist, his fingers incredibly cold, and neither of them let go.
“I don’t mind you having fun watching quirks in action. But not this close to the ledge.”
And he dragged Izuku away from the best view in the city.
Dabi didn’t open the door of his appartement when someone decided to knock so hard the cheap door tried to escape from the frame. Instead, he look through the hole to see a teenager he had never seen but that he immediately recognized.
“Open the door,” Todoroki Shouto said. “We need to talk.”
If you're wondering why All for One was taking so much time approaching Izuku at the end, it was because he didn't want to startle him and make him fall.
Also, from this point, Izuku has the sneaking and horrifying suspicion that AFO is adopting him.
Next chapter happens after some time has passed and the real plot should start. Because yes, I have a plot beyond "AFO makes breakfast for Izuku."
Thank you for all the previous comments. <3
Izuku and Shouto's first day in high school!
Izuku was dreaming of flying when someone committed the mistake of waking him up. The wind was still screaming in his ears- but the cold, strangely, wasn’t affecting him- when he opened his eyes, but the dream shattered when he looked up to see All for One’s familiar face looking at him.
He sat up immediately, every cell of his body groaning, be it because of the morning or because there was nothing more unpleasant that someone sneaking up on you while you were asleep.
“What are you doing in my room?” Izuku calmly growled.
All for One took a step backwards and presented a cup of coffee as if it was a shield between the consequences of invading Izuku’s space and a super villain who had enough quirks to fear nothing except for a teenager who didn’t agree with the very concept of mornings.
The heavenly smell distracted Izuku long enough for All for One to explain himself.
“If you don’t wake up now, you’re going to be late for your first day of school. Here,” he said as he put the mug on Izuku’s white and plain nightstand. It wasn’t in All Might’s colors before it was the newest thing in this room. “Take your sugar with some coffee. Breakfast is ready.”
Since the coffee was perfect, Izuku choose to mercifully spare his annoying roommate and he watched him leave without as much as a shudder when he passed in front of the All Might posters. The ward isn't powerful enough.
Izuku finished his coffee and grabbed his phone, only to realize that he was still wearing his Gang Orca hoodie from yesterday. Because, now that he remembered, he had fallen asleep on the couch as he was working on an Anyone problem but for two weeks now, when he had made that mistake, he had either woken up tucked in his bed, either with a villain leaning on him like an affectionate cat.
After checking the hour, he started to crawl back under the blankets.
I definitely have five more minutes to sleep. Maybe even seven before the breakfast goes cold.
Izuku woke up ten minutes later as All for One was knocking on his door, and he burst out his room so fast he almost collided with the local villain. He jumped in the shower, put on his high school uniform (minus the tie), and ran to the kitchen where All for One was waiting for him.
“Are you having first day jitters?” All for One asked as Izuku was chewing a mouthful of eggs, bacon, and grilled toasts.
Izuku shook his head. Once his mouth was empty, he sipped some of his coffee to give himself the time to put words on what he was feeling.
“No, I am not worried. I just have to survive a couple of weeks, and then I will be able to take full advantage of the online classes. I will just have to be in school once in a while if I can justify an internship.”
“Survive? I wasn’t aware high schools had become so dangerous.”
Spoken like someone who had never been electrocuted so much in middle school that his heart had developed arrhythmia for a while.
“Schools aren’t the problem,” Izuku noted. “People are.”
It had been so long since he had actually been in a school, but he still remembered the last time. How annoyed people were every time he opened his mouth. How the teachers turned a blind eye, even when a childhood friend would slap his back, tiny explosions on his palm.
How when he had fallen after some girl with no more patience had sent an electric current through his body, and how no one had even reacted. Just silence when he had fallen, hiccupping in pain, and silence when he had left, painfully walking out of the school, stunned, disorientated, then the ground had come to meet him again.
So, even if Izuku wasn’t stressed at the idea of going back in an institution where teenagers were put in competition until they snap, it didn’t mean he was eager to spend time there.
And now, All for One was looking at him, with this familiar hungry expression, as if he needed to know anything, like a great beast that was feeding on secrets, and could smell their shadows.
But Izuku’s secrets were his own and he guarded them jealously.
All for One leaned back and in a second, his interest was erased. Hard to look for weaknesses when you are so obvious about it, after all. He poured more coffee into Izuku’s cup, the black one with the words Plus Ultra written in white, and he added more sugar.
“Don’t think of school as a chore but as a network,” the sociopath advised. “People can be annoying but some of them are interesting, with quirks and experiences you don’t have. Be in their good favors, and you can learn from them. As for the rest… It’s a good training for pest management.”
How cold. People as a mass of information to analyze, and something to gain from.
But, and Izuku would never admit it, analyzing was a familiar ground, and if one followed this line of thought, things appeared to be simpler.
“And I will add that any growing boy needs friends,” All for One told him.
“Could you remind me of how many friends you have?” Izuku asked with the most innocent face one had ever witnessed.
All for One gave him a bright smile.
“I am flattered to know you want to end up like me.”
“I already have two friends,” Izuku muttered, his face half hidden behind his cup.
“Today is the first step on the road of glory, and you have to show the world the legacy you represent… You have a power that is beyond most people’s dreams! And thanks to your training, you have to surpass All Might…”
Shouto sneaked a glance to his nee-san who wasn’t saying anything but who was starting to push more food towards their old man, probably in the hope that he would finally shut up.
But Endeavor, the number 2 hero, and unfortunately, Shouto’s gene donor, just couldn’t be stopped. As soon as Shouto would lay a toe inside UA, the privacy granted any heroes’ family would stop to apply to him and everyone would see what his father had created. A child with an incredibly powerful quirk, with a training that allowed him to rival with pro heroes, and no one would think it was due to Shouto’s own efforts, but because Endeavor had been the one to mold him.
That annoyed the hell out of him every time he thought about it.
Absentmindedly, he checked his phone and the Clamor server. He knew Midoriya wouldn’t be there, not when he was one of those strange people who hated mornings but who could stay awake all night without problem.
And he was right. There was no green light next to the icon of SmallMight1541. But someone else had left a message for him.
Inferno more inferyes:
[Good luck for today.]
Shouto fought a smile.
Izuku did his tie in front of the mirror and ignored All for One hovering around him. Yes, I know it's crooked. Then, he put on his sneakers and grabbed his bag.
“I can drive you,” All for One told him.
Izuku froze. Then, slowly turned towards the villain.
“Don’t take this the wrong way but don’t ever approach my school. Ever. I don’t want to deal with a red alert because a S-class villain walked by.”
Visions of people screaming in panic, of fires and car crashes, and worse, of All Might appearing, immediately came to mind.
“It’s true that it would make one annoying traffic jam,” All for One nodded, and Izuku remembered that the last time there had been a human traffic jam, it was In Tartarus and the villain had simply started to throw people out of the way to pass through, with Izuku and Eri under his arm.
All for One shoved something in Izuku’s hands. A black box, warm to the touch, and which hadn’t seen the light of the day since Izuku had stopped going to school so her mom didn’t need to prepare him meals to eat outside.
“You made me a bento?” the teenager asked.
“Of course I did. Left to your own devices, you grab something from a convini or forget to eat. I leave in the fear of you dropping dead and for One for All to be lost forever.”
Izuku squinted at him.
And All for One hugged him.
He didn’t even try to hide it. Izuku saw it coming. But his back was to the door and his hands were holding the bento, and unless he had used One for All to gain some speed, there was no way to avoid him in time, so the villain sneaked a quick hug, his shin put on the top of Izuku’s head.
All for One let him go just before Izuku had to claw his way out.
“Now off you go,” All for One, with his usual trolling smile, waved him off at the door. “And don’t get caught using Full Cowl!”
Izuku immediately stopped starting to call One for All and pointedly didn’t use his quirk as he walked out.
At least, until he was out of the street.
In front of the mirror right before the exit, the one Natsuo had installed so he could check his outfit before leaving, Shouto was holding the golden braided rope between his index and thumb, not convinced by what he was seeing. The rope was on his blazer, hanging to the right shoulder pad and finishing in the first button on the jacket. This was an extra decoration to identify him as an Exemplar, someone hand-picked by the Hero Commission.
If I rip it off, is there a chance that someone will notice it?
“Shouto, you look so good!” Fuyumi complimented him, her phone in hand.
Okay, maybe nee-san will.
“Studying is important but don’t forget to have fun and to make friends,” his sister said as she was taking a worrying amount of pictures.
Shouto didn’t have the heart to tell her that there would be no opportunity to have fun. UA was a school which reunited the elite of quirk users, children with as much training as he did. The first day would be an opportunity to judge the competition, then, it would be a bitter battle to constantly prove their worth. None of the students would think about making friends or having fun, and if Shouto ever thought about that, he would start with a disadvantage.
But that was exactly what their dad would have said, and worse, it would worry his sister
“I will do my best,” he answered instead.
Then, they both froze when their old man’s familiar and annoying voice was heard through the house, calling for Shouto, then for Fuyumi.
“Where is Shouto? I will drive him to school!”
Shouto barged through the door.
The last thing he heard as he escaped was Fuyumi.
“Oh, that’s too bad,” his nee-san was saying. “He just left.”
[Ave Snowdrift. Morituri te salutant. ]
[You’re being dramatic.]
Izuku arrived on time to school but he never reached his classroom.
Instead, someone from the school - whose name he forgot because of how stressed he was - called him by his full name, Akatani Mikumo, and led him to a room where a demi-dozens of students were already sitting, looking as uncomfortable as Izuku and he was led to a desk with a tablet and a stack of paper.
The woman who had led Izuku here explained that they were here because they all had intellectual quirks and the school had prepared a quick test to assess their abilities. Other students with enhancer quirks, or elemental quirks, and so on, were also taking this same kind of test in rooms that would accommodate them, and that there was no need to worry.
The tablet on Izuku’s assigned desk was showing a hero fight. Hawks vs a villain with an ironskin quirk.
Of course, it wasn’t a fight Izuku was familiar with.
He asked the permission to put his headphones on and started to write.
He went to this familiar place where things had a sense. Quirks were mysteries wrapped in enigmas wrapped in more mysteries and Izuku had always loved discovering their secrets. He might not have an analysis quirk but he had years and years of practice and no quirk could rival with that.
His pen was almost flying above the paper.
And his heart almost escaped his ribcage when the supervisor put a hand on his shoulder, startling him. In a second, he saw himself being escorted out of the room, then grilled about his quirk. His new identity was solid but not perfect. What would happen if they make the link with Midoriya Izuku?
Izuku looked up at the middle-aged lady with a smiling face and completely black eyes, but he could have been looking at All Might himself at this moment.
“Akatani-kun,” she gently called him, “I don’t think you’re realizing it but you’re mumbling and it’s hindering your classmates.”
The wave of relief that swept through Izuku almost made him weep.
Shouto might have been the only one not to be surprised when Aizawa-Sensei decided to test them on their first day, with the promise to expel the one with the worst results at the end.
What he didn’t expect was how completely unprepared a lot of them were.
One of the students, a blond boy, actually electrocuted himself and a dark-haired girl with earlobes ending in jack plugs had to hold his hand until the end of the test. Another blond boy who spoke French couldn’t use his quirk more than two seconds without being in pain.
At least, the invisible girl throwing her shoes when she was supposed to sprint and jump was smart.
Shouto was starting to suspect that none of his classmates realized they were in a competitive military school.
But that wasn’t the worst.
“DIE!” one the students screamed, a blond boy with crimson eyes who seemed to love yelling violent battle cries when he was using his quirk.
Shouto had kept an eye on him since he had first shown his quirk.
Midoriya had never told him his childhood friend’s name, calling him Kacchan, but he had lovingly described a powerful Explosion quirk and some details about his personality had slipped through.
Ochako generally considered herself a good person. Her parents had raised her right, taught her to be polite and to be nice of people, but not to be a doormat.
But when Aizawa-Sensei had announced that the last one at the tests would be disqualified, she had been ready to beat all of her classmates with a baseball bat if it was what it took to stay in this school- especially as this was one of the only hero schools who didn’t bleed their students dry with the tuition fees.
This fierce feeling of You will have to kill me if you want to expel me and even that might not be enough was exacerbated by the fact there was not one, not two, but three Exemplars. Three students who already had an advantage and it wasn’t a surprise to see them appear in the top three. Todoroki Shouto, Yaoyorozu Momo, and Bakugou Katsuki. The last one had been especially displeased about his place.
As if that mattered. The only good place was the one that wasn’t the last.
At least, until Aizawa-Sensei decided that it was a logical ruse. Everyone screamed, outraged, and the only one who didn’t say anything was the boy ranked last, a boy with purple hair that defied gravity not because of a quirk but because of fashion. He had dropped to his knees, his hands in front of his face, and he wasn’t moving.
Ochako immediately walked to him.
Tenya was already leaving, eager not to be late to the next class, when he saw two of his classmates lagging behind. One was Uraraka Ochako, ranked 10, who was kneeling next to Shinsou Hitoshi, ranked last, who was deathly pale.
He had noticed the moment when his classmate had dropped to his knees but he hadn’t reacted. He had thought that he would need some time alone.
He just didn’t…
Once again, he hadn’t acted as a hero.
That’s why you weren’t chosen as an Exemplar, unlike nii-san. You still have a long way to go.
By the time he was walking towards Uraraka and Shinsou, the purple-haired boy was already walking away, pretending that nothing had happened.
Tenya had lost an occasion to do the right thing.
[ I met Bakugou Katsuki. ]
[ How is he?]
[ Loud, violent, and prone to a stroke if he doesn’t watch himself.]
The weather was fair so most students had decided to eat outside and Izuku had followed them, like a sheep following his flock. There was safety in numbers and he was completely ready to lose himself into a tiny crowd, if only to deal with what had just happened.
For he had passed the test. He had actually been congratulated for his results.
And two students had been escorted out. No one had seen them ever since, but they had probably been expelled on the spot for lying about their quirks.
Kohaku wasn’t a hero school, and though students were allowed to use intellectual quirks, it was the exception and not the rule. They weren’t supposed to be selected on quirks. But Kohaku had tested their students to make sure no quirkless students or anyone having an ill-omened quirk had managed to slip through.
Izuku wasn’t even surprised by it. But it was disturbing.
He had been congratulated on his ability to analyze quirks.
And he would have been kicked out if they had known he was quirkless.
But of course, even if they were called out, they wouldn’t call that quirk discrimination. They would talk about trust and how one couldn’t trust liars.
Izuku was brought back to the conversation when the girl next to him, whose hair was made of many green snakes, and with gray eyes which reminded Izuku of a stormy night, showed a picture of a tiny black cat who was surrounded by snake-haired family members
Everyone, Izuku included, cooed when they saw the picture of the adorable ball of fluff.
“Akatani, you never answered,” Hebisuga reminded him. “Do you have a pet?”
Izuku paused, thinking about the evil cat that had followed him from Tartarus. “No, it’s just…”
A super villain who refused to leave but who also made the bento I just shared with all of you.
“… A cat who hangs out at my place like he is at home. Even though it’s definitely not his.”
“Oh, he adopted you,” Yuuto teased. He was an orange-haired boy with a thermos quirk, which explained why he had actually brought ice cream from home, who was wrong.
“He did not adopt me,” Izuku corrected him. “He is just a demonic thing.”
“What does he look like?” Ayato (infrared quirk) asked as he tried not to laugh at Izuku’s pain.
“Big and white,” Izuku said before deciding that if his mouth was full of rice, he didn’t have to answer any more questions, so he did just that.
He didn’t have to force himself to eat. This bento was absolutely delicious. It rivaled with what his mother, a chef, could do. That was how good it was.
“Well, my cat is definitely not a demon and she is the cuddliest thing ever.”
So is mine. Unfortunately.
Of course, Izuku was aware of why All for One was touch-starved. One quick Google search had confirmed that isolation was just not a good thing for a human being and All for One was almost well-adjusted for someone who had been trapped in a cell for ten years.
Izuku had simply been unlucky enough to be the object of an incredible imprinting, probably helped by the light of a familiar quirk and maybe a resemblance to All for One’s little brother.
Dabi, the first time he had witnessed how clingy All for One could get with Izuku, had called that the Ducky Syndrome.
But only when All for One hadn’t been around to hear him say that.
[People in my class are actually nice! ]
[And there are so many incredible quirks!]
After his classes had ended, Izuku had headed to UA to meet Todoroki. His friend hadn’t been certain it was a good idea since Bakugou was there, but Izuku was confident in his ability to avoid him in time. After all, it had been practiced over many years.
However, since Izuku was watching out for heterochromatic partner in crime and an explosive childhood friend, he wasn’t quite prepared to see a really thin and very tall man in a yellow suit too big for him.
All Might, in his incognito form, was leaving UA.
He was maybe fifteen meters away from Izuku and from One for All.
Todoroki was not far behind him. He smiled at Izuku and frowned when he was ignored.
Izuku somehow managed to keep walking while exercising a perfect control on his face. He didn’t look at All Might, slightly turning his head away, and he calmly walked away as if he had never done anything wrong in his life, and definitely not stolen One for All.
Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.
One for All was just right under his skin, reacting to Izuku’s panic and begging to be used but that would be a suicidal move. Using a hint of Full Cowl would lead to All Might immediately noticing him. One California Smash later, Izuku would finish embedded into a wall.
Even though this would probably be deserved, Izuku preferred to avoid such unfortunate fate.
Todoroki caught up with him, surprised but not saying anything. He knew Izuku enough to realize he wouldn’t react like that for no reason.
“Don’t look but the tall and thin man in a yellow suit is All Might.”
Todoroki immediately looked back despite what Izuku has just asked. He stopped after one panicked glare and he passed an arm around Izuku’s shoulders as if he wanted to hide the quirk thief from the Symbol of Peace.
“Him?” He knew about All Might’s wound and how it had weakened him but he had never seen the number 1 hero’s true appearance. “Maybe he was talking with Nedzu. After all, he is an UA alumni.”
Izuku knew he had to be inconspicuous but in the end, he couldn’t prevent himself from looking again. The first time he had seen the number 1 hero in person, he had been jaded. The second time, he had been scared and apologetic, entrusting the most powerful quirk in the world to Izuku because he thought he didn’t have a choice.
Now, there was a sadness that definitely wasn’t here before.
Kurogiri didn’t say anything that could have constituted a warning before a mass of black mist appeared in the middle of the bar, just tall and large enough to allow a person to discreetly slip through.
The first one to emerge was a white-haired boy wearing grey pants, a blue sweater and a black tie, the uniform of Kohaku, a school that regularly produced members of the Hero Commission. His big green eyes and his freckles made him look younger than he was, and anyone looking at him would see a shy kid who would apologize if someone stepped on his foot.
