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Atop the Telephone Wire

Chapter Text

      “Did you see?” A tall girl with a surgical mask turned her phone to face her friend. Her eyes narrowed with worry. “Another attack. There’s been a lot lately, do you mind walking home with me after class?”

      “Do you even have to ask? Of course I will! I know how much of a scaredy cat you are!” Her friend answered enthusiastically as she whipped her scorpion tail to show her confidence.

      A mutant Quirk, Izuku inferred.

      Izuku overheard the exchange between the two girls near the end of class. He was sitting near them in his desk where multiple notebooks lay overlapping each other. His collection of notes had grown a lot since he’d entered high school, he was on his seventeenth notebook now. He found it much easier to talk to people without battle-oriented Quirks since he could usually get more information out of them. There were some, such as the two girls sitting close to him, that had more dangerous Quirks like toxic breath and scorpion features, but he wasn’t afraid. Since this school didn’t have a hero course, it wasn’t like they had much experience in battle.

      It was a public high school with a relatively easy entrance exam, which is probably why they accepted a Quirkless student without much thought. Not only do they get an obedient student with good grades, they also got extra publicity for being such a ‘generous’ school for taking a ‘disabled’ child. Izuku didn’t mind too much, it wasn’t like he hadn’t been through worse. At least all the bullying has been psychological rather than physical.

      It seems none of Kacchan’s ‘friends’ followed me to this school.

      Izuku sighed and looked at his watch. About ten minutes left. He began to pack up a little early so he could check the news of the villain attack on his phone. He scrolled through the gossip before he reached an article with words in large red text spelling out ‘alert’. As he read through, he made some mental notes about the incident. It seemed like a typical villain; He was a thief that got caught up in a few confrontations, multiple injured and no casualties. His Quirk was undetermined, but from the injuries, the police assume it was fire related.

      Izuku was snapped back to reality when he heard the familiar chime of the bell signaling the day’s end. He quickly swung his backpack over his shoulder and sped towards the classroom doors. Most of the other students were still gathered in the room separated by their cliques when he left. The hallways were also relatively empty since not everyone races to the exit as soon as the bell rings.

      “Excuse me, Midoriya? May I have a word?” His homeroom teacher popped his head out of the classroom. His brown mandibles protruded from the sides of his mouth making him look intimidating despite being one of the nicest teachers in the school. Another mutant Quirk.

      Izuku halted his steps and silently groaned before turning around to walk back to the classroom doors. This was the last thing he needed right now.

      “Yes, Sir?” the boy asked with an unintentional hast in his voice.

      “I just wanted to remind you that clubs are still accepting new members. It’s not mandatory, of course, but I feel like you’d enjoy some of the activities available.”

      “Oh, thanks for telling me, Kuwagata-sensei, but I really don’t think I have the time to devote to a club right now.” Izuku gave him a kind smile. It wasn’t like he wanted to join anything even if he did have the time, but he tried to be as polite as possible.

      The faster he lets this go, the faster I can leave.

      “I see… well, I guess that can’t be helped. If you ever change your mind, I’m sure I can pull some strings to get you into one even after the registration deadline,” He grinned brightly and even though he had no ill intentions, his Quirk made him look terrifying. “Oh, and Midoriya? I know things can get pretty tough in high school, but you will always have people to talk to, people who care. Don’t forget that.”

      “Ah, y-yeah! Thanks!” Izuku awkwardly waved his teacher goodbye and jogged down the hallway. When he was out of sight, he leaned back against the wall and let out a long, heavy breath.

      Does he think I’m depressed? Izuku asked himself. He could understand that conclusion; he’d been distant, his eyes were forming dark circles from lack of sleep, and he was being secretive about his life outside of school. He was fine though! He didn’t want anyone to worry about him, especially when many others needed that concern more than he did.

      He ran a hand through his hair and pushed himself off the wall. He would need to address this issue with his teacher later, for now, he had some things to do. He dashed out the front doors of the school and jumped the stairs that led to the courtyard. He took off passed the gates, seeing a few puzzled looks from the students outside. The roads were narrow and empty. Unusual considering the good weather, but Izuku knew that many people had been cautious of the villain sighting in the area and were probably avoiding the streets until things calmed down.

      As he was approaching his apartment building, he glanced up at a telephone wire where a pair of red shoes hung. They weren’t there that morning, but he’d seen a lot of delinquents in the area recently and they had a reputation of throwing shoes like that. He tried to ignore the thought of delinquent gangs in his neighborhood and continued on his way through the parking lot of the apartment complex. He made his way around the building to the back where the garbage was kept. He dropped his bag and kicked it behind the dumpster.

      Izuku took out his phone and searched his contacts for his mother. He tapped the ‘call’ button and pressed the phone to his ear.

      “Hello? Izuku? Are you staying late again?” Inko’s voice crackled over the speaker.

      “Yeah, the club’s doing a big project on Kamui Woods, so they want me to help fact check. It might take a while, so you should have dinner without me. I’ll find something on the way home, okay?” He hated lying to her, but this secret would be much safer if it was kept.

      The other was silent for a moment, “alright… Just be careful on your way back… I love you, sweetie!”

      “Love you too, Mom.” He ended the call and walked over to the other side of the dumpster where a black backpack covered in decorative chains was waiting for him. He picked it up and stuffed his phone in the front pocket. He opened the main compartment and pulled out a dark green hoodie, a black respirator and a pair of gloves. He unbuttoned his uniform and slipped the hoodie over his head, he fiddled with the All Might silhouette that was designed on the front and straighten it out before putting the respirator over his mouth. The hood of the costume had snaps that attached to the respirator to prevent it from falling off his head. He couldn’t risk exposing his very conspicuous curly green hair after all.

      He gathered his school uniform and shoved it into the bag before swinging it over his back and making a mad dash back into the street. He reached over to a side zipper on his bag and pulled out a small metal grappling device, swinging it onto the roof of a short building. He was launched up into the air and somersaulted onto the roof, continuing his run as he jumped from building to building.

      No, he may not have gotten into UA, the prestigious hero school, like his childhood friend and bully. And no, he may not have a Quirk or ever be a traditional ‘hero’ like all the people he’s looked up to throughout the years, but he could still do the one thing he wanted to do all his life: save people.  

 

Chapter Text

       His dad had called after the results came in. Despite being in America most of the time with few chances to contact his family, Hisashi called as often as he could. It was hard to time them perfectly to make sure that they would all be awake, so he would usually message them through phone apps. Not this time though. This deserved more care than that.

       “I’m not upset, Dad,” Izuku chuckled at the fuss Hisashi was making over how discriminative the UA exam was. “I knew what would happen.”

       “That’s no excuse! Izuku, you’ve got one of the biggest brains out there! Even if the hero course didn’t accept you, UA lost one of the best students in the world!”

       “Thanks, but… I’m fine, really, I think,” Izuku smiled at the ground. He had been curled up at the edge of his bed with a blanket draped over him. His legs hung over the frame of the bed and his shoulder leaned against the old wooden post. There was a silver electronic disk that sat on his desk, a hologram projector. It had a green light on the side that had long since gone out once the video message had ended. Failure had been the only option when it came to UA, but Izuku knew that. So why did he even try? If it wasn’t hope, then why? He convinced himself it was for closure.

       “What are you planning to do then?” Hisashi asked. He was much calmer now but Izuku could tell, even through the phone, that he was still concerned.

       “I’m not sure. I’ve applied to other schools. None of them have hero courses, but I was accepted to one that’s pretty close to the house. I’ll probably go there.”

       “I meant, what are you going to do about your dream?”

       “Huh?”

       “Izuku, what do you think a hero is?” It was a question that wasn’t unfamiliar; Izuku had come up with many answers to it over the years, but there was one definition that came to mind in that moment.

       “Umm, someone who saves people and meddles even though they don’t have to. That’s what All Might would do, I think. Why?”

       “Then do that.”

       “What?”

       “Save people.”

       It wasn’t like his father gave him the idea to turn to vigilantism. Remembering the conversation now, he could have just as easily meant to become a doctor or a police officer. But there was something about his tone of voice that made Izuku think otherwise. He sounded serious and daring, as if he was telling his son a secret. So that’s what it became. Our secret .

       Izuku tripped as he hit the edge of the building he had been running across. He was flipped by the momentum and landed on the roof opposite to him. He quickly pushed himself up from his side where he’d landed and looked back at the edge that had caught his foot. His eyes widened for a moment in shock, but his face soon softened, and he almost doubled over with laughter.

       I’m such a newbie , he thought as he pushed his arms down on the concrete of the roof. He may have trained tirelessly for months to attempt the UA exams beforehand, but the parkour and rooftop races definitely needed more practice than he had devoted to them.

       He sighed and dusted his clothes off. As he turned to continue running, he heard a crash from the ally below. He paused, then sprinted towards the corner that the noise originated from. There was a vending machine that had been knocked down, obviously on purpose considering how heavy they are. Other than that, the only thing Izuku could see was a puddle of water a few meters from the machine which wouldn’t be uncommon if it had been raining recently. What was strange about it was the trail of footsteps that were now visible due to it.

       Izuku nodded at no one in particular and jumped to the next building, following the direction of the faded footprints. He recalled the villain sighting notice from earlier, the suspect supposedly had a fire related Quirk which he was accustomed to after dealing with Katsuki for so long. If it was the villain from the news that he was chasing, he knew he’d be prepared. And if he encountered any surprises, he had medical supplies in his bag. Not the most comforting thought if he was being honest, but he knew the risks of taking the law into his own hands.

       He stopped so suddenly that he almost fell again when his feet skidded along the roof of a four-storey building. He steadied himself and raced over to the side of the structure, looking over an open street. There were people here, a few small groups gathered around local markets. It would be troublesome if there was an attack in a populated area. Izuku tried his best to avoid the public so that he wouldn’t be caught by the pros or the police, but if the situation called for it, he was always ready to risk that.

       He scoured the faces of the people below him. No one stood out to him as visibly threatening, although, he couldn’t see anyone in detail from this distance. Instead of playing a guessing game to find the suspect, Izuku opted to note all possible escape routes. There were two alleyways, a sewer grate, and each end of the continuous street, any of which could be used as an easy getaway. For both the villain as well as himself.

       “Help!” Izuku’s eyes snapped to a plain looking man who called out to the crowd. He was pulled out of the store on the left side of the street by larger man with red clothes and an elaborate belt. The belt seemed to be adorned with canisters containing an unknown substance, Izuku was assuming the worst considering how the man’s hand hovered over the containers as if it was a weapon.

       The Quirkless boy instantly jumped off the roof, aiming for the balcony of the building next to him. He landed safely but had no time to be thankful for that as he scrambled off that platform as well, hopping to the ground across from the store. He noticed people’s surprise when he jumped from the building, but he tried to ignore the prospect of someone catching him.

       Before confronting the villain, he addressed the crowd first.

       “Everybody get to safety!” Izuku yelled much more forcefully than he intended.

       “Hey, kid! What do you think you’re doing?! Wait for the pros!” A woman shouted at him as she ran. He almost apologized to her for not doing as she said, but he knew he couldn’t stop what he’d already started. When most of the people had dispersed, Izuku approached the villain. He took a glance at Izuku and smirked.

       “What the hell is this? You a kid?” He howled with laughter and brought his hostage closer. “What are you gonna do?”

       Izuku reached behind him, grabbing a small baton from his bag. He brought his feet apart in a battle stance and readied his weapon. He had no intention of blindly attacking. Not with a hostage involved. He knew Katsuki would rush into the situation without a second thought, not blindly of course, but he would likely rely too much on his Quirk for a situation like this. Izuku didn’t have the luxury of a Quirk to help him, so he had to be sure of every move he made right now to be sure that everyone was safe.

       “I won't be doing anything if you just let that man go,” Izuku said, determination in his eyes.

       “Sorry, kid,” The villain chuckled and took a canister from his belt. “But this is no time to play hero.”

Chapter Text

        Izuku had braced himself for some kind of explosion or knockout gas but was startled by the water that splashed out of the can when the villain crushed it. The liquid had surrounded the villain’s hand as if it were a magnet and started to boil. An emitter Quirk , the boy thought. The police had presumed the criminal to have a fire Quirk due to the first degree burn injuries on the victims. Seeing it now, Izuku realized how limited the police’s information was.

        The boy’s surprise must have been obvious because the man smirked confidently and made a point of showing his Quirk off. The water formed the shape of a glove around the man’s right hand, it continuously flowed and bubbled as he threateningly held it over the hostage’s throat.

        Izuku stiffened and lowered his weapon. If he did anything rash right now, he’d be risking the poor man’s life but at the same time, if he did nothing, they would be at a stalemate until the pros came to arrest them both.

       He stealthily pressed his thumb down on the handle of his baton and a small latch opened at the bottom. A small blade fell into his hand and he swiftly spun around, flinging the miniature dagger at the villain’s non dominant hand. The large man let out a roar as he pulled back his hand from the arm of the hostage.

       “Run! Now!” Izuku yelled at the smaller man who was still in shock from how close the blade came to hitting him instead of the criminal. The man obeyed and sprinted down the street to where a small crowd had started to gather.

       Witnesses? The pros are going to be here soon .

       “Shit, kid. Are you serious?” The man winced as he pulled the dagger out of his hand with his other, water covered one, and tossed it to the ground. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

       Izuku’s eyes fell steady and his breath slowed. His determination radiated off of him as he prepared himself for attack. He left the villain with a simple answer and a passionate smile that was masked, quite literally, by the respirator. “Saving people.”

       Before the water powered villain could react, Izuku ran up to his side and struck the man’s inner knee with his baton. The man’s leg gave way as the high schooler jumped back to avoid a counter. Now kneeling, the man angrily slammed his hand onto the remaining canisters around his belt, dropping them to the ground and collecting the water around his torso. It spread across his shoulders and flowed around his arms like a second skin. As it began to boil, he pulled himself to a standing position and rushed at the green clad boy.

       “What’s wrong?!” The villain screamed when Izuku reeled, dodging his boiling arm as it was swung at his head. “Scared?!”

       Izuku took another swing with his baton, hitting the villain’s back. Scorching droplets of water spattered across the ground and the hood of his costume as the villain fell forward from the impact. Izuku leaped back to get a safe distance away from the splash but was stopped by a sudden pain around his ankle where the fallen man took hold of him.

       The heat of the water on his ankle blistered his skin and distracted him from the large man who he hadn't seen rise from the ground. Izuku felt his body become weightless as he was flung from the man’s grasp, almost hitting the wall of a nearby building with his weapon flying behind the villain. His right arm slammed against the pavement while he tumbled across the street. He laid on his side grimacing at the glossy red sore that had melted into the hem of his pants.

       “Get up, ‘hero’! If you wanna fight me, at least use your full power!”

       The boy gritted his teeth, not in pain, but in anger as the man taunted him to start using the Quirk that he didn’t possess. He exhaled forcefully and pushed himself up. The rough road had scraped just above his right eye and blood had began to trickle down his cheek and over his respirator. He ignored it. Even though his ankle throbbed when the dried skin of the burn cracked and his arm burned with the strain of broken blood vessels, he stood and once again spread his feet in a fighting stance.

       “So? What do ya got, huh?” The villain’s breath was labored, and his body began steaming. He was showing signs of fatigue, probably one of the drawbacks of overusing his Quirk. “I’m not going down because of a weak-ass little kid!”

       Izuku darted forwards in a rage, arms swinging by his sides. The villain smiled and prepared to launch at the boy once he got close enough. Izuku held his breath as he ducked the villain’s attempt at grabbing him and slid under the man’s legs, catching the baton that had been thrown on the ground behind him. He held the weapon tightly in his hand, making sure it would stay securely in his grasp.

       The man froze in surprise. That hesitation was exactly what Izuku needed as he swung the baton one last time at the back of the villain’s head, knocking him out as he fell to the ground. The water that surrounded his body instantly pooled underneath him.

       Izuku stood over the villain triumphantly. He was exhausted, he was gasping for air, and his heart was beating a mile a minute, but he had won. He’d taken out minor criminals before with sneaky tactics that left them not knowing who caught them, but this was different. This was a real fight, with a dangerous Quirk, and he had won .

       I’m not powerless .

       The crowd seemed to agree as he heard screams of support from many people, most notably from the man he saved. He had turned to face them all after securing zip ties around the villain’s wrists. He saw them smiling and applauding him for his efforts. He was unable to move his feet from the shear relief he felt in that moment.

       He hadn’t realized he was crying until a tear dropped onto the ground in front of him. He coughed and wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his hoodie.

       He paused and jolted from his position, suddenly aware that he needed to get out of sight before the pros got there. He began to run towards an empty alleyway, getting his grappling device out of the bag’s side pocket. He turned to face the crowd one last time and smiled at the people yelling their gratitude. He threw a peace sign in their direction before shooting into the sky, he wasn’t sure if they had even seen it, but he didn’t really care. He just wanted to show that he was grateful to them as well, to show how happy he was that no one got hurt.

       He glanced down at his ankle while he ran across the rooftops.

       Well, almost no one got hurt .

       He nearly ran passed his apartment if it weren't for seeing the red shoes that hung from the wire across the street. He crouched on the edge of the building connected to the wire and dug through his backpack for a protein bar he had bought a few days earlier. As he ate, he searched his bag for his first aid kit. When he found it, he clicked it open and rummaged through it for burn cream and bandages while the protein bar half hung out of his mouth.

       He cringed when he tried to pull the fabric of his pants away from the bubbled skin and held in gasps as he treated it with the cream. It took him a moment to start feeling a faint pain in his arm as well, he would have to check later, but he already knew he had a bruise from being thrown across the street. He cleared his throat and tried to push away the feeling of his injuries by distracting himself with cleaning up the first aid kit.

       Once he’d gotten back to the dumpster, he quickly stripped his costume off and took out his uniform again. He threw away the protein bar wrapper quite carelessly and hoped no one heard the slam of the garbage can as it closed. Placing the black backpack in its original spot, he grabbed his yellow school bag and jogged up to the door of his apartment. His mother was watching TV when he returned.

       “Mom! I’m home!” he yelled to be sure his presence was known and then took off his shoes at the door.

       “Oh! Hello, honey, welcome home. How was your day? Did your club appreciate your help?” She calmly smiled at him from her place on the couch.

       “Ah, yeah! It was really fun; I think we got more than enough information for the project for it to be well received.”

       She was quiet for a minute, staring at his face. “Honey, what happened to your face? You have a cut above your eye…”

       “Oh, it’s nothing, really. I tripped in gym class and hit the soccer net,” he chuckled, having forgotten about the scrape. “It doesn’t hurt or anything.”

       His mother had always worried about him. He wasn’t sure if it was because she felt bad about how he was Quirkless or if it was because she was just really paranoid. Probably a mixture of both, if he was being honest. He didn’t like making her worry; it gave him a sense of dread in the pit of his stomach to even think about her going through so much stress.

       “Umm, I think I’ll go to bed early, Mom. I know I usually do it when I get home from school, but I think I’ll take out the trash in the morning instead and, um, I’ll… clean up that cut before bed, so don’t worry.”

       She didn’t say anything, just nodded. Her eyes focused back on the light of the TV, although they were now partially closed which told him that she wasn’t actually watching. Izuku sensed an uneasiness as she did that. She was perspective; she probably knows something was wrong, maybe not in detail, but she could read a mood very well. The atmosphere in that room as Izuku left for bed held a sick kind of feeling, something akin to betrayal.

       He didn’t end up sleeping at all that night. His head was filled with a rush of too many memories to be able to rest. He could still see the image of his mother in his mind when she crumbled to the ground all those years ago, tears streaming down her cheeks as she embraced his child self and apologized repeatedly for something she had no control over. He had never wanted an apology. He didn’t need to be pitied for something that wasn’t a weakness.

       Katsuki had understood that. The blond had never pitied him for anything. The bullying and aggression that he gave him instead wasn’t much better, but with that anger, Izuku saw that Katsuki had at least seen him as worthy of being hated; that he shouldn’t be ignored. Katsuki had told Izuku that he wasn’t on the same ‘level’ as him, but that inherently meant that the Quirkless boy was still on some kind of level. If the boy hadn’t scarred him so much with burns, he may have thanked him for that sense of being.

       Izuku hadn’t seen Katsuki since he had been accepted into UA. He couldn’t help but wonder how his personality was being perceived by the other heroes-in-training. Despite his attitude, Izuku knew Katsuki would be a great hero. He is amazing after all .

 

Chapter Text

       The class was in awe at Katsuki’s unbelievable inability to not be screaming at any given moment. His presence alone made the room grow silent and the overall morale drop through the floor. In reality, he wasn’t entirely at fault for this. It wasn’t as if he refused to interact with them, he simply didn’t have any good interactions with them.

       After finishing the battle trials that All Might had set up, the class had been particularly averse towards him. Not that Katsuki really cared, but the angry glares and overwhelming hostility was starting to get to him. He grew more furious each minute the other students spent wordlessly gossiping about him and he had had enough of it.

       He finally exploded out of his desk and turned to the rest of the class, throwing out blasts from his palms in all directions. “What the hell do you extras gotta say to me, Huh?! I’ll blow those smug looks off your faces!”

       “Extras?!” The class’ voices mixed as they were startled by Katsuki’s sudden outburst.

       “Bakugou-san! That’s no way for a hero to act! Please behave properly in class!” Iida’s voice cut through the rest of the shouting.

       “Yeah, dude! You sure you even wanna be a hero?” Kaminari asked, looking at the other students in order to avoid the blond’s glare.

       “I hate to say it, but your actions are more villainous than heroic, Bakugou…” Yaoyorozu tensed and sighed at the animosity in the room.

       “Shut the hell up!” Katsuki growled. “If you got a problem with me, then come and do something about it!” He turned to face the quiet bi-coloured boy who he seemed to see as his only worthy rival. “Especially you, Half-and-Half bastard!”

       “Bakugou,” The door swung open as Aizawa staggered in with a look of pure exhaustion. “You’re acting like a seven-year-old. Another word out of your mouth today, and you’ll be reprimanded. Nothing good comes from aimlessly challenging anyone that even slightly looks in your direction.”

