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See it all in bloom

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“You’re starting at that high school tomorrow.” Doll’s voice is flat and chilled.

Yomi hums, glancing over the edge of the rooftop to estimate the drop just in case they need a quick getaway. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“You guess ?” Crackles Tempest’s voice over the comm, teasing. 

“I mean, I don’t see how it’s any different than junior high.” Yomi crosses the roof and squints at the figures in the window. “Besides it being the best school in the country.”

“I think you’re just a tiny bit biased, Yomi.”

“Doll, Yomi: do you have eyes on the targets?”

Yomi sighs. Leave it to Nightshade to keep them on task. “Yeah, we have eyes on them. Is the ground unit ready?”

“Ground unit standing by,” replies Oni.

“Undercover units, how does it look on the inside?”

“Fine,” Kistune says.

"No one is trying to leave on the west side," Crimson reports.

“Everyone there is drunk off their asses,” Oni mutters.

Tempest snorts. “How would you know? You’re not here.”

“Please, I can smell the alcohol.”
Nightshade is decidedly not amused. “Can we focus?”

“God, you’re pissy tonight,” Tempest huffs.

“Just tell us what it looks like in there,” Nightshade growls.

“Well, let’s say nobody’s expecting us,” Tempest says. He pauses. “Hey, Okinawa, too much to drink?”

Somewhere in the background, Yomi can hear the other person’s answer. “Too much is never enough," the man's voice jokes."But drop the honorifics, Junchi! We’re all friends here!”
“Right, right. Sorry.” Tempest laughs as the drunken man’s voice fades before he becomes serious again. Go .”

“Roger that. Ground team entering building.” The ground team sweeps in. Inebriated mobsters scream in terror, too drunk to properly react to the deadly threat cutting them down.

“Yomi, Doll, Targets One and Two are coming out the front door. You have approximately thirty seconds before they get away.”

“Gotcha.”

Doll and Yomi move around the roof, readying the sniper rifles.
“Do you see him yet?” She asks, adjusting the end of the gun on her shoulder.

Yomi looks over the empty streets before shakes his head. “No.”

Oni’s voice comes over the comm, “Here they come.”

Sure enough, two gang leaders stumble out of the building, running like their lives depend on it.

Aim….

“Yomi, Doll, take the shot!” Nightshade shouts.

Center it….. The heads of the pair comes into view in Yomi and Doll’s scopes.

They both pull the trigger.

Pop.

Pop.

Crash.

Yomi sighs and leans back. “Got’em.”

“Good work everybody. Ground Team, Undercover Units, wrap it up,” Pane orders.

“Roger that, Pane.”

“On it.”

 

Midoriya Izuku wakes up more tired than when he goes to sleep the night prior. Okay, well, maybe he doesn’t sleep, but, can you blame him? It’s UA! He, useless, motherless, “quirkless” Deku is going to UA!

If that isn’t a miracle, he doesn’t know what is.

When he exits his room, he sees a note on the table for him.

 

‘I really wanted to be here when you woke up, Izu, but there was an emergency at work. I’m really proud of you, son! You’re gonna be the greatest hero the world has ever seen! I believe in you!

Love ya!

    -Dad

P.S. Wanna go out for dinner to celebrate your first day at UA? :)’

 

Izuku’s caught between a smile and a sigh, before deciding on the former. He has a great dad who’s doing his best. That’s all he needs right now.

Making a quick breakfast, Izuku forces himself to be still, but he’s practically vibrating from excitement. As he eats, his legs bounce up and down.
He washes his bowl in the sink, showers, attempts to drag a comb through his curly hair before it snaps, puts on his UA uniform and races out the door.

The train squeals into the station and people flood through its open doors. Izuku finds a spot and hangs onto one of the overhead handles. He spends the first few minutes of the ride scrolling through the news as he listens to music.

“Hey. Kid.”

Izuku glances up and takes one of his earbuds out. “Y-yeah?”

He’s talking to a middle aged woman with orange curly hair and bug wings.

Interesting.

I wonder if she can fly with those-

“You’re a UA student?”

Izuku snaps out of it. “Oh. Yeah. Hero course.”

She smiles, nods, and then looks pointedly at his black armband. “And you’re in The Imperial Scholars Program?”

Izuku bobs his head ‘yes’ and the woman cocks an eyebrow. “Well, damn kid. You’re comin’ up. I’ll be rootin’ for ya!” With a wave, she exits the car as the train squeals to a stop.

With a tiny smile, Izuku waves after the woman and takes a deep breath.

He can do this.
At the next stop, Izuku gets off and walks proudly towards UA with his head high.

I can definitely do this.

 

I definitely can’t do this.

Izuku’s faced some pretty bad things in his life-hell, he deserves a medal for getting through Ourdera without snapping-but expulsion from his dream school on the first day?
That’s on another level.

Not the worst thing to happen to him, but it’d be up there.

Take a deep breath, Izuku. Maybe it’s a joke. And even if it’s not, a lot of kids here don’t have physical quirks, like the invisible girl, the earlobe girl and the mute boy.

Right. He can do this.

It’s all mental.

Eraserhead scans over the class with a cruel smile that sends shivers down Izuku’s spine. “Let’s begin.”

When the physical exam begins, Izuku expects some tortuous test fitted to UA’s standards. In reality, UA’s physical exam is just like any other physical exam for PE. Situps, sprints, long distance runs; they’re all things he’s done before. In fact, he pulls off some pretty decent scores, keeping him in the middle of the pack, coming out near the top every once in awhile when it’s a matter of pure physical ability.

And then comes the softball throw.

…..

Yeah, he’s screwed.

 

Kacchan literally blows the ball away, screaming ‘DIE’ at the top of his lungs. Izuku suppresses a sigh as the blonde stalks by, shooting him a death glare.

“Midoriya. Get up here. You’re wasting time.” Eraserhead’s voice snaps Izuku from Kacchan’s gaze.

Focus.

He steps into the circle and his mind begins racing.

I’ve been doing pretty well, but I need a good score for this to be safe. I can’t get it very far on my own and I can’t hope that someone does a lot worse than me. Think! What can I do?
An idea pops into his head.

“Sensei, we can do anything as long as we don’t leave the circle, right?”

Aizawa just nods. “Hurry up.”
Izuku takes a deep breath and turns to face his class. “Hey, Bakugou!”

The blonde twitches. “What did you call me-”

“Catch!” Izuku pegs the ball at Kacchan. He reacts quickly, setting off an impressive explosion. The ball sails into the air and disappears into the distance.

Kacchan blows a gasket when he figures out what he just did. Charging forward like an angry bull he shouts, “You motherfuckin’ bastard-” He’s restrained by Aizawa’s scarves before he can do any real damage.

“Sorry, Kacchan.” Izuku turns to his teacher. “How far?”

“703 meters. Next.”

“Hey, wait, he didn’t use his quirk!” Grape Boy protests.

Izuku pauses mid-step and after a moment turns to Grape Boy. “Actually,” he says quietly. “I did. My quirk is Analysis. I can look at any situation and use my quirk to determine the best outcome. Logically, I knew that I couldn’t score high by myself, so I used my environment to my advantage.” Izuku spins around and continues walking, leaving Grape Boy with his jaw open.

“B-but, that’s not fair-” Grape Boy begins.

“Mineta. You’re next. Stop wasting time.”

“B-but-”

“Now.” The pro-hero’s tone leaves no room for argument. Aizawa still has Kacchan wrapped in his capture weapon, which is good, because he’s probably the only thing standing between Izuku and certain death.

Izuku rejoins the crowd and watches with everyone as Mineta gulps, does as he’s told and steps into the circle. To very few people’s surprise, Mineta gets the lowest score in the softball throw. Izuku would be lying if he said that it doesn’t give him some satisfaction to watch his classmate fail. Aizawa releases Kacchan when he’s calmed down somewhat and puts their final scores up. Hagakure and Mineta have tied for nineteenth, and the pair subsequently burst into tears upon seeing their placement. Ignoring their predicament, Izuku scans the list for his name.

9th-Midoriya Izuku

Hmm. Not bad.

“Calm down,” the teacher drones, “no one’s getting expelled. It was a logical ruse. Now get back inside.” Aizawa leaves before anyone can stop him, despite the loud protests and expressions of relief from his students.

He's lying, Izuku thinks, watching his teacher retreat. He fully intended to expel someone.

Just be glad you passed and didn't completely fail another Day 1.

Sighing, Izuku heads straight to the locker room to change, avoiding contact with his peers. (And Kacchan.) Time to move on to the next class.

Most of his classes just consist of teachers introducing themselves, giving an overview of what they’ll teach this year and getting to know the students. Izuku only partially engages himself during the day. Lunch comes, and he finds himself an empty table in the back, takes out his phone and pops his earbuds in, drowning out the noise of the cafeteria with music.

Then a purple haired boy sits at his table, as far away from him as possible. Izuku pauses and removes one of his earbuds. “Hi.”

He gets no response. The boy continues to scowl at his lunch without a word. Izuku decides to respect the boy’s obvious wish to be left alone and continues listening to music, drifting into its lull.

I pray for the wicked on the weekend

Mama can I get another amen?

Oh, it’s Saturday night.

A hand being waved in front of his face snaps him out of the music’s trance. “Hey!” Infinity-Girl says.

“Oh. Hi.” Izuku pulls the earbuds out. It seems like he’s doomed to have his music interrupted today. That’s fine. The people interrupting his peace today have been considerably nicer than the usual offenders.

“This seat taken?” She points to the empty space opposite him.

Izuku glances over at the purple haired boy who looks right back at him with a raised eyebrow. “No,” Izuku answers slowly, carefully gauging the boy’s reaction. “It’s not.”

The other male at the table snorts and twists away. Oblivious, Uraraka says, “Great!” And drops her bento box at the spot. “You were really great in the physical exam! It was so scary, but you acted so calm! And then you used Bakugou to get a higher score-”

“-which he was not thrilled about,” Izuku points out.

“Well, yeah, but he’s been pissed off since we got here, so….” She pops a rice ball in her mouth and shrugs. “Anyway, it was cool.”

“Thank you. You’re Uraraka Ochako, right?”

She blinks. “Oh, yeah. I’m surprised you know my name. I didn’t introduce myself.”

“We met during the entrance exams,” he reminds her. Am I that forgettable? “And I heard it after your infinity throw and saw you on the scoreboard. You were pretty creative during the test.”

“Well-” She blushes and rubs the back of her neck. “It was be creative or get expelled. But, thanks, Deku.”

Izuku raises an eyebrow at Kacchan’s favourite label for him. “My name is Midoriya Izuku.”
She tilts her head to one side. “But, Bakugou called you Deku during the test…..”
The boy sighs and leans back in his seat. “That’s what Kacchan calls me to bully me.”

Uraraka gasps and shakes her head in disapproval. “That’s so mean!” She huffs before doing a complete 180. “But I think it sounds like Dekiru! Y’know, ‘you can do it!’ vibes. It’s cute!”

“Deku it is.” Yes, Izuku is weak. Shut up.

She beams at him. “Anyway, you said your quirk is Analysis, right?”

“It is.”

“I remember you taking down the giant zero-pointer that was going to crush me,” she says with a frown. “How did you do that?”

This sparks a discussion on the entrance exam that spans the rest of lunch. Izuku lets Uraraka do most of the talking. She talks all through lunch and into English. Present Mic gives them permission to choose their seats and Uraraka moves in right next to Izuku. He casts her a questioning look, but she grins and gives him a thumbs-up in return. She swaps seats in just about every class she can so that she sits by him. Izuku doesn’t mind. Uraraka is pleasant and sweet; kind of bubbly with a brand of friendliness that he can’t deny.

The school day ends and Izuku begins packing up. “Deku! Let’s walk to the train station together!” She says, smiling brightly.

“Oh. Alright.” He shoulders his bright yellow backpack. “Let’s go.”
They navigate the packed UA halls while Uraraka talks about her family’s construction business and how she used to help out. She asks Izuku about things he does with his parents, but he plays it off with a shrug and a corny joke. She giggles and continues on her story. They’ve reached the front gates when Izuku catches sight of two people he knows.

“Midorrrrriya, ve have a zing to today,” Lana tells, the familiar lilt of her accent causing him to smile a bit. “Vith ze prrrogrrram.”

Uraraka pauses and examines the pair. “Wait-you guys are in the Imperial Scholars’ Program?!”

Hiromi nods. “Yep. Midori here is too.” He reaches over and rustles the boy’s hair, much to Izuku’s irritation. He bats the older boy’s hand away.

In less than a second, Uraraka whirls around to face Izuku. “You didn’t tell me.”

“I took my armband off earlier for the exam and I forgot to put it back on,” he replies, rubbing his sleeve. “Sorry.”

She sighs. “It’s fine. Walk with me tomorrow?”

Izuku glances over at the pair. Hiromi nods. “Sure. We can walk together.”

Uraraka smiles again. “Great. See you later!” She walks away, waving behind her.

The older boy turns to Izuku and smirks. “You’ve got a cute friend, Midoriya,” Kensei says with a sly look.

Lana flicks him with her tail. “Behave.”

“Hey, I’m your senior officer and senpai,” he teases lightly as they begin walking to the black limo waiting for them.

“You don’t act like it,” she mutters.

“Ah, young kohai, I will get you to respect me some day.” Hiromi opens the door and steps into the car.

“If you’re are quiet done, we should be going,” Jae-Seong says coldly.

Kensei Hiromi pauses and shoots him a cold glare. “Sorry there, Parker .”

Jae-Seong tenses and grits his teeth together. “It is Park.”

“Yeah, whatever Spiderman.” Hiromi tosses his bag onto the seat and sits down at the back of the car.

“I fail to see what spiders have to do with me.”

Izuku climbs in after Hiromi and sits beside Saito. “You are both childish,” she says dully before turning to Izuku. “Mochi?” She holds a green tea one in her chopsticks.

He shakes his head. “No thanks.”

Lana closes the door behind her with her tail and leans back in the seat. On the ride to the facility, Kensei and Jae-Seong side-eye each other and make passive-aggressive comments. Izuku sighs and puts his earbuds in until they get there.

Been traveling in packs that I can’t carry anymore

Been waiting for somebody else to carry me

There's nothing else there for me at my door

All the people I know aren't who they used to be

And if I try to change my life one more day

There would be nobody else to save

And I can't change into a person I don't wanna be, so

Oh, it's Saturday night, yeah

He nods to the music while he stares at the buildings passing by. People are blurs through the window of the limo. Individual lives flash by and are gone in an instant as the limo leaves them in its dust.

I pray for the wicked on the weekend

Mama, can I get another amen?

Oh oh oh oh oh

Oh, it's Saturday night, yeah

Swear to God, I ain't ever gonna repent

Mama, can I get another amen?

Oh oh oh oh oh

Oh, it's Saturday night, yeah

The car stops at the facility, a large grey building surrounded by trees. It’s a nice sight, but Izuku knows about the secret security system that will incinerate anyone without identification on site. The chauffeur shows her ID at the gate and the bar lifts. The limo drives up the road to the facility’s front door. They file out of the car and pass through security. “Agent Gonzalez is in Conference Room 145. He is waiting to brief you on the latest situation,” the head of security informs them. “Change into your uniforms and report there by four thirty.”

Izuku checks his watch and notes they have ten minutes exactly to be in that conference room. He goes to the locker room and puts on the program’s uniform. The outfit consists of a white dress shirt underneath a black blazer with white buttons. He ties a western black tie around his collar and puts on his slacks of the same colour. Before he goes, he pauses by the mirror and looks over his appearance. Reaching into his backpack, he pulls out the red scarf he’d taken off and loops it around his neck before heading to room 145.

Once everyone is seated, the door opens, but Agent Gonzalez isn’t the one who walks in.

“Director?” Pearson, the head of their unit, says, raising an eyebrow. “We were told Mateo was going to brief us.”

Director Arai Mamoru smiles a bit. “Yes, that was the plan, but the situation has become a bit more dire , you might say.” The tablets in front of them switch on. Arai turns on the projector and the room goes dark. “You have all heard about All For One at least one, I trust?”
“Those are trainees stories,” Akagi, the vice commander of their unit, states.

“Well, I can see how you might think that, seeing as he has been relatively inactive for the last decade, but I can assure you that All For One is very much real and poses a serious threat to the whole of Japan, if not the world.”

“If he’s so big, then why are we the only ones being briefed on this?” Kensei Hiromi inquires.

“That has a lot to do with how confidential this matter is. If need be, we will involve other units, but unit 15 was chosen to take the lead on this case in part because of their highest amount of successful missions and because of Agent Midoriya.”

All eyes turn to Izuku. “Me?”

The director nods once. “All For One has always had a mortal enemy; whoever the carrier of One For All is. Previously, it was Shimura Nana, someone who worked closely with the Emperor, but she passed it on.”
“Quirks that can be passed on?” Pearson repeats incredulously. He skims the information on the tablet. “Is that really what we’re dealing with?”

“If the ‘stories’ are true then I would be more concerned with All For One’s ability to take quirks,” Park snaps. “Apparently it will leave you comatose and quirkless.”

“Yes, that is correct. All For One is also capable of giving quirks, which can also inflict brain damage, though this is not always the case,” Arai says dismissively. “Moving on. The current holder of One For All is Yagi Toshinori, better known as All Might, the Symbol of Peace.”

Everyone in the room pauses. “Wait, so All Might has to fight this guy? Why are we getting involved then?” Nishida Kenji jumps in. “I mean, no offense, sir, but it’s All Might.”

“What exactly is One For All?” Izuku asks, reaching for his notebook.

“Good question, Midoriya. One For All is a stockpiling quirk with enhancement qualities. It grows stronger as it is passed down and enhances the holder’s quirk and natural abilities,” he explains.

“Are the quirks of the previous holders passed down with it?”

“Yes, but it does not always manifest in the current holder.”
Nishida raises his hand. “Sir, what is All Might’s quirk? Like, besides One For All.”

“All Might is quirkless, Nishida. Without One For All, he would be counted as part of the quirkless population.”

Silence sweeps the agents. “Quirkless,” Kensei repeats in disbelief. “The greatest hero of all time is quirkless.” He leans back in his seat. “There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: We’re screwed.”
“Careful how you speak,” Park bites. “He is still the Symbol of Peace.” Kensei glares at him.

"What does all zis have to do vith Midorrriya?” Lana, sitting at the far end of the table, says and all of Unit 15 returns their attention to the greenette.

“All Might starts teaching at UA this year. Specifically, he will be teaching the Hero Course students.” Director Arai looks directly into Izuku’s eyes like he’s staring into his soul. “That puts you and your class right in the line of fire for All For One’s assault on All Might.”

“Why are we concerned?” Nishida continues. “It’s still All Might. He never lost a fight even after he got hurt.”

“No, but the last time All Might and All For One faced off, Hokkaido was destroyed and both sustained life threatening injuries. It was originally believed that All For One was killed, but a year after the fight, we received knowledge from one of our underground operatives that he was active. As a result of the fight, All Might lost a lung and his stomach. Midoriya.”

Izuku perks up, managing to tear his attention away from his quirk analysis book. “Yes sir?”

“You tend to keep up with this sort of thing. How does All Might’s hero activity these last seven years compare to his activity, say, ten year ago?”

The boy pauses, tapping his pencil against his chin. “There’s been a steep decline in daily hero work for him. He used to do a full day, but now he only works for three or four hours before stopping. And he doesn’t do as many interviews as before. If he’s set to be interviewed, his hero activity goes down for the day. I just thought it was age catching up with him."
“Midoriya is correct,” Arai says. “All Might has a set amount of time he can maintain his hero form before he becomes Yagi Toshinori.” Pictures of the skeleton man appear on their tablets.The man’s is wild and All Might’s famous ‘v’ bangs hang beside the man’s gaunt face. “The current time limit is three and a half hours. While All For One’s injuries have also limited him, they do not hinder his quirk. It is believed that some of the quirks All For One has stolen over the years were lost when he was gravely injured as a result of damage to his brain, but he has seemingly bounced back from it. Our informant will be joining this League of Villains, but it is our job to take care of them as best we can and keep the public, and UA safe.” Arai claps and the projectors turn off. “You are expected to review the case file and be up-to date tomorrow. Dismissed.”

The room quickly empties, but Director Arai stops Izuku on his way out and hands him a pair of silver studs. “They’re trackers that double as communicators. Since you’re likely to come into contact with the League, you are to report in immediately if anything should occur. You wear these as earrings.” With a pat on the shoulder, Arai leaves and Izuku exits the conference room, shutting the door behind him.

He changes his earrings out for the communicators that the director had given him. “You guys want to grab a bite at the mess hall?” Hiromi asks.

Most of the group agrees. “I’ll ask the girls if they want to join us,” Pearson says.

“I can’t. My dad and I are going out to eat tonight.”

“Why not just move into the dorms?” Jae-Seong asks as he puts his boots in his locker. “It is easier and more efficient.”

Izuku pauses, having shouldered his bag and made it to the door. “I like being close to family,” he replies softly before leaving.

All present exchange a glance, unsure of what just happened.

 

Izuku unlocks his door and toes off his shoes. “I’m home.”

The familiar sound of Hisashi ambling through the apartment grows nearer and nearer until he can see his father in all his exhausted, disheveled glory.

Hisashi smiles at his son, smoothing a hand over his wild black hair. For a moment, his smile wavers at the sight. God, when did Izuku look so much like Inko? He forces the smile back to its original brightness. “Hey there, Izuku. Where do you want to go tonight?”

Izuku shrugs. “Oh, well, we can go anywhere, really.”
Hisashi shakes his head. “No, no, no, today is special. You’re going to UA.” He rustles the younger Midoriya’s hair. “And I gotta show you I’m proud of you somehow.”
Izuku chuckles under his father’s touch. “I know you’re proud. You say it a lot.”

“Sorry? What? Can’t hear you over my pride for my son,” he teases before pulling back. “Well, let me know where you want to go. I’ve got a few things to wrap up, so we’ll leave in half an hour.” Hisashi disappears back into his office.

Dropping his bag on the ground, Izuku changes into more comfortable clothes and switches on the TV in the living room. He drops onto the couch and waits for his dad.
Half an hour passes.

Then a full hour.

Then another hour.

And then another.

Around nine thirty, Izuku decides to peek into his dad’s office. Making his way down the hall, he notices a light underneath the door. Maybe he lost track of time?

Izuku knocks, but there’s no answer, so he opens the door. Hisashi’s snoring quietly, slumped over his desk with papers scattered around him. The lamp above the desk is on and Hisashi’s computer screen is dark. He must’ve been like this for awhile.

WIth a sigh, Izuku leaves the office and returns with a blanket. Carefully draping it over his father’s shoulders, he hugs him and then goes to make himself something to eat. He’ll let his father sleep. God knows Hisashi could use some rest after what he’s been through.

A while later, Hisashi stumbles out of his office, bleary eyed and groggy. “Wh-what time is it?”

“Ten forty-five,” Izuku answers. “I made miso, rice, vegetables and fish. There wasn’t much in the fridge.”

Hisashi yawns. “Sorry, Izuku. I fell asleep.”

“It’s okay,” Izuku replies, picking up rice with his chopsticks.

“No, but tonight was supposed to be about you,” Hisashi says seriously as he sits down.

“It’s fine, Dad. Really.” Izuku puts his food aside to look his father in the eyes. “We can always do it some other time.”

“I’ll make it up to you; Junko’s tomorrow night? I’ll even take the day off.” Hisashi almost sounds like he’s pleading.
“You don’t have to do that.”

“Yes I do. You’re my only child, Izuku.” You’re the only one I have left goes unsaid, but they’re both thinking it.

There’s been an emptiness in the house since Inko died. When Izuku had been rescued, he remembers coming home and the apartment felt so big. It’s supposed to house three living people, but now it holds has two. The gaping hole Inko’s death left has yet to be filled, and likely never will be. Izuku has learned to deal with the loss through various classes with the Program, but he knows his dad is still grieving her. Every time Hisashi looks at him, he can see the split second of pain in his eyes that his father tries so hard to hide. He’s aware that he’s the spitting image of his mother, from his green hair and eyes to his smile. Sometimes it’s too much and Hisashi can’t look at him.

He knows how it feels. For months after her death, he avoids mirrors and stains his green curls black to look less like his late mother.

It isn’t enough to take away her likeness from him. Nothing he could do would make him any less of his mother’s son.
For now, the best Izuku can do is be patient with his dad and be the son he needs, even if Hisashi isn’t always the father he needs.

After all, heroes are selfless.

“Okay. Junko’s tomorrow.” Izuku points his chopsticks at his father. “I’m holding you to that.” His tone has a teasing lilt to it causing his dad to smile.

“Yeah, yeah. I know.” Hisashi bows his head and presses his hands together. “Itadakimasu.” Then he begins to eat. For awhile, the only sound in the apartment is chopsticks tapping against the bowl. Hisashi heads to bed once they’re finished and Izuku does the dishes. He watches a bit of TV when he’s done before going to his room to review the case file. All For One, One For All, All Might-well, Yagi Toshinori, really, Shimura Nana and Shigaraki Tomura; it’s a lot to go through. By the time he’s a third of the way through it, the tablet’s on low power. He glances at the clock.

3:12 am.

Sheesh.

How long has he been at this?

Exhaustion rests heavy in his bones and his eyelids feel like lead. He yawns and rubs his eyes. Really, he should be getting to bed. So, Izuku switches the lamp off, powers the tablet down and climbs into bed. He’s out as soon as his head hits the pillow, but he’s unlucky enough to dream.

Well, maybe ‘dream’ isn’t the right word. Dreaming implies a fantasy; something made up.

No, Izuku doesn’t dream. He remembers.

God, does he remember. Sometimes he wishes he didn’t.

“So, you’re the new subject? I have high hopes for you.”

The scientist slips a hand under Izuku’s chin and brings it up, forcing the dazed boy to look them in the eye. Cold. Their eyes are cold. “ Very high hopes.”

Izuku tries to pull away. “Oh no, don’t worry, my little pet.” Their lips part into a freezing smile and they run their hand through his hair. “I won’t let you disappoint me. You are going to be very, very useful.”

Chapter Text

Izuku ends up sleeping past his alarm and missing the first train. The one he catches has him watching Aizawa walk into UA just as Izuku passes the front gates.

Shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit-No! No panicking! Think!

….he’s not technically late if the teacher isn’t there before him, right?

That’s the logic he’s using as he scales the front of UA. The building has surprisingly good hand and footholds. Izuku stops at his classroom and goes to open the window, but it’s locked.
Okay. He’s back to being screwed.
Izuku knocks on the window until Iida notices him and yells at him to get down while Kirishima hurries to open the window. Izuku slips in the classroom, darts to his desk and looks nonchalant as he can when Aizawa walks in. “Tenya. Sit down,” Aizawa commands and Iida, who had been mid-scold, bows, apologizes and takes his seat.

The teacher unceremoniously dumps a pile of papers on his desk and half-glares at the class through bloodshot eyes. “Today you’ll be starting Foundational Hero Studies-” A cheer goes up, but is quickly cut down as the hero’s eyes flash red and his hair and capture weapon float. When they’re quiet, gravity restores itself and his eyes return to black .”-I’m not going to bother with the details now, since it’s in the afternoon and I don’t want to repeat myself.” The bell rings and the students prepare to move classes. He and Uraraka have almost made it to the door when Aizawa says, “Midoriya. A word.”

Izuku freezes in the door and Uraraka shoots him a sympathetic look while telling him she’ll catch up later before she leaves. Slowly with mechanical movements and a blank face, Izuku approaches his homeroom teacher. “Yes, Aizawa-sensei?” His voice is even and cool, despite its wish to jump an octave higher and quiver at the mere sight of Aizawa.
“Care to explain why you were climbing the school?”

“I was late,” Izuku replies. “I needed to be in class before you got there, or I’d be expelled.”

“What gave you that idea?”

“You were willing to expel us for being last in the physical exam. I didn’t want to take any chances.”
Aizawa frowns, narrowing his black eyes. “No one was expelled. I told you all it was a ruse.”

Izuku tilts his head to one side, letting himself really look at his teacher. Aizawa Shouta, thirty years old, probably lives with cats judging by the hairs on his pants and sleeves, hasn’t shaved in roughly a week or more and got about five hours of sleep last night. He’s surprisingly transparent if one looks. “No it wasn’t. You’ve expelled at least five students at the beginning of every year, except for this one. It wasn’t a logical ruse, you just changed your mind.”

His teacher stares at him, slightly wide-eyed, fighting a reaction to the statement. “...dismissed.”

Izuku bows. “Thank you, sensei.” And leaves.

He can feel Aizawa’s eyes on him as he exits the room.

 

Aizawa Shouta has been a teacher for six years, and in all that time, he can confidently say that he’s never had a class like this year’s batch, nor has he had a single student that’s anything like Midoriya Izuku. The boy is calm in the face of expulsion, climbs a three stories in the air to avoid being late and figures Aizawa out in less than a day.

This year will be interesting; very interesting indeed.

He’ll have to keep an eye on that one.

 

If Izuku could describe the mood of his class today, it would be ‘restless’. Kaminari and Kirishima are fidgeting in their seats and stealing glances at the clock through English. Uraraka chews on the end of her pencil while Midnight lectures them on the first Hero Artist commissions. Ashido and Sero tap their feet impatiently in Math, annoying Ectoplasm. By lunch time, the entire class is abuzz with excited energy. All anyone talks about is their new class; what they’ll be doing, who will teach it, what are they going to learn, etc. Honestly, Izuku might be as hyped as they are if he didn’t already know All Might is the Foundational Hero Studies teacher. It sucks the anticipation out of the surprise, but that doesn’t mean he’s not looking forward to the class.

When lunch ends, Uraraka doesn’t even bother to wait for him, but then again, the rest of Class 1-A has already rushed back to their homeroom. Izuku sighs and goes to throw away his trash.

“Must be nice being in the Hero Course,” the purple haired boy from the day before bites out, glaring at his lunch like it’s a personal insult on his honor.

The bitter comment gives Izuku pause by the trash bin. “Why?”

The boy glares up at him with a cruel sneer. “Having a flashy quirk, having everyone love you. Gotta say, I envy you.”

Izuku is quiet for a moment. “I don’t have a flashy quirk or a physical one, and I’m certain not everyone loves me, so I don’t think I understand what you’re saying. My quirk is Analysis, and if you’re suggesting that I’m in the Hero Course just because of my quirk, then you’re wrong. I worked hard to get here.”
The boy across from him stares for a moment, stunned by his sudden admission before he goes back to eating the last of his lunch. “You should go. Don’t want to be late for your class.”

“Neither do you. Do you want me to help you clean up?”

“Why would you do that? Because it’s the ‘heroic’ thing to do?”

“No. Because it’s the decent thing to do and I am trying to be polite.”

The General Education student hands him some of his trash before he dumps the rest of it himself. “Thanks, I guess. Sorry for sorta being an asshole,” he mutters under his breath.

“It’s fine. Midoriya.” Izuku extends his hand.

“Shinsou.” He shakes his hand.

The warning bell sounds in the empty cafeteria. “I’ve got to go,” Izuku says. “I was almost late this morning and I really don’t want to push it with Eraserhead-sensei.”

“Yeah, yeah, you should probably get going.” Shinsou puts his lunch in his bag. “See ya around.”

“Bye.”

Izuku watches the boy go before heading to Foundational Hero Studies.

This should be interesting.

 

All Might races into the classroom, striking a dynamic pose and laughing. “Yes! It is I! Entering the classroom like a normal person!” He bellows with his trademark grin. “I am your Foundational Hero Studies teacher!”

While the class loses their minds over the Number One Hero, Izuku simply smiles as Uraraka grabs onto his sleeve, shaking him and excitedly babbling about All Might. The famed hero holds his hand up and silence sweeps the class in an instant. “In this class you will be taught the foundations of being a hero!”

Yes, Izuku gathered that from the name of the class.

“All of your hero studies costumes are in the back! Report to Ground Beta once you have changed! Ahahaha!” All Might leaves as he came; dramatically.

The class all but rushes to the back of the classroom to retrieve their costumes.

In the locker room, young heroes-in-training open their cases and admire their hero costumes. “Dude, where’s the whole middle to your costume?” Kaminari gestures to Kirishima, who’s almost done changing.

Kirishima laughs and shrugs. “I just thought it looked cool.”

Cool, huh?

Izuku look at himself in the mirror. The Support Course has done a good job with his costume. Part of his outfit is a pullover with dark forest green sleeves that end at his elbows and a black middle with a high collar that zipped up. Attached to the collar is a hood, the same colour as the sleeves. His gloves, pants, neck gaiter and reinforced Tabi boots are all black, the neon green stripe across the side of the boots withstanding. Across his waist is a utility belt, with the front and back lined with grenades and gas canisters. The tips of the gloves on the pointer and middle fingers had metal shells around them that released a powerful electric charge. It’s a good surprise attack and it’s powerful enough to resuscitate someone.

On the sides of the utility belt are small pouches that carry rope, tape, a retractable bo staff and medical supplies. Sheathed on both sides of his hip are two modern swords with blue highlights running up the blade. He drapes his thick red scarf over his shoulders. It has the composition of Eraserhead’s capture weapon, but Izuku took the visual design from Edgeshot’s scarf. (Yes, he is aware he’s a hero nerd.) His mask covers the top part of his face that the gaiter leaves open. The mask is white with a red and holes for the eyes that are modeled after traditional Japanese masks. The eyes are outlined with red on top and on the sides with black running underneath and a red circle is the above the eyes.

Izuku likes this design, but he can also appreciate the practicality of it. There are black pads on his elbows and knees to protect his joints during fights and hard falls. In the early days, years before UA when he is drafting his hero costume, he doesn’t include the padding. After a few missions with the program, however, he realizes how necessary they are and pencils them into his design. The pads aren’t the only recent change, however. Izuku also has added a watch that doubles as a comm, recorder and a voice activated journal. Taking notes in a fight won’t always be possible, but losing the information that could’ve been gained isn’t an option. He wrestles with what to do with his perceived dilemma until he mentions it in passing to Saito. She suggests the watch and it has been part of his costume since.

He’s aware that the grenades and gas canisters probably aren’t up to snuff, but he is a hero-in-training. It would be a media disaster for UA if he accidentally kills another student. He’ll just replace them quietly with his own concoctions and not say anything about it. That reminds him. He needs to finish his prototype wrist blasters and-wait. Izuku shakes his head. He should stop staring at himself in the mirror and get out there.

Izuku’s far from the last person on the field, which is a relief. Aizawa stands by All Might, glaring at everyone.

“Hey! Deku!”
Izuku fights a negative reaction and reminds himself that Kacch-Bakugou would never talk to him with such a cheery tone.

“Hey Uraraka.” He smiles at her as she hurries over to him in her costume. “You look cool.”

“You think so?” She blurts before backtracking. “I like it, but I should’ve been more specific on the measurements. It’s a little tight.” To emphasize her point, she pulls at the spandex-like material and lets it go. The material snaps back into place. “I’m going to ask the Support Course to make it a little bigger.”

He nods in understanding, ignoring Mineta’s leering in the background. “It’s important that you’re comfortable in your hero costume,” Izuku says, maintaining eye contact as he not-so discreetly kicks Mineta. The boy lets out a whine and skitters off like the little rat-bastard he is. “But the colour scheme is nice. And the space theme. You look a little like Thirteen.”

The girl gives him a big thumbs up. “That’s what I was aiming for! They’re one of my favourite heroes.”

They begin a conversation on Thirteen when Izuku notices Yaoyorozu standing off to the side of the group. The tall girl seems drawn into herself, covering herself up as best she can. Leaning back ever so slightly, Izuku sees the source of her concern.

The purple source of her problem.

Sighing in annoyance, Izuku excuses himself to help with the situation.

 

Mineta Minoru doesn’t know how Midoriya appears behind him, but the shift in Yaoyorozu’s expression clues him in as to when Midoriya materializes. “Do you really want this to be a year long thing, Mineta?” Midoriya says. His tone is polite, but Minoru can feel the malicious aura rolling off of him. The funny thing is, Yaoyorozu doesn’t seem to notice. She actually looks relieved at the other boy’s presence.

“Hey, I’m not doing anything wrong!” Minoru protests. He turns to face the taller boy and instantly regrets it.

The only visible part of Midoriya’s face is his eyes; dark, green and threatening. A chill runs up Minoru’s spine. “I think you’re making Yaoyorozu uncomfortable. Maybe you should go.”

He knows that is not a suggestion and scrambles away from that creep as quickly as he can.

How did a kid with a killing intent get into the Hero Course?

 

Izuku watches Mineta flee with another sigh. “Are you okay?” He asks Yaoyorozu.

She nods. “The costume...when I was designing it, I didn’t really consider….” Yaoyorozu trails off, but she doesn’t need to elaborate.

Tapping on his chin, Izuku takes in her outfit, which isn’t much. “Have you considered a jacket?”

“What?”

“A jacket. You could unzip if you needed to make something you couldn’t produce from your arms,” he explains, miming a zipper while he talks. “Maybe even shorts. Or a cape like Tokoyami. And instead of carrying an encyclopedia, have you thought of getting an arm guard with a computer interface? It would be faster to look things up. Or you could get a visor that could protect your eyes while doubling as a computer screen so you wouldn’t have to look away from what you’re doing. Or-”

Yaoyorozu watches with muted awe as the boy mutters ideas for her costume, weighing pros, cons, practicality and performance. “And, maybe you could go for combat boots instead of heeled boots. Those are harder to run in and you’re more likely to twist an ankle.”

“I’ll think about it,” she promises as All Might begins to call attention.

“Aizawa-sensei, I thought only All Might was teaching this class,” Kaminari says.

The teacher huffs in response and crosses his arms. “He’s supposed to be, but someone apparently can’t be trusted to take care of a class of minors.” Aizawa glares at the Symbol of Peace in such a way Izuku thinks he can see the famous hero fidgeting under the erasure hero’s gaze. “Not to mention they skipped the meeting on how to handle Hero classes and have no prior teaching experience.”

All Might coughs into his fist. “We shall begin!”

The instant All Might announces that, Iida’s hand shoots up. “All Might-sensei!”
“Yes!”

“Since this is where the entrance exam took place, will we be battling robots?”

“No, Young Iida! We will be conducting-” All Might strikes a pose. “-TEAM BATTLE TRIALS!”

“That’s awesome!”

“Can we pick our teams?”

“Will we get expelled if we lose, kero?”

“How is the winner decided?”

“Can I just blast these extras into the stratosphere?”

“Isn’t moi’s cape just fabulous?”

Izuku has never seen a pro-hero look so overwhelmed. Aizawa steps in to save the day. “One question at a time,” he snaps.

There’s a beat of silence before All Might reaches behind him and pulls out…..a script? Aizawa face palms.

This is going to be fun.


1-A gathers in the control room to watch the first match on the screen. Team A,  Aoyama and Tokoyami, are the villains. Against them is Team C, Asui and Todoroki, the heroes. Each side is given ten minutes to prepare for the match.

“The villain team is at a strategic advantage,” Izuku notes aloud to no one in particular.

He’s (pleasantly) surprised when someone answers, “Why?” Uraraka looks genuinely curious.

“The objective of the hero team is to find and capture the weapon,” Yaoyorozu supplies. “While the villain team’s goal is to protect the weapon. All the villain team has to do is keep the heroes away-”

“But the heroes have to find the weapon and secure it,” Izuku finishes.

“Oh! I get it. Who do you think will win?”

“The hero team.”

“The villain team.”

Yaoyorozu and Izuku exchange a glance. “Todoroki is a recommendations student and the son of the number two hero,” Yaoyorozu points out.

“Todoroki also refuses to use half his power. If he uses his ice, he will incapacitate Asui, since cold temperatures make her drowsy.”
“How do you know?” Uraraka asks.

“Frogs slow down in colder winter to hibernate,” Izuku replies, looking to the screen as the match bell rings. “She might not have that disadvantage, but I think it’s possible.”

“But Todoroki is still a powerhouse in his own right,” Yaoyorozu argues.

“Yes, but so is Tokoyami. Aoyama can be in this situation if he plays his cards right. However, Aoyama’s quirk will likely hinder Tokoyami’s, as Dark Shadow probably has a weakness to light.”

“How do you know everyone’s quirk?”

Izuku shrugs, not tearing his eyes from the screen. “Public knowledge. Look, Todoroki's going to use a big opener.” Just as the words leave the boy’s lips, Todoroki slams his foot against the ground and the entire building is encased in ice. Asui shivers and her eyelids begin to droop. “There it is.”

Yaoyorozu purses her lips at the sight and shakes her head. “Why would he do that to a teammate?”

“He’s not thinking about her.” The trio watch in silence as Todoroki and Asui have a soundless conversation before the former walks into the building, with the arrogance of a king.

Izuku switches his attention to another screen where Tokoyami and Aoyama are struggling with their current predicament.

 

“Aoyama, can you free yourself?” Tokoyami asks.

“Oui, but won’t that affect your quirk, mon ami?” Aoyama gestures with his free arm to Dark Shadow.

“Dark Shadow and I have spent much time in the light. We shall survive this yet.”

Aoyama sighs. “Cover your eyes, mon ami.” He blasts the ice encasing him into little shards before freeing Tokoyami. “Do you have a plan?”

The bird boy shivers against the cold. “The darkness is strong in Todoroki. I believe he has abandoned his teammate outside.”

“Abandoned! How rude!” The other boy huffs.

“Dark Shadow and I shall confront the heir,” Tokoyami says. “But we will need help.”

“Oui! What do you need moi to do?”

 

“They’re not serious,” Yaoyorozu says in disbelief.

“I think they are,” Izuku replies. “If they do this right, they’ll win the match.”

 

Todoroki growls. Where is the weapon?
A sparkling laser shoots by his head and Todoroki narrowly dodges it. He narrows his eyes. Aoyama .

Todoroki sends a wave of ice in the direction of the laser, but the boy continues shooting. With a scowl, he puts up a thicker wall of ice, thinking it would hold longer. “I’ve got to find the weapon-” Something dark slams into him and Todoroki skids across the icy floor, slamming into his own wall of ice just as Aoyama begins to crack it.

Tokoyami’s quirk headbutts the wall and it shatters, sending large chunks of ice into the ground. Todoroki weaves in between them, but the ice falls so quickly he can only see right in front of him.

 

“It’s over,” Izuku announces with certainty. “He lost.”

Yaoyorozu looks over at him and nods once.

 

Todoroki never saw Aoyama coming. Really, the green-looking boy shouldn’t have been able to get the jump on him like he did, but here he is, out of the match while Tokoyami and Aoyama go after Asui.

The match is over, and his team has lost.

He slams his fist against the ground and gnashes his teeth.

He lost.

 

Once they get back to the control room, Aoyama is excused to go empty the contents of his stomach in the toilet. Class continues without ihm. “It was quite a spectacular kick off for the Indoor Battle Trials!” All Might booms. “Can anyone tell me who the MVP of the match was?”

Midoriya and Yaoyorozu raise their hands at the same time. Midoriya looks at the girl for a moment and then lowers his hand. “Young Yaoyorozu!”

“Tokoyami was the MVP of the match,” she says. “He devised a plan that accommodated his teammate’s abilities. Asui was taken out of the match by her own teammate and Todoroki insisted on acting alone.”

“C-call me Tsuyu, kero,” the frog girl says, shivering. Ashido takes her jacket off and offers it to her.

All Might gives her a dramatic thumbs-up. “You are correct, Young Yaoyorozu!”

“Stop being so dramatic,” Aizawa all but hisses and elbows the man in the side.

The hero pays Aizawa no mind and continues. “Next up, Team B as the villains and Team D as the heroes! You have ten minutes to prepare! Use them wisely!”

Izuku and Kouda versus Kirishima and...who?

Bakugou makes eye contact with him and proceeds to burn two holes in his costume with his glare.

Ah. right.

