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The Outliers

Chapter Text

By definition, Izuku was not supposed to exist. Well, perhaps not by definition, but certainly by law.

Born to two quirked parents, he was completely and utterly illegal.

Admittedly, it wasn't much fun.

In fact, it was mostly running. Izuku was starting to hate running.

"Why'd you have to mess it up, you dumb shit!" The blonde screeched beside him, voice partially covered by the explosions propelling him forward in a jerky, lurching flight.

"Is this- ,really the best time?!" Izuku yelped back, panting from the burning in his lungs.

"This might be the only time if we get fuckin' caught!" Kacchan roared, setting off a particularly large explosion behind him which happened to upset a nearby market stall, along with a number of passerby.

"Well maybe- ,we won't get caught if you- ,shut up and move!" Deku barked back, gasping for breath between footsteps slamming the concrete beneath him.

Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Katsuki veering off to the side with another uncontrolled burst of light from his left palm. Had he not been tired as a bear that didn't get to hibernate, Izuku would've spit out a stream of curses worse than Katsuki could, but, seeing as he was currently that tired, and also being pursued by about fifteen different police officers, he decided that the best course of action would be to run after the bastard.

A loud crunching crash told him that he would probably be digging his friend out of a dumpster in about two seconds.

Unfortunately, he was right. He could tell from the hand that kept futilely trying to push itself out of the bin.

"God dammit." Izuku hissed, despite his earlier realization that he probably should save his breath for some more of this 'running' thing that he had to keep doing in another two seconds.

Snatching Kacchan's arm (which, thankfully, wasn't broken like the last time he crashed on a chase), he yanked him out of the stinking trash bin. Katsuki was on his feet in an instant, prepared to start exploding his way down the alleyways again, but Izuku continued sprinting with Bakugo in tow, forcing the blonde's legs into action.

Grasping wildly at the air, Deku felt something catch the end of his hand, and he promptly set it tumbling down behind him. The clattering told him it was probably something big. Probably a pile of big somethings, judging by the number of thunking noises. Perfect.

The pair bolted down the alleyway like their life depended on it (which it did). Left, right, right, left, Izuku lost count of the turns they took, focused more on heading in a general direction.

Eventually, they found themselves on a crowded street. In an instant, the two shed their torn and dirtied hoodies (Bakugo's being burnt in many places), chucking them to the floor behind them. Couldn't chance getting caught just to be a bit warmer later.

Deku moved to dart into the crowd, but Katsuki jabbed his elbow into his rib before he could. "Don't be a fucking idiot. Running draws attention." He hissed under his breath, spraying a few droplets of spit into Izuku's ear.

Izuku rubbed his ear, shooting Kacchan a glare for the bruise that was already blooming on his side, but he did as he was told, slowing his pace to a brisk, if not anxious, walk. For a few moments, he attempted to look like he hadn't just run a marathon, but the mob growing denser up ahead caught his attention, along with a few snippets of cherry red.

Glancing wordlessly at Katsuki, he gave a quick nod, and, upon Bakugo's return of the gesture, the two drifted off into the crowd like leaves on the wind. They would regroup later... hopefully.

There was always that hopefully tacked on at the end. That maybe. Nothing was certain in this world, Izuku knew that better than anyone.

Heart rising in his throat, he walked.

Ba-thump!

The crowd had faded to mere blobs at the edge of his vision. Gray, shape-less blobs. Some darker, some lighter, all the same in his mind.

Ba-thump!

Bright red, brighter than blood glistening in the sun. He just had to stay calm.

Ba-thump!

Stay calm. Keep walking.

Ba-thump!

Keep walking.

Ba-thump! Ba-thump! Ba-thump-ba-thump-

"Alright, where's your papers, son?"

The man sounded tired as Izuku approached. Like this was just a daily thing, which, perhaps, it was.

He didn't sound too mean. At least not like some of the enforcement officers roaming the streets. Though the shield-shaped maroon badge hung shone brightly in the sun, his uniform was eye-burningly red, meaning he couldn't be very high ranking.

