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miss us when we’re gone

Chapter Text

It started with a group patrol around the city.

Aizawa had told them that the patrol was going to be an easy thing. Something simple. The time of day had the lowest crime rates, the parts of the city they were in only had reports of low lifes like purse snatchers and drunkards. Each group even had a pro hero tailing them, one that would only intervene when things went haywire.

Despite all of that, nothing- absolutely nothing- ever went ‘easy’ for Midoriya ‘problem child’ Izuku. Izuku almost felt bad for the people stuck with him in his patrol group. The second they all saw that jewelry store explode into shards of expensive rocks and stones was the second that he knew it wasn’t going to be, quote unquote, ‘easy’.

The poor folks in his group were the explosive Bakugou Katsuki, (pun totally intended), Kirishima Eijirou, Asui Tsuyu and Shinsou Hitoshi. The pro hero following them was Present Mic, who was up on the roof tops like some off brand guardian angel. Izuku was pretty surprised that it wasn’t Aizawa trailing behind them, or Recovery Girl, what with his record.

The villain isn’t one that Izuku recognises. Hasn’t been on any news stations, on any newspapers, nada. That means it’s a new one, and they don’t know his quirk, which is a major downside. As both Bakugou and Kirishima jump on in to try and rangle the villain, Asui bounces away to go to crowd control. Shinsou keeps back with Izuku, even if the way he’s worrying his lip means he wants to jump in.

“What’s the plan?” Shinsou asks him.

“We don’t know what his quirk is,” Izuku replies, “and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to give it away. That could be bad.”

“Then it’d be best to end this as fast as we can. We don’t have time to wait around.”

Izuku nods. Tells him he knows. Digs his shoes into the ground. Lets the electric feel of One for All rattle through his bones and jumpstart his heart into playing an all new beat. Shinsou and him share a single look before he’s off like a rocket, joining Bakugou in Kirishima’s place as the redhead falls back.

The villain doesn’t have a quirk he’s willing to show, but he does have more bombs clinging to the belt of his black bodysuit that Izuku thinks should be allowed. He voices this to Bakugou the second the villain begins lobbing them at anyone- and everyone- only for Bakugou to return his words with a sneer. Izuku can’t count how many times he looks back to see Asui catch another bomb in the nick of time, before tossing them back up to Bakugou.

Izuku watches as Kirishima moves to help Asui with the bombs, watches as Shinsou gets in position to use his quirk. In the meantime, it’s just him and Bakugou, working like a well oiled machine.

“A real wonder duo,” the villain snarks. “Almost mistook you two for a real hero shitshow. Too bad you’re both terrible-” The rest of the sentence is drowned out by a far too brash attack by Bakugou, which only gets the blond thrown back into the rubble. Izuku jumps back in to cover for him, throwing punch after punch.

Izuku doesn’t know what to call the villain, but only something icky could stand to match. There’s another bomb thrown, this one at someone- someone stupid, if Izuku might add- standing out of any of their reaches. Bakugou’s back up, so Izuku tears away to go after it.

One for All tears at his legs as he forces himself faster. The person is a girl, phone out and ready to take the picture of a lifetime. A journalist, Izuku recognises, someone he’s bumped into once before while out with All Might. He knows that she’ll do anything to get a story. She’s done it before, he has no doubt that that’s why she’s here again.

His hand wraps around the dark cylinder that is the bomb, but there’s not enough time to chuck it back to someone. Instead, all he can do is wrap himself around it and control the blast. The thing about the bombs is, they aren’t strong enough to kill him, but they’re strong enough to make his ears ring and send him sprawling. The journalist isn’t moving. She still has her phone out and- he’s pretty sure- she’s turned her attention from the villain to Izuku.

“Midoriya Izuku,” she says. She’s probably not going to cut this out of the footage when she turns it in to put on the news. “We meet again.”

Izuku doesn’t need his real name on the news. His hero name, sure. His real name, hell no. If there’s one thing he knows, they won’t put swearing on television. Maybe. Hopefully. Would they just blur it out? Could he put in a request to blur out his name? He takes a quick chance, and he responds.

“Well shit,” Izuku groans, “if it isn’t little Miss Debbie Downer.” He gets to his feet and sways. Ouch. He’s going to have a headache. Is he bleeding? Probably. His entire head hurts.

“Not very professional, are we, Midoriya?”

“I took a bomb that I didn’t need to. Because you couldn’t listen to my pals over there.” Oohhh, things are getting heated in Aisle Four. Is Izuku okay? He feels wonky. “Can you get out of the way? So I can do my job?”

“I’m doing mine too. I need to get the scoop.”

“Get it later.” Izuku walks away from her, before picking up the pace into a jog. Jog, jog, jog. He didn’t realize the fight was so far. No, that can’t be right. The fight was closer. Stupid. What’s he doing, messing up distances?

He hops back into the fight without a word, but he feels like he’s doing worse. Stupid, he repeats. What is he doing? Izuku goes to throw a punch, but his fist slides through the air beside the villain’s head, rather than at. He doesn’t have enough time to retract his mistake, not when the villain roughly grabs Izuku’s wrist.

Izuku doesn’t scream, but the second the villain’s hand wraps around his wrist, his mind explodes. Not literally, Izuku isn't dead. But his headache increases tenfold, his body just aches.

He hears Shinsou shriek from behind, “LOSER SAYS WHAT?!”, before the villain’s head snaps forward and Shinsou is on his shoulders. Izuku tries to take this as his chance to pull away, but something's wrong.

The villain blinks once in surprise, before saying, “Wha-” His eyes haze over, Izuku finally tears free of his grasp-

And then the whole street explodes in a flash of white, and Izuku’s world fades away to black.

 

----

 

The very first thing Izuku feels when he comes to is a sharp sting in his cheek and a low hum of pain dancing through his body. The first thing he hears is Bakugou's shriek, calling for him to wake. The second thing he feels is the bite of cold metal seeping into his body, the second thing he hears is Asui's nervous croak. In the background, Kirishima chitters out scolds to an irate Bakugou. Shinsou's not so oddly silent. 

Wild.

Izuku opens his eyes. The bright lights burn themselves into his brain, sending him reeling. He grits his teeth, and through them he moans, “Everything hurts. It's like I just got fucked over by a truck, then tossed into a ring against All Might.” He shuts his eyes tightly, pulling up his hand to cover them more.

“Yeah,” Bakugou snarks, “we know. We all felt the same exact fuckin’ thing. Get your sorry ass up so we can figure out what the fuck is going on.”

Izuku doesn't get to get up on his own. In the end, it's Shinsou who forces him to his feet by grabbing his hand and hoisting him up. The pain recedes little by little and Izuku breathes. 

“Is everyone here?” Izuku asks, looking about with hazy eyes. “Everyone okay?”

Asui has a nasty mark on her face that Izuku is sure will develop into a bruise sooner rather than later. Bakugou is scratched up, from being thrown around like a rag doll. There's dried blood coming from his nose, but it looks to have stopped. Kirishima's fine. Not a scratch, not a mark, not a problem. Shinsou keeps flexing his wrist. It can't be sprained, broken. Possibly just sour. Izuku doesn't feel much pain anymore, so he reckons he should be fine.

But, when speaking of here, Izuku can't reckon shit. The whole place is grey, granted they're all different shades. The walls are a light, tiled grey. The four large trapezoid doors are silver. The hallway is the same color as the walls, same as the ceiling, but the ground is a shimmering metal color. Grey, grey, grey. All of it is kind of freaking him out.  

“Does this mean we're missing?” Izuku asks. Since I'm not exactly sure where we are?”

“Probably, kero,” Asui says.

“I guess my name is going to be on the news after all.”

Again,” Bakugou scoffs.

He turns his attention to the hallway. It's not all that long, but it's not short either. They make it to the end regardless of the hallway's length, but not before Izuku begins asking questions upon questions, trying to gather answers.

“Where are we?” Izuku starts off. “Where’s Present Mic? Or the villain? Did you guys see the white flash too? Why was I the last one to wake up? I'm pretty sure I was the first one to pass out, so that makes no sense... All of this is really weird, in all honesty. Do you think it was the villain’s quirk that brought us here? It’s pretty likely, maybe some kind of teleportation quirk… It’s odd that it was just us five though. I’d think that at least one of the civilians would be with us too-”

SHUT UP, FUCKING DEKU--

Izuku steels himself up for Bakugou's explosions, moving his hands up to block his face--

It turns out he doesn't need too, because the explosions never come. Whatever swear was just about to roll off Bakugou's tongue dies off. Everyone's eyes go to his palms.

Where the fuck is my quirk.

Kirishima tenses up like he does whenever he ‘stones up’, as Kaminari called it once. “Mine’s not working either,” he says after a second. “Our quirks are gone.”

Izuku tries to power up too, while Shinsou attempts to use his own quirk on Kirishima. “Gone,” they say at the same time. All of the boys look to Asui, who only shrugs.

“Mine’s a mutant type quirk, kero,” she croaks.

“THIS IS FUCKING RIGGED!” Bakugou waves his hands around wildly in place of his explosions. When they nearly nail Kirishima in the face, Izuku reaches up and takes them into his own.

“Calm down,” he starts to say. Bakugou’s hands are warm, radiating a familiar heat that used to scare Izuku away. If his hands are warm, then that means… “Our quirks, they’re not gone!” Izuku chirps. “They’re just… not happening.”

What,” Shinsou drawls.

“Kacchan’s hands are warm, you know? The only time they haven’t been warm was when Aizawa-sensei erased his quirk!”

Kirishima and Shinsou just kind of stare at Izuku, not really understanding. It makes him worry his lip, makes him shy away. A small memory from middle school pops up, but Asui crushes it under her fist when she plops it into her flat palm.

“I get it,” she says, “but I can’t really explain it either. They’re there, just not really working.”

“Exactly!” Izuku steps away from Bakugou, a pleased smile on his face. Bakugou only has on a tomato red blush, eyes cast down and mouth pressed into a thin line.

“That’s cool and all, Midoribro, but it doesn’t really solve our biggest problem,” Kirishima says.

“I know,” Izuku says, downcast. “But it’s something. That something makes me feel better.”

“Can we keep walking or are we gonna stop to have a tea party?” Shinsou deadpans, ignoring the last part of Izuku's statement. He motions for them to keep moving, which only results in Bakugou getting up in his face.

Asui, Kirishima and Izuku all share a look and continue on their way to the end of the hallway.

The end of the hallway brings exactly two things. A black monitor and a large semi-circle type machine.

“Like a portal,” Kirishima comments about the machine, “from the old hero comics I used to read. Could it be our way out?”

Izuku gives Kirishima a shrug and walks up to inspect the monitor. He sees Asui do the same, but with the supposed portal. He runs his hand around the edges, looking for something to press. There’s something on the side of it, which he clicks.

The screen blinks to life, gleaming a nice ice blue. A keyboard of the same color fades into existence below. With unbridled curiosity, he watches the screen load into something other than a solid color. A white buffering circle appears and Izuku waits with it.

In the meantime, he looks to Asui. She’s chatting with Kirishima about something, pointing to a slit in the side of the ‘portal’.

“What do you guys see?” Izuku asks.

“Keyholes!” Kirishima returns.

“Keyholes…?”

“There’s five of them,” Asui explains. “I think that’s how it’s powered, kero. Once all five keys are in, maybe it’ll work?”

“Like I said! It’s probably our way out!” Kirishima exclaims. “Aw, cool, you got the computer on!”

“Did he?” Asui asks, making her way over to Izuku. “Looks like it’s password protected…”

Izuku hums. “What could the password be-”

Bakugou’s voice pierces through the calm atmosphere the trio has, making them all turn. “WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO, MIND FUCK?!”

Nothing! I didn’t do shit!” Shisou replies.

BULLSHIT-- WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT--

“Hell if I know!”

Instead of entertaining the thought of helping Asui, Izuku abandons his task and let's her take over. He breaks into a sprint. Without One for All flickering around him, he's so much slower. Earlier morning runs with Iida, though, make him faster than middle school him. There's footsteps coming from behind him. Probably Kirishima. Running makes the hallway feel just that much shorter, and in no time, they're both facing an open door, the other two in their crew, and some kind of monster. Izuku doesn’t take time to try and inspect the outside world. Instead, the monster draws in all of his attention.

The monster is an ugly mash of pastel pinks and yellow-greens, pulled together with a neon green tie. Izuku doesn't hesitate to jump in and attack, to make up for the other two's lack of movement. He might be quirkless now, but he was quirkless before. He's had enough time to learn the ins and outs of survival, to learn how to fight without something backing him up like a safety net. Bakugou jumps in too, the second his eyes catch a look of Izuku.

The monster doesn’t roar as they leap in. In fact, it says: My word! It’s lips don’t move, and it really doesn’t seem like anyone else heard it but Izuku.

Wild.

Izuku falls back, eyes wide. Bakugou does the same. Nice to know Bakugou knows how to follow, not just lead.

“What did you just say?” Izuku asks, hoping what he heard was fake.

“I didn’t say shit-”

“I’m not talking to you, Kacchan.”

I said, my word. That was incredibly rude of you two!

That's creepy. The voice isn't in his head, but it's still there . “I’m sorry?” he tries. “You kind of scared us.”

Did I? I’m sorry too, then.

“No worries,” he says smoothly. “Do you live here?”

“Who are you talking to, Midoribro?” Kirishima asks. Izuku waves him off.

Shinsou blinks. “What the fuck. When I signed up to be in UA’s hero class, this wasn’t in the contract. I’m not prepared for shit. 'Specially not this shit.” That commentary wasn't needed, but it connects with Izuku on a spiritual level.

Must hit Kirishima the same way, because the redhead remarks: “Same.” 

The monster continues in it’s oddly soothing, gravely voice. No, I just came for dinner!

“We don’t have anything to give you, though…”

No worries. The monster grins, showing off it’s sharp, yellowing teeth. It’s because you’re the main course!

Okay. Okay. Izuku thinks it’s time to call a quick record scratch to catch his breath. Him and four of his friends are in god knows where with a green and pink monster who looks like he just came out of a paint shop who wants to eat them?! Shinsou was right. What the fuck. The record starts to play again, but Izuku’s not really ready for it.

The monster reaches out and snags Izuku’s hair, pulling his face all too close to it’s teeth. Panic swells in his gut. It’s never a good thing when Izuku panics. “Your breath… smells,” he chokes out, grinding his teeth. His eyes wander and water. No one behind him is moving a muscle.

I think I’ll eat you first, it sneers.

“Okay,” Izuku breathes out, “okay.” He sees something glimmering behind it’s tie. He reaches out to grab it-- The thing beneath it’s tie sways--

A key?

The monster moves it’s hand at lightning speed, smashing Izuku’s head into the gray walls.

Izuku screams as his hand wraps around freezing metal.

He hears so many versions of his name being called out. Midoribro! Midoriya! Midori! Oddly enough, he thinks he hears a lone call of Izuku, but that's an oddly outrageous thought.

With the key in one hand, Izuku yanks. His other hand goes up to claw at the beast's. “Let me go,” he grits. The beast roars, but Izuku fights. “Let me go!” His feet kick, his head pounds, the key in his hand burns.

Is he crying? Maybe. Possibly. Probably. Yeah, okay, he is. So what?

He hears Kirishima- of course it's Kirishima- call out next. “Let him go!” he yells. “He didn't do anything!”

Shinsou comes after, but it's quieter, only for Izuku's ears. “Give me the key. You're going to be okay.”

Is Izuku dying? Maybe. Possibly. Probably. Yeah, okay, he's just overreacting. So what?

Izuku does as Shinsou says. Let's his fingers fall limp, let's the key drop down into Shinsou's awaiting palm. The beast roars again, Izuku's head smashes against the wall again, Izuku screams again, again, again.

Bakugou screams out for Shinsou to run, run, run- Izuku's head is doing circles, why is it always him? No one's doing shit, Izuku's going to die, Izuku can't breathe.

The stomp of Shinsou's feet echoes off the walls. It goes faster and faster, but everything's going faster to Izuku. Doesn't the world go slow when you're dying? Everything inside of him is pushing and pulling, tugging at invisible stitches Izuku didn't know he needed or had. Stomp, stomp, stomp- 

The monster roars. Izuku and it are moving now, too. That means it's going after Shinsou, but the others have to have a reason for Shinsou running away. Izuku's got to do something then. Izuku has to stop the stupid monster before everyone gets themselves a spot in the grave besides Izuku's already engraved stone.

With might he didn't know he possessed, Izuku brings his leg up and grins as he hears it connect with the monster's grassy green chin. It roars- what happened to it's civil speech? It yells. It cries out with the rage of a hundred men.

If Izuku wasn't dead before, then he's one hundred percent dead now.

There he goes, into the wall again. There's not even any dents in the wall. How hard is the monster hitting? Into the wall, into the wall, into the wall! 

Is he dead now?

Feels like i-

Oh, we're mixing it up now. Into the floor Izuku goes! 

It's more of a drop, rather than a thrust. The hand from his head disappears. 

What?

Izuku wrenches open eyes he didn't know he shut.

The monster… is gone

Let him repeat. What.

He turns his head, ouch, ouch, ouch, fuck, ouch, and looks to the room with the monitor and 'portal’. Asui's rushing his way, but behind her stands Shinsou, hand over one of the many key holes.

What.

Asui reaches him and pulls him up in her lap with panicked speed. “What the hell, Midoriya? What were you thinking?”

“Make sure Shinsou doesn't die- shit-” He grabs his head and hisses, jolting himself up in pain. “Make sure you don't die- Kacchan and Kirishima too- What did you guys do?”

“It was the key!” Kirishima calls. “Thought it was odd that we found a key and keyhole to match… Thought they could go together?”

“Good thing they did, dumbass. Otherwise you'd be dead,” Bakugou throws in, from where he stands by the doors. The one that opened for the monster is still wide, showing off the outside world. Bakugou moves to attempt to close it. Doesn’t seem to be working out all that well.

There's another groan, and he pulls himself up to his feet. “I feel dead. I think actually dying would be a step up.”

Kirishima shrieks and slaps his shoulder. “Don't say that!” Izuku only tilts his head in confusion, prompting Kirishima to continue. “You almost did die. Er- probably, at least, but still! It scared the fuck out of us, dude. I wasn't the only one who heard you scream, was I?” Asui voices her agreement. The other two, standing at opposite ends of the hall, give it as well.

Bakugou pushes down the door and starts a steady jog to Izuku and their rag tag group. Shinsou only walks, leaving the key behind him.

“I’ve never heard you scream like that,” Shinsou says.

“I’ve known you for… since we were fucking kids,” says the blond, throwing in his two cents. “You’ve never… Not like that. Never like that. You’ve yelled, you’ve cried out-”

“He did it one other time, kero,” Asui remarks offhandedly. “When Bakugou was kidnapped on our camping trip.”

“No,” Bakugou tries to deny.

Asui shakes her head. “He did. It was terrible. He called out your name. I almost didn’t hear it. I wasn’t close to where you all were. But his scream was just that loud. The others told me about it too, kero. Those that were actually there.”

“Sorry,” Izuku replies. He bows his head, but then decides to just sit down. “I was emotional. I won’t say that I didn’t do it. I’m not a liar. But I’m fine right now. Not dead or dying or anything. I’m good. Okay?”

“Okay,” Asui chorused.

“Okay,” both Kirishima and Shinsou muttered. 

“Aight,” Bakugou hissed.

“Follow the leader, Kacchan!” Izuku whines. “Don’t think out of the box!”

“Fuck off.”

“Thanks.”

Bakugou shoots Izuku two middle fingers. Izuku only grins. Asshole, he knows they’re both thinking. Dumbass. Jackass. Smartass. All of the words fit with both of them. Through the pain, Izuku only smiles.

Shinsou breaks the silence by taking Izuku’s head into his heads and inspecting the damage. “We still don’t know why we’re here,” he says, forcefully making Izuku look left, right at the doors. “We need to figure that out. Along with where here is.” Izuku squints at the doors. Something’s different about them. He swats Shinsou’s hands away and stalks down the hall. “Midoriya-? Hey-”

“What the hell?” Izuku asks. “That wasn’t there before.”

“What wasn’t there before?” Kirishima asks him.

That.” On the door that Bakugou just shut sits an engraved “1”. Beside it is a depiction of a key. It throws Izuku’s mind into overdrive. “Each door must have it’s own key that we have to collect, kind of like levels. The last key might be like a boss battle? I think that everytime we insert a key, we automatically win. Which means that if this is like a game, then getting all the keys is the objective, so the portal has to bring us home! But there’s only four doors, and I think we already completed one? Can we open it? We should try, who knows how long we’ll be here, and starving to death is the last thing we need. Plus, we really need to find medical supplies. A few of us are already injur-”

Bakugou growls and shoves him aside, going to undo his earlier actions of closing the door. “There’s no use mumbling about it. Just gotta fuckin’- do,” he grunts and shoves the rest of the door up, “it.”

The world behind the door is the same as the world inside. Monotone greys, metals, silvers. The only thing added is the two pairs of bunk beds and a couple of boxes. Shinsou pulls at one of them and opens the top.

“MRIs,” he says. 

Kirishima raises a brow. “What?”

“Meals ready to eat.” He goes to the next box, says the same. The third box brings a small first aid kit, which gets tossed over to the redhead beside Izuku. “That’s it for the supplies. We should patch up and hit the hay.”

“There’s only four beds,” Kirishma points out.

“Someone will have to share," he says, "and it’s not going to be me.”

“Not gonna be fuckin’ me,” Bakugou throws in.

“I don’t mind sharing-” Asui tires. 

“Ah, don’t worry about it! I’ll share with Midoribro and make sure he doesn’t die during the night. You’re cool with that, right dude?”

“I’m fine, Kirishima-kun,” Izuku starts off, “but alright. I don’t mind. Just… Bottom bunk, okay? I’d rather not fall off.”

“‘Course!”

With that, Izuku faded into the background as well as he could. He sits down on the bunk that he claimed. It’s the bottom one of the bunk closest to the door. Shinsou’s sleeping on the top bunk, and Asui and Bakugou took control of the other. Izuku watches as Bakugou pastes a bandage over his nose, as Kirishima worries over both Asui and Shinsou. After a bit, Bakugou ends up moving over and taking up the empty seat beside him.

“You gotta get patched up too, dumbass.” There’s a wet washcloth in Bakugou’s hand, which he brings up to wipe off the crusted blood on Izuku’s temple. Izuku tenses for only a moment, before leaning into Bakugou’s warm touch and letting him take the wheel.

“Thanks, Kacchan,” he mumbles. Izuku lets his eyes shut. He didn’t realize how tired he was. 

“You owe me one, ya fuckin’ nerd.”

“Always.”

Bakugou’s hand is in his hair, Izuku’s not sure if it’s for bandages or what. It feels nice though. So Izuku doesn’t try to pull away. He keeps his eyes shut. He melts.

Izuku drifts away.

Chapter Text

Consciousness comes in bits and pain comes in waves.

There’s a warm presence on his back that soothes the aching in his bones. He doesn’t want to get up or open his eyes. Not when he’s so comfortable. The pain overcomes his desire to sleep though, and when he tries to curl up, something blocks his way. Said something groans and the presence on his back groms firmer. Bit more tight. Izuku stilled.

Anxiety made his heart beat faster. He remembers the monster from the other day and jerks out of the thing’s hold, eyes widening. He faintly realizes that he’s falling off of the bed before his shoulder hits the ground and he folds in on himself.