That same kid also had a quirk that made him look like the lovechild child the Symbol of Peace would have had with the general concept of chaos. He had no fear. And his concept of a hobby was to lead an illegal organization where he avoided cops and heroes to help people where the law failed, and whose idea of finding funds for his budget was to commit various robberies concerning anything that was insured.
This last detail was the reason why Dabi still had a bruise on his back, a newfound knowledge about security systems, and a bank account that wasn’t weeping in pain anymore each time he looked at anything that wasn’t a basic item necessary for his survival.
His boss smiled at Dabi and Dabi smiled back, then smiled at the second teenager who appeared. Shouto was wearing the UA uniform with the mark of an Exemplar on his jacket.
Dabi had been terrified at the idea of not receiving his invitation to be an Exemplar when he had been Shouto’s age. When the letter had arrived, he hadn’t even been happy. Just relieved because that meant he didn’t have to train anymore. But his little brother was smarter than him and had learned to despite their father much earlier.
Though he still had to realize that he wasn’t supposed to force his long lost brother’s door or to create an ice cage so he wouldn’t escape. A phone call would have been enough.
And he was currently… not clinging, but standing really close to Yami- his business name because Anyone was too confusing and Midoriya was a name only Shouto seemed to be allowed to use. As for Yami himself, he had this look on his face when he was carefully controlling his expression so no one would notice anything wrong, the same way Fuyumi did.
“How was school? And why do you both look like you’ve seen a ghost?”
Shouto and Yami both looked at each other, silently agreeing to say the same bullshit.
“Stressful first day,” they both said at the same time as if they had a telepathic quirk.
Then, they immediately went to the bar and warmly greeted Kurogiri who welcomed them like favorite nephews, and a couple of minutes later, two plates of French fries with cheese and bacon were presented to the kids.
“Why do they get the VIP treatment while I have been here for an hour and the only thing I got was pretzels?”
“Because they are VIP, obviously,” Kurogiri informed him without sparing him a glance, but an ink spot started to appear near Dabi’s pretzels bowl and he barely managed to save them in time from the warp gate.
Yami shared with him. Shouto didn’t. Maybe because he knew Yami would get as many snacks as he wanted since he was obviously Kurogiri’s favorite. Or maybe he needed to be reminded that Dabi was fast enough to steal his food.
Many fries and pretzels had been stolen in all direction when All for One appeared in the bar in a mass of black liquid, as if shadows had somehow oozed through reality. A warp quirk he wasn’t born with but that he had stolen. For all Dabi knew, it had been taken before his birth but that was still disturbing.
The legendary villain was maybe as tall as Endeavor, white-haired, wearing a dark suit, as always, and he looked like he wasn’t even in his thirties. In a world of quirks where anyone could have any mutation, he would have passed as plain if it wasn’t for his presence.
It was as if he was everywhere. Dabi just couldn’t ignore him as every cell of his body was focused on him, screaming at him that this man was dangerous. Maybe that was what prey species felt around a predator.
“Kurogiri,” he said, his tone warm and obviously amused but there was just something hiding in every word that forced Dabi to pay attention. Fortunately-and as always when the white-haired child was in the same room- he was paying attention to Yami and not to Shouto or Dabi. “You can’t keep feeding them junk food.”
“Don’t listen to him, Kurogiri. You definitely can,” Yami assured, showing his utter disdain for the atavistic survival instinct most human beings seemed to have.
It drew a chuckle from All for One.
The proof that dragons could purr.
Yami leaned back, just a little, so he would be between Shouto and All for One if anything happened. Dabi’s brother had an incredible quirk and a minute spent in the villain’s company would reveal he loved those as much as Yami did, so the leader of Anyone unconsciously interposed himself.
Never afraid to lose his own power.
Dabi suspected that this was because just like his, the enhancer quirk Yami used was too destructive unless one took immense precautions. The teenage boy had mentioned how he could never afford to lose focus because the price to pay was broken bones.
To ill-suited quirks, he silently cheered. May we never be forced to use our full powers.
All for One walked to the bar and rubbed shoulders with Yami before starting to steal fries in his plates. Then, when Yami tried to push the plate away, All for One decided to hug him with one arm.
The plate was quickly brought back as a gesture of good will, but this wasn't enough and the arm stayed where it was.
From what Dabi had observed in their previous interactions, Yami would soon escape. Then, there would be head pats, attempts at clinginess, and other instances where the most terrifying villain that had ever walked the earth would absentmindedly touch Yami.
Once, and only once, Dabi has asked Shouto why the most terrifying villain was circling around Anyone despite not being a part of the organization.
To this day, he was still haunted by Shouto’s very vague answer where he had more or less implied that Yami had accidentally broken out the lord of the underworld from Tartarus.
For the sake of his sanity, Dabi had decided to believe that this was typical teenage exaggeration.
Inferno more inferyes:
[ Honestly, as soon as AFO saw a teenage villain with an illegal organization, a complete disregard for laws, and a fascination with quirks, Yami was adopted. It must have felt like finding a long lost son. ]
[It’s funny that you mention that because I actually have a theory…]
Hawks’ feathers flickered in annoyance. That was the only thing betraying his irritation as he confirmed that the Hero Commission had frozen his funds. And without warning him, of course.
If he had been in his agency, he would have never showed how annoyed he was. In a public place, one had to wear the adequate mask. A lesson taught again and again from the moment he had been chosen as a Paragon, the Hero Commission’s special ones.
But since he was hidden in his apartment, he let himself fall on his couch, groaning and using some power words about stupid bureaucrats and how this whole situation was betraying a staggering lack of common sense.
Earlier this day, his handler had asked him to take care of an organization named Anyone, for it was a villainous group breaking the law.
Hawks, who actually kept his ears to the ground and knew the rumors about someone helping anyone in nee, in exchange of a future favor, had reminded Mera that a villain was defined as someone using their quirk to hurt others, so Anyone couldn’t be qualified as such. Unless, of course, the Hero Commission had other elements he wasn’t aware of.
Like one of their members being arrested because of drugs in his car, right after he had violated the restraining order his girlfriend had against him.
The Hero Commission had never answered his question, preferring to use the discretionary rights they had over the account opened for him since he was twelve. He had almost ample funds he could use for himself and for his agency, but in exchange, the Commission could see everything he was doing and felt free to wipe it out completely when he was being difficult.
When his rank had dropped a year ago, Hawks had spent a month surviving on the money he had been squirreling away on a personal account. If it had lasted longer, he wouldn’t have been able to pay his sidekicks or his rent.
They would probably contact him again tomorrow. And when they would ask Hawks to jump, he would know to answer “How high?”
Another way to read Akatani Mikumo is Yami, which meant Darkness, and it's probably the reason why I settled on this name.
Also, Izuku in this story has five names: Midoriya Izuku, Akatani Mikumo, Anyone, Yami, and SmallMight1541. And for those who didn't notice, 1541 is All for One's cell number in Tartarus. ^^
This chapter is more about worldbuilding that I wanted to because I realized that the chronology wouldn't allow me to tackle the fun stuff with people being low-key traumatized and Izuku going O.o so soon.
I want to thank all of you for the reactions I had on this fic. I want you to know I keep rereading your comments again and again.
You have six new messages from Snowdrift.
… And that’s why there is a high probability that Yami is All for One’s secret lovechild!]
Inferno more Infernes:
[It’s 4 AM.]
[Just go to sleep.]
[Besides, it would make more sense if Yami was All Might’s secret lovechild. Abandoned by his dad. And All for One, in a delicious twist of fate, would have adopted the son of the Symbol of Peace. ]
Snowdrift is currently typing.
Spicy McNuggets joined the server.
The mornings were quiet in the Kurosawa family.
Kazuko was rinsing the dishes, making sure to have something to do since the moment she had woken up. Always busy, always something in her hands, while her expression was carefully controlled.
Behind her, her daughter wasn’t as careful, playing with her breakfast without touching it. At twelve, Miyu looked older than her age, with her father’s black hair and golden eyes. The rest looked like her mother.
And there were dark circles under her eyes as she smiled at Kazuko. They had tried to keep Masashi content this week, careful to play the part of the loving family who understood his sacrifices, but Miyu must have snapped at her father during training, and the result had been nightmares plaguing her night.
Kazuko carefully hid her anger, smiled back at her daughter, and she made sure her back was to her husband by the time he arrived in the kitchen, already dressed to leave, but not in his hero costume.
Not when he just didn’t manage to rise up in the ranks. Instead, his quirk allowed him to be regularly hired by the government, and this way, this family didn’t have to worry about money.
But it was eating at Masashi not to be a real hero. No fame or recognition for him, only working in the shadows.
She used to have sympathy for him. To understand his frustration.
“You’re not eating your breakfast?” she asked her husband, smiling as if she was really happy to see him.
The trick was to mind the eyes.
“I will grab something to eat later,” Masashi smiled back. “Work doesn’t wait.”
He kissed her on the cheek, a hand on the small of her back, then he left but not before ruffling Miyu’s hair. Kazuko waited for him to leave, then listened until she heard the purring of her husband’s car.
Once she was sure Masashi had driven away, she turned to her daughter who was blatantly watching by the window.
“It’s time to pack your bags, honey.”
Miyu nodded, got to her feet, hugged her mother, and scurried off to her room. She had known this was coming for a month now. Since the moment her quirk training had become more intensive and the nightmares haunting them had become impossible to ignore –the benefit of the doubt could only survive for so long- but they had needed to wait for when Masashi would leave for more than a day.
Now, Kazuko needed to pack her own bags, to check that Miyu wouldn’t forget anything, and to call the school to inform them that her daughter was sick in order to give them some time.
Instead of doing all that, she grabbed her phone, opened the Clamor app, and contacted Gladiolus, who was thankfully already online.
[ He is gone.]
[You’re doing the right thing.]
Kazuko knew that but that didn’t mean she didn’t need to hear it again.
However, there was one last detail the people who would help her needed to know.
[There is one thing I didn’t tell you about my husband.]
Ao, who had just spent the last two weeks convincing Aster of leaving the home of an abusive narcissist, was informed that the jackass in question was not only on the Hero Commission’s payroll (which she thankfully already knew) but that this was the pro hero Nightmare.
He was the opposite of high-ranked and most people didn’t know him, but he had gained a reputation in some underground circles as a man who worked as an interrogator. And the people he talked with often left the room with white hair.
This was bad news.
Ao’s trusted baseball bat could take care of a lot, but dealing with a pro hero might be beyond her powers.
The young woman passed a hand in her short blue hair, furiously thinking.
At no point did she allow herself to panic. Once upon a time, she had been trained as a medic and her teachers had made sure she always kept her cool.
Nightmare was supposed to be gone for a week. So nothing kept her from picking up Aster and her daughter before driving them to a safe place.
She just needed a contingency plan in case there was a problem.
And she knew just the kid who could help her with that.
Let’s hope Akatani is currently in one piece.
[Just to know, how could I neutralize someone who has a quirk that traumatizes people by showing them their worst fears?]
[ ??? ]
Izuku found out that in term of completely waking up someone, there was nothing like this fine moment where someone didn’t want to contact Anyone because it wasn’t worth it, so instead, they contacted Akatani Mikumo to ask questions about a quirk, before casually mentioning a dark story about a quirk marriage and an abusive spouse and father.
It might even more efficient than caffeine.
Izuku contacted Kurogiri right before he arrived to school and passed though the warp gate as soon as it appeared, only to walk in right in front of All for One, sitting on a stool, his back to the bar, obviously waiting for him.
“What are you doing here?” Izuku blurted out before remembering that it was impossible to get a straight answer out of All for One so he turned towards Kurogiri. “Actually, why didn’t you tell me he was here?”
The bartender gave him a dry look. “Am I supposed to give you his location every time he is in sight?”
“Why not?” Izuku asked, remembering how every time he arrived to the bar, Kurogiri texted his boss. “That’s exactly what you do for him.”
Kurogiri decided to find himself something to do and to avoid eye contacts.
“He was working for me before you were even born,” All for One reminded Izuku. “And I am planning to have some me time. Are you going to jump into danger today?” he asked before the teenage boy could ask about his plan.
“Actually, no. I am barely needed.”
And in a hurry.
Nightmare was leaving for the week, had already left, and it would take an extraordinary amount of back luck for him to return just as his wife and daughter were leaving. But Izuku could still help carry the bags while making sure everything would be alright.
All for One gave him a look which clearly meant that he was not trusting Izuku, but since the feeling was reciprocal, Izuku didn’t see anything wrong with it, and went upstairs, to a room supposed to contain supplies to the bar but that actually stored various equipment which could be useful for one interested in vigilantism.
However, these days, it had changed to become a changing room and Izuku found the Ingenium messenger bag he had left there last time. He fished out some clothes but not the hoodie he was usually wearing to cover his face, so he chose a more classical black mask instead.
His phone biped, warning Izuku that Ao was half an hour away from the house.
Izuku went downstairs, and as soon as he approached, the noise of Kurogiri and All for One’s conversation died down, both men pretending to be really busy not doing anything. The teenage boy made a “Can I?” gesture at the bartender to ask the permission to go behind the bar, and Kurogiri went beyond that by warping out of the way.
He passed behind the bar –for it was where Kurogiri was hiding the good stuff like the baseball bat, the duct tape, other things, and the expensive alcohol now that Izuku thought about it- and as he did, he kicked into something. Something black, in metal, and which looked suspiciously like a villain helmet.
Izuku picked it up and examined it.
Yes, definitely a villain helmet.
“Is there something I should know about this me time?” Izuku asked.
All for One and Kurogiri looked at each other.
“No, I don’t see anything worth mentioning,” All for One finally said. “Though, if we could go back to this errand you were mentioning earlier…”
Dabi had just come back home and let himself fall on his couch when his phone rang.
Not two minutes after drilling All for One about his plan for the day, and only getting some very vague answers about going for a walk and how the helmet was just a precaution, barely needed really, Izuku asked Kurogiri to please make sure that All for One wouldn’t cause anything awful.
While All for One was contacting one of the two persons who should absolutely not be called for a case of quirk marriage gone wrong.
“Are you decent?” he asked Dabi on the phone. Not even a hello, or anything that could have prepared Todoroki’s brother to the local sociopath’s phone call.
Unsurprisingly, there was a very long pause at the other end of the line.
“Yes…” Dabi answered with real worry in his voice. “Why are you asking thaaaa…”
Dabi appeared in the middle of a mass of shadows, distinctly freaked out, and still sitting on his couch which had been warped along.
This was actually fascinating. Izuku knew that Kurogiri tended to extend his warp zone in order not to accidentally cut someone or something important, but that was a conscious decision. All for One’s Transmission might be automatically grabbing anything people hanged on to.
Is there a limit?
Can he accidentally teleport a boat if someone is on one of those? If someone is chained to a wall, would only a part of the wall be warped away with the target?
“Dabi,” All for One greeted the very freaked-out fire user. “If you would be so kind to accompany Yami to his dangerous mission he doesn’t want to tell us about? I have a feeling he will need a responsible adult with him but Kurogiri and I have prior engagements.”
Dabi, still on the couch, raised one eyebrow. “That’s quite the mark of trust coming from you.”
Every word was practically dripping of mistrust.
And rightfully so.
“Well, since there is a shortage of responsible babysitters,” All for One smiled at him, “someone who runs slower than him and who will bear the brunt of consequences if something goes wrong, will have to be enough.”
“Well, ain’t I flattered?” Dabi mocked after he managed to find his voice back.
“He won’t accompany me,” Izuku said and his voice cut through the stunned atmosphere of the room. “I am going alone.”
That was the trick when you had to talk with people who refused to be reasonable. Never ask. You had to tell them what was going to happen, without ambiguity.
His eyes lingered on Dabi, Todoroki’s words still echoing in his mind.
With his wealth and fame, my father made my mother’s family agree to the marriage. All to get his hands on her quirk.
“It’s Anyone’s business.” This time, Izuku’s eyes were on All for One who was looking at him with interest, carefully guarded. They had a fragile balance and he was very close to upset it. None of them wanted that. “And there is no time to waste. Kurogiri, I have some coordinates I need to be delivered to, please.”
Kurogiri was the epitome of efficiency, and a moment later, Izuku was passing through a warp gate.
He was greeted by a heavy rain which quickly soaked him, but at least, he now had a good reason to keep his hood up. He checked that the warp gate had closed, fixed his messenger back on his shoulder, and he started to walk up the road.
The neighborhood smelled of wealth, full of big houses with a lot of spaces between them. Most of them were traditional, but not all, and the one belonging to Aster, also known Kurosawa Kazuko, was one of them.
Izuku squinted to try to see if he could see Ao’s car–it would be coming from the other direction- but the rain was blurring everything from such a distance.
It was also covering noises.
And finally, the hoodie Izuku’s was wearing was a normal one, and the fabric didn’t allow him to see through it, so his peripheral vision was a joke.
That’s how he didn’t see that Dabi had been warped where Izuku himself had appeared and had just caught back with him.
“I am a part of Anyone, so technically, I am concerned,” he drawled, startling the teenage boy.
Once his heart stopped trying to escape his ribcage, Izuku simply stared at him.
“So… What is this secret mission about?” Dabi asked.
Izuku told Dabi about the situation. Once upon a time, a man with a quirk ill-suited to the heroic path but still incredibly useful for the Hero Commission, had wanted a child who could accomplish his dream, so he had married a woman with a shapeshifting quirk. At four, their daughter had demonstrated she could shapeshift into what people feared, a flashy quirk that had brought joy to both parents.
Until Nightmare had started training the child, and when the mother had started to protest, nightmares had happened.
It was hard to fight when constantly sleep deprived.
“This pro hero left so the only thing to do should be to go there and to help them pack or carry their bags, but it wouldn’t be the first time that someone returned home at the wrong time,” Izuku explained. “In those moments, it’s good to have someone who can make them consider the merits of moving out of the way.”
For a long moment, Dabi didn’t say anything.
It was okay. Izuku was completely fine with heavy silences.
“How do you propose to take care of Nightmare if he comes back?” Dabi finally asked. “People connected to the Hero Commission are hard to intimidate.”
Izuku rummaged through his bag, and presented an item borrowed from Kurogiri’s treasure box.
“A pepper spray?” Dabi noted with disbelief.
“You’re telling me to take down a hero with a pepper spray? I expected something a little more impressive involving some plan with both our quirks.”
