Chapter 1: House Call
It took some convincing from Tomura to just let him do this, combined with every promise under the sun and even allowing a location chip to be implanted under his skin if need be, but Izuku finally got Tomura to settle down enough to let him go off on his own to 'see someone about something important'.
Izuku didn't way who or what for, not wanting to give Tomura or any of the others false hope for any reason, but he at least had this small moment to himself to put his plan into motion.
Tapping the earpiece he'd borrowed from Compress, he found himself in contact with the Doctor.
"Am I able to Warp someone with me?"
"A bold request, Midoriya," the Doctor replied, sounding amused. "Whoever do you trust enough to bring over there to you?"
Izuku let out a sigh. "...I want to have them seen by Recovery Girl."
A short pause.
"And you think she will come with you willingly? That they'll let her leave if she does?"
"I can only ask," Izuku replied. "But I'll make sure she's returned to UA safely. If she says yes, I'll be in her favor."
"You know I'm capable of providing some care," the Doctor said, meaning to sound grousing but Izuku picked up on his curiosity clearly. "Nothing miraculous like her quirk, but a few weeks won't kill them."
Izuku leaned against the wall. "I know," he said. "But I want them to trust me. They're important to Tomura, so that makes them important to me too. They're in good enough spirits, but I know all of them are still in pain. And besides, I'm not telling Yotsubashi about it either." His tone went bitter. "Let him think the League is just THAT awesome recovering as quickly as they will if Recovery Girl accepts."
The Doctor laughed on the other end. "You've got a mean streak in you, don't you kid?" he said. "Alright, you have my attention. You'd best make sure you're not caught. I'm not pulling you out of a mess if you are."
"You're being generous enough letting me try," Izuku replied earnestly. "Ready when you are."
Even bracing himself, the Warp that engulfed him still made him throw up in his mouth a little.
Being in UA again was almost painful, but Izuku had his objective in mind, and was grateful for it being close to midnight when everyone was either asleep or out away on a patrol.
He knew Recovery Girl had her own on-campus suite in case of nighttime emergencies, but it was still tricky getting close while avoiding the security bots posted everywhere. He found her suite and sighed before tugging up his Blackout mask and knocking, the absolute least he could do for the favor he was about to ask.
She came to the door, any grousing about the hour dying in her throat when she saw who it was. "...Midoriya..." she breathed, looking him over for any sign of injury. "Where have you been? Are you harmed? Oh, where is the phone, I need to inform Nezu-"
"No." Izuku glanced behind him. "...can I come in? Please?"
Recovery Girl's eyes narrowed slightly, searching his face and appearing to find what she was looking for before nodding and stepping back, allowing him in. He walked in and stood by quietly, rubbing his arm. "...I know I have no right in the world to ask anything of you," he said after a few long moments, "...but I need a favor."
She let out a hefty sigh, rubbing her temples. "...I have a pretty good idea as to what it is," she said quietly. "But before I answer, I need to know something." She tapped his leg with her cane to make him look at her. "Is it worth it?"
Izuku kept eye contact for a few moments before nodding. "Yes," he said, then took a step back before kneeling, bowing with his head to the floor. "I have no right to ask you for this, and if you say no, I won't press the issue, or hold it against you. I'll just leave quietly. But..." He swallowed hard. "...being a hero in this conventional method...I know now that it's not a path I can take to achieve my dreams. The way I've chosen will be so much harder, but I know that it's the way I NEED to take to make that difference." He swallowed again, forcing his tears away. "Please heal them. Three of them badly need it, and there are no healers with your caliber that can possibly keep them from long-term pain and damage. I'll make sure you're brought and returned safely, even at risk of my own life. Please."
Recovery Girl was silent, contemplating him for a long moment before letting out a sigh. "Sit up, Midoriya," she said firmly. "No one should have to beg for medical attention." She walked over to a table to grab her medical case. "But I'm saying again, as I told you after surgery on your hand...I won't be doing this again."
Izuku sat up, staying knelt on the floor, nodding. "I understand," he said. "And I swear to you that you'll be back here safely."
Recovery Girl nodded back. "Very well then. Where to?"
Izuku reached up, pressing on his earpiece. "Good to go."
"Where is he, where is he..." Tomura murmured to himself, reflexively reaching up to scratch at his neck and growling at the present bandages that kept him from doing so. "He said he was back for good, he promised...!"
"Sit down and shut up," Dabi snapped, tired of the muttering already. "He said he'd be back, and he will be. He's been gone for less than an hour."
"Too long," Tomura muttered, still scratching at the bandages. "An hour too long."
"Fuck's sake-" Dabi was cut off by the appearance of two black Warp-liquid waves, one of which was Izuku looking incredibly ill and the other of UA's own Recovery Girl, looking less affected sans a dab of her mouth with her handkerchief.
"That was unpleasant," she remarked, handing over a peppermint-flavored gummy to Izuku to get the taste out of his mouth. She looked around, seeing two villains staring at her in surprise. "I thought there'd be more."
"They're in the other room," Izuku said, stuffing the peppermint wrapper into his pocket before turning to Tomura, who was staring. "...told you I'd be back soon."
Tomura looked between Izuku and Recovery Girl. "...with RECOVERY GIRL!?" he hissed. "HOW?"
"None of that for now," Recovery Girl said, "you made mention that the girl was in dire straits?"
"Only because Twice keeps wailing on about it," Dabi remarked, opening the door to the other room. He led her in while Izuku walked over to Tomura, putting a hand on his shoulder.
"Tomura, she's here to help you guys heal faster," Izuku said. "It's the least I can do for you guys."
Tomura scratched at the bandages again. "...what does she want for it?" he asked.
"Tomura...she was the first person who knew how I felt about you," he said, his cheeks pinkening. "Remember back after we kissed in the park? I was kinda freaking out the whole time, got no sleep, I was sent to her office, and she figured out I was crushing hard. And later...because she knew about that...I told her who it was, and she kept it to herself." His hand reached up, taking Tomura's to prevent him from scratching. "She'll keep this confidential. She doesn't even have a location on this place, and she's being sent straight back when she's done." He lowered his eyes. "...I trust her more than anyone else at UA at this point. She's here to help because I asked, even if she won't do it again. Just...please accept this. For me."
Tomura said nothing, but didn't put in confrontation either. Izuku squeezed his hand and helped him into the other room, where Recovery Girl was looking over Toga and ignoring Twice fretting behind her.
"Exploding blood inside you, impact wounds...goodness," Recovery Girl said. "You're very lucky to have avoided an embolism." She took off the gauze covering Toga's right eye. "There may be some loss of vision, but at least the eye can be saved." She pressed a kiss to Toga's forehead. "You keep resting and eat plenty of iron. Your quirk is blood-related, so that will help you recover faster."
She put an iron vitamin gummy in Toga's hand before moving on to Twice, who had his arms bound to him almost like a strait jacket. "Dislocated and broken arms are an easy enough fix."
"I like 'em broken!" "No, shut up, they freaking HURT!"
"Nothing I can do about mental pain, I'm afraid," Recovery Girl said, unperturbed, tapping at his mask. "May I?"
Twice was oddly silent for a moment before he gave a quick nod, staying still to allow Recovery Girl to lift his mask and give him a kiss before putting it back on for him and undoing his arm binds to let them heal in a natural position. "This isn't a perfect fix," she told him, but addressing everyone. "I'm using your own stamina to heal you, so rest is key for a complete recovery. The more severe the wounds, the longer the rest time you'll need. Attempting to bring someone back from the brink of death would possibly kill them anyway."
"Cool," Toga said weakly, lazily chewing on the gummy as she curled up in her new coat, almost immediately dozing.
"You make sure she actually rests. She seems like the excitable type."
Twice saluted with his nearly-healed -and still sore- arm. "Yes, ma'am!" "Why bother, she'll just do what she wants anyway."
Recovery Girl turned to Spinner next, who seemed a bit more cautious about being seen. She still made sure to have his permission to see if he had more than heavy bruising and lacerations, and managed to find one broken rib on his left side. She kissed his forehead for the rib more than anything and gave him a gummy as well. "Be sure to use a course brush when cleaning your scales," she said. "Stuck-in grit can cause abrasions that become a problem later."
Compress had less in the way of injuries, but even after a few days of rest time he confessed himself still tired. After some minimal examination, she discovered his prosthetic arm and shook her head a little.
"You've got a mild infection," she said, touching where his arm was latched to his prosthetic. "Much easier to prevent than it is to fix. Make sure you don't overwork yourself, and take breaks from it every so often." She had him lift his mask a little to administer her quirk, and then turned to Dabi, her expression professional but no less concerned.
"Not much you can do for this," Dabi remarked with a shrug. Recovery Girl nodded, gesturing for him to sit down anyway.
"Best cure for quirk overuse is rest anyway," she said, kissing his scarred cheek anyway. "That should do at least to prevent further injury to your scars. And stitches would be sturdier than staples."
"Maybe," Dabi admitted. "Staples are easier to remove."
Recovery Girl made a noncommittal sound before turning finally to Tomura, who was sitting back quietly in observation. She walked over, seeing that he was more bandaged up than anyone else, having most noticeably a cast-brace for his left leg and his left hand heavily bandaged and obviously missing a few fingers.
So this was Tomura Shigaraki, the one who Izuku said was the 'reason for everything'. Even despite a few descriptions given from different sources, he was still just a boy, albeit a powerful one, if being the leader of all of this were any indication. She sighed and stepped up, gently taking his broken hand by the palm. "Nothing I can do to regrow anything," she said. "But I have to say, you'll be down for a couple more days at least to recover properly."
Tomura gave a short nod. "I figured," he replied, his voice sounding strained. Recovery Girl nodded back, gently brushing his hair from his face and unwinding a bandage to kiss his forehead. He let out a sigh, his head tilting slightly as his body went slightly limp, having to be supported up by Izuku.
"I know he'll likely be wanting to be up and about as soon as possible," she said, putting down a small jar of gummies on the table. "I accelerated his healing somewhat to get the bulk of it over with in one go, rather than him attempting to further injure himself during a steady recovery. Just make sure he eats enough as soon as he wakes up. His metabolism is going to be high for awhile."
Izuku nodded. "Thank you, Recovery Girl," he said, then eased Tomura up to carry him back into the other room to lie out on the couch. Tomura slumped back, blinking hard.
"Yeah, I think maybe we should've gotten you off of the painkillers first. That was my bad."
"You just want me weak so you can have your stupid wicked way with me."
"God, you're weird when you're high, Tomu." Izuku rearranged him to be lying back comfortably before sitting down next to him, seeing Recovery Girl walk back in. "...I can't thank you enough, Recovery Girl. Really."
Recovery Girl nodded quietly, resting against her cane. "Amazing he's even still conscious," she remarked. "He has to be about as stubborn as you when injured."