Fuck-” he spits out, before he looks up at the bed. Piercing red eyes stare back at him. Bakugou…? “What…?”

Bakugou climbs out of the bed and stretches his arms, pulling the probably sour muscles. Once he’s done, he lends Izuku a hand and Izuku gratefully takes it. “Fuckin’ Deku,” he curses, “you fell asleep on me. Couldn’t get you off of me, ‘cuz you’re basically a goddamn koala.”

“Sorry Kacchan.”

Bakugou scoffs. “Just don’t do it again. Fuckin’ sucks.”

“Wouldn’t ever dream of it,” Izuku teases. “Kirishima stoll your bunk.”

“I stole his first.”

Izuku hums. “We should wake up the others. Figure this stuff out.”

“There’s nothing left to figure. We need the keys. We got one. Like you said, it’s probably like a video game.”

“Where are they keys, though?”

“Door one gave one key… Door two should have the next. Might get more supplies too.”

“It’s a thought. So… You get Shinsou and I’ll get Kirishima and Tsuyu? Just, please, try not to blow up the bunks.”

There’s no response. Bakugou only goes to Shinsou’s bunk and leans down close beside his ear. He starts off with a whispered some, before screaming out, “BODY!” Shinsou yells out and flails about to cuff his ‘attacker’, not managing to do any damage. Kirishima falls of his bed in surprise, but doesn’t miss a beat as he picks up where Bakugou left off.

“-once told me! The world was maca-roni! I ain’t the sharpest shed in the to-ool!”

“That’s not how it goes!” Izuku trills.

“Could be,” Kirishima replies.

Bakugou smirks. “Should be.” 

“Can we wake up Tsuyu? I’m not debating over how some old ass song goes. And, Kacchan. Scaring our teammates? We need everybody to be somewhat a-okay!”

“I am a-okay,” Shinsou counters. “Will be, anyway. After I fucking kill Bakugou-”

Izuku will admit, the next ten minutes spent with Izuku keeping Shinsou back and Kirishima holding Bakugou in place, were some of the most stupid ten minutes Izuku has ever lived through. Through the screams and the yells, Asui slept. Izuku had to give her kudos. He wouldn’t be able to sleep through that for as long as she was. He was about ten seconds away from letting Shinsou at ‘im, when she finally stirred. Everyone froze when she let out a croak.

“What’d I miss, kero?”

“Deku lookin’ dumb-” Bakugou starts.

Kirishima picks it up and continues with a giddy tone. “With his finger and his thumb!”

“In the shape of an ‘L’ on his forehead!” they finish together. Kirishima holds his hand up for a high five, which Bakugou ignores. Just as he’s about to put it down, Shinsou high fives him hard, mouth pressed into a straight line and eyes looking as dead as a door nail.

My hand!” Kirishima shrieks, withdrawing.

Shinsou grins something that reminds Izuku too much of Aizawa. “Jokes on you, that was the hand I hurt yesterday.”

“Whu-”

Moving on,” Izuku said loudly, moving to raise the room’s door. “I say we go check out the next door. The sooner we find the keys, the faster we should be able to go home. I’m not keen on sticking around here for longer than we have too. Since we don’t know what’s behind that door, I say we gather what we can without entering, and then if needed, we send a team out to go investigate further.” He shoves the door up all the way and turns around to the rest of the group. “Got it?” 

“Wow. Midoriya’s in a zero bullshit mood,” Kirishima says. He holds his hand in his other. “Sounds good, dude. I’ll help you with the door.”

“Thank you, Kirishima. Everyone else, you’re good?”

“It makes sense,” Shinsou agrees, “so yeah.”

Bakugou bobs his head. Asui croaks, “With you every step of the way, Midori.”

That, along with almost every other thing in the world, almost makes Izuku cry. Here he is, quirkless once more, but standing in front of his friends and being heard. He’s no longer middle school Deku who everyone pushed around. He’s grown. He’s more. He’s- dare he say it- loved..? Accepted..? Needed and wanted and all the things between..?

“Thank you,” he says again.

“Don’t mention it,” she replies.

Kirishima takes him by the shoulder and they go to the next door. Izuku grabs the left and gives an attempted pull. It’s heavier than the first door by far. The first was like pulling at a garage door. This one’s like trying to pull open a 4 ton one with three steel locks holding it in place.

“On the count of three,” Kirishima says.

“One.”

“Two.”

Three!”

They pull with all their might, Izuku digging his feet into the ground and Kirishima doing the same. The door cracks slightly and the two boys cheer.

“Put your fuckin’ backs into it!” Bakugou yells out.

“Why don’t you get over here and lift too?!” Izuku yells.

“Too easy. You deserve a challenge.”

“You’re only saying that ‘cuz you can’t do it-” The door inches open again. Izuku can stick his foot in the crack if he wanted too, but he’d rather not have his foot break if they have to drop it.

“Oh yeah?! Watch me!” Bakugou comes over and wraps his hand around the underside of the door, tugging at it. It doesn’t move anymore than it did before. It gradually starts to lift, though, and the second it’s high enough, Izuku moves his shoulder under it to fix his grip.

“One last push, guys. Count of three. One. Two. Three!”

They shove it up and it locks into place, giving them a full view of the new outside world. They don’t look yet though, because Bakugou opens his mouth.

“See? Without me, y’all couldn’t do shit.” 

“Shut up,” Shinsou says. Bakugou twists to give him a piece of his mind, but Shinsou's hand is already in the air, pointing outside. “And look.”

Izuku does. The view takes his breath away. 

“Is that a city?” Asui asks. “An actual city?”

It is. One that looks almost entirely like Hosu. There’s a sun shining in the sky, even complete with clouds. When he looks to the left, there’s no hint that there should be a room beside it. There’s people walking around, not noticing the door they just opened, not noticing the group of kids standing there. There’s the sound of people talking too, the sound of cars and everything else familiar to Izuku and the group.

“How did we not hear any of that?” Shinsou asks.

Bakugou blinks, confused. “I have no goddamn idea.” 

“I call staying here.”

“Fuckin’ same.”

“The three of us will go then, kero. Hold down the fort.”

Goodbyes are said quickly and things are grabbed fast. They can't waste any time, especially since they don't have enough time to waste.

They part, but leave the door open. If no one’s noticing it now, Izuku doubt they’ll notice it later. The reason as to why they don’t notice it comes after Izuku, Kirishima and Asui are a few yards from the opening. Izuku looks back for a second, but he doesn’t see a gaping trapezoid shape in the wall. What he sees is more city blocks, more people, and one tall building. Gazing up, he feels okay enough to assume it’s the tallest building. He takes note. They’ll need to find it when they come back.

It’s a normal city, from what he can tell. There’s people with mutant quirks, people with invisible quirks. Exactly one hero is on the streets, mingling with the people around them. Izuku doesn’t recognise them. He's in something hideous, a mix of greens and blues. On his back is a scarab like a beetles.

He points out the hero to the other two. “Should we talk to them? Maybe they can help us out-”

“I think it’s safe to say, we shouldn’t trust anyone, kero. Have you noticed that none of them care that we’re in our own hero outfits? At least one or two should have noticed us and came up, but… It’s just weird.” 

Oh. Izuku forgot about that. He’s lacking his belt and other heavy things, which someone had to taken off when he dozed. Asui’s missing her goggles, but has everything else on. Kirishima’s wearing his whole outfit. Izuku hadn’t even seen him slip on the gears. 

He turns his attention away from the hero and decides to scan the crowds. Something green goes up in the air, a good few feet above some man’s head. It catches Izuku’s attention, and he stops walking. Another ball comes, a dark blue one with yellow spots. A juggler? He deviates from their small group and crosses the street in a hurry. When the crowd thins, Izuku is met with the oddest sight. There’s a dull magenta ball on the ground with a pale purple joker’s hat. There’s a smiling face printed on the front. On top of it is a coffee box with ‘coffee’ printed on it in neat sharpie. The coffee box has wheels on the bottom. It’s a wonder how it’s balancing on the ball. On top of the box is a sphere filled with water and what looks like a purple pufferfish. It has two robotic arms on the side, which is the thing juggling the balls. The final thing sits on top of the water sphere. It’s the same color as the large ball that’s balancing everything, but with little wire arms and blue gloves. It’s hat is a tad bit more vibrant. Izuku would say it looks like a bird without wings.

People stand around and watch with sparkling eyes as the balls keep circling, but Izuku is only watching the thing doing the juggling. The bird thing’s eyes land on Izuku, but the pufferfish inside doesn’t notice him. After what seems like an eternity, it speaks. “Hello.” it says. No one notices that it talks. Izuku shudders at it's voice. A small part of him wants to run back to Kirishima and Asui. “I hear you’re looking for the keys Akiro left.

“So what if I am?” Izuku asks. He doesn’t have a good feeling about this whole thing. Who the hell is Akiro?

It keeps juggling. “Then I think I could help you find key number two. Do you want my help?

What Asui told him rings in his head. I think it’s safe to say, we shouldn’t trust anyone. Should Izuku just take a chance? He’s on his own here. He shouldn’t have left them, he really shouldn’t have.

Izuku replies after a moment of silence.

“Yes. Yes, I do.”

Chapter Text

When the bird tells him to follow, Izuku does without a second thought. Everything that his mom told him about stranger danger is lost on him. Common sense is given to the wind.

The ball beneath it deflates, giving way for the juggling fish tank of sorts to roll away. Izuku leans down to pick it up, only for the bird to wave at him to follow. He takes it as the bird not wanting the now flat ball and hurries to catch up. He's not feeling up to loosing their only lead, especially since he already lost his group members.

The blame for that lies only with Izuku. It's his fault he walked away from them. A small part of his mind tells him that they won't care, they're probably happier with him gone. Then he thinks back to earlier and how everyone agreed with him. Went with what he said like they knew he'd be right. Now he's left them behind.

The only way he can make this up to them is by returning with the key. Hell, he shouldn’t even go back without it. Doing that would feel like a failure.

The two go into a back alley and into another street, doing the same thing over and over until Izuku’s sure he’ll never find Kirishima and Asui until he makes his way back to their temporary base. He wants to ask where they’re going, but he’s just slightly afraid of pushing his luck. What if he crosses some line and the thing sends him back? He might’ve already crossed a line with the others, but this is one thing he can’t pass up.

People are talking and Izuku spots another hero. This one is wearing a bright blue bodysuit with splotches of white. They look like clouds. “Maybe their quirk has to do with the weather, like the comic book hero Storm from way back when. Can they make clouds? It seems likely, although that could be a deterrent from their real power. Not many people do that though. It’s odd that there’s only one. Most heroes have a sidekick walking with them, at least down by UA. It might be because of UA, and all the villain attacks, but-”

UA, huh?” asks the bird, interrupting him..

“Uh, yeah. It’s where I go to school. I’m training to be a hero. Like that one.” He points over to the cloud hero.

The bird- Izuku doesn’t really think it looks like a bird. It doesn’t have wings, just big gloves and a jester hat- nods. “Sounds like it’d be hard. Isn’t UA one of the top hero schools?

“Yes!” Izuku says a bit too enthusiastically. “You’ve heard of it?”

Of course I have. Who hasn’t?

“Everyone here, I bet!”

Sure, sure. Understandable.

“Yeah, it’s like they don’t even know I’m here! You see how they’re stopping that cloud hero? They’re not stopping me-”

It could be ,” it coughs, “ because you do look like you’re wearing pajamas.

Izuku waves him off. “I should at least be getting weird looks.”

They slink into another alley, but this one is the last, as the thing stops moving. The fish lazily opens it’s eyes and then there’s a door. An honest to god door just appears out of nowhere! Izuku stumbles back and opens his eyes wide.

“Where-?”

Come, Midoriya Izuku, what you seek lies just behind the door.

“Wha-? Wait- I never told you my name-”

The door opens seemingly on it’s own. Izuku won’t go in. He has a bad feeling about this. A really bad feeling. The juggling fish notices. It’s still juggling. How the hell is it still juggling? Is it because of the robotic arms? Possibly. Would make sense.

To get Izuku to go in, the fish chucks one of the balls at Izuku’s back without messing up his perfect act. It makes him stumble, and soon, the door shuts behind him leaving Izuku to face his new surroundings alone. The ball sits by his feet. It’s pink with little black hearts. The rest of the room is- surprise surprise- grey. There’s a window to one end, but there’s bars over it, reminding him of a jail cell. He turns around and tests the door. It doesn’t budge. Locked. Great.

Hey!” Izuku roars. “Hey, this isn’t funny! There’s nothing in here!” He pounds on the door with both hands. He’s really missing his quirk, too. Had he still had it, this door would’ve been down. Unconsciously, he tries to use it anyway. Nothing.

Izuku turns his attention to the ball on the ground and picks it up. He rolls it in his hand. It’s pretty small, only about the size of a golf ball.

In an act of rage, he chucks it at the wall of his new ‘cell’. It bounces off it and back to Izuku, smacking him in the face. He growls and repeats the action. It does too.

STOP, JESUS FUCK-”

This time, he throws it at the ground. It bounces up and smacks against the ceiling. Like a broken game of ping pong, it keeps going from the ceiling to the ground, to the ceiling to the ground. It’s kind of mesmerizing. Up, down, up, down. It keeps Izuku’s attention long enough, at least.

After the hundreth bounce or so, it cracks .

That’s weird. Izuku didn’t know that rubber cracked. Or that it sounded like glass.

He walks up to it, and ever so gently picks it up. He almost apologizes too, he’s not one for random bursts of anger. That’s Bakugou. In the end, Izuku’s still in the right of mind, so he doesn’t. Apologizing to inanimate objects isn’t something he wants to start doing on the daily. As he inspects it, it turns out there’s an open crease in it. With careful fingers, he spreads the crack to see gold.

Gold?

He turns it over and shakes it, tensing as something clatters to the ground. The thing is gold, which makes sense. It’s also- upon further inspection- a key . Just like the one from the green monster.

Seriously?!” Izuku throws the ball to the floor again. His face scrunches up, he’s fed up. Done. “This is so stupid! How the hell would I have figured that out?! How did it even fit in there?!” To the thing that brought him there, “Fuck you, random fish bird thing!” To the ball, “Fuck you, dumbass!” To himself, “I’m going to kill myself when I get back to UA, just you watch. I’m so done with this shit!”

Why wait to kill himself?

So that way, for one, the other’s can get back. They need all hands on for this. Secondly, so someone can talk him out of it. (There’s also a third reason. He wants to watch Bakugou’s face when he hears that. The second he realizes that’s a real thought in his head, though, he shuts it down.)

He picks up the ball again, picks up the key. Puts the key back into the ball, pockets the ball.

“Time to get the fuck outta here.”

He goes to the window and tries to reach it. He can’t, his fingers only graze the wall beneath. He tries jumping to get it, but that doesn’t work either. Curse his goddamn short genes. Seriously, Inko, if you were going to marry a dirtbag, at least marry a tall one! He abandons that task almost as quickly as he started. The only other way in is the door, but that has to be Izuku’s way out.

Unless he’s meant to die here.

Please, oh please don’t let that be the case. He needs a little bit more time before he dies. Just enough to hand off the key to someone else.

Izuku goes to the farthest wall from the door and crouches to the ground. He takes off towards it, adrenaline running. His shoulder rams into the door. It doesn’t give way. He tries again, again. It seems like his shoulder would rather give out first than the door, but this is his only way out.

He does it again.

And again.

And again-

The door splinters and Izuku falls out.

Fuck-” he repeats. This time, there’s no Bakugou to help him up. He stands up on his own, because Izuku’s a big, strong, independent boy who don’t need no man. After all of that, he takes off running again.

He can see the building he’s aiming for in the distance. It is the tallest building, which makes it that much easier.

Running a handful of blocks isn’t an easy task without One for All, as Izuku finds. His lungs gasp for air and his legs scream abuse. It doesn’t help that his shoulder is already protesting. By the third block, Izuku has to screech to a stop and simply breathe. It’s like middle school gym class all over again. Sure, running from bullies made him fast, but that doesn’t mean the extra laps the teacher made him do were any easier.

Once he stops, his hands go to his knees and he gasps. Recovering is the only thing on his mind for once. When he starts again, he’s not going to stop.

Stopping here, though, proves to be the wrong decision.

Why?

Because of the stupid fuck in the blue bodysuit with little clouds sprinkled all over it. The supposed ‘hero’ rushes past Izuku, before Izuku feels just a tiny bit lighter. The cloud hero comes to a stop, holds something up with a proud smile. It’s the split ball Izuku had in his pocket. Time rolls down to an almost complete stop, until it’s just Izuku and him.

“You fucking bastard-”

“Sorry, kiddo! Gotta go!”

“Hey, hey, no-”

The cloud hero takes off and so does Izuku.

They weave through the streets in a race against Izuku’s body. It’s about to give out, he knows it, but true to his hero self, he keeps on going. No one pays any mind to Izuku, which means they keep on getting in his damn way. For the hero, though, they clear a path and let him free.

Izuku is so done.

Finally, one person accidentally gets in the hero’s way. A young girl who looks just like the reporter from the fight that brought Izuku here. Of course it’d be her, of course. He’s kind of happy at the same time. He’s just about to grab onto the hero’s arm because of her. He’s this close- this close-

That is, until someone grabs Izuku’s arm-

The hero moves the girl out of the way-

The hero runs free all over again as Izuku is pulled to a stop.

Hey-” He whirls around, ready to shriek at the person who stopped him, only to be met with red, red eyes. They’re wide, they’re worried, they’re connected to an array of sharp teeth turned down into an unnatural frown. “Kirishima,” Izuku breathes, “hey.”

"What the hell, Midoriya? We thought something snatched you up! I thought there was an unspoken rule that we stick together! Did you not get the memo or something?!" Kirishima's voice shudders with unbridled rage. Looks like Izuku's not the only one frustrated.

He half expects Kirishima to continue and tell him that he's useless. To say something along the lines of how Izuku keeps fucking everything up.

Izuku had said earlier that the one thing he wasn't going to fuck up was going to be getting the key. That means that the next step he needs to complete is leaving and running. He shoves what Kirishima said into the back of his mind and tries to find the cloud hero.

"I- The key," Izuku struggles to say, trying to pull away from Kirishima's hold. "I had it- Kirishima, you gotta let me go-"

"Not again, dude. You aren't gonna pull anymore shit-"

"-he's getting away-"

"-so you're going to come back with me, and you're going to fucking apologize! Because I'm gonna be serious with you. You fucked up." 

There it is.

Izuku forgets about the key, forgets about the hero, forgets about everything he really shouldn't forget.

"What you did was so stupid!" 

You're so stupid, is what he means.

"I finally get why Aizawa was so mad when we snuck out to save Bakubro. Why he calls you problem child." 

I finally get why your name is Deku. It's because you're so useless! Aizawa calls you a problem child, because all you do is cause problems!

"We're going back. Right now. No more bullshit. You understand?" 

Izuku is half aware that he's only hearing what he 'wants' to hear. Hearing what he should be hearing, at least. Quirkless Izuku shouldn't be looked at with anything other than disgust, from what he's learned. Kirishima's quirkless too now, but he's still more than a Deku

His eyes fill with tears, but Kirishima doesn't see them. The other turns, Izuku's wrist still clenched in his hand. They start walking. Izuku knows they're going back to their 'base'. He's not sure he wants to go anymore. He knew they were going to be dissapointed, but not middle school disappointed. 

The walk is short, but it seems like an eternity to Izuku. They don't speak, they don't even try. It reminds him of walks to the principal's office, sans the dirty looks. The building looms taller now that Izuku's nerves are on fire. 

Kirishima pushes the door open, and behind them it shuts. The rest of the group sits around the door, looking torn. All but Bakugou, that is. He's sitting, but Bakugou just looks angry.

The second that Bakugou's eyes land on Izuku, he's up like a rocket. "You fuckin' Deku," he snarls.

Izuku has to remind himself that Bakugou can't use his quirk anymore.

"Do you think you're funny?!" 

"Bakugou," Shinsou warns.

"This shit isn't funny, Deku. You could've been hurt or worse. And we wouldn't know! No wonder Auntie Inko-"

Aw man, Izuku hasn't heard Bakugou say that since grade school.

"-is always worrying her head off! She- and everyone else- was fuckin' right. You'd make a terrible hero-"

"Shut up!” Izuku shrieks. That's the icing on the cake, the last nerve and the last straw. Kirishima finally lets go of Izuku’s wrist, but it’s only to back away. Lash out, Izuku’s mind screams. Lash out, lash out, it’s what he deserves! He wants to listen, he wants to-

He does and it feels so good.

“I’m done with you, Katsuki.” God, that name sounds so wrong. “I’ve had it. I know I’m a fucking terrible hero, I know I’m stupid, and useless- That all I do is cause problems! But you didn’t have to say it to my face. Hell, the whole time I was gone, I was thinking how much I fucked up. I was going to fix it, until Kirishima pulled me back! I was so close-” Izuku cuts himself off. “I get it now. I’m quirkless. I’m absolutely useless. You were right, Katsuki. So goddamn right. I should’ve just taken the damn swan dive off the roof!”

“That’s enough,” Asui speaks up. “That’s it.” There’s tears in her voice, tears in Izuku’s eyes. “Just stop, Midoriya. Don’t you understand what we’re all trying to say?”

“We’re trying to tell you we were worried,” Shinsou continues.

Kirishima adds, “Really worried.”

“You just vanished, kero. Of course we’d be worried! One second you’re there, the next- gone! Do you realize how scary that is?”

“I’m sorry.” Izuku whispers. His eyes trail over to Bakugou.

He’s silent. Not angry, not sad. Just… silent.

Bakugou moves, then, and places his hands on Izuku’s shoulders. Izuku tenses. Bakugou breathes. They’re both burning down like trees. They stare at each other, green versus red and red versus green. Everyone around them is just waiting. Waiting.

“I didn't- I don't want you to die,” Bakugou forces out, “De-Izuku.” Today’s just full of surprises. “So don’t ever say that I was right. I was worse that an asshole back then. I was a damn villain-”

“-Kacchan-”

“-and it’s true. Don’t try to make it look like I wasn’t. Just- Don’t listen to me. Middle school me. Please.”

Please.

“Okay,” Izuku agrees. “I’m sorry.”

“Me too,” Bakugou replies, “even if I can’t say it yet.”

“One last thing,” Shinsou interjects. Everyone turns to him, Bakugou’s arms drop from Izuku’s shoulders. “Why did you leave in the first place?”

Oh yeah! The key!

“I found the key,” Izuku says. They start to cheer. He feels bad. He’s a Debbie Downer now. “Someone stole it.”

“We can get it back!” Kirishima hurriedly says, to make everything better.

Asui nods and Izuku feels light. “Midoriya, kero, we’re just glad to have you back. The key doesn’t matter as much as you.”

He doesn’t just feel light. He’s not just burning anymore.

Izuku feels reborn.

Chapter Text

It has to be the middle of the night when Izuku’s eyes ease open and his senses come back in waves. He’d gone to bed exhausted, had thought he’d actually sleep the whole night, but now he supposes that he was wrong. Across the room from him, Bakugou tosses and turns and beside him Kirishima snores. Asui doesn’t make a peep besides a few croaks every now and then, and above them, Shinsou’s completely silent. No one except for Izuku is up. 

Or so he thinks, as he slips out of bed and away from Kirishima’s sandpaper skin. As soft as his skin looks, it’s scratchy to the touch. At least to Izuku, maybe. He doesn’t see anything wrong with it, quirks have side effects and other things involved. It even makes sense that his skin would be rough. His quirk is hardening, making his body rock hard. Kirishima’s a rock, and Izuku really doesn’t mind.

