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It's a fight to the death (Against the whole world)

Chapter Text

Shinsou first meets Bakugou when they’re both six years old, and the other boy’s being shoved in front of the class and told to introduce himself to a judgemental crowd of unruly classmates.

“My name’s Bakugou Katsuki, and I’m gonna be the number one hero.”

A couple of kids snicker at that, but Bakugou’s already giving them the ugliest glare Shinsou’s ever seen on a boy their age, and that shuts them up pretty quick. He’s told to take the seat on Shinso’s left- and isn’t it just his luck that the angry-looking new kid’s got the desk right next to him?

The moment their teacher steps out of the room for a minute to grab some worksheets from the printer, the guy’s already facing him with a menacing look about him, as if he’s attempting to size him up as best he can while he’s sitting down. Shinsou resists the urge to roll his eyes into another dimension.

“Oi, purple hair, what’s your name?” Bakugou demands, and the desire to roll his eyes increases exponentially.

“Name’s Shinsou Hitoshi.”

“Careful, new kid-“ someone in the back mutters loud enough that it’s clear that they mean to be heard, “you don’t want to get caught up with Shinsou.”

Bakugou’s turning on the person who spoke in an instant with a snarl ready and waiting on his face. “Oh yeah? And why’s that?” he demands.

“He’s got a villain’s quirk.”

Okay, Hitoshi thinks, here we go. All aboard the ridicule Shinsou train. Toot toot- fuck me, I guess.

“Oh really?” Bakugou sneers, and he’s facing Shinso again now. “And what would that ‘villain’s quirk’ be, then?”

He sighs both internally and externally before answering. “It’s Brainwashing- if someone answers a question I ask, I can get them to do stuff.”

Bakugou scoffs, and that’s not quite the reaction he was expecting.

’Villain’s quirk’. That’s not a fucking ‘villain’s quirk’- actually sounds kinda badass, if I’m being honest.”

Okay, definitely not the reaction Shinsou was expecting.

Oh Bakugou, look what you’ve done now- you’ve sent my poor old mental dialogue into a baffled screaming fit.

“Seriously? What’s your quirk then?” some other nameless, faceless classmate queried.

“Haven’t got one. But I can still take you and I’ll fucking prove it if I have to.” Bakugou replies, and things are suddenly a heck of a lot more interesting.

 

They bond- because there’s little else they can do when the rest of their class is determined to dislike them- and when they’re both determined to dislike them right back. They do a good amount of note-passing during class (mostly bad-mouthing every other human being who so much as looks at them funny), and an awful lot of loitering just outside the school building, bitching about how they’re going to flip the world and its stupid societal expectations on its head.

Shinsou doesn’t quite remember when it turned into how they were going to flip shit on its head together, but he likes it better that way.

At some point, they actually start calling themselves friends- and soon enough Hitoshi’s being invited over to Bakugou’s house for the night. Bakugou’s mother is just as over the top and hot-headed as Bakugou himself is, and Shinsou hadn’t been expecting anything less. Masaru’s kind meek- but he supposes that there has to be someone to control the two of them- the world wouldn’t be able to handle two unrestrained Bakugous with tempers as quick as their left-hooks.

The sleepover’s really fun- and it quickly dissolves into an all-out pillow war when Shinsou absolutely decimates Bakugou in Mario Kart- and Katsuki hurls a futon at his face because he’s a salty little shit. They don’t get much sleeping done, and at some point they end up in a heated competition to see who can do the best nonsensical dance while in their sleeping bag, and it becomes a pillow fight once again when Katsuki pipes up and says that Shinsou looks like a demented caterpillar. Only this time’s different because there’s marshmallows for some reason, and they’re both too busy throwing those at the other and trying to catch them in their mouths to really focus on the battle they should be waging upon each other.

Shinsou also discovers that Bakugou isn’t a morning person, either- and delights in groaning and complaining in perfect harmony with his friend as they both shamble down the stairs for breakfast.

 

It’s at one of their many sleepovers a month or so later- at Shinso’s house, this time- when they promise that they’ll always have each other’s backs.

 


 

 

When they’re both eleven and just as bitter and determined as they were when they first met- maybe even more so- they decide that they’re going to really start training themselves.

Hitoshi does attempt to use this time to strengthen his quirk occasionally, roping his and Bakugou’s parents into letting him brainwash them so he can practice controlling multiple people at once. But, they mainly just focus on getting their bodies into the right shape, because Bakugou claims that Hitoshi (or Hito-shit, as he so lovingly christened him) looks like the human equivalent of a wet noodle. And Katsuki (or Kat-suck-it, as Shinso had taken to calling him in retaliation) had said that he wanted even more proof that he could beat up cocky bastards in the form of rock-hard abs.

Bakugou was, unsurprisingly, excellent in pulling together a doable training regimen for the both of them. They put it into action immediately- and were understandably smug when their efforts began to reap visible results in the coming months. But they weren’t only increasing their physical capabilities- and when they weren’t training together, they threw themselves into their joint study sessions in order to prepare for Yuuei’s entrance exam. They may have only been eleven, but they were going to have to be ready if they were going to do this. Besides, they’d promised each other:

They’re heading straight to the top together. And they’re gonna fuck shit up on the way.

 

...

 

At age thirteen, Bakugou arrives at Shinsou’s house with the darkest look on his face that he’s ever seen on the boy, which is really saying something.

“Katsuki?” Shinsou questions, “What happened?”

Bakugou scowls angrily. “Turns out the number one and two heroes are douchebags.”

Shinsou raises his eyebrow in a way he knows Bakugou knows means to elaborate. “I met them just now. They’d rescued some guy from little-big villain of the week, and they were both walking off. I saw ‘em, and decided to go up to them, ‘cause why-fucking-not. I asked if they thought that someone quirkless like me could be a hero like them. Gall Might said that dreams were always a great thing to have, but sometimes you gotta be more realistic. Endea-vore straight up said that I had no chance if I’m quirkless, ‘cause it makes me weak.”

“And what did you say to them?” Shinsou asks, because he’s been around his friend long enough that he knows for a fact that Bakugou Katsuki never just walks away from an attack on his pride like that.

“Said that was a good thing, ‘cause I don’t wanna grow up to be some dumbass motherfucker that balances their whole career on something as volatile as a quirk. Then I told them both to kiss my ass and gave them double-birds when I was walking away.” Bakugou pauses, and then adds as an afterthought: “But if you think that this is gonna make me stop, I’ll blast you into the next century.”

Shinsou smirks. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

 


 

 

“Oh? You two want go to Yuuei?” their teacher inquires, and suddenly their class is having a synchronised fit.

“Ha! You can’t get into UA! One of you’s a villain, and one of you hasn’t even got a quirk!”

Bakugou’s leaping onto his desk in a matter of seconds of seconds, dragging Shinsou onto the table with him. Shinso’s smirking tiredly, and Bakugou’s baring his teeth like a feral animal.

“Oh yeah?” Bakugou sneers, eyes like a stick of dynamite that’s just been lit, “And who’s gonna stop us? One of you? As if- you’re all collectively weaker than a crippled worm in the desert.”

Bakugou scours the room for any challengers, and Shinsou decides that it’s the perfect time to speak up for a rare moment. “Of course no one of you are gonna stop us. Just you wait- ‘cause we’re gonna rock your world.” Shinso grins with all his teeth, and the proud smirk he receives in return makes it all worth it.

Looks like some things just never change.

He wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

A few years later, when they’re both fourteen, they find out that the entrance exam pits them against robots.

“Kats- my quirk’s not gonna work on them, and I don’t think even you can punch a robot hard enough to break it. What are we going to do?”

Bakugou smiles viciously, as if he’s been eagerly awaiting this question for years. He throws an arm around Shinsou’s shoulders and leans in close. “Ah, my dear Hito-shit. You’re my best friend, and I love you with all of my shrewd, blackened heart- but you’re forgetting one very important detail regarding our entrance exam.”

Katsuki huddles the both of them forward, as if wanting to reveal classified government information.

“We can bring in whatever shit we want.”

They lock eyes, trading twin Cheshire-Cat grin, and Bakugou cackles madly.

“Oh, they’ll never see us coming.”

And no, they really won’t.

 


 

 

The written exam is almost easy for the two of them- four years of prepping is nothing to sneeze at, after all. And they’re not particularly concerned about the practical exam they’re about to go through, either. Hitoshi recalls their master-plan, and turns to grin in anticipation at Katsuki, who returns the gesture tenfold.

They stand in front of the battle-site, and before the announcement of the test’s start comes, they look each other in the eyes with smiles like the devil.

“We’re gonna rock their mother-fucking world.”

 

They’re having way too much fun.

Bakugou- the little pyromaniac- brought a can of hairspray. And while that’s non-threatening enough on its own, he also managed to acquire a cigarette lighter. The result of this is about as catastrophic as you might expect for the poor robots.

Shinsou, on the other hand, got his hands on his dad’s axe, and is deriving immense amounts of joy from beating the absolute shit out of every metal motherfucker that he comes across.

They switch weapons from time to time, and Shinsou finds that he too enjoys melting off metallic faces. Bakugou discovers that he also really likes bludgeoning his way through seas of robots, which isn’t exactly much of a surprise to anyone who’s known him longer than two seconds.

It’s when the exam’s nearly drawing to a close that they bring the infamous zero-pointer in. They catch each other’s eyes in amidst all the chaos after seeing some girl stuck underneath the rubble. They rush forward into the fray, pushing against the crowd going in the opposite direction- which obviously means away from the gargantuan machine.

“Hang on, where the hell did you get the fireworks?” Shinsou laughs exasperatedly while lifting rocks to free the girl, as Bakugou pulls said fireworks out of God knows where.

He gets a wonderfully shrewd look in return, and all it takes is for Bakugou to mutter “Book it” for them to make a mad dash away from the robot, Shinsou supporting the girl all the while.

All they hear is the crackle of the multicoloured explosives going off, and the groan of something very big and very heavy crashing into the floor. They share a look of unbridled triumph, and high-five harder than they ever have before in their lives. Their hands sting, but it’s worth it.

 

...

 

The first thing All Might notices while all the members of staff re-watch the practical examination is that there are two children tearing through the opposing robots with a maddening fervour. And one of them has a flamethrower (hairspray and a lighter). And the other has an axe (an axe).

“Um, Nezu,” Yagi begins, “what the hell?”

The anthropomorphic rat(?) chuckles lightly. “Well, I did say participants were allowed to bring in support items.”

“B-but Nezu, those are weapons.” Toshinori stutters.

“And quirks are not?” the principal replies, and that shuts him up quickly enough.

And when one of them sets fireworks- of all things- rocketing into the zero-pointer, and when they actually end up blowing the damn thing up, All Might can think of nothing else to say other than: “Who are they?”

“Future headaches.” Aizawa responds gruffly.

“The one who had the axe was Shinsou Hitoshi.” Hizashi supplies helpfully.

“And the other one?”

“The one who set off the fireworks was Bakugou Katsuki.” Present Mic replies, and All Might feels like he should know the name.

Maybe, if he’d just peered at Bakugou’s record, and gotten a good luck at face, as well as the bit that said he was quirkless- he might’ve just remembered who that little boy who’d flipped him off a couple years back was.

Chapter Text

Bakugou Katsuki was born stubborn, and that’s just a fact of life. The grass is green, the sky is blue- and Bakugou Katsuki would fight everyone and their goldfish just to make a point (except for Shinsou’s goldfish, because Señor Bubbles is chill). He’s just a little shit like that.

But not just a little shit. He’s the little shit. He’s the biggest little shit the world has to offer, and he’ll eat a raccoon before he gives up on proving it.

This inherent desire to prove just how much of a cheeky bitch he is is what makes it so annoying to have to wait for the results of the academic and practical entrance examinations. Both Shinsou and Bakugou had chosen the Hero-Course as their only option. They’d considered applying for the General Education Course as a back-up plan- but then he realised that would just give them a great excuse to not ‘put the little quirkless kid in danger’.

Ha- as if denying his application would ever keep him out of ‘harm’s way’. He is harm’s way.

So, the day the letter harbouring his exam results finally arrives in the mail, he sprints to Shinsou’s house faster than he thinks he may have ever done before in his life. The door’s already open when he gets there- his mother must have seen Bakugou rocketing out of the house after the post arrived, and correctly assumed that he was heading straight to Hitoshi’s.

He flew through the entrance, took the stairs three at a time, and blasted Shinsou’s bedroom door open with a kick that possessed all the power of the natural disaster that Bakugou was. Shinsou was already sitting on one of the two swivel-chairs at his desk, clutching his own results tightly in his hand (when Shinsou’s dad had built the desk, he’d bought two chairs and made the space big enough for the both of them- because he said they looked as if they couldn’t bear anything less than being joined at the hip). Bakugou threw himself into the other chair and, on the count of three, they both tore open their envelopes.

“I AM HERE-“ All Might’s voice boomed from both of their holograms in synch, the sound ricocheting across the room’s walls like a bullet, “As a pre-recorded message!”

The number one hero blabbed unnecessarily about everyone trying their hardest, before actually getting to the bit they wanted to hear. “And, with a score of sixty-nine villain points,” they both muttered a quiet ‘nice’ at that, “and forty rescue points… you came out with the top total score out of all the participants- a staggering one hundred and nine points! Joint only with Shinsou Hitoshi/Bakugou Katsuki! You both fought valiantly for the top spot, and because of your efforts, you have passed! So welcome- to your Hero Academy!”

The messages ended with a soft ‘click’, and there was utter silence echoing within the Shinsou residence.

That is- until a triumphant scream ripped from both of their throats in synch, and shook the house on its foundations. Bakugou tackles Shinsou out of his chair, and then they're both on the floor- screeching like banshees that just won the lottery. It’s liberating, and they carry on for a good minute or so.

“Hey Hito-shit!” Bakugou shouts, still higher than a kite on euphoria that comes with knowing that he can give a massive ‘FUCK YOU’ to all the people who ever laughed at them. “We made it! Straight to the fucking top!”

“They never saw us coming!” Shinsou laughs, and maybe they're both crying a little- but they're happy tears, and Bakugou would throw someone into an active volcano if they so much as insinuated that they were getting a little too emotional.

Fuck anyone who laughs, they both thought in amidst their joy, they’re not the ones who got into the top hero class in the top hero school while fighting quirkless.

 


 

 

On the day they begin their first year at Yuuei, Shinsou meets Bakugou at his house fifteen minutes before they’ll have to leave if they want to make it earlier than everyone else. Bakugou answers the door himself, looking like just as much of a delinquent as he always does, in his tie-less, unbuttoned uniform.

“’Sup Kat-suck-it?” Shinsou greets, grinning with all his teeth.

“The sky, Hito-shit. How do I look?” Bakugou spoke gruffly in his gravelly morning-voice, though the huge smirk on his face betrayed his irritated demeanour.

“Like a thug.” Shinsou replied, sounding as chipper as he physically could, just to piss him off.

“Ha- my best look is madman-chic and you know it.” Katsuki retorted, baring his teeth in a manic smile.

“Definitely. Without a doubt.”

 

They spend the remaining fourteen minutes checking over their stuff and exchanging snippets of dry humour. Bakugou’s mother checks them over right when they’re about to leave, and exclaims that she’s proud of the little shits, before telling them to go kick some ass. They fist-bump Mitsuki, and then each other, and walk out the door.

 

They both carried two bags each.

One is obviously their normal bags, filled with school shit deemed necessary by Yuuei for them to bring with them.

The other bag, however, is a little more interesting. It's a duffel-bag, bursting at the seams with support equipment. Inside- they’ve both got a retractable metal pole, just in case there’s a need for a long stick. There’s a modified nerf-gun, too- upgraded to shoot out slightly larger projectiles than the usual foam bullets- and juiced up to increase firepower (besides, nothing could possibly be funnier than the look on someone’s face if one of them actually managed to win against someone in a fight with a beefed-up children’s toy). They had a taser and a knife each, too- because you never know. At Bakugou’s suggestion, they also carried a pouch each, attached to their belts, which carried a can of hairspray and a lighter (in separate compartments, though- because they weren’t idiots), for dire situations exclusively (or for idiots).

They were ready. Hell, they’d been ready since they were eleven years old.

Only to be stopped right in front of the gate- fucking typical.

Sure, it may be All Might blocking them, but that’s beside the point.

“Greetings, my boys! Say, do you mind if I speak to you privately for a moment, young Bakugou?”

“Yes, I do mind.” Bakugou scoffs, “Anything you have to say to me, you can say in front of Hito-shit. I'm just gonna tell him everything you say anyway, so there’s literally no point.”

“I really don’t believe that to be a wise idea, young Bakugou.” All Might replies, and the man has to know he’s fighting a losing battle.

“Yeah? Well if it isn’t ‘wise’ to tell Hitoshi- it probably isn’t a very good idea to tell me, either.”

“Very well.” the hero sighed, looking nervous.

“You see, my quirk is something called One for All. It is a quirk that stockpiles strength passed on from its previous holders, and has always played a pivotal role in keeping the peace, and defeating great evil. I vaguely recall meeting you a few years ago, when you asked if you could become a hero without possessing a quirk. I, along with Endeavour, refuted you- yet, here you stand- a pupil at the most prestigious hero school in the world. Seeing you during the practical examination, and watching as you rescued that girl from the zero-point robot despite your status as quirkless, truly inspired me.”

“Because of this, I am offering to pass down my quirk- One for All- to you. With this power- you can become a hero.”

While Bakugou had remained indifferent for the vast majority of the monologue, the last statement pulled his face into an angry frown.

Hey- we managed to get into this school without the help of any quirk whatsoever. We’re gonna be the number one heroes with or without your shitty quirk.”

All Might flushes embarrassedly. “Yes, yes of course you will! However, you will accept my quirk, will you not?”

An awful lot of stories depict life-changing offers such as these wreaking terrible emotional conflict upon the mind. His decision, however, is laughably easy.

“No.”

“What?” All Might splutters, seemingly having no idea how to react to the refusal, “Why ever not?”

“It looks like you’ve forgotten that, when I met you and Endeavour all those years ago, I flipped you off. I realised that Pro-Heroes with steroid quirks like you and Edea-vore rely way too much on the power you got by chance. Because of this, I figured out that heroes like that need to learn that they aren’t really that special- just lucky. And what better way to do that than spite them all and become the first quirkless Pro-Hero- right next to my best friend, Hito-shit, the kid who’s been insulted all his life for having a ‘villain’s quirk’.”

All Might flounders aimlessly, at a complete loss for how to respond. They carry on walking again- and right as they both pass by the number one hero, Bakugou speaks up again.

“Just you watch, All Might, we’re gonna flip your quirk-based society on its head.”

 

“You know what I don’t get?” Bakugou mutters angrily after they’ve long left All Might behind. “Why didn’t he ask you to take it? You’ve already got a boss-ass quirk that you can handle perfectly, and you’re in the exact same shape as me. You were there when we rescued that girl, too.”

“Why ever it is- I’m glad he didn’t ask me.” Shinsou pipes up, which earns him a quizzical glance. “Because I’ve never had to refuse the number one hero like that before.”

Katsuki pauses for a moment, then smiles at him with all the heat and intensity of the sun itself.

 

God, today’s already been a rollercoaster, and class hasn’t even started yet.

They arrive fifteen minutes before anyone else. Except, of course, for the blue-haired guy with glasses that’s built like a fucking brick.

“Greetings, my fellow classmates! My name is Iida Tenya, and my quirk is Engine. May I ask your names?”

Hitoshi introduces himself first. “My name’s Shinsou Hitoshi- my quirk’s Brainwashing.”

Shinsou nudges his friend, who’s apparently too busy trying to size the guy up to give him his name. “Oi, Kat-suck-it.” he says, jabbing him in the ribs.

“Ow- fine!” Bakugou replies, batting away his hand. “Name’s Bakugou Katsuki- and I’ve not got a quirk, but I can still beat the hell out of you if you try starting any shit with us.”

Iida looks as if he’d like to reprimand one of them for their behaviour, but probably thinks better of it. His eyes light up with recognition after a second or so. “Ah ha! I know you two! You’re the two students who received the joint-top scores in the practical examination! I must say- your results were exemplary! And you realised that helping others was also an important aspect of the test, so I must commend you on your keen senses of observation!”

Bakugou scoffs in an almost good-natured manner. Almost. “You think we knew about the rescue? Yeah right- we just saw the girl about to get crushed underneath that giant fucking robot and decided that we’d be shit heroes if we didn’t do anything about it.”

Shinsou nods in agreement, and Iida’s eyes go wide with awe beneath his glasses. “That only makes your actions even more honourable! You have the makings of marvellous heroes for certain!”

Bakugou smirks maddeningly. “Yeah, we know- we’re gonna be heading straight for the top together, after all.”

Iida, apparently oblivious to the smugness lining the declaration, nods in understanding, then returns to his chosen seat to unpack his stuff.

“One perk of getting to class early:” Shinsou starts dryly, “getting to pick whatever desks we want.”

Bakugou just grins and leads him over to a spot near enough the back that they can probably get away with whispering and note-passing, but not close enough that they’ll get annoyed by people who had the same idea. They unpack their school bags, and throw their duffel-bags on the backs of their chairs.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what do you have in those duffel-bags?” the only other kid in class questions.

“Support items.” Shinsou answers plainly, because ‘weapons and shit’ sounds a bit sketchy. Iida replies with an ‘ahh’ before continuing with whatever the fuck he’s doing over there.

More students file into the room eventually, including a sunshine-looking redhead who gasps when he catches sight of them. “You’re the guys who came joint-first in the entrance exam! That’s so cool! How’d you do it?”

“Flamethrower.”

“Axe.”

They answer respectively, and the guy looks even more excited than before, if that’s even physically possible.

“You did it all without your quirks? That’s so manly!”

“My quirk wouldn’t have worked in that type of environment against enemies of that type.” Shinsou replies simply.

Bakugou scoffs. “And I haven’t even got one. We made it in on pure skill- without some flashy quirk.”

Hitoshi exhales through his nose in amusement- he must still be thinking about All Might.

“That’s so amazing.” the boy whispers underneath his breath, as if his own bewilderment is legitimately preventing him from speaking normally. Bakugou looked as smug as always at the praise- but there was something else there, too- and Shinsou thinks that he may have to tease his friend about his new gay crush later.

Some of the other students congregate around their desks to gape at them- and at some point the girl they saved comes up to thank them- and they stay there until the clock states that the teacher should be arriving some time soon. Their classmates move to claim a desk without actually sitting down, still chattering away with their peers. Shinsou and Bakugou share a look of contempt at the incessant talking.

Suddenly, there’s a huge yellow caterpillar at the front of the class, which soon reveals itself to be their homeroom teacher. Bakugou catches Hitoshi practically trembling in his seat at the sight of the man. He’d almost forgotten that Shinsou had been a massive Eraserhead fanboy since the day of the guy’s debut as an underground hero a few years back. He smirks at his friends antics.

Eraserhead- or rather, Aizawa-sensei says something about being more rational after the class has settled down, and wastes no time getting them on their feet again, making them get changed into their training kits, and dragging them all to the training grounds. Shinsou and Bakugou, forever on the same wavelength, shoulder their duffel-bags just in case they need something in them.

 

As it turns out, they will need them, because apparently Aizawa-sensei believes it to be a fantastic idea to test their abilities first thing in the morning.

“This is a quirk comprehension test, and the person with the lowest score will be deemed to have zero potential, and will therefore be expelled. So, use any means necessary to avoid last place."

Excuse me, but what the fuck?

 

They were told to avoid last place by any means necessary, and that they do.

Turns out the poles were a great idea, because they're perfect for vaulting their way into joint-first place in the long-jump, and they practically fly over the track for the fifty-meter sprint by just flinging themselves over the thing using the metal sticks.

Their grip-strength and side-stepping tests present them with average scores, albeit perhaps being slightly above the usual due to their years spent training.

The ball-throw is great, because it turns out the baseball they're using is the perfect fit for their juiced-up nerf-guns. They take immense pleasure in the look on everyone’s faces when they blast their baseballs into the sky. And, while they don’t receive the top-scores- because you can’t actually beat infinity (damn, that girl’s more impressive than she looks)- they certainly do better than most of the others.

“It’s nerf or nothin’.” they whisper with twin Cheshire-Cat grins as they high-five.

In amongst these tests, they also have other exercises, such as sit-ups.

“Ugh. I can do them just fine, but I despise sit-ups with every fibre of my being.” Shinsou groans.

“I know, Hito-shit. But that just means that I'm gonna score higher than you.” Bakugou taunts, earning him a playful shove in retaliation.

Bakugou does in fact end up pulling ahead of Shinsou due to the sit-up test, but only by one point. Hitoshi then proceeds to gripe about it until the end of the tests. Or rather, he would have, if not for Bakugou stumbling slightly during the push-ups. He then remains comfortably smug about this until the actual end of the tests.

The scores come in soon after, and, to their pleasure, they come in joint-first- just like the entrance exams. They fist-bump each other triumphantly.

“But, weren’t they kinda cheating? I mean- they used equipment.” some kid with an electricity quirk- Kaminari, Bakugou thinks- speaks up.

“Well, to be fair,” Shinsou retorts, “he did say to avoid last place by any means necessary.”

“Exactly.” Aizawa says, “And they came first because of this even without the use of a quirk. However, I am not going to be expelling anyone- that was simply a logical ruse devised in order to motivate you to work harder.”

The rest of the students mutter complaints. Bakugou can see his friend internally beaming at the praise from the look in his eye that no one else quite catches.

He nudges Hitoshi with a proud smirk adorning his face, and he whispers to his friend:

“We’re top of the class, motherfuckers.”

