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All Might was a pain in Shigaraki’s neck. Literally.

Chipped, broken nails dug into the tender skin of his throat. He raked his fingers across the thin layer of flesh that protected his jugular, ripping and tearing into the already marred flesh. Hands trembling, mind screaming. A sneer tugged at his cracked lips, threatening to rip open a barely healed dry split. Wrong, this was all wrong! This wasn’t how it was supposed to go!

All Might was supposed to die!

Nomu was making no game of it, but All Might hardly seemed to notice as he landed blow after blow on the monstrous beast, lodging his fist in its side so fast that it was almost impossible to register. The fallout from their battle was keeping Kurogiri at bay, and it took a lot of his own willpower to stay rooted to his spot. Everyone in the room, especially the students, seemed completely enthralled with the battle.

No, scratch that.

They seemed enthralled with All Might. With his smile in the face of danger. That fucking smile that never faltered.

Shigaraki would disintegrate it from his goddamn face if he could just get close enough. He would show them all what their precious Hero really was. He would sear the thought into their mind right before he destroyed them.

A trickle of blood ran from his neck down into his collar, coating the tips of his fingers in the plasma. The more he watched All Might pummel his Nomu, the deeper he clawed. The Hero was moving so fast that his Nomu didn’t even have time to get a single hit in, and at this rate, his shock absorption and regeneration would mean absolutely nothing.

He brought his other hand up to the right side of his neck, dragging his hand across the alternate side as well. Had he been lied to? All Might was supposed to be weaker now! He was supposed to be on the decline, downward,defeatable. He should be lying dead at his feet! Yet here he was, tearing into Nomu as if it meant nothing at all!

Rage made a pit in his abdomen, clawing its way up his throat like acid. This was all his fault. His fault his fault his fault his fault. He would make him pay. He would show them. He would tear down their idols and burn their society to the fucking ground. He would kill All Might one way or another. Then they’d see. He’d show them as a goodbye present.

All Might slammed another blow into Nomu, and Shigaraki flinched. This wasn’t happening. Everything had been planned so carefully, they had made sure of it! It was so disheartening, how things could turn so fast. Not only an hour ago, things had seen like they might go his way. And why shouldn’t they? He worked so hard. If they wouldn’t go his way when he worked so patiently, so painstakingly precise, would they ever?

Maybe it would be easier to just give up. Hell, fuck the entire thing. It was too much work for too little pay off. What was he gaining from this? Humiliating himself. Embarrassing. Worthless. Maybe he should just surrender. Surrender. Surrender? Surrender!

No. This wasn’t him. Tomura Shigaraki doesn’t surrender. The thought had never crossed his mind, never once. These thoughts were unfamiliar invaders, creeping into his mind and nesting. These were not domestic ideas. Someone was planting them. One of these little brats had control of him. Someone had a mental manipulation quirk.

He would find them. He would find them and snuff them out. He would make an example. No one violated Tomura Shigaraki.

He swung his head from side to side, searching for anything that seemed out of place. Most of the occupants in the area were paying full attention to the battle going on between All Might and Nomu with the pathetic sheen of admiration glimmering in their expressions, but someone was cheating. He scanned around slowly for a moment, looking at the eyes of everyone in front of him, all of them front and center.

All except for one.

It took him a few moments to notice, but someone had crept out of the crowd, positioning themselves far out to the side of the fight, giving themselves a clear view of Shigaraki himself. A young woman, by the looks of it, with her hand outstretched towards him in a peculiar position. Her squint told him that she was focusing very intently on him, no doubt using whatever quirk she possessed to manipulate his mind.

A small crooked smile played on his dry mouth. Perhaps this round wouldn’t be a complete loss after all.

Slowly, he turned to face her, his beady vermilion eyes zeroing in on hers from behind Father, conveying the message ‘I see you.’ He saw her stiffen, her brave expression slacking and posture falling. Her hands began to shake, and her lips opened slightly, inhaling steeply in panic. Message received.

She swallowed hard, but kept her hand up towards him. Despair. Depression. Anxiety. Surrender. Surrender! It was a whirlwind of negative emotions in his head now, but he smiled. He saw her teeth grit in frustration, grinding against one another as she focused all of her power on him now. She was refusing to back down, despite the fact that the only pro Hero in working order was currently occupied with Nomu and the most dangerous villain in the room had her in his sights.

What a brave little doll.

Kurogiri, who stood nearby, shifted his attentions to Shigaraki. He wondered what was so important that it had distracted the boy from the showdown. Tomura paid him no mind, but slowly began ambling towards the girl. Ever observant, Kurogiri followed his line of site, eyes landing on the small woman currently shaking in her boots as Shigaraki stalked towards her. If he had a visible mouth, he would scowl. Whatever this girl had done to peak his interest away from All Might, it would not end well.

However, unfailingly loyal, he slowly expanded his mist to better encompass the boy and hide his movements. Everyone in the room was fully focused on All Might so there was a very slim chance anyone would notice Shigaraki accosting the poor girl, but his reckless actions often had consequences, so it was better to be on the safe side.

Feeling more bold under the cover of Kurogiri, Shigaraki picked up his pace, advancing on the junior hero as she stumbled backwards away from him. He nearly faltered when the sadness he felt turned instead to raw and primal fear. He became terrified, feeling as if the world itself might end if he took another step towards her. Horrific dread swirled in his gut, threatening to overturn his stomach. Petrified in fear.

Clever girl. She was trying to make him afraid so he would retreat. He was becoming more sure of his guess that her powers revolved around emotional manipulation. Powerful. Useful.

It took him several deep breaths and a few scratches to resume, but he continued on his path toward her regardless, reminding himself that everything he was feeling was falsified. Her terror, however, was not, and judging by the look on her face, she was on the verge of a heart attack. From behind his protective palm, he grinned, licking his chapped lips as she backed into the wall behind her, cornering herself and leaving no where else to run.

He approached her, cocking his head to the side as he studied her. She swallowed hard as he drew closer, visibly shaking as she drew her hands up defensively as if ready to fight him. The overwhelming fear he felt dissipated, and he giggled under his breath. She couldn’t fight him and use her quirk. She wasn’t powerful enough yet. She was helpless against him.

She bared her teeth, and when he was within a few feet of her, she took the initiative to throw the first punch. He allowed it to hit his chest, in an effort to gauge her power. Brave, but it was painfully uncoordinated and pathetically weak for a hero. He felt better hits from quirkless. Chances are that she was more stealth based, and not much good in a one on one or group fight. This was going to be so easy.

She growled as he brushed her off, readying herself to strike again. However, he prepared himself this time, grabbing her wrist with little effort as she aimed directly for his jaw. Four of his slim fingers clasped her arm and gripped tightly. She grunted as he pushed her back against the wall. His other hand found her neck, clasping the column of her throat firmly. His pinky hovered precariously close to her skin.

“You saw what I did to Eraser Head. I let my finger fall even the tiniest bit…” He paused, tightening his grip on her and felt her pulse rise. “and you’ll turn to dust. So fighting me or struggling probably isn’t your best option.”

She stayed completely still, even stifling her breathing a little so as not to tempt fate. He didn’t blame her. After all, his power was disturbing to witness, to say the least. His decay ability matched with his jarring appearance often led people to be extremely uncomfortable around him in the best of situations. Even though she was very blatantly terrified, she tried to ignore him, purposely staring away from his intense gaze even as he placed his face only inches from hers as he inspected her. It made him smile.

And she smelled so good.

Shigaraki was, even at the peak of mental stability, not a very well functioning adult. He didn’t take very good care of himself, often forgetting to eat or sleep for days at a time. While he wasn’t necessarily dirty, it was Kurogiri who often had to remind him to shower and groom himself more than once a week. Most people close to him would describe his scent as 'stale.’ Not thoroughly unpleasant, but nothing particularly good either. So when it came to any form of frivolous hygiene product like cologne or hair gel, he was a complete stranger. He wasn’t often close enough to any other human being to indulge himself in any more satisfying smells, let alone the aroma of a woman.

He couldn’t help it. He leaned in and inhaled. Hard.

His fingers wavered on her skin. He hadn’t expected something as menial as scent to rouse him. He kept his face buried in her hair for a moment more, until she snarled in disgust, ripping at his wrists with her fingers in an attempt to pry him off. He had to force himself to pull his head away, cackling all the while.

“Quiet now. You wouldn’t want to distract All Might, would you? It looks like he’s not doing so well. If he loses focus…” The skin across his lips tore and cracked further as a large grin appeared on his face. All Might was bleeding heavily from a wound under his ribs, blood dripping down one side of his mouth. “After all, that’s why you attacked me silently while everyone was distracted, isn’t it? To not draw attention? To try and make me surrender without shedding any more blood? To try to be a hero?” He spat out the last word like venom.

Her lip trembled, and she tried to push herself further backward into the wall. He only moved closer. She was so young and inexperienced, so out of her element. Clearly she hadn’t woken up this morning with the intent of being threatened by a real villain. He could kill her while barely even moving a muscle. He could turn her to ash. He could suffocate her with only one hand before she could scream. He could end her and no one would even know until the dust from All Might’s battle settled. He had complete and total control over her and she knew it, and something about that situation just made him positively giddy.

It was foreign to him, this girl trapped beneath him. But he liked it. She was completely at his mercy, and there wasn’t a goddamn thing she could do about it.

