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“Did your quirk come in yet, Deku?”

Izuku blinked and turned around to face his best friend. A wide grin seeped onto his face.

“Mhm!”, he nodded. “It comes from my hands, just like yours, Kacchan!”

“Well, show me!”

“Do you have paper?”

“Wah?! Why would I carry paper?!”

Izuku let out a surprised yelp when Kacchan grabbed the tiny notebook from Izuku’s desk, tore out a random page, and handed them both back to him.

“Use your own! Now come on, show me!”

“A-Ah, okay!”

Izuku swallowed and switched on his quirk. His fingertips glowed a soft green color and he swiped them across the ripped page. The color on the page blended from green to a light blue and cut right across the length of the paper.

“I-I can also do yellow and purple and a whole load of other col-”

“That’s a useless quirk!”, Kacchan barked, suddenly scaring Izuku out from his mumbling.

“H-Huh-?”

“You can’t be a hero with stupid drawings!”

“W-Wait, Kacchan-!”

“I guess you really are a deku! A useless quirk like that is fit for someone like you!”

Kacchan laughed as loud crackling erupted through the air and bright orange flashes made a barrier between them. Nothing really had changed, even if he had gotten a quirk. He came home with burnt arms like always, drooping eyes as always, heavy heart as always.

Nothing really had changed.

~~~

"What, you stupid deku, you want to fight back now?"

Izuku trembled. He hadn't meant to have thrown a punch. It was reflexive. Kacchan stood with his cheek slightly turned, but a wicked grin was spread across his face. It made Izuku terrified.

"You really are useless. You throw one punch and you're already down. So fucking weak", Kacchan tsked. Izuku yelped when he was kicked in the gut, sending him sprawling down onto the wet ground. It rained this morning, and it soaked his back. The alleyway was dark and dingy, making Izuku all the more terrified. Who would think to see a boy being beat half to death in an alleyway?

"What, now you're scared?", Kacchan teased, pressing his foot into Izuku's chest. Izuku heaved in breaths and wrapped his hands around Kacchan's ankle.

"K-K-Ka..."

"You act like you're gonna fight back, thinking it'll scare us off? You must be joking."

"Wow, he really must be stupid", one of Kacchan's goons laughed. Izuku wrenched his eyes shut. Breathing was getting harder and harder to do.

"Can't even defend himself with such a stupid quirk", another one chortled.

"Actually, actually", the third one said between laughter. "Let's see him try, Can't do shit anyway, why not just let him use it and try, eh?" The boy then broke down in laughter, the other two following suit. Kacchan had a murderous grin.

"Oi, oi, that's an idea! Come on then, Deku, show us that stupid ass quirk! Come on, come on!"

Izuku cried out when the foot was pressed down harder. Quickly activated his quirk, bright yellow paint leaking from his fingertips and staining Kacchan's pants.

"Shit-!"

Kacchan lifted his foot off Izuku's chest and the latter relished in the feeling.

"Oh, you little shit! You stained my fucking uniform!", Kacchan snarled. Izuku covered his ears as loud explosions ripped through the air. With the amount of times he had them explode in his face, he's surprised he hadn't gone deaf.

"Oh shit, Bakugou's fucking pissed."

"Midoriya's gonna get it now!"

Izuku trembled on the ground like a fallen leaf. Kacchan loomed over him, face dark and teeth bared.

"You think you're hot shit, huh? Because you ruined my fucking pants, huh?! Well, guess what, asshole!", Kacchan bellowed, slamming a hand down to grip Izuku's face. His fingernails dug into his cheeks, burning the skin with his palm pressed against his nose. "You. Ain't. Shit. You're worthless, and always will be. You can't amount to anything, even dirt has more value than you. You still think you can be a hero? Have a purpose? Newsflash, Deku. You'll always have been and will be a stain on those people's lives. Everyone who knows you thinks you're a burden. Hell, I'm pretty sure Auntie Inko thinks you're useless, too."

Kacchan almost always defaulted to violence, but he didn't have to. He knew that. Every verbal knife Kacchan threw his way hurt ten times worse than any physical one. They dug into him, deep into his heart and soul and stayed there. Even if the wound it entered from healed, the blade was still in his skin, jabbing and threatening to dig deeper every time he shifts. The skin wounds heal over time, but mental ones do not. They're like a parasite, whispering words into your ear on repeat until they are heard and mulled over until you cannot get up from your down heel. It's worse than any pain on this damn world.

Izuku questioned society.

Everyone said Kacchan was a hero. Everyone said he could be the best. Izuku could hardly believe, fathom, the possibility of someone as rotten as Kacchan could be a person who would help people. He could hardly even imagine Kacchan doing something like lifting rubble in order to save people.

He reminded Izuku of Endeavor.

A heartless hero, one even Izuku had distrusted since he knew of him. He had no regard for civilians, no regard for safety. All that mattered was his villain count. How many he took down, how many he arrested, how many he killed. Endeavor had a 25% percent mortality rate. That was a four in one chance of the villain dying if he faced Endeavor, either from being roasted alive on the scene, from sustained injuries, or from extreme overuse of their quirk being used to defend themselves or get away. It was horrible, and Izuku hated it.

He hated he couldn't change it, either.

He was useless. He didn't have a quirk like All Might's, or Kacchan's or anyone else's quirk. He had glowing paint. He couldn't be a hero with fucking paint! Not compared to quirks like explosions, or being able to manipulate the environment to your will. He could make a career as an artist, or as some kind of business man that sold a byproduct of his quirk as a consumer's item. He couldn't be a hero.

He couldn't. It was impossible. He'd been told over and over again in his life, but he'd been stubborn. He wanted to be a hero. Prove he wasn't useless.

But he couldn't deny the facts.

As much as he wanted to, he couldn't go anywhere with flimsy hope.

Nothing could help work him to it, nothing could even improve his chances. He could paint, and that's all he has going for him.

He's hopeless.

