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Gratification

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I lost.

 

      Failure isn’t what makes that admission so heavy. It’s the reason he lost to Katsuki Bakugo that he finds mindly troubling. For much of their battle, it was a close match. Closer than Shouto preferred, but victory was likely. He had nearly incapacitated Bakugo several times. The fight had turned into something he had wanted to avoid; an endurance match. Regardless it didn’t matter; he was stronger than Bakugo. He would win. But then, Bakugo changed strategy in the middle of an attack.

 

      Bakugo attacked his left side and Shouto reflexively used his flames. The reaction from everyone was instant. The crowd erupted into cheers, and Bakugo gave him a smile he’d begun to recognize. A smile that said finally, this is what I’ve been waiting for. And his father’s voice, which had been speaking to him this entire fight, suddenly seemed so much louder.

 

      Despite his best efforts, he could make out Endeavor’s words, his message.

 

      Telling him to use his powers, as if his opinion mattered in all of this. As if, he had control. And Shouto’s rage led to him making hasty decisions. He extinguished his own flames quickly, despite the fact that Bakugo’s attack had been oncoming. His anger had led to his final mistake. To when he lost focus, when he let his father get into his head.

 

     “Look at me you bastard!”

 

     And the battle was over.

 

     There are many things to take away from this.

 

      Primarily, that things need to change if Shouto will ever become the number one hero with only one hand. Things like, conceding that his father is able to get to him. Accepting that his father’s ability to distract him is greater than what Shouto prefers. And learning how to cease his instinctual use of fire in a fight.

 

      And lastly, that Shouto needs to improve his aptitude for ice if he wants to get anywhere at all.

 

     Yes. He thinks, as frost slowly spreads to his body. It covers his hand, and doesn’t crack when he closes his fist. I need to change. Memories flash through his mind. The fight, his father’s face, the training sessions, the beatings, his mother’s face, and then it ends with his father.

    Or he’ll win.

 


 

 

   I can’t breathe. Midoriya’s legs give out soon after that thought passes through his mind. Breathing isn’t the only thing he can’t do. Seeing left maybe a few minute ago and talking-

 

   “Help me, please-” He manages, and coughs on the smoke in his lungs. It burns more and more with each inhale. He crawls towards the window in an attempt to escape. He thinks he has maybe five minutes before he blacks out. Furthermore, he isn’t even sure how he got here. Much less how to get out. Even now, as he attempts to recall the memory it’s blurred, tattered at the edges like a burnt photo. Earlier that day, he had been watching the sports festival. Or more aptly, watching Kaa-chan, and his fight against Endeavor’s son. Midoriya was as captivated as the rest of the audience, adding several notes to his book.

 

    Shouto Todoroki. Personal weaknesses: reluctance to use left side, reason unknown. After he wrote that sentence, the doorbell rang and he went to answer it. He had thought that maybe, his mother had returned from grocery shopping and needed help. Things changed when he opened the door, and.

 

     His thoughts had faded.

 

     Then, he was in a burning building.

 

     This isn’t good. If I don’t escape soon Images of his immobile, charred body flash through his mind as he forces himself to crawl forward. He feels light-headed, his throat burns and his chest feels like it’s going to explode. But, but I’m not finished. He thinks as he continues to crawl forward. When Midoriya finally reaches through the entrance, the world around him seems to shake. With his head in the hall, he can see two figures in it, both dressed in costumes. It’s only after he opens his mouth to scream, and inhales a lungful of smoke, that he understands. Those two are fighting. One’s a villain! One of them looks familiar, a pro-hero that even Midoriya can’t recall the name of while in this situation. The other man is an unknown. A third person steps into his field of vision, and the other two turn to face him.

 

      Then everything goes white.

 

       When Midoriya awakens the first time, he’s delirious. He’s being carried outside of the building,and choking on his own coughs. The man carrying him pauses when Midoriya’s body begins to shake from his coughing fit.

 

      “Are you a new pro-hero?” Midoriya somehow manages to ask, and the man scoffs at him.     

      “Kid, heroes did this to you.” He responds, and Midoriya passes out before he can ask him more questions.

 

       When he awakes the second time,  he is neither in the hospital nor at home. Instead, he’s in someone’s bed, plugged into some kind of machine. And his wrists aren’t free. He sits up slowly, as much as the restraints will allow as he takes in his environment. Did he lose? It’s a cynical thought but Midoriya can’t think of any other reason for him to be there. He considers that maybe the second man had arrived to aid the villain. Of he could’ve been a hero. I could’ve been the bargaining trip to get away. Midoriya realizes, multiple hostage situation stories flitting through his mind. He remembers when a villain had escaped from Gang Orca by using that very technique. It was one of the reasons why civilians had to be evacuated from battles. Because they ceased to be bystanders and involuntarily became living shields.

 

        His thought process if broken by the door opening. The man that opens the door is lean and tall. That’s about all Midoriya can observe with him still wearing his costume.

       “Kid, I wonder if you have a death wish. Is this the second time you’ve interfered with a fight in two weeks?” The voice sounds older, curt but casual as he enters. Not to mention that it belongs to someone with fluid movements, indicating a limited history of injury. Or a healing quirk. Midoriya thinks, trying to make as many observations as possible. He needed to be able to answer the questions from the police.

 

        If they’re able to find me.

        The fear washes over him in waves and he blinks back tears. It’s okay, I just need to-I just need to- “ That was an accident.” he finally answers, leaning away from the other man.

        “Doubtful. He probably stalked you for days, it’s his method of choosing victims. “ The villain responds, just confusing Midoriya more. Because if this man is telling the truth, someone was stalking him. He turns around and Midoriya experimentally pulls at his restraints; he isn’t going anywhere. It’s only after that, that he finally recognizes the hero at the building. Lightning Mind.

        “A stupid kid that wanted to be a hero put himself in a dangerous situation. He tried to do a pro’s job, and died in the fire. That’s what your headline would be.” The ‘villain’ continues and Midoriya pulls on his restraints, this time loudly.

       “Did the villain do this? Did he take control of me? Was that why I was even there? Did Lightning Mind stop him?” He asks before he can stop himself. His head hurts, but he still tries to remember facts and trivia about the hero he saw. Lightning Mind’s quirk was also mind related, he knew that much.

       “Lightning Mind did this to you, kid.”

       “What? That doesn’t-”

       “Have you ever heard of an angel of death?” What?

       “Like from Christian mythology?”

       “No, like a murderer. They tend to be civil servants, they lure in victims for the purpose of saving them. To boost their reputation. Lightning Mind did this to you,” He said curtly, and Midoriya stiffens.

       “That’s-”

       “He was going to blame your murder on a villain.”

       “Impossible….”

       “People said the same thing about quirks the first time they came around. Now everyone has them.” The villain says and Midoriya winces at the painful reminder. He doesn’t have much time to process it before a key is thrown at him.

       “Is this for the—” Midoriya begins, words dying on his lips at the sight of a drawn weapon and a sneer.

       “Make quick use of those handcuffs brat. It’s time to bring you home.”

 


 

    “Todoroki, I don’t mean to intrude but have you considered that maybe this route….isn’t the best for your goals?” Momo’s voice pulls him out of his mind with little effort. He melts the frozen rock in his palm before he slowly turns to her, debating how exactly to answer her. The short answer is that he has frequently considered the disadvantages of only using ice. The destructive power of his fire is objectively an asset in a fight. He has never denied that. What he has rejected is that the idea that they are necessary for success. They aren’t. His father isn’t. And neither is anything that Shouto has ever received from him.

 

But to an extent, he understood why she must have been worried. After his reluctance to use fire caused him to lose to Bakugo, it was a reasonable concern to have.  Shouto knew this, objectively.

 

But this discussion is one that he will avoid, if at all possible.

 

   “Yes. I have considered the drawbacks of my decision.” He says quietly, and she nods, eyes not quite meeting his.

   “As expected. I am not going to pry, but I want you to know that if you need any help working through this….I will do my utmost to help you.” Her voice gains a passion that he’s not sure how to interpret. Or respond to.

   “That’s appreciated.” He responds and turns his back on her, returning to his earlier project. Creating objects out of ice is more difficult than he originally anticipated. He needs to strike a balance between large enough sustain damage, but light enough to throw effectively. And the problem of causing excess injury then there remains .

 

     His earlier creations had either been too fragile, or too heavy— too dangerous. One of the major advantages of his ice over his fire is that it is easier to avoid causing major injury. Both fire and ice can burn, but ice is much easier to control and mold. Still, he is making progress. His rocks are able to be thrown adequately now. Now he just has to control for the damage that they will cause, and prepare for the other objects he intends to make.

 

     Training is over an hour later, and he’s still incredibly far from where he wants to be.

 

     The next day of training goes very similarly, the sole exception being that Momo doesn’t interrupt. But she watches; he can see her from the corner of his eye, watching each object that he creates. He thinks that she probably notices things he doesn’t. The small flaws that prevent his ice from becoming exactly what he invisions. It’s a tedious and frustrating task, and part of him envies her for being able to do it so well.

 

    But asking for help is something he’s not experienced in or particularly good at.  After three consecutive days, he approaches her.

     

    “How experienced are you in the creation of long distance weapons?” he asks her during homeroom.

    “I have studied them extensively.” She says and adds.

    “I could teach you, if you’d like.”

 

     When he says that he appreciates it, he means it this time.

 


 

 

         It has been nearly a week since Midoriya was left in town square by a villain and he still feels shaken by the incident.  Not just by what happened, but by what was said. An angel of death? He thinks as he continues his analysis of hero history. This is far from the first time he has done so, but it is the first time he has looked for such an obscure subject. Arrested heroes, or even ones that were simply accused. He finds that accusations against heroes are rare, and even fewer are convicted of crimes. But is that because they haven’t committed crimes? Or have their crimes been assigned to villains? Midoriya can’t stop himself from thinking.

   

          He hasn’t been sleeping well since the incident and it isn’t helping his anxiety. And from his mother’s worried, fleeting glances, she’s starting to notice. But things only get worse when he looks into Lightning Mind’s history more, and he finds something unsettling.  Notably a marked increase in injuries and deaths of civilians after trends of low crime in the area.

 

          Midoriya isn’t the type to become fixated on much else aside from his goals, but this is different. Because in a matter of a few hours, his entire understanding of the world had been thrown into flux. Because a hero tried to kill him. And when he thinks about it, his breathing gets heavy and his heart pounds. Because it sounds so impossible, but a part of him believes it.  And that scares him. He still has the newspaper from that day taped to his wall. Boy kidnapped, it reads. A hero and a villain murdered by an unknown assailant. The man still hasn’t been found, despite Midoriya’s observations and the police’s efforts.

 

          Months later and little has changed. His sleeping is still bad but less so, and school is bearable. But he can’t forgot what happened nearly four months ago. He has notebooks filled with research on crimes committed by heroes. In several pages filled with theories concerning the villain’s potential quirk. Still, most days, he’s fatigued and restless, hungry for answers that may never come. Perhaps that’s why he doesn’t go straight home after school. He takes a detour through the city, his stomach tightens at the sight of someone with horns. Another person has blue skin; he walks in front of a man that is floating his phone instead of holding it and he is reminded.

 

         Reminded of what he has lacked for his entire life. And it hurts. Still, he wants to try, try to make his dreams come true somehow. He can’t give up, won’t give up, but he can feel something cracking inside of him. Moments later, he hears something actually crack above him. He barely has enough time to look up at the falling piece of stone, before he sees where it’s heading. His body reacts on its on, throwing itself forward to push the blue girl out of the way.

 

         He is grabbed and thrown flat into a wall. He groans a bit at the rough contact as he blearily looks at the scene surrounding him. A battle. In the middle of the city. He realizes, delirious as his eyes find the person who saved him. An older blonde man, with an unfamiliar face but a familiar grip.

 

        “Shit, that was close. That old building was bound to come apart some time. Guess we’re lucky that it’s happening in pieces,” The blonde man breathes as he releases Midoriya’s shirt. Above them, on said building, a man in a suit seems to be hurriedly dialing a number. But Midoriya is incredibly distracted, but the man’s voice is familiar.

 

        “Thanks,” The blue girl adds hurriedly, as she looks between Midoriya and the broken piece of roof. Midoriya nods, flushed and unsure how to respond as the other man resumes walking again.

        “Um it was no big deal, have a nice day!” He says quickly, and breaks into a run after the man.

        “Hey!” He calls as he pushes through the crowds. The man only slows after Midoriya gets close, but he still keeps walking. The crowds disappear behind them and Midoriya’s breath catches as he realizes---they’re heading into an isolated area. He stops immediately, and the man does too, turning to smirk at him.

 

        “You’re not that stupid after all. Which is impressive for someone who’s nearly died three times in six months.” He says and Midoriya ignores the insult. He’s heard too many and this one fails to even sting.

        “It is you. Is your quirk energy based?” Midoriya asks, breathless but desperate for answers. The man smirks again.

        “No. Does your quirk draw misfortune to you? Or do you find it by yourself?”

        “I don’t have a quirk.” He says quietly, and the smirk immediately disappears. Midoriya finds it odd, that saying it never gets easier. All men are not created equal. Tears well up in the corners of his eyes and he wipes them away hastily. The man watches him with something close to pity in his eyes that makes swallowing harder. The only thing that was nearly as bad as not having a quirk was the look in people’s eyes once they found it. Midoriya did not need pity, nor did he want it. He only wanted one thing.

 

       “What do you want kid?” The man asks, he sounds tired, withdrawn.

       “I want to help people!” He exclaims, because nothing has been more true. Because he couldn’t remember wanting anything more ever in his entire life. Tears are flowing down his face now, and he doesn’t think he can stop them.

       “I w-want to help people in any way that I can! Even if I don’t have any powers. I want to be there and tell people that things are going to be ok. I want to be a hero.” His voice dies a little at the end.

       “Even without the glory?”

 

 

Chapter Text

Midoriya’s body hurts.

 

    But the pain is something he’s quickly becoming used to. Or maybe my arms are just becoming numb. He thinks, covering his face with his arm just in time to block another kick. It’s almost their third month of training behind Tadashi’s house, and still. The older man keeps surprising Midoriya with a frustrating ease. His strategies seem to change every month, generally adjusting the moment when the teen thinks he’s made some progress.

 

    Especially since all of this is hinging on Midoriya being able to impress this man. Impress Tadashi enough that maybe, just maybe, the man will help him achieve his dreams. But after eighty-five days of being beaten into the dirt

 

    A punch to the face interrupts his train of thought. I still have to prove myself to him. Midoriya thinks as he narrowly avoids a punch. Tadashi’s ring splits open his cheek as Midoriya drops, and punches the man’s stomach. It’s like punching a wall. Is the last thing he’s able to think, before being promptly thrown by his shoulder. The teen hits the concrete hard but is on his feet in the next moment.

 

       “What? No tears this time?” Tadashi mocks as Midoriya attacks again. If only I were faster! He thinks as he is sent flying back to the ground. He forces himself to his feet slowly as Tadashi raises a hand.

       “That’s enough for now.” He says flippantly as he tosses him a bottle of water. Midoriya catches it instinctively, blinking dumbly at the other man. We’re done? He couldn’t remember the last time they only stopped after three hours. Maybe he’s in a good mood or

       “You’re getting better at taking hits. I actually had to use force to put you down.”

       “Really? I’ve been trying to shorten the time it takes for me to counterattack. You’re... really fast. Do you use your quirk to increase your speed?” Midoriya asks him as they go back inside.

       “No. I rarely use resonance for my legs. In that way.” Tadashi responds and pulls up a pantleg. Starting at his ankle, he has black fabric encompassing both feet. Resonance was the given name for Tadashi’s quirk; an instinctive ability to build costumes based off the given personality.

 

       “I use it for strength most of the time. My personality is the most compatible with strength based techniques.” He explains and grabs Midoriya’s arm. His pupils dilate as his fingers tighten on the teen’s bicep.

       “But it was hard, thinking of what to build for someone as insane as you are.” he mutters and excitement washes through Midoriya.

       “You’ll build me something?” He asks excitedly, smiling wide as Tadashi drops his arm.

       “I’ll build you a test suit, and see how well you do.” He responds noncommittally.

       “Ok! I won’t let you down!” Midoriya promises as his mentor sits down.

       “Yeah, sure kid. Did you do your other homework?”

       “Um, yeah,” Midoriya says as he goes through his bag, and removes his notebook.

       “I’ve been looking at two heroes, The Warp, and The White Hand. Both of them have problems……”

       “But?”

       “I….don’t think it’s necessary to kill dysfunctional heroes.”

      “Do you think Lightning Mind would’ve stopped killing without intervention.” It isn’t a question but Midoriya still responds.

      “I think we should still intervene, there are ways to change behavior that don’t involve killing.” Midoriya says quickly as he flips through his notebook.

      “There was a hero in the early 2000s that had a power similar to the Warp, his name was MetalHead. He could change the shape of metal, similar to how the warp can literally warp the shape of most textures. Both heroes had the same overall issues with impulse control too

      “How many people did MetalHead? kill?” Tadashi asks as he opens the fridge. Midoriya frowns.

      “Three in a flood he caused by accident.” he tells him reluctantly as Tadashi sits down and starts to eat his sandwich.

 

      “Your pacifism sounds so effective.”

      “It’s not perfect. But after that, his fighting style completely changed and he spearheaded movements on safety training for heroes. He changed, and I think others can change too.” He insists, voice wavering but finishing regardless.

      “By talking to them nicely? Or by killing civilians to prove a point?”

      “No! That’s not we can put them in situations that would force them to change. Like what happened to MetallHead, just without as many people dying.” Tadashi raises a doubtful eyebrow as Midoriya mumbles the last part.

      “We don’t do half measures here Midoriya. If you let the wrong person live, people die. You’re all in or all out.” He tells him dismissively as he sits back down in his seat. Midoriya knows that he should just let the topic die. Tadashi isn’t interested in the fine details of this, but

 

     “Hero Killer Stain attacks villains that don’t live up to their code indiscriminately.”

     “Afraid of being a copy cat?” He snorts, and Midoriya shakes his head slowly, unsure how else to say it.

     “A few of Stain’s victims, LillyPad, Dyno, and Lasko, saved a lot of people. Even if it was for money…..they did a lot of good. I don’t want to kill someone like that.” He explains, and Tadashi grimaces at him.

     “And you think the best way to avoid doing that is….what? By not killing people? Are you going to save every bad hero?” He asks sardonically.

     “Why can’t I? All Might has saved everyone that he’s attempted to save. It’s not

    “ Stop.” Tadashi growls and stands.

     “You little fool. Do you honestly think that you can pull your crazy plan off? Crazy ideas get people killed. Heroes. Vigilantes. Villains. Drop it.” He snaps at the teen, who frowns but otherwise doesn’t respond. But his mind doesn’t change either.

 

      “You’re smart, but so fucking naive. And maybe a little insane. Maybe I should have thought of that when I made your suit.” He mutters as he rises to his feet. Shock hits Midoriya harder than Tadashi’s punches as he tries not to stammer out his questions. He’s already finished it!?  He stares at Tadashi with wide eyes as he wonders when exactly his mentor had started working on it. How long he planned to keep Midoriya out of the loop.  What does it even look like?

     “Can I see it?” He asks, his tone urgent and excited all at once. He winces when he hears it, as he had wanted to display restraint, but the man smirks.

     “You can do more than see it. You’ll be using it for the first time soon.” He informs him and Midoriya frowns,

     “Are we going to be sparring again?”

