When Ryū got home, he looked up Ishikawa’s number on LifeBook and added it as a contact on his cursed, newly-acquired phone.
After a few minutes, his phone buzzed back.
Ew. He was one of those texters.
Then he rolled over, trying not to look at Kiyo looming above his bed on the ceiling like an evil bat, and went to sleep. Despite the day he’d had, his dreams were peaceful and deep.
On Sunday, Ryū woke up refreshed and with a game plan. He had an early breakfast, which Mitsuki did not interrupt for once - were she and Masaru having a lie-in? Were they Sunday lie-in people? -, and dressed in jeans, sneakers and a white long-sleeved shirt under a light jacket. It was April, after all, but he still wanted to make a good ‘be my friend’ impression on Ishikawa after their...turbulent start.
The police station was about a fifteen-minute bike ride away, but Ryū had woken up with an alternative form of transportation in mind. He left a note on the kitchen table explaining that he’d gone out to meet Michiko and Kagami much earlier than expected and that he’d be back before dark, then set off for the Midoriya household.
He knocked and, once again, Midoriya-san answer the door in a dressing gown.
“Ryū-kun,” she said, smiling. “Here for Haruka again?”
“You’re in luck,” she replied. “Here’s up. Haru! Haru, come here, please!”
“Obaa-san,’ a deep voice grumbled and Haruka lumbered into sight wearing adorable blue plaid pyjamas and matching slippers. He spotted Ryū and groaned. “You again! Haven’t you had enough - enough studying this weekend?”
“You can never study too much, Haru-senpai,” Ryū said sweetly and Midoriya-san beamed at him.
“It’s no good of you to do this, Haru,” she told her grandson. “I’m very proud of you.” Her voice, watery as it was, wavered on the last syllable and she sniffled all the way into the kitchen and out of sight.
As soon as she was out of sight, Haruka’s bemused expression slipped off his face and he took Ryū roughly by one arm to steer him back outside. The door swung shut behind him and he snarled down into Ryū’s face.
“What now?” he demanded. “Another study session?”
“No,” Ryū said. “I need a ride.”
“A ride?” he went red around the edges with fury. “I’m too young to get a car and even if I wasn’t, there’s not a chance in hell I’d ever drive you anywhere!”
“No, I help you, you help me, and nobody else is caught in the crossfire. That was our deal.”
“Well, the deal’s off,” Haruka went on and his turquoise eyes shone with both anger and glee. He was enjoying their argument, in throwing Ryū wrong-footed. “I’ve had a think about what you said and, heh, I didn’t like the way to spoke to me, Tiny.”
Then his fingers, still caught in the shoulders of Ryū’s light jacket, erupted into blue flames.
Almost immediately, the smell of burning cloth reached Ryū’s nose, pungent in the way only burning things were. Black smoke drifted into the air and around Haruka’s face like a pair of curly ram horns. He looked frightening.
Ryū felt the flames lick his face and burn away his clothing all the way down to skin, but he kept the nonplussed expression on his face. It didn’t hurt. Flames never did.
“And what? Without your boyfriend here, you can’t hurt me, Midoriya.”
Haruka snarled and the flames flickered higher, nearly touching the walls of Midoriya-san’s house, which was vulnerable wooden. Ryū felt a frisson of something. The old lady was nice and she didn’t deserve to have her house burnt down because two teenagers were having a petty argument.
Someone else must’ve thought the same because then the flames disappeared. Not as if Haruka had deactivated his Quirk, but as if they were just...sucked out of existence. Haruka was not as confused as Ryū, because he let go of him to glare at the third, new member of their little tête-à-tête.
Midoriya Sasuke stared at them, expression furious. His left eye was red and the right green like his hair, but both were narrowed with contempt and focused directly on his younger brother.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked, voice low. “You nearly caught Obaa-san’s house on fire, Haruka.” He stepped towards them and, despite being at least eight centimetres smaller than his brother, stared up at him without an ounce of fear. “What were you thinking?”