Izuku tried to find a way to casually admit to Dabi that since he tended to cook himself alive every time he used his quirk, Izuku wanted to avoid him to use Cremation. But since he didn’t find a delicate way to put it, he chose not to mention that.
“I don’t want you to take down a hero. If you see a hero, I want you to run. But if he uses his quirk on you, since it isn’t physical, your best bet is to use that because most people can’t focus their quirks when they feel like the devil is slowly trying to pluck out their eyeballs.”
Dabi took the little can of pepper spray and examined it at a respectable distance.
“What if I pepper spray myself?”
Izuku opened his Ingenium messenger bag again, grabbed a bottle of milk, and presented it to Dabi who actually did a double take at that.
“What else do you have in here?”
“Duct tape, sandwiches, a thermos of coffee and more duct tape.”
“But no umbrella?”
Annoyance stabbed at Izuku. Repeatedly.
“If you don’t want my pepper spray, you can give it back.”
“No, it’s mine now,” Dabi decided while raising his hand so the pepper spray would be out of reach for the shorter teen.
That’s how Ao found them, utterly soaked and bickering.
The young woman ignored their antics and went to a house full of flowers. Kurosawa-san, a very pretty lady who also looked exhausted, greeted them, then her eyes widened when she saw how many of them they were.
Ao went with Kurosawa-san to help her edit a letter she was leaving behind to explain what was happening. Dabi stayed with Miyu, Kurosawa-san’s twelve-year-old who immediately took a liking to the older Todoroki. As for Izuku, there were heavy bags needing to be carried down a very narrow stairway.
Izuku had just finished carrying the bags, Kurosawa-san thanking him and congratulating on his enhancer quirk –because people always did that with flashy heroic quirks, it was the polite thing to do- when someone rang at the door.
Ao shook her head at Kurosawa-san.
“If it was my husband, he would be opening with his key,” Kurosawa-san said, her chin high and her breath measured, but she wasn’t exactly calm. “I will take care of it.”
Izuku stayed in the stairway, hidden from sight.
The good news was that Kurosawa-san was right. It wasn’t her husband. It was someone else Izuku had already met, on the worst day of his life.
“Good morning, Kurosawa-san,” Death Arms greeted her. “Is everything alright?”
Death Arms realized that this little service Nightmare has asked of him would be more complicated than expected as soon as his colleague’s wife opened the door.
A barely opened door, which was the first sign that something was wrong. The second was that Kurosawa Kazuko, a woman with blond hair barely touching her shoulders and grey eyes seemed incredibly uncomfortable.
“Death Arms,” she smiled but her eyes were cool at most. “What an unexpected surprise.”
They had met several times before, always with her husband present, and she had been the definition of courtesy. But right now, it was clear she was busy and not liking the interruption.
“I didn’t mean to disturb you,” Death Arms assured, “but Nightmare told me he wouldn’t be there this week and asked me to keep an eye on you in case there was a problem.”
He hadn’t said why he was worried. He had simply told that to Death Arms, entrusting his family to him while he was away. It was definitely something the punching hero didn’t need on top of his current activities, but when a colleague asked something like that, he usually had reasons, and if Death Arms didn’t do this job, anything wrong happening during this week would punch him back in the face.
“My husband worries too much but I can assure you that I am not a child and that I can take care of myself even when he isn’t here,” Kurosawa-san informed him.
Well, she isn’t wrong. Time to go.
Someone coughed inside and Kurosawa-san’s eye twitched at the sound.
“Did you hear that?” the pro hero asked.
“Hear what?” she asked back.
Death Arms slapped his palm against the door, accidentally putting too much strength and the board hit the wall with a loud noise that startled three people.
Nightmare’s doorway allowed to directly access to the living room, and there were two people on the couch. One was Miyu’s: Nightmare’s daughter. Her hand was in front of her mouth, so the sneezing must have come from her. Next to her was a man whose face was covered in scars and piercings and who was wearing ripped jeans, boots, and a hoodie, all black. One hand of his hand was gripping the air around Miyu’s shoulder, as if he had tried to keep her from sneezing, and the other was holding a manga.
There were other manga on the coffee table, as if they had been talking about that.
Next to Kurosawa-san, a young woman was standing with her combat boots firmly planted to the ground, her arms crossed on her chest. Her skin was really pale, her blue hair was short and cut in an undercut, and her dark eyes didn’t betray anything. She couldn’t be older than the other man, barely in her twenties.
“This is my friend,” Kurosawa explained. “We are in the same book club.”
Death Arms looked at the scarred young man.
“I am also in the book club,” he drawled, not even trying to convince him. “Nice to meet you.”
But the final nail in the coffin of Death Arms’ tranquil day was the pile of luggage waiting next to the door.
“You’re going somewhere?”
Kurosawa-san stopped smiling. Every hint of politeness disappeared, replaced by steel.
“I think I have been patient enough. Leave us, Death Arms. Or I will call the police.”
“Does your husband know about this trip?” the pro hero asked, already knowing the answer to his question.
Her face changed again, and suddenly, it was as if she has somehow become smaller.
“Don’t do that,” she pleaded in a quiet voice.
The blue-haired woman shifted her weight on her right leg, her leather jacket creaking with the movement, and in a second, she had placed herself between Death Arms and Kurosawa-san as if he was the threat.
Whatever was happening here, it was what Nightmare had feared. Maybe his wife had met people manipulating her. Maybe she was in the middle of a depression and making choices she would regret later.
The only thing Death Arms knew was that if she let her leave, there would be hell to pay for him.
“You’re leaving with his daughter,” the pro hero said, speaking in a soft voice. “Shouldn’t he be told about that?”
Actually, he should be told about that right now.
Death Arms crossed the threshold.
“You can’t come in here!” Kurosawa-san screamed, outraged, but the girl with blue hair grabbed her hand and made her step back.
While the man near Nightmare’s daughter got to his feet, starting to approach, his hands in his pockets. He stopped five meters away from the pro hero, the threat clear, and enough space for a long ranged quirk to be used.
It didn’t matter. Death Arms was a pro and this man was a scrub at best. There was a world between someone trained and someone who wasn’t.
He focused back on Kurosawa-san, while keeping an eye on the other two.
“You… You can’t simply take his daughter. Kurosawa-san, whatever is happening, I am sure you can talk things out.”
Death Arms had assisted to messy divorces. And when children were concerned, it was almost always ugly.
And if it was something else… Well, there were systems. Running away wouldn’t do any good to anyone. Laws were laws for a reason.
“And what do you think will happen?” the stranger asked, his piercing blue eyes burning with disdain.
“People will look into it.”
“People will do nothing,” he snarled, the movement making Death Arms notice that those weren't piercings he had on his face, but staples. “The Hero Commission will shut that down so fast you will have whiplash. They protect their heroes, but never the people around them.”
“I want to go with mom,” Nightmare’s daughter intervened, jumping to her feet.
Her All Might backpack was in her hand.
“It’s not as simple as that,” Death Arms snapped at her.
Both mother and daughter gave him a look that would have incinerated him if they had a fire quirk.
And someone entered the living room. A child in a green hoodie a little too big for him, his hood up and a black surgical mask covering his face. He kind of sauntered awkwardly in the room, as if he wasn’t aware of the tension around them.
Since he looked like he would be down with a flicker, Death Arms barely paid attention to him, still focused on the two adults in black.
“Kurosawa-san, do you want him out of your house?” the teenage boy asked.
Dabi got his hands out of his pockets as soon as his boss asked the question, hearing the hidden orders in his words. Yami might have a strong quirk, but he wasn’t like Dabi or Shouto. Fighting against someone with training wasn’t like their usual missions, and Yami wasn’t prepared for it.
But it was alright.
Everyone moved back when they were in danger of being licked by blue flames.
So he was really surprised when Yami calmly walked towards the hero, kicked him in the knee, making him lose his balance, before grabbing him and hurling him through the air, out of the house and into the street.
And judging by the many mouths wide opened, he wasn’t the only one.
“Dabi,” Yami called, cool as a cucumber, as if he hadn’t just thrown out like a pro hero abandoned garbage on the street. “Call Kurogiri and ask for an evacuation. I am taking care of this.”
And then, he left, closing the room behind him.
Izuku had panicked when he had heard Death Arms’ voice, not because of how he was one phone call away from making Nightmare come back to his house and to his lovely family, but because the sound of the pro hero’s voice had triggered the memories of the worst day of his life.
“Reckless… You could have been killed!”
But memories only had as much power as Izuku was giving them.
“Do you realize what you are doing?” the pro hero uttered with some difficulty as he got back to his feet.
He hadn’t broken his fall when he had landed, so the impact couldn’t have been enjoyable.
“You’re putting them in danger,” Izuku answered circling around the hero, his footstep light.
Death Arms would be attacking soon. He could see it in the way he was bracing himself.
“You’re the one who just assaulted a hero!”
“Technically, I was putting an end to a breaking-and-entering. You didn’t have any right to go in this house and to intimidate this family.”
A court of law would atomize Izuku, but from a moral standpoint, he was still standing in the lighter shade of grey, and that was all that mattered to him. Unfortunately, the pro hero didn’t seem to share his reasoning.
Death Arms punched his fists together and ran at Izuku in the exact same move he had used against the Sludge villain an eternity ago. His enhancer quirk propelled him, letting him accumulate momentum, and in a second, he was almost in Izuku’s face.
Izuku dodged, his foot work enhanced by Full Cowl twelve per cent and he let his leg stretched. The pro hero stumbled on it, and the momentum that should have been used to send Izuku flying caught back to him and send him crashing to the ground.
The teenage boy immediately put some distance between them, refraining himself from touching his ankle. Stopping a running Death Arms was like hitting metal.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Dabi on the porch, frozen where he was and definitely not evacuating the Kurosawas and Ao like Izuku had asked.
The teenage boy made a shooing noise at Dabi, but Death Arms distracted him as he lunged.
He always does that. Too much power, his gravity center is always forward, and he never watches his balance. He would know. Death Arms was one of the heroes in his notebook.
Izuku wasn’t about to try to win a strength duel with a pro hero. It wasn’t like he had to beat him. Just to keep him occupied long enough for the people in the house to leave.
So he dodged, betting on his speed, and even though Death Arms pursued him, the teenage boy was faster and more agile, compensating his lack of experience with his quirk and reflexes. He harried the pro hero, hitting the legs –because that was what to aim when confronted to someone the size of a bear- and he always left just in time not to be tagged by an enhanced punch.
“I see that you are trained,” Death Arms noted, his voice even and not a sign that he was out of breath. Too bad, but Izuku wasn’t tired either. “It’s a shame that someone with such a quirk would walk the villain road. But you leave me no choice.”
“Neither do you.”
Izuku tried to aim for the hero’s tibia but he was waiting for him, so instead, he slapped Death Arms at the back of his head just because it was annoying, and retreated again.
“You didn’t ask what the problem was,” Izuku observed. “You just decided to barge in and to follow the rules, not caring about the reasons.”
No concern for Kurosawa-san. No attempt to question the situation. Just a “You can’t.” and the assumption that Nightmare was in the right.
Talking was never a free action in a fight and Death Arms ‘s fist passed so closed to Izuku’s nose that it made him flinch in time for the pro hero to punch him in the chest with his other hand.
Izuku half dodged it, his ribs groaning as an enhanced punch were tickling them but he didn’t back down. He propelled himself forwards, in the giant opening Death Arms had created and the young villain elbowed him in the throat while toning down One for All.
The throat was an extremely vulnerable with no muscle to protect it, and also one of the only places on the human body one could hurt without hurting themselves. In doubt, one should always aim for that.
Death Arms choked, a hand clutching at his throat, desperately trying to inhale but the air just didn’t want to reach his lungs. He hunched over. Tried to move backwards.
“Tell me, Death Arms: when did you stop caring about the people you’re supposed to protect?” Izuku asked. “And how could you forget this is actually half of your job?”
Death Arms looked at him, his wide eyes.
And Izuku kicked him in the face at seven per cent, sending him to sleep.
Sensei didn’t need him so Kurogiri was free to leave the headquarters of some villains that had been involved or connected to All for One’s organization a decade ago, and he answered Dabi’s message. Always having his phone on him and responding in the minute was a useful habit he had never lost, even when he has stopped being active in the underground.
Dabi was asking for a transport. Picking them up wasn’t complicated because everyone in the Anyone server could activate the GPS location which would give the coordinates necessary for Kurogiri to activate his quirk. But the drop point was an address to a place where he had never went, so he warned them he could only bring them closer to their destination.
Right as he was about to warp, a man who had at some point shifted into a vaguely humanoid red beast, passed through the window right next to Kurogiri. He crashed into the ground among a sea of glass shards, leaving an imprint in the mud and he made a break for it. Unfortunately for him, Kurogiri didn’t even had the time to warp him back in the headquarters that black tendrils grabbed him and dragged him in.
Well, that’s something not to mention to Anyone.
Dabi had expected to be led to some abandoned warehouse or something, but they were in a pretty suburb house belonging to a woman whose appearance was a meld of human and wolf. She was also pink, but Dabi didn’t know if it was natural or because of her quirk that allowed her to change pigments, as she showed Kurosawa Kazuko by changing her blond hair to a dark grey.
Ao was with them, and the three women were discussing what would happen. They would change Kazuko and Miyu’s appearance, give them new identities, and they had already a place for them to go, but Kazuko also informed them she had enough money to leave the country.
As for Dabi, he stayed with Miyu, playing cards with her in a corner of the room.
A lot of people assume that stressful situations were the difficult things to live through. That when they were scared, when they witnessed violence, or when they were hurt, it was the most difficult part. But often, it happened fast and there was no time to really assimilate it.
No, the worse was after the violence. During this quiet time when one had the occasion to realize what had just happened, and at this moment, the fear hit you like a train and you were left trembling and reliving through it, but without the benefit of being protected by adrenaline.
So Dabi stayed with her, distracted her, and they played cards while pretending that they weren’t seeing her hands trembling.
They talked too. Talked about her father. About a training that had left Miyu in pain every day because her father had one day decided that she wasn’t good enough. How, for three generations, no Kurosawa had managed to be nothing else that the Hero Commission’s lapdog, so Miyu had to succeed and bring this family into the light. How she had loved her father even after she had stopped believing in this mission. Until he had started to hurt her mother by depriving her of sleep via the use of his quirk, all because she had tried to protect Miyu.
Dabi didn’t share anything. He didn’t talk about his past. He just listened.
Yami would have been better at that. Hell, he had even managed to make Shouto talk about their dirty family secrets –or he wouldn’t have protested so much at the idea of bringing Dabi to a family where a pro hero of a father was a dick favoring quirk marriages. But Dabi’s boss had stayed at the Kurosawa household to finish cleaning things up.
Dabi could still see how he had fought Death Arms. He had immediately rushed out, because even if this kid has a strong quirk and was able to keep his cool under pressure, he wasn’t like Dabi or Shouto. He hadn’t been trained to fight, and certainly not against a pro.
Except that Yami had clearly outmatched Death Arms.
Fast. Efficient. So careful not to injure him.
Dabi hadn’t been needed, and he had wondered if Yami had decided to intervene because he had felt how angry he had been. How angry he still was. He wouldn’t have hesitated to hurt the hero, to make him pay for his stupidity.
Suddenly, the door opened without warning, startling them, for they were all on edge and there hadn’t been even a hint that someone was coming. They immediately turned towards the newcomer.
One of them went beyond that.
Miyu jumped to his feet and panic splashed Dabi. A moment later, he had jumped back without even realizing what he was doing.
Her form shifted, growing taller and larger in an instant, powerful muscles developing, covered by a red, blue, and white costume.
In a second, All Might was in the room, his presence oppressive for anyone who had ever been on the wrong side of the law.
And the unsmiling hero was looking at Yami like he wanted to rip him apart.
Izuku saw Miyu change.
That was the only thing that prevented him from running out of the house like he had an angry symbol of peace pursuing him. But even if he knew this wasn’t All Might, he couldn’t suppress his reaction.
The fear, the adrenaline, and Full Cowl automatically activating.
Keep calm. Don’t show you’re afraid. The last thing you need is to make someone feel guilty because of her quirk.
So his mind jumped into a familiar territory.
“Don’t feel compelled to answer but is that panic everyone seems to feel another component of your quirk?” he slowly asked, still juggling with the flight-fight-freeze reaction saturating every cell of his body. “Because if that’s the case, it’s beautifully complex. It’s a telepathic bond based on fear, with a shapeshifting component, allied to an emotional wave.”
All Might disappeared, leaving a horrified twelve-year-old behind him.
“I am so sorry,” Miyu said, her hands in front of her mouth.
“Don’t worry about it,” Ao reassured her. “At least, now, he will remember to knock.”
They didn’t leave until they were sure Kurosawa Kazuko and Miyu were alright. Yami had been the picture of courtesy and enthusiasm, and he had even managed to make Miyu smile by explaining her that the reason why his hair was dyed white was because he had at first asked for red but upon seeing the result, Ao had laughed so much that she had fallen from her chair.
But he was smiling too much, like Fuyumi when she wanted to hide something.
And as soon as they were out, right as Dabi was opening his mouth to ask why All Might was his biggest fear, Yami said goodbye to him and fled.
Death Arms’ sidekicks had started to worry when their titular hero had stopped responding, so they localized his phone. Unfortunately for all people involved, Hawks had been talking with one of those sidekicks, asking him about Anyone, when they had found it.
Hawks had flown there as fast as he could, not wanting to risk the disappearance of a hero, especially as the Hero Killer was still around.
The good news was that Death Arms was unharmed.
The strange news was that someone had duct taped him to a street light. Layers and layers of duct tape, and under that, a pro hero who seemed mummified and who was avoiding eye contact with Hawks. Even better, someone had also duct taped an umbrella next to him so he could be protected from the rain.
Now, we don’t have the time to unpack all that, but there are still questions to be asked.
“You have an enhancer quirk, don’t you?” Hawks asked as he landed next to his esteemed colleague.
“Indeed,” Death Arms gritted between his teeth.
“But you can’t break your binds?”
“Special duct tape and it’s too tight for me to move,” Death Arms admitted.
Hawks carefully selected his longest feather and cut through the duct tape twice, to free both the umbrella and the pro hero. The latter jumped to his feet, and get rid of the remaining traces of duct tape to pretend that this incredibly embarrassing episode had never happened.
But here was no way Hawks was letting that go.
“So… Who did that?”
Death Arms was already leaving, walking quickly in the direction of a house whose garden was full of flowers.
“As far as you’re concerned, he was two meters tall and could breathe fire.”
Snickering wasn’t professional so Hawks definitely didn’t do that.