"Hello?"

"Oh, uh, sorry." Izuku mumbled, making a show of slapping his pockets. "I-I swear I brought them with me-"

"Son, I'm gonna need to see some papers."

"I'm really sorry sir! I think I forgot-" He patted his last pocket, "Oh-!"

Dragging a tattered card out of his equally tattered jeans pocket, he held it out to the officer. "Sorry, the photo is kinda worn."

He wasn't lying, the little square on the corner of the card where the photographs usually were had rubbed off, though, it was Izuku who had painstakingly scraped it against the concrete until it was gone, leaving the rest of it's contents relatively readable.

Ba-thump-ba-thump-ba-thump-

The officer hummed in thought, "I dunno, kid..."

Ba-thump-ba-thump-ba-thump-ba-thump-

"I think I'll have to do the scan."

Izuku gave a silent sigh of relief. The one thing he knew he could pull of was a quirk scan.

The uniformed man fired up the mini x-ray machine in his hand, quickly asking, "Any metal in your shoe?" To which Deku answered with a stiff shake of his head.

The machine made a crackling noise as it was waved over Deku's shoe. It almost looked like one of the price-scan rayguns Izuku saw in convenience stores, except a lot more complicated looking, and marked with a maroon red band of color.

Glancing over the x-ray, the officer seemed to find nothing suspicious. He gave Izuku a gruff smile (surprising, coming from a Crimson Shield guard). "Alright, off with ya'" he grumbled, waving his hand dismissively.

Izuku nodded, forcing himself to walk instead of sprint away from the checkpoint. His heart leapt wildly in his chest, but it was done, it was over. He just needed to put one foot in front of the other and-

"Hey! Kid!"

He froze, poised to bolt.

"You forgot your id!"

Deku blinked, "Oh- uhm, sorry sir!" he blurted, turning around with an awkward clumsiness. "Th-Thank you!"

"Yeah, yeah, just don't do it again." The officer griped, handing him the card. "And stay outta trouble."

"Will do, sir!" Izuku chirped, feigning cheerfulness as he skipped down the road. The facade was dropped the heartbeat he was out of sight.

He collapsed a against a wall, adrenaline slowly winding it's way out of his system. Huffing out a tensed breath, he sat for a long moment, eyes closed and turned toward the sky with his hand brushing fluffy green hair off of his sweat-slicked forehead.

God, existence was tiring.

Well, perhaps not existence, perhaps more of existence specifically when the Crimson Shield was around, but that was the only existence Izuku knew of anyway.

But, shit, it would be so much easier without the Crimson Shield. They were the fuckers who made the facility in the first place, and the ones who banned outliers from having children.

Izuku had scarcely heard of other outliers having children, much less two outliers having a kid together. Frankly, it was about the worst idea he had ever heard of, but it resulted in his existence, so he couldn't quite complain.

His quirkless existence.

Oh, the irony.

If he was born into a world that wanted him dead, you'd think the world would be kind enough to at least actually give him the superpower people wanted him dead for, but no. The only superpower he had was the ability to be arrested for getting a gene test (though, he was far more likely to be arrested for having no citizenship, records, or identification of his own).

He gave another tired sigh.

Might as well get up and find wherever the fuck he was supposed to meet Kacchan, then.

 


 

Meanwhile, no farther a few hundred miles from Hosu, an entirely different story unfolded.

A teen landed a number of glancing blows upon a swinging punching bag. To the average onlooker, it might just look like a regular workout session, but there was no such thing as an average onlooker in the facility. There was no such thing as a regular workout either.

Upon closer inspection, you would see that the punching bag had a metallic gleam to it. Perhaps this was because it was made of metal.

And, if you had peered even closer (which is not recommended considering this guy's fists were moving at surprisingly high speeds), you would spot the strange jaggedness marring his skin, and sparks leaping away from his hands.