"Yeah," Izuku replied thickly. "He is." He touched over Tomura's intact hand lightly. "He'll be back up tomorrow and BS his way through a meeting or whatever and then crash out for another few days." He sighed, wiping at his eyes.
"...what do you want me to say when I go back?" Recovery Girl asked quietly. "If I should say anything-"
"You only saw two rooms of this place," Izuku replied. "And the names and quirks of the League aren't exactly secrets. Tell them what you want." He closed his eyes. "That I begged you to help...tell them I threatened you, if that's what keeps you out of trouble-"
"I'll do no such thing!" Recovery Girl snapped, smacking him in the leg with her cane. "I took the Hippocratic Oath, boy. When I'm on a scene, if man, woman, adult, child, hero, or villain needs my help, I administer it! So I will tell the truth." Her expression softened. "...anything you want to tell THEM? You gave Togata quite a scare when you vanished in front of him."
Izuku nodded quietly. "...tell...tell 1-A I'm sorry I disappointed them," he said. "...tell Nezu I'm sorry I wasted his second chance. Tell Aizawa I'm sorry I wasted his time. Tell...tell All Might I'm sorry I'm not the hero he wanted me to be..." He took a deep breath. "...and tell Mirio......'the line was crossed'. He'll understand." He wiped at his eyes, forcing them dry. "...but tell them that I've made my choice...but my ambitions are the same."
Recovery Girl nodded. "Alright," she said. "Anything else?"
"...yeah..." Izuku glanced at the door before lowering his voice. "...don't...tell anyone about Dabi, okay?"
Recovery Girl nodded; she knew that he could tell what she gathered already, and she completely understood the intensive desire for anonymity. "Very well."
They both looked over to Tomura, who still looked half-asleep. "...you tell the heroes somethin' too, yeah? Tell 'em I said he's all mine."
Izuku sighed. "Tomura-"
"He's all mine now. He promised to never leave again...that he'll rebuild everything up so we can be happy together...." He turned onto his back, smiling dazed at the ceiling. "We'll make a world...where we can be together...no heroes or villains or any of that shit..." He let out a raspy hiss of laughter, his eyes shimmering wetly. "...he's mine...he's finally mine..." His hand groped slightly to hold Izuku's. "....an' fuck All Might too 'n whatever...don't care anymore..."
Izuku swallowed hard, squeezing Tomura's hand. "...you can...leave that last part out," he told her. "He's really out of it right now." He let out a shaky laugh. "...ready to go?"
Recovery Girl nodded. "I am. You take care, Midoriya."
Izuku reached up to touch his earpiece. "You too," he replied. "Doctor?" He watched as Recovery Girl vanished in the Void liquid -still absently wondering how she was able to stand that mess- and sat back hard to keep watch over Tomura again.
"...yeah...you have me, Tomura."
Tomura's hand only squeezed in response.
Aizawa was coming back in early from a patrol, having been granted a shorter secondary work schedule in order to deal with what they were going to do about Izuku Midoriya, and was about to head into the school when a mass of black liquid appeared next to him, making him jerk back with his capture weapon at the ready until he saw Recovery Girl emerging from it, the woman spitting out some residue on the ground before wiping her mouth with her handkerchief.
Definitely not one to take that at face value, Aizawa activated his quirk in case of an illusion quirk at play, but dropped it when he found nothing. "What in the hell."
Recovery Girl looked up, sighing a little. "I don't suppose this should go under 'this isn't what it looks like'. Because it somewhat is."
Aizawa lowered his capture weapon. "Please...for the love of all that is sane, explain."
"Get the others together first," Recovery Girl said. "And put on some coffee. This could take awhile.
Nezu, All Might, and Mirio, who had been on-call and came with Nighteye, arrived in the meeting room with the other teachers soon after, the rest of UA still dead asleep. Recovery Girl told them she would only tell it once, so they all made haste to arrive for the meeting.
When everyone was arrived and ready, Recovery Girl spoke.
"Midoriya came to my dorm suite earlier tonight," she told them. Her jaw tightened, listening to everything from 'no way' to 'how' to 'where is he now' before Nezu called for quiet.
"Around what time?" the principal asked calmly.
"Close to twelve," she replied. "I was about to turn in myself when he knocked and told me he needed a favor."
"Was he hurt any?" All Might asked, his already pallor complexion looking ghastly with worry.
Recovery Girl shook her head. "No. And he was the only one who wasn't." She folded her hands on the table, sighing. "He came to ask me to heal the League for him."
All Might sat back in his seat, looking ill and unable to say anything to that. Aizawa swallowed hard, staring at his hands for a moment for saying, "And you did?"
Recovery Girl turned to Mirio. "I'm sure you're aware of how you saw Midoriya vanish," she said, seeing him nod. "The same methods were used to transport me there."
"So you actually went with him," Nighteye said. "Any thoughts of it being a trick, or-"
"It was Midoriya," Recovery Girl said firmly. "He came to my suite and asked me prostrate with his head on the floor, proclaiming he knew he had no right to ask, but begged me to help anyway." She looked around among everyone. "I will admit, my healer's oath wasn't my only deciding factor. I wanted to see if he himself was alright...and for whom he decided to leave us for."
Nighteye spoke again. "...the League really was injured then?"
She nodded. "Yes. A few...gravely so. I only saw two rooms where they were, but they looked to be of moderate comfort. I could not see out the windows, because it was the middle of the night, pitch dark outside. I only had what I was brought for."
"And how were they?" Midnight asked. "You healed them...what did you make of them?"
Recovery Girl was silent for another moment before she answered. "...broken," she said. "...in a word...I saw broken children." She let out a soft shaky sigh. "I healed Himiko Toga first...she was so very lucky to have escaped an embolism after blood had exploded inside of her body, but she also suffered brunt force outside of her body as well. One of her eyes may have permanent vision loss. She seemed overly excited about my quirk and professed interest that an overuse of it could kill.
"Jin Bubaigawara seemed to have a complete split personality, and he had both of his arms broken. He was very invested in Miss Toga's well-being and watched me like a hawk as I examined her, and promised to make sure she was recovering properly after. Half of him seemed sweet and dedicated, and the other half more manic and protective.
"Shuichi Iguchi looked wary, like he expected me to not even give him a proper treatment...given his mutant-type quirk and his guarded expression, it was easy to figure out why. I can only imagine how many medical professionals mistreated him in his youth. He had some lacerations and a broken rib, but nothing too serious.
"Atsuhiro Sako seemed to have mostly general exhaustion, but I found that he had a mild infection from overuse of his prosthetic arm.
"Dabi only had exacerbated burning on top of his scarring, but it was easily remedied."
She gave a pause.
All Might finally spoke. "...and Shigaraki?" he finally managed. Recovery Girl closed her eyes, sighing.
"...he was worst off." She rubbed her eyes for a moment. "Broken ribs, a fractured leg, dislocated knee, heavy bruising everywhere...and his left hand was missing three fingers and half a palm."
She let that sink in to them for a moment.
"What kind of battle did that?" Mirio asked.
"I don't know. I didn't ask. I administered a fuller extent of my quirk, which he would have needed anyway. He somehow remained conscious up to when I left. He either has an unusually high stamina reservoir or he's simply that stubborn. I chalked it up to both."
"....was there anything else of interest?" Nezu finally asked. "Any clue of whereabouts, what they were doing...?"
"No. I only had parting words from Midoriya."
The tension in the room quadrupled in an instant.
"He told to tell Class 1-A that he's sorry for disappointing them." She turned to Nezu. "That he's sorry for ruining the second chance you gave him." To Aizawa. "That he's sorry for wasting your time." She paused before turning to All Might. "...that he's sorry for not being the hero you wanted him to be."
All Might's expression crumbled, resting his head on the table and covering it with his arms, his shoulders shaking hard. She pulled her eyes from him to look at Mirio. "...and he told me to tell you...that 'the line was crossed'."
Mirio swallowed hard, looking close to breaking down into tears but managed to hold himself together. Recovery Girl looked among everyone again before sighing again, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
"...he said he's made his choice...but his ambitions remain the same."
Everyone took several long moments to let it all sink in, only Nezu betraying none of his own emotions. "...I have to ask," the principal asked, his voice audibly straining to remain neutral. "...how did Midoriya appear in all of that?"
Recovery Girl looked almost helpless to the truth. "...he looked like a concerned friend," she said honestly. "He came to me on bending knee to help them, and acknowledged that he knew it was a one-time thing and possibly the last friendly face he'd see from any of us." Her hands wrung slightly. "And he was, unsurprisingly, most concerned for Tomura Shiaraki." She paused, then pressed on. "He was comfortable there. And very close to Shigaraki."
Mirio nodded, looking most understanding of that part. "...did he say why he was brought there?" he asked.
"No," Recovery Girl said. "But from what I could gather with what I had to see...he was pulled from UA by the 'Doctor' he was in contact with in order to help pull the League through the battle that injured them so. And after the fact, he...simply decided to stay."
"Was it because he thought we would assume the worst?" Aizawa demanded. "That we would blame him for being abducted out of UA?"
"...it could have been a deciding factor," Recovery Girl admitted. "He looked...incredibly sad when he told me what he wanted to tell you all."
"Could he be in a hostage situation?" Present Mic piped up. "If this 'Doctor' is able to pull him in and out at will..."
"It didn't seem so, and I don't think it is," Recovery Girl said confidently. "He gave me no indication that he was there against his will...only that he was saddened by the circumstances." She thought for a moment before speaking. "...Tomura Shigaraki had his own...albeit half-lucid words as well. Not so much toward anyone, but...what he said was 'he promised to never leave again. That he'll rebuild everything up so we can be happy together. We'll make a world where we can be together, no heroes or villains'. And I've seen enough delirious patients to know when someone's speaking out of truth." She rubbed her face. "Be it madness or insane ideals, but that boy believes that Midoriya is meant to be with him to rebuild the world...after, I assume, he tears it apart first."
Everyone looked among one another in silence.
"...'no heroes or villains'?" Nighteye said. "What does he mean by that?"
"I don't know," she answered honestly.
"...I think I know," Mirio spoke up, his hands clenched tightly on the table. "...Izuku told me awhile ago that he knows Shigaraki isn't a good person, but he has a deeper underlying reason for his hatred. That he hates humanity for pushing help off to heroes, and heroes for not helping at all. 'Heroes and civilians going around and around in an endless loop of panem et circenses for both entertainment and protection at the cost of their own complacency', he said." Mirio thought back to that conversation. "He told me that Shigaraki used to think that the system would break someone like Izuku....but after some time believing that Izuku would break the system instead. And it was something he could do literally. He doesn't want to hurt people, but that it would come down to that in some way."