“What were you were doing to me? Your quirk, what is it?” He narrowed his eyes at her, maneuvering the hand on her neck to force her head to the side as he studied her profile. She held steadfast, refusing to talk. She had likely been taught that bravado is useless as a stealth hero, and especially being only a student, it was best not to dig a deeper hole by talking to your antagonist. It made sense, since there was no dialogue tree she could pick that would bribe her from this situation. She likely knew that she was in deep trouble, and frankly, it wasn’t looking good.

He let her maintain her silence for a moment, wondering what she hoped to gain from it. Most people would cry or plead, begging for their life, but this was a hero we’re talking about. What are young heroes trained to do when they’re outmatched? Wait for a Pro Hero? Is that why she kept looking toward the doors? Was she trying to outlast him until the fight ended and someone noticed what was happening to her? Clever.

Not clever enough.

“Now, now, don’t be rude. I asked you a question. You wouldn’t want me to get bored, would you?” He flexed his fingers, digging them into her trachea enough for extra effect. A look of panic flashed across her face, comprehending his threat. She nodded subtly, and he loosened his grip just enough that she could speak somewhat comfortably.

“Emotion persuasion! I can make people feel things or mess with their emotional state if I want to. I was just trying to dishearten you enough that you’d stop and call it off!”

“Interesting.” He looked away from her briefly, pondering. “What kinds of things can you make them feel?” Turning to her again, he bore into her unblinkingly, bloodshot eyes surveying every detail of her face.

“A-anything, really. Sadness, happiness, anger, fear, anything at all. I can’t make them act on it but I can make it pretty overwhelming.”

“Very interesting. Your quirk manipulates the chemical balance in people’s brain to make them feel what you want them to, like a high powered drug.” He was staring at her lips now, tracing the little lines and divots across the plushy pink flesh.

“I guess, y-yeah.”

“What else can you make people feel? Could you make them feel bored or irritated? Murderous? Hate? Lust?” Her eyes were so pretty. The only eyes he ever really saw were Kurogiri’s, and they weren’t nearly this appealing.

Her face flushed, a painful blush painting across her cheeks. “Hypothetically, I could. My teachers told me it’s too dangerous for me to try most things right now because I’m so inexperienced but hypothetically I could make people feel anything I want. I can’t make them do anything about it, but I can make them feel it.”

“I see. You could grow to be quite powerful then. I bet your teachers and friends are all so proud of you, aren’t they? The perfect little heroine.” His gaze trailed downward below her face, to where one of his hands had a hold of her neck. He could feel her soft heart beat in his palm. She was so warm.

She said nothing again, looking at him as if she was completely unsure if she was going to live long enough to see that day. She was obviously still utterly terrified and unwilling to do anything lest he decide to place his final finger on her. It seemed like she hadn’t decided if he was mocking her or if he was just completely unhinged. The answer was both.

“I bet you think you’re brave too, don’t you?” The hand holding her wrist flexed a little, his thumb subconsciously rubbing little circles across the skin of her arm. Why was she so soft? She felt so perfect. “Waiting until everyone else was distracted to provoke me so none of your little friends would be in danger, even after you saw what I did to Eraser Head and knew how badly I could hurt you.”

Her eyes were wide, and it was taking active effort on her part not to try to run or shout for help. Even knowing the consequences of her sudden movements, there was something so unsettling about this guy beyond the fact he was a villain, and the way he was staring at her was leaving a horrible pit in her gut, like she had just made the worst mistake of her life.

“I bet it doesn’t hurt that you’re just so pretty too, does it? Being nice to look always helps with people like you.” His eyes drifted lower, occasionally lingering a tad too long on places less than professional. This didn’t escape her notice, but she did her best to swallow it down. “Oh, I bet you’d be just the perfect little pro Hero. Everyone would go so crazy for you because you’re just so cool.

His forehead was practically touching hers now, the disembodied hand over his face occasionally scraping against her head and brushing across her hair. He realized that her heart rate wasn’t the only one that was through the roof. His own pulse had skyrocketed, his head clouding over, making it impossible to think. The longer he looked at her, the more he wanted to touch her or strangleher or do something to keep her eyes on him and no where else. Her scent was clogging his nostrils, cloying down his throat and suffocating him but he was finewith it. He would be fine if it was the only thing he ever smelled again.

She looked at him as if she knew what he was thinking and the fear etched on her face made his nether regions twitch with the same excitement he felt when he played his favorite eroge. There was also the matter of the disgust but he could fix that. He could make her submit to him, even warp her mind enough that she could grow to want him. The idea flooded his head with endorphins as he pushed back the tide of filthy thoughts.

The feeling of her chest pressed against his when she would inhale very quickly became one of his favorite sensations and he kept leaning in further and further just to maximize the amount of time he could feel it. He wanted to touch her everywhere, her face, her waist, her legs, close his hands around her neck as he laid atop her because she was so pretty so pretty just so pretty and he wanted it.

Nomu’s fight with All Might was still raging but Shigaraki couldn’t bring himself to look away from the girl. She was like the perfect little video game protagonist, happy and optimistic and just utterly perfect and he was the big, bad video game villain who was going to come in and ruin it. He was going to destroy it, all of it. He wanted to force her to watch as he turned her perfect little world to ashes and put her dreams, her friends, her idols in the ground and then watch as she begged him for a semblance of comfort. He wanted her to beg him for acceptance and watch as he twisted her ideals and her morals into shadows of their former selves. He wanted to watch the hatred in her eyes turn into reluctant longing as he… he…

He felt sick.

He hadn’t felt this before. Not like this. He’d seen pretty girls on the streets, on TV, or in his games but he’d never felt anything so strong. So possessive. So… Overwhelming.

“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stop.” He hissed, digging his nails into her. She recoiled, blinking back tears.

“I’m not doing anything! I promise!”

“Don’t lie to me. You’re using your quirk, and if you don’t stop, I’ll dust you. Starting with your eyes.” He pulled his hand from her arm, poising it threateningly a few inches from her face instead.

“I swear I’m not! I promise! I can’t use my quirk without using my hands as a director! I’m not powerful enough to be able to use only my mind yet!”

He looked back and forth between her hands, which were curled into fists and not the peculiar formation he’d seen when he first witnessed her attack. It was possible that she was trying to pull one over on him, but judging by the terrified look on her face, she was in no position to try to manipulate anyone, let alone someone who held her life in his hands.

…Interesting. That would mean this was all him.

A particularly loud body slam between Nomu and All Might covered up the sound of Shigaraki’s shrill laughter.

Tomura was no fool. He knew he wasn’t immune to the influx of hormones they called attraction. He had crushes, found celebrities and models attractive when he was younger. Of course, the older he got, he receded into himself and only indulged in his lustful desires when it came to fictional characters from video games or TV shows. With a quirk like his though, you had to be careful. One misstep during your 'private time’ and you’d end up a pile of ashes in front of some rather incriminating literature.

If you couldn’t even 'take care’ of yourself, that pretty much marked intimacy with another person on a list of impossibilities. One little slip up and they’d be gone forever. Shigaraki had basically resigned himself to being alone, and sometimes it didn’t even bother him. He had more pressing matters on his mind. But other times, it hurt him so much it ached, and frankly, there was only so much you could do with a video game and a hand. It was a part of himself he locked away, shoving it back into the recesses of his mind and doing his best to ignore it. He was destined to be alone.

But did he have to be?

Surely there were others out there with destructive quirks like his. Some of them had to have figured out something. There had to be a way… Yes, there could be a way. It would just take the right partner. Someone who would submit to him and listen to his every command. Someone who he could dominate and control. Someone who he owned in body and soul. Master had said it was his destiny, his right to take what he wants.

And right now, he wanted her.

His penetrating stare found her face once more. She looked unsure and nerve wracked, no doubt wishing that the fight would end and someone, anyone would come to her rescue. She knew so little of what he was planning, the wheels turning in his head. It was almost endearing.

“I wonder if anyone will miss you when you’ve gone.” He mused to himself in a whisper.

“W-what?” Her eyes widened, her breathing becoming erratic and uneven. She found no solace in his leer, dread ebbing throughout her limbs, paralyzing her the longer she looked. She regretted trying to play solo hero more than anything. All she had done was successfully attract the attention of this madman who very clearly had poor intentions.

“Tomura Shigaraki, we should make our escape. I fear that the Nomu is a lost cause. We will try again another day, but for now, we must leave.” Kurogiri’s amber eye slits appeared next to Shigaraki, flexing in expression. He was clearly worried about the state of the fight, and with most of their paid minions knocked out and the Nomu getting the life beaten out of it punch by punch, it seemed to be for a good reason.

“Get lost, Kurogiri. We’ll leave when I say we leave. This round isn’t over yet. There’s still rewards I haven’t claimed.” His frantic pupils kept scanning over the girl while she mewled in discomfort as his claws dug into her neck.

Kurogiri sighed inaudibly. He knew this day would come. Shigaraki was a peculiar young man, and no doubt he was mentally unwell, but he was still just a young man. His biological needs were bound to catch up to him at some point. It actually amazed the nebulous void that this hadn’t happened before. The master was wise and had sensed the sadistic streak in him, instructing Kurogiri on 'protocol’ to follow if the boy’s desires ever got out of hand, but Tomura was a recluse and mostly kept to himself. Dating seemed to be the least of his concerns. Judging by the mad look in his eyes, it still was.