But when Death Arms stopped pouting about his wounded ego and explained the situation about a pro hero’s wife and daughter fleeing their home, helped by several suspicious people, he immediately sobered up. They went into the house, looking for clues.
And they found one, next to Death Arms’ cell phone that had been put on the kitchen table.
Where Kurosawa Kazuko explained to her husband why she had left. What he was responsible of. She was asking him not to look for them. And that a copy of this letter had been sent to several people she trusted.
Hawks, as someone who had met Nightmare several times during missions for the Hero Commission, believed those allegations wholeheartedly.
Five minutes later, as Death Arms and him were still in Nightmare’s house, Hawks received a message informing him that this wasn’t even the low point of the day.
Hawks had been trained not to show alarm on his face. To remain calm, because panic was contagious and the last thing any hero needed was a hysterical civilian realizing that their hero was way over his head.
But that didn’t fool his colleague.
“What is it?” Death Arms asked.
And here I thought that my greatest fear was letting everyone down.
The rain had finally stopped so Izuku took refuge on the highest roof he could find, enjoying the quiet. He has spent several years of his life getting used to be alone, so he sometimes needed for people to go away for a while.
But of course, the bane of Izuku’s existence chose this moment to warp right behind him.
“Why do I always find you on roofs?” All for One asked, still holding an umbrella. Wherever he had come from, it was still raining there.
“I like high places,” Izuku shrugged.
If there was one person that didn’t need to know anxiety was eating at him just because he had seen the previous holder of One for All, it was this man.
“Short people usually do,” All for One nodded as if this was common knowledge.
Be strong, Midoriya Izuku. Do not push All for One from a roof. Even if you really want to.
It wouldn’t do anything anyway.
But it might make you feel better.
Izuku bravely ignored this little voice in his head.
“Is there a reason why you’re here and not somewhere with Kurogiri?” he growled at All for One.
But the villain didn’t answer.
Izuku had been looking at him from the corner of his eye, but he turned towards the man in a suit.
All for One was looking at him as if he was trying to read Izuku’s mind. He didn’t seem worried, or angry, or sad. But there was something, a quiet intensity paired with a calm that gave goosebumps to the teenage boy.
They stared at each other until the silence became unbearable.
“All for One?”
Finally, the villain reacted. A sigh wasn’t reassuring, but it was better than the calculation that wasn’t even hidden.
“I need you to know that it wasn’t me. They will blame me, but you have to know they are lying. It will be announced soon.”
Izuku braced himself.
“There was an attack on the USJ today. Several villains fought against students of 1-A, then All Might.”
Shouto took five seconds to assure his sister that he was fine, in one piece, and not traumatized, and he rushed to his bedroom, his ruined phone still in his hand. He had tried to make it work as soon as the villains had been neutralized by All Might –their surprise guest of the day- but someone’s explosion had destroyed it.
This whole day had been… interesting, to say the least. Villains had been warped into the USJ, one of them with an earth-bending quirk leveling half the field, destabilizing them in a second.
Thirteen had been injured protecting students.
But it was nothing compared to what had happened to Aizawa-Sensei before All Might had appeared, and thrown the villain with an exposed brain that had been attacking their teacher through the roof and into the sky despite not being supposed to have a quirk anymore.
Shouto pushed the memories away, and opened the door of his bedroom. There was two prepaid phone in a bag in his closet. He had to call Midoriya and Dabi before the news announced the attack to the world.
Two steps into his room later, he realized that someone had been waiting for him. White-haired, potentially insane, and definitely as quiet as a ninja.
Shouto didn’t follow his example and threw his ruined phone at him before his brain had the time to really recognize Midoriya.
“Shouto, is everything okay?” Fuyumi asked from the hallway.
Okay wasn’t the word to use when a villain decided to break into Endeavor’s home.
“What are you doing here?” Shouto mouthed.
“You weren’t answering your phone…” Midoriya whispered.
So, the obvious solution seemed to sneak in Shouto’s room. Which was located in the house of the number 2 hero.
“Shouto?” Fuyumi called again.
“It’s nothing, onee-san. Just a spider.”
A doubtful silence answered him, but Shouto didn’t need her to believe him, just not to enter his room long enough to tell Midoriya what had happened.
And he did. He summarized the situation, efficient.
And he finished on the villain that had almost beaten All Might. A deep black color, a beak, and his brain exposed.
The fact that he had two quirks: regeneration and shock absorption.
And how as soon as All Might had beat him, all the villains had been warped out.
A few hours after UA announced that the USJ had been attacked earlier in the day and that no student had been injured thanks to the intervention of their teachers and of All Might who had been present at the time as an exceptional guest, the government warned the public about a massive break-out from a prison for high-leveled villains.
The break-out had happened a few days ago.
And the Hero Commission was examining the very real possibility that some of those villains had banded together.
Many thanks to Proclaimerofheroes for Hawks' username: Spicy McNuggets.
Fanart! Thank you for illustrating what a gremlin Izuku can be in the morning before his coffee:
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
There was a room on the last floor of the Might Tower. It was more secured than Fort Knox and it wasn’t used except for when classified matters needed to be discussed, most of them concerning All for One or All Might’ injuries, but also other secret missions that couldn’t be known under any circumstances.
Despite sometimes working at the Might tower, Tenko didn’t have his place here.
The young man was sitting at the round table, on Gran Torino’s right, and he had done his best to pretend he was invisible since he had entered. The fact that Sir Nighteye, All Might’s former sidekick, had been throwing curious glances at him since he had arrived, wasn’t doing anything to put him at ease.
Yagi was on Gran Torino’s left, floating in a costume adapted to when he was using his quirk, elbows on the table and his joint hands half-hiding his face because he had just told them the unthinkable had happened. That One for All was gone, stolen by someone who had abused him, and when he had finished, he had apologized while looking at Tenko.
Of course, he wasn’t apologizing to Tenko. But since the grandmother he had never known wasn’t here to give him absolution, Tenko was the next best thing.
“Yesterday, Death Arms was attacked by someone with an enhancing quirk,” Yagi explained. “He didn’t get his description except for a young teen but I think there aren’t too many teenagers who can easily knock out a pro hero.”
“We already know he doesn’t hesitate to use the quirk,” Sir Nighteye intervened, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “He used One for All right after stealing it.”
Gran Torino had once told him that using One for All without the proper training could make one limb’s blow off. Had the thief known he had to be prepared? Or had he destroyed his body and dragged himself to the hospital, taking time to heal and that was why All Might and Gran Torino hadn’t managed to find him? Because he had been dormant?
“How is Death Arms?” he asked, putting his hands on the table, pinkie fingers raised so he wouldn’t have to live through another Embarrassing Christmas Episode.
Sir Nighteye gave him a sharp glance, and Tenko had a feeling All Might’s former sidekick was also wondering what the hell he was doing here, but he still answered: “Unharmed. He knocked him out then duck taped him to a lamp post. Probably to ridicule him.”
“And what started the fight?”
For a moment, only silence answered the youngest Shimura’s question. Gran Torino finally opened his mouth, ready to say things as they were, but Yagi beat him to it.
“This is complicated. The pro hero Nightmare’s wife decided to take their daughter and leave while he was on a week-long assignment. He had previously asked Death Arms to keep an eye on his family while he was gone and when he came to check in, there were several people inside helping her to pack.”
None of them said out loud how fishy it sounded. But they all thought it really loudly.
Stop it. You don’t have any proof. You could be accusing someone completely innocent.
“It was obviously planned for a while,” Sir Nighteye intervened. “I tried to see if Kurosawa Kazuko or Kurosawa Miyu could have known him beforehand and asked for his help. So far, I have no results. I also didn’t find anyone corresponding to All Might’s description of the thief, but I am not giving up.”
Years after Sir Nighteye had left the Might Tower, Tenko had needed money. He had barely mentioned that he was starting to look for a job that Yagi had appeared screaming I AM HERE and had told him that he was very late with his paperwork, despite Detective Tsukauchi helping him.
This was a well-paid but colossal work. And every time Tenko did it, he couldn’t help but remember how Sir Nighteye was three times as fast as he was and managed to do an incredible hero work on top of that. If someone could find this needle in a haystack, it was him.
“This has to be our number 1 priority,” Sir Nighteye finished.
“Especially as the Hero Commission is now aware of how I am losing in power,” Yagi added.
It was said in such a tone that Tenko didn’t get the meaning of the words, at first. He was still mentally cursing the boy who had woke up one morning and decided to steal One for All, and his anger oriented towards someone who had hurt a loved one took precedence on words in such a calm town.
It was only when Sir Nighteye choked on air that Tenko realized what he had just heard.
“You did what?” the pro hero asked in a high-pitched voice that should have only been heard by dogs.
“He said he told the Hero Commission that he was losing in power,” Gran Torino repeated. He obviously wasn’t happy about it but he had known beforehand.
He wasn’t the only one swimming in complete incomprehension. One for All was secret for a reason and he doubted Yagi would just reveal it for no reason, but the cause of his discomfort was more about the Hero Commission in itself. They pushed those models, those exemplars, as what heroes could be, blatantly favoring flashy quirks and they were influencing everything and everyone while never doing a thing to help people with villainous quirks.
“Since All for One is out in the wild and sending villains after me while I am doing some guest appearances in UA, I thought it would be better if they were aware of it,” Yagi drily said. “All they know is that after an encounter with a boy, I started losing in power and how I suspect his quirk feeds on mine, which is true in a sense. They have the resources to help.”
Tenko discreetly winced. Accusing a parasitic quirk was a problem, especially with the current rise of villainous quirk discrimination. But there was no other choice, unless they were willing to let the Hero Commission know about the most powerful quirk in the world that could be transferred.
“Speaking about All for One, did the Hero Commission manage to convince Tartarus to share intel?” Gran Torino asked.
“They are working on it. They already confirmed that they were vague on purpose about the break-out in order not to scare the population by making them think they aren’t controlling the situation.”
Tenko could confirm that the population was scared.
Despite never mentioning the name All for One, overnight, rumors of a legendary villain who could steal quirk had spread through the country. Even Tenko had called Gran Torino in the second to confirm it, and he had refused to really believe it when he had discovered the villain who had contributed to mess up his family wasn’t actually dead.
“But they aren’t controlling the situation,” Sir Nighteye mocked. “They are lying about it.”
I beg your pardon?
“What?” Tenko barked more than he asked. “What are they lying about?”
Was the Hero Commission just lying to anyone that wasn’t a pro hero?
“The break out didn’t happen three days ago but a month ago,” Sir Nighteye informed him. “Don’t worry, they only admitted to All Might because they panicked when All for One broke out.”
Okay, the Hero Commission is actually lying to everyone who isn’t the Symbol of Peace.
Tenko passed a hand on his face (minus one finger) because he was suddenly really tired.
“Well, that explains why you suddenly needed me so much at the agency,” he said to Gran Torino and All Might who were suddenly avoiding looking at him in the eyes.
He had known those two since he was five and having the worst day of his life, and they managed to forget telling him that ancestral quirks were stolen and super villains had broken out from the worst secret prison he had ever heard about.
Yagi sighed. “He was greatly weakened by his sojourn in Tartarus so…”
“Also by you punching his face so hard that it stayed stuck to your fist…” Gran Torino noted absentmindedly.
Everyone looked at the retired hero who decided to play dumb and who pretended that he was an innocent senile old man. It didn’t fool anyone but none of them were brave enough to call him out.
“… Thank you, Gran Torino,” Yagi finally said after a long pause. “He isn’t in good health so I was expecting him to take his time before causing problems. And the usual signs, such as quirk theft and various catastrophes weren’t there… I am sorry. I should have told you sooner.”
About All for One? Certainly.
“It was a calculated risk that we both decided,” the retired hero intervened, not pretending to be senile anymore. “But now that he has already targeted All Might once, even though it was indirect, he might target One for All holders’ family like he did in the past… So it means the complete Shimura family must be warned and protected.”
The expressions of the three of them must have been telling because Sir Nighteye immediately frowned.
“What’s the problem?” he asked. “Apart from a villain’s usual homicidal tendencies?”
Tenko’s father was what most polite people would call an asshole. He hated heroes and meeting Gran Torino and Yagi had resulted in a shouting match that had made him look possessed. He refused any communication with them and he wouldn’t tolerate his family being in contact with heroes trying to save their lives.
“I will talk to him,” Tenko assured without an ounce of enthusiasm.
The rest of the conversation went to the USJ, how anyone could have known All Might had been invited to help in a class, and how to track down All for One, who was especially slippery from what the pro heroes said.
This time, Tenko barely intervened. He didn’t know enough about the situation so he needed to gorge in information before he could really have a good input.
The meeting was almost over when Sir Nighteye decided to add one last thing.
“I would like to include someone else in your team.” All Might’s sidekick waited for a dramatic pause. “Togata Mirio.”
Not someone Tenko knew but Yagi immediately reacted to it.
There was a difference between Yagi, Tenko’s unofficial dorky uncle and the Symbol of Peace. The difference wasn’t in One for All, but in an air, something that immediately drew people’s attention and made them beware.
“He’s a student,” Yagi reminded them, still thin but every inch of him was the number 1 hero.
“He has been my intern for a year and I trained him for longer. His results speak for themselves, and he was the one supposed to inherit One for All. I am certain he could help.”
There was a candidate to get One for All?
Had this Togata known?
Had he prepared himself to receive the most powerful quirk in the world, only for this burden and blessing to be stolen from him?
“I will think about it,” Yagi conceded after a long moment of reflection.
As soon as Tenko and Nighteye were left, Sorahiko crumpled on his chair, his old bones creaking, so he immediately complained about Toshinori’s uncomfortable chair. His student smiled at Sorahiko’s delightful and usual grumpiness.
Following All for One’s movements used to be easy. Between the sudden case of quirklessness, the missing pro heroes and the scent of sulphur, he never took much care in hiding his presence. But now, except for someone discretely cleaning up the underworld, there was almost no sign of him.
Having to wait for All for One to manifest was exhausting.
“Toshinori… I was wondering if there is another reason than their snooping resources which pushed you to ask the Hero Commission’s help.”
“Of course, you noticed,” Toshinori smiled. He brought the cup of tea that had been left untouched during the whole meeting to his lips and he winced when he realized it was cold. “They are very good at keeping their heroes in top shape and I need every advantage now that I lost One for All for so long.”
This might be the truth but Gran Torino was curious to know how they managed to train their Paragons and keep them in such great shape even after they were injured. Those heroes weren’t allowed to retire until the Hero Commission was done with them.
“You disapprove?” Toshinori asked quietly, bringing Sorahiko back into the moment.
Adults should never judge the young. Their job was to prepare them for the world and be there for them when they needed help.
“Never,” he assured. “I trust you. The only thing I would disapprove is you not calling for help when you need it. Also, I can’t wait to kick this brat in the head.”
“Even now, I truly think he is misguided,” Toshinori admitted.
Yes, they had to be there for their children, even when they were especially ridiculous and too good-hearted for their own good.
“He didn’t seem that misguided when he created an operation in order to steal your quirk,” Sorahiko growled.
“He is young and in pain,” Toshinori shrugged, and how much of this was him blaming himself for putting his foot in his mouth in a moment of weakness? “So we have to find him before All for One does. And then, we have to kill this bastard, once and for all.”
It was difficult for Nagisa to yawn because her chelicerae weren’t quite like a mouth. Yes, chelicerae which were jaws with sharp edge, while mandibles were for other insects, thank you very much. But a week of being fast enough to hide Akatani Mikumo’s former identity was really helpful for physical manifestations of exhaustion.
Erasing someone wasn’t that difficult if the subject was cooperative. But Akatani went further and beyond by being secretive while having a mother who wasn’t aware of his activities. Nagisa had to erase him from the database of his former school, she had to tweak Midoriya Inko’s civil registry and she had made one hell of a good job as someone with great skills had started investigating on every green-haired quirkless boy in the country.
And then, he has asked her to verify the alibi of his pet villain because All Might had been attacked. Surprisingly, he actually had one, but that didn’t mean she would ever accept to approach him.
Of course, he was only innocent because he had been sending a bunch of villains and common criminal (and by that, she meant PDG) to the hospital at the time, but it was still slightly better than trying to assassinate All Might and a bunch of kids.
So she crawled up the wall and into her bed around noon, letting the threads regularly created by her quirk bring her closer to the land of dreams. Sleep claimed her as soon as she put her head against her web, but she still had the time to have one last thought.
Between All Might’s former sidekick looking for him and a pro hero in the top 5 snooping around the Anyone server, this kid is going to be extremely busy.
Izuku needed a safe place to discuss about how he had potentially and indirectly thrown a super villain on society, almost killing his best friend while he was at it. But since the bar was Kurogiri’s headquarters, an accomplice at worst and a snitch at best, he chose another place.
Strangely, Dabi didn’t seem happy when Todoroki and Izuku arrived to his apartment unannounced. Though it was certainly Izuku misinterpreting his scowl, the annoyance in his eyes, and the fact he slammed the door in their faces. Unfortunately for him, Izuku grabbed the door before he managed to shut it, channeling a little of One for All.
Dabi sled comically across the floor as he was pushing the door with all his weight, and even when Todoroki entered by the opening, he didn’t give up and still tried to lock Izuku out. Tried was the key word.
“Oh please, come in,” Dabi snarked as they entered the little apartment and started sitting on the couch. “Make yourself at home.”
Izuku emptied the content of his backpack on Dabi’s coffee table, unleashing a wave of sweets and drinks. He might have almost broken in, but he wasn’t rude enough to come here empty-handed.
“That’s already what we’re doing,” Todoroki told Dabi while he was grabbing the strawberry milk. He stabbed him with the straw, drank a little, then decided that it wasn’t cold enough so he used his quirk on it.
“Then, please, don’t change a thing,” Dabi mocked but Izuku had seen how his eyes had softened… as soon as he had seen the snacks. He grabbed anything that looked like chocolate, sat on a comfy chair, and kept his loot like he was expecting Izuku to tackle it to steal it.
He was wrong, of course. Izuku wouldn’t tackle him, though he wouldn’t let him keep all the chocolate either. But not now, so he wordlessly pushed a coke bottle towards his best friend who immediately made it cold.
“Is there a reason why you’re visiting me instead of hassling Kurogiri for fries with cheese?” Dabi asked.
Izuku’s mouth was full of marshmallows so Todoroki kindly took it upon himself to answer for him.
“Because it’s All for One’s territory and we need a safe house to plot against him if necessary.”
And then, he drank more of his strawberry milk while Dabi looked like someone who was regretting all of his life choices. However, he did an admirable job at keeping a straight face.