“I was thinking,” Haruka snapped back, just as pissed. “That this little shit is fucking up my entire day and deserves to get what’s coming to him.”
Sasuke looked Ryū up and down; his messy hair, burnt clothes and bored face. “Uncle Katsuki’s son? Why?”
“Because - because - ugh!” Haruka could hardly disclose the deal we’d made without revealing his ‘evil’ plan to everybody, now could he? “It’s none of your damn business!”
“Does this have something to do with Himi-kun?” Sasuke prodded. “I’m sorry she moved away, but you can’t just go around forcing people to be your new cute friend.”
Ryū snorted. “You think I’m cute?” he asked Haruka, blinking sweetly. What a shitface! He deserved the dressing down Sasuke was giving him.
“No! Fuck you, Sasuke,” Haruka replied, fists clenching and blue flames dancing up his arms once again. “If you’d keep your nose out of other people’s business for once, then maybe you wouldn’t be such a loser at school.”
Unimpressed, Sasuke stared at him. Then he opened his mouth and sucked in a deep breath of air. Ryū would have thought he was merely gearing up to spit some more insults, if it wasn’t for the way the fire Haruka had created zipped through the air and straight into his open mouth, which he then shut with a smoky cough.
“Don’t,” he croaked, “make me do that again.”
Sasuke’s Quirk was fire breathing? Quite powerful, and interesting that they’d both inherited a fire-related Quirk from Frostburn rather than a strength one from Deku. Ryū wondered what their younger brother would have - Ikami, was it? Maybe a fire Quirk too?
“Now, I don’t know what you want, Kaminari-kun,” Sasuke went on. “But maybe you should leave until my hot-headed brother calms down.”
“He said he would drive me somewhere,” Ryū said. “I’m not leaving until he does.”
Sasuke’s eye twitched a little. “Stubborn people everywhere,” he muttered under his breath and then, louder: “I’ll take you. I have an electric bike I got for my birthday and nowhere to be this morning.” He smiled half-heartedly and Ryū nodded back.
Okay, change of plans.
“I’ll take to you later, Haru-senpai,” he said and Haruka flushed with anger, but didn’t seem willing to risk his brother’s wrath of calmness anymore. He stormed back into the house and slammed the door behind him with a resounding crash. Sasuke rolled his eyes.
“Call me Sasuke-senpai,” he said. “I like it.” Then he walked across the front garden to the small garage at the side of the house. “This way. You can borrow the spare shirt I keep in my bike too.”
Ryū followed him. The Midoriyas were a weird ass family, and that was saying something.
Sasuke’s moped was red with shiny chrome handlebars and a black box on the back. Ryū had changed into the embarrassingly oversized white shirt, squished onto the seat behind him and tried to keep their bodies as distant as possible, though the older boy hadn’t seemed to notice nor care. He’d held a green helmet out.
“I only have the one,” he’d said. “You wear it.”
Ryū had felt the urge to argue; Kiyo, after all, could heal him if he got injured, but Sasuke’s fire-breathing Quirk would not be so helpful in the face of decapitation or serious injury. However, admitting that Kiyo even existed wasn’t possible...so Ryū had put on the helmet.
They’d ridden in silence, listening to the whipping of the wind and the hum of Musutafu waking up on an early Sunday morning. Sasuke had navigated the streets and traffic like a well-seasoned professional, easily weaving in and out of cars and down alleyways.
They came to a stop outside the police station and Ryū immediately spotted Ishikawa’s small, blue-doored house. It looked run-down, yet well-kept. He’d handed the helmet back and nodded his thanks once more.
“No problem,” Sasuke had said, fastening the chin strap. “Good luck with my brother.”
“Thanks,” Ryū had replied dryly and then he’d watched Sasuke drive away, zipping down the street like a man with places to go. What a weird guy.