Kacchan.

 

Kouji stands outside the building where the match will be held, shaking in his shoes. His partner-Midoriya, he thinks-is pacing in front of the building, muttering under his breath. Kouji really doesn’t like the lineup for this match-don’t get him wrong! He has no problem with Midoriya or Kirishima, but Bakugou’s explosions are so...loud. Kouji is a naturally jumpy person and he just-no. He can’t.

Not today, not ever.

He’s not brave like a lot of his classmates or fearless. Kouda Kouji is ashamed to admit that he’s a scaredy cat, but it’s true. Nothing will stop his heart from racing when something happens or his hands from trembling or his breath from quickening.

Kouda Kouji is afraid.

He is very, very afraid.

His mother always tells him that it makes him more relatable; that he’ll be a more popular hero because of his fears, but honestly, who needs a hero that freezes like a rabbit in the face of danger? No one. Absolutely no one. What kind of hero is just as afraid as the people he’s trying to save?

“Hey. Kouda.” Midoriya calls his attention away from his terror. “Are you alright?”

Kouda merely shakes his head and tries to force the lump in his throat down into his stomach, but it won’t budge. “Do you sign?” Midoriya asks.

He nods. ‘I prefer this.’

‘That’s okay. I’m pretty good at JSL, so we’re fine. What’s wrong?’

He hesitates before fingerspelling, ‘B-A-K-U-G-O-U and his explosions. They scare me and the animals.’

‘Your quirk, right? What’s it called?’

‘Anivoice. I can talk to animals.’

‘That’s very useful.’

‘Thank you, but it’s not very helpful if I’m afraid.’

‘Kouda, the best heroes are afraid. They’d be stupid not to be, given their line of work. Fear is good in healthy doses. It keeps us sharp, alert and smart.’ Izuku pauses before smiling. ‘And fast. Seriously, when I’m scared I think I can beat All Might.’

‘Like when you climbed the building this morning?’

Izuku fixes Kouji with a dry, yet humored look. ‘Don’t tell me you don’t find Aizawa-sensei scary. You think the first thing I want to deal with in the morning is being late to his class?’

Kouda laughs. ‘Thank you, Midoriya.’

‘Call me Izuku.’

‘Okay, Izuku. What do we do?’

The next smile that passes over Midori- Izuku’s lips is nothing short of devious and downright terrifying. ‘Do you happen to have any snakes and bugs?’

Kouji stares at him for a good minute before numbly nodding.

Midoriya Izuku is evil. Nothing can change his mind.

But he may be a good friend.

Kun-Kun, the bird on Kouda’s shoulder chirps. “Let’s take down that Spiky bastard!”

Kouda wishes that Izuku could understand what animals say, because he feels that Izuku and Kun-Kun might just share the same sentiments in the situation.’

Izuku quickly rattles off a plan and adjusts their earpieces so that instead of talking, they can send a series of Morse code sequences through the comms. It’s fascinating to watch the boy take the gadgets apart, rearrange a few wires and then put them back together so quickly.
After briefing Kouji on the plan, All Might announces the beginning of the match.

Flashing one last smile, Izuku whips out two swords and starts scaling the building.

Kouda’s heart starts thudding against his chest.

Deep breathes.

He slides his mask into place.

It’s go time.

Without further ado, he rushes into the building, calling upon all the creepy crawlies in the area.

Chapter Text

Izuku slips in a third story window and sheaths his swords. It’s probably best he doesn’t use them now. He pulls out his bo staff and begins prowling the halls with silent footsteps.

The original plan had been to have Kouda distract Bakugou, since the blonde would be rearing to fight Midoriya, giving him ample time to search for the bomb.

But after seeing Kouda trembling at the mere notion of fighting Bakugou, Izuku sighs, deciding to take on his childhood bully and lets Kouda go after Kirishima.

“DEKU!”

Here we go.

Bakugou glares at him with nothing but hate. He’s always hated Izuku, shoving him to the side, using him as a stepping stone, demeaning him, hitting him and Izuku can’t fight back, because if he did, he might kill Bakugou. (And there’s this little thing in the Program’s rules where you can’t use anything you learn on civilians.)

Izuku breathes deeply. No, these are not the thoughts of the hero. He’s not going to fight angry; not like Bakugou does. Level-headedness is key right now.

“Bakugou.”

The boy stalks forward, palms crackling. “What did I say, Deku? WHAT DID I SAY?! I said to quit followin’ me and here you are! At UA!” Bakugou shouts. 

“I’m free to go to any school that accepts me.”

“Shitty nerd, I’m going to turn you into a pile of ash.”

Izuku gets into a fighting stance. “You can’t kill me. They wouldn’t let you.”

The devil dances with glee in Bakugou’s shadow and eyes. “Oh, I won’t kill you. I’m just gonna hurt you so bad you’ll wish you were dead.”

He rushes Izuku, starting with his signature right hook. Dodging to the side of the punch, Izuku grabs onto his childhood bully’s arm and flips him. The wind is knocked from Bakugou’s lungs as his back slams against the ground. “I’m going to say this once, Kacchan,” Izuku says softly, but firmly. “I’m not your Deku anymore.”

Kacchan tears his arm from Izuku’s grip and rights himself. If he was angry before, now he’s downright murderous. “You bastard,” he growls. “Acting all high and mighty when you got into UA, looking down on me, hiding behind that stupid mask so I can’t see you scared….You’re more of a Deku than ever before.” A terrifying smile spreads across his lips. “I’m going to nuke your shitty ass until there’s nothing left to identify you by.”

……..

….Well that backfired.

He sends Kouda a signal, telling him he’s running a bit behind schedule. Then, Izuku does the most logical thing in this situation.

He runs.

“DEKU GET BACK HERE!”

Izuku skids on the corner as Bakugou lets out a massive explosion. He hopes Kouda is doing better than he is right now.

 

“The weapon is on the fifth floor in the right corner,” Kun-Kun reports, fluttering back onto Kouda’s shoulder.

The boy nods and makes his way to the spot. Kirishima is pacing in front of the weapon, quirk activated. “You’re not getting by me, Kouda,” Kirishima tells him, lowering himself into a fighting stance. 

‘Are you afraid of snakes?’

Just as he finishes signing the message, snakes sliver over the room, covering the light and the floor. The red haired boy’s strangled scream is quickly muffled. Kouda reaches out and places his hand against the bomb. 

“Hero Team wins!” Kouda smiles in victory before he hears All Might’s distressed cry, “Young Bakugou! Stop!-”
An explosion rips through the air, shaking the building. The earpiece in Kouda’s ear screeches at a high pitch and both he and Kirishima are knocked off their feet. The ceiling crumbles above them. The other boy dives over Kouda and shields him with the use of his quirk. To Kouda’s horror, many snakes are crushed in the destruction of the building.

“Are you okay?” 

Kouji nods numbly, feeling a sharp pain in the back of his head. Kirishima picks himself up. “We should see if Bakugou and Midoriya are okay.” He offers him a hand which Kouda takes. 

Please let Midoriya be okay.

He has a sinking feeling about all of this.

It’s a tricky journey down to the third floor. He can hear All Might and Aizawa shouting something over the static in his earpiece, but they can’t do much about the situation right now. They’re trying to get ahold of Cementoss and are ordering Kouda and Kirishima to stay put for now and to not look for the other boys.

Fuck that.

It’s Kirishima who sees Bakugou first. The blonde is just...standing there with his back to them. His arms are hanging limply at his side and he stares dead ahead. Kirishima smiles and hurries over. “Hey! Baku-bro, what-” Something causes the red-haired boy to stop cold in his tracks.

When Kouda catches up with him, he sees just why.

“He was supposed to dodge,” is all Bakugou can say.

Before them lays what’s left of Izuku. His mangled corpse is several meters away from them, slumped against the wall. Much of the costume is burnt, his red peeling skin glistening with blood. His mask has been knocked clean off and his hood is torn. Midoriya’s head leans against his shoulder, blood dripping from his lips like a grotesque faucet. His chest is lopsided with one side caved in, running his ribs through his lung. Burns marr his arms and the area around his eyes. The colour has dulled in both eyes and in the left one, it is a milky colour. But what strikes Kouda the most is his dull eyes that can only be described in a way that he can’t bring himself to admit:

Lifeless.

Kouda isn’t sure when, but he throws up. Vomit stains the front of his costume and dribbles off his lips. The sight makes him sick to his stomach.

Kirishima turns on Bakugou in an instant, cheery demeanor gone. “What did you do. WHAT DID YOU DO?!” He roars, horror in his eyes. 

Bakugou has no answer, seemingly dead to the world.

Just like Midoriya.

Kouda pukes again while Kirishima screams in the background.

This is wrong.

Wrongwrongwrongwrongwrongwrongwrong-

--------------------------

….Well that backfired.

He sends Kouda a signal, telling him he’s running a bit behind schedule. Then, Izuku does the most logical thing in this situation.

He runs.

“DEKU GET BACK HERE!”

Izuku skids on the corner as Bakugou lets out a massive explosion. He’s chased into a room with only one door.

Kacchan stalks in, sneering at him. “Those are some pretty fancy moves you had there Deku-”

Shitshitshit-Think! How can he get out in time? Kouda should be wrapping the match up in nine seconds. What is he going to do?!

He takes aim. “-These babies store sweat from my palms.”

“Young Bakugou! Don’t! You’ll kill him!” All Might shouts.

“Bakugou! If you pull the trigger-” Aizawa begins.

“He won’t die if he dodges!” Laughing like a maniac, Bakugou pulls the pin.

Izuku doesn’t stand a chance, and he’s much closer to the blast this time. This time he gets splattered across the wall in little pieces.

--------------------------

“DEKU GET BACK HERE!”

Izuku sprints away, trying to find another route, but ends up in the same room.

Seriously?!

“Those are some pretty fancy moves you had there Deku. I knew you were holding back all these years; looking down on me! You think you can get away with not giving me your best?! I’ll teach you.” Bakugou levels his grenade at Izuku. “If those Support fuckers did what they’re supposed to, I could light up a whole building. These babies store sweat from my palms. You’ve been stalking me all these years. You know what that means, right, shitty Deku?!”

“Young Bakugou! Don’t! You’ll kill him!” All Might shouts.

“Bakugou! If you pull the trigger-” Aizawa begins.

“He won’t die if he dodges!”

Okay, let’s try dodging.

Izuku throws himself out of the way as Bakugou lets loose a massive explosion.

Haha! I did it! He thinks as he stands up only to see Bakugou looking at him in horror.

Glancing down, he sees a metal rod protruding from his stomach.

…...fuck.

Izuku drowns in his own blood.

--------------------------

“DEKU GET BACK HERE!”

OH COME ON!

Bakugou enters, glaring at him with nothing but contempt. “Those are some pretty fancy moves you had there Deku. I knew you were holding back all these years; looking down on me! You think you can get away with not giving me your best?! I’ll teach you.” Bakugou levels his grenade at Izuku. “If those Support fuckers did what they’re supposed to, I could light up a whole building. These babies store sweat from my palms. You’ve been stalking me all these years. You know what that means, right, shitty Deku?!”

“Young Bakugou! Don’t! You’ll kill him!” All Might shouts.

“Bakugou! If you pull the trigger-” Aizawa begins.

“He won’t die if he dodges!”

Dodge where?!

Izuku quickly scans the room before his eyes land on the window.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Time to put his capture weapon to use!

All Might announces the end of the match, “Hero Team wins! Young Bakugou! Stop!-”

He sprints to the window and jumps out just as the explosion goes off. The force from the grenade throws Izuku farther than he expects. Okay, he’s maybe forty-five feet up. At forty-eight feet, the survival rate for falling is fifty percent. 

He’s not risking it.

Unlooping his capture weapon from is shoulders, Izuku slings it around a pole sticking out from another building. He yanks down on it hard and ties it so that he hangs.

Don’t let go. Don’t let go. Don’t let go.

Okay, he’s okay .

….he does need to figure out how to get down though.

“Hey! Midoriya!”

He looks up and sees Kirishima’s head poking out of the opposite building’s window. “Dude, hold on! The teachers are coming! They said ten minutes!”

Well fuck that. He’s not hanging here for ten minutes.

Izuku slides down the pole and plants his feet against the side of the building. The next window is about ten feet down, and he’d miss the tiny window ledge. 

...But, he could probably make the jump to the building where the match had been.

Eh. He’ll chance it. 

Izuku swings back and forth until he can’t go farther and then jumps. He crashes through a second story window, but he’s alive.

He’ll take that.

The teachers arrive with Cementoss and get them out of the unstable building. “How did you get down?” Aizawa asks suspiciously.

“I jumped through another window.”

The hero rolls his eyes and mutters something underneath his breath that sounds suspiciously like ‘problem child’.

Kouda, Kirishima and Izuku are all sent to Recovery Girl’s office while Bakugou goes straight to Nezu’s. The three boys chat amiably on the way there.

Izuku pretends not to notice how Aizawa’s eyes are glued to his back.

 

Kirishima’s quirk had protected him from most of the blast, so he didn’t have anything but a few cuts and scrapes. Kouda has a gash on the back of his head and multiple bruises. One healing kiss from Recovery Girl knocks the quiet boy right out. While Kouda naps on one of the infirmary beds, the hero moves on to Izuku. The exposed part of his forearms-the space between where his sleeves ended and his gloves began-are lightly burned and he has a slight concussion. Recovery Girl checks him for other injuries, more concerned that something more serious may be hiding since Izuku had been in such close proximity to the blast. When she finds none, she sighs and plants a kiss on his chest before dropping gummies into his hand. “These will restore your energy,” she says and taps him with her cane. “It’s a good thing that your costume is fireproof. Otherwise, we’d have to worry about serious burn marks on your back.” She applies burn ointment to his forearms and wraps them while she speaks. “Honestly, I can’t believe they let it get this bad. I have half a mind to march over to your knuckleheaded teachers and chew them out.”

Izuku spaces out while she gripes about his teachers’-particularly All Might’s-carelessness, but keeps a wary eye on her and any possible exits. Just in case.

Kouda snores softly in the background while Kirishima scrolls through his phone, popping a gummy in his mouth every once in awhile.

Somewhere near the end of the day, Uraraka, Yaoyorozu, Tokoyami and Iida show up. “What’re you guys doing here?” Izuku asks. 

“It is our duty as your classmates to ensure your health!” Iida announces, chopping his arm.

“And that match was scary!” Uraraka adds. “Bakugou really went all out!”

“That’s one way of putting it.” Yaoyorozu doesn’t look pleased.

“Tokoyami, no offense, but why did you come?” Izuku inquires.

“Dark Shadow wanted to verify the health of the Dark One.”
“Who?” Izuku questions politely.

Tokoyami doesn’t answer. “Are they okay?” Uraraka frets.

“They’re fine,” Recovery Girl says. “These two can go back-” She points to Kirishima and Izuku. “but that one needs to sleep.” Kouda snores.

Recovery Girl writes them a pass and sends the group on their way. Bakugou returns to class at the very end of the day, looking more pissed off than usual, but subdued. Well, as subdued as Kacchan can get. At least it doesn’t look like he’s going to attack Izuku anyone.

Not yet, anyway.

"The teacher fucking told me to apologize, so I'm sorry or whatever, nerd," he grumbles.

"Kacchan, wait-" The blonde spins around and leaves before Izuku can say anything else. He sighs and finishes the rest of his notes.

Izuku walks to the train with Uraraka, Kirishima and Iida before parting ways. He looks at the train schedules. If he goes to visit her now, he can be home by five thirty if he catches the first train back. 

The car he boards is empty, which is uncommon for this time of day. Then again, it’ll fill up after the next stop, which is always the busiest. He listens to music on the ride there.

He gets off at the Downtown Musutafu Station and forces his way through the swarms of people milling around. The downtown area is decorated with bright colours, hailing the change of seasons and the beginning of a new school year. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom, their pink petals littering the pavement like a blanket of flowers. The very air is filled with their sweet scent, and the smells of the various shops lining the street.

He’ll get some bubble tea on the way back. 

And maybe some mochi for his dad.

We’re going out to eat tonight. Shouldn’t spoil my appetite , Izuku reminds himself.

The cemetery gates come into view as he walks down the street. Flower petals drift slowly through the wind, landing on the gravesites and grass. 

Deep breathes, Izuku.

He opens the gate and walks in, searching for his family grave.

‘Midoriya’ reads the headstone. His father’s name is written in red, he’s still alive, after all, and Inko’s name is there beside his.

It’s not in red, though.

The tombstone is newer than the original; he had been thought dead until he turned up four years later, after his mother’s passing. Izuku wishes he could’ve been there for the funeral. He places his hand on her name and utters a quiet prayer. He wishes he had brought her some flowers; maybe daffodils or lilies. She loved those.

“Izuku! Run!” His mother reaches out, despite the weight grinding her into the ground. Blood dyes her fingers red.

“Mom-”

“Just run!” The familiar push of her quirk sends him on his way. Izuku runs and he doesn’t look back. He can’t.

But sometimes, he wishes he had looked back and stopped running, because if he had, the rest might not have happened.

"Oh, is this your mother?" An old woman says sympathetically.

"She...she was." Izuku closes his eyes tight and forces the feeling down along with the lump building in his throat.

She nods in understanding. "I'm very sorry for your loss, young man."

"....thank you." Quietly, he collects himself, bows and leaves the cemetery. He stops at a tiny shop to buy some bubble tea and mochi. 

On the ride home, Izuku stares blankly ahead. The tired people on the train home aren’t much for conversation, so it’s quiet. The only thing disrupting the silence is the sound of the train moving over the tracks. 

 

He puts his key in the lock and opens the door. Hisashi is there, waiting for him, on the couch with his shoes on. That’s odd.

“Hey kiddo! Ready to go out?”

….something’s wrong.

Trying not to appear suspicious, Izuku throws away his empty cup and puts the mochi on the counter. “Yeah, just let me change.”
“Is that mochi?”

“Yep.”

“Izu, buddy-” Hisashi chuckles, patting his stomach. “You’re going to give me a potbelly.”

Izuku smirks as he removes his scarf and toes off his shoes. “How do you know that’s not my end goal?”

Hisashi never calls him ‘Izu’ unless something bad happens.

“Haha, you little devil.” Hisashi pops a green mochi in his mouth. “So, get changed and we’ll go to Rokino’s!”

The statement causes Izuku to frown and turn to face his father. “I thought we were going to Junko’s.”

“Oh, well, y’know, UA is...special and I thought we might go somewhere nicer!”

Something is definitely wrong.

He’ll play clueless until he figures out what’s going on. Izuku ducks into his room and quickly changes into a t-shirt and jeans. When he reemerges, his father ushers him out the door and they catch a bus to Rokino’s, a restaurant they definitely can’t afford.

Make no mistake, the Midoriyas have never been poor, but they skate the line more often than not. Izuku can’t count the amount of times he has wanted that toy, or to go on that field trip, but they just couldn’t afford it. Hisashi’s job works long hours and the pay isn’t great, but it’s what they can do. Izuku offers to drop the Program in favour of getting a job, but Hisashi tells him not to. In response to the Midoriyas’ money troubles, Director Arai gets a fund for the program and creates an allowance for the agents. It’s not much, but it puts a dent in their bills.

The bus ride is noisy and crowded, but Hisashi still tries to make conversation with his son. Izuku listens with half an ear, trying to figure out what could be going on. They get off uptown and walk two blocks to the classy restaurant, where Hisashi has apparently made a reservation.

Their waitress gets them a table next to the window. The spot makes Izuku frown; he likes sitting in the corner facing the door so he can see everyone come in. Just this time, though, he’ll let it go, because something is obviously bothering his father.

The nice lady takes their orders for drinks and leaves. Hisashi fiddles with his thumbs, starting sentences before breaking off into murmuring. Izuku sighs and looks around the restaurant. Each square table has a white tablecloth and a slender vase with daffodils and asphodels, fresh from their smell. The window faces out towards the city, and in the fading light, Izuku can watch it come to life. Neon lights have begun to pop up everywhere and it gives brightness to the whole picture. The-

“Izuku.”

He snaps his attention to Hisashi. “Yeah?’

Hisashi alternates his attention between his son and his hands. “I, uh, y’know, work’s been going really well lately.”

Izuku blinks. “Oh. That’s...nice.”

Really well, in fact,” Hisashi continues, nervous. “I’m getting promoted.”

He beams at his father. “That’s great, Dad!”

His father tries for a smile that ends up looking more like a grimace. “There is one thing, though…..I…..God, I’m….”
“What is it?”

The older Midoriya pauses for a moment and takes a deep breath. “I have to move overseas for the promotion.”

Izuku stops. “Oh…..” He says quietly. “That’s….” He swallows the lump in his throat. “That’s...great, Dad. I’m happy for you. You’ve really been hoping for a promotion, I mean, this is your dream job, right?” Izuku tries to smile.

“It is,” Hisashi replies, voice equally soft. 

"When do you have to be over there?" Despite the brave facade he tries to put up, his voice cracks at the end. 

"By next month." HisashI frowns. "Kiddo-"

“No, no, it’s...fine. Really. I mean, I’ll finally have the whole house to myself now.” He attempts to make a joke, but it falls flat. Izuku doesn't want him to go, but he knows it would selfish to beg him to stay.

By God, he wants to be selfish right now. He wants to scream from the rooftops, cry, throw a fit, do something! Midoriya Izuku has never once gotten what he wants, so cant he have it this time? Life has to take his mother, then put him through hell, so can't he have this one thing?

But his father has to go, and even if he didn't, Izuku wouldn't complain. Hisashi has been dreaming of this promotion for years. He's worked a job he hates for the last twenty years so this moment could happen.

Izuku can't be the one to take that from him.

“Yeah, I guess you will.” Hisashi can’t even look at his son anymore. "I won't go if you don't want me to."

"No, go. I'll....be okay. Really." Maybe Izuku will take Jae-Seong's advice and finally move into the Program's dorms. He'll visit his apartment in the weekends if he needs to.

He couldn't stand being alone in it if he tried. The silence is too much.

The pair sit in silence until the waitress returns with their drinks and asks what they want to eat. Izuku gets the smallest portion of te cheapest thing on the menu. He’s not really hungry anymore.

They don’t talk for awhile after they get their food. Izuku tries to eat some of it, but he pushes most of his dinner around with his fork. “I’m  sorry, Izuku. "

Isn’t everyone.

 

Chapter Text

Izuku doesn’t see much of his father for the rest of the week. Hisashi’s running around like a chicken with his head cut off, frantically trying to find a place in the States near where his job is. His father packs his life into cardboard boxes and stacks them by the door. The phone is always in Hisashi’s hand, or by his ear. Calls come in and out from Hisashi talking to prospective landlords or his bosses. Izuku watches it all from a distance and tries not to get underfoot.

On the last day, he eats breakfast with Izuku, kisses him on the forehead and ruffles his hair before he picks up his suitcase and leaves for his plane. 

Izuku doesn’t have enough time before school to accompany his father to the airport and say goodbye, so he quietly cleans up breakfast and gets ready for school. He’s out the door earlier than he usually is, but Izuku doesn’t feel like hanging around the apartment for another hour. He catches the earliest train to UA. In the wee hours of the morning, there are few crowds. The sky is a pale grey, but the horizon is golden as the sun peeks over the border between day and night. 

His car is relatively empty, save for the elderly couple sitting by the doors. They pay him no mind, speaking in soft, kind voices to each other and smiling in ways that smooth the wrinkles from their faces. Izuku sits down and pulls his phone out. He brings up his agent file. Normally, a higher up only has the authority to change anything on the file, but he has a specific part that only he or Director Arai can alter.

 

Name: Midoriya, Izuku

Gender: Male

Age: 15 y/o (a first year in high school)

DOB: July 15th, XXXX

Height: 168 cm (about 5”6)

Eye colour: green 

Hair colour: green

Ethnicity: Japanese

Job: Undercover, junior field agent, sniper, assassin, stealth operative, information analyst, junior interrogator, reconnaissance, assistant strategist

Quirk name: [ R E D A C T E D ]

Quirk description: [ R E D A C T E D ]

Appearance: Agent Midoriya is average looking. Freckled face, small stature, curly green hair. Appears younger than he is. Few scars littered around body. 1 somewhat noticeable scar across neck. Usually wears scarf to hide this. 

Code name: Yomi

Kill count: 345

Unit: 15

Death count: 272

Cover quirk: Analysis

Quirk description: Agent Midoriya is able to analyze any situation or person in a minimal amount of time and execute actions against them

 

Death count: 272

[275]

Change [272] to [275]?

[ Yes ] or [ No ]

 

Izuku hits ‘yes’ and his death count goes up three and he shuts his phone off. I’ve only been here for two days...let’s hope this isn’t a trend. The train stops a few blocks away from UA and Izuku gets off, opting to walk the blocks instead of getting off at the closer station. 

Iida jogs up to the school, slowing his pace to be beside him. “Midoriya-san! It is unusual to see someone here so early besides myself! I commend you for your dedication to your academics!”
“Uh...thanks.”

“I see you are in the Imperial Scholars’ Program! You must be an excellent student!”
“I guess. Did you try for it?”

Iida nods his head in a choppy manner. “I did! Unfortunately, I did not make it.”

“That’s strange. I thought you would’ve gotten in. You seem very devoted to your studies,” Izuku says, though he knows exactly why Iida didn’t get in. Most children from families of heroes don’t get in because of their ties to, well, heroes . There have been a few exceptions, of course, but generally kids related to heroes aren’t considered. (Yaoyorozu Momo has been considered due to her father’s job with the government before he married, but it’s determined that the girl wouldn’t be able to stomach their line of work.)

“It is a shame, but it all worked out in the end! Now, we should pick up our pace, or we will lose time!”

They jog the rest of the way to school only to see swarms of reporters blocking the gate. “And this is why I hate the press,” Izuku mutters as they near UA’s front gate.

“You two! You’re UA students! Are you in the Hero Course?” Microphones are shoved in their faces.

“What is it like to learn under All Might?”

“Is he a good teacher?”

“Do you know when he’ll be here?”

“Any thoughts on being taught by the Symbol of Peace?”

“What classes does he teach?”

“Tell us about All Might! The public deserves to know!”

Iida begins to speak on All Might and his excellence as a teacher. “Iida-san,” Izuku says, trying to get around him. “We’re going to be late.”

“Oh! You are correct Midoriya-san!” Iida turns back to the reporters. “We must go. Apologies!” He bows and spins around to leave. Someone grabs his arm. “Hey, kid wait!”

“Let my classmate go,” Izuku orders.

The reporter glares at him for a second before she zeroes in on Izuku’s armband. “You’re in the Imperial Scholars’ Program!” She shoves a microphone in his face. “Tell us about it! The program is notoriously good at dodging us, but no more!”

“Please get out of our way,” Izuku requests in a cold voice.

“You’re not leaving until-” The boy in front of her disappears. She spins her head around. “...you...tell us...everything…?” The boy, ‘Midoriya’, somehow got behind her and is calmly walking towards the gate. How did he do that? She didn’t even see him move!  “Get back here!” 

“Iida-san, we’re going to be late,” Izuku says again.

The taller boy joins him and walks through the gate, swiping their ID cards as they go in. The reporter reaches out after them. “Hey-!” Her coworker pulls her back just as the gate slams down. “What was that?!”
He shrugs. “The UA security system. It locks out anyone without authorization.”

She growls and kicks the ground. “They can’t do this to us! We will get in there!”
From the shadows, a young man with scraggly blue hair watches with interest.

That, he thinks. Can be arranged.

Game ON.

 

“Midoriya-san, I must ask, how did you get around the reporter?” Iida asks as they walk down the hall to their homeroom. “I’m certain you didn’t move.”

“A great magician never reveals his secrets.” Izuku slides open the door and pauses, a sly smile twisting his lips. “Plus, if I don’t tell you, I can use it on you in training.”

Iida says something loudly about...he doesn’t know. Izuku isn’t really listening. He finds his desk and puts his head down as people slowly begin to trickle in. Aizawa finally enters, looking less than happy. “I’ll excuse anyone up to ten minutes late, but don’t let it happen again,” he grumbles, slumping down in his seat. “The situation outside is being... handled .”

Izuku imagines what would happen if the press even thought of trying this with the Imperial Scholars’ Program; it wouldn’t be pretty, and ‘handling it’ would end in a lot of coverups. 

The class breaks out into chatter. He lifts his head. He must’ve missed something important. 

“Class officers! That’s really manly!” Kirishima shouts, thumping his fist against his chest.

Ah. They’re choosing class reps. That’s normal.

“Hush! We should do this in an orderly fashion!” Iida says.

“How are we going to keep people from voting for themselves?” Izuku replies dryly. “We’ve been here for all of three days; we could choose anyone to be class president and have no regrets.”

“If I become class rep, I’ll require shorter skirts for the girls!” Mineta announces, hopping onto his desk.

Izuku feels a vein in his head throb and he grinds his teeth together. “..... almost anyone,” he corrects. “We could require everyone to vote for someone else.”

Iida nods. “That sounds like a reasonable way to hold this election!”

Slips of paper are passed out.

‘Iida Tenya’, Izuku writes without a second of hesitation.

With how the boy already acts, he thinks Iida will win in a landslide.

 

He is wrong. He is very, very wrong.

How in the world did he win?!

As he internally panics, Izuku manages to save face in front of his class. He has been elected class representative while Yaoyorozu has take deputy rep. Iida, having come in third, gets secretary. Okay, he has some experience in leadership, so he’ll be fine. Today can’t get worse.

It does. It does get worse. 

English class begins for real this time, instead of Present Mic going through a lot of American pop music. “Now, before we start English today, I want to know if anyone knows any other language? French, German, Portuguese, Mandarin, maybe Espanol?” A few raise their hands, including Izuku. “Great! We’ll go around to all the listeners and see what they know. Remember, you don’t have to be fluent in it, you just have to know it well enough to carry a conversation!” He dramatically points to Aoyama who says he’s fluent in French (big surprise) but the flamboyant boy is not the only one who can speak the language. Yaoyorozu and Iida also do. A few of his classmates know at least a little English, like Jirou (mostly from Amerian rock bands) and Kacchan, whose English vocabulary is solely comprised of curse words. He’s the last one to answer. “Oh, I speak French, Spanish and English. Russian and Mandarin I’m not as good at, but I’m more or less fluent.”

The class stares at him. “...why didn’t you take another language class?” Present Mic asks.

“I mean...all the other ones they offered, I knew, and I guess English would’ve made the most sense to choose?” He replies quietly.

Present Mic smiles at him. “No worries, listener! We’ll figure something out! But I gotta know, how did you learn all those languages?”

“Oh, I have friends from all over, so, I kinda picked it up?” He chuckles. “And I had a lot of time on my hands.”

A few people laugh and Mineta whispers something under his breath that sounds like ‘show-off’.

Izuku ignores him.

 

Lunch seems to be going normally enough, until one of the loudest alarm bells he’s ever heard in his life goes off. The first year students are concerned, but confused, while the second and third years immediately start fleeing the cafeteria. “What’s going on?” Uraraka cries.
“That’s a level four security breach!” A second year replies. “We have to get to the safehouses!”

People are stampeding towards the exits. “We must go!” Iida says, sprinting away.

They follow, but quickly find it hard to move. “I’ve got an idea,” Izuku tells Uraraka.
“Deku, what-Deku! Where are you going? We have to-Deku!” Her shouts fall on deaf ears as Izuku hurries to the main office. He barges past the secretary and picks the lock on the PA room with a paperclip. Throwing on the headset, Izuku slams his hand down on the power button.

 

Aizawa Shouta is racing through the halls to go calm down the students when he hears someone over the loudspeakers. “Attention! Listen up! There is no serious threat! No one is in danger. The press just got onto school grounds. Don’t panic, it’s being handled. Everything is alright.” The speaker is notably younger; the voice of a student.

His student.

Aizawa stops in the hall before spinning around and speed walking towards the office. In the PA room sits Midoriya Izuku, leaned back in his chair with his eyes closed as he mutters to himself. He checks the lock-Hizashi is very good about keeping the room shut tight, especially after the third years’ prank a few years back. That had been… interesting -and it’s not broken, but it has been picked, if the bent paperclip hanging from it is anything to go by. With a sigh, Aizawa taps the boy on the shoulder, drawing him from his mutterings. “Midoriya.”

Midoriya snaps to attention with wild eyes before settling. “Sorry about the lock, sensei,” is the first thing he says.

“Don’t worry about it, Problem Child. I’ll let it slide this time . Next time, don’t pick the locks.”

“I could’ve broken it,” Midoriya suggests unhelpfully.

“Problem Child,” he mumbles. “Go back to the cafeteria.”

He nods and rises from the chair. Aizawa lets the boy leave, staring at the lock.

 

The police are called and the press are escorted off school grounds, and yes, UA is pressing charges against the various media companies that think jeopardizing their students’ safety is worth a news story. 

Nezu wants to take a look at the front barrier the reporters insist they didn’t destroy. It’s little more than dust now. All the students are leaving through the back entrance to avoid seeing the ruined gate.

To his surprise, one student is there, kneeling by the pile of dust with his back facing Nezu. Midoriya Izuku runs his hand through the dust and mutters to himself, like he’s making notes. The principal examines the boy with curiosity before calling out to him. “Midoriya,” he says. “What are you doing here?”

Midoriya starts at the principal’s presence. “I was curious as to what happened to the gate.”

“Were you now?” is Nezu’s response. He stands beside Midoriya and glances at the dust. “Did you find anything?”

He doesn’t expect the boy to answer ‘yes’, but Midoriya surprises him. “Yeah. It looks like the work of a quirk. They didn’t do the greatest job, though.” He points at the solid remnants of the gate still attached to the barrier. “I think this person wants to make a statement; scare UA.” Midoriya blinks when he realizes Nezu is staring at him intently. “B-but that’s just what I think, so....” He scratches awkwardly at his head. “I-I’ll go….” Midoriya stands up and begins to walk away briskly.

“Wait, Midoriya.”

The boy halts in his tracks. “Y-yes Principal Nezu?”

Nezu’s tail twitches. This case has officially piqued his interest. “Your quirk is Analysis, yes?”

“Y-yeah.”

“Do you think you could help me and the police with this matter?”

Midoriya actually turns around this time. “Help?” He repeats.

Nezu claps his paws together and smiles. “Yes! It will be a very enlightening experience. Since you are in the Hero Course and your quirk is not physical, we should resort to other methods of strengthening it! Present Mic came to me and told me you needed to transfer out of English, yes?”

“Uh, well-”

“Wonderful!” He chirps. “Then instead of English, you can come to me and we will brush up on your analysis skills! I have been looking for a protege for sometime now!”

“But-”

“Now move along! I must discuss the current situation with the UA staff.” Nezu makes a brushing movement with his paws, indicating he wants Izuku to leave.

The boy, still stunned, walks forward, wondering what happened. 

He passes his homeroom teacher, who looks at him strangely. Then he sees Nezu humming happily by the pile of dust and understands. He sighs and then waits for the rest of his colleagues to arrive.

 

Izuku doesn’t have to be here, but he doesn’t want to go home yet. The facility isn’t homey, but it’s got familiar faces and he knows all the ins and outs. His feet take him to the roof. Up here, he can see forever. The city seems so small from his spot on the roof. 

Take a swan dive-

Pray for a real quirk!

He ignores the memory. 

“Oh. Hey Midoriya.” Hiromi nods towards him. “What’re you doing up here?” The older boy flicks ash off of his cigarette.

Jae-Seong rolls his eyes and takes another puff. Izuku smiles and shrugs, dismissing the odd sight. “Dunno. Just...needed to think.”

“Don’t get too close to the edge,” Hiromi jokes. 

“That’s not funny,” Jae-Seong mumbles, shooting the other boy a half-hearted glare.

It’s odd seeing the pair not at each other’s throats, but Unit 15 and the rest of the Program have accepted that the only time Kensei Hiromi and Jae-Seong Park will ever get along is for a smoke break.

“I don’t often see you up here, Midoriya,” Saito says. She steadies her gun and picks a bird out of the sky. 

“Do you do this a lot?” Izuku asks.

“I find it relaxing.” She shoots another bird down. “Try it.”

Saito Naomi drops the gun into Izuku’s hands. He sighs and take aim. Two birds fall with a single gunshot.

“And that’s why Midoriya’s one of our best snipers,” Hiromi says, clapping.

“You can’t be bothered to use honorifics,” Jae-Seong grumbles.

“Nah, we’ve all known each other too long for that. We’re basically family.”

“Yess, family who almost dies on a rrregularrr basis and trrries to kill each other at times,” Ogura Svetlana says, appearing in a cloud of smoke.

“Hey, you’re free to move back to Russia if you don’t like it here. You’re the one who transferred,” Hiromi points out, taking a long drag of his cigarette. “But you’ve been here for four years, so you might as well get used to it.”

“I will do no such zing,” she hisses, letting her snake-like tongue flick over her lips.

“Your Japanese is improving,” Saito notes, shooting another bird down. 

“I’ve noticed it too,” Izuku pipes up. “You’re getting really good. There’s only a slight accent now.”

While Svetlana (“Lana”) is incapable of smiling, he’s sure her lips curve upward as much as her face will allow. “Za-Thank you.”

Of the eight people in Unit 15, three are foreigners. Ogura Svetlana is of Japanese and Russian descent, but she has been raised in Russia for most of her life. Four years ago, she moves to Japan to live with her aunt.

The commander of the unit, Ellis Gray Pearson is an African American male who moved to England before he was one. At age twenty-two, he’s the oldest in the unit and in his fourth year of senior ranks. Ellis Gray has been in Japan for a little less than a decade, so his Japanese is fine, but every once in awhile Izuku can hear the familiar lilt of his English upbringing.

The next one is Jae-Seong, a Korean native who moved to Japan three years ago. He almost immediately took to the new language, so not many people can tell that he’s from the United Korean Nation.

They all manage to blend in well enough, but only Ellis Gray and Jae-Seong work undercover. Due to Lana’s distinctive appearance, she doesn’t usually work undercover unless the assignments calls for it. With Lana’s gargoyle appearance, occasional floating hair and fangs, she’s memorable, and that’s not usually what undercover work needs.

“Izukun. Shoot that bird. I keep missing it.” Saito hands him back the gun and he picks it out of the sky with two shots. “Thank you.”

Saito’s ghostly blue eyes send a familiar chill down his spine; being near her feels like standing in a graveyard at night. Her hands are ice cold; he can feel the lack of  heat on the grip. He gives her a shallow smile and returns the gun to her.

The older, but much smaller girl takes it and reloads the gun with a new round of ammunition. She continues to down birds that dare to fly near the Program building. “You’ll have to clean those up later,” Hiromi tells her.

“Izukun will help me,” she answers, not taking her eyes off her target.

He sighs, knowing that, yes , he probably will. Someone opens the rooftop door. “Hey, Midoriya. The Director wants to see you,” Ellis tells him.

Everyone turns to Izuku. “ Somebody’s in trouble -Ow! What the hell, Jae?” Hiromi hisses.

...and they’re back to fighting.

“He said now, Midoriya.”

“Don’t worry. You can still help me pick up birds later,” Saito says like it’s reassuring.

“Yeah, yeah, fine.” Izuku heads to the Director’s office, taking care to knock first.

(The Director has a habit of impaling people who don’t knock first.)

“Come in.”

Izuku lets out a breath he doesn’t know he’s holding and pushes the door open. Arai Mamoru lifts his head and the door behind Izuku shuts with a click. At first the Director says nothing. His red eyes run over Izuku in an examining way. For just a moment, Izuku feels like he’s back in the lab, under the “Good” Doctor. “Izuku,” he says. “Why are you standing?” Arai gestures to the two chairs in front of his desk. “Take a seat.”

“I...I’m fine with standing.”

“Sit down.” Arai’s voice is more commanding this time; this is not a suggestion.

Izuku obeys. “You wanted to see me, sir?”

“A few hours ago, you reported a breach to UA’s security that may have been a move by the League of Villains.”

“Yes sir.”

Arai flips through a stack of papers, most likely a report on the damage. How he managed to get that, Izuku doesn’t want to know. “Turned to dust. Could be the work of a weapon.”

“It sounds exactly like something Shigaraki Tomura would do,” Izuku says quickly. “Y-you said in the briefing that Shigaraki is irrational and driven by emotion. He’s working under All For One, who plans to overthrow All Might, end One For All and rid the world of heroes, right?”

“Correct.” He nods once.

“S-so-” Izuku plays with his fingers, just a *little nervous.
“Don’t fidget, Izuku. It’s distracting.”

“Sorry sir. The, uh, gate was disintegrated while reporters were trying to get in to see All Might,” Izuku continues. “Besides the gate, nothing was destroyed, no one was hurt, no verbal threats were made.”

“Verbal threats?” Director Arai repeats. “Explain.”

“Well, I think if Shigaraki did this, he’s implying that he’s going to hurt UA and All Might and has the power to do it. It’s like a warning, telling them ‘you’re not safe and I’m coming for you’.” Izuku pauses. “And I think that means he’s planning something big soon.”

The older man falls silent for a moment before nodding. “I will look into it. And, Izuku, I find it worth mentioning to you and your Unit that two of our agents will be infiltrating the League as spies.”

“Do I know them?” Izuku asks.

“You will when you see them. They still have a month or two before they’re able to join, but if your analysis of the current situation is correct, I believe you will be seeing them very soon.”

Izuku pales, but forces himself to remain calm. He can panic once he’s outside of the Director’s office. “M-may I go?” He rises, a little unsteady.

“Yes, but, one more thing, Izuku.”
Izuku halts at the door, his hand hovering over the doorknob. 

Just open it! Leave!

“Yes sir?”

“I heard your father left to work overseas, didn’t he?”

“Y-yes.”

“Will you be moving into the dorms?”

Izuku sucks in a sharp breath. He has been thinking about that, but….

“Maybe. Not yet, though.”

The Director nods. “I understand. Dismissed.”

Izuku bows awkwardly as he’s facing the door and quickly retreats from the office, hands trembling.

He feels ashamed; Arai Mamoru has done so much for him. He’s offered him a place in the Program, gave him a chance to do right, taught him how to fight and helped him figure out his quirk.

So why is he so afraid of him?

Because he’s too much like the doctor.