Chapter Text

Shinsou’s not a conversationalist- not by a long shot. But when his angsty friend seems to think a boy in their class is cute? Oh boy, he’ll try his best.

And if it goes to hell- well, that’s the intention, isn’t it?

“Hey, Kat-suck-it.” Shinsou speaks up, a trace of mischief lining his tone in a way that reminds Bakugou of smoke drifting up lazily to meet a fire-alarm, seconds before the shrill ring of panic.

“What, pray tell, do you want, Hito-shit?”

Hitoshi puts on his best radio show host impression (it’s shit- he doesn’t possess nearly enough enthusiasm. Guys like Present Mic had more energy contained within a single eyelash than Shinsou had in his entire body). “I’m here to provide you with hot-takes from the lives of the infamous Kat-suck it and Hito-shit. This just in- you’re really fucking gay, my guy.”

Bakugou was so busy trying not to choke on his own saliva that he almost forgot to be angry. Almost.

“Okay, One- that’s bisexual. Two- what the fuck?!”

“Allow me to elaborate.” Shinsou continued, still using the shitty radio host voice, because there was no going back now. “You, Bakugou Kat-suck-it, are showing the early signs of a blossoming same-sex attraction towards a human being that we encountered at some time during this fine day. This boy- whom we have yet to be told the name of- has questionably-styled red hair, shark teeth, and I smile I do believe you found to be rather attractive, did you not?”

Bakugou spluttered abashedly- embarrassment not so carefully hidden now that it’s just the two of them at his house- and Hitoshi knows he's won this round, at least. “Dude, how the hell and fuck did you reach that conclusion?”

“Bakugou,” he starts with a deadpan stare, suddenly dropping the voice because he's given up (its hard to even pretend to have that much energy- how the fuck do people do it?). “Bakugou, there was a gay thing in the look in your eyes when he complimented you. I genuinely think you're going to be attracted to this boy. Trust me, I know everything. Always.”

Katsuki scowls and averts his gaze, blush evident on his face. “Yeah well, I don’t even know what this guy’s like yet. I don’t even know his name right now. We’ll see how it goes for now, I guess.”

Shinsou smiles, and it’s a simple, real thing. “Whatever makes you happy, Kats.” he says honestly, and then decides to ruin it by adding: “But if and/or when you start dating, I'm going to have to have a… talk with him about what purple-haired bitches do if you break their angry Pomeranian friend’s heart.”

“Fuck you!” Bakugou shouts. He’s smiling, though. And there’s a pillow trying to make-out with Shinsou’s face now, but it’s worth it.

Mitsuki would be proud.

 


 

The next day, they shoulder their school bags, and their duffel-bags of nightmares (well, nightmares to anyone who isn’t Shinsou or Bakugou), and walk the distance to Yuuei together. They come across the red-headed boy again on their way up to the gate. Bakugou’s resting scowl deepens at the sight of him, as if remembering last night’s conversation. Shinsou’s known the guy long enough that he can confidently interpret that as embarrassment- or the light fluttering of the stomach that comes with knowing you're facing someone who could very well be out of your league.

Shinsou, ever the social butterfly, is the one to initiate the conversation.

“Hey- so, we never actually got your name yesterday. You mind telling us?”

“Oh! I didn’t? Sorry about that! I'm Kirishima Eijirou!” Kirishima said enthusiastically, with just a trace of awkwardness.

“Oh, nice name.” Shinsou replies coolly, as if he's been politely conversing his whole life. “You got a good quirk to go with it?”

Kirishima’s eyes shone, as if this was something he could actually talk about. “Yep! It’s called Hardening!”

“Sounds badass.” Bakugou commented, finally.

Yeah, you go get your might-be man, you crazy chihuahua.

Kirishima went pink. “Th-thanks!”

Oh yes. This is happening.

The three of them arrive at the classroom together in comfortable silence (when had they started walking?).

After a quick goodbye, Kirishima rushes off to go talk to the pink one, flex tape, and Pikachu. Bakugou smirks gently and Shinsou knows that that’s his version of a very gay smile.

“So, Kat-suck-it- are we just gonna stand here and watch your blossoming affection for this boy develop? Or are we gonna sit down and get stuff done?”

Bakugou growls embarrassedly, gaze still half-following Kirishima as he talks animatedly to his friends. “You’re a little shit and I hate you.”

“That’s a lie because you’re a liar, and my little shit in crime. But come on and sit down.”

Bakugou appears puzzled as he sits down at his desk next to Shinsou. “Little shit in crime?”

“Like a partner in crime- but we’re little shits in crime.” Shinsou explains. Bakugou nods his head slowly, still not fully understanding.

Aizawa-sensei (it’s fucking Eraserhead I’m gonna cry) chooses that moment to walk in, yellow sleeping-bag tucked under his arm (I literally could not care less about the sleeping-bag- it’s fucking ERASERHEAD). He talks about how the Hero-Course obviously isn’t going to be hero work and hero work alone, because this is still a school, and they still need to be able to do things other than fight villains and rescue people.

Having said that, the man walks off, and is then replaced by a much more energetic Present Mic, who was going to be teaching them English. He learned some shit and all, but the majority of the time was spent wondering what the fuck the Pro-Hero had given Satan in return for that much energy.

Also, where the fuck are his nose-holes? Oh my God, he gave Satan his nostrils. Hang on- how is that a fair deal? That can’t have gone down very well. Just ‘oh hi Satan! I want to be the living embodiment of a sugar-high, and in return I will give you my nostrils’. And he just… agreed? Poor Satan, must be having a hard time down there-

“Oi! Hito-shit, wake the fuck up! Class is over!”

It takes Shinsou a moment to realise that he was beginning to sympathise with the literal Devil. It takes him even less time to shoulder his stuff, repress the shit out of whatever that was, and run out of the door to their next class. It was Modern Literature, if he was right.

Shinsou takes notes like the perfect student he is- mind half on the work and half on the reoccurring question of how the ever-loving hell did someone give birth to a sentient wall? Was he born like that? Or did he just turn into a weird cement thing when his quirk came in? What if he actually looks like a human person, and he's just covered himself in cement? Wait- can he manipulate his own body? CAN HE DISMEMBER HIMSELF WITH HIS QUIRK?

Obviously, he doesn’t ask, because that’s probably rude (he's not really sure, but better safe than sorry this time)- but the thought just won’t go away.

Good God, he's going to be seeing these heroes for his entire time here. He's going to have to get used to this real quick. Some questions are better left unanswered, anyway.

 

By the time lunch rolls around, Hitoshi’s already resigned himself to the fact that there's a baffled internal screaming fit coming his way as soon as he's out of school for the day. And then he meets Lunch Rush, who wasn’t there yesterday for whatever reason, and please tell me he has a fucking head under there. Can he even see? Why would you wear a hat over your whole face? It’s a hat- that’s not what hats are for, for God’s sake-

He manages to shake himself out of his stupor before he gets to the front of the line, thank fuck. And as soon as he takes the first bite of food, he realises that he doesn’t even care what’s underneath the damn chef hat- because this is the best shit he's ever put in his mouth (not in a weird way). He almost fucking moans (again- not in a weird way), but he knows for sure that Bakugou would never let him live it down.

“Well fuck me sideways, this is some good shit.” Bakugou mumbles after he's finished chewing, because he's a bastard but he's not an impolite bastard (more or less). “Finally, some good fucking food.”

(They’d been watching a lot of that British guy, Gordan Ramsay, lately- sue them.)

Shinsou says nothing in return, he simply nods and greedily devours the rest of the meal in front of him.

 

Lunch came to a close, and with it came the beginnings of their History class with Snipe.

Of fucking course we’re doing cowboys and shit. Look at this man- he's a cowboy nerd.

Shinsou and Bakugou had been taught the specifics of these particular cowboys in middle school. And even though they still took notes, they use the time to have a brief written conversation. Shinsou passes a slip of paper to Bakugou from underneath the desk.

So, Kat-suck-it- what do u think of our new teachers?

Bakugou writes his reply beneath.

They’re fucking weird, but they know shit so, that’s cool, I guess. You’ve been off today tho, what’re u thinking about?

Hitoshi takes a moment to contemplate the question.

Weird shit.

When Bakugou requests an elaboration, Shinsou sighs and quickly scribbles down a short explanation.

Present Mic’s enthusiasm and lack of nostrils- I put two and two together and came to the conclusion that he made a deal with Satan so he could have energy instead of nose-holes. In Modern Literature I was trying to figure out how the fuck someone gives birth to a living block of cement. At lunch, I wanted to know if Lunch Rush had a face, but then I didn’t care because the food was fucking fantastic. And now we know that Snipe is a cowboy nerd. Go figure.

Bakugou reads the note over, and he almost laughs.

Fucking hell, Hito-shit. You’ve had a wild fucking day, haven’t you?

Shinsou doesn’t bother to reply, simply nods at his friend with a pained grin on his face. Katsuki reciprocates the grin, albeit with a little less anguish.

 

That class ends soon after, and then comes Art and Art History. Shinsou’s been half dreading seeing Midnight’s uncomfortably sexual costume, and he can tell Bakugou feels the same way. Reluctantly, they walk through the door together, and are met with Midnight herself, standing in front of a rather impressive still-life painting.

Surprisingly, the class ends up being the most normal one of the day (for Shinsou, at least). They end up having to pick up an object from the front of the class and draw it as Midnight talks about some of the most famous still-life artists. And while Shinsou’s rough sketch of a mug isn’t really very much, she seems to be rather pleased with him.

“Look at you, you little artist! That’s really good!” she says, and despite disagreeing with her, he can’t help but smile a little at the praise.

Bakugou’s approach to art, however, is a little more… eccentric. He uses colours much too bold for the empty water bottle he picked up. And when he finishes his sketch, he ends up doodling a rather detailed five-panel comic on the bottom half of the page of Shinsou and himself sending Endeavour rocketing into the air tied to a mound of fireworks.

Midnight comments on his interesting use of colour contrast on the assigned work, and when her eyes find the comic, she looks to him worriedly for an explanation.

“I don’t like Endeavour.” Bakugou says simply, “I met him when I was thirteen. He's an asshole.”

At the back of the class, Todoroki’s head shoots up- though he doesn’t seem angry at all- despite Bakugou just insulting his father. Katsuki’s eyes catch the movement from behind him, and his eyes light up with something that could only have been sparked from a mixture of smugness and spite.

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot!” Bakugou turns to Todoroki, his face taking on a strange look. “Hey, IcyHot! Tell your old man that he can go fuck himself- ‘cause that ‘weak-ass kid’ he met a couple years back is in Yuuei!”

Todoroki doesn’t nod- doesn’t do anything in return- but he seems to be reciprocating the odd expression on Bakugou’s face. Shinsou’s assuming that they’ve just bonded, if only a little.

Well, would you look at that- Hitoshi thinks, he's making friends. I feel like a proud mother. You go, Kats.

 

School ends, and while they're walking to the gate, Bakugou asks what he thought of their first proper day of classes.

“My brain’s a fucking shit-show.” is all he can think to say. And yeah, it really is.

He receives a shove from Katsuki in return. “Hey- it’s a pretty fucking useful shit-show though, isn’t it? You picked up on shit that those extras never would have- that’s gotta count for something. Besides, if you weren’t as badass as you are, I wouldn’t hang out with you, would I?”

And yeah, that’s true, too.

 

Maybe they're both kind of shit-shows, but they're the shit-shows that are gonna surprise the fuck out of anyone who ever doubted them.

Chapter Text

In their very first Foundational Hero Studies class, All Might makes an appearance.

He bursts through the door for their Hero Basics Class, and if Shinsou wasn’t so used to sudden dramatic entrances (Bakugou), then he thinks he might have gone into cardiac arrest. He raises an eyebrow at the cry of “I AM HERE” that reverberates throughout the classroom. There are a fair few exclamations of surprise at the number one hero’s entrance, but Bakugou scowls bitterly at the Pro-Hero. Shinsou is certain that the boy would have stuck out his tongue if not for how blatantly immature that would seem.

All Might begins to ramble about something or other, and Shinsou somehow manages to forget to pay attention (okay, so he may still be a little salty about both the times that the Pro implied that you needed a good quirk to be a hero to Bakugou. Seriously- bit of a shit thing to say to a kid who got joint-first in the Yuuei entrance exam without any quirk at all). All he hears is the words ‘your new hero costumes’, and suddenly there are draws popping out of the wall, and a hoard of teenagers eagerly scrambling up out of their seats. Bakugou hoists Hitoshi up from his desk before he even knows what’s happening, then proceeding to toss him his new outfit and drag him to the changing rooms.

When they're there, Shinsou takes a moment to admire his new costume before actually getting dressed into it.

It’s a black shirt and trousers, with electric blue highlights running straight (ha) down the side. He wore black combat boots with steel toe-caps; the same highlights at the top and bottom of the shoes. He had a metal mouth-guard and capture tape around his neck (he didn’t really know how to use it yet, but he’d been watching and re-watching blurry phone-filmed videos of Eraserhead since his debut. He should be sort of ready). On his belt- which was the same colour as the highlights- he clipped on a neon orange pouch which held a multitude of hairspray cans, cigarette lighters, a switchblade, and a taser, along with a retractable metal pole separately (all the equipment was a second set of the stuff they already had- provided by the Support-Course- because they hadn’t been willing to sacrifice their own stuff just in case they needed outside of the suited-up exercises). Bakugou and himself had also asked for ear pieces that coupled as ear-defenders if you flipped the switch on the one with the mic attached to it. They wanted to be able to communicate, and ear-defenders were also very important because Bakugou existed and had a functioning voice-box and fireworks.

Bakugou’s outfit was sort of similar, with a fair few differences. For starters, he donned a black turtleneck with a hood, neon orange highlights the same shade as Shinsou’s pouch running down the side, with an orange cross on the front. He had attached the pole, set at a reasonable length, to his back. He also had a large backpack/pouch-like thing fixed into the back of the turtleneck that Shinsou knew held fireworks and a first-aid kit (in separate compartments). He slipped black gloves on his hands, and the same ear-pieces as Shinsou. He wore black trousers held up by an orange belt, with two electric blue pouches clipped on with hairspray cans and cigarette lighters inside. The black trousers he wore had pockets at the mid-thighs, holding a knife and a taser respectively. Bakugou shoved his feet into the same type of black steel toe-capped combat boots as Shinsou had- the one difference being the orange highlights at the top and bottom in the stead of the blue.

Once they were both dressed, they gave each other a once over, and promptly exchanged an exceptionally powerful high-five.

“These things are bitchin’.” Bakugou commented, grinning madly as he checked through the many cans of hairspray and cigarette lighters in his pouches.

“They really are. God bless whoever made these things.” Shinsou added, his lips twitching upwards with satisfaction, eyes shining with excitement as he looked down at the capture tape on his neck that he had no idea how to operate.

Bakugou was just about to make a snarky joke about how much of an Eraserhead fanboy Shinsou was, but Kirishima bounced over to them happily. “Hey guys! Wow- your costumes are so cool! They kinda match!” he exclaimed with a four hundred-megawatt smile.

Bakugou made a very quiet, mortifying noise at the sight of Kirishima’s costume before replying. “Yeah- they're supposed to. We’re gonna be the number one hero duo some day, so it only makes sense that we have matching outfits. Yours is pretty cool, too.”

“That’s so manly!” Kirishima practically shouted, and then added with slightly pink cheeks, “And, um, thanks!”

He rushed off, and the two of them exited the changing rooms to where the others were waiting. Before they came into the full view of the students and All Might, Hitoshi nudged his friend and whispered: “Wow, very smooth. You should’ve seen your face when you saw his costume. The gay panic in your eyes was very funny. Such abs, much homosexual.”

Bakugou would have retaliated (I mean, come on, that Doge meme wasn’t even relevant anymore. Get your head in the game, Hito-shit), if not for being called over by the class, as they were the last ones to get there.

All Might started up another spiel about how the most heinous criminals commit their felonies indoors (oh my God, he's reading from cards. Seriously, All Might?). For example, Bakugou outright cheating at Mario Kart on Rainbow Road on the last lap when Shinsou was in first for fuck’s sake-

They both perked up again when he explained that they would be fighting their classmates and looked to the other, wondering whether or not they’d be teamed up- or better yet, pitted against each other. The Pro said they were going to draw lots to determine teams, and a kid decked out in full-body armour- who they quickly deduced was Glasses- questioned if that was really a good idea.

“Of course it is.” Bakugou grumbled loud enough that the whole class could hear him, “Pros get partnered up with other heroes they don’t know all the time.”

Iida apologised for the interruption, and All Might allowed them to commence the Raffle of Imminent Doom.

“Oi! Who’s D?” Bakugou shouted, going over to Yaoyorozu when she called out to him. Shinsou, meanwhile, ended up paired with an invisible girl called Hagakure.

The first battle is Todoroki and Shoji as the heroes versus Ojiro and Tokoyami as the villains (Tokoyami was picked to go twice in the battle simulations because there was an odd number of students. Poor bastard). The battle didn’t last nearly as long as it should have, because as soon as the simulation commences, Todoroki fucking freezes the whole building. The battle ends instantaneously because neither of the villains can move.

“What the fuck.” Bakugou whispers underneath his breath. Shinsou can’t help but agree with the sentiment. What the fuck indeed.

Then All Might shoves his hands into the Unlucky Dip boxes and pulls out Team D for the villains and Team J for the heroes. Bakugou and Yaoyorozu as villains and Jirou and Kaminari as heroes. Bakugou grins like a lunatic, cogs almost visibly whirring in his head, and Shinsou thinks that he already knows who’s winning this one.

“So, do you have a plan in mind?” Ponytail asks politely, and receives a manic cackle in return.

Fuck yeah I do. We’re gonna need loud speakers and rubber-covered shields for each of us.” Bakugou instructs, sauntering through the entrance of the building they're going to be fighting in.

“Oh?”

“I saw that Earphone girl during the entrance exam, and I think she can use those jack-things to find out the location of shit if she sticks them into the wall and listens. I figure if we broadcast me setting off a firework and screaming bloody murder on repeat at full volume it should deal with that. The rubber shields are pretty easy to figure, though- seeing as rubber’s a good insulator, and that Pikachu guy had an electricity quirk. You probably already thought of that already, though, you seem pretty smart.”

She nods fervently in agreement with the plan, and they begin placing loudspeakers on all the floors they go to. They eventually decide to put the fake nuke on the top floor, seeing as neither of the two on the other team have a quirk that could get them to the top of the building. Yaoyorozu makes a few CCTV cameras on a whim, and Bakugou agrees that having surveillance is a good idea. She makes the shields, they get to the top floor, and they're ready (Yaoyorozu looks kind of tired from making all of that shit though, and Bakugou decides that he’ll have to keep that in mind just in case).

The timer starts, and Bakugou switches on his ear defenders and sets off his loudest firework, screaming like a banshee (Ponytail thought to make herself some earplugs, thank fuck). They broadcast it all over, and the building shakes as the sound reverberates from almost every room. They can see Earphone and Pikachu covering their ears through Ponytail’s cameras- Earphone looking decidedly more worse for wear. The two attempt to plough on nonetheless, still desperately trying to block out the noise with only their hands.

After a while, Bakugou tells Yaoyorozu through the mics they were given for the simulation that he's going to see if he can either catch them or keep them occupied for long enough that they win by default. She nods at him seriously, and suddenly he's flying through the halls with his manic signature smile plastered across his face, shield attached to the pole on his back. When he finally reaches them after some guidance from Ponytail, Earphone’s eyes are screwed shut with pain, and Pikachu’s feebly attempting to cajole her into moving forward.

“WHAT’S UP, FUCKERS?!” Bakugou screams, and somehow remarkably manages to be heard over the racket. Earphone opens her eyes then, which proceed to then go wide with panic at the sight of him in perfect synchronisation with the boy next to her. Kaminari sets out a desperate shock of electricity, but Bakugou just turns his back and lets the shield absorb the hit.

Katsuki pulls out a can of hairspray and a lighter, and all hell breaks loose.

Jirou and Kaminari appear to be running for their lives, flames almost licking at their heels as Bakugou, a demon in all but name, tears through the corridors after them. he laughs, and it’s terrifying to watch, but Yaoyorozu allows herself a triumphant smile despite it.

“YOU CAN’T RUN FOREVER!” Bakugou shouts between maddening laughter, but the two in front of him provide no retort, simply opting to push their legs even further past their limit as they race to get away.

A minute or so later, when they're beginning to slow down, All Might announces that the villain team wins. The Pro is barely heard over the noise, but Yaoyorozu just manages to catch it and turn off the loudspeakers. Earphone and Pikachu practically weep with relief at the absence of the noise, and share a glance with each other, both having the same thought as they look upon the boy in front of them with his Cheshire-Cat grin.

Quirkless people are fucking terrifying.

When both teams reach the observation room, they're bombarded by questions. Bakugou ignores them all and swaggers over to Shinsou’s side instead, who’s watching with an amused smirk.

“So, how was that for a show, Hito-shit?”

Shinsou laughs lightly. “Well, you put on quite the spectacle there, Kat-suck-it. We could hear your screaming and the fireworks through All Might’s ear piece.”

“Good.” Bakugou smiles viciously in return, and Hitoshi rolls his eyes playfully.

Katsuki has comments thrown at him by almost every student- mostly saying that his fight-without-fighting was cool and that he’d looked crazy when he was chasing the team. He glowed internally at the praise, and Shinsou threw an arm around his shoulder, tussling his hair in a good-natured manner. Jirou and Kaminari tell him how terrifying he was up close, and Hitoshi says that Bakugou never does anything halfway. Damn right he doesn't.

 

There are a few more fights varying in intensity before it inevitably approaches Shinsou and Hagakure’s turn. They're playing the part of the heroes; going against the villain team comprised of Tokoyami and Asui. The villains have their five minutes to set up, and Shinsou uses that time with Hagakure to formulate a plan.

“I can probably use my quirk on one of them as a distraction, and maybe then you could sneak around and get the weapon while they're busy?” Shinsou suggests, not taking his eyes off of the blueprints spread in front of them.

“Sure!” the girl responds cheerfully, “Hey- you never actually told us what your quirk is so, what does it do?”

“It’s called Brainwashing.” Hitoshi mutters nonchalantly, “It means that I can control someone if they answer a question I ask.”

Hagakure chirps that it sounds cool, and Shinsou smiles a little at the confirmation that the kids here really are nothing like the assholes that he and Bakugou had to deal with in Junior High.

The starting announcement rings in their ears, and Shinsou sets off directly ahead while Hagakure removes her gloves- rendering her completely invisible- and goes around to another corridor. He runs for a while, and eventually reaches the fifth floor. Shinsou sees the two ‘villains’ in a corner with the weapon behind them, and whispers his location to Hagakure through the coms. She gives him a grunt of acknowledgement and they leave it there.

Shinsou steps forward out of the shadows to reveal himself, taking in the sight of Tokoyami and Asui standing tall together.

“All I need to do is touch the nuke, right? Then we win?”

“You say that as if we will step aside so easily.” Tokoyami replies, and Shinsou grins with triumph. The bird-boy opposing him stills, a strange look clouding his eyes (Looks like someone ruffled his feathers).

Gotcha.

“Sorry Tokoyami, Asui- hope there's no hard feelings for this.” Hitoshi says, and then continues, more commanding than before. “Tokoyami, attack Asui- but don’t like, kill her or maim her.”

The bird-boy turns to her and lunges, Dark Shadow grabbing for her with some sharp-ass claws. Asui leaps back, preparing to counterattack. She jumps forward and extends her tongue, effectively slapping the boy out of the way and out of his daze. He gets up and shakes himself off, looking bewildered.

“Huh, well that was short-lived- didn’t last nearly as long as I thought it would. Oh well.” Shinsou shrugged noncommittally.

“That’s your quirk? Mind control?” Asui asks, looking surprised. Shinsou hums as an affirmation.

“Yep, it’s called Brainwashing. I-“

“THE HERO TEAM WINS!” All Might’s booming announcement interjects. The two people in front of him look visibly confused, and Shinsou grins in satisfaction. Asui’s eyes go wide with realisation.

“We forgot about Hagakure.”

From somewhere behind the two, a girl laughs heartily.

 

When they get back to the observation room, they're bombarded by their peers, mostly asking about his quirk. He tells them about Brainwashing, and they tell him it sounds pretty amazing. He’d beam at the praise if he was physically capable of outwardly displaying that much enthusiasm. Bakugou laughs and throws an arm around his shoulder, tussling his hair playfully just as Shinsou had done to him some time before.

Hitoshi approaches Asui and Tokoyami to apologise for making Tokoyami attack her. They wave him off immediately, though, saying that they’d be more mad if he hadn’t used it- seeing as they were supposed to give it their all. Asui tells him to call her Tsu, and the three of them smile and shake hands before Bakugou calls him back over.

The very last of the teams battle it out, and the school day ends. But Bakugou doesn’t go in the direction of the gate. Instead, he starts heading toward the school building.

“Hey, Kat-suck-it, where are we going?” Shinsou questions, a singular eyebrow raised.

“I wanna meet whoever the fuck made our costumes. I wanna talk, maybe bounce a few ideas off of them.”

Shinsou just nods in return, and they arrive at one of the Support-Course classrooms. When they open the door, they're greeted by the smell of motor oil and smoke emanating from messy workbenches. The room is empty, save for Power-Loader and a girl still pouring diligently over her machines, with crazy-looking goggles on her head and a wide, overly enthusiastic smile on her face.

“Hey, we wanted to ask you if you knew which support students made our hero costumes? It’s Bakugou Katsuki and Shinsou Hitoshi, by the way.”