~~~

When Izuku first heard about the Hero Killer: Stain, it'd been on the news. The "vigilante"(he used that term loosely, because normal vigilantes went after underground villains and this guy certainly didn't) had been growing in popularity. He'd sent a message(a threat, daresay most reporters call it) about a tainted hero society and how there were no true heroes. All heroes had a separate goal from saving lives, and were only in on the business for money or fame or some other reason.

And god damn it, Izuku couldn't help but agree.

Hell, a lot of people agreed with Stain. So many, in fact, a few copycats had begun to spring up, all being a variant of a name under the Hero Killer title. Honestly, if Izuku was more childish or impressionable, he probably would have followed.

But, not only was he too cowardly to even leave his room in the middle of the night, what the hell would he even do? His paint glows in the dark, for god's sake, he'd be drawing in pro heroes like a moth to a flame. Literally. What use could a guy like him be?

All Izuku had was his notebooks and paint.

Notebooks and paint.

Notebooks.

God damn it, Izuku, you really are and idiot.

Chapter Text

After that night, Izuku worked hard.

He rolled up his sleeves and pulled out every hero notebook he had. He scoured over the pages in his book, writing using his pinky finger. Faintly glowing red paint was smeared over pages and Izuku was thankful for once in his life for his quirk. He had tried using a red pen for his Hero Analysis for the Future Vol. 1, but ended up using up the entire pen by the time he got midway to Vol. 2. By the time he was halfway through Vol. 4, it was past 3 a.m. and his fingertips were stained.

A drawback of his quirk would be that his palms are always some kind of color and/or glowing. If he used his glowing green paint non-stop for about an hour, his fingertips and bits of his palm would shine a bright green for the day until he washes it off or scrubs at it enough. He's had too many incidents as a child that he stained something or other after drawing with his quirk.

He blew on the page about an old, probably retired by now, pro hero by the name of "Pop-Cop". As a kid, he just liked the alliteration enough to make an entry.

From his own observation and old forums, Pop-Cop only, strictly, occupied cities when crime was rampant. Not like drug deals or muggings, but large crimes or crimes that seemed bigger than they were.

Publicity, basically. The guy just wanted to be famous.

Pop-Cop's quirk was that when he cracked his fingers, he would shoot out small bullets made from the iron in his blood out of the joint that he cracked. He could make the bullets any size and shape he wanted, mainly using smaller but sharp projectiles.