     “Maybe, but not with each other. The League of Villains has contacted me —”

    “League Of Villains? What do they want from you?”

    “Us, kid. They want costumes like the one I made you.” Tadashi tells him, eyes not rising from his plate. Midoriya’s breath catches at his statement. Tadashi using his costumes to be a vigilante was one thing, but making some for the league of villains— Their faces flash through his mind.

He hadn’t even known that they were aware of Tadashi’s quirk. Much less that they knew how to contact him. Midoriya had only been given Tadashi’s number a mere days ago. Did they have a history? Questions burn his throat as he watches his mentor nervously. It isn’t his place to ask him questions, not about this. But still

 

     “Are you going to make them one?” He blurts before he can stop himself.

     “I don’t know yet, but I’ll find out soon enough. They’re attacking UA in a week. And we’re going to be there.”


 

      His mentor’s words stay with him days after their conversation. Even now, Midoriya struggles to believe that in a little under 7 hours, they’re going to UA. With the League of Villains. He is worried, excited, and apprehensive all at the same time. Going to UA is what he’s wanted his entire life, but not like this. Not in this context. He’s not even sure if he wants to be anywhere near UA if he can’t be a hero. Watching the sports festivals is painful enough but actually being at the school? What if I see Kaachan?

 

      His anxiety rises in his chest and he realizes that he needs to focus on something else,or he’s going to cry all over these files. Instead, he pushes UA out of his mind and starts reading the files of the villains accompanying them. So far, they’re being accompanied by Black Mist, Shigaraki, Bomber, Toga, and Mr.Compress. And he’s only heard of Kurogiri and Mr.Compress out of the four. This was not easing his apprehension.

 

    Two of them have deadly quirks. Compress and Black Mist’s quirks have deadly capabilities, so they should be watched too. What’s Toga’s quirk?

 

    “Izuku it’s time for dinner!”

    “Wait! Mom I still need to finish doing my homework! Can I get fifteen more minutes?”

    “Ten. You’ve been eating later every night, you can still do your homework after you finish dinner.” She says firmly and Midoriya sighs.

    “Ok mom.” There’s a pause and when his mom speaks again, it’s with a much softer voice.

    “......I’m not trying to be hard on you Izuku. I just want to make sure you’re still eating. You’ve been forgetting lately.”

    “I know, I’ll be down in ten minutes mom.” He tells her. He makes a mental note to work on maintaining the normal aspects of his life. He doesn’t want his mother worrying more than necessary. Even if there’s a chance that he won’t be coming back tomorrow.

 

     Hours after he finishes dinner, he sneaks out of his room through the window. I need to finish practicing! He thinks as he runs to Tadashi’s place. He pulls his suit on the moment he arrives, and flexes his fingers experimentally. The suit’s fabric is thicker than normal clothes, but still somehow comfortable. Not for the first time, he wonders how difficult the average suit was to make. I don’t even have a time frame for how long it takes.  It was moments like these that made Tadashi’s secretive nature somewhat irritating.

     The sound of his suit activating reminds Midoriya of why he came here. To practice using his suit, specifically, the abilities built into his legs and arms. Tadashi had given the suit speed enhancers to prevent him from being a combatant. And had built a transmitter into his gloves to redirect and harness energy. His fingers stray to the dial on his gauntlet as he remembers Tadashi’s words. ‘It’s the first version of your suit, so don’t overdo it. Stop at level one. Remember you are not to engage in combat while you’re there. Just watch, nothing more.’

 

      He obeys the command, stopping at the first phase as he aims at targets. He misses most of them, but still hits more than last time. Regardless, it’s not enough, and Midoriya has to remind himself that it doesn’t really matter all that much. He’s not going to rely on the gauntlets alone. If anything, his legs were what needed the most practice. He was supposed to kill either the Warp or The White Hand within the next few hours. He hadn’t meant to put it off, but he had assumed, had thought it would become easier.

 

      It hadn’t.

 

      Even now, he still didn’t know who to pick or if he should. How badly do I want to help people? It wasn’t even a question of if he could kill them. He had every weakness memorized, countless strategies penciled down. He just couldn’t bring himself to go through with it.

 





Missed. Again.

      “Your progress is impressive. If you keep practicing, long distance attacks will come to you in no time!” Momo says firmly, expression exuberant. Shouto’s expression failed to mirror hers, a deep frown on his face. His ice spike was currently buried in the base of the tree, just missing the target they’d affixed to it minutes ago.

      “You said that three weeks ago too.”

      “And now you’re practicing with an even smaller target! Imagine what you’ll be able to do in three more months!” Momo says proudly, and Shouto nods, considering her statement. From an objective standpoint, she’s right, and he understands this. But his dissatisfaction doesn’t waver as his ice melts from afar.  

       “Have you decided on your hero agency yet?”

        “Sonic, for now.” Todoroki answers and Momo nods slowly. Something’s on her mind and isn’t sure what. For a moment he’s tempted to actually ask her, but she’s quicker.

        “Have your practiced with your flames…..at all?” Momo asks tentatively, and Shouto is slow to answer her. The short answer is yes, but that would lead to more questions. That’s something he’d like to avoid. The honest answer is also yes, that he has and has been unable to sustain them. It starts the same way, his left side heats up and the flames manifest. But then the memories come back, his mother’s face, the feeling of scalding hot water on his eye

        “Yes.” He answers quietly and Momo’s mouth forms an answer just as a siren starts. Did someone start a fire? He wonders, briefly visualizing Bakugo. Or was someone injured? He considers, the image of Bakugo reappearing.

        “Shouto, I don’t think they go to our school.” Momo urgently informs him, bringing his attention to the people approaching from the distance. Frost starts forming on his hand at the sight of unfamiliar costumes and faces.

        “Momo, get back!” He orders but she’s slow to follow, eyes wide.

        “Are those villains? How did they get in?!” She asks, fear pervasive in her voice. Good question. He thinks as he incapacitates the first wave of villains with his ice. It’s only after the fact that he realizes that he should’ve used more temperature control. If I leave them there too long, they may start exhibiting the beginning symptoms of hypothermia.

       “Momo,” He repeats as more start to arrive.

       “Go. My quirk isn’t good for coop missions, I could freeze you.” he emphasizes, turning slightly to look at her. She nods slowly, regaining face as she hands him a small communication device. “Okay, take this.” Her voice carries a weight that he neither understands nor has time to decipher. He semi turns and receives a small walkie talkie from his classmate. Immediately afterward, he moves his attention back to the approaching villains. The second group looks more cautious than the first, coming closer with expressions of caution and fear.  But instead of the expected apprehension, he feels a wave of something close anticipation. A good test of how necessary his power actually is. He thinks as he sends an overwhelming attack of ice towards them and freezes them along with their friends.

 

        He sees someone in his peripheral, and immediately freezes him to a tree. He breathes out condensation as he also freezes villains that had been approaching from behind. As he incapacitates their reinforcements with ease, a small smile forms on his lips. It fades when he hears the sound of an explosion, followed by feet approaching, and he turns to face the noise. Another villain runs into his field of vision, and stops several feet away from Todoroki. He’s dressed differently from the others, costume black and blue and close fitting. HIs mask differs from the masks of the others, more akin to a helmet. He’s shorter, overall smaller, with bright, wide green eyes stare back at Shouto through mask’s lens. As if, he can’t quite grasp that what he’s seeing is real.

 

       Shouto opts not to consider it further as he attacks again, attempting to immobilize him like the others. The smaller villain jumps into the air, palms pointed backwards. Bakugo, Todoroki realizes as the enemy blasts himself further into the air but away from hero in training. Ice manifests under his feet and pushes him forward as his mind tries to fathom what he just saw.   It’s a coincidence. Memories of the sports festival still spill through his best efforts as the villain falls from the sky. His feet find purchase on a tree branch and Todoroki realizes that they have traded grassy plains for a forest. It gives his opponent better options for evasion. This was planned.

 

Focus.

 

      He can hear the sound of heavy breathing despite the distance between them. Low endurance levels. He predicts as he allows his hands to freeze over.

     “What’s the matter, exhausted? You run often, for a villain.” He says quietly, voice dry as he advances. Todoroki tries to observe his enigmatic opponent. He’s well aware that this can be a trap, and doesn’t want to attack just yet. He needs to be careful. Be careful and focus on now, instead of then. Todoroki’s distantly aware of the slight tremors going through his body. So far, he isn’t as easy to dispatch as his friends were. Is he one of their leaders? Or just a strong grunt? No, not strong. So far, Todoroki hasn’t been able to land an attack on him. But that’s due to speed, he hasn’t been able to test his resilience. Not yet.

 

     Doesn’t respond, doesn’t move until another explosion is heard. His head turns slightly, and Todoroki allows the ice under his feet to spread. Then it rises, and the villain jumps out of the tree to avoid it. The mountain of ice catches his ankle and he pulls backwards, falling. He hits the ground with a sharp groan, and rolls onto his stomach as Todoroki approaches. His ankle is encased in ice, and they both know that his chance of escape is none. Yet the other man still attempts to, crawling away from Todoroki. Slow. Pathetic.

 

     “You’re wasting your time.” Todoroki informs him, his foot coming down on the villain’s forearm. He doesn’t look at the hero in training, doesn’t respond, and his breathing remains heavy.

     “What’s your objective?” he demands, and finally the villain turns to face him. He notices things in pieces. The wild look in solid green eyes, weight shifting under his foot and glowing gloves. And they were brighter this time. He steps back as his flames react instinctively scorching the earth in front of him, and he sees emerald eyes go wider somehow. The villain rolls away, ice melted by fire as he aims the gloves at him. Then shifts them downward as Todorki’s attempts to intercept it with ice. He hears a distinct snap, and a groan of pain. Shards fly as the villain flies through the air in the opposite direction.

 

      He’s still trying to run. I just used my fire. The thoughts interrupt each other as Todoroki still follows him. The villain has given up on the ground, using his gloves to keep himself afloat.He thinks back to the expression on the villain’s face. Do you know , that I refuse to use his fire? He thinks as gets he gets closer. The tremors have escalated to slight trembling now. I’ll end this now. His hand reaches for him as he allows his ice to rise even higher. He’ll freeze him solid to stop this ridiculous waste of time and dethaw him afterwards. He’s done with this fight.

 

     Shouto’s fingers brush his costume as the villain turns to face him. Bright blue light nearly grazes his face as his flames react again. The villain falls and hits the ground with a groan as Todoroki easily lands feet away. The villain’s fingers grip his own chin, searching for something before they pause upon seeing Todoroki. Ice flows from him and finally , finally he captures him. Most of the villain’s body is frozen but yet he still struggles.

 

     “You can keep fighting, but it’ll be hard to fight me with broken limbs.” Shouto says calmly, as he manages to restrict the frustration coursing through him. Or at least, his expression of it. Frustration that stems from more than the villain, but also from his failure to live up to his own expectations. Damn. It.

     “What’s your objective? You have minutes before frostbite will start.” He informs the other as the sounds of explosions approach. Shouto can see how his captive tenses at the sound. They get close and another man enters their mutual field of vision.

 

     And it’s not Bakugo.

 

     Todoroki freezes him instantly upon that determination, and he’s left looking at a large man with a fabric mask. A ball drops from his palm and rolls near Shouto. The student promptly encases it in ice, and there’s a small explosion. He barely has time to process what just happened when the villain beside him lets out a panicked yelp. Shouto turns to see shadows opening under his green eyed opponent.



      When Todoroki turns to face the other one, he’s already gone.



      The ice disintegrates under Shigaraki’s palm, and finally Midoriya can put some distance between them. He’s only spent a few hours with the young leader of the League, but it’s been more than enough. He removes his helmet with a shaky breath and lets it drop to the floor. His face feels hot, and it takes him several moments to be able to breathe properly.

      “Next time, can I have a slightly bigger helmet?” he manages as he slides down the wall. His hand pulses with pain as he gingerly removes his gloves. Now he understands why he was told not to exceed level one. His hand is bruised and almost certainly broken, he can barely flex his fingers without wincing. His right arm is bruised but unbroken, while his left arm….he winces at the memory of falling the second time. The blood has already dried along his arms and he winces at the thought of cleaning his wounds. Todoroki was everything that he predicted and more. If it wasn’t for Black Mist, I need to get stronger. He thinks as he looks at his battered hands. To think that his number one concern at the start of the invasion of Bakugo. He was so afraid that his old friend would recognize him, either through his actions or way of approaching fights. That’s why he had been so desperate to put some distance between them. But in his haste to escape, he encountered Todoroki and was almost captured.

 

      He relies on long distance attacks. If I force him into close combat, I might be able to get the upper hand on him. Provided he doesn’t somehow end up freezing me— He thinks, picturing himself absolutely frozen solid. Nevermind. A prolonged fight with him in close contact is an incredibly bad idea. He thinks as he changes his strategy.

     Maybe a way to keep him at bay more effectively? Find a way to deflect against his quirk? He glances down at his battered hands, noting how level 3 did manage to crack his ice. But at what cost? When would he be able to use it without hurting himself? It was an unknown.

—No—put him in a battlefield where he can’t use his quirk. But where can’t ice and fire go? It takes him several moments to notice Tadashi actively scowling at him. Or more accurately at his hand.

   “Uh..?”

   “What did I say?!”

   “I didn’t have a choice!” He blurts nervously, and gasps in pain when someone’s hand wraps around his. His face reddens as he recognizes the girl from earlier —Toga.

   “Hi, I don’t think you ever told me your name! My name is Toga!” She says as she sits on the ground next to him.

   “Hi um,” He responds rather breathlessly, and not just because of the pain. He doesn’t remember the last time that a girl was this close to him.

   “I’d prefer to keep it a secret? For security...and….stuff?” He babbles and Tadashi lifts her by her arm, up and more importantly, away from him.

   “We have to get going. The brat needs medical assistance.” He says shortly as Midoriya stumbles to his feet. Kurogiri’s portal opens near their feet as Shigaraki waves them off.

   “Farewell.” he says and Midoriya shivers.



The moment they’re back at Tadashi’s place, Midoriya blurts:

   “I don’t think you should help them!” It comes out more passionate than he intended but what’s done is done. Tadashi blinks at him slowly, somewhat in shock before he scowls at him.

   “Did I ask for your opinion?”

   “I know but, I thought-I thought I should be honest.” He stammers, then lowers his voice,

   “They want to kill All Might. That’s not what we want, right?” he whispers.

   “No. It’s not.” Tadashi responds, expression solemn.

   “Then why would we help them? We may all be….villains,” He forces the word out.

   “But we don’t all want the same thing. And their quirks are impressive but we our goals aren’t the same. So why would we help them?” He doesn’t mean to sound demanding, but he wants to know. Needs to know. As far as he was concerned, Shigaraki was dangerous. That quirk, the Nomu, he could actually be a threat to All Might.

 

     Midoriya wouldn’t help anyone like that.

     “It’s because we —I need their help. There’s a hero I’ve been hunting for quite some time now, and I need their help to reach him. They’re not permanent, Izuku. They’re stepping stones and emergency tools, nothing more.” He explains, still looking away from him.

 

    “Who is it?” Midoriya whispers and finally Tadashi’s eyes meet him. They’re grave, pained even.

    “Sonic.” he says shortly and sits down before adding.
    “You won’t ever have a hand in injuring All Might. I can promise you that.”



     Midoriya releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

 

     “O -o k.”




     It’s days after the incident that their invasion makes it onto the news. Some students were injured, but ultimately no deaths. Midoriya can’t remember the last time he felt so relieved. But that relief withers when he sees the next headline.

 

     “There’s been an incident in town square. Pro Hero White Hand, along with two students interning with him, were involved in a clash with the villain ShadowBlock. Several civilians were injured, with one dead, and both of the students are in critical condition. Stay tuned for further information.” The reporter says and Midoriya turns the tv off. There’s a chance that it was actually an accident. Midoriya knows this, but his mind keeps going back to Angel of Death. That these people are dead or hurt, at least partially because of the White Hand. That Midoriya could have stopped him and because he hadn't,

 

     That it’s his fault.

Chapter Text

 

   I will reject you.

 

    At least, that was what Shouto had told himself. That he wouldn’t use a part of him to succeed. He never realized how difficult it could be to keep promises to himself, until now. It’s the morning after the event, but still his mind is on his failure. Even after what happened during the sports festival, still.

    He made the same mistake. Tsukauchi is talking but it’s difficult to focus on him. His mind keeps going back to the attack, to the sports festival before that. To his mother. The thoughts have become so intrusive that lately he’s put more effort in dispelling them than almost anything else. The conversation he held with his father shortly after the attack was more tense than usual.

 

    Did you do it Shouto? Did you finally stop being so foolish?

 

    He’s gotten far past the point where he can stand the sight of his face.

 

    “His name’s the Mechanic.” Tsukauchi says, and Shouto nods, reflexively if anything.

    “The villain I fought?” Shouto guesses and the detective shakes his head.

     “Actually no, we’ve been unable identify the man you described. All of the other villains observed to have been present has been identified, except for him. Can you tell me anything about him tactics-wise? It could help us build a better profile.”

     “He’s evasive. Primarily concerned with escape. Unpredictable. Erratic. I don’t know his quirk.” Shouto says shortly and the detective nods as he takes notes.

     “Anything else? Did he say something that could hint at his motives?”

     “He was silent the entire time.”

     “Interesting. He didn’t employ something to alter his voice?”

     “No, he remained silent.” Shouto responds quickly, confidently as his mind drifts back to the fight that happened last night.

     “I think that’s good for now. If you remember anything else that could be helpful, call us right away. You can go back to class,” The detective informs him and Shouto quickly exits the room. His journey to class is accompanied by hushed voices and whispers, but this is not a new development. He ignores them easily as he enters class and takes his seat next to Momo. Aizawa is discussing something related to their upcoming internships, but Shouto struggles to listen.

 

He is still preoccupied. His mind drifts back to the fight, and this time he focuses more on his overall actions than his father’s flames. He thinks about the villain’s attempts to escape, their erratic and desperate nature. Why did someone like you attack UA? He muses, remembering the attack that succeeded in catching him off guard. It had been Shouto’s fault, he had gotten close to him after only partially incapacitating him. He had been arrogant, and it caused him to break his own vow. I underestimated you.

 

It’s a wordless confession but it hangs over Shouto’s head as he tunes out Aizawa. In that moment, he remembers the first phase of the sports festival. The wave of ice that managed to slow down his fellow students, but failed to remove any of them from the competition. It had been the very same flaw that caused that oversight. But there are larger stakes now. Objectively, he couldn’t afford to maintain this level of arrogance if he wanted to be a successful pro-hero.   Especially with only one hand. Surprisingly, Momo doesn’t whisper a single word to him. Nor does she say anything when class ends and they enter the hall together.

 

Something’s bothering her and he isn’t sure what.

     “Are you feeling sick?” He asks and Momo shakes her head vigorously. She’s caught off guard, and her expression is nearing embarrassment.

     “No, I’m fine, I was just a little shaken up by the attack is all.” She says quickly and Shouto nods despite not believing her. She’s lying to him, and he isn’t sure why but he also doesn’t care to pry.

     “Villain attacks can be upsetting.” He concedes and Momo nods in confirmation, before they lapse into silence again.

     “Have you decided who you’re going to intern with?” Shouto asks.

     “Yes. Mount Lady is a good fit for me, I think. She has a lot of combat experience and I think it would be good for me.” She says, quietly, distantly, and walks past him. He slows in response and watches her go, unsure how to remedy this painfully unclear situation.