Power-Loader readied himself to reply to the question, but the girl’s head shot up at an almost inhuman speed. She had lemon-yellow eyes that reminded Bakugou of the scope lens on a gun, and oddly styled pink hair.

“Oh! It’s you two! I made your costumes! I did both because the class decided that- because you wanted them to match- it’d be easier if they were made by the same person! Do you like them? I’ve got some ideas for improvements if you want! Sit down, sit down!"

Bakugou strode over like the cocky bastard he was, seemingly giving away no clue that he was just as bewildered by her spitfire personality as Shinsou was. Hitoshi shuffled forward with significantly less swagger, and asked for her name.

“I didn’t say? How weird of me! I'm Hatsume Mei!” Hatsume replies, and that’s that. They sit down, and Bakugou and Hatsume immediately delve into a heated discussion on modifications that could be made to his and Shinsou’s costumes.

“I can put pads on your gloves that act as a key for the lock I'm gonna put on for the back-pouch and your other pouches! That way no one’ll be able to access your weapons but you!”

“I think I'm gonna need something I can use to cause distractions. Can you do flashbangs maybe?”

“Do you even need to ask? Of course I can! You’ve both already got ear defenders, but you’ll need visors to block out the light from them! I’ll make sure to add them to both of your costumes, so you match!”

They start talking about where on Bakugou's costume it would be best to store the flashbangs, and Shinsou doesn’t even try to keep up. He makes eye-contact with Power-Loader, who returns his despairing gaze with a long-suffering look in his eyes, despite only having taught Hatsume for a few days. Hitoshi dreads to think that maybe she’s not the only one as bat-shit crazy as her that he's had to teach. Poor man.

It’s a good kind of crazy, though, Shinsou thinks, looking upon his friend as he talks animatedly (well, as ‘animated’ as Bakugou can get) with Hatsume. Looks like he's met someone who’s just as invested in getting us to be the best as he is. They're completely different- but, in the end, they're kindred spirits all the same.

Shinsou smiles, and thinks of how much more havoc his little shit of a friend is going to wreak with someone like Hatsume around to enable him. It’ll be fun for him to watch, at least (both the chaos he's going to cause, and the looks on everyone’s faces). He watches silently as she gives Bakugou and himself her phone number, just in case they want to contact her and bounce anymore ideas off each other while they're out of school.

 

God, this is going to be one hell of a ride. He loves it already.

Chapter Text

The walk home is quieter than usual, though it could hardly be considered bare. The air surrounding them is thrumming with energy- raw and chaotic and loud in a way that words can never hope to be. It’s like static electricity, bursting at the seams with charge ready to be released. Katsuki has a bounce to his step as he walks, and it’s subtle but it’s there and Hitoshi sees it regardless. It brings a smile to his face, because you can’t be friends with someone for nearly a decade and just not be somewhat telepathically connected to them on a non-quirk level. Shinsou also remembers some girl at their old middle school saying that you’re only best friends if you’re mistaken for a gay couple at some point (or a straight couple, if you’re both different genders).

It had sounded pretty stupid at the time, but the two of them actually had been once. This random stranger had come up to them in the street once to tell them that being gay is wrong- that they’d be going to Hell when they died, and then they’d gone back to his place and promptly laughed their asses off. Sure, Bakugou was bisexual as all Hell (someone had told Bakugou last year that he was confused and probably just having a bi-curious phase. To which he responded ‘I’m not bi-curious, I’m bi-FURIOUS, so that was a thing), and Shinsou wasn’t too sure himself- but they weren’t fucking dating. He almost started laughing at the idea even now. Him and Kat-suck-it- kissing and shit. What a thought. Nah- their relationship regarding sexual orientation pretty much just consisted of Bakugou judging whether or not a celebrity that Hitoshi thought was cool was worth dating by the ‘scope of their ass’, as he called it. And Shinsou groaning about people talking about boys and girls and just crushes in general, when all he wanted to do was sleep and fuck stereotypes up. Katsuki generally responded by saying ‘same’ and falling asleep, because he typically only ever has a crisis at 3am, and he’d wake the other boy up specifically to complain to him.

 

The two boys decide that they wish the spend the night at Bakugou’s house- seeing as it resides closer to the school than Shinsou’s own. Katsuki also wants to attempt contacting Hatsume Mei to talk about the subject of support equipment. Hitoshi’s obviously being dragged into it as well, because friends drag friends down their maddened spiels with them by the fucking ankles.

When they walk through the door, Mitsuki and Masaru throw out a casual greeting to the pair, not at all surprised by Shinsou’s unquestioned presence within their home. To be fair, they're probably close to giving him his own key- he most likely spends more time there than his own home, after all (not that he doesn’t make time for his own parents, of course). Katsuki drags Hitoshi up the stairs, eager to converse with Mei over such wonderfully wicked matters as all the ‘fun’ shit he's going to put on his costume. He kicks down the entrance to his room with a fervour that leaves pretty much everyone in the house (bar the boy himself) wondering how the Hell the poor, abused door hasn’t just given up and fallen off its hinges yet.

Shinsou perches himself on one of the two chairs present in the room, crouching precariously (kinda like L from Death Note- fucking nerd). Bakugou all but throws himself onto his bed, opening up his phone and initiating a FaceTime with Hatsume alarmingly fast- which is still about seven minutes, though the point stands. He looks pretty damn smug as he presses the call button, because it normally takes them three-to-four business days and a full-on group debate to get them to use their phones properly (through no fault of the phones’ own).

The call connects, revealing Mei herself in the same ridiculous goggles as before, and the tell-tale bang of something crashing to the floor in the background. The three of them spare a moment to exchange greetings, and then the maelstrom of clattering conversation begins.

Hatsume Mei is a whirlwind of ever-evolving ideas and concepts. There’s a maddened gleam in her eye as she speaks, and Bakugou decides that he likes this one. They're similar in the strangest of ways- a mad scientist and her equally insane weapon-tester. And Shinsou, of course, their tired but almost exactly as enthusiastic janitor/assistant/supervisor/co-weapon-tester (internally enthusiastic, clearly, because his resting bitch face is very much permanent. It’s just his thing). The conversation stretches from five minutes to ten. Then twenty and nearing the half-an-hour mark before the sound of some parent or guardian calling for Hatsume to get out of her ‘lab’ (she’d renovated the entirety of her fucking garage by herself, apparently) and eat dinner is heard through the other end of the speaker. Mei rolls her eyes all the way to the ceiling at the shout, but sends them both a quick wink and a cheery wave before scrambling up from her seat and skipping away- before returning after realising that she hadn’t ended the call. Bakugou had mentioned to her in passing that neither he nor Hitoshi knew how to disconnect from FaceTime. Their one weakness: modern technology. Ah well, at least they had a techno-freak to balance out their inadequacy- though Katsuki would never admit that he was as incompetent as Shinsou, because he was, and I quote: ‘a god amongst men’.

Mitsuki calls the two of them down to eat dinner as well, and they both slide down the banister of the stairs- Shinsou reclining on Bakugou’s lap for dramatic effect. They earn themselves a light smack on the heads with a newspaper (where had that even come from?) for their efforts, and slip into friendly chatter as the family (Hitoshi included) settle down to eat.

 

“Y’know Hitoshi,” Mitsuki starts after Shinsou compliments her cooking, smirking through half a mouthful of rice (it’s one of those rare nights when Masaru actually allows the disaster-woman within two feet of the stove, which is always eventful), “if your parents ever wanted to trade you for Kats over there… I wouldn’t be opposed.”

“That’s only ‘cause you haven’t talked to him before he's had his morning coffee.” Katsuki grumbles underneath his breath, and Hitoshi would protest if it weren’t for the fact that he actually makes a good point, so he just laughs instead. Even he’ll admit that pre-caffeinated Shinsou is not a force to be reckoned with. The next few minutes is carried by friendly banter- mostly at Bakugou’s expense, because Mitsuki loves her son. After they’ve all finished eating, they thank Mitsuki for the meal (Kats mumbles it with a scowl, but it’s something), and the two of them start to head up the stairs.

“It’s a school night- so don’t stay up late or your ass is dead!” Mitsuki calls after them when they depart, though not sounding threatening enough to rouse legitimate concern. It’s fine either way- they hadn’t been planning on it anyway.

“Why would she worry about that? You go to bed at half-eight. Boom-Boom Boy needs his beauty sleep, I guess.” Bakugou looks as if he’d quite like to throttle him, but obviously refrains from doing so, seeing as you can’t have a Hero-duo with just one person. They push open the door to Bakugou’s room with a creak of complaint from the hinges. “So, Kat-suck-it,” Hitoshi begins slowly, “how are we doing this tonight: bed, futons, or rat’s nest?” it’s something they do sometimes on sleepovers. They’ll either sleep on separate futons, build a massive rat’s nest of blankets and cushions in the middle of the room, or they’ll share a bed if one or both of them have had a particularly rough day.

“Rat’s nest.” Katsuki answers, and Shinsou nods sagely before they begin to pile the all the blankets and cushions they can find onto the floor and arrange them to make some weird nest to sleep in. it looks pretty comfy when they're done, so they change into their onesies- because best-friend Pokémon onesies are clearly a necessity. Bakugou has a Primeape one, and Shinsou has Gengar (they have matching smiles/senses of humour), as those two generally made the most sense. Hitoshi had kind of wanted to get Katsuki the Darmanitan one, since the two shared sort-of similar attributes (love of blowing things up), but he’d argued with himself that the boy’s legendary temper was almost exactly the same as the pig-monkey Pokémon (that, and the things on Darmanitan’s head was the same as All Might’s hair, and Bakugou wasn’t overly keen on him after their encounter when he was thirteen). Although Bakugou had mellowed out over the years, slivers of that fiery-bordering-on-slightly-demonic passion and anger would still slip through the cracks sometimes- and it was always a sight to behold. Besides- Primeape had the same manic energy and love for carnage that Katsuki possessed with or without the temper taken into account, so it didn’t really matter any which way.

They both flopped down into the rat’s nest they’d so lovingly crafted, and opted to talk until Bakugou’s self-imposed bedtime came around. The topics ranged from Hatsume Mei to All Might and Eraserhead and all the way back to Kirishima.

“Hey!” Shinsou pipes up with a mischievous glint in his eye, “Maybe you could fold the napkins at your wedding into origami cranes! That’d be pretty cool.”

Bakugou retaliates by rounding the back of his head with a pillow. “Hito-shit, we’ve known him for three days!

Hitoshi throws his head back and laughs. “Yeah, I know, I know. But I’m like, your bestest friend in the whole-wide-world ever, so I just know these things, Kat-suck-it.”

Katsuki laughs at the thought of Shinsou being a love-guru of any calibre, and two minutes later their limbs are tangled together; legs half-hazardly thrown over each other in order to attempt to get comfy, and to irritate the other. Needless to say, it doesn’t work, and they're quick to fall into slumber in such a position- they’ve long since gotten used to it, after all.

 


 

Their day begins with the quiet rustling of upturned bed-sheets and the morning sun filtering through a peep in the curtain, bathing the room in the golden light of dawn. One can imagine that a clear sky as blue as the untouched oceans awaits them beyond the confines of the house. The window left open by accident the night before wafts the scent of nature through the cracks ,and brings with it a refreshing chill to help ease them back into the waking world. The twittering of birds’ melodies linger in their ears as the first twitches of wakefulness rouse their minds from the lands of dream. It is true peace and serenity in almost every sense of the phrase; a perfect way to wake up.

Unless, of course, you happen to be a pair of melodramatic teenagers who are decidedly not morning people. Because, to them, it goes more like this:

The bed-sheets have been tossed around carelessly in their sleep, tangling them even more hopelessly into the mess of limbs and fabric they find themselves in. Neither of them possessed the good sense to close the curtain properly so they're so humbly graced with the blessing of being blinded first thing at in the damn morning. Some dumbass birds are screaming at the fucking hate-orb in the sky as it lazily ascends to claim its throne on the horizon, like some cocky bastard. And obviously no one thought to close the window last night because it’s fucking freezing as balls, and it smells like shit and grass (if only Bakugou’s father didn’t use such potent fertiliser). It’s not even been two minutes since either of them woke up- but they can tell almost instantaneously that today is going to be absolute horse-shit. What a way to start the morning.

Bakugou begrudgingly gets up, and he must decide that Shinsou needs to suffer with him too because pretty soon the purple-haired loser is getting water sprinkled on his face like he’s being baptised or some shit, albeit a bit more aggressively. Hitoshi bemoans the loss of the extra twenty seconds of sleep he would have probably been able to scrounge before his friend so cruelly woke him up. He’s as dead on his feet as he can be without actually becoming a corpse as he clomps down the stairs, footfalls heavy against the wooden floor beneath his feet. He claws pathetically at the cupboards until they open, and he digs out the coffee beans he knows they have with all the moroseness of a wounded soldier. He meticulously crafts his caffeinated version of Holy water, and nearly considers just drinking it straight away and risking the serious burns on his tongue that he may or may not get. Shinsou decides to be sensible for once in his life, lest he be forbidden from consuming his ambrosia- his liquified life-force. He turns around and very nearly almost but not quite drops the cup- he’d forgotten that Bakugou was here too. Of course he’s here- it’s his house.

Shinsou doesn’t bother to explain away the startle in favour of blowing obsessively at his drink to cool it so he can consume it sooner rather than later. He sits down next to Katsuki as the parents of said teenager shuffle down the stairs right on time. The boys both grunt out a greeting to the two adults as Mitsuki flops down onto a chair at the table and Masaru takes up a place in the kitchen to start on breakfast like the Godsend he is. Hitoshi- not eager for the Bakugous to catch him without first rejuvenating himself- quickly downs the blessed beverage in one gulp. Thank the Lord it cooled properly, otherwise he’d have a lot more of a problem than just being grouchy.

A little while later (with some banter/arguing on the part of Bakugou and Mitsuki), Masaru reappears with breakfast, and it looks fucking good. The man bids them all a cheerful good-morning- giving Mitsuki a sly peck on the cheek- and sets down their plates, receiving thanks from the three of them in turn as he goes. They start eating as soon as everyone’s ready, and it’s really good. None of them had realised that there was a way to make perfection in pancake form, but apparently there is, and Masaru knows how. God bless the man.

“You know…” Hitoshi interjects after swallowing another mouthful of pancake, “if the whole fashion thing doesn’t work out, you could definitely open a restaurant.”

Masaru’s cheeks turn a light shade of pink at the praise, and he only becomes more flustered as Mitsui and Bakugou agree with him. “Oh Lord no- I’m nowhere near being that good. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to handle all the pressure.”

I think that you’d handle the pressure just fine. You’ve been dealing with the hag for years.” Bakugou grunts with a narrow smirk on his face, earning him a playful smack upside the head.

“Wow, love you too, Kats.” Mitsuki retaliates with a sarcastic lilt to her tone, voice gravelly from sleep. They continue like this for a while- trading jokes and the like- before Bakugou and Shinsou realise that they’d better start getting dressed and ready for school if they want to be early. They excuse themselves and lug their still-tired bodies up the stairs and back to Katsuki’s bedroom. The door was left open, so they just walk right on in and close it behind them. quick work is made of getting dressed- Shinsou’s uniform, while slightly rumpled, is pretty much as good as it’s going to get; and Bakugou looks to be just as much of a delinquent as he did on their very first day of UA. Looks like some things just never change- even if it has only been a few days.

The two of them shoulder their school bags after shoving all the books they’ll need into them, and pick up their duffel bags in case of impromptu Hero training- which neither of them would put past Aizawa and/or All Might to do. They converse lightly as they descend from Bakugou’s room to the bottom of the stairs, and it turns out that Mr and Mrs. Bakugou have gotten up to do stuff as well since they went upstairs. Before they leave, Masaru ruffles their hair, and Mitsuki fist-bumps the two of them, smiling maniacally (it’s not hard to see where Kat-suck-it gets it from).

“Kick names and take ass.” Mitsuki declares jovially, and Shinsou’s about to correct her and say that it’s ‘take names, kick ass’, but wisely thinks better of it and just lets it be. They wave goodbye to the two adults before departing from the house. The pair talk about which teachers they’re going to have for which subject today as they walk. Bakugou brings up the strange theories and questions that Hitoshi came up with on the second day of school about the Pros teaching them, and lands himself a playful shove to the side. It continues much like this for the next ten minutes- just talk and the occasional push or bout of laughter. They arrive early as always at the gates of Yuuei- except that, when the school building is finally in their line of sight, something’s different.

‘Something different’ turns out to be an actual hoard of journalists with cameramen (or camerawomen or camerapeople- we don’t discriminate in this house) and microphones gripped tightly in their hands. They both share a look of contempt and thinly veiled horror before deciding to brave the growing crowd of vultures before it gets too large to power through. They walk forward, Bakugou just a little bit ahead, because- for all that Shinsou’s come out of his shell over the years- he’ll always feel uncomfortable when faced with situations such as this one. Katsuki understands this, sending him a fiery look that reassures that he’s not going to take any shit, and Shinsou’s made just that little bit more aware that he has exquisite taste in friends.

The moment they get close enough to start walking through the crowd, they’re swamped by reporters eager for someone to interview. Shinsou nearly shrinks back, but Katsuki grabs his arm so they don’t lose each other in the swarm. One of them shoves their microphone in Bakugou’s face, asking about what it’s like being taught by All Might- oh, of course that’s what this is about. Bakugou shoots the reporter a harried look but reluctantly replies.

“I don’t know… educational?” he says, biting back the urge to fill the gap of hesitation in his answer with a curse, as saying fuck on maybe-live television probably won’t bode well for him. The journalist doesn’t seem satisfied with the response, but concedes and tries to thrust the mic in Shinsou’s face instead. Katsuki drags him away from all the people; it was starting to feel a little too cramped, and he hates the press, so it’s not like Bakugou’s bothered by it. At the sight of his defensive stance, and the bags under Shinsou’s eyes casting ominous shadows across his face, hiding the look of bewilderment adorning it, they slowly begin to part for the two teenagers. Finally, they actually reach the gate of the school, sagging in relief when it slams behind them.

“Fuck, it’s gonna be hard dealing with that when we’re Pros.” Shinsou laments, Katsuki nodding grimly at both the realisation and at the dread clouding Hitoshi’s features. Although, Bakugou’s sombre expression is replaced by a piercing grin that stretches across his face seconds later, slapping the other boy on the back and looping his arm around his friend’s shoulders.

“Why the Hell are you worried? We’re gonna be a Hero-duo, Hito-shit, so you’ll have me to deal with ‘em!” Bakugou declares, and a lazy smirk drapes itself across Shinsou’s face at the statement.

“Guess so.” is all he says, but Bakugou knows a thank-you when he hears one, so he just grins wider in return, looking triumphant. They proceed to march into the school like that, unsurprised that there isn’t anyone in the classroom bar Iida, since they're still pretty early (that, and they’ll all be even more held up by the press when they get here). Glasses decides to bid them both a good morning.

“Hello, you two! I hope you got through the reporters alright- did they cause you any trouble?”

Shinsou, having pretty much recovered from the encounter with the press, is the one to respond. “Well, they shoved a few microphones in our faces, but we managed to get passed them eventually. You?”

Iida doesn’t even hesitate to answer. “They were rather demanding- but I’ve had experience with the media previously, so I was a little more prepared for their onslaught.”

Bakugou cocks an eyebrow at the response, intrigued. “You’ve dealt with them before? Why’s that? You big and famous or something, Glasses?” he asks, because subtlety is not a thing.

Iida flushes “Well, my brother is the Pro-Hero Ingenium, and being in a family of Heroes means that I’m bound to be exposed to the world of journalism at some point.” he replies almost sheepishly, though there’s something about his demeanour that shows how proud he is of his heritage- namely his brother.

Katsuki looks slightly surprised, but schools his features into something akin to casual interest. “Ingenium’s your brother? Huh- thought you reminded me of someone.”

That seems to be the end of the conversation, so Bakugou and Shinsou shuffle over to their respective desks and sit down, slinging their bags off of their shoulders thoughtlessly. They spend the next few minutes waiting for the rest of their class to arrive in comfortable silence, nothing but the clunking of Hitoshi rooting around in his bag to try and get his pencil case to disturb it. Soon enough, the rest of the class filter in, already looking worn out from having to deal with the vultures outside of the school. Kirishima bounces into the classroom as peppy as per usual, though, and Hitoshi can’t say that he’s too shocked that the redhead was more than happy to be interviewed. He’s got a feeling that whichever reporter got to the boy first wasn’t really satisfied with whatever speech about manliness the boy had come up with on the spot. Serves them right for harassing students who clearly wanted nothing to do with them.

They remain chatting idly for some six minutes, before Aizawa-sensei (ERASERHEAD IS HIS TEACHER) deems it ample time to roll into the class, trapped within the confines of an admittedly comfortable-looking sleeping bag. Everyone immediately scrambles into their seats- just three days with the Pro is enough to put the fear of God in them, apparently- it seems like they’ll comply almost instantly with the man’s whims now. Shinsou gets sent an odd look by the teacher, probably because he’s biting his lip to hold back an excited outburst at the Underground Hero’s presence (three days isn’t good enough to quench four years of fanboying, dammit).

Now that he’s thinking about it, he’s pretty sure that the Pro’s been giving him those strange glances from the get-go. Can Aizawa tell that Hitoshi knows who he is? Please no- you can’t get anymore embarrassing than having to explain to your teacher that you’re a fanboy and made the conscious decision at some point in your life to dedicate actual time to looking for merch of them, or trying to catch a glimpse of their face in grainy, phone-filmed recordings.

Nevertheless, their homeroom teacher begins to speak, and everyone tenses in anticipation of whatever gruelling task he’s come up with. Instead, he tells them that they need to pick a Class President, and the room descends into chaos. All the students are crying out about picking them for the job, even the quiet ones (except that guy with the rock-head. Does he even speak, or does he use sign-language? It’d be a good excuse to learn it). Shinsou will admit that he is among those who declare that they’d like to run, albeit with a lot less volume and energy than the others. It’s good practice for future leadership roles as a Pro-Hero, after all. Iida soon decides that enough is enough and slams his hand onto the table, exclaiming that they should use a democratic voting system. When given a few blank looks in return, he clears his throat and explains that it’s just a ballot vote-thing. After a couple of arguments and counter-arguments, the rest of the class agree, and they draw up a tally after putting their folded-up votes on the desk at the front.

Yaoyorozu gets two; Iida gets one; Bakugou gets three, and Shinsou… Holy shit. He has four. He knows Bakugou is one of those votes, because he knows that Kats would want him to have it (the fucking sap)- but who else? Yeah, he wanted to do it, but fuck. Iida, despite definitely being disappointed- seems happy that at least one person voted for him- so it looks like he and Bakugou weren’t the only ones who gave away their vote. Speaking of Bakugou…

“Oi! Who voted for Hito-shit and why?!”  Katsuki screeches like the emotionally-stunted pterodactyl he is. Iida raises his hand and states that Shinsou appeared calm under pressure, and despite his tired demeanour, he's is certain there is no lack of conviction. How sweet. Hagakure and Tsu voted for him too, because he was cool in the training exercise, apparently. When people look at him, he says that he didn’t vote for himself, and everyone scours the room with their eyes for the fourth voter until Bakugou decides to pipe up.

“Of fucking course it was me! I’ve known Hito-shit for years! He’s a fucking nerd and Class Pres damn well suits him.” he shouts across the room, classmates then asking who voted for him. Shinsou puts his hand up, and they look confused before he reminds them that Bakugou literally just said that they’ve known each other for ages- nine years, to be exact. Jirou and Kaminari raise their hands too, saying that he was pretty fucking cool in the training exercise, and that they’d much prefer having him work for them rather than against them. The two of them end up at the front somehow, and Hitoshi realises that they probably want him to say something.

“Uh, thanks for voting for me and Kat-suck-it and all. We’ll try not to let the classroom burn down, but no promises.” the dry humour gets a laugh out of a few students. He lets himself smirk a little before turning to his friend. “You wanna say anything?”

“Yeah, yeah- we’ll try and make your votes worth it and shit. No take-backs and all that bull.” nobody looks surprised at his bluntness, but Shinsou supposes that three days is probably enough time to realise that Bakugou does not like to beat around the bush. It’s why he admires him.

Homeroom ends abruptly and they're shoved along to their next lesson, but Aizawa calls Shinsou back for a moment. Bakugou stays behind, but Eraserhead tells him to clear off, and Hitoshi tells him that he’ll be fine, and that he’ll let him know what happens as soon as he can. That seems to satiate him, because he stalks off, and Eraserhead (Eraserhead, for the love of God) starts to talk.

“Now, I don’t usually call students out on this, but you’ve been looking at me weird every time I do homeroom. And now that you’re the rep you might have to see me more- so it’s in our best interest to just get this out of the way. Do you have a problem with me?” he questions plainly, and Shinsou splutters in shock.

NO! God no- I just, you’re just- you’re Eraserhead.

It’s Aizawa’s turn to look surprised, though it’s only revealed by the slight quirk of his eyebrows. “You know who I am?”

His cheeks go pink, and the floor becomes incredibly interesting all of a sudden. “Y-yeah. I-I’m a pretty big fan, actually, ever since your debut- when you took down that drug-dealer with the inflation quirk. Someone managed to record it happening, and I ended up finding it at some point. You can find Hero records on the government website- with info like when they debuted, and sometimes what their name or quirk is if they're cool with it. Yours was just your debut date, your Hero name and a picture, but I assumed that you have some kind of quirk that nullifies other quirks with a name like ‘Eraserhead’. Kat-su- uh, Katsuki’s actually a fan of yours, too, since you practically fight quirkless, but I don’t think he’s really as interested in Pros as he is in being one.” he’s tempted to add that it’s because of how badly they let him down when they were thirteen, but he’s painfully aware of a how bad an idea that would be, and decides against it.