Izuku pursed his lips as he continued to drag his finger across the paper. His fingertips, mainly his pointer and pinky fingers, were already stained deep red and he was sure his mother would question it in the morning. Still, he worked. He worked until he was passed out onto the desk with his cheek against the half-dried paint at 4 in the morning.

~~~

Izuku scurried to shove his books into his yellow backpack. His Hero Analysis for the Future Vol. 6 was placed inside with more care then anything else. Just as he was zipping up the bag, a hand slammed down onto his desk.

"Oi, deku", Kacchan sneered with a sinister grin. "You still haven't paid me back for mucking up my uniform pants. Since I'm a nice person, why don't I give you a bit of a choice? You can pay me back with whatever savings you got or you can pay double that in punches."

'Oh, thou art so kind, Sir Kacchan', Izuku thought sarcastically. "I grovel at thy feet by thou generosity. Wouldst thou want a drink along with thy demands?"

"The fuck you say to me?!"

Huh?

"You mind repeating that, Deku?!"

Oh shit. Please, don't tell him he said that aloud.

"Oh shit! Deku's in it now!", one of the lackeys behind Kacchan cackled. The third guy of the trio was pounding his fist on the desk next to him.

"Did the deku grow a backbone?!"

"Too bad! Bakugou's gonna smash that to pieces, along with anything else the loser got!"

Izuku's spine went rigid. His knees were stiff and his elbows were pressed into his rib cage. His hands were clenched so tightly the knuckles were starting to white.

"Repeat it, you scumbag!", Kacchan howled, swiping his hand down on Izuku's bag to send it onto the ground. The contents inside flew out of the half-closed opening and fluttered across the floor. Izuku's teeth were clamped shut, his lips pressed so tightly together he could feel the skin start to tear in some places. "Why the fuck you are you ignoring me?! You tryin' to pick a fight with all bark and no bite?! I'll fucking decimate you, Deku!"

As if giving him a taste for what to come, Kacchan fired an explosion into Izuku's gut, and it sent him sprawling. In his panic, his quirk accidentally went off and now colorful bits of glowing paint flew into the air and hit targets at random. Izuku clenched his eyes shut as he hit the classroom wall, sliding down it to sit on the floor.

"SON OF A BITCH!"

Izuku cursed.

"You stained my fucking blazer! You little piece of shit!", Kacchan screamed, stomping up in front of Izuku and lifting his up by his collar. Tiny flecks of glowing orange paint dotted the explosive blond's cheeks. "I can't fucking believe you!"

"Oh shit, Bakugou's mad!", Lackey 1 oohed. Lackey 2 nodded fearfully. The two lackeys also had small flecks of orange on their skin and blazers, though they didn't seem to notice.

"You're gonna get it now, you fucking stupid, useless, worthless, waste of space, good-for-fucking-nothing... AUGH!"

Running out of insults to use, Kacchan screamed a feral scream and hurled Izuku's body to the wall. Izuku slammed into the wall with such force, his quirk self-activated again, leaving hand prints and smears on the wall where Izuku tried to catch himself. Before Izuku could even pick himself up to his knees, Kacchan had a grip on his collar and lifted him up so harshly the on the neck of his uniform dug into his neck so hard it made him gag. Kacchan lifted him so high off the ground that only his toes touched the ground.

"Listen here, you worthless Deku. You may have a quirk, but you're just as useless as a Quirkless. You can't do shit, you can't be a fucking hero. What the fuck can you do? This ain't a fuckin' Nintendo game. You can't just shoot paint around and hope to win. You'd die the second you graduate from any kind of hero school out there, but I'd bet you'd die on your first year. Stop fucking trying", Kacchan snarled threateningly in his ear. Izuku coward and tried to move his head away as slowly as he could so he could avoid Kacchan noticing and getting even angrier.

"You may think you're hot shit and all, but you're not even worth dirt. If you're Ma wasn't so fuckin' nice, I'd bet she'd dump you onto the streets. You're a burden to me, a burden to society, a burden to your own mother. You're the worst kind of human. Hell, I'd like to bet you aren't a human and some kind of robot made to inconvenience others."

Ouch. That was a hard one to swallow. Izuku couldn't stop the hot beads of water escaping through his eyes. Kacchan snarled animalistically and slammed Izuku down onto the tiled ground. Izuku was held down by his throat as Kacchan held his free hand a mere centimeter away from his cheek.