Then, he looked at Izuku.
“Wasn’t an attack on All Might something to be expected from him?”
In that moment, the green-haired-boy realized Dabi absolutely didn’t care about All Might being killed. Not in a I Don’t Care If This Man Lives Or Dies way but in a He Made His Bed When He Decided To Be A Hero way.
“We have a fragile balance and attacking All Might would break it, so no,” Izuku carefully explained because he was far from All Might’s level and he was afraid All for One had just decided to ignore him and to kill heroes.
He still remembered Tartarus.
How was he supposed to stop a force of nature?
“And he has an alibi,” Todoroki added. “He was fighting villains at the time.”
Dabi raised an eyebrow because All for One wasn’t a good Samaritan.
“He was throwing concurrent around,” Izuku corrected. “But that doesn’t mean anything. He wasn’t at the USJ but Kurogiri and a team of villains could have been sent by him. They both left their phones at the bar at the time so I couldn’t track their locations.”
Dabi made a very funny face. “You’re tracking All for One and one of his lieutenants? Do you think, in all your teenage wisdom, that this is wise?”
“Well, I am obviously failing to track them down so I doubt it counts,” Izuku pouted.
“He will be alright,” Todoroki smiled in his strawberry milk. “All for One has a soft spot for him and he is also Kurogiri’s favorite.”
The older Todoroki sibling gave an incredibly offended look to the youngest, and when he talked again, his voice was low and as cold as Todoroki’s ice.
“Don’t you even start,” Dabi growled.
Todoroki just smiled more, and Dabi soon followed. A moment later, they were snickering and Izuku had no idea of what was happening.
I don’t have siblings. I just don’t speak their language.
“To go back to the USJ attack, you know, the one who almost killed you,” he reminded Todoroki, “Kurogiri could have done it. He didn’t have to stay with All for One the whole time.”
“The warp quirk was different from Kurogiri,” Todoroki intervened. “It wasn’t a mist portal but some bad-smelling liquid. And it didn’t look like All for One’s shadow warp either.”
“Did he tell you anything?” Dabi asked.
“He said that it wasn’t him.”
“And do you believe him?” Todoroki wondered.
“I don’t believe him,” Izuku said without a moment of hesitation. “But him attacking All Might like that makes no sense.”
All for One might hate All Might but if he wanted to kill him, he didn’t have to make such an intricate plan. All he had to do was to find him and pick a fight with him, because All Might hadn’t owned One for All for several months now, and he had to be weakened.
Even if he wasn’t weakened enough… All for One only had to wait. Age would catch up with All Might. Where was the urgency?
Of course, Izuku’s information about All Might gradually losing One for All’s remnants came from All for One’s remarks. Maybe he was messing with his mind. Maybe his whole plan was to slowly drive him crazy in order to make him insane enough to give up One for All.
The teenager realized he had started breathing a little too quickly because the siblings shared a worried look, so Izuku forced himself to inspire and expire slowly.
“The problem between All Might and All for One is personal. At his current level…” Now that he was healed. “He would simply fight him. No intermediaries. No distance. And I doubt he had the time to break in and out of Tartarus again.”
“Again?” Dabi asked.
“All for One escaped a month ago…” Izuku started but Todoroki, this false friend, coughed.
Coincidentally, he was pushed by the green-haired-boy’s shoulder one moment later.
“He was accidentally broken out a month ago,” Izuku continued. “And when he escaped, he simply made a giant hole in the roof and flew away. Unless someone else had the ability to fly, no one else left with us… Why are you so pale?”
Pale might have actually been a euphemism. Dabi was almost transparent. Izuku immediately decided to leave him the chocolates because he looked like he had just met a dementor.
“You went into Tartarus?” the fire user said in a really strange voice.
“I told you that,” his brother told him.
“I thought you were joking… I actually refuse to believe it. I don’t want to think that you actually went into this hellhole.” He took a moment to calm down which suspiciously looked like a very tired man looking into the void. “Why?”
Todoroki and Izuku looked at each other.
They told him about ErI. How she had been kidnapped in order to integrate the Paragon program. How Izuku had lost it and designed a plan without consulting Todoroki so he would be the only one to shoulder the risks. And how meeting All for One had allowed Eri and him to get out.
Dabi had known Yami was absolutely insane but it appeared that he had underestimated how deep that river ran.
Dabi obviously needed some time to deal with the kind of interesting situations Izuku could find himself into, so he turned towards Todoroki who was still looking at his brother with a look of pure sympathy.
“If it’s not All for One, who could it be?”
“There are other villain groups,” Todoroki reminded him. “Didn’t you piss off the yakuza when you rescued Eri?”
Yes, but Izuku hadn’t known he was a yakuza before Eri had mentioned this detail. Not that knowing beforehand would have stopped him.
But at least, it seemed to drag Dabi back to reality.
“They still exist?” he asked, which was a better reaction than Izuku’s who actually had to make a Wikipedia research because he wasn’t sure of what they were anymore. “If we assume that All for One didn’t try to kill All Might and my little brother, we need to find information and since none of us are well informed as far as villains are concerned, we need help.”
Help was a rare commodity, especially when information and secrets were so costly. They would need someone who would want to help and not trick them, and whose price would be affordable.
Like someone wanting to be trusted by them.
“About someone that could give us information…” Izuku started, wanting to slowly introduce the idea then giving up. “The pro hero Hawks just joined the Anyone server.”
Both Todorokis stared at him, with the exact same expression: some kind of flat Are You Kidding Me?
“It’s a spy,” Dabi blandly said.
“How can he be a spy?” Shouto asked. “He is the number 3 hero. He has bright red wings. It’s the last person to send if you want to spy on someone.”
Well, if Izuku had to guess, the Hero Commission was obsessed with control and had sent someone they had molded since infancy without caring about pesky details such as discretion and credibility.
“Oh, I know he is a spy. That’s not even a question. Especially after I destroyed this Hero Commission official’s car,” Izuku reminded him.
“You did what?”
“We also planted drugs in his car,” Shouto helpfully added and at this point, Dabi just closed his eyes and it looked like he was silently counting to ten. “He attacked his ex-girlfriend and tried to run over Midoriya with his car. What were we supposed to do?”
Izuku realized that he had spent so much time with unreasonable people that a lot of his past actions appeared to have been a little more extreme that he had realized at the time.
Since when am I so numb to the craziness in my life?
And is Dabi supposed to be the reasonable one? The first time I saw him, he was ready to barbecue several people.
“Dabi, we’re past that. What is done is done,” he said in a calm and reasonable voice. Then he winced when he realized he had just borrowed All for One’s method to make people pay attention. “As for Hawks, since he was sent to spy on us, why not use him to obtain answers?”
“The villain who lives in your house and is strangely fond of you could be a good source of information and probably not as dangerous as a fu… freaking paragon,” Dabi noted.
“He’s been out of the game for ten years,” Izuku dismissed it.
All for One didn’t know the players anymore and he hadn’t even known about the exemplars and the paragons. But Kurogiri might know something if he had let those misty ears of his to the ground during All for One’s imprisonment.
Still, even if he could banish Hawks from the server, he liked the idea of a hero protecting him from villains.
Todoroki had another theory, and he dared to say it while eating Izuku’s snacks.
“You just want to meet a pro hero in the top ten,” he accused him.
An accusation that was completely unfounded and absolutely mean-spirited. Everyone knew heroes weren’t that interesting to Izuku, especially heroes with such a complex quirk that probably had a dozen of secrets.
“I already met one,” Izuku reminded him, wounded in his soul. “I even met the number 1. You were there.”
“Then, you want to meet another one,” Todoroki shrugged while Dabi was laughing at him.
Midoriya left soon after Shouto called him out on his quirk obsession while he remained at Dabi’s place to borrow some manga and leave others for his older brother to read, and it quickly ended with both of them reading side by side in a comfortable silence.
At some point, Dabi inquired about how Shouto was feeling about the Sport Festival coming soon, and he just shrugged without mentioning that his main worry was that he wouldn’t have a costume designed to keep him warm but that he would be able to push through it for as long as it took.
When they had met again, they had quickly figured out that they didn’t need to talk with each to fill the silence. Enjoying each other’s presence was enough. However, that didn’t mean they never talked, and his older brother was especially hungry for details about Natsuo and Fuyumi. How were they? What they were doing? Was Fuyumi still soft on her students? But the one thing they never mentioned was Endeavor.
They both hated him.
But where Shouto wanted to prove how worthless his dream had been, to destroy his pride by never letting him win, surpassing in every sense of the word, Dabi wanted to obliterate him. Probably because he had been more hurt by this bastard. Maybe because Shouto hadn’t had the time to make his hate grow as much as his brother. In several years, Shouto might be there too.
But mentioning him was something they had both agreed not to do, without even talking about it. Because they had just found each other again and hate wasn’t something they wanted to bring here.
[Can you do something about Salty McNuggets without outright banning him? ]
[ Like what? Send a message to everyone except him that he is a spy and not to speak to him about Anyone? ]
Ten years ago, Kurogiri hadn’t been the one to find Sensei after his fight with All Might. Instead, one of their shapeshifting allies had turned into a trusted doctor to confirm his death on the site, then the barman had warped away the ambulance in the Doctor’s laboratory.
He remembered being surprised about the ambulance, as if Sensei was merely injured instead of horribly maimed, but he shouldn’t have been. They couldn’t afford people realizing that their adored hero had killed a man.
Ten years later, as Kurogiri was warping in that laboratory accompanied by Sensei, he still felt how he had been at the time. Scared. As if the world was tumbling down. But Sensei himself barely acknowledged that the last time he was here, he was missing two arms, his face, and probably had a few ribs reduced to powder.
Traces of the fight that had ensued after All Might had found the laboratory remained here and there. Dents in the walls. Smashed equipment. Suspicious spots that someone pacifist would mistake for dirt but to people like Sensei and him, it was unmistakably blood.
All for One didn’t even look at the few surviving computers and crossed the room until he was facing the wall. He crouched down and put his hand on the surface, trying to find something. Kurogiri approached behind him, trying to see if anything was different, but the wall looked smooth and plain.
There must have been something nonetheless because Sensei made a pleased sound and opened a slab that had been invisible, revealing an old safe.
“One of our doctor’s most endearing qualities, beyond his loyalty, was his paranoia. Anything on his computers could be deleted in a blink but he kept his researches in safe places. And I know the code,” he explained while punching it on the pad.
The red line turned to green and a little noise was heard, the final confirmation that it was the right code.
Only for nothing to happen
Both men just looked at the little safe that was refusing to do his job with open contempt.
“After ten years, it’s possible that it was damaged, especially if a lot of quirks were used too close to it,” Kurogiri cautiously noticed.
The annoyed glance his boss sent him assured him that he was already aware of it.
The way he grabbed the safe, destroying the metal with his bare hands and ripping it open like a fruit, made Kurogiri decide to shut up for a while. Once half of the safe was reduced to metal scraps, it was clear that it was empty.
“Our good doctor had the time to take his research with him,” Sensei noted.
Once the research was on an old man who couldn’t run very fast, anyone could have taken it from him, which meant any villain group could have created the multiquirked bioweapon who could have killed the youngest Todoroki.
“I always thought you were the only one who could grant other quirks,” Kurogiri mused out loud before being startled by the loud noise of the remnants of the safe being twisted and flattened by the lord of the underworld.
“The doctor was working on it,” he explained absentmindedly but the box kept being twisted, making a sound that was giving goosebumps to Kurogiri despite mist not supposed to have that kind of physical reaction. “His field subject was empowering quirks but he made an interesting discovery while working on strengthening someone so they could bear multiple quirks.”
He shoved the safe in the hiding spot and closed it, the wall smooth again.
“It will take time to find him,” he mused as he stood again, all trace of annoyance hidden but Kurogiri knew him enough to see his hesitation.
Tartarus had changed All for One. Ten years in a dark cell was the kind of torture that would thoroughly destroyed most people’s mind. Sensei had survived, of course, and he was now clinging to the warmer aspects of existence like a man who had nearly drowned would cling to the land. Before, he had put some distance between everyone and him, but now, there was the start of a real bond between Kurogiri and him. He used to be blasé about a lot, probably because he had seen things repeat again and again during two centuries, but now, he took delights in everything about life, from the food to people, appreciating every new experience.
And he was absolutely fascinated by Yami.
How couldn’t he be? He had been broken out buy a child who would surely one day burn this society to the ground. Impossible to predict, he had taken upon himself to help people, adopting a familiar favor for a favor method, and he was impossible to predict. For an immortal in constant danger of being bored to death, this was irresistible.
And more, it looked like he needed him.
“If you don’t want to get away from your current business, it’s more than understandable,” Kurogiri said.
All for One looked at him.
It wasn’t even a glare but it iced the warper to the bones. It was as if a large predator had taken notice of him, reminding him that they weren’t friends and that many people had died because they had thought they could reach Sensei.
The impression of being studied as a potential problem to be snuffed disappeared as soon as it had appeared but it didn’t mean Kurogiri would forget it any time soon.
“There are… solutions,” Sensei admitted. “Solutions I am not willing to explore for now.”
[ I am wondering about something.]
[What will you do when your mother comes back?]
[She will probably murder me and none of this will be my concern anymore.]
Katsuki was brushing his teeth when someone rang at the door.
Naturally, since the Bakugou family wasn’t expecting anyone, everyone played dead until the person who had decided to show up unannounced understood his endeavor could only fail. Three heartbeats later, whoever was at the door let his finger on the doorbell and the most annoying ring echoed through the house.
The toothbrush met an unfortunate end as Katsuki preferred to redirect his anger but in the end, he wasn’t the one who lost patience first.
“KATSUKI, OPEN THE DAMN DOOR!” his mom screamed at full lungs.
“I AM BRUSHING MY FUCKING TEETH!” he yelled back as he grabbed another toothbrush under the sink. For some reasons, his father made stocks of those.
“MASARU, OPEN THE DAMN DOOR!” his mom next yelled.
The blond teen rolled his eyes but at least, the house was quiet again. Someone with a deep voice started talking, Katsuki’s soft words barely audible, but he made an effort to listen in in case he needed to jump downstairs and scare a door-to-door salesman.
His dad was simply too soft on them.
“I am the pro hero Sir Nighteye, at the head of the Nighteye agency,” he heard instead. “I am currently working with Might Tower and I have questions to ask to Bakugou Katsuki.”
This is actually the first half of the chapter I was supposed to post, but I decided that a 30-pages-chapter was a little too long. The good news is that you should have another one soon.
A moment later, the family was reunited in the living room, all of them on the couch as if they were forming a common front against the pro hero sent by All Might’s agency. But of course, Katsuki was the only one on the defensive, because his parents had no idea he had lied to the number 1 hero’s face all those months ago.
Sir Nighteye, though Katsuki doubted he had been knighted, was a tall man who reminded him of a mantis, with cold hard eyes that were clearly expressing he wasn’t impressed by what he was seeing. He was sitting on a chair that wasn’t quite big enough for him, but he didn’t seem to care as he leaned towards the Bakugous.
“Is that about the USJ?” his mom asked, her voice grating on the hero student’s sensitive ears. “Are you interrogating everyone in Katsuki’s class?”
Something suspiciously close to hope started to bloom in Katsuki’s chest.
Honestly, there wasn’t much to say about the USJ. Some morons had tried to attack them and they had fought back with all they had, but at least, it was a safe topic.
Of fucking course, Nighteye didn’t take long before dashing his hopes.
“I am afraid it’s about a more ancient villain attack. I am investigating the circumstances around the Sludge villain’s accident.”
The smell was everything. Something watery and dirty, like dirt after rain, and it was on Katsuki’s clothes and hair, impossible to get rid off.
Katsuki destroyed the memory like he always did. The smell was the first thing he kept remembering, probably because it was the first thing he had noticed right before the bastard had jumped him. When he remembered that smell, other memories weren’t far. Unable to move, unable to breathe, alone, his quirk not enough to destroy the villain…
How powerless and pitiful he had been.
A wave of rage passed through him, washing away this bullshit that kept sticking to him.
“During the altercation, a little before All Might intervened, someone tried to rescue you,” Nighteye continued. “We would like to find him.”
Deku’s stupid face appeared in front of Katsuki’s eyes, but it wasn’t the crying face he had when he had rushed like a madman and threw his backpack in the Sludge villain’s eye, allowing Katsuki to breathe just for a couple of seconds.
Katsuki still hated him for it.
What came to mind was on the graduation day, when Katsuki had become an Exemplar, being congratulated as if he had been the only one there, fighting the villain. How Deku had been so fucking calm when he had made him fall, his foot on his wrist, wordlessly threatening him to break it and to end his career before it even began.
His mother smacked him on the shoulder to draw his attention.
“Don’t hit me!” he screamed at her.
“Why didn’t I know someone else was there?” she asked, ignoring him and smacking him on the shoulder again. “Why don’t you ever say anything to me?”
Because I fucking hate talking to you.
“I can’t help you,” Katsuki told the pro hero after ignoring his mother. “I barely saw him. I was busy at the time.”
“Are you sure you never met him before? He risked his safety for you. Surely…”
“I. Don’t. Know. Him,” Katsuki cut, more and more annoyed because Deku had to ruin everything. Without him, he wouldn’t have to lie. “I already told that to All Might.”
God, he had lied to All Might. He had looked at him in the eyes and lied.
“When did you speak to All Might?” his mom asked, her hand on his arm as she tried to draw his attention, as if he wasn’t so fucking obviously busy at the moment, and they all ignored her anyway.
“You didn’t speak with him afterwards?” Nighteye insisted, frowning because he had obviously expected more. Well, if he was disappointed and frustrated, he could join the fucking club. “The heroes made sure you both weren’t hurt –it’s the protocol- so you must have been next to each other. You must have talked or acknowledged each other.”
Katsuki mentally went back to this day and he was relieved to remember that they hadn’t talked. A quick glance at most, as heroes were congratulating him and while Death Arms was telling the truth: how Deku’s actions had been idiotic.
Then, ice spread through him as he remembered the last words to him that day.
''If you want to be a hero that much, why don't you take a dive from the rooftop and pray to have a quirk in your next life?”
Why were All Might and Nighteye so interested in Deku?
It was as if he had been thrown into icy water. For a moment, Katsuki could barely breathe but he managed to somehow control his face because if that was what he thought it as about, he was… He actually didn’t have the words for it.
They couldn’t find Deku. This nerd didn’t have the skills to evade a pro hero, so it was possible that he had disappeared in a very definitive way.
“Bakugou, he asked you a question,” his mom said, hitting him with her shoulder and he almost exploded.