       Katsuki grunted and fell into his seat angrily. Ever since coming to UA, he was finding it much harder to adjust. In his middle school, there was no one that would dare stand up to him. He was the most powerful person in the school; he was a wolf among sheep. In UA though? He was surrounded by powerful people. He wasn’t intimidated, of course, but he was caught off guard which was a unwanted reality check.

       “Aizawa-sensei! You were more than ten minutes late for class today, did something happen?” Iida asked the pro hero who lazily walked up to his desk.

       “There was some trouble in a residential area yesterday. The police just wanted to see if the UA staff had any information. It was handled, but it’s still a pain in the ass,” he said before turning to face the chalkboard.

       “Oh!” Uraraka exclaimed. “Is it about that vigilante from the news?”

       “Huh? A vigilante?” Kirishima raised his eyebrow and looked over at Uraraka. “I didn’t hear anything; did they catch them?”

       “Um, I think I remember something on the news today about it. He’s the one in the green clothes, right? He was awesome against that water villain!” Hagakure joined the conversation, enthusiasm showing in her voice.

       “Seriously? I’m all for cool fights, but isn’t it kind of reckless to take the law into your own hands like that? Without any formal training?” Jirou asked.

        “Enough talking; you can all gossip after class.” Aizawa ordered, looking back at the class.

       The vigilante that has been patrolling around Musutafu had already captured nine known villains, three of which were high profile and considered dangerous. This illegal hero had crept into the media’s attention overtime, but there was recently a spike in coverage after a public encounter. Up until now, the hero had kept their image out of the news, but after a daring battle with a water villain, later dubbed ‘Scald’, there had been multiple leaked pictures.

        Izuku was worried when he saw the report on the TV that morning. Luckily, all the footage was of amateur quality. He watched with curiosity and shock even though he was the one on the videos and had technically seen it before, he couldn't hold in his pride. It was an out of body experience to see himself maneuvering around the dangerous villain. He looked like he knew what he was doing, which was a welcome feeling but was far from the truth.

        “Can you believe it?! A vigilante taking out a villain like that?!” Izuku overheard some of his classmates in the halls as he made his way to the cafeteria.

        “I know, right? I didn’t get to see the video yet; did you get to see what his Quirk was?”

        “Nah, I heard he didn’t even need to use it! He must be pretty confident to run into a battle without even using his Quirk.”

        That’s not true at all, Izuku thought. He may have looked composed during that fight, but he had been terrified. He was thankful that his respirator covered most of his face, not only because it concealed his identity, but also because it hid his emotions relatively well. Thinking on it now, he wished he had goggles to do the same for his tears. He wasn’t like All Might; he couldn’t smile through tough times or become a reassuring presence to the public, but as long as he could stand, then he had a reason to fight the fear.

       Izuku couldn’t help but sigh as the students began guessing possible Quirks that the vigilante could possess. If they had known the illegal hero was Quirkless, they would likely be talking about how reckless he was rather than his confidence. They may even try to accuse him of putting more people in danger which, considering his limited experience and unconventional training, would be a valid argument.

       “Oh, Sorry!” A short boy with dyed blond hair backed into Izuku after being playfully pushed back by his two friends. Izuku lurched to the side in pain when the boy had hit his bruised arm and shot his other arm up to cradle the injury. He stumbled before quickly recovering out of embarrassment. “Woah, man, are you okay?”

       “Ah, Yes, I just… have a past injury there! It's no big deal though, sorry for getting in your way!” The green haired boy stammered anxiously and straighten up to avoid suspicion. Don’t look suspicious, he told himself, please ignore me !

       The blond scanned him for any hint of dishonestly, focusing on a small scrape across his hand and the bandaged cut on his forehead. The short boy frowned but didn’t pry any further, instead, he stiffened and turned back to quarrel with his friends.

       Izuku sighed with relief and shot through the halls, avoiding eye contact with any other students until he got to lunchroom. There was a group huddled over the small screen of a girl’s phone when he arrived. There were about six students surrounding the first year and she seemed visibly uncomfortable, but it didn’t look like it was because of the others.

       “I don’t think it’s right… I mean, we all want to know about All Might and UA, but the media shouldn’t go this far!” The girl frowned at the video of the media trying to invade UA and bombard them with questions.

       “Come on! It’s not fair for them to keep that information to themselves!” One of the surrounding students replied to the girl’s disregard of the video.

       The girl looked up at the student with a sour expression. “Yeah, tell that to the school when some villain gets their hand on that information!”

Chapter Text

        It was dark; already passed eleven o’clock when Izuku snuck out that night. He knew that he would face the consequences of two consecutive sleepless nights but after the UA media incident, he felt like something was off. Whether or not that feeling had any foundation, he couldn’t predict. He didn’t want to take any chances, so here he was, in the back alley of a deserted underground bar where illegal weapons dealers made their profit.

        He shivered at the ominous atmosphere and felt a deep sense of regret as he held a hand over the metal handle of the back door. He took a breath and shut his eyes in concentration before pulling the handle and walking into the bar. It wasn’t only the knowledge that he was about to make an illegal deal, but also the apprehensive feeling of an uptight goody-two-shoes entering a bar as a minor.

        Is this really a good idea?

        The weapons that he currently had were obtained somewhat accidentally. When he first started, he would take a baseball bat that he had gotten in middle school and eventually decided to take the weapons of some of the villains he’d taken down. He’d almost felt like he had stolen them, but he banished that thought by saying that he just happened upon them; a happy coincidence.

        “Aren't you a little young to be in here, kid?” The bartender, a disgruntled old man with silver scales creeping up the side of his face, had looked over at him as he placed an empty glass down on the shelf behind the counter. He held a white dish towel in his left hand and wore a fitted black vest and tie. He pulled the pair of glasses that were strung around his neck over his eyes to get a better look at the boy that had just wandered in. As he saw the costume of the new arrival he hummed knowingly. “Oh, I suppose you’re not here for the alcohol, then…”

        Izuku shook his head frantically and the man chuckled. The boy pulled his hood forward as if to cover the embarrassment in his eyes, then stepped over to the table and sat on one of the stools. He breathed heavily to calm himself. “Um, are you the person I’m supposed to talk to?”

        “Not used to this, hm? Then, I’m glad I was the first person you met with.” His kind smile faded, and his face turned serious. “You don’t need anything from me, kid. Get out of this business before you get jailed.”

        “I can’t do that,” Izuku said, crossing his arms and leaning against the counter. “I have people that need me, and I intend to help no matter what happens to me.”

        “A vigilante? Noble.” The man’s smile returned, mischievous this time. “But idiotic. You have people that need you, yet you’re willing to throw your life away? For what? The glory? To spite the heroes?”

        “Of course not!” Izuku shot his head up in surprise. His voice was slightly muffled by the respirator, but forceful all the same. “It’s not… I can’t officially be a hero, I know that… but I can still save people! I would never want to spite the heroes, because I know that they’re right! The way I am now, I can’t be like them.

        “I can’t reassure people or make them feel safe, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to sit back doing nothing. I’m not going to be useless!”

        “...Alright, kid, I didn’t ask for your personal ethics but It’s nice to see that you have genuine reasons for doing this.”

        “Are you… are you going to help me then?”

        “I’m still not sure what you hope to gain by helping strangers but…”

        “Everyone starts off as a stranger.”

        The old man laughed at that. “Listen… you seem like a good kid, so I’ll get you what you need, but I want you to promise me something,” The man looked stern, as if what he was about to say was more of a threat than a promise. “Don’t die, yeah?”

        Izuku stared at him wide-eyed and nodded with a grin.

        “Also, I’m gonna introduce you to a few people that will make your job a bit safer. They’re informants so they’ll help you stay out of unpredictable situations. One of them should be here soon for their shift but you may not get the chance to meet the other since they usually take the daytime shifts.”

        “Thank you, umm, what do I call you?”

        “Around here? I’m Silver Scale, quite literal, I don’t care much for symbolism, You?”

        Izuku was silent for a moment. He hadn’t even thought about a nickname for himself. He couldn’t just use his real name; he would get caught for sure! But what other name could he go by? The only nickname he remembers having were insults and if he chose the insulting name ‘Deku’, he would be caught by everyone who knew him by that name. His panic seemed to show on his face because the old man started to laugh again.

        “You haven’t thought of a name yet? Well, now I definitely know you aren't doing this for glory or publicity!” He howled loudly and began to clean up the counter to make a drink of some sort. He pulled out two glasses, filling one with a small amount of red wine and the other with tap water and ice. He handed the water to Izuku and took off his glasses, letting them hang around his neck with a blue string. He took a sip from his cup and continued. “Well, I can’t just introduce you as ‘this kid’, so you better come up with something.”

        “I actually assumed the media would end up giving me some kind of name…” The boy sighed and leaned his head on his hand. He began to put his mind to work, running possible names through his head. He could base the name off of appearances like Silver Scale had, but he didn't have many defining features to his attire. He could go the opposite route and choose something symbolic, but what would he want it to symbolize?

        “You're a mumbler,” The man smirked at Izuku's realization that his thoughts were not private and took another sip of his wine. “How many villains have you beaten, hm?”

        The boy was taken aback by the question but responded truthfully. “About nine, I think…”

        “I’ll call you ‘Nine’, then. It'll be a reminder of where you were before getting further into this business. Feel free to change it.”

        “Ah… no,” He wasn't opposed to the name, but he would have preferred it to represent the people he's saved rather than the ones he defeated. Although, he hadn’t kept track of that factor, so this was the best alternative. If circumstances ever changed, he could always abandon the name for something else. “It, uh, reminds me of the rescue hero, Thirteen, since they're both unlucky numbers so...thanks.”

        After establishing a name, Silver Scale contacted his employees, giving them a description of the items Izuku asked for. He had wanted a few costume adjustments and newer weapons; he was hesitant about asking for blades, especially for a knife, but was reassured by the gray-haired man that it was a smart choice. Other than some blades, he had also asked for a blunt rope dart and small flash bombs that would be set off with the press of a button. For his costume, he requested a bullet proof vest and a pair of tinted goggles that could switch to night-vision.

        “You’re all set,” Silver Scale said as he finished off his wine. “I’ll give you a burner phone and contact you when your items have arrived.”

        Izuku nodded and pushed himself off the rusted old stool. He pulled down his respirator and quickly drank his water. He began to walk back to the door when the old man stopped him. He tensed.

        “My informant will be here soon; they usually arrive around one o’clock. Talk to them outside, the first piece of info is free of charge. They will be expecting you.”

        “I… um, thank you for everything, Silver Scale, I guess we’re not strangers anymore, huh?” Izuku smiled brightly, now visible without the respirator covering his mouth.

        “What an innocent smile! You better keep that virtue, Nine. Don’t let this world destroy that.” The man didn’t let his grin fade even after Izuku walked out the door.

        As if on cue, a petite girl with dark brown hair walked up the alleyway, catching the door as soon as it swung open. Izuku yelped and froze at the sudden closeness when the girl leaned forward, invading his personal space. He stepped to the side in order to evade the girl, but she just used that movement to close the door and trap him against the wall with her arms resting near both sides of his torso. She smirked and narrowed her eyes to study his expressions.

        She didn’t look too much older than he did, but she definitely seemed more mature. She wore a very low-cut top that had button clasps around her waist, reminiscent of a corset, and dark ripped jeans that exposed almost half of her right leg. Her hair was messy and tangled into what seemed to be an attempt at a bun but fell short as most of the strands rested on her shoulder rather than tied on the crown of her head. She almost looked as if she was attacked.

        Is she okay?

        “Well, hello! Y’know, if you’re gonna have a mask like that, you should probably wear it. Your freckles are adorable though!” She giggled and dropped her hands from the wall, releasing Izuku from his cage. As soon as she did, his hands shot to his respirator and he pulled it over his mouth in a panic.

        “Um, are you… sorry, I don’t know how to, um…” Izuku stuttered awkwardly then sighed in defeat.

        I definitely have to get used to this .

        “Aww, cute! Come on, Nine! You can do it! Just ask what you want to know, and who knows? Maybe I’ll already have the info,” She smirked and stepped back about a meter to make the boy feel a bit more comfortable. “Silver already told me about you over the phone. I go by ‘Historia’. My Quirk allows me to see glimpses moments that people regret if I look into their eyes.”

        “Wait, what?” Izuku looked at her in shock before remembering what she had just said and let his gaze fall to avoid eye contact. “So… you looked at my memories or something? Is that why you got so close to me before?”

        She laughed. “Kind of. I can see that you really love your mom to keep such a big secret from her! I can also see that ‘Kacchan’ is a big jerk and you shouldn’t feel so much regret about-”

        “Alright! I get the picture, I think!” Izuku waved his hands in front of him signaling for the girl to stop talking. He sighed, “um, I was wondering if you can get me any information about the UA media incident. Just… If there are any villains that could have gotten anything from it. Is that alright?”

        “Yup! Lucky for you, Nine, I just recently got some info about that! I heard that the media wasn’t responsible for the gate collapsing. They’re still investigating to see if anyone actually got into the school, but from some of my other… clients, I learned that there was a little leak about a field trip of some sort. So, yeah, I’d say that some villains got something out of it. I don’t know what they’re planning though.” Her playful demeanor shifted to a more apologetic one. “I hope that’s enough.”

        “Ah! Yes! Thank you, Historia. I think this will really help me,” Izuku straightened up, much more confident than before. The villains may be planning something with the UA field trip and despite not knowing exactly what it was, he at least knew enough to help. His optimism didn’t go unnoticed, as Historia contently smiled at the boy absentmindedly.

        “Well, I guess I’ll get to work then… unless you need anything else?”

        “Oh, no, I think I’m okay for now.”

        She nodded began to walk over to the door of the bar before turning back on her heel to face Izuku once more. “Y’know, I’m not used to doing this for vigilantes, it makes me feel kind of… glad, I think. So… thank you, really. I don’t think I’m gonna regret this one.”

        Izuku beamed, looking like the sun itself, as she gave him a wave goodbye. He didn’t know why, but he felt the need to reassure her somehow. This may have been the first time she had ever given information that could save people rather than harm them and that truly touched him.

        I hope I can help her somehow.

        As Izuku watched the door close, he could only think of her sad smile and the realization that there were people out there that needed saving from something other than villains.

Chapter Text

        I’m actually doing this , Izuku thought. The polite little Quirkless student with perfect attendance was doing the unthinkable. He was skipping school. Well, in reality, it was only his morning classes because he had the full intention to come back later on, but still. Just the action of leaving the house with a farewell to his mother was painful knowing what he was going to do. He was betraying so much of her trust, even if it was for a legitimate reason, he couldn't help but feel ashamed.

        He decided the night before that he would drop a warning off at UA somehow to at least prepare them for the possibility of an attack. He still didn’t know exactly what he was going to do when he got to the gates of the school, but he did know that it needed to be done. He just hoped he wouldn’t run into any problems on the way.

        To be safe, he had to forgo his school uniform in his bag lest someone recognize him or question what a kid was doing wandering around during school hours. He instead opted for a plain T-shirt with loose jeans and an over the shoulder school bag. Despite the bag being school issued, he usually took his yellow backpack, but seeing as it was such a bright colour, he thought the generic black bag around his shoulder would be less suspicious. Although, he did receive a few glances from the elderly citizens scattered around the city as he moved along the streets, but that was to be expected. The thing he was worried about was going to a place filled with heroes and heroes-in-training. At least he left early, so he doubted many of the UA students would even be at school yet.

        Unfortunately for him, however, just because they weren’t at school yet didn’t mean that they weren’t on their way… going in the same direction as him.

        “Deku? What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

        Izuku stopped in his tracks when he heard the bitter voice of his childhood friend. Of course he would be the one he ran into; just his luck. He took a deep breath before turning around to see the blond standing behind him, hands shoved in his pockets. He wore the UA uniform, although, seemed to have abandoned the idea of wearing a tie, letting the collar of his shirt hang open. Despite the familiar scowl on his face, he seemed different somehow.

        “Ah! Kacchan, um, I was just-”

        “What the fuck did you do to your arm?” Katsuki asked, surprisingly calmly, as he gestured to the large bruise peeking out the sleeve of Izuku’s T-shirt. The boy said nothing as he looked at his arm in shock, seemingly just now realizing the injury was visible.

        After not receiving an answer, Katsuki growled in anger and yelled at the anxious boy in front of him as if to get his attention off the injury. “Don’t ignore me, you piece of shit!”

        “S-sorry, Kacchan! I just, um, forgot I had that,” Izuku didn’t know how he was going to get out of this, but playing dumb was probably the worse thing he could do in this situation. So the next best thing? Lying and being extremely vague. “I got it… at school. It’s no big deal…”

        The blond made a sour face, almost like he was in pain at the implications of Izuku’s answer. The taller boy raised his eyebrows, which seemed to soften his features, but soon twisted to look rougher than before. “Tch, whatever.”

        Katsuki began to move ahead of the smaller boy, overlooking Izuku’s flinch as he came closer. Izuku quietly sighed with relief, hoping that Katsuki wouldn’t pry any further. This hope was dashed in an instant as the older boy quickly whipped around to face Izuku, now ahead of him on the sidewalk. Heat and light radiated off of his palms as the aggressive boy leaned forward on his toes to appear more menacing.

        “I don’t care why you’re here, Deku, but I better not see your face again, ya hear me?! You already had to go and embarrass yourself by taking the exams, so don’t you dare try and interfere with my business!” Katsuki said, or more like screamed, before shoving his hands back in his pockets and stomping away in the direction of the school.

        If it was any other day, Izuku may have cowered in fear or ran away from his childhood bully. But this was two days after his big victory, and he was still slightly high off the pride he had received. So, despite his better judgement, Izuku called out to him.

        “Hey, Kacchan!” Izuku yelled, hiding a laugh and clenching his fists with sudden confidence, “you look really cool in the UA uniform! Tell me about your class next time, okay?”

        Katsuki continued down the road without reacting to Izuku’s friendly yet taunting words. Although, Izuku could swear he heard the boy mutter something angrily like “what’s up with you?” before he was out of his range of hearing.

        There was a feeling of mischievous pride that crept over the Quirkless boy. He’d just mocked his childhood bully and despite the suspicion he drew to himself, he felt a strong sense of satisfaction in that moment. As if he was a step closer to his idols; one ‘level’ above where he started.

        He decided to make a detour to the school in order to avoid Katsuki, and any other UA students for that matter. It didn’t take him long to get to the school. Now across the street from the gates, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do. Should he leave the note that he wrote beforehand near the gates, give it to a student, or perhaps just try to convince a student to tell the staff? If he were to approach a student, he would definitely be caught, so that was out of the question. He mumbled silently to himself, fingers cupping his chin in concentration.

        His focus was cut off by a sudden tap on his shoulder, which understandably startled him into a muffled squeak.

        “Sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you,” the voice said. Izuku snapped his head in the direction of the voice to see a familiar brown-haired girl in a UA uniform behind him. She seemed to recognize him because she gave him a welcoming smile. “You were at the entrance exam, right? It’s too bad you didn’t get in, you really saved me when you warned me about that falling debris! I’m Uraraka. Uraraka Ochako. What are you doing here, umm…?”

        “Ah! Midoriya! I'm, uh, Midoriya Izuku. Umm, I was just going to get some groceries when I thought I’d pass by.... My mom is sick today so I couldn’t go to school…” Another blatant lie .

        “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, Midoriya-san.” She frowned at the news and then hummed encouragingly. She gave the boy a light punch on the shoulder to reassure him. “I’m glad I got to see you again! It’s nice to be able to thank you for saving me in person! I wish we could talk more, actually, but I gotta get to class… maybe I’ll see you around, yeah?”

        “Y-yeah! Thanks, Uraraka-san, for talking to me, I mean,” Izuku stuttered. She nodded sadly and began to walk to the gates. He didn’t know if this was the best option or not considering he was interacting with a student, but he couldn’t help but think of this reunion as an opportunity. He had to find a way to make it less suspicious, but at this point, he just wanted to get it over with. So he took the chance and pulled the letter out of his back pocket and discarded it behind her as she walked. “Ah, Uraraka-san? Is that note yours? I think you dropped it.”

        “Huh?”

        Izuku was already leaving before he could hear her response but from his peripheral vision, he could tell that she had picked the piece of paper up. It was left up to fate now. Not very comforting, but at least it was done. If he wasn’t so occupied with his failed attempt at stealth, having been interrupted twice by UA students who unfortunately knew him, he would probably do a much more thorough job.

        On his way back through the streets he saw a few more UA students scrambling to get to class on time. They luckily didn’t pay too much attention to him since they were more concerned about their own schedule than some random pedestrian. When he reached the gates of his own high school, he walked to a secluded area, taking out his uniform and quickly getting changed before entering the building. He was questioned about his whereabouts and the change of backpack, but he gave them sufficient enough answers while remaining vague. I’m getting really good at this lying stuff , he muttered to himself.

        He managed to get to his morning classes despite being almost a half an hour late. He felt the confused gaze of his classmates digging to him as he opened the sliding door of his classroom. It was very quiet, the few things that could be heard were the tick of the clock and the English teacher mumble inaudibly in the front of the class.

        It was a normal day in every sense. Izuku spent lunchtime alone, like usual, and no one approached him for group projects in science class, no surprises there. Other than arriving late, his school day went on with no further incident. That was, of course, until his homeroom teacher called him to the office ten minutes before school ended.

        The room had a singular window covered by large patterned curtains that draped passed the window and lay partially on the floor. The dark wooden shelves spotted every wall except the one furthest from the door which held a tacky painting from its hinges. The teacher sat in his desk with his arms crossed and his eyebrows creased, as if disappointed or pondering a deep question. He said nothing as Izuku walked in and sat down in the unstable chair in front of him. The teacher took a deep breath, giving Izuku a deep sigh and a look of exhaustion, as if waiting for the young boy to be the first to speak; to offer some kind of an explanation. The boy said nothing.

        “Alright, Midoriya. This isn’t an easy thing to ask, but there has been some… uncertainty about-”

        “I’m not depressed or anything.” Izuku cut him off quickly.

        Oh God, is it more suspicious for me to say it?