He’s only up because… because. There’s no reason. It’s not Kirishima, it’s not Bakugou or Asui or Shinsou. It’s only him. His head is a jumble of stupid, his body a jumble of sore. There’s too much energy in his bones, in his blood. Izuku was never made to sit, he was made to be up and about, doing anything and everything-

And now he’s quirkless and quirkless people were always meant to sit back and watch as everyone else ran the show.

Everyone else is quirkless too, but they’ve never been useless and dumb in their whole lives. Not like Izuku. Never like Izuku.

“Hey,” someone says, spurring Izuku out of his thoughts. “You all good?”

Izuku spins to meet Shinsou, legs hanging over the side of his bed and head lolling to the side. There’s just enough light for Izuku to see his tired eyes boring into Izuku’s own. It had never really been all that dark in the room, regardless of the time. Lights from the hallway dimmed for night, but never actually turned off.

“Hey,” he says back, easily enough, “I’m good. Did I wake you?”

“Just a little. I was already kinda up.”

Makes sense. Izuku knows Shinsou suffers from insomnia. The bags under his eyes never say any different, after all. Izuku himself isn’t really an insomniac, but he’s been woken up by nightmares enough times for it to probably count.

Shinsou climbs down from the top bunk to join Izuku on the floor. “Wanna take a walk?” he offers.

“Where? There’s no where to go, unless we want to see how many times it’d take to pass out from walking down that hallwa-”

“In the city, moron. As long as you promise you won’t go run off and make trouble, that is.”

Izuku gives him a nod and a grin. “I’ll try,” he says. He really will. Everything that happened in the past two days has left him exhausted. Not exhausted in a tired kind of way. Just exhausted. He doesn’t feel like dealing with anymore stuff, at least for an hour or so. Maybe a walk with Shinsou is exactly what he needs.

“Let me just… Lose some of this.” Izuku gestures to his outfit. He’s wearing a white tee-shirt under his suit. As for pants, he’ll have to leave on the bottom part of his hero outfit. He strips his arms out from it, tying the sleeves around his waist. Anything and everything meant for protection gets pulled off and left to the floor.

Feeling lighter, he lets Shinsou take him by the arm and out of the opened door. They’d left it open for the sake of not having to force it open again in the morning. Part of him is happy they did. A chance for fresh air, and the sound of passing cars, fills Izuku with something akin to contentedness.       

Just like real cities, this one doesn’t seem to sleep. People are out and about, lights flashing and glaring. Izuku loves it. Everything they pass draws in his attention, giving him no time to surrender to the quiet void of his mind. It was welcomed, in all honesty. He definitely preferred this to standing in the damn grey ‘prison’ they were subjected to sleeping in. The city is alive, and it’s making Izuku want to be alive too.

Wanting to be alive is a totally new experience compared to yesterday’s- today’s?- depressing feelings.

The thought, I should’ve just taken the damn swan dive off the roof!, turns into, I think we should grab some food or something. The thought, I’m going to kill myself when I get back to UA, turns into, We should go out to the city like this when we get back home.

You see, Izuku’s never really thought of himself as suicidal . He’s never been like that or anything. Sure, these past few days have been bringing out the worst in him. Before, though? Izuku couldn’t have wasted time thinking about it.

Something about the fact that he is thinking about it is really bad.

With how relaxed Shinsou looks beside him, Izuku can’t tell if the city is making him feel the same, or if he’s about to fall asleep. Knowing him, it could be both.

That is, until Shinsou speaks up and Izuku feels icicles slice through his boots and keep him captive so they can try and send another one at his heart.

“When I was in middle school… I felt the same way as you do now. I mean, I never had a friend tell me to… y’know … But I did have myself.”

What can Izuku say to that? What can Izuku say-

“I had everyone’s influence, too. But… you. I never got your story. So, Midoriya.” Shinsou looks down at Midoriya and for a moment the city fades away. “What brought you to meet Misery?”

Bakugou, is what Midoriya wants to say. His mother? His father. Everyone that Izuku had to be around in middle school. All of the teachers who taught at his middle school. The people outside and on the streets.

Absolutely everyone.

But Izuku doesn’t say any of this, in fear of sounding whiny. Of sounding like he’s just trying to one-up Shinsou, of sounding like his entire life was terrible .

His life was amazing, and he’s just trying to get attention.

“I dunno,” Midoriya says instead, a speech he’s rehearsed well over the years. It’s worked the best for him regarding teachers, so he doesn’t see why now should be any different. “I’m just overreacting. Making the situation seem worse than it actually is.” 

Shinsou makes a noise. “Can we have a redo on that?” Shinsou asks him. “Without the lying, I mean.”

Izuku looks Shinsou straight in the eye. 

Let’s try this again.

He can’t say that he was lying. He can’t say that he must’ve misheard.

So he starts off simple. “My dad left me and mom when I was young, so I got pushed around for not having a father like everyone else. Guess he ditched ‘cuz I wasn’t the son he wanted, but that isn’t important. Uh. You know I’m a late bloomer, yeah?”

“Real late,” Shinsou agrees, “according to you.”

“Yeah,” Izuku shrugs. The city feels a lot less great with this conversation acting like a heavy fog. “The kids pushed me around for that too. Called me quirkless and stuff. I dunno. I let it get to me after a while. I shouldn’t have. Wasn’t strong enough to ignore it. To not let it affect me. But I never was down like that. I never wanted to… Not like now. I dunno what got into me. This stuff… All of it is just messing with my head. I should just ignore it. Sorry to make you worry.”

Yeah. Shinsou’s worried for him. Honest to god, worried for Izuku of all people.

(He’s still trying to get used to that fact.)

“So what,” Shinsou drawls, “you think you’re weak because of all that? You think you’re weak because these kids bullied you for years?”

Izuku gives him a shrug, like it’s obvious.

“Does that mean I’m weak? You remember what I was like when you first met me. I pushed you around and acted like everyone else. Like a bully.” He says the word like it’s venomous. As if it’s a curse. To the two of them, it was. It is. “I let them get to me, Midoriya. Does that mean I’m weak?”

Izuku instantly says no, and Shinsou scoffs, like that’s what he was expecting. It probably was .

“No,” Izuku says again. “You’re so far from being weak. You overcame it, you’ve changed and I bet you top dollar that they haven’t. It takes strength to overcome stuff like that.”

“And yet, look at you. Weak because what they said won’t leave your head. You’re being a hypocrite, you know?”

“I get that a lot,” Izuku says.

“That means something. You don’t get it. Do you?”

Their eyes meet. Izuku wants to go home, go home to his mother and All Might and Todoroki and Uraraka and Iida. He doesn’t want to face whatever Shinsou’s about to say, because part of him already knows the answer, but his mind just won’t register it.

“You aren’t weak. You were never weak, Izuku.”

Izuku.

Izuku.

“You’ve never been weak, and I’ll say it however many times you need me to, until you understand. You’re strong, and not just because your quirk is strength. You’re strong, because believe it or not, you’ve grown. You’re better, and still are getting better. You’re ahead of me, ahead of half your class. Most people in your situation would’ve curled up and died under the weight you’re holding. But you haven’t, Izuku. You haven’t.”

He hasn’t.

“And whatever you’re facing right now, you don’t have to go through it alone. I did, but I’m not anymore. You don’t have to either,” Shinsou tells him. “You have people in your corner, and we can help you, believe it or not. Just reach out to us, Izuku. Ask us. Even Bakugou. Any one of us. We’re here for you, like you’re here for us. Okay?”

Izuku’s not crying. He’s actually not . Despite the emotions roaring in his chest, his mind feels…

Empty.

He’s tired, and he doesn’t think he can hold up the world anymore.

“You can lean on us. We’ll hold some of that weight up for you.”

What can Izuku say to that?

Nothing, it turns out. He doesn’t have time to, because in an instant, a blur of blue roughly pushes him out of the way.

Blue. Blue and white. Clouds on a blue sky. The cloud hero.

Izuku’s off like a bullet, the world forgotten beneath the crushing weight of responsibility. Underneath duty. Underneath the overwhelming desire that was blooming ever since Izuku’s eyes drank in that video of All Might all those years ago.

Sorry, Shinsou.

Izuku’s never been able to back away, not when situations like this fall into his empty palms. So yes, Izuku runs and this time, prays. He has to get the final key. He has to come back with it in his grasp. He has to, he has to, he has to.

There is no other choice. There wasn’t ever any other choice.

Izuku is tired. Izuku is empty. Izuku has always been, and will always be, a hero .

And behind him, Shinsou’s feet beat against the sidewalk in the same direction.

Chapter Text

Izuku can’t help the look of surprise that crosses his face when Shinsou catches up to him. 

“Thought I told you- We’d go out- If you didn’t cause- trouble,” the other wheezes out. He’s obviously not meant for running like Izuku is, but Izuku shouldn’t really comment. He can hear his own breath coming out in shudders. Izuku can go for a while yet, though Shinsou might not be able to. 

Even so, slowing down is not an option. 

Hell, if Shinsou won’t be able to keep this up, if they can’t slow down… Izuku will just have to speed up. 

Ahead of them, the cloud ‘hero’ swerves between people. Again, they clear a path for him, but not Izuku or Shinsou. It’s a little too dark to keep track of everything, so he keeps bumping into people. It’s honestly starting to get annoying, but Izuku can deal. 

He’ll deal.

He has to deal.

“He’s the one that has the key,” Izuku replies after a few minutes, realizing he never did answer Shinsou. “The key that we need. I can’t let him slip away again.” 

Shinsou rolls his eyes. “Always gotta be- such a- hero.” 

“These keys are probably the only way we’re getting home.” In reality, the keys aren’t only probably their only way home. They most likely are, because there hasn’t been anything else screaming out at them. “I won’t come back empty handed and disappoint them any further,” Izuku huffs. Like Shinsou will once they stop running, the rest of the group will be mad at him. Not if he shows that he’s useful. That he can do things without messing it up. That he’s not a waste of space on their team. 

Beside him, Shinsou only gives him a hum. 

With hawk eyes, Izuku watches the cloud hero turn into an alley. This is gonna be his chance, so Izuku picks up speed. He hears Shinsou yell after him, probably trying to catch up to him, but Izuku can’t stop. He can’t slow down, and he can’t give up. 

C’mon Izuku.

Faster.

Izuku needs to be faster. 

Being faster would mean, that as he skids into the alley, the cloud hero would still be there. Being faster would mean, that while he stopped now to regain his breath, he’d of been able to keep going. Being faster would mean, that when Shinsou enters the ally behind him, he'd already have the key. 

Dammit!” he shrieks out, the second he can. “Dammit, dammit, dammit!” His hand scrapes through his hair and yanks at knotted strands. The city doesn’t matter, because Izuku is done. “I’m going to kill myself, useless fucking dumbass! He was right there!” 

Izuku, chill,” Shinsou barks at him. “He couldn’t have gotten far.” 

“He was right there!” Izuku repeats. He feels tears prickle at the corner of his eyes. Get a hold of yourself, he tells himself. Heroes don’t cry. (He’d rather feel numb.) “I was too slow.” 

Shinsou pulls at his arm. “Let’s go back to the base. We can regroup, because you’re obviously not up for this-” 

Izuku pulls back, nearly shoving Shinsou away. “Don’t touch me, don’t touch me-” he chokes, and Shinsou throws his hands up as if he was being held at gunpoint. 

There’s got to be something in this alleyway, Izuku reasons, so while he makes sure Shinsou keeps some space between them, his eyes dart around, panicked. A turned over trash can, nothing important about that from what he can tell. (Shinsou takes the slightest step towards him and Izuku can’t breath.) The fire escape clings to the building, ready to fall at the slightest tug, which means the cloud hero couldn’t have escaped that way. (Shinsou’s eyes are wide. Izuku doesn’t like it, doesn’t like it at all.) There’s a door to Izuku’s right, cracked ever so slightly as if it was closed in a haste, but never actually locked. Bingo.

Shinsou reaches out for Izuku again, but Izuku is off. He throws open the door, and forces himself in. The other follows almost faithfully. (Izuku doesn’t deserve it.) 

Carefully, he makes his way through the house. Stealth has never been his strong suit, but he can make due. For Shinsou, though, stealth is one of his areas of expertise. This is the only reason why Izuku doesn’t say anything about it when Shinsou takes the lead for once. To the two, it looks like an empty hotel lobby. There’s no signs of life, and there’s a strong lack of anything that would make this place stand out from other hotels. 

(It looks the same way Izuku feels.) 

The two approach the stairs, and a feeling of dread fills Izuku’s stomach. This time, it’s him who reaches for Shinsou, to tell him to back away, to stop, to go back outside because this was a mistake.  

Shinsou places his foot on the first step, regardless and-

Absolutely nothing happens. 

Izuku’s hand stops only centimeters away from the other’s arm. What? 

Shinsou climbs the second and third step. 

Nothing.

Four, five.

Nothing.

Six, seven, eight.

More than halfway there. That feeling is still buried in Izuku’s gut, weighing him down along with the weight of everything else.

Nine. 

Ten. 

Eleve-

Izuku doesn’t feel the floor beneath his feet anymore. He only feels the wind in his hair, feels his body go absolutely weightless for a sliver of a second. And then he’s falling as gravity yanks at him. Screaming. 

It’s dark, he can’t see a single thing. He’s falling, he can hear Shinsou yelling above him. He’s screaming, he can’t hear himself. 

Shinsou, his brain screams. He can’t let anything happen to Shinsou, not under his watch, not because of him. Shinsou? he tries to force out. His mouth won’t work, because he’s screaming. (Why can’t he hear himself scream?) Shinsou? Shinsou-

His scream cuts of short and he blacks out for only a second. His entire body jolts as it makes contact with the ground. Izuku can’t breath, Izuku can’t scream. 

That’s because all he can feel is pain. 

Pain, pain, all there is is pain

“Shinsou?” he croaks. It hurts, it hurts. Is Shinsou okay? “Shinsou?” 

Izuku hears a groan. Thank god, thank god

“Izuk- Midoriya?” That hurts to hear, actually. Being called Izuku is different to the everyday Midoriya. To Deku. (He’s still getting used to that one.) “I can’t see. Where are you?” 

“Shinsou- Shinsou, you okay?” 

“Sore.” (How can Shinsou only be sore, when all Izuku can feel is pain?) “Really sore. I can move. Are you okay?” 

“Hurts,” he gruffs out. Hurts. He tries to force himself to his feet. His arms move with little difficulty, he fell on his back and doesn’t try to roll himself over. Instead, he tries a sit-up. Tries to. Strikes of pain roll down from his lower back to his legs. 

Oh no. 

Oh no.

“Can you move?” Shinsou asks. He sounds a little panicked. “Can you get up?” 

“No, no. I can’t- Shinsou-” Izuku sounds panicked too. Please, please let him be able to get up and move. Please. He has to be able to get up, he has to. Please. “Shinsou- I can’t-” He hears footsteps growing faint, and growing faint fast . “Shinsou?”

He gets no reply.

“Shinsou?!” Nothing, so he tries again. And again. Neither time does he hear a reply. “Shinsou?” 

His voice cracks. 

Izuku is alone.

Izuku can’t move.

(Izuku cracks.) 

Before, he was numb and tired, trying to drink in the darkness and the noise that the city gave, rather than the darkness and the noise that his mind gave. Now, he can feel burning tears slide down his face as he begins to choke and sob, soaking in the darkness and lack of noise. He hates this, he hates this. 

It’s his fault, isn’t it? He’s the one that led them to the house, to the alley, after the hero. He’s the one that agreed to leave the base. Of course Shinsou decided to leave. Not only is Izuku terrible, yelling at him and pulling him into situations like this, but he’s a crybaby and can’t even move

Now what’s going to become of him? Is he going to be found by someone else? Is he going to lay here and starve? Freeze? He can’t move, so what use is he now? With how much he’s crying, he’ll probably be dehydrated on top of everything else.

Part of his mind thinks that maybe his team will come find him, that Shinsou’s going to get them. Why would he? Izuku has done nothing but make everyone upset since they got here. Done nothing but mess up, and- apparently, something he just can’t seem to get- worry them. Why are they even worried? Why do they even care? 

Izuku really is useless, huh? 

He can’t figure anything out, he can’t do anything right.

Bakugou was right. 

Everyone from middle school was right.

Useless, his mind echoes. (It sounds like Bakugou, like All Might and Aizawa, like Uraraka and Iida and Asui and Kirishima. Like his mother, his father. Like Shinsou.)

But then the halls echo it.

“Useless, useless-” 

It sounds like-

Izuku cranes his neck- 

Shinsou emerges from a tunnel, a stick in his hand. The tip is burning with fire. A torch. An honest to god torch. “It’s not going to give us much light,” he says. “But it’ll give us enough to get you out of here. I saw an exit, right down the way.” 

Izuku doesn’t care about the torch. Izuku only cares about the fact that-

“You came back.” 

Shinsou looks up, kind of startled. Under the torch light, his face looks eerie. Ghostly. Surprised. “Of course I came back, you dumbass . We’re on the same team, and I’ve told you more than once, I’m on your side. Friends, remember? I legally can’t leave you behind.”

“I can’t move-” 

“But I can.” 

“I don’t get it.” 

“You don’t have too.” 

Izuku meets Shinsou’s eyes, Shinsou meets his. Green and purple, purple and green. When you mix the two colors together, they don’t actually make much more than an ugly brown. But right now? Izuku feels like he’s a burst of bright colors. 

“You came back.”

Chapter Text

Izuku rests his chin on Shinsou’s shoulder, gritting his teeth with every jolt of pain that rockets through his body. His arms are wrapped around Shinsou’s shoulders, making sure he doesn’t fall backwards. The other’s hands grip at his legs, so Izuku focuses on that pain to ground himself. 

Still, he can’t find it in himself to enjoy the piggyback ride. He’s too busy looking around, shivering at the shadows that the torch in his hand makes. Izuku’s holding the torch now, in place of Shinsou, so Shinsou can focus on walking. The hallway they’re in seems almost as long as the one at the base, although the walls are different. They’re made of grey, stone bricks, and have vines growing on them. 

Wherever they are, it must be old. Unused. 

“This hall reminds me of, ah, what is it called…” Shinsou mutters, when they’re a good chunk away from where they fell. “A wine cellar? Catacombs?” 

“Depends. Those are two pretty different things,” Izuku replies. 

“I’m thinking of this one Edgar Allan Poe story. The Cask of Armadillo?”

“The Cask of Amontillado.”

“That one.” 

Izuku hums lazily, even though he’s got anxiety flowing through his veins in place of blood. “Does that mean you’re going to seal me up down here, after getting me drunk off my rocker? I don’t think I’d appreciate you doing that to me.” 

“I’d never,” Shinsou scoffs. “We don’t have any alcohol.” 

He pokes at Shinsou’s cheek, cheerfully. “So you would? If we had alcohol?” To that, Shinsou purposely avoids eye contact and whistles, like people do when they’re guilty. “I wish I had alcohol.” 

That makes Shinsou throw a look at him. He’s worried and Izuku doesn’t feel like he really deserves it. (He needs to work on that.) “Does it still hurt?” Shinsou asks him. “Like, bad, I mean. On a scale from one to ten, what’s the level?” 

Izuku thinks about how his legs throb steadily where Shinsou’s hands are. He thinks about how with every one of Shinsou’s steps, Izuku needs to grind his teeth in fear of accidentally crying out and making Shinsou turn back. 

“Four,” he lies. 

Shinsou picks up on it immediately. “Don’t lie to me, Izuku.” 

He’s back to calling him Izuku now? What happened to the brief revert back to Midoriya

“Eight or nine. I’m not going to cry about it, I’m fine. Does this mean you’re sticking with calling me Izuku?” 

The other shrugs, and Izuku’s arms go up with Shinsou’s shoulders. It makes the torch bob. “Would it be a problem if I did? If it makes you uncomfortable, I can stop-” 

“No!” Izuku jolts. It makes Shinsou wobble, and almost drop Izuku. Izuku just grips onto Shinsou’s shoulders. If he’s going to drop, it’s not going to be just him. “It’s fine- sorry- you can keep calling me that. It’s… kind of- Er- I kind of like it? It’s different than Deku, and everyone calls me Midoriya. Izuku… is refreshing, if that makes any sense? Ah, I sound so stupid-” His face flushes red, as he realizes that he was mumbling again. He buries his face into Shinsou’s shirt and lets his face burn. “Sorry!” 

“You’re fine,” Shinsou grins. 

Izuku glances up at the end of the hallway. They’re getting closer, he guesses. He can see bright light bleed out into the dark hallway. The torch isn’t going to be needed for much longer. That’s good, though, because Izuku’s hand feels like it’s getting hotter, the closer the flame burns.

“This hallway is long,” Izuku comments, voicing out his thoughts. “Like that one back at base that leads to the key portal thing? Are all the hallways here long? If so, I don’t ever wanna live here.” 

“Maybe the hallways are short, and I’m just walking in place,” Shinsou says. 

“Walking in place my ass. I know were moving, so don’t try to lie to me.” 

“Or are we.” 

Izuku groans and attempts to smother himself with Shinsou’s shirt again. The cloth he uses for his hero outfit is surprisingly soft and light. (Izuku reminds himself to ask Shinsou about the fabric, so that maybe Izuku can make a change to his hero outfit. He could stand to work in something that soft, all day.) “Stop talking,” he grumbles, fisting his hands into the front of the other’s shirt. “You’re going to make me confused!” 

“When aren’t you confused?” 

He only groans again. 

The air feels light when he’s talking to Shinsou like this. Izuku prefers it to the air that’s been suffocating him lately. Ever since they got to this place, he feels down. Down and recked and ready to just curl up and die. Shinsou’s a needed distraction. Everyone else is, too, in their own way… But Shinsou seems to just… get Izuku. They’ve gone through the same stuff. The others haven’t. Not really

He’s pulled out of his thoughts when Shinsou pulls to a stop. Izuku can’t help the yelp that slips from his lips as white hot pain bursts through his body. 

“Shinso-” Izuku’s face leaves Shinsou’s shoulders to meet the very end of the hall, and what lies beyond. His eyes widen and his jaw drops. “No.”

What lies beyond is sky. Sky, sky, and sky. The hall’s floor seemingly continues, breaking off into what looks like sidewalk. Said sidewalk is just hanging in the air, held up by nothing but the sky. Sky, sky, sky

“Just like the cloud hero!” Izuku hisses. 

“What?”

“It’s just cloudy sky. Like that cloud hero’s outfit.” 

The cloud hero, to Izuku, is becoming less and less of a hero, and more of a villain. Heroes are there to help, and Clouds isn’t exactly helping. (Yes, Izuku’s decided to stop dubbing him the cloud hero.) Unless, Clouds happens to think that Izuku stole they key. Does that make Izuku the villain here? 

Izuku decides not to think about it. Under him, Shinsou gently places his foot on the first sidewalk square. It doesn’t shudder or wobble. They’re stable. The other squints in the direction the sidewalk stretches. “It looks like it just goes on forever,” Shinsou sighs. “I don’t think I can carry you for a whole lot longer. I don’t go to the gym everyday like you.”

“You can put me down, I’ll try to walk.”

“Are you sure?” 

“I’m feeling better,” Izuku reassures. Shinsou does as Izuku said, and lets him down. Izuku wobbles a bit, but grits his teeth and bares through it. He doesn’t want Shinsou to have to carry him again, if it’s making him tired. 