He knocked on the Ishikawa household front door and waited for about two minutes before trying again. There was a muffled crash from inside and tall girl with tanned skin and hair down to her knees was the person to greet him. Ryū wouldn’t have been so thrown off by said hair if it wasn’t green, slimy and seaweed.
“Hi,” she said, obviously taking in his helmet hair and oversized shirt. “Can I help you...?”
“Is Ishikawa in?” Ryū asked and then he realised how stupid that question was. “I mean, er, Shiro-san?”
“Oh.” She blinked green eyes slowly. “Really?”
She looked over her shoulder into the house. “You better come in then.” She held the door open wider. “I’m Miana,” she said when Ryū ducked under her arm and began to take off his shoes. “Shiro’s my dumb younger brother.”
Miana nodded and turned to the tiny staircase shoved right beside the door. “Shiro!” she called. “You have a guest!”
The floor above their heads creaked and groaned and then Ishikawa called back. “Is it Kaminari?”
“Yes,” Ryū replied and then Ishikawa was bounding into view, smiling and wearing a loose blue shirt and flowing white linen pants. Ryū always found it strange the first time he saw his classmates out of their uniforms - like they had become completely different people with lives and houses and sisters with seaweed hair. He’d forgotten how exuberant Ishikawa was as well, how pure he seemed. “Thank you for having me,” he said politely, bowing a little.
“Ha, it’s no problem,” Ishikawa said quickly. “Come on, let’s go up to my room.”
“You really are friends?” Miana asked, obviously stunned. “Who would have thought? Not me!”
“Miana!” Ishikawa hissed. “You’re embarrassing me.”
“Good,” she replied. “Have fun with your ‘friend’.” She did air-quotations with her fingers and then winked her way out of the room, chuckling.
Ishikawa looked horrified, staring at Ryū with wide eyes and a pale face. His hair rippled and dripped all over the place. “Oh my god,” he said. “I hated every second of that and I’m sure you did too. I’m sorry, Kaminari-kun! Please forgive me for my awful sister.”
“It’s fine,” Ryū said, though he hadn’t enjoyed, nor appreciated, her attitude either. Share something personal to make him feel better, the small empathetic part of him murmured and Ryū did only because that’s how people made friends and kept them. Apart from Michiko and Kagami, who, for some reason, put up with him despite it not being a very present thing. At all. “That’s how my brother is.”
“Your brother,” Ishikawa repeated, tapping his chin in thought. His hair dripped onto the wood flooring. “Oh, I remember now. He’s in third year, right? Bakugou?”
“Yes,” Ryū said, trying not to seem constipated.
“Only the one? One older brother?”
Emotional connection. Emotional connection.
“No... I have two. Raiden’s out of high school now. He lives in Tokyo.” Maybe. Apparently.
“Wow,” Ishikawa and he, at least, seemed a little cheered upon the subject of siblings. “You know, I always wanted a brother, but then my mom died and there’s only my sister and me.”
“Oh,” Ryū said awkwardly. Like a great big idiot. “Sorry to hear that.”
“It’s okay, it was a long time ago.” Ishikawa offered a small, wistful smile and the silence hung for a beat too long. “Well! Anyway! Let’s go upstairs.” He jogged up, conversation obviously over, and Ryū couldn’t argue with that. He didn’t want to, at all. Thank God it was over; that had truly been torturous. He followed at a more sedate pace, taking in the paint chipping from the walls and ceiling, the creaky stairs and dim, windowless hallway at the top. “Sorry for the mess,” he went on as he pushed open one of the four doors. “I was cleaning it when you arrived.”
Ishikawa’s bedroom was like the rest of his house - small and cramped. There was a single window at the end that looked into another house about three feet away, underneath which a single bed sat. Apart from that bed, there was a beat-up wooden dresser, desk with stool, a cream-coloured lamp, and a woven rug made up of spiralling blue and turquoise colours. The walls were covered in posters of lions and other miscellaneous safari things. A plush lion sat on the green bedspread.