        “Sorry, um,” the boy said, “I guess I’m having a tough time adjusting to high school life and I haven’t gotten too much sleep lately, but I swear, Kuwagata-sensei, I’m not depressed.”

        “...I see. Do you have an explanation for being late this morning?”

        Izuku nervously flashed his eyes to the side, even if he had practice recently, he still couldn’t lie when he was looking at someone. “Slept in... “

        “Midoriya… the school called your house and your mother told us that you left almost an hour early,” Shit . Were his lies finally catching up to him?

        “Um, It’s not anything important! I just…” There’s nothing I can say here, is there? He thought.

        “Please tell someone what’s going on, Midoriya. If not me, then at least give your mother an answer. You’re making us all worried.”

        “Sorry, I’ll… I don’t want anyone to worry about me, so I’ll talk to my mom. Thank you, Kuwagata-sensei.”

        Oh, how he dreaded going home.

        Izuku had refused to say anything else to his teacher, and the conversation had ended just as awkwardly as it started. He hated the look his teacher had given him. The look of disappointment, or perhaps regret, on the older man’s face jabbed his heart like a knife. The man was worried about him and he couldn’t do anything about it.

        I couldn’t reassure even a single person… some hero I would have been, huh?

        He stood in front of his apartment door for a solid five minutes. He tried his hardest to distract himself from the unavoidable agony that he was about to put himself and his mother through by focusing on the mundane things around him. He could see a flock of birds above him; they seemed to be startled at his gaze alone and dispersed in a disorderly mess of wings, passing the telephone wire across the street. The sudden wind wafted the red shoes back and they entered a hypnotic dance, swinging to and fro from the black rope as if trying to escape. Oh, how Izuku wished he could escape this.

        He opened the door to see his mother, trembling, with tears falling on the floor. She was clutching a dark green hoodie; a black backpack with decorative chains sat near her feet.

Chapter Text

       “...Mom?” His voice hitched as he swallowed the lump in his throat. His teeth began to lightly chatter at the sinking atmosphere and his breath became rigid.

       “Why…? Izu-” Her tears wouldn’t yield. She couldn’t speak. Her body crumbled to the wooden floor and she ducked her face in her arms as she shook her head in denial. The image was too much for the poor boy, as his cheeks warmed up with the regret dripping from his eyes. He fell to his knees and reached out to his mother who darted back at his touch, letting out another yelp of betrayal.

       She won’t even let me touch her…?

       “M-mom! I’m… I’m so sorry! I didn’t want to tell you, I didn’t want… I couldn’t let you worry!” Izuku cried as he tried to crawl closer to her. His heart was exploding from his chest and he found it hard to breath. “Please! Mom, stop crying! I’m sorry!”

       He knew his pleads would go unanswered as his mother was still sobbing too loudly to speak. He shut his eyes tightly, avoiding the painful scene in front of him. He had known this would happen. He should have been more careful. He should have protected her better. He couldn’t save her from this.

       They were all right… I would be a horrible hero .

       “Izuku…” Inko’s voice was shaky and filled with hesitation. “Don’t do it again, please…”

       It was heartbreaking, the feeble cries of his mother praying, no, begging for him to stop lying, stop putting himself in harm's way, stop trying to save others and start saving himself. The breath escapes him in an instant of apology, because he can’t do that. He can’t abandon others like that, not when he has the chance to help. He was given his life for a reason, and that reason was to help those who need him.

       I can’t give up on them .

       “I can’t, mom, I can’t.”

       Izuku had his third sleepless night as he stayed by his mother’s side until the sun broke through the clouded sky. He didn’t go to school that morning. He spent the day with his mom in silence. No words could properly express the tension in the air or the sorrow hidden within their every expression.

       It was still early morning when Inko summoned the courage to speak again. The conversation started very slowly, both being careful not to break the fragile glass that held Inko’s trust in her son. There was a growing dilemma in Inko’s mind as she listened to the truth falling from Izuku’s mouth. He was reluctant to share details, especially concerning his injuries, but he couldn’t hide it from her any longer.

       “It’s not as bad as it looks. I took some free online nursing courses, so I knew what to do...um, mom?” They were on the couch talking calmly before Izuku pulled at the hem of his pant leg to reveal the cracked, red skin of his ankle. Inko shot a hand to her mouth to cover a gasp as soon as she saw the full extent of the damage, her eyes narrowed as she held back more tears.

       “Izuku, you… even though you never manifested a Quirk, you’ve always looked up to heroes,” His mother refused to look him in the eye as she began to speak, but slowly lifted her head to face him. “If only you’d stayed that way, continued to admire from afar… why? Why did you have to try so hard to be a hero? I can’t let you-”

       “Mom… In middle school, I was told to kill myself,” She breathed sharply as he spoke, mouth agape in shock. She tilted her head in confusion, as if she couldn’t comprehend the words that just slipped out of his mouth. He’d never told her this, but he needed her to understand. “I would never do that, of course! But… I have always been a nuisance to others. The one that can’t fight back; the one that has to be protected. I’ve been useless for my whole life, but in that moment, when I was able to get that man away from that villain, I felt like I had a purpose.

       “When people used to thank me, I convinced myself that they didn’t mean it, because I didn’t think they had a reason to be thankful. When that man thanked me, for the first time in my life, I felt like I deserved it. You can’t take that from me.”

       “Oh, Izuku…” She sighed, conflicted. She wanted to help him, but she wanted to ensure his safety more than anything else. If she continued to let him run around saving people, she would not only be putting him at risk with violent villains, but with the authorities as well. If she turned him into the police, he would be safe, but his dreams would be crushed. “... I don’t know what the right thing to do is.”

       At that moment, the TV flashed a news rerun from the night before. The volume was low but after seeing the UA logo on the screen, Izuku quickly shot up from the couch and turned it up. The program seemed to drag its introduction on for much longer than needed, most likely due to the popularity of UA and the competitive news networks. It was only when the image switched to a local hospital where three bandaged students were trying and failing to escape the media that his mother finally looked up at the show as well.

       There was a reporter on the screen with strange looking wings who spoke very clearly. “ All of the students involved in this incident were able to retreat with minimal injuries. Although in more severe condition, the teachers were also able to lessen the impact of this attack due to an anonymous tip. This tip prompted the UA staff to include more of the faculty on the trip which may have been what saved these children’s lives. No one has confirmed-

       They were safe .

       Inko eyed her son as he sighed with relief and settled back into the couch, running a hand through his hair. She looked back and forth between the TV and her son, putting the pieces together.

       “That’s what you were doing, right? Yesterday…”

       “... They still got hurt. I couldn’t save them from the pain.”

       Inko wasn’t a fortune teller. She couldn’t predict what the future held for her son, but she could understand his dream. That look of regret on his face despite saving an entire class of students and teachers told her everything she needed to know. Looking at it, she could only think back to what he had said about feeling deserving of gratitude. She only wanted to protect him, but she realized then that, no matter what she did to keep him safe, all he ever wanted was to help others. It scared her, but who was she to take away something so meaningful to him?

       “You’re going to be a great hero, Izuku.” Her son’s head turned to face her with wide eyes, but she didn’t let her gaze meet him as she continued to stare at the news program. “Thank you for saving them... and for helping me understand, but I will never stop worrying about you.”

       He had gotten a full eight-hour sleep. It had been a while since he had so much energy, so it showed in his mood throughout his school day. His teacher, although still worried, looked relieved when he came skipping into the class twenty minutes early that morning. None of the students were surprised to see him there early, but it was a bit jarring considering how late he was the day before. No one questions him, which was expected but still appreciated.

       He had thought he would eavesdrop more about the villain attack on the UA field trip, but was disappointed to find that very few people talked about it. Instead, many were talking about a different villain that seemed to be gaining popularity across Japan.

       “He’s kinda got a point, doesn’t he?” Many of the students would say. It was unnerving to see so many students agree with the philosophy of a villain.

       Most of the gossip followed that same layout since there wasn’t much information released to the public, but this villain, ‘Stain’, was becoming very interesting. A villain with his own strong ethics that could actually be explained relatively easily? It was kind of unusual… as well as extremely dangerous.

       Izuku was just leaving his school, still in the hallway when he felt his phone vibrate. It took him a second to shake the villain from his head and realize that it was his burner phone ringing, not his usual one. He picked it up nervously and answered it.

       “Hello?”

       “Nine, your things are here. I won’t keep them forever, so you should come pick them up before the month is over. You won’t need to notify us or anything, just show up with the money.”

       “Ah! Thank you, Silv-”

       “And get rid of the phone now, you won’t need it.”

       He hung up without a farewell. It was a short conversation, Izuku assumed he would have to get used to that, after all, Silver Scale was a very no-nonsense kind of person.

Chapter Text

       “It’s a butterfly knife, right? It’s pretty decorative,” Izuku said as he scanned the knife in his hand, noticing the grooves and curves engraved in the blade. He pressed his gloved hand on its edge and began playing with the folding handle. “I don’t know martial arts though, is that a problem?”

       “No, you should be able to weld it just fine. The original purpose of it shouldn’t matter as much as what you use it for now,” Silver Scale said. He was cleaning the shelves behind the counter of the bar and had his back to Izuku as he talked. “I doubt you will use it to harm more than you will to intimidate, that’s the reason for its elaborate decoration.”

       “Yeah, that makes sense, I don't really want to hurt anyone...” He tucked the knife away in his pocket and began to twirl his thumbs, unsure of what else to say. He settled for a change of topic. “Hey, how did you meet Historia? She seems pretty young.”

       “You’re quite nosy… she started with good intentions, much like you, and got caught up in the business. I personally don’t know much about her. I don’t think it’s my place to say anything either. Why?”

       “... She said something to me about not being used to dealing with vigilantes. She just seemed happy about it so…”

       “That’s true for most of us. Our main source of income are villains,” The old man sighed. He was still turned away from the boy, so Izuku was left wondering what kind of face he was making. “I suppose we just adapted with the circumstances and became something we never intended to be. Its just refreshing sometimes to help those who are doing this world some good, that’s all.”

       “Do you ever regret it? The things you do, I mean.”

       Silver Scale sighed, much deeper than before, and finally turned to face Izuku. His eyes looked wise, as if he’d been asked this question many times throughout his long life. “Of course... I’ve sold weapons to murderers and given them the information that let them get away with it. We all have our stories, Nine. Sadly, you won’t be listening to mine anytime soon. I don’t like getting personal and I don't think you need to know anything else about me.”

       “What’s your Quirk?”

       “Well, now you’re just joking around,” The old man grunted as if annoyed but Izuku could see the lopsided smirk on his face as he turned around and went back to cleaning. I’ll get through those walls one day, Silver.

       By the time Izuku left the bar, the sun had just about set. There was still a faded orange and pink light that crept through the open alleyways as Izuku stepped out of the door, but he doubted it would be there for long. He grappled onto the roof and jogged across it, watching the ray of light that cascaded over his body. There was still quite a few people out, most leaving for home after a long day at work, so he had to be careful to not be spotted by patrolling heroes.

       All of the new equipment that Silver Scale had given him was stuffed comfortably in his backpack besides the knife, the bullet-proof vest, and night vision goggles which he had on his person. He had hoped to try out his night vision goggles before returning home, but he had promised his mother that he would come home as soon as he was finished.

       It had been about a week since his mother found out about his illegal activities. She wasn’t any calmer about it, but she did become more understanding. She even covered for him with the teacher, saying that the reason he was acting strangely was because his father hadn’t called in a long time and he was getting worried. It wasn’t entirely untrue, as Izuku hadn’t called his father since the entrance exams, but he had messaged him just a few days ago, so he definitely wasn’t worried. Partial truth or not, the teacher seemed satisfied with that explanation.

       “Pull the bitch into the alley or something, then! I don’t care what you fucking do to her, just be quick about it! We won’t have much time after she gets here.”

       Izuku stopped dead in his tracks when he heard the chilling voice from below him. There was something revolting about the tone that Izuku picked up on right away; It was uncaring and cruel. It was so unnerving that the boy couldn’t stop himself from shivering and growing angry at the implication behind the words.

       This better not be what I think it is.

       The building Izuku had stopped on was a residential one with only one storey. He easily jumped down without injury, but he wanted to know exactly what was going on before he ran in recklessly. He watched from around the corner of the building, seeing a group of three people, two men and one woman. He ducked back to make sure they wouldn’t be able to see him and began to prepare some weapons. The people seemed calm despite their aggressive stance. The woman was leaning against the wall with her arms across her chest.

       “You better fucking not,” The woman scowled. She glared daggers at both of the men and pushed herself off the wall, stepping forward with her arms still crossed. “I fucking hate the bitch, but I’m not about to let you do that shit to her, my God. You’ll both meet the end of my quills if you ever do gross shit like that. We were just sent to rough her up a bit.”

       “Shit, sorry, I’m just getting stressed, I wasn’t actually gonna let him do it.” The same man from before, who switched his tone unnaturally quickly, put his arms up defensively.

       The other man, one with a gray and blue hood over his head, lightly punched the first man in the shoulder. “Whatever, man, I never said I would! All I said was that her b-…”

       “Shut up! She should be leaving soon. Her shift is over in, like, a minute so she should be coming around the corner any second.” The woman cut the hooded man off.

       Izuku had heard enough to understand the general situation. They were thugs. The woman seemed to be the only one who personally knew the target and had some sort of grudge against them. Izuku knew how dangerous grudges could be, especially after dealing with Katsuki’s targeted bullying for years, so he needed to make sure the person they were targeting was going to be safe. From the angle he was at now, however, there was no way he could get to the area the target was supposed to come from without the group seeing him. He also didn’t know their Quirks, another factor he would have to consider.

       Much to his dismay, he ended up not having enough time to come up with a strategy. The target, a petite girl in what looked like a school uniform or maid outfit, had already rounded the corner. She was unaware of the danger she was about to walk into as her eyes were glued to the light of her cell phone. Izuku took a shaky breath as the hooded man called out to the girl.

       She raised her head with widened eyes and gaping mouth as she began to jolt to the other side of the street. Izuku heard the villains’ footsteps rushing towards the girl. He didn’t have time to be careful. He had to do something before it was too late. He swifty inhaled and calmly walked into the street.

       “Hey,” Izuku started, multiple pairs of eyes snapped towards him. He puffed out his chest slightly to feign confidence. “What do you think you’re doing?”

       “Who the hell are you?” one of the men, the one with the continuously changing tone, asked. The others in his group began preparing themselves, the hooded man putting his fists up and the woman tucking her arms into her sides as her shoulder-length hair suddenly straightened into spikes. A transformation Quirk .

       “Woah! You’re like a porcupine! So cool!” Izuku blurted out without thinking, relaxing his shoulders as he spoke. The praise unintentionally caught the villains off-guard for a moment, which bought Izuku the time he needed to snap himself out of his fanboy daze and flick his knife out of his pocket. “Sorry! That’s not what I meant to say…”

       “What? Why is there a fucking child here?” The porcupine woman seemed jarred and conflicted enough to relax her stance a little bit. She froze for a moment as she saw the weapon. “Who gave it a knife?”

       As the villain spoke, the girl being threatened saw her chance to begin running. She ducked into the main street where there would be more people. Izuku heard her call for help as she ran; it wouldn’t be long until the pros showed up. It would be smart to bail right now without drawing more attention to himself, but the fear that the villains would cause more havoc convinced Izuku to stand his ground.

       While the villains turned to try and go after the girl, Izuku threw his rope dart in a curve that wrapped around the hooded man’s leg, pulling the rope towards himself which flipped the man on his stomach. There was a blunt sound as the man’s head slammed against the road. Izuku twirled the rope to untangle it from the man’s leg and wiped it up in the air to catch it with the same hand that held its handle. He stuffed the rope dart in his side pocket and reached around his shoulder for his baton.

       “What the hell?” The man on the pavement groaned as he attempted to get up and rub his head. He brought his hand down to eye level after tapping his wound and noticed the red smear that coated his palm. “Forget the girl, the plan’s already ruined! Fuck up that green kid!”

       “Tejou! Are you alright?!” The other man ran to his side, falling to his knees and cupped his friend’s face to look closer at the scrap on his forehead.

       “Stop being a bunch of babies! Get the fuck up and fight!” The woman screamed at them both and ripped a quill from her scalp, chucking it at Izuku. He dodged her sloppy aim and she prepared another.

       Izuku was at a loss for what to do about the porcupine girl’s Quirk so he decided to target the other man. He didn’t know either of men’s Quirks, but they didn’t seem to be using them so he assumed they were non-offensive emitter Quirks. I hope...

       As Izuku sprinted up to the man with his baton, avoiding the Quills that the girl was throwing at him, the man put his hands up in defence and yelled out to the boy. “Wait! Please don’t hurt us!”

       The man’s hands shook and his eyes widened to be comically large. The stress in his voice startled Izuku and he lowered his baton, blinking in confusion. The man’s tone was giving off an intense sense of panic that almost forced a feeling of empathy from the Quirkless boy. In what seemed like less than a second, Izuku’s arm was flung back in pain as one of the girl’s quills was thrust into it from afar. Izuku grunted and looked up to the girl who was smirking devilishly on the other side of the street.

       “I take it back, Koe, I guess that speech Quirk of yours can be kind of useful,” she chuckled. “At least sometimes.”

       “Ah!” Izuku perked up as he dodged another quill, but immediately reeled back at the sudden movement of his pierced arm. He readied his baton again with his good arm and continued to run up to the two men. He noticed the hooded man pushing himself up, so he swung his baton at the man’s back to knock him down again. The other man scrambled to his feet and stepped away from Izuku when he spoke. “A Quirk that can force emotion from others depending on the tone of the person’s voice? Its versatile, why use it for this?”

       “What the hell would you know, huh?!” The man, ‘Koe’, had a more aggressive tone now, proving that the helpless voice from before was an act. Despite knowing that the man’s Quirk was the thing affecting him, Izuku became struck with heartache at his words and felt tears threatening to spill. It was almost surreal; Izuku knew these emotions weren’t his own but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t stop or ignore them.

       Izuku shook his head wildly to clear his mind and looked up just in time to catch a quill that was thrown at his chest. He winced at the movement of his wounded arm when he caught it with his free hand. He took a deep breath and threw his baton to the ground.

       He took the quill from his arm and tore it from his muscles with a muffled scream and ran towards the porcupine girl, throwing both quills at her once he was close enough to aim. The woman was pinned against the building behind her, the quills gripping her jacket at the sleeve. She cried out as one of the quills sliced her arm slightly.

       “Sorry!” Izuku said apologetically before turning back to see Koe running towards him. Izuku took him by his arm and twisted his body so he faced away from him, then kicked his leg which brought him to his knees. The Quirkless boy took out his knife and lightly pressed it on the man’s back. Izuku was breathing heavily and slightly shaking due to his injuries but relaxed himself a little as Koe seemed to surrender. He wiped out zip ties and quickly restrained him.

       As he turned his head to check on the woman who was still struggling against the wall, Izuku felt a sudden weight on his hand. He shot his gaze to focus on a bright green pair of transparent handcuffs around his wrist. Izuku looked up to where the cuffs had come from, narrowing his eyebrows at the hooded man who stood next to him. Blood ran down the man’s forehead and his face deadpanned in anger. They were handcuffed together.

       “A capture Quirk?” Izuku hardly had time to question the man as he was met with a left hook to the face. He was knocked to the ground, still attached to his attacker, when he heard a familiar voice in the distance.

       “No need to worry! Why? BECAUSE I AM HERE!”

Chapter Text

       “Eh?” All Might paused as he saw the scene in front of him. A spiky haired woman pinned to the nearby wall, a man on his knees with zip ties around his wrists, and a hooded man leaning over a school aged boy in green who was handcuffed to him. It was a strange situation to walk into, but All Might had been through much stranger, so he quickly composed himself. 

       “A-All Might?!” Izuku was at a loss. He was in the presence of All Might , the number one hero… his idol . Not only that, but he would have no time to enjoy it because after seeing him, he was struck with the realization that he needed to get out of here. Fast.

       It took Izuku a second to snap out of his shock and see that the hooded villain had released the handcuffs, allowing him to fully drop to the ground. He noticed the hooded man had begun to run, obviously knowing he couldn’t beat All Might. Izuku knew All Might could easily catch the man without him, but even so, he took out his rope dart once more, scrambled to his feet, and threw it around the villain’s arm. Izuku pulled him down, hearing him curse as his shoulder hit the ground. The boy ran over to the man, untangled the rope, and swiftly placed a zip tie on the man’s wrist.

       Izuku stood over the man and jerked his head up to meet All Might’s gaze. The hero stood there wide-eyed; his body unmoving due to the shock of what he had just witnessed. Izuku took that as a sign that it was time to get out of there. He breathed deeply and felt his hands snap to his grappling device. 

       He dashed to his fallen baton, picking it up in a swift scoop of his hand. He threw himself on the roof of a nearby building, landing sloppily in his panic. As he sprinted across the building with no further incident, he began to think that he might have gotten away with it.

       Oh, how wrong he was.

       In a rush of wind, All Might appeared beside him. Izuku stumbled and fell off the edge of the building he had been on. He managed a less painful landing, but his body was still slammed against the ground of an abandoned alley. Izuku coughed and held his wounded arm tightly. 

      The ground shook as All Might descended from the rooftops in front of the boy, his aura was overwhelming, but Izuku didn’t want to give up. He climbed to his feet, breathing heavily as his eyes darted around the alley to find any sort of open area. There was none; he was cornered against a gate. Shit .

       “I don’t often see vigilantes around here so I must say, you surprised me,” All Might said. Despite the intimidating atmosphere, the hero spoke kindly. “Tell me, young man, who are you and why are you doing this?”

       Izuku was frozen in place but didn’t want to ignore his idol’s questions. He answered nervously. “I’m Nine...I, I mean my name is Nine! I’m fifteen, um, but you didn’t ask me that, did you? Oh God… I’m sorry, I should start over! You see, this old guy at the bar named me Nine so I wouldn't have to use my real name and he gave me-”

       “Would you please slow down!” All Might Waved his arms in panic as he tried to calm the boy. “You were going a mile a minute, my boy. Just… your name is Nine, right? So, can you tell me why you’re a vigilante?”