T̴h̴e̴ ̴G̴o̴o̴d̴ ̴D̴o̴c̴t̴o̴r̴.̴

T҉h҉e҉ ҉G҉o҉o҉d҉ ҉D҉o҉c҉t҉o҉r҉ ҉w҉a҉n҉t҉s҉ ҉t҉o҉ ҉h҉e҉l҉p҉ ҉p҉e҉o҉p҉l҉e҉.҉

T̸̰̮̩̎̇̀̋̏͘̕h̴̼͇̩̪͔͔͇̤̏̈́ę̶̜̲͑͑͐̇͌͆̆ ̴̙͈͎͎͗͂̿̈́̕ͅG̶̬͎͙̖͙͆̓̚͜ͅo̴̰̫̥̳̠̠͌̂̅̿͒ȏ̵̧̜͕̪̜͑̊̒͗͌̇̕ḑ̸̛̣̋͛̂͐͜͜ ̴̪̤́͑̆̒̾̑͗̈D̵̡̢̫͂̀̃̿͛̓̌͜͝o̷̮̲̎̐̀̇̾c̶̲͕̜̳̹͈͇̖͊̎̓͊̓̍͐̂̈́͘͜t̵̢̮͈̓́̏̈ọ̶̧̞͖̱̟͇͍̑͐̃̅̔͌͛̕ͅr̷̨̳̠͈̹̞͓̂ ̵̛͔̗͉̫͇͈̤͕̈́̀̌̇͋̄͑̕w̴̛̞͓͓̼̺̤̆̋͑̑̃a̷͊̀͆̂̆͘͘ͅņ̷̟͛t̷̮̻͐͗̂̉̎͝s̷̨̟̹̪̜̳̟̏̏̀̊͑̍̌͊̓͆ͅͅ ̵̨̝̺̦̙̱̪̻͆̈́́͂͝ͅͅt̴̢̡͍̮̼̼̩̃͑̅̍͠ͅơ̷̧̢̻̩̝͓͐͐̎͠ͅ ̶̬͈̞̥̤͍̫̫̖̅̈͂̃̂͋ͅủ̶̗̻̤̩͝ş̸͎̯̙̞̺̱̐̃̇̀̿́̏̏͗͛e̷̡̢̢̛͕͉̩͓̻ ̵̮̙̏̊̈́̇͝ȳ̷̧͉̺͇̻̺̰̲̠o̸͙̜̲͐̾̒̄͑͋̅̉̏̾͜u̴̧̱͎̩͍̯͇̤̣̝͗̉̋͗̐̓̇̾̾ ̵̦͓̉͛̈͑̔̒͊̈́̄̕ţ̴̟͔̞̲̓̇̈́̀̐̈́͌̉̂͐ő̸͉̠̳͎̩̍̓̑̒̔ ̸̺̹̘̘̙͓̣̜̏̓͑͜ḩ̵̡̪̖͚͕͓͊͌e̷͎̮͉̟̣͛̓̆͒͊l̵͓͓̅̌̏̇͊͌̄̈p̷̧͈͇̖̝̥̗̯͈͔ ̵̘̼͕̯̬̼̜̺͉̜̈́̅̉̄̕p̷͔̟̫̲̺͔̯̭̰̼̒̑̑̎̏͐͗̇ę̸̢̧̛̳̺̩̳̻̏̀͝o̸̡̤̰͉͇̱̥̥̤̣̒̔́͒p̷̨̨̦̘͗ļ̸̣̪̗̝̓̃̊͑ë̵͎͇̻͕̬͔͎͕́͒̍̍͑.̴̨̡̙̱̄̄̌̿

Midoriya Izuku doesn’t like the Director because Arai Mamoru is too much like a bad, bad man.

Izuku feels dizzy and presses his hand against the corridor wall to steady himself. 

Breathe.

It’s not him.

It’s not.
Breathe.

“Hello, my little pet. Are you ready to make the world a better place?”

No.

“A quirkless little boy, just what I need!”

No .

“You won’t fail me; I won’t let you.”

No.

He goes to the bathroom and splashes cold water on his face. “He’s dead,” Izuku mutters to himself, staring at the drain in the sink. Izuku’s hands have a white-knuckled grip on the sides of the sink. “He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead.”

Dead people stay dead.

You certainly didn’t.

Izuku takes a shaky breath and counts down from fifty. The tremors in his body stop, his heart rate returns to normal, his breathing evens out and his mind clears.

He’s okay .

Izuku’s phone rings, shattering the searing silence of the bathroom. With a sigh, he answers it. “Izuku. Come help me pick up the birds,” Saito says. “Nguyen says he can make something with them.”

“Where are you?”

“Outside.”

He smiles dryly. “Could you be a little more specific.”

“Outside the West Wing near the strawberry patch. And bring a cart. There are a lot.” Saito hangs up.

Izuku stares at the phone in his hand for a moment before pocketing it and going to find a maintenance cart for the dead birds.

What a day.

Chapter Text

The cell is packed with other patients, all dressed in white hospital gowns. Their eyes are all dead, or in the process of dying, finally letting the last of their fight disappear. No one says anything, they just stare off into space with lifeless eyes and defeated posture. Their shoulders are slumped and they hold their heads low. 

Kino sits in the corner with Izuku, one arm looped around his small frame to keep him close. The smaller boy leans into Kino’s side, clinging close to him.

 Izuku tries not to flinch at the sound of the bolted door being unlocked. The Good Doctor steps into the cell, two guards flagging him. “Today, I need subjects 0224, 0265, 0311 and….” He sweeps his gaze over the batch. All the patients inch away from him, terror in their eyes. The doctor sneers at their reaction and settles his gaze on Izuku. “Subject 0321.”

The young boy’s heart stops.

No one besides Izuku fights when they are taken, but the little boy can only struggle so much in the iron grip of the guard. The subjects are taken to the lab.

The cell door shuts with a loud bang behind them. Doctor Watanabe Isoru’s shoes click against the cold, hard corridor floor leading to his laboratory. Young Izuku would scream if it would do any good.

It never does, though, because the people here are deaf to the screams of the test subjects; they’ve heard them far too often to be alarmed.

In the Watanabe Research Facility, no one can hear anyone scream.

 

Izuku sits up bolt right in bed, blood roaring in his ears. His eyes shoot around the room, searching for a threat and he can feel the guard’s bruising grip restraining his arms. 

Izuku launches himself out of bed, looking wild. Reality takes a few moments to catch up with him. “Nothing,” he says softly. “Nothing. It’s nothing.” His heart rate slows and he draws in a slow breath. “There’s nothing.”

Sweat beads on his forehead and causes his sheets to stick to his body. He shakes them off and stands in the middle of his room for a minute. “Nothing,” he says again, like a reassurance.

It’s almost four in the morning. There’s no way he’s going to get anymore sleep tonight. Izuku drags a hand over his face and squeezes his eyes shut. He needs coffee. 

Izuku slips a shirt on and shuffles through the silent apartment. The sounds of the city blare outside his window. It’s dark and quiet, but he really doesn’t care. He stands in the kitchen by the coffeemaker with half-open bloodshot eyes staring at the little red numbers counting down. God, he’s tired. He should sleep, but he knows that he’ll spend more time staring at the ceiling than actually getting some rest.

The coffeemaker beeps to tell him that his drink is done. Izuku yawns and downs the cup in one go. He sets the cup down and exhales, letting his shoulders fall. The caffeine causes a familiar buzz in his veins, slowly waking him up. He leans against the counter, staring into the dark apartment for awhile. The living space is still and eerily quiet. It’s too quiet.

The faucet’s dripping becomes stronger in his ears. Water droplets smack against the sink, louder, Louder, LOUDER.
Drip

Drip

Drip

Drip-

Izuku slams his hand down on the faucet handle; it’s too loud . He takes another deep breath and steps back, inspecting his hand. A thin line of blood trickles down his palm from where his palm hit the faucet handle. The cut spans from almost one side to the other. He sighs and goes to the bathroom to clean up. He washes the cut and wraps the middle of his hand in bandages. 

Izuku can’t keep doing this.

He has school tomorrow.

 

Normally, Izuku would be surprised that he has a field trip so early in the year, but this is UA. He’s already gotten used to the free way classes are taught. “Single file line! No pushing, no shoving! Sit in alphabetical order, descending!”

“Iida,” Izuku says, tapping the taller boy. “It’s fine. Besides, I don’t think the bus is built like you think it is.”

Iida spends the ride to USJ lamenting this fact. Izuku sits between Asui and Aoyama. “Hey, Mido!” Ashido calls, standing up in her seat (much to Iida’s disapproval). “Where’s your hero costume?”

“Ah, it was…” Izuku makes eye-contact with Kacchan. “...damaged. I’m waiting for the Support Course to fix it up, so I’m going to wear my gym uniform for this.” 

“That sucks dude, but your gear is still pretty awesome!” Kirishima points to the swords sheathed at Izuku’s side and his capture weapon. “But what are those?” The red-haired boy refers to the grenade belt he’s wearing and the silver bracelets around his wrists.

“Highpowered tasers,” Izuku answers easily. “And grenades.”

“Woah, really?” Kaminari pokes his head over his seat. “Isn’t that kinda dangerous?”

“Only if they go off.”

“Will they?” The blonde asks.

“Probably not.”

The class laughs and Izuku feels himself smile. Outside of the Program (and even there, his relationships with his peers is okay at best) he’s never gotten on with many kids his age. It’s usually because of his lack of an obvious quirk, but even if it wasn’t, he doesn’t relate to many of his peers in the slightest. He’s always been rather aloof when it comes to making friends, despite his desire to be polite, and doesn’t exactly give off a ‘friendly’ vibe. No one really bothers with him.

“It’s a lonely road we walk, but it is for their good,” the Director had said to him once. “After what you’ve been through, you can’t go back to living among other people, because you know . You’ll never fit in with them again. You’ll be alone ‘til the end of your life, whenever that may come.”

“Midoriya,” Asui says.

“O-oh. Yes?” He smiles at the frog-like girl.

“I tend to speak my mind, kero,” she replies.

“Okay-?”

“Your quirk isn’t well suited for heroics.”

“Oh.” Well, she did say she was blunt , he thinks, staring at the green-haired girl. “Sorry.”

“But you use it interestingly,” she continues. “You could be a great hero, kero.”

“Yeah! Midoriya’s totally manly!” Kirishima says.

“Uh, guys, it’s-”

“I mean, usually the most popular heroes have really flashy quirks, but Deku's got personality!” Uraraka adds.

Oh God. “Guys-”

“Bakugou has a strong quirk, but he can’t be a popular hero with his attitude, kero,” Asui pipes up.

“Guys-”

“What’d you say about me, Frogger?!”

“See?” She croaks.

“Asui, you really shouldn’t-” Please, please, please don’t let the bus explode.

“Call me Tsu. All my friends do,” she replies.

“I’ll blow all of you to Hell! Take me on!” Kacchan continues his rage.

Izuku sighs. “Kacchan, don’t-”

“Aw! You call Blasty ‘Kacchan’? That’s sooo cute!” Ashido coos.

“Fuck you Raccoon Eyes!”
“Now don’t be so mean, Kacchan!” She chides.

While Bakugou threatens the lives of everyone on the bus, the class laughs and continues playfully digging at the blonde.

Dear Lord, does everyone on this bus have a death wish? Izuku wonders.

Kirishima cracks a joke and smacks Bakugou on the back.

Apparently so.

“Hey. Keep it down back there,” Aizawa snaps, glaring at his students over the edge of his seat.

Izuku enjoys the rest of the ride to USJ; it’s filled with friendly banter and easy conversations. He’s almost disappointed when the bus stops in front of a large glass domed building, but is excited for the rescue training they’re to receive today.

He steps off the bus and is instantly hit with a feeling of warning. He’s trembling and his heart rate is speeding up. This isn’t just an attack. Something is wrong .

“Midoriya, are you alright?” Aizawa asks, appearing beside him. 

“J-just nervous,” he lies, mind racing. Something is messing with his quirk and he knows something’s wrong.

“Then keep moving, Problem Child. There’s nothing to be nervous about.”

Aizawa pats him on the shoulder and then walks away. Izuku tries to steady his breathing. It’s okay. Maybe it’s nothing. Nothing at all, right? Maybe it is just an attack.

His Program-issued earpiece crackles to life. “Midoriya. Midoriya. Stop them. Don’t let them-Go into-the League-USJ-” Pane’s voice cuts in and out. “Direct-says-informant-Midoriya!”

“Pane, Pane, what happened?” Izuku says in a low voice, desperately trying to get the message through.

“Midoriya,” Aizawa calls, narrowing his eyes. “Is everything alright?”

“Y-yes, but sensei, are you sure we should be doing this today?” He asks nervously.

“Yes, now come on.”

“Sir-”

“Midoriya unless you have something life threatening to tell me, we’re going in.”

Izuku resigns himself to his fate and enters USJ, the earpiece in his ear producing nothing more than static. Once again, he’s hit with another wave of foreboding. Every part of him is screaming that something is going to happen and he will die because of it. All his limbs are taut with apprehension and they move stiffly. Aizawa notices it and keeps a watchful eye on the boy as Thirteen begins speaking. 

Uraraka doesn’t notice his tension and excitedly talks about how No. 13 is her favourite hero. Thirteen begins speaking on the danger of some quirks, using their own quirk’s ability to kill as an example. “Where’s All Might?” Aizawa grumbles.

“Ah, he had some hero work to do.” Thirteen holds up three fingers.

He ran out of time , Izuku thinks.
He’s beginning to settle down. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe-

“Hey, sensei! Are those guys part of the exercise?” Kirishima points to the swarm of people growing in the plaza.

Izuku’s heart stops and he and Aizawa briefly make contact. Aizawa steps forward, reaching for his capture weapon. “Stay back! Those are villains!” He slides his goggles on and prepares to launch himself into the fight. “Thirteen! Protect the children!”
“No longer will you be protected,” the Director had said. “You are now one of the protectors. Keep them from all they do not need to see.”

Before he knows it, Izuku’s rushing forward. “Sensei, you can’t,” he breathes.

“No hero is a one-trick pony. Stay back.” Aizawa turns to jump when Izuku grabs his arm.

“No, sensei, you don’t understand,” he says, eyes wide and breathless. “ You can’t .”

Aizawa holds his student’s gaze for a moment. “I have to.”

Izuku purses his lips and lets Aizawa go. The teacher casts one last look at Izuku before diving headfirst into the sea of villains. 

He fights and takes down as many as he can. The leader turns part of his elbow to dust, but he doesn’t stop until he sees his students standing at the edge of the plaza, dripping wet. Even under the crushing weight of the Nomu, he manages to erase the leader’s quirk long enough to save Tsuyu. The blue hired man sneers and looks back at him. “Eraserhead...you’re so cool…” He rasps before flicking his gaze up to the beast above Aizawa. “Nomu.”

 

Aizawa feels an even heavier force bear down on him and then he knows no more.

 

Izuku screams in grief and throws himself at Shigaraki. The Nomu snaps him in half before he even gets to touch the bastard.

 

--------------------------

 

Izuku curses, slightly disrupting Thirteen’s speech. He quickly apologizes and the rescue hero continues as if nothing had happened. As soon as the hero finishes speaking, the warp gate opens up. He swears again. 

Aizawa shoots him a look that tells them they will definitely be discussing this later and goes to fight the remaining villains, yelling for Thirteen to get the class out of there.

Thirteen begins ushering them to the exits, but Kurogiri blocks their path. “Good morning. We are the League of Villains. Our source said that All Might would be here, but unfortunately he is not.” The villain’s tone is unusually polite and civil Izuku thinks. “All that aside, my job is to scatter you all and torture you to death!”

Nevermind.

Izuku dodges a warp gate that steals Tsu and Mineta away to an unknown location. He bares his teeth and unsheaths his towards, preparing to fight the villain. Kurogiri simply sighs and drops him in the middle of the plazawa. 

“Midoriya! Get back up there!” Aizawa shouts, kicking a villain in the face.

Izuku turns to move back, but there’s no clear way back up the stairs. Aizawa seems to realize this and swears under his breath. “Midoriya, stay behind me!” Despite all the pro-hero is doing to appear in control, Izuku can see fatigue beginning to eat at him.

Crushed, broken, goggles cracked, blood, blood, BLOOD-

Izuku shakes the thoughts from his head and readies his swords. He slashes and stabs his way through the crowd, cutting down anyone who comes face to face with him.

Just like the lab, get out, get out, get out, get out-

“Midoriya!” Aizawa flies into Izuku’s blindspots and erases a villain’s quirk, nullifying her attack on Izuku.

“Sorry sensei.”

“Don’t be sorry,” the man breathes, knocking two villains together. “Just pay attention.”

Aizawa’s in the air when Shigaraki catches up with him. Izuku watches in horror as his teacher’s skin turns to dust. He screams and launches himself at Shigaraki, slicing his hand off. The villain screeches and sics the Nomu on him and Aizawa.

Izuku has a split second to choose between his teacher and himself. He makes the choice he always does

And throws himself in front of the Nomu.

The beast snaps his neck when he throws him into the dome wall above.

 

-----------------------

 

Izuku fights the urge to punch a hole in the ground when he winds up back at Thirteen’s speech. He has a habit of dying and turning up at the worst times. He pushes through his class to get to Aizawa. “Sensei, we need to go now,” he whispers urgently.

“What-”

“Hey, sensei! Are those guys part of the exercise?”

Izuku internally screams.

He drowns in the Shipwreck Zone this time. Asui and Mineta are killed soon after.

In his last few moments of life, he curses the day he was born.

 

----------------------

 

“-your quirks can kill people,” Thirteen says seriously.

No , Izuku thinks bitterly, scowling. My quirk can kill me!

 “Where’s All Might?” Aizawa grumbles.

“Ah, he had some hero work to do.” Thirteen holds up three fingers.

“Hey, sensei! Are those guys part of the exercise?” Kirishima points to the swarm of people growing in the plaza.

The villains show up and he, Tsuyu and Mineta are warped to the Shipwreck Zone. The boat sinks and the villains slaughter them all.

 

--------------------

 

Impaled.

--------------------

 

Burned alive.

-------------------

 

Bludgeoned.

------------------

 

Strangled.

------------------

 

Disintegrated.

------------------

 

Izuku dies again, and again and again. Some of the times, they make it to the end of USJ, but at least one person (usually Aizawa) dies, so he has to reset. (He’ll never forget the horrified looks his classmates gave him when he slit his own throat.)

His chest is tight with pain when he comes back during Thirteen’s speech. Izuku struggles to breathe.

Shit.

Nausea rolls over him in waves and he stumbles back, drawing the attention of more people than he would like. 

He taps the metal fingertips of his glove to his chest and sends a high voltage to his heart. Izuku tries to regain his balance and backs into Aizawa. “Midoriya-” He says worriedly. “What-”

“Woah, who are those guys?” It’s Mineta who speaks this time.

Izuku chokes a breathe. “Don’t-”

“Those are villains!” Aizawa shouts. He hands Izuku over to Uraraka. “Uraraka, take care of Midoriya. Thirteen, get the children out of here! Everyone stay back!”

He charges and throws himself into the fight before Izuku can stop him.

You can’t , Izuku thinks as everything fades to black.

(When help finally arrives, the paramedics pronounce him dead on site.)

 

------------------

 

Izuku is so sick of dying, but he knows it’s the only way everyone else gets to live. 

Okay, so, what does he need to know? 

Aizawa gets killed in the plaza about twenty minutes after the League shows up. He takes out all the villains in the plaza, then Shigaraki uses his quirk on him and sics the Nomu on Aizawa. If I’m with Tsuyu and Mineta, they end up at the plaza after Aizawa is first crushed. Aizawa stops Shigaraki from decaying Tsuyu’s face. Suggestion: push Mineta in front of her if Aizawa isn’t there. Strike that. There’s no way that will end well. After that, Aizawa is crushed again and is dead before help arrives. If I’m not with them, Tsuyu and Mineta usually die. I can’t risk that, but I need to get them off the boat faster. A lot faster. 

“-your quirks can kill people.” Izuku’s peers looks solemn, smiles dimmed. 

Think!

“Where’s All Might?” Aizawa grumbles.

“Ah, he had some hero work to do.” Thirteen holds up three fingers.

Izuku taps his metal tipped fingers against his chest, sending a strong shock to his heart. The tightness temporarily dispels itself. Quirk exhaustion, He thinks. Stage one. I’ve got to hurry.

“Hey, sensei! Are those guys part of the exercise?”

Aizawa’s eyes widen and he briefly looks to Izuku. “Those are villains! Stay back!” He orders.

Not long after his teacher has entered the fight, Kurogiri pops up behind them. “Good morning. We are the League of Villains. Our source said that All Might would be here, but unfortunately he is not.” He sighs. “All that aside, my job is to scatter you all and torture you to death!”

“Get back children!” Thirteen shouts, but Kacchan and Kirishima are in the way.

“We won’t go down that easily!” Kirishima says to Kurogiri.

“Come and get some bastard!”
Kurogiri shakes his head and opens several warp gates. Izuku allows himself to fall through one.

When he opens his eyes, he can’t breathe, which make sense with him being underwater and all. A villain rushes him with a manic look on their face, teeth bared. There’s little time to react when Tsuyu’s tongue wraps around him and lifts him out of the water. She drops him on the deck just as the villain collides with the side of the boat. 

“Sorry, kero,” she says.

“It’s fine,” Izuku replies between gasps.

“We’re gonna diiiiieeee!” Mineta wails.
Izuku winces. Right. He’s here too. “We’re not going to die,” he assures the smaller boy.

“What are we going to do, kero?”

Izuku peeks over the railing of the boat. The villains below jeer at them, swimming just below the three students. “I don’t know,” he says quietly. “But it’s not going to end well.”

Chapter Text

Izuku dies three more times after his ominous statement to Tsu. Quirk exhaustion is beginning to affect him.

“Midoriya,” Tsu croaks. “Are you alright? You look pale.”

“Why would he be alright? We’re going to die!” Mineta wails.

“Fine,” Izuku says breathily. “It’s just a lot.”

“We’ll be okay,” she assures him. “The teachers will get here soon.”

“How do you know that?” Mineta says accusingly. “We could-”
“Shut up,” Izuku snaps with a scowl, attempting to ignore the pounding in his head. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut . Up . You’re not helping.”

Mineta doesn’t say anything after that.

“What are we going to do?” She asks.

“I have an idea,” Izuku says after pausing. “But it’s risky.”

“Let’s hear it,” Tsuyu replies.

Izuku taps the tip of his boot on the deck and a blade shoots out of the toe. “Okay, so here’s my plan-”

 

As he springs off the boat, Izuku distantly wonders if he ever manages to die, where he’ll end up.

It certainly won’t be Heaven , he thinks, slashing his boot across a villain’s face. The woman screams in pain as the blood sprays from the deep cut.

Mineta throws a sticky ball in the villain’s face and the woman begins shouting about how she can’t see. In her panic, her quirk begins stirring the water up around her. Most of the villains in the water are sucked into a whirlpool in the middle.

“NOW TSU!”

The girl doesn’t hesitate, despite the obvious reservation in her facial expression and posture. Her tongue wraps around Mineta and she leaps from the boat, clearing the Shipwreck Zone in a single leap.

Izuku counts to three and then pulls the pin out of a grenade from his belt. He chucks it at the ship and dives under the water, swimming as far as he can before the ship explodes. The shockwaves can be felt through the water when the grenade goes off.

Good upgrade , he notes. Need to make more .

Izuku swims to shore as quickly as possible. Tsuyu and Mineta are already there. “Midoriya-”

“I’m fine,” he says, filling his lungs with sweet sweet oxygen. “I need to help.”

“But-”
“I need to help,” he insists. “I’ll be fine.”

Izuku begins sprinting toward the plaza, pausing for just a moment. “Stay here,” he adds sternly before heading off.

He watches Shigaraki reach for Aizawa’s elbow. Using his shoulder, Izuku throws all his weight against Shigaraki and rams the man out of the way with all the force he can muster.

Aizawa spins around, wide eyes clear even through his yellow goggles. “Midoriya, get away!” He barks, kicking a villain in the face.

Izuku ignores him, focusing on Shigaraki as he draws his swords.

“You,” Shigaraki rasps, rising with a smile on his face. “Sensei told me about you, the Glitch.”

Izuku stiffens, glaring at the villain. “Leave,” he hisses.

“I like this; you’re a secret boss,” the blue haired man continues. “Extra points!”
“I said leave .”

“Midoriya, get out of here .” Dodging another attack, Aizawa grabs onto his elbow and tries to push Izuku out of the plaza.

“No way, Eraserhead! The Glitch is mine! Nomu! Kill Eraserhead!”

Izuku’s heart drops as the inhuman beast screeches and flies at them in a blur. There’s no time to get entirely out of its’ way.

So, he does the thing that Izuku always does and puts himself in between his teacher and the oncoming danger.

After so many deaths at the Nomu’s hands (or claws??) Izuku thought he’d be used to the pain by now, but it still hurts as much as the first time.

The Nomu grabs his arm and slams him against the ground one,

two,

three,

four,

five,

six,

seven times. 

But Izuku doesn’t scream. He doesn’t cry. He doesn’t struggle, he just waits until the thing leaves him in a crater filled with his own blood.

“Stop!” Aizawa cries, staring with horror on his broken student’s form.

Everything hurts and the plaza is spinning around him. His blood is wet and sticky on his face as numbness spreads through his limbs, stamping out the screaming agony burning in each of them. Izuku doesn’t want to get up.

He has to, though.

"You will protect them."
"You swore it on her grave."

He always must.

As the Nomu towers over him, eyes dead, Izuku forces himself to stand, daring Shigaraki to try again. The childlike villain is infuriated. “A glitch in the game! I used cheat codes! The Nomu is my hack! Unfair, unfair, unfair, unfair!” Shigaraki stomps on the ground. Kurogiri appears in a swirl of mist. 

“Shigaraki, I have taken Thirteen out of commission, but one of the students managed to escape.”

Iida , Izuku thinks. It’s got to be Iida.

The heroes will be here soon.

“Dammit Kurogiri! You had one job!” Shigaraki howls. “Now the heroes are gonna come and save these brats. No, no, no!” His nails scratch furiously against his skin, leaving shallow bloody scratches on his neck. “Dammit!”
It would be best if we leave,” Kurogiri suggests.

Shigaraki’s shoulders fall, red eyes filled with rage. “Just one more thing,” he says softly. “To break All Might’s heart…..Nomu, kill the kids at the door.”

Izuku’s feet move far before his mind does. Really, he had started reacting at the word ‘Nomu’. Sword in hand, Izuku leaps on the Nomu’s back as it begins moving, digging the blades on his boots into its back. The beast paws at its back. He stabs his sword into its brain and it screeches, throwing him back into the pavement. Izuku winces, pain clouding his mind. In his fuzzy vision, he can see Aizawa sprinting toward him, only to watch his teacher be crushed into the ground by the Nomu at Shigaraki’s command.

No…

Izuku screams, slamming his fist into the ground.

Not again. I've tried so hard! 

Kyouka, Yaoyorozu and Kaminari make it the front door when she hears an ungodly scream at the plaza. She whirls around and sees Midoriya fly back, crunching in a sickening pile against the ground. Her stomach turns.

“We’ve gotta help!” Kirishima shouts, but Yaoyorozu holds him back.

“You can’t!”

“Look at Midoriya! He’s gonna die!”

In her ears, Kyouka hears Izuku’s heartbeat slow, causing her own heart to stop.

 

Kacchan and Todoroki come at the right time. The bi-colour haired boy freezes the Nomu where it stands, buying them a few seconds. Kacchan all but tackles Kurogiri, threatening to blow him to Hell if he doesn’t hold still.

Todoroki rushes to Izuku’s side. “Midoriya,” he says, supporting his head. “Stay awake.”

Izuku blinks slowly, wishing he could just rest.

Then he sees the Nomu rise up behind Todoroki’s back and he shoves the taller boy out of the way, holding his hand out as the massive thing descends on them.

 

All anyone can see is the monster collapse after it dives at Midoriya and Todoroki in a dull coloured, lifeless husk.

Izuku drops to the floor, exhausted and unconscious.

Shigaraki is livid that his toy is broken and threatens to murder every student in the vacinity. Todoroki raises his hand, ready to fight if need be.

But it turns out, he doesn’t, because as he’s swearing vengeance, Shigaraki walks through the Warp Gate and he and his mist friend disappear.

 

All Might bursts through the door, ready to battle whatever villains dared to touch his students. What he sees before him is both concerning and shocking. Thirteen is lying near the front door with students surrounding them. The look on the students’ faces is not something All Might will forget. He assures them that help is on the way and in one great leap approaches the plaza.

Aizawa is slowly crawling out of a small crater, bloody covering his face and arms. “Nice...of you...to show up,” he says in between labored breaths.

“I apologize, Aizawa,” All Might says, lifting him gently. “Were any students hurt?”

What he really means is ‘I’m sorry I wasn’t here’.

“Mi...Midoriya….” The underground hero’s head rolls to one side and he closes his eyes.
“Stay awake.”

And the Toshinori sees him, lying in the ground. Not on, in.

Midoriya’s back isn’t visible from the surface, with his shoulders hardly appearing above the destroyed pavement. The boy is a bloody, mangled mess. Enji’s boy-Todoroki Shouto-is kneeling beside Midoriya, trying to wake him up, notes of desperation beginning to work itself into his voice.

Young Bakugou stands at a distance, staring on in utter horror. Under his breath, All Might can faintly hear him whispering, ‘C’mon, nerd’.

Across the plaza, there’s another crater, filled up like a pool with blood. All Might’s heart drops, guilt crashing down on him, because this wouldn’t have happened if he had been here.

“Secretary Iida Tenya reporting for duty!”

And so the cavalry arrives.

 

When Izuku is awake, he really wishes he wasn’t. He doesn’t sit up boltright, just slowly opens his eyes and blinks a few times with indifferent acceptance. Better here than back in the Shipwreck Zone, after all.

With any luck, he wouldn’t have any permanent damage.

Everything is throbbing with pain. The bright infirmary lights assault his eyes and stab at his brain. Sighing, he lays his head back into the pillow, shutting his eyes.

God, he’s so tired.

The sound of the door sliding open convinces Izuku to open his eyes once more. “I’m very glad you’re awake, young man,” Recovery Girl says. “You gave us all quite a scare.”

“Sorry,” he mumbles, rolling his head so that he’s facing her. “Didn’t mean to.”
She hums, nodding once before she shuts the lights off. “They seemed to be bothering you,” she explains. 

“Thanks.”

“Of course.”

“Is everyone else okay?” He asks, forcing himself to sit up. The action causes him to wince as his bandages shift.

The Youthful Heroine tuts. “Now be careful! I couldn’t heal you all in one go, so you’re still in bad shape!” She drops a handful of gummies into his open palm as she scolds him. “You had the worst injuries. Miraculously, none of the other students had any serious physical injuries.”

That doesn’t mean there’s not any mental trauma, Izuku thinks at the emphasis she puts on ‘physical’. They should probably attend counseling.

Recovery Girl stares at him.

“...I said that aloud, didn’t I?”
“Well,” she sighs. “You’re not wrong, dearie. You’re all just children. It’s quite a lot to take.”

“Yeah,” he agrees softly, popping a gummy into his mouth.

Gross….

“I know they’re not the tastiest,” Recovery Girl says, shuffling across the infirmary. “But they’re all I’ve got.”

“No, they’re...fine.” Izuku forces himself to swallow it, grimacing at the taste.

She laughs. “No need to lie, young man.”

“What about Aizawa-sensei and Thirteen?” Izuku moves, pain shooting up his side.

“Broken ribs,” she says, pointing at his side like she’s warning him. “Haven’t fixed those yet.”

“Aizawa-sensei and Thirteen?” He repeats hopefully.

Please don’t be dead. Please don’t be dead…..

“They’re fine, dearie. Both are at the hospital. Thirteen’s good as new and Aizawa might have a little trouble with his quirk in his right eye, but he’s none the worse for wear.”

Izuku lets go of a breath he doesn’t know he’s been holding. “That’s good.”

The door opens and closes again, this time bringing All Might into the room. “My boy! I’m glad you’re awake! You gave us quite the scare!”
“Hush!” Recovery Girl scolds, whacking the man with her cane. “Lower your voice!”

All Might rubs the sore spot on his arm, looking sheepish. “I apologize.”
Huffing, the elderly heroine shuffles away, grumbling not so nice things about the Number One hero.

All Might turns back to Izuku, his smile faltering at the sight of his many bandages. “How do you feel, Young Midoriya?”

“Fine,” Izuku says. “I mean, I’m alive, right?”

All Might’s smile dies on his lips at Izuku’s joke. Humor’s never been his strong suit anyway. “Sorry. Bad joke.”
“No, it’s quite alright. You just had just rather worried for a few days.”
Izuku blinks. “A few days?” He repeats politely.

“You’ve been out for three days,” Recovery Girl tells him. “We tried to reach your father, but couldn’t get ahold of him.”

Three days? Shit.

“Can I make a call?”
Recovery Girl nods and ushers All Might out of the room to give Izuku some privacy. Sighing, Izuku pulls out his phone and calls not his father, but Director Arai. 

“Midoriya, where have you been.”

Ah, back to family names, Izuku thinks. I’m in trouble.

The boy slides out of bed. “I’m sure you’ve heard about the USJ attack.”
“Yes, that was quite a well publicized failure of UA to protect their students. I’m assuming the League of Villains had something to do with it.”

“Yeah, well-”

“How many times?” The Director asks casually.

“....how many times?” Izuku repeats, voice soft. “A lot. At least fifty.”

“You sound uncertain.”

“It was a lot…..and some of them ended really similarly, so I lost count….”

“I will update your file. Now, report to the compound.”

“For what?”

“Well, I would hope that you have something to tell us about the League. And you have just had three days off.”
“But, Recovery Girl said-”
“I don’t care. Be here in twenty minutes.” With nothing more to say, Director Arai hangs up.

Izuku stares at his phone a moment before sighing. He opens the window and immediately knows the fall would kill him. There’s no way he’s getting out of here easily.

So, he rings Lana. 

I am not taxi serrrrvice ,” she hisses. 

“Please?” He begs. 

“No.”
“Please??”

“No.”

“Please???”

...fine. Give me two or thrrrree minutes.

“Okay, thank-”

Lana hangs up immediately.

“...you,” he finishes, sighing.

Izuku puts on a t-shirt that had been laid out for him and waits for Lana. Voices fill the hall outside and approach.

“...just don’t know.”

“Risky…”

“Little listener….okay? Aizawa...concerned.”

“I….not...”

“Should...still...out.”

Izuku taps his foot impatiently. C’mon Lana! He thinks as the footsteps pause outside the door.

Just as the door begins to open, Lana pops up, grabs his hand and they both disappear.

Traveling with Svetlana is always a little disorienting. She’s used to it, of course, because of how often her quirk is put to work, but the rush usually leaves Izuku a little dizzy. It feels like he’s plunging through something cold and dark in a flurry of shadows, with nothing solid to touch. Despite the wind whistling through his ears, Izuku swears he hears whispers of a low voice.

Every time anyone travels with Lana, she warns them not to look around, and just focus ahead.

Izuku does just that.

The sudden firm feeling of the compound floor beneath his feet is welcome. Steadying himself, Izuku takes a deep breath and turns to thank Lana for the help, but she’s already disappeared.

Typical.

Izuku walks to The Director’s office, giving himself a mental pep-talk while thinking through what the hell he’s going to say for his report. 

He pauses at the door.

What is he going to say?

“Izuku, come in,” Direct Arai says, though Izuku hasn’t knocked.

Too late.

Bracing himself, Izuku opens the door and shuts it behind him. “Field report.”

“Reporting,” Izuku replies, standing at the ready like a Roman sentry. “During the mid to late morning hours, Class 1-A of UA High School took a field trip to the Unforeseen Simulation Joint for rescue training. I had a premonition before we entered, but went inside either way.” Izuku swallows hard. “Immediately after Thirteen’s speech on the dangers of quirks, they signed that All Might had run out of time and the League of Villains opened a Warp Gate via Kurogiri in the center of the plaza.”

“What could’ve been done to stop all this?” Director Arai asks, leaning back in his chair. The man’s cold sharp eyes flick over him like a whip. 

“Nothing-” Izuku feels an acute pain in his wounded side, like he’s been jabbed by something.
The telltale glow of quirk use in Arai’s eyes fades. “Nothing?” He repeats innocently.

“I...should’ve stopped them from going in,” Izuku says through gritted teeth. “I knew something bad would happen, and I knew at least I would die because of it, but I couldn’t-” Another stabbing pain cuts him off.

Arai stands. “But,” he prompts.

Izuku’s on his knees now, breathing heavily. “But I should’ve stopped them,” he replies, trembling. “It was my job to protect them and I failed.”

“Mm, yes, you did. But don’t worry, Izuku,” Arai says, walking around his desk to come to his side. “We all make mistakes. Of course, yours must’ve cost quite a few lives if you were willing to die so often. How many times did they die? Uraraka? Bakugou? Aizawa? That Yaoyorozu girl? I know that class means a great deal to you.” The man leans down, bringing his eyes to meet Izuku’s fearful green ones. He slides a finger under Izuku’s chin, forcing him to look at him.

“How many times did they die?”

Izuku tears his gaze away, shaking, his eyes wet with tears. Tremors shake his body and he feels sick to his stomach. “Do...do you want me to go back?”

Arai straightens himself, brushing his suit off. “No,” he says. “What we have now is fine, though very disappointing. Do you know why I put you on this case, Izuku?”

“B-because I’m a student at UA-?” Izuku yelps as he’s thrown to the side by Arai Mamoru’s quirk, landing on his injuries.
“No. I chose you because I thought you could handle this; keep the class safe and collect information on the League. Really, anyone could’ve done the job. I could’ve had Pearson enlist as a teacher’s aide. Any of your peers would’ve passed the exam easier than you could ever dream to. You were picked because I believed in you.” In two quick strides, Arai is back at his desk. “So, I am disappointed. I think I’ve put too much trust in you, because obviously you can’t handle it. You were supposed to protect them all, and yet both Thirteen and Aizawa needed to be hospitalized and three of your classmates had to receive medical attention. Not to mention the trauma you’ve probably caused them by not stopping this.” The man sits and neatly taps a stack of papers against his desk to straighten them. “I’ll have to take you off the case, of course and give someone else seniority-”

“Wait!” Izuku pleads, struggling to his feet, despite the immense pain he’s in. “I can do this! This will never happen again! I swear!”

Arai pauses, quirking an eyebrow. He stares at the boy in front of him for a moment before daring to smile. “Alright,” he says. “Another chance. You have been tasked with keeping UA safe, and you are to do whatever it takes,

no matter how many times you die .”

Chapter Text

Chiyo opens the door to the infirmary, after having reluctantly given in to the teachers’ plea to see Midoriya. (Most had been present when his shattered form is carried away.)

Two days ago, Aizawa’s first words after waking up are a threat against the League of Villains for killing one of his students. It takes three teachers to keep him in the bed before he can be told that Midoriya did in fact survive.

But he hasn’t woken up yet.

Today is the third day of Midoriya’s coma, and the third day that they have failed to reach Midoriya Hisashi to notify him of the situation.

That in of itself is worrisome. 

She sighs. “Now, please keep your voices down. Midoriya has just woken up.”
Yamada ignores this and pokes his head in the infirmary, pausing. “Hey, where is the little listener?”

Chiyo pushes the tall man aside, sweeping her gaze over the room. “I don’t know,” she says. Chiyo blinks, approaching the bed Midoriya had been lying in just a few minutes ago. The UA staff starts muttering amongst themselves, suggesting a possible kidnapping by the League. The bed is empty, of course, but Chiyo notices a scrap of paper left on the pillow.

Something came up. Had to go. I’m fine. Sorry if I worried you!

Underneath the brief message is a number Midoriya had listed.

Recovery Girl shakes her head. These kids...

 

Shouta hears about the note and immediately whips his phone out. Or tries to. Really, he ends up pawing at the phone on his hip until Hizashi helps him out. He has to dial the number for him, because Shouta’s fingers are still broken.

The phone begins ringing, but thankfully Midoriya picks up on the first ring.

“Hello?”

“Midoriya, what the he-.”

Hizashi swats him in the back of the head, scolding him for language.

“-where are you?” Aizawa bites out.

“Ah, I’m-” The phone shifts and Shouta hears Izuku hiss softly, likely from pain. “-what the fuc-!” The signal cuts out for a second. “Midoriya? Midoriya?” Shouta curses under his breath, ready to go kick the ass of whoever decided to mess with his student-

“Home. Sorry. I’m at home.” Midoriya’s crackly voice gives Shouta a little piece of mind, because his student’s okay enough to answer the phone.

“Is your father there?”
“I called him,” Midoriya replies, rather cryptically. “He knows.”

Shouta scowls. “Midoriya-”

“I’ve got some things I need to do, Aizawa-sensei. I’m sorry, but I have to go. ” Before Shouta can protest, the kid hangs up.

“Bad luck?” Hizashi says uneasily, lowering the phone.

“Probably.” 

Shouta isn’t so sure.

 

Izuku sighs, staring at the phone as he sits on the cold floor of his bathroom surrounded by bloody bandages. Just his luck that the Director had reopened some of his USJ wounds and he bled through the bandages. He’s tied the new ones too tight, but with his record, he can’t afford to apply new ones, because he’s probably going to end up needing them.

God, he’s tired.

Izuku had originally planned to come home, shower, change the bandages and get something to eat, but all he really wants to do is sleep.

Shutting his eyes, Izuku leans his head back against the wall and relaxes.

He’s so tired….

 

To his annoyance, when Izuku wakes up, it’s Monday. UA has been closed for three days, but of course he has to sleep through those, so he’s almost right back to the grind. Nezu calls and assures him that he can take a few days off if he needs them, but Izuku declines politely, telling him he’s fine.

And he fears the consequences.

Izuku comes in early, per Recovery Girl’s instructions and she completes what will be the second of his three healing sessions to close the wounds. She gives him a handful of gummies and writes him a pass to class.

The second he opens the door, all the chatter in the room dies.
“Deekuuuuuu!” Uraraka barrels into him, hugging him like she doesn’t want to let go. “I was so worried!”
(Izuku swears Kacchan’s blood pressure skyrockets at the sound of his misnomer for him on Uraraka’s lips.)

“I-I...uh-”
“Uraraka! You must be careful! Midoriya could still be hurt!” Iida chides.

“Right!” She springs back like she’s been burned. “Sorry, Deku! But none of us had your number and you were really badly hurt.”

“I’m fine,” Izuku says with a soft smile. “Sorry for...worrying you?” The last part is awkward to speak aloud. Not many people are overly concerned with his safety anymore.

“Dude, you were so manly!” Kirishima gushes.

“Uh-”

“How do you feel, kero?”

“Okay-”

“You took on that huge beast, and it just fell! Like, yeah, you got hurt, but you beat it!”

Yes, I did, and I never want to do it again. 

“Totally saved our butts!”
“I didn’t-”

“Glory hog.” Mineta’s comment doesn’t bother Izuku enough to warrant the chop to the head he gets from Iida, but Izuku doesn’t protest against it.

“-so give me your number!” 

Izuku blinks. What’d he miss?

“Uh-”
“I didn’t have your number when you got hurt, so I’m going to get it now,” Uraraka explains.

“Actually, it would be a good idea for the class officers to have everyone’s number,” Yaoyorozu suggests. “Maybe we could even have a class group chat.”

Izuku nods, ignoring the evil glint in Kaminari’s and Uraraka’s eyes. “Yes, that would be a good idea.”
The next few minutes of class are spent adding numbers to his phone. Never in a million years would Izuku have thought to fill his contacts with so many people.

“Everyone get in their seats,” Aizawa mumbles, zombie-walking through the door.

Discarding the order, Iida shoots out of his seat. “Sensei! Is it wise to be back to work so soon?”

“I’m fine, Iida. Sit down.”

The boy bows and obeys.

“In light of the events at USJ, UA is requiring all of you to attend at least one session with the school counselor. You may schedule it any time this week.”
“For how long?” Uraraka asks, raising her hand.

“The counselor will determine that,” Aizawa replies. “Some of you may only need one session, while others may need a regular schedule. I will repeat that it is mandatory. If your parents have any questions or objections, then they may contact the school and set up a meeting. Now, more importantly, the Sports Festival is coming up.”

Yaoyorozu puts her hand up.

“Yaoyorozu.”

“Sensei, is it wise to do this so soon after the villain attack?” 

Aizawa sighs. “No, it isn’t. But unfortunately, this isn’t something you all can afford to miss. This year’s Festival will have ten times more security than ever, but it will go on. This is your opportunity to get yourself out there and make connections. You will get offers for internships from pro-heroes, depending on how well you do. In the event that you get no offers, UA has a list of heroes willing to take you on as interns. You all should do your best. Plus Ultra.” The school’s motto is said as unenthusiastically as possible.

Class rolls on as usual, bar the few kids-Uraraka, Kouda, Todorok, Satou, Hagakure-that are called to see the counselor.

The counselor is Asahi Yumeko, hero name: Mirage, if Izuku remembers from reading UA’s employee files. She’s a retired stealth hero who has a psychology degree and decided to become a therapist because it suits her quirk, Mind Sift. It allows her to replicate memories, block them, create false ones or visual illusions, but the part that serves her best in her new role as a therapist is Asahi’s ability to experience memories. Using the last ability is noted to drain her, depending on the mood of the memory, but according to her file, Asahi can feel, hear and see everything.