He grinned, teeth sharp as steak knives gleaming under the white lighting. Not nearly as entertaining as a sparring match (even if he usually lost those), but certainly better than getting stuck in the 'dorm' all day.

His designation was DE467-Scarlet, a code written in blood-red on his wrist, but his name (something he could only assume the staff knew, but still never used) was Kirishima.

Sweat sparkled on his brow, dripping into his cherry red eyes.

Flinching slightly from the sting, he shook the rigidity out of his hands, taking a moment to wipe the liquid from his head. Hissing slightly, he blinked his eye a few times, and soon enough, the feeling had vanished.

And, as always, his vision locked on his arms for a few moments. His skin was surprisingly still tan despite being in the facility for one thousand, one hundred and twenty-nine days. Entirely a honey-amber-ish color, aside from the constellation of pale flecks, scratches, and dots marking it. The scars congregated on his arms, but a number of them lay scattered across his entire body, even a few on his face.

They were hard earned, to say the least.

"DE467, please continue the experiment."

The voice, slightly garbled by the buzz of the speaker, rang through the room with a definitive rigidity. They said please, but there was no need for formalities. The staff, even the lowliest neon-red coat wearing one, had the authority to make his life very, very miserable. Not that he could see a single light-colored uniform through the pristinely clean fiberglass they hid behind.

Kirishima did as he was told, tensing his arms and striking out at the bag so hard that it rang just as loudly as the voice had, leaving a sizable dent.

A single fleck of hardened skin chipped off his fist, falling to the floor with a quiet click.

He grimaced.

~}{~

As per usual around this time of day, the canteen buzzed with activity. Outliers, each marked by a scarlet silhouette of a shield on their neck and the number on their wrists, milled about, carefully watched by the crimson-coated guards.

Everyone was so interesting here. People came in every shape and size. One dude he saw was constantly exuding bubbles, another was entirely purple from head to toe, everyone was strange. Some were visibly less strange than others, but who knew what crazy quirks they had hidden under normal appearances.

Kirishima supposed that was one thing that was better in the facility than out there. He was among his own kind. People that didn't really give a shit how weird you were because everyone was weird. Though, Kiri didn't personally believe he was very interesting. His quirk wasn't especially strong, he wasn't that good at fighting, and he certainly wasn't at all remarkable when it came to intelligence, but, nonetheless, he was one of them.

Grabbing a tray of gray mush that was supposed to pass for scrambled eggs, he plopped himself down at his usual spot, right next to Denki and Mina.

At least they got shipped to the same facility when they got caught. Kirishima had heard too many stories where friends and family got split up. Children being tugged away from mothers, lovers torn apart, siblings never to see eachother again... he couldn't imagine life without his two best (and perhaps only) friends. He'd go insane without those two.

One of these said two was already passed out on the table, his food untouched beside the heap of yellow, black-streaked fluff that was his hair. A few stray sparks shot off him, disappearing a few moments after they leapt into existence.

"Rough testing?" Kiri asked, gently tapping Kaminari's shoulder.

Denki simply gave a muffled groan.

"C'mon bud," He shook his shoulder, "You have to eat, especially if you've been zapping all day."

"Mphhhhh."

"I know it tastes bad, bro, but it's the only time we're getting food today."

"Mph mph."

 Beside him, Mina chipped in, shaking his other shoulder. "Kamiiiiiiii-" She whined, "Come ooooon, we've got training after this."

"Mpphh..." Denki stirred ever so slightly, rubbing his eyes and flinching when another miniature lightning bolt jumped off his hand. Kirishima recognized the glassy look in his eyes.

"He's zonked." The two non-electric users said at the same moment, pity showing on their faces.

"Well, there goes any hope of getting him to eat today." Kirishima sighed, glancing disappointedly at his own tray of eggs and poking them experimentally with a plastic spork.

Mina shrugged, "Well, maybe not..." She gave Kiri a knowing look (one that she knew that he absolutely hated).

"Ashido."

"If we just ask one of the guards-"

"Ash."