       “Ah… Um, can I ask you a question instead?”

       “Alright, but you will eventually need to explain yourself.”

       “Can… can someone who’s Quirkless become a hero? Can they be like you?”

       All Might was taken aback by the question, obviously confused. He was silent for a moment until realization spread across his face. “You’re Quirkless…” The pro sighed, “being a hero is a dangerous job. Even the pros struggle with risking their lives, and even if you took down the criminals this time, I can’t bring myself to tell you that you could do the same if you were facing the real threats…”

       “That’s why. The reason why I’m doing this is because you’re right. I can’t be a hero, but I’m not going to sit back and be useless when I have a chance to help someone. I am risking my life, but I’m doing it voluntarily. 

       “So… All Might, I’m not going to give up! I will save people, from others or even themselves, I will continue to meddle in their lives until I see a smile on their face, and you can’t stop me!”

       “... I see.” The hero hummed and closed his eyes in thought. “Well, I guess I should get going then, hm?”

       “Huh? You’re not arresting me? You’re not going to try to stop me?”

       “There was a girl that ran into the main street asking for help,” All Might said. “She said there was a short hero that ran into battle to save her without a second thought. A hero, hm? I think I need to rethink my definition of one. Next time, stay out of trouble, okay?” All Might flashed a bright smile at the boy and took off with a powerful jump that flew him across the whole city block. Izuku stood in the alley, holding his arm loosely with his mouth agape.

       What the hell just happened?

       It was dark by the time Izuku got home. He couldn’t stop thinking about All Might’s words as he left the alley. He had let him go. He hadn’t arrested him. Instead, he had listened to him. Izuku had very few experiences to compare to that moment. Sure, people listen to him when it conveniences them, like when they ask for a quick glimpse of his notes before a test or when he describes the Quirks of his classmates, but they never took the time to think over his words. The only other person that considered the things that he says was his own mother. And even then, it wasn’t like she could do much with the information he gave her.

       His mother cried as she frantically bandaged his arm that night. Through her tears, she asked ridiculously normal questions about his school life. There was no reason to lie any longer, so he told her the majority of the things he’d learned and what the latest drama was with his classmates. She seemed to appreciate the mundane conversations they had despite the situation they were in. It calmed her, in a way.

       “I heard that the UA sports festival is coming up soon! I can’t wait to see Kacchan on TV, they usually have some kind of duel near the end, so I think he’ll win that round no matter who he’s up against. Although, he might not get to that round if there are any team events like last year...”

       “Honey, you’re not going out during the festival? We can watch together then!”

       The day of the festival came sooner than he had expected. His school also held a sports festival around this time of year, but it wasn’t on the same day as UA’s and he doubted he would want to watch or participate in it to begin with. His mother had brought a table full of snacks for them to eat while they watched, but Izuku was too engrossed in his latest notebook to pay much attention to the food.

       All Might had appeared on the screen to wish everyone well, much to Izuku’s delight, and the pro heroes Eraserhead and Present Mic made the announcements. Izuku was shocked to see that Katsuki was the class representative, but soon remembered his score during the entrance exam being the highest which explained the decision. Not the smartest choice .

       “I just want to say…” The TV buzzed at the volume of the blond’s voice. “I’m gonna win.” 

       There was something off about Katsuki that Izuku noticed then. The old Katsuki would likely yell out to the crowd, but this one spoke surprisingly calm. It wasn’t as if his confidence was gone or his ego had deflated because that would have been a miracle, but something akin to unsureness suppressed his boasting. It was almost as if he had hit the limit to how much hostility he could take.

      Katsuki turned to walk off the stage and the crowd of students roared with anger and began to yell at him about giving his class a bad reputation. The insults didn’t change his expression. As he stepped down the stairs, he was completely silent.

Chapter Text

       Focus . That was the only thing on Katsuki’s mind as the festival began. After the USJ incident, the whole class had been on edge and he was no different. They had gotten lucky. Saved by a coward that didn’t have the guts to tell the school the full story. Katsuki didn’t care how much the media was praising this ‘concerned citizen’ for saving the class, he found it all too suspicious. How did a useless citizen get a hold of that kind of information? If it wasn’t a citizen, then was it one of the villains suddenly growing a conscience? None of it made any sense and it was all starting to get to him. 

       He managed to get first place on the obstacle race despite his internal conflict. Although, it was almost a tie due to his thoughts taking over. He couldn’t let his mind win. He had goals that wouldn’t bend because of stupid suspicions over things that don’t matter. He had to focus.

       “Hey, Bakugou! Wanna join our group? We have Ashido and Sero,” The redhead boy that fought alongside him at the USJ came running up to him with a small group of others in tow. He had an idiotic grin plastered to his face and if he wasn’t trying to talk to the resident bomb, he would probably be jumping up and down with excitement.

       “Hey! Kirishima! What are you doing?! He has the ten million points! Everyone will be after him!” The pink girl called as she tried to catch up to the other two.

       “Whatever, Shitty Hair,” Katsuki grunted, not responding to Ashido’s protest. He stopped in front of the group. Other than Kirishima, the group greeted him with a slight glare. Considering what he said next, he kind of deserved it. “Now remind me what your Quirks are again.”

       The cavalry battle went as good as anyone expected. Katsuki’s team got second. They lost the ten-million-point ribbon because the troublesome blond refused to follow his team’s advice and run away. He was much too eager to confront the other teams rather than being a coward and dodging everyone. It wasn’t an ideal attitude for a team event, but his teammates had no reason to complain with their second-place status. That didn’t stop him from being incredibly frustrated with the result though.

       He was glaring daggers at Todoroki, who’s team got first place during the battle. The two-tone boy didn’t seem to notice the stares, seemingly in his own little world, which pissed Katsuki off even more. 

       What was he thinking so much about? What was more important to him than winning this thing? Did he just not care about the festival at all? Why was he half-assing this when everyone else was giving it their all?

       Katsuki huffed and crossed his arms over his chest as Midnight began to explain the battle tournament. He was so done with all this talking shit, he just wanted to get on with it. One of the students spoke up during the explanation, volunteering to withdraw themselves from the competition. Some of the other students did the same, saying something about not feeling like themselves during the cavalry battle and due to that, they didn’t feel like they did their best or deserved to move on. Katsuki couldn’t care less about them, but he had to admit, he would hate receiving something he didn’t deserve too. 

       “Woah, what’s with the glaring, Bakugou?” Kirishima patted the blond briefly on the shoulder to get his attention. Katsuki flinched at the contact and turned his head to growl at the other boy only to be met with an enthusiastic smile and a light chuckle. “Never mind, then! Hey, you’re up against Uraraka, right? Are you excited?”

       “...Who?” Katsuki glanced up at the roster showing the participant’s names and frowned, not recognizing many of them.

       Kirishima suddenly looked exhausted. He let out a deep sigh and dropped his shoulders. “Are you serious…?”

       The first round of the battle tournament ended almost instantly. Everyone watched in disbelief as one of the students stiffly walked themselves out of the arena without any attempt at fighting. The loser’s opponent was smirking sadistically, casually standing on the court with his hands stuffed in his pockets. The winner’s wild purple hair seemingly refused to bend to the laws of gravity and his eyes were shadowed with dark circles. He looked… like a smaller version of Katsuki’s homeroom teacher.

       “What? Why didn’t that 1-B student fight? Why did he even try to move to the next round if he was just going to give up?” Kaminari asked no one in particular as he leaned his arms on his knees to get a closer look at the situation below them.

       “I don’t think it was intentional…” Sato mumbled.

       “Sato is right. I think that guy has some kind of mind control Quirk. He did the same to my team and I during the cavalry battle.” Ojiro said.

       “Mind control?! That’s scary!” Hagakure exclaimed, bringing her arms up to (possibly) cover her mouth in shock.

       Yaoyorozu hummed as she brought her hand to her chin in deep thought before giving her opinion. “It would be very effective against villains, especially in hostage situations.”

       “Oh, yeah! He could probably end a battle super fast without anyone getting hurt! Why the hell is someone with such a powerful Quirk in the general studies department?” It was a rhetorical question, but several of the students tried to offer Kaminari some explanations ranging from plausible to downright ridiculous. 

       The cacophony of noise was silenced as Todoroki and Sero walked out onto the field. The class’s attention and mood immediately shifted when Present Mic screamed their classmates’ names through the speakers. Katsuki scowled as he saw the bi-colour teen walk up to the arena, nonchalantly staring into the crowd. He didn’t bother to look at who Todoroki was staring at, but he assumed whoever it was wasn’t very important. He couldn’t fully determine the other boy’s facial expression, but he looked slightly annoyed, as if he didn’t want to be here.

       Katsuki clicked his tongue in frustration and squinted his eyes. “Why the hell is he acting like he doesn’t even care? Fuck’n Half and Half...” He muttered as quietly as he could manage but more than half of the class flinched at his words, indicating that he had been much louder than he intended to be. He shot a glare at the others before quickly looking back to the fighting ground, ignoring the bitter stares from the rest of the class.

       The battle began as fast as it had ended. As soon as Hanta shot his tape restraints at Shouto and swung him to the edge of the field, Todoroki shot the most enormous wall of ice anyone had ever seen. It stretched across the arena and reached up over the roof of the stadium. The gasps of the crowd were so overwhelming that Katsuki couldn’t hear anything else for a while, not even Present Mic’s announcement of the winner.

       As the teachers took their time cleaning the arena from Todoroki’s battle, Katsuki left the balcony that the class was gathered on. He was filled with a sudden rage that exploded throughout his body as he watched Todoroki leave the field. 

       He stalked through the hallway, nudging the prep room doors open slightly to glance inside each as he passed them. He came to the eighth door near the very end of the hall where the foyer split in different directions. Letting the last of his anger out, he threw his heel at the door’s handle and watched as it flew open from the intensity of his kick.

       “...What was that?” Todoroki turned to the spiky haired blond in disinterest, whatever surprise that may have been present faded from his eyes almost instantly.

       “Why the hell are you even here, Icyhot?!” Katsuki yelled as he slammed his palm down on the table that Todoroki sat in front of with a small explosion. The blast carved a slight dent in the varnished table and darkened the bleached colour of the surface with black soot.

       “What are you talking about, Bakugou? This is the prep room; I'm allowed to be in here. I’m not in the mood for your bullshit right now.”

       “You think you’re too good for this, huh?! Just cause your old man’s the number two hero, you think your better than me?!”

       “Don’t…” Todoroki clenched his fist as he stood, his chair screeching across the floor. Katsuki watched suspiciously as the other boy ran his hand through the left side of his hair. This was the most expressive Katsuki has ever seen the deadpan young man. “I don’t want to hear anything about him .”

       “Why the fuck are you half-assing this? You went out there looking annoying as fuck with your apathetic ass face. Who the hell do you think you are?!”

       “I’m not half-assing anything and this is none of your business,” Todoroki scowled and tried to push passed Katsuki to reach the door but was blocked by the blond’s arm. 

       “What the hell do you mean it’s none of my business? I’m here to prove that I’m the best and I can’t do that if you don’t give it your all!” Katsuki shoved the other boy back with the fingertips of his hand which made Todoroki stumble slightly before regaining his balance.

       Todoroki sighed deeply with frustration and crossed his arms over his chest. “I am going to win this with just my ice. I’m doing my best to-”

       “Shut the fuck up! What, I’m not good enough for your fire, huh?! You smug little prick!”

       “I’ll never be that piece of shit’s tool! I don’t care what you think about me, Bakugou, but I’m going to show my old man that I don’t need his shitty power! That’s what I’m doing here; that’s my reason.”

       The blond froze for a moment, processing his classmate’s words. He narrowed his eyes and backed away from the bi-colour boy as if to view his full frame and demeanor. He softened his stance when he saw how distressed Todoroki looked. “...What the hell did he do to you? He’s your dad, right?”

       “He’s… nothing,” Todoroki said. His voice held no substance, as if it was completely exhausted of all energy. He shoved Katsuki aside without much more than a disapproving grunt from the other. Todoroki stormed into the hallway without another word, leaving Katsuki to stare at the ugly burn that bruised the tabletop.

Chapter Text

       “He won’t go easy on her,” Izuku said. He was scratching at his notebook frantically, occasionally glancing up at the TV to see Katsuki’s classmates duke it out. His mother sat next to him on the couch. She was shaking and nervously mumbling her fears for the UA class’ safety. She seemed extra focused on the poor girl that Katsuki was fighting at the moment.

       “How horrible!” Inko cried. 

       “Not really. I think he’s just seeing her for the strong opponent she is. He’s trying not to underestimate her.”

       “... Was Katsuki like this before too?”

       “Yeah, but… something’s off about him. Maybe the hero course has changed him a bit. I can’t really tell how but I think it may help him.”

       Inko nodded solemnly and glanced down at Izuku’s notebook with interest. She watched as her son scribbled drawings of the two previous fighters. The students had similar Quirks, but Izuku had separated them and had filled at least two pages for each. Inko had always been impressed by just how much her son was able to write when it came to something he loved.

       “That’s Uraraka-san. I met her during the entrance exam and again when I visited UA for, uh, y’know. She’s really nice! She has a zero gravity Quirk,” Izuku explained, snapping Inko from her daydream as he pointed at the TV.

       “Oh, I see. She looks quite cute!” Inko nudged her son with her shoulder hinting at her ulterior motive.

       “Huh?” Izuku looked up from his notebook. He squinted his eyes slightly in genuine confusion before he finally realized what his mother was trying to imply. He flushed and dropped his pen to wave his hands wildly in front of him. “Ah! N-no! We don’t even know each other, mom! Don’t be embarrassing!” He yelled, panicked as he watched his mother laugh. He sighed and let his hands fall in his lap, his face was still pink but his mouth formed a somber smile. 

       “Besides,” he said, “I think we both have more important things to focus on.”

       Before his mother could reply to that comment, the TV let out an orchestra of screams that interrupted both of their thoughts. Both turned their attention to the screen to see what the crowd was so upset about. The heroes in the audience had been yelling at Katsuki for his aggressive behaviour towards Uraraka, and Izuku couldn’t help but laugh when the pro hero Eraserhead told them all off. 

       “He must be a really good teacher,” Izuku grinned at the screen. “I’m glad Eraserhead takes the time to understand his students, especially someone like Kacchan!”

       His mother just smiled at his statement. Despite how the blond had treated her son, she felt a small sense of pride that Izuku was able to look passed all of it and genuinely strive to help him. She often wondered if Izuku had ever felt resentment before. Surely he had at least valued himself enough to feel that he had been wronged, right?

       “Are you mad at Katsuki, Izuku?” she asked. It was almost a whisper and Izuku didn’t react for a long while, making her think that he hadn’t heard her. 

       Just as she was about to ask again, Izuku began to speak. His voice was strained, as if he was hurt by her words. “Why would I be mad at Kacchan?”

       “Honey, you know that what he did to you was wrong, right? You know that he shouldn’t be able to get away with something like-”

       “I’m not mad at him,” Izuku tilted his head in thought. “And I know that what he did was wrong.”

       “Then-”

       “But he was blind back then… maybe now too, I don’t know,” Izuku said. He turned apologetically to look at his mother more directly after interrupting her twice in one conversation. 

       “What do you mean?”

       “He was raised by his environment and was defined by his Quirk. He has always been amazing, but he lacked compassion... and that trait is only learned if you’ve received it before. He never accepted kindness from others so he never learned to be kind in return. He was blind and I can’t be mad at him for something that wasn’t his fault.”

       Inko smiled at that. Since when had her son become so wise? She cursed herself for not noticing how much he had grown up. “I see…”

       “I’ve forgiven him, I think, at least for the bullying. I don’t like holding grudges.”

       At that moment, the TV buzzed again with noise. This time, it wasn’t insults that the crowd was shouting; it was cheers and applause. Present Mic screamed Katsuki’s name over the speaker, enthusiastically announcing the young man as the winner of the fight. The screen flickered to show a close up of the battlefield where Katsuki stood over Uraraka’s unconscious form. He looked angry at her despite being the one that won the battle.

       Izuku smiled at the image and shifted his position on the couch to more comfortably write in his book without damaging his neck when he looked down at the scribbles. He didn’t pay much attention to the next battle because he knew who would win. Even though he wanted to see more of the purple haired boy with the mind controlling Quirk, he knew that the number two hero’s son was going to win the battle due to being very stoic and most likely already knowing of the other’s Quirk. 

       He didn’t quite understand why the bi-colour boy was being so strict about not using his fire, but given the multiple glares that he gave Endeavor throughout his battles, Izuku assumed it was some kind of family drama. 

       As the battles went on, Izuku and his mother exchanged very few words. They occasionally made predictions as to who would win the fight or would discuss details of the student’s Quirks, but the conversations usually didn’t last very long. It wasn’t until the final battle between Katsuki and Todoroki that Izuku began to pay more attention to the television rather than on his notes. 

       He was just finishing up the last of his scribbles when their names were announced and they stepped onto the field. Both Izuku and his mother shook with anticipation and nervousness as the students stood in a defensive fighting stance.

       “What about this fight, Izuku? Who do you think will win this one?”

       “I… I would say Kacchan, but Todoroki-san seems to be acting a bit different. I wonder if Kacchan said something to him… he looks angry.”

       “Oh, I hope Katsuki will been nicer to his classmates this year. He needs to learn to choose his words more carefully!”

       Izuku was watching the bi-colour boy and his demeanor very closely as the battle started. He definitely seemed agitated. In fact, both Katsuki and Todoroki were acting off. There may be bad blood between them that could affect their performance, but there was no way to know how their emotions would change their strategies. It was a battle that was almost unpredictable considering the varying circumstances.

       The battle began with another mountain of ice that crawled across the ground and encased Katsuki in a frozen prison. For a moment, it seemed as if the fight had come to another shockingly fast conclusion, but Izuku knew better than that. Katsuki wouldn’t fold to that kind of attack. He was proven correct when the blond blasted his way through the ice and lounged straight at the other boy who was clearly surprised. 

       One thing that was very strange to Izuku was Katsuki’s noticeable effort to aim for Todoroki’s left side. It was a good strategy; aiming for the weakest part of the other, or at least the part that the other refused to use. But for some reason Katsuki’s movements seemed very deliberate, as if his plan was more than simply aiming for the most vulnerable point.

       The older boy’s plan was made clear a few moments after when gasps could be heard from the crowd. Izuku scanned the image to try and determine what had happened, but he could only make out the back of his childhood friend as well as the top half of his opponent’s arm through the dust that the explosions caused. As the mess cleared a bit, he could see Katsuki holding Todoroki’s wrist up as the boy lay on his back. After about a minute, Izuku finally realized what the crowd had been so shocked about.

       “Did Kacchan just break Todoroki-san’s arm?!” Izuku shivered as he imagined the pain and winced at Todoroki’s bewildered expression. The young man’s right arm was slumped by his side, unable to conjure any ice. The boy’s eyes kept darting back and forth between his injured arm and the piercing red eyes of the one that stood over him. Apparently he hadn’t been expecting Katsuki to do that either. 

       What was wrong with him?!

       In less than a second, all surprise faded from Todoroki’s face and was replaced with a rage that boiled over his body. He kicked up with his right foot, freezing Katsuki’s left forearm. With a calculated gaze, the blond slammed his right palm onto his own arm, setting off a powerful blast that sent the ice flying off his body. The teen then hammered his boot down to pin the other’s icy foot to the ground. And in that moment, Izuku finally understood what Katsuki was trying to do. He was trying to get Todoroki to use his fire.

       And use it he did.

       The bi-colour boy whipped his left arm up and released a torrent of flames towards the blond’s face, making a face of pure horror before the fire quickly dispersed. Although the picture on the TV was small, Izuku could make out a vicious grin across Katsuki’s face as he dodged the flames just in time to not give him any burns. There was no way to hear what the students were saying to one another, but it was clear that they were both yelling. They both readyed themselves for more violent attacks, pulling back their arms and darting at each other once more.

       It was at this time that the battle was interrupted with a gigantic wall that separated them from further injury. They both hit the wall with quite some force, but if they hadn’t been stopped, Katsuki would have easily triumphed due to Todoroki’s ice being much weaker when he only used his leg. The teachers ended the battle in a tie, much to both of the participants’ displeasure. They were both escorted off the field without much fuss, other than Katsuki refusing to be touched by the staff, and they disappeared under the coliseum doors to presumably take a visit to Recovery Girl.

       Izuku was completely frozen. He was in a state of utter disbelief. Bakugou Katsuki, of all people, tied in a fight simply because he wanted to force the other to fight back? 

       Why did he want Todoroki-san to use his fire Quirk so badly?  

       Katsuki could have easily won the battle if he’d just left things how they were, so unless he was trying to help the other boy in some twisted, arm-breaking way, there would be no reason to do what he did. But then again, why would Katsuki help someone in the first place?

       Izuku sighed and glanced down at his feet. Although he hadn’t meant to, his usual smile fell as he watched the image on the TV shift. “UA really has changed him.”

       “Does that upset you? I thought you wanted him to change,” his mother asked, quirking her head.

       Izuku looked up from the slippers hugging his feet and hummed in thought. “I do want him to change and I’m happy UA is helping him, it’s just…” 

       We’re on such different paths now . He giggled lightly at his thoughts and wiped his eyes of the liquid that was abruptly beginning to form. “I kind of feel left behind.”

       “Oh, Honey…” His mother smiled and took him into a tight hug, rubbing his back soothingly as his chin rested on her shoulder. “You were already ahead of him; he’s just catching up.”

       Izuku laughed at that. He wasn’t sure what he found funny about it though. To think he was ahead of Katsuki at something was a foreign concept to him, but thinking about it now, he could see it. He could see the thing he possessed that Katsuki didn’t. Despite having a Quirk that was powerful, a personality that was strong, and a confidence that never seemed to falter, Katsuki was missing a key component of being a hero: empathy. And no amount of physical training would give him that. 

       But at least this fight clicked a switch in Kacchan’s head; I can’t wait to see how much he changes .