….that might be a problem if she’ll be checking Izuku for trauma. While the counselor is probably just looking for any issues relating to USJ, there’s no telling what she’ll find if she happens to see anything else.

“-doriya?” 

Izuku’s body reacts to the hand on his shoulder before his mind does. He grabs the hand harshly, preparing to flip the person, but stops, meeting Snipe’s wide eyes. “I...I didn’t hear you.” Tensely, Izuku forces himself to let go of the man’s wrist. “Sorry.”

Snipe stares at him a moment before nodding. “‘S alright, kid. The bell rang fer lunch ‘nd you were starin’ out into space.”

“Oh, I was thinking,” Izuku says, running a hand over his hair. 

“Mm. You feelin’ okay? I could write ya a pass for the infirmary.”
“No, no I’m fine. Just a little stressed, I guess.”

The masked pro-hero pauses, stroking his chin thoughtfully. “Ya like guns, kid?”

“...yes?”
And that’s basically how Izuku finds himself at UA’s shooting range. Snipe runs him through safety procedure. Izuku puts his hearing and eye protection in and Snipe hands him a handgun. “I come here when I’m stressed,” Snipe explains, loading his own firearm. “Now, not many first years come down here, ‘cause it’s a second and third year class, but if a first year gets some supervision, they’ll be alright. Ya know how to fire a gun?”
Izuku shrugs and points his gun at the end of the row where the target is. Without a warning, Izuku fires off two shots, one hitting the middle dead-on with the other right beside it.

Snipe’s eyes widen.

...too much?

 

The bell rings and Snipe shoos Midoriya to his next class with the promise that he can come down whenever (provided he ask). Still sort of shocked, Snipe walks to the teachers’ lounge.

“If it wasn’t for your mask, you’d have caught flies now,” Aizawa says, flicking his gaze toward him.

“How can you tell?!” Yamada cries, gesturing wildly at Snipe. “You can see no part of his face!”

“That’s just how Sho is~!” Kayama teases, draping her arms around Aizawa.

“Get off of me.” Aizawa growls and shrugs her off.

Kayama huffs and feigns offense before smiling and making her way towards him. “So, Snipe, what’s got your locks in a twist?”

“He’s a wonderful shot,” he whispers.
Aizawa blinks. “What?”
“Aizawa, tell me, are you aware that one of your students has near perfect aim?”

Aizawa rolls his eyes, groaning. “Which one started the food fight? Bakugou? Kaminari? Mineta? God, give me a reason to expel that little-”

“Midoriya,” Snipe interrupts. “It’s Midoriya.”

“Midoriya started a food fight?” Yamada says, confused. “That little listener is an angel.”

Under his breath, Aizawa mutters something that sounds like ‘that’s what you think’. “No, not a food fight. We were down at the shooting range.”

“I thought only the second and third years were allowed down there.”

Snipe shrugs. “The kid looked like he had a lot on his mind. Thought it’d do him some good.”

Aizawa inhales and exhales slowly in annoyance. “Of course you did.”

“Beginner’s luck?” Kayama suggests. 

“No, we were down there for most of lunch. He never missed the center’s inner circle once.”
Yamada lets out a low whistle. “Where’d the kid learn?”
“Well, he’s part of the Program, right?” Kayama says. “I hear they’ve got great self defense classes.”

“A teenager with a gun, Nemuri?” Aizawa scoffs. “ Self defense . That’s ridiculous.”

The woman shrugs, ignoring Aizawa’s obvious bad mood. “Still, I’m going to ask Nezu if-”
“I am here, listening to your conversation!” Nezu announces, riding in on Yagi’s shoulder. “Now, what did you want to ask me about?”

“I...uh, how did you-never mind.” Snipe shakes his head. “I’d like to request firing range sessions for Midoriya Izuku.”

“Oh! May I ask why?”

“The boy is a spectacular shot; one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.”
“Young Midoriya?” Yagi seems perplexed. “He seems like such a sweet boy.”

“Now, now, guns don’t mean he’s not a cinnamon roll!” Kayama breaks in. “Maybe he used his quirk. It’s Analysis, right? He could’ve used it to figure out how to hit the target best.”

“Cinnamon roll?” Aizawa repeats incredulously. 

“In any case, I approve your request!” Nezu says. “Now, I must go! Next period Midoriya and I have our quirk sessions! I mustn’t be late! Onward Yagi!” Nezu taps Yagi on the head, almost like a horse.

The skeletal man sighs and walks out the door again. 

 

Nezu smiles when he hears the telltale thrice-knock of Midoriya’s arrival. “Come in~!” He sing-songs.

Hesitantly, the door is opened, hints of a smile on the boy’s lips  as he pokes his head in. “H-hello, Nezu-sensei.”
“Good afternoon, Midoriya! Tea?”

“No thank you.” Midoriya sets his bag beside him. 

“Very well.” Sipping on the steaming cup, Nezu beams. “How have you been?”

“Fine.”

“Snipe told me you’re quite a shot!”

“...he did?” Midoriya almost winces at Nezu’s loud admission. “...oh. Sorry. I know he mentioned only the second and third years are allowed down there-”
Nezu raises his paw. “There’s no need for apologies. It’s quite alright, Midoriya.”

“Oh.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, how did you learn to hit the mark so well?”

“I...the Program teaches us,” he says, rubbing the back of his neck with his gaze to the floor. “Part of self defense, and it’s required for any of the people who want to be agents.”

“Agents?”
“Government officials.”
The rat claps his paws together. “I see! Well, that’s enough chit-chat, don’t you think? Let’s get started.”

“Yes sir.” At this, Midoriya produces a nondescript black binder from his bag. “I...haven’t found much since yesterday, to be honest.”

“Well, let’s see what you have!”

Realistically, Midoriya doesn’t usually present things that Nezu doesn’t already know. His quirk is High Specs, after all, giving him a much sharper mind than any human. But, barring the occasions that Midoriya brings him new facts, the reason Nezu asked him to help with this case is partly to exercise his quirk and mind, and because Midoriya has a tendency to introduce facts in a different light that Nezu never considers. His in-depth analysis reports are the links between the major facts they know, and trigger more possibilities and suspects. 

Truth be told, everyone is a suspect, besides Nezu himself. While he can’t entirely rule Midoriya out, he’s confident the boy has little to hide in that respect. 

The bell rings and Nezu (reluctantly) releases Midoriya to his next teacher. As he’s on his way out the door, Midoriya’s phone buzzes and he takes it out. Normally, Nezu would scold Midoriya for phone usage during school hours, but he dismisses it, deciding to continue reading the book that he had started before Midoriya came in.

Out of the corner of his eye, Nezu sees the boy full body flinch at whatever’s on his screen and hastily stuffs the phone into his bag. He races off with an apology, leaving the door open, which is odd for the polite boy.

Nezu’s tail twitches.

Very odd indeed.

 

Izuku races through the halls, cursing under his breath. What the hell could Pane want in the middle of the day? All he texted was ‘Emergency Level Gamma. Get to compound. I’ll pick you up.’

The last time this happened is when Draco, a fire-breathing villain, lets loose on the town and they are called to neutralize the threat.

(Izuku won’t lie, it felt kind of wrong shooting his father’s brother down from a third story window, but it had to be done. Even Endeavor couldn’t compete with those flames.) 

Izuku sprints around a corner and runs face first into the less-solid form of Yagi Toshinori. The man seems surprised, if the spurt of blood from his lips is any indication, but braces himself enough to keep from falling, only stumbling back a few steps. “Y-young Midoriya!”

Izuku reaches out to steady the man, trying to slow the rapid beating of his heart. “Sorry, Yagi,” he says before internally cursing, because, shit , he isn’t supposed to know All Might’s real name.

The giant’s eyes widen ever so slightly, but he brushes the look away and smiles. “It’s alright, my boy! I’ve been meaning to speak with you. Are you available now?”

Am I available, Izuku thinks bitterly, suppressing a laugh.

“A-actually, I have to get to the office,” Izuku says. “Something’s happened.” Just to sell it, he turns on the waterworks.

Yagi sputters, trying to comfort the poor boy. “A family emergency?”

“Y-yeah….I’ve got to go.”
Without another word, Izuku (as politely as he can) brushes past the hero and continues his mad run to the office.

He is so massively screwed. 

“Midoriya Izuku to the front office, Midoriya Izuku to the front office,” Present Mic announces over the PA system.

 

Shouta watches his student flash by him in the hallway, nearly knocking into him. After hearing Hizashi’s announcement, he wonders what’s going on.

 

Ellis receives strange looks when he arrives at UA’s main office and asks for Midoriya Izuku, siting a family emergency. Once they look at Midoriya’s files and see Ellis listed as an emergency contact, they call for Midoriya to come. The teachers try and get some information on what’s happened, but Ellis just tosses them some vague details and tries to look as upset as he is impatient, because they have to go .

Midoriya bursts into the room, eyes wild and alert, because the last time they had an Emergency Level Gamma, half the city was totalled.

That clean-up had not been fun.

“Let’s go,” Ellis says, grabbing onto Midoriya and rushing out of the office.

Midoriya wisely keeps pace with him, because there’s no way in hell Ellis is slowing down for the greenette in a situation like this.

The limo isn’t waiting for them outside, because it’s too slow. Ellis hops on his bike and Midoriya climbs on behind him, tightly securing his arms around Ellis’ waist. He rummages through the back for a helmet while Ellis guns it, not having time for a helmet.

Speeding laws be damned , Ellis thinks, making a sharp turn down onto another street. Midoriya squeaks and holds on even tighter. Ellis doesn’t comment on how he really can’t breathe like this.

 

When they get to the compound, they hurry inside, flying through security in check in. Most of the team is present, barring Akagi Chiyo who’s still bringing in Ogura and Nishida. “ETA two minutes,” she informs him through her cell.

“Get suited up,” he orders and Midoriya nods, sprinting off to the changing rooms.

Five minutes later, the entire team is loading into a jet, ready to mobilize in downtown Tokyo. “Five of those Nomus Midoriya reported on during the USJ Attack have been spotted in Downtown Tokyo. They seem to be ‘upgrades’ of the one at the USJ.”

Ellis ignores how pale Midoriya becomes.

 

Great , Izuku thinks. 

The monster that killed him at least forty-eight times is now upgraded and there are five of them , not to mention that there are more civilians to worry about. 

He forces himself to breathe and pulls his mask up over his face, concealing his identity. The mask covers his entire face, and is a dark colour with two holes for eyes.

“All the roads are blocked off coming into the downtown area, so we’re dropping in!” Pane, Ellis, announces. “Diving gear on! We drop in three minutes!”

Izuku secures his goggles in place and straps a parachute to his back. The back of the plane opens. “What time were they first spotted?” Izuku shouts over the roar of the wind.

“A little after one!” Pane replies before jumping.

The rest of the team follows suit.

Please don’t make this something I have to die for, Izuku thinks, plummeting toward the city below. I don’t think I could take another one of those. 

The pavement never looked so soft.

 

The second Aizawa Shouta steps into his classroom, alarm bells start sounding. “Level 5 threat detected less than seven miles from UA Highschool! Evacuate students to the shelters!”

Shouta swears, spinning around on his heel and sprinting to where his students are. He runs into a few Gen Ed. students and herds them toward the shelters.

When he’s confident the entire class is there, he does a headcount.

19.

Wait. 

His blood runs cold.

Midoriya.

Midoriya left early for a family emergency.

Midoriya lives near downtown Tokyo.

Fuck.

Shouta whips his phone out and quickly dials Midoriya, but it goes straight to voicemail.

“Sensei?” Uraraka says. “Is Deku okay?”

He chooses to avoid answering until he knows. “Do you have his number?”

“Y-yes…”
“Call him.” Aizawa pauses. “Anyone who has Midoriya’s number should try to reach him now.”
After a few minutes of frantic calls and texts, no one’s gotten through to Midoriya. 

“Everyone stay here,” he orders. “If I hear that one of you even thought about following me, I will expel you immediately.”

With that, he rushes off to go find Midoriya.

He’s not going to lose a student again.

His capture weapon begins to rise as his irises flare red.

Don’t you dare be dead, Problem Child.

 

As soon as the city gets closer, Izuku deploys the parachute and lands on a short apartment building. He cuts the cords away and sets up. “Pane, what’s the mission?” He asks.

“Take down the Nomus, protect the civilians and get a sample of the Nomus,” Pane replies.

“Priority ratings.”
“Sample, civilian safety, Nomu take down.”

Izuku blinks in surprise. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

“Do as you’re told, Yomi,” Pane snaps before going to speak to Crimson over the comms.

Just as this is said, a Nomu descends on the street before Izuku, shrieking and smashing into a shop. People scream.

Priority ratings be damned , Izuku thinks, taking a shot at its head.

The Nomu howls and spins around.

Right, Izuku remembers belatedly. Regeneration.

The Nomu flies up at him. Izuku recognizes the wings from a childhood bully of his.

“...Tsubasa?” The thing stalls before it picks Izuku up in his claws, and tries to tear him apart.

“TSUBASA STOP!”

The thing doesn’t, its claws digging into his shoulder. Izuku screams.

Saying a quick, mournful prayer for the creature’s soul, Izuku slams a small but powerful bomb onto Tsubasa’s back and throws himself off the roof.

What was once his friend blows up in an explosion of brilliant flame.

Izuku tries to pretend he doesn’t feel bad about it.

It’s not hard, since he’s got incoming pavement that’s about to be splattered with what was once him.

Just before he collides against the street, Oni (Lana) grabs onto the back of his uniform and warps them a few feet away.

“Idiot,” she hisses. 

“Yeah, sorry,” he says, somewhat earnest, some sarcastic.

They begin helping the people from the ruined shop. “My son,” a man sobs. “He-he was going to the bathroom, and I haven’t seen him-” 

“We’ll find him, sirrrr,” Oni promises.

“What’s his name?” Izuku asks.

“Chiharu. H-his name is Chiharu.” 

She taps Izuku on the shoulder and waves for him to follow her in. They proceed cautiously through the rubble of the unstable building. “Chiharu!” Izuku calls.

“Chiiharrru!” Oni halts, her bat-like ears twitching. “Wait.” Her ears turn to one side. “Someonnne is therrre.”

Izuku turns in the direction Oni’s ears are pointing. Sure enough, a boy maybe a little older than Izuku is half visible under a pile of rubble.

They sprint over, ignoring the unsteady ground. Izuku kneels beside the boy and slips his hands under his head. “Chiharu. Chiharu,” Izuku says, gently shaking him. “Wake up.”

A low groan passes over the boy’s lips. “He’s alive,” Oni says.

“Yeah no shit,” Izuku snaps.

She glares at him and begins shifting the rubble so Izuku can slowly pull Chiharu out. The building trembles and what’s left of the ceiling falls.

Oni curses in Russian and grabs onto both Chiharu and Izuku. One moment they’re in a crumbling building, the next they’re mid-air in front of the building Izuku blew the Nomu up on, and then they’re on the ground, several yards from the shop.

“I didn’t get good look arrround,” Oni says between heavy breaths. 

Chiharu moans, still half-conscious in Izuku’s arms. The boy’s father sees them before they see him. “Chiharu!” 

Oni teleports Chiharu and his father to one of the medical units racing around the scene. Izuku curses the fact that he’s left his weapons on the roof. Clutching his injured shoulder, Izuku begins to go for the roof before he hears another cry for help and comes face to face with Tsubasa, who should have been dead.

As the thing shrieks, Izuku realizes that it's going to be a another long day.

Chapter Text

“It’s been one hell of a day,” Izuku mutters to himself as he drags the decapitated head of a Nomu to Pane. He’s covered head to toe in blood, some his, most not. Either way, when he gets home, he’s taking a long hot shower.

Pane only nods silently, helping Izuku move the head into a cooler. “We’ll take this to the Lab once we get back,” he tells him. “Let’s go Yomi.”

Izuku begins to leave when his comm crackles to life. “Yomi,” Ghost says. “There’s a man looking for you.”
Izuku groans. “Can it wait, Ghost? I-”

“He says his name is Eraserhead.”

He pauses. “God dammit,” he sighs.

“He’ll be there,” Pane replies before turning to Izuku. “Your teacher can’t see you like this. Go get cleaned up. Change in the back of the jet.”

The jet is parked on an abandoned, ruined street. Izuku changes into civilian clothes, only taking time to wipe away some of the blood. His shoulder burns at every movement.

Might want to get that checked out.

Izuku leaves the jet and when he’s halfway down the street, he hears the jet take off.

Great. Finding a ride to the compound after this is over is also something he’s going to have to do.

He wanders the streets looking for his teacher. “Midoriya!”

Before he can fully turn around, Eraserhead’s capture weapon wraps around him and yanks him forward. Izuku yelps at the pain that shoots through his body. Aizawa immediately loosens his grip on his restraints and drops Izuku right in front of him. “You’re hurt,” he says almost critically.

Izuku offers a sheepish smile. “Only a little.”

Aizawa scowls. “Have you gotten checked out yet?”
“...no?”

His teacher sighs and spins around on his heel. “We’re going to Recovery Girl. With any luck you didn’t reopen any of the wounds from USJ.”

He hadn’t even thought of that.

Aizawa hails one of the buses leaving the downtown Tokyo area. He’s silent the entire time, lower half of his face buried in his capture weapon. Izuku notices a few scattered bruises and cuts on his teacher’s hands and face, but what’s most prominent is Aizawa’s glare. 

Best not to ask.
Izuku checks the time. It’s almost three o’clock, which means he’s been out for two hours. School should be over soon. 

Speaking of which…

“Sensei, is everyone okay?”

His teacher huffs. “Everyone was evacuated to UA’s shelters. They’re fine. You were the only one unaccounted for.”

“...you didn’t have to come and get me.”

“Yes I did. I am your teacher and it is only logical that I ensure your safety.”
“...sorry for the trouble.”
Aizawa rolls his eyes, flicking the center of his forehead. “Forget it, Problem Child.”
Izuku hums and pulls out his now cracked phone (Damn, which explosion did this?). As soon as he opens it, he’s met with a wall of missed calls and unread texts.

“Your classmates tried to get ahold of you.” 

They don’t talk much the rest of the trip, but Izuku can feel Aizawa keeping an eye on him, like he’s afraid he’ll disappear.

A soft sigh passes over his lips as he leans his head back against the bus seat and deflates. Today’s been hectic to say the least. The near-silent bus ride is welcome. Izuku listens to the sound of the wheels turning, driving over wet pavement as the sky begins to open up. Water droplets spatter the window like blood like tears. Aizawa shifts into a more comfortable position and tucks his head into his capture weapon, eyes shut. Between teaching and hero work, Izuku would like to know how the man stays awake. Lord knows he can hardly manage to between school and the Program (and the nightmares) .

Izuku stares out the window at the bleak sky. It’s days like these he wishes Kino were here; the older boy always loved the grey days when he could look up and see the vast expanse of the heavens above him, let the rain fall on his face and wash him clean of every horrible experiment-


“Midoriya. We’re here.” His teacher’s gruff, annoyed tone contrasts with the gentle hand on Izuku’s shoulder.

Izuku nods and they leave the bus. UA is flooded with students eager to get home after the Tokyo incident. 

“Through here,” Aizawa says, waving him toward a side door. 

They stroll the emptying halls of UA, stopping in front of the infirmary. “Deku!”
Someone from behind nearly knocks him over, but quickly lets go at Aizawa’s reprimand. “Where were you?” Uraraka asks. “You weren’t with us-”

“Family emergency,” Izuku forces out, smiling. “But it’s fine now!”

“Oh. What happened?” Uraraka asks, tilting her head.

“It’s...personal.” Feigning sadness, Izuku hopes Aizawa’s not getting suspicious.

“Phone number,” Shinsou says, shoving his phone at him.

“I...what?”

The wild-haired boy bites his lip and glares at the ground. “We were in the shelter and I didn’t know if you were okay. Give me your phone number.”

“Are you su-”
“Just give me the damn number Midoriya.”

Izuku obliges, smile a little more genuine this time. Satisfied, Shinsou and Uraraka leave. “If you’re done, the Old Lady’s ready to see you,” Aizawa drones.

Izuku is hesitant to enter the infirmary, but he really doesn’t have much choice in the matter. 

“So you’re back.” Recovery Girl spins around in her chair like she’s been expecting them. “Glad to see you back in one piece, dearie.”

“Glad to, uh, be back in one piece.” 

Thankfully, he hasn’t made any of his USJ injuries worse. One kiss from Recovery Girl, and all of the wounds that spawned from the Downtown Tokyo Incident are (relatively) healed. Of course, now he’s dead on his feet.

“I’ll take him home,” Aizawa offers. “His house is on my patrol route anyway.”
Recovery Girl casts a skeptical look at the hero, but says nothing about it and sends them on their way with a bag of gummies.

Izuku would probably be more surprised that Aizawa has a car if he wasn’t so tired. The idea that his teacher has a house or apartment and doesn’t just sleep at UA is strange. He had read Aizawa’s file, of course, had logically known that the pro has an apartment (and a rather nice one at that) but after meeting him, the fact just seems a little...out of character. 

Izuku climbs in as Aizawa starts the car. He glances around, his eyes falling on a stack of CDs. “.... you like Taylor Swift?” The American singer is popular in western countries, but she doesn’t strike Izuku as the kind of artist Eraserhead of all people would be interested in.

Aizawa doesn’t answer for a moment, instead keeping his eyes trained on the road. “No one will believe you.”

No they wouldn’t, Izuku agrees silently with a hum. Shinsou might, but that’s just speculation with no proof. Now if he had a camera-

“Midoriya, what are you-PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN!”

After pulling over and threats of expulsion, Izuku agrees to delete the pictures. They drive in silence for a bit, pausing at an intersection. “Hey sensei, do you think-”
Just as the light changes, tires screech and the entire car lurches at the impact. Izuku’s brain doesn’t have time to process what’s happening. The car flips-he’s not sure how many times-coming to rest upside down. 

Distantly, Izuku can hear sirens blaring. That’s not what he’s concerned with. What’s bothering him is his teacher.

And Aizawa isn’t moving.

“Sensei? Sensei!” Aizawa’s hanging limply upside down, blood dripping from a gash in his head.

Someone opens a car door and casually walks around to the passenger side of the totalled vehicle. “You ruined my life,” she growls. 

“Yeah, I tend to do that a lot,” Izuku snaps.

“You killed my brother!” She bares her teeth, unadulterated fury in her eyes. “I hate you. I want you to die!” She cocks her gun, hands trembling.

The bullet enters right between his eyes, spraying the inside of the car with his brain and blood.

Lifeless, Izuku hangs upside down next to Aizawa.

 

----------------------------

 

Izuku remembers the first time he died all too well.

“You’re just like the rest of them,” Watanabe growls, holding him by his hair.

Fat tears roll down his cheeks. “I’m sorry!”

The Good Doctor throws him down, scowling. “I have no use of you anymore.”

Still sobbing, Izuku hears a gun cock behind him. It goes off and pain explodes in his head. Izuku falls forward, unable to move, his limbs like lead.

Darkness sweeps his vision; closing the curtain on the final act of his too brief life.

And then he opens his eyes the day before, sleeping next to Kino. God knows no one can blame him for waking up screaming.

He can’t fail the Doctor this time around.

It’s the first time he regrets ever praying for a quirk.

 

----------------------------

 

Izuku snaps his head back, inhaling sharply. Aizawa glances over, giving him a questioning look. (His teacher’s corpse hangs beside him, lifeless and bloodied. It’s all his fault.) “What’s wrong?”

“Just...forgot to do something,” he mumbles. Izuku quickly glances around. They’re not at the intersection yet. “Can you take a right here?”

“Why?” Aizawa asks as he makes the turn.

“I, uh, have to get some groceries.” A simple lie that makes enough sense given the scenario is going to save both of their lives.
Aizawa sighs, muttering something like ‘I’m not your driver’ as he pulls up to the grocery store. The murderous woman drives by. As they step into the store, Izuku considers his options.

  1. Tell Eraserhead.

 

Pros:

I don’t have to deal with it.

Eraserhead is a pro-hero and he can probably handle it.

 

Cons: 

She might talk when caught.

Even if she doesn’t, he’s going to want to know why she’s after me. 

Aizawa might get hurt.

I will feel extremely bad and the Director might kill me if that happens.

 

Okay, so that one’s a maybe.

 

  1. Deal with it myself.

 

Pros: 

I get to decide how to do it. 

No one has to get involved. 

Aizawa doesn’t have to know.

 

Cons:

 I have to decide how to do it.

 Someone’s probably going to get involved.

 I’ll most likely end up dying and resetting. 

How am I going to get away from Aizawa to deal with her? 

If she knows about the agency, I’ll have to kill her or bring her to the compound. 

I am very tired and want this day to be over, so I don’t actually want to deal with her myself.

Okay, option two is also a maybe.

 

  1. Fake my death and get the hell out of the country.

Pros:

Fresh start.

Running away from problems is an A+ method of dealing with them.

 

Cons:

Director Arai still knows about my quirk and is going to come looking for me.

High school student = no money.


That last one is drastic, but he can’t lie; Izuku’s quietly considering it in the back of his mind.

“Midoriya. You’ve been staring into space for the last three minutes. Are you okay?”

Option one or two? Option one or two? Option one or two? Chancing a glance outside, Izuku sees the woman sitting in her running car, watching them carefully. She averts her eyes when he looks at her.

(His teacher is dead. He’s never going to expel another student, complain about his class, watch a stupid cat video or patrol the streets at night.)

Izuku blinks and turns to smile at Aizawa. “It’s nothing. I was just thinking about what I need to buy.”

The man nods. “Hurry up.”

Izuku scurries off with a basket, filling it with miscellaneous groceries as he tries to formulate a plan. Where does he know that woman from?

Electric blue hair….green eyes….familiar. He knows he’s met-

It hits him all at once.

“Doctor Watanabe, one of the subjects isn’t cooperating.”

“Please, allow me to oversee his punishment.”
“You should have never been born, you worm.”

Pain.

Everything hurts. 

Legs covered in bruises. Broken bones. Lacerated arms.

The blood from his body moving independently as he writhes in pain.

Blood on his lips.

Blood in his teeth.

Blood in his hair.

“Please….stop...please-”
Screams.

No more.

It hurts .

“My name is Doctor Ejiri Dai.

Step out of line, and I will kill you.”

Izuku believes those cold green eyes.

 

Blue hair matted with an ugly, warm red.

Izuku standing over the body, eyes cold. The Other Doctor’s gun is in his hand, the chamber one bullet from being fully loaded. He raises the gun and fires again into a vital spot. Just to be sure .

 

Izuku realizes he’s been staring into space and quickly finishes gathering whatever small things can justify coming to the store. 

He’ll lead her to his house and inform the Program of the situation. 

She’ll be dealt with accordingly.

After paying for his groceries, Izuku gets back in the car with his teacher. On the way there, instead of taking the backroads Aizawa wants to, Izuku lies and has them drive through the busier part of the city that’s a ‘shortcut’.

(It kind of is, as long as they catch the lights, and they do sometimes, but in the process Izuku learns a few things about how his teacher feels about the other Musutafu drivers.)

“This is it,” Izuku says, and goes to open the door.

Aizawa stops him. “Don’t get out of the car.”

“Wh-”
“We’re being followed. I know you’ve noticed.”

“But-”
“Were you going to get out and try and deal with it yourself? What if they have a weapon? What would you do then?”

“I…” Can’t answer this question honestly. “....nothing.” Izuku drops his head. “Sorry sensei.”

“Tch. Problem Child. The police have been called. Just sit here until then. I don’t need to bury another student.” The last part is added quietly; probably something Izuku isn’t meant to hear.

So they sit and lapse into a very uncomfortable silence. Aizawa scowls every time Ejiri’s sister’s car circles around the block.

“Do you know her?”

Izuku doesn’t look at his teacher. “No.”

Aizawa says nothing else until the police arrive and arrest her. Ejiri’s sister maintains her silence as she’s put in the police cruiser. Izuku stays in Aizawa’s car alone, as the pro has gotten out to speak with Tsukauchi.

“...League of Villains?”

“No….”

“....run her name through the database...get back to you.”

“Soon…”

“....interview?”

“Save...tomorrow. Problem Child….long day.”

“....alright….school.”

Aizawa turns and knocks on the window. “Problem Child.”
Izuku gets out. “Yes?”

“Don’t get into trouble.”

“Yes si-I mean, sensei.”
The man pauses, eyes slowly boring into Izuku. “Is your father up there? I’d need to talk to him.”
Izuku frowns, tilting his head. “Didn’t you get my letter? My dad moved to America for work.”

Aizawa blinks, but Izuku’s already climbing the stairs to his apartment.

Forget going to the compound. He’s going to sleep.

Chapter Text

The second Midoriya enters Asahi Yumeko’s office, she knows something’s off. Midoriya’s eyes are too dull for a child; too dead and distant. She has a feeling he’ll be a frequent patient.

“I am one of UA’s therapists, specifically geared toward trauma.”

“I know.”

Yumeko doesn’t comment on that. “My quirk will allow me to experience memories as you do. I’m asking permission to use it on you.” Her eyes roam the boy’s face for any sort of reaction. “If that’s alright with you.”

His face betrays nothing. “It is.”

Ignoring the boy’s obvious red flags (for now), Yumeko extends her hand to the boy, eyes turning white. “Then let’s begin.”

He takes her hand and the world fades to black.

 


 

The first thing that hits Yumeko when they enter Midoriya’s memories is the all too familiar scent of blood. It’s not a good sign, but taking into account Midoriya’s confrontation with the villains at USJ it makes sense.

Or it would if they were at USJ.

Yumeko stares at the half visible body of a green haired woman, buried under a pile of rubble. “Izuku! Run!” The bloodied woman reaches out.

Midoriya stands in front of her, trying to push the rubble off. “Mom-”

“Just run!” Yumeko watches as younger Midoriya is pushed forward by some unseen force.

A villain sweeps over the street, bringing the rubble down. Young Midoriya runs.

 

“Where are we?” Yumeko asks.

“A villain attack on Jabami Street. Happened almost nine years ago,” the boy replies, eyes glued to the scene with a distinct sadness Yumeko has come to associate with older heroes.

“Is that woman your mother?”

“She was,” is all he says in an unreadable voice. 

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

Asahi turns her attention back to the younger version of the boy, who’s desperately scrambling through the streets.

 

 He turns into an alley and ducks down as another explosion rocks the buildings around him. Fat tears roll down over freckled cheeks. “M-mom,” he sobs.

“Midoriya Izuku, right?”

Yumeko and past Midoriya snap their heads toward the voice. If she had still been watching the current Midoriya, she would’ve seen how he balled his fists and glared at the ground.

“W-who are you?” the young boy asks in a watery voice. He brings his hands to his face to scrub away the tears. 

“I’m a hero,” the man tells him. “And I want you to help me help others.”

In an act of wisdom unusual for a child of young Midoriya’s age, he backs away. “Leave me alone.”

The smile falls from the stranger’s lips. “Sorry it has to be this way, then.”

Something lurches forward and past Izuku hits the ground hard.

 

“Midoriya,” Yumeko begins cautiously.

“His name is Doctor Watanabe Isoru,” Izuku replies. 

“...Doctor Watanabe of Watanabe Research Facility?” Yumeko says slowly.

“Yes.” Izuku pauses. “Remember those quirk enhancers and suppressants they released and discontinued a few years back?”

She nods, a horrific realization dawning on her. “They were recalled due to be in violation of the-”

“They were made with people, to be put simply.”

Yumeko looks back to the memory, where Izuku is being loaded into a van. The man she’d admired for so long gets into the passenger side and the van drives off.

 

The scene shifts.

Past Izuku is sitting with another boy looking to be a few years older than himself. Gone are Midoriya’s curls, shaved into a crew cut (a little similar to the undercut the current Midoriya sports) and he’s dressed in grey clothes; pants and a loose long sleeved shirt, on which the number 0321 is clearly printed.

“It’s bad,” the boy the former hero doesn’t recognize admits. “But you get used to it. Eventually.”

“I wanna go home,” Izuku sobs, curling into the other boy’s stomach. “I want my mama.”

The older boy hesitantly strokes Izuku’s head. “Get used to it,” he says, putting an arm around the boy. “You’re never getting out.”

 

“Who’s that?” Something passes over the present Midoriya’s face that Yumeko doesn’t have enough time to identify before it’s gone.

“Kino. His name was Kino.”

“Is he-”

“He’s dead,” Izuku quite nearly snaps before he regains his composure. The raw pain in his eyes is once again hidden by what Yumeko has dubbed ‘the cloud’. A mask of subtle regret and indifference covers his face. “Sorry. He...he died. Awhile ago.” 

“What happened?” The former hero’s voice is soft and gentle.

 

The memory changes.

Before them unfolds the sort of scene that Yumeko hasn’t seen since her days as Mirage. The memory bears such gore, she briefly turns her head away. She wrinkles her nose at the smell; coppery bitter with the obvious scent of sweat and tears. It seems like the air itself reeks of death.

Near the center of the room, a young teen boy’s body hangs much like a cut of meat from the ceiling. He is suspended by his wrists, which are tied with chains attached to the ceiling. 

Past Izuku races up to the corpse. “Kino!”

“Get that thing down,” one of the scientists still lingering at the door barks.

Kino falls to the ground, eyes open, yet still empty. Little Izuku clings to the boy’s side. “Kino, Kino, please. Wake up.”

The scientist does something that results in a click and the body falls. “Ejiri needs to stop being so rough with the subjects. We’re almost out. Soon we’ll have to find more.”

“I’ll call the runts down at disposal. They’ll get rid of the body.”

 

Yumeko can’t believe her ears. Despite the horrific things being said, Izuku, both past and present, doesn’t take his eyes off Kino, his incessant pleas for the older boy to wake up cluttering the air.

Through her quirk, Yumeko can feel an acute sense of heartbreak and loss tearing holes in Izuku’s soul. Her very heart feels as if it’s been violently ripped from her chest.

If her quirk isn’t enough, Izuku’s shrieks of anguish surely are.

The painful feeling in her chest only increases as her throat becomes raw from all the screaming past Izuku does. “How old was he?” She asks, voice hoarse.

“Fourteen.”

She pauses. “How old were you?”

“...nine.” Izuku’s hands tremble ever so slightly. “I was nine.”

“...let’s go back,” she says.

Izuku only nods.

Yumeko starts to go back when they run into a memory; more recent than the others at the facility. 

It all hits her at once; the excruciating physical pain clawing at her flesh, though there are no wounds, the gasps of fresh air she steals despite the crushing weight on her chest, the all consuming cloud of unconsciousness looming above her, taunting her, telling her to give in.

Yumeko falls to the floor, trying to steady herself; to regain control. Where is this coming from? 

The world around her spins.

Flashes of a broken body, that of Midoriya Izuku, hanging from the ceiling.

Midoriya stares over the barrel of the gun.

A limping sprint through a suburban neighbourhood.

A screaming man calling 1-1-9.

Being restrained at the hospital.

Screaming.

Crying.

Pain.

“So,” a well dressed man says, extending his hand. “What do you say, Midoriya Izuku?

Will you join the Program?”

 

And finally, blackness.


 

 

When they open their eyes again, Yumeko inhales sharply, tears stinging her eyes. For the sake of her professional relationship with Midoriya, she chokes them back and tries to discreetly collect herself. “Well, uh, that’s all the time we have,” Yumeko says. “You...I’ll need to speak to Principal Nezu regarding what’s been seen. If I have your permission.”

“It’s fine.”

How. How can it just be fine? He’s just a kid; not even eighteen yet, so how can he walk around without breaking down every few minutes? This can’t have taken place all that long ago!

“Uh, well, thank you. We’ll be in touch shortly.”

Midoriya nods, gathers his things and bows before he leaves.

Alone in the quiet of her own office, Asahi Yumeko finally breaks down.



Nezu’s ears perk up at the sound of Midoriya at his door. “Come in, Midoriya!”

The door opens, but the boy pauses at the sight of Nezu and Aizawa sitting at one of the couches. “Please, sit,” Nezu urges.

Midoriya moves across the room to the spot, keeping his eyes on them, yet trying to appear relaxed. “This is about the therapy session,” he says with certainty. Nezu feels a spark of pride in his chest; the boy’s face is carefully blank, as Nezu had taught him. Not that Nezu had wanted him to use this method against him.

“Tea?”

The avoidance of the question sets the boy’s lips in a slight frown. “No thanks.”

He shrugs. “Suit yourself.”

“Can we get to the point?” Aizawa grumbles and Nezu catches a suppressed flinch from Midoriya.

“Right, right. Sorry, Aizawa.” Nezu sips the steaming cup of tea. “To answer your question, Asahi did voice very grave concerns about what was seen during your session, none of which were mentioned on your file.”

Truth be told, this sort of thing hits a little too close for him.

“What do you want to know?”

“Whatever you’re comfortable with telling us.”

Midoriya reaches behind his head and awkwardly rubs his neck; one of the telltale signs of nerves. “Tea?” Nezu offers again.

This time, Midoriya quietly requests some and Nezu pours him a cup. “So,” he says, passing the cup over to the student. “Why don’t you tell us about it?”

And so he speaks.

“How did you escape?” Aizawa inquiresinquires as the boy's story draws to an end.

Izuku winces, visibly this time. “It was after a...punishment session. I escaped using one of the doctor’s keycards. I ran and ended up in a neighbourhood. Eventually, I found someone and they called the police.” He swallows thickly, raising the cup of tea to his lips again.

Both Nezu and Aizawa sit in stunned silence. “Why wasn’t it on your file?” Aizawa repeats softer.

“All of the drugs made from this branch of the Watanabe Facility were recalled, but they said all research done by Doctor Watanabe at the time was independent and did not reflect the beliefs or the methods of the Watanabe family or their facility.” Izuku pauses. “Doctor Watanabe Isoru and his associates were all arrested. Whatever subjects lived were freed.”

“But Watanabe Research Facility wasn’t shut down?” Nezu presses.

“Watanabe Research Facility had recently been signed to do government assigned work. It would reflect badly on the Japanese government if this came out.” Izuku sets his cup down, appearing rather calm. Nezu is no fool, though Midoriya hides it well, the decision obviously left him seething. Best not to mention it now. They’re here for information at the moment.

“That woman who was following you yesterday-” Aizawa begins.

“I know her.”

Aizawa narrows his eyes. “How?”

“Her brother was Doctor Watanabe’s right hand man.”

“So what does that have to do with you?”

“I killed her brother.”

Chapter Text

Izuku steps into the office. A man with dark hair and rectangular glasses smiles politely at him. The man is seated behind a great desk with files stacked in piles on it. He looks normal, but something about him sets off alarm bells in Izuku’s head. 

“Take a seat, Izuku,” he says and gestures to the chair in front of him.

Izuku wordlessly sits down, keeping a very sharp eye on him.

“Now, Izuku, before we begin, I want to acknowledge that you’ve been through something very terrible. I’m sorry for that.”

All he does is nod.

The man stands and begins pacing the room in slow, deliberate strides. “Do you know why I called you here?”

Izuku shakes his head. “No, sir,” he says softly.

A sly smile spreads across his lips and he pauses. “Izuku, I want you to join the Imperial Scholars’ Program.”

The statement startles Izuku. What does that have to do with anything? “Why?”

He nods and resumes his rounds around the room. “The general population of Japan thinks that the program is used for students of the highest caliber, and in part, that is true. But, there is another side to the program.” Having made his way back to his desk, he opens a file and hands it to Izuku. “We train the students to be top of the line agents for the government. Our students learn to fight, use their quirks to their full potential, hack, negotiate, etc. etc.” The man halts, looking Izuku in the eyes. “And of course, kill.”

Izuku instantly drops the folder like it burned him. “No,” he says, voice stern.

Ignoring his outburst, the man picks up folder, maintaining eye contact with him. “Ah,” he says almost apologetically. “You don’t want to kill anyone, do you?

He glares in response.

The man sighs. “Well, a lot of our kids are like that in the beginning. Tell me Izuku, what happened after you were kidnapped?”

Silence.

The man continues, tone easy and nonchalant. “I’ll bet you were tortured. Experimented on. I heard they tried to kill you. Numerous times.” He leans in close. “But you just. Kept. Coming. Back.” The intensity in his eyes fades and he walks to the window that overlooks Musutafu. “Izuku, would you mind coming over here?”

Warily, Izuku gets up from the couch and slowly walks to the window beside the director, keeping ample space between them.

The dangerous man stares out the window at the city. “You see all those people, Izuku? They live their lives as happily as they can. They never know when disaster will strike, but they trust in us to keep them safe. Those people will never understand what happened to you. You have had your eyes opened. Theirs are still closed.” The sudden hand on his shoulder startles Izuku, but the man doesn’t tear his gaze from the city below. “We try to keep it that way; keep them happy, that is. Ignorance is bliss, after all. “

He’s not wrong.

The man turns, glancing down at him with something akin to sympathy. “You will never be like them. After what you’ve gone through, you can’t go back to an ignorant, happy life.” He turns back out to the window. “Try as you might, there will always be a lurking shadow over your soul. You’ve seen darkness, and it’s gotten ahold of you. You will never be the same. You’re less trusting, harder and more bitter towards the world. But, despite all that darkness you carry, you’d never want anyone to go through what you did, would you?”

He nods once, trying to deny the fact that this man is making sense.

The man has caught on to this, and presses harder. “My job is to make sure that no one ever has to go through what you’ve been through, but sometimes, I can’t stop it from happening. Izuku, you can’t go back and change what happened to you, but you can decide what to do with it.You can help us make sure that no one ever gets hurt like you do again.”

“....I don’t kill.”

He sighs again and takes hand off Izuku’s shoulder walking back to his desk. As he talks, he pulls out a file. “Why not?”

“People don’t deserve it. And a hero would never kill someone.” Of that he is sure. If he could go back, he never would’ve killed Dr. Ejiri. As terrible as that man was, he probably had a family that would miss him.

But didn’t it feel good to see him dead?

“Izuku,” the man chides like his mother used to . “We don’t kill people who don’t deserve it. Take a look. This man was whoring out, raping and selling children for their quirks.” With a broad gesture of his hand, the man places photographs on his desk.

Izuku recoils in disgust.

“One of our snipers took him out two months ago. Do you know how many children we saved?”

“How....How many?

Hints of a smile begin curving the man’s lips. “Over two hundred. I don’t know about you, but saving over two hundred people seems pretty heroic to me, doesn’t it?”

Izuku pauses, but slowly nods.

Two hundred people is two hundred people more than he’d ever saved.

The man extends his hand and Izuku goes to shake it when a pair of scissors fly at him. Instincts kick in and Izuku dodges and catches scissors before tackling the man.

Even pinned to the ground, the man doesn’t react.

Izuku holds scissors to Director’s throat, trying to catch his breath, his eyes wild. 

“You have the killer instinct. It’s not because you’re not good, Izuku. It’s because you see a threat to what is good and right and you need to eliminate it. It’s an itch beneath your skin that your experience has only strengthened. It will never go away. You are a survivor, and survivors do whatever it takes. It-” He stops before a slow smirk twists his face. “You want to kill me, don’t you?”

His eyes widen and Izuku freezes like a rabbit.

“That’s not wrong-I tried to hurt you. But, by your logic, doesn’t that make you bad? Aren’t you a villain?”

Instantly, he drops scissors and retreats towards the door.

The man brushes himself off and approaches. “Those happy people out there aren’t like you. You aren’t like them. They will never understand your experience. They’ll tell you to move on when you know you can’t. Bad things happen in life, don’t they? You should let it go. But you know you can’t.” He’s right in front of Izuku now. “Where they see people, you see enemies at every corner. Where they see peace, you see a million little roaches crawling beneath the surface. You see deeper than they ever will. Do you miss what you used to be?”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Izuku hisses.