 

Something’s wrong and she’s not communicating. It bothers him. Mineta strides up to him, and Shouto briefly considers simply walking away from him right there. He and Mineta are not friends, and can be barely considered acquaintances.

     “So, is it true? Is there really trouble in paradise?” Mineta asks. What?

     “I’m not sure if I understand what you’re asking.” He says transparently, and Mineta leers.  “For several months, you and Momo have been inseparable, the perfect couple. Both rich, legacy students of this academy. You two even had picked the same Pro-Hero for your internships….” Mineta tells him, voice lowering with every word. What?

     “I picked Sonic.”

     “So did Momo —”

     “ What?

     “You didn’t know? At first I thought that you were the one who’s found someone else, but maybe she’s found someone else?” Mineta takes a moment to murmur, before that glint returns to his eye and Shouto decides that this conversation is over.

     “So when did you two break up?”

     “I’m late for class.” Todoroki responds quietly as he activates his right side and freezes Mineta’s feet to the floor.

     “I would ask Shouji to help you.”

 






      Kenshiro Ito is a forty five year old man who goes by the Pro-Hero name The White Hand, and specializes in rescue missions . He is six foot three inches tall, a little under two hundred pounds, and a monster. He is responsible for the death of one person, serious injuries to multiple civilians, and the career ending injuries of Sakura Yamamoto, and Toshiro Tanaka. And Midoriya still hasn’t killed him yet.

 

      The White Hand claims to not be responsible for the incident. Also among the things he does not do:; spearhead a reform of Pro-Hero Accountability. He is not sanctioned, he does not go to jail, but several people’s lives have changed forever. And Midoriya can’t remember the last time he’s felt so nauseous. Kenshiro is not an angel of death, he is more insidious, if Midoriya’s research is accurate.

 

     Kenshiro typically employed a variety of students for internship purposes. During his eighteen year career, six student heroes have received career ending injuries, excluding the two from three weeks ago. Overall, that’s only eight students out of the eighty-four that’s he’s employed during his career. But several things about his history strike Midoriya as downright ominous. Specifically, the data surrounding the people who got injured and when it happened was concerning. More than eight of Kenshiro’s interns were brutally attacked, but were healed by Recovery Girl. In fact, the trend of career ending injuries has only arisen this past decade of his career.

 

    It was negatively correlated with the amount of rescues he’d been able to participate in because of age. Out of the eight that were injured beyond repair, all of them had rescue type quirks; that were either eerily similar to or just as effective as Kenshiro’s own. And all of them were brutally injured due to ambushes that occurred while Kenshiro’s animals were allegedly leading them to safety.   He is not an angel of death. He actions aren’t driven by the need to receive recognition, but to remove competition. And the amount of victims he has taken is growing with his age.

 

             It’s only a matter of time before he hurts someone else. I have to stop him! But the question of how hangs over his head, because he’s still severely injured from his fight with Todoroki. It makes concentrating on his schoolwork even more difficult. Tadashi has punished him for fighting Todoroki by banning him from the training center until his injuries have healed.

 

      And it is frustrating, to say the least, to be allowed in his master’s house but forbidden from training. Especially when I need to get so much better. He thinks about the fight, about Todoroki, often. The League of Villains had informed them of the student interns accepted by Sonic’s agency; and Todoroki was one of them. The other two slots student openings hadn’t been filled yet, and Midoriya wondered if they were be as formidable. It’s not even just his fire and ice, but his speed, strength, intelligence, and analytical ability. He’s incredible, more than Bakugo even. By the time Todoroki became a pro, it was undeniable that he would be in the top ten. Just like his father, but he seemed to lack the issues with his temperament.

 

     If I had a quirk like that, I could save so many people. These days, he tries to avoid considering what could have been. But it’s hard after a fight with someone that was so powerful. If I hadn’t thought to imitate Bakugo He shakes his head, trying to force himself to think about something else. Bakugo’s fighting style, at least how he uses his hands in combat, isn’t compatible with how Midoriya has to fight.

 

       “Midoriya STOP.” Tadashi says suddenly, breaking Midoriya out of his train of thought.

       “W-what?”

       “You’re doing that thing again. Mumbling instead of doing your homework.” Tadashi points out irritably.

       “Oh sorry,” He mumbles, sounding thoroughly unconvinced and Midoriya opts to change the subject. “Hey um, you’re still working on my new suit right?”

       “Maybe,” he says noncommittally, and chugs a bottle of water.

       “What about it?”

       “Can I have heat absorbent fabric? Or something to help me regulate my outfit’s temperature to defend against ice quirks?  Along with shock absorbent boots and gloves? It could help me in combat —”

       “You’re not a combatant.” Tadashi reminds him icily and Midoriya grimaces.

       “I know! But like, if I run into someone powerful, I’ll have to fight.” Like Todoroki.

 

     Midoriya has been watching his fights nonstop since their encounter. It’s nearly unbelievable, how absolutely incredible he is.  He’s been taking notes on things such as attack speed, reaction time, the density of his ice, and how often he uses his fire. He rarely uses it. He’s rewatched Todoroki’s fight with Bakugo at least five times,as well as his matches with his other classmates. His strategy was straightforward; he completely overwhelmed and incapacitated his opponent. And because of that his close combat skills are comparatively weak. To incapacitate Todoroki, I have to break through his defenses. And even then, I have to be able to defeat him in combat. How long can he use ice without suffering side effects? Would an endurance match be my only hope in taking him out?

 

       “Midoriya!” Tadashi barks.

       “I’m sorry!” He stammers and his master sighs.

       “Todoroki is interning with Sonic….I could run into him again. And last time Kurogiri had to save me.” He adds quietly.

       “I just think it would be useful in case I encounter anyone else with heat generating quirks. What if I’m paired with Bomber next time? It’s just a good precaution.” he mumbles the last point, and Tadashi doesn’t look particularly impressed.

       “Maybe.” He says noncommittally as he takes a drink of his tea and that it not enough.

       “I want to kill Kenshiro Ito.” Midoriya blurts and Tadashi pauses.

       “ Who is that?

       “The White Hand, if I don’t —”

      “ No.” Tadashi says brusquely and Midoriya’s eyes widen.

      “Why? You were the one pushing me before —”

      “And you couldn’t do it.” He reminds Midoriya dismissively as he clears off the table. He flinches at the statement, no it’s closer to an accusation for what it implies. That he’s not capable of doing as he’s told. That he’s not capable of doing this. His hands are balling up into fists and his eyes are burning.

 

       “I wasn’t ready, but I can do it now.” Midoriya insists, blinking back tears and Tadashi doesn’t even look at him when he responds.

       “Why? Because you’re angry now? Do you think that will make you more of a threat? This isn’t a TV show. If you come unprepared, and driven by emotion, you won’t succeed. You’re as weak now as you were three weeks ago.” The older man says dryly.

       “You don’t know that.” He says, with a cracking voice and crumbling control.

       “I can’t just do nothing! If I had done something before —”

       “But you didn’t. And sometimes that’s just something you have to live with. Have you completed your Sonic analysis?”

       “I-no-not yet.” He had started, but most of his Sonic notes were about the pro-hero’s personality traits. And to a greater extent, most of his efforts had been focused on taking notes on Todoroki.

       “Finish that and after our mission we can talk about killing the White Hand.” Tadashi says dismissively, but Midoriya is reluctant to concede. Kenshiro’s antics were escalating. How long did they have before he claimed another victim? His mind floods with facts about the ‘hero’ as he continues to stare at Tadashi.

      “What has Sonic done? Why is he so important? Kenshiro” he blurts.

      “Sonic has caused nearly twenty-five people to either disappear or be murdered in ten years. You self absorbed, narrow-minded brat.” Tadashi hisses and Midoriya flinches.

      “I-I didn’t know, you can’t keep secrets from me and then get upset with me when I make a mistake!” He exclaims, hands balling into fists once more.

      “You can’t expect me to follow you around! You need to tell me things, especially if we’re working with the League of Villains!”

      “Or, you’re bringing them up again?” Tadashi’s scowl has transformed into a smirk. And it’sHis face is cruel. The urge to surrender and retreat is growing within Midoriya, but he suppresses it. He’s not backing down about this.

      “You never told me that we’d be working with them.” He says quietly, not quite a mumble but close. “I thought it’d just be us two.”

      “There wasn’t a point in telling you. Tell me brat, do you really think that they’re all that different from us? From me?”

      “We’re not —”

     “Shut up.” He snaps, and Midoriya quiets, albeit reluctantly.

      “We may differ in the stories of how we got here. But we’re all villains, Midoriya. Stop complaining about working with other villains, take the opportunity to learn something instead. Most of them know how to follow orders, for starters. So begin there.” He says and waves him off.

     “Now leave and get your shit together. We’re meeting with the League in a week. Figure out if you’re cut out for this and everything it entails, or don’t come back.”

 

       Midoriya leaves, and he doesn’t come back the next day. One day becomes two, and two become three and he isn’t sure when he’ll be able to return because —because he still feels as conflicted as he felt the day they fought. Because technically, Tadashi is right, they are all villains. But at the same time, they were completely different. Shigaraki wanted to destroy hero society, wanted to kill All Might. Midoriya wanted to be able to save people, to contribute to that society. And Tadashi wanted to do the same thing, at least the teen thought he did.

 

How am I supposed to work with them? How does he do it so easily?

 

     It was true that he could learn something from them. But at the same time, he wasn’t sure that if what he could learn was worth it. Still, He turns up the volume to block out the sound of people chatting. He’s in a cafe with a notebook filled with observations about the White Hand, and videos of the hero’s battles on his laptop. After he inches up the volume a bit more, he resumes the video.

 

He’s amazing.

 

      Midoriya can’t help but think this as he watches another one of Kenshiro’s fights. His use of animals in combat was so precise, so controlled. On some level, the efficiency of his quirk in combat surprises the teen. Heroes with animal manipulation quirks rarely became combat Pros. They tended to be better suited for Rescue divisions, and working with animals carried many risks in combat. Specifically, the quirk tended to be physically draining, and the human-animal links broke often because of it.

 

      But, as he watched Kenshiro’s videos that were recorded far after the man’s prime,; he realizes that some heroes were able turn even the most ill-fitting quirks into something formidable. A feeling pools in the depths of his stomach, and he’s not sure if it’s anticipation or anxiety. Regardless, he nervously nibbles on the snack he bought an hour ago when he arrived. He increases his music’s volume as the people around him get louder and subsequently become distracting. Maybe I should’ve gone someplace else? He went to the coffee shop because he wanted to ease his mother’s worries. She disliked the long hours he spent in his room, and wanted to lessen her burdons somehow.

 

      He realizes that he should go somewhere else when the noise continues for several more moments. He sighs as he rises from the table, and puts away his laptop. He doesn’t see the cause for the ruckus until after he’s pulled his bookbag on, and he freezes. It’s-it’s him.  Kenshiro was in the cafe, completely surrounded by fans that were begging for autographs and Midoriya feels so cold. His heart is pounding in his chest as he puts his hands into his pockets to hide his balled up fists. He’s here. He’s here. He’s here.

 

It shouldn’t have been a surprise.

 

     Kenshiro lives in Midoriya’s city, there has always been a chance of a meeting between them. But it never seemed remotely likely. On the reigns of his shock are the growing flames of his rage. Because Keshiro isn’t a hero, he’s a monster. He destroyed the lives of his own students. Of people that wanted to be heroes, that actually wanted to save people. How could anyone do that? Why would someone do that? Just to keep his fans?  Unbidden memories rush through him. Of the moment when he was told that he didn’t have a quirk. Of when All Might told him that he couldn’t be a hero, and the long, suffocating walk back home afterwards. To have your entire life ahead of you—To be so close to reaching your dreams and to have it all ripped away from you—

     

    “Hey kid, are you okay?” Someone asks, and Midoriya realizes a few things at once.  His face is wet. Everyone’s staring at him, and Kenshiro’s voice is much lighter than Midoriya remembers. It sounds much different from the videos. It’s kind of dull, horribly normal and it belongs to a monster.

 

    “I’m fine-I’m just so happy to meet you.” He stammers, and his voice is garbled by his tears. His hands fumble with his notebook as he sniffs.

    “Can I have your autograph?”

 

     Nearly an hour later, when Kenshiro leaves the cafe, Midoriya follows, autograph in hand. He stays an appropriate distance behind the other man and just remains close as he tries to think of a plan. There are not many combat-viable animals nearby, but Midoriya can’t attack him in public. And even if the two of them were alone, Kenshiro is a far better fighter.  And Midoriya has no suit, no power, no quirk to compensate for it. An hour later when he watches Kenshiro disappear into the forests right outside of town, Midoriya is painfully reminded of one fact.

 

     All men are not created equal. And without the help of Tadashi, he’s just as weak as he was when he started. I need to get stronger. He thinks about Bakugo, about the incredible abilities he had, about his aptitude in combat, his strength. He also thinks about Todoroki, and his ability to completely overwhelm any opponent that faced him. About the sheer amount of people that both of them could save.

 

     But he is neither Todoroki or Bakugo, he’s a quirkless boy with an broken arm and hand. That night, he returns to Tadashi and receives his new suit.



         “You are not permitted to use your quirk offensively against another student. Failure to comply by these rules again will result in detention. Have I made myself clear?” Aizawa’s deadpan voice leaves little to be questioned. Shouto’s response is just as short. “Completely.”

 

       Momo finds him shortly after class ends and he’s leaving the building.

 

      “Why did you freeze Mineta? I understand that he can be…...challenging but using your powers against other students isn’t like you.” She’s concerned, but he’s just relieved that she’s talking to him again. Actually talking.

      “I froze his feet.” Shouto specifies, and opts to avoid discussing the embarrassing line of questioning he was subjected to. It’s not hard to remember why he finds Mineta obnoxious.

      “Why did you choose Mount Lady over Sonic? Is it because I chose Sonic?” He asks. Are you avoiding me? Doesn’t come out of his mouth but it’s close.

      “I just, I just didn’t want to feel like I….unnecessary. An extra. A burden. I don’t know why Sonic would need me if he already had you. I wouldn’t have anything to give that he didn’t already have.” She says shakily and Shouto is….confused. How long has she felt this way? How long haven’t I noticed?

      “You don’t think that you can contribute? Momo—

      “When they attacked, you told me to run and hide and at first it bothered me. Then I saw how you dealt with the villains, and it became apparent that you were right. I had a plan but y-you finished most of them off in seconds, I was a bystander, a useless one at that. I don’t even know why you still go to me for help when we both know that —”

      “Momo,” he cuts her off, because he knows where this is heading. How did I not notice this before? How long has she felt like this?

 

He thinks back to their meetings and wonders how he could have been this blind. It’s simple really. I didn’t pay attention.

      “I shouldn’t have ordered you to leave without asking you about your plan first.”

      “You didn’t need it.” She immediately responds and he shakes his head slowly. He thinks back to the fight, to the villain that he underestimated, to the shivers that were breaking out across his body. If the battle had lasted longer, things could’ve gone differently.

      “You’re a superior strategist, Momo. It’s why I voted for you.” He informs her and she flushes. He’s not sure if that’s a good sign or not.

      “You think I’m a better strategist?”

      “You are a better strategist.” He repeats and she flushes even more. Are we okay now? He wonders as he watches her fidget.

      “Anyway,” He says promptly changing the subject.

      “I think that you’d be a valuable asset to Sonic. You should accept his offer. There’s still room for another intern.”

      “I’ll consider it.” Momo responds carefully, and frowns. He follows his gaze to their leering purple classmate and briefly considers freezing him for real. Are we really interesting enough to delay going home?

      “Violence isn’t the best way to deal with Mineta.” Momo promptly says.

      “What would you suggest?” He asks, she beams and he feels relieved.

      “More subtle tactics. You can’t just freeze your way out of every situation,” She lightly chides and smiles at him. Yes, so relieved.

 

      “Can we continue practicing tomorrow?”




      “Have you looked at the company policy for interns?”

 

Momo has rolled her chair across the room to get to him, as Todoroki’s fingers rapidly go over the keyboard. They’ve been assigned mundane office jobs to complete for the day, but he wouldn’t be surprised if Momo’s already finished. There’s a third intern stationed with them as well, Kenji, but he hasn’t spoken to them much.

      “Yes.”

      “Did you read the part where it said that interns should remain non-combatants unless a situation is dire?” Inconsequential policy. He sees Ayame, Sonic’s secretary, glance at them but otherwise she’s silent.

      “I did.”

      “This policy is worded frustratingly badly. We’re not even given a functional definition of  a dire situation.” She groans.

      “I’m assuming the situation would be one in which Sonic is critically injured.”

      “But any attack could lead to a critical injury. What about preventative measures? Are we only allowed to fight against an attack after it’s injured Sonic? This is so confusing.” She mumbles as Todoroki’s eyes are drawn to the clock.

      “We can ask him about it after combat training.” He suggests as he logs out of the computer. It’s the third day of their internships and they have seen Sonic only a handful of times outside of combat training. It isn’t a problem. Combat training is why he picked the Pro-hero, but to some extent he’s apprehensive about the effect on Momo. When they’re not with him, which is often, they’re relegated to grunt work. Either menial office tasks or activities that require them to patrol with Sonic’s support unit. He doesn’t mind either much, but strongly prefers the latter. It gives an opportunity to explore the nearby areas, and that is something that he enjoys.

 

      Momo however, is bothered by both. It’s because she’s underutilized. He thinks as they go to the training area. They both are really, but Shouto himself is more unbothered by this, but Momo, it’s unsettling to her. And he wants to aid but he’s not particularly sure how. Ask. His mind provides. Ask and she’ll tell you. It’s a simple, direct solution but he’s not used to situations like this. It’s the only way to improve. He reminds himself as they enter the room, and Sonic grins at them.

      “Hello! You two have arrived right on the dot, but you best be careful or next time you might not be so lucky.” He chuckles. Is he being passive aggressive? Shouto wonders distantly, noticing how Momo stiffens at the pro-hero’s comment. On some level, it bothers him that a little over a week ago he wouldn’t have noticed. No, I would’ve been too busy being focused on my fight with the Pro. He concedes internally. And how to beat him with only one hand.  He still intends to spar with Sonic one-handed. But he wonders how many things he was oblivious to, or even outright ignored. He was confident he observed his classmates adequately when it came to their combat capabilities. But aside from that, he didn’t really know much about them aside from Momo. Does it really matter?

 

     “We’ll be early next time.” Shouto responds.

     “Oh it’s not a problem!” he laughs, and Shouto watches as Momo forces her shoulders to fall.

If there was one thing that Shouto disliked about their internship, it was the Pro-Hero himself. To be more accurate, it’s his demeanor, or rather how it feels slightly off. He had done his research on the hero prior to this experience. His almost jolly, over exuberant personality had been unsettling in the interviews too, but Shouto had dismissed it. He had assumed that he would get used to it after a few days.

 

He was wrong.

 

Something about Sonic just seems off, and Shouto can’t exactly define it. It’s more than how his laughs sound fake, or his forced exuberance. There’s something else.

     "So which will you pick today? Do you want to attack individually or as a team?”

     “Team.” Shouto says quietly as he looks over their training grounds. It’s spacious, and it reminds him of one of the smaller areas they have at UA. It’s open and purposely modeled to look like the town. Authentic. He thinks as Sonic removes his flag from his bag.

     "Is that all? Remember, you only have seven minutes to take my flag.” Sonic says as he sucks in a huge breath.