       Izuku was so occupied with psychoanalyzing his childhood friend that he didn’t notice the rumble of his phone as it lit up red with a villain alert. Izuku’s world was about to be shaken to its very core and he was about to share a nightmare with a stranger he had only seen once before. And in a moment like that, Izuku sometimes wished he could be like Katsuki and shut his compassion off to avoid the trouble he was about to walk into.

Chapter Text

       Hosu City. It was a large district, occupied by many heroes that frequented its streets such as the current number two hero, Endeavor, and the Iida family heroes such as Ingenium. It was not particularly famous or anything, but the Hero Killer Stain had garnered attention from the media, so the streets had been more populated than usual. Despite police concern and protest, many hero-crazy civilians came to the city, waiting to catch any action that they could tape and sell for profit or keep for their own enjoyment.

       And that was the very reason young Midoriya Izuku had been walking the streets of the City for about a week now. Well, in reality, that was his excuse. He had asked his mother if he could visit the city for a few days while staying at the Hosu hospital for a short internship that he’d managed to get after he’d taken online nursing courses. He had also told her that he wanted to spread sightings of ‘Nine’ around so that the authorities wouldn’t home in on their own district and would search elsewhere. She had agreed, simply because she knew she couldn’t stop him. 

       What he didn’t tell her, however, was that he heard that one of the heroes attacked during the sports festival was the hero Ingenium, a family member of one of Katsuki’s classmates. It shouldn’t concern him as much as it did, but after he had heard the news, he was overcome with an incredibly heavy feeling of dread. 

       The uneasiness that struck him didn’t creep up on him either, like most anxiety does, it body slammed him into the pavement as soon as he read the article. It was almost like his heart realized something was going to happen in Hosu before his brain did and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t ignore it.

       His internship had just finished for the morning and he had just cleaned up the gauze that the high school interns used to practice bandaging and cleaning wounds. He had stayed later than the other students, like usual, to clean the mess that newbies always seemed to make. He was just happy it wasn’t as bad as the pill bottle spill when they were working in the pharmacy or the disaster they created when they were let loose in the pathology department.

       Since his last day in the city would be tomorrow, he decided to dawn the ‘Nine’ costume a little early today so he could get as many appearances as he could while he was still in the city. He stuck to the alleyways to avoid the more prominent pro heroes, but he’d still had some close calls over the past few days by fighting during the day when most of the pros were patrolling. The city seemed more guarded than the last few times he had passed through it when he was younger, which Izuku could only assume was because of the recent attack.

       “Us heroes don’t have the authority to mete out punishments, or the jurisdiction to make arrests.” Izuku stopped in the alley as he heard the unmistakable voice of Manual, a pro hero he had been avoiding after an encounter near the beginning of his internship at the hospital. Izuku peeked his head out from behind an advertising flag near the store he was crouched next to. Izuku saw the hero talking to another person in a silver suit. He’d never seen the helmeted hero before, but the costume looked very familiar. 

       “Since the advances in the regulation of Quirks has permitted their use, heroism mustn’t become mere vigilantism. If by any chance you do take that occasion, then that would be a heavy sin indeed.” Manual continued his lecture before he dropped his serious demeanor so abruptly it was as if he was possessed by a spirit. “Ah! But, ah, no, sorry! I’m not saying the Hero Killer is without sin or anything! You’re pretty straight-laced, too! Your eyes are so, like, relentlessly glaring! I’m just anxious!” 

       The comment that Manual made about vigilantism stung pretty bad, especially after Izuku had come across him a few days before, which meant that he was most likely referring to him. 

       A heavy sin, huh? That comment hurt more than the media’s comments on his recklessness but having a pro hero say it was even more agonizing. 

       The Hero Killer comment threw him off though.

       “I appreciate the warning,” The silver suited hero said.

       “Ah, yeah! We better get back to our patrol then. You're not going to get much from this internship if we just stand here talking the whole time!” 

       Internship? The masked person must be a hero course student

       Izuku had forgotten about hero internships. They apparently happen around the time as other school’s internships, but he had never actually seen a hero-in-training out in the field before. Now he would have to be extra careful of being spotted, just in case a UA student that he’d met before was in the city. He couldn’t risk being recognized. 

       Izuku decided to leave before the student or Manual noticed him. He had hoped to get some more information about the Hero Killer, but Manual dropped the topic too early for Izuku to get anything from him. Not that he was expecting too much in the way of gossip because he’d already heard the extent of it from his last visit with Historia as well as from the other students in his internship at the hospital. 

       It still would have been helpful to know a little bit more about Stain. Other than Stain’s supposed connection to the League of Villains and the limited information the boy had received about his blood related Quirk, Izuku had little idea about other things like the man’s fighting style or even a reliable description of his appearance.

       Izuku patrolled the streets until the sky started to darken with the gray clouds that faded in the crisp air. He had made sure to avoid the pros but still managed to purposefully be spotted by random civilians so the media would know that he’s been in the city. Other than a few petty robbers, the teen hadn’t taken care of any notable criminals while he’d been in the city, but he hoped that just simple sightings would give him enough attention that the police would focus their search away from his neighborhood.

       As he was about to call it a day, the whole city fell into chaos. 

       It started with the sound of buildings crashing to the ground and screaming that could be heard from the other side of the district. The first sound Izuku heard was the shattering of a window and a child’s cry. Before Izuku could even think about the danger he was putting himself in, he sprinted towards the sound to see a child on their knees surrounded by shards of glass. 

       About a kilometer away, Izuku could see multiple pro heroes surrounding a large gray creature that was thrashing around wildly. It seemed like it came running down the street when it crashed into the building the child was next to, breaking the window. 

       Izuku ran up to the child, a little girl no older than five, and calmly placing a had on her shoulder. “It’s going to be alright! Are you hurt at all?”

       The kid was crying, nodding her head and pointing to her leg where there was a deep cut along her calf. Her purple capris were sliced at the hem and soaked in blood. Izuku quickly whipped his backpack onto the ground beside him, pushing aside the mess of weapons and flares that were dumped haphazardly into the bag. He found what he was looking for, taking out a moderately sized first aid kit. As he was about to clean the blood off, he remembered what the doctor at his internship had said about talking to people through their pain.

       “I'm just going to clean your leg up a bit, is that okay?” The child nodded so he began to pour warm water over the cut. His breath hitched when the girl flinched. “Are you all alone? Where are your parents?”

       “Daddy's at work,” she sobbed, “mommy went to get help.”

       “I see,” Izuku pulled out some clean bandages from his kit, occasionally glancing up at the chaos a little ways away. As he carefully wrapped the gauze around the girl’s leg, he continued to speak to her as soothingly as he could muster. “So, what’s your name? My name is Nine.”

       “... Minami Meiko. Are you a hero, Nine-san?”

       “I guess you could say that,” Izuku laughed. He finished bandaging the wound and cleaned up his kit. “Can you tell me which direction your mother went, Minami-chan? I need to get you away from all this glass.” The girl nodded and pointed to the street adjacent from the gray creature’s destruction where there were a few lingering citizens that were fleeing the area. He dipped his head in acknowledgement and put his backpack back on. “Is it alright if I pick you up? I promise to be careful with your leg.”

       “Okay,” The girl hesitated, then reached her arms up to wrap around Izuku’s shoulders. Izuku stood up, pressing the girl to his chest with caution and adjusting his arms to hold her more comfortably. Once he felt that the girl was securely in his grasp, he began to run towards the other people. He ignored the stares of the people in the crowd, trying not to think about running into any pros that were rushing towards the gray creature. He had to focus on the people in front of him.

       His eyes scoured the horde of people, noticing the groups that were gathering around the injured or lost. There were screams of panic that could be heard between the frequent blasts of destroyed buildings but both sounds were often drowned out by the deafening roars of the gray monster with an exposed brain. 

       The teen came across a middle-aged man in a fetal position as he was running passed a local supermarket and slowed to a stop in front of him. The man was wailing loudly and pulling at the sides of his dark hair. His eyes were squeezed shut to avoid the chaos that the city had fallen into. It didn’t take long to realize that the man was having a panic attack. Something that Izuku was all too familiar with.

       Izuku knelt down in front of the man and sat the girl on his knee. “Hey, hey! It’s fine! You’re okay. You’re having a panic attack right now, do you understand?” The man shook his head and began to rock back and forth but didn’t open his eyes. Izuku took a deep breath and began to talk the man through it. “Everything is going to be fine, but I need you to do something for me, okay? I need you to breath with me… In and out. This will all be over soon so focus on breathing.”

       Izuku didn’t dare touch the man for fear of frightening him more, but he did hover his palm close to the man’s shoulder in case he was forced to move him away from danger. The dark-haired man began to follow Izuku’s breath as best he could, his hyperventilating interrupting some of his attempts at replicating the teen. The boy made a mental note to include paper bags in his first aid kit for hyperventilation.

       “It won’t be much longer, okay? You’re completely safe, I’ll make sure of that. There’s no need to worry anymore,” Izuku continued to take exaggerated breaths to make sure the man could hear them. “I am here.”

       As he calmed the man down, Izuku heard a voice from beside him. He turned to see a woman sprinting towards him with tears falling from her cheeks. She was followed by another man that had a medical bag in his hand, most likely a doctor or nurse. The small girl in his arms yelled out to the woman joyfully, the screech of her high-pitched voice making Izuku flinch. He quickly recovered, realizing who the woman was and giving her a smile even if she wouldn’t be able to see it through the respirator.

       “Meiko! Oh, thank God!” The woman panted out as she approached the teen.

       “Mommy! Nine-san saved me!” The girl exclaimed as Izuku stood to pass the child to her mother.

       “Her cut is pretty deep. I cleaned and bandaged it the best I could, but you will need to change the bandages soon,” Izuku tried to explain the girl’s injury to the man that arrived with the woman. Izuku knelt back down to check on the dark-haired man who was still in shock but seemed to be breathing much slower. He turned back up to the other man. “He was having a panic attack, but he seems to have calmed down a bit. Could you take him to safety?” The man nodded.

       Izuku sighed with relief and was about to sprint away before the girl’s mother stopped him with a hand that reached out to grasp his upper arm. “Wait,” she said, “please, I… I can’t thank you enough! I’ve seen you on the news and I don’t care about the laws, you are our hero! Thank you!”

       Izuku paused to let the words sink in, his eyes were wide, and he suddenly felt very thankful for the mask and goggles that covered his embarrassing expression of shock. He gave her a nod to acknowledge her gratitude before sprinting off back through the city, passing many blocks of demolished streets before coming across untouched buildings.

       This was a disaster that was much bigger than he could handle, and it would be smart to escape before he was captured. He knew that he should let the pros take care of it all. He knew that a Quirkless wannabe hero might be a burden if he were to interfere more than he already had. He knew all of this, But when he saw the telltale flash of a silver costume fly passed his peripheral vision, he instantly changed direction to follow it without a second thought.

Chapter Text

       Somewhere along the way, Izuku had taken to his usual rooftop jumping because it was easier to keep up with the hero intern sprinting through the streets. He didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t even know why he was following the silver suited student, but there was something strange about the whole thing that compelled him to move. 

       Maybe it was the half conversation that he overheard the student have with Manual, or maybe it was just because he was thinking too much about the Hero Killer and made a mental connection that may not even be there. Thinking about it logically, it was probably the combination of those things that forced his body to chase after the silver blur.

       He managed to get a little ways ahead of the boy in the street so he decided it was time to confront him. The Quirkless boy carefully jumped down to the street. Initially, he was hidden from view by a couple of vending machines but ran out to the road almost as soon as his feet touched the ground so the student wouldn’t pass him by. He was almost too slow as he was seconds away from the boy slamming into him.

       “Wait!!” Izuku put his hands up in a stopping motion to get the other teen’s attention. The hero-in-training skidded along the ground, almost tripping with the shock of the sudden obstacle. After regaining his balance and glancing up at Izuku, he almost instantly fell into a fighting stance. Izuku threw his arms up to protect himself instinctively. “Woah! I’m not here to fight or anything, calm down!”

       “Who are…?” The boy’s words trailed off as he glanced at the other’s costume.

       They were both quiet for a while. It was an awkward kind of silence that sent a shiver down Izuku’s spine. It wasn’t as though he was afraid, there was just a strange tension between them. It was almost like they both caught each other doing something unethical and were making a silent agreement not to tell anyone of their encounter. 

       “Ah, you must be the vigilante from the news,” the young hero said, voice straining a bit. Izuku could hear the exhaustion that showed in between his words from running halfway across the city. Despite his strangely calm tone, he never relaxed his stance. “It’s brave of you to show yourself in front of a hero-in-training, you do know that I could easily capture you and bring you to the proper authorities, don’t you?”

       “Uh… I mean, I guess I really didn’t think this far ahead, huh? Um,” The boy sputtered, then reached his arm up to clumsily scratch the back of his head. “Just so you have something to call me, I go by ‘Nine’... I’m sorry if I’m wrong or assuming but… um, are you Iida-san?” 

       “... How do you know my name? Or did you just guess by my costume?”

       “It was more of a guess to be honest,” Izuku chuckled, “when you disappeared from the sports festival, I got worried, so I got some info about the attack and just kind of assumed you would be here.” 

       Is that creepy to say?

       “Why do you care? I don’t know you and you shouldn’t meddle in other’s affairs.”

       “I shouldn’t worry about someone just because I’ve never met them before? I don’t think many heroes would agree with you on that one…”

       “That’s not entirely what I meant,” he said, reeling a bit from the inadvertently harsh words. “Why me? I would appreciate my activities to be kept from criminals.”

       Izuku changed the subject. Mostly because he didn’t really have an explanation for his actions. 

       It’s kind of hard to say ‘I just had a bad feeling that you might die’ to a stranger.

       “You’re going after the Hero Killer, aren’t you?” Iida didn’t respond, but his silence answered for him. The vigilante sighed with a sad smile, although Iida wouldn’t be able to see it through his respirator. “If you’re planning to take the law into your own hands, then you are just as bad as me. Are you telling me that you would turn yourself in after you took out your revenge? Ruin your chance to become a hero?”

       “The Hero Killer… my brother is paralyzed from the waist down and will never do hero work again because of that murderer and you are telling me to let that go? I have to do something, even if it ruins my pro hero career!”

       “Revenge is never a reason to ruin your future! You could die because of this!”

       “And I should listen to you? Not only are you a stranger to me, but you are also a vigilante, the very thing you are trying to convince me not to be! You preach something you yourself do not live by!” The teen was beginning to raise his voice. He was becoming fed up, Izuku could tell. 

       The Quirkless boy let out a long breath as he processed the harsh words. 

        I don’t want to say he has a point but… at least I’m doing it for different reasons.  

       “Look, I don’t do this to get back at anyone, I do this to help the people that need me. You were born with an incredible gift and were given a way to use it to its fullest! And you want to throw that all away?” 

       Iida froze for a moment as if to contemplate what the vigilante had said. Although Izuku had no way of knowing what Iida's facial expression was through the helmet, he could sense a defensive shift in the silver boy's stance could only be described as defiance. “I don’t have time for this!” His body began to move as he stepped to the side.

        “This won’t help you and it won’t change what happened!”

       He dipped his head slightly and calmly spoke; his tone was drained of all emotion. “For the soul purpose of simplicity, I will pretend to have never seen you.”

       “Iida-san! Wait!” The boy's call fell on deaf ears as Iida fired up his engines and dashed passed him, continuing down the street and turning at an intersection.

       Izuku grumbled in frustration and cursed under his breath. He took some slow breaths to calm himself and began rummaging around his backpack for anything that could help him save the taller boy from his deadly decision. His eyes fell on the remote-controlled flash bombs he had gotten from Silver Scale. They weren't particularly strong; they were mostly for distractions if he needed a preplanned getaway. He took the small black box containing the bombs out of the bag and opened it to see coin-sized disks with small engravings etched into them. He placed one on the ground in front of him and glanced back into the box. There are about fifty of them. That has to be more than enough to make a trail.

       He began to chase after the UA student, dropping the miniature disks on the pavement every twenty or so meters. He didn't want to cause a scene in case they didn't come across any trouble, but Izuku knew that if they did run into Stain, a series of bombs leading to their location would definitely alert nearby heroes. Saving Iida would be impossible on his own, but he at least hoped this strategy would give them a chance to run if they did get themselves in a predicament.

       The streets were completely empty now; there was no movement save for the few pro heroes that rushed into the chaos and the two teenagers that made their way towards a different kind of danger. Considering Iida's Quirk and the head start he had gotten, it was inevitable that the Quirkless boy would lose track of him. Izuku breathed heavily as he ran, checking random streets for any sign of the vengeful teen, but became more panicked as time went on without seeing anything. He was becoming hysterical at the thought of Iida being the first person he failed to save.

       It was then that he recalled a tabloid show that he had seen a few days before coming to Hosu. It was mostly filled with rumors and conspiracy theories but there was one story that appeared to have at least some truth to it: Sixty percent of the Hero Killer’s victims were found in deserted alleyways near general hero offices.

       At that thought, he screeched to a halt, almost breaking his ankle at the pressure of the turn. He yelped at the pain but pushed it to the back of his mind as he sprinted towards the nearest hero office. Not thinking about the repercussions of appearing right in front of a building that was usually filled with heroes, he didn’t even bother to avoid the security cameras around the front door as he turned into the alley. He made a couple of turns, finding the maze of back alleys just as empty as the streets.

       Then he heard a scream.

       He took off in the direction of the sound, heart still leaping out of his chest as he turned the corner once more, freezing to take in the scene before him. Iida lay on his stomach, a sword sticking out of his arm near his shoulder. The Hero Killer stood over him, pointing at the collapsed pro hero, Native, before dropping his arm back by his side. Stain’s eyes were stiff and deadly. His presence alone made Izuku shiver with a sudden revulsion. They didn’t seem to notice him yet, so he was able to listen to the tail end of their conversation.

       “Don’t brandish your power for your own sake. Becoming seized by hatred for the enemy before your eyes, merely to satisfy your own selfish desires… that is the furthest from the title of ‘Hero’.” The Hero Killer lifted his blade from Iida’s shoulder. There was a tender sound that Izuku couldn’t help but cringe at when the sword unlodged from the muscle and flesh of the young hero. “That is why you die here.”

       “Stop!” Izuku called, “please don’t hurt him!”

       “Nine…?” Iida trembled; eyes wide.

       Stain turned, almost in slow motion, to face the small green haired boy. There was no sign of any emotion in the man’s eyes, they were empty. If Izuku were to describe what the murderer was feeling right now, he would probably say he was confused or perhaps offended. Whatever it was, it was imperative that he figure it out; unpredictable villains are the most dangerous type.

       “I came to save you, Iida-san!” Izuku’s voice was confident despite his own terror.

       “Another child?” The Hero Killer asked. He grinned widely as he adjusted the sword in his hand so that the blood covered blade was hovering over his mouth. “... Ah, but this one’s different.”

       Izuku flinched at the villain’s words but stood his ground. He needed more time. He needed to stall or talk him down somehow so everyone could get away safely. He had never been very good at holding a conversation, but he had to try something because there was no way for a Quirkless teenager to defeat a notorious murderer with weapons alone. 

       I’m not strong enough, I should have brought one of the pros somehow.

       That’s when it hits him. He wouldn’t be able to convince the killer to have a mundane chat with him, not without some extreme confusion and awkwardness, so he had to do the one thing he knew he was good at: idolize.

       “Stain, right? You’re even cooler in person!” Izuku swallowed the bitter taste of his words as they rolled off his tongue and fought the urge to take up a fighting stance. “My name is Nine, I’m a vigilante like you!”

       “Are you now?” Stain chuckled. Izuku didn’t know if this was working, but at least Stain seemed amused, therefore occupied. “You get that name from Sliver?”

       Izuku freezes. Stain laughed again at the wide eyed expression on the teenager’s face through his goggles. He tilted his rough serrated blade to catch the light and draw attention to it. 

       Silver Scale provided the Hero Killer with weapons? It made sense after all, the man needed to make money somehow. Despite knowing Silver Scale’s reason, the knowledge twisted something in his stomach that gave him a faint feeling of nausea. 

       “Yeah, I didn’t really care what the media called me,” he said. It was true, of course, but Izuku also knew it would probably be something Stain would want to hear considering his self-sacrificial hero ideal. “I live to save others, not boast,” He took a bold step towards the killer, glancing down at Iida who was silently pleading for Izuku to go away. “Which reminds me of why I’m here…”

       “‘I came to save you’? That’s quite the line. Are you two friends?” The villain smirked and stepped back a bit to counter the boy’s sudden advance but was still standing on top of Iida. He was obviously being cautious due to not knowing Izuku’s Quirk, or lack thereof. Stain frowned when Izuku didn’t answer him and continued. “Nevermind then… I have a duty to kill these men. You of all people should understand that, right?”

       “I agree with you,” Izuku struggled to let the villainous words out. “Heroes need to be defined by their selfless actions and if they only care about popularity or wealth then they don’t deserve the title of ‘hero’... but I have my own morals too and they say that murder is murder no matter the motive.” He sucked in the heavy air and made one last comment. “He’s just a kid; he can still change.”

       “Hm, what a shame… to have someone who holds the true ideals of a ‘hero’ yet given the title of ‘criminal’,” Stain hummed and ran his tongue along his sword causing an inhale of pure panic from Izuku as he saw Iida suddenly go stiff. He knew in that moment that the Hero Killer wasn’t going to buy his ‘fanboy’ act. “It’s a true waste...that you had to get in my way…”

Chapter Text

       “Shouto, there’s been an incident! Follow me and I’ll show you what a hero is!”

       Following his father’s orders had become like second nature to him. He didn’t even hesitate to run through the streets, chasing after the fiery figure. In some ways he was thankful for his obedience, at least he could get some experience out in the field, but he mostly just wanted to be free of the bastard. What he wouldn’t give to have some time to himself at this moment.

       He wanted to cut all ties with the man that ‘raised’ him, if one could even call it that. But he had chosen his agency for a reason. He needed to learn whatever he could so he could reach the top, even if it meant tailing behind this self-righteous piece of shit.