"Not so confident now, huh?", he sneered, a smile so wide that it should probably be tearing up his cheeks. Izuku tried to inch his face away as far as he could from Kacchan's sizzling palm, but the tight hold on his neck kept him in place. Izuku's body shaked with repressed sobs and pleas for release, his voice being choked out of him. In his panic, he didn't notice on how his quirk force-activated again, making a small puddle of a brightly glowing mixture of several colors like yellow, purple, blue, green, orange, and red. A rainbow spilled onto the floor, mucking up and mixing to make an ugly color. A color with no name, just like the person it's coming form. That gross puke green that everyone hates the look of. Now, Izuku finds it so ironic. How he relates to color more than people his age.

Kacchan leaves, and he leaves behind something ugly.

Chapter Text

He runs.

Right now, it seems that Izuku does nothing else but run.

It's kind of pitiful, actually. Being afraid of everyone around you.

Izuku cries.

He cries, and cries, and when he should be nothing more than a shriveled up corpse dead from dehydration he cries even more.

Izuku is a dead man walking.

His feet drag, his eyes droop from sleepless nights riddled with night terrors, his arms are constantly resting at his side.

But Izuku works.

He works, and works, and works. His fingers and palms are stained a rainbow of colors. His notebooks are bursting with paper, post it notes, and layer upon layer of paint. His room had loose leaf strewn about, late and missing homework assignments and projects piled in a corner. His hero memorabilia was neatly tucked away into several cardboard boxes that took up all the space in his closet. Clothes were folded into piles next to the closet.

Izuku... doesn't know.

He doesn't know how he's feeling. He doesn't know what he's doing sometimes.

Myself? Suspecting heroes for not being... heroic? he thinks. But then he's reminded.

Stain had been rising in infamy. He struck down heroes, either completely murdering him or incapacitating them to the point of retirement. The most brutal of which being that all limbs of a young now retired pro hero were amputated off or mutilated to the point of paralysis.

Izuku did have to say he agreed with him, at a certain degree.

Yes, the way he executed his movement with extreme acts of violence, his views were... well, there is a reason there's a new cult thing worshiping this guy pretty much every month.

Izuku agreed. Yes, the hero system wasn't... the best. The police force wasn't either. Yes, Izuku couldn't find it in himself to completely agree that everything was fucked beyond repair, but Stain did bring up valid points.

Izuku stalked down the underpass with his head low and hand drawn up to his to his chin in thought. He mumbled to himself, holding out his Hero Analysis for the Future Vol. 9 out in front of him while looking over one of the entries he had yet to fix. Being too wrapped up in his own thoughts, he didn't notice the putrid smelling odor coming from behind him until it was literally right under his nose.

"You may be a bit small, but you'll have to do!", a scratchy and rough voice from above said. Izuku shuddered at the sound, and his quirk force activated again. Bright yellow melted into the gelatinous blob of the slime villain that came near his hands. "Hey, stop that! No use in using your quirk! I can't be harmed!"

Izuku felt hot liquid falling out from his eyes as the slime forced it's way down his throat and into his system. His lungs burned with the extreme deprivation of oxygen, bagging to be granted freedom.

"Don't worry, you'll only be in pain until you die! Thanks for showing up kid!", the slime laughed.

"You're my hero!"

...

...

...

Izuku fluttered his eyelids, a bright light narrowing around a dark shadow that loomed above him.

"Wow! Thought I lost you there!", a booming voice said, presumably coming from the shadow. Izuku blinked a few more times before squinting to see the figure.

"All... Might...?", he grumbled through his confusion. "Where... am I?"

"You really gave me quite a scare!", All Might laughed, in spite of the situation. "I really try to keep civilians out of my affairs, but it seems that I made a bit of a mistake. Sorry about that!"

Izuku blinked his eyes again as he processed the fact that All Might himself was standing right in front of him.

"A-Ah-!"

"Now, I really must be going! I need to get this guy to the station!", All Might proclaimed while patting his pocket, which held a soda bottle filled with a green liquid, assumable the slime from earlier, mixed in with bright yellow lines running throughout it, which must be Izuku's quirk.

"Now, so long, young one!"

Izuku's eyes widened as he watched All Might turn his back to him and prepare to take off. His voice ripped out through his throat faster than his mind could process.

"Can I-!", Izuku cried, choked out before continuing. "Can I be a hero?! With a useless quirk like mine?!"

That made All Might stop. Izuku continued, taking his chances.

"I-I have a quirk that lets me make glowing paint f-from my hands... The yellow in the slime is from my quirk when it force activated...", Izuku said before swallowing a lump in his throat. "Can I be a hero with a quirk like that?"

All Might's expression somehow turned grim, despite the shining smile present on his face.

"I'm sorry", All Might said. "I need to go."

And he was gone.