Shinsou looks him over, when Izuku manages to stand. “You good?”

“One hundred and one percent. I’m fine, Shinsou. Promise.” 

“Say the word,” Shinsou nods, “and I’m your ride.” Izuku just sticks his tongue out at him, he gets the same in return. 

They manage to walk for a while. Izuku knows he’s dragging them down and making them slow. With every step, he hisses out. All he feels is pain, pain, pain. Shinsou tries to distract him, or something, by talking. 

It doesn’t really work, but Izuku humors him. 

That is, until Shinsou flat out stops walking. It catches Izuku off guard, and he stumbles. “We should take a break,” Shinsou announces. “It doesn’t look like were getting any closer, so take a breather and sit down.” 

He plops down and Izuku follows. He didn’t realize how tired he felt. Aside from the pain, yeah, that’s all there is. He’s in lots of pain, and he’s tired. Izuku lets his legs hang over the edge, Shinsou eyes him at that, as if he’s worried that Izuku’s going to go toppling over. With all the stupid suicidal thoughts running through his head, it’s likely that he actually is. Izuku wasn’t thinking about that, he swears! He’s not about to off himself in front of his friend. So he sits beside Shinsou, lets the weird wind that comes from nowhere ruffle through his curls, and loses himself in the blue abyss that never seems to end. 

True to Shinsou’s word, they breathe together, almost in sync. 

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe ouT-

Izuku gets to his feet, faster than he think he should’ve. Something isn’t right, something isn’t right- Shinsou stands too, obviously alarmed by Izuku’s slight outburst. Izuku can’t find it in himself to be sorry for it. 

“Izuku?” he asks. “Izuku, what’s wrong?”

Izuku, thankfully enough, doesn’t have to answer that. Why? Oh, it’s just because Clouds appears out of goddamn nowhere, hovering in the air, not even on the sidewalk. Yeah, he just kinda hangs there, sending shivers down Izuku’s already aching spine. 

“What the fuck?” Shinsou cries. “What the hell?”  

“Izuku and… Hitoshi, is it? Or would you prefer Midoriya and Shinsou?” Clouds says, coyly. 

He’s got a low voice, and Izuku’s mind just kind of throws it out there that Clouds is probably good at singing deeper songs. He’s not sure what to do with that thought, so he keeps it to himself. Maybe he can use it, someday, when they get home. He’ll just text Shinsou in the middle of the night, maybe Kirishima for no reason other than to confuse him, and they can have a good laugh about it. Or something. 

“Deku,” Izuku says. Clouds’ face twists up into a snarl, for some reason. “My hero name is Deku, you asshole.” That gets a chuckle out of Shinsou, so score

“Useless? Your hero name literally means useless?” 

“Yeah. So what? I don’t take criticism from villains or people named Clouds, let alone a villain named Clouds.” 

Clouds sputters, and Izuku forces back a grin. “I’m a hero, kid-” 

Bet,” Izuku spits. 

“Wh-?” 

“Bet!” Shinsou grins. 

“What?” 

“Y’ain’t shit,” Shinsou continues. “You’re the one tormenting two kids, especially when one of us should really be at the hospital instead of here.” 

“I don’t need to be at a hospital,” Izuku interjects. 

Shinsou waves him off. “You don’t get to decide what you need, dumbass.” 

Clouds scoffs at them, before pulling out a key from somewhere. Izuku wasn’t really focusing on him, he was focusing on the fact that Shinsou said that he doesn’t get to decide what he needs. Izuku is more Izuku that Shinsou, how come the other gets to decide what’s best for Izuku instead of, y’know, Izuku? It’s like when he goes out for a haircut with his mom, and she always takes the lead, explaining what he needs done. Izuku can do it himself sometimes, seriously.

Okay, anyway, Clouds is holding the key that Izuku needs

Not cool, dude, not cool. 

If anything, seeing the key makes Izuku ready for a fight. Subtly, he shifts his feet and readies himself combat. It’s actually not really subtle, because Shinsou pushes Izuku behind him. He doesn’t even switch to a fighting position, which makes Izuku kind of upset. How the hell are they going to get the key without fighting him? Because Shinsou doesn’t really make it seem like he’s got the key on his mind. 

Clouds throws the key up haphazardly. Izuku can feel his heart beat out of his chest like an offkey drum. If Clouds drops that key, there goes their chances of going home. Maybe that’s why he’s tossing it like a bouncy ball. Because he knows it’s going to get on Izuku’s nerve

“So, Midoriya-” 

“Deku.” 

“So, useless.” (Izuku flinches.) “I believe you need this key, yeah?” 

When he speaks, it’s right through Shinsou and directly to Izuku. That’s odd. Why’s Izuku so important anyway? Shinsou is probably better to talk to, right now, ‘cause Izuku feels like he’s about to fall forward. He can’t afford to, not yet. Once they have the key, sure. They can take a real break from the pain in his legs and the ache in his head. 

“The key,” Izuku hisses to Shinsou. “We gotta get it, or we’re never getting home, Shinsou. The only way to get it is to fight him for it.” 

Clouds has got to hear that, because he just kind of grins at Izuku. “This?” he asks, even though he doesn’t need to. “I don’t need this. I could care less if I drop it, or give it to you. The thing is, if I do give it to you, useless, I’d have to kill you.” 

“Kill us?” Shinsou scoffs. “Please.” 

“Go ahead,” Izuku dares with a lopsided grin. “I’ve been wanting to die since I came he-” 

That. That was the wrong thing to say. Clouds throws a smirk on his face like he just won and surges forward through the air. Shinsou reaches out at the same time that Clouds does, but they’re both reaching for Izuku. Time slows to a pause, or as close as you can get to it, as Izuku reaches out too. 

Shinsou reaches for Izuku, Izuku doesn’t know why. 

Clouds reaches for Izuku, to probably hurt him or something. 

Izuku, though, Izuku reaches for the key.

His hands wrap around it, the same as he did with the first, before the ground disappears from beneath his feet all over again. He’s not sure what’s happening, until all he sees are blue skies and a strip of sidewalk stone. Izuku catches the slightest glimpse of Shinsou’s face, wide with fear for something. Clouds’ face just looks kind of… happy. Proud. 

Or something. 

He realizes that he’s falling, hates himself immediately for it. He can’t see the ground, so maybe he’ll just fall forever and ever. Still, he has the key in his hand. If he doesn’t get back, that’s game over. There’s not much he can do now, though. Maybe this is it. He’ll just have to die with the key in his hand, and ruin everything. 

They’ll find a way out without it, won’t they? 

There’s five keys, his mind reminds him, and five of them. If one person is gone, and one key is gone, they should still be fine. Right? 

Or something

So, Izuku lets himself fall. 

His eyes slip shut.

He’s ready. 

He’s okay with this. 

He doesn’t care

And then he hears Shinsou, screaming out his name. His eyes fly wide, and there Shinsou is. He’s reaching out. (They’re all reaching out for something in the end, aren’t they?) He’s falling after Izuku. (After the key?) Izuku finds himself suddenly caring a hell of a lot more. (It doesn’t matter.) 

Except it does.

Chapter Text

Izuku doesn’t know how, but he wakes up with water lapping up against him. His hands are crossed across his chest like a mummy, and one hand is clenched around something. Something?  

Something turns out to be a key, when Izuku pushes himself into a sitting position. It hurts to move, but Izuku can deal. He’s dripping wet, on top of the pain, and has sand sticking to his body like an outer skin. He runs the key over his fingers. It’s oddly small and cold, colored a rusty goldenrod. Part of his mind knows what it’s for, but he’s not connecting the dots the way he should be. 

Another part of his mind says Shinsou. Shinsou? Shinsou. The kid with purple hair, the kid who’s just like Izuku, the kid who was falling with Izuku for the key

Where the hell is Shinsou? 

Wait- Falling?

Izuku puts his head in his hands and groans. Remember, Izuku, remember. C’mon, what happened? 

Oh. Oh! Oh

Izuku was pushed off that weird sidewalk in  the sky, Izuku fell again into the unknown, Shinsou fell after in hopes of saving the key, and Izuku has the key that they need! Score! Kind of. Where the hell is Shinsou? 

Somehow, somewhere, Izuku finds his voice and the ability to stand. Standing hurts more than sitting up, but he doesn’t really know what he did. He can’t really remember anything after him and Shinsou leaving the base, besides him falling out of the sky because of Clouds. Sucks for him, though, Izuku has the key! He’s got the key, and Clouds has absolutely nothing

Izuku giggles, and that doesn’t sound right to him. “Shinsou?” he calls out. “Hey, Shinsou?” 

He gets no response, which fills him with terror. What if, somehow, Shinsou was in the middle of the ocean, drowned and sinking to the bottom? What if, somehow, Shinsou was still falling, sinking faster than he would in the water? What if, instead, he was with the others, telling them that Izuku was dead and they had no chance of going home?  

What if’s fill Izuku’s mind like a leaky tap. What if Shinsou- What if Izuku- What if- What if--

As if he was trying to run away from the what if’s, Izuku begins trailing along the edge of the water, just to see if Shinsou washed up on shore, like him. Each step reminds him of pain, pain, pain, and he wishes he was just sore . He can deal with being sore, but pain is like a rocket made for space, not a tiny airplane made for the sky. The thing is, Izuku is always sore. His arm and fingers ache beneath the scars and the crushing weight of knowing he can’t break his arm again, or it’s over for him. 

He doesn’t let go of the key, at all. So many things- too many things - could happen if he lets it out of his sight. He could drop it in the sand, he could potentially lose it to the waves, someone could snag it from his pocket because he might not be paying attention. 

If you couldn’t tell, Izuku’s mind is in overdrive. From the key, to Shinsou, and back to Izuku’s might-happen failures, his mind is adamant that it doesn’t give him a moment to breathe. 

His mind even works on a plan B and plan C. If Shinsou doesn’t appear on the beach soon, Izuku will shift to plan B and head back to base. If Shinsou isn’t at the base, Izuku will ditch the key and assume plan C, assume the worst. There’s a plan D, for when he’s done freaking out over plan C, which involves partnering up with Asui or something as a search party and scour high and low for Shinsou. 

Plan C might already be in action though, as Izuku’s mind freaks about the lack of purple hair and deep bags. “Shinsou?” he calls again, only for no answer. That’s not okay, that’s really not okay. “Shinsou?”

Nothing, nada, nope. 

There’s a flash in his memory, of him lying in the dark and calling Shinsou’s name. Yeah, yeah, he fell earlier and Shinsou ditched him or something, right? 

(Or something.)

This time is the same. Izuku fell, and Shinsou must have ditched him. Yeah? Yeah. 

Plan A falls and plan B takes hold, making Izuku turn away from the shore and look to the city behind him. The tallest building, right? It’s gonna be quite the walk, but if it’s a city then Izuku can hail a cab. Should be able to hail a cab. Maybe take the subway? The subway, Izuku knows, is full of people who will steal and rob, or so his mother says. Hailing a cab will be it then. He doesn’t have any money on him though, so he’ll have to skip out on that part. 

So Izuku, with another plan on his mind, goes to hail a cab. 

It doesn’t work. 

Why? Well, Izuku doesn’t really know, but he chalks it up to the fact that people just seem to not see Izuku. They’ll walk around him, although they’re almost always in Izuku’s way. When he’s running after people, trying to get somewhere. 

At one point, he attempts to steal some woman’s taxi. She gets in his way then, purely on accident because she doesn’t notice he’s there. He decides to just leave her alone and see if he can slip into someone else’s ride and get a free one. 

Not very heroic, he tells himself, stealing taxis and free rides.

That thought, and that thought alone, drives Izuku down to the subway. He gets through without paying a fare, and feels fairly bad about it. Along with the guilt of riding for free comes his mother, screaming at him about the dangers of the subway. If he gets kidnapped, he’ll cry and scream even if no one will hear him. He shouldn’t get kidnapped though, because no one can hear him. If someone steals something from him, it’ll be their loss because he doesn’t have anything on him. Except the key, but again, no one seems to see him so there’s no problem. 

He gets on the subway without a problem, gets off it with even less. He’s only about a block away from the base now, which he decides he’ll jog. Why? Oh, because Izuku sucks. Only about a handful of seconds pass before Izuku wants to faceplant and die, because that’ll hurt less than jogging. Yeah, you heard that right. 

He’s still on his bullshit. 

And, honestly, Izuku does half of what he wants. He faceplants right onto the sidewalk, which is accompanied by actual ground and streets, and doesn’t die. Not a win-win, but a win for sure. 

Izuku just kind of lays there and breathes in the icky world above, and hopes that he’ll make it to the base by the time the sun sets. He notes that, one, him and Shinsou were definitely gone for over 6 or so hours. Maybe 12? More? Two, he really doesn’t feel like he’s going to get up, so he might not even make it back by the time sunset comes. 

People step around Izuku, almost placing their feet on his hands and legs and arms and head. They don’t, somehow, so Izuku appreciates it. Really. 

Time passes. Maybe Izuku is dead. He’s not getting up and the world just keeps on going and going and Izuku doesn’t feel anything. 

He wonders, that if he were to just lay in the road like this, if he’d get run over. If he did get run over, would people notice him then? Maybe. Probably? He’d try it, if he didn’t still have the key clenched in his hand. He’s got to make it back to the base with it. 

(He still doesn’t move.) 

Sunset comes all to fast, finally prompting Izuku to get off of the dirty ground and do something. That something involves sitting on the ground rather than laying on it for a good twenty or so minutes, before actually making his way back. He gets there, don’t get him wrong, it just takes… way too long

He almost walks by the base, too, but only enough so anyone standing in the base can’t see him outside. Izuku stops right their and regains his wits, so they don’t think he’s crazy or stupid when he walks in with the key. They’re gonna rip him apart, regardless of what they think, but hey. Can’t have them thinking he’s the absolute worst at everything there ever was. 

In the end, he walks in acting like a cocky asshole. He plasters on the biggest, fakest smile he could’ve ever faked and shouts out with eyes drowning with mirth. “Honey, I’m home!” 

It’s Shinsou that answers, making plan C and plan D vanish into thin air. “Nice to see you, asshole,” he says in a deadpan voice, with a deadpan face. “The hell did you go? I woke up on the beach and you were gone.” 

“Hey!” Izuku cries. “I woke up on the beach and you were gone!” 

“Well, it didn’t take me half the day to get back. I got back only an hour or so after I woke up.”  

“I rode the subway,” Izuku shrugs, “and took a nice sit on the sidewalk.” 

“You sat on the sidewalk.” 

“Laid, actually. Just kinda…” He does a motion with his hands, and Shinsou hikes up a brow. “Where’s everyone else and why aren’t they yelling at me?” 

Shinsou points at the beds. “They’re asleep. Were asleep when I got back. Don’t think they woke up while we were gone.” 

Izuku deflates with a sigh of relief. “Thank god.” 

“Sure. Still have that key or are we in for part… four? Part four of where the hell is the goddamn key?” 

“Five. Technically?” 

“Have it, Izuku?” 

“Yeah.” He holds it up. “Wanna give me a piggyback ride over to the portal thing? I’m about to do another faceplant if I have to stand for any longer.” 

Shinsou, the absolute saint, does as Izuku asks and in no time, Izuku’s wrapped up on Shinsou’s back like a koala bear. “Still hurts?” he asks. “Even after lying on the sidewalk?” 

“Yeah.” 

“Damn.” 

“Please don’t tell the others we left. Or fell from the sky.” 

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Shinsou grins. “As fun as it is to see them yell at you, I like to live.” 

 Izuku grins at that, and sets his head on Shinsou’s shoulder. “I’m glad I found you,” he says, after what seems like an eternity of walking. “I was so worried. Thought I’d never see you again. I had plan A through D, man. Plan A, search the beach. I did that for a good thirty minutes and wanted to die. Plan B, check the base for you. And you were there! At the base! Good job, me.” Shinsou agrees with him, with a stupid, lopsided grin. “Plan C, cry and die a little because you’re not on the beach or at the base. Plan C basically just entails me worrying a whole lot. Plan D was to pull together a search party.” 

“Didn’t realize I meant so much to you, Izuku.” 

“‘Course you mean a whole lot to me,” Izuku mumbles. “You give the best piggyback rides. The only piggy back rides.” 

“Not sure if you're just using me for the piggyback rides, or what, but you should ask Kirishima to give you one. He’s a whole lot more buff.”  

“Nah,” Izuku says, “I like you better.” 

"My legs don't like you better."

Okay. Whatever.

Y'know, Izuku's pretty sure he falls asleep right then and there, perfectly content and happy. 

(Happy.)

Chapter Text

Izuku wakes up to Shinsou lying beside him. Honestly, this whole sleeping arrangement thing has become like bed roulette. He just can’t end up with the same person more than once. It’s day three. Day four? Day something, and they’re on to the next key. That means they’ll have to open up another door, and that they can close the one that leads to the city. 

He bets, just like with the first, if they were to reopen the door, it’d lead to something new. (More supplies, perhaps? They could use them. They’re starting to run low, and Izuku knows he can’t skip meals without someone breathing down his back. He didn’t eat at all yesterday, but he isn’t sure if that helps.) 

For once, it turns out that he wasn’t the first one up. Asui’s sitting on her bed and Bakugou’s on the floor doing push ups. Kirishima’s still snoring away and Shinsou just lays beside Izuku. He looks relaxed. Peaceful. Izuku doesn’t dare wake him up. Shinsou needs the sleep, whereas Kirishima probably doesn’t. So, in hopes of preventing Kirishima’s snores from waking Shinsou up, Izuku softly climbs out of bed and climbs up the ladder to the top bunk. 

He gets an odd look from Asui, and gets ignored by Bakugou when he pokes Kirishima’s cheek. “Dude. Dude, get up,” Izuku hisses, trying to keep his voice soft. 

“Nah, mum,” Kirishima mutters as he rolls over, “five more minutes.” 

“You haven’t lived with your mom since the dorms were built, you idiot! C’mon, wake up!” Izuku gets swatted at, and almost falls. Thanks, Kirishima. Thanks. “Eijirou!” 

“Five more minutes-” 

“Kiri-kun, wake up.” Izuku sets a hand on Kirishima’s shoulder and squeezes. He might not have a quirk anymore, and might legitly suck at running despite his attempts at morning runs, he’s still pretty strong. He cleaned that goddamn beach without a quirk, man. He’s got muscles. 

I’m up,” Kirishima says, way too quickly for someone who was just muttering five more minutes. “Whaddya want.” 

“You to stop snoring,” Izuku answers. “Sit with us and let Shinsou sleep.” 

Asui croaks, down on the floor. She’s off the bed and standing. So is Bakugou. “Come on down, Midoriya. We can talk away from Shinsou or something.” 

Izuku nods and beacons at Kirishima to follow. He notes with a grin that moving hurts less than it did before, as he descales the ladder and hops to the floor without making a sound. He should stretch, when they switch to the next room. He hasn’t been doing that, as of late. Bakugou’s idea of push ups is also a smart move. Maybe, if Izuku exercises during the length of their stay, he’ll be able to deal with whatever bullshit the world throws at them next. 

They move out into the hallway, despite Kirishima’s whine to go out into the city and stretch their legs. “I’m dying for a walk,” he cries, “and the city’s got just what I need!” 

“You can walk up and down the fuckin’ hall,” Bakugou scoffs at him, gesturing to it, while Asui shushes both of them. 

“That’s not good enough! Please, please, please, can we go for a walk in the city?” 

Asui gives them a solid head shake. “Normally, I’d just say that we have to wait for Shinsou to wake up, kero, but with Midoriya running away from us yesterday?” He wants to correct her. It was two days or so ago. “And we still haven’t found that key Midoriya said he saw.” 

“Actually,” Izuku throws in, “we have it.”

How?” Kirishima cries. 

“Don’t ask.” 

Bakugou folds his arms. “Oh, we’re fuckin’ asking, Deku!” 

Rip him and Shinsou, Izuku guesses. Unless he can lie his way through this, which he’ll be damned if he doesn’t try. Thank god it’s not Uraraka here. She’d give him that disappointed look right beside Iida, looking like the pair of parents Izuku never had to deal with growing up. While, sure, he had to deal with his mother, Iida and Uraraka were a different kind of scary. They’d yell at him until he wanted to cry, then hug him until he did cry, and stay with him to watch movies like they were some kind of sitcom. 

“I miss Uraraka too, kero,” Asui says, “but we aren’t letting you off the hook just because we aren’t as scary as her.” 

Izuku goes bright red. Was he mumbling all of that? When did he start mumbling that anyway? Please say he only talked about Uraraka, please say he only talked about Uraraka. 

“You started with the, thank god it’s not round face here, fuckin’ moron.” Thanks Bakugou. “Now fess up, or I’ll beat your sorry ass.” 

Izuku shrugs. “Woke up in the middle of the night ‘cuz I couldn’t sleep and decided I’d do some walking-” 

Please tell me you didn’t walk in the city,” Kirishima interjects. The redhead grabs at Izuku’s arms and immediately starts scanning thoroughly. He seems satisfied when nothing comes up on his arms. “Strip!” 

Izuku turns red. “What?!” 

“I’m looking at your back too, Midoribro! We leave no stone left unturned. Knowing you, you’re hiding something.” 

All Izuku’s hiding is soreness, but it’s normal and an everyday occurrence that he knows he can deal with. He opens and closes his hand, the one lined with fine scars all the way to next Sunday, to try and negate some of the soreness. It doesn’t work. 

“I just walked down the hall,” Izuku mutters. “I’m fine, Kirishima.” 

Bakugou scoffs, letting his eyes burn into Izuku. “Knowing you? Some fuckin’ villain probably popped up during your walk somehow and got the damn drop on you before you could start to cry.” 

“Not true!” 

“Strip, Midoribro! Lose the shirt!” Kirishima cheers, a bit to enthusiastic. 

“I’m not a stripper-”

Asui lets out something that might be either a croak or a laugh. Maybe both. Izuku shoots her a glare and slaps Kirishima’s hands away from his shirt. 

“You heard the man,” someone else says, “lose the shirt.” 

Shinsou. 

That asshole. 

“I already said I’m not a stripper, leave me alone!” 

“STRIP! STRIP! STRIP!” 

“KIRISHIMA, SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE!” 

“STRIP!” 

Fine!” 

With one swift movement, Izuku rips his shirt up and over his head. He gets it stuck on his head for a moment, trying to get his arms out. After a moment of flailing around, and probably dancing around too, he’s met with four gasps and a free head. He looks around, looking everyone in the eye only to get no one to look back. 

“Happy?” he snarks. 

“Deku, what the fuck happened while you were in the hall?” 

“What?” Izuku asks, panicked. He twists, trying to glance at his back. “What?” His hands fly down to tap at it. Is there something on his back? Did he do something to it? His fingers press down and he winces. “What?” he asks again, a third time.

“What the hell did you do, Deku?” 

Shinsou looks like he’s regretting everything when he walks up and grabs Izuku’s wrists. “Why didn’t you tell me it was that bad? Why do you always have to lie to me?” 

“I said it was an eight or nine?” 

“You told me before that, that it was a four.” 

“I didn’t want you to worry and look like you look right now!” 

“Of course I’m gonna worry! Didn’t I say this? I’m in your corner, Izuku! I care about you and so does everyone else and it really pisses me off that you can’t get that through your thick skull already! There’s absolutely no way I can’t worry about you when your back looks like some kid’s art project where they only could use black charcoal and purple paint!” 

Oh. He’s all bruised up. It makes sense. He landed on his back, what, twice? 