It was very tidy if one ignored the pile of clothes lying at the side of the bed and the stack of cups lining the windowsill. Kagami’s bedroom was much, much worse, would practically be growing its own ecosystem since Ryū had last seen it.
“Sorry,” Ishikawa said again, kicking a pair of jeans under his bed. Ryū shut the bedroom door because he didn’t want Ishikawa’s annoying sister barging in on his friend-making attempts.
“It’s fine. I don’t care.” Ryū sat at the desk. “I brought my phone to take a picture of the syllabus items I missed if that’s okay.”
“Yeah! Of course! You can even take my notes home if you’d like. I’m going over the ones for next week.”
“You’re one of those students, are you? A nerd?”
“Eh?!” Ishikawa waved his hands frantically. “No, no! I’m not -“
“It’s okay,” Ryū said. “Me too.”
...and relate to him.
Ishikawa stared at him and then broke out into a nervous smile, blushing around the edges. “Oh.”
Did Ryū feel bad about manipulating him? No, not really. It was all for a bigger cause, after all. It was about that blonde boy, the one that Ryū could manage to save.
“A-Anyway! Here,” he grabbed a notebook from the desk and held it out. “Let me show you what my handwriting means because I like to use shorthand in class and translate later and I haven’t had time to properly do that just yet.”
A few hours later, knuckles rapped on the door.
“Shiro! You better both be decent!”
“Miana!” Shiro cried as his sister stuck her head in, eyes screwed shut. “We’re just talking!”
Miana opened her eyes and smirked. “Oh,” she said. “So you are. Having fun?”
“Yes,” Ryū said, but he didn’t like this girl one bit. What high horse did climb up on to barge in on his friendship overtones and fuck it all up in one fell swoop? He knew Ishikawa, who had begun to open up, became receptive to Ryū’s plans and words, had already shut down at the sight of his nosy bitch of an older sister.
“What’s the matter?” Ishikawa averted his eyes down to his bed covers, which he was sat cross-legged on. Ryū, on the other hand, was down the floor, though he had deliberately placed himself lower to seem more submissive, less of a threat. And now he was watching all that planning go down the toilet.
“Dad’s back,” she said. “He wants you to come down for lunch.” She looked at Ryū with a knowing expression. “And he wants to meet your...friend.”
Ishikawa did not look enthusiastic about this upcoming introduction and Ryū couldn’t blame him, honestly. He wasn’t too thrilled about it either.
“It’s okay,” Ryū slid to his feet with a stretch. “I’m supposed to be home by one anyway.” He picked up his notebook and bag. “Thanks for helping me.”
Ishikawa sighed in disappointment, but he looked half glad too. Clearly, he didn’t want Ryū around his family any more than strictly necessary. “It’s no problem, really. I had fun!”
“Aw,” cooed Miana.
“Miana!” a deep voice called from downstairs. “Miana, come down here and stop bothering your brother!”
Ryū and Ishikawa exchanged a smug glance as Miana dragged her disgruntled feet downstairs, muttering under her breath and gross seaweed hair dripping a watery slime on the floor.
“Sorry about her,” Ishikawa muttered and Ryū shrugged.
“Whatever,” he said. “My brother’s an asshole too.”
Ishikawa chuckled and also stood up. He took the bucket by the side of the bed - which he’d fetched after about twenty minutes into their studying, claiming he needed it when trying to concentrate - that he’d dripped all the excess water from his hair until at regular intervals, and smiled crookedly. “Let’s go this again sometime.”
“Sure,” Ryū said, but even in the crucial friend moment, he couldn’t summon a smile. He settled for a nod and that, at least, seemed to be enough for the other boy. Smiling was...eh. Not for him. Ryū hadn’t done so in at least a decade, because, well, what was there to smile about in his miserable little existence?
They went downstairs and Ishikawa’s father was standing there, dressed in his detective’s uniform. He was the large man who’d been there when Ryū’s Quirk had...gone off the rails, so to speak. He frowned at Ryū but didn’t say anything about that, thankfully. Ryū had enough of being famous for stupid reasons, thanks, the next time he was on the television he wanted it to be because everyone had finally found out how powerful he really was; now that would be newsworthy.