 

       Another thing that Shouto dislikes about his internship is the Pro-Hero’s quirk. Sonic doesn’t wait for a response as he lets loose his first attack. The scream hits Todoroki before he can do much else except try to freeze him. But he can’t think, can’t aim-not like this, and Sonic evades the attack just as Shouto makes a wall of ice. The world tilts as he stumbles backwards. The sound rings smash into the ice, causing part of it to crumble and Sonic screams again. I can’t even freeze him. He thinks as he slowly moves away from the Hero. I wouldn’t be able to get close enough. Momo grabs his hand and pulls him away from the wall. It’s not even about the pain. Shouto thinks as he pauses to freeze the ground behind them. To buy them time.

 

      It’s how disorientating it is. The attack leaves him barely able to think, and let alone coordinate his next attack. Momo hands him a pair of earplugs and he eagerly takes them.

 

      “Do you have a plan?” Shouto asks as he continues to ice the ground.

      “Yes,” She says vibrantly. “And it’s incredibly simple.” She adds as she shows him the small spray bottle in her hand.

      “Is that pepper spray?” he asks as Sonic’s attack reaches his ears again. Shouto shoves the plugs into his ears immediately as the Pro runs towards him. The scream penetrates the earbuds as Shouto rides his ice forward. Sonic’s reaction time is slower than usual. He wasn’t expecting this. Shouto’s hand grazes the Pro’s shirt, leaving a solid layer of frost on his front and Sonic falls backward.  The Pro-Hero screams again as he falls, and Shouto’s body wobbles on the ice. If it wasn’t for my boots, he thinks as he jumps down. I’d fall.

 

       Sonic shouts again and Shouto blocks it with a wall once more, and the Pro breaks it with another scream. His body slams into Shouto, and the teen is tackled to the ground.  Sonic grins down at him, smile too wide and all good-natured enthusiasm gone. His bloodthirsty nature reminds him of Bakugo, but somehow worse. Sonic shrieks right into his face, and it not only hurts but he can’t think. He tries to make himself freeze the pro but the instinct is as scrambled as everything else is.

      “Word of advice kid, your best quirks are your hands and feet. You rely on your ice too much,” Shouto hears him say distantly as his head spins.

      “If your opponent smashes through your ice multiple times, it’s time for a change.” he adds as the sound of crunching ice reaches their ears. He watches Sonic turn and hears the sound of something Spraying. Sonic lets loose howl of pain as Shouto pushes him off and Momo’s hand extends into his field of vision.

 

He takes it, and she’s pulling him forward as she says something. His nausea begins to fade as he  able to think and actually comprehend what’s being said.

       “I sprayed his nose! He can only breathe through his mouth now, which means—which means we have a shot! Todoroki, are you comfortable with doing long distance attacks against a pro?” She asks urgently as they both glance back and see Sonic get to his feet. Yes! He thinks as he creates a long sharpened stick of ice under his palm. He turns back to Sonic and narrows his gaze on the flag taped to his back, the head visible over Sonic’s shoulder.

 

And Shouto chucks his spear right at the Pro.

 

It whizzes past Sonic’s head, and pierces the flag, ripping it off the man. Sonic is openly shocked and Momo wraps her arms around him. But the only thing that Shouto can think that for once, it didn’t happen.

 

I didn’t use his fire. I didn’t fail. Not this time.

 

That resolve sticks with him after they leave the arena.

      “I can’t believe we did it!” Momo exclaims, still energized by their fight.

      “I can. Your plans tend to work remarkably well.” he reminds her and she flushes. He doesn’t have much time to react to her response when Kenji steps up to him.

      “Hey, I was watching your training session with Sonic, mine is next. You’re Endeavor’s son right? I’m a big fan, he’s been my favorite hero since I was a kid.” He says, the words seem to fall out of his mouth. Shouto can feel his scowl forming. Anger washes through him as he forces his expression to revert to his normal impassive one.

      “Yes, he’s my father.” And he’s garbage. He’s a fucking scumbag.

      “I’m just a huge fan—”

      “I’m sorry but we have to go.” Momo cuts him off as Todoroki walks past them both, and exits the hall.


 

I’m not sure about this.

 

     Midoriya thinks as he watches the other villains intermingle. It’s getting late, and that’s not particularly helping his nerves about the situation. He’s met three more today, Magne, Twice, and Spinner, but he still hasn’t spoken with any of them. He’s more than just reluctant to interact with them, but he’s also actually nervous about talking to them. What would I say? He wonders as he remembers what Tadashi had repeated to him before they arrived. That this was an opportunity, that he could learn something from these people.

 

     Shigaraki, Kurogiri, Bomber, and Muscular all have combat-oriented quirks but Toga, Mr.Compress, and Magne’s quirks don’t seem nearly as useful. Midoriya thinks as he tries to consider which one to ask. He’s leaning towards Mr.Compress simply because the villain seems almost normal, if a bit theatrical. He then contemplates how they could utilize their quirks in combat, but it’s difficult. Because every time he tries to consider them from that standpoint,; his mind goes back to the fact that at least half of them want to kill All Might. They want to destroy hero society starting at its core, and every bone in his body screams that he does not belong here.

 

      His gaze darts back to Tadashi, his mentor is discussing battle plans with Shigaraki. The older man looks tired, more worn, and the teen wonders if it’s his fault. Did he overuse his quirk? He doesn’t know what physical cost building costumes must have, but quirks weren’t superpowers. Tadashi had a limit, even if he didn’t want to reveal it to Midoriya. He thinks back to the long hours he spent sleeping on the couch earlier. Was that the cost of overexerting his quirk? Guilt builds in his throat as he considers it. Tadashi’s eyes shift from Shigaraki’s to meet Midoriya’s own, and the teen averts them.

 

    “Midoriya, have you finished practicing yet?”

    “Um-” He begins then breaks off as he realizes that it’s not a real question. Midoriya can’t train because his arm is still healing. It’s a hint that it’s time to get lost. Sure enough he sees the other villains flooding out of the room, aside from Shigaraki and Tadashi. Did they strike a deal? Midoriya wants to stay, and but he knows that he doesn’t have a voice in this discussion.

    “No, I’ll get on that.” He says quietly, obediently, before he leaves the room and the building. Not for the first time, he wonders if there’s actually anything he can do to improve his performance without being permanently injured.

    “Hi you.” A woman giggles and Midoriya stiffens as an arm wraps around his neck and lips trace the edge of his ear. He struggles and she immediately releases hiim. Midoriya turns immediately to face Toga as he stumbles backwards, falling.

    “Um —” He stammers as he stumbles to his feet. She grins at him, but thankfully doesn’t move forward.

    “Hey I’m Toga! Remember me? What’s your name?” She asks him rather happily.

    “I, um haven’t come up with a villain name yet.” he lies immediately. I don’t even know if I want one yet.

    “You don’t technically need a villain name, you could always just give me your real name!” She points out.

    “I

    “You’re blushing, it’s so cute.” She informs him as she continues to corner him. A wall is coming soon. He realizes as he stops in his tracks but she keeps moving forward.

 

    “Hey, did you end up fighting anyone at UA? I tried to avoid combat but I wasn’t very successful.” He blurts in an effort to get her to slow down so that he can think. So that he will have a chance at even processing what was going on. Toga hums as she pauses, expression curious before she shrugs.

   “I didn’t care about them, so I didn’t bother to remember their names, just electricity and earphones.” Kyouka Jirou and Denki Kaminari. Long distance quirks!

   “Were you able to defeat him?” It’s a genuine question this time and she notices. Toga beams at him, blushing at him as she does.

   “Of course! It was kind of tricky of course, two people always kind of are. But after I figured out their quirks, it became much easier. Are long-distance opponents hard for you?”

   “Um….kind of? The invasion made me realise that I’m especially vulnerable to them. They’re difficult for me to escape from.” He admits, shoulders dropping.

   “So can you tell me how you were able to take both of them on?”  He adds, and she laughs at him. He notes that it sounds strangely innocent to come from someone so dangerous.

   “I mean maybe, I guess I could, but I don’t even know your name! And that’s not exactly fair,” She says happily and steps right into his space. He moves backwards, and this time she doesn’t follow. Only watches him with a strange sort of half-smile. When she speaks again, her voice is lower, almost a whisper.

   “I just want a name. Nothing big, and if you’re feeling nervous about it, I won’t tell anyone! I promise.” She says, and he’s just not exactly sure how to regard her. Out of everyone, aside from maybe Shigaraki, she’s been the strangest by far. But.

   “Will you help me fight? Maybe let me watch you take on some opponents? I learn better if I can see people, if that’s not a problem or anything-”

   "Oh I seriously don’t mind at all! If you want to watch me, you can.” She purrs, as she grins at him.

   “Honestly, you can just tell me part of your name if you want. Tell me your full name when we become even better friends! I don’t mind,” She adds as she grabs his hand, and his face goes hot.

   “O —okay. It’s Izuku.” he whispers.

   “Hey Izuku, I’m Toga!” She giggles as she squeezes his hand and he lets out a nervous laugh.

   “So um, I can watch you fight? Can you tell me when the League’s next mission is?”

    “Hmmm, I have an even better idea Izuku,” She says with a grin

    “Ask to be paired with me when we attack Sonic.” She suggests and Izuku is not sure if that’s a good idea.

    “Okay,” He whispers as he tries to shake the feeling that he’s made a huge mistake.

    “I’ll see you then.”

 

     The two nights before the attack are more stressful than usual. He has an exam in the morning before it, so he can’t exactly call off school to get extra rest. In addition, he has to present the information he’s gathered on Sonic to the League. It’ll be fine. He thinks to himself as he goes over his notes for the exam and for the fight itself. The next day, after his exam, he already feels incredibly exhausted but he reminds himself that things will be fine. He’s practiced this, taken detailed notes, he’s trained for the attack. Everything will be fine.


    Everything is not fine!

    “Sonic’s main weapon is his quirk, but it’s also his main weakness too.” I’ve always hated talking in front of a group. Midoriya thinks as he stands in front of the League and Tadashi. Toga waves at him, and that somehow makes him more nervous. He’s pretty sure that his face is a near impossible shade of read right now and — focus.

    “What are you going on about now? That doesn’t made any sense,” Shigaraki complains, voice sounding strained. Like he always does. Midoriya’s mind provides and he shakes his head, trying not to focus on how much he disliked Shigaraki.

    “Yes, yes it does! His quirk is sound based, very similar to PresentMic’s actually. Their main difference is that Sonic’s quirk actually focuses on disorientating his victims. While PresentMic’s attacks are just sound itself, it hurts the ears, this incapacitates. But I’m off topic! Sonic’s attacks aren’t fit for areas where there are numerous civilians around. They’d also be dangerous to him in any secluded space.”

    “Secluded like a cave?” Dabi asks, smiling slightly and Midoriya nods.

    “Yes, a cave could work, or some kind of building….” He says awkwardly.

    “Excellent analysis!” Mr.Compress congratulates him and Toga nods in agreement.

    “You’re so smart!”

    “Thanks? But I wasn’t done.” He says quickly, trying to finish this as quickly as possible.

    “Sonic also has high close combat capabilities. We’re going to have to catch him off guard, at the very least —” The sound of something crumbling interrupts him and he watches as the wall turns into dust under Shigaraki’s hands.

    “I think we have that covered.” He says hoarsely, before he lets out a high pitched cackle that shills Midoriya to the bone. And that feeling is back. The feeling that he does not belong here.

 

After he’s finished talking to them about Sonic’s weaknesses, Tadashi comes up to him with a smaller woman following behind him.

 

    “.....I’m impressed.” He says reluctantly, and Midoriya’s heart drops to his stomach.

    “You don’t have to thank me-really what I did wasn’t that impressive. Anyone could’ve done it honest!” Midoriya stammers, as he tries to figure out a way to talk to Tadashi about this. About the fact that they couldn’t help these people, not long term anyone. Tadashi was right, they were all villains, but they were still different too.

 

    “It’s because of that, I want to introduce you to someone.” He says and nods at the female. She grins at him, and he notes that her green eyes match her hair as she extends her hand to him.

    “I’m Makoto.” She greets him as he takes it. She squeezes it and he flinches due to the pressure she’s putting on his broken hand. But it’s warm, warmer than any hand he’s ever grasped before and he’s tempted to pull away.

    “Um-”

    “Don’t worry, I’m a doctor. I’m a contract medical professional for the league when things get…..messy.” She explains as she releases it, and gives him a wide but very tired smile. He flexes his fingers first, then his arm, both of them.

    “Don’t make a habit of getting hurt. I’m very busy and can’t always be on call.” She explains and he nods strongly.

    “Thanks so much!” He exclaims. “I’ll try not to get hurt more, I won’t overuse your quirk.” He says and he hopes it’s true. She just smiles at him, like she knows it’s not and walks away. Tadashi watches her leave before he turns and grins at Midoriya.

    “Now go home and get some sleep. We have a big day tomorrow.”


 

    “Can you believe that it’s over this quickly?” Momo asks as she and Shouto glances at the clock. “We still have three hours.” He reminds her.

    “Yeah but we haven’t really done much. Combat training was nice, but I was hoping we’d be able to get more of the pro-hero experience.” Her voice drops to a whisper as Sonic enters the room. He’s wearing the same smile he had prior to their fight and he has several files in his hand.

    “Ayame’s brought it to my attention that neither of you have been on a proper patrol with me yet. I know that you only have a few hours left, and you guys want to relax here…..” He trails off.

    “I’d like to go sir,” Momo says immediately. “It’d be a good chance for me to experience what a combat oriented Pro-hero’s routine would be, sir.” She adds again and Shouto nods in agreement. It would be better than sitting in the office. A way to kill time. He follows the others, distantly contemplating if this patrol would even last one hour, let alone three.


Chapter Text

      “I don’t think Kenji intended to upset you. At the very least, that prospect is incredibly unlikely. He was just excited.”

      Todoroki’s pace slows as Sonic and his support walk past them. It’s midday now, and the skies above them are a subdued blue that seem to reflect his latent exasperation. He remembers the irritating question Kenji had asked him, remembers his father and--

      “He should have kept that to himself.” Todoroki says shortly, as he and Momo stay behind. She hugs her coat closer to her chest as she sighs.

      “Admittedly, the information at my disposal that concerns your relationship with your father is rather limited. However, I have concerns that in your attempts to distance yourself from him…..you may be giving him more control over your life.”  Her words wash through him like ice as he opens his mouth to respond, but fails to. Tangled emotions rise up within him towards her, resentment, anger, and fear . They’re disrupted at the sight of her face, eyes abruptly widening as she points above him. He follows her gaze to the sky, once light blue and now entirely consumed in smoke.

      Immediately he creates ice under his feet, reluctantly grateful for the exit from this conversation. He rides it forward, following the smoke trail to the burning building not one block away. “Apologies for falling behind. Where is Sonic?” He says immediately to the remaining Pros, as he takes in the sight ahead of him. A burning building, several ambulances and firetrucks in the area.

      “He ran inside! Kid stay back,” A medic tells him as Sonic exits the building with survivors in tow.  He flexes his fingers as Sonic hands the survivors over to the medic. Soon afterwards, the pro is bent over coughing and Todoroki approaches.

      “Is that all of them?” Shouto asks immediately, and Sonic shakes his head.

      “Several more. Don’t go inside, I can’t afford for you to get hurt on my watch.” He says and interrupts himself with another cough.

      “Going inside wouldn’t be necessary.” Todoroki says as he allows his ice to cover his palm. For a moment, Sonic stares at him as if he’s not quite seeing him. Then he nods and Todoroki crosses the distance to the building and places his palm on one hot wall.  It takes mere moments for his ice to spread and completely cover the building. Then he melts it shortly afterwards, and ignores the open mouthed staring that follows his actions. It’s normal for people who aren’t used to his quirk.

      “Do you know how many survivors there are?” He asks shortly as more police enter the building. “At least twenty-five. Apparently they targeted some of the ambulances as well.” Sonic adds as he places a hand on Todoroki’s shoulder. “You did good kid.” he tells him and Todoroki resists the urge to shake it off. He’s not sure how to address the compliment either, so he ignores it.

      "Is there anything that we can do?”

      “It’s out of our hands now.” Sonic responds dismissively. “We perform rescues, the cops do the rest. Besides, I don’t think either of our quirks would be very helpful.” He admits as Momo runs to them.

      “Has the situation been resolved sir?” Momo manages to say despite panting. Her face is red as she stiffens in front of Sonic.

      “I apologize for falling behind, sir.” She adds, and he smiles without thinking.

      “Maybe not ours, but I think Momo could be very helpful.”


      Anxiety hangs over Midoriya’s head as he waits in the caves with Bomber. Things are going to be okay. He tells himself as he unsuccessfully tries to calm himself down. Midoriya is nervous because he’s part of a squad to kill a pro-hero. Is this the best way. No, he wasn’t being honest with himself; on some level he thought that his mentor was wrong. He just wasn’t sure what the right answer was either. Still, as the moment of their attack drew closer, his concerns only grew.

 

      The secondary cause of his anxiety was no secret, namely it was the villain that he had been paired with for this assignment. Bomber was not Toga Himiko and he was someone that made Midoriya feel significant discomfort. It could’ve been Shigaraki. He reminds himself as he tried to steer his mind in more comforting directions. I’ve memorized the map of the cave. I’ll be able to escape if necessary. And Toga shouldn’t be gone for long. He reminds himself as he stares down at his covered hands. The suits overall aesthetic had hardly changed, aside from the additional buttons on both sides of his wrists. But on a basic level, much of the technology had been changed, and now it had more equipment. Flash bombs, gases, tools that would make necessary escapes that much easier to pull off. His gauntlets had been replaced by a smaller, more efficient pair that looked more akin to thick gloves than anything else. They still were capable of creating incredible blasts, but now they could create small scale attacks as well,specifically electrical currents that could incapacitate his opponents.

 

      And lastly, the suit could heat up the exterior….enough to melt through ice. It has some drawbacks though. Namely, that the suit couldn’t be warmed up intermittently, and the cool down function came at the cost of using heat for at least five minutes. Overheating would happen if it was used for a prolonged period of time, but Tadashi hadn’t given him a set time limit. I have to be careful. I can’t afford to mess up again, I won’t. Especially not after he was given a second chance. That means that I have to endure this. He thinks as he gives his notebook a final onceover before he allows his gaze to drift back to the villain he was paired with.

 

      Akihiko Takahashi is a larger man whose dedication to fitness is visible in his physique. The fabric mask he wears stops at his mouth, revealing a sneer that Midoriya isn’t fond of. He’s strong. Midoriya thinks later as he adds notes to his journal. Takahashi’s quirk is mostly limited to contact with earth based materials. If it’s a certain mass, he can detonate it at will. He hasn’t revealed the amount required yet. Midoriya thinks with a sigh as he crouches deep within the caves and far from Takahashi. But do I actually need to know? He’s relying on Tadashi’s technology after all. He’s far enough away that debris from the bomb can’t hurt him. Even though I don’t know where they are. He’s already came up with several potential locations for the bombs, namely all of the entrances and the exits. But more importantly, he’s put distance between him and Takahashi, and now he can finally breathe. He knows many facts that should calm him. He’s aware that the League wouldn’t risk hurting him, because it would damage their relationship with Tadashi. That should make him feel safe.

 

     It doesn’t.