Izuku lets his eyes slip shut, and deflates. “Sorry, Shinsou.” 

“Hitoshi.” 

“Hitoshi,” Izuku agrees. “Sorry, Hitoshi. I really did try.” 

“You’re too much of a goddamn hero to not,” Shinsou shrugs. “Don’t get me wrong, Izuku, I’m proud of you. We’re all proud of you. You’re just going to give me gray hairs fifty years early!” 

“What the fuck was that,” Bakugou states. “What the fuck just happened.” 

“We’re gay, and have decided to run away together to Hawaii and have twenty-three kids.” 

“Shin- Hitoshi, how dare you give them the wrong idea! I’m straight!” 

“As a rainbow,” Bakugou coughs into his fist.

"Debunked," Izuku says. I'm half straight, so I'm right."

Anyway, assholes, you better tell us what the fuck happened.” 

Shinsou and Izuku share a look, decided that they shouldn’t lie. They both know that they’re going to be skewed after this, but yolo or whatever, right? 

Shinsou starts off, because believe it or not, it’s also his fault. “I woke up, and Izuku was up too, so I asked him if he wanted to go for a walk in the city, y’know? Made him promise that he wouldn’t fuck up. ‘Course, it’s Izuku, so that didn’t happen.” 

Anyway,” Izuku throws out, “I ended up getting shoulder checked by that cloud dude I was chasing the other day. I’m gonna call him Clouds, so keep up, he’s important.” 

“Izuku starts to chase after him, and I end up following because I can’t leave Izuku to die, y’know? Not possible. Not allowed, man.” 

“We run, not for too long, I don’t think. After a bit, Clouds turns into an alley and kind of disappeared. I found an open door-”

“-after a freak out-” 

“-which we don’t talk about, Hitoshi. So, I found an open door and we went inside. Not our smartest idea, but, y’know. I’ve never been known for being smart. I had a bad feeling the second we were climbing up the stairs, and then the stairs just kinda. Collapsed.” 

“And we fell,” Shinsou continues. “Bad. Hard. For some reason, it hurt Izuku more than it hurt me.” 

“I couldn’t move.”

Asui and Kirishima pale dead at that. Bakugou retreats into himself. Is it really that big of a deal? Sure, he didn’t have a really good time laying there, but. Beggars can’t be choosers or something?

Or something.

“I guess he freaked out again when I left to scout out a hallway-” 

“-you didn’t tell me you were gonna leave-” 

“-and I had to carry him out. We walked down the hall and came to a sidewalk in the sky, so we walked down that.” 

“And then Clouds came by!” Izuku throws a grin on his face, fighting back the feeling of fear. “And he pushed me off the sidewalk!” 

Again, everyone pales. 

“He pushed you off,” Bakugou drawls. “He pushed you off the goddamn sidewalk in the fuckin’ sky.” His hand goes up and grabs at his head, carding through his hair. “WHAT THE FUCK.” 

“What the fuck is right,” Kirishima wails. “What the fuck, man.” 

“And then,” Izuku interjects, “this idiot jumped down after the key!” 

“Let me guess,” Asui says, “you had the key, kero.” 

“Yup!” 

Shinsou puts his hands up, and shoots Izuku another look. “You think that I jumped for the key?” 

“Assuming?” 

“I jumped after you, you absolute idiot.” 

“You’re the idiot!” 

“BET!” 

Asui throws herself back into the conversation. “Continue talking, you’re both idiots.” 

Shinsou starts, again. “I woke up on the beach, and Izuku was nowhere to be found, so I headed back to the base. You guys were still asleep. All day. Slept, straight through.” 

“I woke up on the beach, too. Hitoshi wasn’t there either, so I looked along the beach for him. When he wasn’t there, I took the subway as close as I could, and came back a whole lot later than Sh-Hitoshi did.” 

“Wild,” Kirishima says. “That’s flat out wild.” He scratches at his arm, almost in thought. Izuku nudges his side, prompting him to speak up. “When did you guys start calling each other on a first name basis? Like, not shitting on you guys or anything, but it’s just new.” 

“I guess it’s because a lot of shit happened,” Izuku says bluntly. 

Izuku and Shinsou meet eyes, and the taller gives them a shrug, and then a nod. “A lot of shit happened.” 

“Why?” Izuku asks, turning to Kirishima.

“It’s just new,” Kirishima sighs. 

There’s something else up, Izuku knows it. He lets it drop for the sake of not not annoying Kirishima to death. He’ll go back and hunt him down later, of course. Izuku’s not one to let important things go. He’s proven it with Todoroki, after all. Speaking of Todoroki, Izuku actually really misses him too. While he kind of has the same attitude as Shinsou, Todoroki knows Izuku on a different level. 

It’s safe to say, Izuku sighs at himself, that he misses everyone

He misses All Might and his mom most of all though. Oh no. Mom. He can’t imagine what his mom must be going through. It was hard enough when Izuku just got hurt, but now he’s gone. There’s no way that any search party can find them, what if everyone thinks they’re dead and their spots in the hero course get filled by new kids and they get back and can’t be in the hero course anymore? What if his mother doesn’t believe that it’s really Izuku when he comes home and he has to live on the streets or what if she’s so disappointed in him for worrying her half to death she never lets him come home because she’s better off without him? Don’t even get him started on All Might! They’ve got to be worried sick about him. Possibly dead and gone-

“Deku, shut up.” 

“Sorry, Kacchan.” 

“I don’t think they’ll mark us dead yet, kero,” Asui hums, finger to her chin. “It’s only been a few days since we left. Don’t we have to be missing for longer than that?” 

“I think so,” Kirishima shrugs. “Plus, we’ve all met Mrs. Midoriya, man, and she’s the sweetest woman alive. She’s not gonna make you live on the streets. Or be disappointed in you. At least I think she won’t.” 

“You’re worrying for nothing,” Bakugou spits, “stupid Deku.” 

“Thank you, again. I’m just… I don’t know. All of this stuff is just screwing with me.” 

“We know, Izuku,” Shinsou sighs. “It’s just you. Always you.” 

Izuku nods. It really does seem to just affect him. None of the others seem to be getting thrown around like a rag doll, and they certainly don’t act like they’re on depression pills. It’s like this place is hellbent on destroying only Izuku, from both the inside and outside. Even with everyone beside him, Izuku’s not sure how much more he can take. Everything is either sore or in pain, and his head won’t shut up most of the time. If right now, he only bares thoughts of suicide, what comes later? The situations he’s being throw into- although some are caused by himself, he’ll admit- are getting worse. (Falling could’ve damaged his spine, resulting in him not being able to do anything.) Does that mean his depression is going to get worse? Is he going to drag everyone down along with him one of these days? 

Right now, he might be thinking that he can’t die until they get out, but what is he going to think later down the road? He’s clearly not in charge of his mind and where it goes.

And that? 

That scares him. 

He’s mumbling again, he realizes when he looks up to horrified faces. Shinsou looks sad, as if he already figured it out. Bakugou looks worried about something, and both Kirishima and Asui just look flat out upset at Izuku’s mumbled words. 

Before he knows it, Kirishima’s surging forward and wrapping his arms around Izuku’s waist. “I don’t want you to go, Midoribro,” he wails. This time, Izuku’s pretty sure his whines are actually accompanied by tears. “We love you too much to let you-you-” 

“It’s fine, Kirishima,” Izuku says. He doesn’t really feel like his words are for Kirishima. “It’s fine. If were past this, we should work on opening the next door, and maybe close the one to the city. If you remember, when we opened the first one again, we got more supplies from it. We might get the same thing from the city door.” 

“Good idea, kero,” Asui nods. She sounds slightly more quiet now. “Do you think you can lift the door?” 

Izuku bobs his head. He’ll sure as hell try to. 

They close the door easily enough, and opening it proves to be an easier feat than it was the first time. Bakugou manages to do it all by himself, only grunting slightly as he does. Door two reveals clothing store racks, filled to the brim with clothes. Clothes, that Izuku notes, are just like the ones that they’d all actually wear in day to day activities. Casual wear. There’s another few boxes stacked in the corner, showing more MRI’s and a slightly bigger first aid kit. 

“What the fuck,” Bakugou remarks as he sifts though the clothes. “It’s like they went to our houses and stole our shit.” 

“I’m changing,” Izuku says immediately. “I’m getting out of this stupid suit.” 

Everyone nods, and they all follow Bakugou’s lead, placing themselves in front of their section of clothes and pulling out something comfortable. The boys leave Asui to change in the clothing room, as Izuku decides to dub it, and change in the room with the beds. 

Bakugou goes with a black, baggy tank top and sweats that cut off in the middle of his lower leg, a little ways below the knee. Kirishima goes with an atrocity; a red tank top that has YEAH on it in thick letters, black shorts and red crocs. Shinsou just has on a random, dark tee-shirt and black jeans. 

Izuku’s got on one of his favorite shirts, the one that says hero costume in english letters. Over it, he has a grey sweatshirt and a navy blue, puffy vest. It’s kind of the same outfit that he wore forever ago, to meet All Might at the beach. He knows Bakugou doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t like any of Izuku’s outfits, so he doesn’t get a say. 

Asui comes out in a pastel striped shirt, light colored overalls and her hair in a bun. 

Simple, cozy, and all very much them

“I’m kind of glad that our clothes somehow showed up?” Izuku says as he goes to grip at the bottom of door number three. Bakugou and Kirishima wrap their hands around the bottom too. “On the count of three.” 

“Three,” Kirishima says. “Two.” 

One!” 

All of them dig their feet into the ground as they pull at the door. 

“C’mon, fuckin’ weighs a billion pounds- go, go, go,” Bakugou shouts. 

Izuku appreciates the enthusiasm, as he crouches low to throw his shoulder under the door again. “Do what I’m doing,” Izuku tells them, “and we’ll shove it up on the count of three.” 

“Count of three, again? Why can’t it be count of two, or something,” Shinsou remarks. 

“Shut up you fuckin’ extra. Y’ain’t doin’ shit so you don’t get a say in nothin’!” 

“One,” Izuku throws out. “Two.” 

Three!” 

They shove the door up, and it lets out a loud bang as it locks into place. 

“Why’d we count backwards once, and forwards the other time?” Kirishima asks, as the sound of rain assaults Izuku’s ears. 

Izuku gives Kirishima a shrug as he takes in the new setting. They’re looking straight up an incline that leads to what looks like a cross between a mansion and a castle, with terraces of greenery. The colors are muted by the night sky and rainy weather, as the clouds weep down onto the world, pooling by the gates that lie just before their door. Izuku can smell salt, hear waves. The mansion presumedly lies on top of a cliff.

Izuku can already imagine the cliff’s drop off, leading down into sharp rocks and cold waters. 

“You think the key is up there?” Kirishima asks, deflating. 

“Probably,” Shinsou sighs. “That means we’re going to dinner, most likely. We’re going to have to change into something nice.” 

“Aw, c’mon, man! I just changed!” 

“That outfit should be burned.” 

“Opinions, Shin. Opinions.” 

Asui croaks. “I really liked this outfit.” 

“You can throw it back on when we get back, I guess,” Izuku assures. “For now, I guess we’re dressing up.” 

Bakugou scoffs. “What a load of shit.” 

As everyone else vanishes into the clothes room, Izuku gives Bakugou a nod. “Yeah,” he says, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Chapter Text

They all dress up in their finest clothes, with nice suits and black ties. Asui’s got on a pantsuit, dark colored and formal. Izuku’s never looked good it suits, especially right now. He would’ve worn his reddish one, but Bakugou had offered up one of his actual black ones, with the snarky remark of ‘Your fashion sense sucks, Deku’.  

So yes, now he was drowning in one of Bakugou’s jackets. The pants kind of fit, and at least Izuku got to wear his own white button-up shirt to wear under it. Sucks to be short, sometimes. If he was taller, he could wear Bakugou’s suit, or even Kirishima’s, without a problem.

He wasn’t going to say Shinsou, because Shinsou was ridiculously tall. Stupidly tall. Okay, okay, so maybe Izuku is over exaggerating. Shinsou was only about a head or so taller than Izuku and that was nothing compared to the mere inches and centimeters proclaiming Bakugou and Kirishima taller than him. At least Asui was his height. 

Bakugou had even tied up Izuku’s tie, with a few grunts on how terribly Izuku did it before.

Once they were all wrapped up with raincoats to protect their clothes, they were off, pushing open the gates and on their way up the long drive. 

Halfway through, Shinsou offers another piggy back ride to Izuku. Bakugou, not one to be shown up, ‘offered’ one to Asui. “It’s rude to make a fuckin’ girl in a nice outfit walk a whole fuckin’ lot,” he says once Asui wraps her arms around his neck.

“Sure it is,” Izuku says. 

Kirishima wails from behind them. “What about me? I’m wearing a nice outfit!” 

“There aren’t enough backs,” Shinsou remarks, half-mournfully. “Sorry, Kirishima.” 

“Why does Midoribro get one and I don’t? Bakubro!” 

Shinsou shakes his head. “It’s because he’s got problems, and if I let him walk, he’ll end up breaking his arms or something.” 

That shuts Kirishima up, and it gets Izuku to be quiet on top of that. He really doesn’t have a good feeling about this whole thing. Sure, he doubts they’ll be turned away the second that they turn up at the door, what with the rain and all. Still. 

Still

He’s got a bad feeling in his stomach, and he’s not sure he wants to know why. Izuku doesn’t voice it, though. They need to find and grab the next key, and they don’t need Izuku dragging them down again. He’s gonna be really good today, he’ll be on his best behavior. He won’t go anywhere without someone by his side, and he’ll use his words when something happens, and-

“It’s going to be fine, Izuku,” Shinsou says.

Izuku groans. “I hate mumbling.” 

“I hate your fuckin’ mumbling too, Deku,” Bakugou sneers. “Maybe if I hit you hard enough, you’ll forget how to do it.” 

Harsh, Kacchan. Harsh.” 

Kirishima pipes up from behind them, picking up the pace to keep up. “What is with all of the long walks and stuff? Hallways and drives and everything is super long here!” 

“Just like this di-” 

KACCHAN.” 

Bakugou scoffs, before coming to a stop and letting Asui down from his back. Shinsou doesn’t let Izuku down quite yet, especially not when Izuku tightens his fist, pulling at Shinsou’s shirt. 

“I don’t want you getting hurt because of me,” Izuku mumbles low. 

“If you’d prefer,” Shinsou offers, “I can go back to calling you Midoriya.” 

“Just for dinner.” 

“Only for dinner.” 

And then Izuku’s on the ground, and Kirishima’s reaching for the door knocker. He wraps his hand around it and knocks, the mere sound sending shivers down Izuku’s spine. By his side, to drive out his anxiety, he clenches and unclenches his fist as he waits. 

It feels as if he’s waiting for his execution. 

It’s almost the second before the door opens, that Asui grabs his hand and squeezes. When the door flies open, she doesn’t let go. Izuku squeezes back. 

It’s a woman that greets them, with a tight red dress and short, curled hair. Her eyes are sharp and dark and Izuku doesn’t like it. He can’t tell you what color her eyes are, because they swirl and swirl as if they just can’t decide. They also widen upon landing on him, in something like recognition. 

“Midoriya Izuku?” she asks, and Izuku freezes. “Is that really you? I wasn’t expecting- Oh, I didn’t know I was going to have company over, let alone you, Izuku!” 

“Midoriya,” Shinsou says. “He prefers to go by Midoriya.” 

She glares, maybe, at Shinsou. “My apologies. You are?” 

“Shinsou Hitoshi, ma’am. One of Midoriya’s friends.” He sticks out a hand for her to shake, which she does. It’s a tense thing, like they’re fighting for dominance. 

“I’m Kirishima Eijioru!” Kirishima chirps. “This angry lookin’ dude is Bakugou Katsuki! We’re friends of Midoriya too!” 

“Nice to meet you, Kirishima, Bakugou.” Finally, her eyes land on Asui. Well, really, they land on Asui and Izuku’s hands, intertwined together. Izuku doesn’t make an effort to pull away, because he feels like he’s panicking. “And who are you? Midoriya’s girlfriend?” she asks. 

Izuku swears that at least half of them have a disgusted reaction to that outwardly. The rest have it internally, like normal people would. Izuku’s not sure if his is internal or not, but he has it. “No offense, but ew,” Izuku says. “Sorry.”  

“None taken. I’m Asui Tsuyu, and I’m more like his sister, ma’am. Who are you?” 

“Andromeda Leos.” Just like that, her attention is back on Izuku, and only Izuku.  “Please, do come inside, Midoriya. Everyone,” she adds. “You can call me Andi, if you’d like. I’ll ask the chef to prepare something for you to eat!” 

“Thank you,” Izuku says. 

I want to go back, he mouths to Asui. 

Asui gives him a shrug, and leads him inside. 

The inside isn’t as dreary as the outside of her house. It’s covered in red carpets and burning lights, bustling with staff that just don’t seem to care that Andromeda has company over. Or seem to notice that they’re even there. Maybe they’re just so consumed with their work. Maybe they really don’t notice, just like the people in the city. Maybe-

Asui nudges him. “You shouldn’t mumble all that much, kero . I don’t think it’s polite,” she says. Izuku knows she means to say 'you shouldn’t mumble, she’s sketchy and we don’t want her knowing more than she should'

“Sorry.” 

She shrugs again. Izuku doesn’t feel like picking the conversation back up. 

Eventually, they’re brought to a large study, a game of chess set up on one table. Surrounding it are six chairs. Andromeda beckons at them to take a seat around it. “Once dinner is set,” Andromeda says, “I’ll bring you out to where we’ll eat. For now, have a seat.” 

“Thank you,” Asui croaks. She finally lets go of Izuku’s hand to take a seat beside Kirishima, who plopped down the second Andromeda gave the okay. Bakugou sits beside Kirishima, and Izuku sits squished between Shinsou and Bakugou. 

“I know you’re looking for keys, Midoriya. You’re in luck.” No, no he’s not. This is a bad idea.  A bad, bad idea. Izuku wants to go back. He doesn’t like the little gleam in her eyes when she brings a glass of champagne to her lips- where did the champagne even come from- and he doesn’t like how her red stained lips quirk up as she stares at him. “I happen to have one.”  

“Can we have it?” Kirishima asks. 

“For a price,” she grins, leaving red marks on the rim of her glass. “Would you like to spend the night, Izuku?” 

Shinsou reaches over Izuku, as if trying to keep Izuku back- or Andromeda away. “Midoriya,” Shinsou hisses out, “couldn’t possibly spend the night, ma’am.” 

Out of the corner of his eye, Izuku catches Asui’s hands curl into fists and Kirishima shoot Shinsou a confused look. 

“Midoriya can use his own words, can’t he?” Andromeda asks. “He hasn’t really said a word to me since he got here.” 

Izuku clears his throat. “I couldn’t possibly,” he echoes. “I’m sorry.” 

She looks like she’s about to interject, but someone peaks their head through the door, adorned in a white apron and thick skirts. “Andi? Could you come here a moment- Oh, I wasn’t aware your father allowed you company... Sorry- Could you come out a moment?” Andromeda gets up without a word and disappears as the door shuts behind her. Izuku deflates. 

“The hell was that, mind fuck?” Bakugou laughs, with a lopsided smile. “You looked like you were about to beat her ass if she so much as looked at you wrong.” 

“And you don’t do that, Bakubro?” Kirishima grins. He loses his smile almost immediately. “Still. What was that?” 

Shinsou coughs. “Didn’t you guys hear what she was implying?" 

“Spend the night can mean a whole lot more than spend the night, kero,” Asui adds. 

“Like… sleep over. Sleep with me. You get it?” Shinsou finishes. 

Izuku turns absolutely pink. Maybe red. A little green. “Oh,” is all he can say. “She wants to. Sleep. With me?” 

“Ew,” Bakugou says. “That’s fuckin’ nasty.” 

“Yeah,” Shinsou agrees. “You’re not allowed to be alone with her, got that?” 

Izuku nods. “I get it. I don’t think I want to be alone with her.” 

She’s back a second after, grabbing at Izuku’s arm before any of them notice that she’s even there. “Come with me, Midoriya! Everyone! I’ll bring you to the dining room, so we can eat.” Izuku reaches out for something as he’s forced to stand, managing to grip Bakugou’s hand. “Izuku?” she asks. “Come on.” 

“Please call me Midoriya,” he says. “I don’t really like it when people touch me out of nowhere, sorry. You surprised me.” 

Sticking with her nice and kind act, she lets go and apologies. Izuku doesn’t let of Bakugou’s hand, and Bakugou doesn’t look like he’s going to either. “I’ll try not to do it again,” she says, eyes on Bakugou. His palms are warm. “Come with me, please.” 

Everyone stands, everyone follows, Izuku stews in silence and tries to keep his mouth shut. He doesn’t let his mind wander, and hardly lets his eyes search around the halls, either. For once, the walk is kept short. The dining room is only a few steps away, and in no time, they’re all seated around the table. Shinsou’s to his right again, Andromeda’s to his left. Across the table from him is Bakugou, Asui and Kirishima sitting on either side of him. 

The dinner is simple, Izuku doesn’t mind it. It goes by fast, and soon, Izuku pushes back his chair, stomach twisting in knots. “Would you mind if I used the restroom?” he asks. “It’ll only be a moment.” 

“Of course,” Andromeda says. “Just out that way, third door to the left.” 

“Thank you,” he says. 

Shinsou looks up, watching Izuku with eagle eyes. “Do you need help getting there?” he asks, something of a playful smirk on his lips. 

“I think I’ll be fine walking to the restroom, Shinsou,” Izuku smiles back. “Try not to eat everything while I’m gone.” 

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” 

Izuku exits the dining room, and for the first time since he awoke, he’s on his own. None of the staff pays him any mind, which he likes more than he’s willing to admit. It gives him time to breathe. Time to think without worry. Think Izuku does. It’s all he can do, as he counts the doors on the wall. The third one comes sooner than he’d like, and he slips inside after checking to see if it’s actually a bathroom. 

He doesn’t need to actually use it, so he only splashes some water on his face and lets words spill from his mouth like the faucet. How the hell does everyone seem to just know Izuku? It doesn’t seem like they know anyone other than him. The place they’re in certainly knows there’s more people than just Izuku, since all of their clothes showed up for them. Speaking of clothes, Izuku can’t wait to throw on some comfier clothes and sleep. He won’t be able too, if they don’t get to the bottom of this thing. Why does Andromeda even like him best anyway? She’s kind of creepy, and Izuku’s really not into that. She reminds him slightly of Toga, only… less blood obsessed. Everyone he’s seen seems to have a quirk... What’s hers? Again, why does she like him best? Izuku’s been told he looks plainer than plain more times than he can count. He’s got nothing special going on, and he’s even quirkless again. That means she’s not after him for his quirk. What does Izuku have though? 

Izuku hears someone knock on the door, drawing him away from the sink. He wipes his face with a spare towel, calling out, “One second!” He gets to the door a lot of seconds later, to see Bakugou, arms folded and face looking peeved.

“We’re leaving, Midoriya. That girl’s getting on Shinsou’s last nerve and Asui thought it would be best to scram.” 

You know. There’s so much wrong with that sentence that Izuku doesn’t even know where to start. What’s even more wrong is that Bakugou reaches for Izuku’s hand by himself, no one prompting or forcing him to do it, and his hand is cold. Cold, cold, cold. That’s not okay. Izuku has to bite down on his lip to keep from talking. Whoever this is, it isn’t Bakugou. 