"It wouldn't be wasting food, they-"

"Ashi."

"I can convince the-"

"Ashi."

"I know it won't work, but we can at least try." Mina grabbed her own spork, "I'm just..." She stabbed it into the eggs, leaving it sticking out of the pile, "Worried about him. This is the third time this week testing messed him up too much to eat."

"I know..."

"It's Wednesday, Kiri. He hasn't eaten at all this week." She stared plaintively at Kaminari, who had already fallen asleep on the table again.

"I know."

"This can't be what they want, I-I mean, they have to want us alive, right? How-How else will they do these- these dumb tests every day!?"

"Mina."

She whimpered, "I know, I shouldn't complain about the shield. Not... not here." She was shaking, tears in her eyes that she attempted to hide with her hands. Kiri could see the acid steaming off her fingertips in her stress.

Gently, he pried her hands away from her face. They were rough from the acid burns she received all too often. "Hey, six years, Mina." His voice dropped to a whisper. "Six years, we survived out there on the streets. Now, we just have to survive differently, right?" He asked, giving a small grin. "We've got this."

"Yeah, yeah, you're right." Mina sniffed, "I just have to-" She took a breath, "Just have to hold on." 

"No, we just have to hold on."


At the same time in a room not too far from the cafeteria, another teenage boy danced upon a floor coated with ice. His movements were graceful, each swift and calculated.

A burst of flame came to life, shooting away from his left foot, enveloping the training bots.

It was a dangerous dance.

Though he didn't even know of the boy's existence, he was a lot like Izuku. Born to two quirked parents. But, unlike Izuku, he was perfectly allowed by law. Pretty much anything created by the facility was and anything that wasn't... well, no one needed to know about that.

His parents had both been property of the Scarlet Division of the Crimson Shield's Outlier Containment Project, one with a Level B quirk, and the other with an A-Level quirk. His own quirk, or, perhaps quirks, was Level A. His threat assessment throughout every year that it had ever been taken was also A.

In short, he was one of the most dangerous people in the facility.

AA105-Scarlet. Masterpiece. Scar. The First.

He had many names, but he didn't particularly want any of them.

Not that what he wanted really mattered.

Born and bred for a purpose. Trained all his life. What he wanted didn't affect a thing. It was what they wanted that mattered.

And, currently, they wanted him to practice, so practice he did.

Another tongue of flame exploded off of his foot, charring another few training bots. Unfortunately, this time it did nothing but leave a few blackened streaks. Must be different models.

No matter.

Ice leapt forward, encasing the bots in a sparkling prison. He strode forward in an almost calm manner. His face, usually neutral, showed the smallest hint of regret as he gave the mass of crystal a sharp kick. A crack ran up it's side, splitting the mound in half. The rest crumbled within seconds.

Their command crackled through the speakers, "Next unit, entering now."

Frost coated his side, but he scarcely noticed. There was work to be done.

~}{~

The only sign that nighttime had fallen was the fact that he was removed from the training room with the glowing report of his performance being "acceptable", which was fine by him. Anything was better than the extra 'conditioning' required on unacceptable assessments.

His hand reached toward the scar marring his left side almost automatically at the thought. It was his fault, really. He should've known better.

Thankfully, now, he did.

Never again. It wasn't worth the cost. 

But, with aching limbs and still healing burns on an uncomfortable cot within a room empty of any other human being or solace in this insanity, he pondered.

He didn't want this. He never did.

He knew what they were planning, whether they intended him to or not (they did seem keen to keep information away from him). The fact that they had taken the time to explain quirk and threat levels meant he had to know them for some reason, and if he had to know them for some reason that reason probably had to do with other Outliers, and, judging by the training, it wasn't just for study purposes.

There weren't many options after that. Not when it came to the Crimson Shield.

He really didn't want to do this.

But it didn't matter what he wanted. It mattered what they wanted.

And if they wanted it, he did it.