“The bliss, the happiness, the security; do you miss it?”

He should run. He should get out, go home with his dad, and never, ever, ever come back. But something in him answers. “.....Yes.” He gnashes his teeth and balls his fists so tightly the blood flow is restricted.

“You won’t stop missing it. You had it and now it’s gone, but it’s not coming back.  But they-” He points out the window to Musutafu. “They still have it. They can still be happy, secure, blissfully ignorant; not like you. Izuku, do you want to save the world?”

“….yes.”

The man’s brown eyes seem to burn through his very soul. “Then keep it ignorant. To save it, you need to protect the wall it’s built around itself. They aren’t safe-they don’t know the dangers of the real world like you and I. But, after what we’ve seen, we know it’s better to stay stupid. It’s safer. Easier. Of course, for them to stay that way, someone must give up their innocence to suffer on their behalf. I want you to help me keep them blissful, Izuku. We’re the unsung heroes. We do what’s necessary for them. Everything we do is for the good of the world.”

Against his will, tears begin to well up in his eyes. Before he knows it, he’s on the verge of crying.

The man appears empathetic. “I know. None of us do. But, we give up our souls so that the rest can see heaven.” Instead of facing the window, the man gently places his hands on both of Izuku’s shoulders and points him toward the city. “We light ourselves on fire so that they can be warm. You’ll never be able to live among them. Join us, become the hero they’ll never know; who saved their lives a thousand times before they ever knew it. Be their hero.” He glances down at the greenette. “What do you say, Izuku?”

Silence consumes the room as Izuku stares out at all the little people below.

“Somebody, help us!”

“I don’t want to die!”

“Where’s my mom?”

“Dad!”

“You’re never getting out.”

Izuku never could save The other subjects. Not Miri, not Tsuda, not Kino.

So, if he could save someone, just one person....

Could this be worth it? Could he redeem himself?

The director stands beside him with a knowing smile on his lips.

Kino stares at him with dead eyes, emotionlessly carding his hand through the growing green fuzz of what was once his curls. “We’re all going to die here, Izu.”

“Each and every one of us.”

“....Okay.” The tension and fight bleeds out of his body. He slumps his shoulder and unballs his fists.

“For the good of all.”

“For the good of all,” Izuku slowly repeats.

The man pats him on the shoulder. “Excellent. Now, let’s start talking about this program. You’re a little young for it, so you can’t declare yourself a member just yet, but we’ll get to that.” He takes a seat behind his massive desk. “But welcome to the Imperial Scholars Program, Agent Midoriya.” 

Izuku: goes back to his chair. “Thank you, sir.”

The man smiles. “Call me Director. Director Arai.”

 

If Izuku could go back that far, he’d strangle his past self for ever making that decision instead of trusting his instinct and running for the hills. 

“Midoriya,” Akagi says, appearing out of seemingly nowhere. “Director Arai wants to see you.” 

He takes a deep breath and braces himself.

This won’t be a pleasant conversation.


Shouta’s route doesn’t usually bring him this way, but he’d been chasing a low-time crook that brought him to downtown to Musutafu.

Annoying, yes, but these things happen.

“Thank you Eraserhead,” Tsukauchi says, tipping his hat as the criminal is loaded into the back of the police cruiser. “We’ll take it from here.”

The underground hero grunts in acknowledgement and swings himself up onto the roof of the nearest building. Perched on the ledge (Hizashi likes to tease him and say that he looks like a gargoyle-) he can see most of downtown Musutafu.

Midoriya lives in downtown Musutafu.

It’s not his business. Besides, they have to be careful about how they handle this is the government is involved.

He’s just a kid. How many red flags have you seen this semester alone?

Therapy will hopefully help with that. At the moment, there’s nothing he can do.

….he’ll just check up on him.

“Apartment forty-nine, apartment forty-nine,” Shouta mutters, searching for Midoriya’s. 

It’s late, so it’s fine if the boy doesn’t answer the door, but it’ll give him peace of mind knowing his student is okay.

‘Apartment forty-nine.’

There.

Shouta stops at the door and knocks three times. Inside, he can hear quiet shuffling and many locks being undone before the door cracks open. Midoriya’s face is barely visible behind the door.

“A-aizawa-sensei? Is something wrong-”

“Midoriya.” The boy’s jaw snaps shut. “Are you alright?” Shouta’s voice is softer than usual, as he notices the semi-visible dark bruise on Midoriya’s cheekbone.

“Yeah….”

In one quick motion, Shouta pushes the door in. Midoriya leaps out of the way, eyes open and startled. The hero pauses, taking in what an utter mess his student is.

Watercolor bruises litter his face, neck and part of his collarbone from what Shouta can see. His lip is busted and there’s a cut above his left eyebrow. There must be more, but Midoriya’s clad in a thin, long sleeve shirt and long pajama pants, so he can only imagine what other sort of injuries the boy is hiding. “What happened?” 

“Nothing. I was just training.”

He narrows his eyes. “Training where?”

“A local dojo. They had an open gym. I just tripped onto some weights.”

Aizawa flicks his gaze over the boy, noting that all of his weight is on one leg. “You hurt your leg too?”

“Hit my kneecap. Why are you here?”

Subject change. Damn, this kid’s good.

“I was on patrol in the area and after today, I thought it would be logical to check-up on you.”

Midoriya nods, somewhat thoughtful and pauses a moment. “Would you like to come in…?” He asks politely.

Yes, because he wants to find who did this and introduce his fist (and boot) to their face.

But, he’s got a patrol to finish and it’s unlikely anyone will pick up the rest of his shift at this hour.

“No, but thank you for the offer.”

“See you Monday, sensei.”

“Goodnight, Problem Child. Stay out of trouble.”

The door closes and Shouta lingers there awhile before leaping over the balcony and disappearing into the night.

Chapter Text

The first few days of the week aren’t very eventful outside of Midoriya scheduling more appointments, Kaminari shortcircuiting the generator and Bakugou blowing Kirishima through the ceiling.

Normal stuff.

Shouta holds a few afterschool training sessions in preparation for the upcoming Sports Festival. Most of his class comes to the gym to practice at least once a week. For the first time in a while, his responsibilities as a teacher and a hero don’t overlap and he gets more than four consecutive hours of sleep every other day or so.

So of course something had to go really wrong.

“Thank you all for meeting us here,” Tsukauchi says.

Besides Aizawa himself, there are three other heroes: Endeavor, Hawks and Edgeshot.

Shouta believes this is a matter for underground heroes, because the last thing they need right now is media attention. But, despite his position as the No. 2 hero, Endeavor is efficient, and that is not something the underground pro can take away from the Todoroki patriarch. While he might not have the same firepower (no pun intended) as All Might, he actually thinks about the issues at hand instead of throwing a weather changing punch at it.

Edgeshot is a master of stealth and a well disciplined hero. His analytical prowess and ability to think on his feet is invaluable in high risk situations, as is his flexibility, both in his quirk and in the field. He is focused and sharp as a knife. Honestly, he might be Aizawa’s favourite hero present.

Then there’s Hawks, the kid hero rising in the ranks with screaming red wings. (Not great for stealth.) It does bother Shouta that the kid’s young enough to have been one of his students, but despite his laidback nature, Hawks (he hopes) is more than meets the eye if his current ranking at No. 3 is anything to go by. At age twenty-one, he’s already broken the top ten, which isn’t something most pro heroes can say, with the exception of maybe All Might. No one gets that far by slacking off.

Besides the pro-heroes present, there’s a group of masked individuals. While they’re likely not a threat, seeing as they’re part of this operation, it’s not making Shouta feel any better that he doesn’t know who they are or what they’re doing here.

“Thank you all for coming,” Chief Tsuragamae says. “You all must recognize that this is a very serious issue that requires your utmost focus and cooperation, woof.” He gestures to the door. Tsukauchi enters. “Detective Tsukauchi is head of the case and will explain it in greater detail. Detective.” The dog-headed man steps aside to let the tired detective take the stand.

“Thank you, sir.” 

Tsuragamae nods and gestures for Tsukauchi to get on with it. “For the past month, there have been a string of quirk murders by Arakai Satomi, better known as Dice. Her quirk is very dangerous, but is activated by touch. She runs a small but powerful yakuza gang that is responsible for over one-hundred deaths in the Musutafu and Tokyo area alone.”

 

 

‘Wow, I have killed a lot more people than that’ , Izuku thinks grimly, suppressing a wince.

Tsuna snorts, but quickly falls back into his stoic expression as Gonzalez’s harsh glare. ‘According to our intel, Arakai has a quirk involving knives. Her killing method involves them, but dissection seems to be her favoured tactic’, Tsuna “Link” tells him. 

‘Lovely.’

For this mission, Director Arai assigned a small group of agents from various units to deal with this ‘minor problem’, not because it’s that big of an issue, but to reassure the people.

Tsuna is from unit 3 and is two years Izuku’s senior, but is maybe three inches shorter. With white hair buzzed on the sides and black eyes, despite his height, Tsuna strikes a surprisingly warlike figure, though anyone who knows him knows that he’s not as threatening as his first impression usually is. Tsuna’s quirk isn’t a combative one or physical, but Mind Link does have its uses. It’s a telepathic quirk that allows multiple people to mentally communicate (which is really cool, in Izuku’s opinion.)

‘I can hear you, Midoriya’, Tsuna says.

It’s tempting to bury his face in his hands, but Izuku’s supposed to be paying attention to the presentation. (But he’s got his mask and gloves on, so it’s not like anyone can tell he’s blushing.)

As Tsukauchi talks, Izuku looks at the other agents. There’s Aaron Tyler “Mimic” (an American agent also from unit 3, same age as Izuku), Itou Yukine “Marionette” ( a year older than him; she has a very fascinating quirk, though. Unit 16.), her unit commander Nageki Krishanu “Firefly” (A twenty-three year old woman of Japanese and Indian descent and the head of units 16 through 21) and Mateo Gonzalez “Arsenal” (an agent from unit 10, not to mention the head and representative of units 10 through 15, aged twenty-six.) 

Arsenal is in charge of this mission-not something Firefly is pleased by. She’s running as second command, which is still a great deal of power, but since she’s out of his unit control, Firefly fumed about it the entire ride here. And Izuku uses fumed literally. Smoke had been billowing out of her ears in the van, so they rolled the windows down.

‘Midoriya. We’re wrapping up’, Tsuna’s voice pulls him from his musings. 

“I’m sure you’re all wondering who the group to your left is,” Tsukauchi says. All the pro-heroes present-including his teacher-turn to face them. “The Ministry of Defense has put together a team of their best agents to help keep these things a secret. You understand that nothing you are told about this case is to leave this room.”
“In the event that it does,” Arsenal speaks up. “We have orders to kill the leak.”

Endeavor huffs in amusement, while Hawks, the bird-like man to his right, full on cackles. “Oh...oh, Jesus, you’re funny .”
Arsenal remains silent, eyes only visible on his half masked face. 

“...or not.”

The detective clears his throat, bringing attention back to himself. “In any case, while the arrest of Arakai is ideal, it is not necessary to bring her in alive.”
A pause sweeps the room. “Are you-” Eraserhead begins.
If the situation calls for it,” Tsukauchi interrupts, though he doesn’t look one bit happy about it. 

“The operation begins in an hour,” Chief Tsuragamae announces. “Take this time to prepare yourselves, woof.”

The tall dog man then bows and ducks through the door. For a moment, the agents and the heroes stare at each other in utter silence.

Arsenal is the first to break it. “We should introduce yourself to prevent any issues during the mission,” he says, to which everyone promptly nods. “I will begin. My codename is Arsenal.”
“What’s your quirk?” Endeavor asks.

“That is none of your business.”

The flame hero scowls. “I am Firefly,” Krishanu introduces, giving a slight nod of her head.
“Marionette.”

“Mimic.”

“Link.”
All eyes fall on Izuku, the last in line. Even though he wears a mask, through the white part covering his eyes, he can see his teacher’s wary gaze. “I am Yomi,” he says, bowing. “It is a pleasure to work with you on this operation.”

Eraserhead’s eyes narrow.

‘Great’ , he thinks dryly. ‘I’m fucked.’

‘Maybe’ , Tsuna agrees.

The heroes introduce themselves-as if they need any real introduction-and then comes the planning of the mission. While the heroes are not told their quirks, putting them at a disadvantage, they’re given enough of an idea to dispel any possible complications later on. 

“You.” Endeavor looks at him. “What’s your quirk?”
Izuku pauses. “I’m sorry, but if I told you, you’d have to be shot in a back alley.” 

Two things happen very quickly. Endeavor lunges forward, grabbing Izuku by the front of his outfit and slams him against the wall. “I don’t know what any of you are trying to play at,” he growls. “Dropping in unannounced, not telling us a damn thing, but you’re sure as hell not going to-”

“You were warned, Endeavor,” Arsenal says, pressing a newly made gun to the back of Endeavor’s skull.

He pulls the trigger and the flame hero falls dead. Blood splatters across Izuku’s mask. 

Gross.

As the other pro-heroes in the room get into fighting stances, Arsenal sighs. “The things you do to prove a point,” he says, pointing the gun at Izuku. “Honestly. You’re a handful.”
“So I’ve been told.”

A bullets to the head put an end to him before anyone else’s blood can be shed.

Distantly, he hears someone say his name in a whispery, horrified voice.

 

--------------------------

 

“-hat’s your quirk?”

“A form of precognition,” he replies. “I know the future.”

Endeavor winces sharply, bringing one hand up to massage his temple. He grumbles something and moves away from Izuku.

“Does that mean you know how tonight’s going to end?” Hawks says.
“Yes,” Izuku bluffs. “Arakai will be killed.”
The heroes fall silent. It’s not really a lie, since they have orders from Director Arai to kill Arakai Satomi, as she’s killed more than a few of their agents, but that doesn’t mean Izuku knows any of the specifics like how, when, where, etc. 

He’ll probably be finding out soon, though.

 


Yomi sets up his sniper from his little perch on the roof. Eraserhead stands by him. “Is this necessary?” He gruffs.

“Ah, yes,” Yomi replies, trying not to be nervous. He puts the scope into place.

“So in your picture of the future, you shoot her,” is his flat remark.

“One of the snipers shoots her,” Yomi corrects, because he doesn’t want to be that specific in the event that it turns out to be wrong. While Aizawa might not be usually identified as ‘brilliant’, he’s pretty damn sharp and Yomi is not about to mess with that.

“We have a perimeter surrounding the building in case she gets out,” Yomi continues. “Of snipers in high vantage points. I am one of two. The other is Link.”

“I don’t like this.”
“None of us do.”
The hero raises an eyebrow before Arsenal’s voice sounds in the government team's comms . “Alright,” he says. “West stealth move in.”

Yomi pauses. “You should go.”
Eraserhead slips his trademark yellow goggles into place and his capture weapon begins to rise. Without a word, he leaps over the side of the building and swings towards the warehouse.

Yomi sighs, sitting back on his haunches and watching his teacher disappear over a rooftop. What as the Director thinking, putting him on a mission with that guy? Does he want him caught? 

“Stealth team has returned. All units prepare to attack.”
Yomi presses two fingers to his comm. “Roger that, Arsenal. Sniper One active and ready for assault.”

Soundlessly, Yomi moves across the roof and sets himself up with his gun. From the building he’s on, there’s a nice view of the warehouse before him. 

Through the scope he can make out most of the scene and the people present. Arakai is battling Eraserhead, and next to them-

Yomi freezes. 

“Yomi to Arsenal, Yomi to Arsenal….we have a problem.”

“What?”
Yomi explains the situation. For the next few minutes, the comm is alight with colorful words and annoyed questions. 

“We can’t pull out of the mission.”

“What the hell are we going to do?”

“So what? We’ve got orders to kill the gang.”

"Where the fuck is she?
I've got a better quesiton: why the fuck is she here?!”

“Dammit!”

Distantly, Yomi notices the presence of someone behind him.

Well ain’t that some-

Next thing he knows, Yomi’s crashing through the warehouse skylight, staring wide eyed at the shadowy villain who’d managed to sneak up on him.

“You’re really cute when you’re bloody, Izukun!”

Great…I’m going to die again.

Before he knows what’s happening (again) Hawks swoops down and catches him barely five feet before the ground. “Woah! Be a little more careful, little guy!”

I’m barely shorter than you, Yomi thinks, but he just nods.

Hawks drops him on his feet and Yomi is soon thrown into the fray.

“Yomi! What are you doing down here?” Arsenal demands as they’re back to back.

“...unforeseen circumstances.”

Arsenal growls, a long machete appearing in his hands. Without a word, he tosses it to Yomi and dives into the crowd of villains, two katanas at the ready.

“Izukun!”
He whirls around, machete ready, but the girl has already leapt back. Yomi quickly searches for his teacher, but Eraserhead doesn't seem to have noticed. “Don’t call me that,” he hisses under his breath.
“Aw, Yomi, you’re no fun!” She pouts, stabbing one of her knives forward.

“You’re not supposed to be here.” He dodges under one of her jabs.

“Oopsie daisie!” Her blade grazes his shoulder, slicing through his sleeve. He hisses in pain. “You’ve always had such pretty blood, Yomi!” 

He chops the machete at the back of her hand, causing her to drop the knife. The girl hops back, cradling her now bloody hand. “So mean!” A smirk spreads across her face. “Better watch out!”
Yomi doesn’t trust her not to stab him in the back when he turns around, but he does anyway, and sees Arakai lunging at Eraserhead, whose back is turned. Arakai’s bloody knives shoot towards the underground hero.

Time moves in slow motion.

As he turns, Eraserhead blinks, the red fading from his eyes. Surprise blossoms on his face as the knives come within mere centimeters of contact.

Arakai suddenly jerks, falling back, blood spurting in an arch from the center of her forehead. Yomi stares in shock, eyes wandering to the gun in his hand. When did he shoot her?

Eraserhead casts a grim look his way accompanied by a gruff nod before he steps over the body and attacks another villain.

 

In the end, there are only two casualties, Arakai Satomi and one gang member. None of the heroes are especially worse for wear; nothing all that serious, anyway. Edgeshot has a few light burns, but he'll be fine. Aaron has a concussion and a small gash on his forehead, Gonzalez needs some iron to munch on, Tsuna needs some aspirin and Krishanu needs to take an ice cold shower to bring down her body temperature. Everyone’s relatively okay.

As they’re leaving, Gonzalez grabs onto him, scowling. “You talk to her,” he growls angrily, throwing a finger towards the shadowy figure at the end of the alley. “Because I will shoot her otherwise.”

Great. Dump this one on me, why dontcha? Izuku thinks as he approaches the girl. He gestures to the roof above and she giddly nods. They climb the fire escape that reaches the roof. “Arsenal’s pissed you're here,” Izuku says. “You’re lucky you got away without the heroes noticing.”

“You killed my blood bank,” Toga pouts.

"I had to!"
"But where am I going to get pretty, pretty blood now?" Toga holds up her knife with her uninjured hand. "Are you going to give me some?"

Izuku is intimately aware of how infuriating it can be to talk to Toga, and it’s probably that reason Gonzalez told him to deal with this.  He pauses, trying to not react to the girl's antics. “You’re supposed to be undercover.”
“I am!” She insists. “But the League’s slow to trust. I’ve gotta bide my time~! Why not have a little fun while I wait?”

“You’re supposed to keep your head down, Toga.”

She cups his face, smiling brightly. “Izukun, I’m working on it! A girl’s gotta have some fun eventually!” Without warning, she yanks his mask down and pecks him on the cheek before disappearing over the roof’s ledge. “I’ll see you soon!” 

Izuku’s left a stuttering mess as he fumbles to put his mask back.

I hope no one saw that….

 

Aizawa stares, incredulous, at the rooftop scene he’s just witnessed between Yomi and a girl he’d assumed was a villain, but is more likely an informant. He’s too far away to see any defining features when she pulls his mask down, but the government agent’s blush is clear. Still, that girl looks a little older than his first year class, so how old does that make Yomi?

I don’t get paid enough for this.

 

 

 

Bonus:

 

After Endeavor is shot, ‘Arsenal’ says something and levels his gun at Yomi-one of his fellow agents-a casual killer intent in his eyes. Shouta springs forward in an attempt to stop more bloodshed, but the weapon goes off before he can do anything about it.

Yomi falls back, the bullet having blown away part of his head. None of his fellow agents look very disturbed, though Mimic looks a tad sick. Fighting a disgusted response, Shouta removes the mask from the small body and freezes.

Green curls slick with blood. Freckled cheeks torn apart by the bullet’s trajectory; sprinkled more with blood than freckles. Wide emerald eyes glassy and open-accepting and peaceful.

The underground hero pukes, and then

He remembers nothing.

 

---------------------

 

Shouta’s head snaps forward like he’s been awoken from a nap. That Yomi is talking to Endeavor about his quirk-a precognitive one. It’ll be helpful for the mission.

He doesn’t know where this misplaced feeling of dread and nauseousness comes from. Shouta meets Yomi’s white-eyed mask and the feeling increases, but in creeps a sense of familiarity and fear.

Just who is this kid?

 

When the mission’s over, the bad feeling hasn’t gone away, but it’s found its subject: Midoriya. Shouta hurries to the kid’s apartment as fast as he can, only briefly catching a strange interaction between a blonde high school girl and Yomi. 

He knocks on the greenette’s door three times.

No answer.

He knocks another three times.

No answer.

Trying to ignore the panic rising in him-this indescribable feeling of something being very, very wrong-Shouta jiggles the doorknob a bit.
Locked. Of course. Midoriya’s smarter than that.

He knocks for another five minutes. Just when he’s about to break out his lock picking set, the door is flung open-not cautiously like it was last time-and Midoriya meets him. The boy is almost fully dressed-which is strange, because he should definitely be asleep right now, but Shouta’s not one to judge.

“Sensei? Is something wrong?”
Yes! All his instincts scream, but Midoriya’s right here in front of him, unharmed and safe.

His kid is okay.

“No. Just checking up,” he says as the feeling begins to fade. “Sorry for waking you. Have a good night.”

As he’s returning home, that odd sense of danger lurks in the back of his mind.

Whatever, he thinks, crawling through his window. I’ll deal with it tomorrow.

He flops into bed and sleeps.

(If he had stopped to notice, he would've seen little glass shards littering Midoriya's curls, a fresh bruise on his face, and a small cut on his arm. But at the moment, he had just been happy to see his student alive.)

Chapter Text

The Sports Festival comes before anyone’s as ready as they’d like to be. 1-A is sitting in their waiting room, alive with eagerness. “This is going to be so cool!” Kaminari cries.

Jirou flicks him. “Don’t short circuit before the actual thing starts.”

Izuku leans against the wall, casually sweeping his gaze over the class. He’s still sore as hell from last week’s mission and exhausted with the paperwork it spawned.

So, being at the Sports Festival, a battle royale between superpowered teenagers, fighting tooth and nail for the crown?

Haha, no thanks.

Besides, he doesn’t even have today off, so if he breaks a bone (his neck, most likely. Whether it’s intentional or not is for someone else to decide.) there’s still Program work to be done.

Izuku sighs. The sooner this is over, the better. He just wants this to go as easily as possible. “Midoriya.” He flicks his gaze up, locking eyes with Todoroki Shouto, youngest child of Endeavor, but generally considered his heir, quirk: Half Hot Half Cold, oldest brother Todoroki Touya, otherwise known as-

Izuku stops himself, biting a curse. Shit. He’s doing it again. “Do you need something, Todoroki-?”

“In terms of power, I’m stronger than you,” the other teen says bluntly.

“...Okay…?”

“I’m going to beat you.”

Izuku blinks. “....alright?” “Hey man, it’s not cool to single a classmate out!” Kirishima butts in.

Explosions pop on the other side of the room, the telltale signs of Kacchan losing his temper. “FUCK YOU ICYHOT YOU SHOULD BE FOCUSING ON BEATING ME!”

While Kirishima tries to keep Kacchan at bay, Todoroki huffs and sharply turns away, walking in swift strides to separate himself from the group. Everyone watches him go.

“That was weird,” Kaminari says.

Izuku shrugs. “‘S fine. The Festival has everyone acting a bit strange. Let’s all just do our best and show the world who we are.”

Not literally, of course.

Izuku glances up in time to see Kirishima staring at him with large glassy eyes. The redhead sways a bit, appearing moved. “Bro….” Kirishima sniffles, hitting his fist against his chest. “That’s so manly!” He turns around to address the entire class. “I’m gonna do my best!”

Kaminari hops to his feet, sparks of electricity leaping from his skin. “You better watch out, dude! I’m gonna be doin’ my best too!”

Before anyone knows it, 1-A is making declarations of war on each other. Izuku and Jirou just passively watch the chaos from the corner. 

“They’re gonna die before graduation,” she mutters. Izuku silently nods. (Not getting into the fact that he’ll be the first to go if that’s ever the case.)

 

Hizashi smiles at Shouta, sitting at his side. The raven haired man’s arms are still heavily bandaged from USJ-a brutal reminder of how they’re never really safe. The fear he’d felt when Iida burst into the teacher’s lounge had nearly stopped his heart. Of everyone, Hizashi is one of the most uneasy about continuing with the Sports Festival, but it’s the kids’ chance to show off their abilities and get internships.

After everything that’s happened, they deserve at least that much.

“Hey, Sho, who’d you think will win?” He asks casually as he does every year.

Shouta never answers. Hizashi knows just how much Sho hates the Festival, and with the recent events, he has all the right to.

“Midoriya,” Shouta replies without skipping a beat.

Hizashi cocks an eyebrow. “The little listener with the analysis quirk? But usually-”

“Midoriya,” Shouta repeats, not budging. “He’s going to be on the podium at the very least.”

“His quirk isn’t suited for fighting.”

“But he is.”

“Are you willing to bet on it?” Hizashi inquires, interest now piqued. It’s something he suggests every year, and Shouta always declines, never really invested in the Festival.

“Yes.”

 

Izuku watches Kacchan walk up to the microphone and deliver his passionate, but short speech. 

“I’m gonna be number one!”

Everyone boos at him. Ignoring him, he stalks toward the crowd.

“This is not sportsmanlike behaviour!” Iida shouts, chopping his hands.

“It is,” Izuku says. “Kacchan would never say anything like that unless he thought he might lose. When he’s not threatened, it’s just assumed that he’ll win.”

“I see! Then I applaud his speech! How-”

Judging by his barely contained excitement, Iida’s not slowing down anytime soon. Izuku just hums in agreement to anything that’s said and waits for Midnight to start explaining the rules.

“The first round-is an obstacle course!”

The student body begins anxiously chittering-especially the General Education students hoping to move up to the Hero Course. Shinsou, most notably, is scowling and glaring at the ground.

Izuku approaches him. “Shinsou,” he says in a quiet voice. “You know, you should get some students to carry you through the obstacle course. It would show your quirk off.”

The boy’s eyes widen before a wicked smile curves his lips. “Who’s to say I won’t use you?”

“You could, and I wouldn’t mind, but I’m definitely not the best choice. Might I suggest someone like Satou or Shouji?”

Shinsou raises an eyebrow. “Are you setting your own classmates up, Mr. Class Rep?”

“No. They’ll pass the finish line same as you and will get a chance to show their quirks off later.” Izuku shrugs. “Either way, it’s your choice. Do what you want. Oh, and watch out for Todoroki. He’s going to start with something big.” As Midnight announces the beginning of the event, Izuku walks away-far from Todoroki. Shinsou wisely listens to his advice.

Midnight cracks her whip, a sadistic smile on her lips. "Start!"

The student body springs into action.

Just as he predicted, Todoroki freezes nearly everyone to the ground in one fell swoop. It’s not enough to keep them there forever, but it’s enough of a stall for those who weren’t expecting it.

Unfazed, Izuku takes off. 

This shouldn’t be too bad.

 

“And the first event is off! Todoroki Shouto of 1-A has frozen most of the competition! It’s gonna take some time to get out of that ice! Can anyone compete with the Number Two’s heir?”

While Hizashi tracks the course, Shouta keeps a close watch on his students (and Shinsou). Remarkably, the majority of the ones to avoid being stopped early on are 1-A students, and Shinsou, but Shouta doesn’t know how the boy figured that out. Besides Todoroki, Midoriya is very close to the front of the pack, sprinting at a high speed without straining.

“In a twist nobody saw coming, Shinsou Hitoshi of 1-C is gaining! Hold onto your seats, Hero Course! You might just lose them to this dark horse!”

Shouta’s eyes dart back to the General Education student, who’s currently riding on a throne of students, all dead eyed.

He fights the temptation to smile. Even if Shinsou doesn’t make it, Shouta might approach him with the offer of private training.

“And right now Midoriya Izuku, representative of 1-A, is coming up on the chasm! Don’t fall or it’ll take you forever to get out!”

The boy shoots something of a dirty look at the booth-something Shouta finds mildly amusing-and takes a few steps back.

“What is he doing?” Hizashi asks dramatically.

“He’s doing the smart thing and waiting for someone with a better suited quirk to get across,” Shouta says, because obviously Midoriya can’t-

Oh God.

The crowd gasps as Midoriya sprints forward at high speed and leaps off the cliff, sailing through the air.

“And Midoriya is airborne! But will he make it?!” Hizashi’s statement is less of an announcement and more of an actual question.

Shouta stands abruptly, pushing his chair back, heart thudding in his chest. Though he isn’t showing it, he knows Hizashi is quietly panicking too, because a landing from that far up could easily break something important. 

Midoriya lands on the first platform and keeps going, repeating the same long jump sequence over and over until he’s reached the other side. By now, Todoroki has already reached the robot section of the course, easily breezing through it. (Shouta’s beginning to see the telltale signs of Todoroki’s hypothermia setting in.) 

“And Todoroki Shouto destroys the Entrance Exam Zero-Pointers!”

1-A’s student representative dodges under the robots, only pausing to pick up a metal sheet, and follows, growing closer on Todoroki’s heels.

“DEKU! DIE!” Bakugou uses his explosions to propel himself forward. (Points for resourcefulness, but Shouta will still have to talk to him about his temper.)

“And our front-runners are coming up on the minefield! These mines aren’t strong enough to kill, but if you step on one, they’ll make you pee your pants!”

Both Todoroki and Bakugou stop at Hizashi’s words, which is good, because it proves there’s still hope for teaching them common sense.

“While Todoroki Shouto and Bakugou Katsuki hesitate, Midoriya Izuku steals the lead from them!”

What.

With horror, Shouta watches as Midoriya doesn’t stop or even slow down , but instead charges forward, metal sheet held out underneath him like a boogie board.

He hits the first mine in a brilliant explosion that sends him flying forward. The boy keeps a tight grip on the pseudo-surfboard as he repeatedly hits mines. Todoroki and Bakugou seem to get the idea and follow after him. When they begin to reach him, Midoriya hits the last mine and-

“And the first finisher of the obstacle course is Class Representative of 1-A, Midoriya Izuku!” 

Todoroki takes second and Bakugou third. Shinsou breaks in somewhere around the tenth spot. Students begin to trickle in until place 42, where the cut-off happens.

Nemuri struts back onto the stage and cracks her whip to get everyone’s attention. “Alright! To those who made it-congratulations! To those who didn’t-better luck next time! Please return to your seats! For the rest of you, the next event will be...a cavalry battle! You will work in teams for this one-two to four people in a group! There must be a rider and a ‘horse’ in every team! You may work with anyone and you gain points by stealing their headbands! Each headband is a certain amount of points-”

Shouta tunes the woman out until the kids begin moving into groups. Some of them are obvious-Yaoyorozu, Todoroki and the rest of their team, the self-proclaimed “Bakusquad”, etc.

What he’s more interested in is who Midoriya Izuku will team up with, as the number one spot. Uraraka singles him out almost immediately. The group builds to four-Uraraka, Tokoyami and a Support Course student, Hatsume. Tokoyami is made the rider and the other three are the horses.

Begin !”

 

The cavalry battle is going well. For the most part, no one makes a grab for their ten million points. Then, at the last minute, Todoroki’s team zeroes in on them. 

They’re on Izuku before he can really do much, but as Todoroki sweeps down to take their points, Izuku uses the opportunity.

 

“....was that a nerve strike?” Hizashi whispers as Todoroki stops, pain clear in his face.

Shouta watches as Todoroki’s arm breaks out into flames when Midoriya tries to use one of Hatsume’s gadgets to grab his headband. “...I think so.”

The remaining time is spent dodging other teams or desperately trying to get enough points to be put on the board.

The sound of the buzzer marks the end of the second event.

Midoriya’s team ends up taking first, with Bakugou’s team coming in a far second, Todoroki in third and Shinsou in fourth.

Nemuri announces an hour and a half long break and the kids head to lunch.

Good.

He’s got a student to talk to.

 

Izuku is almost to lunch- almost to lunch! -when Todoroki stops him. “Midoriya. I need to talk to you.” The cold, angry look on the boy’s inexpressive face surprises him.

“Is something wrong, Todoroki-chan?” His tone is polite, but it somehow makes Todoroki’s demeanor grow more hostile. 

“I need to talk to you,” he repeats.

Uraraka pops in. “Hey, Deku, you okay?” Cautious, she eyes the dual hair coloured boy, the smile still on her face.

“Yes,” he replies. “I’m fine. Todoroki and I have something to talk about.” Izuku faces the boy. “Let’s go.”

The taller boy leads him to the tunnels on the ground-level of the stadium. Outside, Izuku can faintly hear the chatter of the crowd, but they’re in far enough that no one can hear them.

No one except-

“Kacchan, go away,” Izuku says aloud, a sigh on his lips.

The blonde sputters, peeking his head out from behind the corner. Todoroki twists his head to glare at the boy and Kacchan storms off.

“You made me break a promise today,” Todoroki says, ever blunt.

Izuku leans against the wall, sweeping his eyes over Todororki. “I’m sorry?”

“I swore never to use his fire.” Two different coloured eyes stare intently at his own left hand with disgust. “You made me break that promise.” Izuku pauses, trying to figure this out.

“What-”

“Midoriya.” Todoroki suddenly looks up. “Have you ever heard of quirk marriages?”

“Yes.”

Todoroki tells him of Todoroki Rei and Todoroki Enji’s abusive marriage, the “training” and subsequent neglect of the other Todoroki children to the point where the oldest runs away, Endeavor’s relentless grooming of his heir-Izuku hears it all.

And he likes none of it.

 Izuku can’t remember the last time he was this angry. The desire to kill Endeavor is more than tempting. Blood pounds in his ears and his vision tints red. His fists turn to balls and he trembles with pure rage.

“So, I have one question.” For the first time since the conversation’s beginning, Todoroki meets his eyes. “Are you like me?”

He purses his lips into a tight line. “What do you mean?”

“The way you act and fight...were you trained like I was?”

“Get up, Midoriya. They’ll die if you don’t get up.” A hand grabs his hair, pulling him up by the curls. Tears blur his eyes. “Do you want them to die? You have no time for tears!” The instructor’s foot collides with his side, sending him flying.

“No,” he replies evenly, reining his temper back in. “I wasn’t. My mum….died a while ago and my dad’s in America. Neither of them were heroes.”

“I see.” Todoroki’s face becomes unreadable. “I don’t know why, but you’re at the top of our class and I must surpass you-without his power. I’ll prove I can be a hero without him.”

“Todoroki. It’s not his power,” Izuku says. “You don’t have your mother’s Hailstorm or your father’s Hellfire. Your quirk is your own. If you don’t use both sides, you’ll only hurt yourself and others.”

Todoroki glares. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“I might not,” Izuku agrees, though he really does. “But I have a question.”

“What.”

“Do you want me to take care of your father?” 

The boy’s head whips up abruptly enough to give him whiplash. “...I beg your pardon?”

“Do you want me to take care of Endeavor?” He repeats, calm. “You really can’t mention this to anyone, but would it make you happy?” “....are you going to kill him?” Todoroki asks, cautious. His right hand twitches minutely, ice beginning to coat his finger tips.

Izuku shrugs, humming. “Probably not. But child abuse and neglect are not things to be taken lightly.” He checks his watch. “We still have an hour of lunch left. You should eat something. I’ve got a call to make.”

 

BONUS:

The Director sighs. "No, Midoriya, we cannot assassinate the Number Two hero."

Izuku paces the roof, cursing. "We can't just let this continue!"

"No, but Endeavor's assassination would plunge Japan into fear. They'd be out looking for us. We can't drag him out into the public court, because then Japan's faith in heroes would waiver."
"But-"

"Don't worry, Midoriya. I have a plan. Write a report on his crimes and I will handle this."

"Yes sir."

 

Arai Mamoru hangs up and sets the phone down. "Well. It seems I have a visit to make."

"

 

Chapter Text

Izuku spends most of the lunch break typing up a report on Endeavor’s abuses. Never in his life has he written a report so quickly, but this is important.

His fingers fly across the keys, almost slamming on the ‘enter’ button.

 

Enji’s searching for his son right before the end of the break when he gets a call. 

“Todoroki Enji, good afternoon.”

Endeavor scowls, gripping his phone tightly. “Who is this?”
“The head of the Ministry of Defense and right hand to the former emperor. I’d watch your tone.”

He grits his teeth. “What do you want?”
“Well, it has come to my attention that you have been up to some potentially career ruining activities such as child abuse, spousal abuse, neglect, conspiracy, assault, battery, false imprisonment-”
“Alright!” He booms. “...what will it take to keep you quiet?”
The man on the other end sounds delighted . “Oh, absolutely nothing. This is blackmail from the government. All you have to do is stop or possibly retire.” The man on the other end pauses. “But we will know if you don’t. We are watching, Todoroki Enji.” Without another word, the line goes dead.

He crushes the phone in his hands. Where did that bastard get off on telling him how to handle his children?
More importantly, how did he figure this out?

 

Izuku smiles when he receives a short confirmation text from the Director. If Endeavor is smart, he’ll think twice about everything he does from now on. 

Izuku descends the staircase from the school’s roof, only to run into his teacher. 

“O-oh! Hello, Aizawa-sensei.”

“Problem Child.” Aizawa narrows his eyes. “What were you doing on the roof?”
He leaves out the question of ‘how did you get on the roof’, Izuku notes. Izuku lifts the laptop in his hand. “Just getting some work done, sensei. It’s quieter up here.”

The man nods, movements slow and contemplating. 

“Did you need something, sensei?”
“Yes. I’ll talk to you after the Festival ends.” Aizawa turns around and walks back down the stairs. “I’m expecting a lot from you, Problem Child. Don’t disappoint me.”

 

“And now! Onto our final event of the Sports Festival! The Battle Tournament!”

The crowd goes wild. 

“Hey! Deku!” Ochako pushes her way to her friend. “Deku!”

The greenette turns to her, a small smile on his face. (CUTE!!!) “Hey, Uraraka.”
“Deku!” Poutily, she punches him in the arm. “I told you to call me Ochako!”

“Oh.” He chuckles, rubbing his arm. “Sorry.”

“Aren’t you excited?” She points to the match-ups. “I’m going against Bakugou!” Ochako pauses. “He’s kinda scary, but this is a great chance to prove myself!”

Deku hums. “You’ll do great,” he says. “Just a tip, Kacchan always starts with a right hook. It’s his signature move.”

“How do you know?”

The boy taps his temple with his finger. “My quirk.”

“Oh!” She nods vigorously. “Thanks! And good luck! It looks like you’re up first!”

“What?” Deku looks at the match-ups. “Oh. I’m against Shinsou.”

 

‘Ah’, Hitoshi thinks the second he sees who he’s going against. ‘Goodbye Hero Course.

“Alright, listeners! If you’re not in the first fight, clear the arena floor!”

Everyone but he and Midoriya leave. The other boy flashes him a smile and waves. He can’t help but do the same in return.

Dammit Midoriya.

With a sigh, he resigns himself to his fate.

But hey, if Hitoshi’s gonna get his ass kicked, at least it’s by a friend.

They line up in the middle, Midnight standing between them. “On the left we have Shinsou Hitoshi, the dark horse of the General Education Department! On the right, we have Midoriya Izuku, the class representative of the infamous 1-A, well known for their battle prowess and power!”
Hitoshi glares at the announcers’ booth. Biased, much?

 “Ready! Begin!”

Hitoshi is on his back, staring at the sky with the wind knocked out of him. 

Midoriya’s head pops into his vision. “You okay, Shinsou?”
“How?” He breathes while the greenette goes to help him up.

A smirk curves the boy’s lips. “I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”
Hitoshi grins madly as his quirk seizes control. Midoriya’s eyes glaze over and he stiffens. “You did that on purpose,” he accuses, though he knows Midoriya can’t really reply. “Walk out of bounds.”

The crowd watches with baited breath as the Hero Course student approaches the boundary line. One more step and Midoriya will be out of bounds. The greenette raises one of his feet to take another step and then,

He stops.

The tension bleeds from Midoriya’s shoulders as he calmly pivots and faces Hitoshi. “That was really cool, Shinsou,” he says earnestly, before he moves across the field at what should’ve been an inhuman speed.

How the hell-

The boy flies at him in a flash or green and blue, tackling Hitoshi before he can get too far. Within thirty seconds the smaller boy has him pinned.

“Shinsou Hitoshi, can you move?” Midnight asks.

He tries to squirm, but his arm is twisted at a painful angle and Midoriya’s knee is digging into his back. “No,” he finally admits.

“Midoriya Izuku wins! He will advance to the next round!”

At those words, the pressure lifts from Hitoshi’s back. “That was a great fight, Shinsou.” Midoriya Too-Pure-For-This-World extends a hand to help him up.
“Says you,” Hitoshi snorts, accepting it. “Since when were you so strong?”
Midoriya laughs and shrugs. “C’mon. I think Iida’s match is next.”

 

“Aren’t you going to watch?” Yagi asks, pointing to the “fight” (if can even be called that) between Young Iida and Young Hatsume.

Nezu hums, paws tapping away at the keys of his laptop. “Busy.”

“But you always watch the-”

Nezu holds up a paw, smile straining. “Yagi, I will watch the video later. There are more pressing things at the moment.”

The hero is silent. “....is it about the traitor?”

Nezu doesn’t answer, instead staring at his work. 

‘Midoriya Izuku-Traitor?’

“Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out, old friend. You always do.”
“Yes, Yagi. I hope I will.”

 

Mamoru drums his fingers against the desk, spending the rare free time he has watching the UA Sports Festival. Midoriya is holding back-obviously, because if he isn’t, Mamoru will have to arrange for more remedial lessons-when he fights the Shinsou boy. Honestly, Arai regrets not having scooped Shinsou up when he was younger, but perhaps it is not too late. With a year or two or intensive combat lessons and lots of cramming on Shinsou’s part, he could be considered an asset in the league of agents like Kensei, Akagi, Pearson, Ogura and Hajime. Maybe with lots and lots of training, he’d even come near Midoriya’s ranks. Not equal, but near the boy’s league. Shinsou’s quirk appears to be voice-based, if his file information is correct. That makes his control quirk much more versatile than Itou’s.

Midoriya, Mamoru reasons, was a lucky find. There’s a reason his quirk is a government secret. While it may not have the potential to level cities like Kensei or shut down senses like Hajime, time quirks are extremely rare and very fickle. They are lucky it’s so easy to activate Midoriya’s quirk.
Normally, Mamoru isn’t allowed to have favourites, but this is his damn organization and he’s the one playing high stakes poker with powerful cards.

Midoriya Izuku is his favourite card in the deck.

 

The first round ends with the expected results, though Izuku is disappointed that Ochako didn’t win. The second round bracket pits him against Todoroki, which is far from ideal, as he is one of the few classmates Izuku has that he’s not sure he can beat.

“I’m gonna go see how Ochako is doing,” Izuku announces, standing.

Shinsou nods.

When he arrives, Ochako is talking to someone and crying, so he decides to leave her be. 

“And first up in the second round, we have the son of the Number Two hero, Todoroki Shouto against the analytical mind of Midoriya Izuku!”