“I must insist. The student that escaped has no doubt alerted the Heroes by now. Backup will be here any minute and if we’re not home by then, all is likely lost.” He knew he was wasting words. The sweat dripping down Shigaraki’s neck was a testament to that. Whatever this girl had done, it had sent Tomura into a frenzy. He made a mental note to buy more laundry soap and tissues. He had a feeling it would be needed.

“Kurogiri, another word, and I will find a way to decay you molecule by molecule.” Shigaraki leaned into the girl again, inhaling her hair.

Kurogiri closed his eyes and rolled them, returning to his initial position and strategizing. It was only a matter of moments now before a great many heroes burst in. He needed to be ready to go, but more pressingly, he needed to get the young Tomura back with him alive as well. Sometimes he wished he had been born a toaster.

The woman trapped in Shigaraki’s cage of limbs had been looking pleadingly at the mist cloud, but to no avail. It was clear that whoever he was, he only had interest in keeping this guy safe. It wasn’t hero-like, but there was only one option left.

“Please, let me go. Please. I’m sorry I attacked you, I’m sorry I used my quirk on you. I just wanted to keep my friends safe. I don’t have to be a threat, just let me go!”

Shigaraki giggled, clearly enjoying the fact she had resorted to pleading and bargaining with him. It was progress.

“Begging? That’s not very hero-like. Maybe you’re no hero at all.” He grinned maniacally, the corners of his mouth reaching out past the palm of Father, revealing his chapped and bloodied lips to her.

“Please! I’m new to this, please just let me g-” The sound of sizzling cut her off. Shigaraki had laid all five of his fingers on her waist, and her uniform began to steam, burning away from her skin. She yelped, panic and helplessness consuming her. Was this the end?

“Oh dear, I seem to have made a tiny mistake. It’s just so easy to lose track sometimes.” He was still smiling like a lunatic, slitted pupils surveying the damage he caused. “Let me fix it.”

She was about to open her mouth to protest, but he grabbed a piece of the burning cloth between two of his large fingers and yanked his hand away, ripping a liberal amount of the pattern away with it. Her midriff was exposed, but her clothing had ceased decaying, which she was grateful for.

“See? All better now.” He held up the chunk of clothing, ripping the seam that was still decaying away and throwing it to the ground to ash and stepping on it with his shoe. Instinctively, she moved to grab the clothing from between his fingertips, but he narrowed his eyes on her, and she hesitated, slowly moving her arm back down.

He was still flashing that unnerving smile, but it was so sinister somehow. He moved his head in again, placing the burned cloth in his back pocket before bringing his hand up to the capped bottom of Father, moving the hand slowly up from his face to reveal his mouth.

“You kids these days are so rude. I go out of my way to help you, and you can’t even say thank you. Maybe,” He moved in so close that she could feel his breath against her face. “I should have just let you die.

She gripped her eyes shut, refusing to look at him any longer. It wasn’t until she felt something wet and slimy across her cheek that her eyes shot open. He had lifted the hand just enough to show the his nose, and was pressing his face to hers. His tongue was extended outward, slowly making its way across the expanse of her lips. He was licking her.

And she tasted so wonderful

Too traumatized to move, she didn’t stop him from finishing his action, not moving even when he pulled his tongue back into his own mouth and giggled again.

“You’re welcome.”

He didn’t withdraw, but instead gently pushed his lips to hers. He tasted like blood and skin, his peeling mouth scraping against hers. He was gone almost as soon as he made the move, pulling back and visibly restraining himself.

Before she could say anything, a shot rang out across the interior of the room, and the next thing she knew, Shigaraki was bleeding from the knee. She looked around, confused and in shock, and saw All Might and all the other students looking in the direction of the doors. The Heroes had arrived! She was safe! She couldn’t help but look at Shigaraki, who had a steady pool of blood leaking from his leg.

“And the Hero trash arrives.” He stated, apathetically.

Kurogiri was at his side in an instant, enveloping him in the warp cloud, but not before another few shots popped off, hitting the wounded man in the arms and corresponding leg. He fell to the ground, groaning in pain. She stumbled away from him, wrapping her arms around her midriff and staring down at the broken boy on the ground mumbling about All Might.

Several heroes rushed over to help the students that had crowded near the entrance, but a few of the observant ones had come over toward her and the two villains, some of them standing in front of her to protect her, others on the offensive and attacking Kurogiri. It made little difference, since they hadn’t learned his weaknesses yet. She could hear Shigaraki yelling about All Might, too enveloped in the warp portal to really suffer any more damage, but furious none the less.

Right before his head disappeared, his bloodied eyes focused on her once more, blinking in an unspoken promise. In a flash, both he and Kurogiri were gone, and the crisis was over.

Kids from the class gathered together in huddles, either crying or celebrating or just bragging about their prowess. Before she could try to blend back in, some of the teachers pulled her aside, questioning her on Shigaraki and why he had been so close to her. Her gut churned as she told the story as best she could, and she couldn’t ignore some of the looks teachers attempted to give each other inconspicuously. Some of them reprimanded her for being so foolish, others nodded in silent admiration. The only one who stepped forward was Midnight.

“Hey kid, I think I got some tricks I can teach you. It’ll help you ward off creeps like that. Don’t worry, we’ll catch that perverted punk in no time!” Midnight beamed her legendary smile, offering a hand. The girl took it tentatively. She felt she would need all the help she could get.

Back at the villain bar, Shigaraki was laying on the polished wood bleeding out in a puddle of his own making. Kurogiri occasionally glanced down in worry, but knew the boy had gotten distracted. Maybe a little pain would help him learn. The conversation with the master went relatively smooth, giving Tomura the extra spark he needed to reignite and recover.

Once the conversation had ended, Shigaraki turned his head to the best of his ability to face Kurogiri.

“Kurogiri? Take me to my room.”

He obliged, as he always did. The wounds were top priority, as Tomura seemed to be bleeding out excessively. However, it seemed to bother the boy very little in comparison. Instead, as he laid in his bed, reaching for the controller laid carelessly across his pillow. Before he turned his game on, he turned to Kurogiri one last time.

“I need a favor. I need you to find out the name of that girl.”

Kurogiri wanted to refuse, but he knew it wouldn’t matter. Shigaraki would get what he wanted either way. He only hoped that this infatuation would die before it came to fruition.

“Yes. I shall have it for you.” He bowed before clicking the door shut.

From his spot on the mattress, Shigaraki managed to reach his hands into his back pocket, gripping the fabric of her costume and weaving it between his fingers. He brought it to his nose, inhaling deeply before wrapping it around his arm and starting up his game. 

Chapter Text

There was no better display of the sickening plethora of filth that was ‘hero culture’ than the mall.

Hoards of humans crowding inside a concrete cage to throw their money at any cheap, shitty knockoff item with a famous face plastered on it. Kids ran amok, screaming and crying and leaving a trail of crumbs and slobber in their wake. Teenage girls and boys huddled around the hippest stores, fawning over the latest heart throb and shoplifting trinkets while no one was looking. It was absolutely disgusting.

They flocked to the stores like rats chasing poisoned peanut butter. Endeavor t-shirts, Uwabami makeup. Midnight lingerie. Fucking All Might everything. They all flew off the rack as fast as they could be stocked. Moronic NPCs shoveling every ounce of garbage they could find into their inventory. Every bone in his body longed to run his hand along the wall and just watch it all turn to dust.

His hatred of the general populace was one of many reasons Shigaraki didn’t make a habit out of leaving the bar. Assuming that Father had kept enough of his face hidden during his exploits for it to be somewhat safe, he still didn’t particularly enjoy crowds. People of all sizes, shapes, colors, smells, cultures, ideals, and morals but they all had one thing in common.

They all looked down on him.

In public, he always kept his head down, hood and hair covering his marred face. Hands steadily in his pocket, eyes on the ground. He pulled himself into his own body, doing his best to not draw any undue attention. It wasn’t for their benefit, of course, but his. If one more NPC stared at him, a single person let their eyes linger too long on his chapped lips, dry skin, scars, or emaciated form, he would snap and ruin everything. A massacre that ended in his incarceration would probably throw a massive sized wrench into the gears of All for One’s plan, and that was the last thing Tomura wanted.

Regardless, it made him so angry.

Not that he cared what they thought. They could drown in their own filth as far as he was concerned. He just didn’t like being stared at. It was so rude. These pack animals always pretended like they were so much better than everyone else, with their laws and their heroes. So superior. But the way they looked at him, the way their eyes crinkled in disgust, mouths agape, looking at him like he was a wet rat who crawled out of a sewer grate.

How would they look at him when their expressions were melting from their faces as they disintegrated into ash?

The situation made his fingers twitch and lip curl. Wasn’t it enough that idiot Stain had polluted the minds of the city’s villains with his ridiculous ideology? Did everything have to be such a pain in the ass?  

Luckily, Shigaraki had a few hobbies that helped to calm his mind. While drinking at the bar and crisping newspapers was always a quick and easy stress relief, he had always been particularly taken with video games. Not only did he enjoy them, but he was good at them. No one could look down at you for your appearance or ideals, the only thing that mattered in the end was victory, and that was a strategy he could work with.