 

Currently, what they wanted was being discussed in yet another room that wasn't too far from the cafeteria.

In fact, they had been doing it for quite a while, and the people making this discussion were both very eager to move on to a more interesting topic. Unfortunately, they were just about to.

"-and that should just about wrap it up for district security cases," A man said, his jacket the deep, dark red of a pomegranate. "Now, if I may, we should move onto-"

"Not yet." Another man, wearing a uniform that was darker still than the first, with a streak of scarlet running through it.

"Oh?"

"The recent case in Hosu, the boy with the explosive quirk, was he not mentioned during last month's district security review as well?"

"Er- yes." The man paused, hesitating. "Sir."

"And he was reported in Fukuoka last month? Correct?"

"Y-Yes."

"Mmm. He's moving." The darker-coated man mused, his brow furrowed thoughtfully.

It wasn't a question, but his inferior answered anyway. "We believe so."

"How long has it been happening?"

"I- I don't understand the question, sir."

"When was he first reported?"

He paused to flip through a weighty file and skim over a page. When he spoke, he still stared down at the words upon it. "We aren't exactly sure, but there have been reports of an explosive Outlier in the surrounding area for about... ten years now."

"Ten years. He must be about fourteen by now."

"Fourteen?"

"Quirks, at least emitter type ones, most often begin showing themselves between the ages of three and four."

"Ah." The man said, trying sound far more intelligent and informed than he actually was.

"He does have quite the useful quirk, does he not?" The second mused, a thoughtful smirk on his face.

"Er, I guess it could have a practical application, but-"

"Do you think he could be a candidate for the Hound Program?"

"Th-The Hound Program? With all due respect, now could we reach a satisfactory level of obedience from such a... difficult Outlier."

"Didn't you mention an associate of some sort?"

"Yes, sir. Male, about a hundred sixty six centimeters, estimated to be near the same age as the one with the explosive quirk."

"Mm. And has he exhibited any abilities of interest?"

"No. Not that's been reported."

"And these two, they've evaded capture for nine years?"

"Er, actually any reports matching the- the second one's phenotype only started showing up about four, five years ago. They've only ever appeared with the explosive one."

"Well then, I believe we have our answer."

Pomegranate-coat coughed. "But- but that still leaves the problem of capturing them. They've evaded capture for longer than most of the Outliers in the facility, and-"

"And we've been looking for an opportunity like this for twelve years. It'll be the perfect test run for our prototype."

"You can't mean-"

"Release the Hound."

Chapter Text

"What're you doing?"

"None of your business!"

It was never a good sign when those two got into it.

"It is if you're being an idiot, what is it?"

"Wouldn't you like to know!"

At this point why didn't he just use his quirk? It would make dealing with this so much easier...

"Yes, I would. Which is why I'm asking you. What. is. it."

"Pbhhhhh!"

And that was the sound of a raspberry, there was his cue.

God, why couldn't he just sleep for five more minutes.

"Aizawa."

"You're telling on me! What are you, a baby?!"

"What do you want?" Aizawa sighed, eyes shooting open in an instant, revealing the annoying mop of lavender hair before him.

"It's Kota."

Sitting up from his uncomfortable 'substitute bed', which was just a pile of leaves, he pricked an eyebrow up. "Why didn't you just brainwash him?"

Shinsou blinked, his mouth opening as if he was about to answer, then closing again in exasperation. After a long moment, he answered with a questioning to, "Because you said I'm not supposed to...?"

"I said that you can do it for practice and emergencies."

"And... which one would that count as?"

Aizawa shrugged, grinning in a way that scared most children, but those that knew him well also knew it was just a teasing smirk. "Whichever you prefer."

"Okay, but- would you stop that?" Shinsou began, turning to growl toward the knee-high nuisance at his side that loosely resembled an irrationally angry Pomeranian. He was currently kicking his feet, as if this would somehow accomplish more than a bit of a bruise.

"Why would I, you're a du-" Kota froze mid-sentence, his eyes staring blankly off into the distance.