“I see.” Aizawa says, and he can’t tell whether or not his teacher’s creeped out by him now. He’s just going to assume it’s fine, if slightly weird because Underground Heroes have basically no following, since the majority of people aren’t even aware that they exist. Shinsou’s dismissed a moment later, and he walks to class, plonking down in his seat with a nod of acknowledgement from Ectoplasm. He must have been told that Shinsou was with Eraserhead. Bakugou gives him a look that demands to know why Aizawa wanted to talk to him, so Hitoshi spills his guts onto a piece of scrap paper and hands it to Katsuki (not literally, because that would be really gross) when Ectoplasm turns his back. Bakugou looks like he wants to laugh at his friend’s expense after reading the note, but holds his tongue in fear of alerting the teacher to the fact that they’re not paying attention.

Mathematics goes on without incident, and they’re free to go to their next lesson. It passes in a blur of poorly-retained information, but it’s nothing that they can’t just go over with the help of their textbooks, so they shouldn’t come out of it too shoddy. They end up in the cafeteria without even realising that they’d grabbed their bags and left the classroom, and appear rather bewildered as they order food from Lunch Rush (Patron Saint of Good Fucking Food). After a brief moment’s deliberation, they go and sit next to Iida and Uraraka, since it’s the closest table to them that’s not already super cramped. The two now sitting opposite from them engage them in conversation- soon turning to the topic of how loaded Glasses is- and turns out that Round Face hadn’t known that he was Ingenium’s younger brother either. Go figure.

Shinsou’s just about to pipe up and say something about the lesson they’ve got next when an alarm shouting something about a ‘level three security breach’ begins to blare loudly throughout the lunch hall. Iida asks what they presume to be a third year what a level three breach is, to which they respond that it means someone’s broken into the school. The surrounding students have already delved into mass hysteria, all stampeding out into the corridor like a buffalo herd; someone could get trampled if this keeps up (tasteless joke- sorry Mufasa). What looks like the whole school is huddled together in the hallway, and Hitoshi can hardly breathe in amidst both the fact that his breathing’s restricted from being pressed into on all sides, and because of the quick to set in panic that comes with having to be in such close proximity of so many people- too many people.

“Hito-shit!” Bakugou shouts over the rioting, grabbing his hand after he pushes the few people between them out of the way so he’s right next to him, which is a great comfort. Shinsou nearly loses his grip on Katsuki’s hand a couple times, which is scary, but he ultimately makes sure that he doesn’t let go. Even after nine years of being around one of the most boisterous people on this Godforsaken Earth, he’ll always be an introvert at heart- and an anxious one at that.

Something catches Hitoshi’s eye- Iida reaching desperately for Uraraka’s hand over the sea of teenagers between them. They make contact, and Shinsou figures out what Glasses is about to do a moment before he actually does it. Iida floats above the crowd, and Shinsou only has the time to think ‘he’s insane’ before the boy’s using his engines to zoom across to the end of the corridor , screaming for order (oh, the irony). He looks a little like the guy on the exit sign as he stands above it weirdly so as not to slip or lose his grip on the bar he’s holding onto for dear life. Weird, but it’s not like it’s not something he or Bakugou (namely Bakugou) would do. Glasses proclaims that it’s unbecoming of students in the top Hero school to be behaving in this manner, and informs them that it’s only the press who’ve entered the campus. Nobody doubts him for a second, and they all collectively heave a sigh of relief, either going back to collect their bags or to exit the corridor. Shinsou and Bakugou go back for their stuff, having forgotten it in their haste.

As they’re retrieving their things, Shinsou turns to Katsuki. “Hey, Kat-suck-it? I’ve got an idea.”

“Apparently we’ve gotta allocate some more student roles now. But, before that fun fest, me and Kats have an announcement to make.” are the words that leave Shinsou’s mouth in their afternoon homeroom class.

Bakugou steps forward “Yeah. Me and Hito-shit are resigning, and we’ve already decided who’re gonna be replacing us. Yaoyorozu?” the girl in question lifts up her head, intrigued. “Congrats- you’re our new Vice-Pres.” he finishes, and she smiles a little wider, accepting and going to stand at the podium as Bakugou stalks back to his seat.

Shinsou takes a deep breath “As cool as it is being Class President, I don’t think I’m actually suited for it- not yet, at least. I’m no good with crowds or representing people, but I do know someone here who is. Iida?” the boy’s head snaps up so fast you’d think he’d break his neck. “You’re gonna be the new Prexy. Good luck, man. Me and Kat-suck-it’ll just be the stand-ins or whatever.” Iida rises from his seat and beams, shouting that he’ll do his utmost to ensure that he's the best President he can be, and all that nonsense-talk that made Hitoshi so sure that Glasses was the right choice.

So, yeah, even if first year President and Vice-President at Yuuei isn’t really something they should pass up, they know they’ve made the right call. Bakugou high-fives him underneath the tables and mutters so only he can hear.

“Unless one of them fucks off or something, we won’t have their responsibilities keeping us from working. One might say we’ve got no strings to hold us down.”

And Hitoshi laughs, because he knows Bakugou better than anyone, so he knows that means they’re going to be making a little trip to Hatsume’s lab.

Bring it on.

Chapter Text

“You have just one week to prepare before you go on a field trip that will cover all the different aspects of rescues performed by Pro-Heroes in the case of a natural or man-made disaster.” Aizawa says dully, as if that doesn’t sound really fucking exciting. He goes on to explain that, in light of the day’s events, the school board has deemed it safer to postpone the trip, which would’ve otherwise been today- as well as also using the small amount of extra time to double-check the place they’ll be travelling to as a precaution. And despite both Shinsou and Bakugou being a little disappointed, they at least see the sense to it.

Because the school has nothing else planned for the class, Aizawa begrudgingly allows them to just go home, seeing as he can’t find any extra work to give them. So, everyone gets up out of their seats, grabs their shit, and walks out of the door.

 

When the last of the students leave, Shouta takes a deep breath and rakes a hand through his black, matted hair. The day’s been exhausting on all ends- and that’s not even taking into account the down-right weird confrontation he had with Shinsou. The two of them really know his Pro-Hero identity? Well, Aizawa supposed that made sense- those problem children had a so-called ‘villain’s quirk’ and a distinct lack of a quirk respectively- they were bound to want to find a Pro in a similar situation to their own. And what better choice than Eraserhead: a very little-known Underground Hero with an Erasure quirk (hence the name) that meant he had to fight practically quirkless?

Aizawa didn’t really know what to make of the two teenagers, if he was being perfectly honest. Sure, he’d watched the footage of the entrance exam with the rest of the staff, along with the indoor-battle they’d participated in during their Hero-basics class- but those were both controlled assessments (for the most part). Truth be told, he’d privately been slightly wary about letting them into the Hero-course, worried that they might not be able to keep up with all the training exercises that involved the use of a quirk, despite how hypocritical it made him seem. Shouta had quickly resolved the internal conflict by telling himself that he could literally just expel them if either fell below the mark, and that reassurance eased him enough to agree with Nezu’s decision.

He was certainly surprised when the two came joint-first in the test he set on the first day- an apprehension test constructed purely for the use of quirks. Aizawa resolved himself to just watch how the two handled the different scenarios they would be thrown into from then. Besides, it could have been worse- they could have screamed the first time they saw him and ruined the whole ‘dark and mysterious’ thing he had going on. He could appreciate them for that, at least.

 


 

Bakugou’s the one to initiate a conversation between the two as they walk down the twisting corridors of Yuuei. “Y’know, we should go to your house, since it’s closer to Mei’s- plan what upgrades we’re gonna ask her about, and then walk to hers a couple hours after school’s actually ended. Only if you’re cool with that, though, ‘cause I know you’re tired, what with how long a day it’s been.”

Shinsou shakes his head. “It’s cool- watching you and Mei interact is always fun- besides, I do need to come up with some more useful support items for my costume, anyway. I mean, yeah, I’ll be tired, but we can just have a sleepover at my house, right?”

“Sounds like a plan.” Bakugou agrees with a smirk on his face, and they continue to make their way down to the back exit they were all told to use today instead of the main gate, for the sake of health and safety. It’s not much of a walk, and the passing comments they both make keep the sort-of conversation going, so it’s not too bad. They find the exit eventually , and trudge out, turning in the direction of Shinsou’s house. They pass the main entrance as they walk for good measure- well, they’re both pretty curious- and are surprised to find the gate completely turned to dust.

“The fuck kinda quirk lets someone do that?” Bakugou asks with slightly widened eyes, and Hitoshi shrugs, obviously not knowing. They choose not to dwell on it for now, and carry on the route to Shinsou’s house. The afternoon sun beats down on them relentlessly, and Shinsou- who’s decidedly not taking any of that gassy-fucker’s shit today- whips out an umbrella like one might their dick for Harambe (fuck, he really needs some newer meme-material, because this is getting ridiculous). Bakugou barks out a laugh as he puts it up and uses it to shield himself from the shit-star’s harsh rays, calling him a vampire.

“You know that’s a lie, Kat-suck-it- I’d die without garlic bread.” Shinsou defends, and he isn’t lying- at least, not really.

“Well, if you say so, Edward.” Shinsou groans at the nickname, but doesn’t say anything in retaliation as Katsuki cranes his neck to face the sky and cackles. He’s glad he can make Bakugou laugh.

The silence that follows a little later allows for Bakugou to start up on a different topic, hoping to God that he won’t ruin the mood too much. “Hey, Hito-shit? About the, uh… crowds today…”

Hitoshi sends him a grimace that looks a little like a smile. “Don't worry about it, Kat-suck-it. I mean- I don’t think I’m ever totally getting rid of my fear of big crowds- but that’s what coming to UA was about, right? Learning how to work around shit like that? Besides, you said it yourself: I’ll have you with me.”

A soft, rare smile pulls itself up across Katsuki’s face and spills warmth into his ruby-red eyes. “Yeah, I guess you will.”

They stand there like that for a while, staring at each other and smiling like weirdos. That is, before Shinsou decides to take the initiative and cut the shitty moment they're having short.

“Well then- now that whatever the Hell that was is done- let’s go! We have some havoc to wreak in our near future.” Katsuki laughs again as Hitoshi grabs his hand and drags the other boy forward with him towards his house.

And if neither of them let go as they walk away- well, that’s not really your business, is it?

 

(“No homo.” Shinsou says jokingly at one point, a playful glint in his tired eyes.

“Three things:” Bakugou starts in return, “one- I am bi, thank you very fucking much. Two- we’ve been friends for nine years, Hito-shit, I think we’re allowed to fucking hold hands. Three- remember what that bitch said in Middle School? Can’t be best friends if you’ve not been mistaken for a couple at some point.”

Shinsou smirks. “Guess so.”)

 


 

They open the door to Shinsou’s house more carefully than they would Katsuki’s (the poor thing isn’t used to that kind of abuse), and Shinsou calls out to his parents. “Mom! Dad! I’m home- and I brought the other guy too!”

It’s his mother that replies, emerging from the kitchen with flourish, the smell of something spicy wafting into the room (much to Katsuki’s joy). “Hey there, ‘Toshi! And ‘Tsuki too? That’s great! Haven’t seen you in a while, kid- you stayin’ the night this time or nah?”

Bakugou’s grins- he’s always liked Shinsou’s mother (but not, like, in a weird way, because that’s weird). “I should be, but I forgot to text my mom, so I’ve gotta do that first. Though, I think we’ll be going out again in a bit, is that cool with you?”

She gives them a wide smile that shows off all her teeth, and Bakugou wonders if maybe she’s related to that tape-kid (Fero? Pelo? He’s genuinely shit with names) somehow. “No problem! Great to see ya, kid!” she declares, nearly shouting it as she takes the time to ruffle their hair. It’s nice, familiar; the two of them have always considered the other’s parents to be some kind of second family. They’re all grateful that they’re not awkward and shit around each other anymore.

They find themselves in Hitoshi’s bedroom after bidding his mother goodbye and making the short trek up the stairs. It’s pretty messy, a testament to how little time they’ve had between training and studying for UA. Katsuki- having now notified his mother of their plan- suggests that they use the time they have to brainstorm ideas while cleaning up the ‘shit show’, as he calls it, to which Shinsou agrees- and they get to work immediately. The two start with the most obvious mess, throwing the clothes scattered across the carpet into the laundry basket, and putting any small trinkets they find lying around on the ground back on the shelf. At one point, Shinsou picks up one of those gag-microphones that change your voice, and has an idea.

“Hey, Kats? You know how I’ve got a mouthguard on my costume, right? Do you think Mei’ll be able to convert it into a voice-changer-speaker thing as well? I just think that it’ll be really useful for my quirk if I can replicate someone’s voice and have them answer.”

Bakugou mulls it over for a brief moment. “That’s actually a pretty decent idea, Hito-shit. Mei’ll love trying to figure it out.” he answers, folding up some clothes that he’d deemed acceptable to wear at least once before washing.

Shinsou snorts (drugs- ha, jk). “We’ve only known her for around two days- how do you know she’ll ‘love it’?” he asks as he moves around some boxes to reach the clutter behind them.

“Hito-shit, I’m ninety-nine percent sure that anyone could find that out about her within a good two seconds of knowing her, let alone two days.

Hitoshi can’t really argue with that, so he shrugs in agreement and they move on, shuffling about the room to get the dust out of all the ‘nooks and crannies’, as one might call them (it’s literally just the fancy word for corners- why can’t they just use the word corners?). Shinsou’s glad he found himself a friend who helps him with chores willingly all those years ago- they make a pretty good team in all areas of life, he thinks.

Once they’re completely finished, they stand back and admire the result of their combined efforts. It’s as spotless as an all-over-the-place teenage boy’s room can be, so they’re certifiably pleased with themselves. The two spend the rest of the time they have left reclining on the chairs near the desk-for-two, spinning around on them every now and again in a feeble attempt to stave of boredom. It doesn’t do much, and they spend the remainder of that time complaining about how bored they are instead of actually doing anything about it. At some time during this point, Bakugou looks down at his watch, and his eyes light up with a spark that can only mean good things for them, and potentially terrible things for everyone else.

“It’s time.” Katsuki announces, as if they're about to go and pull off a bank heist or something equally as devious. They’ve always been ones to sound vaguely ominous for no particular reason other than to fuck with people. They get their stuff and exit the room, walking down the stairs and calling out a farewell to Shinsou’s mother. She tells them to ‘have fun with whatever the Hell you’re doing!’ and they leave the house behind in favour of walking leisurely to Hatsume’s. As they amble forward, Katsuki shoots off a quick text to the girl in question that simply reads: ‘We’re coming for you.’. Shinsou looks over the other boy’s shoulder to get a look at what he sent, and they both have a good laugh over the vaguely sinister implications of it.

 

“Hey, do you know what we can do?” Shinsou asks slyly in amidst a weird dip in the conversation. Bakugou shrugs noncommittally in lieu of an answer. “Eye Spy.” Katsuki snorts in amusement but agrees nonetheless, so Hitoshi starts. “I spy with my little eye… something beginning with L.”

Bakugou rolls his eyes, putting a hand to his chin in mock contemplation. “I don’t know… lunatic?”

“Close! It’s actually two words- the second word begins with an S.”

Katsuki snaps his fingers when the answer comes to mind. “Oh, I got it! Is it… Little Shit?”

Shinsou smirks and raises Bakugou’s hand in the air like the boy just won a high-stakes wrestling match. “Ding ding ding! We have a winner!”

“Oh, cool.” said winner remarks, “What do I get?”

Hitoshi rubs his chin with his free hand, feigning deep thought just as Bakugou had done literally ten seconds ago. “Hmm, you win… an all-inclusive, fully-paid trip to the house of Hatsume Mei.”

“Ha, nice.” Bakugou replies, only then looking up a moment later to take in their surroundings (why the Hell hadn’t they been paying attention?). “Wow- seems like the reward collection was pretty fucking quick, huh.”

So Shinsou looks up too and, yeah, he guesses it must be, because they look to already be at the place Hatsume described to them as her neighbourhood. Go figure (still, it’s really lucky that they didn’t just walk right passed it end up horribly lost).

They walk over to the front of the house that best matches the description that she gave them of hers, and rap smartly on the door. It’s opened by a harried-looking man whose eyes speak of long-suffered pain, which is accentuated only by the deep purple bags beneath them. Shinsou thinks that maybe they’re distantly related. The two boys are greeted with a polite smile, obviously pulled up with the strain of exhaustion- they honestly can’t blame him-  it looks like he hasn’t slept well at all in the last decade or so.

“Hello, how can I help you?” is the first thing the man says to them.

“Hi- I'm Shinsou Hitoshi, and this is Kat-su- I mean, Bakugou Katsuki. We’re- uh- we’re here to see Mei, please. Is she here at the moment?” Shinsou asks in response, because it’s usually better that he do the talking in the beginning, lest Bakugou intimidate him with his brusque way of speaking and gruff tone.

“You’re here about Mei?” a nod. “Ah, I see. Does this have anything to do with a threat of legal action? Because, if so, I can assure  you that there is a much better way to go about this.”

Bakugou sends the man a puzzled look. “The fuck? No, she’s a support student, isn’t she? We’re the Hero course students she’s helping out. Why the fuck would we wanna take legal action?

The man appears shocked before he sighs a breath of relief and opens the door a little wider, waving them both inside. “You’d be surprised. In any case, you’re our guests, so don’t hesitate to ask if you need anything. Mei is in the garage- the door there is just to the left of you, and the bathroom is through the door opposite.”

They both eye each other warily before they enter, thanking the man as he disappears into what must be a living room, leaving them alone. Katsuki looks at Shinsou with a smirk, opening the door and gesturing for him to enter first.

“Such a gentleman.” Hitoshi remarks, feeling the implication that Kat-suck-it considers him a human shield is better left unsaid.

They're welcomed into Hatsume’s realm of mechanics with the deafening sound of something big and heavy crashing to the ground, followed by the startled cry of “Fuck! I thought for sure that would work!”

The two spare each other a passing glance, and Shinsou tries in vain to convey to Katsuki that they might be in over their heads. It’s too late to go back now, however, because a short gasp reaches their ears, and their eyes snap back to find Mei staring right at them, a broad smile slowly overtaking her face like an infection. And, God, it really must be an infection, because he can see the gleam of mania beginning to shine in Bakugou’s eyes from the corner of his own. He can feel the hint of a smirk pulling at his own lips, too.

Hatsume stomps over to the two of them, tossing whatever slightly menacing-looking tool she’d been working with onto the nearby workbench and grabbing both of them by the shoulders.

“I got your text- I knew you’d wanna come see the magic for yourselves eventually! Do you need something from me, boys? Or did you just come to see my babies in the making?”

Shinsou cringes internally at her… interesting nickname for her inventions (yeah, cringe culture's dead- does he care? No), but restrains himself from outwardly reacting, for fear that she might sniff out his apprehension like a bloodhound or something. Instead, he gives her a smile that may look a little weird, but at least he’s trying his best.

“Hey, Mei. We were hoping we could bounce some ideas off you, maybe? Just to see if you could improve on them or something.” Bakugou nods in confirmation of what Shinsou’s saying, and Mei agrees eagerly, undeterred by his slight hesitance. If anything, she’s seems even more invigorated by it-  maybe she just feeds off of human fear. That would explain a lot, but it’d also beg the question as to how she developed two completely unrelated quirks. Shinsou wisely decides that it isn’t worth losing brain cells over (he still desperately needs the five he has left, after all).

Just as Hitoshi shakes himself out of his stupor, Hatsume begins to lead them over to one of the few workbenches dotted across the room (how big is this garage?)- the one they arrived at had seemingly hand-drawn blueprints on it gathered into a messy pile, and he can’t say he isn’t impressed by the level of detail displayed on them.

Mei hoists herself up to half-sit on the workbench, and waves her hand at them wildly. “Go on: tell me what you’ve got! I’m all ears!”

Bakugou nudges at him to go first, so he clears his throat. “Well, you know my quirk, right?”

“Yep!” she says, almost shouting, “Brainwashing! Super handy if wanna get villains to turn themselves in!”

Shinsou’s pretty sure he smiles a little at the praise, even though it goes unnoticed- he’s still pretty unused to people other than Katsuki complimenting him and/or his quirk. Either way, he carries on. “Yeah. I was thinking about it earlier, ‘cause my quirk needs a verbal response to work. I thought that maybe if you could implant some kind of voice-altering speaker in my mouthguard, I’d be able to imitate different people’s voices so I could get them to answer more easily. Is that, y’know, doable?”

She laughs at that, rolling her eyes with a prideful smirk adorning her face. “Do you even need to ask? Of course it’s doable! I can just go into school tomorrow and start working on sprucing your mouthguard up a bit! Now, anything else?” she asks, rubbing her hands together in anticipation. Even if he's only known her for a couple of days, Shinsou can’t help but admire Hatsume’s drive. She’s so energetic, especially when it comes to her support items. He’s happy that it was her who made their Hero costumes.

Bakugou’s voice breaks him out of his train of thought rather abruptly. “Could you help me think up some way of making my fireworks less-likely to up and kill a bitch? I’ve only actually used them against a massive robot so far, and I’m pretty sure that there's a lot of people out there- namely villains and Yuuei students- that are a little less durable than a massive hunk of metal. I’d like to not be arrested for manslaughter or just plain old murder before I even graduate- and I’d prefer to avoid it after then too, if I can.”

Hatsume sends him a smug look. “Way ahead of you, Bomb-Boy. I took the liberty of purchasing a few of the fireworks you asked for with your costume for myself, and I did find that they could probably almost definitely kill someone if fired wrong. I’ve been trying to think up a way to modify them so they’re a little more on the non-lethal side. You’re welcome.” she finishes, flashing them both a wink and a smile that screams out how pleased she is with herself. It seems that Bakugou’s fairly impressed with her as well.

And that’s how the rest of their time there is spent- with Hatsume showing them the prototypes of the flashbangs that Katsuki had already asked for, throwing in some additional plans for a few stun grenades that the both of them can use as a Plan B. She ropes them into assisting her with some of her pet-projects too- sending them over to different corners of the garage to get funny-looking tools from where they’re hung up on the walls. Mei explains that she’s working on a pair of ‘rocket boots’, to put it in simple terms, because she’s planning to advertise them along with more of her ‘babies’ during the Sports Festival.

If they’re both being honest, in amidst the chaos of trying to get into UA, followed by the chaos of actually being in UA, they kind of forgot that the Sports Festival was a thing that they’d be participating in at some point. They could probably just watch some of the clips from previous years together and come up with some half-strategies to counter the quirks of their classmates (yeah, they’d be competing against each other too, but still).

At one point, Hatsume has the bright idea to try out her semi-finished support item, and straps on the boots despite Hitoshi saying something along the lines of ‘You might die’ (Katsuki’s being absolutely no help- he’s actively enabling her, the bastard). She presses the activation button down and, for a brief, blessed moment, the three of them think it might actually be functioning properly as the thrusters boost her just slightly off the ground. The moment of success doesn’t last, however, and only seconds later the boots are propelling her right through the fucking ceiling and out into the late-afternoon- thank God she's wearing a helmet. She falls down gracelessly through the hole she created and onto the crash-mat they set down for the test, smiling even though she literally could have died. They hear the exasperated cry of what must be the man from earlier saying something about how expensive roof repair is, and the situation is ridiculous enough that they find it in them to laugh.

A good few hours after their arrival (and roughly fifteen minutes after they’ve finished cleaning up the debris from the ceiling), Mei’s looking down at her watch and declaring that they should leave now if they want to get back home before dark. For all of their sort-of hesitance (mostly Shinsou’s) before, they're reluctant to depart. But, they say their farewells and exit Mei’s garage nevertheless. They thank the man from before as they pass, Hitoshi apologising about the hole in the garage roof, and he gives them a tired smile in return. They’re not too sure as to how he’s related to Mei, because neither of them thought to ask, but it’s good that she has at least some adult supervision, they suppose.

In any case, they leave the house, and head in the direction of Shinsou’s once again, weighed down only slightly by the tired in their bones, but content with the progress they’ve made so far. The walk home is peaceful for the most part, bar the occasional bout of laughter one of them draws out from the other with whatever stray joke or witty comment pops into their head. The scenery shifts and changes as they walk- the soft pastel colours of the outskirt streets turn to the dull grey of the inner city. They walk through it all until it turns slowly to the bright colours of Shinsou’s neighbourhood, speckled with splashes of surrounding greenery. Finally, they arrive in front of Shinsou’s house, and he fumbles around for his key in front of the entrance. It takes him a couple of seconds to search through his pockets before he inevitably finds it tucked away in his wallet, and smacks himself in the forehead upon realising that he always had it in there. Bakugou, being the good friend that he is, laughs at his expense as he turns the knob and the door swings open.

They’re greeted by the sound of a commotion coming from the kitchen, so they quickly push off their shoes and trudge over to see what it’s about. When they get close enough to hear what’s being discussed, they share a look of fond exasperation for Shinsou’s parents.

“Pluto is a planet!” Hitoshi’s father declares angrily.

“Honey, I'm not saying he shouldn’t be a planet- I’m just saying that a couple centuries ago some people decided that he isn’t.” His mother replies with the defeat heavy in her voice- they’re no strangers to this age-old argument by now.

“But I don’t care what some lousy scientists think about him! Who are they to decide what is and isn’t a planet? It’s discrimination! They’re body-shaming him!”