He looked around at everyone. "Izuku is the type of person to jump in without thinking....but he also questions people's motives before fighting against those motives first. He's the kind of person who would pick diplomacy first and resort to violence last. So in a way, combine that with him being a ridiculously good judge of character...he's the middleman foil the League would need. Their first line of defense...and last in offense. Shigaraki saying Izuku could 'rebuild' isn't speaking literally, I don't think. Izuku's method of 'rebuilding' could be bridging the gaps of communication that failed in the past."
"Are you saying that you agree with this vein of thought?" Nezu asked, seeing Mirio's guard go up.
"...not in the sense you think," Mirio replied honestly, his fists tightening. "I'm not going to drop everything and side with Izuku. I'm saying that I understand what it is he's supporting with Shigaraki. I don't agree at all with the whole 'destroy everything first' part in the slightest." His jaw tightened. "But I do agree with Izuku's role in the League. If his presence there tempers out the violence they're known for, then goddamn it, I'll still call him a hero, because ONLY a hero like him could fix what's broken in the League!"
Nighteye put a hand on his shoulder to remind him to calm down and breathe, looking just as torn by everything as his protege. "...if he said to you that he understands that he 'crossed the line', then he also understands that he'll be considered the opposition," he said pragmatically. "However...while I don't really condone his taste in...partnership...his convictions of 'change' may ring true even in the League." He folded his hands together, eyes downcast. "I still never got the chance to Foresee anything in his future, and where he has ended up right now...it almost frightens me in a degree I can't understand. He has chosen his place in the world now, and has all but proclaimed it in stone. But a boy with such grand ideals...combined with a conviction like his...power he has...and his placement in the fight that is surely to come...I almost want to gouge my eyes out to avoid the truth of what the future could hold."
His head dropped, shoulders trembling. "I attempt to see past everything around me, to come up with the best possible course of action ahead...and whether it's fear, my own guilt, or fate itself, I do not wish to be in opposition to Izuku Midoriya, no matter what his convictions are. It seemed prophetic, what he told me back in my office...that he would spend his time and presence somewhere that will actually utilize what it is he has to offer. He made me feel small, in a way...like I was nothing more than a stepping stone in the path that was set out before him. And so I was. I was nothing more than another stone in the path he took. And I can't even...I don't WANT to imagine where it is that path will take."
Aizawa's expression remained neutral, though his eyes were stricken and his face was pale. He turned to Nighteye, serious. "...are you saying that if the fight comes to us, you won't be a part of it?" he asked.
Nighteye wrung his hands bloodless. "...I don't want to be," he said hoarsely. "Everyone here...I fear even looking at anyone in the eye now...I don't want to See anything that would confirm my fears." He looked up, eyes stricken in terror. "I have never felt so terrified of the future in my life. Whether it be good or bad, I can't bring myself to think about it. If I had a permanent quirk-destroying bullet, I would put the gun to my head right this moment, if I could have just a moment of peace to THINK."
All Might looked up, staring at his friend in disbelief. "How bad do you think a future with Midoriya could be?" he asked.
Nighteye shook his head, lowering it again. "It's not about how bad, or how good," he said. "It's about how terrifying the path to those futures would be. How easily we forget that peace is a trophy built from countless sacrifices. And right now, Midoriya has sacrificed his reputation, his place in UA, trust from his friends and family alike, and relationships forged from the blood, sweat, and tears up to the point where he made his decision. Just how much more after that do you think he'll be willing to sacrifice for his goals, All Might? Especially being with a group who would gladly do the dirty work he decides on?"
"Midoriya...he wouldn't do that," All Might said. "It's as young Togata said...he would seek diplomacy and understanding first. If it ever came to THAT, then-"
"Then what?" Aizawa asked. "Then the violence he settles on would be justified? That even if he isn't the one to raise his hand, he'll turn a blind eye when one of the League does it for him, it'll be justified and forgiven? What if it's a hero, All Might? One of his own former classmates? YOU? Someone speaks to him, fails to see his point of view, proclaims themselves his enemy, and if he can't bring himself to do it, you know exactly what would happen." His eyes singed red, hair shivering on reflex. "Tomura Shigaraki would take whatever it was that was making Midoriya upset away." He clenched his eyes shut, burying his face in his hands. "...we failed," he said weakly. "Plain and simple. We failed him. And now he's beyond our reach to pull him back."
The room settled into somber silence, the meeting unofficially adjourned as they all wondered what it was they were going to do.
It was massive confusion from the first 'what the hell' from Twice, and it didn't get less confusing from there.
Even beforehand, when they all saw Gigantomachia barrel in, and instead of trampling everything around him, began spotting the League and plucking them up out of harm's way as he made his way into the city. Rather than look that gift horse in the mouth, the League remained almost content to be carried like kittens in the titan's arms as he barreled through to the center of the city, and were then met with the source of all confusion.
Re-Destro was armless and defeated on the ground, and Shigaraki was standing and destroying everything with one hand, long-distance. And keeping Re-Destro down and guarded was none other than Izuku Midoriya.
There was no mistaking the boy at all, no matter what he was wearing, which happened to be the recognizable outfit of Blackout, sans the mask. But Midoriya was standing there, on Shigaraki's side, through Re-Destro screaming 'please' and surrendering his army to Shigaraki, and then to Shigaraki standing by Midoriya and even holding his hand before collapsing. Midoriya caught him and carried him over to Gigantomachia, who called the boy a PRINCE, and began taking command of who did what and where to go.
It was a half-formed mess of in-and-out consciousness for the most part on more than half of them, and they found themselves at Rikiya Yotsubashi's mansion, receiving some basic medical care, and given food and plenty of space.
Dabi, being the most lucid of all of them, was the unofficial watchdog for them while they recovered, and told them that Shigaraki was out cold entirely. He also told them that it was no hallucination of who they saw, and Izuku Midoriya was Shigaraki's caretaker at the moment.
Cue another 'what the hell' from Twice, confused silence from Compress, a quandary of the meaning of life from Spinner and a half-delirious 'fuckin' called it' from Toga before she dropped unconscious again before they could ask how. Dabi, naturally, professed that he knew but didn't expect Midoriya to actually be here to help, at least this soon.
Compress voiced his concern about Midoriya's intentions within the League, and Dabi replied that it was both Midoriya's and Shigaraki's business to say what it was all about, and left it at that.
Between keeping vigilant on Shigaraki, Midoriya came around to check on them too.
Naturally, it was awkward for both sides, but Midoriya seemed genuinely concerned enough for their safety and health that they opened up at least minimally to tell him anything they didn't feel like divulging to Yotsubashi's staff. Extra supplies for themselves, certain foods, repair items for their clothing and costumes, and at Toga's request, a new coat to replace the torn, bloodied one they had ruined.
He spent a couple hours at a time with them, sitting and quietly mending his hoodie sleeves with hemmed-out holes for his Black Whip, listening to them talk about whatever, or sharing a small meal with them before he returned back to Shigaraki's room.
After the third day, Midoriya and Dabi told them that Shigaraki had come to for while before getting some more rest, and the next day Shigaraki was just well enough to leave his room with some help and sit down to survey over how the others were faring. At very least, better than him.
After shooting the breeze a little, Spinner finally spoke up. "Can we finally address the huge elephant in the room already?" he said, gesturing to Midoriya. "Because seriously. What the hell."
"And why was Gigantomachia calling him 'little Prince'?" Compress put in.
"How long has he been with us?" "What if he's a spy!?"
Midoriya and Shigaraki looked to one another for a moment before Izuku spoke. "Would you believe me if I told you it was me BS-ing him out of three-thousand yen?"
"...no. Not in the slightest," Compress said.
"Well, it's true," Shigaraki put in. "Little shit actually managed to outsmart me in a public setting, make me pay for a sandwich and iced tea, and then has the gall to call it our first date."
"...bullshit," Spinner said.
"Yeah, it was," Shigaraki agreed. "But I considered my interest piqued. It developed from there, too long a story than I can bother retelling, but over this time, we've talked...come to an understanding...and in the end, this is what he's chosen." His unbroken hand reached across the couch he was sitting on to put it over Midoriya's.
The rest of the League noticed. "When the crap did THAT happen!?" Twice yelped.
"A park in Musutafu. Izuku panicked and kissed me-"
"It wasn't like that, Kacchan was coming by and...yeah, I panicked when I thought of what to do to hide my face."
"Stole my first kiss, you deviant."
"Shut up, it was mine too, you know."
"Awwww!" Toga cooed. "So Izu initiated first! How romantic!"
Shigaraki snorted. "It was panicked and unpleasant," he retorted. "The second time in my bedroom was better."
"So THAT'S where he was stashed away!" "Ugh, disgusting!"
Midoriya buried his red face in his hands. "...I did NOT get abducted from UA and dropped next to Giga to be flogged like this," he muttered.
"Also, that," Spinner put in. "He kept calling you 'little Prince'. Why is that, after he kept kicking everyone's asses on and off for a month and a half?"
Shigaraki shared another look with Midoriya, having a silent conversation before Midoriya answered. "I won't go into detail just yet," he said, "but my quirk is more hereditary than what you all consider 'normal'. It's a stockpile quirk that can add on with another quirk of every generation before it...and the first generation of this quirk was the blood brother of All For One. I think Giga sensed that, and was more open about listening to me." He looked down at his hands. "Right now, I have two emitter-type quirks I've discovered on top of an inherited strength from eight generations before me...and I have four more from past generations to discover. The two I have...they've come out after some likewise training and situational need...and I think I'm close to figuring out a third."
The rest of the League looked stunned by that revelation, glancing among one another thoughtfully.
"...amazing no one's heard of such a powerful legacy," Compress finally spoke.
"Well, why do you think All For One isn't exactly common knowledge anymore?" Midoriya responded. "Put away from public knowledge out of necessity. A quirk that can hold the full physical and quirk strength of your previous generations? And it can only be passed once? It'd be chaos trying to take control of something like that." He closed his hand into a fist. "This quirk is known to only a handful of people in the world, now you included. So I would appreciate it if you didn't give any hint of it to Yotsubashi or his entourage."
The League nodded absently among themselves.
"Does All For One know?" Spinner asked.
"He does," Midoriya replied. "We only spoke once, but...it was a pretty loaded few words."
"...so what now?" Twice asked in a rare moment of unified lucidity. "Are you with us for good?"
Midoriya nodded. "I am," he said, looking up at the ceiling. "Not a bad ideal the Meta Liberation has...being able to freely wield whatever power they have simply because they were born with the right to...but they leave out a good many things, including reasoning for their own lives. What quality of life would they have if they succeeded? Their lives were spent in training and combat...what would they have in peace then?"
He closed his eyes, sighing. "And what of the ones that don't quite fit that certain 'criteria'? The people with quirks unsuited for combat at all? People with mutant-type quirks? Quirkless people? God, especially quirkless people...where would they fit in that so-called 'perfect' world?" His voice turned bitter. "They built their ideal solely on the powers they have, forgetting so easily that many are still powerless. Take away their quirks, and who are they anymore? Empty husks of humans who never grew past what was just past their own fingertips." His eyes opened, the color in them almost steely.