“I WAS THINKING!”
Had Deku found an isolated place? Somewhere where no one would find him?
“It was not the best day of my life, and honestly, I don’t remember much of it,” he heard himself say.
Deku looking at him like he was done with everything.
“Bakugou-kun, it’s important.” The pro hero was obviously losing patience and in turn, this made Katsuki angrier because Who Was He To Lose Patience With Him? “As a hero in training and an exemplar, you must help me.”
“My son almost died that day,” his mom growled. “Can you give him a moment to think or do you prefer to keep hassling him?”
His mother being helpful and almost… sensitive was actually the thing that made Katsuki escape that thing that was really starting to look like blind panic.
“Of course,” Nighteye acknowledged, contrite, before continuing with more softness in his voice. “If you don’t know who he is, you can maybe give me a description?”
“Plain-looking,” Katsuki answered automatically. “I wasn’t really paying attention.”
“Green hair and green eyes? Freckled face?”
“Maybe,” the hero student said, hope starting to make his heart beat again.
They didn’t know who he was. If they were investigating on a disappearance or a suicide, they would know his name, right? Deku’s mother would have given them that kind of information.
It’s about something else.
At least, he hoped.
“I’m sorry.” That might have been the first time Katsuki ever said those three words. “I was more focused on the Sludge villain than anyone’s else.”
“So am I,” Nighteye sighed. “Whoever this boy is, we suspect him of being involved with an illegal organization known as Anyone. You’ve ever heard about it?” Katsuki shook his head. “It started as an online forum but it quickly became a group of people who use their quirks without a license. They are involved in violent altercations and they are the one who attacked Death Arms yesterday.”
Death Arms had been the one to chew out Deku. But why would a group of quirk users want anything to do with a quirkless boy?
“All that to say that if you remember anything or if you learn anything about that boy, you have to call me,” Nighteye continued but he mentally had one foot out of the house. “All Might is counting on you.”
He stood up, a card already in his hand, and he held it out for Katsuki to take. The hero student started to get up, just relieved that this man would finally leave this house... But he never had the time to take it before his father snatched it before he even had the time to raise his arm.
“This is going on the fridge,” his father explained. “We can’t risk losing that, can we?”
Then, he accompanied Nighteye to the door.
That damn nerd.
The pro hero was finally gone and Katsuki had scurried off into his bedroom to think in peace. That moment when he had been terrified at the idea of Deku offing himself had unlocked a shitstorm of memories that, now that he was examining them, didn’t look so good.
He had only been there for a few minutes when his dad knocked at his door. Not that he announced himself but his mom usually barged in.
“Come in,” Katsuki called.
And he did, walking into his room and closing the door behind him, before pausing, as if he was looking for the words to use.
“What’s wrong?” Katsuki asked, his nerves already too much on edge to wait longer.
His dad gave him a strange look.
“Is there a reason why you never told a soul about Izuku-kun helping you during this villain attack?” he asked.
That left Katsuki speechless.
“I don’t know why you’re so surprised. Izuku-kun used to always be with you,” his dad, the presence so discreet in this house that he could have been a ghost, sighed. “There is no way I could forget him.”
To tell him why he hadn’t said a word would be to admit he had done something wrong. That just wasn’t something Katsuki was capable of doing.
He didn’t like how his father was looking at him. Masaru had never done anything until now. His mom was the threat. She was the one shouting and hitting, always grating on his nerves, while his dad just didn’t say anything and let them do what they wanted. Such a change of character was unsettling.
“I don’t know what happened and honestly, I am not sure I want to know,” his dad continued. “But whatever your reason is to lie to the Symbol of Peace… From now on, you won’t say a word about it. You deny until your dying breath.”
Katsuki knew that. He knew that once he had lied to All Might of all people, he had crossed a limit, but even if he never wanted to admit to his hero that he had lied to him, he was young and All Might would be disappointed but there would be a way to fix his mistake.
But now, his passive father was in his room, and he was scared for Katsuki, and in turn, it made him uneasy.
“This is serious, Katsuki. You’re an exemplar. They will destroy you if they learn you did something like that.”
An exemplar was chosen by the Hero Commission as a hope as a future high-ranked hero and Katsuki had always known he would one of them. The day he had received this distinction, he had been so angry with everyone, especially Deku, for being congratulated on this fucking thing with the Sludge that it had occulted everything else.
But just now, he was realizing that since people had high hopes for him, they wouldn’t forgive his lie.
Slowly, the hero student nodded.
“And no need to mention that to your mother,” his father added before closing the door behind him.
Leaving Katsuki alone.
Izuku went on an Anyone mission. No fighting involved, this time. Just someone who needed help painting his house and offered pizza as payment, and a bunch of people who didn’t know each other had showed up. By the time it was done, Izuku’s clothes were covered in paint, people had given him cookies because he was the youngest on the bunch, and he was feeling warm and happy because he had been surrounded by kind people who had shared stories and bonded as soon as they had entered the same place.
He had needed this kind of work. He had reached out to Anyone to have a community at a time where he was desperately alone, and always giving his energy had made him forget how good it felt to being offered some warmth.
However, as soon as he left, cold seized him again. Distraction was the only good subterfuge that worked to fight anxiety but once that he was alone again with his own thoughts, fear starting to eat at him.
In the end, he went on a beach that wasn’t far from his home. Dagobah municipal beach used to be a beautiful public spot but pollution had turned it into a junkyard and no one came here anymore. A perfect place to train if one had all their vaccines up to date.
Izuku trained for a couple of hours until his mind was only occupied by One for All. There was no room for doubt or worries while using this quirk, not when any lapse of control would end up with his bones broken.
By the time he was done, he was exhausted and calm again.
He took a break by sitting on the cleanest spot he managed to find and checked his emails and the server. Eri was fine and currently trying to convince her adoptive parents to adopt a dingo, and her sister and her had already planned to sneak one into their bedroom if they refused. Someone reasonable would have explained that it wasn’t a good idea but Izuku tried not to be a hypocrite and asked for photos if she managed to pull it off.
As for the Kurosawas, they were still in the country but they were planning on going to Europe at the end of the week.
He was brushing through requests on quirk counselling when he received a message from Nagisa.
[Isn’t that a little late for a school night?]
[You also have school. ]
[College isn’t school. It’s a nightmare.]
[Can I call you?]
Most of the time, phone calls were difficult for Izuku. Texts could be modified before they were sent. He could study them, make sure that he didn’t sound ridiculous before his interlocutor read them.
Phone calls were just complicated. Maybe for everyone. Definitely for someone who had spent two years without going to school and not a lot of socialization.
But with Nagisa, curiously, it was okay. She wasn’t someone he had to be wary of.
She explained to him that All Might’s sidekick was looking for him and that he had to be prepared for the Might Tower to pull the big guns when it came to find him. She also assured him that she had faith in her ability to hide him online but that if this continued, he might have to predict that in his budget or asked her to do less for Anyone.
Then, she asked him what had happened with Death Arms, if he was willing to talk about it, and Izuku explained everything without mentioning any name or quirks. And when she heard about the situation, she immediately told him that she wouldn’t mind helping pro bono.
Nagisa cared about people. She just didn’t like admitting it.
“What’s happening to you?” she asked at some point. “You seem sad.”
“I am starting to get tired,” Izuku said.
He wasn’t exactly lying. It was starting to get really late and he had just trained for several hours. But she wasn’t convinced by his half-truth.
“I’m a college student,” Nagisa scoffed. “I know tired and this is not it.”
Izuku took a deep breath, the I am fine already on his lips. He was feeling colder and colder and he was starting to want to end the conversation so he could go back to train until he was so tired he would pass out without being able to think anymore.
Confiding into someone wasn’t something Izuku did. Even with Todoroki, he was careful because he knew he had enough trouble without being bothered by his stupid fears. Nagisa and him weren’t even friends.
“I am scared, Gwen. I have this feeling everything is going to decay between my hands. I can try to hold those problems at bay for a moment, I can temporarily help people, but the drawback is going to send me stumbling and hurt everyone I cared about.”
For a moment, Izuku could only hear his heartbeat into the silence of the night. All those word thrown around, still hovering around him, clinging to him and someone else was able to see them.
“Okay,” Nagisa said after a moment, her voice more serious than it had ever been. “Let’s examine the facts.”
Izuku stoop up. Starting to walk. Being still was just beyond him right now.
“You’re fifteen, Yami. Fifteen, and you already helped so many people. You created a place where we can be free and help each other. Your rescued a little girl from the depth of Tartarus. And you’re doing an admirable job of placating the villain who escaped.”
The Tartarus break-in had never been a rescue. It had been Izuku being unable to find a solution so he had thrown himself at a situation that he had no chance to get away from, because better to try and fail than to admit his powerlessness.
He had escaped only because he had been extraordinarily lucky, and now, a tyking bomb was trying to get his hands on the most powerful quirk of the world.
And now, people he loved would pay the price for his lack of foresight.
“You’re doing a fucking good job,” she insisted as if she had heard his thoughts.
Izuku breathed deeply. Focused on her words instead of the voice in his head.
“But let’s imagine the worst,” she continued. “Let’s imagine that all of your work crumbles. The good you created will remain. Society was already fucked up before. You didn’t contribute to making it more twisted. On the contrary, even if you stop now, the good you created will remain. Realize that every effort you make is a gift offered to people, but that they aren’t owned anything. You’re not a martyr, so stop acting like one and realize that you have more chances to make things better than anything else.”
It was actually what managed to calm him down. She left him to the worst, and rock bottom was already better than what would have happened if he had never done anything.
“I must add that I’m a fine hacker and that no one will find you or your mom as long as I’m here.”
Her absolute trust in her abilities made him smile.
“Yami, do me a favor: slow down with the Anyone work. Delegate more and go to school. You might think the distractions are helping but you are just wearing yourself down.”
“You are wise,” Izuku finally said, his words a little choked because of the emotions.
“Obviously,” Nagisa scoffed.
Despite the late –early- hour, the lights were still on when Izuku came back home. Still, the teenager made sure not to make any noise as he sneaked in, his footsteps completely silent as he was walking with his weight on his toes and because he knew with floorboard would creak.
But of course, he shouldn’t have bothered because All for One wasn’t sleeping, resting his eyes, or dozing off like most people would at three am. Instead, he was waiting on the couch and didn’t even raise his head from the novel he was reading when Izuku entered the living room. The villain was still dressed in formal wears, with his folded jacket next to him as the only acknowledgement of the late hour.
“Another twenty minutes and I would have sent a rescue party,” he greeted him without a hint of a smile.
Oh dear, his stalker seemed to be less satisfied with Izuku’s curfew. How would he survive the adult‘s obvious disapproval?
“Moreover,” All for One added, “I feel it’s my duty to warn you that lack of sleep stunts one’s growth.”
Let’s see if you’re still taller than me when I put you into a hole in the ground.
Izuku started walking again, going into the kitchen, but such insult had to be answered.
“So does stress, and yet, here you are, stalking me and destroying my blood pressure. A little hypocritical of you, don’t you think?” the teenager asked as he opened a kitchen drawer and grabbed some sweets as a post training snack.
He might not have been as discreet as he intended to because the loud wrinkling of the paper echoed in the room, followed by an amused silence.
There was something about eating sugar when you were tired. It didn’t exactly quell one’s hunger but the rush of energy was enough to continue through the day. Izuku ate three sweets, thinking about what All for One had said.
“I never saw you sleep.” The villain was always up earlier than Izuku, already dressed and preparing the breakfast. As for the night, Izuku was a notorious night owl but All for One had never gone to bed before him, as many times where Izuku had dozed off on the couch or sitting at the table, only to wake up in his bed in the morning, could prove. “Do you have a quirk for that?”
All for One turned another page of his book, but now, he was smiling. “It’s an adult’s super power. The older you get, the less sleep you need. Maybe you will one day experience it if your recklessness doesn’t kill you,” he ranted like the old man that he actually was.
It suddenly dawned on Izuku: the perfect way to snipe back at those comments about his height.
“It’s true that at such a venerable age, going to sleep is quite the gamble,” the teenager nodded.
The book closed abruptly and the sound it made manage to be a thing of pure indignation, but it was nothing compared to All for One’s glare.
“A baby,” the old geezer muttered under his breath. “I am being sassed by a baby.”
Izuku turned to hide a smile, pretended he was looking for a glass, and controlled his laugh so it would disappear from his voice.
“I know I must seem young for someone who lived through the apparition of quirks. I could come back in ten years to continue this conversation but… you’re not getting any younger. Who knows if you will still be with us?” Izuku wondered out loud, definitely without any hint of sass, as he poured himself some orange juice.
The bristling of clothes warned him that All for One was moving and he immediately scrambled out of the way. Between his speed and the space between them, he should have been able to escape but somehow, he still managed to be trapped in a hug while the most evil villain who had ever walked the earth was using his other hand to open a drawer and raid Izuku’s stash of candies.
This man is like a living and warmer Cask of Amontillado.
After cohabitating with All for One for quite a while, Izuku had begrudgingly admitted –though never out loud- that the physical contacts weren’t only about stealing One for All. Those were attempts to get as close as possible as something familiar, the same way Izuku kept wearing All Might merchandise despite having ruined everything with his favorite hero.
As much as he didn’t like to think about it, All for One had gone through a traumatizing ordeal. Ten years of isolation would have driven anyone else insane, and he had been thrown in a world that he didn’t really recognize anymore, leaving him unsettled.
And then, Izuku had arrived, with a quirk that had been here from the beginning of All for One’s life as a villain. That was a constant in his life, the shining beacon in the darkness of a hostile environment. In those conditions, a transfer wasn’t surprising.
Especially as Izuku had a sneaking suspicion that he looked a little like All for One’s little brother.
But that didn’t mean he had to accept being treated like a living plushie, so he started to squirm his way to freedom.
All for One’s arm didn’t move an inch.
“Are you planning to let me go before you die of old age?”
“What are you saying?” the personification of a headache asked. “I apologize but my ears aren’t what they used to be.”
And he squeezed Izuku.
The risk I took was calculated but man, am I bad at math.
The villain Death Arms had met was a child in a green hoodie. He had been wearing a mask and his hood had been obscuring the upper part of his face so Hawks didn’t have anything to work with. What was more interesting was that the people who had been accompanying him. A young blue-haired-woman. And another, a man with dark hair and large scars. This last one had been the more aggressive, immediately ready to fight the pro hero.
Hawks could work with that.
There was nothing in the database, which wasn’t surprising since Hawks didn’t even have a quirk to work with. He consulted the police database for criminals with such distinctive signs. And he found nothing.
Before doing something horribly long like searching for everyone with an ill-suited quirk or who had been hurt during a villain attack, Hawks called several secretaries working for police precincts and some nurses. It wasn’t because nothing was written that no one had seen anything. Just that the suspect hadn’t been arrested.
The terms scarred asshat and damn patchwork face ringed a bell for several of them, usually from his victims, accompanied by some burns. With their help, Hawks was able to delimit a zone, then he changed his patrol roads in order to fly over there and he found him on his second day.
The villain was tranquilly walking in the street, a grocery bag in his right hand. Hawks immediately noted the name of the bag. If he was doing his shopping around here, it meant his home wasn’t far.
Hawks waited until the villain was near an alley before throwing his feathers. Four of them, the smallest ones, they pierced through the villain’s coat before twisting themselves in order to secure a grip and with an effort of will, Hawks managed to push him into an alley. At the same time, long feathers stabbed the concrete, startling the passerby who had been walking just a little too close from the fire user. The teenager in a Gang Orca hoodie almost immediately jumped back, then froze when he recognized Hawks.
“Ongoing operation,” he barked at the kid who had been a little too close to a dangerous fire user. A little too harsh, especially since he had been trained to be always nice and helpful with civilians, but the kid scurried off before he had the time to soften him with a smile.
Hawks jumped into the alley, his hands raised in the commonly acknowledged I Am Not Here To Fight gesture and his wings raised in the less known I Don’t Need My Hands To Skewer You gesture.
As for the villain, he had his hands raised in a gesture that looked like Endeavor’s pre Whoops, Was That Flamethrower Too Hot For You? move.
“So, this is what pro heroes are reduced to, these days?” the villain drawled. “Mugging innocents in dark alleys.”
The memory of Death Arms being duct taped to a pole immediately came to Hawks’ mind.
“You’re hardly innocent and I just need to talk to you. You’re a hard man to find.”
Actually, not really. He stuck out like a sore thumb and he really should have worn a mask when he had been with the Kurosawas. However, flattery could go a long way.
Piercing blue eyes stared at Hawks’ very soul and whatever they saw, they didn’t seem impressed. Then, they darted behind the pro hero’s back but he didn’t turn around to look. He had left feathers here and there and he would be warned if anyone tried to sneak on him.
“I am not interested in dragging the Kurosawas home,” Hawks admitted and the villain just kept staring at him, not showing anything. “Nightmare is directly employed by the Hero Commission. He is hard to leave.”
The pro hero was actually well-placed to know exactly what Nightmare did. When the police didn’t manage to obtain information, Nightmare intervened. Anyone who was supposed to uphold the law left the secured location where the suspect had been brought, and when Nightmare got out, he had answers and it wasn’t rare for the unfortunate soul’s hair to have turned white.
At those words, the villain sighed. It wasn’t an obvious sight of relief, more of someone whose respiration was suddenly more fluid. Nothing really. But Hawks was trained to notice this kind of things.
“I am here for Anyone. I want in.”
Mocking eyes blue eyes met his. “Oh, really?”
When he had been chosen as a Paragon, Hawks had been trained into being many things. Efficient. Fast. Loved. Combat training, again and again, but also how to take care of his image, how to lead and how to read people’s faces so he wouldn’t be taken by surprise. Everything for him to be a popular hero the Commission could be proud of.
But no one had ever taught him how to infiltrate organizations, because that was underground hero work, and he was winging it –pun intended.
“I want to help,” Hawks said, completely truthful. “Anyone presents an advantage because I can reach everyone who needs it without having to be bound by stupid rules. But someone on the server is preventing me from accessing anything.”
“Oh my,” the bastard answered, deadpan.
The first rule to find information was to make friend with the informant, so Hawks smiled and chose not to grab him and suspend him twenty meters above the ground until he had what he needed to know.
“This might be because your job is about stopping people like us,” the villain continued, getting in Hawks’ space and even if he wasn’t aiming at him anymore, he could feel how the air around them had warmed. Thankfully, Hawks trusted his speed. “Or because there is no way Anyone would trust the Hero Commission’s golden boy.”