“Kaminari, right?” he shook Ryū’s hand with his own giant paw. Ryū felt like a tiny baby in comparison to him and realised why Ishikawa might’ve been reluctant to have them meet (pointless though it was). His dad was damn intimidating. “Nice to meet you, kid.”
“Hello, sir,” Ryū said politely. “Thank you for having me.”
“Kaminari-kun can’t stay for dinner, Dad,” Ishikawa said quickly. “His parents want him home.”
Detective Ishikawa looked Ryū over speculatively. Ryū realised he was still wearing the big shirt Sasuke had leant him and probably looked a complete state, but...eh. Ishikawa’s father, of all people, would definitely know that Ryū’s parents wanted no such thing and didn’t even have custody of him, and had seen him in a worse state before. True to thought, instead of calling his son out on the lie, Detective Ishikawa grunted. “Yeah, yeah. Dinner’s ready, anyway, so see your friend out now.”
Ryū put his shoes on. “Thank you for having me,” he said again. “Maybe we can study again some time?”
Ishikawa smiled, though it was more subdued under the eyes of his serious father and nosy sister. “That sounds great. I’ll see you on Monday?”
Nodding, Ryū stepped outside. “Yeah; bye,” he turned up the street and walked off before anyone could say anything else. Being ‘friendly’ was fucking tiring.
Kiyo was sat on a lamppost a few houses up, chewing on some sort of...lump.
It’s pigeon, she slurped. There’s plenty around.
“That’s fucking nasty,” Ryū said and off they went home because, well, she was always fucking nasty so what more was there to say?
Mitsuki looked at him funny when he got home.
“What the hell are you wearing?” she asked perfectly reasonable considering he was wearing a shirt about five sizes too big for him and no jacket in rather cold weather. “You look like a fucking mess.”
“Mitsuki, honey,” Masaru, who was sitting beside her at the dining room table, said. “Now let’s not judge. Maybe Ryū wants to look like a mess.” He smiled.
“It’s not mine anyway,” Ryū muttered on his way past. He wouldn’t let them get a rise out of him. “I’m going to study.”
“Alright,” Masaru said after a pause. “We won’t bother you until dinner.”
Ryū grunted and continued on upstairs. If studying meant stalking potential victims online then sure, he was studying. He’d not let them think any differently, at any rate.
“Hey, wait!” Mitsuki hollered. “Come back a second, damn brat! We’ve got to -”
Ryū stopped halfway up the stairs. His heart sunk.
HIM! Kiyo howled and she perched on the stair railing like a demented bony gargoyle. RUN RYŪ, HE’S BACK!
“Oh,” Red Riot said nervously. He had a stuffed bag slung over one shoulder and was, somehow, dressed even worse than Ryū. At least his own clothes were due to circumstance and not just horrible taste like Mitsuki and Masaru thought. “I didn’t...expect you to be home so soon.”
“And yet here he is,” said Akio. He had a guitar case at his side and was grinning like the smug little asshole Ryū knew him to be. “I’m so shocked.”
EAT! Kiyo snarled but she didn’t move. Was she waiting for his say-so? Maybe she really was learning to listen to him...
“Eijirou, maybe you should leave,” Mitsuki suggested from below them. She was now standing with Masaru, staring up with an indiscernible expression on her smooth face. Her Quirk really did work wonders on her skincare. “The kid’s not really supposed to be around you.”
“We don’t want his caseworker to decide we’re unfit for custody,” Masaru added, tapping his fingers together with a smile. “And we’ve been told to not let you visit when Ryū is here.”
Red Riot’s face wilted like a flower and he looked old all of a sudden. Really old. “Alright. We were nearly done anyway. You got everything, kiddo?”
“Yeah,” Akio looked significantly less smug now. “I just need my spare bass for tryouts.”