~~~

When Izuku got home, he set straight to work.

Stain sightings

Stain current location

Where is Stain most seen?

Stain most recent kill location

Stain kill locations

That was just a few entries in Izuku's search history. Izuku sat at the family desktop, scrolling through the news articles and statistics pages. Numbers were printed into his pupils as they scanned over the screen. One hand was on the keyboard and the other on the mouse, both stained with old paint that he had put there when he was still learning to control his quirk. Next to the desk was his backpack.

Izuku looked over to it, scanning his eyes over all the volumes of Hero Analysis for the Future that were inside.

He needed to find him.

Chapter Text

Izuku stalks the streets of Mizumi City. It was a very water-based city, if you could call it that. Water ran through crevices in the sidewalk, it was always raining even in the clearest of days, and several people with water-based quirks call it home.

Recently, Stain was seen once here after killing a pro hero by the name of "Misty". Bright orange hair with a quirk that makes her sweat into mist that can form solid objects, she named herself after some old pre-quirk era character from some anime or something. From what Izuku could tell, Stain had a pattern. Kill or maim 4 heroes in a city, then move on.

Izuku's feet drag as he glances around himself. It was late, but not too terribly late. His breathing was shallow, and a sense of dread weighed heavily onto his chest. Honestly, he probably looked hella suspicious. A kid, whose so short he looks fucking ten, walking around at 8 o'clock in a hoodie and a heavy backpack when it was definitely too late for school and it was definitely past library hours.

This was, probably, also a stupid idea. How was he expecting to find a serial killer, who has avoided being even sighted by anyone other than his victims. How was he, a scrawny twig-looking-ass who could make glowing liquid similar to the stuff that kids mix into their slime, track down someone who literally stabs people as a hobby?

The answer is: Yes. Yes, he could. You know how he knows?

Because, in his own anxiety, he wandered down a cliche alley and ended up stumbling upon the man he was looking for.

Coincidentally, Izuku also witnessed the murder of an up-and-coming pro hero: Zap-burr. She had an electricity quirk, but needed some kind of conductor for it to work. She wielded a spiked whip which gave the appearance of metal burrs sticking to a wire, hence her hero name. Stain sunk his sword into the side of her head through her temple, swiftly ending her life. Her hair was already caked with blood, and the rest of her body wasn't in much better state. Izuku quickly brought his hands up to his mouth to battle the upcoming nausea, but couldn't stop the gagging noise his throat made. The wet sound made Stain snap his head up, and their eyes locked.

"A kid?", Izuku heard the serial killer mumble. "God damn it."

Oh my god. There he was. A serial killer. That Izuku kind of liked. What the fuck is wrong with him?

"Get out of here, kid. I don't like killing children", Stain said simply, standing up to his full height above the fresh corpse(that, need Izuku remind himself, he watched die). Izuku blinked once before moving his mouth, which had opened in complete shock.

"M-Mr. S-Stain-"

"Get out of here", the man repeated, sheathing his bloody sword onto the holster that was strung onto his hunched over back. Izuku's foot slid slightly backward in instinct, but he forced himself to plant his feet. Nether made an attempt to move. Izuku swallowed fearfully before shrugging his backpack straps off his shoulders. In a flash, Stain had whipped out a small knife out from somewhere, but made no move to engage.