“Okay, Bakugou,” Izuku says and hearing Bakugou’s name roll of his tongue is so wrong compared to Kacchan, but Izuku knows Bakugou doesn’t like it when Izuku calls him Bakugou. Bakugou doesn’t even grunt at it, though. 

This, whoever this is, is one hundred percent not Bakugou. 

Toga, his mind prompts. It can’t be. There’s no way. It has to be someone with a quirk like Toga’s. 

It’s only when ‘Bakugou’ tenses, a tell-tale sign that they’re about to do something to Izuku, that Izuku decides that he needs to do something. He makes to shove ‘Bakugou’ off of him, but ‘Bakugou’s’ hand buries itself in Izuku’s curls and yanks. Izuku lets out a yelp as his feet leave the ground, attempting to swat at ‘Bakugou’ with his feet. 

“Let go of me-” Izuku wails. “Fuck-” 

‘Bakugou’ slams Izuku’s head into the wall, making a painting that looks more expensive than Izuku could ever afford fall to the ground. The fake-blond above him grits his teeth at the painting, and Izuku takes it as a chance to slam his foot into ‘Bakugou’s’ stomach. ‘Bakugou’ drops him to the ground. 

When Izuku tries to scramble away, getting to his feet, ‘Bakugou’s’ hand wraps around Izuku’s ankle, sending him back to the ground. “You look so pretty, Izuku,” ‘Bakugou’ says, but it isn’t Bakugou and all Izuku can think of is Toga. The name Izuku sounds so wrong falling from ‘Bakugou’s’ lips, just like Bakugou does on Izuku’s. “If you’d just stop trying to run away from me, and be a good boy-” 

Izuku raises his feet and slams them back into ‘Bakugou’s’ stomach, grabbing the other’s arm and throwing him to the ground. Free from ‘Bakugou’s’ hands, Izuku runs. “Kacchan?” he calls, once there’s enough distance between him and not-Bakugou. “Guys?” Izuku throws open the dining room door to see no one, making his heart pick up speed.  

The next thought in his head is, Izuku needs to get out. He needs to find the exit, and maybe find his friends, and maybe find the key. Top priority, for the first time ever is to save himself. The others are most likely together, because they’re smarter than he is and better than he is. 

He calls out again, and his call is met with Shinsou’s deadpan voice, calling out Midoriya. Izuku sees Shinsou and puts space between them. Trust no one, his mind says. No one. 

“Hitoshi calls me Izuku when we’re alone,” he ventures. Shinsou- if it’s really him- will give him a laugh and hit him with a bad flirt or something. If it isn’t Shinsou, they should give themselves away-

Like this, “Oh, does he now? Just like fucking Bakugou doesn’t call you Midoriya either, huh? Does everyone call you Izuku?” 

Yeah. That’s not Shinsou. 

Izuku doesn’t say sure or anything. He just takes off, running again. Not-Shinsou might have long legs, but Izuku’s got speed, so he’s out and away in seconds. He’s got to find the exit. The exit, the exit, where the hell did they enter from? He wasn’t even paying attention to it. He’s going to get lost and die or something

And then someone- Kirishima, red, is it really him, it can’t be, run, run, run- shoves him against the wall. “Midoribro!” Kirishima chirps. Is it him, though? Is it really Kirishima or is it Andromeda, Izuku doesn't know anymore- 

“Get off me,” Izuku says, “get off me.” 

“Oh, for the love of god. What does he call you then, huh?” 

Izuku thinks he starts to cry at this point. “Get off me, get off-” 

So, here’s the thing, Izuku’s kissed people before. He’s kissed his mother on the cheek before he leaves for school, he’s kissed Bakugou on one stupid occasion, he’s kissed Uraraka- well, she kissed him, it was a dare. He’s kissed Iida and Todoroki on the cheek before too, and one of his middle school classmates on the lips because they pretended to like him. He’s not really a stranger to being kissed. He’s not, honest. He’s never really had a real kiss, though. Not one that makes sparks fly and his eyes widen and fill with stars. 

Why is he bringing this up? 

Because, not-Kirishima plants his lips right on Izuku’s, and all Izuku wants to do is shrivel up and die. All he sees is Kirishima- and it’s not even him- up until Kirishima fades away into Andromeda and Izuku wants to scream. In a flash of panic, Izuku shoves Andromeda’s lips off of him and screams as loud as he possibly can. 

And then she’s back on him, hands clamped down on his shoulders and eyes alight with predatory passion

“Get off me-” he tries to spit out, but it sounds more like gehroffmo so she doesn’t get it and even if she did she probably wouldn’t get off and he doesn’t know where anyone is and he’s alone and he can’t breathe and all there is is panic and anxiety and he just wants her off. Somehow, he manages to inch his hand up to slap it over her mouth and push her away. She morphs back into Kirishima- she’s just like Toga, this isn’t okay, Izuku wants to go home, his eyes are blurring up with tears- and she uses Kirishima’s sharp teeth to sink them into Izuku’s hand. 

The scream he lets out this time is filled with pain, and causes his leg to fly up and kick not-Kirishima where the sun doesn’t shine. Not-Kirishima melts back into Andromeda, and she lets out the most animalistic growl Izuku thinks he’s ever heard. He falls onto his ass when he tries to scramble away, only managing to slam his jaw shut with an audible click

He throws his hands up and over his head with a sob. “Leave me alone, leave me alone, please-”  

Something clinks to the ground as Andromeda fades into someone else again. It’s Asui, this time. Why would she bother to-

“Deku?” Bakugou’s eyes are wide when Izuku looks up. That’s the real Bakugou. The real, honest to god, Bakugou. “Frog-face?” 

Izuku sobs louder. “That isn’t Asui- That’s not her, Kacchan, it’s not-” 

And then she morphs into a weepy, teary faced Midoriya and tackles Izuku. They roll around, trading punches and kicks as Izuku cries out for an escape. This time, Andromeda knows what to call Bakugou, so while wearing Izuku’s face, she yells, “Kacchan, help-” 

Once Andromeda fakes shoving Izuku off, it’s up to Bakugou to figure out which one of them is the real Midoriya. Izuku racks his brain to figure out what he can say to prove to Bakugou that he’s the real one. 

It seems like Andromeda can only look like anyone she wants. She doesn’t know anything about them, which makes her quirk a little sad. That means, Izuku can say anything about their past and Bakugou might just know what he’s talking about. 

“Ask us a question,” Izuku blurts. 

Andromeda looks at Izuku with his eyes. “Go ahead,” Andromeda says. 

Bakugou looks at both of them, holding his breath. “When did I tell you to kill yourself, Deku,” he says, because no, Bakugou doesn’t ask. Bakugou says it. It’s such an easy memory, but at the same time, it’s not one that Izuku wants to ever remember. What if he decided to take a swan dive off the roof? What if he decides- as in now- to take a swan dive off the roof? 

“You never would tell me to do that, Kacchan-” Andromeda spits, blinking back fake tears. “Why would you even ask something like that?”  

That’s it. That’s the end of her. Bakugou surges forward and grabs Andromeda by her fake, green curls and Izuku winces at the expression that crosses over her- his own- face. “Kaccha- Kacchan?! Let go of me!” she cries, but Bakugou isn’t buying it anymore.

She might know Izuku’s name, but she doesn’t know shit

“Shut up,” Bakugou tells her, “don’t steal Deku’s face.” He glances over at Izuku, looking him over. Izuku pulls in his hand, the one soaked with blood, and draws it to his chest. The pain is more of a faint throb, a little sting, right now. “What’d she do to you?” 

Izuku can’t find any words to say. To explain. The only thing he can do is cry. The loud and ugly kind of cry. He wails and sobs and lets it all out, right then and there without anyone in the world to mock him. Bakugou leans down to grab something, before dragging Andromeda away. When he comes back, Izuku doesn’t think he’ll ever cry again. He can’t explain the feeling in his chest. He can’t explain what his mind is screaming, as he decides to focus on breathing in and breathing out.

Bakugou crouches down in front of him when he gets back, looking at him with soft eyes and Izuku almost screams. “Get away-” Izuku starts, before Bakugou sets his hands on Izuku’s. His hands are warm, so Izuku lets Bakugou help him up, and onto the other’s back. “I’m sorry,” Izuku says. “I’m sorry.” 

Bakugou ignores it, keeping a firm hold on Izuku’s legs. “They’re waiting right out of the door for us,” he says. “We found the stupid key up in Red’s room. She didn’t hide it all that well, which makes sense because she’s a fuckin’ asshole.” 

Izuku hums. He guesses they’re pretending that Izuku isn’t a wreck then? It’s hard to do. Izuku’s pretty sure his eyes are red. Still, this is the least hurt he’s been this whole time

“It feels to easy,” Izuku mumbles. “It’s not hard enough.” Izuku still has a bad feeling in his gut. 

Something’s wrong, and Izuku doesn’t know what.

Chapter Text

When they get back, Izuku makes them close the door before they put the key into the portal. He doesn’t say why, he doesn’t dare tell them about what happened when he was alone. All he tells them is that he figured out that Andromeda could shapeshift into other people because she didn’t call him by the right name. 

“She called me Midoriya when she was pretending to be Kacchan,” Izuku tells them, when the door’s shut. 

Izuku still doesn’t feel quite safe, so he decides to go put the key in the portal instead of sticking around. He sheds the jacket and tie the second he can, throwing it to the ground without saying sorry. The shoes go too. Everyone’s stripping down to something. Kirishima just bypasses his shirt as a whole, Bakugou does what Izuku did and Shinsou- for some reason- stays in his outfit as a whole. 

Asui’s the only one who changes into a different outfit. Izuku doesn’t really blame her, but he wants to be done with key number 3.  

Someone- or everyone- must see there’s something more going on because they all feel the need to follow him down to the portal. Bakugou holds the key, and won’t let Izuku take it. What a bully. 

“You’d think people with shapeshifting powers would be… y’know. Smarter,” Kirishima says, offhanded. “There’s a million different little things about people that could set off a red flag that they’ll probably never know.” 

Izuku thinks about Andromeda, looking exactly like Kirishima. How when Izuku touched her- his?- skin, it wasn’t rough like Kirishima’s was. It was smooth. 

He puts another inch of space between him and Kirishima.  

“Like how people react to some shit?” Bakugou asks. 

Kirishima gives him a nod. “Exactly.”  

Izuku thinks about how Andromeda, looking like Bakugou, didn’t react to Izuku calling her Bakugou instead of Kacchan. He cards a hand through his hair to make sure that Bakugou’s isn’t there. 

He picks up the pace, hoping to leave Bakugou behind.

There’s not enough space between them, or so it seems, because he can hear Asui when she leans over to whisper something to Shinsou. “Something happened,” she says, “and it’s a whole lot worse than a fist fight, kero.” 

“If he was alone with Andromeda… Even on accident… You think that… she did something?” Kirishima fights to get out. 

Izuku hears Bakugou snarl. “There’s no fuckin’ way.” he shouts. Izuku turns around, startled. 

“Kacchan-?” 

He doesn’t get a reply. Bakugou only storms forward, intent on getting to the portal first or something. For some reason, that’s more unsettling than it would be if Bakugou actually voiced his feelings. 

Izuku stops walking. Shinsou places a hand on his shoulder, and it takes literal strength for Izuku not to jolt. “You need to come clean,” Shinsou says. “For us. Please.” 

“Nothing happened,” Izuku says. 

“Izuku-” 

Nothing happened.” 

And then he keeps walking, because no one confronts their feelings now-a-days. Izuku looks down at his scarred hand, pretty sure that he’s crying again. Why does he always have to cry? He liked it better when he was in the city with Shinsou. Feeling empty, up until everything bubbled up to high. 

He’d rather feel empty, right now, instead of just being a stupid crybaby-  

“What the fuck?!” 

Izuku nearly rams into Bakugou as his head snaps up, “Kacchan? Is everything okay?” 

“The goddamn key doesn’t fit in the fucking thing! It doesn't fit in any of the keyholes!” Bakugou roars. Izuku pales. That means that- “This key is fucking fake!” Bakugou chucks it at the ground and it breaks it two. 

No.

That means they have to go back. They have to go back into that stupid house and face Andromeda again and Izuku doesn’t think that he can do that. Izuku doesn’t realize it, but he falls to his knees in tears. They can’t go back, they- he can’t go back there. He can’t, he won’t, he can’t, he won’t. Izuku can’t breathe, his chest is constricting and he feels like his entire body is twisting. 

 

And then there are hands on him, and he sees Kirishima with his shark toothed grin and spiky red hair. Izuku doesn’t know what else he can do, so Izuku screams. He might just see Kirishima, but his mind tells him it’s Andromeda. 

He lashes out, because what else can he do, and clips Kirishima’s cheek with his fist. Izuku pushes him away with a frantic kick, before getting to his feet and running. His bare feet slap against the floor as he panics.

Get away, get away

Someone grabs his arm again. It’s Andromeda, disguised as Bakugou- but it’s really Bakugou, Izuku’s brain needs to shut up- with his hand in Izuku’s hair. 

“Deku,” Bakugou says, and Andromeda never called Izuku Deku

“Kacchan,” Izuku sobs. “ Kacchan.” 

“You’re okay, yeah? Fuckin’ dumbass.” Bakugou’s arms wrap around Izuku, and Izuku buries his head into Bakugou’s shoulder. “Where were you, huh? The fuck did you go?” 

“Andromeda- She was Kirishima again and- and-” 

“You never said she pretended to be Shitty Hair.” 

Izuku lets out a low whine. “You can’t make me go back there,” he says. “I’m not going back. I can’t-” 

“That’s fine,” Shinsou says above. He nudges Bakugou, motioning at the two to stand. “You can stay here next time, okay? But you have to tell me what happened.” 

“Nothing happeEAH- Kacchan!” 

Bakugou ends up sweeping Izuku off of his feet, halfway through his statement, holding him in a bridal carry. “Shut up if you aren’t gonna tell the fuckin’ truth.” (Midoriya?

“Kacchan, put me down.” (A hand in his hair.) 

“Fuck no, you’re probably gonna crash again.” (A grin that doesn’t belong.)

(You’re so pretty Izuku.) 

Bakugou doesn’t put him down, so Izuku makes him. Izuku grabs at Bakugou’s arm with both hands and twists them both in different directions. While it’s a childish thing to do, Bakugou’s always had somewhat-sensitive wrists, making him drop Izuku straight to the floor. 

“I can fuckin’ walk, Kacchan.” 

Shinsou pretends like Izuku didn’t say anything, or do anything. “Who are you going to sleep with tonight?” (Izuku has to repress a shudder. He’s not sleeping with anyone, yeah? He’s just sharing a bed.) “If you don’t want to share with Kirishima or Bakugou, you can share with me.” 

“It’s fine,” Izuku says. “I can share with Kirishima” -(No he can’t.)- “if he’ll still let me.”

“Of course, bro!” Kirishima says, out of nowhere. Izuku’s sure he’ll have a bruise on his stomach. He should apologise for it. (For some reason, he doesn’t. He feels shitty.) 

So, they all make their way down to the beds again and Izuku takes his time finding something to wear as the others change and crawl into bed. He doesn’t crawl into bed, and no one comes to ask him why he isn’t . All he does is sift through his clothes, throwing on shirt after shirt and deciding he doesn’t want to wear it. 

No, he doesn’t want to wear the shirt that his mom bought him for Christmas, that says Christmas Tree on it in kanji. No, he doesn’t want to wear the shirt with a giant yellow M on it. (It’s a McDonalds shirt. He might go back to it tomorrow, and get some laughs.) He looks right by a bright neon green tank top. Doesn’t pay any attention to a shirt that says Spoon on it in english. 

For some reason, his eyes shift over to the clothes rack with Bakugou’s clothes on it. (Maybe it’s Shinsou’s?) Izuku pulls back on his red McDonalds shirt and wanders over to the other rack. He looks through that one, and in the end, pulls out a dull purple sweatshirt that looks worn and loved. ‘Loved’. He pulls it on and automatically feels like he’s being swallowed up. 

And, you know? He really likes that feeling, so he keeps it on and doesn’t even roll up the sleeves, when it turns out they go past his hands. 

Izuku goes back into the room with the beds, to find everyone fast asleep. How long did he take? Seriously? With a small head shake, he plops down on the floor and curls up under the sweatshirt he stole. Oddly enough, he’s not even tired. 

Just sad.

His mind is roaring too, like waves in the ocean but worse. It’s always been like that in times of stress, so he doesn’t worry about it. Much, anyway. Instead, he takes this as a moment to really think. To go over everything without anyone saying a word. Everything involves the look in Andromeda’s eyes, the way her lips quirked up when she saw Izuku, how she only knew Izuku’s name and nothing more. Why him out of everyone else? Sure, he’d never wish that upon his friends, but Izuku’s… Plain. Ugly. Nothing special. Quirkless and-

“Midoriya?” Asui asks. 

“I didn’t know you were up, Tsu. Did I wake you?” 

“Not really, kero. You should get your mumbling under control though.” 

“I know. Sorry.” 

She gets up and plops down on the floor, dragging with her the plain comforter on the bed. Asui doesn’t say a word as she sits down beside him, throwing the blanket over both of them. When she’s comfortable, she rests her head on Izuku’s shoulder. 

“Everything okay, Tsu?” 

“Just fine, Midoriya,” she says, shutting her eyes. “You?” 

Izuku takes a second to breathe. “Call me Izuku, Tsu. I’m doing just fine.”

He’s doing just fine.

Chapter Text

When Izuku wakes up, he wakes up in a random corner beside the racks of clothes. He’s wrapped up in the comforter him and Asui fell asleep under, all of his clothes that he fell asleep in are still in place, ignoring the fact that they’re all rumpled. Izuku’s never been one to sleep walk. How the hell did he wake up here? 

He pushes himself to his feet, leaving Asui’s comforter to fend for itself on the cold, unforgiving floor. The floor is also hard, and Izuku doesn’t really want to talk about the crick in his neck or the way his back totally aches. Instead, he ventures out back to the place where he fell asleep, to find nothing. No one. The covers are thrown about as if someone- everyone- got up in a rush. That makes no sense. Why would everyone rush out without letting Izuku know? 

Where did they even go

Next, he makes his way out to the main room, where all of the doors connect. Door number three, showing off the rainy mansion view, is open. 

Doesn’t that mean that they left Izuku? They left to go up to the mansion. That part makes sense, sure. The part about Izuku waking up in the corner of the room that he didn’t fall asleep in doesn’t make sense. They would have woken Izuku up if they were just going to leave abruptly. They should’ve, at the very least. 

The next thing he does is search for a note of any sort. His search ends up fruitless. 

What the hell

None of this is adding up right. Is it because he just woke up? No way. When Izuku wakes up, he wakes up. He doesn’t really ever have the time to risk a sleep muddled mind. 

Something bad happened. Something bad is happening. He can’t help but think that it’s happening down in the mansion on the cliffside. And, y’know? Izuku doesn’t like that. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with the mansion anymore. He doesn’t want to think about Andromeda either. 

If his friends are their, though… If Izuku’s friends are in the mansion with Andromeda

Izuku’s got to do something. He’s got to do something right now. 

So, okay. Izuku’s in a McDonald’s tee-shirt, somebody’s big-ass hoodie, and way too short gym shorts that he just really likes. His hair is probably the worst it’s been in a while. He’s not really in the position to be going up to a fancy house where everyone wears ties and dresses and heels. Thing is, Izuku decides he’s got to do it. 

Are his friends even there? Izuku doesn’t know. If they are, he’s doing the right thing. If they aren’t, Izuku’s foolish and stupid. Izuku’s not just stupid. He’s pretty high up in his class, he gets good grades. 

So, yeah. Izuku throws on his shoes and he prepares to trek up that long driveway. The second that he steps out of the door, his heart starts to pound against a gong, sending shivers up and down his spine. His entire body shakes like a leaf. He doesn’t know why. He doesn’t- 

Oh, but he’s pretty sure he does. 

 

Along with his body shaking and his heart pumping and his mind shrieking, his back aches and everything hurts. Walking up the driveway accents every bad feeling he’s been feeling, and being alone is making it worse. There’s no Shinsou or Kirishima to keep his mind off of whatever it is that his mind wants to bring up right now. Honestly, everything's terrible, okay? Izuku’s not afraid to be upset right now. He’s not afraid to be afraid, because there’s no one here that he needs to put on a brave face for. 

You know, he’s also not afraid to admit that he’s crying. Is it because he’s in pain? Is it because his mind is whispering to him about how worthless he is for letting something happen to his friends? Is it because he’s getting frustrated? 

No sir, it’s all three. Izuku’s in pain, Izuku’s frustrated, Izuku’s mind is being stupid. You see this long running theme about Izuku’s life being terrible? Somebody up there must hate Izuku. Is it God that hates him? Is there someone else pulling the strings that hates him? Why does Izuku have so many questions? 

All of these questions help, actually. They make the walk feel shorter, and they occupy his mind enough to derail the self-pity train of thought that goes on. He’s not going to say that he gets up to the mansion in no time, but he gets there, he does. 

Izuku knocks on the door, and some random maid opens it. She looks over his ratty look, his beat up favorite pair of sneakers, and his clashing outfit. The shorts are pretty short, Izuku realizes, as rain soaks up and chills his thighs. He’s probably drenched. He didn’t take his raincoat. 

“Midoriya Izuku? Didn’t you come by earlier?” 

“With my friends?” Izuku asks, pretending like he already knows the answer. He thinks he does, at least. 

“Yes,” she nods.

“I just had to run back down and change, you know?” He’s got to assume that when ‘he’ came up here, he was wearing a suit. “Would you mind escorting me back to where my friends are? I think I’d get lost, having to go on my own.” 

She nods again, Izuku’s played the game successfully. The maid takes Izuku with her to wherever their going, which Izuku vaguely realizes is the dining room. Is it dinner time already? Izuku’s been asleep for too long. Time is lost on him. The maid stops before the closed doors and gestures to them. 

“Here we are, sir. I should be off, now. Have a good night.” 

The maid leaves, and Izuku only gives her a half-hearted ‘thanks’. When she disappears, Izuku searches around. She’d been the first non-threat to notice Izuku was here. There’s no one else around, so Izuku takes this as his chance to slam open the doors to the dining room. First objective is to find his friends, second one is to find Andromeda. She must have the key on her, anything but would be way too easy. 

Once he has his friends back, it’ll be so much easier to get the key, because he won’t have to be the one to get the key. It can be Bakugou, it can be Shinsou. It can be anyone except Izuku. 

So, yeah, Izuku slams open the door and there’s Asui. She’s sitting in a chair, sipping on a cup of hot coco. There’s no one else here, that already sets off red flags. They said it themselves, they’re going to try not to be alone. Asui’s not only alone, but she’s calm. 

Uraraka sent me-” Izuku blurts. Normal Asui will tell him that Uraraka isn’t with them, she’s back at UA. Fake Asui will tell him something else, like ‘oh, did she now’

Asui meets his eye and tilts her head. “Uraraka is back at UA,” she croaks, and Izuku deflates like a balloon. Thank god. It’s her

“Where are the others? Kacchan and Hitoshi and Kirishima?” 

“You’re acting weird,” she says. “They decided to step out and talk about something. I’ve been waiting for them to come back. Do you want to eat something? Kirishima wanted to stop by the kitchen for some real food,” and almost as an offhanded addition, she finishes with a ‘kero’.

It doesn’t sound as natural, and Izuku hates himself for the way he wants to check if she’s really Andromeda. He forces it down immediately, chalking up to nerves. (Why would an unconscious habit that she does all the time without even knowing she does sound like it was hastily added on? That makes no sense, and Izuku’s mind needs to shut up, it’s just Asui, what’s wrong with him.)