"I spent the first thirteen years of my life quirkless. Powerless. Laughed at in a school full of powers, cried over by my mother who always felt it was her fault, and used as a dummy toy for others to use their powers on for the first time ever. Quirks are not the problem. PEOPLE are the problem. People who put value solely on quirks, making heroes the most revered and influential parts of society, something I wanted to have a voice in only to see just how small my voice would be unless I played their song and dance. And I refuse to do that.
"The world I envisioned is one where the best of ideals, both yours and even the MLA's, are put together. Yes, quirks should be freely used, but for the reason they simply ARE, and even quirks aside, how PEOPLE should think for themselves. Why wait for a hero to come do something you yourself can take care of, even inside the law? Why wait for a hero to rescue you if you're capable of using your quirk to defend yourself? On the other hand, why rely so much on quirks, if all you do is regulate how a person should appear, act, or think in spite of them, or from a lack of them? In the world I want, quirkless are seen for what they can do, rather than what they don't have. And people in general are to be made responsible for their duties as human beings."
"...sounds like a pretty dream," Spinner said, wistfully bitter. "How would you even think of making THAT come true?"
Midoriya's jaw tightened, leaning over to rest his elbows on his knees and wring his hands together. "...looking back now, the epiphany came to me in several points from one instance," he said quietly. "Almost two years ago, my classmate was being held bodily hostage by a villain who was able to puppet him into using his quirk to keep heroes and first-responders at bay. I stood in the crowd and watched scores of people and many heroes standing by, shouting that they could do nothing and that they had to wait for a hero with the 'right' quirk to come help. Anyone in that crowd could have had the 'right' quirk, but nobody stepped up to help a middle-schooler choking on sludge and being forced to use his quirk against other people. They watched someone struggle and cry."
His hands wrung almost bloodless.
"I was the one who did something. Stupid, quirkless, thirteen-year-old me ran to help, recalled a weakness in a solid part of that sludge villain, and was able to hurt him just enough for my classmate to breathe again. He had enough breath to yell at me for being stupid, but that was enough, wasn't it? That I DID something? I HELPED in some way? Even if in the end, the day was saved, and I was given a reaming by heroes who did nothing."
He looked at his shaking hands. "I should have noticed it then, the exact thing that was wrong with the world I lived in, off on three strikes. Heroes who did nothing. Civilians with power who did nothing. And the powerless who DID do something being punished for it."
Midoriya looked up, his eyes brimming with tears. "How many people actually died in a situation like that? How many times did that lesson need to be repeated until I was the one who did something about it? Yes, I was being an idiotic kid, but I FELT my duty to do something just because I was there." He wiped at his eyes, the slight break in his glare going hard again. "...it's not a lesson someone can just tell and spout lip service to. It's a lesson that has to be LEARNED. How badly does the world have to crack and break before people learn that lesson?"
Dabi let out a soft scoff of laughter from where he stood in the corner. "...a grand if not simple proclamation," he remarked. "A bit harsh even for you, kiddo."
"Harsh enough," Midoriya said firmly. "I don't want to hurt people. But people will hurt themselves, hang themselves, even, if given enough rope. I want that rope to build bridges rather than hanging the masses, that much is definitely true. But people who don't learn anything that's taught to them are put into remedial classes until they DO learn." He glanced at Shigaraki, whose red eyes were gleaming with both excitement and softness. "...it's as you said, Tomura. You'll destroy..."
"And you'll rebuild." Shigaraki's hand held Midoriya's shoulder, squeezing lightly. "You'll teach."
"And you'll revise, if need be." He glanced at the door. "I'd say, starting with the remainder of the MLA."
Shigaraki grinned. "I love it when you talk dirty."
"Oh shut up, I can't even take you seriously, you're on so many painkillers right now!"
"Maybe not, but you're going back to bed."
Toga giggled to herself as she watched Midoriya manhandle Shigaraki back to the other room. "Shiggy's funny when he's high on painkillers," she remarked. "Comedy gold."
Twice squinted at her. "You're taking this WAY too well. I thought you liked Midoriya." "HE'S NOWHERE NEAR MY CALIBER THOUGH!"
"Oh, he's lovely covered in blood and beaten up and even so considerate on his own, but who am I to stand in the way of true love?" she professed, flopping back on the large squishy chair she'd shanghaied and refused to get out of.
"...you knew?" Dabi asked, arching a brow.
"Yep! That he was Blackout too!"
Dabi rubbed his temple, feeling a migraine. "HOW?"
"Well, I might've slipped my stealthy techniques to him during the license exam vacation I took," she replied. "Back at the Shie Hassaikie, he used that same technique in front of me and Twice. Also I noticed Shiggy being a lot different a little before Izu was brought in, and DEFINITELY after the raid on the bar." She hummed to herself. "Also I stole and read through the notebook before putting it back in his coat. He writes surprisingly good poetry."
"...dear god, please don't tell him you read the goddamn notebook," Dabi said, completely serious. "ANYTHING but the notebook."
"YOU know what's in the notebook?" Compress asked. "Dish."
"No, I like my remaining skin where it is, thank you, or did you forget what he had us do to that pickpocket that stole it months ago?"
"Oh, right," Twice said. "Nasty work." "Artistic as hell, though!"
"I need a drink," Spinner said, burying his face in his hands.
"Ditto." "SHOTS ON ME, EVERYONE!"
It had to be a record now of how absolutely silent Class 1-A had been for the past week.
The one word that nobody mentioned, or even THOUGHT, was 'betrayed'.
They spoke among one another in small groups, hushed so not even their trusted homeroom teacher would hear, about how there had to be a reason for Midoriya to have left like he did.
They heard the general hearsay around, but it was Jiro who who heard through closed doors from the teachers and Kirishima through Amajiki from Mirio of the before and the after of what they knew and saw.
Before the persona of Blackout, Midoriya had been in contact with Shigaraki, apparently from a chance meeting, and it continued on as interest in Midoriya grew for Shigaraki, and the curiosity of Shigaraki for Midoriya grew. When they were both abducted, it was as Bakugo had -albeit biased- said; Midoriya spent that time with Shigaraki, getting to know him better as a person. It was enough so that Midoriya's ideals had taken a skyrocket in conviction, and apparently had begun seeing things that the rest of 1-A hadn't, and working his way around them.
What he'd done was still apparently legal enough to let him back in school and for Aizawa to proclaim him teachable to be an underground hero, something that made a good number of them begin to think.
Consorting with and even helping criminals and perhaps villains, and still being considered a hero? It made them wonder how much deeper that rabbit hole went.
Even after he came back -and later confessed by Tokoyami who'd had an in-depth conversation with him- Midoriya still maintained that he was a hero with a desire to still do good, even if it meant getting his hands dirty, and despite, as they later came to find, that he'd fallen in love with a villain.
The fact that it was Tomura Shigaraki, the mastermind behind USJ and the training camp alike, didn't make it that much easier a pill to swallow.
Even still knowing that, Tokoyami insisted that he felt nothing but guilt at having lied to his friends from Midoriya the whole time he was around him. Midoriya truly held no malice against them, or against UA in general. And now after digesting all of it, they came to realize just how high a fence he'd been straddling this whole time with two separate paths pulling at his aspirations.
As for being taken, Mirio himself told them that he'd seen Midoriya sitting by himself and looking sad at the world before the black liquid engulfed him. He told them that Midoriya had looked scared, and was reaching out for him, solidifying his notion that Midoriya had not been taken willingly.
All seemed lost for 1-A when Midoriya had not returned, nor was there any talk of him being found.
Almost a week later, Bakugo had Kirishima tell everyone to meet back in the empty room on the fourth floor two hours after lights out.
More than half the class initially didn't want to comply with Bakugo's request, still having not forgiven him for being the push Midoriya had to leaving, but Kirishima's serious pleading tone had them reconsider.
That night, they came to the empty room where Kirishima let them in and were surprised to see Mirio inside looking grim. After everyone was in attendance, he began.
"The teachers definitely would not want me to tell you this," he told them, "but as Izuku's friends and classmates, worried as you all are...you deserve to know. I haven't been OFFICIALLY forbidden from telling you guys, but I would be in trouble if I did regardless. But here it is." He looked among eighteen concerned faces and one invisible body whose body language looked concerned still.
"Izuku came to UA last night, to Recovery Girl's teacher suite. He came to ask her to heal the League."
A buzz of murmurs ran throughout the room before going quiet again at Mirio's gesture for calm.
"She complied, mostly out of concern for Izuku and what it was he was doing. It was the best and so far only way of gauging his position and well being as of now. The same method he'd been abducted with was used to take her to and from, a method that was untraceable and not coordinate-based. She gave her report of what she saw there, as well as some words Izuku had for everyone." He swallowed hard, jaw twitching. "Aizawa's been trying to find a way to bring it up to you...but Recovery Girl said Izuku's words to you all were 'he's sorry for disappointing you'."
Uraraka buried her face in her hands, being hugged by Asui while both Iida and Todoroki looked ready to punch a wall. Bakugo, who was standing next to Mirio in silence, said nothing.
"The League itself looked as though it had been through hell. 'Like broken children', she said. And Izuku looked concerned for all of them. And that he had to have been, for him to come begging on bending knee for her help."
More silence, before Kaminari spoke up. "...so was what Bakugo said at least true?" he asked. "...about Midoriya and...?"
Mirio gave a stiff nod. "Yes," he said. "But I knew before all of that. Midoriya told me himself, after he gave an abridged version to Aizawa and All Might." He sighed, rubbing at his eyes as the others looked among themselves quietly in disbelief.
"...how?" Mineta piped up. "How can he actually...we were THERE! Me, Midoriya, and Asui were there when he attacked Aizawa and almost crumbled his arm off! When he almost killed US! How!?"
Mirio gave them a helpless look. "He knows," he said quietly. "He knows...but he also knows more that we don't. He spent time talking to Shigaraki, and grew to know and even understand his motives, and even the motives under THOSE. And after knowing that, he said he wanted to make a change to the world so that people wouldn't have to suffer like him, and feel like all they have left is their hate to act out on." He shook his head. "I won't pretend to know how Izuku feels. But I also can't be a judge on that kind of compassion."
He rubbed his face with a heavy sigh. "Izuku said that he made his choice. But I personally don't think his choice changes his objective." His hands clenched into fists. "When he first began letting me in after I deduced he was Blackout, he understood when I said that things would change if he crossed a certain line. The parting words he had for me from Recovery Girl were 'the line was crossed'. And to be honest...after all I now know, I don't know if I can actually make good on that promise." He looked over everyone else. "I was even asked by Principal Nezu if I agreed with Izuku's ideals and methods...and I told him that while I did, it didn't mean that I would side with him, I just understood what it was he was standing for."