She sighs. “I mean- yeah, they kinda were. You know, he’s actually kind of smaller than Russia, I think, so they thought he was too small to be an actual planet.”

“But size doesn’t matter! Were these people taught nothing about manners as children?”

Shinsou’s mother scoffs. “Well, I think they might’ve been busy doing science. And besides, what are you even gonna do about it?”

“That’s no excuse- it’s an outrage! And I’ll stage a riot is what I’ll do! Viva la Pluto!

The two teenagers share a look, and decide to step in before the man actually decides to consider it seriously (they’d caught him making posters for a meet-up once upon a time, and it’d taken a while to convince him to not legitimately start a riot about something that happened over two centuries ago. He was really passionate about Pluto). They call out a greeting as they enter the kitchen, and the man’s mood does a complete one-eighty, snapping his head around to offer them a cheery hello before asking what they want to eat tonight. He’s completely unfazed by the extra person in their household, since he’s gotten far too used to Bakugou’s presence by now.

They decide on udon, and Shinsou’s father agrees, turning to start preparing it, seeing as it’s his turn to cook tonight. As he goes about making it, Shinsou and Bakugou go about setting the table for four, not even needing to pull up another chair fro the extra person because they’re so accustomed to having Katsuki over that there’s already one set out for him (his parents once teased that it seemed like whenever he wasn’t sleeping over at Bakugou’s, Bakugou was sleeping over at theirs. His mother had said they must be ‘bound by bond’, whatever that means).

In time, everything is ready, and soon after they’re all sitting down, hurriedly saying their thanks before digging in to the food placed before them. It’s not on the same level as Masaru’s cooking by a long shot, but it’s still infinitely better than any food Mitsuki’s ever been allowed within a five feet radius of, so he definitely isn’t complaining.

Shinsou’s mother compliments her husband’s cooking, and then proceeds to ruin any semblance of flattery by adding: ‘And hey, at least you didn’t burn the house down, right?’.

Shinsou’s father groans with all the bitter resentment of an old man who went through Hell to continue his family’s glorious legacy, only to find out his grandchildren spent their lives making ‘ironic’ Fortnite TikToks. “Oh, come on- it was just the kitchen! And that was one time!

“And that’s one time too many, Derek.” she retaliated, eyeballing him in that way that only a mother could truly do properly.

“That’s not even my name!

The same line of playful bickering continues all throughout the meal, bringing a light into the room which couldn’t otherwise be filled by the electric ones on the ceiling. Shinsou and Bakugou glance at each other, muffling snickers despite themselves. It’s nice.

 

After dinner ends, Shinsou and Bakugou thank Shinsou’s father once again, heading up the stairs to Hitoshi’s bedroom. And when Bakugou asks what the sleeping-arrangement is going to be tonight, it really doesn’t take much time to decide.

“Bed.” Hitoshi says finally, accompanied by a firm nod of the head. Bakugou agrees without hesitance, and so the two begin to run the course of their nightly routine. They forego the onesies this time around, because it’s too warm to wear them, and instead change into regular pyjamas before brushing their teeth and all (their t-shirts do match though. Shinsou’s says ‘WE WILL- WE WILL-‘, and Bakugou’s says ‘ROCK YOU’- with explosions in the background, obviously).

They come back from the bathroom and sort out the sheets, so they won’t be too tangly during the night, and the two slip easily into place next to each other on Hitoshi’s bed. They slide in close(ish) to the other for comfort’s sake (it's not that big of a bed), since they’ve both had a damn long day, but they don’t cuddle or anything. The general consensus for that sort of thing is that you have to be interested in the other romantically, and they aren’t, clearly.

 

However, if during the night, one of them begins to shudder with the beginnings of either a nightmare or the cold, and the other draws them into their chest subconsciously- well, you can fuck off, can’t you? It’s none of your business, after all.

 

Chapter Text

Exactly one week later, the blissful morning of the field trip brings them out of their respective slumbers as subtly as a nuclear bomb to the dick.

Bakugou wakes up with a frightening start, sending himself toppling out of Hitoshi’s bed with the accompanying exclamation of “What the fuck was that?!”. He collides with the floor with an ungraceful crash, simultaneously feeling like he’d chugged both a pint of chloroform and approximately twenty-six cans of Red Bull. Adrenaline was pumping itself through his veins at a maddening rate (or, at least, a madder rate than the usual), but everything else was moving at a much different, far more sluggish pace. It seemed like his brain was trying to hurry on to the next sequence of movements before he’d even finished the first, so Katsuki ends up just flailing around in what must be the blanket equivalent of a human-sized Chinese finger-trap.

This, of course, all works to awaken Shinsou also, who, upon assessing the situation as aptly as his sleep-addled mind can manage, asks rather politely what the Hell Kat-suck-it thinks he's doing. The boy in question elects not to answer, which brings about a few slow moments of silence before he reluctantly asks for help removing himself from the quilt-cage he’d caught himself in. Obviously, after processing the request, Shinsou agrees, giving the sheets Bakugou’s trapped in a firm yank, which sends Katsuki rolling out across the bedroom floor, hitting the dresser with an unceremonious thump. At least the floor’s made out of carpet and not wood, otherwise it’d have been even more uncomfortable.

“Why are you on the floor?” is the first thing Hitoshi asks after Bakugou is somehow miraculously able to hoist himself up off of the floor and dust himself off. It’s a reasonable question, at least.

“I had a weird fucking dream.” is the vague response Bakugou gives. It’s cryptic enough to intrigue Shinsou (like, I don’t know, Mothman or something), even if it is stupid o’clock in the morning (though, to be fair, any time in the morning is stupid. Mornings are stupid on principle). He raises an eyebrow that Katsuki can barely see in the dim light seeping through the cracks in the curtains, but he’s aware of its presence on a spiritual level.

“Well, come on then, Mothman- what was the dream? Wait- it wasn't one of those nightmares or anything, right?” Hitoshi asks, turning to concern at the last moment, but when Bakugou sends him a quizzical look, he realises that Katsuki clearly hasn’t made the made the same mental connection to cryptids that he had just now. Shinsou shrugs instead of explaining himself- Bakugou doesn’t need to know everything that goes on in his brain, after all.

Bakugou shakes his head both in resignation and in response to the second query, but he does answer the first question too. “I was riding in one of those shitty car-things that you find on a construction site, and then I just veered off the side of the rode and down this huge fucking slope that was covered in trees. Then everything cut out and I was in this weird dock-looking place at the bottom of the slope, and I apparently decided to steal some traffic cones on my way back up before getting back into the thing I was driving. Then I ended up in some kind of wormhole, and I woke up when this weird walking-jellyfish thing with a mouth made of literally just teeth came barrelling towards me from the other end of the wormhole.”

Shinsou casts him a strange, judgemental look (though not judgmentally judgemental) but ultimately, he isn’t all that surprised. Bakugou rarely ever has dreams, but when he does, they really are fucking weird (or just plain awful, but that's not the case right now). Hitoshi doesn’t say this, however- instead deciding to share with Katsuki his own, slightly less peculiar but still pretty odd dream.

“I mean, if it’s any consolation, I had a kinda weird dream too. I was feeding some ducks bread, and then this massive goose- probably around fifteen feet tall- just rises out of the water. It looked at me, took all of the bread in my hands, and said ‘Tremble in the face of that which you can never understand’- and now I can’t stop thinking about ‘Mincing Mockingbird’s Guide to Troubled Birds’. I feel like it’s a sign that shit’s about to hit the fan.”

(Shinsou’s right, of course- but neither of them know it yet, so shut up.)

Bakugou scoffs, but doesn’t disagree, opting instead to check that he’s got all of the clothes and shit that he’ll need to bring back to his house when he goes home after school (he might bring Hito-shit round for a sleepover or something, even though they do it practically everyday now and it may be slightly concerning). It’s all there, of course, because he packed the night before in the hopes of procrastinating going to sleep. Usually, Bakugou would be opposed to that sort of behaviour- he has a very strict sleep schedule, after all- but he had found himself stuck with a faint prickle in the back of his neck that warned of the mildly disturbing (but otherwise harmless) dream that awaited him. Turns out that he’d had good reason to be suspicious, but he supposes that it’s too late to take it back now, and at least he’s well-rested. Or, well, as well-rested as he’s going to get after dreaming of some weird anthropomorphic jellyfish-thing.

Finding themselves pretty much ready in all other aspects, they decide to get dressed into their uniforms and then have breakfast. They rush through their daily routine, shoving on their blazers and shirts, and stomping downstairs to grab some breakfast. Shinsou snatches up some ground coffee beans and gets to work, leaving Bakugou to fix up some toast for the both of them. The pair both plonk down onto the dining chairs, stuffing toast in their faces, and Shinsou downs his coffee in one gulp after he deems it cool enough to drink (Bakugou doesn’t drink coffee- they’re both a little afraid of what he’d become if they combined caffeine with his naturally high amounts of energy).

“Your parents are at work, right?” Bakugou asks over a mouthful of toast.

“Yep.” Shinsou replies after twisting his head and eyeing a note on the fridge that was definitely stuck there by his parents this morning. His parents both have jobs which demand that they leave early in the morning, if only because they might not get there on time otherwise. Bakugou nods in understanding, and so they continue the rest of their toasty meal in relative silence, save for the crunching noises. They finish up quickly enough, then proceeding to grab the bags they’d tossed at the bottom of the staircase for the sake of convenience, and unlock the door before departing from Shinsou’s house.

They forego the train today, seeing as Shinsou’s house is closer to Yuuei than Katsuki’s, and a walk is always a good way to get in some exercise before school. The journey is expected to last long enough that doing it in silence is absolutely not going to happen. And so, in typical Shinsou-family fashion, Hitoshi decides to break the ice the best- and only- way he knows how.

“Y’know, Kats, I really think it’d take a lot to drag me away from you.”

Bakugou seems momentarily taken aback by the sudden declaration, but immediately senses that something is amiss and narrows his eyes in suspicion.

“Oh, really now?” Bakugou asks sceptically, almost dreading the response, for whatever reason. This reason is discovered the moment Hitoshi smirks and opens his mouth to answer.

“Well, yeah. I’m pretty sure there's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.” Shinsou replies, and Katsuki suddenly has the overwhelming desire to throw himself into an active volcano.

“Oh my God, Hito-shit.”

“And I’ll bless the rains down in Africa, so we can take the time to do the things we never have.” Shinsou recites smugly, a shit-eating grin on his face.

“Hito-shit, I will literally rip out your tendons and feast on your bone marrow.”

“Nah, you wouldn’t, ‘cause that’s cannibalism- and I’m sure you don’t want to tarnish your squeaky-clean record, Mr. Perfect.” Hitoshi fires back, and Katsuki sighs in irritation, but doesn’t disagree- he’s not one for lying, after all. Shinsou allows his grin to stretch further across his face, knowing he’s won.

 

 

And won he has, because it’s been ten minutes now and Katsuki still can’t get the damn song out of his head. He’d complain to Shinsou about it, but he absolutely refuses to give that little shit the satisfaction. And so, he’s left to suffer in silence as some guy blesses the rains down in Africa ceaselessly inside his head. In an effort to keep his mind off of the song stuck on loop in his brain (courtesy of Hito-shit), he begins to walk a little faster. He wants to be on time, after all- who knows what’ll happen to him in the hours coming?

‘Hurry boy, it’s waiting there for you’ Bakugou thinks dryly, and then immediately wants to yeet himself into the nearest body of water and float away, never to be seen again. Unfortunately, that’s not an option at the moment, seeing as he’d never be able to become a Pro-Hero if he just up and drowned himself before he’d even received his license. It’d be counterproductive.

Resigned to his cruel fate, he carries onwards, knowing that he must do what’s right- as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.

…Goddamn it. He could already tell this was going to be a long day.

(Well, he wasn’t wrong, was he?)

 


 

They arrive at school with time to spare, beaten to the classroom only by Glasses, whom(st) of which is sitting in his seat and seemingly having a staring contest with some textbook or another, perhaps willing himself to understand its contents. It doesn’t look like he’s winning- it’s actually kind of sad, to be honest.

They toss their bags over the backs of their chairs and opt to follow in Iida’s footsteps- though instead of partaking in a staring contest with a book, they have one with each other. Bakugou keeps on losing and it’s annoying as fuck, but he’s never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when someone has the audacity to consider themselves superior to him in any way, shape or form. Needless to say, spite and sheer willpower don’t do much for trying not to blink, so for all of his determination, no success comes from it. Again, it’s kind of sad, but Hitoshi has far too much pride to just let Bakugou win. Besides, the other boy would definitely realise that Shinsou’s going easy on him and would probably start a riot.

They’re on around about their tenth match when other students start to file into the room. Some greet the pair (and Iida) cheerfully, while others simply spare them a nod of acknowledgement or don’t acknowledge their presence at all. They silently agree to postpone their competition to a later date, because Bakugou Katsuki is many things, but he is not a quitter, and Shinsou knows that his friend will probably actually practice or some dumb shit. The boy is physically incapable of half-assing anything- which apparently also includes staring contests. Weird.

Aizawa appears not long after the last of their classmates have filtered into the room. Eraserhead takes one look at the class, announces that they’re all present, and tells them to go get changed into their Hero costumes just as the compartments in the wall open up to reveal them. Bakugou and Shinsou spare each other an excited grin, because they’re going to have even more new equipment to test out. They trust Mei enough that they’re at least ninety-five percent sure that none of the stuff will blow up in their faces (although, if some of it doesn’t blow up at all, it’d kinda defeat the purpose). They grab their respective outfits out of their designated compartments and rush to the changing room with matching gleams in their eyes.

When they open the cases containing their costumes, they put on them on hurriedly before checking out all the good shit that comes with them. Bakugou looks absolutely thrilled as he pulls out a plethora of flash-bangs, stun-grenades, and even some smaller, less lethal versions of his signature fireworks- which are pretty much just colourful grenades. Katsuki’s eyeing them with an eagerly impatient look about him, as if tempted to fling one at a wall just to see them in action.

Shinsou’s also received a couple of flash-bangs and some stun-grenades, though he had decided to decline the offer of fireworks, as they were more Katsuki’s thing. His trademark, if you will. What he was excited about, however, was the voice changer he’d asked to have implemented into the mouth guard. He takes the mouthpiece out of the case and fixes it around his neck before pulling it up to actually cover his mouth. There’s a thing on the side next to his ear that had looked to be an on button, so he presses it, and listens intently as the speaker crackles to life. He skims through the instructions Mei had shoved into the case along with his costume, and turns to Bakugou to help him test out the voice changer.

“Kats, say something so I can see if it copies your voice.” Shinsou calls out to turn said teenager’s attention away from his own support items.

“Like what?”

“That’ll do.” Shinsou replies, before muttering almost silently “Label previous speaker as 'Kat-suck-it', and replicate voice.” He coughs once to clear his throat, and begins to speak to test it out.

“I'd sell you to Satan for corn chip." Hitoshi declares in a perfect replication of Bakugou’s voice. Katsuki’s a little offended, but his eyes light up with recognition a second later.

“Isn’t… isn’t that from that ‘Guide to Troubled Birds’ thing?” Katsuki asks incredulously. Hitoshi shrugs nonchalantly.

“Well, I did say earlier that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But, I think the more important thing here is that the voice-changer works. We’re gonna have to give Mei a thank-you gift or something.” Bakugou hums noncommittally in response, so Shinsou assumes they’ll end up asking her what she’d like in return later.

For now, they make towards the exit of the changing rooms and to where they’ve been told to wait for the bus. Similar to when they first came to school today, they arrive at the meeting-point with time to spare. Again, they’re not the first ones here- Glasses and that Frog-Girl are there too, as well as Ponytail and Discount Pikachu. The pair are greeted with passing glances and small smiles, but they all remain silent- opting to wait in the quiet for the rest of their class. Until, of course, Pikachu decides to ruin it by humming out the beginning of a song that Bakugou's become all too familiar with.

“I hear the drums echoing tonight…” is all that the electric blond (pun absolutely intended) manages to get out before Bakugou is right next to him, pointing at him so that his index finger is hovering menacingly in front of the boy’s nose. Kaminari crosses his eyes to stare at it warily.

“No.” is all Katsuki says, though his glare reveals the true extent of his unspoken fury and deep-seated hatred. Kaminari appears to be thoroughly frightened, and backs off almost immediately. Shinsou, who was watching the exchange with great amusement, swaggers up to Katsuki and slings an arm casually around his shoulder.

“Don’t be so hard on him Kat-suck-it. It kinda reminds me of the way the wild dogs cry out in the night, as they long for some solitary company. Y’know what I mean?” Hitoshi says jovially, a wayward smirk on his face that he knows will piss the boy off. He’s right, obviously, because Bakugou is now giving him the exact same death-glare he gave Kaminari roughly five seconds ago.

“Okay- first things first, that doesn’t even make sense. Second thing, you are the bane of my existence, Hito-shit.” Bakugou says, looking the other boy dead in the eyes, a scowl etched into his features.

“Nah,” Hitoshi counters, “I know you’re actually madly in love me.”

“Oh, obviously. How could I live without my knight in shining tinfoil?

“Exactly.”

This line of back-and-forth carries on while the rest of the students arrive in their costumes. Most of them end up simply observing the two boys as they continue with their witty banter- and those who don’t talk quietly amongst themselves while sparing the two an occasional glance. It all ceases when Aizawa appears seemingly from nowhere and tells them that they can start boarding the bus now. Iida takes this opportunity to flex his new status as Class President by attempting to get them to board in an orderly fashion (where the fuck did he get the whistle from?). He tries to tell them to go in pairs and take the closest seats. However, it’s all for naught when it’s discovered that it’s a different seating-arrangement to what Glasses had been expecting. The guy looks kind of put-out as he sits down, but Round Face seems to be attempting to cheer him up with some success.

Bakugou and Shinsou sit next to each other, with Kirishima on Bakugou’s right (this elicits a playful nudge form Hitoshi, which earns the boy a subtle kick to the shin), and Tsu sitting on Shinsou’s left. The frog-like girl beside him regards Hitoshi with her abnormally large eyes, which take up a good portion of her face. She brings  a finger to her chin, and contemplates something for a moment before saying it out loud.

“Shinsou, I generally say what’s on my mind.” Tsu says, and Shinsou raises an eyebrow in intrigue, gesturing for her to continue. “A lot of people must think you have a villain’s quirk, yes?”

The whole bus falls into silence, and there has been many a moment in his early youth in which he’d wished for the floor to open up and swallow him, but none so much as now. At least in the schools prior to this his classmates had been obvious about how they disliked it- Tsu had said it almost conversationally. He wondered absently if he was supposed to be just laughing it off or something. What if it simply hadn’t occurred to his peers that Shinsou’s quirk was ‘villainous’, and now that they’d had this epiphany they’d become just like every other student in every other school he’d attended?

Hitoshi’s eyes wander over to his right- where Bakugou's sat- and even from the corner of his vision he can tell that the boy is furious. Katsuki opens his mouth, most likely to unleash Hell upon the poor girl, but Kirishima interjects before he can.

“Nah, Shinsou’s quirk is manly as Hell! He could end a villain fight before they even have a chance to hurt anyone! It’ll be super useful for Hero-work!” The redhead beams at him, and very suddenly Shinsou can see exactly why Bakugou likes the boy despite only having known him for a few days. He’s just so… nice. Kirishima’s smile turns sheepish, and he twists his arm to rub the back of his neck- a nervous tick, no doubt. “Your quirk’s super cool, man. Mine only makes my skin hard- it can’t really do anything else.”

Bakugou, who always has something to say, scoffs and chips into the conversation. “It means you can take more than one hit, right? So you can shield civilians from blasts or some shit? Sounds pretty fucking useful to me. ‘Sides, it’s better than no quirk at all.”

Kirishima goes slightly pink, and Shinsou nods in agreement with Katsuki. “Yeah, dude. You’ve got the perfect personality for Hero-work too, as far as I can tell.” The boy laughs a little, and Tsu nods her head thoughtfully.

“Personality is very important for Hero-work, ribbit. Someone who acts like Bakugou does during a fight would have a hard time becoming popular.”

Bakugou rockets up from his seat. “What’s that supposed to mean?!” he shouts- despite knowing exactly what it means- to the laughter of the majority of the class.

“She’s got a point, man,” Kaminari pipes up with a grin on his face, “you were terrifying during that indoor battle.”

Bakugou goes back-and-forth with the class for the rest of the trip, Hitoshi watching in amusement as his best friend tries to defend himself from their brutal roasts. Eventually though, it’s time to get off the bus, and Aizawa ushers them out in a single-file line. They exit, and the first thing they see when they’re all off is an absolutely huge dome-shaped building. They’re not given much time to admire it, because soon enough they're being brought into the thing.

When inside, they’re greeted with a metric shit-ton of different environments all shoved into one massive building. There’s a landslide zone, a shipwreck zone, a couple of mini domes that appear to be squall/wildfire zones, and a lot of others that Shinsou can’t really be bothered to identify.

The Pro-Hero Thirteen appears at the top of the steps in all of their splendour, and Hitoshi can see Uraraka fangirling in the corner of his eye, and he suppresses the urge to laugh. It’d probably make him a hypocrite- seeing as he was pretty much the same way about Eraserhead.

Putting that aside, the Rescue-Hero goes on to talk about the nature of quirks, and how a good few of the people in class posses ones that could just as easily be used to kill. Shinsou’s already aware of the threat his quirk could pose as- has been told over and over by his old classmates about how scary it is that he could tell someone to jump off a building and they’d listen. It’s why he learned how to be very, very specific about what he asked of people he’d brainwashed, lest they take it differently and be harmed in the process. Katsuki, however, looks mostly amused by the speech, and when they catch each other’s eyes, Hitoshi knows exactly what the other boy is thinking.

‘Who says you need a quirk to be powerful?’

Shinsou rolls his eyes, but he can’t help the fond smirk that spreads across his face- he hadn’t expected anything less from his best friend.

The speech draws to a close, and everyone applauds- Uraraka doing so with more fervour than what’s probably necessary and/or socially acceptable, but no one really minds. Thirteen appears sheepish, and Aizawa chooses then to pipe up, seemingly about to explain what they’ll be doing for the day. And he would have, had shit not hit the fan.

The lights crackle ominously with electricity, darkening the room, and a swirling vortex of dark matter appears right in the centre of the Unseen Simulation Joint. People of all kinds emerge from within it, and the class collectively wonders if the exercise has already started (but they’re supposed to be doing rescue training, not battle simulations. Suspicious). Some begin to step forward, Bakugou and Shinsou among them, but Aizawa wards them away.

“Stand back,” Eraserhead commands, adjusting his goggles to cover his face, “those are villains.

…Fuck. That’s not good at all. (No shit, Sherlock.)

Aizawa, with all the grace of someone who’s been doing this for years, springs forward to meet the hoard of criminals head-on, telling Thirteen to take the students back to the bus. The Pro complies, desperately attempting to usher them away from where Aizawa is fighting the villains, manoeuvring himself around with his scarf. It’s incredible to watch, and Hitoshi almost doesn’t want to look away (he’d never had the opportunity to see Eraserhead fight up-close). But then Bakugou grabs his wrist, pulling him away from the scene harshly, and Shinsou remembers that, oh yeah, they're being attacked.

The Space Hero leads them away from the steps, but they don’t actually get very far because quite suddenly there’s a villain in front of them made up from the very same dark matter as the portal that brought all the villains there in the first place. They don’t have normal eyes (it’d probably look kind of disturbing if they did, to be honest), there’s simply glowing yellow slits trailing off into nothingness in their stead. Their body seems to be comprised entirely of that purple mist, but, if he squints- Bakugou swears he can see-

“Pardon the intrusion,” the mist man begins, interrupting Bakugou’s train of thought, “but there appears to have been a mistake. According to our source, All Might was supposed to be here also. I am Kurogiri, and I am here as a member of the League of Villains to have the Symbol of Peace take his last breath.”

The mist man might have monologued some more, had Bakugou not thought ‘Fuck it’ and thrown one of his grenades at the trick-ass bitch. Kirishima apparently takes that as his cue to jump in as well, hardening his arms and pouncing at the villain, grinning as if personally challenging the man to a duel (well, he kind of was, really). That same grin doesn’t waver even when the man dodges the hit effortlessly and Kirishima lands right back where he had stood before (somewhere in the back of his mind, Katsuki files away the relieved sigh of ‘That was close’ that the guy mutters underneath his breath, because that might be important).

“Well, no matter what you’re here for, you’re gonna have to get through us first!” the redhead declares valiantly as he pumps his hardened fists together, flanked by a staff-wielding Bakugou(huh, Shinsou had almost forgotten they had those. He hadn’t lost his either, thank God).

Kurogiri’s eyes narrow slightly, though Bakugou has the distinct impression that the man’s laughing at them- the cocky bastard. “Be that as it may, my job here is to scatter you all, and have you tortured to death!” the villain declares, sounding like some kind of melodramatic shit-head, which he is (Bakugou feels like there should have been some maniacal laughter in there somewhere)- and that might be the whole point but Katsuki supposes that he’ll probably never know. It’s not really important either way, and that fact is proven almost immediately when the villain suddenly sends his mist (appendages? Is he just shooting his limbs at them?) flying over them in what seems to be some kind of dome.

The only people close to him are Kirishima and Hitoshi, who had edged closer when the villain began to talk, so he makes to grab for their wrists and hold tight, so they don’t get separated. However, Shinsou’s just that tiny bit too far out of reach, and so his best friend is pulled away into another portal before Katsuki can even shout for him. He wants to scream his frustration, but he barely has the time to draw in another breath before he and Kirishima are also very suddenly being dragged into a separate portal.