“You’re rambling.” 

“Yeah, sorry. Have you guys found the key yet?” 

“Actually,” she says, “I think I have. Come with me for a second.” 

“Shouldn’t we grab everyone else first? I think they should see-” 

“We’re not grabbing it. You’re smart, so we’ll just scope out the area. You can analyze it, I feel like there’s a trap, kero.” 

He gives her a nod, and she’s abandoning all of the food. Izuku almost wants to ask if they should clean it up, but Andromeda doesn’t seem to be around, so he leaves it. Izuku’s never really thought about how Asui’s skin feels, he certainly didn’t last night. He kind of wishes he did, it’s easy to pick out Andromeda from his friends when he knows how their skin feels. Izuku takes it in now, committing it to memory. If Andromeda ever tries to assume Asui’s look, Izuku will be able to pick her out. 

Unlike how he’d thought her skin would feel, it’s oddly smooth. Weird. 

“I think that mumbling about how someone’s skin feels is pretty weird,” Asui croaks, hand on his with a vice grip. Izuku’s not sure where they’re going, but his gut is screaming out that something’s wrong, so he commits the path they’re going on to memory. You never know if he’s going to need to run. 

“Sorry,” he says. “I’m just a little on edge.” 

“It’s weird. Don’t do it.” 

Something else pools up in his gut. A million things from middle school run through his head and Izuku’s first actually, coherent thought is to shrink in on himself and make himself small. She’s right, Izuku’s a weirdo. He should really learn how to stop mumbling. 

“I’m sorry.” 

He feels like he’s saying sorry more times than he ever felt like he had too in Asui’s presence. He’s never really felt like he’s had to apologize much around Asui, because she’ll tell him that there’s no need too. She’ll let him, of course. Asui will let him say sorry as much as he wants. It’s only after that she’ll say it’s fine. 

She doesn’t this time. Izuku doesn’t know why he feels himself wait for it to come. 

“Here we are,” she croaks. She pushes open the door to reveal a bedroom. It’s pretty normal for someone rich, with a king-sized bed and large curtains. “This is her bedroom.” 

“Didn’t you guys say that her room was where the fake key was? I don’t think she’d have the real key in the same room, that just defeats the purpose of the fake key. It’s got to be somewhere we’d never think about, even when we were thinking about where the last spot we’d check is. I think it’s still on her, actually. Not in the room, or anywhere else in the mansion. Although it’d be smart to have it somewhere in the mansion, because it’d take forever to search the whole place for it. Or with the staff, because the staff can’t see us-” 

“Stop mumbling,” Asui nearly hisses at Izuku. “Shut up for once and listen to me, kero.” Izuku hikes his shoulders up to his ears at that, face going red and eyes blurring with tears. He’s a high key crybaby, even at the worst- and best- of times. “There’s a hidden room here, we know it. We just don’t know where, which is why we’re glad you came. We need you to find it, okay?” 

Izuku hates how meek he sounds as he mumbles, “Yeah, okay.” 

From there, he searches around the room. He knocks on the walls for a hollow sound, he pulls out random books on the bookshelves and checks behind paintings. He yanks at torch holders. Basically, he touches everything in search for something. Nothing gives. The room just seems like a normal room. Asui doesn’t look like she’s going to help him, because as he drops down to scan under the bed for a hidden passage, she leans on the closed door and only watches. 

The passage comes when Izuku trips over his own two feet. He accidentally hits something, he’s not really sure what, and all of a sudden, the wall flips and Izuku’s in a grimy room with stone walls and damp floors. Asui slips in with him, holding one of the torches she snagged from the wall. 

“There’s a hallway,” he notes. “There’s got to be something down it.” For once, he can see to the end of the hall. Kind of. He can see where it bends, giving way to a second hallway going to the right. 

“The key should be down there,” Asui says. “Let’s go.” 

Izuku looks back into the room, the wall having not turned fully yet. “Shouldn’t we grab the other’s first? I feel like it’d just be easier to, y’know?” 

“No, I don’t know. C’mon.” 

And Asui begins to walk, whether Izuku likes it or not. It’s at this point that Izuku starts to think that something’s wrong. “Are you okay?” he forces out. He makes to keep up with Asui, as she goes to turn around the bend before he does. 

“Perfectly fine,” she says. “Why?” 

“You’re acting off?” Izuku says, but it sounds more like a question than he means for it to be. There’s another turn ahead, and Asui makes sure she goes around it first. “I don’t mean anything by it, I’m just-” 

“Just?” 

They make their way around the second turn, only for a third one to pop up. This is getting old fast. 

Sorry,” he squeaks, out of obligation too. 

This time, Asui allows Izuku to round the turn first. His mind immediately roars into action. With the third turn comes a room, with the room comes chains on the walls, with the chains comes- 

With the chains comes Shinsou, Bakugou, Kirishima and Asui, attached to the wall and sitting on the floor, almost looking defeated. None of them look particularly hurt. Bakugou’s wrists look worse for wear, probably because he’d been trying to get out of the cuffs on his arms in a normal Bakugou way. His fists are clenched, and his brows are creased. He’s frustrated, but trying not to show it. Shinsou’s slumped against the wall, eyes shut and looking like he’s trying to catch a few minutes of rest. Maybe a few minutes of thought. Kirishima’s lying on the ground, on his stomach, one arm out because of the chain. They all look tired. Asui, however, is on her feet and staring dead at Izuku. 

He connects the dots faster than he ever has. The ‘Asui’ he’s been walking with for the past however long is- 

Izuku’s been walking with Andromeda this whole entire time

Faster than Iida’s arms can flail, Izuku whirls around and clips Not-Asui- (Andromeda, shifting to be Asui)- on the ear. She mostly dodges his hit, shrinking down to the ground and sweeping her leg under Izuku’s. He collides with the ground with a cry. In the corner of his eye, he sees Bakugou yank against his chains and cry out Deku, but Izuku’s only seeing stars so it doesn’t register. 

“That was so much easier than last time,” Andromeda purrs, melting back to her original look. The black heels on her feet press into Izuku’s back. “I’ve brought Izuku back, so I really hope you’ll finally shut up.” She kneels down, grabbing Izuku’s face in her hand and forcing him to look at her. Her nails stab his skin. “You too, Izuku. I hope you’ll take my words to heart.” 

His head drops to the floor, making him wince. Bakugou’s still yelling, the clink of his chains are becoming more prominent as the stars subside. They don’t go fast enough, because in a total of three seconds, Izuku’s got cuffs and chains on his wrists and lips on his cheek. 

When Andromeda pulls away, she pats his cheek where she kissed him and waves everyone else goodbye. “Be good and when I come back, I might bring you guys food!” 

Both Shinsou and Bakugou glare at Andromeda as she leaves, while Kirishima opts to scan over Izuku and poke at him. “You’re okay, right? She didn’t do anything?” Thankfully, Kirishima doesn’t grab at Izuku’s face. His hands only hover over Izuku, afraid to touch him. 

“Where’d she take you?” Asui asks. 

“I’m fine? I thought she was you, Tsu, the whole time. I think that the more important thing is why weren’t you guys back at base when I woke up?” 

Asui and Kirishima share a look. “You were at base with us when we woke up, dude,” Kirishima says carefully. “You were actually up before all of us were. So all of us went down to the mansion, ‘cuz you said you thought you knew where the key was, remember?” 

“Then some of her fuckin’ employees sneak attacked us and threw us in here. They took you and said that Shifty Bitch wanted to talk to you,” Bakugou finishes. He looks like he wants to take over Kirishima’s spot, but with the cuffs connecting him to the wall, he won’t be able to get any closer to Izuku. 

Izuku shakes his head and brings his knees up to his chin. “I woke up shoved in the corner with all of those clothes,” Izuku explains. “You guys were nowhere to be found, so I came after all of you. I found Asui- er, Andromeda, I guess- and she said that you guys found the key, so I went with her to scope it out. There was so much off about her… I should’ve known it wasn’t you, Tsu. I’m sorry.” 

“Don’t be,” Shinsou speaks up. “So, what we know is that… assumedly, anyway… Andromeda pretended to be Izuku and lure us to the mansion, getting us caught. Then, Izuku came up himself to save us, or something, and got tricked by Andromeda pretending to be Asui. Now we’re all here, and in the stupidest situation of our lives. Right?” 

“Right,” Izuku echoes. 


“Great. But,” and everyone looks over to Shinsou again, “that doesn’t answer why you’re in my sweatshirt.”

"Oh." 

Chapter Text

If Izuku’s being honest, cells are boring as hell. Honestly, the real torture here isn’t not kowing what’s going to happen, it’s boredom. Andromeda coming back was a highlight of Izuku’s experience, even if he was basically shaking in his boots as Bakgou barked at her to ‘back the fuck up’ before he screwed up her face to hell and back. 

It took forever for Andromeda to come back, and when she did, the room comes back to life. Bakugou gets mad, Shinsou gets defensive, Kirishima starts talking to Izuku, Asui starts drinking in everything Andromeda says. 

Izuku… Izuku’s not sure if he comes to life or if he just sits there. He takes in everything, including the roaring beat of his heart and the way Shinsou’s hand grips his. They don’t let Andromeda come close to Izuku, Izuku can’t find it in himself to complain. 

“So,”  Andromeda says, leaning against the wall farthest from Bakugou. Bakugou calls her a coward. Izuku’s almost close enough to pull at her heel and send her toppling over. He just needs her to inch the slightest bit closer to him. “One of you is going to come with me, so you’d better choose who it is.” 

Move closer, Izuku wills. He makes to subtly move, as if offering himself, in hopes of tricking her. Kirishima’s hand finds his shoulders instead, holding him down. Shinsou grips Izuku’s hand harder. It’s like he’s afraid Izuku’s going to disappear. 

“Fuck that,” Bakugou growls. “Take me, asshole, and I’ll beat your ass.” 

“I think I’ll pass with you,” Andromeda tells him. She takes a step towards Izuku and Kirishima. Kirishima doesn’t seem to like that, but Izuku might just be living. Fast, just like everything has to be in this day and age, Izuku reaches out and curls his hand around the heel of her shoe and yanks. The sound that she makes sounds hellish, like a butchered lamb scream. Her head collides with the ground at the same time Izuku swears he hears a snap come from her ankle. 

Now, okay, record scratch. Has Izuku ever had a record scratch moment before? His brain normally goes fast enough to not need to freeze anything up in order to understand what’s going on. This time, he just needs a little bit of time, okay? 

So, he’s on the floor, on his stomach. His hands still on the heel of Andromeda’s shoe, which is still on Andromeda’s foot. Andromeda’s on the floor too, hair splayed on the floor and limbs thrown about. Somebody’s blood is on the floor, for once Izuku doesn’t think it’s his

With everything going a little slower, Izuku can see the glint of a tiny key ring clenched in her fist. There’s no way that it’s what they need for the portal, but it’s just what they need for their cuffs. 

“Get the keys,” Izuku hisses over to Asui. “Unlock your cuffs and put them on her.” 

Asui understands and quickly gets to doing what he asked. Andromeda’s hand gets pried open, and she doesn’t seem to comprehend what they’re doing. When Asui has the keys in her own hands, she tries almost all of them to unlock her cuffs. While she’s struggling, sure, she’s doing it more efficient that Izuku could’ve. 

The whole time, Bakugou barks at her to hurry up. Probably to spite him, Asui tosses the keys over to Shinsou. Shinsou doesn’t even unlock his own cuffs, he works on Izuku’s first, and then his own. Then the keys go over to Kirishima, and finally Bakugou. While Izuku and the boys play hot potato with the keys, Asui slaps the cuffs on Andromeda and looks her over for anything else she has hidden. 

“Does she have the key?” Izuku asks, after a bit. 

“No, kero. It’s not on her.” 

“Then where the hell is it?” Bakugou growls. “It’s not in her room, it’s not on her, what the fuck?” 

Yeah, okay. It’s not in her room, Izuku’s already gone over why that’d be stupid. It’s not on her, apparently. It’s got to be somewhere obvious, Izuku’s not even going to explain why. At first, he thinks she might not have been lying when she said it was in this room, but upon further inspection- and with everyone staring at him as he does so- there’s no way it can be in this room. What other place is obvious? Some place obvious would have to be some place he’s been, right? 

The only other places he’s been in is the main foyer, and the dining room. Putting the key in the main foyer would be smart, it’s so obvious that it literally hurts. They’ve never let them just hang around there either, like they’re afraid of them finding out where it is. It makes so much more sense, honestly. 

“I think I know where it is.” 

Everyone looks up at that, excluding Andromeda. Izuku might’ve knocked her out on accident. 

For some reason, everyone looking up fills Izuku with joy. That means he wasn’t mumbling, or so he assumes. Izuku’s never exactly been self conscious about his mumbling. He never particularly liked it, but he’s chalked it up as a part of himself that he’ll have to live with. And he has been living with it. Now though, he just doesn’t want to live with it. 

(He just doesn’t really want to live.) 

“I think it’s in that main foyer, where we entered? It’d be so obvious, so much so that it’s not… obvious. You know? I’m not sure if I know where it is in the main foyer, but it’s there. Somewhere.” 

“Then we’ll have to tear down the goddamn place until we find it,” Bakugou says. 

“You good to walk?” Shinsou asks. “I can carry you if you’re not.” 

Izuku shakes his head. “You always carry me around, Hitoshi. You don’t have to.” 

“So, you want my sweatshirt, but not myself?” 

“That’s rude,” Kirishima throws in. “If you’re gonna love somebody, at least love them for all of who they are instead of their possessions. Gosh, Midoribro.” 

“So insensitive,” Shinsou adds. “C’mon, Izuku, don’t you love me?” The fact that Shinsou’s still close to Izuku, and his hands still on Izuku’s arm. Izuku’s sure his face goes pink, maybe red. Whatever color, his cheeks feel like they’re burning

“I love a lot of you- all of you- and, y’know, I don’t really love you like that, Hitoshi- I’m sorry? I just-” 

Shinsou draps himself over Izuku’s legs, releasing his arms but trapping him securely. “Relax, Izuku. I don’t like you like you.” Izuku just stares down at Shinsou, slowly feeling like he’s losing his mind. 

Asui coughs into her fist. “Are we going to go? There’s no point in lounging around.”

“Why not?” Kirishima asks, revelling in the fact that he can stand now. “I know I’m kinda antsy and all, but I feel like a little rest could do some good. Or something.” 

“Still no point,” Asui says, “kero.” 

With Shinsou still trapping him, Izuku pretty much surrenders to his fate. He’s not going to be moving any time soon. “You think that if it were Hagakure here with us, she’d still be invisible? Or would she be seeable? Like us? ‘Cuz her quirk would be off.” 

“I think that any quirk Aizawa-sensei can erase, this place will erase. So mutant quirks will probably stick around,” Kirishima adds. “Like Tsuyu? She’s still… frog.” 

“She’s still frog,” Shinsou echoes. 

Bakugou scoffs. “Learn how to fuckin’ english.” 

“I miss Todoroki,” Izuku grumbles. “Have I said that yet? I really miss Todoroki.” 

“And Uraraka,” Asui adds. 

“Yeah.” 

“I miss, like, Sero and Kaminari and Mina, y’know?” Kirishima offers. “The rest of the class.” 

“Am I not enough for you, Izuku?” Shinsou asks, and then shrugs when Izuku swats at his arm. “I guess my parents? I miss them.” 

“I miss mom,” Izuku moans. “I miss school and showers.” Bakugou stays silent, and Izuku picks up on it. “Don’t you miss anyone, Kacchan?” 

Like Shinsou, Bakugou shrugs. “The class, I guess. I mean, I’ve got my friends here with me, so.” 

That was… mushy. So un-Bakugou like. It was so un-Bakugou like, that Izuku had to bite his lip to keep from asking if he might just be Andromeda. Andromeda is still on the floor in front of Izuku, so it’s just a stupid question to want to ask. “Are you okay?” he asks instead, at the same time that Kirishima purrs out an ‘aww, Bakubro’.

“Are you getting sick or something? ‘Cuz that was so weird, I’m getting chills.”

Bakugou has to push Kirishima away before Kirishima can swallow him up in a hug. “Fuck off, I can be sentimental.” 

“I don’t think that even counts as sentimental,” Shinsou kinda-scoffs. “You guys suck. I wanna go home and just fuckin’ scream.” 

“I could scream right now,” Izuku points out, “and no one would hear me.” 

“Screaming is supposedly therapeutic, kero,” Asui points out. “It might do you some good.” 

Okay, compare that to Kirishima’s, “Scream, you won’t.” 

And he does. It’s very nice and he feels like he’s a screaming chicken more than anything. At least, in the end, he feels less stressed. When he’s done, everyone’s looking at him oddly and he just shrugs. “Two questions. One, did you know that some people call velcro, hook and loops? Two, do you think Present Mic just kind of screams sometimes? I think it’d help with his quirk,” he says in one breath. 

“What the fuck is wrong with you,” Bakugou says. “What the fuck.”

“You just screamed in my ear and it was the worst,” Shinsou voices. 

Izuku loves his friends. They’re so cool. 

“You think they actually miss us?” Izuku asks. “Or like… Do you think time is frozen back at home and we’ll reappear at the exact moment we left, perfectly fine and healthy- Or that- I dunno.” He forces his mind to fall short before he can go on a mumble spree and returns to his original thought. “Do they miss us?” 

Shinsou shrugs. “Not sure if they’re mourning us, but they’ll miss us. Even though we’re all assholes.” 

“They’ll miss Tsu!” Kirishima chirps. “She’s a delight. You and Bakugou, though. Y’all are assholes. I think they’ll miss me, maybe not Midoriya ‘cuz he’s reckless and a trouble maker.” 

“Problem child,” Bakugou corrects without making a fuss about the fact that he was called an asshole twice. 

Yeah. Izuku’s friends are so cool.

You know what’s not cool? When Andromeda picks up her head and yanks her foot from where Izuku’s hand is still on the heel. Well, okay, it’s more of a kick than anything, getting Izuku to wrench his hand away to avoid getting impaled. She tears off her heel and holds the shoe so she can use it as a weapon. “You know how this looks, don’t you?” she heaves, and Izuku’s pretty sure that that’s blood dripping from her nose. “It looks like you kidnapped me in my own house, so when my staff hears about this, you’ll be dead.” 

“That’s only if they hear about it,” Bakugou snarks. 

“We could lock you up down here. See how long it would take for them to find you,” Izuku continues. “As payback.” He’s not feeling very threatening, with Shinsou on top of him and him on his stomach, so he motions for Shinsou to get off him so he can stand. (Ouch.) “Now tell us where the key is, and I might consider letting you out.” 

Andromeda cocks her head to the side. “Have I ever told you that you’re so pretty,” she cooes, and yes she has, she’s said that, but with Bakugou’s face, “when you’re mad?” 

He fights back a shiver and bares his teeth. “Where’s the key?” 

The smile she gives him reminds him of the cheshire cat. “Why don’t you give me a kiss and I’ll tell you?” she asks, shaking her head to get her hair out of her face. Shinsou hurriedly stands and moves in front of Izuku. 

“Tell us, or you’ll starve to death. Or… maybe… I have always wanted to try giving someone brain damage. Too bad it seems like you’re already fucked in the head-” 

“Hitoshi!” 

“I’m just saying.” 

Andromeda makes to stand, too, although wobbly with her hand stuck in a cuff. “One kiss, Izuku, c’mon. One kiss and everything will be solved.” 

One kiss and they’ll be one step closer to being home. 

One kiss and Izuku will never have to see her again. 

One kiss. 

One kiss and she never said where it has to be

Izuku takes her hand into his before Shinsou call pull him away. “One,” he places his lips against the back of her hand, “kiss.” When Andromeda looks up at him with wide eyes, he says, “Tell me where the key is, Andromeda. Now.” 

And then her hand shifts and surges forth, grabbing at the collar of Izuku’s- Shinsou’s- sweatshirt. She pulls him towards her and their lips meet for the second time- Something cold is forced into Izuku’s hand and he thinks he knows what it is but he’s so caught up with dying- Izuku is burning all over again and someone is yelling and there are hands around his arms, pulling him away, away, away- He can’t be on Earth anymore because there’s no ground beneath his feet and all he can see is black- Izuku cannot breathe, breathing is not something he knows how to do, he has regressed too far and he’s now hurtling through space and in space there is no air- He needs to pull himself together, because he’s on Earth and Earth has air- But is he really on Earth anymore, they don’t know where they are, for all they know they could be moons and moons away from home- Oh god, Izuku just wants to go home, he doesn’t want to be on another planet, let alone another galaxy, he just wants to go home to his mother and tell her that he loves her, does she know that he loves her, who’ll tell her he loves her when he’s dead and gone- 

Izuku, snap the hell out of it,” says someone and they sound so far away. Izuku feels like he’s floating in something soft. Like jello. “C’mon, get up, snap out of it!” Are his eyes shut? He feels like his eyes are shut. 

He opens them and can’t help it when he screams.

Chapter Text

Yes, Izuku will admit that he blinks back to reality screaming. His brain’s on high, like someone decided that turning the dial up to ten wasn’t enough, they had to go add a whole extra scale so he could go up to one hundred and five. Is it really his fault though? Screaming? It’s not like he up and punched someone, or broke someone’s jaw. 

He doesn’t feel less stressed this time. Just scared, frightened. He should’ve been born a goddamn deer, what with how spooked he is. 

Now, you might be wondering why he screamed. Well, nothing against anyone but, there’s got to be something there about the color red that Izuku should figure out. He makes a note in the back of his mind, tell Aizawa about possible reactions to the color red. Will he scream? Maybe. He just did, didn’t he? Will he cry? He always cries, that’s nothing new. Will he flip out, because he’s assuming that when he gets back to the real world he’ll have his quirk and can use it to punch the fuck out of somebody? More likely. Izuku’s shifted from being a crybaby to a crybaby who’ll kick your ass. 

Okay, okay, he’s getting off track. There’s only two people around that Izuku knows- knows knows, he’s not including Andromeda because she’s the reason he’s in this mess- that are red. Involve red. 

Bakugou Katsuki and Kirishima Eijirou. 

There’s also Todoroki, but Todoroki isn’t around. There’s Aizawa, with his red eyes. He’s not around either. 

So, let’s slow down. 

Izuku’s mind is going crazy, right? He’s somewhere in space, with the Earth rotating lightyears away in the background. He misses his mother, he’s not sure if that’s clear. He misses showers and home and his goddamn phone and TV and his friends and school and- 

Izuku misses All Might. He misses getting to eat lunch with him, Bakugou by his side as they either chat or worry or grin. 

Anyway. 

Someone tells him to ‘snap the hell out of it’. Someone tells him to get up. Someone calls him ‘Izuku’. 

It’s not Shinsou, even though he calls him Izuku, and it’s not Asui. Asui is green, Shinsou is purple, and the offender is red. Bakugou doesn’t call Izuku ‘Izuku’, he calls him Deku. Kirishima calls Izuku ‘Midoriya’, and sometimes ‘Midoribro’. Bakugou, though, is more orange than red, even with his burning eyes and crude words. Kirishima is the definition of red. 

It’s Bakugou who shakes him back to life. 

Yeah, Izuku could’ve just said that, right? He could’ve just laid out all the facts and told you that when Izuku looked into Bakugou’s red eyes, he lost his shit and screamed. Because of the color of his eyes, he’s not even kidding. 