He fell silent for a moment.
"...I'm telling you this from the perspective of someone he told a lot more to than he told the teachers. From the perspective of someone who hasn't been a decade-plus deep on the hero's side. I don't know what Aizawa will tell you, or how he'll tell you...but either way, you all deserve to know and form your own opinions on the matter. But you'll have to really think about this for a minute." He paused, looking around at them again. "Base it around what would happen if you see him again...and he doesn't want to come back."
The silence was almost suffocating at that point before Asui made an observation. "...Bakugo, you called us here," she said. "Do you already have an opinion on this?"
Bakugo's body was tensed like he was keeping himself from his reflexive screaming and blowing up of whatever was irritating him, but his face was surprisingly passive, if not pale. "Yeah," he said shortly.
"From what we've heard, we already KNOW your opinion on the matter," Todoroki said less than kindly. Bakugo gave him a nasty look, but still didn't raise his voice above a conversational level.
"Yeah, you did. And some of it still stands." He looked off to the side, his eyes looking almost haunted. "But even that shit got me thinking too. Rewind it back further, and all of this adds up further based on what I'VE experienced." His jaw flexed in the dim light. "Deku grew up quirkless. I would know, I've been there since we could both barely walk. He grew up quirkless and to say he worshiped heroes was like saying Aizawa looks tired. He'd have done ANYTHING to have a quirk, ANYTHING to be a hero. So when he gets his quirk and he gets into UA, and he's everyones goddamn baby darling special boy, THIS shit happens." His eyes sunk deeper into a haunted look.
"I didn't fucking get it. It didn't make sense. Why would Deku, the biggest hero fanboy since the dawn of quirks themselves, choose to now side himself in the direct opposition? It doesn't make sense!" He turned to glare at everyone. "IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. And THAT is the fucking point!" He ran a shaking hand through his hair. "I've had time to think now, even before Togata here explained everything he knew to me earlier. If someone like DEKU chose another path against heroes...then there is something very, VERY, wrong with what he found out along the way. Something we didn't see. Even something we'll be told to ignore when we get older, because let's face it, some shady shit can go on in hero life, the longer you're there and the higher up the rung you get."
"He's right," Todoroki said, his hands clenched tightly with frost on his right hand a slight glowing on his left. "Quirk marriages are illegal, but my father got one. My eldest brother just vanished one day, and no one mentioned anything about it. How the hell does the eldest child of the Number Two hero vanish and NO ONE talks about it!? How does his wife be committed to a mental hospital and no one questions a thing!?" His blue and grey eyes blazed dangerously. "I used to just think it was money talking, but maybe it's just that exactly. Money. Being a product. Allowing anything to happen if you play the game right." He shook his head, clenching his eyes shut. "Why didn't I even see it, when it was happening right in front of me!?"
He took a deep breath, forcing his quirk back before rubbing at his face. "It doesn't even matter if he said he would try to be better. Damage is done. And I know for damn sure he won't just give it all up, if something deeper in that business is keeping all of his sins swept under the rug."
"Hey," Mirio said, stepping up and putting a comforting hand on his shoulder. "You don't have to say anything, alright? I was just-"
"I know," Todoroki said, lowering his head. "But I told Midoriya this myself. And he looked HORRIFIED, like it was completely new to him...and the look he had after I told him was..." He swallowed hard. "...like he was promising to CHANGE it."
"...Midoriya said something like that to me too," Tokoyami spoke up. "That his drive in being a hero was to bring change."
Mirio looked almost pensieve. ""So that those without power will still never feel powerless. So that those who are lost will have a way to be found. So no one will feel like they don't belong because of how different they are, and anyone willing will have a second chance. So everyone, hero AND civilian, will know it's their duty to see the bad and work together to fix it." Those were his exact words when I asked him what kind of hero he wanted to be. The context has...so much deeper a meaning, now."
"...I don't know what we're supposed to do with this kind of information," Yaoyorozu said quietly. "Everything seems to make sense but...but if that's the case, then why are we even here?"
"To be heroes!" Kirishima chimed in. "That's our whole reason for being here, isn't it?!" He scowled at the floor. "Shit...Midoriya was the one who always seemed to be a beacon for anyone who felt like they were falling behind in some way, like he could pull a miracle out of nowhere and make it happen. It felt like he was the definition of chivalry I always felt...but if THIS is how he lives his life without regrets...taking that beacon away and turning away from UA, from being a hero...then..." He forced his hands away from his face as they hardened with his emotions. "...is ANY of our definitions of being a hero even worth becoming?"
Uraraka wiped her eyes dry, her face hard. "...if I saw Deku again and he didn't want to come back," she said, "I would ask him why. I would listen to what he had to say, because he isn't here to really speak for himself. We screwed that chance up after he was arrested, and kept putting it off hoping everything would eventually go back to normal eventually. But it didn't, and our chance was wasted." Her eyes shone with tears but she forced them to stay back. "I don't agree at all with what the League did, but...what he said about people having a second chance if given...the ones who don't...if you can't be heard talking, then you scream. You get attention. And looking back, that's what USJ felt like. A scream for attention.
"I'm wondering if Deku actually HEARD that scream and just actually stopped to listen to WHY they were screaming. And he came up with wanting change so no one would feel the need to scream to be heard. And if THAT many villains came to USJ, it was that many people who weren't being heard, and followed the first person who actually stopped to listen."
"You cut that many minor villains down to the small handful that attacked at camp, give a bigger platform to run to," Bakugo said bitterly. "After they took me in, Shigaraki kept talking to me about how I was treated. How the media portrayed me. They didn't have to do a damn thing except snatch me up, and the news stations were painting me black and Deku gold, just on how we acted. They didn't give a damn about our dreams, goals, creeds, whatever. So no matter how much I told the villains to fuck off, that just...fucking STUCK to me. If I hadn't been dead-set on being a hero, I know for damn sure I'd probably be in their stupid posse by now."
"...Midoriya is different, though," Aoyama spoke up. "If his goal is the same, wouldn't it be better if HIS was the hand that reached out to others, rather than the other villains'?"
Mirio nodded grimly. "That's the idea some of the teachers had," he said. "...either way though...Sir Nighteye is scared of what might come in the future. That's why I wanted to let all of you know about this, the full version that I know about. I'm not saying at all that you should join him or stay your hand entirely...not even that you should fight him...but I know what I'm going to do." His eyes turned hard. "I'm going to adopt his creed as my own, and do what I can from THIS side of things. A hero is supposed to make things easier for the people. It's our responsibility. But sometimes responsibility means making others see their OWN responsibilities. If we're paragons of society, beacons and symbols of others, then that's the responsibility we're meant to have. I would rather suffer doing what's right than live doing what's easiest."
The rest of 1-A were silent again until Mirio sighed and turned to the door.
"It's late," he said. "You guys don't have school tomorrow, but...I would take the time to think about what it is I've told you. Because this is the reality of it now. And reality can bite, but you guys can bite back." He gave them a smile before heading out of the room to sneak his way back to his own dorms.
Nobody had much to say about anything as they filed back to their own rooms, Bakugo staying behind after everyone to stare out the window at nothing until he noticed someone staying behind. He turned and saw three someones in Todoroki, Iida, and Uraraka. All four were quiet for the longest time before Todoroki spoke.
"I am not saying I will join him," he said quietly, "but I am not saying I will stand against him either. I know some of the worst the high-ranking heroes are capable of hiding from the rest of the world...and if what Midoriya has to say I find to be truth...that will be a deciding factor in my final, permanent decision."
Iida winced slightly, staring at his left hand. "My brother is my paragon of a hero," he said. "...and after Hosu, so was Midoriya. Even Stain could see it. He saw something in Midoriya that he didn't in my brother...something even I can't see right now. And I don't know if I WANT to see it. I don't know if there was something I never saw about my brother that made Stain feel the need to make HIM a victim. I'm only hoping and praying to every god on earth that it was just because of his popularity as a hero and nothing more." His eyes glimmered wetly. "Midoriya was the code of honor and ethics I admired...so for him to be with the League now...I don't know what to think."
Uraraka rubbed her arm, chewing her lip hard. "No one who shatters their body in order to save people is evil, not in the slightest," she said. "It might be stupid naivete talking, but...that's just the truth. Deku literally breaks himself for the sake of others. And now...I can see he's broken more than just his body for the sake of someone...someone he says he loves. He's sacrificed so much now for a cause I don't even know about...but like I said. I'd be willing to listen to him if I ever see him again. To see if what he's sacrificed for is really worth it."
Bakugo turned back to the window, glaring out. "...the fucking nerd owes me answers," he said. "...but I owe him the benefit of the doubt, at the very least. He wouldn't have done this without a good, solid reason. But I want to know exactly what it is before I make any final decision." He turned away from the window and stalked past the others toward his room.
"...I think Togata has the right idea in the meantime," Iida said. "To understand our responsibilities."
"And to not let the same mistakes we've witnessed continue to happen," Todoroki added.
Uraraka nodded. "We'll do our best," she said. "The best we can."
'Until we see him again', was all of their thoughts before they all adjourned to bed.
The timeline for this one is non-linear, with the League side being before Recovery Girl's visit and the 1-A side being after, just clear up any confusion. It's quick out for this one, but I had the inspo and had to go with it while I could. Chapter 3 will probably take a bit longer, and be longer.
Izuku finished straightening Tomura's collar, smothering a smile at the grousing the other was making about the outfit. "Appearances matter," he reminded. "And you look very dashing in a suit."
Tomura rolled his eyes but relented. "Only because you think I look dashing," he replied, half-serious. "Also because I got to pick my shoes." He kicked at the floor in his new tennis shoes, that part being entirely serious. Izuku smiled, understanding THAT part entirely, absolutely loathing any form of formal footwear himself, and stood back to look him over approvingly. "Have I passed your rigorous inspection then?"
"Yes, you have," Izuku replied with a smile. A casually-fitted suit paired with a fur-collared coat around his shoulders did make for a look he wasn't entirely used to, but wasn't half bad at all. "Formal, but still you." He handed over the cane that had been sent down that Izuku still insisted Tomura use, what with his knee still needing a bit more recovery time despite Tomura's protests. Tomura took the cane in his left hand, a glove with three prosthetic fingers that could only make the most basic of movements holding it loosely, earning a quieted look from Izuku.
He reached out and took Izuku's hand, squeezing it softly, something that still never failed to thrill them both since it was proven that Tomura could touch Izuku without Decaying him. "I can still Decay with two fingers," he reminded Izuku. "And I still have my right hand."
"And this one," Izuku conceded, picking up the one remaining intact hand of Tomura's 'family', holding it out to him. Even now, Tomura didn't know exactly whose it was, and he honestly didn't care. It was to be his trademark, he said, and nothing more. "You ready?"