"Drop it and go sit with Ojiro." Shinso ordered, watching carefully as Kota released the rectangular object in his hands. It hit the ground with a thunk, sending a cloud of dust billowing into the forest air.

After he disappeared to the other corner of the camp, where Ojiro was hanging upside-down by his tail on a tree branch, he continued. "Okay, but it's much easier to deal with him when there's an actual adult around."

Aizawa raised an eyebrow, "I'm your definition of an actual adult?"

"You're the only adult around," His voice was quiet, mournfully soft. "At least, since the raid."

Shouta sighed again, rubbing his forehead and staring at the dirt for a long moment. "Yeah. Yeah, I know."

Silence weighed on the two, both staring at the orange rectangle on the forest floor. Aizawa with a grim regret, and Shinsou with more of a musing curious.

He huffed, amusedly grabbing the book. A colorful scene graced it's color. A boy riding on a broomstick, hand outstretched, reaching for something flitting through the air. "Does he even know how to read?" 

"As well as the rest of us." Shoutas rumbled. He glanced over the cover, eyes drawn to the stylized letters resting toward the top of it. "I'm more worried about where he got it."

"He has been acting a bit stir crazy lately..."

"And you were supposed to be watching him lately."

 Shinsou glanced to the side, looking like a dog that had just been told off. He bit his lip, "I have been it's just- it's..."

Aizawa gave a gusty sigh, pinching his nose between his fingers. "Go."

"Wh-"

"Go on a supply run."

"Why?"

"Kota's not the only one who's been acting stir crazy."

"But-"

"Go." He waved a hand, gesturing in the direction of Hosu. "Get me some juice packets while you're at it."

He paused for a long moment, listening as Kota began screeching cusses at the top of his lungs from across the camp. Aizawa gave Shinsou a completely and utterly done look. "Get moving. Those horns aren't just for show."

Shinsou blinked, turning to give one last stare toward Kota before turning tail and sprinting away.

He wasn't taking any chances with the short little devil.


 

A sparsely furnished room sat under the soft glow of blue-tinted bars of light.

It almost looked comfortable. A scuffed metallic floor, two armchairs (with crimson cushions, of course), a fluffy throw rug (the same shade of red as the chairs), and the reassuring symbol of a blood red golden-rimmed shield. It would almost be cozy, aside from the large one-way window that replaced an entire wall.

Perhaps it wasn't exactly the window itself that set the ominous mood through the room. To put it simply, it was a sinking feeling of wrongness emitting from the fiberglass.

"I can't say I advise this..." One man grumbled from his place safely on an armchair.

The second glanced curiously at him. "And why is that?" He questioned, an amused smirk playing onto his lips.

"I don't believe it's safe to expose it to the general public yet. If we could just have a few more years-"

"You have had plenty of time, Ni." He retorted, voice calm, but with an underlying hint that set the other man on edge. "It's about time we got some use out of it, anyway."

"It won't be very useful if it goes rouge." His temper was beginning to get the best of itself, turning his tone fiery.

"We have safeguards in place."

"And if they fail?"

"They won't." He yawned, making sure to give his equal a tired look. At least it was better than dealing with the pomegranate-coated nincompoop that had graced his presence just a few hours previous.

There was a long pause, the silence weighing down upon the room, until a door opened on the other side. Through the window, they glimpsed it. The Hound.

"How can you be so sure?" Ni mused, his eyes glued to the figure.

"We have our ways." He paused, pressing a button on the wall beside him, making a loud crackling noise. "Start the procedure." It echoed through the room beside, giving a short buzz as the button was released.

"You can at least understand why I'm worried. It's the most dangerous thing in this division, maybe the complex." His eyes were glued to the guards' work. "One wrong step and those rookies are dead."

"This one isn't nearly as unstable as you would like to believe." The man watched as one of the bright-coats brushed the Hound's neck by mistake when checking the tattoo marking him as property of the Scarlet Division.