Guess he’s up now.

Hurriedly walking through the halls, Izuku has the misfortune of running into Endeavor. “You. Wait.” Izuku pauses mid-step, glancing back at the flaming dumpster.

“Is there something I can help you with?”

“You’re not much, but try to give my Shouto a good fight.”
Despite the overwhelming urge to give Endeavor the middle finger, Izuku manages to restrain himself. “Shouto isn’t ‘yours’,” Izuku says seriously. “And please keep your hands off him. I get upset when my friends are hurt.”

The smugness from the hero’s face fades. “Is that a threat?” He growls. 

Izuku can feel the slight increase in temperature. “Only if you interpret it as one. Now, I have a match to go to. Have a good day, Endeavor.” Izuku bows before briskly walking away.

 

“AND HERE IS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHT FIGHTS OF THE SPORTS FESTIVAL!”

The crowd anxiously whispers in anticipation for the battle between Todoroki and Izuku. He can’t say he shares their sentiment. This feels too much like a gladiator pit to him. 

“ARE YOU READY!”

Midnight gives the signal to start and Izuku instantly lunges to the side. As expected, Todoroki unleashes a wall of ice where Izuku had been standing. It’s a good job he moved, because Izuku doesn’t think he would’ve been able to get out of that. 

A chilly fog hangs in the air. Todoroki huffs, his breath clouding, as he glares at where Izuku had been. 

He lets the element wielder continue with ice attacks until Todoroki is trembling, frost thinly spread over his tan skin.

 

Somewhere in the mental health ward, Todoroki Rei sits on her bed, watching the Sports Festival from her TV.

“Oh Shouto,” she whispers quietly.

I’m so sorry.”

 

“Todoroki,” Izuku says quietly as the boy stumbles back at the force of one of Izuku’s kicks. “You can’t keep doing this to yourself.”

“Shut up!” 

Izuku narrowly dodges under the sheet of ice Todoroki sends out. The rapidly dropping temperature makes him shiver, so he can’t imagine how Todoroki feels. “Your quirk is a perfect balance and if you don’t use both sides-”

“I don’t care!” Another wave of ice. “I will never use his fire! He ruined our lives! You’ll never understand my pain!”

Fresh blood on the doctor’s gloves

watercolour bruises painted across his abdomen like a hideous portrait

missing limbs

broken teeth

Death

somuchdeath

everythinghurts

“get up”

“g e t  u p”

“G E T  U P”

Too slowly,  Izuku snaps back to reality. He’s in time to avoid most of the hit from Todoroki’s ice covered arm, but not enough to entirely miss it. The sharp ice clips his cheek and ear, leaving a line of blood. Blind with rage, Todoroki swings down, slicing through his gym uniform and creating a tiny cut on his chest.

The first injury is the most serious, but it’s superficial at best and cosmetic at worst. But, while the wounds don’t hurt, Izuku is losing his patience. For the second time today, rage begins to burn like acid beneath his skin, bubbling and eating away at whatever restraint is left.

“You’re going to collapse!” Izuku continues, becoming desperate. (Please, please, please don’t let Direct Arai be watching this.)

Keep your temper

Keep your temper

Keep your
“You don’t understand what it’s like to hate your quirk!”

His anger boils over, restraint dissolving in its acidic mixture. 

Ducking under the other boy’s swing, Izuku mercilessly knocks him to his feet. “MY QUIRK IS THE WORST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME!” He roars, stalking over. “I wish I was born quirkless! Maybe then I could’ve had some sort of a normal life!” Todoroki stares at Izuku, in his eyes swimming a mixture of fear and shock. “You say I don’t know what it’s like to hate your quirk, but I despise it! But we work with what we have! You can’t pick and choose what part of your quirk you use!” Conviction burns in his green eyes like Greek fire. “It’s your power, isn’t it?!”

 

Midoriya stops in front of Shouto, taking a deep breath to cool his temper. “I’m sorry,” the greenette says in a much calmer and more polite voice than before. “That was rude.”

But his words have already had an effect.

His mother strokes his head, holding him close. “I don’t want to be like him!” He sobs, clinging to her blue shirt. (She smells like hot coco. Even all these years later, he remembers that.) “I don’t want to hurt you!”

She smiles a little, the sadness unmistakable in her eyes. “You aren’t him, Shouto. You never will be.”

“Just as you will never be me.”

Before he can control it, Shouto stops shivering as a rush of warmth floods his left side. Flames lick his face and uniform, the outfit burning away at their scorching tongues.

Something akin to a smile flicks across Midoriya’s lips as he gets into a low fighting stance. “Give me all you got, Todoroki. Don’t hold back.”

Flames roar at his left side and the ice around him melts. “I wouldn’t dare insult you like that.”

Midoriya grins and they fly at each other.

 

Hizashi watches as the steam clears with baited breath. Eyes wide, he clears his throat and reaches for the microphone.

“AND IN THE BIGGEST UPSET IN UA HISTORY-

MIDORIYA IZUKU WINS!”

Somehow, Shouta doesn’t look the least bit surprised.

 

“I am really sorry,” Midoriya says for the millionth time, cheeks bright red. 

‘Kinda looks like a strawberry’, Shouto muses, simply nodding an acknowledgement in return.

Recovery Girl huffs, smacking both of them on the head with her cane.

“Foolish children! The both of you! You-” She points the cane at him. “-need to some restraint! You’ve got quirk exhaustion through the roof and could’ve hurt yourself! And you-” The old woman actually hits Midoriya (who’s still stuttering apologies) again. “-have the same problem but worse! What were you thinking, being so aggressive like that? It’s only a sports festival! Honestly!” Pausing from her scolding, she shakes her head. “They should stop this whole clown show! You children fight like it’s life and death!”

“I’m sorry,” Midoriya says once more, rubbing at the sore spot on his head.

Recovery Girl sighs before pressing a kiss to Midoriya’s cheek (the boy turns even redder, if that’s possible) and then to Shouto’s.

A wave of fatigue washes over him. His eyelids flutter shut.

 

“Out, dearie,” Recovery Girl instructs, pointing towards the door. “You shouldn’t be too tired from my kiss.”

Izuku nods, absentmindedly rubbing the healed cut on his face. The skin is sensitive and slightly raised, but largely unnoticeable.

Even if it wasn’t, what’s another scar?

As soon as he enters the waiting room, Izuku is overwhelmed by his classmates. “Dude! That was hella manly!” Kirishima booms. “I didn’t know you could fight that well!”

“We should spar sometime,” Ojiro suggests. “I think I could learn a lot from you.”
“That’d be nice,” Izuku says. “You’re a very skilled martial artist.”

“Deku!” Ura- Ochako (Dammit, he’s got to remember that) bounds up to him. “That was awesome! You were like pow! And bam! And then you judo flipped him!” As she speaks, Ochako mimes the actions with mannerisms that Izuku finds cute.

He watches the rest of the rounds. After Tokoyami’s defeat at Yaoyorozu’s hands, Izuku had been praying that he wouldn’t have to go against her. (Because, come on universe. He just went through the ringer that is Todoroki Shouto-do you really need to make him suffer more?)
The answer is apparently, yes, as Yaoyorozu defeats Ashido. While the battle is….flashy(?) Yaoyorozu clearly has brilliant strategies and openings she fails to take advantage of.

Self-confidence issues, then. He wouldn’t have pegged her for it.

As they’re going into the semi-final, he’s paired with Yaoyorozu, the number one (in his mind) in their class.

It’s not that she’s the most powerful-though she certainly could be-but her quirk is the most unpredictable. Yaoyorozu is a wildcard.

Izuku doesn’t doubt that if she could stomach it, Director Arai would’ve been delighted to call her an asset of the Program.
He’s glad she’s better than that.

Better than him.

 

They’re the first fight in the new round, giving neither person much time to rest. Izuku can see Yaoyorozu sway on her feet while they fight, and considers going easy on her, but that’d be an insult to the girl’s natural capability.

She’ll be a great hero.

The match is spent playing the long game until Yaoyorozu can’t create anything else without using her liver. (can she do that? Izuku should ask, but that might come across as creepy.) He wins.

While Yaoyorozu leans against the wall, eyes a little bleary, trying to steady herself, Izuku cautiously approaches. “You’re really amazing, Yaoyorozu,” he says, and he means it. 

She smiles at him, faintly, but it’s a smile. “Thank you Midoriya. I’m sorry I couldn’t put up a better fight.”

“No! You did great! I noticed you look really pale and thin. I could buy you dinner later?”

The girl pauses, looking startled.

“T-that doesn’t mean you have to say yes! I-I know you probably have a lot of other things to do and if you-”
“That would be nice,” she replies.

 

Momo watches as the class rep. walks off, internally screaming.

‘Midoriya! You can’t just say things like that!’ Her face flushes red.

 

Stain's sword lingers above the gravely injured Ingenium. "You should not have been so cocky, hero," he hisses. "I might have considered you worthy if you didn't insist on protecting the fakes."

Tensei's only partly aware of the burning pain in his back and the numbness in his legs.

 

The semi-finals end, leaving only the final match.

"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! THE MOMENT YOU'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!"
"BAKUGOU KATSUKI VERSUS MIDORIYA IZUKU!"

Chapter Text

“Ouch!” Deku rubs his slightly scraped knee, his eyes large and teary.

Katsuki rolls his eyes. “You’ll be fine,” he says, wiping some of the blood away. “God, do I always have to protect you?”

Deku flashes one of those million-watt smiles. “You’re gonna be a hero, Kacchan! You have to protect everyone!”

He averts his eyes. “Yeah. Guess I do.”

The greenette hops up and runs to something. “Kacchan! Look at this!” Deku stares wide-eyed at a butterfly.

“Tch. It’s just some stupid bug, Deku.” But even he gets close to observe the butterfly’s beauty.

Not that he really cares. Auntie and Mom are over closer to the playground, talking on the bench and casting the occasional glance towards them to make sure they haven’t died yet.

“It’s so pretty!” Deku’s annoying voice sounds absolutely starstruck, like he hasn’t seen a fucking butterfly before. “Looks at its wings!”

“Idiot. It’s a monarch.” Kacchan reaches out, but the butterfly flies away to a different flower. “Hey! Come back!”

“Kacchan! Be careful!”

“Don’t tell me what to do!” He shouts as the butterfly gets farther away.

His pursuit of the butterfly takes him to the creek on the edge of the playground territory. Some stupid rock moves so he trips (and that is the only reason! It’s the rock’s fault.) and tumbles into the water, dousing himself in frigid liquid.

“Kacchan!” The quick pitter-patter of feet comes to a stop in front of him. Deku holds his hand out to help him up (like he didn’t learn his lesson last time.) “Are you okay?”

“You-” His anger dies on his tongue when he’s overwhelmed by the genuine concern and care in the nerd’s eyes. “I-”

Then he notices the butterfly perched on Deku’s shoulder.

The same one he’d been chasing, but never ca ught.

It just came to Deku.

Anger bubbles back up in Katsuki’s chest. “Don’t fucking touch me, Deku!” He smacks the greenette’s hand awa y.

Hurt fractures Deku’s smile.

Katsuki doesn’t care. He wants Deku gone.

 

…….

“I didn’t mean it,” Katsuki whispers, balling his fists.

His mom has a black funeral outfit on and she’s glaring at the graves before them. His dad is outright crying, which makes sense. He’d known Auntie long before Mom did; they grew up together. 

Katsuki refuses to cry, despite the tears in his eyes. It’s been a week since the villain attack.

A week since Auntie is killed.

Six days since Deku is pronounced missing.

Two days since the search ends and Deku’s declared dead.

Funny how things can change in a matter of days.

“Let’s go, Squirt,” Mom says softly, patting him on the shoulder.

Katsuki raises his head and turns to leave when he sees something resting on Deku’s grave; a monarch butterfly.

Just like the one from many months before.

Katsuki knows it can’t be the same one, but if there’s a chance that it is…..

maybe Deku’s still alive.

 

…….

Years pass and Katsuki learns to move on and forget.

Only the first part of that statement is true.

How can he forget the nerd; the quirkless wimp who wanted to be a hero? Katsuki visits the graves every once in awhile, usually when he’s feeling guiltier than usual. All the things he would say to Deku if he was still alive….the amount of times he would apologize just to see the greenette’s stupid fucking face.

For a long time, he thinks he’d be happy to see Deku again, but when he shows up halfway through their first year of junior high, Katsuki only feels rage.

Deku acts like nothing happened; like Auntie didn’t die; like Uncle didn’t fall apart at his family’s deaths. He asks the idiot where he’d been all these years. Deku just shrugs and keeps writing analyses in that dumb notebook.

He acts as if Katsuki shouldn’t care; like he’s dumb for wanting to know about it.

But Katsuki’s not stupid. This Deku acts differently; he’s more reserved, more cautious and a hell of a lot more jumpy.

And yet he still wants to be a hero.

He refuses to stay safe, because he apparently hasn’t lost enough.

Katsuki despises him.

Katsuki wants to beat Deku into the ground so he won’t ever think about getting up.

He wants to end this Deku.

(But he never wants him gone again.)

 

“Hey, bro. I think you’re up.” Katsuki glances up from his musings to see that stupidly red spiked hair. Shitty Hair grins at him. Growling, Katsuki wipes his towel across his forehead and throws it at Shitty Hair. “Whatever.” He stalks toward the arena floor, palms smoking. Deku stands across the field, wearing that weird-ass Buddha smile. (Not the right smile. The old Deku never smiled like that.)

The smile is tired, but peaceful; accepting, even.

He hates it.

“THE FINAL MATCH! WHO WILL EMERGE THE CHAMPION? BAD-BOY POWERHOUSE BAKUGOU KATSUKI OR TACTICAL GENIUS MIDORIYA IZUKU?”

Him. That should be fucking obvious.

Midnight smiles and cracks her whip. “Begin!”

Katsuki lets loose a barrage of explosions in an attempt to stun Deku before rushing in. He swings left (after being caught off guard by Round Face, he’s not making the mistake of punching right again) at the first sight of the nerd.

Deku dodges with unexpected grace (he’s not the same Deku. This one isn’t a klutz-) and kicks him in the stomach before he can react.

 

Arai Mamoru grins in delight at the prospect of recruiting Bakugou Katsuki.

Then he realizes it’s been tried before, and Bakugou Katsuki failed the test.

‘What a shame’, he thinks. ‘The boy’s got such potential.’

 

The air is forced from his lungs and Katsuki leaps away. Deku lunges forward, but he sets an explosion off to keep the nerd back.

“You’re really cool, Kacchan,” Deku says in that stupid way Katsuki knows he means it.

“Shut up!” The next explosion packs a bit more force than the last. “Fuck!”

Deku weaves around most of his attacks, but the nerd’s stamina can’t last forever, no matter how ridiculously in shape he is.

Plus, even if Deku’s quirk makes him a better strategist (though Katsuki wouldn’t call himself a bad one) Katsuki has the advantage of a physical quirk. While Deku might end up turning Katsuki’s quirk on himself, Deku still has to work around him, assuming the nerd’s plan involves getting close to him.

A good strategy would be to keep a distance between him at Deku with explosions, but if the nerd plays the long game, Katsuki will eventually tire out. He’s not about to drop from quirk exhaustion, so that’s out.

Another idea would be to set off an explosion in Deku’s face, bright enough to temporarily blind him, to give Katsuki an opening. 

That’s not terrible.

Let’s try that.

They fuck around for a few more minutes, with Deku getting a few good hits in before Katsuki blows him back. This dance goes on until Katsuki can feel dehydration and quirk exhaustion nipping at his stamina. He’s got to wrap this up.

Katsuki intentionally lets Deku get close, raising his fist to set off the explosion.

“You know it’s not your fault right?” 

He freezes mid-swing, the explosions fizzling out on his palm as a cold feeling descends on him.

“You don’t have to protect me anymore.” Deku’s voice is soft and childish-it’s as if they’re kids again, making foolish promises and admissions to each other in the sandbox. “I can do this.”

“No you can’t, you little shit,” Katsuki hisses before he can stop himself. "You couldn't do a damn thing in your miserable life!" (He hates how his voice sounds; pleading, desperate-)

“You don’t know me anymore.”

“The fuck I do!”

"Kacchan-"
"WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME?!"

The nerd pauses, green eyes alight with understanding. Katsuki scrambles to pull together what's left of his dignity. “I told you I’m not your Deku anymore,” Izuku reiterates calmly. “Because he’s dead.”

He bears his teeth. "You son of a-”

“But I'm sorry for leaving you.”

The words give him pause long enough for Deku to knock him flat on his ass. Katsuki’s quick to his feet, but not before Deku hits him with a boxer-like uppercut.

A stinging pain explodes in his nose.

Instead of decking him again, the greenette pivots and watches Katsuki closely as he gets his bearings.

“You want me to stop coddlin’ you, huh?” Katsuki huffs, wiping the blood spilling onto his lips. “Then let’s fucking go .”

Even if this isn't the real Deku, they share something in common:
They won't fucking stay down.

But Katsuki refuses to lose.

 

Somehow, some way Izuku manages to pull out a victory against the natural battle prowess of Kacchan. But he has never been more bone-weary in his life. 

And his day isn’t even over.

It empties his energy reserves to get through the awards ceremony, but receiving the first place medal from All Might certainly helps. It does strike Izuku as curious that Iida isn’t here, but he’ll deal with it later. “Good job, Young Midoriya,” All Might congratulates. “What you did was very impressive.”

‘What you mean is you’re surprised I did this without a physical quirk’ , Izuku thinks, only a little bitter, but he accepts the medal. The man didn’t have all the facts when he crushed Izuku’s dreams on the rooftop that day. ‘You’re only speaking from experience.’

“I need to speak with you before the internships, if you can spare the time,” the hero whispers.

A bit surprised, Izuku nods.

‘What could that be about?’

After the Sports Festival and replying to the thousands of ‘great jobs’ Izuku makes it to the train station. He’s just going pop back home for a shower before clocking in.

God, what he’d give for a day off.

His phone rings and Izuku immediately picks up. “Hel-”

“Midoriya,” Pearson cuts in. “The Hero Killer attacked Ingenium and a sidekick in a back alley. According to our information, the sidekick was killed and Ingenium is critically injured. At best, paralysis and at worst, death. We have concerns that he will strike again in Hosu. The Director is giving you the day off, because he wants you to study Stain’s patterns. Find out where he’ll be next. Whatever internship offer you get, take the one that gives you the best time to scope out Hosu. Preferably a hero who isn’t paying attention or one that patrols the city.”

“But-”

“You have your job. Unit 4 is stationed nearby.”

Dammit. He hates that Unit.

Pearson hangs up without another word.

…...Well, he got his day off.

When is he going to learn to keep his mouth shut?

Part of him is a little disappointed. Izuku had been looking forward to choosing which hero he interns with. He sighs.

Guess that’s over now.

 

Chapter Text

Tenya stares at the email containing the list of offers he received, numb when he should be thrilled. He has many offers, plenty from high ranking heroes.

That’s not what he cares about now.

“The doctors say he’s lucky to be alive,” his father says, dabbing at his watery eyes. “But Tensei will never walk again.”

“He can’t be a hero anymore,” his mother whispers, stroking her unconscious son’s face. “You’re the only one left.”

“I want you to take on the name Ingenium,” Tensei hoarsely pleads. “I...I can’t feel my legs, Tenya.”

“Dammit!” He hisses in a rare moment of unbridled rage. “Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!” Tenya throws his phone against the wet pavement and it shatters upon contact. His fingers tangle through his hair and pull. “Goddamn it!” He roars to the godless sky. "WHY?!"

No one answers, of course. Who would?

For a moment, the only sounds are his heavy breathing and the pitter-patter of rain against the street. 

Control. He needs control.

Tenya will make Stain pay for what he’s done.

The lack of water droplets hitting his hair and face draws his attention. A red umbrella is above him, protecting him from the rain. Midoriya stands beside him, a polite smile on his lips. The boy’s scarf, the same colour as his umbrella, is securely tied around his neck like a noose. He always wears it, and Tenya can’t understand why.

“Iida. I didn’t think I’d run into you.” The smile stretches farther, but doesn’t become any more deep or meaningful. Midoriya crouches down to pick up the broken phone. “This is a shame. It looks like it was a good phone.” He hands it to Tenya. “I was on my way to church. Would you like to join me? It’s a good place to get out of the rain and think.”

There are so many parts of that Tenya should be questioning, but somehow he finds himself falling into step with Midoriya as he heads uptown.

Tenya notices that the boy doesn’t take the subway or train when it would certainly be faster. Instead, they walk in silence, letting the rain fall around them.

It’s almost serene.

After twenty minutes of walking, Tenya grows antsy. “How much longer are we from reaching our destination?” He asks, sounding like an impatient child speaking to an adult.

“Not much longer,” Midoriya cryptically replies before halting in front of a large building. “This is it.”

Tenya wonders how he didn’t see it earlier, looking up at the cathedral-like church. “I wasn’t aware they had churches like these in Japan.”

“There are a few,” Midoriya replies dismissively as they climb the stone stairs. “Not as many as in the West, though.” They pause at the large wooden door with black metal work (that likely no longer served a use) so that the greenette could shake his umbrella out. 

The pair enters the church and a sudden chill runs up Tenya’s spine. Now inside, he realizes the building isn’t as big as he first assumed. It is certainly imposing, but isn’t as extensive as the Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples. Some of the architecture is clearly inspired by the Gothic era with gargoyles mounted outside the windows that let in little light, especially on a dark day such as today. As they enter, the storm outside increases, the rain creating a hollow sound from inside the place. The air around him is cool and, besides the natural light, there is nothing illuminating the sanctuary. 

Midoriya gives his umbrella one last jerk and closes the heavy door behind them. The hinges groan at the movement and the door slams shut, a booming sound amidst the howling wind outside. 

“I wasn’t aware you were religious,” Tenya says slowly, facing the greenette.

“You couldn’t have known. I don’t talk about it much.”

He finds the remark strange, because all the religious people Tenya has ever met are vocal about their beliefs. “Oh.”

“The service ended a while ago,” Midoriya continues. 

Where is he going with this?

“I apologize if I held you up.” Tenya bows, still perplexed by his friend’s odd behaviour.

He waves his hand at him. “No, it’s fine. I don’t really attend services here anyway.” Midoriya pauses before loosening his scarf. Tenya sucks in a breath at the sight of a serious looking, ugly scar zigzagging down the left side of the boy’s neck. He catches his eye and freezes-Tenya had been caught staring.

Midoriya breaks eye contact first; his observant eyes are quick to examine Tenya before turning away. Wordlessly, and totally unbothered, the class officer walks to what looks to be a coat rack and sheds his black raincoat, hanging both the scarf and the slicker on the hook. “I have to go talk to someone,” Midoriya tells him. “Feel free to look around.”

‘He brought me here for this? No, Midoriya would never waste my time.’ Tenya sets his lips in a thin line. Midoriya is logical; his every action is calculated. But while all things that Midoriya does are with purpose, he never tells anyone what he wants or needs outright. Tenya will have to figure this out for himself.

The other UA student disappears into a small box with a curtain. Tenya takes this as his signal to roam.

He paces the empty halls, greeting the occasional passing church worker. This place feels so empty-so lonely-but maybe that’s because hardly anyone’s here. Tenya examines stained glass windows, colours dulled by the little light brought on by the day. The stories depicted in the-

Wait.

Stained glass.

Stained.

Stain.

Tensei fights for his life in the ICU, hooked up to hundreds of machines keeping him breathing.

Familiar rage boils in his blood and he tightens his fists.

Why is he even here? Tenya spins around and storms toward the door. Just as he reaches for the knob-

“Sorry to keep you waiting. I had a lot to confess.” Midoriya’s calm and apologetic voice carries across the front of the church, bouncing off the stone walls. “We can go now.” The boy reaches for his scarf and jacket, slipping the black raincoat on and draping the scarf over his shoulders on either side.

Draping it.

Not wrapping it around his neck like he usually does.

Scar in full view, Midoriya opens his umbrella and brushes past Tenya, opening the door. It’s raining harder outside than it was before they arrived, he notes. Midoriya stops halfway down the church steps, his free hand rubbing at the lightning shaped mark on his neck. “One of my best friends was shot on these steps,” he announces out of the blue.

The sudden admission startles Tenya. “What?”

(Everything Midoriya does is intentional.)

“She helped me after….my mom died. Yuki was one of the best people I ever knew.” There’s a distinct sadness in his voice when the boy peers at the rained-on steps as if they’re still slick with blood. “She didn’t deserve it. The first bullet clipped me; that’s where I got this scar.” 

(Every action planned.)

“Her killer only got two years. He lives down the street from here.” Midoriya raises his head and stares in the presumed direction of Yuki’s killer, eyes distant, but sharp. “The son of a bitch didn’t deserve to get off easy.” Surprised by the profanity, Tenya watches as the boy’s hand slides into his pocket and out comes a long knife. “I should kill him for what he did.”

(But he won’t tell you what you need to understand.)

“You can’t!” Tenya cries, horrified his friend would even think of doing such a thing. “I’m sorry for your friend, but murder won’t bring her back! What will you get out of causing more pain? You’ll be dropped from the Hero Course, expelled, arrested-”'

“I said I should kill him,” Midoriya interrupts evenly. “I didn’t say I would. Besides-” He shifts so that those solemn green eyes meet Tenya’s blue ones. He can feel the greenette’s quiet probing of his very soul. “-isn’t that advice you should take?”

(You figure that out yourself.)

Realization dawns on him. “I heard about what happened to your brother,” Midoriya says while Tenya gapes. “It was unfortunate, but going after the Hero Killer won’t make him better. All of the things that would happen to me if I took revenge on Yuki’s killer would come to pass with you.” Tilting his head, Midoriya asks a question that Tenya will never forget.

“Are you willing to give that up?”

He runs home.

Yes, Tenya is ashamed to admit it, but he sprints home, not looking back once to see if Midoriya is following him.

Fear and anger swirl in his heart, but most prominently horror and disgust at himself.


Izuku watches his friend retreat. He coughs and reaches for his handkerchief, raising it to his cracked lips. The white cloth comes away bloodstained. “Shit.”

Drawing in a deep breath, he exhales, creating a small cloud that dissipates quickly in the rain. The last two days have been rough; the Sports Festival was Friday (today is Sunday) and UA has given them tomorrow off, but it’s forecasted to rain like this all weekend, limiting most outdoor activities. He’ll work through those days, regardless of UA’s recommendation to rest. 

A ping from his phone draws his attention to Ochako’s texts.

 

gravitywho??: dekuuu

gravitywho??: come hang out!

gravitywho??: we’re all goin to benji’s funplex tmrrw 

 

He sighs.

 

You: sorry. can’t. 

gravitywho??: :(((((((( next time??

You: maybe. i’ll try.

 

Ochako responds with a smiley face and Izuku chuckles. People like him don’t deserve the friends they have. Thunder rolls above him. 

It’s time to go home.

“Yuki,” he says to the empty church front. “I hope you’ll be alright.” No one answers, obviously, but his lips turn upward just a hint and something in his eye twinkles. “See you next week.”

He walks home; the rain is soothing to his normally turbulent mind.

Passing an alleyway, Izuku notices a tiny animal, fur slick and shiny from the rain, curled up at its entrance. At his presence, the puppy raises its head, looking at Izuku with large, sweet, innocent eyes-

No.

NO.

The puppy rises to its feet, tilting its little head.

GODDAMMIT .

 

The apartment is quiet, as it has been since his father moved out. Izuku sighs and shifts, paying careful attention to the small dog tucked under his arm. “This is stupid,” he says aloud. “I’m going to get attached. And then it’s going to die. And then I’m going to be upset.”

The puppy happily yelps.

“Yeah, you would say that.”

Izuku puts the puppy on the floor next to the couch. The dog hops onto the furniture and tracks muddy wet prints all over it. 

“No, don’t-You know what? I deal with it tomorrow.” He runs a hand through his wet hair. “What am I going to do with you? I don’t know anything about animals.”

Dog-that-he-really-needs-to-name barks, tongue hanging out and eagerly wagging.

“Just...stay on the couch. I’ll see if there’s anything in the fridge you can eat.”

After a few minutes, Izuku finds some leftover chicken from last night’s dinner. The puppy bumps against Izuku’s leg, eagerly wagging its tail. “I told you to-Forget it.” He crouches down and puts the container in front of the dog. It hungrily gulps down the chicken. “Good dog, I guess.” Izuku pets it, rustling its felty grey ears. “Ew.” He pulls his hand away. “You’re getting a bath later.”

His phone rings. “Be right back.” Stepping over the dog, he answers the call. “Hey Dad.”

“Hey Zuzu. How ya doing?”

“Ah….we may have a dog now.”

“....’may’?” His father repeats hesitantly.

“So...uh...there was this really cute puppy-”

This prompts a twenty minute conversation during which Hisashi laughs at his son. “So it just looked at you-”

“It’s not that funny,” Izuku huffs. 

The boy is sitting on the blue couch, knees pulled to his chest while absentmindedly picking at a loose thread on his jeans. “Maybe not. You name the dog yet?”

“Uh…..”

Hisashi begins chuckling. “Oh...kid. You’re a mess.”

He rolls his eyes. “Thank you, most wonderful Father.”

“Hey, did I tell ya how you got your name?”

“Baby naming sites?” Izuku guesses. “Mom?”

“Haha. No. I actually chose it waaayyy before I met your mother.”

"Really?" He sits up a little more. Ever since Inko’s death, his father hasn’t spoken much about life before the villain attack. Izuku never holds it against him, but whenever Hisashi talks of Inko or his early life, Izuku listens with rapt attention. “Can you tell me?”

There’s a pause and a shift on the other side of the phone before Hisashi clears his throat. “Uh, sure. Why not? So, I always liked the name Izuku-”

 

“But why Izuku?”

“Because it’s a badass name. That’s why.”

"What about 'Deku' is badass?"
"Look, Katsuki is a little bitch-"
"Dad!"
"What? I'm being honest! He ruined the perfectly good name I chose!"

 

“And I was so excited to teach you how to curse-”

“Dad-”

“Inko was not thrilled, let me tell you that-”

 

“I can’t wait until you’re twenty. We’re going out for shots.”

“I don’t really think-”

“We’re doing it. It is a Midoriya man tradition.” The serious tone in which his father speaks makes Izuku burst out laughing. He feels lighter than he has in weeks.

“No it isn’t!"

 

They talk for nearly two hours.

Conversation bounces from family, to life, to little things that annoy them both. Eventually, the talk lulls in the late hours of the night. “Goodnight, Izuku,” his dad says.

Izuku yawns, eyelids hanging heavily over his eyes. “G’night Dad.”

“Have a good day tomorrow. I’m really proud of you.” Hisashi’s voice is sweet and fatherly in Izuku’s ears.

"Thanks Dad."

For a moment, he’s five years old again and Hisashi is tucking him into bed and kissing him on the forehead.

The line disconnects when his dad hangs up. He stares at the phone for a few moments before yawning and curling up on the couch. The puppy lazily trots over to him, climbs onto the furniture and falls asleep under his arm. Its tiny nuzzle rests against his chest and the paws are tucked under its body. 

Izuku sighs again, but it’s fond.

Even if everything is going to pieces around him, in these brief happy moments, he can rest.

 

Chapter Text

“These are the offers you received,” Aizawa-sensei drawls, gesturing to the board. “As you can see, some of you have more offers than others.”

“Didn’t Midoriya win the Festival?” Ashido asks, pointing toward the board.

Kirishima nods. “But Todoroki has the most!”

Mineta smirks. “Bakugou, how does it feel to come in fourth?”

Tsu smacks the boy with her tongue while explosions bloom in Bakugou’s palms. 

Shouto couldn’t care less. He did beat Midoriya in offers by a margin of about twenty, but there are other things occupying his mind.

His sperm donor of a “father” hasn’t dragged Shouto to the gym for “training” session since the Sports Festival. In fact, the man refuses to so much as look at him. Not that Shouto minds, but with what Midoriya said...it can’t be a coincidence. Shouto is entertaining the idea that Midoriya Izuku is a secret agent or something. It would make perfect sense with the boy’s ninja like moves, his blank demeanor and marksmanship.

Maybe the Imperial Scholars Program is just a front and it’s actually some government agency that trains kids to be spies or something.

Conspiracy. It has to be a conspiracy.

He steals a glance back at Midoriya, watching the exhausted boy carefully. Midoriya keeps scratching at something on his neck, the red scarf he usually wears is missing. Shouto leans back just enough to catch sight of a scar slicing down the left side of his neck. He looks sick; his already pale skin several shades lighter and sweat beading on his forehead. Every few minutes, Midoriya turns to the side and coughs into his handkerchief.

Something about him is familiar.

But what?

“Todoroki. Pay attention,” Aizawa-sensei snaps. “Stop staring at Midoriya.” At this the aforementioned boy raises his head, meeting Shouto’s gaze with cloudy, unfocused eyes while the class laughs. His pale cheeks are red with blush.

“Now, since you’ll be taking on internships, you’ll need to decide on your hero names. Since I don’t really care about these, someone else is here to help you.”

Midnight opens the door with a flourish, cracking her whip. “Okay kiddos! Let’s hear what you got!”

Shouto watches as their teacher crawls into a yellow sleeping bag, looking as if he wants to be anywhere else but here.

 

Whiteboards are passed around and students begin writing their hero names. Izuku stares at the blank board before him. He could go with Yomi, but…..it doesn’t feel right. Something so ominous and steeped in blood shouldn’t be the name of a hero.

He sighs and coughs into the handkerchief, stained with flecks of blood. Of course he has to come down with something at a time like this. The blood isn’t really a concern-just a standard side effect of his quirk-but being sick isn’t making it any better.

Why is he here again? “My hero name is-” Ashido lifts her whiteboard above her head. “ALIEN QUEEN!”

“That’s a bit too villainous sounding,” Midnight says, shaking her head. “Try again. Who’s next?”

“Moi will go next~!” Aoyama prances up the aisle. “I am: I Cannot Stop Twinkling!”

The 18+ heroine pauses, tapping her chin. “Try and shorten it by making ‘cannot’ a contraction. But it’s fine!”

…. that’s where the standard is?

Ashido heads up again, presenting her new name: “Pinky”, which actually makes the cut.

Thankfully, Tsu restores some semblance of sanity by announcing her hero name, “The Rainy Season Hero: Froppy”.

This prompts others to share their hero names. Izuku hears some rather creative ones: “The Stun Gun Hero: Chargebolt” by Kaminari, “The Petting Hero: Anima” by Kouda, “Tentacole” by Shouji, “Uravity” by Ochako (a favourite of his) and “Creati” by Yaoyorozu. There are many others-Tokoyami’s choosing of the Lord of the Night’s name is certainly fitting-but there are also some plainer ones, like “Invisible Girl” (Hagakure), “Tailman” (Ojiro) and “Sugarman” (Satou).

But in the end, he has no idea what he wants to be called.

“Okay, we only have a few left-no, Bakugou, you cannot be called ‘King Explosion Murder’-and- no, you cannot change it to ‘Lord Explosion Murder’-so, Todoroki, Iida, Midoriya! Let’s hear ‘em!”

Izuku watches as Iida, conflicted, takes on his first name as a hero alias. He assures them it will be changed soon. Todoroki does the same.

Izuku stares at the whiteboard, tapping his pen. What could he do? How could he define his hero career and legacy in a name?

“Hey, nerd. Stop taking so fucking long,” Kacchan snaps.

“If you’re having trouble with your name, you could always go by your childhood hero name,” Izuku suggests innocently, only to have an explosion aimed at him.

“Fuck off!”

The blonde proceeds to fume for a minute before storming up to the podium and shouting that his hero name is Ground Zero and “if any of you assholes have a problem with it, say it to my fucking face!”.

“Midoriya. You’re  the last one.”

‘Like I need a reminder.’

He could go personal. Something to do with his mother or Kino….

Wait.

Inko has the same letters as Kino, but in a different order, so if he were to call himself Kino, it would be paying homage to his deceased friend and mother.

Slowly, he advances to the podium. “My hero name,” he says in a voice he himself hardly recognizes. (Where did this confidence come from?) “Is ‘The Everlasting Hero: Kino’.”

There’s a pause. “It’s a...good name, but why Kino and why 'Everlasting'?” Midnight asks.

“Ah...it’s really kinda depressing…..” Izuku begins rubbing his neck scar; a nervous habit he needs to drop. “My mum’s name was Inko and….my best friend’s name was Kino. They both died and...well, I thought it would….be a nice way to remember them. It's stupid, but...” He looks up. "To me, they'll always be with me. I want to be that kind of person to other people." Silence sweeps the room and Izuku drops his head.

When he looks up, the entire class is on their feet. “That’s so manly!” Kirishima shouts, a single tear trailing down his cheek.

“You go, Deku!” Ochako cheers.

Midnight smiles and nods, allowing him to go back to his seat. “Hey. Deku.” Izuku turns and meets the red eyes of Kacchan, the only person to remain seated. “That name isn’t totally stupid. Auntie would’ve...she would’ve liked it.”

A warm feeling stirs in his chest, causing a smile to bloom on his lips. “Thank you, Kacchan.”

He twists away, cheeks aflame. “Tch. Whatever, you weirdo.”

Izuku doesn’t take offense at the words.

 

The bell rings and Izuku shoulders his bookbag. “Midoriya. Come here.”

Aizawa-sensei climbs out of his sleeping bag. “You look terrible.”

“I’m just sick,” Izuku replies. “I couldn’t afford to miss today.”

“You’ve been coughing all day. Go to Recovery Girl.”

“But-”

“Don’t argue with me, Problem Child,” Aizawa growls, writing him a pass. “Go see the old woman.” Izuku doesn’t object.

The way to the infirmary is familiar to him; as is every way out of the infirmary and every possible place to hide. For example, the drop from the window isn’t far enough to kill, so if he needs to, that escape route isn’t the worst.

That’s...probably not healthy.

Izuku stops outside of the infirmary-hesitating for a second. The pause is so routine, it’s become second nature for him to just...wait a moment before entering the lab infirmary. 

Taking a deep breath, he pushes the door open. “Recovery Girl?”

“What is it this time?” The old woman grumbles, hobbling toward him.

“Uh, Aizawa-sensei...he said to-” Uselessly, he holds the pass out.

She snatches it and quickly reads it over before shaking her head. “That mother hen.” Recovery Girl whips her sharp gaze up to assess him. “You look sick,” she says.

“It’s nothing,” he replies, listless. “I can go.”

“No, no. Might as well do a check up so 1-A’s resident worrywart won’t come breathing down my neck.” She waves him toward the operation table a table; like the ones in the doctor’s office. Harmless. “Sit.”

He obeys, trying to suppress the anxious dart of his eyes or the minute twitch in his fingers. Fine. He’s fine. He has always been fine.

The older woman takes his temperature and mutters to herself as she works. “You’re a little feverish, but it’s nothing too serious,” she muses. “Drink plenty of water and don’t push yourself too hard in Heroics today.”

“I won’t,” Izuku promises, reaching for his handkerchief. He coughs and hops off the table, starting towards the door-

“Is that blood?” The soft surprise and horror carries well in her voice. “Midoriya, come back.”

With robotic movements, Izuku complies. Recovery Girl holds her hand out, as if asking for his handkerchief.

He hands it over instantly-anything that will get him out of here faster. She frowns as the splotches of blood on the cloth confirm her suspicions. “How long has this been going on?”

“I went to the doctor last week,” he says, trying to keep his voice even. “She said it’s just an infection.”

Pursing her lips together, Recovery Girl nods. “Mention these things to your teacher, silly boy,” she scolds, shaking her cane at him. “And let me know immediately if you have any shortness of breath or lightheadedness.”

“Yes ma’am.”

She fixes him with a glare. “I’m serious.”

“Yes ma’am.”

They hold each other’s gaze for a minute before the hardness fades from her expression. “Alright,” she sighs, handing back the handkerchief. “Just be careful. I don’t want to see you here for at least another month, got it?”

“Y-yes ma’am.”

“Then get where you’re going. Come on-scoot!”

Izuku zips out of the infirmary, throwing a ‘thank you’ over his shoulder.


The day of internships comes too quickly. Shouto’s decided to intern with Endeavor-flaming dumpster he may be, his father has immense control over his flames, second to none-but of course, his thoughts are on his class representative.

Ever since the Sports Festival, there’s been an inkling-a faded memory that has something to do with Midoriya Izuku that he just can’t recall.

Perhaps Midoriya isn’t who he’s thinking of-maybe it’s his plain face or odd demeanor. It’s something about the way he holds himself, though, the tired acknowledgement and beaten, yet determined light in his dark eyes that strikes a chord with Shouto, because he knows they’ve met before.

“Will you be alright, Todoroki?” Midoriya asks in a low voice, startling Shouto as he appears out of nowhere.

“I’ll be fine. My father hasn’t tried to train me since…” He trails off. The sentence doesn’t need to be finished.

The greenette quietly nods and then faces the train track before him. “You’re interning with Manual?”

“Yes.” Midoriya doesn’t look at him, only at the oncoming train. “He’s a good hero and Hosu is-” The boy’s words are lost in the sound of the train rushing by before hissing to a stop. Midoriya shoots him a small smile before stepping off of the platform. “Text me if you need help, Todoroki.”

(At the time neither knew it would be quite the opposite.)



Tomura glares across the bar at the newcomer. ‘Stain’ returns his gaze, ranting about how he will bring heroes down-all heroes except All Might and some NPC named Yomi that he’s never heard of.

A fight soon breaks out and Tomura finds himself pinned to the floor, bleeding from the knife in his shoulder.

Kurogiri leans against the bar, immobilized.

How annoying.

“Hey….my wounds just healed and we don’t have a healer on team,” he hisses, scowling at the freak in red. 

Stain doesn’t reply, raising another knife. Tomura catches it inches above his chest. “No...not that hand.” The blade disintegrates under his touch. The other villain is quick to spring back before they (reluctantly) agree to not kill each other in Hosu.

He doesn’t like him. “This is for your betterment, Tomura,” Sensei’s voice says.

Tomura grinds his teeth together. He won’t kill Stain.

Not yet, anyway.

 

Tenya does his best to ignore the other boy in their shared room. “You can take the top bunk,” Midoriya offers.

“No, you should. I would hate to bother you,” Tenya replies, trying not to grit his teeth.

“I prefer sleeping on the floor,” Midoriya says instead of arguing. “Take whatever bunk you’d like.”

As if his presence alone isn’t enough to put Tenya off, Midoriya won’t leave him alone for a second. Manual notices this and takes Tenya on a patrol of the city, letting Midoriya train with another hero in the meantime.

“Don’t go after the Hero Killer,” Manual warns.

Tenya promises not to.

(Tenya lies.)

When Nomus attack and the city goes up in flames, he sees his opportunity. With Midoriya and Manual nowhere in sight, Tenya charges into the night to find Stain, hellbent on revenge.

Chapter Text

If someone were to compile a list of the people with the worst days ever, Izuku would be in the top ten. Maybe the top five if the list was on the amount of bad days he’s had.

Around him, Hosu burns hotter than Hell. Nomus screech in the distance, swinging low with their toothy maws and soulless eyes like vengeful furies. “You’re going to be okay, miss,” Izuku tells the little girl clinging to his chest. “We’re going to get you evacuated- shit! -No, don’t repeat that-You’re okay. You’re okay .” He tries to keep his voice level and calm; it’s been his experience that scared civilians and victims respond better to that than their ‘saviour’ being as terrified as they are.

A choked sob escapes the girl’s throat. Normally, he’d be upset about the damp spot growing on his costume, but Izuku can ignore it with the raging heat surrounding them.

Surrounding them.

Fuck.

The heat is steadily growing around them, hot enough to burn. Izuku wraps another arm around the girl, trying to keep her from breathing in too much smoke.

The only way out of the fire is through it. Izuku braces himself for what he must do. “It’s going to be okay.”