       As Shouto jogged into the action, watching as his father sprinted into the fight along with a few other pro heroes, there was something he couldn’t help but look at. It was far from the villains and action, but there was something familiar about the person he saw that caught his attention. The person was dressed in green and black and they were kneeling in front of a child; they seemed to be wrapping a bandage around the kid’s leg. 

       “The guy from the news…?” He wasn’t positive of what he saw but had no time to space out. He snapped his gaze away from the vigilante and shot a spike of ice towards the bare brained creature that the other pros were attacking. It easily shattered the ice and took a swing at a different hero that was close to it. Endeavor stopped the swing and readied his flames. Despite the fact that watching the battle would help him improve his own skills, he suddenly felt the urge to look anywhere but his father’s triumph. 

       He glanced back to the end of the street to look at the other teen that had been helping the child, but he was no longer there.

       Shouto sighed and shifted his focus back to the battle. He was keeping his distance from the villains, not because he was afraid or anything, but because he was paranoid of his Quirk’s abilities after the disastrous sports festival. His broken arm was healed, of course, but he felt different somehow. He was angry with himself for resorting to using his fire against the explosive blond that yelled at him during their fight, but he wasn’t actually mad that said blond had broken his arm.

       In fact, it was almost the opposite. Shouto was grateful that Bakugou had broken his arm, strange as that seems. It made him realize that he was relying too much on his mother’s power and not acknowledging the consequences of rejecting his father’s. He still wasn’t using his fire, but he was trying to come up with a new fighting style that would make up for the weaknesses that his mother’s Quirk had. Still, even though he wasn’t mad, he couldn’t help but smile when the teachers threatened Bakugou with expulsion. A feeling of vindication, maybe.

       “Shouto, pay attention,” Endeavor shot a glare at the young hero, “heroes must be aware of their surroundings at all times. I’ve told you this.”

       The teen didn’t respond. Instead, he kicked at the pavement in frustration and gave a coarse sigh. They had wandered farther around the city into a quieter area, looking for any sign of disturbances that weren’t already being taken care of. They had stopped at some point and Shouto was finding it hard to sit through his father’s lectures.

       He heard a quiet sound beneath his foot, which was a welcome distraction, that is, until he saw what made the noise. He bent down and picked up what looked like a small coin. It was silver and very glossy; definitely not yen or any other currency he’d ever seen before. He flipped it around in his hand to inspect it.

       “Stop playing with garbage,” Endeavor ordered.

       “It’s not…” Recognition dawned on his face and he dropped the coin, jumping back with uncertainty. His brow creased when the coin hit the road without more than a ‘ding’. He relaxed and turned to his father who stared at him in confusion. 

       “It’s a flash bomb,” Shouto answered Endeavor’s unasked question, “It must be remote activated; it didn’t go off when I moved or dropped it.”

       “You’ve seen them before?”

       ”I remember a girl at the sports festival showing some of the other students different support items like these. These ones don’t seem to be branded, so they might be illegal.” The boy glanced up to look farther down the street, he hummed when he saw another small object catching the light from a few meters away. “A trail?” Before his father had time to react, Shouto sprinted towards the bombs, following the trail that was laid out on the ground.

       “Shouto! Where are you going?! Get back here!”

       “Follow me,” he called back in his signature stoic voice, “there’s a trail of illegal bombs, so it has to lead somewhere important.”

       He didn’t bother to check behind him to see if his father had actually followed him. The absence of yelling already answered that question. The bastard was probably waiting for Shouto to come back with nothing of importance; just waiting to continue scolding him. There was no way of knowing whether this venture would be fruitful, but red herring or not, there was a part of him that was just happy to be away from the asshole.

       He hadn’t intended to run away from him, it just kind of happened. He had no leads as to where or what the flash bombs lead to and had no real reason to follow them. Maybe his mind was making connections that weren’t actually there, but he had an odd feeling that whatever it was he was chasing after had something to do with the vigilante he’d seen earlier.

       The bi-colour boy had lost track of the coin-like objects a few times, but eventually found more of them as they lead farther down the streets. They had obviously been dropped in a hurry, which was a big indication of a crisis. The bombs continued in a scattered line that stopped Shouto in front of an alleyway. He hesitated before going down the dark narrow passage but was slightly comforted by the hero office that was close by it.

       That’s when he heard it.

       It was a conversation. He couldn’t make out the words, but there were definitely people talking. He only heard two voices, one sounding much deeper than the other, but he could also hear faint groans.

       He followed the sounds very cautiously. He didn’t know where these bombs had led him and he didn’t want to rush into something blindly. He crept up through the maze of pathways, scaling the walls of the nearby building and looking over corners before continuing on his mission. He stopped near one of the buildings when he could clearly hear the conversation between the two people and took out his cell phone, clicking the recording option. He simply stood there and listened.

       “I agree with you. Heroes need to be defined by their selfless actions and if they only care about popularity or wealth then they don’t deserve the title of ‘hero’” Shouto focused on the shaky voice that spoke. It was definitely a male voice albeit very high pitched, and despite the brave words, the person’s tone seemed to falter. “...but I have my own morals too and they say that murder is murder no matter the motive.”

       Shouto froze, his eyes shot up from the faint glow of his phone. He stiffened at the shift in the topic of the discussion. It went from hero philosophy to murder. He didn’t know how to feel about that, nor did he know what to do in this situation. He got his answer soon after when the other boy spoke once again.

       “He’s just a kid; he can still change.”

       There was a pause. “Hm, what a shame… to have someone who holds the true ideals of a ‘hero’ yet given the title of ‘criminal’. It’s a true waste...that you had to get in my way…”

        It was a deep, threatening voice that spoke next. The tension that followed the man’s speech was so thick that it almost became difficult to breath just by hearing it. The sudden silence was broken quickly when Shouto heard the sound of metal on pavement and another voice, more distressed than the other two, that called out into the darkness.

       “I… I can’t move!” 

       He recognized that voice.

Chapter Text

       Stain jumped back, his blade scraping along the ground with a sharp sound as he swung his arm to his side. He cackled when he saw the small green-clad boy whip out his small dagger. Izuku was visibly shaking but he stood in his practiced battle stance with unwavering determination.

       “You have nothing to do with this!!” Iida screamed at Izuku’s back from his paralyzed position. “I need to do this alone! I don’t need anyone to help, I don’t even know you!”

       “If you truly believe that, then you won’t avenge anyone.” Izuku’s voice was harsher and more strained than usual. He didn’t mean for it to show, but his frustration definitely came through in his tone. “I’m sorry, Iida-san, but if you think that you can do this by yourself then you are an idiot! You can’t be a hero without people you can rely on!”

       “Wha-? But you-!”

       “I’m not alone either, Iida-san.” He dug his free hand into his pocket to reveal the trigger switch for the flash bombs, setting them off without hesitation and discarding the device to the ground. There were several explosions in the distance, accompanied by a high-pitched squeal that indicated that the bombs were turned on. 

       The sounds startled both Iida as well as the Hero Killer and they froze for a moment as they possessed what was happening. “There’s a necessary risk vigilantes have to take if they want to save people and I’m not stupid enough to think I can do this alone so…” He paused to dodge as Stain ran towards him, he jumped back as Stain’s blade caught the fabric of his hoodie. “I’m sorry, but we might be in some trouble soon.”

       Without warning, a pillar of ice separated Izuku from the villain and slid Iida and Native closer to the end of the alley. There was a chill in the fog that radiated off of the iceberg; it interrupted Izuku’s vision for a moment as he searched his surroundings for the source of the ice. His eyes widened in both shock and confusion as he saw the bi-colour student standing in the middle of the passageway. As the boy began to speak, Izuku could only focus on his unexpectedly deep voice and almost forgot to listen to his words.

       “Hero Killer, I won’t let your ass kill them.”

       After a second of utter confusion, Izuku composed himself enough to recognize the student. “Ah! Todoroki-san?!”

       Todoroki turned his head to address Izuku’s outburst, staring at Iida as well. “You are both reckless idiots. Were those your bombs, Green? You’re lucky I recognized what they were or else I would have been late.”

       “It’s one after the other today… my work keeps getting interrupted. Well, after those flashes, it won’t be long until more show up anyway, so I might as well finish you off,” Stain said, flashing his sword to his side. 

       “Why…? You two… please, stop!” Iida screamed out to both of the teens, “I inherited my brother’s name… I’m the one who-”

       “You inherited it, huh? Funny, I’ve never seen Inginium make that face before.” Todoroki cut Iida off without looking back to see the shock in his expression.

       “Todoroki-san! Watch out for his blades! His Quirk is blood related; Iida-san is paralyzed because of it!” Izuku tried to focus them both on the task at hand.

       “The blades, huh? I’ll keep my distance then.” Todoroki dodged a dagger that was flung at his face, letting out a surprised gasp as it grazed his cheek. 

       As the Hero Killer lunged towards him, he let out another pillar of ice, but was slower to react this time. Because the man was aiming for his left side, he had a harder time shooting his ice in that direction rather than straight across or to his right. Noticing this, Izuku threw his knife at the villain intending to shift his focus away from Todoroki. 

       To everyone’s surprise, the blade hit Stain in the side of his stomach while he was distracted by the ice, stopping him in his tracks.

       “Shit.” The villain cursed and began to laugh yet again, ripping the dagger from his side and holding it up to his face threateningly. “You’re fast. Is that your Quirk at work?” 

       Izuku growled at his taunt, “maybe you’re just not as good as you thought.”

       “Ah, I see...” He smiled and dodged Todoroki’s next attack but was still focusing his gaze on the young vigilante. “So you haven’t used it then? It’s pretty dangerous to run into a fight without using your Quirk.”

       When Stain made that comment, Izuku could feel the other students’ eyes on him. There was an obvious confusion in their expression, but while Iida’s face showed concern over Izuku’s abilities, Todoroki’s showed something akin to understanding or perhaps pity. There was no way to counter Stain’s argument without revealing why he wasn’t using a Quirk so he keeps quiet despite how suspicious that seemed.

       “You really think you can save people without your full power? Maybe I was wrong about you, true heroes can’t be that cocky.”

       “That’s not-!” Izuku was cut off by his own dagger that hit just below his chest. The force of the blade pierced his bullet-proof vest, giving him a relatively deep cut just under his ribs. Izuku groaned and bent forwards as he pulled the dagger out of the wound, stuffing it in his pocket. He growled and clenched his teeth roughly

       I’m not going down that easily.

       Stain lunged forward, slicing Izuku’s calf and knocking him to the side. He turned back to the others, ignoring the vigilante’s presence instead of trying to kill him.

       “Hey, Green, are you alright?” It was Todoroki who was the first to ask, with Iida yelling out his name soon after. The monotone teen’s voice was strained, and it took a second for Izuku to realize that he had also been hit by a flying dagger just above his elbow.

       “I’m fine!”

       “Then stop fooling around. If you have a Quirk that can help us, then use it.”

       From what Izuku remembers of the icy hero-in-training from the sports festival, he was stoic and could come off as rude. Todoroki’s statement wasn’t intended to be rude; Izuku knew that. So the quick comeback that Izuku shot his way surprised not only Todoroki, but also himself. “That’s rich, coming from you. This is no time for family drama, use your damn fire.”

       That’s not what the two-toned boy wanted to hear. Todoroki’s eyes darkened and he shifted his stance as he shot another fruitless iceberg at Stain who easily dodged. The villain began to charge at the student once again, weapon coming uncomfortably close to Todoroki’s arm. In a moment of desperation, Izuku heard a begrudged “fine” from Todoroki as he let out a wave of flames that successfully pushed the Hero Killer back, burning his arm and the left side of his face.

       “Happy now?” Todoroki heaved with exhaustion but the anger in his voice was still strong. He turned to Izuku with a glare. “Your turn.”

       “... my Quirk is non-physical.”

       “Bullshit. You would have said that earlier if it were true.”

        As the two bantered, Stain gave a huff of annoyance, then another sick laugh, much more powerful than before. His eyes shot to Izuku with amusement, as if he’d just experienced an epiphany. And unfortunately for Izuku, he had. “Ah, I understand now,” he continued to laugh as he prepared his weapon, “you can’t use what you don’t have, huh?”

       The vigilante took a sharp breath, not taking his eyes off of the villain despite the unspoken questions that the others had for him.

       “Quirkless, hm? That’s a rarity nowadays… you’ve been given some shitty cards in this life, Nine,” he hummed mischievously, “yet you still lay your life on the line with no expectation of a reward? Now that’s true heroism.”

       “I don’t want to hear that from you!”

       Izuku took out his grapple and shot it at the side of the building to his left, flying above the villain and swinging his metal rope dart at the man’s sword. Luckily, despite Stain reacting to the attack with impossible precision, the dart did manage to catch him. It missed his blade, but in the process of him trying to dodge, it wrapped around his neck.

       Izuku pushed through the pain in his stomach as he tightly held on to the side of the building, pulling on the metal rope aggressively. Stain had involuntarily dropped his weapon to grab the rope that squeezed his neck. His breathing was labored, and he wasn’t able to make coherent sentences, but he was still trying to speak. 

       Izuku ignored his words, freeing one of his hands from the wall, holding on to both the rope as well as the building with his other. He rummaged through his backpack with his free hand, finding one of his flares, setting it off quickly and dropping it to the ground below.

       “Did you see that? I think it came from over there!” There was a voice from afar. 

       The pros are here. finally.

       Still holding on to the wall, Izuku shot his grapple to the roof of the opposite building. He paused for a moment before dropping the handle of the rope dart, abandoning it as Stain fell to his knees. Before he fully pushed himself onto the roof of the building above the alley, he saw a flash of ice that blocked all further view of the scene as Todoroki made a makeshift ice jail.

       Izuku rolled himself over the edge of the building so he was securely on the roof, but before he could push himself up and start running, he felt a sudden jolt in his veins that halted his movement. He looked down at his hand. Blood. Shit! It was probably on the handle I dropped.

       He took his paralyzation as a sign he needed to breath, because he suddenly became aware that he was hyperventilating. He could hear commotion below him as pro heroes came rushing to the scene. This fact didn’t reassure him at all; he was just praying that they would be too occupied with the murderer to search for him. There was a moment of silence before Izuku heard an eruption of fighting from the street outside the alley. 

       “Nine?! Where are you?! The word ‘hero’ must be restored!” He heard Stain yell from the street, “Come!! Just try it, you pretenders!” he addressed the other pro heroes, “The only ones who are allowed to kill me are the ones I deem true ‘heroes’; Nine and All Might!”

Chapter Text

       “How the hell are you still moving?” Silver Scale asked. He had dropped his glass on the table and rushed to Izuku’s side, pressing his dish towel to the boy’s stomach wound as soon as he had rushed through the door. 

       It was a valid question. Most of Izuku’s journey to the bar was a blur of adrenaline. He remembered sneaking to the train station, which was being used as an emergency evacuation sight. It was surprisingly easy to get back to Musutafu without arousing much suspicion, considering how he blended into the panicking crowd. He had needed to take off his mask and goggles as well as cover his stomach wound while he was around other people though, which was why he wasn’t wearing them now.

       “Ugh, it’s not as bad as it looks…” Izuku limped to the couch in the corner of the bar and let himself relax. After calming down, however, he could finally feel the full force of his injuries as the adrenaline left his system. Maybe it’s worse than I thought...

       “Bullshit, kid. What the fuck did you do?”

       “Um, my job, I guess? I didn’t really mean to take it this far… I was hoping to resolve it peacefully.”

       “Well, I can see how well that went,” the old man sighed, “get that hoodie off, I have some medical supplies in the back.” He jogged around the bar table and left through a door that led to the storage area.

       “Thank you, Silver…” Izuku called out as he carefully slipped out of his hoodie and undid his vest to reveal his bare chest. His skin was drenched in dark, sticky blood and Izuku could see the full extent of the damage without the fabric obscuring his view. It was a small injury, but it was much deeper than he had thought, and the pain was making him feel woozy. He sighed and looked up to see Silver Scale again when he heard the door open. “I guess bullet-proof vests don’t do much for stab wounds, huh?”

       “This is no time to be making jokes, Nine,” he groaned, looking especially disappointed after Izuku’s comment, “kids shouldn’t be doing this shit. This is why I didn’t want to give you anything in the first place. You’re a walking disaster.”

       “I need another rope dart… I lost mine.”

       “That is not my main concern right now”

       The man took out the first aid and began to clean the wound. Izuku would normally fix his own injuries, but he was much too tired to do so, and seeing as the wound was directly below his ribs, he was becoming a little queasy at the thought of mopping up the blood himself. If Silver Scale wasn’t there to distract him, he feared he may eventually vomit. The man wrapped gauze around the boy’s body and began working on his slashed calf.

       “That’s quite the head of hair you’ve got,” he commented, trying to lighten the mood. “This is the first time I’ve seen you without your hood.”

       “Ah, yeah,” Izuku’s hand shot up into his curls. “The colour is from my mom and I got the curl from my dad.”

       “I see, I assumed it was Quirk related because of the odd colour, but I guess not.”

       Izuku stayed quiet at that and the room fell into an awkward yet welcome silence.

       “Well,” the man started as he finished bandaging the boy’s wounds, “there you are. You better not come back here looking like this. You promised me you wouldn’t die, and you can’t be a ‘hero’ if you break promises.”

       “Y-yeah! Sorry!”

       “You’re welcome to stay here for a while to rest. It’s almost morning though, so my other informant will be here in a few hours.”

       “Oh, not Historia?”

       “No, she only does graveyard shift. You haven’t met this one.”

       “What’s their name?”

       “He goes by ‘Bug’. His personality can be… hard to handle. And he's not too fond of children, so I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to get out of here before he arrives.”

       The old man went back to the counter and brought out a bottle of alcohol. He glanced at Izuku for a moment before nodding and pouring the dark brown liquid into a shot glass. He walked back over to the boy who lay on the couch and held out the glass.

       “I don’t have any painkillers, but if you want, you can have some of this. I’m not forcing you, but it might numb the pain. You look about ready to pass out.”

       “Ah, um, thanks. I’ve never… I’ve never had alcohol before…” Izuku hesitantly reached for the glass, taking it from the man’s hand. He brought it to his nose to sniff it, feeling his face scrunch up at the strange odor. 

       It’s not like it’ll hurt me, right?  

       He took a breath and tipped the liquid into his mouth, swallowing it all in one go. He coughed a few times and stuck out his tongue as he gagged. “That was the worse thing I’ve ever drank! How can people get addicted to this stuff?”

       Silver Scale chuckled and took the shot glass back, walking back to the counter to wash it. “You’d be surprised. I used to have a pretty serious problem with it, but I got better with age and circumstance.”

       “Oh?” Izuku smiled, “I thought you didn’t want me to know anything about you.”

       The bartender hummed, “you still don’t.”

       “Yes, I do! I know that you’re a former alcoholic that runs a bar as a front to sell illegal weapons.”

       “Oh, yes, I feel closer to you already,” he said sarcastically, “anything else, stranger?”

       “I know you sold weapons to the Hero Killer Stain.”

       The old man was quiet. Izuku heard him take a deep breath and then heard a clang of glasses as the man poured himself a shaky glass of wine. Izuku turned his head from his position on the couch to see Silver Scale downing his drink which was filled to the brim. Izuku regretted bringing the topic up.

       “Hey, it’s fine, y’know, it’s not your fau-”

       “So that’s what it was, hm? You went off and fought a murderer? Want the hell were you thinking?”

       Before Izuku could answer, the door to the bar suddenly swung open to reveal a tall, lanky man standing under the frame. He wore a plaid shirt, half done up, with a plain black tank top underneath. He had headphones hanging around his neck that were tangled in his shoulder-length black hair despite the purple headband that tried and failed to keep the greasy mess at bay. He had mismatching pajama pants on with what looked like All Might themed slippers covering his feet. 

       He looks very disorganized.

       “Who the fuck is the bloody piece of broccoli, Silver? I’m too hungover to see a half-naked kid on the couch of the bar this early in the morning.” He sauntered in, closing the door behind him. He took a seat at the counter and threw the blue laptop that Izuku hadn’t realized he was carrying onto the table haphazardly. Without opening the laptop, he flopped his head over-top of it and groaned as if he was in pain. “Fuck… get me coffee or some shit.”

       “You’re early,” Silver Scale commented.

       “I don’t need to hear that right now. Tell me who the kid is. Is he yours?” Silver Scale snorted at Bug’s question and the younger looking man looked up from leaning on the laptop to see the old man’s expression. “Okay, that reaction answers one question. So, if he isn’t your kid then who the fuck is he?” He turned to face Izuku. “Who the fuck are you?”

       “Ah, I, um, my name is Nine.”

       Bug squinted his eyes at the boy, and without looking back to the table, he flopped his hand on the laptop cover. There was a blue glow in Bug’s eyes, then, in what seemed like a less than a second, the man fell out of his chair onto his knees. He shut his eyes tightly and held his head in his hands with a scream.

       “Are you alright?!” The Izuku shot up from laying on the couch, stiffening at the sharp pain and sprinted over to the man screaming on the ground. Just as fast as the man started screaming, he went silent and then began laughing. What?

       “Oh fuck, man, yeah, I’m fine. It’s just my Quirk,” he continued to laugh, much to the young boy’s confusion, “It’s called ‘Cheat Code’. I can obtain information from electronic devices by touching them, but man, it gives me an extreme headache, like, I constantly feel hungover…” An Emitter Quirk… debilitating side effect.

       “O-oh, okay. So, what did you do just now?” the vigilante asked, suddenly very interested in the topic of Quirks being brought up.

       “Just…” Bug made a face of disgust and pushed Izuku back slightly, careful not to touch anything but the boy’s shoulders. “I don’t like kids so close to me, especially injured, half-naked ones, thanks,” he pulled himself up from the ground and sat back down on the bar stool, “I just scanned the network for information about you. You’re a vigilante by the name of ‘Nine’. You have about twenty villains credited to you, although, some believe that number to be much higher. And… you were mentioned by name by the Hero Killer himself before he was apprehended.”

       “What?” Silver Scale deadpanned as he looked at the boy angrily.

       “You’re pretty popular, kid,” Bug smirked, “people are gonna start searching for you if you keep this up.”