“Uh-oh,” Red Riot and Masaru said together and a disgruntled yell came from elsewhere in the house. “Mitsuki - “ But it was too late.
“I couldn’t find it! Are you damn sure it’s where you -” Ground Zero came to an abrupt stop by Mitsuki and Masaru after realising that everyone was staring at him and that it was oddly quiet. “...What the fuck is going on?”
“Katsuki - “
“Babe, uh, we should go -”
MY LEAST FAVOURITE! Kiyo flung herself into action, self-restraint having vanished. Ryū watched her shimmer as if she was going to reveal herself right there in front of everyone and his mouth opened against his permission.
His shout echoed through the house and everyone cut themselves short to gawp like idiots. Panting, Ryū watched Kiyo catch herself and land to the side of Ground Zero, who had no idea how close he’d come to being turned the way of the earlier pigeon.
Er. Fix it, fix it -
Then he decided the best course of action would be to rip off one of his slippers and hurl it at his brother. Akio fell as it hit him directly in the eye, curling around his guitar like a mother might shield their baby from gunfire. He wailed as he rolled about on the floor and Ryū ran, one slipper down, up the stairs, past a shocked Red Riot, stood on Akio to vault into his room, and slammed the door shut behind him. Then he locked it for good measure.
He heard Kiyo make a dying shrieking sound from outside and could only guess that she was laughing. At least someone thought the situation was funny. Ryū fell face-first onto his bed and wished for death. Why, oh why, did bad things always happen to him? Was it the murders? He got the feeling it might be the murders.
Somebody knocked on the door and Ryū took off his other slipper to throw that. It made a very satisfying thump against the door and whoever it was, went away. Ryū still wasn’t pleased, though. How could he be when those two fuckers had been in his house?
YOUR house? Kiyo asked from right next to him. It’s not your house, Ryū. This is those two old things’ house. We don’t have one.
“Fuck off,” Ryū was ashamed that she’d heard him make a fool of himself like that because she was right. This wasn’t his house. He was just some...some charity case. Mitsuki and Masaru wouldn’t have taken him in if there was any other option, that much was sure. Ryū wouldn’t want to take in some strange teenager either and he couldn’t really blame them for feeling that was about it.
We’re better off as us, she added quietly. Not us and them.
“Yeah. I guess...no, you are right. I just -“
“Who are you talking to?”
Ryū’s blood froze and he shot up from his face-down position. Akio was stood in the doorway with a confused expression. No surprise there. He’d just walked in on his brother talking to an invisible being. Anyone would be weirded out.
“Get out!” Ryū screamed and he’d not felt this angry, this embarrassed, in a long time. “Get out!”
“Whoa,” Akio held up his hands. The eye that had been hit by the slipper was red. “Chill. I only came to see if you were okay.”
He lurched to his feet. “Well I am, so get out!” Go away, go away -
Akio sneered. “ I don’t care, either way, you know! Dad made me come up and I’ll just tell him you’re as big of an asshole as you always are!”
“Fine!” Akio’s yellow eyes glowed fiercely against his tanned skin and black hair. “Ungrateful shit!”
“Get out!” Ryū howled and his hands began to shimmer and burn. Light crept orange through his skin and red in his eyelids. “I hate you!”
“What the fuck is going on up there?” Mitsuki bellowed. Akio sneered meanly.
“They’re too good for you,” he hissed. “I know what you’re really like!” He stormed off. Or, tried to, because Ryū wasn’t having it. He sprung after his fucking piece, caught up to his piece of shit brother at the stairs and shoved him, hard, on the back. Akio stumbled, wobbled, and bounced down each marble step like a ball.
He was leaping after Akio and hanging himself around his neck like an angry scarf before whoever it was could get out another word. Ryū clung tightly and they thrashed downward, fast rolling and bouncing on top of one another. Akio was yelling unintelligibly. Ryū dug his fingers into his brother’s face and pulled.