It didn’t matter the genre, the rating, online or off, he knew he could dominate it. He never had much trouble climbing the rankings or leveling up. Nothing mattered but his prowess, his skill, both of which he had in spades. Not to mention, it allowed him to exercise his destructive and domineering personality without drawing any real attention to himself. In fact, it even made him cool. People would fight for his allegiance during battles or races, sending him an wave of friend requests and messages with offers from their guilds or promises of friendship from their groups. He didn’t care about that. He deserved the recognition. He was only getting what was coming to him.

But even video games weren’t completely safe from the influx of hero paraphernalia pandering garbage. Gaming companies flocked to video games featuring heroes like a fly to shit. It was easily avoidable, sure, but it still pissed him off that heroes could infect the one thing he genuinely enjoyed.

Still, he had to admit, it fun wiping the floor with famous heroes in those games sometimes. Even if the villains were hideously under powered. In fact, that made it even better. If he could win a fight with a nobody villain against a famous hero in a video game where there were limited controls, can you imagine what he could do in real life where the possibilities were endless?

Soon the whole world would see. This was only the beginning.

Frankly, there was only one downside to gaming. Most new releases from the companies he liked didn’t come out with PC ports for a little while after the game’s initial release, which meant he had to leave the safety of the bar and adjourn out into the world to get brand new games. Sure, he could send Kurogiri to do it, but more than once he had come back with the wrong game in the series, or even the wrong one entirely. It was a frustrating mess, and it was easier to just avoid it all together by going himself.

Besides, sometimes walks helped him clear his head. Sometimes.

That was how he found himself here. One of his favorite companies had just released a brand new action and adventure game that he’d been dying to try ever since he saw the trailer. He’d even had Kurogiri call in advance and reserve a copy. At least he could do that right.

Shigaraki needed this. Needed to get his mind off of the Hero Killer Stain and All Might and fucking all of it. He was driving himself mad going around in circles in his own head asking himself questions he knew he didn’t have the answers to. He needed to put his head in the clouds, if only for a little while.

So he dodged through the crowds of people, weaving in and out of families and groups trying to get into the game store before he finally lost his last ounce of sanity. There seemed to be more people here than usual, which just soured his mood even further. He should have known better than to come on a weekend. He grunted past several bystanders, biting his tongue to hold back the onslaught of insults fresh in his mind. It was only when he reached a rather impenetrable wall of people that he inhaled sharply, ready to start grabbing.

A large group of pedestrians had gathered in a circle around something, which was blocking off a large portion of the walkway and therefore his path. He mumbled under his breath, tempted to forcefully move them out of the way. What in the hell was going on that was so important that it saw fit to hinder him?

Hey, isn’t that the hero class from UA?”

Yeah! Wow! I saw them compete in the sports festival! So awesome!”

You guys are so cool! What’s it like at UA?”

Shigaraki stiffened. So they were here. He peered upward for a moment and saw the class huddled together, some blushing, others posing, obviously basking in their new found fame. That kid was here too. The mop of hair and splattering of freckles was visible even from where he stood. That one willing to put himself in danger over and over again for All Might. Midoriya.

Maybe it wasn’t entirely a negative thing that he found himself here on this particular day. That boy obviously had his pulse on hero culture. Maybe he could explain why people were so taken with Stain and yet completely ignored him. An ear splitting smile cut through Shigaraki’s face, irritating one of the blisters on his lower lip. He wiped the blood and waited for the crowd to disperse as the students each went off in their own direction.

When it was only him and one other student, a young girl with short brown hair, he made his move. He started heading in the direction of Midoriya, grinning wider when the young girl sped off, leaving the kid all by himself. It was so perfect. He was about to reach out and make his move when he heard it.

A voice. A voice that made his blood pound in his ears.

He stopped cold, hand stopped short of the oblivious Midoriya’s shoulder. Instinctively, his head turned in the direction of the voice, heart thrumming in his chest. Surrounded by a couple of fellow UA students, she was standing in front of a window, joking around with one of the people nearest her.

Her. She was here

His fingers began to shake as he withdrew them from Midoriya, stuffing them back into his pocket before anyone noticed him. She was here. He should have known. She was in the class too. These kids stuck together like glue. If they were here, it was certain she was nearby. Stupid stupid stupid. He had almost blown his chance.

But he hadn’t.

He turned and stalked in her direction, staying only far enough back as to not draw attention, crimson eyes glaring into the back of her head. She was laughing at something some blonde idiot in her class had said. He felt his temper go through the roof, and allowed one hand out to scratch and dig at his neck. Why was she talking to him? Why was she laughing so hard? What he said probably wasn’t even funny. He didn’t like the way that guy was looking at her. Did he like her? Did she like him?

He felt a thin trickle of liquid down his neck as his scar reopened.

He managed to tame his anger just enough to keep from rushing him. Instead, he followed the group at a distance for a while, waiting for his opportunity. He overheard something about a camping trip and something about training. Interesting. He would have to make a mental note of it. However, right now, he had other things on his mind.

The opportunity finally came when a few of the students rushed ahead to drool over some restaurant while she stayed behind, digging in her bag for her wallet. They ran off ahead, yelling at her to catch up and complaining about hunger. He heard her laugh and tell them she’d be there in a minute, she just needed a second to get some cash out. She was alone. It was time.

He came up behind her, placing his hand on her shoulder, doing his best to mask his voice.

“Hey, you’re one of those kids from UA, right? You’re practically famous! Do you think I could get an autograph?”

He felt her stiffen underneath his hold. She knew something was off, a shiver rolling down her spine as she tried to turn and look at him. He was just out of the reach of her peripheral, hair and hood hiding his features.

“Y-yeah, I am.” She raised her hand as if to pry him off, but thought better of it. “If you’ll just let me go for a second, I’ll get in my bag and get out a pen and some paper.”

Her voice was on edge, her shoulder muscles clenching. He couldn’t help but smile again.

“I saw you compete in the sports festival. You came in fourth, right? It was so cool. I bet you got so many offers from agencies. I bet everyone wants you to be their hero.” He could feel her breathing getting more shallow, feel her neck flex as she swallowed.

“I-um-Sir, I don’t really feel comfortable being touched by people I don’t know, but if you’ll remove your hand, I’ll get you an autograph or a picture if you want.”

Sir. She had called him sir. It was adorable. He wanted to hear it again.

“I noticed you got your costume fixed too. I liked better it the other way, but that way is fine too.” He chuckled. “Hey, you’re a little tense. It’s okay, we’re friends, remember?”

Realization hit her like a truck. She inhaled, biting her lip as she turned her head as much as she could in his direction. “Shigaraki!”

He leaned down, perching his head on her shoulder. “Careful, you don’t want to make a scene. All Might might not be busy this time, but there certainly a lot of civilians around. A lot of your friends too. I’d hate for something to happen.”

“What do you want?” She snarled, making a slight effort to jerk away. He didn’t let her.

“I just want to talk. Is that so bad? Or are you too cool now to catch up with an old friend?”

“We are not friends!” Growling, she reached up and dug her fingernails into his wrist.

He giggled. She had certainly gotten more feisty since their last meeting. “That’s not a very nice thing to say. I thought we hit it off pretty well.

Before she could respond, the same blonde classmate came running towards them from inside of the nearby building. Shigaraki sneered, tightening his grip on her shoulder in warning. He was no doubt coming back for her.

“Hey! We got a table and be-Woah! Who’s this guy?” The kid stopped a bit short of them, shifting between looking at her in confusion and peering suspiciously at him.

Shigaraki leaned further in and whispered under his breath. “Unless the next time you want to see him is in an urn, I suggest you get rid of him. Quickly.”

She pulled herself together, smiling happily while waving at him. “It’s cool, Denki. He’s an old friend.” A sly smirk pulled at Tomura’s mouth. “We ran into each other and thought we’d catch up a bit. Don’t wait up! I’ll meet you guys there!”

Denki continued looking back and forth between the two of them, eyes lingering on Shigaraki for a brief moment before retreating. “Okay, then. I’ll save you a spot. Don’t take too long or I’ll eat your food too!”

As they watched him walk back into the restaurant, Tomura hummed. “You’re certainly a good actress. If I hadn’t known better, I wouldn’t believe you were lying.”

“Say what you need to say and then leave.” She hissed quietly.

“Walk forward and turn into that alleyway on your left.” He gripped her with his hand, careful to leave his middle finger levitating.

“Like hell! You think I’m just going to walk into a dark alleyway with the leader of the league of villains? You’ll kill me!”

“You don’t have a choice, hero. Assuming that’s what I’m planning, it’s either you or everyone else in this area, starting with Denki.” He began walking, shoving her forward lightly. “And if I start feeling anything funny, I’ll dust you first and then move on to them.”

She exhaled in defeat, shuffling her feet forward as Shigaraki steered her toward the desolate alcove. That rendered her quirk completely useless. Shigaraki would know if she was trying to use it on him, and she didn’t want to test his promise. She had no doubt in her mind that he wouldn’t hesitate.

That didn’t mean she couldn’t get the drop on him though.

Remember your training. Duck and jab. Get out of his reach!

Not quite halfway down the passageway, she ducked and lurched back, sending her elbow careening into his stomach. He grunted in pain as he was driven back several feet away from her, taken too much by surprise to bring his hand down. She turned to face him, readying her defensive stance as he recovered from the blow.