He can only hope that Hito-shit ends up okay.

 


 

Shinsou has around five seconds after he’s been dumped out of the portal to think ‘oh shit’ and take a deep breath before he hits the water with a splash.

He rights himself while submerged before beginning to swim upwards, because he won’t be able to think properly if he can’t even breathe properly. However, some shark-looking motherfucker (shark-looking in the bad way, unlike Kirishima) decides to make his life more difficult by swimming towards him menacingly, fast enough that he won’t be able to get away in time. The villain opens his jaws wide as he gets closer to Hitoshi, almost like he’s going to take a bite out of him (what is he- a cannibal?).

Luckily, it looks like Asui is here too, becomes she comes out of nowhere, shoving the guy further into the depths and pulling Hitoshi out of the water with her tongue (holy fuck, how strong is her tongue if she can carry him with it? Does she do weight training with it or some shit? Does she lift dumbbells with her tongue? Now that’s a weird thought).

He lands on the deck of the ship with a dull thud (oh, they must be in the Shipwreck Zone then), with Asui scaling the side and vaulting over easily. Shinsou realises after a second or two that, despite having been submerged in water mere moments before, his costume isn’t actually wet. Did Mei make it waterproof without telling him?  Even though he finds himself slightly concerned that maybe there’s more to his costume than he realises, he’s still grateful that he doesn’t have to deal with the weight of damp clothes dragging him down and potentially putting him at risk of getting hypothermia. After another moment or so, he stands up and dusts himself off clumsily- still a little disorientated, though he finds his bearings soon enough and shuffles over to peer over the railings, assessing the villains that lie waiting in the water.

‘They’re not trying to climb up’ he realises with a slight start, ‘are they scared or something? What are they waiting for?’. Then he turns to the frog-like girl beside him, and the answer clicks into place.

“They don’t know what are quirks are.” Hitoshi says, the bare-bones of a plan forming slowly in his mind, “They wouldn’t have put you in a zone with water if they had.”

Asui nods, affirming the statement. “That’s true. If they’d known I was a frog, they would have thrown me into that Fire Zone over there.”

 

It then hits him very hard that he has no idea where Katsuki is. Is he in that Fire Zone? He’s always preferred the heat, but that would probably be a little too much. And there’s got to be more villains in the other zones- is he doing alright? Is there anyone in the class with him? He tries to use his com-link to contact the boy, but all that comes back is the crackling of static, meaning that the thing’s either broke, the interference that’s keeping them from contacting the school works on their coms too, or something’s gone horribly wrong. What if he’s already been cornered? What if-

“Shinsou,” Tsuyu says, breaking him out of his stupor, “are you alright? If so, do you have a plan?”

Hitoshi then realises that he was worrying about Bakugou Katsuki. If anything, he should be more worried for the poor villains that are going to have to fight the boy. The guy’s a maniac when he gets into a fight, but he’s a maniac with staff-skills, a good grenade-throwing arm, and an even better right-hook- and damn does he know it. Right now, he’s got more important things to do than fret over a boy who’s probably already kicking the shit out of whoever’s decided that fighting him is their best bet.

In any case, the cogs in his brain are whirring around, desperately thrusting together the scraps of a plan. And a back-up plan, just in case, though Shinsou’s unsure as to whether or not that one would end up with someone being electrocuted to death. He’s understandably a little reluctant to find out, since he isn’t exactly all that keen on being arrested for manslaughter or even just plain old murder, if he’s being honest. Instead of focusing on that, though, he turns to ask Tsuyu a question.

“Asui-“ Shinsou starts, before being cut off abruptly.

“I’ve told you to call me Tsu.” she reminds him jovially, but not quite due to the tone of her voice remaining unchanged (she has a rather impressive poker face- he should really ask her for tips).

“Oh, sorry. Anyway, Tsu,” he relents, beginning again, “what’s the extent of your quirks capabilities, exactly?”

“Well, to put it simply, I can do anything a frog can do. Like, stick to walls, stretch my tongue out really far, and jump really high.” she states, and then adds on as an afterthought, “I can also spit out my stomach to wash it, and secrete a toxic mucus which really just stings a little, but I don’t think those’ll be very helpful right now.” Shinsou nods, taking the new information in.

‘Her quirk is damn powerful, not gonna lie. We can use this, hopefully.’

“Okay. My quirk’s Brainwashing- and, as you know, if someone answers me verbally, I can control them.” he pauses for a moment as a thought comes to him.

“Hey, Tsu- how high can you jump?”

 

 

A minute or so later, and the villains waiting for them in the water still haven’t advanced- most likely out of caution, just in case one of them has a quirk that could do them serious harm.

Shinsou, smirking slightly, leans over the railing and calls out to them. “Hey, losers! Fish-faces! Why haven’t any of you even tried to climb up yet? You scared or some shit?” A good four of what looks to be about nine villains sputter out their protests, and Hitoshi smiles viciously when their faces turn blank and impassive. He shouts to them again. “You know what? Doesn’t matter. Fight the other people in the water with you!” he demands, and one laughs, asking why on Earth they would do that (he takes them under his control too- what an idiot). Some begin to open their mouths too, most likely to ask the same question- and they would have, if not for suddenly being swamped with a massive wave by one of their allies.

The villains not under his sway barely have time to think before they’re being hounded by all the ones that are. He takes a second to appreciate the scene and laugh a little at their expense, before signalling to Tsu that they should go before any of the villains break out of his control. She wraps her tongue around his waist and springs forward, leaping skilfully out of the ship and bringing him with her. He sighs in relief as they’re propelled through the air.

“At least we didn’t have to use Plan B.” he comments idly.

“What was Plan B?” Tsu asks, though it comes out just slightly garbled due to her tongue.

“Well, if using my quirk didn’t work, I was just planning to throw a stun grenade in the water and hope for the best. I don’t actually know how powerful those things are, though, so I might’ve accidentally ended up killing them when it electrocuted the water or something- which wouldn’t have been good.” Tsu agrees, and Shinsou watches as the rest of the USJ blurs around them as they fly through the air.

‘We might have passed a very pleasant evening,’ Hitoshi thinks to himself absently, ‘had shit not gotten real’.

Chapter Text

Katsuki doesn’t reach Hitoshi in time when that fog bastard sucks them all up like some weird purple vacuum and dumps him in the middle of a decrepit building. He remembers very quickly that he had grabbed Kirishima by the wrist to avoid being separated, and turns to see the redhead in question sitting up and rubbing the side he must have landed on. Apart from that, the boy across from him seems to be unharmed, so he takes the time to observe their surroundings.

They’re in what looks to be a wrecked, empty block of a building, and after craning his neck to look through the window without standing up, he can see that the rest of the buildings in this area are in much the same state. ‘The Collapse Zone’ his brain supplies helpfully, and he wonders how long it’ll take to get from here to the plaza. He’s going to blast that misty motherucker into next Tuesday even if it kills him. He can probably pass it off as self-defence and not get arrested if he just decides on the spot to literally blow him up.

Kirishima is the first to speak, his uncertain tone echoing across the room and filling Bakugou’s ears. “Hey, Baku-Bro, you good?”

Bakugou groans as he begins to stand and dust himself off, joints creaking with all manner of growing pains and actual pain from landing that he could really do without. “Never fucking better.” he spits, stretching out the arm and leg he landed on (his fucking com-link broke too- so there goes any chance of checking on Hito-shit). “I’m guessing you didn’t break anything either?”

Kirishima grins, pointed teeth glinting in the flickering artificial light (and yeah, it’s kind of attractive, but he’s only known the guy for around two weeks, and he’ll start a fistfight with God before he ever admits it). “Of course not!” the redhead replies jovially. “It’ll take more than a rough landing to take me down!” Bakugou smirks at the enthusiasm, taking a second to admire the way the boy’s ruby orbs glitter in the fluorescence (wait, fuck, that’s gay). Katsuki goes to respond, but is interrupted by the sound of other people shuffling around the corridor outside the room they’re in. He strains his ears to listen to their conversation- he needs to know if they’re his classmates or not, after all. But when he catches what they’re saying, he raises his hackles without even thinking about it.

“I think it came from one of these rooms.”

“What d’you think their quirks’ll be?”

“It doesn’t matter, idiot! All we need to do is beat the shit outta them and our job’s done!”

The suspected villains are close enough now that he doesn’t have to struggle to listen, and close enough that Kirishima’s heard them too by now. The other boy gets to his feet as silently as he can and mouths to Bakugou ‘What should we do?’. In lieu of a verbal response, Bakugou unclips the extendable staff from his back, and grabs a grenade from one of his pouches, grinning like a lunatic.

A lot of people in Kirishima’s position would undoubtedly be concerned for their lives and safety, or for Bakugou’s mental stability, at least- but apparently the redhead isn’t most people. Instead, he smiles excitedly, like a five-year-old Katsuki once had when first introduced to nerf guns, and hardens his arms. Bakugou’s own smile widens in return, and with a manic gleam in his eyes and a grenade in one hand, he kicks down the door with all the strength that he holds within his body- which is, admittedly, rather a lot.

The door slams into the wall with a resounding bang, and the villains- there looks to be a good fourteen or so- all snap their necks to leer at the source of the sound. They meet the eyes of what looks to be a clinically insane teenager wielding explosives and, surprisingly enough, don’t nope the fuck out and book it to the nearest exit with their metaphorical tails between their legs. Kirishima exits the room they’d been dumped in just as the first two villains lunge for Katsuki, and wisely decides to stay back as Bakugou pulls the clip off the grenade with his teeth and throws it right at the pair of criminals. One moment later, they’re blasted back, only just avoiding knocking into their allies, being slammed into a wall by the force of the explosion instead. It leaves the remaining twelve criminals standing in stunned silence for a second or two, before they inevitably snap out of it.

The two teenagers share a glance and a smirk before dropping into battle stances. ‘This should be fun’ Bakugou thinks, just as the chaos commences.

The villains come at them all at once, and the first to reach them is also the first to receive an exclusive meet-and-greet with the other end of Bakugou’s staff- right to the face as it extends and pushes them back forcefully. The villain shouts in pain just as he hears a crunching noise, so Bakugou assumes their nose is broken.

One goes for Kirishima, but the redhead in question ducks the left-hook thrown his way just as spikes jut out of the fist that would have hit him square in the temple. Before the villain can retaliate, the boy sends a hardened fist right into their abdomen, knocking the wind out of them and causing them to stumble backwards. Another villain pursues the shark-toothed boy as the first falls back, lunging for him as the arm he’s leading with shifts to look like a sledgehammer. Kirishima takes the hit with his hardened arms, and when the villain lands, he hardens his leg and knees them right in the face. They scream and fall flat on their back, trying to scramble away when the boy’s foot puts pressure on their chest and stops them. A good whack to the head knocks them out, and so Kirishima turns to the remaining villains just standing there in stunned silence, eyes blazing with in challenge.

Three come at Katsuki at once, looking all kinds of angry, but he merely grabs a stun grenade from his pouch and lets them have it. All three of them fall to the floor, twitching slightly from the aftermath of the shock. Bakugou allows himself a breath of laughter before turning to knock the villain with the broken nose back with his staff when they go for him. They're knocked just a little bit out of his reach, so he extends the staff and jumps, bringing it down on the bastard’s head. They crumple to the floor and don’t get up again, so Bakugou assumes they’ve been knocked out.

Rocks suddenly start flying at the two teenagers from somewhere, and Bakugou spots a villain holding out their arms and smirking, so it must be some kind of telekinesis quirk. Katsuki springs forward faster than the villain can prepare for, nailing them in the face with a strong right-hook. Like the broken nose villain, they fall to the ground with an ungraceful thud, and the rocks that were being hurled at them drop to the floor as well. Kirishima jumps forward and lands next to him, so they end up back-to-back, being circled by the remaining villains (what is this- some kind of cliché action movie?). There’s about six, all snarling angrily and muttering obscenities underneath their breath. Bakugou bears his teeth in a smile and shares another look with Kirishima before jumping at the three villains on his side, going to take them all at once, because he’s a cocky little shit.

He sweeps them to one side with his staff before roundhouse-kicking the first one to start moving forward toward him again. The villain stumbles back but doesn’t fall, and Katsuki takes that as an invitation to follow the move with an uppercut to the stomach. They knock into one of the other two villains as they’re flung back, sending them both tumbling to the ground. They both hit their heads on the ground pretty damn hard, knocking themselves out from the force of the impact. The third villain lets out an enraged shriek and lunges for him, fingers sharpening into points. Katsuki pushes them back with his staff before using it to deliver a decent hit to the throat. Not expecting it, they fall to the floor, and before they can think to get back up again, Bakugou jumps toward them and swiftly delivers a knock-out blow.

Katsuki stands up afterwards, dusting himself off and readjusting the grip he has on his staff- turning to see how Kirishima’s doing.

As soon as he turns his head, a knife that Kirishima must have dodged whizzes passed the redhead in question and hurtles towards the area of the floor that looks to be just shy of Bakugou’s right foot. Only, it doesn’t clatter to the ground- it embeds itself into the top right corner of his combat boot instead, stabbing right through it. When Kirishima sees it hit, his eyes go wide, and he cries out in surprise, but one of the remaining villains uses the distraction as an opportunity to try and one-up the redhead. Kirishima refocuses on the matter at hand, his concern for Bakugou being postponed temporarily in his mind.

As Katsuki stares down at the dagger buried in his right boot, he’s expecting to see blood. He’s expecting the blossoming of pain and a steady stream of crimson welling up and trickling down his foot from the small crevice between black leather and skin-piercing metal. He expects to be limping for the rest of his time at the USJ, and he expects that he’s going to have to see Recovery Girl to get it fixed up.

But the pain doesn’t come, and no blood flows, and Katsuki’s confused for a moment before his memory catches up to him like it always does with startling clarity. There is no blood- no pain, pain, pain- because there’s nothing there to hurt; nothing there to bleed (not even a scar to prove that pinkie toe was ever there in the first place).

Bakugou bends over and plucks the knife out of his boot with an easy tug, trying to be glad at least that it didn’t hit anything, so he’s not bleeding or something equally as annoying (because there was nothing there to hit in the first place. Fuck). The last villain in sight is pounded into unconsciousness by a hardened fist, and Kirishima rounds on him immediately, eyes blown wide with concern.

“Dude, are you okay?! You’re not bleeding or anything, are you?!” The redhead’s worry is rather heart-warming (shut up brain- no it isn’t- now is not the time to be gay), but Katsuki rolls his eyes with a scowl nonetheless.

“I’m fine.” he snaps, though not as harshly as he could have (should have), his mind’s contents half-clouded with thoughts that it’s not there anymore- it’s not there and it’s been gone for years and why aren’t you over it yet? He snaps himself out of it before he says something suspicious, and refocuses on the here and now.

Kirishima doesn’t look convinced, and he goes to say so. “But Bakugou, I saw it-“

“It’s fine. Bakugou growls lowly, because there’s too much to unpack to do so in the middle of a villain attack with someone he’s only known for around two weeks. Kirishima looks as if he’d like to protest, but seems to ultimately decide against pushing it while there are more pressing matters at hand. Katsuki recognises the look in the boy’s eyes though- the confirmation that the subject hasn’t been dropped just yet- only put to the side temporarily.

“I’m worried about the guys in our class with less defensive quirks. We should try and find them, yeah?” the other boy suggests after a moment or two of tense silence, a slight frown on his face. Bakugou scoffs.

“Well, good luck with that. I’m going to the plaza- I’m blasting that mist-fucker sky-high if it’s the last thing I do.” he retorts, the finality in his tone leaving no room for argument (it’s as steady as he can make it). Kirishima, of course, does anyway.

“But, dude! What about the others? You’re just gonna leave them?”

“Oh, please,” Bakugou argues back, “give the fucking extras some credit. If the douchebags they're fighting are as weak as these losers, they’ll be fine. Besides, if I smash that smog bastard’s face in, then they’ve got no chance of escaping.”

Some chameleon-looking moron decides to use the time they're arguing to ambush them, revealing them-self and lunging for Bakugou. However, instead of successfully landing an attack, Katsuki flings them into one of the rooms with his staff, hurling in a stun grenade to follow them. It goes off with a crackle of electricity and a screech from the villain, and that’s that.

“…Anyway,” Kirishima says, apparently going to pick up where he left off, “in that case, I’m going with you! Having faith in your friends is super manly!” the redhead says it with a dazzling smile, accompanied by the pumping together of his two hardened fists to emphasise the point. Bakugou averts his eyes with a grunt of acknowledgement and pretends that the boy in front of him isn’t making him painfully aware of how gay he is (well, bi, but still).

They find the exit to the building they were warped into quickly enough, and look around to try and see which direction they should be heading in. Bakugou points them in the direction that he thinks the plaza is, and they begin to make their way to the end of the Collapse Zone. They walk at a brisk pace (though it’s more of an awkward jog), wanting to get out of the zone and find someone- though whether a villain or an ally is yet to be determined. They reach the edge of the area and truck onwards, looking for any sign of a commotion or an ongoing struggle.

What they find next isn’t a struggle, per se- at least, not on their classmate’s part.

What they find in struggle’s stead is Todoroki, frosty clouds of mist curling around him in tendrils as ice reaches from his right side, having enveloped a good portion of villains all at once. The raw power of the boy’s quirk (well, half of it) is almost terrifying to behold. Almost, because Bakugou refuses to be afraid of something that relies solely on the lack of an extra joint in someone’s pinkie toes- that’d be stupid, and Bakugou is anything but.

Kirishima calls out to the Half ‘N’ Half, who in turn walks towards them, expression carefully devoid of emotion (an impressive poker-face, he’ll admit). “What are you doing here?” Todoroki asks the redhead, apparently deciding to ignore Katsuki’s presence- which is, in fact, against the law (because if no one sees him he might slip away again, and no one’ll notice and no one’ll care and- shut up). Bakugou butts in before Kirishima can respond, cracking his knuckles with a smirk that belies the thoughts in his head that buzz like a storm of mayflies.

“I’m looking for trouble- and if I cannot find it, I will create it.” he quotes smugly, and IcyHot raises an eyebrow, evidently bemused by his stellar sense of humour.

“Is that a threat? I’m sure you’re aware that this isn’t the time for games, Bakugou.” Bakugou rolls his eyes exasperatedly at the slight scolding.

“It wasn’t a threat, dipshit- it’s from ‘Guide to Troubled Birds’.” The other boy still looks puzzled, so Katsuki opts to not explain any further, instead deciding to move on to more urgent matters. “Now, me and Shitty Hair here are going to the plaza to fuck shit up- so we’re either ditching you or you’re following us.”

Shitty Hair?!” Kirishima repeats, attempting an offended expression, though he’s having difficulty keeping the amused smile off of his face. Bakugou waves him off, and looks to Todoroki for his verdict. Todoroki says nothing, merely nodding and gesturing for them to continue onwards to the plaza. He doesn’t need to be told twice.

And so they begin to make their way over, and Bakugou foolishly hopes that maybe Hito-Shit’s not done anything too stupid while he’s been gone.

 


 

Hitoshi and Tsu land near the plaza, in a much shallower area of the Shipwreck Zone, with an admittedly anti-climactic splash. No one looks their way, seemingly absorbed in the battle unfolding in front of their eyes. The two watch in amazement as Eraserhead triumphs over villain after villain, attacking and counterattacking, hair raised and on the defensive even as he knocks the criminals around like golf balls being met with a driver. This Hero in front of them was almost an entirely different person to their tired, scraggly-looking homeroom teacher, who had seemed like he'd much rather be asleep than facing the horrors of communicating with the living. This was what a real Pro-Hero looked like, and the villains had never stood a chance.

Shinsou finds it increasingly difficult to tear his eyes away from the impressive display of power from his favourite Pro, but he manages it in order to observe the rest of the scene. His gaze immediately falls upon two figures standing right in the midst of all the chaos, yet neither of them is even lifting a finger to counter it.

One is a man covered in severed hands that have faded to the same shade of pale blue as the man’s hair in their lack of life. One such appendage is covering the villain’s face, and Shinsou wonders how he can see until he notices, squinting, that the fingers of the hand are parted to make way for the criminal’s sense of sight, and he looks closer and sees red, red eyes. Not the same pyre of crimson flame that is beheld to Kat-suck-it’s eyes, no- they're marred a deranged vermilion, tainted with a madness that Shinsou’s only ever heard stories about (though he wishes forlornly that he’d never had to in the first place). Other than that, he wears a black shirt and trousers with red shoes- not exactly dressed for the occasion, is he?

The second is barely a human at all.

They (he? It? Shinsou isn’t sure) have their brain exposed to the elements, two tiny black pupils resting in the centre of their eyes, protruding out of the fleshy, pink matter. They have a beak instead of a regular mouth, with straight white blocks of teeth lining the inside that look like they could crunch through diamond. Bulging muscles look as if they’re about to tear through the dark navy skin that covers them, and their arms are probably as tall and as wide as Hitoshi’s entire person is. Their face holds no emotion- dull and impassive as if they’re not really sentient- and Hitoshi thinks that it’s probably the scariest thing he’s seen all week (though Katsuki’s pre-breakfast glare is a close second).

He’s not sure if he should intervene or not. On one hand, they could perhaps lighten the Underground Hero’s load- Eraserhead was visibly slowing, and the span of time his quirk is active for was getting shorter, if the rising and falling of his hair was anything to go by. On the other hand, they could become more of a hindrance than anything, seeing as the Pro would then have to worry about manoeuvring around students and keeping them out of harm’s way. Besides, the Hero was still holding his own just fine, right?

Oh, look, he fucking jinxed it.

The villain covered in hands chooses that exact moment in time to rush at Eraserhead, hand outstretched as if to try and grab him. Aizawa shoots the tendrils of his capture weapon at the man, but he dodges easily despite the fact that there's an entire hand covering his face (and even more covering the rest of him- doesn’t that feel gross?). The villain’s muttering something to the Pro as his hair falls down, and the sleeve of Aizawa’s shirt is crumbling to dust at the elbow. And then… holy fuck- the skin’s dusting too. It’s just gone, leaving nothing but the red and raw muscle that lies beneath.

Some of the less dangerous villains try to get the jump on him then, but Eraserhead flings his scarf’s tendrils at them before sending them crumpling to the floor in a heap. The man covered in hands mumbles something, sounding vaguely excited from what he can make out. Shinsou can barely see what happens after- one moment that mammoth of a villain is right next to Handsy, and the next they're slamming Eraserhead into the floor with the force of a thousand suns before anyone even has time to blink. They’re fucking fast- that’s some Sanic-level speed shit right there (not the most appropriate time for jokes, but the time when they're least welcome is almost always the time when they're needed most. To Hitoshi, at least).

The blue haired man stands by and laughs as the villain grabs their homeroom teacher and smashes his head into the concrete. “What do you think?” the man asks loudly enough for them hear, seemingly elated. “It’s the Anti-Symbol of Peace- the bio-engineered Noumu.”

Hitoshi can’t speak, can’t think over the static that screams in his ears as Aizawa does too- garbled through the blood in his mouth- his panic rendering him completely immobile, a blank slate of fake calm that hides a monsoon beneath its thin layers.

The villain moves on to their teacher’s arm next- bending it and bending it until there's a crunching snap and a strangled gasp of pain. As Shinsou and Tsuyu stare on in horror, the mist guy from before appears next to the man in severed hands.

“Kurogiri,” Handsy starts, and Hitoshi makes a note of the name just in case, “did you kill Thirteen?”

“Thirteen is incapacitated.” Kurogiri says, but he doesn’t say they're dead, so a split second’s worth of concern is replaced with a brief wave of relief. “However, one of the students managed to escape to gather reinforcements. I’m afraid to say that the Pro-Heroes will most likely be arriving soon.”

Handsy lets out a shaky breath. “Kurogiri,” the villain says, his raspy voice grating on Shinsou’s every nerve, “if you weren’t a warp gate, I’d turn you to dust!” he finishes, reaching up to his neck. Shinsou watches in morbid fascination as the villain scratches and scratches at the exposed skin of his neck, breaths coming out in rattling heaves. The movement becomes more frantic as the seconds pass, and Shinsou isn’t sure what to think.

“Shigaraki Tomura,” Kurogiri says, and Shinsou files away the name for later even though it’s almost definitely an alias, “Since All Might is not present as we had anticipated, and as a team of Pro-Heroes will be arriving as back-up imminently, it would be in our best interest to retreat and regroup for now.” The scratching ceases as Shigaraki contemplates the suggestion, and, slowly, his hands fall back to his sides as if they'd never left.

“Yeah, yeah,” Shigaraki mutters, just loud enough for them to hear, “it’s game over if the Pros show up. We’ll try again later…-“

Handsy turns his eyes to lock gaze with Hitoshi, and there's just enough time for the colour to drain from his face.

“-But let’s kill a few kids first to break All Might’s spirit!”

It happens too fast. Before they can even fully realise what the villain means, he’s running towards them, hand outstretched and reaching for Tsuyu’s face. Shinsou knows what comes next- he saw it as Aizawa’s elbow crumbled away to expose the muscle beneath. He knows what’ll happen if Shigaraki touches the girl’s face.

Hitoshi reaches to get her out of the way, but he isn’t fast enough. Shigaraki’s hand covers Tsuyu’s face, and…

Nothing happens.

Shigaraki draws his hand away, chuckling lightly as he comes up from his crouching position to stand. “You really are cool, Eraserhead.”

Aizawa doesn’t say anything as the Noumu slams his head back into the bloody dent in the concrete, and his body slackens. Fuck.