       “Do you have any information on the UA students that were injured in the Stain attack? I have money in my bag.” Izuku said as he ran over to the couch again where his backpack lay, cradling his stomach and limping slightly.

       “You just ignore any danger to yourself then, huh? Just jump at the first chance you get to break yourself if it means saving someone… alright then, can’t fault you for that.”

       “I can,” Silver Scale grimaced and turned back to Bug, “don’t let him get into more trouble, Bug.”

       “Hm, now that’s a dilemma: listen to my boss or get money from a reckless-ass kid? Gotta say, things aren't looking in your favor, Silver.”

       The old man grunted disapprovingly as Izuku walked back up to the table with money in his hands. He had pulled his hoodie back on, but it was stained with dried blood and had a slash across the chest, so his skin was peaking through the fabric.

       “Ah, shit. Now I’m inclined to side with you, boss,” Bug sighed as he looked at the stained clothes. “I’m not one to care about strangers, kid, but wow… you sure are a self-sacrificial idiot, aren’t you?”

       “I just need to know if they’re okay,” Izuku said, putting the money on the counter in front of the lanky man, “It’s not dangerous to worry about people.”

       “Well, I don’t know about Silver, but that just blew all my arguments out of the water so I’ll tell you the basics,” he said, stuffing the money in his pocket. “But this is too much, so Imma get you some prescription painkillers too, ‘cause you’re in rough shape… anyway, the kids were set up at a local hospital in Hosu, sources won’t tell anyone which one. They’re being treated for minor injuries and should be back to school soon. They say Stain’s defeat is being credited to you, by the way. Well, you, Endeavor, and a few other pros.”

       Izuku regretted not revisiting the hospital he had been interning at, just in case it was the one that the injured students were at. Considering his own injuries, it wasn’t as if he could have actually seen if they were there without passing out, so it didn’t take long to let it go. The UA students were strong, but even they needed to see that they were allowed to rely on others. 

       Iida learned the most from his experience in the dark alley that night. His feelings weren’t resolved, and he found himself growing angry at both his classmate as well as the vigilante for interfering. He couldn’t do much about his feelings, after all, Stain was locked up and he himself was being scolded along with Todoroki by Manuel and the chief of police.

       Todoroki spoke up almost as soon as the police and the pro hero left them alone in the room. It took a few moments for Iida to realize the bi-colour boy was speaking to him, since this was the first time the quiet boy had ever instigated a conversation with someone in his class.

       “He was Quirkless…” Todoroki looked conflicted as he shifted into a cross-legged position on the hospital bed.

       “He never confirmed that. We don’t know for certain,” Iida tried to reason.

       “I doubt there’s any other explanation,” Todoroki sighed, “should we tell anyone?”

       “His Quirkless status shouldn’t interfere with our candor, but I’m honestly not sure if it would be wise to reveal that aspect to the media.” 

       “So, it’s up to us then, huh?” Todoroki watched as Iida nodded. “What did you call him again?”

       “He called himself ‘Nine’. Stain seemed to know that name as well, not surprising considering how they seemed to agree on philosophy.”

       “Their morals seemed to differ, though. I got a recording of them arguing and gave it to the police. If they catch him, I’m sure they could use it as evidence to give him a lighter sentence or something.” He paused for a moment and looked Iida in the eye. “Do you think he’s a hero? Like, metaphorically, he’s obviously not a pro.”

       “I suppose that depends on who you ask.”

       “I’m asking you,” Todoroki deadpanned.

       Iida sighed at his classmate’s bluntness, “I can’t say I agree with what he’s doing but…” He thought back to the conversation he had with the green-clad boy. “He seemed to be doing it for a good reason, so… maybe ‘savior’ is a better word.”

       “I see…”

       “Do you disagree?”

       “No, not really. He’s just... very intrusive.”

       “Yes, he seems to meddle in the business of others more than is needed,” Iida shook his head disapprovingly. “But I suppose if he didn’t care so much, I wouldn’t be here right now, so I should be thankful for that trait of his.”

       Todoroki shook his head, looking down at his folded legs. “I just can’t wrap my head around this. Quirkless? I didn’t even know they still existed.”

       “I’ve heard of some elderly Quirkless people, but I too thought they were becoming extinct.”

       “I don’t know how to feel about it. I lived my whole life with a powerful Quirk so I can’t imagine what it would be like to live without any power at all.”

       “Ah, you pity him? That makes sense.”

       “No. Not pity. Considering what this power has done to my family, I'm kind of… envious? I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but I think he has more potential to become a hero than a lot of other people.” Todoroki looked up to Iida who was staring at him solemnly. The taller boy’s eyes looked glossed over with a sadness that seemed to morph into understanding. Iida simply nodded his head to acknowledge Todoroki’s statement and the conversation ended.

Chapter Text

       Inko was furious. As soon as Izuku had returned home that morning, his mother slapped him on the shoulder in a scolding manner and cried at least three times before speaking a word to him. She had heard his vigilante name on the news and was bombarded with the gossip that he was acknowledged by Stain. 

       She had been panicked for hours, sending message after message to get in touch with him, with all of her attempts going unanswered until he showed up at the door a mere hour ago. Izuku didn’t recall ever seeing her this angry before. It made sense, but he definitely wasn’t prepared for it.

       “Izuku! You said the internship was just to spread your name to a different city!” She was in the kitchen, begrudgingly chopping vegetables after learning that he hadn’t eaten since yesterday afternoon. “I’m sorry but…” she grunted, “what the… what the fuck?”

       Izuku jolted, surprised to hear his mother curse. He only remembered one other time she had done so, and it was in a conversation with his father a long time ago that he was almost one hundred percent sure he wasn’t supposed to hear. Hearing her direct that kind of language towards him proved just how pissed she was.

       “Pardon my language…” she said, composing herself a little before continuing, “I trusted you to take care of yourself and you go off and try to fight a dangerous murderer? Oh, God, I’m a horrible mother! I should have stopped you when I first found out about this.”

       “No! Mom, seriously, I’m fine! You are the best mom ever! I made sure the pros would take care of it, I was just there to stall, and I managed to keep my injuries to a minimum, so...” 

       I got stabbed in the stomach, is ‘not that bad’ even an argument anymore?

       “That’s another thing! How did you manage to tend to your wounds?! Oh, Izuku, you’re going to give me a heart attack.”

       Izuku limped over to his mother, hugging her from behind for a moment before she shooed him away and made him sit on the living room couch. He flopped down with a grunt and brought his arms up as if expecting a hug. She sighed, giving him an irritated look before half-hugging him in return.

       “I know you’re already mad, so this is probably the best time to tell you that I bought illegal weapons from an old man at a bar and he’s also the one who helped bandage me.” His mother said nothing, she just groaned with exhaustion as he spoke and backed away from the embrace. “He also gave me some alcohol for the pain so I’m not sure if I’m totally here or not,” he said, pointing to his head with both hands.

       She frowned at him and left the room to retrieve natural painkillers from the bathroom. After a moment, she reappeared in front of him with a glass of water in one hand and pills in the other. Izuku looked at her with a slightly out of it expression, then took the offer, quickly swallowing the medicine. They wouldn’t be as effective as the high-strength painkillers Bug had given him, but it would be dangerous to take those after consuming alcohol, so herbal medication would do for now.

       “You’re a lightweight.”

       “I didn’t expect to hear that from my own mother.”

       “Yeah? Well, if you wanted me to treat you like a child, then... you shouldn’t have run off acting like an adult!”

       The boy snorted, almost choking on his water when he took another sip. He continued to chuckle before looking up to see his mother standing firmly with her hands resting on her hips. He stopped laughing almost instantly, and pouted. “I’m sorry, mom.”

       “I’m not sure if I can accept that apology right now, but I appreciate it,” she said, frown still plastered on her face. “You are not going to school this week.”

       “Mom!” he whined, “It’ll be suspicious if I don’t go! I can just, like, say I got hurt during the evacuation. I can still go.”

       She huffed and took a seat next to him on the couch, placing her hand on his knee, “It’s not suspicious to rest after being stabbed, Izuku, I can tell the school you were hurt during internships and you can take some days off to relax,” she paused and looked up to the ceiling, covering her face with her hands, “God, I’m becoming desensitized to all of this, aren’t I?”

       “Mm, you sound like you’re scolding me for not putting my dishes away or something,” Izuku grinned.

       “I should be freaking out more,” Inko groaned loudly and pushed herself up from the couch. As she left the cushion, Izuku flopped his torso down on the side she had been sitting on so that his whole body lay stretched out on the couch. He gritted his teeth to suppress the pain and felt a wave of dizziness pass over him.

       “Is this what being drunk feels like? I feel drunk.”

       “You sound drunk too, Honey. How much alcohol did that man give you?”

       “Three shots. Silver Scale gave me one after he cleaned me up and Bug gave me two more before I left the bar,” he hummed, “don’t tell Silver! He told Bug not to dare me.”

       “You really are a lightweight.”

       Izuku did end up going to school that week despite the protest from his mother. She had finally caved and called the school to tell them that he had sustained injuries in the Hosu evacuation but was going to continue his studies as long as he was excused from physical education. They agreed to those terms and Izuku was welcomed back by his classmates with open arms as well as with slight confusion. 

       He only had three days of rest before going back to school. Throughout the day, he did notice a difference in his energy levels which he attributed to being high off painkillers for most of his days off. The pills that Bug had given him were very strong. At one point, he remembered putting his butterfly knife in his school bag instead of his backpack by mistake because of how out of it he was. And because of how tired he was, he hadn’t even bothered to put it back where it belonged. He didn’t like the drowsiness that painkillers caused, so against his better judgement, he didn’t take them that day. 

       Izuku’s day back had gone much better than Todoroki and Iida’s regarding questions. Being in a class full of colourful personalities, they couldn’t escape the questions that they were bombarded with. Anything that had to do with them fighting Stain had to be cut out of the conversation so that they could continue their education without further incident, but they found that most of the class’ questions were focused on the vigilante that stepped in to help them.

       “Wait, wait… he has a name? Iida, what did you call him?” Ashido leaned into the class president's desk a little too close for comfort.

       The tall boy leaned away from the pink-skinned girl and sighed, already exhausted from the questions. “He had told me to call him ‘Nine’. I don’t know the significance of the number, but nevertheless, it’s what he wished to be called.”

       “You guys got up close and personal with him, huh?” Kaminari shoved his way into the conversation with Mineta tailing behind him. “So what’s his deal anyway?”

       “Yeah! I’m tired of hearing about him and his stupid battles. Most of what we hear are just rumors anyway. He can’t be that cool...” Mineta crossed his arms and pouted.

       Iida hesitated to answer, glancing at Todoroki who began to speak instead. “He ran in to help, tried to reason with Stain, and when that failed, he set off a series of flash bombs to alert nearby heroes. He took all the proper precautions before attacking.”

       “Oh, he knows his stuff then! Do you think he’s a UA student? He seems like he knows a lot about heroes so maybe he’s in the hero course,” Kirishima reasoned.

       “He isn’t,” the bi-colour boy answered quickly.

       “Did he tell you that, Todoroki?” Uraraka asked. Todoroki shook his head. “Then what makes you so sure?”

       “He’s just… He can’t be.”

       “Why? Do his grades suck?” Mineta budded in once again.

       Satou laughed. “No way. Haven’t you been reading the articles about him? They say that he’s a master strategist. There’s no way someone like that can have bad grades.”

       “Then what’s wrong with him? What, does his Quirk not work or something?” Mineta had obviously meant the last part of his question to be a joke, but both Todoroki and Iida gave each other a knowing look after they heard it. 

       After a moment, Todoroki closed his eyes and sighed, so frustrated with the badgering that he finally just told the truth. “He’s Quirkless.”

       The room froze. It was silent for a full minute as the others tried to process what was just said. A few awkward laughs filled the room, but soon died down. Most of the students looked at the stoic boy with disbelief but realized that he wasn’t the type of person to make that kind of joke or any joke for that matter. 

       The class seemed even more eager to ask questions now, which made Todoroki regret everything instantly. The only one that had a negative reaction to the information was Katsuki. As soon as Todoroki had said that the vigilante was Quirkless, he almost exploded.

       “What the hell did you just say?!” Katsuki yelled, pushing himself out of his desk and setting off multiple blasts from his palms.

       “The vigilante that came to save us had no Quirk,” Todoroki repeated, face completely blank, “he was very clever. Even without a Quirk, I’m surprised he isn’t in a hero course.”

       Mineta snorted. “If he’s Quirkless then I have nothing to worry about, ha!”

       “A Quirkless hero? It’s an entertaining thought,” Tokoyami interjected, “but wouldn’t it be dangerous to have someone like that out in the field?”

       “Yeah, and didn’t Iida say something about him agreeing with Stain? Couldn’t he, like, turn around and attack heroes too? He’s more of an anti-hero in that way, huh?” Jirou said.

       “No, he wasn’t like that,” Todoroki hummed. Everyone looked at him with curiosity before he continued, “he had very strong morals. It was one of the reasons he went up against Stain. I can’t say whether or not he should be a hero, because he may be just another criminal pushing his philosophy on others, but… he definitely had more reason to be one than a lot of people I know.”

       “There’s no way in hell,” Katsuki growled, thinking back to the bruise he saw on Izuku the day he’d run into him. There was only one Quirkless person he knew and damnit all if he wasn’t someone with ‘strong morals’ as Todoroki described. “Fuck… I don’t want to deal with this shit right now.”

       The class seemed to ignore the blond’s outburst and continued to debate whether or not a Quirkless hero would be a good idea. They were interrupted by Aizawa, who stepped into the class with a glare that seemed permanently sketched onto his face. He didn’t look like he was in the mood to talk, but of course, a quarter of the class had no idea how to read the atmosphere, so the questions continued until Iida shifted their attention to the teacher.

       Katsuki had a hard time focusing during that class. He knew something was up. There was no way Izuku could be the vigilante. Izuku was weak; he was defenceless; he was Deku. So why was it the only logical explanation? It was the only thing that made sense. Izuku was the vigilante and it was pissing Katsuki off.

       Despite being one hundred percent sure that Izuku was the vigilante, Katsuki couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone about it. He felt compelled to get confirmation. So twenty minutes before the last class of the day ended, he began packing up, determined to do whatever was needed to get the answers he wanted.

       “Bakugou, where are you going?” Aizawa stopped him before he stepped out into the hallway.

       “I’ve got some shit to sort out,” he snapped. The rest of the class looked at him, confusion clear on all of their faces considering how Katsuki was always adamant about attending class.

       Aizawa looked at him suspiciously, “and you can’t wait to sort it out after class?”

       “No,” the blond answered quickly. Seeing the look on Aizawa’s face, Katsuki could tell that wasn’t a good enough answer. “I have to leave now or else I’ll be late,” he paused for a second to study Aizawa’s face, “and I have to fucking do this now.”

        After a moment, Aizawa surprisingly just nodded and turned back to the rest of the class, letting the blond storm through the hallway. He passed a few wandering students in the hall, but his journey out of the school was overall uneventful. Once he got to the gates, he was almost sprinting down the streets, school bag slamming against his ribs as his arms swung along his sides. 

       He only knew of three regular high schools in Musutafu that were nearby, and he didn’t know what any of their uniforms looked like, not that it would help considering how he’d never seen Izuku in his uniform before. He searched his mind to remember any details of Izuku’s appearance the day he had run into him. The only thing that stood out besides the extremely large bruise on the green haired boy’s arm was his black over the shoulder school bag. It wasn’t as if he paid much attention to any other schools, but he did vaguely recall one of the schools in the area having navy blue bags associated with it, so he mentally crossed one of the schools off the list. The other two schools were anyone’s guess. 

       It was a fifty-fifty chance that Izuku could be at either of the schools, so despite not wanting to get confrontational at the shorter boy’s house with Inko present if he guessed the wrong, Katsuki took a chance and headed to the one he was closest to. He ran up to the gate of the high school and looked at the kanji: Ryouga Public High School. Not that it would help to know the name of the school, he simply read it out of habit.

       The bell had already rung, and students were starting to file out of the front doors into the courtyard. Katsuki got quite a few looks from the students as they walked by. There were a few girls that squealed when they saw him and a few guys that looked like they were about to nerd out. After about a minute, a crowd started to form, and the first person that was brave enough to say something finally spoke. 

       “Woah! You’re a UA student, right?” It was a girl, short, with natural black hair cut just below her ear.

       “Kanjou-san!” Another girl, much taller than the other, with dark purple hair and what looked like stars gliding across her galaxy-like skin ran up to the other, pulling on her arm and leaning in to whisper into the short girl’s ear. “That’s the first year that tied for first in the sport’s festival… we should leave, he’s kind of-”

       “Aggressive? I can tell. He feels determined and angry; not always the best combination.” 

       “Don’t use your Quirk on him!”

       Katsuki grunted, not commenting on the conversation. Instead, he walked straight up to the black-haired girl and started his own topic. “Do either of you know a nerd named Midoriya Izuku?” Izuku’s real name felt bitter on his tongue.

       “Dang, those are some strong emotions,” the short girl said, slightly chuckling.

       “Kanjou-san, stop with the damn Quirk!” Galaxy girl hit the smaller one on the shoulder and quickly turned to Katsuki, “I’m sorry for my friend’s rudeness. Um, yes, he’s in my boyfriend’s homeroom class. On days he doesn’t sprint out of class as soon as the bell rings, he usually hangs around the back of the school near the field and vending machines. You should be able to find him there today; can’t exactly run with injuries like the ones he got during the Hosu evacuation, huh?” She looked at Katsuki apologetically, most likely assuming he was a friend of Izuku’s that came to visit after hearing of the Hosu news.

       The short girl gave him a strange look, “confusion? So you haven’t heard of his injures?”

       Katsuki didn’t bother to thank the girls or acknowledge the short girl’s question, he simply pushed passed them both and jogged to the back of the school. There wasn’t anyone outside except for the baseball players riddling the field, but this part of the school seemed to be isolated by a large wall that sheltered it from prying eyes. He rounded the corner where the drink machines were and noticed Izuku leaning over a garbage can close to the back wall.

       He wore the winter version of his school uniform despite being late May. It was a simple gray knit cardigan over a white collared shirt. A dark red tie sat comfortably underneath, tied very incorrectly. His pants were the standard black, but his red shoes stood out as they seemed to be designed with an insignia of something colourful on the sides.

       “Deku!” Katsuki roared, not moving from his position.

       Izuku instinctively looked back to see Katsuki, his eyes widened with shock as well as fear. He flinched when the blond began to come closer, and put a hand out gesturing for him to stay back, still leaving the other arm on the side of the trash can .

       “Kacchan?! Wait, what are yo-” he was cut off by himself as he suddenly retched into the garbage he had been leaning over.   

Chapter Text

       “What the hell?” Katsuki stopped himself near the vending machine and glared at Izuku who was still coughing up the remainder of his lunch. “Gross.”

       “I'm, um,” Izuku groaned and noticeably gagged, swallowing more of the bile that crept into his throat. Not taking his painkillers wasn’t the best idea; he had almost fainted in class and now he was vomiting from the intensity of the pain. He tightly held on to the edge of the trash can as he caught his breath, finally lifting his head to face the blond after a solid minute of dry heaving. “I’m sick… so I wouldn’t get too close.”

       “Bullshit, Deku. You were fighting a murderer a couple days ago; you aren’t goddamn well sick.” That definitely got Izuku’s attention. His mouth fell open and he began sputtering frantically. “Use your fucking words, dumbass.”

       The green-haired boy swallowed, wiping his mouth and glancing down at his red shoes to avoid the other’s gaze. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

       That was the wrong thing to say. Katsuki stomped forward and set off a threatening explosion. “Stop fucking around. I know you’re the damn vigilante! Icyhot told the class about your shit! A Quirkless bastard that stalled for time by fucking up their own damn body because they’re too much of a loser to actually do something useful? Who else could that fucking be?!”

       “Kacchan! Please, I, um,” Izuku pleaded, backing up into the wall that his school bag was leaning against. He bent over to pick it up, wincing at the movement as he moved his hand to his wound. Izuku scooted away from the wall, trying to sidestep away from Katsuki’s advances. “I’m not trying to get in your way so…” he sighed and started to walk away. “Please leave me alone.”

       “You think you can tell me what to do?! Looking down on me, huh?! You little shit! I can get you thrown in juvie, nerd!”

       The greenette froze. 

       He really could, couldn’t he? Nothing’s stopping him from telling someone my identity.

       His mind was racing. If he let this go, the authorities would definitely catch him. If that happened, his mother would also suffer the consequences. He turned his head to face his childhood friend once more. “Please don’t tell anyone!”

       “You… you just won’t goddamn let this hero shit go, will you?!” he lunged forward, digging his hand into the collar of Izuku’s shirt, lifting him up off of the ground. The blond’s eyes caught the white bandages that were wrapped around Izuku’s torso, reddening slightly with blood as his shirt was dishevelled by his grip. Katsuki hesitated at the sight.

       Izuku kicked him in the shin.

       Dropping him in surprise, Katsuki’s leg gave way for a moment before he set off a large blast from his palm at the ground to steady himself. Throwing up his head and looking through the dust that rose from the explosion, he saw Izuku standing a few steps away from him. He was standing in a defensive fighting stance with an angry expression. His school bag was thrown to the side and he held a decorative knife in his hand.

       “I may not have a Quirk, Kacchan, but I’m not powerless!” The look in Izuku’s eyes felt like a punch in the gut. Katsuki growled as he brought his hands up to ready himself for a fight and Izuku huffed with frustration. “And I never was!”

       “We’ll see about that, Deku!” 

       Katsuki ran towards him, pulling his arm back for a punch. A right hook. Too obvious, Kacchan.  

       Izuku grabbed the blond’s wrist with his free hand and swung him to the side in an effort to dodge. Almost tripping with the sudden change of direction, Katsuki threw an explosion at Izuku’s side, effectively sending the smaller boy flying a few meters away. Expecting the attack, Izuku managed to stay on his feet, but lost his knife with the impact. It was stabbed into the ground, standing up directly between the two teens.