Nothing happened, of course, as Akio’s Quirk affected the strength of his skin to superhuman levels, but it still felt damn satisfying and Ryū did like to be satisfied.
Get him! Kiyo bellowed. Get him, gut him, kill him, Ryū!
They met the bottom of the staircase and Akio swiftly got the upper hand. He caught Ryū by the back of Sasuke’s large shirt and held him away from his body like he was a dirty pair of underwear.
“What,” he panted, “the fuck is wrong with you?”
“Put him down,” Ground Zero and, yes, great, the whole lot of them were there. Perfect. “You should damn well know better!”
“He attacked me,” Akio argued right back. “I was defending myself.”
“He’s your brother and he hasn’t got a Quirk like yours,” said Red Riot, crossing his arms. “We heard you arguing upstairs, Akio. Don’t think you can call innocent when you said what you said.”
Ryū kicked him ineffectively. “Put me down,” he said, trying not to sound out of breath. “Put me down!”
Akio looked around at the adults, his free hand waving in emphasis. “See? Are you seeing this?”
“Akio,” Red Riot sighed. “Put him down.”
“You know I don’t like fucking fighting in my house,” Mitsuki grumbled. “It’s rule one!”
“Everyone shut the fuck up,” barked Ground Zero. “I’m tired of it; now put him down before I make you, brat!”
Akio huffed an angry sound but dropped Ryū unceremoniously onto the floor, where he landed on his ass in a sprawl. He didn’t fucking flinch, though. He was too pissed for shit like that.
“Thank you,” sighed Red Riot, relieved. “Now, can’t we just, you know, use our words? Talk?”
“No,” Akio said.
“No,” Ground Zero said.
“No,” Ryū said.
“Well, at least you agree on something,” Red Riot tried weakly, gently touching the red spikes atop his head in a nervous gesture. He laughed.
Ground Zero snapped at him: “Quit it, Ei! We’re not some lovey mushy family or some shit! We don’t hug and we don’t make up.”
“Yeah, that’s for sure,” Akio kicked at the ground with a buckle-booted foot. “We start shit, Dad, we just never finish it.”
I’m bored, Kiyo whined. Let’s get out of here, Ryū. I wanna eat something!
Ryū clambered to his feet, sweat dripping from his brow and his hands. God, he was roasting hot; this was why he avoided confrontations like this. Sasuke definitely wouldn’t want his shirt back now.
He sneered at his brother’s profile. “Coward.”
“Oh dear,” said Masaru.
“What the fuck,” Akio rounded on him, eyes wreathed in fire, “did you just say to me?”
“For fuck,” Ground Zero said as Akio reeled back his foot.
His shoe booted Ryū right in the guts and everything went static for several seconds. When he next blinked, Ryū found himself canted to one side and vomiting. Sound burst into being again.
“Akio! What the fuck!” Ground Zero exploded. Not literally, otherwise they’d all be egg splatter on the gleaming white walls of Mitsuki and Masaru’s house. “Ei, call an ambulance!”
Yes! Kiyo howled and she sounded delighted Yes, it’s finally happening!
Red Riot skidded down on his knees beside Ryū and held his shoulder as he heaved and coughed up the contents of his stomach. “It’s okay,” he said, panic clear in his voice. “It’s okay, Ryū, don’t be scared -“
Ryū tried weakly to bat him away but the spasming of his oesophagus didn’t allow much force to be applied. His mouth tasted of bile and the sweat continued to pour off him in rivulets.
“His eyes are - Aki, how hard did you hit him?!”
“Not that hard!” his brother defended himself. “It was just a tap - I’ve given Amajiki a harder time in a friendly spar!”
“Amajiki’s a third year, Akio, and well-trained at taking hits - your brother’s only been at U.A. for a few days and he’s small for fifteen, too; look at him! You’ve done some serious damage!” Red Riot said. He patted Ryū unhelpfully on the back.
Show them what you’re made off!