The guy’s hand is still right in front of Tsuyu’s face, and Eraserhead isn’t there to prevent the villain’s quirk from activating. Hitoshi has to do something- he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he didn’t at least try. So, he reaches out again, pulling his fist back to prepare for a sucker punch right to the man’s face (or, well, the severed hand in front of the face, but that’s whatever). He’s got a pretty good right-hook, he thinks, so hopefully it’ll be enough to get the damn guy away from Tsu. Shinsou roars, shouting in defiance as his fist meets flesh, but not before a cloud of dust kicks up and blocks his vision. His hand hurts like Hell at the impact, and he wonders belatedly if maybe it was his fingers that connected with skin rather than the knuckles (or maybe Handsy’s just built like a fucking brick?).

But where Shigaraki would have been, the Noumu now stands- staring down at him with gleaming teeth bared in an absent grin, and eyes that hold nothing beyond the tiny pupils that have focused themselves on him. And, once again, he’s fucking screwed.

‘Ah fuck,’ he thinks for what must be at least the third or fourth time today, ‘the dude they’re saying could kill All Might is about to punt me into the sun. Fantastic. Just my luck’. He doesn’t get more time to lament his misfortune, however, because as soon as Handsy’s said something to the gargantuan before him (he can’t make out the words over the ringing in his ears), the Noumu is raising their arm to the air, fully intending for it to swat him aside and halfway through the concrete wall like a fly. It comes down fast, and out of the corner of his eye he can make out Tsu sticking out her tongue to wrap around his waist and wrench him away from danger. But he can also make out Shigaraki reaching for her face again, and realises that there really isn’t a thing either of them can do this time around to stop it from happening. Tsu’s going to crumble like sand crashed into by the surf, and he’s going to become little more than a smear of blood on the wall, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Fuck, he hopes Kat-suck-it gets to be the number one someday.

 

 

But then a resounding bang echoes through the USJ like a gunshot, and dust kicked up by the commotion billows out from the entrance. The sound of heavy footsteps ricochets off the walls with decisive clarity, and a few of the students up near the entrance cry out in surprise.

And then All Might’s mountainous figure is looming over the steps, casting a shadow over the villains in the plaza. “It’s fine now.” All Might says, voice deafening in a world cast into shocked silence. “Why? Because I AM HERE.” And it’s then that Hitoshi notices that he isn’t smiling.

For the first time that day, Shinsou thinks that maybe it’s not him that’s about to get screwed over.

Chapter Text

All Might- for all his incompetence in the world of teaching and child handling- does have one redeeming quality: he’s a damn good symbol of peace.

One second the petty villains are bolstering themselves to attack, but by the time the next rolls around they’ve already hit the floor with disgracefully synchronised thuds. And when the next moment comes to pass, Shinsou, Tsu, and Aizawa have been brought away from the fight, and Shigaraki stumbles backwards from a hit that knocks the severed hand clean off of his face. All Might places Aizawa onto the floor with all the gentleness of someone with much less strength than he as Shinsou blinks on in confusion as his brain tries to process just how he got all the way over here from all the way over there without a warp quirk like Kurogiri’s.

“Carry Aizawa up to the entrance where the others are gathered,” the number one Hero says, only half breaking Hitoshi out of his stupor, “I will deal with this villain.” And as much as the last minute evidences how capable All Might is of doing just that, the barebones of a theory is beginning to click into place like puzzle-pieces in his head. Not all the segments are there yet, but it feels like something important that he probably shouldn’t be allowed to figure out (which is a really great motivator to figure it out, if he’s being honest). So, Shinsou makes the executive decision to provide the Symbol of Peace with one warning, at the very least.

“All Might, they’re saying the Noumu- that weird, muscly Big-Bird thing- was literally made to kill you.” And Hitoshi is painfully aware that this man’s abs have abs, but he can’t help the worry that defies all rationality he knows to cloud his eyes. He and Tsu are picking up Aizawa to carry to the entrance when All Might turns around.

“Young Shinsou,” All Might starts, before flashing him a smile that could blind even the sun, and doing some classic magical girl peace-sign-over-face pose, “don’t worry about this old man.”

To that, Shinsou says nothing, merely nodding subtly in response and turning to shift his weight so he can carry his knocked out homeroom teacher more comfortably. Because it’s All Might and, grudge or no, the number one Hero can still kick serious ass.

The villain, meanwhile, stumbles around blindly- the man’s own hand covering his face to conceal it in the absence of the severed one. Hitoshi swears the criminal calls it ‘Father’ as he grasps it in his living, not-blue hand and places it back on his face with a shaky exhale of relief (how does he even get it to stay on? Is it Velcro? Does Handsy have Velcro strips on his face?).

Shigaraki begins to mutter something about the ‘violence of government officials’ then, but Shinsou’s barely able to process that they’ve been moved away from the fight, completely blindsided by how fast All Might is. He knows it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise- he is the number one Hero, after all- but it was one thing to hear about it in magazines and newspaper articles and another thing entirely to see it in person. He couldn’t even follow the man with his eyes- how the ever-loving fuck did these villains expect to kill someone they wouldn’t even be able to see?

But then Hitoshi is suddenly reminded that the Noumu exists when the Symbol of Peace goes in for a Carolina Smash (Karen, please, lemme smash) headed straight for Shigaraki, and the beast is in front of the man before anyone could realise the mutant had begun to move at all. The attack doesn’t seem to have any visible effect on the monster before them, so All Might reaches forward and punches the Noumu in the face. Again, that stupid, absent smile is still fixed unwaveringly on the Noumu’s features and, if Shinsou was any braver a person, he might be tempted to have a go at punching the creature’s lights out himself, futile though it might be. As it is, he begins slowly shuffling away with Tsu, the unconscious Aizawa gathered in their arms.

“Good luck with that!” he hears Shigaraki shout, and even with his back turned away he can tell that there’s a smile on the villain’s face as man and monster duke it out in the plaza. “Noumu was made specifically to beat you- he even has Shock Absorption! The most effective way to beat him would simply be to gouge out his flesh- whether or not he’d let you do that is a different story though!” Shigaraki finishes with a laugh, and All Might goes to respond as he exchanges blows with the larger villain.

“Thanks for the advice!” That actually makes this easier!” All Might bellows, almost jovial as the Noumu swings its arms around in a surprisingly well-coordinated mad flail. And then the Pro-Hero turns around when the Noumu tries to dart around him so he can get to the Symbol of Peace from behind, grabbing both sides of the beast’s waist. The Pro then proceeds to straight up deadlift the Noumu, raising the humongous mutant high in the air in such a Lion King-esque fashion that Shinsou’s expecting the Hero to start singing the fucking Circle of Life, before slamming it back down. Dust billows out in a cloud from the sheer force of the move, fogging up their vision of the fight but looking very cool nonetheless. 

“All Might’s so amazing, even though he still has to read off note-cards in class!” Tsuyu says, smiling in relief as if the fight’s already been won. “Maybe the villains were underestimating him?”

Shinsou’s inclined to agree, and he nearly does so, but thinks better of it at the last second with wide, wide eyes. He doesn’t stop walking, but it’s more on auto-pilot than anything as he thinks. All Might seemed pretty desperate to take on a successor for One for All back when the Pro offered it to his friend. He sometimes took off in a hurry the moment class ended, usually if it’d been reported that he’d spent some time doing his job as a Pro before school started. He hadn’t shown up at the USJ until now, and when Aizawa asked, Thirteen had put up three fingers while talking to him. All Might would always look at his watch in concern during class, almost like he was on a time limit-

Almost like he was on a time limit. A time limit. Fuck.

If All Might ran out of time or whatever, would he lose his ability to use One for All for the day or something? If that really was the case, then they were in deep shit. Fuckity Duckity fuck nuggets- he’s the only one who’s figured this out, most likely- he has to do something. But, what can he do? He can’t just run out there like an idiot and hope for the best, he’d literally die. Although, just because All Might has a time limit, it doesn’t mean that the man couldn’t handle himself- he’s the number one Hero for fuck’s sake! Why was Shinsou even worried in the first place? This is All Might he’s talking about. He’s a literal child worrying about a grown-ass tank of a man, what was the point?

Then, almost like the divine hand of some asshole deity intervening, the smoke settles to reveal the scene from within. It’s the Noumu, sticking half-way through a portal, pressing down hard on All Might’s side, and All Might looks pained within the monster’s grasp as a patch of thick, crimson blood seeps through the man’s dress shirt.

Shinsou’s felt fear before- it’s made itself no stranger to him throughout his life (don’t think about it, don’t you dare)- but this fear is almost the worst he’s ever had the displeasure to experience (he came back alive, it’s fine, it’s fine). Thoughts cross his mind unbidden: the people that would mourn, the villains that would crawl through the gaps, and bare, heavy silence in their Hero training that’s supposed to be filled with mindless chatter. And he realises quite suddenly that, no matter how little of a fan he is of him personally, All Might can’t lose this fight. The world isn’t ready to live without its number one Hero just yet.

“Tsu,” he says, demeanour almost calm in his panicked state, “I really hate to ask this, but could you please take Aizawa for me?” She agrees easily, shifting their teacher’s weight onto her back, before asking why exactly he made the request.

Shinsou doesn’t say anything. He just runs out there like the idiot he is and hopes for the best.

‘Don’t you dare die, number one Asshole,’ Shinsou thinks spitefully (two year grudges don’t just disappear at the drop of a hat, after all), ‘we still have way too much shit to prove to you.’

He says none of this out loud, however- but just as he reaches the plaza, some force of nature compels him to solemnly say “Cowabunga it is.” before whipping out his staff and lunging for a villain that could literally kill him with his bare hands.

 

In an ideal world, Shinsou would have punched Hand-Job in the face, the villain would have cried like a little bitch, and it would have made Shinsou look really cool. However, in the real world, Kurogiri exists- which is unfortunate, because Shinsou would have really liked to deck Shigaraki.

‘Thomas had never seen such bullshit before.’ Shinsou thinks bitterly as a pale, crusty-ass hand reaches out to touch him from a portal that appears just in front of his face. For a moment (but not for the first time today), he thinks that this is it. He thinks that this is really where he kicks the bucket. He’ll never get to make use of the second chance at Heroism that he and Katsuki were given some four years ago- and, once again, he hopes to God that Katsuki doesn’t do any stupid shit when he’s gone (never mind how much of a dirty fucking hypocrite saying that makes him).

 

Life has a funny way of taking one look at how Shinsou thinks things will go and doing the exact opposite, though. This means that, with naught but a few measly centimetres between him and the Hand of Doom, an obscene shout descends upon their ears like a gift from God Himself.

“Get outta the fucking way, Hito-shit!” Bakugou Katsuki shouts, and it sounds like a Goddamn choir of angels as the blond body-slams into something solid hidden in the midst of Kurogiri and pins the fucker to the floor. There’s a manic smile on his friend’s face that seems to be more like something he’s doing to distract himself rather than simply an act of impulse, but that’s a problem for later because right now Shinsou’s stumbling backwards and grinning from ear to ear, because The Cavalry Has Arrived, Motherfucker.

Todoroki comes sliding in not even milliseconds later on a sheet of ice, shooting out his right arm and freezing the Noumu’s left foot. The ice crawls upwards and through the portal created by Kurogiri in seconds, spreading from the creature’s ankle, up the shin, all the way up to the Noumu’s forearm, stopping just before the beast’s hand and circling the limb in spiky pirouettes and cold tendrils of frost. The cold must slacken the mutant’s grip on All Might somehow, because the Hero is grabbing the Noumu’s fingers in a crushing hold and grappling himself free. All Might leaps away from the Noumu’s reach and, just as the creature pulls itself up and begins to shamble forward, Todoroki sends another streak of ice to freeze it in place, and Kirishima- who Shinsou had barely even realised was there in the first place- whoops in triumph.

From the corner of his eye, Shinsou can see Kurogiri shift subtly underneath Bakugou’s grip, to which the blond responds by casually taking out the taser from his pouch and tapping it gently against the metal structure that had been hidden beneath the swirling purple mist. Bakugou smiles pleasantly enough that it looks like he’s about to maul the guy to death.

“Ah ah ah!” Katsuki tuts, narrowing his eyes and smiling wider, baring his teeth like a weapon. “I think the fuck not, you six-piece chicken McNobody. This shit looks like silver, and metal’s one Hell of a conductor as is. If you do something I don’t like, you’re going from misty to crispy, bitch.” Shinsou would laugh if he thought it’d be appropriate, but he doesn’t try and stop the amused smirk from growing on his face, watching as Kurogiri splutters as sophisticatedly as physically possible.

“And how, might I ask, did you discover my weakness?” Kurogiri asks, probably trying to distract his friend to loosen his grip. Bakugou grins and tightens his hold on the metal’s surface, pressing the taser down harder.

“When me and Shitty Hair tried to get the jump on you earlier, after you dodged you said, ‘That was close’. If you were made of just mist, dodging wouldn’t be a problem, and you would’ve just let us go straight through you. So I figured that you were just hiding your real body in the mist, and protecting it in armour or some shit- ‘cause I thought I saw something earlier- and I was fucking right! Quirks aren’t fucking God-tier miracle-workers like everyone wants to think, and you can pry that from my cold, dead fingers, fucker.” Hitoshi thought the blond was going to rant about that some more (it wouldn’t be the first time, obviously), but he stops there instead, smiling viciously.

“Oh, is that so?” the mist man asks, seemingly intrigued. “If you’re so insistent that quirks aren’t all they're cracked up to be- then what is yours, I wonder?”

For a split second, Hitoshi wonders if maybe it isn’t such a great idea to tell the villains, but the decision isn’t his to make, and that’s made infinitely clear by the gleam in his friend’s eyes that says that’s exactly what he’d wanted the criminal to say.

“Who says I even need one, bitch? I can kick your shit in with or without some fucking toe joint like a real man.” Shinsou nearly winces at the mention, but doesn’t show it. And even if he doesn’t like the reminder (and even though he’s pretty sure that’s not how Katsuki meant to say it), it has the desired effect. Both villains freeze, Shigaraki pausing in his light scratching of his neck to process the implications of the statement. Kirishima smiles from ear to ear, and Todoroki looks almost, almost amused by the reactions, nodding imperceptibly in approval.

All Might doesn’t really seem to know what to make of it, but that hardly matters when the sound of ice cracking echoes across the USJ like a scream in an alleyway (now is not the fucking time), and the Hero goes pale anyway.

All eyes turn to the Noumu, and Shinsou’s heart feels like it stops beating for a second when he focuses his vision and seen the monster writhing around in the ice as cracks form on the surface. But then the mutant reaches over with its right arm, and fucking rips the other one off. The separated limb clatters to the floor, and the frozen leg goes next, snapping like an ice-pop and colliding with the floor. For a moment, the Noumu hobbles around on one leg, stabilising itself with its one arm, and they’re all aware on some level that it would probably be a good time to gain an advantage over the creature while its down, but they’re too stunned into silence to do anything because Holy Fuck.

There's a stretching noise- like someone’s pulling a thick rubber band- before strings of muscle burst forth from the stump where the Noumu’s arm was and weave together in a shape resembling the lost limb. The same happens down the torn off part of the creature’s side, as well as with the lost leg- and rough, navy blue skin wraps over it as easily as tissue paper, though it’s definitely much more durable than that. From where Hitoshi stands, he can see Bakugou from the side, and he notices the slight tension in the shoulders, and how his friend’s eyes are never usually that wide nor glassy, as if he isn’t really there, but somewhere much further away- in some time four years passed, though his grip on Kurogiri and the taser don’t loosen. And, despite how paralysed with terror and morbid fascination Shinsou is, he’d like nothing more in that moment than to beat the villains up with his own two hands, because Katsuki should never look that disturbed.

“You said its quirk was Shock Absorption- was that a lie, then?” All Might says feebly, breaking the thick, heavy silence in typical deft fashion. Shigaraki has the gall to laugh, spreading his arms wide as if to emphasis just how big of a little bitch he is.

“I didn’t say that was all he had!” Handsy explains, and Shinsou can feel the smirk on the villains face from behind that hand. “That’s his Regeneration. Noumu is modified to take you at 100% of your power, All Might- he’s basically a human sandbag!”

When no one else can find it in them to reply, Shigaraki speaks again, more to himself than anything. “First, we need our warp gate back.” the villain says, before turning his head a little to face the now fully regenerated mutant as Shinsou’s own to look at Bakugou fully, so quickly he almost gives himself whiplash. “Go, Noumu.”

He wills his body to move- to do something, anything- but he’s frozen still, and the Noumu moves too fast to even follow with his eyes. Bakugou wouldn’t have had time to dodge even if he’d been able to, and the blond was rooted to the spot, grip firmly on the metal of Kurogiri’s armour and mind so far away that Katsuki could practically see the four walls of that dingy old room.

Shinsou barely notices as All Might staggers, right before the Noumu reaches Katsuki. It rears its newly-grown fist back, and delivers a blow that sends shockwaves across the plaza, forcing Shinsou, Kirishima, and Todoroki backwards from the sheer power. Dust is kicked up where the Noumu stands, and dread creeps up Hitoshi’s throat like bile as he hopes to any deity that he can think of that Katsuki’s okay.

But when the smoke clears, Bakugou isn’t there, and Shinsou’s head snaps to the right to find the boy sitting on the floor next to him, blinking the surprise out of his eyes, which look much clearer than they did a few seconds ago, which is both a good thing and a bad thing, in a way.

“DUDE!” Kirishima cries, awe painting his face like a canvas. “You dodged that? That’s so cool!”

Bakugou scowls, bitter contempt burning in his eyes with all the complexities that line his mind. “Shut up, Shitty Hair.”

‘I wasn’t fast enough’ is what he thinks, ‘I didn’t even see it coming.’

Todoroki begins to ask something, but is pulled away from his thoughts like the rest of them by the two lines indented into the ground, like someone had dug their feet into the earth and been dragged away. Smoke streams from the divots, from the sheer force and speed of their upheaval, and their eyes are drawn to the end of the newly-carved path, where All Might stands, arms shielding his face and panting as if short of breath.

The Noumu remains standing, not panting at all (then again, it doesn’t even look like it’s breathing in the first place). It looks as if it’s about to start towards them again, so they all collectively lower themselves into battle stances, Shinsou saying prayers to the very same deities that got Katsuki away from the fight mere moments before.

“Guess we’re doing this after all.” Kirishima says, raising his hardened fists in front of his chest for protection’s sake, but that’s all any of them manages to say before All Might rushes at the creature faster than they can blink. The Hero stampedes towards the Noumu like the buffalo that killed Mufasa (he’s pretty sure he’s made that joke before), delivering a powerful blow to the mutant. A blast of wind is expelled from the punch, forcefully blowing back the onlookers. He does it again, and again, and again- gusts of air powerful enough that not even Kurogiri can get close to the pair- but the Noumu just keeps on taking it.

“Didn’t you mention his Shock Absorption before?” Shigaraki laughs, as if the Pro couldn’t snap him in half like a wishbone.

“I did!” All Might bellows, delivering yet another blow to the creature’s chest, pushing the two of them backwards. “But if its quirk is Shock Absorption and not Shock Nullification, then there’s a limit to it, right?!”

The Noumu manages to land a hit on All Might’s bloodied side, and Shinsou winces with sympathy pains as flecks of blood fly from the Hero’s mouth.

“Made to fight me?” The Pro asks, though he doesn’t wait for an answer as the exchange of blows becomes too fast for Shinsou to follow with his eyes- little more than a blur of navy and tan skin. “If you can withstand me at 100%- then I’ll just have to go beyond that!”

Fists dart left and right, energy crackling from the Hero’s veins even as blood leaks passed his lips and stains his side. Katsuki may not revere the Hero- may have had his admiration tainted by foul words and ‘broken dreams’ all that time ago- but even he can admit that the number one Hero is damn impressive. Every hit seems controlled; so far beyond anything he’s seen from all those clips of him online, and he realises suddenly that everything the Pro’s putting into it is far more than should ever be possible, even for All Might’s standards.

The Noumu flies back suddenly, and All Might leaps after him. “A Hero…” he says, as the earth quakes and cracks with the force of their feud, “can always break out of a tough spot!” The Noumu is slammed into the floor from the air, making a crater in the ground beneath.

“Go beyond!” All Might declares, hitting the floor to meet the mutant and rearing his fist back in preparation.

“PLUS ULTRA!

The Noumu flies through the air, and ‘In the Arms of the Angel’ plays loudly in Shinsou’s head as the mutant smashes through the ceiling like a motherfucking cannonball. The whole of the USJ must have heard the crash, and they can only think to stare in bewilderment and awe at the raw power their teacher possesses.

 

After a few moments, a whine pitches through the air. “My Noumu!” Shigaraki cries, reaching up to scratch at his neck as he stares up at the hole the mutant went through. “You cheated, and now it’s game over.”

A smile just about begins to break out on Shinsou’s face in relief, but Kurogiri, like the motherfucker he is, chooses then to pitch in his two cents. “Shigaraki Tomura,” the mist man says, his yellow eyes narrowing in consideration, “if you look closely, you can see that All Might is hesitating. It seems to me that he’s at his limit.”

Shigaraki nods along eagerly as All Might curses the purple man out loudly in his mind, words too foul to ever be repeated. “Well,” Handsy says, “in that case, how about I finish this?!”

‘Ah shit, here we go again.’ Shinsou thinks lamely, just as Handsy rushes at All Might with an outstretched hand, and the purple-haired boy stupidly allows his legs to carry him forward towards the fray.

But then Shinsou’s getting some serious déjà vu, because a portal appears right in front of him, and an arm, once again, stretches out to touch him. And, for what must be the fourth time (he’s getting really sick of this shit), he really does think he’s fucked.

 

A shot fires across the USJ, nailing Shigaraki in the arm that was about to disintegrate his beautiful face, and Shinsou turns to see a plethora of Pro-Heroes- his teachers- standing right at the front of the USJ, wreathed in a glorious light that’s probably just a hallucination but it’s fine because holy fuck, he’s not dead yet, bitch.

Another bullet collides with Shigaraki’s arm, and then both of his legs, before Kurogiri cloaks them both in his man-made darkness, sucking them into a portal and warping away. He swears he hears Handsy say something, but it hardly matters because they’ve fucking won. He’s half-tempted to just lie down right there on the floor and never get up, but he wants to go back on over to Katsuki and the others, so he goes to move. He nearly does, too, however- just at the last moment- he turns his head around, and sees the pale, wire-thin silhouette of a man.

Tall, skinny, and with blond hair wilting like a dehydrated sunflower. When the smoke clears fully, he catches sight of electric blue eyes and black sclera that he recognises.

The man’s- All Might’s eyes widen on his pale, gaunt face, and he looks like he’s about to blurt something- but Shinsou beats him to it- voice cutting through the air with a decisive echo.

 

“What the actual fuck?

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“You look like a soggy French fry.” really isn’t what Shinsou means to say at all- and though he isn’t overly keen on All Might, that doesn’t stop him from being absolutely mortified. Who even says that? No- scratch that- who says that to the number one fucking Hero? The answer must be Shinsou, apparently, because that’s exactly what the man looks like, and it turns out that his brain-to-mouth filter took some damage in between nearly dying multiple times in the last few hours. Great. Fan-fucking-tastic.

“E-excuse me?” is All Might’s- no, Skinny Might’s bewildered response, and Shinsou would honestly rather just turn around and pretend he hadn’t seen shit than explain himself to this man. Unfortunately, it’s far too late for that now, and as much as it weirded him out to have to interact with the Pro, he did want an explanation for whatever the Hell this was about. He wondered idly how Bakugou would react when he found out (yeah, that’s right, bitch- not if, when). Hitoshi was stuck between thinking that the blond would either flip his shit or piss himself laughing- just because he was a spiteful little shit that, as much as he tried to hide it, was very easily amused.

And so, having allowed the silence to stretch just a little bit too long to avoid awkwardness, Shinsou decides to reply. “I don’t have to explain myself to you. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe that you should be the one explaining yourself- ‘cause, seriously, what the Hell?” All Might splutters uselessly, and blood spurts from his mouth. Hitoshi, obviously, reacts accordingly with a “Holy shit. Fuck- you’re not dying or some shit, right? You’re not gonna collapse or something?”

All Might chuckles, though there's no humour in it. “Not at present. And I promise that I will explain myself, young Shinsou, but perhaps it’s best to do so somewhere more private.” Hitoshi nods dumbly, still too bewildered by the situation to do much else. That, and the guy does have a point; it doesn’t really seem like something a Pro-Hero would want to get out to the public. Wait- does this mean he can’t tell Katsuki? Fuck, it’s been so long since he’s had to keep something from his friend that he barely even remembers how to go about it. Shinsou knows that he can’t tell anyone- shouldn’t, even; this is big, after all- but he’s never had to keep a secret so big from the blond.

He’s brought out of this internal crisis of conscience by a voice that cuts short any other half-formed concerns, despite never having even seen the guy approach.

“Wow, I can’t believe All Might and Miley Cyrus are running the same scam.”

All Might practically leaps out of his skin (or, what little of it there is to cover the impatient skeleton trapped beneath), and Hitoshi honest to God screams. Katsuki cackles wickedly like the little bitch he is, because of course the first thing he says after discovering the number one Hero’s ‘true form’ is a reference to Hannah Montana. Shinsou’s almost a little ashamed that he didn’t think of it himself, though, to be fair, he’d been a little too busy freaking the fuck out.