'It's a warning', Izuku thought as his backpack fell to the ground behind him in a heap. Izuku had his eyes downcast and head bowed, refusing to look up to look into the white eyes that froze his joints at a glance. Slowly, Izuku raised his hands to show surrender, and stepped backward and over the backpack. He walked backwards out of the alleyway. Once he was completely out and in the center of the sidewalk, he turned tail and ran back toward the train station.

~~~

Chizome stood in the dark alley, shell shocked. What the hell was that?

Slowly, Chizome lowered his weapon and slid it back into the sheath banded around his wrist. He stepped over the corpse and to the bright yellow backpack. He carefully bent over and grasped the zipper slowly unzipping it.

He didn't know what he was expecting, but he sure as hell didn't expect books.

A confused grunt left his throat as he gazed at the contents inside. There were at least 10 different notebooks, all varying in color and size. When he pulled one random one out, it was labelled: "Hero Analysis for the Future Vol. 4".

'Holy shit', he thought. 'Are these all part of a series?'

He flipped through the pages, his eyes catching immediately onto the faintly glowing red markings spread across every page. The red crossed over black pen and pencil, writing over what was the original text inside. There were pages upon pages of well-known heroes, and a few that even Chizome didn't recognize the names of. Logically, the more well-known heroes had more fleshed out entries, some even taking up as many and 3 or 4 pages, while newer or less popular heroes had gotten around 2. It would be a bit of an understatement to say that Chizome was impressed.

Chizome was used to getting hints from anonymous sources all the time, given his rise in popularity in recent weeks. But not to this degree. It was usually a sentence or two that hinted at some kind of schedule, but this was outrageous. Turns out, there were 12 complete entries. The one marked Vol. 13 was about halfway done, and the amount of information stored just in there was enough to make Chizome's head spin.

When Chizome opened to the last page, there was writing scrawled in there.

'I just want to help do something.'

Chizome was... confused, to say the least. The wording just seems... off. Like it was some kind of unfulfilled wish. It sent a chill through Chizome's spine, even though he didn't know the reason.

Chizome packed up the backpack back up, zipped it closed, and hoisted it on his shoulder.

Chapter Text

Izuku's heart thuds harshly in his chest as he runs down the streets of Mizumi.

Oh my God? Oh my God. He just did that. He literally found a serial killer and handed over years of research of different heroes. What the actual hell did he just do? How many lives did he just sentence?

Why did he just do that?

He heaves in a sigh as he wills himself to slow down to a shuffle. His throat is closed up and he can still feel a phantom weight of the bag that used to be on his shoulders.

He crosses over one of the many low hanging bridges in the city and stops midway to stare into the water below. The entire city was surrounded by a river. Right now seemed to be high tide, since the water moved quickly and was only a few feet away from the bridge. Izuku watches the water for a little bit before going to the edge. He slips off his shoes and socks and places them to the side. Izuku sits down onto the cement and ducks under the rail to sit closer to the water. He lowers feet down so the water warps around his toes. The chilling sensation is enough to make him shiver and roll his shoulders. It ground him down as he watches the water fold over itself and curve around his toes. The rushing of the calm yet extremely quick waters reminds the greenet of the heavy air of early summer combined with the fleeting breezes of late spring. He moves his hands so that they hang freely with the wrists resting on the cement he's sitting on. Slowly, Izuku's quirk produces a bright yellow that drips down into the water. It splashes down into the water and it flowed with the current, making something akin to a lava lamp. Izuku watches as it drips down his palm, down to the water, and down the stream. Down, down, down. "You know people wouldn't appreciate glowing color in their water, right?" Izuku screamed in fear and turned around, and tried to use his palms to steady himself. His still-color-wet-palms slip off the concrete, which makes him fall into the rushing water.

Izuku sputtered when he manages to fight his way up to the surface of the water. He gasps for air, but is all too quickly swept up on his head again and pulled him under before he could close his mouth. He flailed under the water to try and get some air, but with the flow of the current and how it overlapped on itself, it was almost impossible.