 

     He doesn’t like Takahashi. In fact, he doesn’t like most of the league’s members. He’s not even sure that he likes Toga, but out of all them, she’s been the easiest to get used too. And he desperately wants her to return so that he can shake this feeling. The feeling that there are shells under his feet. The feeling that the material he’s walking on is cold, and due to break at any moment. That he’s going to drown. And Izuku knows that he’s prepared for this. The exits are memorized, and he knows what to do if things go wrong. He’s not even going to be directly involved in the fighting.

 

       He knows that Toga will return soon, and that should make him feel better. Because his main role in this attack is to lure —just thinking that makes it hard to swallow. The idea that he, Izuku Midoriya, would be part of a scheme to lure a hero to his death. It shakes some part of him that he can’t even begin to name, but then he remembers.

 

       Remembers a monster that he met for the first time at a coffee store.

 

       And he wonders, how exactly is he supposed to kill Kenshiro of all people, and he can’t get past this. I need to get stronger in more ways than one. Maybe the real reason why he found the League unsettling was because they forced him to confront what he was doing. Because now he was similar to them in at least one way. He thinks about Stain again, about how the hero-killer killed people that were by all accounts, noble and decent people. He killed heroes that saved countless lives, and now they were gone, because of a fanatic’s snap judgements. What if I end up doing the same thing? What if Tadashi already has? His thoughts, unwelcome as they are, whisper an unfortunate truth. And if I do, then the difference between the league and I, would be a case of semantics at best. He would be just as bad.

 

     But still.

     He didn’t think he would ever be able to understand people who just wanted to destroy.

 

     His train of thought is interrupted as the sound of footsteps reached his ears. Soon there’s a flashlight being shined in is face, and he reminds himself that this cave is technically a public place. But too late he realizes that teenagers have to be accompanied with adults.

     “Hey, what are you doing down here? Are you lost? Where are your parents?” Each question pushes his existing anxiety to a higher level. At first, his mouth struggles to make vowels, let alone words, but still he makes it. 

     “I um, came inside because I thought it looked really cool.” he stammers, and the woman does not look impressed.

     “Do you even have a pass?” This question is decided irritated and all Midoriya can say is

     “Um….”

     “This isn’t the place to play games, something could happen to you.” She responded, tone deadpan as a sound echoes somewhere deep in the cave. Near the eastern entrance. A chill made its way up his throat as the woman stepped past him.

     “Are you alone?”

     “Yes, I think there could be an animal or something there.” Midoriya blurts out before he could stammer himself into a corner. Please just leave. The next noises are the tell-tale sounds of footsteps, and something falling. Midoriya recognizes this for what it is. A trap. She’s not even a pro. She’s just a ranger. His body moves before his mouth does, as he physically steps in front of her.

     “Wait um, if it’s a bear you could get hurt.” He manages, and she gently, but firmly moves him aside. “Is anyone back there? I’m a ranger, I’m going to need to see your pass.” She called as she removes a weapon from her holster. He recognizes it as a tranquilizer pistol and he has never felt more torn in his life. She’s in danger.

     “Wait--”

     “Stay back or I will call the cops. What have you gotten yourself into kid?” She whispers the last part, looking concerned, for him.

     “ I --” He breaks off because he says more than she certainly will call the cops. But he can’t close his mouth and-- suddenly everything is white, then it’s a dusty brown, and all he can hear is ringing in ears. His back aches, so does his arm as he forces his eyes open. Takahashi is above him,a slight smirk on his face as he takes in the surroundings. Midoriya manages to sit up as he also looks around, eyes searching for the woman and freezing when he saw her. Or rather, her debris riddled corpse.

    “You’re a strange fucking kid you know that?” Takahashi said as he pulled Midoriya to his feet.

    “Why did you do that?!” His voice is verging on a scream, and his body is shaking. He’s moments away from bursting into tears and the other villain gives him a look of contempt.

    “Are you as stupid as you look? We can’t leave behind any witnesses. Or did someone forget to tell you?” Takahashi scoffed and Midoriya swallows hard. The tears come slowly.

    “We’re also supposed to keep things quiet. They probably heard us! She would’ve left if you hadn’t made noise, you wanted to kill her!” The accusations fly out of his mouth before he can stop himself. For one moment, Takahashi’s expression twists into one of pure rage. Midoriya’s scared enough to understand his situation but too angry to shut up.

     “She didn’t have to die.” he adds, quieter but still angry and the other man scoffs as he steps away from Midoriya. He grabs the corpse and scowls.

     “Then maybe she should’ve listened to you. Now move your ass, if they did hear me things are happening ahead of schedule. I have more things to blow up, brat.” He snaps as he throws her over his shoulder and walks ahead. Her head rests against Bomber’s lower back, brown eyes blank and staring ahead.

 

       Midoriya stumbles after him, horror tightening his chest as he’s unable to tear his eyes away from her. Collateral damage. His brain whispers. In 65% of villain attacks, at least one civillain is injured. In 25% of them, the injury is serious.  And the remaining 10% are fatal. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Horror is replaced by guilt, as he clenches and unclenches his fists. His heart is pounding in his chest and he feels angry, but he’s not sure what to do. This was the only way. He reminds himself as he follows Takahashi. But he can’t remove his gaze from the woman’s unblinking, cold one.


       It’s approximately twenty minutes into finishing his patrol with Sonic that Todoroki realizes that he made a poor decision. He should have stayed behind with Momo. Belatedly he’s grateful to Ayame for accompanying them, as going alone with Sonic would have been an even worse idea.

      “What was that?” Ayame asks urgently, as Todoroki tilts his head in the direction of the noise. It sounded large, almost like an explosion. Not almost like.

      “Todoroki, Ayame, head back to the entrance.” Sonic orders as he walks towards the noise.

      “Not to disobey your orders sir, but if there’s an unknown threat then perhaps we should locate it before we leave you alone.” Ayame responds, as Todoroki takes in his surroundings. A cave setting isn’t ideal for any of their quirks. In fact….

 

For Todoroki’s quirk, it was essentially a hostile environment. The limited lighting and uneven landscape wasn’t compatible with his ice, especially since he preferred to use it on a large scale. And for Sonic--

        “We should leave. You can’t use your quirk in this cave, call backup instead.” He says shortly, as the precarious nature of their situation sinks in. Sonic’s smile widens as his gaze shifts to Todoroki.

         “Interns aren’t the ones that make these types of calls.” Sonic responds, and reminds Todoroki that passive aggression is incredibly ineffective.   He’s upset that I brought up these points instead of him. He understood pride better than most, but it isn’t enough for him to soften his approach.

        “With all due respect, Sonic, I’m making an incredibly obvious observation about our situation.” Todoroki states distantly, as Ayame clears her throat.

        “I’ll do it.” She offers as she removes her phone from her pocket. Meanwhile, irritation colors Sonic’s gaze as Todoroki meets it unflinchingly. The sound of the phone ringing was present in the background. Sonic’s gaze shifts with the sound, before pausing and widening.

        “Ayame, what happened to you? Your suit looks like it’s falling apart….” Sonic trails off. It’s only when his attention shifts that he realizes how literal Sonic’s statement was. Ayame’s clothes seemed like they were almost melting off of her. It’s more than her clothes. He realizes as he takes in the sight of her. Her skin was doing the same thing, but despite this her expression is unconcerned as her call is answered.

        “Hello? We’re ready,” She answers, her melting face twisting into a grin. That’s neither a location, nor a call for backup. He sends ice her way halfway through the thought and she jumps backwards. Her foot is caught, and she manages to kick it free, sacrificing her balance in the process.

       “That wasn’t very nice.” She croans, the flesh falling off her face to reveal features that Todoroki remembers. She’s part of the League. He realizes that their situation is much worse than he originally anticipated. I can’t ride towards her, this portion of the cave is too narrow. Likewise, if I try to freeze her, I could impede my own mobility.   Toga doesn’t move towards them, instead she stays in her original crouch, grinning.

 

      “Sonic leave. There’s no way that she’s here for me!” Todoroki orders as her grin widens.

      “You’re so smart Todoroki. Fitting for the son of the number two hero. You could be my type of you just bled a little more, but that’ll change soon.” She purrs as her body is lifted from the ground. He reaches for the woman, a piece of her sleeve tearing as she’s pulled backwards.  And then all he can see is dust, rocks and flying shards of ice as his senses are consumed by the explosion.

 

        For a moment, he’s in free-fall, then his instincts kick in again. Ice builds under his feet as a light becomes visible in the distance. It’s Sonic’s flashlight.  And once more, he can see the entrance coming up. I don’t have enough time to slow down and analyze the situation. He realizes as he speeds after them. These are villains, could Sonic die. His thoughts are interrupted by the sound of shouting, and then he notices the figure of a person approaching him. Quickly. Still, it’s slower than him, enough that he has time to raise a wall of ice to trail along his path, internally berating himself for not remembering to do it earlier. His worry was making him sloppy. I need to focus, or I won’t get her back.

 

        Moments later, it catches up to him and he recognizes it as the villain from before. The suit has small differences, but it’s enough for him to recognize the man. He can still hear shouting, but now he can recognize it as he realizes, that the villain is yelling at him.

        “Stop!”

        “Out of my way.” Todoroki responds flatly, as he raises the tide of ice his way. The villain smashes through his ice in an instant, and soon his body smashes into Todoroki’s own. He hears something loud, like an engine and Todoroki lets the ice spread from his fingertips, as his own feet are lifted. He twists against the grip as his sleeves become moist, and then the sound of a second explosion reaches his ears. Followed by several more. Dust clouds his vision before he twists away, his feet finding purchase on ice once more. Until the ground beneath it collapses under his feet, and he falls into darkness.

 



           Midoriya can barely hear his own thoughts over the hammering sound of his heartbeat as he falls through darkness. Did anyone see? What I did? He thinks as activates the engines in his suit to break his fall. The button is located on his wrist, which makes things difficult but he manages. He mimics Bakugo once more, as he lowers himself slowly to the ground with his blasts. He coughs as the smoke and dust enters the vents in his helmet, and he stumbles along the cave path. The entire area feels tight, claustrophobic, and he feels trapped. His hands instinctively grip his helmet, and he desperately wants to tear it off. It’s only through force of will that he manages to bring his shaking hands to his sides as he tries to think through the situation. What do I know. What do I know.  He isn’t sure where Todoroki landed, but Midoriya remembers the layout of the cave from the maps. There’s an exit that leads to a plateau, and he can figure out where to regroup later. His hand shakes against the cold, rocky wall as the weight of what he did sinks in. I wasn’t supposed to interfere. But I did anyway,.... He hadn’t planned to save Todoroki. In that moment, all he could think about was the woman who died earlier. His body moved on it’s own. We’re only here to kill Sonic. I just-

         “Didn’t want an innocent person to die.” he whispers it aloud as he feels along the wall. What would’ve happened if he hadn’t saved Todoroki? If he had been captured- one of them had been captured. Her face comes to mind as he tries to remember her name. And it hits him that he never even learned the name of the officer. Would her family know that she’s dead? Nausea creeps up his throat as he pictures Takahashi carrying her corpse. Would any of their families know if something happened to them? Or would they just be missing forever? He stumbles along the wall, his covered hands gripping at flat rock. What if the other woman’s already dead? Oh- He swallows bile as he tries to focus on the problem at hand. He remembers Tadashi’s words about them not being so different than the League. From villains in general. He thinks about Stain, and how ultimately, Midoriya himself might not be that different by the end.

          But I want to be.

          He takes a second to steady his breathing as he stares down at his shaking hands. He wanted to be different. But what did different even look like? And was it even something better? Is this even possible?

          There’s a sound behind him, the sound of splashing water and feet on rock not too far behind.

         “Toga?” He asks, hopeful and suddenly his feet, ankles and lower legs are freezing cold. A lone flame springs to life, carefully contained in a palm as it lights up a familiar scarred face.

         “I’m not who you’re looking for. But I think you can help me find whom I’m searching for. And tell me what the purpose of this little ambush was.” Midoriya has never heard someone sound so enraged yet composed before. He’s Endeavor’s son. He thinks as his eyes go to the flame. He’s using his fire now. His thoughts are interrupted by the cold that’s suddenly up to his waist and he instinctively flinches away from it. But realizes with growing dread, that he can’t move.

         “I’m low on time and patience. Tell me what I need to know, or this will get worse.” He orders. I have to get out of here. Midoriya presses the lower button on his wrist and immediately warmth spreads through his suit. He activates his gauntlets as the ice begins to melt, and takes off.   Where am I going? He thinks as he hears the unmistakable sound of ice not far behind him. Despite his gauntlets, he doesn’t fly very high, afraid to crash into rocks unseen above. Todoroki’s flames light the caves partially, but not nearly enough to give him a clear view above.

         Where am I going? He wonders. Three exits.

         “You’re not getting away.” The hero shouts behind him and Midoriya unhooks a smoke bomb from his utility belt. It explodes upon contact with the rocky floor, and he can hear Todoroki’s coughing behind him.   I need to be careful, I only have two left. Now where am I going? If I go up, then I would lead him back to the group. But he could get hurt by the others, killed even. He thinks as something large breaks against his suit. He glances back, squinting in the dimly lit cave as he reaches back, fingers grasping something solid that turns to liquid rather quickly. Ice? He realizes as he crashes down this time, landing on his feet but barely as he runs away from Todoroki. Still, I could avoid that by leading him to the northwest exit. Higher altitude means less oxygen and less fire. But he doesn’t use his fire very often anyway. Still, if I forced him to rely on fire by fighting off his ice attacks, could I have a chance? He dodges another one as he’s forced to increase the power of his engines. He kicks his feet free of melting ice as he lunges forward.

          He’s terribly overheated but attempts to ignore it as he focuses on the problem at hand.

          If I did beat him, what would happen after that? He envisions the woman’s corpse again as he takes flight once more. Then that leaves the southeast exit. He thinks as he increases the power used again, and tries his best to keep dodging projectiles. Light becomes visible after several minutes, and he increases it once more. He can feel the pressure on his fingers as the heat builds, and he finally reaches to solid ground. He lands several feet away without much grace, as he turns his engines off and turns off heat on his suit. He doesn’t want to risk being injured before the fight has even begun. He takes in his surroundings and quickly notices that the plateau simply stops. I went the wrong way. He realizes as he quickly tries to come up with a new escape plan. There’s no gradual decline, there’s simply no more rock, and Midoriya doesn’t have the skill to slowly descend downward that long. I need to think. I need to come up with a plan, or else I will lose. He takes a shaky breath as he puts more distance between himself and the entrance.

          Todoroki appears less than a moment later, lowering himself down from his wall of ice.  He tilts his head, looking over Midoriya’s shoulder and at the end of the plateau. You’ve noticed it too, right Todoroki? Midoriya thinks as he allows his finger to rest on the button of his gauntlet. There’s only one exit and you’re standing in front of it. I really have only one way to win this.

         “If this is a trap, it isn’t a very well-thought out one.” Todoroki says, unimpressed as Midoriya tries to gauge what his body temperature must be. At least below 0. He guesses as he thinks back to the walls of ice created by the other man in the cave. He remembers the videos he watched of Todoroki’s fights, and the notes he took. He’s never seen the other teen exhaust himself in a fight, the vast majority of them ended incredibly quickly. 

He probably has a greater resistance to cold than the average person. But since his battles end so quickly, is his body used to being exposed to extreme cold for very long periods of time? Either way, outlasting him is my best shot.

         “I’m assuming that you don’t have very many smoke grenades left. Although you could have other weapons, I doubt it’s enough for you to beat me.” He discloses as he takes a calm step forward. Midoriya matches it with his own step back, as his shaky fingers set his watch and relief begins to build. It’s good that Todoroki’s talking, because it gives Midoriya more time to form a plan. Does he not know that? Midoriya wonders briefly before the answer becomes very clear. Todoroki understands, he just doesn’t care, he’s assuming that he will win regardless of what Midoriya does.

 

         “From both our previous encounter and our present one, I have concluded that I am stronger than you. It would be in both of our best interests if we ended this now and you told me what the League’s objective is. All-Might isn’t here, so why are they?”

Midoriya swallowes hard at the question, it was a good one. Still he didn’t respond, and Todoroki exhales a breath so cold that Midoriya can see it.

         “Let’s see how long it takes you to change your mind.” He comments as ice rapidly builds under his feet. Midoriya activates his gauntlets as the wall approaches him at high speeds and Midoriya’s blast halts its advance. The sound of shattering ice filled his ears, and Todoroki’s expression remains unchanged as the hero in training simply attacks again. This attack is bigger, faster even and Midoriya increases the size of his blasts without any time to spare. Once again, he hears the sound of ice shattering but there’s another sound accompanying it. The sound of someone running. Immediately he thinks back to their first fight, the flames that appeared when Midoriya caught him off guard. If he used them now, when Midoriya was off guard--I can’t shatter fire. He realized with growing panic as he stepped back, and turned on his heel to avoid to incoming attack. Todoroki’s palm grazes the side of his helmet. Ice partially obscures his vision as Midoriya turns on the current and punches the other man in the stomach. It’s only after Todoroki stumbles backwards that Midoriya notices that his entire forearm is covered in ice. But he is not, by any stretch, on fire. He thinks back to watching the limited footage of Todoroki, to their prior fight; his ice dominated fights and the sheer lack of fire that he was otherwise capable of producing. Midoriya realizes that this is more than a combat preference. as he notices a path of ice rapidly encroaching on his space. He tries to move out of  reach, but he isn’t fast enough to avoid it. I have to turn it back on. He realizes, panic spreading as ice encases his leg and swiftly spreads to his body. He activates the heat and the inside of his suit is hot. Moisture covers his body as his restraints melt and Todoroki runs towards him again. He’s already recovered?! Panicked, he moves backwards as a hand grips his shoulder while a palm reaches for his helmet. It’s in that moment Midoriya takes the hand, pulling him closer as he shocks him. Then he drops his body weight and throws the other man over him. The other teen’s ice catches him as he rides the wave back to his feet. And soon, Midoriya is narrowly avoiding another attack by blowing it to pieces, and this time his hand hurts.  His breathing shakes as he tries to catch his breath. Somehow he’s managed to put some distance between them, and Midoriya feels so exhausted. I just have to outlast him.

       “That time was more desperate. Keeping me at bay isn’t easy for you, is it?” Todoroki notes. Don’t respond. Midoriya reminds himself as Todoroki charges towards him with more waves of ice, and no fire. Ambivalence washes through Midoriya. On some level, as Midoriya struggles to keep Todoroki back, he recognizes that this is a good thing. This is giving him the chance he never had to win. I can outlast Todoroki this way, He thinks with growing confidence, and calm cementing with every tick of his watch, I know I can.

      Still, there is an unfortunate truth hanging over Midoriya as he tries to keep the other teen at bay. With every restricted attack, he feels himself being pushed closer to a place of anger. With every barrage of ice, Midoriya is hit with a level of power he has never had and never will. And Todoroki is only using half of it. And he sees so many memories flash through his mind as he continues to fight Todoroki off: Bakugo’s abilities throughout their lives, about his rampant inability to even pose a threat to Kenshiro. Midoriya’s breath catches as he tries to put distance between them again as he struggles to breathe. The rampant heat throughout his body isn’t helping things. His fingers curl as he pushes down the urge to remove his helmet.

     But even then, he can’t push those thoughts out of his head. Inside his mind he hears; All men are not created equal; as he dodges more ice. He has decided to use his gauntlets sparingly for the time being to allow his body time to heal. But when Todoroki sends another wave his way, Midoriya realizes that he can no longer afford to be careful. He raises the power on his gauntlets, activates them and---nothing happens. The wave crashes into him, sending him flying backwards, and reminds him of heights he can never reach.   What-what happened?