"Sure," Tomura replied, putting the hand over his face. "Let's get the bullshit out of the way. Responsibility and leadership is hard work and I need to finish sleeping this recovery shit off."
"Yes, yes it is," Izuku said, walking with him out to the hallway, heading down to the main floor where Yotsubashi was waiting, having been fitted with mechanical prosthetic arms at some point.
Yotsubashi was flanked by both Skeptic and Trumpet, who looked on warily as a mostly-recovered Tomura Shigaraki was escorted down the stairs by Izuku Midoriya, the only apparent injury on the new leader being a weak knee, as opposed to the near-wreck he'd been in just days ago. As always, Izuku was in full health and on guard at Tomura's side, eyeing them all with a clear warning of no funny business, lest he whistle and bring the titan of a guard dog running to demolish them...if he didn't do it first.
The former leader of the MLA informed his remaining subordinates that Izuku had a quirk that rendered his own completely null, and apparently had ANOTHER on top of that concerning black extensions that could come from his arms for attacking or restraining. Those paired with his already well-known strength and the loyalty of the titan Gigantomachia, he alone proved to be one of the worst to get on the wrong side of, and was unofficially referred to among the grape vine as Tomura Shigaraki's second-in-command.
Skeptic muttered sourly to himself outside of their hearing range about how it was ridiculous that they were basically being usurped by a bunch of children and younger adults, but Yotsubashi quickly shut him down with a bite to his tone and fear in his eyes. Tomura Shigaraki had proven himself superior, as had Izuku Midoriya. Leadership was rightfully theirs to take, with the only alternative being complete and total annihilation.
Tomura stepped to the ground floor with Izuku, staring hard the group of three. "Where are the others?" he demanded.
"We're about to gather them," Yotsubashi said genially. "They were busy eating last we heard."
"Figures," Tomura snorted. "Lead the way."
Yotsubashi sent Skeptic and Trumpet off with a gesture and took the lead to the secret tunnel to the fourth-level basement area beneath the mansion, where he'd spent all day summoning the remainder of the MLA for this gathering. Even before they stepped out of the elevator they could hear the dull drone of the crowd of several thousand still ready and waiting. They walked down the wide pathway to the stage platform, the crowd going quieter before the buzz swelled louder only to reach levels of near-outcry when Tomura walked to the forefront and sat himself down in the seat of honor.
Izuku stepped up to stand next to him, surveying out the crowd and spotting Gigantomachia easily in the back, having been brought down as a means of crowd control in case of a riot. Yotsubashi insisted it wouldn't be necessary, but it was set in motion regardless. The crowd was made to stew among themselves until Trumpet came over to nod in signal that everyone else was here before Yotsubashi finally addressed the crowd.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the Liberation Army!" he called out. "It is I, Re-Destro, and from this moment on, the Meta Liberation Army will be reborn!"
The crowd murmured among themselves in awe while Izuku saw Shigaraki roll his eyes at Yotsubashi's camp speech theatrics, and smothered down a smile.
"I'd always thought that in order to enlighten the world to Destro's will, the League would be a wall that stood in our way! I firmly believed this, until that fateful day! Alas, I was blinded to the truth! I was a prisoner of my own blood, bound by my doctrine, until I witnessed liberation -TRUE liberation- in its purest form! This is not a simple surrender!" He turned slightly, gesturing to Tomura behind him.
"I believe that Tomura Shigaraki is the TRUE liberator! He has earned my utmost respect, and thus I am abdicating my position out of sheer necessity!" Yotsubashi's voice rose to a near fever-pitch. "The Liberation Army will now undergo it's second coming with Tomura Shigaraki as its supreme leader! And in order to follower our newfound path to liberation, the Meta Liberation Army and the League of Villains shall join together, under a new name! This name was devised by myself and Spinner of the League, and now I give to you the honors, Tomura Shigaraki!"
Behind him, the rest of the League came into view, all of them in perfect health without a scratch on them, and Tomura sat up straighter, addressing the crowd. "We have discarded the title of 'villains' and expanded 'meta ability' or 'quirk' to a broader interpretation," he said. "These things are simply pieces of a much bigger, much more ACCURATE definitive identity."
Behind the hand, his smile was broad.
"We are now the Paranormal Liberation Front."
The crowd crooned their support like trained sheep being told what to do, Izuku thought, his eyes catching Tomura's and sharing a similar idea with him. Tomura reached up to take the hand off of his face.
"Regardless, even that title is just like this. A decoration. You may call us and yourselves whatever it is you want." He paused before standing up, stepping forward until he was the frontmost person on the stage, the crowd going quieter at the look he swept over them, seeming to stare at each individual person with just one go. "Liberation," he said, his voice carrying easily, "is not in dying for your cause. It is LIVING for it. It is also not tying yourself entirely to one singular ideal that someone else thought up before you happened to come to the conclusion yourself. 'Great minds think alike, but fools rarely differ'. A true statement, and one to take to heart. You can share an ideal with others, so long as you know where YOU stand in the ideal you dedicate yourself to."
He swept his arm back to gesture to the rest of the former League, and even to Yotsubashi and his lackeys. "Myself and my own comrades have individual dreams and ambitions, though we hold onto the ideal of a better world for us, and those like us. Not 'people who wish to freely wield our abilities', but 'people who simply wish to live freely as ourselves'. This stems all the way from those of us who can destroy thousands with one gesture, to those of us who are reviled for how we look, to those without powers and are put under the heel of society because of it!"
He stepped backwards until he was standing next to Izuku. "To simply live as ourselves, in a world without heroes or villains, is living in TRUE liberation! And for that to happen, the wall that built dividing the two factions will need to be destroyed, the veil that hides the truth from every ignorant citizen in the world will need to be lifted!" He reached down to grasp Izuku's hand in his own, lifting it up to show that he was holding on barehanded and Decaying nothing. "And it is the duty of us all to destroy that wall and lift those veils, for EVERYONE to be liberated! To invoke CHANGE! So that those without power will never feel powerless! So no one will ever feel they don't belong because of how different they are! So that one by one, they will know their responsibility to themselves and others to see and amend the enchainment of the social norms and the subjugating status quo! And those who choose to still oppose liberation will be dealt with accordingly."
He lowered his and Izuku's hands but did not let go. "The nine you see behind me have been appointed as generals in this front, and will be forming squadrons with individuals they choose." His hand squeezed Izuku's. "And the one beside me will be my second-in-command. Quarrel you have with me and among each other will be dealt with by him." He turned to Izuku, his eyes gleaming. "And whatever it is I destroy, HE will rebuild more beautifully and glorious than ever."
The newly-christened Paranormal Liberation Front crowd burst into cries of excitement, joy, and praise, the roars echoing in the meeting chamber that almost made it feel like the whole world could hear it.
"Absolutely inspiring!" Yotsubashi chirped, beaming at them all brightly. "May I offer you anything to drink, Sir?"
Tomura felt a tic above his left eye, his hand tightening around his cane. "No," he said shortly. "Get lost."
"As you wish! Come, Trumpet, let's get lost!" He made his way off, followed by a weary-looking Hanabata.
Izuku watched them leave, eyes narrowing. "I definitely don't trust them," he murmured so only Tomura could hear him. Tomura gave a short nod.
"I know," he replied. "But best keep them close and even give them some power rather than overhauling everything entirely and sacrificing several standings in this militarized place. If the time comes that they mean to betray us, it would only be my pleasure to remedy that."
Izuku nodded. "I think Chikazoku would crack first," he deduced. "He's very much the type to dislike doing something he doesn't want to."
"Then he'd fit right in," Tomura snorted. "His options are clear. Join in our Front and maintain his seat of power, run away and delay the inevitable, or prematurely ruin his chances and become a chunky stain on this nice floor."
"Ew," Toga said, skipping over. "Then who'd clean THAT up? I wouldn't want to saddle THAT job on the poor staff here."
"Fine, fine, Dabi can do it." He glanced around. "Where is he, anyway?"
"He's talking to the intern," Compress said. "I think he'd like an audience at last."
Tomura grunted. "Next time for certain," he replied, leaning a little more on his cane than he had before. "I'm definitely not up for it now. Toga, let Dabi know."
Toga gave a salute before scurrying off, Twice following to keep an eye on her and to go find Giran. Tomura sighed, allowing himself some show of weakness in the presence of his trusted ones, and leaned against Izuku when prompted to before hearing a small blip in his still-functional earpiece, reaching up to tap it.
"'The Paranormal Liberation Front'," the Doctor's voice came through with some amusement. "What an overly-bombastic name....still better than that cheap 'League of Villains' title, I suppose."
Tomura snorted, grinning. "I got 'Machia's loyalty," he said. "And I got myself an army. Have I met your lofty standards yet?"
The Doctor made a thoughtful sound. "You regained your old memories and reverted back to the old you, including your quirk. Even better, actually, that you have some semblance of control with it. As promised, I will grand you power, if that is what you desire."
Tomura was silent for a moment, glancing over at Izuku. "It's not much in the way of a rush order, Doc," he said. "I've got an army to organize. Take your time with your 'children' for now...I'll call you up if I need anything."
"My how you've grown," the Doctor said, an obvious unseen smile as he spoke. "Though I'm very sure your lover had something to do with that, am I right?"
"...not your department, Doc."
"Let me have my fun where I can. I may have a little transport job for you at some point, give your new army a quickie mission to start with, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Give Midoriya my best, now."
Tomura rolled his eyes. "Sure. Later." He turned the earpiece off, turning to Izuku. "...Doc says 'hi'."
"Ah," Izuku replied. "...how thoughtful." His expression turned serious. "Let's get you to bed. You need a nap."
"Only if you'll stay with me."
"You're going to NAP, Tomura. You still need to rest."
"I can rest at the same time."
"...no. No, you can't."
Compress and Spinner watched Izuku walk Tomura back upstairs to the bedrooms. "...I don't think I'll ever get used to this," Spinner admitted.
"Nor I," Compress said assent. "...but it's...somewhat comforting to think we still have a chance at this form of normalcy in our lives, isn't it?" His voice turned wistful. "I would not mind a partner of my own despite this mission we've embarked on. Wouldn't you?"
Spinner looked off to this side, about twenty year's worth of hurt and bitterness flashing over his eyes. "...who wouldn't?" he remarked quietly. "But I'd rather have that little dream of being seen as a person instead of a freak come true first."
Compress gave a soft nod. "That we all do," he said, walking with Spinner back to their rooms.
All Might stumbled to his door at the insistent knocking on the other end, rubbing his eyes as he forced himself awake from what little sleep he'd managed to get in more than a week. He opened the door and became fully awake at the sight of the current Number Two hero in his doorway, looking dead serious and almost ghastly.