Why does this problem require Izuku to tell you in almost five hundred words, rather than the thirteen he could’ve said flat out? 

Because this is the start of a great divide, Izuku thinks. This is where their friendships will be tested. Again, why? Because, when Izuku screams and flinches back, he sends not just himself, but Bakugou, back to middle school somehow. Izuku remembers Bakugou’s scalding words, he remembers his classmates fists and Bakugou’s burns and if you really want a quirk, pray for one in your next life and take a swan dive off the roof. Izuku should- Izuku should because it’s what he deserves

Bakugou must go back too, because Izuku isn’t stupid and he sees the far away look in his eyes. Is he thinking about all the times he’s made- he’s seen- Izuku cry? All the times that he’s watched his ‘friends’ lay a hand on Izuku and shove him to the ground, all the times that he’s but his own hands on Izuku and burned his clothes. 

Izuku’s notebook comes to mind. Does it come to Bakugou’s too?

Izuku’s been treading water around Kirishima, hasn’t he? He has. Now Bakugou, right? That means the teams been- basically- split into three. Izuku’s on his own little island, the only space that he can find without freaking out too much is with Shinsou and Asui, because they’re purple and green and safe. They’re team two, Izuku guesses. Bakugou and Kirishima are team three. Izuku’s afraid he’ll do something bad if he’s around them. 

Like scream, and ruin what him and Bakugou recovered and regained? Like panic, and make Kirishima doubt himself? 

He screams, and then the panicked haze melts and he’s being herded onto Shinsou’s back, team two working to do what team three cannot. Get Izuku out and away without breaking him further. Asui makes sure to be in Izuku’s sightline, rather than Bakugou or Kirishima. He’s sure they’re walking behind him, out of sight and out of mind.

His hand is clenched around something cold, a sharp edge pressing into his palm almost unbearably. “Close your eyes,” Izuku whispers as Shinsou follows Asui around the turn. “Open your hand.” 

“If it’s your tooth, I’m going to remind you that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist after you lose all of your baby teeth,” Shinsou replies. He does as Izuku asks though. When he’s absolutely sure that Shinsou’s eyes are closed, he places the cold thing- the key, that’s what it is, even though Andromeda hides behind a thousand faces she is not so much a liar as an actor- into Shinsou’s hand. 

“Open your eyes,” Izuku allows, “happy birthday.” 

Shinsou’s eyes open, and Izuku’s almost sure that he’s going to be dumped onto the floor when Shinsou speaks. “What is wrong with you?!” Shinsou shrieks. Izuku can’t figure out his tone. Is he mad? Why is he mad- Why is Shinsou mad at him- 

Izuku stills, almost like he’s turning to stone. Shinsou isn’t walking anymore. Izuku doesn’t know what’s wrong, what did he do, what did Izuku do wrong, he doesn’t understand, he got the key they’re closer to getting home why is Shinsou mad at him

Asui grabs at his face with her hands, and Izuku makes to panic until she tells him, so softly, “Izuku, it’s fine. You’re okay. No one’s mad.” He was mumbling again. Great. Neat. He doesn’t like that at all, why can’t he just shut up, why is Shinsou mad at him

“Izuku.” 

It’s Shinsou. He doesn’t sound mad at all. His tone is unreadable. That just makes it worse. 

“We can talk back at the base,” Asui says. She gives Shinsou a look, and Izuku’s too high on panic to understand what it means. “Okay?” 

“Okay,” Izuku says. He’s scared and afraid- can he say this? Can he tell them that he’s scared and afraid and all he wants to do is cry? Can he? Even heroes have to cry sometimes. “Can I say something?” he hazards. 

Asui rubs her thumb at something on Iuzku’s face. He’s crying already. “Anything,” she agrees. Her eyes do not lie. (Asui does not lie.) A sob gets caught in his throat, he swallows it down. His hand goes up to grab Asui’s. She moves her hand, just so she can grab his and hold it. “What do you want to say, Izuku?” 

Some people call him Izuku now. Bakugou still calls him Deku, but that is theirs and it is not the same as Uraraka calling him Deku because him and Bakugou have grown. Kirishima calls him Midoriya and Midoribro, but Izuku’s not sure if he could stand Kirishima calling him Izuku anymore. (Red, red, red, red, red, red, red,red,red,red,redredredredredredredredredredredred- 

Dread.) 

Izuku lets his tears flow. He has to say it. If he doesn’t say it now, he’ll never say it, and he’s afraid of what will happen if he doesn’t say it. He’s brave, he’s strong, brave people admit when they’re scared and Izuku is brave and Izuku is scared. 

“Izuku?” Shinsou asks. 

I’m just so scared.” 

It can only get better from here. 

“I’m scared that my mind’s gonna go to far.” Asui gives a confused look, but Shinsou understands and that’s all that matters right now. “I’m scared that it’s not going to be anything here that kills me, it’s going to be me and I don’t want that to happen- I’m scared of myself and everything that’s happening- I don’t want any of you to die- I’m so afraid I’m going to fail and it’s going to be my fault.” He can’t stop talking. He can’t stop crying and talking and blurting out everything. “What if I’m not good enough? What if you guys get hurt because of me-” 

 

The thing is, no one stops him from talking. Shinsou just starts walking again and Asui keeps her hand in his. Bakugou stalks up at one point, as Izuku tries to draw back in his breath, and asks him- in a whisper- if he wants to talk about any problems with All Might and OFA later. No one else with them knows, Izuku needs to let it out

He says yes, and this is the hardest thing he’s ever done. 

He hates the look that everyone gives him- full of worry and concern that he does not deserve.

“I don’t understand why you all care so much- I hate how you all have so much unwavering loyalty in me, I don’t understand it, what if I fail. Why don’t you all hate me yet-?” It feels like he’s mumbling, you know? It’s not quiet though. It’s loud and clear, but he can’t stop until someone makes him. “She’s so much like Toga,” he sobs and tries to breathe.

 

And that’s not where it ends, and that’s not where it starts. 

 

When they get back to base, they’ll reply to every single one of his concerns. I’m scared that it’s not going to be anything here that kills me, it’s going to be me, Izuku says again and they reply, We won’t let it get that far. If anything here is going to kill you, it might as well be Aizawa. 

And when Izuku says, I don’t want you to die, what if you guys get hurt because of me , they say, We can take care of ourselves, you don’t need to worry

To Izuku’s, I’m so afraid I’m going to fail and it’s going to be my fault. What if I’m not good enough?, they let him know that it’s human nature to fail, and that they’ll be there every step of the way.  

He asks again, why don’t you all hate me? What did I do to deserve your loyalty?, and they all explain that they love him. You never let yourself fail, it’s admirable. We all think that you need a moment to breathe, but in the end, you pull through. Who wouldn’t follow that?

When the door is finally shut and the key is in place, when everyone is in comfortable clothes and Izuku is still in Shinsou’s sweatshirt, Bakugou will pull him aside. They’ll talk about All Might and all the pressure put onto Izuku’s shoulders to be the absolute best. What if, when it comes time, Izuku passes OFA onto the wrong person? What if he dies with it? Bakugou tells him that Izuku will know when he makes the right choice. All Might will always be proud of him, no matter what he does. If he’s not number one, but he’s saving lives? All Might will be proud. 

All Might is proud. 

When everything is over, everyone is bed and asleep and Izuku is staring up at the ceiling, he only breathes. His mind is on silent. 

It only gets better from here

He shuts his eyes and he drifts.

Chapter Text

They open up the door again the next day. Part of Izuku feels like it’s going to open up to the same dreary landscape he’s been forced into twice, even though he was there when they slipped the key into the slot. Kirishima shoves it open all on his own, while Izuku’s eyeing Bakugou’s rack of clothes. His own hoodies just aren’t as nice.

“It’s a fuckin’ kitchen?” Izuku hears Bakugou say. 

Curiosity peaked, Izuku slides back out to where everyone else is with wide eyes. Behind the door looks like one of those kitchens you’d see inside wealthy people’s houses, with a huge island and a handful of stools to match. There’s so much cupboard space, so much counter space. The fridge is huge, and the whole room is a flurry of grey and white hues. It’s the most splash of personality Izuku’s seen so far- other than their own clothes. 

Asui and Shinsou have already begun to sift through the cupboards, finding it packed full with a plethora of food. Real food. 

“I kinda wish it was a bathroom,” Kirishima sighs. “With a shower.” 

“Can any of us cook?” Shinsou asks, because he’s got his priorities straight. “I can make… like… spaghetti?” 

“I burn water,” Izuku throws in.

Asui and Bakugou share a look. “I can cook,” Asui says. “I used to cook for my siblings.” 

“Great. Me and Frog Face will cook n’ shit. You guys go… do something.” 

“Nap time,” Shinsou says, at the same time Kirishima says, “I’m going to lie down.” 

Izuku crawls on top of the counter and tries to make himself small. “Can I just watch?” he asks, watching Shinsou and Kirishima disappear around the corner. “I’m not gonna try to help, ‘cuz I might burn something and that’d suck, y’know.” He shoves his legs under Shinsou’s sweatshirt- the same one he’s been wearing for a while

“Yeah, okay,” Bakugou says. “Don’t fuck around in here, then, ya hear?” 

“I hear.” 

“What should we make?” Asui asks. She looks over at Izuku, not so subtly. “Katsudon?” 

Izuku will never say no to katsudon. Never. Katsudon is his comfort food, and there’s no better time for comfort than now. “I like katsudon,” he says, voice soft. 

“Katsudon it is,” Bakugou huffs. “I’ll make the best damn katsudon you’ve ever had.” 

“No one can make katsudon better than Mom.” 

“Ah, fuck. You’re right.” 

Asui gives them a smile, pulling out some of the ingredients needed. Once she spreads them on the counter, Bakugou takes stock of them. He must deem them to not be enough, because he goes to grab some more stuff. While he’s sifting through the cupboard, Asui folds her arms. “You guys were real close when you were kids, huh?”

Izuku shrugs. “I followed him around most of the time. I’m not really sure if we were close-” 

“We were close. Really close.” Bakugou comes back, dumping the stuff in his arms onto the table. “Then I fucked up, and I’d like to take it back.” 

“Kacchan-?” 

“As of right now… I’d like to start over, okay?” He takes Izuku’s hands into his, but it’s in no way bad. It’s innocent, a mark of a new start. Before this whole thing, Izuku could count the times that they ever held hands on one hand. Well, zero hands. Before they appeared here, Bakugou never took Izuku’s hand, no matter how many times Izuku offered. “I want to figure out how to be your friend. I know you’ve got everyone else- Round Face, Glasses, literally everyone- but I want to try.” 

Izuku looks him dead in the eyes and smiles. No grins, no forced smiles, this is real and Izuku is ready to try . “You’ve always been my friend, my best friend.” 

“I’d like to start over,” he repeats. “Let me figure out how to be better.” 

The one thing that Izuku wants to say is that Bakugou is already better, that there’s no need to clean the slate and try again. That’s not what Bakugou wants. It’s not what he needs. As much as Izuku hates to admit it, it’s not what he needs either. 

So he shuts his eyes and he breathes in, he breathes out. When he opens them, he feels his smile soften just a smidge, his eyes sparkle and brighten. “Hi,” he says. “I’m Midoriya Izuku.” 

Bakugou returns the smile. They’re going to move on from this funk together. For the last two keys, their past is going to be in the dust. It’s going to be here and now. It’s going to be in the moment, from now to forever. 

“Hey, Midoriya,” Bakugou says and okay, he can do this. “I’m Bakugou Katsuki.” Something flashes in his eyes. It’s positive, almost to be described as giddy. “But you can call me Katsuki.” 

No more Kacchan. He’s older, he’s grown up. They’re new people. 

He’s not prepared to let Kirishima call him Izuku yet. Andromeda is too present, too current. Maybe… Maybe he’s ready to let Bakugou do the same. It’s a step in the right direction, at least. Towards healing. By doing this, he’s letting the world save him from himself. He’s letting his friends save him from himself. 

“You can call me Izuku.”

He’s going to make it out of this place alive, or he’ll die trying. 

Well, okay. Maybe not die trying, but if he’s not going to accomplish making it out alive, he would’ve already died, so. 

Moving on. 

The topic drops when Asui taps on Bakugou’s shoulder and points to the ingredients. “It’s time we start making us actual food. I’m sure the others are hungry, and as sweet as this is, kero, I’d say we should just get a move on.” 

Izuku pushes himself off of the counter and leaves the two to their own devices. He’s not needed in the kitchen and he’s not especially hungry. Both Kirishima and Shinsou are trying to catch some Z’s, so he doesn’t bother with that either. Instead, he takes a trek down the hallway to the portal room and lets his mind drift away to other worlds. 

He forgets everything about this world, about his world. Okay, not exactly. He thinks about home, yes, but not about school or his classmates. He thinks about his mother, he thinks about All Might. 

Maybe when he gets back, he’ll see if he can go home and see his mother, he’ll have All Might over and they can all eat katsudon until Izuku only wants to cry. He’ll tell them both everything- maybe nothing at all. He might only tell All Might, he doesn’t want his mother to worry too much about him. Either way, All Might is going to know about this, because someone has too

He might even tell Aizawa. Aizawa’s not a bad person and he’s trustworthy. He’s already been a shoulder for him more than once. 

Izuku sighs, just as he reaches the room he meant to. The portal is empty, just as he found it. The computer screen is just as they left it, too. It’s a perfect, icy blue background with a pure white bar through the middle, black cursor blinking on it. 

He’s never given the password any thought. Maybe he should’ve. It might hold some answers to where they are. Why they’re here. 

What could it be? Something so obvious that it couldn’t be?

With slow fingers, he types out 1234. It doesn’t work, he tries password. That doesn’t work either. Great. Maybe it’s not something obvious. 

He glances over to the portal and the keys. 

Huh. Keys

He tries keys, all lowercase, then Keys, and KEYS. None work. Five Keys, he types, and then, five keys. FIVE KEYS. FIVEKEYS. fivekeys. FIVE_KEYS. FIVE-KEYS. Those don’t work either. Just as he’s about to peck out 5 KEYS, he hears Bakugou yell down the hall for him. 

Lunch time. Dinner time. Food time. Whatever.

Izuku abandons the task of figuring out the password and turns back down the hallway. It was a lost cause. It’s just a surprise that he didn’t get kicked out after the third wrong password. He’s still kind of sad that he didn’t figure out. It’d be great if he did. His friends would be happy about it. 

Halfway through the walk, Izuku starts to run. He just really wants to eat. Bakugou’s cooking is so much like Inko’s, probably because she’s the one that taught him how to cook. To just get a taste of home is more than he could ask for right now. Running hurts, it pulls at his injuries and makes his head ring. When he gets back home, he’ll have to stop by Recovery Girl and have her check his head. 

He nearly crashes into Shinsou when he comes barreling into the kitchen. It’s a good thing that Shinsou’s strong enough to stop him from sending the two to the ground. Otherwise he’d be, y’know, on the ground. Kirishima and Asui are already seated at the stools, chowing on their own bowls of katsudon. There’s two more stools left, but Bakugou doesn’t make a move to take one. He’s sitting on the counter, drinking a bottle of water and eating chips out of a bag.

When Izuku sits down beside Asui, Shinsou plops down a bowl in front of him and takes the spot to his left. He almost hesitates to take a bite. He’s had this katsudon thousands of times before. Some by his mother, some by Bakugou. He’s already said it’s the same , they taste so much the same that if Izuku has this- 

He wants to. He wants a taste of home. 

He doesn’t want to be reminded of it. 

“Hey, you gonna have some?” Kirishima asks. Everyone looks up at Izuku, to where he’s frozen, hand just above the bowl. 

“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, sorry.” 

Bakugou slides off the counter and says oh so softly, “Take your time, Izuku. You don’t have to eat it.”  

Izuku breathes and then he takes a bite. 

And, oh, god, he’s finally home.

Chapter Text

That night, as Izuku sleeps beside Shinsou, he dreams of his mother.

He dreams of coming home, all bandaged up and eyes watering. It’s the first thing he does, right after Recovery Girl and Aizawa tear into him. She’s standing at the doorway, tears already dripping down her face. Her arms are wide open, she smells just like katsudon and home and everything she should. 

Izuku runs into her arms, relishing the hug. It’s been so long.  

“I’m so happy to see you, Izuku,” his mother says. “I’ve missed you so much. You were gone for so long, honey.” 

“I know,” he says back. “I’m sorry.” 

“You’re okay. That’s all that’s ever mattered to me.” 

And then he cries, with ugly sobs and loud hiccups. She cries too, but it’s cleaner and sweeter and it breaks Izuku’s heart. It’s like he can’t stop, as it goes on for forever and ever and ever. When he finally does stop, Inko withdraws from him, holding him at arm's length away. 

“What happened?” she asks, before moving to let him inside. She locks the door behind her, just as Izuku sits down on the couch.  

He tells her everything, about waking up surrounded by grey walls and about a portal, tucked away oh so far. About the first monster, about his head and how it rung every time he was slammed into the walls. The keys come up, the city and being betrayed does too. He tells her about Clouds, about falling through the sky and Shinsou falling right down after him. When he gets to Andromeda, his face pales and he finds the tears threatening to come back up. Talking about keys four and five are a blur, he’s not sure what he says and what he doesn’t. Inko’s face scrunches up when he talks about them, her eyes water as she says, oh, honey.  

“And now I’m here. I’ve never been so happy to see you, mom.” 

She puts her hand on his cheek and says, “Oh, honey,” again. “I’m sorry you had to go through all of that. You’re so brave. So much braver than your mother. I’m so proud of you for making it through all of that, but it’s not over, Izuku.” 

He looks her dead in the eyes, trying to figure out just what she means. “It- It’s over, mom. I’m back- I’m home, mom-” 

“You’re not home yet,” Inko says. “You’re so close, so, so close. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you. You’ve been gone so long. Promise me something, Izuku.” 

“Mom?” 

“Promise me you’ll come home to me.” 

“I am home, mom! Look,” he puts his hand on her’s and feels his words border on panic, “I’m right here.” 

“Promise me, Izuku.” 

“I’m here! I’m right here- Mom!” 

She’s melting- His mother is melting right through his hand and the rest of the room is following and it’s all he can do to cry and try to hold her face in place. It’s not even like she’s turning to a puddle on the floor, she’s just turning to goo and then fading out the more she drips away. “Promise me,” she cries, “promise me, promise me, promise me.” She sobs once more as the room fades to black. 

“I promise-” he chokes out, just as she disappears and the world shifts to show the teacher’s staff room in UA. He’s on the couch in there, a steaming cup of tea right before him. All Might’s sitting across from him, nursing his own cup. There’s no one else there, and the world outside of the windows is completely still. “A-All Might?” Izuku asks. “Is that you?” 

All Might looks worse for wear, with bags under his eyes and shoulders hunched. He looks like he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’s staring dully at his cup of tea, but when he looks up and his eyes find Izuku, they brighten like Christmas lights. 

“Young Midoriya,” he greets, soft. “It’s so good to see you.” 

“Yeah..?” 

“I’m so proud of you for sticking out for your classmates. Your friends.” 

With cautious fingers, Izuku draws his cup of tea closer to himself, before picking it up. He sniffs it first, and it smells just like everything else. Like home. When he sips it, it tastes the same, like flavor is bursting in his mouth and he can’t help but want to cry again and again and again.

“You’re almost home, aren’t you?” 

“Two more keys,” Izuku assumes. He thought he was home. Turns out that, too, was a trick. “We’re so close. Just two more of them and I can see you and mom again.” 

“Two more,” All Might agrees. “Are you prepared?” 

“No.” 

“Neither was I, when I fought All for One. I thought I was. I really, really did.” 

“But you weren’t,” Izuku finishes.

“I wasn’t. You can never truly be prepared for anything, my boy. There’s always going to be something that you weren’t ready for- something that is going to hurt you in this world.” 

Izuku sets his drink back down and looks up at his mentor. He knows all of this already. He knows the answer to the question he’s about to ask. It’s not fair, he wants to say, that he’s still gone and his mind thinks the solution is showing him this. Maybe, in some way, it is the solution. That’s why Izuku has to ask. He needs to hear it from All Might himself.

“How do you deal with it?” 

All Might looks him in the eyes and he looks so, so sad.

“You don’t, my boy.”

That’s not what he was expecting. 

And then the world is melting again. Izuku doesn’t panic this time, he breathes and he waits. The walls fade to black and All Might disappears and then Izuku’s in the dorm’s common room. A few of his classmates are on the couch, watching some flick. They all look tired. When he rounds the couch, he sees Aoyoma and Uraraka, curled up together in silence. Iida and Todoroki sit, stone cold beside each other. He doesn’t pay attention to the movie playing. His friends are more important. 

“Hey, guys?” he asks. 

They don’t look over at him. It’s like they don’t even hear him- They can’t even hear him, can they?

Izuku stills, just as Uraraka lets her head hang. She reaches for the remote and turns off the TV. No one objects. “It’s not the same,” she says, standing up. “I wish Deku and Tsu were still here.” 

“It’s not like they’re dead, mon amie,” Aoyoma says. “They’ll all be back soon enough.” 

“What if they are dead? Just because there aren’t any bodies doesn’t mean that they aren’t. Deku’s probably dead and we aren’t doing anything about i-” 

Todoroki stands up next, face the pure expression of rage. “I thought I said to drop it,” he says. 

“Todoroki,” Iida warns. 

“I’m sick of you going around and claiming that he’s dead. None of them are dead. Midoriya’s too strong for that, so just drop it.” 

Uraraka moves up into Todoroki’s face, looking the same amount of mad as Todoroki. “You don’t know that!” she barks. “He can’t save himself from everything! He’s weak, Todoroki! Even if they are alive, he’ll get himself killed for their sake! He’s as good as dead!” 

Uraraka,” Iida warns again. 

Shut up!” Todoroki shrieks. “He’s alive and they’re okay. Why do you have to doubt him?” 

“Because he’s Deku-” 

Todoroki heaves, hands shaking with anger. Izuku doesn’t think he wants to know what that means- what does she mean, because he’s Deku- so he turns his head and they melt away. The room does not, but his friends vanish. There’s got to be someone else coming then. Iida? No-

“Midoriya,” someone says, and Izuku whirls around to meet Aizawa. “You’re hurt.” 

Izuku shrugs, and when his shoulders fall back down it is out of relief. “Yeah, I guess.” 

“Your classmates are worried about you.” 

“I’m worried about us too, sensei.” 

“I wish I was there with you," Aizawa utters, and Izuku wishes he were too. "I’m sorry you have to go through all of this.” 

Izuku looks up and meets Aizawa’s eyes. “You’re real, aren’t you?” 

“You should wake up,” Aizawa says instead. 

“Can I ask you something first?” Aizawa doesn’t reply, so Izuku assumes he means yes. “All Might said that there’s no way to prepare yourself for anything and that you’re going to end up getting hurt either way.” 

“He’s right.” 

“And then he said, when I asked how you deal with it… He told me you don’t.” 

Aizawa sluggishly blinks. “You should wake up and stop listening to yourself. He’s wrong, you know.”  

“Then how? How do you deal with it?” 

“You wake up.” 

Izuku blinks and the ceiling he sees is grey. Metallic grey, the same grey he’s been tormented with ever since he opened his eyes and found himself searching for something as stupid as random keys. The taste of tea, the smell of his mother, the sound of his friends. It’s still present on his mind, he can’t erase it. It felt so real. God, he wishes it was real.

He can’t help it when he cries.