That had been one of Hawks’ main worries when the Commission had asked him to infiltrate Anyone. But he had one advantage that others didn’t: his back was against the wall.
He had to succeed.
“I’m aware you won’t trust me for now,” he said. “But that’s not your decision. That’s Anyone’s. Tell them I want to help and that I am interested in what you do. And that you would be foolish not to use my abilities.”
They stared each other down.
And then, the villain chuckled.
“You know what? I will tell them. But don’t complain about the result,” he warned him, and for some reason, it almost sounded like he pitied him.
“That’s all I’m asking,” Hawks grinned.
If it didn’t work, he would just have to make himself impossible to ignore. Anyone’s activities could be tracked down with enough time and a keen eye. Hawks would be everywhere, making friends with any users, any potential members of the inner circle.
Someone would tell him something. Eventually.
His feathers came back to him, four of them burned to a crisp, and after thanking the villain for taking the time to talk to him, he realized that he was missing some important information.
“Do you have a name?” Hawks asked him.
“Yes,” the fire user smiled, barring his teeth.
Dabi watched Spicy McNuggets exiting the alley and flying away and he had a feeling he would regret not turning him into a pile of ashes but Anyone wouldn’t let him murder pro heroes. Even when it would have made everything easier.
Now, where are my groceries?
He had barely finished the thought that a shadow fell from the roof –no, not the roof, a fire escape. He managed to recognize his boss before accidentally burning him to death by reflex.
The teenager landed lightly, as if the very concept of gravity held as much weight as sanity over him. But Dabi was quite used to him appearing and disappearing like a ninja and he was very interested in the familiar grocery bag in his hand.
“Where did you even manage to go?” he asked while taking back his food after a thank you disguised at a nod.
Yami had been walking behind him when the number 3 hero had appeared.
The teenager shrugged: “He left several feathers behind, floating around, so I preferred to take some distance in case he would detect me with them…”
His voice drifted off, and allied to the pensive look on his face, Dabi had no doubt he was thinking about Hawks’ quirk. In the safety of the bar or in Dabi’s apartment, he would mumble to himself to his heart content, but in public, unless he was extremely focused, he would often stop himself from rambling about them.
Someone had forced him to stop talking about quirks at some point. Maybe they had bullied him into not speaking at all. Probably at a time where he couldn’t use his quirk without breaking himself.
When he had been defenseless.
Another, though troubling, thing, was that Dabi could see a little of All for One in the way Yami was retreating in the comfort of his own thoughts, his eyes gleaming like a cat who has just seen something shiny and that he would love to claim.
“I guess that we will have to take care of Hawks sooner than expected,” Yami suddenly said with a smile that was far too innocent to be trusted.
And then, Anyone went on his merry way before Dabi could ask him if he was planning to murder a pro hero.
o/ I see a lot of you have theories about who attacked the USJ and it's so hard for me not to spoil you, so don't be surprised if i don't answer about it. Nonetheless, I love hearing your thoughts.
With the Sport Festival closing in, Izuku was expecting to train with Todoroki more and more. His friend had enough power and skills to win the tournament but the main danger was related to how long the Sport Festival would last. Without the heating system of his hero costume, hypothermia was the real enemy, especially as Todoroki refused to use his flames.
Izuku actually had a plan for that. It would take some time, but after everything they had been through together, he had faith that he could talk with Todoroki about how he didn’t have two quirks but one: his own.
His plan was mercilessly shot many times then dragged to a lake and drowned to finish the job, because Todoroki sent him a message telling him that he wanted to train alone until the Sport Festival passed.
Are you sure? Izuku has asked in those exact terms.
Three words that formed a closed question. Yes or no. Nothing else was needed.
Nonetheless, Todoroki had explained to him that the Sport Festival was an important step to reach his goal and how, as much as he enjoyed their time together, it wasn’t as efficient, and he couldn’t afford the distraction.
Izuku could absolutely understand and respect such a choice.
On the same day, Izuku’s homeroom teacher sent an email explaining that she had to leave for a week and that she would need the papers assigned to the students three days early.
Well, Plus Ultra.
On the same day, the Midoriyas’ trusted coffee machine broke down and died an undignified and shameful death.
Izuku had his limits.
Dabi was warped into the bar by Kurogiri, took one step outside the portal, and was immediately hit by the aura of pure annoyance sweeping through the place. The fire user gulped down, all of his instinct telling him to be invisible and when he looked around, he was expecting to see All for One.
Instead, he saw Yami hunched over a table in a corner, furiously writing something as if the paper had insulted his mother, owed him money, and kicked his cat. There was a serious I Can’t Kick You In the Teeth Right Now But That Doesn’t Mean I Am Not Tempted quality to what he was doing, and coming from the most polite boy Dabi had ever met, the change was glaring and a little scary.
For a moment, absolute silence would have ruled over the bar if it hadn’t been for the noise of the quill doing its best to stab the paper while still writing words, and Dabi did the one thing someone shouldn’t do in this situation: opening his mouth
“Is there a problem?” he asked.
Yami put down his pen.
He looked up at Dabi, green soulless eyes staring at him.
“None,” Yami assured, his face completely blank. “I am just a little late with my homework.”
And then, he returned to his work that were obviously taking the blame for something else.
Dabi decided not to push his luck and turned towards Kurogiri who was ignoring the leader of Anyone being so cold he could have rivaled Dabi’s baby brother quirk.
What the hell is happening, he mouthed.
Kurogiri made an Abort Mission gesture.
Dabi borrowed a baseball bat from Kurogiri and fled through another warp portal. No need to stay here when there were remunerated Anyone missions to take care of.
Hitoshi was in his room, looking at the footage of the last three Sport Festivals on his laptop and taking notes on his math notebook because he hadn’t managed to find another one and because he despised this subject.
The Sport Festival followed the same pattern every year. The first trial would thin the herd by making the environment inhospitable. Hitoshi wasn’t the best at physical feats –his quirk just wasn’t made for it- but he would have to run every day until the Sport Festival if he wanted to be ready and so he wouldn’t have to be forced to use people as human shields.
His reputation was already bad enough.
The second trial was always a team-exercise. The problem was that he hadn’t made any friend since the school year had started. Especially as a lot of them were still uncomfortable with him because of what he had done during the quirk assessment. He had sabotaged everyone’s last test so he wouldn’t be the last one.
It had been necessary.
Hitoshi simply didn’t have the luxury of having a nice and flashy heroic quirk like his classmates. If he couldn’t be strong or fast enough, he had to be smart instead.
Maybe Uraraka and Iida would accept me in their team. Asui was also friendly with everyone. And if he didn’t find anyone… He had the perfect quirk to convince allies.
The last trial would be a tournament and that was what was worrying him. All of his classmates knew about his quirk so his main advantage was gone. He would have to study them and find a way to rile them up. At least, Shinsou had made sure to make them think his quirk could only be activated when someone directly answered to one of his questions, so they wouldn’t expect the any vocal acknowledgment condition.
Hitoshi stopped the footage and passed a hand on his face, suddenly really tired.
He didn’t want to do that. He didn’t like that. Attacking people on their insecurities or using them as dolls just to reach his goal made him uneasy.
But he couldn’t afford to do what he wanted.
It was already a small miracle that someone like him, with a villainous quirk, had been admitted. But that didn’t mean he would stay. There had been cases of students from gen ed becoming hero students by taking someone’s place.
Shinsou had to prove he deserved to be here.
No matter what it took.
Tensei winced as he watched his little brother running into a tree. Taking corners without knocking themselves out was the trial every speed quirk users had to face. The alternative was to develop a thick skull.
And the middle road was to install an airbag in his hero costume, something that Tensei had done as soon as it had been designed.
Tenya went back to his feet, not even wobbly. His baby brother had always been tougher than Tensei, so it wasn’t surprising. He didn’t even take a break and he started running again.
Always training and giving his all, especially since he had been confronted to real villains.
No, not since the USJ. Tenya had thrown himself into his training since the day the letter that was supposed to tell him he had been selected as an exemplar had never arrived.
Tensei had regularly butted head with the Hero Commission, most of all about his sidekicks. Everyone couldn’t enter a hero school so it wasn’t rare for adults to work at a hero agency as sidekicks until they had the experience needed to pass the hero exam. Iidaten was known to welcome people who had studied longer in order to ease them into the hero life, but things had gotten more difficult now that the Hero Commission’s exams were focused on the heroes being able to do anything, preferring to reward flashy quirks who were good for fighting and ignoring how some were more suited to rescue, support, or intel. Unless, of course, such people were on the Hero Commission’s payroll. Then, obtaining one’s license became strangely easier.
How interesting that just when Ingenium had received support and more and more people had been able to pass the hero exam, his little brother hadn’t been chosen as an exemplar.
Despite every hero student in hero families always being chosen for this.
Tensei would have to tell him. He would have to explain Tenya again that he wasn’t lacking in anything, but also that it was Tensei’s fault if he had been ignored. And he would have to tell a child who tended to see the world in black and white that sometimes, their allies were a bunch of jerks.
Needless to say, he wasn’t eager to have this conversation.
After the Sport Festival, he decided. Better not to distract him for now.
Shouto had known that cutting Midoriya out of his training wouldn’t be easy. Not because his friend wouldn’t respect his need for privacy, but simply because he preferred training with him. It was fun. It actually didn’t feel like training.
And that was the problem. His friend, his brother, the warmth he felt with them… It dulled him.
Victory belonged to the unreasonable. Shouto had never made as much progress with his ice as when he had decided to deny Endeavor’s any hold over him. No doubt, no fear, nothing clouding his mind. Just pure will, and the ability to immerse himself in his rage until nothing remain except his goal.
He needed to find that drive again.
That was how he would win.
Kohaku Academy was a high school which allowed students to choose their own curriculum in order to help them find their path. They had a myriad of teachers, a lot of clubs, they would soon offer internships with society partnered with the school, and they were relatively lax with conflicting schedules as long as their students passed their exams in time and if their grades were kept up.
In Izuku’s case, that tended to lead to true feats of procrastination, but as he was rushing through the hallways with a ton of finished homework in his arm, he was relieved to see he wasn’t the only one. Several classmates were running around in the hallways and his homeroom teacher almost met her end under a pile of homework, which she looked at with haunted eyes as she fully appreciated the price she had to pay for her impromptu time away from school.
And as soon as they had thrown that at her, the three students fled before they could be given more homework or some other cruel and unusual punishments.
“I had a week to do that,” Yuuto whined as they were in front of their lockers to leave as fast as possible.
“When did you start?” Hebisuga smiled, the snakes on her head looking at the boy with a thermos quirk while Hebisuga herself was rummaging through her bag.
“This morning,” the procrastinator admitted. “And not even because I was busy with something else. I just stayed in front of my laptop and my mind wandered.”
Izuku was acutely familiar with the feeling, especially when he had to take care of the budget of Anyone.
“Also, did you find an internship?” Yuuto continued as they were leaving.
Izuku had a whole organization to take care of. And a sociopath to keep an eye on.
I shouldn’t have to run after another job, he silently whined.
“Not yet,” he admitted.
If he had to be honest, Izuku didn’t really care about finding this kind of opportunities. He had never considered the future, but his present was Anyone. It gave him a purpose. It brought him some money. And he was invested in it.
“I asked everywhere but I’m still waiting for answers. What about you, Hebisuga?”
Her smug smile illuminated the grey day. “I didn’t find an internship in a company. Instead, I took a job in an association that fights quirk discrimination.”
Izuku hadn’t even known it was a possibility, but now that she was mentioning it, he was interested in this option. Since he wouldn’t be paid to work for some company, why not actually make some good?
“Will that really help you?” Yuuto asked, showing some incredible agility by managing to put his whole foot in his mouth. “Wouldn’t an internship be better for your future?”
Hebisuga stopped before staring at him, the snakes crowning her head slightly rising to look at the orange-haired-boy.
The effect was chilling,
“Yes,” the gorgon answered. “For some reasons, I think that taking part in the fight against discrimination against mutation quirks and villainous quirks could help me in the long-run.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” Izuku said, as much to give Yuuto some breathing room as because he really thought it was a better alternative to the usual internship. “Did you know them from before or did you select them among many?”
It immediately made Hebisuga smile, and they started walking again, Yuuto addressing a little thankful nod to Izuku behind their classmate head.
“My sister is actually one of the members,” she explained. “They do a lot of work to promote positivity when it comes to villainous quirks and quirklessness.”
Izuku absolutely didn’t squeal.
“Quirkless people too? They still exist?” Yuuto asked, his eyes wide.
Both Hebisuka and Izuku stared at him.
“You know what?” the student decided. “I just realized I am dreadfully ignorant of today’s problems in our society and I think going to a march and talking with people could enlighten me.”
In the end, the three of them decided to go to the march.
Stalker: [ I will be home for lunch.
Do you want something in particular? ]
Me: [This isn’t your home.]
Me: [Don’t wait for me. I won’t be here.
I’m going to a march with some friend.]
Stalker: [ Don’t get arrested. ]
Stalker: [ But if you get arrested, don’t try to break out.
Call me. We do not need another Tartarus incident. ]
Izuku had barely finished texting to the bane of his existence when Yuuto looked over his shoulder. The three of them had stopped right before going to the march in order to put some hoodie or sweatshirts over their uniform because even though they weren’t supposed to be in trouble for going there, better safe than sorry.
The phone was shaken before Yuuto had the time to see anything, but it didn’t stop him from drawing conclusions.
“Oh, right, I should call my parents too!” he realized, his phone already in hand.
“That’s not my…” Izuku started, before realizing that he couldn’t really finish that sentence without bringing to much attention to him, so he just sighed.
The problem with places that reunited many people facing discrimination was that a lot of them let their guard down. They thought they were with their people, or at least people who understood their plights, so they assumed everyone here was nice and that they were safe with them.
By doing so, they were forgetting one primordial rule: there were assholes everywhere.
Saya, an art student specialized in sculptures, was trying to find her friends and her little sister when she saw a man luring a woman into an alley. They were holding each other’s arms, the woman stumbling and smiling, but she was also trying to slow down, digging her heels in the pavement, a hand on the man’s arm, but he never slowed down.
Her companions hissed near her ears, drawing her attention as if she hadn’t already noticed something was wrong. Saya knew that there was something off with the cat-eared woman the same way she knew when someone was about to get sick or when someone approached.
Another set of senses could be useful.
They were almost out of the alley and near a car when Saya caught up with them. The man, in his thirties, black-haired, unassuming, was actually startled when he noticed her, before politely smiling at her.
He immediately gave her a very reasonable explanation about why his friend didn’t feel so good and the friend in question didn’t react, puzzled about the whole situation. Saya nodded, a similar polite smile on her lips, and explained that there were people with water and some of them were nurses and doctors among the people marching, so it would be better if they asked their help.
Words were exchanged. Far less polite, and the black-haired man dropped the girl before walking to Saya. He was taller and larger than her, and also an idiot.
“Do you need help?” she asked the cat-eared woman, ignoring the man walking in her direction.
She looked at her, then at him, her pupils so wide it looked like she had been smoking something especially illegal, and a little frown on her face as she was slowly realizing that none of this was normal.
Then, a nod.
It was enough as far as Saya was concerned.
The snakes growing on her head hissed while her eyes’ color shifted from brown to silver. She had the most beautiful eyes in the family, according to her mother.
A minute later, both Saya and the cat-eared girl whose name was Sakai Rei, were walking out of the alley, leaving behind the statue of the man who had made the mistake of looking at her in the eyes.
Now that the moron had been turned to stone for the next hour, the effect of his quirk was completely gone, Sakai was fine, though shaken, and she quickly agreed than even though the heroes watching the march were going to be warned and put to use, none of them needed to know who had helped her.
As she indicated Midnight and her Midnight boys to a very grateful Sakai Rei, Saya wasn’t afraid of her secret being exposed. Midnight didn’t ask more questions than what was needed, and Sakai wouldn’t rat her out.
A lot of people with villainous quirks didn’t fully register their abilities. The full extent of one’s quirk wasn’t known outside of family, a habit born during the rise of quirks where secrets were the reason why people survived, and it had no reason to stop now that schools and bosses insisted on knowing people’s quirks before recruiting them. But even where it was revealed… Most people shut up about it. On one hand, gratefulness wasn’t to be underestimated. And on the other, if the secret got out, no one wanted a pissed off quirk user to have a conversation with the one they had saved.
Saya waited a moment by the wall, her phone in hand as she pretended to play with it so people wouldn’t stop to ask her if she was okay. Everything around her was blurry, the drawbacks of her quirk, but it wouldn’t last long, not when she had barely used it, and her scaly companions provided her with a good sixth sense to compensate the temporal lack of sight.
By the time the words was less blurry, her baby sister had called her twice and Saya was blinking like crazy, but she quickly find her. Wearing the Kohaku uniform but also a black hoodie above it to hide from which school she belonged, Akioh turned towards her, her own green companions rising to greet her and they both smiled at each other.
Her baby sister proudly announced to Saya that two of her classmates had joined her and wanted to learn more about their association. One of them was an orange-haired boy. The other… Well, he wasn’t with his friend, but with Saya’s favorite video game partner, in a very animated conversation.
She actually blinked even more when she saw Shimura talking with a kid who had light grey hair, and for a moment, she wondered if it was one of those family members her friend never talked about, first because of a similar air between them, second because of the familiarity with which they were talking to each other.
“I think that people simply don’t realize the kind of discrimination quirk users face, and that’s why they had to be educated about it. We all know people with mutation quirk or with dangerous quirks, but how many people actually realize the kind of bullshit they have to face every day? Information and helping each other seems the way to go, as far as I am concerned,” the kid was explaining.
The delighted smile on Shimura Tenko’s face was quite telling.
“You know what, Akatani-kun? I think we’re going to get along.”
Manual was half-following the conversation between Mount Lady and Kamui Woods about the morality of helping a colleague even if it meant stealing the spotlight (Kamui Woods wasn’t amused) and half-keeping an eye on the crowd to see if anyone needed help. In his experience, the actual people marching rarely made trouble. The heroes’ job was to make sure they were safe and to make sure outsiders wouldn’t cause problems.
The shadows spread over him as something was blocking the timid light of this day and Manual turned to see a massive hero in a bespoke suit, holding something behind his back. Something Manual should have paid attention to but he was dazed by the presence of the number 10 hero: Gang Orca.
Awe invaded every cell of Manual’s body. He might have his license, he might have his own agency for quite a while and he might have helped many people, but he still hadn’t lost this sense of wonder that showed at any meeting with high ranked heroes.
“Gang Orca,” he greeted him without showing how impressed he was. “I didn’t know you were coming but we’re glad to see you there.”