"Hawks? What is it?"
"Get Nezu and Aizawa," Hawks said urgently. "I'm breaking a few Commission guidelines in going to you guys with this first, but I know this falls to you all first and foremost."
All Might nodded. "Go to the meeting room, top floor, third hallway, back room," he instructed, grabbing his cell phone and sending out the Code Green to Nezu, Aizawa, and Mirio.
"What is it?" Nighteye asked behind him, having been dozing in the guest room.
"Hawks has something important to tell us from the League, and he said it's enough that he's come to US first instead of the Commission." All Might's cobalt eyes looked even more haunted than ever. "I fear it may have something to do with Midoriya."
Nighteye nodded and pulled his shoes and a jacket on, heading into UA quickly and running into Aizawa en route. No one said a word as they all headed into the building and went to the meeting room, where Hawks and Nezu were already waiting. Mirio hurrying in a few minutes later had everyone ready for whatever it was Hawks had to show them.
"I was performing my double-agency as planned," he said, the tips of his wings shivering. "It was supposed to be the day I would be officially introduced into the League, and cement myself into their ranks." He swallowed hard. "...there is no League anymore."
Aizawa frowned. "What do you mean?"
"It's a goddamn army now." Hawks's eyes were pinpricked with genuine fear. "As announced by their leader, Tomura Shigaraki, it's now called the Paranormal Liberation Front...more than ninety-thousand strong."
Nighteye looked close to passing out, coming to a close second with sinking into a chair. "...oh..." was all he managed to say.
Hawks nodded, his hands clenching into the back of the chair he was holding, unable to sit down for fear of not getting back up again, it seemed. "We've all seen the video feed of the Deika City...and it was grossly edited by top-ranking members of the former Meta Liberation Army, as was their false claim of it being the work of twenty villains." He swallowed hard. "...the mass of that destruction that was seen...was the work of one. Tomura Shigaraki. Done by himself, in one go, in less than five minutes."
He reached up with a shaking hand, touching the side of his visor just off the port of his earphones to have a small chip slide out, handing it to Nezu. "These double as a hidden camera," he said, gesturing to the visor before untucking the left earphone muff to take out another memory chip. "...and this is a collection of the unedited footage from cameras around Deika City. They're...something. And please don't ask me how I got it."
Nezu nodded, taking the footage recordings to a projector port and putting it in, bringing up several recording files. "Anything we would need to see first and foremost?"
"...last file has the bulk of it. The others just...have different things to see."
Nezu quietly clicked on the first folder, images of the League storming the city and splitting up. Flipping through the feed line they saw Himiko Toga being attacked and accosted by Chitose Kizuki, before using her quirk to partially transform into Uraraka and to their shock, use Uraraka's quirk to finish the fight. In another feed, she was last seen stumbling away, covered in blood and bruises.
In another folder it showed a fight between Dabi and an ice quirk-user, one that it seemed to drag on until they were both stopped by a huge titan of a man barreling through.
The third folder had Twice running around before finding Toga in a supply shed, holding her carefully in a bid to escape before being attacked and overrun by puppetlike clones of Jin Bubaigawara, something that seemed to frighten the original almost to death as he appeared to have a mental breakdown. The clones looked as though they were trying to kill Toga with Twice screaming his head off before he suddenly began sprouting dozens, scores, hundreds, and then THOUSANDS of himself to escape and aid the others.
The fourth folder had Spinner in combat with Koku Hanabata, head of the Hearts and Mind Political Party, and the fending off of those affected by his quirk.
The fifth folder contained footage on the borders of the city, and at a mark near the end showed the titan Gigantomachia tearing through any and all defenses from the mountain with, they all saw, Midoriya on shoulder and seeming to shout out instructions before leaping away and taking off into the city.
It was over an hour later, and nobody seemed to want to click into that last one, but they did so.
It was a feed of Tomura Shigaraki in battle with Rikiya Yotsubashi, whose quirk was very obviously a physical-augmentation type that made quick work in destroying one of Shigaraki's hands, as Recovery Girl had specified some time ago. Yotsubashi continued his assault, appearing to almost break Shigaraki's hands entirely, before he suddenly jerked back and sent Shigaraki flying, looking at one of his fingers as though it was hurt.
Shigaraki appeared to be having a mental breakdown of his own, screaming and tearing at his head before rushing Yotsubashi and trying to Decay the man further, all before being sent thrown back again. Yotsubashi looked to be listening in on something that frightened him as Shigaraki stood again, this time with a very far-away look in his eyes. Out of nowhere, then, came Midoriya flying in, kicking Yosubashi and standing between them.
They had to pause the video to give All Might a moment to collect himself.
When it resumed, they saw Shigaraki reach out to Midoriya, who took his hand sadly before brushing his hair out of his face almost tenderly before turning to Yotsubashi, his eyes turning hard. The two spoke for a brief moment before Aizawa saw Midoriya's expression turn almost serene.
"He's using that quirk I mentioned before," he told everyone else, watching with wide eyes as Yotsubashi began shrinking in size, the man looking terrified and almost helpless. After several moments of Midoriya using Serenity, he threw his arms out, sending whips of blackness from his forearms out around Yotsubashi's own, maneuvering himself over and behind the man so that Yotsubashi's arms were crossed over his chest and held behind him.
The implications were very clear now to All Might and the others. Midoriya was giving Shigaraki a clear opening to kill Yotsubashi.
Shigaraki looked contemplative for what seemed like forever before he stepped forward, intact hand extended out but just barely grazing past Yotsubashi to instead touch the whips holding the man's arms, and then curling his own arms around Midoriya tightly. Midoriya hugged him back before kissing him, the two looking elated to be together, blood, sweat, mutilation, and all. Shigaraki stepped away and walked a few steps before kneeling on the ground and pressing his hand to it.
Chaos engulfed the area, including the camera everyone was watching on, with a continuation file showing an aerial view. Shigaraki was Decaying everything around him, with only Yotsubashi, Midoriya, and Gigantomachia's general areas remaining untouched. They could see Gigantomachia holding the rest of the League safely, and Midoriya standing by Yotsubashi, a hand clenched in the man's hair to force him to watch until Yotsubashi began shouting at Shigaraki.
Shigaraki stopped, turning back to the other two as Hanabata drove up with more people, only to be stopped at the sight of their leader down and Shigaraki standing. Yotsubashi bowed as best he could with no forearms, a complete display of submission and surrender. Shigaraki walked back over to Midoriya, who held his hand as he spoke and then collapsed against the younger boy, whose black ropes flared out dangerously in protection.
The rest of the video was Gigantomachia picking them up, Hanabata collecting Yotsubashi, and everyone heading out of sight before the video was only focused down on the abandoned destruction.
Everyone in the meeting room sat in dead silence, trying to process all of it.
"...so that's what happened..." Mirio said after the longest time, looking shaken to the core. "The League attacked...but it was Shigaraki that did all of that."
"It wasn't just Shigaraki," Nezu said, his tail quivering and fur almost on end. "I was reading their lips since we could hear nothing. It was Midoriya who gave Shigaraki the permission to do so."
A loud crunch had everyone jump and look at All Might, whose clenched fists had pressed into the table so hard they snapped the wood. "...no..." the man said, shaking his head in denial. "No no no...he said...Midoriya SAID that he'd-"
"It wasn't like it was a city full of innocent civilians like the edited news said," Hawks put in. "Ninety percent of Deika City were trained quirk-users specifically for the purposes of combat. They're all just very good liars...not that we can really prove anything without even further backlash from the media." His shoulders slumped weakly. "It was two villain factions against each other. And Midoriya made a call. A tiger and a bear both coming after you and a hunter shooting one or the other doesn't mean it was innocent." He ran a shaking hand through his hair, pointing to the other chip he gave Nezu. "...and that there is the aftermath. A rally held by 'Re-Destro' I attended, one week later. I recorded everything."
He sat back as Nezu put that one in too, and they all steeled themselves for more.
The POV camera was as still as it could be with Hawks's visor being the screen, it doing a sweeping shot with Hawks turning his head to show the massive crowd of people in the audience.
"That's hardly a portion of how many there are," Hawks commented as the video focused now on the stage, where Yotsubashi arrived with new prosthetic arms, and Shigaraki in tow with Midoriya. Shigaraki looked relatively well, considering how they'd just seen him in the previous video. Recovery Girl's work of going overtime was certainly the truth, with him only using a cane to support a clearly weakened leg. Midoriya was at his side, standing close by as Shigaraki sat himself down and Yotsubashi began addressing the crowd.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the Liberation Army! It is I, Re-Destro, and from this moment on, the Meta Liberation Army will be reborn! I'd always thought that in order to enlighten the world to Destro's will, the League would be a wall that stood in our way! I firmly believed this, until that fateful day! Alas, I was blinded to the truth! I was a prisoner of my own blood, bound by my doctrine, until I witnessed liberation -TRUE liberation- in its purest form! This is not a simple surrender! I believe that Tomura Shigaraki is the TRUE liberator! He has earned my utmost respect, and thus I am abdicating my position out of sheer necessity! The Liberation Army will now undergo it's second coming with Tomura Shigaraki as its supreme leader! And in order to follower our newfound path to liberation, the Meta Liberation Army and the League of Villains shall join together, under a new name! This name was devised by myself and Spinner of the League, and now I give to you the honors, Tomura Shigaraki!"
The near-religious zeal of Yotsubashi's delivery made everyone in the room shudder slightly, even moreso that such influence was being passed on to Shigaraki, who sat up to address the crowd.
"We have discarded the title of 'villains' and expanded 'meta ability' or 'quirk' to a broader interpretation. These things are simply pieces of a much bigger, much more ACCURATE definitive identity."
"We are now the Paranormal Liberation Front. Regardless, even that title is just like this. A decoration. You may call us and yourselves whatever it is you want."
The rest of the former League walked out to join them on the stage, and he removed the hand over his face before standing up and walking to the forefront. Unveiled to everyone, he was almost a perfect vision of power despite the newfound youth to his visage. His long hair was a shade paler than they remembered it being, clean and gleaming with his face bearing scars over the left side of his mouth, over his right eye, and minimally old faded ones over his eyes, which were almost glowing as he addressed the crowd.
"Liberation is not in dying for your cause. It is LIVING for it. It is also not tying yourself entirely to one singular ideal that someone else thought up before you happened to come to the conclusion yourself. 'Great minds think alike, but fools rarely differ'. A true statement, and one to take to heart. You can share an ideal with others, so long as you know where YOU stand in the ideal you dedicate yourself to. Myself and my own comrades have individual dreams and ambitions, though we hold onto the ideal of a better world for us, and those like us. Not 'people who wish to freely wield our abilities', but 'people who simply wish to live freely as ourselves'. This stems all the way from those of us who can destroy thousands with one gesture, to those of us who are reviled for how we look, to those without powers and are put under the heel of society because of it!"