Oh, god. Oh god, oh god, he was going to die wasn't he? He can't breathe, he's trying to keep his lips sealed close so none of the water could enter his mouth. The water was weeping him around like a ragdoll, making his limbs flail and try to grab onto anything that would give him a second to recover. His back hit against the bank and his mouth coughed out in reaction. In a panic, he tried to suck in a breath of air before he realized he was, y'know, underwater and inhaled a mouthful of water. He continued into the vicious cycle of trying to cough the water out of his airway while also reflexively sucking in more water.

Izuku faintly registered a wide array of color before his vision went dark.

Chapter Text

"S-, ----- --- -ou fi-- ---- ki- -----?"

"-- --- riv--."

"-- --- riv--?"

"------ wh-- - --id."

Izuku could hear voices at the edges of his consciousness. They were all muggy and melded together.

"D- --- ---- how -- ----- up -- --- riv--?"

"-- jump--."

"HE WHAT?!"

Wow, yeah, ouch. That was loud.

"O--! Y--'re gon-- -ak- hi- -p!"

"No, --- ---- to ---- -- th-- -- JUMPED OFF A BRIDGE??"

"Omi!"

"-- --- -- acc-----..."

"WHAT DOES IT MATTER?! 'IT WAS AN ACCIDENT', HE SAYS! YOU ARE A GROWN ASS MAN, AKAGURO! HE COULD HAVE DIED!!"

"Omi!! Quiet do--!"

"FUCK YOU, TOBY I DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT!"

"Not -- ------ ground--."

"EH?!"

"---, ------ right."

"Fuck ---, -uc-, - th----t --- ---- -- friend!"

"I'- on-- -ou- fri--d wh-- -o- are-'- shou----."

Izuku groans once he registers aching in all of his joints. He coughs a couple times, before peeling back his eyes.

"Oh! Oh! Bucky, Bucks! He's opening his eyes!"

"Oh, so he isn't dead!"

"Omi, give him space."

Izuku blinks a few more times and sees an outline of something looming over him. After squinting to focus on it, he processed that it was way to close to be considered comfortable. He yelled out and sat up on instinct only to knock his forehead on it. He assumed it was a person, because they recoiled with a cry of their own.

"Ahh! Ow, ow, ow..."

"I warned you, Omi."

Izuku gapes at the scene in front of him. What he could only describe as a whole dump's worth of vaguely valuable junk was strewn about the floor of what he could guess was a warehouse. Directly in front of him was a young girl(What was that name earlier, Omi?) who was rubbing her forehead.

"Hey, champ, how you feelin? Anything of note? Toby here's a great healer", a new voice chimed, and Izuku spun to look behind him at a blonde man with a bulky build.

"It's basic first aid", a brunet man with thin glasses(was this Toby?) deadpanned. He has a heavy American accent, which sounded odd.

"Eh."

"My head hurts!", the girl whined.

"It was your own fault."

"Eff you."

"You were unafraid to say 'fuck' in my face a while ago."

"Fuck you, then."

"Little shit..."

"Uh, wh-where am I? How did I get here?", Izuku said, finally, and sat at the edge of the couch he was laying on.

"He speaks!", the girl shrieked.

"Well, you're in a warehouse that is about 14 miles away from Hosu. You got here because Akaguro", the brunet explained, pointing a thumb behind him to a crouched figure in the darkness, "decided he felt bad and saved you from drowning."

"U-Um, and who are all of y-you? Sor-rry, I-I just..."

"Don't worry about it!", the bulky blonde man from earlier cheered. "My name is Tetsunagi Ringu, but everyone calls me Buckles or Buck."

"I'm Janji Omiharu!", the young girl said, pointing to her chest. "Please refer to me as Omi-chan, or Omi is just fine!"

"And I'm Toby Daily", the brunet waved. "The shadowy figure back there is Akaguro Chizome, better known as the up-and-coming vigilante borderline villain, Stain."

Izuku's jaw dropped. Stain?? Here??? He turned his head to look at the figure again, just to catch Stain, Akaguro, turn his head away.

"He told us you fell into the river in Mizumi", Toby continued. "Sorry about your shoes, though. They were gone when I went to scope out the area."

"O-Oh, it's fine, I'm sure..."

"Wait a sec!", Janji gasped. She suddenly jumped back into Izuku's personal space. "You wouldn't happen to be Midoriya Izuku, mm?"

"U-Um, y-y-yes?"

"Oh shit", Tetsunagi breathed. "Welp, we're dead. Goodbye world."

"W-Wait, what's going on?"

"I can't believe we're housing a dead person", Janji lamented, falling backward and onto the floor.

"Oh my god, you guys are too much", Toby groaned. "Alrighty then, Midoriya-kun. About a day ago, there was a missing person's report filed. About 6 hours after it being filed, a pair of red shoes were found in Mizume city by the edge of one of the bridges."

Oh.

Oh.

"The police are now looking for, not a boy, but a body."

Fuck.