           “What’s wrong? Having trouble fending off my attacks?” Todoroki asks, as he walks towards him. Ice has covered most of his body by now. He’s reminded of the hours he’s spent training, of the broken bones that he’s inflicted on himself----and how they pale in comparison to this raw power. Raw power that’s currently only being used at half its capacity. How? How could someone be this strong and not even use all of it? Reflexively, his hands ball into fists and Todoroki’s eyes narrow at the sight of it.

           “You’re not going to last much longer. Let’s end this.” he announces and it’s only then that Midoriya notices the slight movements in Todoroki’s body. He’s shivering. Not a lot but he still is. He realizes as the alarm on his watch finally goes off.

           “If you used your fire, would it restrict the effects of your ice?” Midoriya manages to croak as he depowers his suit. Todoroki’s approach halts at the question as he scowls at the other teen.

           “What?” he asks, and Midoriya coughs.

           “I didn’t understand it at first, but that would be the only logical reason why you’d hold back in this fight. Assuming that it’s a logical decision.” Midoriya explained, gaze focused on Todoroki’s confused expression.

          “But it isn’t, is it?” He asks quietly, and watches Todoroki’s eyes darken with rage.

          “Is that what this has been? Some kind of poorly planned attempt to manipulate me into using his fire? Did my old man put you up to this?” The accusations are angry, and loaded with a history that Midoriya has neither anticipated nor understands. He opens his mouth, but isn’t sure what to say to properly convince Todoroki otherwise. Regardless, this is the biggest opening that Midoriya’s had this entire fight, and it would be smart to treat it as such. His hand slowly wraps around one of his two remaining smoke grenades as he reminds himself of his earlier rule. Remain silent, don’t say a thing. His non-reaction seems to be enough for Todoroki, who only scowls.

          “Now I’m angry.” He growls, and charges forward. His movements have been slowed by the cold but only slightly, and Midoriya unhooks the grenade from his belt. He activates his gauntlets to launch himself into the air once more, and lets the grenade drop. Smoke consumes that portion of the plateau as Midoriya deactivates his gauntlets halfway down. He drops several feet away from Todoroki, and he’s much closer the entrance. Yet he can’t stop himself from turning around and screaming;

          “Why won’t you use your fire?”

 

          “Why do you care about this? I don’t need it, I don’t need anything from him to become a hero.” He coughs as he steps out of the gas.   Him? Midoriya thinks back to my old man and everything clicks.

          “Your dad? You’re refusing to use your powers because you have problems with your dad?” He’s not sure if his voice sounds more incredulous or angry, but Todoroki’s eyes narrow.

         “You don’t understand anything.” he says through his teeth and Midoriya angrily takes a step forward.

         “Don’t you-do you have any idea of what you have?! Do you know how many people would give anything to be that powerful?! To have the potential to save so many people?!” He’s verging on shouting by now, but it’s hard to care. He’s just so angry, at the absurdity of this situation, at Todoroki’s lack of understanding of what he has.

         “ Shut. Up.”

         “Have you even considered the enormous risk you take every time you go into a battle only using half of what you can offer?” he could hear All Might now, reminding him that there were some villains that were just too powerful to fight quirkless. And Todoroki has all the power, and yet.

And yet.

        “Even if you could become a pro without using your fire, it wouldn’t be right! You don’t deserve to be a pro if you’re not willing to use your full power!”

        “What do you know about being a hero? Or should I remind you which one of us is a villain.” He says angrily, and Midoriya’s eyes widen at that.

        “I didn’t have a choice, it was the only way--”

        “Is that what you tell yourself at night? With every victim, ‘I didn’t have a choice’? Do you honestly believe that? Every villain has something, do you really think that you’re different?” Todoroki asked incredulously. I’m not, but.

        “I’m going to be.” he responds, tone somewhat unsure and Todoroki’s gaze is one of bland contempt.

        “You’re delusional.” Todoroki says dismissively.

        “Maybe,” Midoriya concedes. “But I’m right about you. Every time you hold back, you’re putting not only your life, but the lives of civilians at more risk than they need to be. This isn’t about your father, this is about you. You and your powers!” he says strongly.

        “ What is wrong with you? You can’t just--like you know anything.” He says through his teeth, and Midoriya takes a shuddering inhale.

        “Maybe I don’t know much about you or your father. No one really does, but you’re so amazing Todoroki,” Midoriya admits, loosening his grip.

        “You could be a great hero. Better than I ever could have. But you don’t deserve to be one if you’re not willing to use one hundred percent of what you’ve got! There are some villains that are so strong. Shigaraki is strong, and if you don’t give it everything you have you’re going to die along with the people that you want to protect. You can-you can do better than that can’t you?!” He yells, breath catching as he sees flames spring from Todoroki’s left side.

        “I said shut up.” Todoroki hisses through his teeth as his ice melts around him. Midoriya’s eyes widened at the sight, he couldn’t help but smile at how incredible it was even though he shouldn’t have been surprised--

        “What are you smiling about? You were barely able to keep me at bay before,” Todoroki notes as he approaches. “You don’t have a chance now.”

        He’s right. Midoriya realizes. HIs mind feels as exhausted as his body does, but still he can’t find it in himself to regret what he’s done. Todoroki is stronger now, yes, but that also makes him a better hero. Midoriya isn’t sorry about that. His smile widens at Todoroki’s comment as he activates his gauntlets.

        “We’ll see!” He calls as he blasts himself towards him. His hand grasps his final grenade as fire and ice hit him and--

The battle is over incredibly quickly.


 

        Shouto feels many things at once. Frustrated, confused, spiteful, emotionally exhausted but above all else, alive. He feels like, for once in his incredibly resentful life, that he is unrestricted. That he can breathe, and that’s an incredibly unexpected emotion to feel as one stands over a villain, no, a living conundrum that is buried under rock.  One that he doesn’t even partially regret burying, yet he can’t help reflecting on what happened just prior to this fight. The explosion, being pushed out of the way. Shouto had originally assumed that saving him had been the unintended result of poor planning. Yet now, he was almost certain that this had been done purposely. Well, mostly. He concedes internally as he reveals the villain’s covered head. His head gear has been partially dented by the rocks, the screen has been cracked as well.

         He’s aware of several things as he touches the helmet. One, that if the villain’s earlier movements were anything to go by, the release button is in the back. Two, that the screen could shatter now or later, but regardless it’s an unnecessary hazard risk that can and should be fixed quickly. And lastly, on some foreign level, Shouto wants to see what’s behind this mask. He wants to know who convinced him to break his own rules. He’s not sure which of the latter of two drives him to press the button, but he does, and that’s all that really matters.

        “Wait--” the villain begins, but his arms are still buried and Shouto’s already pressed it. He pulls it off of him, revealing wide, incredulous green eyes fixed on a young face. We’re the same age. “It would’ve happened regardless after you were apprehended. And your screen looks like it’s about to collapse,” He tells him casually as he lets the helmet drop.

        “You should get backup before the others find us.” The villain says, not acknowledging Shouto’s statement. Shouto narrows his eyes as he looms over the other teen. You don’t make any sense.

        “I’ll be fine, but there are some questions that I need you to answer. Several actually. Why did you save me earlier? Or any of this? You lost. Earlier you spewed that crap about me not being a good enough hero, but your actions directly compromised your own mission.” He stated. “Why did you do this?”

 

It takes him several moments to notice the tears welling up in the other’s eyes. Before he can comment, the villain responds.

         “I couldn’t let it happen again. I couldn’t let them kill another innocent person.”

         “ What?”

         “It was only supposed to be him. But I was-no I was stupid to think it would only go that far. I think I just wanted to think…….I saved you because I didn’t want another innocent person to die. I won’t let it happen again.”

 

Todoroki stares at the teen with growing bewilderment. Idly, he thinks back on Endeavor’s many encounters with villains, AllMight’s, even his own. And he becomes aware of a singular question; why did they become villains? He’s never cared much for the question, never found it to be worth contemplating, until now. Later. He thinks as he presses his palm against the villain’s chest, and ice spreads over him. If I’m still interested, I’ll pursue it later. But right now, I have more pressing matters. He thinks as the villain visibly struggles.

          “There’s no point. Sonic and his support can chisel you out when they’re done-”

          “Sonic is probably dead. They- we came here to kill Sonic. That’s why we lured him to the cave, because he can’t use his quirk there. if they’re looking for me you have to go--”

          “What you’re telling me is that he probably needs help.”

          “ He can’t use his quirk in a cave Todoroki! And there’s no evidence to suggest that he has experience dealing with guerilla warfare. He has good close combat skills yeah, but he hasn’t been forced to use them in practice often.” The villain insists, and it dawns on Todoroki what exactly he is listening to.

         “You’ve been planning this for a long time.” Shouto meets his gaze as he says it, and the villain doesn’t refute the point.

         “Todoroki he wasn’t a good man.”

         “Do you really expect me to believe that this was done for the greater good? Is that really your best justification for defying the law?” This is a waste of time. He realizes belatedly as he stares down a passionate green gaze. They all have reasons, and his in particular don’t matter. Pursuing this is a pointless endeavor. But it’s undeniable that he wants to know, wants to understand, for some unfathomable reason. And the more surprising thing is that the villain wants to answer.

         “Maybe the law should do better. People are missing, and many are dead! I couldn’t let that happen again.” He insists as suddenly the floor is gone beneath his feet. He’s being strongly pulled backwards by a force-- the villain’s quirk. He realizes as something small is thrown in the green villain’s direction and in the next moment, he’s gone. Todoroki creates an icy wall to stop his body’s movement and grunts as he crashes into it. A masked villain walks through the entrance, a marble in his palm.

         “That was impressive of you, taking him down in such a flashy and explosive manner. But can one really expect less from the son of Enji Todoroki?” He asks, and Todoroki scowls.

         “Who are you? And what have you done with Sonic?”

         “Relax, I’m only here for this guy.” He says, and Todoroki finally actually looks at the marble in the villain’s hands. Is that him? “Besides, my ride’s here.” He adds, pointing at the sky and Todoroki follows his gaze to the helicopter above them. When did it- The sound of a small explosion interrupts his thoughts as the plateau becomes engulfed in smoke. The last smoke bomb.

         “It was nice to meet you in the person, Shouto Todoroki.” He adds, voice fading with each one. “Next time, try to be more careful.”



         “Is Sonic dead?” Naturally it’s the first question that leaves his mouth after Tadashi removes his helmet.

         “Yes.” He says shortly, and the weight settles on Midoriya. I-I helped kill someone. He pushes the thought out of his head as he glances down at his gauntlets. Tadashi begins to walk away before Midoriya interjects:

         “Near the end of the fight, I tried to attack Todoroki and it didn’t work.”

         Tadashi’s pace doesn’t slow, and Midoriya has a feeling that this admission isn’t a surprise to him.

         “We’ll discuss it later. Don’t discuss it with the League.” He says shortly as he leaves the room and Midoriya stares blankly after him. Is he hiding more than I thought? Midoriya thinks as Toga enters.

         “You did so well! I can’t believe that you managed to keep him away from us for so long!” Toga sounds more ecstatic than Midoriya thinks he will ever be. Still, it does lessen the tight feeling in his chest, if only a little bit. “Yeah, you did great kid! You did horrible!” Twice responds, and Midoriya only gives him a shaky nod. “Um thanks?”

         “Ignore him, that was really impressive that you managed to keep Todoroki at bay for so long. Especially with ice and fire? Keep this up, and you won’t need to be rescued in the near future.” Magne assures him. I don’t think they’d have the same positive opinion of me if they knew what I did. He thinks as he accepts their compliments with a shaky smile.

         “How did you manage that by the way? Did you use your quirk?” Dabi asks and Midoriya’s smile freezes. The first thing that comes to mind is naturally the truth. That he’s studied Todoroki for months since their first encounter. That his strategy relied purely on waiting him out despite his own lack of a quirk. But that would lead to more questions, and I don’t want them knowing that about Todoroki. They would use it against him, and Midoriya would prefer not to enable that.

         “My quirk is non-combat related. I was just really lucky, I think he may have hit his head in the fall or something.” He rambles, voice getting lower and more uncertain with each word.

         “That’s still impressive, that you managed to hold him off without a plan.” Magne breathes. “Honestly if he had reached us he could’ve caused a ton of trouble. We’re grateful kid.” she adds. And Midoriya wonders if it’s possible for him to feel much worse than this.

         “Thanks? I mean, I’m glad that I managed to be useful-” While you all were murdering a pro-hero. “I don’t want you guys to have to save me forever.” He adds, shrinking back as Toga wraps her arms around him. She’s so close that her lips trace his ear as she whispers to him:

         “I mean I don’t mind Izuku, I’ll always save you when you need me.”

         “Um thanks, I really appreciate it Toga.” He says quickly, pulling himself out of her grip. He’s still coming down from the fight, the adrenaline is fading and everything is starting to throb. Still, accompanying the pain are the feelings of excitement and relief. Because he got Todoroki to use his fire, he got Todoroki to change. And if he made him change, then he can make others change as well; killing isn’t the only way to make this world a better place. Still, some people have to die.  But still, do I really stand a chance of defeating Kenshiro? He glances back at Toga, an idea springing to mind.

         “Did you end up fighting Sonic?” He asks.

         “No actually! They sent me to deal with his support, which was a lot of fun!”

         “Did any of them have offensive quirks?” he asks, and she flashes him a wide devious smile.

         “A few did, but it didn’t really matter since they couldn’t see. I hid until I was ready to kill,and stuck to the shadows. It was really easy, but I’m kind of bummed that a missed out on all the fun with Sonic.” She discloses. Sounds like she’d be eager to help? Midoriya isn’t sure if that was good or bad, if he was being entirely honest.

         “I need you to help me out with something, regarding killing.”

         “That sounds like fun.” she purrs and Midoriya pushes down the wave of nausea that builds. I can’t back down. I have to do this.

         “What’s the quickest way to kill somebody who is stronger than you?”


 

         As a rescue hero, Kenshiro had run into a great many burning buildings and forests. Yet tonight, something was in the air, something felt off. It could be Sonic’s death. He deducts as his dogs lead the survivors to safety. It was a sharp reminder that hero work was dangerous, especially for those that specialize in combat. Still, the death of such a high profile hero was rare and unsettling. He pushes it out of his mind as he sends his dogs to search for more survivors. I can’t afford to let anyone receive fatal injuries. He thinks as his animals locate yet another survivor.

          He’s already decided to retire in two years at most, and he doesn’t want to tarnish his rescue streak before that happens. Everything I’ve done... The faces of heroes in training flash through his mind as he leads the last survivors to safety. Would be for nothing if I messed this up. I can’t let that happen.

         “Help….please.” The broken voice reaches his ears moments before he turns to see a small green haired boy. He’s lying across the grass, coughing as Kenshiro tries to figure out exactly how he had missed him. His must have just entered the woods. But who goes for a walk during a forest fire? He wonders as he approaches the much younger male.

         “Hold on,” he says, forcing a smile as he bends over to lift him into his arms. Something’s wrong. He realizes as he suddenly turns away from the boy. He blocks his face with his arm, and a knife cuts into his forearm.

         “You’re pretty fast, expected for a top hero though, right?” His assailant coos as blood spills down his arm. He doesn’t have time to respond, doesn’t know how even, when a sharp pain laces his neck. His arm wavers as his front suddenly becomes wet, holding something thick. And it takes him a mere second to realize that it’s his blood. She pulls away as he stumbles backwards, confused, scared as his gaze returns to the boy.

          Some of Kenshiro’s blood has hit him, there’s a splotch right under his eye and some on shirt. The glare of the flames are what makes him finally see it. He’s holding a knife, and it’s covered in blood. Mine. He tries to scream but it’s just gurgles at this point as the world darkens around him. The last thing he sees is the boy’s expression, before the ground rushes toward him. It’s one of terror. Why are you crying?   Is the last thing he thinks before everything goes dark. \



           He can’t breathe, or he can but he’s doing it wrong. His inhales are too deep, too shallow, too shaky, he can’t think, and  I want to throw up.

           “It’s done. It’s done. It’s done.” He hears himself say, in between intermittent coughing and sobbing. Toga hands him a gas mask, but his fingers can’t remain still enough to undo the straps, much less put it on.

           “It’s done. It’s done.”

           Kenshiro Ito is dead. The White Hand is dead because I killed him. I sliced his throat. Toga watches him with an expression close to fascination, before she tentatively nudges his body.  “I wonder if I can use his blood for anything. If there’s any left anyhow.” She muses, and he’s struck by how calm she sounds, considering what they’ve done. What she’s helped him do. He can barely breathe, but she doesn’t seem fazed by any of this. She seems more interested in his response than anything. Because she’s a serial killer. He remembers, thinking back to her profile. How many times has she done something like this? He feels so sick.

          “Izuku, if you’re not going to put the mask on then we’re going to have to leave.” She tells him, expression concerned as she steps forward.

          “If you didn’t want to kill him, then why were you so insistent on it being tonight?”

          “Todoroki saw my face. This was my last shot.” The words spill our before he can stop himself and her eyebrows raise.

          “You can hide at the League’s base-”

         “I want to go home.” They’re the truest words he’s spoken today, and his voice shakes with each one. I want to see my mom one last time. He thinks, swallowing hard. To his surprise, she only beams at him.

         “That’s fine too! We’ll just break you out of jail when you’re captured.” She says casually as his blood runs cold. Of course. He glances down at Kenshiro’s corpse and pushes down the wave of nausea that arises. Because that’s what villains do. Midoriya hastily wipes away his tears. “Let’s go.”



          Todoroki’s trek back through the cave lasts an entirety of twenty minutes before members of Sonic’s agency finds him. Apparently Momo had called them when he and Sonic hadn’t returned. After he’s placed in police custody, he learns that the villain had told the truth. Sonic is dead. And so were many of the heroes that made up his support.

         “I can’t believe that this happened. How long were they planning this?”

         “A long time.” he responds shortly, thinking back to what the villain had said about the trappings of the cave. And other things. It was highly unlikely that the accusations levelled by the villain were true. Extraordinarily so. But Todoroki was no stranger to the concept that some Pros were actually just scum that received a large paycheck. As much was true with his father. What was more unbelievable was that a villain was motivated to address it. Especially one associated with Shigaraki. Shigaraki wanted to destroy hero society as they all knew it. A villainous hero would fall in line with their efforts, few could make the public lose faith in their institutions as quickly as that. So why did he do this?

         “You should see recovery girl.” Momo’s voice cuts through his thoughts and it sinks in that he has so much to say to her. That perhaps, one day soon, he should tell her that she was right. But his mouth is dry, and he feels exhausted and world worn.

         “I’m fine.” Todoroki responds, not even entertaining the prospect.

         “I used my fire. What you said, before the patrol...you were right. About what I was doing.” He manages to say, even if his mouth is dry and he feels exhausted and world worn. Her shock is present on her face for several seconds before she smiles.

         “I mean, I’m not sure if sharing my observations with you was entirely appropriate. Considering my ignorance regarding the situation. So does this mean that you’re going to start experimenting with your left side now?”

         “I don’t know.” He says immediately as he holds his hand in front of him. I don’t know if I’m going to ever use it again or when.

         “I don’t know what it means to me anymore. My left side. I just know that it’s mine.” he admits as Momo frowns at him.