       The smell of nitroglycerin hung heavy in the air around them and the animosity in the atmosphere seemed even more abundant. Katsuki smirked when he saw Izuku’s injured leg falter slightly as the Quirkless boy was visibly leaning more to one side. 

       Izuku was in no condition to be doing this. He not only had a very recent stab wound to his gut and slash across the muscles in his leg, but he also had the still healing puncture wound in his arm. Not to mention the fading bruise near his shoulder and newly healed burn still marking his ankle. Izuku heaved out a quick breath. Silver was right, I am a walking disaster…

       “What,” Katsuki growled, breaking Izuku away from his thoughts, “is that all you got?!”

       Izuku shook his head angrily, “I don’t want to fight you! Why can’t we ever have a normal conversation?!”

       “Says the guy that flips out a fucking knife on me! You think I’m an idiot? Don’t go acting like you’re too good for this shit! You’re a criminal, Deku!”

       Katsuki blasted his way over to Izuku, rubble and dust being jostled from the powerful blast. Izuku ran to the side, dodging the blond once more as he ducked down, ripping the knife from the ground. As soon as he straightened out, Katsuki twisted around to face him. The blond reached out, slamming his palm into the other boy’s face and pushed him back into the vending machine that stood behind him. Izuku grunted as his spine hit the metal contraption and he struggled to free himself from Katsuki’s grip.

       “If you don’t give up the vigilante shit right now, I’m going to tell the whole damn country who you are! You hear me, Deku?! You’re just a weak-ass Quirkless bastard and all you do is get in the way of the real heroes!” Katsuki snarled.

       For a moment, Izuku was silent; expression lost in Katsuki’s palm, unable to be read with it blocking his face. Then, in an abrupt rush of adrenaline and anger, Izuku’s hand came up to the blond’s right shoulder, pressing roughly; not enough to be an attempt to push the other off but enough to stabilize him. Katsuki turned his head to the smaller boy’s hand in confusion before he felt a sharp pain on the left side of his torso.

       “Sorry, Kacchan,” the boy whispered, pulling his knife out of Katsuki’s side.

       Izuku had stabbed him twice, piercing his side just above his hip. Katsuki yelled and dropped his hands to press on his wound, preventing himself from losing more blood. He looked up to see Izuku sprinting around the corner with his school bag flying loosely by his side. He didn’t look back.

       “Izuku… what the fuck?!” Katsuki screamed as he looked down in shock at his wound. He didn’t even have the composure to question why he abandoned the other’s nickname in that moment. He was shaking, his breathing was unsteady, and he felt as if he couldn’t move. Sure, he was surprised when the Quirkless boy had pulled out a knife, but he hadn’t expected him to actually use it.

       He suddenly became aware of where he was and began to calm himself. He started moving but winced as his side ached. He looked down at it once again, seeing the blood seeping through his white shirt. He pressed his hand down on it harder and used his beige blazer to hide the bright coloured stain as he left the school. He ignored the students in the courtyard and sped back through the streets, careful not to move his waist too much. 

       He slammed the doors of UA open, watching some of the lingering students stare at him with confusion and concern. He walked through the halls, trying to look as if he didn’t have a stab wound in his side. He was in the hallway next to the nurse’s office when he noticed that the blood had gotten through his blazer as well. He sighed, deciding not to care about hiding it anymore, and slid the door to the medical bay open loudly.

        Recovery Girl turned in her rolling chair to face him when she heard the door. “Oh, Bakugou, isn’t it? What do you-” She stopped talking as soon as she saw the blood and rushed over to the blond, leading him over to the bed that stood near the window.

        He groaned slightly as he hit the mattress and watched as she tapped some kind of device on her computer desk, most likely a pager. She scampered back over to the teen and crossed her arms over her chest.

       “So? Take that shirt off!” she scolded, “and tell me what happened!”

        The teen huffed angrily and was about to speak when the door slammed open without warning. Aizawa stood in the door-frame looking perfectly split between pissed and exhausted. Before he even had time to close the door, he was already scolding his reckless student.

       “Bakugou, what the hell happened?” he growled, staring at the blood on the boy’s uniform as he began to take it off.

       “Shut up! I was just about to-” he stopped himself. He couldn’t say he got hurt by that Quirkless weakling. The pause lasted longer than he intended as he thought about the fight. Had he lost? He hadn’t thought about it at the time. Izuku took a cheap shot at him, sure, but did that mean that he lost to someone as weak as Izuku?

       “Answer me,” Aizawa ordered, “who did you get into a fight with now? Who managed to stab you?”

       “It was a fuck’n accident.” 

       “Yes, because accidentally stabbing yourself in the hip is a thing that can happen,” the teacher rolled his eyes, “do you really think I’d believe that? Tell me who did this or I will be forced to put you under school surveillance. That means you will be prohibited from certain lessons and class activities. If you lie or withhold information, you will be the one to pay for it, and trust me, I will not show any mercy.”

       Choosing pride over everything else, Katsuki said nothing.

Chapter Text

       Holy crap, I stabbed him.

       He was shaking, blood still on his hands as he stared down at the sink. He didn’t mean to stab him; It wasn’t like he was mad at him or anything, he was just mad at the situation. Stabbing him probably made everything much worse, but it was the only thing he could think of doing in that moment. It may have been extreme, but it still worked; it was a spur of the moment decision. Not a very smart decision, but it was a decision nonetheless.

       He was in his apartment, yet he wasn’t sure how he’d gotten there. There was a large gap in his memory from when he stabbed Katsuki to when he opened the door to the house. It was as if his mind went entirely blank as soon as he left his school campus. Adrenaline was one hell of a drug.

       He shook his head and turned on the sink tap. Slipping his hands under the stream of water, he watched as the stains washed off and swirled into the drain. It was almost painful to watch. Just seeing the deep red that dyed the liquid in the sink, knowing who it belonged to, struck a chord in his heart. He felt like an actual criminal.

       Sighing, he picked up the knife that was on the edge of the sink and proceeded to wipe it clean. He shut off the tap and stuffed the knife in his vigilante backpack after folding the handle over the blade. He walked out to the living room with his bag and threw it on the ground near the doorway. Going out on patrol now would be idiotic so he decided to make the ‘smart’ choice and prioritize his health, at least until he was well enough to run around without fainting or vomiting.

       The next few days were filled with gossip and pain. Izuku was wary about going back to school at first, checking around corners and not staying in one place for too long just in case his childhood friend came back for revenge or the authorities found him out, but nothing happened. After going half the week without taking his painkillers, Izuku finally surrendered and took them during his lunchtimes. He usually fell asleep during his last class because of that.

       The real gossip only started after a popular blog post about UA’s safety measures got spread around. It was a concerned parent of one of the students that first posted it, and a lot of other parents began to follow the same mindset. It became even worse after they found out one of the students had been stabbed while they were out wearing the UA uniform.

       Katsuki denied everyone’s theories on how he had gotten the stab wound. The class seemed adamant on trying to figure it out though, especially the people in his usual ‘friend’ group. It was a different conspiracy almost every hour, each one becoming more ridiculous than the previous. It was pissing him off.

       “Wait, wait! Bakugou, was it your mom? I saw her pick you up one time and she’s just as crazy as you! Is she the one that stabbed you?” Ashido asked, rolling up and down on the ball of her foot in a bubbly kind of motion as the group stood in line for their lunch.

       “Shut the hell up, it wasn’t the old hag! That’s messed up; she isn’t that bad, God.” Katsuki ignored the comment on his sanity, scoffing at the thought of his own mother stabbing him. “I already told you idiots: it was an accident. No one fuck’n stabbed me.”

       “Yeah, dude, sorry, but literally no one believes you,” Kaminari laughed from behind Kirishima and Sero in the lunch line. “Mineta thinks it was a secret ex-girlfriend or something but there’s no way Bakugou could ever get one with his trash heap of a personality. I, for one, still believe it was aliens.”

       “I think the coolest one we came up with was the ninja one,” Kirishima cut in.

       Sero chuckled and picked up his lunch tray, “Honestly? All of the theories and stuff are fun and all, but I’m still convinced it was a thug, y’know, something logical.”

       “Yeah, but that’s really boring, Sero! It wouldn’t make a very good media story,” the pink-skinned girl whined, slapping some food on her tray and snatching some chopsticks off the counter. “Besides,” she continued, “everyone’s already freaking out about it, so it would be pretty disappointing to find out it was just some random thug!”

       Kirishima sighed, “It’s not really the stabbing they’re freaking out about though, it’s the safety of the students. I doubt the media would actually care too much about who stabbed him.”

       “Stop talking about this shit! It’s pissing me off! Don’t you extras have exams to worry about?!” As soon as the blond said that, the four paled and slumped their shoulders in unison.

       “That’s in, like, two weeks! It’s going to be a while!” Kaminari tried and failed to reassure himself.

       “It’s going to go by faster than you think, Dunce-face.”

       It took a week and a half for Kaminari to finally start studying. There was a little less than three days before the exam, and he was still struggling to join the study groups that the students had set up. The ones he did end up joining, he ruined with immaturity and pointless games.

       The other schools had their exams at the same time. They were obviously much different than the hero course ones, but they weren’t as generic as people may think. Depending on the subjects a student excels at, they are given the option to take specialized exams focusing in that field. In Izuku’s case, he opted to go for an early nursing exam that could lead to a faster path to medical school.

       Throughout the time he had set aside for healing, Izuku had been studying non-stop to distract himself from both the boredom as well as the feeling of guilt accumulating in his mind. He had memorized almost all of the textbook information as well as random other biology facts that were most definitely beyond high school level and one hundred percent not going to be on the test. 

       He had been feeling much better, but he was becoming restless and wanted to get out on at least one patrol before the exams started. His mother had been enjoying the old routine that they had fallen into and was disappointed when he had told her that he was going out. She had even glared at him a bit, not bothering to hide her disapproval, but made no move to stop him.

       He had somehow persuaded his mother to patch his hoodie with an embroidered design. The thread was red, which was the only colour that they had around the house; Izuku didn’t mind, considering it matched his shoes, but he was slightly disappointed that the All Might silhouette printed on the front was split by the crimson line. The beautiful vines and flowers of his mother’s embroidering made up for the slashed image of his idol. It's more sentimental this way.

       The city was quiet today and there hadn't been any news of new villains. Despite the silence, Izuku felt elated to just be outside in the fresh air. It wasn't like he was waiting to be attacked or anything, a silent patrol was supposed to be a good thing, but there was still a slight feeling of paranoia. That feeling wasn't unwarranted, considering how Katsuki was able to figure him out, but it was definitely unwanted.

       He decided to steer clear of the rooftops for a little bit, so he was in an empty shopping street where he could observe the abandoned buildings and closed local stores. He starred in the widow of one of the stores, thinking randomly about different topics like the upcoming exams, new fighting techniques, and how he could get more painkillers from Bug. He had been there a little less than a half and hour, just idly walking. It almost felt normal, as if he was just some kid with no ulterior motive to be outside other than simply enjoying the night.

       That feeling didn't last very long.

       “Hey, kid, you scouting the merchandise?” A high-pitched voice cut through the air and he heard a disturbing laugh from behind him. “You got the whole ‘robber’ look to you. If you're going to steal something, you should wear normal clothes so you can blend into a crowd.”

       Turning slowly, he could see a short blonde girl, not too much older than himself. She was wearing a high school uniform and had her blonde hair tied in two buns, unevenly done up on each side of her head, making them look quite messy. Although her appearance seemed normal enough, there was something about her expression that screamed ‘danger’.

       “Are you mute? Or are you just speechless ‘cause you fell in love with me?” she asked, smiling a little too friendly.

       Realizing he was staring, Izuku threw his hands up in protest and shook his head frantically. “Ah! No! That's not, um,” he stuttered and then sighed, “sorry, I didn't mean to stare.”

       “Aw, you're kinda cute! Short too, what are you, twelve? thirteen?” She tilted her head and pouted when Izuku didn’t answer. “Alright then, age is a no… how about a name? I’m Toga! Toga Himiko.”

       “... Nine”

       “You look a little too old to be nine,” she smirked.

       “Um, no, it’s a name. It’s what people call me.”

       “Oh! I see what’s up! Codenames, huh?” Taking a step forward, she leaned in to catch the expression that was shrouded by his respirator and goggles. “Who’s one through eight? Is there a ‘Ten’?”

       “It’s… I’m not part of a group, I-”

       “So you’re alone, then?”

       That made Izuku freeze. There was something vaguely threatening about that question that made him extremely anxious. It didn’t help that the friendly smile of the girl in front of him was morphing into a strange grin. Her eyes were squinting mischievously, as if she knew what he was thinking and was enjoying how uncomfortable he looked with the situation.

       “I know who you are, Nine,” she giggled, Ignoring the teen’s finch. “My Stainy mentioned you!”

Chapter Text

       Izuku jolted and stepped to the side to start running. Toga’s smile dropped and she suddenly whipped out a blade of some kind, swinging her arm across his neck, pulling him into a headlock. She pressed her arm down on his throat, not enough to choke him, but just enough to make it hard for him to breathe. She leaned her body into him, almost hugging him from behind. Her blade moved close to his ribs and he felt it lightly dragging across his chest over his bullet-proof vest in small patterns.

       The streets were still deathly silent, little more than the hum of cars that drove down the main roads. Izuku could clearly hear his heart rapping at his chest, threatening to break out of his rib cage. He tried to breathe calmly, staying as quiet as possible so he could get more information from the blonde girl.

       “I just had to see you up close! I’m so lucky to have found you!” she paused, gauging his reaction. “I want to taste the blood of the person my Stainy acknowledged.”

       “Taste my blood?” His eyebrows creased. Sure, it was a strange thing to say, but his analytical mind wouldn’t let him brush it off as a threatening comment. So, he tried to think of a reason to her choice of words. “Why? Is your Quirk similar to Stain’s?”

       She laughed into his ear. “I’m disappointed how calm you are.”

       “Yes, well, I’d rather not have my stab wound reopened and talking helps calm me, I think.” He knew that she wasn’t joking about the blood because she seemed to giggle with pleasure when he mentioned his wound, but for some reason he didn’t feel as scared of her knowing she was a follower of Stain. He was more curious than anything else. “So, your Quirk is blood-related?”

       She frowned, suddenly dropping her arm and backing up. Her knife now resting on his back, but her body was no longer touching him. “You want to talk?”

       “Yes.” He put his hands up as a sign of peace.

       “You’re weird,” she said, “turn around.”

       He did as she asked, facing her once again. He couldn’t determine the expression on her face, so he began to speak in order to find any trace of how she was feeling. “Who are you and why are you doing this?”

       “You ask a lot of questions.”

       “And you don’t seem to answer any.”

       “Touché,” she chuckled and dropped her arm, knife now pointing down at the ground and no longer threatening the boy. She sighed longingly, an amused smile spread across her lips. “You’re lucky Shigaraki wants us to recruit and not kill because now I really want to see how beautiful your blood is! Mind taking that mask off so I can see that adorable face?”

       “Who’s Shigaraki?”

       Toga huffed, dramatically putting her hands on her hips. “I’m not here to be quizzed.”

       “Then why are you here?”

       “Ugh! You sure do love questions, don’t you? Can’t a girl just be wandering the city streets on a calm, lonely night without being interrogated?”

       “ You’re the one who approached me . And a normal girl wouldn’t be carrying around a knife if they were just out for a walk.” The vigilante swallowed in an attempt to clear his throat and hide his nervous tone.

       There was a moment of stillness. Neither said a word but both seemed to tense, expecting the other to attack. Toga grinned as she watched Izuku’s pupils flick back and forth between her face and the knife at her side. 

       She shook her head and leaned forwards, pulling her hands behind her back along with the knife to try to see what his eyes would do without the threat in his line of sight. “You don’t know much about us girls if you think that...”

       With the weapon out of sight, Izuku quickly sprung into action. He took hold of Toga’s arm in order to spin her around and kicked the back of her leg so she would fall to her knees. She squealed in surprise at his speed but seemed to react just as quickly to the situation as Izuku had. Without missing a beat, she swapped the knife into her other hand and pulled Izuku down by his shoulder, pressing the tip of the blade into his throat.

       He sucked in a breath through his teeth as he felt the cold metal scrape his skin. “Okay, okay…” He held his hands up, frustrated with his carelessness and handicap due to his wounds. “I won't resist anymore.”

       “Oh, that’s believable! Ever thought about dropping the vigilante bit and go into acting?” She pushed herself up from the ground with a grunt and tightly held onto Izuku’s shoulder to balance herself, leg obviously still sore from hitting the pavement so hard. After the failed attempt to get the upper hand in the situation, Toga definitely wasn’t going to let her guard down around him again. “But seriously, that surprised me! I had my doubts but maybe you’re just what we need!”

       “What do you mean?”

       “We’ve got something pretty big planned for UA’s next outing, and Shiggy wants some extra bodies!”

       “Next outing…? Ah! You’re from the same group that attacked that hero class! The League of Villains! What-” He shut himself up when a sharp pain glided lightly across his throat as Toga pushed the blade closer. A small stream of crimson liquid tickled his skin as it made its way down to the front of his hoodie. It wasn’t a serious injury by any means, only about as deep as a paper-cut, but he was more startled by the abruptness of the attack than the injury itself. 

       “Oops,” she said, a disturbing smirk decorating her face. “You got a little too excited there and got too close! Oh well, it’s nothing a bandage can’t fix…” Pulling the knife back a bit, Izuku saw her smile at the small amount of his blood that covered the tip.

       “Could you please explain what you mean by ‘extra bodies’, Toga-san? The League wants me to do something for them?”

       “So polite! But unless you actually accept, I can’t tell you anything.”

       Izuku was a terrible actor. He had a habit of letting his emotions get in the way of his job. So as entertaining as infiltrating the infamous League of Villains as a Trojan horse of sorts was, there would be no way they wouldn’t see through his acting skills. He really only had one option here, but he needed to be sure it would be safe to choose.

       “I guess I should’ve expected that,” he sighed. “What happens if I refuse?”

       She hummed, “probably nothing.”

       “I don’t believe you.”

       “Yeah, smart choice,” she laughed again. “We are supposed to… dispose of the ones that decline, but I kinda want to see more of you, so it’s your choice! The real question is: do you trust me enough to let you go?” 

       No, he didn’t trust her. That was extremely easy question to answer. But by this point, he had a rough idea of her personality, and he found that most of the seemingly random things she said actually did have a reason to be said. It was a strange kind of speech pattern that seemed to pull information out of someone by assessing their reactions. There was no reason to lie about letting him go unless she had some kind of plan to give him a false sense of safety. But she didn’t seem like the person to want to hide her desire to kill just to trick someone else. So, did he at least trust her enough to let him go?

       “Yes, I trust you,” Izuku said after a moment, unconvinced of his words. “I’d make a horrible villain.” 

       Toga nodded, a blush forming on her cheeks as she gave him a toothy smile. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that… but whatever! If you get me in trouble for this, you’ll definitely owe me! I accept blood as payment by the way!”

       She began to back up slowly, moving her hands to make a heart, then blew Izuku a kiss before running over to a corner. Stopping before she rounded it, she turned back to the vigilante with a smile, playing with her knife as it flipped between her fingers.

       “I don’t think your hero friends would give their blood away as easily as you,” she gave him one final laugh and licked her lips, “so let’s just hope they’ll give up quickly, hm?” She ducked into the adjacent street, leaving Izuku to process what had just happened.

       When he got home, he had searched Toga’s name. There wasn’t much information online, but it did mention a murder investigation that had yet to be closed. That fact wasn’t all that surprising, but it was incredibly nerve racking. He made a mental note to ask Bug, or more preferably Historia, about it the next time he visited.

       For now, he couldn’t focus on that. Toga may or may not have intended to give him a warning about the new attack plan for UA, but he was definitely going to use that information to his advantage. He knew that it would be too risky to go to UA and drop information off like he had done last time. It would definitely be suspicious if a high schooler from a completely different school kept showing up in front of UA during the exact time they seem to receive warnings for inevitable attacks.

       This time was different though. He had people in UA that had only ever met his vigilante persona. People who at least knew that he had no ill intentions. If he were to reach out to the students he fought Stain with, he could probably relay the information of the attack onto them. They would believe me, right?

       He honestly hadn’t thought about it that much before he sprinted to the hero school the next day. He had packed his outfit in his school bag with his grappling device, taking only his dagger as a weapon. Changing right after the bell, he ran to UA and hid from view on the roof of a nearby building. He watched as students left the campus, he hadn’t recognized any of them, but he couldn’t help but stare at the hero hopefuls. They had a certain air about them that naturally drew out Izuku’s curiosity. 

       After standing there for a while, Izuku began to worry that both of the two students he was searching for had already left. But just as he was about to give up and switch to a plan B, he saw the familiar mix of red and white standing near the gates. 

       The usually stoic teen seemed angry. Izuku could see that he was holding his phone out, glaring down at it as if it was the bane of his existence. There wasn't much he could infer from that, other than a possible texting argument. Todoroki didn't seem like the type of person to get into many arguments, so his theory had no real foundation. The boy's volatile mood would be something to take note of nonetheless.

       After a second of what looked like contemplation, Todoroki shoved his phone in his pocket and began walking down the street. Not bothering to see if Iida also left the school, Izuku moved from his position on the roof and began stalking the other boy through the city.

       Following the boy was harder than Izuku thought it would be. Not because he kept losing him in crowds of people or anything, in fact, Todoroki seemed to stick to the streets with the least amount of people. What was hard about it was how confusing his route was. He went in contradictory directions and sometimes stopped in the middle of the street, turning back to where he came from. He looked just as confused as Izuku was.

       Izuku sighed as Todoroki turned back down the empty street that he had just come down from. If he didn’t do something soon, they would be playing this game of labyrinth forever.

       He jumped down from the roof onto a street lamp. He hung off of it with one hand, holding his body close to the pole with his leg, almost like a monkey. He looked down to see Todoroki's back as he walked.

       Almost as soon as his body hit the lamp, a pillar of ice came at his face. He ducked his head back to dodge and stared at the icy teen, now turned around, in shock.