"W-Wait, how long was I out for?!", Izuku asked in a panic.

"I'd say about... 2 and a half days? You weren't in the best condition, being near-drowned with a mild concussion and several bad bruises and minor scratches from jagged rocks, and were unconscious for the entirety you were here. I'm surprised you're even lucid."

Wow, okay, this is a lot to take in. Izuku remained in silence as he mulled over the thoughts in his head.

"Also, Akaguro wanted to talk to you about some things."

Fuck.

Chapter Text

Izuku took a deep breath. Toby had directed him down the halls of the abandoned warehouse to a tall ladder.

"He left when we were explaining the sitch. He's on the roof", he said. "He's always on the roof."

Tetsunagi said that he would take Izuku back to Masutafu once he was done chatting with Stain. Izuku had one hand on a ladder rung, scraping together what slight of confidence he has left and hoists himself up onto the ladder and climbs up.

When he reaches the top, his eyes are instantly drawn up to the moon. It was bright, and looked larger from up on the roof. izuku blinked in awe as he pulled himself up the rest of the way. Izuku startled when something was thrown in front of him, making a large "slap!" sound on the metal roofing.

"You gave me these. Why?"

"W-Wha?", Izuku sputtered, recovering from the scare. He looked at the items that were thrown at his feet. On top of a pile of papers was a notebook with a big 13 plastered on the front.

"You wrote and gave me these notebooks. Why?"

Stain was crouching above Izuku, looking down on him like prey. It was incredibly unnerving.

"Um...", Izuku swallowed the lump in his throat, "B-Because I, um, I..."

Why did he give them to Stain?

"Do you not know yourself?", the man questioned. "Do you do things without purpose? Did you intend for me to cause, perhaps, some kind of entropy? Chaos, with this new information?"

Izuku swallowed again. "I-"

"Are you a villain, Midoriya Izuku?"

Izuku swallowed down the lump in his throat.

"N-No", he said. "I want to be... a hero."

"Then why give valuable information to the person who is purging heroes from the streets? The man who might as well strike you down here and now to prevent you from being corrupted by society?"

"Because you're right!", Izuku shouted. "You're right, heroes aren't always the best people, even if they should be! People are mean, and don't care, and it's bad that heroes still keep that! Heroism isn't for forwarding their agendas, it's for saving lives! I hate that you kill these people. I hate it, because no one deserves to die, not even if they are the lowest of scum there is, no one deserves death. But..."

Izuku looks courageously into Stain's eyes, determination burning like a fire spreading over a forest.

"But if heroes act like villains, they really aren't heroes at all! They're just villains with a fastpass to commit crime."

Izuku stands just a bit straighter and points an accusing finger toward Stain.

"If you think that I am unjust to be a hero, tell me how I can change!"

Stain is quiet, and Izuku is panting from the energy he poured into his words. He lowers his hand and backs down from his strong stance.

"You're an interesting individual. Not all middle schoolers would tell a villain that they are welcome to tear into them", Stain said with an intimidating smirk, though Midoriya took it as more amused.

"I-I get that a lot", Midoriya replies, "That I'm weird."

"I didn't say you were weird", Stain says, "I said you were interesting. Intriguing. It's almost comical, how passionate you are towards being a hero. Pray do tell, why do you want to be a hero, Midoriya Izuku?"

"W-Well, it's always been my dream to help other people and save them", Izuku explained. "I've always wanted to be like All Might, saving people with a big smile."

Izuku smiles fondly at the memory. All Might figurine in hand, jumping excitedly as his mother would reply the same video over and over for him. Repeating the words "Don't worry, I am here!" like he himself were shouting it to the world.

Maybe all that hope is what made him so devastated when his quirk was deemed "unheroic".

Stain had stayed silent as Izuku reminisced in the past. He honestly appreciated the silence he was given. It was broken once Stain chuckled.

"I was right", he said, "You are very interesting indeed, Midoriya Izuku."

Izuku laughed softly himself. It was so odd, being complimented(?) by someone who is considered a dangerous serial killer. Stain stood to his full height and pointed a long blade in Midoriya's direction.

"You, young Midoriya, have the potential to be a hero. With the right training, I believe you can change the world as we know it."

Izuku gaped, "A-Are you saying...?"

"Midoriya", Stain puts on a wide, thin smile. "You can be a hero."