         “Todoroki, what happened in the cave between you and the villains? I know that you may not want to discuss it but--” She lets the sentence drop as a police officer approaches.

         “Shouto Todoroki,” He greets as he shakes the teen’s hand. “We have some questions for you.”

 

      The questioning is short, and Todoroki gives them just enough to be released. He tells them many things. How many people attacked them, the equipment used by the enemy, the quirks expressed by the enemy, the state they’d left in. What he does not tell them, is that he saw one of them unmasked. A villain that, to Todoroki’s knowledge, hero society has virtually no interest in. From an objective standpoint, that perspective makes sense. He’s low level, a footsoldier at best, who is apparently inactive when separated from the League, unlike many others. Comparatively speaking, he’s unlikely to be a major threat, hence the public’s lack of interest in him. Ironically, he is the only villain that Todoroki is interested in. The emotion he feels towards him is obscure, there’s an urge to understand . Or at least attempt too, before he is ultimately apprehended and disappears into their justice system. This epiphany first occurred in the cave shortly after their fight, when he discovered something unexpected while searching for an exit.

      It returns shortly after he’s asked the very first question. ‘ Do you know their motives for this attack?’ He did not disclose the accusations that were levelled at Sonic shortly after the conclusion of their fight.  He responded with a simple “I didn’t ask.” When he’s asked to describe the villains, he describes a young girl with melting skin, a teen boy with a robotic suit and a helmet, and two large men. He does not describe a teenage boy with tear stained cheeks and wild green eyes. He doesn’t tell him, because he does not want to. And he isn’t sure why, but he’d like to at least understand the feeling before acting. After he’s released, he heads back home and avoids his sister until he reaches his room. ‘Todoroki he wasn’t a good man.’ Flies through his head as he enters his room. Is it true then? Was Sonic a scumbag, like my father? Worse even? He contemplates the question as removes the notebook that he withheld from the police. But even if he was, he didn’t deserve to die. He decides.

     Then he opens the notebook he found in the cave, and takes a look.



Chapter Text

Fuyumi:  Shouto? Hey dad wants to talk to you

Fuyumi: Are you going to be coming home late tonight?

Fuyumi: I know you don’t want to, but he seems really insistent about it.

Fuyumi: Shouto please respond

 

“Shouto, are you okay?” Momo’s voice seems oddly distant, considering her proximity to him. Yet it’s all he can do to move his gaze from his arm and back to her. Ten seconds. That’s how long he was able to maintain his flame. And that was shorter than his first attempt of fifteen seconds. Somehow, someway, his ability to maintain his flames had decreased since the sports festival. I keep seeing her face. Her face, the teapot, him-

 

“Shouto?” Momo’s voice is more insistent as he forces himself to answer.

“I’m fine.” 

 

It sounds like a lie even to his own ears. Her expression says she’s not buying it.

 

“I think that was less than you were able to do before.” She tells him carefully. He’s able to maintain his right side’s powers for an indefinite amount of time. His quirk seems to be limited, not by how long he can freeze objects but how long his body can take prolonged freezing temperatures. Presumably, this will be offset by using his left side, but that has yet to be determined- He shouldn’t have read the journal, that much becomes clearer to him each day. He’s halfway through it despite it best efforts to ignore it. And despite some promising attempts, he has not yet succeeded in either destroying it, or giving it to the police. When the journal itself isn’t invading his thoughts, the question of how does. Did he collect all of this information from just watching him during the sports festival? During their fights? Or sometime in between?

The first two assumptions were the best case scenarios, but the others had sinister implications. Was that villain really capable of successfully stalking Shouto without the latter being aware of it? And if he was, than exactly how long had he done it? And why was he so intent on making me use my fire? Was this some kind of game to him? Or a challenge? He thinks back to Bakugo during the sports festival and his intent to make Shouto use his full power. Was it something like that? Or something else entirely? Rationally speaking, the first choice made the most sense, but his experiences contradicted logic. The villain’s anger had seemed genuine, as did his desire to see Shouto use his abilities. 

“Have you considered talking to someone?” Momo’s voice once again drags him back to the real world, and he slowly stares at her, confused.

“About Sonic...I mean. I know you’re not a fan of the idea, but it’s been three weeks since he died and it seems to be affecting you a lot.” Momo continues, and he realizes that she thinks that this is about Sonic. He was painfully aware of how it made more sense than the truth. Momo frowned at his lack of response, before sighing in open exasperation.

“I guess you’ll do it when you’re ready---I get it. But our provisional license exams are coming up soon, being able to use your fire could be a great help. But I understand if you don’t want to.” She continues, and checks her phone.

“I know.” he says, because he really does. He’s always known that using his flames didn’t make anything easier. That was never his concern. Momo frowns at him, but doesn’t push the issue, instead she changes the topic entirely. 

“Are you hungry?”

 

Their walk back from the cafe is mostly an uneventful one, but it’s welcome. 

“I can’t believe that our Provisional License Exams are coming up! We’ve been training every day and I still don’t feel like it’s enough.” She groans.

“We’ll be fine.” Shouto assures her. “Unlike most of the participants, we’ve had experience with real villains. That will most likely pay off during the exam.” he reminds her.

“Yes but still-”  

“I think after what happened to Sonic, and the recent murder of The White Hand, stronger support for our heroes is needed more than ever.” The voice comes from the large screen ahead. It belongs to an older man, who is dressed in a suit and seated across two politicians.

“There have been serious concerns about giving heroes too much power.” A female reporter points out.

“Yes, but shouldn’t we be more concerned about our future? Two student interns were present at the attack and they could have died. I think we as a society need to pay attention to the growing villain threat, and not worry about hypotheticals.”

“Who is this guy?” Todoroki asks, eyes narrowing as he tried to see if he recognized him. The man looked vaguely familiar but he couldn’t place him.

“Haru Ito, he’s a politician that wants to give heroes more power. He’s been campaigning for this for awhile actually.” Momo says, and Todoroki opens his mouth to respond when an older man walks into view. Before the man even opens his mouth, Shouto already knows what he’s going to say. He can see it from the look in the man’s eyes, and the too wide smile on his face.

 

“Excuse me, are you Shouto Todoroki?”

“Yes, have we met before?” He asks blandly, and man laughs nervously. 

“No see, I’m, well, a big fan of your father. I realize that me coming here out of the blue might have been unsettling, you just look so much like him. Even down to your demeanor, you’re like a spitting image of him. You even have his fire too, right?” The man asks. Shouto doesn’t answer, whether from shock or anger, he doesn’t know. What he does know is that his face looks familiar, not from interactions but his expression. That look in his eyes was one that he could decipher clearly. The one that said that Shouto was only seen as an extension of Endeavor. He had seen it so many times in the eyes of reporters, Shinji, and whenever his father looked at him. He can taste anger in his mouth as the man continues.

“I just-”

“Excuse me sir, we actually have to go. I’m sure he’s glad to hear that you’re a fan!” Momo calls as she pulls Shouto away. 

“So annoying.” He growls once they lose the man in the crowd.

“Tell me about it, the sheer amount of people to look at me and know who my parents are is staggering.” She complains and stretches a little.

“What’s really awful about all of this is that it’s bound to only get worse.” She adds, frowning. Worse? This can get worse?

“What does worse entail?” He asks irritably.

“Being Pros, but at least in that case we’ll be stalked for being us and not for who our parents are.” She jokes and for some reason her statement strikes a chord with him. He doesn’t respond and Momo checks her phone again. “I have to go. But it was nice training with you, are we on for tomorrow?” She adds.

“Yes.” He affirms, not fond of any of the alternative afternoon activities. Most would be completed alone, and frankly, he didn’t want to be alone with his memories more than he already was. Momo beams at him as her mom pulls up.

“See you tomorrow!”

 

Minutes after she leaves, her earlier statement and their encounter is still fresh in his mind. That man was far from the first person that had stopped him because of his visible ancestry. That’s what happens when your father is the number two hero. He thought cynically as he began trekking home. At some level, the rank elicited bitterness from Shouto. Largely, it elicited disgust, and rage, because it was a symbol of what his father had destroyed their lives for. For what his father was willing to do for a title--the entire reason for why he wanted Shouto to use his abilities. So that Shouto could succeed where Endeavor had failed, and surpass All Might. Throughout his life, he had watched with disdain as his father pushed forward solely due to his obsession. Even after all of this time, he still didn’t know how his father managed to do it. How he managed to justify his actions, to make everything seem worth it. All in his bid to compensate for his place as only the second greatest hero. He noted how his father’s performance had never been affected by being a scumbag, but perhaps they were measuring great differently. Still, there was a good chance that the two of them were measuring ‘great’ very differently. The media rarely seemed interested in how well Endeavor treated his family. They barely devoted a day to his decision to send her away to a hospital. But then again, aren’t those are the benefits of power? The definition? The ability to use influence to make all of your problems disappear and take what you want?

 

His father was a disgusting piece of garbage, and Shouto didn’t want anything from him. An encounter with a villain didn’t change that, and that villain’s motives weren’t worth exploring. And yet. When his mind wasn’t on his parents, it oftentimes made his way back to the journal, back to him. You could be a great hero. Better than I ever could have. But you don’t deserve to be one if you’re not willing to use one hundred percent of what you’ve got! 

Why did it matter if Shouto was a good hero or not? We’d fight regardless of my quality. He rationalized, and wondered how much this guy could be likened to the hero killer. It was clear that he was invested in hero society, so the question remained why he decided to focus on Shouto of all people. And what about the second thing he said? Was he a failed hero? That was the most straightforward way to interpret the villain’s statements. Yet at his age, it was unlikely that this was a former pro. Or a disgruntled former sidekick. And any quirk could be used in a combat oriented way, if one was creative enough. 

The more he thought about this, the more confusing it became. This is exhausting. His phone vibrates and he runs a tired hand through his hair before answering.

“Hello?”

“Shouto, when are you coming home? Dad really wants to talk tonight.”

“About what?

“I don’t know. He mentioned your performance at the sports festival and what happened with Sonic. He’s worried about well, as he put it, ‘that you’ll fall back into your rebellious streak,’ and stop using your powers again.” She explains and he acknowledges that as a definite possibility.

“So when does he want to talk?”

“Well he wanted to talk tonight, but he had some business to attend to. Dad’s really busy, so I guess the next time he’s free.” That could be anywhere from a few days to a month, knowing his father. Shouto hoped that it was closer to a month.

“Right.”

“Are you coming home soon?”  She asks, as he takes in his surrounding environment. He couldn’t think of much good that would come from continuing to idle. Going home could give him a much better piece of mind.

“Yeah, I’m on my way.”


 

It’s been nearly three weeks since he’s been seen by Shouto Todoroki and Midoriya has no earthly idea why he’s not in handcuffs by now. It’s something that remains on his mind every waking moment of the day. He can’t stop wondering why the heroes haven’t attacked his home yet. Especially if they think that I’ve been working with Shigaraki. 

The looming threat of Todoroki has made Midoriya more than a little anxious to act. If it was only a matter of time until he was arrested, then ideally, he’d want to kill as many bad heroes as he possibly could. It was an ideal he would have acted on, if not for his lack of a refined criteria for victims. At what point does someone deserve to die?  

That was the question that was haunting Midoriya. He had a working criteria, sure, but working was not the same as good enough. His rough outline of ideal targets for vigilante justice was only useful in clear cut situations. I don’t even have access to most records. If I don’t come up with something then-- he’d be like Stain. And that was something he wanted to avoid at almost any cost. Memories of middle school with Bakugo washed over him in waves. Of the constant barrage of insults, of Deku, Deku, Deku. Back then, he was sure that Bakugo was wrong and that he would show him-now however, he wasn’t so sure.

Maybe Tadashi will help?

He grimaced at the thought of even attempting to have that conversation. His master didn’t even think that Midoriya’s plan was plausible. The thought that he would help was so far fetched-  

“Izuku, did you hear me? You’re mumbling again.” Toga comments, pulling her coat closer to her body, before shivering a bit. 

“Um….sorry. I was just, thinking…..” About pro heroes leading me out of my house in handcuffs while my mom watches me with tears in her eyes--

“Hmm?”

“....it isn’t worth talking about really.” Midoriya says quietly, pulling his coat tighter to him, taking in the sight of the trees around them. It had to be nearly midnight and he had school in the morning. But this was the first day this week she was free and Midoriya needed as much practice as he could get. In all the other times that they’ve trained, he’s failed to discover Toga’s hiding place. And he usually ended up either on his back or on his front, with her pinning him down. Maybe this time will be different. 

“Alrighty then, well we’re going to play our usual game. I’m going to disappear, and you’re going to try to find me okay?” she explains as she pulls her mask down.

“Failure to do so will result in an immediate takedown.” She finishes, voice muffled by her mask. 

“I understand!” Midoriya assures, and she walks away from him grinning.

“You don’t have to give me a head start now, I think we’re past that.” She calls as she breaks into a run. “Catch me if you can.”

 

Midoriya chases after her, following her deeper into the woods, but despite his own relative speed she’s gone. This always happens. Toga would be much easier to defeat if he didn’t have to worry about her disappearing. 

 

Without argument, the most frightening thing about Toga was her ability to completely disappear. These past few months, they had put their focus into building Midoriya’s stealth skills. The process was more similar to hide and go seek than he would have liked, but after weeks of it, he could see the merit in the exercises. I’m still not making much progress in finding her before she attacks. Granted, we’re in a wide open forest right now. This environment is perfect for someone like her. 

 

He drags his gaze over the trees, guessing which one would be her most probable hiding place. It’s seconds after he picks one that he’s yanked forward, and flipped onto his front. 

“You’re too slow,” Toga breathes in his ear as she twists his wrist. She has his arm painfully folded against his back, touching her knees that have also found a home there.

“You’re….really….fast.” He pants out as she releases him, but doesn’t rise.

“You should ask Dashi to make you a suit that makes you faster. Also something less clunky would probably help, and be cuter!”

“It’s only big because of the armor though-”

“You don’t need armor if you don’t get caught, Izuku. I don’t wear any, and I’m a bit better at fighting than you are.” She reminds him, wrapping her arms around her knees as she peers up at him. She’s right. He traded off speed for power, but was that really a wise decision?

“You only fight with knives right?”

“Mhmmm, knives and quick moves. You don’t need power hands to take down even the best of heroes. Split them up, and they’re not much more powerful than normal people. Besides you’re not interested in targeting pros right? Just small time jerks.” Toga comments, and Midoriya frowns because that’s part of the problem. He’s not sure who he’s targeting because he’s yet to develop a comprehensive criteria for the type of people who deserve to die. Just how should harm be quantified? And even then….. fire and ice come to mind. A stark reminder that some people weren’t even weak, regardless of if they were separated from their squad of not. If anything, that’d give him an advantage. The opposite of Toga’s advice applies here. Todoroki’s weakest in a crowd.

“Izuku? What are you thinking about? Hmmm?” Toga asks and he shakes his head.

“Nothing really. It’s just, I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to decide who to target. My decision to target Kenshiro was an emotion based one, but I can’t afford to make that mistake in the future. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right.” Midoriya explains, then adds,

“I don’t want to be like Stain.” 

“There’s nothing wrong with Stainy.” Toga giggles. “You two are just different is all.”

Midoriya shakes his head at that assertion, hands balling into fists.

“It’s more than us being different, he-he didn’t just kill heroes that hurt people. He killed those who helped people too.” He stammers at the brutal reminder of Toga’s view of Stain. 

“Aren’t you going to kill people?” She muses and he shakes his head.

“I mean, yes? But not good heroes, only bad heroes. Heroes that hurt people.” he tries to explain but it comes out clumsily. Toga to her credit, doesn’t stop smiling as she rocks back onto her heels. 

“Alrighty. I don’t really see how you’re that different from Stainy though, you both killed people that you viewed as bad, right? You just have different criteria, is all!” She admits, tone light as she moves closer to him. Once again, he’s hit with the realization that he just doesn’t understand her. He could barely keep his emotions about Stain under control and yet, she seemed so unaffected, besides her base excitement at talking about Stain.

“Still, you’re making this way too complicated Izuku, Find out what makes you feel good and I’ll help you do it.” She promises and he nods, gaze averted. He isn’t sure how to respond to that-- should I even be accepting her help? Toga was a good ally, undoubtedly, but was he doing the right thing? By working with her? 

“But simple leads to mistakes, and the thought of that,” He cringes at the thought of killing someone like Ingenium. 

“Doesn’t make me feel good. I know what kind of villain I want to be, and it’s why I’m trying to come up with a clear-cut way to do it. But well, I still only have a working methodology anyway.” he says, hands shaking as he reaches into his bag and removes the notebook. He flushes when Toga leans into him while he opens it, but doesn’t push her away.

“So I’ve outlined my original reasons for killing Kenshiro and separated them based on their root reasoning, so logical or emotional. My logical reasoning was that it was a matter of time before he hurt someone else. But I killed him as quickly as I did because I felt bad for not doing it earlier.” he explains to her and she groans.

“This seems too complicated, but alright, keep going.”

“I’ll only kill heroes that have killed at least one innocent person, or ruined their lives. Provided that they display a lack of remorse and an intent to do it again. This greatly reduces my chances of killing a hero that isn’t bad.” He explains, holding up his notebook to Toga’s face.

“Isn’t it pretty cut and dry if they’ve already killed one person?” She asks. Do you mean like you? He swallows the lump in his throat as he continues.

“The thing is that I don’t have official police records to go by. I have to gather my own evidence from the media, and then deduce if foul play took place. It’s much easier to do that accurately if I have two victims, instead of one.” He explains to her. 

“I see, you’re relying on a pattern. That’s pretty smart Izuku!” She praises, and he frowns a little. “It’s a start, but it’s far from bulletproof. It would be much better if I had access to records, that’s a problem I can solve with the proper career choice though.” His words descend into mumbles as he starts to make a list of professions that fit that criteria. 

“Look at us, snuggled up like such good friends.” She breathes, pushing against him more and he wriggles away, standing.

“I guess! So about my notes, it has another gaping flaw. I don’t just want to kill heroes.” He begins, taking a deep breath. He sees images of ice and fire as he adds,

“I want to change them.”

“How are you going to do that?” She asks bluntly. “And what’s the point of fixing a bad hero? Why not just kill them? Seems like it’d be much more fun.” The last linie is delivered as a purr and he grimaces.

“That’s not what this is about! I don’t just….this isn’t about enjoying myself, this is about the person who I want to be! I want to be someone that has a good impact on this world, and I can’t do that by just killing people. But maybe, if….if I make people change-” he breaks off, thinking of the White Hand. He let him live and it cost people their dreams.

“I just haven’t decided how to figure out which ones should die. I feel like I did the right thing with White Hand, but who knows if I’ll be able to say the same thing next time?  At what point does someone deserve to die?” he whispers, swallowing hard. For several moments Toga doesn’t respond, expression devoid of a smile for once as she walks towards him. Her attack catches him off guard, but still he dodges it, falling back into the rhythm of training. He swiftly moves to the side, and automatically counterattacks. She ducks, steps sharply out of view, and Midoriya immediately spins to find her and…..she’s gone. She really disappeared? That fast? He backs up into something solid and moments later, he’s on the ground again. Except this time, Toga’s arms are around his neck and no amount of moving dislodges her. How is she so fast? He thinks as he maneuvers his body to try to escape.

 

“I don’t think I could hold my own in a fight against you one on one. But I don’t need to, I can just disappear, grab and you’re taken down so easily.” She breathes in his ear, hair tickling the side of his face. It’s much harder to breathe now, his chest hurting more with the strain.