“This again?” He wheezed, rolling his neck.

“I’m not going down without a fight!”

Sighing, he straightened his back and held his hands up. “Have it your way, then.”

She sent a few punches his direction but he dodged the brunt of them, only landing one on his injured shoulder. It was exponentially stronger than the last time they met, enough to send him reeling backwards while grabbing at his weakened limb. He coughed a few times, quickly evading her other jabs.

“You’ve been practicing.” He noted.

“I train with Midnight every week in hand to hand combat to keep people like you away!” She sent another loaded punch towards his face, which he easily sidestepped.

“Looks like it’s going well.” He deadpanned, seeming unimpressed. “I’m getting bored.”

She ignored his prodding, sending a few low kicks to his shins. He brought his own foot up, catching on the back of her knee and yanking, sending her toppling to the ground. She growled in frustration, pushing herself away from where he stood and standing back up, immediately taking stance again. She charged him one last time, sending her leg on a collision course with his hip in the hopes to knock him aside, but he simply raised his arms, catching her leg and holding it.

Her eyes widened as she began to lose balance, but before she could fall again, he slammed her into the wall closest her back using her own leg as leverage. She cried out, letting her guard down. He used the opportunity to move on her, pressing against her and pushing her further into the brick as one hand slid up from her calf to her thigh,never relinquishing its grip, while the other calmly wrapped around her neck, middle finger flexing.

He could feel her erratic breathing. She had lost to him not once, but twice now, and it barely even took any effort on his part. Her frightened eyes searched underneath his hair, but it was too shadowed beneath his hood to see much of anything. All she could make out was his teeth, visible underneath his simpering lips.

“Quiet now. Your little outburst is bound to have attracted attention.” He placed his forehead to hers, leaning forward slightly to cover her face in a curtain of his hair. She tried to pull away, but he tightened his grip on her neck “Unless you want a whole lot ofnice people to die, you’ll play along.” He pressed her harder into the alley wall, crushing her body with his. He hiked her thigh up around his own and held it there with the hand that still had a grasp on it, maneuvering his hips between her now open legs.

She made a sound of disgust, trying again to turn from him, but he dug his fingernails into her thigh, eliciting a shocked gasp from her. Through the tendrils of his hair, she could see a few curious people beginning to peak into the alley entrance, drawn by the sounds of their fighting. He pushed his face so close to hers that she could feel him smile.

“You’re not making this very convincing.” He whispered. “All it would take is one little touch and I could dust them all.”

She swallowed hard, closing her eyes and preparing herself for what she had to do. Slowly, she raised her arms up over Shigaraki’s shoulders, one hand resting uneasily on the back of his neck, the other tangling up into his hair. She let her leg rest up in his hand instead of squirming, wrapping her knee around his thigh and relaxing her stance so it appeared more natural.

Shigaraki was absolutely not a fan of being touched. In fact, casual brushes in the street were often grounds for a permanent ashing. But this? Oh, he could make an exception for this.

“Good girl. Make it seem like it’s just two lovers in an alleyway looking for a little privacy.” He could smell her again, that scent he’d been dying for, trying so hard to emulate over the past few months. His heart rate was reaching peak levels, but the blood was beginning to divert away from his brain. He couldn’t help himself. He ground into her a little bit, the front of his jeans scraping against her body as he rutted, feeling the warmth of her body.

“You’re despicable.” She seethed, swallowing down a wretch.

He giggled, letting his thumb run small circles over her exposed thigh. “Prove how heroic you are, Hero. Convince me these people don’t deserve what I could do to them.”  

He pushed his mouth to hers, instantly trying to snake his tongue into her mouth. At first she was unresponsive, until he brought the fingers on her neck together and clasped at a necklace she had been wearing. It crumbled instantaneously, sending a splay of ash down onto her chest. Almost immediately, she allowed him access, pliantly opening her lips for him to invade and slowly responding to his ministrations. 

She tasted like she smelled, and it took every ounce of self control he had not to push her further. Although her movements were unenthusiastic and light, it didn’t matter to him. He knew he wasn’t exactly experienced in any of this, going off of tips he’d learned on Internet forums or books. He tried a few things, like biting and sucking on her bottom lip or fighting her tongue for dominance, but it seemed to make little difference to her besides the occasional tightening of her fingertips in his hair.

Despite that, he was almost beside himself. He could learn how to make her react to him in time. He was too focused on engraving her into his memory to care. He could feel every last bit of her body pressed against his own, every movement and muscle. Every curve she offered up to him and him alone and it was just like how he had imagined it would be in the dreams that had haunted his few dreaming hours ever since their first meeting. 

Shigaraki had certainly not woken up that morning with the belief that he would have his tongue shoved halfway down her throat that day. If he had, he likely would have been in a much more amicable mood. Right now, he felt absolutely ecstatic. He had her right where he wanted her. Well, not right where, but close enough. She was submitting to him because he knew her weakness. He wondered, in time, how far he could push that weakness. How far was she willing to go?

But he was nothing if not a strategist. He wouldn’t push it too far too fast. He wouldn’t risk it. He would chip away at her resolve slowly, breaking away her boundaries one at a time until there was nothing left but her submission. If it meant threatening her friends, her family, random children on the street, he didn’t care. She would be his. He decided that a long time ago. She belonged to him, and frankly he didn’t really care what she had to say about it. It wasn’t her decision.

Eventually, the last of the onlookers had left, leaving behind a handful of heckles from teenagers and reprimands from angry parents ushering their children away while covering their eyes. Her hand was yanking at his hair erratically, not in lust but in a likely plead for him to back off of her finally so she could breathe. He gave himself a minute longer, cherishing the moment before withdrawing himself, unable to stop the grin that crawled up his face.

“See? It’s not so bad now, it is? You just saved all those idiot’s lives and all it took was a few minutes.”

She couldn’t stop herself. Her hands were shaking in rage, stomach churning. She’d never felt so violated. So utterly disgusted. She could taste him in the back of her throat and feel his leftover saliva on her lips and it made her want to vomit.

She looked directly up at him, and spit in his face. It landed with in an undignified blob sliding down his cheek.

It took Shigaraki a moment to fully register what happened. He unhanded her leg, bringing it up to his face and squelching the small plop of liquid between his fingers. Slowly, he raised his head up, finally giving her a full view of his face for the first time.

She immediately regretted her actions.

He looked enraged, eyes open with beady pupils staring down at his hand. His cracked mouth was contorted in rage, snarling while rubbed three of his fingers together, spreading the coating around. His eyes flashed up at hers, and his hand clamped down on her throat, fourth finger twitching unsteadily.

“You little brat.” He spat, tightening his grip more and more by the second until she could no longer breathe. “You think you’re all high and mighty, that just because you’re a Hero that there’s no consequences for your actions. That you can treat people like trash.” His fingers dug in with bruising strength, and the longer he held them, the more little black dots began dancing in front of her vision. Her chest was trying desperately to inhale, but she couldn’t with his palm crushing her windpipe. Fear welled up inside her, and the longer she struggled for breath, the more overpowering it became. “I can show you how wrong you are.”

“I-I’m So-orry!” She croaked out, pleading with him for air. His eyes flashed dangerously, and he loosened his grip only enough that he could make out her words.

“Speak up. I can’t hear you.”

“I’m sorry! It was-” Her mind raced, searching for the right words to placate him. “It was rude of me, and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done it. I beg your forgiveness, Shigaraki. Please forgive me!”

He let his hand sit firm for a few more seconds. He was still twitching with anger, but something about hearing her beg, beg him for forgiveness sent a wave of pleasure through him. Of course she was going to be defiant at first. He could forgive her this once. After all, she would be making it up to him in the end regardless.

He smiled down at her, ghosting his fingers on her neck as she coughed and sputtered, trying to catch her breath. “Just don’t do it again. I hate people with no manners.”

She shook her head, eyes bright and fearful. After that, she didn’t dare try using her quirk on him or bothering to fight him again. She was entirely at his mercy. This guy was insane. He didn’t even need to use his quirk to kill her. He would just suffocate her and leave her body in the alley way. What was his deal? Was he still harboring a grudge from their last encounter? Why was he here now?

Finally regaining her breath, she peered up at him hesitantly, studying his face. “Did you follow me here?”

He seemed taken back for a minute, before chuckling a little underneath his breath. “Follow you here? No. I was actually here for a completely separate reason and just happened to run into you. Isn’t that lucky?”

“Yeah. Lucky.” She grunted, lamenting her choices. She knew she should have stayed in bed today

“I was actually about to grab Midoriya when I saw you. I just couldn’t help myself.”

She furrowed her brows. “But why?” She didn’t understand what this man wanted with her. He didn’t seem to outright want her dead, but wasn’t content letting her live in peace either.

He let out a heinous cackle, letting three of his fingers on his free hand wander up to his neck and scratch. Why was he telling her any of this? “I guess I just find you intriguing.” He tore at his neck anxiously for a moment while she stared at him. The way she was looking at him was making him feel itchy and hot all over. Underneath his hoody, he felt like it was one hundred degrees, which given the weather, might not have been far off. He felt uncomfortable in his own skin, anxious, stomach twisting in knots. He hated that she had this control over him.