All Might clasped his hands over his mouth, looking close to either crying or vomiting.
"To simply live as ourselves, in a world without heroes or villains, is living in TRUE liberation! And for that to happen, the wall that built dividing the two factions will need to be destroyed, the veil that hides the truth from every ignorant citizen in the world will need to be lifted!" He stepped back, his uncovered hand clasping Midoriya's without harm. "And it is the duty of us all to destroy that wall and lift those veils, for EVERYONE to be liberated! To invoke CHANGE! So that those without power will never feel powerless! So no one will ever feel they don't belong because of how different they are! So that one by one, they will know their responsibility to themselves and others to see and amend the enchainment of the social norms and the subjugating status quo! And those who choose to still oppose liberation will be dealt with accordingly."
Mirio was almost shaking where he stood, his quirk glitching slightly as his shirt fell through his body.
"The nine you see behind me have been appointed as generals in this front, and will be forming squadrons with individuals they choose. And the one beside me will be my second-in-command. Quarrel you have with me and among each other will be dealt with by him." He turned to Midoriya, a genuine smile on his face. "And whatever it is I destroy, HE will rebuild more beautifully and glorious than ever." He raised their clasped hands again, both he and Midoriya smiling tall and proud together.
The video feed ended with the crowd around Hawks cheering in support of their new world order, and the meeting room delved into absolute dreadful silence. It seemed like hours later before Hawks spoke.
"It feels frightening to a degree I've honestly never felt before," he said. "All of this...you know why I needed to show this to you, rather than go straight to the Commission with it."
Nezu nodded slowly, taking out the chips and holding them for a moment before letting out a shaky breath and putting them into his pocket. "And for that, I cannot thank you enough," he said, his expression serious and tip of his tail snapping slightly to convey the emotions his voice would not. "You were never a student here, but you know the very fine line UA walks now. If this were to get out, it would be the end of UA for good. No simpler way to put it. The school would close, the teachers discredited, the students stuck in educational limbo until or unless another school takes them in. The Commission and the school board would place all of the blame entirely on us as a means to avoid having to address the real reason Midoriya left."
"That THEY are a huge part of that reason," Mirio said quietly, his eyes pinned to the floor, shoulders shaking softly. "...it's exactly the thing that would reach out further and wider than Stain's video ever did. This isn't about what makes a hero anymore...that rally showed THOUSANDS of people cheering on a new world order liberated from everything that's tying quirks and their effect on civilization together. It's a completely perfect lose-lose situation for us." He clenched his eyes shut.
Nighteye took over. "We keep the unedited recording and the rally footage to ourselves, it keeps the Commission in the dark...but the general populace as well. Only the barest handful of people even know it exists. On the other hand, if it's turned over to the Commission, they have their reasons to finally shut UA down for good, and they'll spin any cock-and-bull story about how everything is on the failure of the teachers. And civilians will eat it up."
"Third option," Hawks said, looking up. "It's the least favorite of all, but it's an option that has to be said. We leak it to the internet and let everyone see for themselves the unedited truth of everything." His eyes were completely serious as everyone else gave him a look of disbelief. "As someone who's been hand-picked and raised since childhood to that organization, I know first hand just how ironclad their grip is in wanting to maintain order. They know I sometimes hate my job, so it makes playing double for the League, the Liberation Front, whatever, that much more believable. And I'm gonna be completely honest with you guys. While that shit scared the primaries off my wings, I agreed with a hell of a lot more than I thought I would. So what does that tell you about how bad things are?"
They digested that in silence before Mirio spoke again. "...Izuku told me that Shigaraki said he felt that Izuku could break the system, rather than the system breaking him first. In the literal sense. But he also said he didn't want to hurt people. And...as we saw and Sir feared...he allowed someone else to do the hurting in his stead. But..." He took a deep, calming breath. "...there HAS to be a way to soften the blow that's coming. And I want to do my part while I can, and be the kind of hero Izuku told us he wanted to be."
Nighteye stared at him. "Mirio, what are you saying?"
"I'm saying, Sir, that if I can do my part in having the moral version of the Front's rhetoric happen, it'll result in fewer casualties to come." He gave his mentor a hard stare. "There is no way in hell that this won't end in bloodshed. In choosing which path to take, I will take the one that saves the most lives in the end." He reached up, rubbing his face hard. "...right now, my only pipe dream is so damn similar to Izuku's...to have a middle ground understanding without all of these casualties. And I won't lie and say I don't agree with anything the Front stands for. But I still believe there's a way to make that sort of thing happen without resorting to the genocide they're implying."
He stood up, grabbing his shirt off of the floor. "I need to get out of here...I'm sorry..." He jerked his shirt on, rushing out of the room with tears in his eyes.
The adults quietly contemplated his words before All Might spoke. "Hawks...it may seem completely out of line to ask you of this...but if you are to still integrate yourself within the...Paranormal Liberation Front...please...keep an eye on Midoriya." His expression looked like he'd seen death in passing with his own mortality having been diminished by half just by seeing the videos. "Please."
Hawks nodded, readjusting his visor. "...right," he said. "Let me know what you decide to do with the chips. You say yea, I'll tell the Commission they had recording blockers, and they don't know I even got a hold of the unedited camera footage. You say nay, and I'll find some way to report right back to you after they decommission me and attempt to dispose of my body." They could tell that he was only half joking with that last part. "But other than leaking it out, I'd say keep 'em. Even better, destroy 'em. Keep some semblance of order while we still have it." He gave them a casual salute before heading out on his own.
Aizawa had his head in his hands, looking on the verge of an intense aneurysm. "...how am I supposed to face my class?" he asked himself. "They're desperate for word about Midoriya...how do I even SUGGEST something like this happened?"
"I would normally say 'you don't'," Nezu answered. "But 1-A is a strange one this year, isn't it? And the focal point of your class has been Midoriya. He's an inspiration and a friend, albeit an enigma to them at this point. His classmates and most certainly his closest friends will be the ones to take up what he left behind, if not follow that crumb trail right to him." He glanced back at Aizawa. "What you are to do is your job, Aizawa. Teach them. Prepare them. And do not sugarcoat anything for them. They already have a very good idea as to where he is and who he is with at this point. They aren't stupid by a long shot."
He walked over, putting a comforting paw on Aizawa's arm. "If any of them come to you with their own thoughts on the matter...keep an open mind." He patted Aizawa's arm before eyeing All Might. "...and you, All Might...hold on hope that Midoriya keeps his convictions to do what's right for him in mind...but let go of the person he was." He shrugged. "Whether you call him ally, enemy, or simply One For All's progeny is all up to you. But you too have your job here to do for other children besides him. Bridges are coming up, and we will cross them when we come to them. That's all we can do for now."
All Might lowered his head, saying nothing and stewing in silence until his phone buzzed in his pocket, startling him. He picked it up and frowned at the number. "It's Tartarus's security office," he said.
"This late?" Nighteye inquired as All Might answered.
"Yes, hello?...........yes, code Alpha, Foxtrot, Omega....." His eyes widened. "It what? When?.........And I'm hearing about this NOW!?....yes, clearance, I get it. Am I approved for another meeting?......yes, thank you." He pressed end-call, his hand dropping onto the splintered desk.
"Toshi, what is it?" Nighteye asked.
"...Tartarus. They said yesterday, around the same time as the rally, All For One suddenly burst into laughter, glitching out the sensory scanners and cameras alike with the whole system fizzling for about fifteen seconds before everything was operational again." His hand shook around his phone. "...I don't doubt his weakened self...but I now VERY much doubt he's only there because he has no choice to be."
Nighteye swallowed hard. "...and you're going to have another meeting with him?"
"Yes, tomorrow evening." He let out a shaky sigh, covering his mouth with his hand. "...I don't know if I can this time..."
"Go," Aizawa said, standing up on shaking legs. "And tell the sonofabitch that nobody here has given up on Midoriya yet." He stalked out of the room, his hair levitating slightly in his wake.
All Might gave a tiny nod. "...that much at least is true," he said. "...regardless of where he is...I think I can believe that his promise to keep being a hero for somebody...anybody...still rings true."
"...a hero for someone is a villain for someone else," Nighteye said pragmatically.
"Yes. But he wanted to be a hero for both. And on that point...I'm finally beginning to believe in that."
Nighteye nodded slowly. "...yes. And Shigaraki? I am admittedly not as familiar with him as the rest of you are...but do you think he was being sincere in recanting Midoriya's endeavors to everyone?"
All Might quietly contemplated the spot on the wall where they watched the videos, his jaw flexing as he ground his teeth. "...the first time I saw Shigaraki was at USJ," he said. "He was close to Decaying two of my students, after partially Decaying Aizawa's right elbow. He freely admitted that he thought of this encounter as a game while speaking some truth in the fact that society puts good-or-bad labels on violence depending on who performs it. 'Violence only breeds more violence', he said. I thought of him as simply a white-collar criminal, but..." He shook his head. "He's young, obviously having been groomed by All For One into believing he was due something because of his past...and his steps since then have only gotten smarter, more mature, and more influential."
He glanced over at Nighteye. "...when Midoriya told us the full truth...I didn't want to believe it. I wanted so badly to believe that Shigaraki had been playing him like a puppet this whole time. But looking back on everything...he'd done what very few have thought to do, with the strongest weapon he had. He TALKED to Shigaraki, empathized with him, to the point where Shigaraki met him halfway and began reaching back, possibly opening up to a path that will yield less destruction and fewer bodies along the way.
"I'm scared too, Nighteye. I don't doubt Midoriya wanting a better world for everyone...but I fear what will happen to make that world a reality."
Nighteye rubbed his arms, the chill of outside being nothing compared to what he felt in his bones. "...an army of over ninety thousand people trained in their quirks...nine powerful generals of that army who will have battalions that each could demolish one society after another...a figurehead that can destroy a city with one touch...and another who can and will make the final call to build or burn a bridge, that being the most frightening of all."
All Might nodded. "Midoriya is smart. He has a strategic mind that rivals Shigaraki's own. They're the perfect team, for better or worse...and I know that they'll take UA and its teachers into account somewhere along the line." He glanced down at his phone, eyes going dark. "...All For One knows something. I have to make him talk, one way or the other."
"Be careful," Nighteye said, his eyes glinting with worry. "Please. He purposely rerouted doubt for Midoriya in your head to blind you to the obvious clues."
"I know. And I will." All Might stood up straight to his full height. "I won't be making the same mistake over and over until it's too late. I will have faith in Midoriya to do the right thing...and even faith in Shigaraki to listen to Midoriya when those times come."
The two walked out of the meeting room back towards All Might's staff suite in silence, thinking about the all-out war that was most definitely coming and praying for a miracle to come.
Another take to Tartarus coming next, War Counsel.