“What are you doing? I….can’t….breathe...” He manages and her grip tightens.

“Most heroes are like you. Good at hand to hand, but if you have enough stealth, you can disable them easily. If I keep this up for a few minutes, you’ll be out in minutes.” She continues, before loosening her grip. Immediately, he tears himself away breathing hard as he crawls backwards.

“I don’t really care about this ‘good hero’, ‘bad hero’, stuff.” She admits as she advances on him. “It’s not that interesting to me, but…. I like you!” she exclaims, bending down to pick up his book, dirtied by soil. 

“I like you, and even if this is too complicated, it’s what makes you feel good. I can get behind them, and I like the idea of the two of us, killing heroes together. And I want to make you feel good.” She coos, and tosses it to him. 

“How about you try to shadow me again? And I’ll show you how to take down people who are technically stronger than you.”



“You’ve gotten so good at this.” Momo praises as Shouto takes in their surroundings. Several of the surrounding rocks and trees have been punctured or outright destroyed by javelins of ice. Some are large, others are small, but all hit their intended target. Admittedly as he looks at his carnage, Shouto feels a sense of satisfaction. Mostly rooted in the knowledge that despite his own inner discord, he was still able to do something right. Initially he was concerned about his state of mind interfering with his performance during the provisional license exam. He didn’t want a repeat of the sports festival, father breathing down his neck or not.

Now, he felt a surge of confidence with the understanding that things could truly go fine regardless. The provisional license exam was tomorrow and he felt prepared. It had been days since he touched the journal, and his invasive thoughts had decreased significantly. 

“Have you reached your limit yet? With the amount of ice shards you can create?” Momo asks. He’s able to maintain his right side’s powers for an indefinite amount of time. He resists the urge to shake his head as if to clear it. He’s somewhat surprised at this invasive thought. He hasn’t read the journal in days, finally managing to put his impulses back in check. He hasn’t burnt it yet, but at this point it’s only a matter of time. For the most part, his attention has been on the exam and sorting through his memories of the past. As well as the anger he felt towards his father. He hasn’t thought much about the villain in nearly a week. If anything, the sudden resurgence is likely to be a fluke that will disappear as quickly as it arrived.

         “No, I just have to watch my body temperature.” He explains before adding,

 “Thanks for helping by the way. My improvement...I owe it to you.” he says quietly, honestly. He couldn’t imagine getting this far without Momo’s help. Momo’s reddens slightly at the statement but smiles regardless.

“Well, you being a natural talent at combat doesn’t exactly make it difficult.” she says, brushing off his compliment before tentatively adding, “Is your dad being, well an issue?”

“Not more than usual, why?” he answers plainly. His questioning stare is met with a blank one before she adds, even more cautiously,

“Shouto, you haven’t heard about All Might? He retired.”

“All Might retired?” The phrase itself sounds so foreign on his tongue. He knew that it had been a possibility, just like the idea of his father retiring. Eventually, all heroes retired and returned to their lives as civilians. Some went into politics, but no one was a hero forever. Unless they died that way, anyhow.

“Yes, the news was announced yesterday. The media thinks he’s withdrawing from the public sphere to do research with an old sidekick.” Momo explains but he can barely hear her. All Might retired, does my dad know about this? His mind goes to the first message Fuyumi sent him earlier, as he clumsily reaches for his phone, quickly checking for new messages.

Fuyumi: Hey dad’s a mess

Fuyumi: He burnt down one of the rooms downstairs

Fuyumi: When are you coming home?

 

“Is everything okay?”

“I think we should finish training tomorrow.” he says automatically.

“Tomorrow’s the exam.” She reminds him tentatively but grabs her bag nevertheless before adding, “I think we should be fine though. Or well, you will.” She adds grudgingly and pulls it closer to her. “You’ll be fine.” he tries to assure, but his voice sounds hollow even to his own ears. Cold, distant.

“See you tomorrow during the exam?” He adds, and that concerned look is back.

“Okay.” her voice is small as she says this, and Shouto moves away from her. He needs to be alone, he can feel rage and bitterness bubbling up inside of him, and he’s not sure who he’ll lash out at. His hands close into fists, open, then repeat as he tries to settle down. He needs to be calm, to have a clear head for his exam tomorrow. But he doesn’t know how to quell the rage consuming him. Because he should be thinking about the exam but all he can really think is he ruined our lives for nothing. Memories flood into him of being isolated from his siblings, nonstop training, his mom’s attempts to protect him, his father hitting her, and lastly, her pouring boiling hot water on his face.

These were all a direct result of his father’s desperation to overcome All Might in some way. His father’s desire to overcome resulted in the destruction of his family. He already hated his father for what he had done, for how he made his mother hurt him, but he never thought it would get worse. But the fact that this all happened for no reason made it undeniably so. After everything his father had done, after what he cost Shouto, his efforts literally amounted to nothing. He would have become the number one hero regardless, but his family was collateral anyway. Calm down. Focus on the exam. He reminds himself, but the fact remains that he can barely breathe, much less think logically. 

Focus on the exam. Breathe. Focus on the exam. Breathe. 

Focus on the exam. 




I knew exactly who you were immediately. Because you had the exact same eyes.

 

Inasa don’t matter. That’s what Shouto repeats throughout their clashes. His awkward behavior, glares….they were all inconsequential. Naturally, this judgement extended to the other teen’s words as well. Inasa didn’t know anything about Shouto or his father. And yet, during the exam, they bother him far more than he cares to admit. And whenever he manages to pull his thoughts away from the task at hand, he falls back into the hatred and pain that consumed him prior to the exam. Except now they’re accompanied by a defensive anger that seems to be growing with every second.

 

Because Inasa is fucking wrong. 

 

Shouto is nothing like his father. that anger causes him to act in ways that are less than rational. And his performance goes downhill from there.  All in all, the exam goes worse than he feared. He’s one of three people to fail, one of the others being the student he constantly clashed with. His irritation at Inasa is palpable, but only just in comparison to his other feelings. Because despite Inasa’s hand in this, it’s clear that the true reason why he failed was his inability to concentrate. To focus on the task at hand. Throughout the exam he felt barely present, his mind somewhere far in the past. Just like when we first met.

Quietly, his gaze returns to Inasa’s own shaking and devastated form. Briefly, the other teen looks up to meet his gaze and Shouto immediately breaks the uncomfortable connection, turning to look back at the exam results. Out of all the things that would cause him to fail the exam, being sabotaged by someone he didn’t even remember was at the bottom of that list. How had I been so oblivious to him? He wonders, thinking back to their multiple encounters during the final round. The tense glances they’d shared prior to that even. His question had a clear answer; Shouto wasn’t being passively oblivious, he had been actively distracted. 

The most unfortunate thing about their entire encounter is that it’s doubtful that he’s gotten better. The same distraction that affected his performance in the sports festival was not static. His pain from his past and his anger towards his father had only gotten worse. It happened again. Outside he somehow manages to maintain his stoic demeanor, but internally there was a torrent that he could only recognize as chaos. If his mind wasn’t overwhelmed with visions of his mother, it was of the rage he felt towards his father. Peace was out of reach, and he didn’t know how to fix that. Distantly he hears the sound of others discussing their results. 

“I can’t believe I passed-!”

“I had so many close calls, to think that I actually made it to the end!”

“Inasa was doing so well until fight with Endeavor’s-”

“To think U.A’s top student didn’t even pass, wonder what that says about their-”

“Who knew that Inasa was beefing with Endeavor’s son! Think he has a grudge against the entire family? Like family feud but literal fighting-”

“Wow Todoroki sure looks a lot like his dad. Acts like him too.”

Calm down. Stop listening. They don’t matter. These people were a sea of strangers that he would likely never see again. They would probably be like Inasa, briefly resented but ultimately forgotten. But unlike him, the action would bear little to no consequence because he didn’t even interact with them. They’re wrong. I’m not like him. They don’t know anything.

He’s used to being treated as an extension of Endeavor, to people treating him like a scumbag’s accessory. It still shouldn’t bother him this much after all of these years, but especially after recent news the rage becomes hard to shake. To think that he was forever associated with the image of a person he despised. 

It’s sickening.

It enraged him, the fact that such an insulting comparison was an undeniable part of his everyday life. That he wasn’t Shouto to these people, but Endeavor’s son. That what they saw when they met him was an opportunity to connect with someone whose monstrocity they would never truly face. He hated it.

Calm down. Calm down. Not everyone’s like that. Momo isn’t like that. Neither is Iida or-

Green eyes flash through his mind and his fingers dig into his palms. The conversation that they had comes back to him in an overwhelming rush. The raised voices, the villain’s angry lecture about Shouto’s powers. He had thought of the incident multiple times since it occurred, yet this was the first time that they realization hit him. He spoke to Shouto as himself, not as Endeavor’s son. In fact, the sole time that Shouto brought up his father in relation to his powers, the other teen had strongly rejected it. Who are you?

For the first time in days, the desire to read the journal had returned, with startling strength. 

 “Shouto.” Momo’s voice cut through his thoughts calmly, although concern was visible on her face. “I’m sorry about the exam. I’d offer to help you train more, but I’m not sure how much help that would do you, considering the circumstances of your failure. But I think I know something that could help,” Momo says as Shouto meets her gaze. 

“Talking to me.”

She was correct, Momo was rarely anything other than accurate. The issue was that he didn’t even know how to understand his own feelings. 

“I don’t know how to talk about it. But if I figure them out, you’ll probably be the first one I talk to.” he admits to Momo,  but her frown only gets deeper.

“Alright, don’t hesitate to reach out….” She mumbles as Shouto walks away, consumed by a desire to be alone. To think, to breathe. He loses himself in the crowd of people leaving the training facility, weaving himself in and then out of the group when they finally exit the building. His phone vibrates in his pocket, and somehow feels worse after he reads his messages.

 

Fuyumi: hey when are you coming home?

Fuyumi: Dad’s here, and he really wants to know how you did.

 

When are you coming home? Around him, his classmates are piling into their parents cars, laughing and smiling while Shouto feels sick. He can’t imagine going directly home and things ending well, not while he feels like this. I can’t get him out of my head and I don’t want to see him in real life too. I can’t.

Fuyumi: Shouto?

Fuyumi: When are you coming home?


 

“Are you sure that you’ll be fine?” Midoriya asks Toga for what has to be the third or fourth time. He can’t help it, he’s incredibly nervous. He had been looking forward to the opportunity to shadow her since the beginning, but now that they were here, his chest was tight. He was scared that something would go wrong, and he would be the witness of her death. Toga raises her eyebrows.

 

 “Huh? You don’t think I can pull this off?” she whispers back, they’re hiding in an alleyway to wait for their incoming victims. Toga had apparently been stalking them for at least a few days now.

“It’s not that!” He sputters. “Just their quirks are pretty powerful-” he begins. 

“That’s the point Izuku.” She grumbles, and he’s silent at that because she’s right. That is the point but that doesn’t change the fact that one of them can harness electricity from the surrounding areas. Or that the other could manipulate water. The good news was that it wasn’t raining, but there were streetlights everywhere in this neighborhood. And that’s assuming that he doesn’t carry water without ammunition- His train of thought is interrupted by Toga leaning close to his face.

“Izuku, you want to get better at this don’t you?” Her tone is surprisingly pleasant and he nods, caught off guard.

“Then you need to incapacitate them. So watch me, and then take down his friend. We’ll be fine.” She insists.

“I know, but there’s at least two of them and considering the fact that they’re powerful-I just think we should be careful.” He nervously explains, and that’s when he hits him. He’s worried about Toga. Toga seems to notice it too, and grins at him. 

“Their quirks don’t matter, if anything they’ll just make this a bit more interesting.” She promises. He opens his mouth to respond as footsteps approach, and she covers his mouth with her palm. In her other hand is a stun gun and the sight of it makes his heart beat harder in his chest. She removes the hand from his mouth to pull her mask on.

  It’s okay. They’re just petty criminals. They’re not trained for combat, not like I am. He reminds himself as he takes a calming breath. Everything will be- The thought is abandoned as the two men enter the alley. They’re talking about something but Midoriya can’t focus enough on their words to actually understand them. All he hears is the push of blood in his ears as the man in front passes them. Toga moves quickly, running out and tasing the man closest to her. He loses his balance and immediately, she wraps her arounds around his neck and the man flails. His partner lets out a shout of surprise, as he takes in the sight ahead of them. Midoriya doesn’t know when he moves, only that suddenly his taser is on and he’s pressing it against human flesh. And then Midoriya’s wrapping his arms around the man’s throat, and the other man flails desperately in his arms. This is nothing like how he practiced with Toga. This man wasn’t a dummy, he was flesh and blood, and very much alive. 

 

Toga’s victim passes out in less than five minutes, while Midoriya’s takes longer to fall unconscious. When the deed is done, he shakily presses his finger to the man’s pulse. He lets out a sigh of relief after he does so, glad that the man’s alive.

“That was much more difficult than I hoped it would be.” He admits as he walks over to Toga. She’s still on the ground, perched next to the other man as blood is pumped into her mask. She pulls down her mask, revealing her expression of euphoria and chills go down his spine.

“You did so well, Izuku. Sure it was a bit rough around the edges, but in the end he’s still knocked out on the floor, right?” She points out, still smiling in that dazed sort of way. His eyes keep being drawn back to her slips, specifically the red outlining them.

“Still, it took longer for me to….choke them out than you did.” he says, the sentence feeling strange on his tongue. He never imagined being in this position, conspiring with a member of the League in an alleyway during a school night. 

“I mean yeah, I’ve been doing this forever. It really sucks when it takes forever for them to drop though,” She admits, glancing at the limp body behind Midoriya.

“But practice makes perfect! It’s the reason why it’s so annoying to fight people who have experience with you. They adapt to your abilities, and a five minute fight lasts an hour.” She complains before smiling at him, but it feels so far away. Because despite his shock at the current situation, an idea starts to grow. 

“But you’ll get better. You just need more practice.” She explains

Of course. How didn’t I think of this before? He pulls out his notebook, and starts writing as quickly as possible.

“Of course! That’s how I’ll do it,” he says vibrantly as Toga’s smile falters.

“Midoriya?”

“I’ll make them change by defeating them! If I show them that their problems could lead to their deaths then maybe-Maybe I can make them change!” He exclaims, and Toga suddenly moves forward. His cheek burns as her needle slices the flesh open, and suddenly something warm and sticky sprays his neck. Toga lets out a sigh of relief as Midoriya turns around, before staggering backwards.

The other man was on his feet and gurgling, with Toga’s tube inserted in his neck. It sinks in that she’s draining him as she pushes him off his feet and onto his back, straddling him.

“He wasn’t asleep,” She says mildly, but a wide smile has returned to her face. He doesn’t know what to say as he watches the twitching body’s movements become fainter with each passing moment.

“But he will be soon.”


He’s dead. She killed him.  He walks down the sidewalk in a daze, hoodie completely zipped up. About an hour ago, he’d gone home to wash the blood and gunk off of him. He spent most of that remaining hour in the bathroom, varying between showering, crying and throwing up. And even then, he didn’t even feel better, not necessarily. Just hollow. It was so easy for her. He thinks as he remembers how quickly she killed him, without hesitation. The guy was dangerous, he could have hurt him. Midoriya hadn’t even heard the guy move, didn’t even see him get to his feet. He had been so distracted by discovering what methodology he was going to use- to kill people. His mind whispers to him as he continues down the dark street. He shoves his hands in his pockets as he swallows the sobs that rise. 

It’s going to be okay. It will get easier. He reminds himself, fingers digging into the fabric. He’s right, he knows that he is, but yet he’s not sure if he wants to it to get easier. When he’s able to take down someone like Toga is able to, would that even be him? Would it be worth it to change that much, just to stop bad heroes? Yes. The answer comes to him immediately, but it’s one coated in regret and doubt. Killing Kenshiro was the right decision, it was only a matter of time before he hurt more people. I did the right thing. And it would be right to kill any other ‘heroes’ that harmed innocent people. He was sure of this, but he was painfully aware of the fact that this wouldn’t be easy. But I can do it. It will be just like euthanizing a rabid animal. I just wish it were easier--wish I wasn’t--

So indecisive. He wonders if Bakugo would show this much hesitation, and he doubts it. Deku. So useless. The chants filled his mind as he strayed off path. Midoriya wasn’t sure where he was walking, only that he was trying to physically escape his despair. It’s okay. I won’t just be killing people. I’ll make them change too. I won’t just have to rely on killing them---I can make them change--I can do it. But he wasn’t sure, he had so much doubt. Tadashi didn’t even think that Midoriya’s ideas were worth trying, let alone worth supporting. And Toga was completely disinterested in that, only really interested in helping him. While Midoriya wasn’t even sure if he should be accepting her help. She killed someone today. 

Toga was a serial killer, he knew that, but had never seen her kill before. It was jarring, made him feel shaky, unsettled-- Am I really prepared to do this? To work with these people? The sight of bright flames ahead jolts him out of his reverie, before he runs towards the burning building. Several people surround the building, dressed in variations of pajamas. It’s an apartment complex. Midoriya concludes as he turns to the residents. 

 “What happened? Did anyone call the police or the heroes?”

 “I think someone did, but we’re not sure.” A man responds.

 He’s surrounded by unfamiliar streets and homes, and that’s when it hits him that he wandered more than he intended to. 

 “Can someone call again? Just to make sure?” he asks, pulling the strings of his hoodie tighter before he asks,

“How many people are in there?” His voice sounds foreign to his own ears. Quiet, but confident somehow. It’s still more than a bit hoarse from his crying earlier, but no one seems to notice as a woman answers,

“I don’t know! We got some of them out but the rest-” He doesn’t wait for her to finish as he runs into the building, former feelings of regret and desperation replaced by something entirely new. That’s not right. He thinks as he inhales a lungful of smoke and maneuvers up the stairs. He can remember the confusion of the night when Tadashi first found him. His desperation to breathe, flinching back from the heat of the flames, slowly losing consciousness. Some things still haven’t changed. The heat from the flames surrounding him scorch his skin, he feels dizzy from the lack of oxygen, and each step feels heavier than the last. And yet, he feels so much better as he stumbles upon his first survivor. The man’s bigger than him but Midoriya stumbles outside with him anyway.

“You found him!” is exclaimed at the same time as,

 “Kid are you insane? You could’ve gotten hurt! Or worse!”

Midoriya knows from his newly sensitive skin and the pain in his chest that he did get hurt. But still, the pain feels strangely right, and an even stranger part of him wanted worse to happen. Because I deserve it. The thought is a distant one as he shakily gets to his feet. His chest hurts, and he feels somewhat disoriented but the weight he’s been carrying around feels lifted. He doesn’t even respond to their comments as he begins walking back towards the building. Some of the other adults yell for him to stop, but their voices sound so distant. They’re lost in memories of a slit throat and a petty criminal’s corpse. This is my chance. He thinks as he approaches the door I can prove it-that I can still do something good. 

His journey is interrupted by an iron grip on his shoulder, and slowly he turns to face Shouto Todoroki. Instinctively he flinches and winces as the other teen’s grip tightens on his shoulder. The expression on Todoroki’s face is one of disbelief, as if he can’t believe that he actually exists in front of him. Midoriya is somehow the first one to break the silence.

“I-” He breaks off as he’s violently yanked out of the doorway and Todoroki places a hand on the burning building behind him.

“Don’t. Move.”