The vomiting slowed down and Ryū found it within himself to shove Red Riot’s hand off from where he was attempting to push back his sweaty hair. “I don’t need your help,” he rasped around through sore, vile-tasting throat. “I’m fine.”
“You’re not fine,” Ground Zero said. He was squatting beside Red Riot on Ryū’s other side, hands braced on his knees. “He’s delusional. I called an ambulance.”
“Kid, look at yourself,” Mitsuki urged.
Ryū looked at their anxious, fearful faces and then down at himself. The vomit, interspersed with chunks of food and a puddle of bile, was run black with blood.
What the fuck -
“But I feel fine,” he repeated. “I’m not even -“
Blood had stained his hands and at first glance, Ryū thought he might've just been sick on them but then he noticed that the flow of blood was thick and viscous. It was coming from his hands, not staining them.
He brought one up to eye it closer and found it didn’t hold the distinctive burn of copper scent that blood did either. And it wasn’t the maroon black that blood held, but an inky darkness that reminded him of...oh shit.
“It’s not blood,” he said, thinking on his toes. “It doesn’t...it’s just my Quirk.” Well, that was true.
Akio scoffed. “Your Quirk? No way! Your Quirk is heat and light, Ryū - not bleeding from your eyes!”
Bleeding from his eyes…? He brought a hand up to his cheek to feel it and, sure enough, the same black liquid was streaming from his eyes. And what he’d previously thought was sweat was now clearly not. And with Kiyo acting like that, so happy with herself, it could only mean one thing...
“It mutated,” he said and that was also true. “It’s not very useful so I didn’t re-register, but I can produce ink. From my pores.”
“The fuck,” said Ground Zero. “Why didn’t you speak up earlier, huh? Trying to kill us all?”
“No,” he muttered. “It wasn’t important.”
“Looks important to me,” Akio said bitterly. “Why did you get a Quirk like that? None of us are, you know, ink-related Quirks.”
“I have a sweat Quirk, though,” Mitsuki pointed out, “and so do you, Katsuki. And Eijirou doesn’t know what his parents’ Quirks might’ve been.”
“But light, heat and ink?” Akio replied. “Those don’t go.”
“Yeah,” said Red Riot thoughtfully and Ryū was certainly not panicking now. “What’s up with that? Even if one my parents could create ink, then why would Ryū inherit that? The heat and light generation aspects are from Katsuki and I’s Quirks mixed together, but ink? So strange...”
Do something, Ryū, urged Kiyo, but Ryū was lost. What could he say to convince them?
“Well,” said Masaru. “Todoroki-san has a dual Quirk, does he not? Surely it’s not that unusual then. I think you should go and see your Quirk doctor, however. Maybe she can shed some light on the subject for you?”
“Good idea, old man,” said Ground Zero begrudgingly. “I’m sick of weird Quirk shit.”
Which implied he’d dealt with a similar situation recently? Frankly, Ryū couldn’t bring himself to think about that just yet. He had his own pile of shit to manage without worrying about whatever dumb fuckery his sperm donors had gotten themselves involved with.
But ink production. That must be one of the unknown Quirks, one of the homeless criminals or either of the Ariyoshis. Ryū couldn’t see how useful that would exactly be, having ink come from the pores on his hands and from his tear-ducts, but these losers knew about it now so at least he could use it around other people. Maybe even at U.A. for training. Ink could be useful for temporarily blinding people or making a surface slippery. Underwater it would prove especially handy for creating blind spots too.
...But he was getting ahead of himself because now he had some Quirk doctor to contend with, to convince of his normality. Would she be able to see that this ink Quirk was stolen?
Humans are stupid, Kiyo said. You overestimate them, Ryū. They come to their own conclusions with very little effort from us. All we have to do is smile and nod.
Smiling, he thought with disgust.
Smiling was for those freakishly happy people, the ones with non-broken families who weren’t molested by their family members, not chucked into foster care by their parents - by three parents - and who had non-cannibalistic Quirks. Normal people.
Kiyo laughed, low and grating. Yeah, we’re not one of those.