Suddenly, the fire dies with a bitter hiss. Izuku turns to his mentor.

Thank God for Manual. “Kino! Get her to the perimeter we’ve set up!”

“Have you seen Iida?”

Manual stills. “I thought he was with you.”

Izuku hands the little girl off to a member of Unit 4 and runs like the hounds of hell are nipping at his ankles.

Iida is in Hosu for one reason.

And that one reason is going to get him killed.


In the shadows of the alleyway, Stain looms over the still for of Iida Tenya. He can’t move. Can’t move. Can’t move. 

Tenya grits his teeth. He’s failed.

“It is my mission….to purge all fakes from society!” The katana is raised and swung down toward his spine (like Tensei-) but it never connects.

Metal clashes mere centimeters above him, trembling in an uneasy balance. Midoriya grunts under the effort it takes to keep the blade from reaching him.

Stain withdraws his sword, making a noise of interest, but scowling nonetheless. “You shouldn’t be here, child. Leave and be spared.”

“Iida.” Midoriya’s voice is careful and low as the boy steps in front of him. “When Stain’s quirk wears off, take Native and run.”

“You can’t-!” Tenya hisses. “This is my fight! He-”

“I don’t care.” Midoriya lowers himself into a battle stance, steely look glinting in his eyes. “I'm not letting you die because you decided to be an absolute dumbass and take on a serial killer. When the quirk wears off, you run . Native.”

The injured hero looks up. “Eh…?”

“I need your permission to engage.”

“R-right! Permission granted!” Native still looks unsure.

“You would have a child fight your battles? You are a coward,” Stain muses, drawing both swords. “I warn you, boy. If we clash, the weaker of us will be culled.”

“I’m a hero. I was born to die.” Midoriya raises both of his weapons.

Stain smiles. “You are a true hero. I may let you live.”

“Don’t trouble yourself.”

Stain lunges at his friend and Midoriya moves faster than Iida’s ever seen him move.

 

Izuku rolls, landing hard on his shoulder. Wincing, he quickly rights himself and swings his sword to keep Stain at a distance. “I almost didn’t recognize you in that hero costume, Yomi .” Against his better judgement, he freezes. Stain smirks. “You’re younger than I thought, but I’m glad you’ve chosen the walk of a hero. You've improved since our blades last met.”

While the serial killer talks (for such a brutal and efficient killer, Akaguro Chizome really is dramatic-) Izuku sends an SOS out from his phone. 

The villain lunges forward, swords at the ready. He scrambles to drop the phone, but Stain manages to nick his arm. Instantly, he feels Stain’s quirk take affect. Against his will, all limbs lock in place and he drops like a ragdoll.

“I will never understand why you of all people must protect these fakes.” Disgusted, Stain gestures to Native and Iida. “You are above them-”

“If I’m so above them,” he hisses. “And you mean what you say-then kill me.”

“Midoriya, what are you-”

“Shut up Iida,” Izuku growls before addressing Stain again. “You believe heroes should give themselves for others without compensation? Kill me. My life for theirs.”

Please, please let someone come. Stain stalks toward him, scowling. “You. You’re good.” The tip of the man’s sword is slipped under Izuku’s chin, forcing him to look up. “But you’re stalling.”

In a moment he could have not timed better, ice spirals forth, putting a barrier between him and the Hero Killer. 

Todoroki.

Oh thank God.

There is almost no better matchup for someone like Stain. Long distance is what he needs right now.

“Midoriya. Next time be more specific with your directions. I was almost late.”

“You’re fine,” he says, ignoring the burning in his arm. “Stain has a blood quirk; don’t let him taste your blood or you’ll be paralyzed.” The bi-coloured boy doesn’t question why or how Izuku knows this (something he’s appreciating in this moment, because he’s pissed. Once they’re all okay, he’s going to tear Iida a new one for being so fucking stupid- ), just nods and puts up another ice wall. 

“No! This is my fight!” Iida insists, still lying on the ground. “Both of you leave! My brother asked me to take on his name! And-”

“Really?” Todoroki says while fighting off the serial killer. (Bad form; don’t talk when you’re fighting. Izuku will get to that later.) “Because the Ingenium I know would never make that face. If you want us to stop, then get up!”

“Shouto! Look out!”

He whirls around just in time for Stain’s knife to clip his cheek. Izuku curses, mentally counting the seconds until the quirk fades.

Todoroki instantly freezes the knife, sealing the blood away. 

Stain is forced back by a flame, but Izuku can see him inching closer. Todoroki can’t go all out with them there. They’re liabilities.

The quirk’s hold dissolves and Izuku springs into action, swords barred. Stain turns around quickly enough to block most of the blow, but his blade leaves a sizeable cut on Stain’s arm. The Hero Killer doesn’t hesitate, spinning around to release a wave of throwing knives. Izuku ducks just in time (thank God for knee pads) and swings the handle of his sword to the back of Stain’s knees.

He stumbles and Izuku leaps out of the way when Todoroki sends a wave of ice at the man. Stain dodges and flies at them, so quick that neither have adequate time to react. Izuku raises his arm to take the brunt of the attack when Iida comes out of the woodwork. The boy delivers a swift kick to Stain’s face.

“You two are right,” Iida says. “A true hero should never put his desires over his duty! I vow to become a real hero! One that will make my brother proud!”

“Talk is cheap,” Stain snaps. “No one can change that quickly.” Izuku will have to agree with that statement, but Iida is making a promise to be better. Nothing like that happens overnight. He’ll take what he can get. But right now, they’ve got a Stain-sized problem on their hands that needs to be dealt with immediately.

Todoroki freezes Iida’s engines at his request while Stain springs off the wall towards Izuku, their swords clashing. Bright blue flames explode out of the engines as Iida flies toward them, his foot slamming into Stain’s chest. Stain brings his sword down, stabbing Iida in the shoulder as he moves beneath him, but Todoroki sends a warning flare of fire between them.

Before he can do anymore damage, Izuku leaps down onto Stain and slams his head against the concrete.

The villain doesn’t get back up.

He breathes a sigh of relief and lowers his swords.

It’s over.

Disarming Stain is tedious, seeing as the man has a ridiculous amount of blades on him. While Izuku pulls daggers from Stain’s shoes, he notices Iida reaching for the knife in his shoulder. “Don’t touch that,” he snaps, not turning back. “You’ll make it worse.”

Iida purses his lips. “Midoriya, I-”

Don’t .” The tone of his voice is clipped and icy. Izuku knows he’s being harsh, but right now, he’s so far past having any of it. 

Todoroki and Native work to restrain Stain after they’re confident they have all the weapons. Dragging him behind them, they exit the alley looking for help.

“Tenya! Kino!” Manual and a group of pros appear. “Are you okay?” One of the sidekicks freezes.

“Is that the Hero Killer?” She whispers.

“Sensei!” Iida falls into a bow, favouring his right shoulder. “This is all my fault! Please do not penalize my classmates for my error!”

The hero stares at Iida for a moment before sighing. “We’ll talk about it later. You three need medical attention-”

There’s a screech. Someone hits the ground and suddenly Izuku’s airborne, staring down at the street below. He twists around just enough to see a winged Nomu flying him away. He’s so frustrated he could cry. “Goddammit Tsubasa!” He cries.

The ground's getting farther away, but the Nomu’s grip is unrelenting; its claws wrapped tightly around Izuku’s ribs. The angle at which he’s hanging won’t allow him to cut himself free, so there’s only one option.

Izuku reaches for his knife-

Tsubasa shrieks and they begin plummeting toward the street.

Great.

A pair of arms quickly wrap around him and pull him away from the Nomu, depositing him semi-gently onto the street. Stain stands with his back to him, blade in hand. (Jesus Christ, how many of those did he carry?) “This world is polluted with fakes,” he whispers in a husky voice.

From the ground, Izuku can see his classmates and the pro-heroes standing several yards away, frozen.

“Both this sham-filled society and the villains who wield their power in the name of petty mischief will be the targets of my purge. I will tear them from the earth-all for the sake of a better world!” He raises his head to heaven and the heroes still do not move. “I shall only be killed by true heroes! All Might-” Stain turns, dark eyes intently trained on him. “And you.” Stain takes exactly one step forward before freezing and collapsing where he stood.

Everyone stares before chaos breaks out on the street again.

It’s not over yet.

Chapter Text

Chizome sits in his cell, awaiting transportation to Tartarus from a maximum security prison. “You have a visitor,” his guard gruffs. Her arms are folded and she stands straight with rigid posture. “Now.”

He raises an eyebrow and rises from his seat, letting himself be led to an interrogation style room, empty sans a table and two chairs on either end. With the straitjacket on, of course.

Arai Mamoru sits across the table and gestures for him to sit. “Akaguro.”

“Arai.”

That’s about as pleasant as the conversation will get. “Sit, won’t you? I had to pull a lot of strings to get a visit with you.” Arai gestures to the empty chair across from him.

Chizome seats himself, keeping his gaze level with Arai’s. “You sent your queen after me.”

He crooks an eyebrow. “Queen?” Arai repeats innocently.

(Innocent. As innocent as the devil himself.)

Chizome nods. “Yomi,” he replies. “Or, Midoriya Izuku, I suppose. It’s odd you would hide your strongest piece among hero hopefuls. I thought you liked to keep your pawns in the shadows..” Arai crosses his arms, leaning back with hints of a smirk on his lips. “He’s there to serve his purpose.”

“And that would be?” He’s pushing it, but there’s not much to lose where he’s standing.

“You aren’t cleared to have that kind of information anymore, Akaguro.” Chizome bites his lip, wishing for his knives. 

The reason society is so corrupt…

The reason heroics are nothing but a farce…

The reason he even took on this name and became who he is today….

is because of this man.

Arai places his folded hands on the table, staring intently through Chizome’s eyes.“You know, if you wanted, you could take your position back. With conditions, of course, until you could be trusted, but you would be a great hand-to-hand combat instructor for us,” Arai offers. “And besides, you would get to meet Midoriya, who you seem so interested in. You would have a hand in shaping, oh, how did you put it? ‘A real hero’.”

He grits his teeth.

There is it.

The Director is nothing if not an opportunist.

What kind of person wouldn't take a way out from his current situation?

(One with morals.)

“No, I will take the punishment I am given,” he replies. “If it is what society thinks I deserve then it is what I deserve for now.” Arai leans back. “You’ve always had a twisted sense of justice.”

‘You’re one to talk’ he thinks, but doesn’t voice his opinion. Chizome may be bold, but he isn't stupid. He’s already facing a life sentence to Tartarus-a minimum of fifty years. One wrong step around the Director and he could be serving his sentence on the bottom row of the prison; where the worst of the worst are kept.

They pause, staring across the table at the other. The Director makes the first move, pushing himself away from the table and standing. He straightens his clothes and nods toward Chizome. “Well, you may change your mind after a few years. Have a good life, Chizome.” The door opens and shuts with a click.

A few minutes pass before his guard comes in. “Visiting time is over,” she announces, as if it isn’t already obvious.

Chizome allows himself to be taken away.

He may be heading to the worst prison in Japan for life as a villain,

But he’ll take it over a minute of working under Arai Mamoru with a guilty conscience, if it means not being able to tell Midoriya Izuku to jump ship while he still can, then he must live with it.

There are things one must learn by themselves.

Even if it’s almost too late.

 

Tenya stares down at his bandaged hands balled tightly in his lap. Todoroki has been picked up by his sister and one of Midoriya’s...friends(?) is coming to get him. His parents don’t say a word to him as they wheel him out of the hospital.

Midoriya stares him down in the rain on the steps of the church. “Are you willing to give that up?”

He’d made his decision, and Tenya is only lucky to make it out without real consequences. The cover Midoriya had made up about Native clearing them for engagement is all that’s keeping him from losing his career as a hero.

Midoriya…..

The boy had warned him explicitly, come to the same agency just to stop him and he still went after Stain.

He’s a fool.

A complete and utter idiot; why did he think this would change anything?

“You have a meeting with your teachers tomorrow,” his mother says. “About all... this .”

“Yes Mother,” he replies quietly.

It’s not something he’s looking forward to.

His parents help him into the car, some of Midoriya’s harsh words still bouncing around in his mind.

“I tried to tell you! Why don’t you fucking listen?”

“You think your family wants to mourn your death?! That we want to go to your funeral?!”

“What if someone died?”

“Newsflash: you’re not the only one who’s lost someone! You’re lucky enough to still have your brother!” Midoriya had cried at that one.

Tenya isn’t sure what he meant.



Pearson signs him out of the hospital. “You handled the situation decently,” he says, not happy or sad about it.

“Everything went to shit when Iida disappeared,” Izuku grumbles, rubbing his bruised cheek.

“Complications happen. You need to learn how to work around them.” The matter-of-fact statement makes Izuku want to roll his eyes, but Pearson probably wouldn’t appreciate that, so he keeps his eyes front. “By the way, we’re getting an apprentice.”

Izuku raises an eyebrow. “An apprentice?”

“Yeah. Name’s Shimizu Katsumi. He’s a second year in junior high from Yokohama.”

“When does he get in?”

“Today. I think Kenji and Naomi are showing him around.”

Naomi ?” Izuku repeats, cocking an eyebrow. “Not Kensei?”

Pearson doesn’t look back as he unlocks his car. “He was busy.” Izuku slides into the passenger seat, picking at scabs on his hands. “They’re going to scar if you keep doing that.”

He huffs, brushing some of the bangs from his face. “I don’t really care.”

Pearson shrugs and starts the car. They pull out of the parking lot and drive off down the street. Izuku scrolls through his phone, noting all the messages he has. He pauses at a series of texts. It’s marked ‘unknown number’, but he recognizes the person texting him. “How does Himiko have my number?”

“Who knows?”

That’s comforting.

He exhales through his nose and taps out a response.

Unknown number: izuuuuuuuuu y u ignore meh??????

You: Leave me alone.

[Unknown number is typing…]

Unknown number: ur so mean!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He snorts, a smile gracing his lips for a moment before a frown clouds his expression.

You: You shouldn’t be contacting me. You could get in trouble.

[Unknown number is typing]

Unknown number: who cares??? its for luvvvvvvvvvvvv

Unknown number: i luv u and ur pretty blood, izu!!!!!

That’s Himiko alright. Careless to a fault.

(But there’s part of him that knows when it comes to Himiko, she’ll be fine no matter what. Things just seem to work out for her like that.)

You: Gross.

Himiko doesn’t reply after a few minutes, so he sighs and drops his phone into the breast pocket of his jacket.

“I’m going to drop you at home. You’ve got to come in tomorrow to give the Stain report.”

“Yeah, I know.” Yay. Paperwork. His absolute favourite.

They drive longer until the scenery starts looking familiar. “Here we are.”

“Thanks.” He doesn’t really mean it, because he’s not thrilled to be home, but whatever. Izuku undoes his seatbelt and opens the door.

“Try not to get into any trouble,” Pearson says, half-serious.

Halfway out of the car, Izuku glances back at his senior commanding officer. “I’ll try not to,” he replies slowly.

“Have a good one.”

“You too.”

Izuku walks the three flights of stairs up to his apartment (the elevator’s been broken for the last four months) and makes a stop at his neighbour, Oboro Hana’s, apartment to pick up his dog. “You’re early,” she muses, a smile on her lips. “But he missed you so much, so I don’t think Kaito’s complaining.”

“Hey Kaito,” he says as the puppy leaps up at his knees. “Thanks for watching him.” Izuku fishes for a stack of bills in his pocket. “Oh, it was my pleasure.” She shakes her head. “Don’t worry about it.”

He doesn’t push it, but he does feel bad not paying her. “Okay. I’ll see you around.”

“I’m sure you will. Bye now.”

Izuku scoops Kaito up, gathers the dog’s supplies (his bed, the food, his bowls) and heads back to his apartment. It’s dark and empty; just like he left it. He sighs and sets the animal down. Kaito scampers off to the couch that Izuku’s given up on trying to keep him off of. Izuku tosses his keys into the bowl by the door and drops all of Kaito’s possessions.

“You think your family wants to mourn your death?! That we want to go to your funeral?!”

Maybe he’d been too harsh on Iida. Hell, why is he even mad? Because Iida could’ve died? Yeah, but at least he’s brave enough to do something bold for those he loves. Izuku’s never been so brave.

But Iida’s still stupid. He doesn’t rewind like Izuku. What if Izuku wasn’t in Hosu? Would he have been okay with letting everyone around him cry at his death and grieve him? It’s selfish.

So….

So selfish.

Izuku touches his cheek and realizes it’s wet.

He’s crying.

Angrily, he scrubs the tear trails away.

Stupid….

Stupid….

God, what is wrong with him?

 

During his week away everything in the fridge has gone bad; not that there was much in there to begin with. Izuku probably would’ve avoided this if he planned ahead, but he didn’t, so now he’s walking down a dark street at midnight hoping he doesn’t get jumped.

Someone darts out of the alley (oh great) and slams into his right shoulder, spilling his groceries everywhere. “Hey!” Izuku shouts. “Wait!”

The person, quite short, turns around in alarm, yelping at the sight of him.

Weird.

“Are you okay?” Izuku asks, stooping down to the person’s height. “I’m-” He can finally make the person’s features out in the darkness. “ Mineta?

Izuku jerks him to the side so that he stands under the streetlamp. Round purple orbs shine in the light. Purple bloodshot eyes are caught somewhere between a startled stare and a plea for help. “M-midoriya! Why are y-you here?!”

Mineta smells funny; like smoke, grass and-oh.

Grass.

Dammit.

“What are you doing out here?” Izuku asks. “It’s late.”

Mineta shrinks down, staring at the ground. There’s a long silence where neither of them speaks. Izuku sighs and checks the time.

12:16 am.

“Look, you don’t have to tell me. I know we’re not really close. I can call Kaminari-”

“No! Not Kaminari!” Mineta says sharply, latching onto Izuku’s shirt. He yanks him forward. “Don’t call anyone!” Desperation is stark in his voice and expression. His balled fists tremble and he glances around anxiously. “ Please . Don’t call anyone.”

Izuku stares at him before gently pulling him away from his shirt. “I’m not going to call anyone,” he assures him. “I’m not going to tell anyone either, but you can’t stay out here. I’m headed home, and if you don’t have anywhere to go, you can come.”

Izuku picks up his groceries and walks home. About halfway there, he notices Mineta’s small frame trailing behind him at a distance.

He doesn’t want to think about the implications of this.

When he gets to his apartment, he sets one of the bags down to get his keys. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Mineta hesitate and move like he’s going to leave.

But he doesn’t.

Izuku wills himself not to sigh as he unlocks the door and Kaito immediately starts barking. “Shh. Down boy.”

Mineta shifts behind him and awkwardly clears his throat. “You...have a dog.” The statement isn't a sneer or anything harsh; just genuine surprise.

“Yeah. His name’s Kaito. He doesn’t bite.” Izuku moves past the puppy that’s now intently checking out the newcomer. “Come in.”

Nervously, Mineta shuts the door and steps around the dog. He follows Izuku deeper into the house, still wary.

That’s fair enough, Izuku supposes. He drops the grocery bags on the counter and rustles through them. “Hungry?”

(Despite his opinion of Mineta, he’s not going to let him starve. Izuku isn’t that cruel.)

“I could eat….” Again, he refuses to look at Izuku.

He interprets the statement as the boy being too embarrassed to admit how hungry he is. “I haven’t eaten dinner either. I’ll make us something.”

Izuku begins gathering the necessary ingredients for a filling meal. As he puts the pan on the stove, he notices Mineta is still standing in the doorway like a ghost haunting the kitchen.

He catches Izuku watching him and quickly clears his throat. “I...could...help?”

After weighing his options, Izuku nods and gestures for him to grab the eggs.

 

Dinner is a quiet affair, which Izuku is used to, but this is just awkward. Mineta’s wolfing down his food, hardly breathing (much less speaking) in between bites. They finish and set their dishes aside. “I thought you were interning with Mt. Lady,” Izuku says, breaking the ice between them.

“She had to go out of town for something,” he mumbles, rubbing his arm. “Didn’t learn much anyway. Stupid internships.” The last part is said under his breath, dripping with venom and bitterness.

Izuku is tempted to point out that Mineta went to Mt. Lady because of her…. assets , and not for what she could tell him as a hero. Besides, it doesn’t make sense to go to a newly debuted hero for work experience, given that the woman graduated three years ago.

Probably not a great time to mention it, though.

“That’s……..” ‘Unfortunate’ sits on his tongue, but Izuku doesn’t say it. Instead, he clears his throat. “So...why were you outside?” Izuku thinks it’s too early (too unfair) to ask why Mineta didn’t go home, but he can’t deny seeing the boy in such a state is puzzling him.

He doesn’t get much of an answer. Mineta shrugs and stares down at his plate. “I can go,” he offers.

“No, uh, you can sleep in the master bedroom. Or on a futon if you want. Or the couch….” Izuku trails off, listing options for sleeping arrangements.

(It occurs to him that every interaction he's ever had with Mineta Minoru has been negative and he has no fucking clue how to talk to him.)

“I’ll take the couch.”

Izuku pushes away from the table and stands, half glad to have an excuse to leave. “I’ll get some blankets.”

As he turns and walks off, Izuku has only one thought running through his head:

This is going to be a very, very long few days.

Chapter Text

Izuku groans and sits up as Kaito yaps loudly in his ear.

6:59 am.

Not...not bad. He’s been asleep for...six hours? Yeah, six hours.
That’s good.

The previous night’s memories flood back to him. Right. Mineta.

He should probably get up. 

“C’mon boy,” he mumbles, brushing his hair out of his face. “Get off.”
Kaito obliges and leaps off his chest. Izuku huffs and gracefully rolls off his bed. With a groan, he rubs his eyes and makes his way toward the bathroom. 

After a quick shower, Izuku heads to the kitchen for breakfast while Mineta is still passed out on the couch.

He sighs and makes an easy meal of eggs and tea. The smell draws the other boy from the throes of sleep. Sleepily, Mineta stumbles into the kitchen and rubs his eyes. “What time is it?”
“Seven-thirty.”

He shakes his head. “You’re a freak.”
‘And he’s back’, Izuku thinks, placing two steaming plates on the table. “I made-”
“I didn’t need your help,” Mineta snaps.

Izuku watches him carefully. “Okay,” he replies. “Do you want to leave?”

“Are you kicking me out?” His voice has a lot of bite in it.

“No,” Izuku says as patiently as he can. “I’m not.”

They stare at each other for a minute. “No,” Mineta mutters. “I don’t want to leave.”

 

Izuku spends most of the day tip-toeing around Mineta. The boy sits around and glares at the wall (or at him) but Izuku hasn’t said anything yet.

Kaito alternates between nipping at Izuku’s heels and cautiously orbiting Mineta. The dog and the purple boy are uncharacteristically quiet.

Izuku works on the Stain report and decides he’ll step out at one to go to the compound. Mineta won’t mind. Probably.

Izuku puts his jacket on-it’s raining outside-and gathers his files. “I’ll be back!” He calls down the hallway.

There’s no answer.
He didn’t expect one.

Sighing, Izuku opens the door, flips his hood up and heads out into the rain.

 

“This is stupid,” Minoru tells the dog. “Stop following me.”

The apartment is empty; Midoriya had left for something. Whatever it is, he’s an idiot for going out in this weather. Minoru can hear the wind howling from inside and the rain pelts the windows.

He should leave; get the hell out before Midoriya comes back. That kid gives him the creeps. The way Midoriya looks at you….it never feels like he’s looking at you so much as he’s looking through you. Every moment he’s spending with this...this psycho is a moment he could be anywhere else. Like at the skating rink looking at girls. Or the gym watching girls. Or…….

His options bring him nothing but bitter frustration. He doesn’t want to go out, but he doesn’t want to stay here. Minoru could always go home; it’s not like anyone would ask any questions. But that’s always been worse somehow.

His older brother had texted him a few times since he stormed out last night, but Minoru hasn’t replied beyond ‘I’m fine’.

Except he’s really not, is he?

There’s not much about him being absolutely fucked in the head that’s ‘fine’. If Minoru is ‘fine’ why the hell is he here at Midoriya’s apartment of all places?

The dog’s still staring at him.

Minoru turns away. He’s got to get out of here.



Izuku rubs his stiff neck and groans. The report had been surprisingly long; well, the presentation of it had. He’d been in front of two unit representatives and the Junior units’ rep, Amano Yui, who is the quirkless second in command when it comes to the Program. There had been a barrage of questions Izuku didn’t prepare for. He had to think on his feet to answer their questions. It had worked but now he’s just tired. His six hours of sleep have long since worn off and he still has to get back to his apartment.
Maybe Mineta’s there, maybe he’s not. Izuku’s wagering that he’s left by now, but there’s a small chance he hasn’t. It doesn’t really matter what he thinks. Izuku’s never been a betting man because the odds are always against him.

Mineta is still in his apartment, watching TV with Kaito, who’d somehow managed to coax the boy into petting him.

He glances at the TV and sees two characters kiss on a Ferris Wheel. “You like this movie?”

Mineta startles and Kaito leaps from his lap. “T-this isn’t what it looks like!”
Izuku tilts his head, rain from his hair dripping onto the carpet. “....what does it look like?” 

Mineta shuts  the TV off in a hurry. “Nothing!”
Izuku doesn’t understand what’s so scandalous about watching ‘Love, Simon’ so he just shrugs and toes his shoes off. Mineta continues to glare, his face twisted in a scowl.

Izuku raises his head to look at the boy. “Are you g-?”

“I’m not!” He interrupts harshly.

Izuku knits his eyebrows together in confusion. “You’re not what?”
“I’m not a fag!” Mineta snaps. “Stop looking at me like that!”

“....I was asking if you were going to want dinner,” Izuku says slowly. “...because it’s late.”

Mineta pales. “Oh,” he says quietly.

They stare at each other in total silence for at least a minute. Maybe three. He doesn’t know. Most of his brain power is spent trying to figure out how he got here.

“.......I’m leaving,” Mineta mutters, brushing past Izuku.

“Wait-”

The boy grabs his shoes (despite the fact that it’s still raining) and storms out.

After the door slams, the apartment is quiet again.

“What just happened?” Izuku asks Kaito.

The dog doesn’t reply.

Figures.



Shouta leans back and listens to the first of three meetings he now has to attend thanks to his students. “So, let me get this straight: you deliberately chose Manual so that you could go after the Hero Killer?” He doesn’t care that his tone is harsh; what Tenya did was stupid. Shouta knows that he’s been chewed out at least once, if Tensei’s phone call was anything to go by.

Tenya doesn’t meet his or Principal Nezu’s gaze. “Yes.” His voice is small and quiet.

Nezu’s paws are neatly folded in front of him and he’s staring intently forward. “This would normally be grounds for expulsion without question,” he states.

Tenya flinches, but remains quiet, eyes turned toward the ground, glistening with tears. “I understand,” he mutters. “My actions were self-serving and reckless.” Tenya stands and bows, stiff and fighting tears. “And completely unbefitting of a hero.”
Nezu nods. “While that is true, I said it would normally be grounds for expulsion. Thanks to Midoriya’s quick thinking and the silence of those involved, that will not be the case this time.” His gaze grows sharper. “However, there must be consequences to ensure nothing like this happens again.”
“O-of course!” Tenya replies. Shouta can tell the kid’s just glad to not be expelled.

“First of all, you will be suspended for two weeks,” Nezu says. “Your classmates will be told it is because of an injury and you will not talk about the Hero Killer incident.”

“Yes sensei.”
“I would like a ten page paper on vigilantism,” Shouta adds. “Turned in by the end of your suspension. And if I hear anything about this ever again-” He leans in so that his point is emphasized. “I will not hesitate to expel you. Am I understood?”
“Y-yes sensei!”

“Good.” Shouta waves him off. “You can go now. Tell Todoroki he can come in.”

A few minutes later, the lightly bandaged form of Todoroki Shouto appears in the door. “Sensei.”

 

Shit.Shit.shitshitshitshit-!
He’s late for his UA appointed scolding and Izuku is sure Aizawa’s going to kill him. His bus had broken down and Izuku had to sprint the last two miles to UA, because his train was delayed.

So, yeah. He may or may not be dead.

Izuku bursts through the door without announcing himself (something that would cost him another life if this was the Director’s office) and screeches to a stop. “I apologize for being late,” he says in between breaths.

“What happened?” Nezu asks nonchalantly.

“...unforseen circumstances.” Okay, so maybe the reason the bus broke down was because he detained a dangerous individual on public transport. But everyone was fine! This is fine! “Once again, I am very sorry, and it will not happen again.”

“Forget it, Problem Child,” Aizawa-sensei gruffs. “And stop looking like a deer in headlights. You’re not in trouble.” Izuku tries to relax at this, but doesn’t succeed. Aizawa sighs like he wants to go back to bed. “Just sit down.”

Izuku obliges, collapsing into the chair without much grace. “Did you run here?” Nezu asks.
“Bus broke down and my train was delayed,” he explains in one breath. “I didn’t want to be even later.”
Nezu nods. “Once again, it’s fine, Midoriya. There was no rush. W-”

“But we’d like to talk about the incident in Hosu,” Aizawa cuts in before Nezu can continue.

The principal casts a vaguely annoyed look at the hero, but doesn’t comment on it. “Yes, the incident in Hosu. We just had a few questions if you don’t mind.”
“No,” he says. They give him a strange look before he elaborates. “No, I-I don’t mind.”

“Good. Now, Iida mentioned you arrived just in time to stop Stain from potentially killing him. How did you find Iida so quickly?”

Shouta raises an eyebrow when Midoriya stills before answering. “I’ve been following the news on Stain-” Why is he not surprised. “And I noticed he struck in a lot of isolated places, so I checked the back alleys farthest from the main action. I was lucky I found Iida so quickly, because of his reason for being in Hosu."

Nezu nods. “Very lucky indeed,” he agrees. Something flashes through his eyes before Shouta can catch it. “Good instinct; and I’m glad you asked for permission to engage. This situation may have been much stickier without you.”

“I-”
“However,” Nezu cuts in sharply while maintaining the smile on his face. “Some of the things we heard for Iida are concerning.”

To his credit, Midoriya doesn’t stiffen much, but the minute tensing of his shoulders doesn’t go unnoticed by Shouta. “Like what?” He asks innocently.

“Well, first and foremost, we’d like to talk about how you stalled for time.”
“Oh…”
Oh indeed.  When Shouta first hears that his student (the Problem Child, of course) had bet his life on the possibility that someone would come in time...he’s a little upset.

(Hizashi and Nemuri would probably disagree; they had to be the ones to stop him from throttling the hero Iida and Midoriya had been interning with.)

“I calculated the outcomes,” Midoriya replies. “He was 81% more likely to kill Iida than me, and his attack would be 67% faster than if it was with me.”

“Those odds aren’t 100%,” Nezu points out while Shouta quietly fumes.

“But my odds of being killed were much lower than Iida’s,” Midoriya argues. “So it was the best bet I could make.”

Shouta can’t argue with his logic, but...the thought of one of his young students placing their lives in the hands of fate doesn’t sit well with him. They’re all so small, so naive, so goddamn fragile; he doesn’t want to go to their funerals before he’s at his.

“In the future, please refrain from such a method of stalling,” Nezu says.

Midoriya nods, but Shouta can tell he’s not serious. He doesn’t like to admit this, but Midoriya’s going to learn this lesson the hard way, whether he is the one injured because of his methods or someone else.

They go through the fight step-by-step and Midoriya’s account lines up with what Todoroki and Iida said before him.

“Thank you, Midoriya. Now, I have just one more question-” Nezu’s smile tightens. “-Iida mentioned that Stain seemed to know you. Do you know why that is?"

“No,” Midoriya replies a little too quickly. “I don’t.”

There’s a pause before Nezu cheerily speaks. “Alright, Midoriya! You can leave now!”
“Thank you.” He bows before quickly exiting the room. The door shuts with a click behind him.

They wait until Midoriya’s footsteps fade into nothing. “He’s lying.”
Nezu hums and nods. “Yes, I know.” His tail twitches. "His answers sounded a mite too much like a report for my liking."
"You think he's lying about all of it?"
"Not all of it."

Chapter Text

“Iida is out with an injury from the incident I’m sure you all were fawning over during your internships. He’s fine, so don’t bother me for details,” Shouta announces. “Iida will be returning in two weeks. But don’t focus on that. You have final exams coming up.” The class quiets. “There will be a practical and written part, like in the entrance exams. That is all.”
Murmurs break out. Theories and questions about what the practical exam will be mix with the groans about passing the written portion.

With a roll of his eyes, Shouta crawls into his sleeping bag and becomes dead to the world.


Izuku is only partly listening to Ochako talk about finals. He’s not trying to tune her out, but it just happened. There are a million other things on his mind right now, and possibly failing high school isn’t really a priority. (That’s an exaggeration. He’ll probably be fine.)

Still, he wouldn’t put it past UA to do something drastic with all the negative feedback and villain attacks they’ve been the center of. If he’s learned anything from the Program, publicity is eighty percent of an institution or structure. You either need a ‘gold star’ from the majority or you need to be the last option. UA needs more of the former than the latter as a prestigious hero school. The last thing they want to do is fall in the ranks. Falling in the ranks means fewer students, which equates to less income which leads to lay-offs and financial issues in general.

Still, it’s not all their fault. Yes, their security could be a bit better, but UA has a traitor somewhere in the Heroics department that’s leaking information. It’s taken him most of the first semester to narrow it down, but he’s almost one hundred percent positive that whoever is working with the League is affiliated with the Hero Course in some way or another. Looking back on his career at UA, getting close to anyone without ruling them out completely was a mistake. Scratch that, getting close to anyone was a mistake, period. He’s not supposed to be here and there’s nothing good to come of his presence once his job has been completed.

“Deku! C’mon! We have English!”

He blinks and straightens up. “I have a class with Principal Nezu.”

Ochako smiles. “Oh, right! Have fun!”

Izuku nods politely and slides a binder into his bag before swinging it onto his shoulder and exiting the class. He briefly waves at Shinsou as the boy walks by with a small group of friends. He returns the gesture in a flippant manner, but Izuku will take it.

Four minutes later, Izuku’s standing before Nezu’s office. He inhales slowly and knocks.

“Come in Midoriya!” Nezu calls, tone more serious than usual.
Swallowing, he braces himself and enters the office, keeping a very calm and polite facade up. All Might is perched on a chair too small for him (Izuku’s reminded of how Lana sits) and stares back at him with a smile. “Did I...interrupt something?” He asks, ready to leave if need be.

“No, no, don’t worry Midoriya,” Nezu replies, holding a paw up. “In fact, All Might would like to speak to you about something."

“I meant to catch you before the internships,” the man sheepishly admits. “But I didn’t have the chance.”
Izuku stiffens. “Speak to me about what?”

“My quirk,” All Might says in a low, secretive voice. “One for All.”
Well , Izuku thinks as his smile tightens. Fuck .

 

Young Midoriya is quiet throughout all of Toshinori’s tale; that’s not worrying, he’s a quiet boy with actions that speak to what he hardly says. However, in this instance, Toshinori wishes Midoriya would react. He listens, patient and open, not uttering a word until Toshinori finishes the story.

“So,” he clears his throat, somewhat awkward. “All that’s to say: will you become my successor and accept One for All?”

That prompts a reaction from the boy. Surprise, of course, but something that only appears for a split second. Fear? Dread? Apprehension? Toshinori can’t identify it, but he’s sure it isn’t positive. “You don’t have to accept if you don’t want to,” he quickly adds, but can’t help the frown on his face. After Mirio turned him down, Toshinori was certain that Midoriya would accept. After all, the boy has to have struggled with his lack of a physical quirk on the path to heroism. This would be giving him a boost.

“Oh, no, it’s not that,” Midoriya says quickly. “I….can I have some time? It’s just a lot to process.”

Toshinori nods fervently. “Of course! Of course! I understand this is a lot to put on you. Take all the time you need.” Within reason.

They look to each other for a silent moment; Toshinori’s eyes roam Midoriya’s face for any tells as to what the greenette is thinking. He’s met with a blank expression, the same one that always makes him second-guess his choice. Sometimes if he looks at the boy too long he seems hollow; like a soulless doll.

But Toshinori knows better. He’s watched Midoriya put others miles before himself, even in situations of life and death. He fought the Nomu at USJ in Toshinori’s absence likely armed with the knowledge that he couldn’t beat it. He was a gracious competitor during the Sports Festival and won through his own hard work, not reliance on his quirk. Midoriya is responsible, mature for his age and competent. He has the potential to become the next Symbol of Peace.

“Well, if that is it, All Might, Midoriya and I have a lesson to get to.”
Seeing as he’s no longer wanted, Toshinori stands, bows and takes his leave.

Whatever Midoriya’s answer ends up being, Toshinori is confident in his choice.



Nezu claps and Midoriya nearly jumps out of his skin. The principal chooses to ignore it (for now.) “Well, now that you’ve heard that, why don’t we move on?”

“R-right! So, I analyzed the heroes and villains you asked-” Midoriya fumbles for his bag. The clumsiness is both very in character while also being not at all like him. It’s like there are two sides of the boy; one calm and collected, the other cheerful and klutzy. The latter has been seen less and less often as the year progresses, Nezu’s noticed.
He waves a paw dismissively. “Yes, yes, we’ll get to that. I wanted to discuss the traitor investigation with you.”

And back comes the militant Midoriya. His smile fades and he draws his shoulders up straighter like he’s giving a report to some commanding officer. “I believe the traitor is associated with the Heroics Department,” he tells him.
Nezu has thought as much for a while, but he’d like to hear the logic behind this. “Go on,” he prompts. “What makes you think so?”

Midoriya shrinks for just a second, looking embarrassed and flipping back to the more age-appropriate side of himself. “Uh...I may have…. hacked a few things…….”
Nezu would raise an eyebrow if he had one, but he settles for cocking his head. “You know how to hack?” He asks innocently.

“Yeah…” Midoriya rubs the back of his neck and won’t meet his eyes. “I understand there’s no good reason for breaking the law, but I just couldn’t be sure without physical proof.”

He can tell the boy isn’t sorry; Midoriya didn’t apologize and appears to be sheepish to admit such a thing.

But certainly not apologetic.

Nezu hums and files it away under the growing list of oddities that make up Midoriya Izuku. “Don’t worry, Midoriya. Heroes resort to underhanded methods all the time. But in the future, I would like you to tell me about it before you start.” He gives him a sharp look to show that he means business, but Midoriya seems to shrink back ever so slightly. Nezu’s aware he’s intimidating, but it’s not the same fear he’s used to seeing in frightened students. Midoriya isn’t afraid of what Nezu might do, he’s already switching to fight or flight. Nezu’s eyes catch on how Midoriya’s hands twitch, ready to throw something, and he’s shifted toward the edge of his seat in preparation to run.

He sighs and turns his computer monitor around. “But as I said before, don’t worry about it. I’ve turned to hacking on numerous occasions for information.”
“You hack?” Midoriya either doesn’t sound surprised or he’s unconvinced.

Nezu allows himself to smile. “Humans’ secrets aren’t as well protected as they like to think.”

The boy barely reacts; he’s trying very hard not to. For half a split second there had been alarm, but he is guarded now.

What a shame.

Nezu is almost positive Midoriya isn’t tied to the League (not 100%, but sure enough that he didn’t voice his concern when Yagi offered the boy his quirk) but he is hiding something and Nezu intends to find out what it is.



After school ends, Izuku decides to take a “me day”. No paperwork, no analysis, no fieldwork, no volunteer assignments, just relaxing.

...which comes in the form of sparring at the compound, because if he tries to sleep someone’s going to interrupt him and it’s a good way to get his frustration out.

“Good match.” Izuku slaps hands with Akagi and she nods.

He walks to the far wall and greedily gulps his water bottle. Letting off steam like this helps him think, especially after the meeting with Nezu. He doesn’t even want to think about who might be the UA traitor.

Izuku sighs and wipes his face with a towel.

Midorrriya . Spar?” Lana appears next to him in a faint purple cloud.

Izuku nods. “Sure.”

 

“You will not fail us,” Shigaraki hisses.

The traitor (a cute one, Himiko thinks absently) purses their lips and nods. “I-I won’t.”
Himiko sighs and plays with her knife. “Why do we even need them?”
Shigaraki smiles. “The Hero Course is heading out for training camp soon. We’re going to collect our recruits.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Recruits?”

“What’re you?” Dabi huffs. “Deaf?”
Glaring, Himiko flings a knife in his direction. To her annoyance, the ravenette dodges and the knife sinks into Kurogiri’s bar.

The mist man sighs like Izuku does when he’s absolutely done with her.

Himiko turns her attention back to UA’s traitor. “So….you’re helping us?” She hums, flicking her gaze over their unassuming appearance. (“They’re still green,” Nguyen, her unit head, would tell her. “Won’t last a second when it gets serious.” Himiko can agree.)

The traitor bites their lip and nods. “Yes.”
“Why?”

They pale and twist away. Shigaraki Handjob cackles. “Oh, our player would do anything for Mommy and Daddy, wouldn’t they?”

‘Ah’, Himiko realizes. ‘We need to tell Izuku’.



Izuku opts for walking home tonight. The choice more fueled by forgetting his bus pass than actually wanting to walk, but it’s a comfortable night so he doesn’t mind it. His gym bag slung across his chest, Izuku hums a little as he strolls through the darkening streets of Musutafu.

A kitten darts into a small alley beside him and knocks a trashcan over. The alley is more of a small pocket off of the main street, so it’s unlikely he’ll be jumped.

Cautiously, Izuku takes half a step forward before a spiral of fire erupts from the alley.

He jerks back in a sudden movement and falls on his ass. Izuku’s on his feet in a second, bag forgotten on the ground as he shifts his feet into a defensive stance.

Another blast of blue fire appears on his left. Izuku ducks and rolls, landing in a crouch when he makes a realization.

Izuku scowls, patting at the smoking material of his singed hoodie. “You son of a bitch.”

Touya chuckles, stepping out of the shadows like the overdramatic bastard he is. “Long time no see, Mido.”

Shit.

Chapter Text

Izuku puts the kettle on. “This is reckless,” he tells Touya, who lounges on his couch as Kaito sniffs at his face. “You shouldn’t be here. If the League finds out where you are-”

“Tell me when I give a damn.”

He sighs. “You never do.”

“Precisely.” 

“So, what’s with the sudden visit? You wouldn’t come unless it’s important.”

Touya sits up on the couch. “There was a meeting with the UA traitor.”

Izuku stiffens. “Did you see them? Was it in-person?”

Touya presses his lips into a thin line. “You’re going to want to sit down. I don’t think you’re gonna like this.”

Izuku huffs but takes a seat anyway. “I’m not gonna like it anyway.”

Touya tells him.

He was right; Izuku doesn’t like it.

 

Touya disappears sometime around one am, but Izuku’s already sure he won’t sleep, so the time doesn’t bother him. It had taken the better part of two hours to convince the ravenette to let Izuku personally handle the traitor. Izuku’s aware it’s selfish, but he wants to help them before things get bad. It’s a risky game he’s playing, but he has to try.

Izuku thinks he owes them that much.

This is all his fault. If he had stuck to the mission and looked for the traitor from the beginning maybe he wouldn’t feel the knife in his back from their betrayal.

This is why he doesn’t get close to people.

His first year at UA has been a mistake. He’s lost sight of his purpose and allowed himself to pretend to be normal. What is the end goal? That he’ll be a hero while moonlighting as an assassin? That’s laughable. He’s nothing like them.

The web of intimacy he’s allowed himself to be lured into is nothing but a lie. A dressed-up lie, but a lie nonetheless.

He has to get on top of this as soon as possible.

Something wet splashes against his hand. He raises gentle fingers to his cheeks and finds tears. They don’t stop.

“F-fuck…..”