He pulled his hand away from his sweating neck, reaching up to touch her face once more. He wanted to feel her skin, how soft it was. Just wanted to graze his fingers across her face so he could remember how she felt even after she’d gone. However, when he raised it up by her head, the sleeve of his jacket rode up his arm, revealing the piece of cloth he had tied around his wrist.

Immediately her eyes were drawn to it, and she gulped hard, a horrified expression etched on her features. “Is that… Is that my…”

Shigaraki realized what had spooked her. Tied around his wrist was the unmistakable pattern of her costume, ripped from her torso during the attack on U.S.J. His eyes darkened. There was no sense in lying to her now.

“You recognize it, huh?” He lowered his hand down, bringing it between both of their faces. “I’ve kept it on me since.”

Her breathing became inconsistent and staggered, mouth agape in terror. “W-why?”

He leaned in again, scraping the cloth against her neck, hoping to siphon some of her scent back onto it. “I think it helps keep me focused.

Her vision spiraled. She could ignore a few consistencies but this was all to much to be a coincidence. Something she had done had gotten his attentions enough to keep it on her, even endear herself to him in some twisted way. He wasn’t just doing this because it made her uncomfortable or to spite her like she initially thought. If she didn’t know better, she would say it was something resembling a crush.

“S-Shigaraki, I don’t-” She cut herself off. What could she possibly say? ’Hey supervillain, not interested?’ ‘Thanks for the flattery but I’m a hero?’ Our careers kind of make it impossible for us to be together but thanks for the interest?

It didn’t really matter, she had a feeling he wasn’t interested in her opinion on the matter.

“You’re everything I hate, you know.” His voice was soft, gentle even. He had hidden his eyes behind his hair again, and despite refusing to move away from her, he seemed a few miles off. “You heroes. You piss me off. If I had my way, I would have killed every one of you the first time we crossed paths.” There was a distant cold in his voice that made her shiver. “I wanted to. Kill you. It would have been easy too. All I had to do is wrap my fingers around your pretty little neck and squeeze and you’d have been gone before you could even scream for help. I bet that really would have thrown one over an All Might too. One of his precious students turned to dust while he was in the same room. Sometimes I think I should have.”

There was no deception in his voice. He was telling the truth. Somehow it terrified her more than when he had gotten violent. He lowered his hand back down, grabbing her chin with his thumb and index finger.

“But I have better ideas now. There are worse things than death.” He lifted his head, and she felt her soul plummet. His eyes were manic and deranged, boring down into her with the promise of unknown horror. His smile was wide and frenzied, nearly breaking his cracked lips into shards all over again. There was a strange flush across his pallid cheeks, something almost akin to a blush, like he was flustered even thinking about it.

She wanted to cry. She wanted to crawl away. Find a rock somewhere and hide under it, anywhere where he couldn’t find her. Something told her he wasn’t saying this just to frighten her. The possibilities that could run through a madman’s mind were things she didn’t want to consider. Things that he considered worse than death were beyond the realm of what she wanted to realize herself. He placed another soft kiss to her mouth, and she was too paralyzed in fear to stop him.

He looked like he was about to speak when Denki’s voice rang through the alley way. “Hey, what gives? We’ve been waiting forever!” Both she and Tomura turned their heads toward the entrance to see Denki standing there with a beaming smile, eyes closed and holding up several bags of food in his closed hands. “We didn’t wait for ya, but we got you leftovers! Took us forever to find you! What the hell are you doing down here anyway?” He opened his eyes and nearly dropped the food, face red with embarrassment as a few of her classmates crowded around as well with equally shocked expressions.

“Someone’s getting’ some.” Eijiro whispered to a blushing Mina who was giggling behind her hand. Momo scowled over at the pair, giving them a death glare.

“Are we interrupting something?” Fumikage asked, trying to be as polite as possible in the given situation.

“I didn’t realize you were with so many people!” Shigaraki immediately withdrew his hands, stepping away from her but taking care to keep his face shadowed. “Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to keep you held up.”

Eijiro chuckled at his words and she felt like she could just die.

“I’m off then. It was nice catching up. Don’t worry, we’ll see each other soon!” He spoke loud enough for them to hear before he leaned inconspicuously and whispered in her ear. “If any of you follow me, I’ll get angry. I’d hate to kill half his class without All Might here to see it.”

He started walking but stopped short a few seconds later. “Oh! One last thing, hero.” He pulled her in close to his side, hands fishing his phone out of his pocket. “You promised me a picture.” He held his phone up, getting one snapshot with her in frame. Although his features were still almost entirely hidden behind his hair, she was completely exposed, expression like a deer in headlights. It would do for now. He placed his phone back in his pockets, giving her one last look before turning away and ambling off down further into the alleyway, turning out of her sights after a few seconds.

“Aren’t you going to introduce us to your friend?” Mina called, still giggling behind her palm.

“No!” She shook her head vigorously, trying to hold back the tears and the sick that were clawing their way up her throat, acting as natural as she could. “Look, can we just get out of here? Please?”

Her friends all looked at her confused for a moment, shrugging before following her as she took off.

As he heard their voices drift further and further off, Shigaraki brought his fingers up to his lips, grazing where hers had been. He still tasted her, and he was trying to savor every moment. He didn’t know for sure how long it would be until she was in his arms again, only that she would be. He needed to calm down. He needed to be patient.

He forced himself down the streets and passageways away from the mall, farther from her but thinking of nothing but all the while. His head didn’t feel any clearer, if anything it felt more clouded and stimulated than it had before, but he was fine with that. He didn’t get to ask Midoriya what the difference between him and Stain was, but that mattered little to him now. There would be other opportunities for that. He did curse himself as he remembered he had forgotten to pick up his game, but he shrugged it off. If his estimates were correct, it wouldn’t be available for much longer anyway.

The sun sank behind the horizon, giving way to the darkness of the night sky. When he felt secure enough, he placed Father back on his face, making his way back home under the cover of shadow. His body was shivering, but not from the cold. He could hardly believe anything that happened today.

When he finally turned the knob to enter the bar, Kurogiri immediately turned towards him in a panic.“Tomura Shigaraki, is all well? The mall you attended today has been shut down. I was worried that you were detained and perhaps incarcerated.”

“Don’t be stupid, Kurogiri. I’m right here.” He lumbered over to the bar, sitting half-haphazardly in the seat. Kurogiri decided it was better not to question him, opting to pour him a drink instead. He turned towards the TV, which was playing news footage of the mall, giving minimal details about the incident but describing a notorious villain spotted there. “So she told.” He muttered under his breath, smirking. “I figured she would.”

Kurogiri heard his words, but decided it would go against his mental health to question Tomura on the incident if it was indeed what he thought it was. Revealing his face would have far reaching consequences for the league. Judging by the way he was lovingly picking at the ratted material tied around his wrist, he had found that girl again. So his obsession hadn’t in fact died. This would not bode well.

The rest of the night continued on relatively average. Tomura drank and cussed and ranted about All Might and the Hero Killer Stain, staring down at his phone in the intervals. Kurogiri polished his glasses, offering advice where he could and bearing the brunt of Tomura’s abuses when he couldn’t. It almost gave him hope that maybe Shigaraki could put this whole incident behind him instead of obsessing over it like he often did.

That is, until most of the way through the night, Tomura stumbled off the bar stool, clinging onto the counter as he shambled towards his room in the back. He paused momentarily, turning to face Kurogiri for a few seconds before slamming his door.

“Hey Kurogiri, you know those old storage rooms we have? I need them cleaned out. We’ll be having a guest soon. I want to make sure she’s comfortable.”

Chapter Text

The air in the room was stifling, rife with tension so thick that no one dared intrude on the silence quite yet. Energies radiated in different waves; some anxious, others pensive, but most palpable of all was anger. A rage that bonded them all as one. Boundaries had been crossed, a line in the sand that had been ignored for so long that they had forgotten to defend it. A trespass that made the situation all the more frightening.

The teachers of UA all sat in a macabre circle, staring down the barrel of a hypothetical gun that they’d hope they’d never have to face. The solemn gravity of the situation weighed heavily on their shoulders, no easy solution apparent to any one of them. This was no average threat, no  easy way out, and one wrong move could be the catalyst in a string of events the likes of which UA hadn’t ever seen before.

It was Principal Nezu who broke the silence first, the brunt of responsibility falling on his shoulders.

“We need to think carefully about this situation, and the actions we will take going forward. I know it is in some of our nature to be impulsive, but this has far reaching implications that we must consider.” He raised a paw to stroke his chin fur, cheerful smile absent from his mouth. His tail was lowered, slowly but rhythmically thumping the leg of his chair, subtly broadcasting his mood throughout the room. His coat seemed to have lost some of it’s shine over the past few hours, lustrous gloss dulling to more of reluctant matte, a sign of stress well known throughout his staff, impressing the weight and seriousness of the situation to all who might have found optimism.

“We know that, but we can’t sit around and do nothing! He crossed a line! We can’t just let this stand!” All Might was first to reply, pounding his fist on the table, making a show of displaying his outrage. Deep frown lines etched into the skin of his face, eyes dark and foreboding with no traces of his trademark fearlessness. Even the notoriously grinning hero wasn’t smiling now.