It's eyes widened, fist flying through the air without a moment of hesitation. The newbie swung backward with a yell of pain, blood darker than his coat trailing from his nose. The Hound leaned away from him, it's expression neutral to the untrained eye, but those who knew to look for it saw the way it sidled toward the corner like an injured animal, eyes glued to the red coats surrounding it.

"Just a bit touchy."


 

It just so happened that Izuku said Ni's exact response the moment the words left the man's mouth. "This is a terrible idea."

Unfortunately, unaware of this irony, the conversation continued without any appreciation of the coincidence. 

"This is a shortcut." Kacchan grumbled, ignoring his own misgivings about the thicket of trees laying before them. "Besides, it'll be harder to track us in here." He started to toward the dappled light overlaying the grass-softened earth.

Deku sighed, chasing after him with an anxious quickness in his stride. "I'm just saying that last time we were in the woods you started a forest fire."

"And last time I listened to your advice we ended up on the run from Hosu," Bakugou bit back, "Besides," He rolled his eyes, "Worst comes to worst, you can just say I kidnapped you or some shit. Not like you have anything to worry about."

Izuku scoffed. "Yeah, not like they would run a gene test on an undocumented orphan that's been galavanting off with an Outlier for the past seven years."

Kacchan silenced for a long moment, leaving the only sound the crunching of leaves under his feet.

"We don't know if your parents were in the records. You still have a chance."

"A chance for what." Izuku hissed, "A normal life?" He chuckled bitterly. "Even if by some miracle I don't get stuck in the facility or prison, what'd be next? On some Crimson Shield watchlist all my life?" He gave a weak smile. "At least this way I know the only one who knows my every move is an idiot."

"Hey, better watch yourself, nerd," Katsuki growled, "This idiot happens to have a bit of an explosive temper." He punched Izuku's shoulder, setting off a small blast as he did.

Deku flinched, rubbing his arm and wincing. "You really need to practice with those." He scowled, "You can't even fly in a straight line."

"Tch, you try controlling them then." Katsuki rolled his eyes, glaring at a tree on his side like it had personally offended him.

"I'm not saying it's easy, Kacchan," Izuku sighed, giving his feet a hard stare as they trekked onward. "I'm just saying that every time you crash-land in a dumpster is the next chance for us to get caught."

Bakugou sighed, a long, low puff of air wisping away into the shaded spaces beneath the boughs of maples. He spoke in a quiet voice, weak in a way few people could goad him into revealing. "I know."

Their conversation ended in a heartbeat, leaving them walking side by side, each in their own world of thought. Caught up in a dimension that often rises into your thoughts as the crunch of leaves sings through the air along with the soft hum of branches shivering in the crisp chill. Music that can only be heard through silence.

Unfortunately, this music wasn't going to be appreciated for much longer.

"Who are you?" A voice cut through the air like a whip, followed by a mop of purple hair shoving it's way through the trees. A teen, or at least a guy close in age to Izuku, stood before them.

He with a hauntingly confident stride, but there was a certain worrying wrinkle around his eyes. The boy glared between the two, gaze darting from Deku to Kacchan and back rapidly.

Katsuki only hesitated for a moment before leaping forward toward the stranger's head, setting off a burst of flames on his hands in an attempt to knock him out.

The teen jumped to the side, hand darting out. Snatching Bakugo's wrist, he rested his elbow across the blonde's neck, pinning him to a nearby tree.

"I said," He began, tone chillingly calm, "Who are you?"

From around the tree bark in his face, Katsuki snarled. "Like fuck I'd te-"

At first, Izuku couldn't tell why he had stopped, frozen in place like Medusa had just stared him straight in the eyes. Then he watched the stranger back away from his opponent, simply saying, "Grab the other one."

Bakugo turned like a puppet on strings, every movement blank. When Deku saw his face, the first thing he noticed was the way his pupils had widened, almost until they had covered his blood-red iris.

He lurched forward, arms outstretched. Perhaps it was time to do that running thing.