All Might chokes on air in his surprise, blood splattering in a thin sheen on the floor as he clears his throat, and Bakugou doesn’t even flinch. “I kinda figured something was up when only one side of your waist started bleeding even though the Noumu grabbed both.” Honestly, sometimes it blindsided him just how observant his best friend is (he doesn’t want to have to think about why that might be). Both All Might and Hitoshi are brought out of their stupor when the sound of a different voice calls out from significantly further away, meaning that they can’t possibly see All Might’s emaciated form.

“Dudes! You’re okay!” Kirishima shouts in blatant relief. Shinsou almost responds before he takes pause and realises just what kind of scene the redhead will stumble upon if he draws any closer.

“Kirishima, wait-!” Shinsou begins to call out panickily, before blinking in surprise at an overly large wall of concrete that was most definitely not there before just… sticking out of the ground. What the fuck?

“We need to keep the area clear, just to be safe.” Cementoss says from beyond the mountain of concrete and, whoa, he’d almost forgotten that his school was run by literal Pro-Heroes for a second there. “Would you mind making your way to the entrance and taking any other remaining pupils up there with you?”

“Of course, sir!” Kirishima declares, toothy smile evident in his tone of voice despite not being able to see it from behind the concrete. “But what about Shinsou and Bakugou?”

Cementoss doesn’t hesitate for even a second, and Hitoshi’s admittedly rather impressed by the man made of pavement. “They were caught rather close to the fight, so I feel it best that we let them catch their breath for a moment.”

Kirishima agrees easily with their Japanese Literature teacher, before running off and crying out to some stragglers that they need to head to the main gate on his way. All four of the people present exhale in relief.

“That was close.” All Might sighs wearily, shakily beginning to stand and dust himself off. Shinsou and Bakugou alike very nearly shrink back, because while the Pro is exactly the same height in his Hero form, there's something entirely different about a seven foot tall skeleton. The feeling dissipates when the man hunches forward like a wilted sunflower, becoming substantially less freakishly tall-seeming. Neither of them opt to say anything though, hoping that maybe All Might will at least explain something now that the risk of someone eavesdropping is gone, and now that Cementoss is occupied with putting down the wall he made. Instead, the Pro says, “I’ll talk to the two of you after school- I think it’s probably better that you get checked up first.”

Hitoshi wants to argue, but All Might shoos them away before he can think of a counter-point, so he and Katsuki make their way to the gate like everyone else has already proceeded to do. Shinsou notices the slight tension in his friend’s shoulders- no longer hidden by the shaking of laughter- so he opts to ask about it. “Kat-suck-it, is something up?”

Bakugou spares him a side-glance, seeming tired as they walk side-by-side. “I’m gonna warn you now just in case Shitty Hair hasn’t forgotten- he thinks he saw me get stabbed in the foot.”

Shinsou’s eyes grow wide with surprise. “You got stabbed?! Holy shit, Kats-“ He pauses there, remembering why Bakugou might say it that way (so nonchalantly that it almost hurts). “Wait, you said ‘he thinks’. So, it was your right foot, wasn’t it? The, uh… the toe?” Shinsou asks hesitantly, though it’s barely even a question when he already knows the answer. Katsuki nods in confirmation anyway.

“Went right through my boot. Pretty weird that it hit there of all places, but it’s better there than somewhere else, I guess. You, don’t need to say it so weirdly though, Hito-shit- you make it out like it didn’t happen years ago.” But Shinsou hates how monotone his friend’s voice is. Mere moments before, he’d been making jokes and laughing his smug little ass off. It was more than a little depressing to see how quickly they could switch from one to the other.

Hitoshi goes to respond regardless, the barest traces of a dried-up grin lingering on his face in a desperate attempt to salvage the situation. “Still, it wasn’t very knife of the villain to do, was it?” Katsuki gags in shock around the clog in his throat as the comment draws a startled laugh out of him, having not been expecting the purple-haired brainwasher to make such a God-awful pun. Shinsou smiles amusedly at his friends antics- the upturned twitch of his lips only vaguely mischievous- and hopes that maybe the mood for the day can just settle peacefully into the lighter atmosphere that he’s managed to create.

But life doesn’t enjoy anything quite as much as letting people down, and this is made abundantly clear after a few minutes since passing the USJ’s gate and being met with the bustle of police officers, medical personnel, students, and Pro-Heroes.

Some of the students are being checked for injuries- just minor cuts and bruises , as far as they can see, at least- and from the looks of it, a lot of the arrested villains have already been carted off to some place or another for questioning. A few of their peers who have finished being checked over seem to be milling around near the bus, and just as Shinsou and Bakugou are about to head over there, a shout comes from their left.

“Bakugou! Shinsou!” Kirishima exclaims, waving at them frantically as they start towards him. “Are you guys okay?! You were right in the middle of that last bit! I thought Shinsou was gonna lose his face!”

Shinsou laughs uncomfortably, a grimace on his face that could very nearly be interpreted as a smile. “Yeah, I’m good. And, for the record, I’m glad my beautiful face is still very much intact.” Bakugou huffs in amusement, and Kirishima laughs, loud enough that Hitoshi’s maybe a little worried that they’ll draw attention to themselves. “Well, I guess we’ll go wait by the bus. See ya, Kirishima.”

“You need to get checked up first, though!” the redhead insists, just as Bakugou notices a medic approaching them, probably to make sure they’re okay. Dread crawls up his throat when Kirishima’s eyes go wide and snap to his feet. “Wait. Bakugou- I totally forgot about your foot!” he cries, concern evident in the quiver of his bottom lip. “Excuse me, Miss! My friend was stabbed in the foot earlier! Please help!”

The medic goes from walking to full on running towards them, already opening the kit box she's holding. Katsuki, in any other situation, would be surprised (and maybe even a little flattered) that the boy already considers them friends- but, as it is, he can only wonder desperately how the Hell he’s going to get himself out of this one.

The medic reaches them quickly, pulling out bandages and disinfectant faster than any of them can blink, let alone formulate a plan on how to explain this all away.

“Please sit down, sir.” she begins, putting her hand on his shoulder in order to guide him gently to the floor (like the ghost of a touch, mimicking a care that they’d never learn to feel). “Can you take off your boot so I can see the injury? I’d do it, but I don’t want to hurt you.” Katsuki can feel the sweat start to slowly trickle down his neck as his eyes dart to Hitoshi for aid with an explanation. Shinsou shrugs uselessly out of sight of the medic, looking almost as panicked as Bakugou feels. The medic wrongfully interprets Bakugou’s worry as a result of him going into shock. “Sir, can you hear me? There’s no need to worry, it’s gonna be fine. Should I take your boot off for you?” she asks, reaching out to touch it. On instinct, he draws it away quickly, body flinching back as he does so. She looks incredibly concerned, and Katsuki scrambles for a sensical response so she doesn’t call for more assistance.

“Wait, no- Kirishima made a mistake. The knife hit the side of my boot, it didn’t actually hit anything.” She stares sceptically at the entry hole the knife made in his boot, probably already aware that there should most definitely be something there to hit.

“Sir,” she starts again, going forward once more to try and take his boot off.

“I’m serious!” he exclaims roughly, trying to rein himself in to seem more exasperated than distressed. “There’s nothing there to hurt!”

Kirishima looks ineffably worried by the whole ordeal. Shinsou does as well (just for a different reason), and the medic looks to be getting increasingly frustrated with him. “Sir, please, let me just-“ she tries, but Katsuki interrupts her, majorly underestimating the volume of his voice as he blurts out a response in his panic.

“I DON’T HAVE A FUCKING TOE THERE!”

Katsuki shouts it far louder than he intends to, and more than a few people turn their gazes toward the commotion. He resists the urge to shrink away as the medic blinks the shock out of her pupils.

“What do you mean?” she asks, concern dripping from her eyes like candle wax. Bakugou swallows thickly, and forces himself not to stumble over his words as he replies.

“I only have four toes on my right foot. That stupid villain just hit where the last one should be. I’m not hurt, simple as.”

The medic still seems incredulous, but the fierce blaze in his eyes and the substantial lack of blood wins out over her scepticism. Very briefly, she gives Shinsou a once-over for injuries before trudging off to continue doing her job elsewhere. Hitoshi almost feels bad for her, but it’s hard to find any more sympathy beneath the swathes of concern for his best friend crashing over every other thought like a tsunami; looming over his conscience like a mountain he’ll never climb.

Kirishima looks as if he’s about to question the occurrence, but Katsuki can see the pity lining his eyes, and he’d be damned if he just stuck around and let someone feel sorry for him (he’d had enough of it from those doctors, when they’d thought he might lose the whole fucking foot).

“We’re gonna go wait by the bus. See ya, Kirishima.” Shinsou repeats for the second time, almost as if reading Bakugou’s mind. The worry in the redhead’s eyes doesn’t waver, but the boy doesn’t ask to follow either, simply nods and lets them leave. For once in his life, Bakugou is nearly ashamed it turn his back. It feels like he’s running away (though it’s better than being caught again, whether by a question or in an alleyway).

Some of the other students by the bus cast them side-eyes when they arrive, but are seemingly too wrapped up in their own conversations to properly acknowledge Bakugou and Shinsou’s arrival, which is probably for the best. The pair loiter in front of the bus along with their peers for a while, before a smiling man in a beige trench coat and a trilby hat approaches the cluster of students. His eyes are brown and kind, though something about them makes Bakugou feel like they can see underneath his skin- so much that he almost, almost breaks eye-contact. But Bakugou Katsuki is no coward, and he’ll be dead and gone before he ever backs down from a fight willingly.

“Hello,” the man begins, effectively silencing all conversation, “my name is Naomasa Tsukauchi, and I work as a detective for the Musutafu police force. I’d like to ask anyone here who hasn’t already been interviewed a few questions- so if one of you would be so kind as to come with me?”

Bakugou accidentally makes eye-contact again. The Detective’s gaze flits away, but he knows it’s just because the man would feel bad for putting a kid on the spot. He’s underestimating him, and Katsuki will never let that slide.

“I’ll go, if you’re all too chicken-shit.” Bakugou declares, clicking his tongue in exasperation in order to conceal the preceding anxious tapping of his fingers against the fabric of his Hero costume. He’ll swallow his nerves, sure- but he’s not ready to swallow his pride.

Shinsou splutters in shock, wide eyes fixed on his passively neutral expression. “Kats?! You- you’re sure?” he asks, but Katsuki’s already gone- back turned and following the Detective to a more secluded area. (Hitoshi watches him go, wondering if maybe this was how he felt all those years ago- watching idly from a hospital bed as nurses and loved ones alike came and went like the tides.)

Tsukauchi smiles sympathetically at Bakugou when they find a quieter spot by the side of the USJ (with eyes full of pity, pity, pity-), before taking out a notepad and pen from the pocket of his trench coat and clicking the pen once.

“I take it you’re Bakugou Katsuki?” he queries, and Bakugou hates that his first thought is that ‘he works on the police force, he knows-, and only then remembering that he’s also a Yuuei student, and someone’s bound to have mentioned him if some of his peers have already been questioned by the guy. Katsuki nods after realising that he hasn’t done so already, before any more concern can slip into the man’s thoughts and root itself there like the slowly festering disease that it is. The Detective appears to scribble that down. Judging by the speed at which he finishes, he must be a pretty fast writer. “Okay. We know that there were a lot of villains present, but do you think that you can pick out any that looked like they might be the ringleaders for me?”

Bakugou’s thoughts briefly flit back to Hand-Job’s crusty-ass face (it could definitely have done with some moisturiser), Big Bird’s blue, convicted felon uncle, and, of course, Misty McGee. “Yeah. There were two there that looked like they were in charge, and then one that looked pretty fu- er, pretty dodgy, but All Might kicked the sh-aah, Heck out of him.”

“Can you describe them for me?” Tsukauchi requests, already writing something down, as if anything he’d just said actually warranted note-taking.

“Sure, why not? There was one dude who had messy blue hair, red eyes, and weirdly crusty skin. Shigaraki Tomura, I think his name was? Dude had some kind of contact-quirk- judging by how he kept trying to grab people- but I wasn’t in the plaza the whole time, so I didn’t see what it did. He was also covered in hands- must’ve been a fetish or something, the creep. The second guy didn’t really look like anything, ‘cause he was literally just a bunch of purple fog. There was definitely something beneath all that, though, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to grab him and pin him to the floor with a grenade.”

“I’m sorry, you did what-?” The detective wheezed in a spluttering gasp, but Bakugou doesn’t give him time to process and/or recover from this new information, because he’s cool and edgy. And he’d also really like to get back to school and find out what’s going on with Mr. Ripped-but-also-not-ripped Hannah Montana.

“The third one look fuuuuu- really stupid. Navy skin with a beak, and his brain sticking out like some kind of loser. He had more than one quirk too, I think, which was super weird. Like, Regeneration and Shock Absorption, or something.” Tsukauchi jots it all down at an impressively speedy pace, having abruptly recovered from the knowledge that an angry teenager had tried to throw hands with a villain made of smoke. The Detective closes the notepad with a satisfying snap then, clicking his pen off and stowing the two items away in his coat pocket again, ready and waiting for the next interviewee.

The Detective gives him a softer, less professional look there, boring his eyes into Katsuki’s skull like a drill- just like he had when they’d first made eye-contact. It made him feel vulnerable; like all his skin had been stripped away to reveal the poorly put-together excuse for a person beneath the bravado. It made him want to whitewash his mind, made him feel like his thoughts were laid bare to the man before him.

“Now, just to finish off- you’ve only been in the Hero course for you weeks, and you’ve already been attacked- are you okay?” Tsukauchi stares at him expectantly, gaze no less calm than previously, but it still makes his hair stand on end. Bakugou internally berates himself for acting like a fucking coward, and goes to answer, immediately forgetting that he was supposed to be refraining from swearing.

“Of course I’m fucking fine. I signed up for this, didn’t I? No point in charging into something I can’t handle.” The Detective’s expression changes. Only slightly- barely noticeable- but Katsuki sees it. Katsuki sees it and he hates it, because it makes him feel like a shit liar; like the guy knows (even though that's impossible, because this isn’t the same detective he met four years ago). The conversation ends there, and Tsukauchi leads him back to where Shinsou and the bus are waiting for him. One of his other classmates goes with the Detective next, and Bakugou situates himself next to his purple-haired best friend. Shinsou looks at him with a restless sort of curiosity (Katsuki idly notes the considerably large amount of people present, and thinks that maybe that has something to do with it).

“How’d it go?” Hitoshi asks, reaching out furtively to clasp his friend’s hand in his own. Katsuki squeezes back gently, just to reassure the other boy that he’s okay. They do this, sometimes- holding each other when one of the needs it (or even just wants it). Lately, though, never in public, for fear that potential crushes (read: Kirishima) might look at them and assume that they’re dating. Katsuki thinks he should probably answer the question now.

“It went alright, I guess. The guy asked me a few questions, and I answered ‘em. He asked if I was okay at the end, though, and looked a little weird when I said I’m fine. Nothing really dodgy about the guy- I just thought his eyes were a bit… much.” Shinsou’s eyes dawn with understanding, and he gives a smile in return that’s almost bittersweet. Bakugou, before Shinsou begins speaking, notices Kaminari’s brief glance at their interlocked hands. But the discount Pikachu doesn’t say anything, so neither does he.

“At least it’s over now with, though. And, besides that,” Shinsou pauses, leaning closer to him and murmuring from the corner of his mouth, “I’m sure you’re more interested in what Hannah Might-ana’ll have to say for himself than some creepy detective.” That was a pretty good point, and it was also true. Katsuki doesn’t think to voice that though, however- simply grins and nods while Hitoshi’s smile becomes something a little less bitter and a little more sweet at the sight.

The last student to be checked over and interviewed reaches the bus, and so they're all herded into it at last; taking their seats and heading back to school to the background white-noise of the engine’s deep rumble. Silence permeates the air- so thick it’s an almost physical sensation- and Katsuki finds that he rather dislikes it. Shinsou sits by his side (obviously), looking similarly uncomfortable with the atmosphere and yet equally as unwilling to put an end to it. Awkward situations have never been Hitoshi’s strong suit. This, of course, means that Kaminari considers it the perfect opportunity to open his mouth and break the silence, and Bakugou would have been grateful if not for the question being directed at him.

“Yo, Bakugou, what was that yelling about earlier? The whole, uh… toe thing?” The question’s innocent enough, but it still leaves a sour taste in Bakugou’s mouth as he thinks back to the explanation he gave to the medic. He feels Kirishima shift uneasily on his other side, most likely a strained expression mimicking Shinsou and Bakugou’s own.

“Kirishima saw me get stabbed in the foot while we were in the Collapse Zone, but it didn’t hit anything ‘cause I only have four fucking toes on my right foot.” he replies gruffly, opting to focus his gaze on Kaminari rather than the other students on the bus who are pretending not to listen, but are very obviously listening. Some of the tension in his shoulders dissipates when Hitoshi gives him a reassuring elbow-nudge to the arm, and Kirishima’s hand ghosts over his in an apparent yet perceivably strange desire to provide comfort. Kaminari’s eyes are wide when Bakugou flits his gaze back after remembering what he was supposed to be focusing on.

“Really? That’s pretty weird, dude- but why?” That’s kind of a broad question that the electric blond’s posed to him, so Bakugou decides to ask for clarification, if only to buy himself a few extra seconds.

“What d’you mean ‘why’?” Katsuki demands, gaze scrutinising in order to compensate for the primal panic in his head.

“I mean why do you only have four toes? Were you born with it or something?” Bakugou, in lieu of an actual, definitive answer, grunts noncommittally, and the conversation drops like a fruit fly. Bakugou always likes the sit-on-the-fence response that grunting poses itself as- because he hates lying, but he dreads to imagine the reaction if he told the truth. It’s his go-to response for awkward questions, and it isn’t looking like that’s going to change any time soon.

The remainder of the ride is spent in thoughtful and tentative silence, and five or ten minutes later, they arrive back at school. Shinsou and Bakugou, having spent the ride doing their utmost to repress the last few hours (apart from when he body-slammed Kurogiri, because that was badass), leap off their seats and bound out the doors of the bus. Outside, they’re met with the faces of some of their teacher. The ones who were present at the USJ, that is. Bakugou immediately chooses to demand “Where’s All Might?”

Present Mic’s signature grin falters slightly, and he looks as if he’s about to respond, but Cementoss beats him to it. “You wanted to talk to him about what you saw, yes? Don’t worry, I’ll lead the two of you to him.” Some of the Pros appear to be a little bewildered by the implications of the Cement Hero’s words, but it’s far too late to ask, because he’s already guiding them through the doors of the school and down the winding corridors. Left there, left again, up a flight of stairs and to the right, they find the sign identifying the room beyond the door as Recovery Girl’s office. Cementoss bids them farewell and takes his leave, just as Bakugou takes a breath and knocks on the door. The weary call of ‘come in’ gives them confidence enough to push the entrance open slowly- to be met with the frail, gaunt skeleton of a man that heralds the title of Symbol of Peace. The Pro coughs a few flecks of blood onto the hand he draws to his mouth upon their arrival, and smiles dully at their expectant gazes.

“I assume you’re here for an explanation?” All Might huffs, an amused yet exasperated expression adorning his features. The look rather suits him (in a weird way), but neither of them say so, instead choosing to continue staring at him. “I suppose that it’s best that I give you one, then.” He clears his throat, and takes a deep breath in and out before beginning.

“Well, I explained One for All to you on your first day at school, if I recall correctly. It takes a great amount of strength to draw the power of so many Heroes from a single vessel, meaning the level I- or any wielder, really- can bear is only a fraction of its potential, and its strength only grows as it passes down. About four years ago now, I think, I fought a great and terrible battle against the most powerful villain of the time. I managed to defeat him, but he caused irreparable damage to my side. Half of my respiratory organs were destroyed, and my stomach had to be completely removed. I became emaciated from multiple surgeries and, prior to the USJ, I could only hold my Hero form for roughly three hours. Though, I fear the fight with the Noumu has weakened me even further.”

The two boys stand there, flabbergasted by the new information. Their open mouths could catch flies, and this is proven when one heads straight into Shinsou’s, and he startles, gagging horrendously. All Might winces in sympathy from the bed he’s in as Bakugou slaps him on the back. He stops choking eventually, and shoots Katsuki a grateful look. Katsuki, after patting Shinsou on the shoulder in acknowledgement, turns to look at All Might, an unreadable expression on his face.

“Okay, you gonna tell us who this villain is, or?” Bakugou asks, raising an eyebrow in bemusement. There’s a moment of stunned silence as All Might processes the blond’s indifference.

“W-well, he’s most likely dead now, so it hardly matters-“ Shinsou joins in with the eyebrow-raising there, so All Might sighs and complies with the unspoken request. “Very well. His name was… All for One.

All Might’s expecting pale faces and wide eyes. It’d be fitting if the earth even quaked at the mere mention of his name, or if lightning crackled threateningly in the distance. But all he gets is blank stares, and an awkward cough from the purple-haired boy.

“Right.” Bakugou says abruptly, effectively breaking the building silence. “Yep. All for One. Never heard of him.”

All Might let out a shaky exhale (he’s sure doing that a lot, isn’t he?), before looking at them with solemn blue eyes. “He’s something of a myth now. An urban legend that not even many Heroes or villains believe in. But he was horrific, and it’s villains like him that are the reason that the world needs One for All; the reason All for One needs a successor.” The Pro-Hero’s voice begins to take on a more pleading tone, volume rising with emotion as he stares meaningfully into Bakugou eyes. “I can think of no better successor than you, my boy. I fear my time is running out, and the world needs you more than it ever has.”

But Katsuki stares and stares, thinking quietly to himself in contrast to the loudness of the thoughts themselves.

It seems cold to refuse- heartless, even- but he made his mind up two weeks ago. Knew even before then what shape he would carve his life into.

“What quirk did you have before One for All?” is what he asks instead. All Might blinks away the tears that were steadily forming in his eyes and considers the question.

“I didn’t.” the Hero says simply. “I was quirkless, just like you. My master picked me off the street when I was just a boy. She told me she admired my spirit, and passed her power- her legacy- down to me.”

Katsuki’s blank face contorts into a furious scowl at the words, but he doesn’t unleash his fury just yet. “Did you want to be a Hero? Even before you had a quirk?”

All Might smiles, gaze soft in his memories and unseeing of the boy’s frustration. “Yes. I was determined to be the Symbol of Peace the world needed. Even before my master found me, I was desperate to become a Hero.”

The force of Bakugou’s glare finally registers in All Might’s mind, breaking passed childhood fondness into the reality that is Katsuki’s anger. “You were quirkless?” Bakugou asks, and All Might gives a firm nod in return. “Okay, okay. Cool. Cool. Very cool. That’s very cool, All Might. Thank you, Kanye, very cool. Incredibly cool, even.”

All Might looks to Shinsou in confusion, who nods in Bakugou’s direction and helpfully translates. “That means he really, really wants to swear- or, y’know, throw hands with you- but he recognises that you’re a figure of authority and doesn’t want to tarnish his glisteningly clean record.” All Might looks to Bakugou again, who nods tensely in confirmation, clenched fists shaking at his sides.

“Young Bakugou?” All Might calls questioningly, coaxing a reply out of the blond.

“Yeahhh. Y’know, if you were quirkless before One for All- and especially if you still wanted to be a Hero before One for All- I’d generally expect you to have believed I could make it as a Pro-Hero without a quirk from the beginning. But nooo, you told me it was ‘unrealistic’. You told me that I should try for being a police officer, as if I’d ever settle for anything less than number one.” Katsuki pauses for a second there, gathering his emotions in a breath and releasing the shaking tension in his hands.

“And if inheriting your quirk’ll turn me into as big a hypocrite as you- well, I’d much prefer to become the number one with Hito-shit on my own terms, thank you very much.”

All Might stares, but says nothing, so Hitoshi stretches out his arms and claps his hands together purposefully. “Right then! I think we can all agree that Recovery Girl will maul us to death if we shorten your life-span via stress anymore than we already have, so we should probably go to class and meet with the rest, yeah?” All Might apparently still hasn’t regained his ability to speak, so Hitoshi takes the lack of reaction as confirmation. “Cool, good talk. We’ll see you in Hero Class, then!”

Hitoshi puts his hand on Bakugou’s shoulder and spins his friend around before marching them both out of the entrance. Though, just before he closes the door, Shinsou turns his head back to face the skeletal husk of a Hero and speaks. “You’re a good guy, All Might. A good guy, and a good Hero. But we’ve made up our minds: we’re going to be the Symbol of Peace together. We’re gonna prove that you can make it big even if you have to claw your way up from rock-bottom to do it. There’s a phrase in Latin- morior invictus, I think? And it means we’ve made a promise to ourselves, and we’ll be dead before we turn our backs on it.”

They walk away, and All Might’s left to watch hopelessly after what could’ve been the best successor for One for All the world could have asked for as the door shuts with a soft click.

 

 

From beyond the door, the pair of Hero-course students walk in thoughtful silence. It feels like they’re the cool and edgy protagonists in a movie, but Bakugou looks like he has something on his mind, and Shinsou is trying to decide whether or not to ask about it until the blond stops in his tracks in the middle of the hallway.

“What’s up, Kat-suck-it?” Shinsou asks, tilting his head to peer at his friend.

Bakugou looks at him- eyes wide and glazed over with cold realisation. “Hito-shit. You do realise you could’ve just brainwashed Handsy… right?”

The world is silent, and for a moment, Katsuki thinks that maybe Shinsou won’t say anything at all. But then he can see it building behind his friend’s eyes- like the pulling of the tide before a tsunami- and he barely has the time to cover his ears before-

“FUCK!”

Somewhere outside, a flock of birds flee to the skies in terror.