“Well, but what can we do? We haven’t really seen a situation like this before, it’s all new territory. We don’t wanna make things worse by trying to make them better.” Present Mic tapped a finger erratically on his lips, the corner of his mouth tugging downward as he stared at the table unblinkingly. “I mean obviously we can’t let this slide, but what can we do without making this a media circus? They’re bound to notice any changes we make after the USJ incident, and they’re just begging for a reason to drag us.”

“Naturally, it would be absolutely unacceptable for us to allow this behavior from anyone, but the fact of the matter is that it’s become a extremely serious situation considering the factors. We need to be logical about this. Keeping our students safe is our number one priority, and her protection needs to be the goal here, not pandering to the media or trying to keep this a secret.” Aizawa kneaded two fingers into his temple, eyelids drooping and sporting a deeper crimson shade than normal. He was grinding his teeth as he spoke, perpetuating his oncoming headache. “If they want to harangue us, so be it. I’m not going to sit by while some villain harasses my student because some vulture reporter wants their fifteen minutes of fame!”

“I’m certain no one is suggesting that, Mr. Aizawa. We will always do what it takes to protect our students regardless of the consequences.” Nezu turned toward Eraser Head, nodding in confirmation.

“You’re damn right!” All Might slammed his fist on the table again, knocking it up several feet on the opposing end. Several teachers shot him an annoyed side-eye, which he promptly ignored in his righteous haze.

“Have we perhaps considered that this is a ruse of some sort?” Cementoss had his hands neatly folded in front of him, trying to wrap his head around everything. It was all so strange, but moreover, it was skin crawlingly uncomfortable. Certainly, there was more at play here. “A villain using one of our students to attack the heart of the staff? His methods are quite unconventional, but might that be the point? A dedicated performance to force us into rushed action?”

Everyone looked around at each other, considering his words and weighing them in their mind. Everyone but Midnight.

“No.” The uncharacteristic sternness that resonated in her voice drew the attention of the room. “Bullshit! We all know what this is, we’re just too damn afraid to acknowledge it! This isn’t the first time some punk villain latched on to a hero. We’ve just been lucky that it hasn’t been a student before. We know exactly what this is!” Barely contained rage reverberated off the walls of the room as her fingers clawed into the lacquer.

Principal Nezu sighed, seemingly letting go of his last shred of hope that this might be anything other than what it very blatantly was. “She’s right. However uncomfortable it might be for us to realize that a villain has taken to thinking of our student in such a crass way, we must do what we must to ensure she isn’t further harmed.”

Aizawa turned to Midnight, feeling for the first time in a long time that he was sincerely out of his depth. “And if anyone has experience with unwanted advances and stalkers, it’s you, Midnight. We’re going to need a lot of your expertise here. I understand that you took her on as a specialty case after the first incident and have been training with her a few times a week for extra hand to hand combat training, but I’m afraid that we might have to take more drastic measures now.”

Midnight nodded, a forlorn look of profound sadness shadowing her face. “I can tell you that she’s probably scared and disgusted. That’s how I felt when it happened to me at first. I felt targeted and uncomfortable in my own skin. I was a pro hero, and it was just some nobody thief that took a liking to me so it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but time has a way of wearing you down. He was always there, always waiting, making a point to cause trouble in my patrol areas and separating me from my partner whenever he could and disappearing when anyone else showed up. He was all talk at first, and I thought it was nothing I couldn’t handle, but…”

She shook her head, staring down into her lap. “It escalated eventually. He found ways around my quirk and made a point to abuse it. It affected me more than I’d like to admit. I thought people would tell me it was my own fault for looking like I do, dressing this way, or even being famous. Maybe they’d tell me that it wasn’t a big deal. It made me feel powerless. I got lucky that I had such an amazing support system and they reassured me and helped me with the situation. It was only because of them that I was able to learn the techniques I know now that help me with situations like that, since we don’t really teach things like this.”

She paused for a moment, eyes glazing over as she pawed anxiously at her sleeve. “I can’t imagine how terrified she is. She’s not even a pro yet, she’s just a student, and after seeing what that guy can do…” The teachers looked around again, a new appreciation for the situation dawning.

“I don’t even know what I would do. I would be humiliated and scared, honestly I’m amazed she even said anything, given the nature of his interest in her. And he escalated so quickly, already crossing a physical boundary by their second meeting.”

Her lip twitched and her eyes narrowed as she made a fist, digging her manicured nails into her palm in a sudden burst of fury. “We are her support system! We’ll be the ones that protect her! They cannot be allowed to meet a third!”

The teachers all hollered in agreement, looking to each other in renewed determination.

“Midnight is absolutely right! Shigaraki and his associates cannot be allowed anywhere near this student ever again! I’ll make sure of it!” All Might pushed himself from his chair, nearly knocking over the table again for his troubles.

“Be rational, All Might. We need a plan. No amount of bold-faced chivalry is going to get us through this.” Aizawa’s voice had a thick edge of irritation as he glanced in the direction of the excitable hero. His natural cynicism coupled with the feeling of being wholly responsible for this situation caustically mixing in his gut. This was his student, targeted on his watch, and he had as good as done nothing.

“We also need to consider her feelings, and keep this under wraps as much as possible, both from the media and the other students.” Midnight interjected. “Making a show of her will just encourage that punk to act quicker, and will likely humiliate her and endanger her. We want to make her feel safe too, and it’s already going to be a nightmare doing that while the most wanted villain in Japan has this sort of obsession with her.”

“So, bearing all this in mind, what is our first step?” Nezu gently placed his hands on the table and interlocked his fingers, glancing around between his staff.

“It would be illogical to try and come up with a plan so quickly. We need to buy time to make a detailed list of precautions, subtle safety measures, extra patrols around the school as well as rewriting our current lesson structure to be applicable to situations like this one. Most importantly, we need to hasten their training. They need to be stronger and better, faster than we initially planned. She needs to be able to defend herself, as do all the other students.” Aizawa could feel the tendrils of pain ebbing through his mind, the oncoming migraine a harbinger of many nights of lost sleep. All the same, he thought, it gives him more time to plan around this ‘League of Villains’ and their pissant creep of a leader.

“What Eraser Head says is true.” Cementoss dipped his head deeply in agreement.

“First things first, guys. What do we really know about this guy?” Present Mic scratched at the side of his temple, wracking his brain back to the incident.

“He has a devastating destructive quirk that allows him to disintegrate or decay anything he touches.” Aizawa added without missing a beat, subconsciously gesturing to his elbow. “The effect spreads quickly, typically making any touch from him fatal unless acted upon immediately. It’s also quite painful.”

“He orchestrated the attack on USJ and revealed himself as the leader, so we can likely assume he’s exceptionally intelligent if he managed to gather that many followers. Even villains won’t follow an incompetent leader into battle, no matter how much money you throw their way.” Cementoss theorized.

“And if it hadn’t had been for Snipe’s quick thinking while Shigaraki was distracted, he would have likely escaped the battle completely unharmed, despite being surrounded by pro heroes, so he has to have incredible reflexes to have avoided being hit.” Midnight bit the tip of her tongue, ticking it against her teeth several times as she thought.

“Everything you’ve said is true, but there is one thing that bothers me about him.” All Might held up a digit. “I’m sure Eraser Head noticed it too.”

“He seemed exceptionally young.” Aizawa frowned, wishing All Might would drop the goddamn theatrics for once.

“Exactly! Very observant!” All Might beamed, giving Aizawa a thumbs up. His enthusiasm was not returned.

“To put it bluntly, the kid wasn’t in great shape. When he got close to me, I could briefly see small parts of his face from behind that hand of his. He looked like he gets even less sleep than I do, and his skin was in extremely poor condition. I think it’s fair to say that he’s likely not mentally well. His speech patterns were also peculiar. He spoke like a kid who spends too much time playing video games, not a hardened criminal. He was childish and immature. That coupled with the fact that we’ve never seen him before makes me believe he’s somewhat new to this.” Aizawa closed his eyes, rubbing between his nose with two fingers. “He’s obviously got financial backing, and he’s not ineffective or to be taken lightly, but I think he’s far younger than we were initially thinking.”

“He was kind of a scrawny little guy, wasn’t he?” Midnight pondered. “Tall, but lanky. I mean, he was obviously strong, but deceptively so almost.”

“Am I really going to be the only one that mentions he was wearing floods and bright red converse?” Present Mic chirped in, much to the ire of several other teachers. “What? I’m just saying! It’s not exactly the wardrobe of a criminal mastermind!”

“Present Mic has a point.” Midnight shrugged. “What kind of badass wears that? The kid looked like he just rolled out of bed and threw on those weird disembodied hands of his.”

“What I’m hearing is that despite being a villain, you believe him to be quite young.” Nezu’s tail thumped quietly, tapping his fingers next to his mouth as he took in all this information. “That could work to our advantage. This does not mean he is to be underestimated, however. He still managed to cause quite a bit of damage, even without that overpowered monster of his.”

Aizawa felt frustration well up in his throat, feeling the urge to smash the table. Nezu was referring to him. He had almost lost his arm to that little bastard, and now he was targeting one of his students. Eraser Head didn’t make a habit of feeling hatred or any sort of overwhelming emotion, but he was certain he hated that little prick.

“All this information is a good start, but there is still a lot we have to learn. We can take this threat no less seriously.” Cementoss folded his arms, leaning back in his chair. They certainly had their work cut out for them.