The thought of the number 10 hero being here because he expected trouble briefly crossed his mind but people on the site would have been told long before the request for back-ups had been emitted.
“Manual. Gunhead. Mount Lady. Kamui Woods,” Gang Orca nodded. “I learned there was a march and I… Is everything alright so far?”
“There was a problem but Midnight is already on it with two sidekicks,” Gunhead quipped in while Mount Lady and Kamui Woods, the newbies, were oddly silent, maybe because they were wondering if their bickering had been heard.
“Oh, that’s good. Well, if you need anything, I will be over there,” Gang Orca smiled, showing three rows of teeth.
And he just… crossed the invisible threshold between the heroes and the civilians marching for quirk egality.
Manual couldn’t tell a top hero that he wasn’t supposed to be on this side of the march because… Because he couldn’t, so he just quietly watched Gang Orca now walking with the crowd.
“Damn, he even brought his own sign,” Mount Lady whispered.
Indeed. That was the thing behind his back that Manual hadn’t really understood at the time.
“Are we allowed to do that?” Kamui Woods asked.
“You can do a lot if you’re in the top 10,” Gunhead chuckled.
However, what a pro hero in the top 10 couldn’t do was to forget to watch behind him or a distracted grey-haired-boy could accidentally walk into him and almost fall because Gang Orca was one massive man.
The boy (Manual couldn’t see him well with the distance and the crowd) froze, and Gang Orca tensed in return, probably fearing that he had frightened him or something. Fortunately, the boy pulled out a notebook from nowhere, and a moment later, Gang Orca was giving him an autograph, a massive toothy smile on his face.
All pro heroes watching sighed in relief.
It lasted until someone at the end of the march decided to use his quirk to throw smoke at someone else, and whoever he was arguing with answered in kind with what looked like cotton candy, if cotton candy could go everywhere, creating a colossal sticky mess.
Izuku, his notebook still in hand, watched Gang Orca dashing through the crowd (which was especially easy since people were jumping out of his way) to arrest the people at the origin of the altercation, but more people had joined in, more quirks flying around.
In such situation, the protocol asked for everyone to be interrogated until the pro heroes were sure of who had used their quirks and why. With so many people, it would take hours, something everyone who was familiar with big public events knew.
So Manual had barely asked for everyone to stay calm and not to move that half of the people here pretty much decided to scatter in every direction. Thankfully, most of them stopped when they realized the pro heroes weren’t amused. Kamui Woods helped with the rest.
One of them slipped through. And by slipped through, Manual meant that the boy simply walked out of here as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He was so calm that the pro hero actually didn’t notice him until he was out of the crowd, a loner outside the barely contained group.
“Hey! You, with the black hoodie! Stop!”
The boy didn’t slow down. He didn’t walk faster either. He simply continued on his way, and if he didn’t have his hood up and if it hadn’t been blatantly obvious that he was ignoring Manual, he would have done anything needed not to draw attention.
Manual ran after him, people immediately getting out of his way, and in a moment, he was on the boy’s heels. A boy who disappeared into an alley, a dead-end.
Manual caught back with him in one second and half. The pro hero was already planning to use the water on him to stop him, because if the pressure was controlled, it wouldn’t hurt him.
But by the time Manual actually entered the alley, no one was there anymore.
He looked around, searching for any way out except for the high walls, difficult to climb, then for any hiding spots or camouflage ability, but he didn’t find anything in what should have been a dead-end.
Did he just… Did he warp out or something?
Five hours after escaping the pro hero Manual, Izuku was in Kyushu and jumping from a building that had a reasonable height. Not high enough to meet a gruesome end, but high enough for him to have the time to find a solution if he missed several of the pre-determined spots that were going to be used to slow down his descent.
Blessed be balconies and quick reflexes fueled by a legendary quirk.
Izuku was strangely calm as he was negotiating his controlled fall, because One for All didn’t allow anything but the present when it was used. Stray thoughts, doubts, all of that led to a lack of control, to the output of power slipping, and to broken bones. During a mission, that would mean death. Outside of it, that means hours of pain and favors to be healed.
Balcony, telephone poll, a quick run on a wall. Gravity pushing him down, his whole body fighting against it.
He wasn’t worried, because he knew he would be fine. It seemed crazy, but in a world where almost everyone had powers, this word didn’t have much sense. What was insane was that people didn’t realize it.
Timing, preparation, and control were the key to make the impossible come true.
Of course, the most incredible quirk in the world didn’t hurt.
Izuku twisted his body in mid-air. He was almost certain he could have now landed on his feet, but a nice mattress of trash was waiting for him in the alley he had left and why waste it? He fell rolling, the rotation his body made absorbing what was left of the shock, and the trash bags made for a soft, though smelly, landing spot.
Coincidentally, the impact made one of the dumpster move, revealing the yellow backpack Izuku had hidden behind it. The teenager got back to his feet, grabbed it, and quickly removed the black hoodie whose hood was connected to a thin veil. It had first been made for people with mutations like Nagisa who didn’t like to be stared at when they were outside, and it had become popular at some time because it had the advantage of making anyone look like a video game character whose hooded face was perpetually hidden in shadows.
The black Anyone hoodie was put in the bag and replaced by another black hoodie but All Might-themed, and it made all the difference. Izuku’s gloves and mask followed.
He was still kneeling in the alley when the silent rustle of shadows warned him of who was about to arrive, and a cold sweat drenched his back at the idea of what would have happened if Izuku’s personal stalker had arrived fifteen minutes earlier.
The shadows disappeared, leaving All for One behind like some unwanted gift, and evil incarnate looked around, unimpressed with his surroundings. He lazily adjusted his cufflinks, giving himself the time to examine Izuku as if he had expected him to find him in pieces or in an insane situation.
“I heard about the march from earlier,” the villain said without even a hello. “I’m impressed by your uncanny ability to unleash chaos wherever you go.”
Lies and slander.
Izuku rolled his eyes, stood up, and started walking out of the alley. “Did anyone ever told you that you are overly dramatic?”
The villain didn’t answer, which immediately led Izuku to believe that someone had indeed told him that. Who were they? Had they survived? Was it All Might?
“What are you doing so far from Mustafu?” All for One asked instead, waiting for Izuku to lie to him and tell him that it was an Anyone mission.
For those, Izuku asked Kurogiri to warp him so he didn’t lose any time, and from the glint in the villain’s eye, the teenager was convinced the barman had been thoroughly interrogated before All for One had warped here.
So he simply shrugged and did his best not to look at the buildings behind him.
“That’s not an answer,” All for One noticed, trailing after Izuku who was about to tell him to mind his own business when someone passed too close to the alley.
Naturally, both the antic villain and the younger villain shut up in order not to talk about an illegal activity in front of a civilian. A random guy who actually walked into the alley, which was strange, because even though it wasn’t a dead end, it was littered in trash and there was almost no light now that the night had fallen. Not the kind of place you would want to walk into.
The reason why this good man insisted in going in such a desolate alley was made quite clear when an impressive hunting knife appeared out of thin air in his hand, and he pointed it at Izuku, his grip a little too tight to be efficient and with too much distance to stab them, unless he decided to throw it but the balance would be off.
“Give me you wallets, phones, everything!” he ordered All for One and Anyone.
Both Izuku and All for One looked at each other in disbelief.
Are you seeing that too?
All for One nodded, his eyes a little wide.
Then he looked at Random Guy and he smiled.
The last time Izuku had seen this exact expression, it was when he was advising guards to dodge the incoming cataclysmic attack in Tartarus, so he had to nip that in the bud.
No, he said silently but vehemently. Bad sociopath. Do not murder someone in broad daylight.
All for One gave him a fond smile and nodded with the firm intention of doing something painful and lethal for the thief and mind soothing for the villain. It was a very specific nod.
“Are you fucking deaf?” the moron continued, showing the conservation instinct of a lemming. “Suit! Give me the cash if you don’t want something awful happening to Junior over there!”
Both villains paid attention to the robber again. It wasn’t that they had been ignoring him, but they were well past that. They could both stop him long before he rushed at them to hurt them. That problem had been handled as soon as it had appeared, it just wasn’t official yet.
But now, there was a whole conversation conveyed only through body language about his fate, and he didn’t seem to realize how out of his depth he was.
And that calling him Junior wasn’t endearing him to Izuku. At all.
“Does this buffoon still think he is actually robbing us?” All for One sneered.
Worse, he thinks we’re related. Izuku actually shuddered at this last thought, and All for One’s arm immediately appeared around his shoulders, the villain slightly shifting place with him so he would be between Izuku and the thief.
“You can’t kill him just for trying to rob us,” the teenager sighed.
“You’re mistaken,” the villain informed him, his voice so soothing and calm it would have been great for a lullaby. “I can kill him. I actually really want to.”
Random Guy looked at Izuku, then at All for One, and at Izuku again. Then, he kind of shook the knife, as if to remind them that this was his robbery and that he was in charge of the situation.
Right before choking as All for One looked at him with the same killing intent that had made hardened criminal in Tartarus stop in their tracks.
Izuku clang to All for One’s arm. Full Cowl should be enough to at least slow him down.
To his surprise, All for One seemed to slightly calm down and he scooted closer to Izuku, probably to deprive the teenager from the leverage he would need to physically stop him. Just in case, Izuku shifted his feet to anchor himself to the ground.
“Hello?” the teenager called Random Guy to draw his attention away from the super villain. “He wants to kill you. This would be really easy for him and I am certain a part of him would enjoy it.”
“Ignore the boy,” All for One muttered, but at least, he wasn’t moving. “I wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
“Your best chance with him is to have your neck broken,” Izuku continued. “A clean and swift end. But I once saw him splatter a wall with someone’s blood.” All for One winced. “As for I, I simply can’t neutralize you without hurting you. I won’t enjoy it, but I also won’t hesitate if the alternative is letting you stab someone. You understand?”
In response, the knife was significantly lowered.
“So why don’t you drop the knife so we can forget this and get on with our lives?”
Random Guy, considerably paler than when he had first threatened them, not only dropped the knife that fell to the ground with a loud clang, but he also did something Izuku would never have expected. He took his own wallet from his pocket, took some cash from it, and threw it in one direction before running in the other.
The noise of disgust All for One made would have been comical if Izuku hadn’t been dumbfounded.
“I blame All Might for that. In my time, criminals had a work ethic. Or at least, they were less pathetic.”
“I should have helped him stab you,” Izuku quietly realized as he let All for One go.
He didn’t give him the same courtesy and All for One’s arm passed around Izuku’s shoulders once again.
“You do realize this incident proves my point, don’t you?” the villain asked as they were warped back to Kurogiri.
Hawks’ loft was on the last floor of his building. Not high enough for the windows to be perpetually locked for security reasons, but at a nice enough altitude for him not to have to touch the ground then climb an awful amount of stairs to go home.
Night had fallen for several hours when he came back but he still noticed the traces on the railing of the balcony. As if someone had hit it with enough strength to slightly bend the metal.
There was a building whose roof was relatively close to Hawks’ sky door, if one had an impressive enhancer or jump quirk and no fear of death.
There were also scratches on the sliding French door, where someone had used something sharp to force it.
The sliding door, still slightly open, was brutally pushed as Hawks’ smallest feathers were flying through the loft, tracking any vibration, any movements, any sign of a hidden villain who had just broken into his apartment.
How do they know where I live?
Hawks entered a second later, his sword-feather in hand, scanning his surroundings.
He took him a couple of minute to make sure no one was hidden in the dark and that nothing had been disturbed. The advantage of living in an organized mess was that he always noticed when the delicate balance of his home was disturbed.
The only things out of place were on his kitchen table: a phone, the fancy model impossible to trace, and a MacDonald nuggets box.
Hawks opened the box from afar, revealing twenty chicken nuggets with their spicy sauces.
Now, that’s either a threat or one of the craziest fan gifts I’ve ever received? He had the time to think before his memories reminded him that no, even someone breaking him in his apartment to give him his favorite food wasn’t the craziest stunt a fan had pulled.
Of course, there was a third option. One Hawks only realized after an embarrassingly long moment, after he remembered what was his username of the platform where Anyone was working. The fire user had passed his message, then.
The Clamor app was the only thing on the new phone, and Anyone themselves had already left messages.
[People coming to Anyone usually need help. ]
[Do you need help, Hero Hawks?]
Such an innocuous word but everything had a price. Anyone was specialized in networking and helping each other, but there was also a lot of exchange, and anyone offering to help a hero expected something in return, be it gratitude, consideration, or something more substantial.
But the raison d’être of such vigilante groups was the shortcomings of the hero society. Hawks had to show that he was different from the rest of his colleagues. That he could be of use, and on their side.
[I do. ]
[I want to save more people. People I can reach without being bound by the corrupted rules of this society. ]
[We can work with that.]
Hawks was certain that whoever was writing was smiling behind their screen.
The night shift was the perfect place to train his perception. Customers were rare, the job was easy, and even if he didn’t exactly need the money, it was good for him to clear his mind. After all, a blade that kept being sharpened would become brittle more quickly.
He was playing with his knife, hidden from sight behind the counter, when he noticed a young man crossing the street. Tall, almost lanky but he moved a little too gracefully to be described as such, he was floating in a red hoodie and his long black hair was tied in a ponytail at the nape of his neck.
The knife swirled and spun between Chizome’s fingers, almost as if it had a mind on its own. To keep it or not to keep it?
In the end, he decided that even though he was supposed to be an ally, some manners were still necessary from time to time.
Oguro Kousuke entered the grocery shop, looking left and right, before walking straight to Chizome. It didn’t matter how many times he asked him to be careful, to call first, or not to draw attention by being so obviously nervous, the boy refused to learn.
That was the problem with this society. A lack of discipline. An inability to understand the necessary sacrifices to reach their potential.
Even some of those so-called heroes were just willing to run after villains in order to fill their quota and obtain their paycheck instead of investing themselves in their mission.
“Good evening,” the liaison agent from the Hero Commission greeted him, mumbling. “Is there a more discreet place to do this?”
“No need,” Chizome assured.
He would notice everyone coming in long before they crossed the street.
Oguro looked around nonetheless, then gave his All Might-themed-backpack to the warrior. Chizome took the files from it, six of them, summarizing what six pro heroes had done to draw the attention of the Hero Commission.
Why they were failing.
He studied them carefully, barely refraining himself from rolling his eyes as the files were revealing how they were doing the minimum. No one would ever be able to rival All Might, but was that too much to ask for them to try?
One name drew his attention.
“Tell me about him,” Chizome ordered.
Oguro barely glanced at the file, already knowing what he had to say because he shared Chizome’s views on the decline of heroism. The Hero Commission might be using him as an errand boy so Chizome would be able to protect the most important person in this society, while preserving his innocence and plausible deniability, but the warrior had managed to turn him into an asset for his side activity: culling the unworthy.
Of course, the Hero Commission in itself wasn’t aware of their arrangements, but the very nature of their agreement guaranteed Chizome’s some leeway in how he protected his light bearer
“Ingenium,” Oguro said as if the pro hero’s name and legal name with address wasn’t written in the borrowed file. “He is legacy and does good work but that’s the problem: he treats his job like a nine to five. But that’s not what actually caught my attention.”
That was already a bad thing. Fake heroes all around, so many of them that it sometimes seemed impossible to bring this corrupted society on the right path.
“Heroes need a certain standard,” the young man continued, standing straighter. “They are protectors. Guardians. They need many skills and to dedicate themselves to their missions. But when one treat such calling as a job… Ingenium’s sidekicks aren’t real heroes because of that. They just have a skill they apply to their job, bringing down the heroic level.”
Ingenium’s policies were singlehandedly bringing down the level of pro heroes.
Targeting him would be easier than proving than those sidekicks turned sub-heroes weren’t up to the task but would the message be understood? Wouldn’t it be clearer to prove several times why those heroes were fake before taking care of the one creating them in a misplaced sense of kindness?
In any case, he would give them a fighting chance. He could have found them in their homes, or in any place they relaxed, but Chizome wasn’t heartless enough not to give them a chance to prove their worth.
Once this was done, Chizome went back to what the Hero Commission was actually paying them to do. The best for the last.
“Do you have something to tell me about All Might?”
Because it was Chizome’s real mission. The reason why he even accepted to be affiliated, even from afar, with the Hero Commission.
He protected All Might.
Villains, heroes, civilians. So many threats that couldn’t snuff out the light of the Symbol of Peace but who dared to try to taint it. But All Might couldn’t take care of them himself, of course. He would arrest them, because he was good. And they would remain threats, Damocles swords that could one day end the greatest man this world had ever known.
That was why Chizome was here.
His hands were stained so All Might would remain the hero they all needed.
“No, I didn’t hear anything from him,” the young man lied.
Chizome would have known it even if he hadn’t been able to observe his face. He knew it from the smell of fear Oguro was giving off, from the slight hesitation most people wouldn’t have detected, and generally, because the warrior knew how to observe people.
He grabbed Oguro by the back of the neck and smacked his face on the counter, and the errand boy didn’t try to fight back, aware that Chizome was simply stronger than him.
“All Might’s apparitions are getting rarer. He arrives and leaves in a flash, and he doesn’t stay with his fans anymore. I know there is something.”
Chizome didn’t like needless violence but it sometimes did wonders on stubborn people.
“So… What. Is. Happening?” he asked once again.
“Okay… Okay,” the boy admitted. “Something did happen to All Might. But it’s classified. I wasn’t even supposed to know…”
Chizome’s knife –not the one he had been playing with, his hunting knife- stabbed the counter right next to Oguro’s ear, startling him.
He could have nicked it. He had chosen not to.
The knife was back in a second in his hand, the blade playing with the spot between Oguro’s skull and his ear.
Some part of him wanted to cut. Just draw the blood a little.
“My mission is to protect All Might from any threats,” the warrior assured. “If you try to hide information from me, I will consider you a threat and I will show you no mercy.”
Ogurou gulped down. Licked his lips.
Then, he nodded.
“A villain attacked All Might. A child. Whatever he did to the Symbol of Peace, it’s draining him from his power little by little.”
For a moment, there was nothing. Just words that didn’t make sense.
Pure rage passed through Chizome. The need to maim and murder was almost too much, his hands clenching as he was dealing with the need to rip something apart with his bare hands.
Not the Commission who had dared to hide such information from him, though they were also a target of his wrath.
But from the villain who had dared to rob society from All Might’s light.
“Tell me everything.”
Izuku and Tenko: *talks to each other and generally get along*
Nana, inside OFA, rubbing her head because she's having a headache: "Why can't anyone see that this kid is a villain?"