“Cementoss is absolutely correct.” Nezu reinforced the notion. “We can’t afford to take this any less seriously just because this young man is perhaps a little younger than our initial estimations. He’s still just as dangerous, and to be regarded with the utmost caution. But for now, we need to answer the most obvious question.”

Several of the teachers looked around, unsure of what exactly that was. Aizawa remained front and center.

“Should we cancel the camping trip?” Nezu asked calmly, glancing around at his associates.

They seemed to contemplate for a moment, each one not entirely sure. It was only Aizawa that seemed certain on the matter.

“We don’t cancel the trip.” He said, calmly leveling his breathing. “It’s the safest option. Right now, Shigaraki knows exactly where she’s at, and most likely, exactly how she can handle herself. This camping trip takes care of both those issues. We’ll have to push her hard, and it won’t be fair, but neither is this situation. We need to speed her training. But we need to do all this without panicking her. If all else fails, the next time those two meet, she needs to be capable of shutting him down physically. He’s obviously adept at physical combat, at least from what we’ve seen and judging by the fact that despite Midnight’s lessons, she was still bested. We need to make sure that never happens again.

Near the end, his voice darkened, small bouts of his fury leaking through his stoic facade just enough to enlighten everyone else in the room exactly how hard he was taking this, though none of them dare say a thing about it.

“Aizawa is right.” Midnight took control of the temporary silence. “We need to think about this. Obviously we can’t post a teacher by her every second of every day. That would just make matters worse, and in the event that things take a wrong turn, could hinder more than help her. We need to give her room to grow, but ensure her safety at the same time. It’s a delicate balance.”

“That is all completely true, but how would you suggest we handle it?” Nezu seemed genuinely at a loss. Even his superior intellect had trouble picking apart a situation like this.

“Is it possible to use a fellow student? It would not seem out of place, and would ensure that she isn’t alone. It is possible it could be done inconspicuously enough that perhaps nothing would seem amiss?” Cementoss offered, shoulders sagging slightly, unsure of his own ideas.

“I don’t like entrusting her safety to a fellow student, but it’s safer than her running around alone in the woods. She could be watched easily enough during the day and she’d be surrounded by company, but it might be a good idea to have a student watching over to make sure nothing happens during the off time or times when they might be separated.” Midnight tapped the table.

Aizawa considered it for a moment, “On the off chance this works, it would need to be one of our more advanced students. I won’t pretend that they would all be equally useful in this situation.”

“What about young Midoriya? He has the makings of a true hero, and he’s advancing at an impressive rate!” All Might added in, beaming and unable to hide his pride.

“He’s not ready yet.” Aizawa shot him down, blinking slowly. “I won’t deny Midoriya has potential, but the kid still breaks bones when he punches. He might be able to do some considerable damage, but in a sustained fight, he wouldn’t be much help. Her quirk is more stealth based, so she needs a student with a quirk that is both offensive and defensive in equal measure to take the attention off of her while she works, at least for now.”

“What about Bakugo? That kid can really kick some ass.” Present Mic presented, shrugging. Again, Aizawa and Nezu both shook their heads.

“He’s far too immature.” Nezu sighed, Aizawa nodding in agreement before speaking.

“Bakugo is powerful, but he’s egotistical and uncooperative. He wouldn’t protect her, and would likely opt to run off and ‘prove’ himself instead, leaving her vulnerable. This not even mentioning I don’t believe he would keep this as low key as is needed. He’d likely use it as a badge of honor to show off to his fellow students, which is exactly what we don’t want.”

“Good point.” Present Mic conceded.

“I propose Todoroki Shoto.” Nezu leaned forward onto the table, small sparks of optimism gleaming in his black eyes. “Shoto has proved himself a most dedicated student, with an impressive lineage and a most powerful quirk. He is disciplined and reserved but also capable of compassion and sacrifice, which I believe is exactly what we need for this type of responsibility!”

The teachers were silent again, each one thinking over the scenario in their head. Cementoss talked first.

“It is not ideal, I do not like the idea of one of our students responsible for defending another. But the situation we have been placed in is not ideal, and I believe Todoroki worthy.”

Several others nodded in agreement, leaving only Aizawa, who didn’t seem convinced.

“Todoroki is a great student. Capable and versatile, as well as everything else you stated. But is it really the best idea to place one student in the charge of another? Todoroki himself is in the midst of an inner battle, and until quite recently illogically refused to use an entire half of his quirk because it reminded him of Endeavor. If push comes to shove, would his own mental instability become an obstacle?”

“Shoto has shown himself capable of great compassion and endurance! He’s a quick study, and one of the top in the class!” All Might noted. “It’s a terrible situation we find ourselves in, but I have faith that our students, no matter what the odds, will persevere and beat the odds! They are the future of justice!”

“I don’t doubt that.” The annoyed edge to Aizawa’s voice returned, tired eyes narrowing on All Might. “But they’re still just kids. This is a special circumstance. Yes, there will be pro heroes there, and yes, they have each other. But we’re in uncharted territory here. A lot of villains will ultimately ignore students in favor of the pro heroes who are the real threat, but this time, the situation is reversed. A villain has set his sights on one of them, and his motives have already been declared, and it’s alarming to say the least! He’s gotten at her twice under our noses, once in the presence of pro heroes and both times in the presence of her classmates!”

Aizawa was shouting now, having pushed himself out of his chair, bent over the table with his fingers curled into fists, driving them silently into the table.

“Are any of us truly considering what’s at stake here? What would really happen if Shigaraki gets his hands on her? Have any of you stopped to think about exactly what is at risk if he happens to get to her? Think about what he’s already done in public, do any of you grasp what he would do in private?” He slammed a hand down, laying his palm hard against the enamel. “The public counts on us to keep them safe, but the most vulnerable part of that is our own students, and this man has proven that he can do it anywhere at anytime! If we can’t even stop him, what exactly makes you think that a student can?”

The room went silent again, tension and shock spindling a web across each occupant. Aizawa’s hands were shaking, eyes closed and focusing on regaining control. He wasn’t being rational. He needed to calm down.

“I understand how much this has affected you, Shota. You are the one she trusted with her safety, the one she came to when this happened. I understand you have a bond of trust with her, and how much it must have upset you when she told you what happened. But I must ask you to remain calm.” Nezu’s gaze focused on him, a quick flash of warning before allowing his look to soften. “We all realize what is happening here. We are not ignorant to the danger. We are simply working within the perimeters we have been given. I assure you we are going to do everything we can and use all of our resources to keep her safe. Shoto is a backup to a backup, so to speak.”

“I don’t have a good feeling about this.” Aizawa exhaled, ignoring the shocked looks from his remaining colleagues. “That kid… He wasn’t right. Something about him sets me on edge. We can’t let him get to her. I don’t know if she would survive. With a motive like that, there’s only two options. Acquiescence or death.”

“I hate it, but he’s right.” Midnight spoke, voice barely above a whisper. “When it comes to obsession like this, no isn’t an answer they’ll take. They’d rather take what they want than accept rejection.”

“Then we will make damn sure he doesn’t get anywhere near her!” All Might shouted, hands curling into fists, a determined smile on his face.

“That’s the spirit!” Nezu smiled, faltering slightly. “Mr. Aizawa, continue planning the trip with the Wild, Wild Pussycats. Do not let anyone outside the trusted circle know the details. Like you said, it’s her best chance. Midnight, you work with All Might to come up with some lesson plans. Present Mic, I want you to contact some of the other heroes you trust and enlist their help. Shigaraki is now a top priority villain. The media won’t question it after his attack on USJ.”

All the teachers nodded, still seeming unsure.

“And I will talk to Todoroki. This is a sensitive manner, but I feel like he will be receptive and willing to help in any way he can.” Nezu hopped off his chair, interlacing his hands behind his back as he deftly landed on his feet. “We will develop a more solid strategy as soon as we can, but I believe Mr. Aizawa is correct. This trip is imperative. It will strengthen both their powers as heroes as well as their bond. The information concerning such is completely confidential to anyone outside this room, yes?”

Everyone pushed themselves out of their own seats, bowing to Principal Nezu, and exiting the room sending reassuring but wavering looks to each other. Even Nezu’s own grin dropped immediately after the room was emptied.

Aizawa made his way back to the exits, the need for sleep evading him entirely. This was his responsibility. He needed to make sure this never happened again. She was his student, and it was a miracle that she hadn’t been harmed any further. Twice this creep had been allowed to get to her, and for whatever reason, he had decided not to take her. Had fate been less kind, he easily could have made off with her, with the teachers and students being none the wiser until it was too late. This could not happen again.

Even now, with that warping quirk of his, Shigaraki’s associate could easily take her from her home, her own bed even. The entire thing made Aizawa’s vision spin and stomach churn with a sickly anxiety that overwhelmed him with nausea and made his fingers shake. He couldn’t guess as to why they hadn’t made a move yet, but he refused to find out. He couldn’t take it.

Pulling his outerwear closer up around his neck as he entered the cool night air, he disappeared into the darkness with every intention of patrolling the neighborhood where she resided, waiting for any sign of trouble. There would be hell to pay during class tomorrow, running on no sleep and sheer anxiety, but anything was better than waking up to find every seat in class filled but hers the following morning.