 

Around two-thirty, there’s a knock at the door. Suspicious at this time of night, but Izuku answers it anyway. In the doorway, silhouetted against the sallow streetlights outside stands Arai Mamoru. His face betrays no exhaustion and Izuku wonders if he sleeps. The man is so sharp and mechanical in some of his habits...no. Now’s not the time.

“Director Arai,” Izuku says with only a small tremor in his voice. “What do you need?”

“Sit Izuku. We have quite a lot to discuss.”

“Y...yes, sir.”

Arai invites himself in and pushes the door closed behind him. Kaito growls at him and the man flicks an uninterested glance toward the animal. “Put your dog somewhere, Izuku. We have no time to waste.”

Izuku scoops Kaito up in his arms and quietly locks him in his bedroom. As he walks back toward the open area he hears Kaito whimpering and scratching against the door. His heart sinks.

Arai removes his gloves. “Now, Midoriya, before we get to the traitor business, it has come to my attention that you received an offer from Yagi Toshinori. One that could be very useful for us.”

“Us?” Izuku repeats. He doesn’t even want to know how the Director found that out.

“Yes, us ,” he snips, a little annoyed. “Think of how One For All could enhance your quirk. There’s no way to predict what control or extension you would receive.” The man makes himself comfortable on Izuku’s couch, so Izuku awkwardly sits in one of the broken armchairs. “You should accept it.”

“....should I?” He’d meant for the statement to come out softer than it did because Arai perks up (not in a pleasant way) and fixes him with a critical expression.

“You don’t know?” His tone is nearly a scoff. “Can’t decide for yourself?”

“....I mean, it’s a lot to think about-”

He tsks . “It really isn’t, Izuku. You’re a smart boy. You know this is for everyone’s good. Besides, didn’t you….” Arai sighs and rolls his head back in an uncharacteristically casual moment like he’s trying to recall a faint detail. “.... like All Might and pro-heroes at some point? This should be a dream come true, shouldn’t it?”

...it should be. When Izuku was younger he’d dreamed of receiving the All Might’s acknowledgment. Now it just feels unfair. This is a waste. All Might should be offering his quirk to someone more worthy. Not a fake like him. The person who takes All Might’s quirk should be a real hero.

Someone who’s truly good.

Arai rolls his eyes. “I expected more from you, Izuku. Intelligence has always been your strong suit.” He tuts. “If you don’t think you can handle more responsibility, then you’ll never be a hero. Maybe you should leave the Program. You might not be cut out for this.”

“No, I want to accept his quirk!” Izuku stumbles pathetically. “I can do this.”

Arai smiles and Izuku knows he got exactly what he wanted. “Well, that’s good. Not so hard, was it?” He sniffs. “Put some tea on, will you? It’s rude not to offer a guest tea.”

Izuku hurries to heat up some water. Arai talks to him from his seat on the couch. “Now that we have that settled, I’d like to talk to you about the traitor.”

Fuck.



“Young Midoriya….you look rather tired. Are you sure you’re ready to answer?”
Yagi Toshinori, not All Might, sits across from him in the teachers’ lounge. “Yes,” Izuku replies. “I’m sure. I accept.”

The man visibly relaxes and flashes a wary smile. “Very well! Eat this!” Yagi plucks a hair from his head and presents it to Izuku.

Izuku does as he’s told without objection. He’s done much weirder things than eating a strand of hair, so this doesn’t even register.

It definitely registers with All- Yagi and he sputters like he expected some sort of question. “Uh, the...quirk should take a few hours to work through your system, but you should have it by the end of the day.”

“Thank you.”

They stare at each other for a moment longer. All Might clears his throat. “Is there….anything you want to ask me?”

“No.”
“....you understand all of it?”
“Yes, sir.”

“...you may return to lunch.”
“Thank you.” Izuku bows, a little stiff, and quickly makes his exit.

 

“Hey, Ochako, can I ask you something?”
The brunette looks up from her lunch. They’d decided to sit in the windows across from the cafeteria today because some rowdy second years had taken over their table. Tsuyu, Todoroki, and Kirishima (read: Kirishima is) are talking in the next window over. Momo soon joins after wandering out in search of them.

Ochako nods. “Yeah, Deku. Shoot.”
“If you had to choose between one thousand lives and your parents, who would you choose?” 
She cocks an eyebrow as she munches on her rice. “Hmm…...that’s hard.”
“Yeah!” Kirishima pipes up, scooching closer to their window sill.

“One would hope it never comes to that,” Momo adds.

“It probably sounds bad, but…….I’d choose my parents.” Ochako looks away. “I mean, I’d feel terrible either way, but….they’re my parents. They’ve done so much for me. How am I not supposed to choose them?”
“I would choose the one thousand people,” Todoroki replies.

“That’s really noble,” Tsuyu hums. “I’m not sure if I could do that, kero.”

Kirishima shakes his head. “Me either.”

“I love my family,” Momo intones after pausing. “But I couldn’t live with a thousand lives on my conscience. What about you Midoriya?”

“I’d choose the thousand people,” he says, voice even. “I love my dad, but……...it’d be for the greater good.” Internally he winces. Sorry, Dad.
But hey, there’s a good chance you'd be with Inko.

He tries to ignore the swirling guilt in his stomach. 

Tsuyu turns to Izuku. “That’s an odd question, Izukun.”
“I’m an odd person.” He bites the two-week-old sandwich he’d dug from the back of his fridge. Hopefully, he won’t get food poisoning. That’s the last thing he needs right now.

It feels strange conversing with the traitor so casually, but it’s what he’s been doing for this past semester.

….God, that feels weird.

Just thinking that he’d been around the traitor all this time….talking to them, laughing with them, getting closer and he’d been so blind.

What Touya had implied; how could Izuku not have noticed the parents are hardly home with the traitor?

Touya. Izuku glances at Todoroki Shouto. The bi-color haired boy listens to Kirishima’s dramatic retelling of how he got his scar and how ‘scars are really manly’. Shouto probably thinks his oldest brother is dead, and while Izuku would like to tell him that’s not the case, he has no proof and it would blow Touya’s cover. Right now, letting Shouto know his brother is alive might get them both killed, and it would be Izuku’s fault.

Suddenly he doesn’t feel so good.

.

His stomach burns and bile rises to the back of his throat.

.

Izuku stumbles away from the group, a hand pressed firmly over his mouth.

.

“Deku!”

.

“Midoriya?”
.

“Izuku?”

.

The voices of his classmates grow fainter in his ears as he spins around a corner. 

.

He almost runs into skinny All Might and pushes past him, a muffled apology on his lips.

.

“My boy, are you alright-?”
.

Izuku’s feet slap against the hard floor.

.

The world spins around him.

.

Bathroom.

He needs to get to the bathroom.

.

He throws the stall door open and vomits into the toilet.

But to his dismay, it’s not the probably spoiled sandwich he thought it would be.

It’s blood.

The water in the toilet has turned a dull red and little flecks of the liquid splatter the floor. The coppery scent turns his stomach as it wafts into his nose. He feels sick.

Someone approaches.

“Midoriya?”

It’s Aizawa.
Shit.

Shit.

Shit.

“Don’t come in,” he rasps. It occurs to him that saying that isn’t helping. “I’m fine.” Also not helping.

The footsteps come to an abrupt halt outside the stall door he forgot to close. Wearily, he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand before turning to face his teacher. Aizawa stares down at him, muted horror clear on his face.

“I had tomato juice for lunch,” he lies. “But I think it was bad.”

God, he’s out of it.

Thankfully, drinking bad tomato juice makes more sense than throwing up a half-pint of blood. That doesn’t stop Izuku from getting dragged to the infirmary.

“He’s fine,” Recovery Girl huffs. “I think he just ate some spoiled food.” She turns to Izuku. “Drink lots of water and let me know if you feel light-headed, but otherwise you’re good to go.”

Izuku barely makes it through the rest of the day. The cause of this sudden illness has to be One For All. Normally he’d guess it’s poison, but Izuku can’t think of anything he ate that could’ve been tainted. That leaves One For All as the only unknown variable.

Asui appears next to him when the bell rings. “Midoriya. How are you feeling, kero?”

“Not great,” he admits. “But I’ll be fine.”

She nods sympathetically. “I hope you feel better.” Asui turns to leave, hesitating a second longer like she wants to say something.

And then she’s gone.

“Feel better, Deku!” Ochako calls as she waves him goodbye. “Are you sure you’re not up for going to the arcade with us?”
“I shouldn’t,” he sighs. “Next time?”
“You always say that.” Her words are playful and lack any heat, but they still manage to make him feel guilty.

“Sorry,” he says. “I just-”
“No, don’t worry about it!” She insists. “It’s totally fine! You’re sick! You should rest. Besides-” She quirks a smile and winks. “-It’s not like you’re avoiding us, right?”
He pauses a moment before wearily smiling. “No. No, I’m not avoiding you guys. You’re the best friends I’ve ever had.”

And isn’t that the saddest part?

 

“I thought you and Midoriya were going to train?” Nezu hums, sipping on some exquisite jasmine tea he’d recently purchased. “Did he turn you down?”
“No.” Yagi shakes his head. “He accepted, but he became sick after lunch, so I thought today he should rest up.”
“A wise decision,” Nezu intones. “Now, we should talk about whether or not to involve Aizawa in this-”
Yagi clears his throat. “Ah, Aizawa is not fond of me. I don’t think that he would appreciate-”

“Aizawa is very protective of his students,” Nezu interrupts. “He is also incredibly sharp. Given Midoriya’s concerning history, he’s been keeping an especially close eye on the boy. Gifted liar though he may be, I doubt even Midoriya will be able to explain away the appearance of a new quirk.”

“Concerning history,” Yagi repeats.

“Ah. I forgot you weren’t part of that…….. meeting .” Nezu takes another sip of his tea that’s somehow become bitter and salty. He scowls at it. He’s been swindled. Nezu places it to the side and turns his attention back to Yagi. “It’s not really my place to tell you, but Midoriya has been receiving therapy, or, we’ve been attempting to get him into therapy, for very traumatic period in his life.”
“He never mentioned anything.”
“You two haven’t talked much,” Nezu points out. “Yagi, he respects you a great deal. I suggest trying to talk to him about it. But don’t pry. He may open up to you.”
Yagi nods. “I will try.”
Nezu smiles. “Wonderful-” The phone rings. Sighing, he picks up the call. “Hello?”
Someone coughs on the other end. “Is this Principal Nezu?”
“It is.”
“My name’s Tsuji Reo. I’ve heard somethin’ about you lookin’ into the Program.”

Nezu would raise an eyebrow if he had one to raise. “Do tell.”

Chapter Text

“Arrre you surrre you'rrre up forrr zis?” Lana appears next to him. “You've been verrry slow rrrecently. It’s sad.” That’s how she shows concern.

Izuku sighs as he zips his equipment bag shut. “The Director wants me out in Shimane Prefecture for training. There’s also a situation there, but I haven’t been briefed yet.”
Her face doesn’t move (no surprise), but her tail flicks back and forth as she watches him. “When arrre you leaving?”
“Tomorrow night.”
“Arren't yourrr finals soon?”
He sighs. “I'm….I'm figuring it out. But I’ll be back before then.”
An unfamiliar emotion flickers through her amber eyes. “Be carrreful, Midorrriya.”
He gives her a shallow smile. “Don’t worry.” Izuku spins around and opens the door. “I'm always careful.”



Shouta growls in annoyance when Nezu calls him to his office. “This better be important,” he grumbles as he nearly storms through the halls. “Mic. I need you to cover Ethics for the third years next period,” he tells the blonde.

“No problem, Sho!” Hizashi doesn’t ask any questions, but his expression tells Shouta they’ll be talking about this later.

He throws the door of Nezu’s office open, courtesies be damned. “What do you want?”
There’s a frail old man perched on one of Nezu’s couches, a long tube from his nose running down his side and connecting to an oxygen tank. Despite his withered state, the man sits erect and his eyes are sharp.

“Aizawa,” Nezu says slowly. “This is Tsuji Reo. He’s a retired intelligence officer.”

Shouta is very attempted to say ‘so what’, but he wisely keeps his mouth shut. Tsuji coughs into a handkerchief before lifting his grey eyes to meet Shouta’s. “Heard you got a Program kid in your class.”

“I do,” he replies, tone stiff.

“Thought it was him.” Tsuji coughs into his fist.

“Why don’t you tell Aizawa what you’ve told me?” Nezu motions for Shouta to sit. “He is also a part of this investigation.”

Investigation?

“Yeah. Yeah, fine. The Program? You know it, of course.” They both nod. “See, the whole ‘in pursuit of academic excellence’ thing is a front.”
“For what?” Shouta asks.

Tsuji gives him a dry look. “I’m getting to that. Arai Mamoru still heads the whole thing. But didn’t either of you think it’s strange that the Minister of Defense is involved with an afterschool education program?”

It is strange now that Shouta thinks about it. The fact is easy to pass over, but...wouldn’t it make sense for some Minister of Education to oversee the Imperial Scholars’ Program?

Tsuji nods at his expression. “Most people don’t look twice at the Program. That’s what Mamoru wants. What really goes on is something much more different. They still recruit children into their ranks, but it’s not for after school study groups.”
“What is it?” He’s getting impatient now.

“I’m getting to that,” Tsuji snaps, annoyed.
“Please continue,” Nezu prompts.

“Right. The Program recruits minors for the purpose of raising future government agents for positions such as snipers, undercover work, assassins, combat experts and intelligence officers. ‘Cept, they put the kids in real action and your boy-” Tsuji points a withered hand to Shouta. “-is one of the top of his year. Racked up a lot of kills and has made a lot of ground in the Program.”

Everything running through his mind comes to a screeching halt.

What ?”

“Tsuji has substantial proof of this,” Nezu assures him before turning to the man. “Why are you only coming forward now?”
He sighs, running a hand over his disappearing hair. “I quit government intelligence work in disgust when I found out. Everyone knows what’s going on, but no one talks about it. The Program is the biggest stain on our honor. I wanted to tell the world everything immediately, but I know Mamoru would’ve sent his hounds after me.”
“You were afraid,” Nezu surmises, tone devoid of judgment and harshness.

“Yeah. It’s common knowledge that once the Junior Units are dispatched, your chances of survival are pretty low. If the full-blown agents come after you, you’re dead.” He coughs again. “I’ve only got a little bit left now. I don’t care if they come after me. It’s not like they’re stealing my whole life anyway.”

“When you say ‘kills’,” Shouta jumps in. “Do you-”
“Yeah. Kid’s a talented sniper and knives expert. I only met him a few times, but he’s a good kid. Already became an Elite.”

“An elite?”
“There Mamoru’s close circle; his ‘favourites’. He uses them for everything. Most’ve them are older’nd eighteen, but not Midoriya. He got into the Program early and is Mamoru’s favourite playing piece.”

“How early?” Bile bites the tips of his tongue and his stomach is sinking.

“Twelve. Got in right after the whole Watanabe coverup. Think he was just a year out from junior high.”

The thought of a twelve-year-old out on the battlefield with some sort of weapon in his hand soaked in blood makes Shouta sick.

“Mamoru was real eager to get him because of Midoriya’s quirk.”

“Analysis? What’s so-”
“No.” Tsuji shakes his head. “Analysis isn’t his quirk. That’s a cover.”

“Do you know his quirk?” Nezu asks politely.

“No.” The man shakes his head again. “Mamoru is real hush-hush on that. I just know it’s something powerful. Makes the kid near-invincible.”

“How do you know?” Shouta questions.
Tsuji shrugs. “Senior agents are supposed to give cover to the Junior Ranks. We were told he didn't need it. Left him wide open.”
“Perhaps that was a testament to his skill?” Nezu suggests.
Tsuji shakes his head. “We only do that with regeneration kids. No matter how special they are they stay back until the order is given. Midoriya was almost always on the front lines. It almost seemed like-"

“Like he'd done it before,” Nezu finishes. “I've noticed.”

Meanwhile, Shouta is trying to figure out how he managed to miss something so colossal. His student...is a government-sanctioned assassin. How did he not know? Every day that Midoriya walks into class tired or bruised, Shouta chalks it up to poor decision making. After all, there is no way Midoriya Hisashi is abusive with him living all the way in America. Midoriya’s brutal efficiency in combat was something he’s continually dismissed without a second thought.

But Midoriya has killed people.

Tsuji coughs. “I can feel your conflict from here, Eraserhead. If it makes you feel better, kid’s got a good head on his shoulders and the strongest moral compass I’ve ever seen. Though, I’ve never seen someone so ready to put themselves in front of a bullet.” That’s a sentence he never wants to hear as a description for his student. Yes, Midoriya might have a bit of a devil-may-care attitude, but Shouta has always seen it as him being green in the whole heroics business.

“Plus, he might be terrified of the guy, but Yomi stands up to Mamoru when it really matters. Kid won’t let himself get pushed too far if you know what I mean.”
Shouta whips his head up. “What did you call him?”

“Huh-? Oh. Yomi. My bad. I knew him by that name first. We worked a few undercover missions together.”

Yomi.
He knows that name.

The small agent Shouta had worked with two months ago. Something had been distinctly familiar about him, but Shouta couldn’t place it at the time.

It was his student.

He’d fought alongside his student who he’d taken for an able-bodied adult. Said able-bodied adult had taken out a villain.

Arakai Satomi.

Shouta had witnessed his student kill someone.

He abruptly stands up. “I have to go.”
“Shouta,” Nezu says and that manages to catch his attention. “This is a delicate matter and it must be treated as such. Though serious, we cannot rush into this.”
Shouta spins around with a red-eyed glare. “You cannot possibly be telling me to stand back and let some…. bastard abuse and take advantage of my student!”

Nezu doesn’t seem affected by his volume. “I’m not telling you to do that,” he replies carefully. “But this situation requires discretion, due to both the government’s involvement and Midoriya. Not to mention the hundreds, maybe thousands of other children out there like him.”
“But-”
“Midoriya is still a child and all hope may not be lost on him, but we do need to take our time on this.”
“The government won’t fight ya” Tsuji pipes up. “They’ve been looking for an excuse to end the Program, but no one can step up to Arai Mamoru. He’s been operating the emperor like some marionette for years now. He’s a disgrace to our entire country, but he’s tricky. Mamoru won’t go down easy.”

“I also have another problem,” Nezu says. “Midoriya has been working on the traitor case. While he’s obviously not the traitor, if he had the government’s resources, is it possible he knows who it is?”
“I don’t know the kid well, but I’d say he’s probably trying to help them. Midoriya usually takes the longest way around killing if he can help it.” He pauses. “But he's definitely in on it. Midoriya is one of the best. Might still be new, but I saw him sweet-talk some pedo yakuza creep right into a corner. It was an easy shot for his partner to make. The sniper nailed him with his pants around his ankle.”

Shouta’s stomach churns. His student chatting up some sick pervert; the picture doesn’t sit well with him. He can't understand how Tsuji isn't physically repulsed by this. Disgusted, perhaps, but just talking about this is making Shouta sick. He doesn't envy whatever life the man led to end up this way.

Is Midoriya like this? Shouta has noticed he is a little withdrawn in social situations, but Midoriya has been getting better.

……...was he ever getting better? Has all his growth and progress been faked? Is ‘Midoriya Izuku the UA student’ an act? 

“You should go now,” Nezu tells Shouta. “Please try to act as you usually do.”

How the hell is he supposed to do that.

Shouta closes the door as loudly as he opened it.




Izuku ignores the extra glances Aizawa gives him on his way out. “Have a good day Aizawa-sensei,” he tells him.

The man doesn’t answer.

Izuku doesn’t take it personally and heads straight home to finish packing. His transport leaves at midnight and he has things he has to take care of before then.

Ochako poses her usual arcade invitation, and like every other time he turns her down. Tsuyu looks on blankly at her side, though he can almost feel her disappointment. “Next time,” Ochako says.

If the next month goes how he wants, there won’t be a next time.

He’s not sure how to feel about it.

 

Izuku shoves the last of cartridge into his ammunition bag. Besides a few weapons, he has only packed the essentials, because he likes to travel much.

That and he doesn’t have much to carry. Izuku hasn’t exactly hoarded things since he returned home five years ago, but it makes for easier movements.

He checks the time.

9:42 p.m.

Good. He’s got just under three hours to get to the transport station. If he leaves now he can be early.

Izuku swings the door open, having already left Kaito with Ms. Oboro for the week. “A family emergency,” he’d said. “I have to go to America.”
In the open door stands Mineta Minoru, hand raised like he was preparing to knock. They stare at each other for a minute.

(Izuku’s glad that the dark and his jacket hide his combat vest on underneath. That would be hard to explain away.)

Mineta awkwardly clears his throat. “Can I…..come in?”
And there goes any possibility of him being early.

Suppressing a sigh, Izuku steps to the side and allows Mineta to enter his apartment. “Are you going somewhere?” The boy offhandedly asks.

“There’s a family emergency in America,” Izuku replies, his tone just a little dry. “But you’re fine. I don’t have to be at the airport until midnight.”

“Y-you can go if you want.”
“No, no. You made the trip out here. Might as well make the best of it. What’s up?” Izuku lightly kicks the door shut with his heel. “Didn’t think you’d want to talk to me after last time.” Silence. “....is there something else you want to talk about?”

Mineta takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry. For what I said. Before.”

Izuku hums. “Which part?”

“All of it. Can I….” He points to the couch. “Sit?”

Izuku nods. “Go ahead.”

Mineta sits on the couch and stares at his hands. “I’m not gay,” he says, straight and to the point.

“I didn’t think you were,” Izuku intones, moving to sit across from him. “And I wouldn’t care if you were.”

“But other people would.”

“So?”

He sighs. “Look, I went to this fancy prep junior high, right? Everyone’s perfect and all that shit.” Mineta runs a hand over his hair (?). “Hottest girls, handsome boys, stuff like that. Everything was...normal, I guess?” He pauses. “Then second year this kid came out to the class. He...had a boyfriend at a different school and he brought him to prom. The entire class had a field day with it. People made fun of him, drew dicks on his stuff.” Mineta briefly glances up. “Y’know. That sort of crap. And...I have gotten into UA, but look at me. I’m a shrimp. I was a target. I wasn’t going to put myself out there for a kid I didn’t know.”
….Izuku doesn’t like where this is going. “So you bullied him?” He’s almost scared to know the answer.

“….I didn’t do anything if that’s what you mean. And, yeah, it was really shitty, but I didn’t want to be miserable like him.”
“....what does this have to do with you not being gay.”
“I….” He balls his fists. “Kids started going around and making fun of ‘gay-ish’ kids. Y’know, it started off as some joke. ‘No homo’, but then people started bullying these kids too. I didn’t want to be in the line of fire. So I started acting like the cool kids. It was out of the way and safer.”

“...but you’re not gay.”
“They wouldn’t have cared,” Mineta snaps. “They could’ve decided one day that I was hiding in the closet or something and everyone would’ve gone with it. They would’ve gone after me too.”

“That’s not very heroic.”
“Well, how can a hero help people if he’s just as badly off as they are?”

Another pause.

“I...don’t really understand why you’re talking to me about this,” Izuku says. “I mean, I know I’m class rep, so I don’t mind a drop-by, but….we’re not close. Why-”
“My parents don’t listen.” Mineta blurts out. “ My brother doesn’t care and let’s be honest.” He laughs bitterly. “I have no friends. Kaminari’s already getting sick of me. You’re the only one who’d get it.”

Izuku raises an eyebrow. “Why would I get it?”
“I don’t know, but…” Mineta’s fluttering hands come to rest in his lap. He looks uselessly at Izuku with frustrated eyes that threaten to spill tears. “....you’re different . You stand out and you don’t even bother to act normal. You don’t copy anyone. I don’t know why everyone likes you. You should be a complete and total outcast. Everyone should hate you. Trip you when you walk by. Toss your notebooks out the window. Spit on your lunch tray. Stuff like that.” He pauses, voice much softer. “But you have actual friends.”

“M-”

“And you somehow manage to be cool without being handsome or rich or any of those things that make people popular,” Mineta continues. “You’re one of the best in our class without being some bookworm.. You won the Sports Festival but you don’t even brag about it. Heroes want you to be their intern and you act like it’s nothing! You’re friends with the girls in our class. They talk to you, don’t flinch when you’re around. They...they don’t hate you.” His quiet voice shakes as he meets Izuku’s eyes. “ People care about you. ” Tears trail down his cheeks in fat droplets. Mineta stares at his hands. “Nobody likes me. No one even wants me around. I…” He takes a shaky breath. “I try so hard to make people like me and it never works, so why….why are you special? You never spend time with our class outside of school, but they still like you. You never hang out with them, but they still wait up on you. They care if you’re there or not. They worry about you. And you….you’re never there. You stare off into space at nothing. You’re all weird and jumpy.” He sniffles and wipes his sleeve against his face. “And somehow I’m the creep. I’m the freak. They’re glad when I’m not around. It’s not fair. It should be you!”

……….. wow . That’s a lot to unpack.

Izuku blinks, brain slowly processing all that’s been said. After a minute, he begins talking. “Mineta, why do you want to be a hero?”
“Popularity,” he responds in a heartbeat. “Everyone loves a hero.”

“First off, they don’t love the hero,” Izuku replies. “They love what the hero does . How they act. How they seem to be above it all. If you think people loving you will make you happy, you’re going to be miserable for your entire life. Love from strangers is fickle. Make one wrong move and it doesn’t matter how many good things you’ve done; it’s gone. Praise doesn’t do anything.”
“But you have both. Everyone likes you and you’ve got friends,” he argues.

“I do,” he says with a nod. “And I’m lucky, because it usually doesn’t work out like that. I used to get bullied. People thought I was creepy. Maybe I am. That’s not the point.” Izuku leans back in his chair. “Kirishima was bullied too.”

“How?” Mineta scoffs. “Everyone loves him.”
“It’s a matter of perspective. Not everyone’s going to like you. That’s fine. He stuck to being himself and now he’s found a group of friends that like him the way he is. I think they’ll all be friends for a long time. But not every place you go to is going to receive you with open arms. They’re going to think differently than you. It sounds like UA is leagues away from your old school, but you’ve brought that way of thinking here. It doesn’t fit like it did at your junior high and I don’t know if you act like this because you learned if or if this is who you are, but you’re lucky you haven’t gotten expelled yet. Really, I think you’re pushing it at UA with how you treat the girls.” Mineta winces. “So why do you bother them? How could that make people like you?”

“It’s how the boys at my old school acted,” he admits after a moment. “And it was so cool there, right? You know, to be this confident ladies’ guy who didn’t have any boundaries. This kid, Okuda, did that but he scored all the chicks. I figured if I pulled some of that off people would like me. I tried it a little at my school, but the girls just laughed. I thought if I was the first one to do it at UA I’d be a big shot. But it fucking backfired.” The boy glares at the ground. “Most of the class hates me.”

“That’s because most of the time you’re being a pervert or making homophobic comments,” Izuku answer flatly. Now’s not the time to pull punches. “You’re in a different environment with different people who think different things than your old classmates. UA is more diverse than your private school. Your school only had rich kids probably raised to think one way. UA has people from all over, and the opinions and beliefs of the school will be different.” He leans back a little. “If you want to be liked everywhere you go you could just adjust how you act based on the people you’re around, but it gets tiring. You slip up eventually and people will label you as a pervert.”
“I’m not a pervert,” he mumbles. “I just……. my school .”
“Look, how you grew up can’t be your excuse forever. Yes, you learned it one way. Now think for yourself and decide what way you want to continue. Maybe it’s right. Maybe it’s wrong. Who fucking cares. It depends on what your goals are and how open you want to be with people.” Izuku hesitates. “I’ll be honest. I don’t know why my friends like me either. I probably blow them off more than I should, but what’s important is that I’m honest with them as a person, and I guess they like the person they see.” Lies. He’s a fake . “The people you still care about even when they’re not there are the people you love the most.” He absentmindedly reaches to his mother’s scarf. “You still think about them when they’re gone. When they’ve moved away. You remember them. Do you still keep in contact with any of your classmates?”
“No.”
“Have any friends in that class?”
He shrugs. “No.”
“Then they weren’t your friends at any point. You just adapted to the wrong kind of environment to stay afloat. It’s a natural instinct; to adapt, but you need to be careful that you’re not ignoring your morals when you do it. You’ll end up fighting the need to blend in if you want to be a hero. You’ll have to plant yourself in front of something and tell the others you will not be moved. It may not make you popular, but you’ll have integrity. I think that’s more important than anything else. If someone doesn’t like you honest, then you aren’t a match and you move on. It’s not about how to get people to like you. It’s why they like you.”

 And then Mineta cries a lot. Izuku sits there, entirely useless to the situation. “You should apologize to the girls,” he continues. “Or at the very least, leave them alone. Give them time to feel comfortable around you and respect them, even if they don’t end up respecting you.”

More tears.
When the other boy finally pulls himself together, he leaves with a quiet ‘thank you’.

11:19 p.m.

The transport rendezvous is an hour away. He’s not going to make it. Sighing, Izuku pulls out his phone and calls Lana. She’s not going to like this.
“I am not taxi!”
“Please?” He begs. “I am dead if I’m not on that transport by midnight. Do you want me dead, Lana? Do you?” Izuku’s only half joking.
There’s a sigh of annoyance. “.....last time. Zis is ze last time, Midorrriya.”

He exhales, relieved. “Thank you-” She hangs up. “-very much…..”

Ten minutes later Lana appears in his living room, scowling more deeply than usual. “Hi-”
“I said I am not taxi,” she half growls and drops one of her hands onto his shoulder. “But you still annoy me vith getting you arrround. Be on time. I will not do zis again.”

“Wait, my ammunition bag-!”

They disappear in a rush of darkness.

Chapter Text

Izuku steps off the bus. It’s almost three in the afternoon and he is beyond exhausted. He’d gotten to the transport last night, a small plane that had taken him to the Osaka Program base. From there he’d taken a train that had several stops and delays. Finally, about two hours out from Shimane Prefecture, Izuku had boarded the only bus that headed out in that direction. After rattling around on the dirt roads for some time, he finally arrived.
Not too far down the path stands a caucasian man with hard features and close-cropped spiky white hair. His eyes, a faded green, are sunken and cold. Two light scars criss-cross in an uneven ‘x’ shape on his right cheekbone.

The man scowls when Izuku approaches. “You’re Midoriya,” he says, not really a question.

“Yes-”
“You’re late.” Without another word, the man spins on his heel and stalks up the path ascending the mountain.

“Sorry-” Izuku jogs to keep up with him. “I, uh, was told to come here for training-?”

The man grunts and walks a little quicker, having no sympathy for Izuku’s weariness or the baggage he’s carrying. They climb the rocky trail in silence, Izuku wondering to himself when they’ll be at the village.
Twenty minutes into their walk, Izuku finally decides to break the ice. “Excuse me, how much longer-”

“Quiet.” Izuku snaps his jaw shut and shrinks back.

“Sorry,” he mumbles under his breath.

They keep walking. A bit later, small houses come into view and the path becomes more beaten. “Smithson, you’re back,” a short man with salt and peppered light brown hair chirps. “And you’ve brought our newest trainee.” The man sits in a wheelchair near one of the houses, smiling brightly at them both. The state of his hair greatly contrasts with the exuberant youth of his voice and appearance, making Izuku question how old he really is.

‘Smithson’ grunts and storms past the man. “Don’t mind him,” he says, noticing how Izuku’s eyes follow Smithson. “He’s always like that. Americans.” He shakes his head like that’s enough of an explanation. “I am Kageyama Keiji.”
“Hello!” Izuku hastily falls into a bow before Kageyama. “I am-”

“I know who you are,” Kageyama interrupts pleasantly. “Mamoru’s favourite. The youngest Elite in the history of the Program. You were thirteen when it happened?”
He nods. “Yes, sir.”

“That’s young,” Kageyama muses, only a flicker of a frown on his lips. “But considering your semi-immortal status it’s understandable.”

Izuku starts. “You-”
“Oh please,” Kageyama laughs. “Everyone here knows. We were all Elites. But-” The light in his smile dims slightly. “-ah, that’s in the past. Mamoru sent you here to train with us. Word has it that you inherited One For All and you need to gain control of it quickly.”

“I-uh-yes.” Izuku is glad his unit isn’t here. They’d never let him live down how awkward he’s being in front of his superior. “That’s why I’m here.”
“Then we’d best get started.”

His tired body and mind scream curses, but Izuku finds himself obediently following Kageyama up to a large building with a sparring ground out front. “I’m sure you’re exhausted, but we can’t waste any more time today. It's already late.” In his peripheral vision something small flies at him. Izuku brings his bag up to block it.

A four inch blade sinks into the material. Izuku whips his head up and stares at the smirking Kageyama. “Decent reaction time,” he hums seemingly unfazed at almost killing Izuku. “But you need work. One For All should be increasing your speed, so I’m going to expect more. Eze’s going to be drilling you on agility and speed.”
A woman flies by, sweeping up into the air and coming down with an impressive ‘boom’ at the center of the sparring field. Her wings fold in with a ‘swish’ and she glances at Izuku with a scowl on her face. Feathers ranging from white to a dark brown plume across her cheeks, making the splotchy scar that takes up the space between the end of her cheekbone and her ear stand out. Her features are sharp and hawkish. Well, Izuku thinks she resembles an eagle more than a hawk. ( Yes , there is a difference.) Her hair is in neat, intricate braids whose ends hover just above her strong shoulders.

In place of her arms are powerful wings jutting out from her shoulders, tips coming down past her knees. The woman’s legs are birdlike and stand at a strange angle, two pairs of claws on either foot. Eze Adaugo is around his height, perhaps a little shorter, but her build is more lithe and nimble, perfect for speed. She is obviously of African descent, but he can’t pin down which specific country. Her gold eyes bear deep into his soul, and suddenly Izuku feels very exposed. “You are Midoriya?”

He swallows. “Ye-”

Without warning, Eze takes to the air again and becomes a blur. Eze appears only for a second, slamming into him with her shoulder before taking off. Kageyama looks on as if nothing is wrong.

Izuku lies on his back, staring up at the clear blue sky. It mocks him. He takes a moment to regain his breath before crawling to his knees and trying to hold on to some sense of dignity.

He is standing before the best of the best and he looks pathetic . As if his confidence isn’t already low enough.

“There is much work to do,” Eze says. “But you are not hopeless.” That might be encouraging if each sentence wasn’t punctuated with a glare.

Kageyama hums. “I’ll let you two get acquainted.” He lifts his hand and the knife previously stuck in Izuku’s bag flies to him. He smiles as Izuku simply stares. “You’re going to have a very long two weeks, Midoriya. You’d best make the most of it.”

Translation: Welcome to Hell, where we’ve heated up the fire just for you!

This is going to be a painful two weeks.



“What do you mean Midoriya’s gone?” Aizawa growls, slamming his palms against the desk. “Where?”
“I was told there was a family emergency,” Nezu replies evenly, eyeing the teacher as his desk trembles at the man’s force. “Something about an aunt being hospitalized for a car accident.”
“Is it true?”
“Not as far as I’ve seen,” Nezu hums, sipping his tea. “So I conclude he’s been called off on an assignment of some sort. I still can’t get through the Program firewall. It seems they have a team of technicians that built it. Each layer is different.”

“Do we know if he’s okay?” Aizawa stresses.

“No.”

“Do we know where he is?”
“No.”
“Do we even know what kind of mission it is?”
Nezu sighs and sets his cup aside. “I’m afraid not.”
The teacher grits his teeth and slams his head against the back of the chair. “Then what do we know?”

“Only that he is gone and his apartment should be empty, which is a prime opportunity for us.”
Aizawa raises an eyebrow. “Are you asking me to break into a student’s home?”
“Not break in,” Nezu huffs. “Heavens no. I am suggesting you investigate it. See if there’s anything that could help us. While you do that, I-” Nezu taps a few keys on his computer. “Will be setting up interviews with the people Tsuji told us of.”
Aizawa’s eyes widen at the first name on the list. “You’re serious?”

“As the plague. Now, class is starting soon, Aizawa. You’d best get to your homeroom.”

The man obliges and Nezu turns back to his monitor. “Well. This will be very interesting.”

“Akaguro Chizome; Hero Killer ‘Stain’.”

And deeper still the rabbit hole grows.

 

Izuku sways on his feet, sweat dripping from his face. Eze Adaugo is perched on a tree on the border of the sparring ground. Her wings are tucked into her side, and she doesn’t look as nearly as tired as Izuku is. “Again,” she commands.

Breathing deeply, Izuku steadies himself, focuses on the energy in his chest and pulls .

Green lightning darts across his skin and his eyes glow. He’s filled with new vigor, exhaustion fades into his memory at the feeling of this power.

Without warning, Eze flies at him, dodging at the last second when he swings. Izuku is quick to pull back, narrowly avoiding a strike to his chest. Eze appears from behind and rams into him before taking to the air. Izuku stumbles forward as he tries to keep control of One For All.

A final hit to the back of his knees and Izuku’s on the ground again.

On a different day, Izuku might be embarrassed that he, a well trained Elite, is being thrown around like it’s nothing. But not today. He’s way too exhausted for that.

“I think that’s enough,” Kageyama calls. “Let’s move on to the mountain.”
The what now.

Izuku finds out what the young (?) man means as he stares down a mountain easily twice the size of UA. “By the end of these two weeks,” Kageyama says with the same upbeat tone that Nezu has when he’s about to deliver a death blow. “You must climb this mountain using One For All.” Izuku stares at him, but the man looks on politely. “Go ahead. Give it a go.”

So he does. Izuku pulls himself up on a small ledge and tries to jump to the next using One For All.

He lands, sloppily, as his sneakers skid against the rough stone. Shit, shit, shit-!
Izuku reaches out and grabs a handhold, barely keeping himself from tumbling over the edge. Good. He’s good.

“Come on, Midoriya. We haven’t got all day.”

Izuku gulps and prepares himself for the next jump, higher this time, and with smaller shelves. He pushes off and reaches for the edge.

But his fingers only graze the tip before he’s falling back, a good fifteen feet or so down. 

Oh, this is going to hurt.

Eze catches him last second, her claws lightly scratching his arms. She drops him on the ground without much care, but Izuku will take a few bruises over something worse.

“Well, that’s disappointing,” Kageyama sighs. “But we have time. You should shower, Midoriya. Dinner is soon.”

He breathes a sigh of relief and rises to his feet, brushing off dirt as he stumbles after Kageyama and Eze.



Shouta drops down from the roof and opens one of Midoriya’s windows. It’s late enough that no one should notice him (hopefully), but this is the only day he has free for this sort of thing. Part of him hopes that he’ll run into his student and this whole ‘Program’ business will be a mistake. Some sort of misunderstanding that explains away how he could’ve missed that his student is a licensed and trained killer.

He opens the window quietly, landing on the floor of what Shouta assumes is Midoriya’s bedroom. The room doesn’t look like one that belongs to a teenage boy. It’s plain with very few personal effects, save for some photographs and notebooks. His laptop, phone, and tablet are gone, so there’s no digital information Shouta could gain from this little break-in.

He quickly moves on and ends up in the living room. Nothing. The apartment is much like Midoriya’s room; impersonal and cold. It has a faintly lived-in feeling, but it doesn’t feel much like a home.

In the kitchen, Shouta nearly trips over a bowl. ‘Kaito’ it reads, scrawled in careful sharpie. 

He grunts. So there’s a pet. Even if Midoriya left in such a hurry, the pet’s probably with a neighbour, as the boy is responsible enough to think ahead. Still, he keeps a lookout for any sleeping animals as he approaches the door down the hall from Midoriya’s.

He instantly recognizes the room as Hisashi’s. The bed is neatly made and a very thin layer of dust has begun to settle on the furniture. It looks like no one’s been here since the man left for America.

Unlike the rest of the house, this room feels more…human, for lack of a better word. The rest of the house seems untouched, but even under the dust, Shouta can see personal belongings and memories of a person.

For one thing, Hisashi clearly loved All Might, from all the posters hanging on the wall. Shouta thinks he worked in the entertainment industry; animation if he had to guess, from the completed notebook marked ‘storyboard sketch frames’ tossed on the desk. Another thing Shouta notices is how much Hisashi must’ve loved his family. Pictures of the trio line the walls and fill the drawers. Midoriya’s baby face grins brightly even through the years. His mother, Inko, holds him in her arms with a sweet, modest smile on her face. It strikes Shouta how similar the two look. The green hair and eyes, small frame and pale skin match almost perfectly. They look happy. Almost sickeningly so.

It must’ve crushed Hisashi when they died.

Shouta approaches one of the faded All Might posters. The blonde’s annoying face stares back at him, surrounded by semi-bright colours as he strikes a pose. One corner is peeled up, torn slightly. Shouta carefully pulls the corner up more.

‘To our little hero. Happy 5th Birthday, Izuku!’ is written in light black pen.

He glances around the room again. So all the hero memorabilia belongs to the younger Midoriya. Funny that it’s not in the boy’s room.

He sweeps the room again, looking for any clues, but finds nothing. As interesting as this all is, there isn’t anything more he could learn from Hisashi’s room.

As Shouta steps back into the hallway, his foot hits something firm. Glancing down, Shouta notices a black duffel bag. He nudges it again with his foot. Something metal shifts inside the bag.

Curiosity now piqued, Shouta crouches down and opens it.

A dismantled sniper rifle, a handgun and rounds of ammunition stare back at him.

His stomach sinks. ‘M.I.’ is printed clearly on the tag of the duffel bag, so it’s definitely Midoriya’s.

But why would Midoriya need military grade weapons? A better question, why wouldn’t Midoriya bring it with him if he needed it? Did he leave so quickly that he forgot it? Is he in danger?

Shouta wanders back into Midoriya’s room, noting how most of his clothes, save for his UA uniform, are gone. Midoriya plans to be away for awhile, that’s obvious, but it doesn’t give any hints as to where he is now.

The front door opens.

Shouta hastily ducks into the closet, holding his breath. 

He hears someone humming as they walk through the apartment. The footsteps are too loud to be Midoriya; the boy treads silently most days, and quietly on others. These footsteps are the sound of someone with their guard completely down.

Probably not an intruder then.

Shouta dares to venture out of the closet and peeks out the door. A woman a little older than him with white hair is passing the hall, a little dog at her heels.

Shit.

A dog.

“Mm. Izuku left in such a hurry,” she muses. “I hope everything’s alright. Now, where is your food? Silly boy forgot to give it to me!”

The animal pauses mid-step, sniffing the air.

Shouta shuffles as soundlessly as he can towards the window as the dog approaches, beginning to growl. The woman follows behind the dog.

He ducks through the window and leaps to the next building by the time he hears the bedroom door creak open.

That was too close and he’s got nothing to show for it.

Not yet, at least.



Izuku drops like a stone onto his futon, breathing heavily. Every part of his body is sore and he’s exhausted. It’s past ten and Izuku’s ready for bed. Normally he wouldn’t be turning in this early, but today’s been especially long.

With a groan, Izuku rolls onto his back and sighs. His phone starts ringing and Izuku wonders if he’s got enough energy left to even answer it.

By the third ring, Izuku’s made his decision. “Hello?” He answers groggily.

“Midoriya.” Oh. It’s Pearson.

“Hey. What’s up?”
“Remember that apprentice I mentioned?”
“Yeah, uh….” He drags a hand down the side of his face. “... Shimizu Katsumi, right?” Izuku sits up. “He’s okay, right?”

Pearson huffs. “Don’t sound so worried. Nothing happened. But he’s been bugging me because the Sports Festival winner isn’t here.”
“Sports Festival…....He wants to see me ?”

“Yeah.”
“Why?”
“Doesn’t make sense to me either, Mr. Celebrity. I’m putting the kid on now so he’ll shut up.”
“Wait, Pearson, I-”
“Hello?” The voice is younger and a little more nervous. The unit leader is gone.

Izuku stifles a sigh of annoyance. “Hey.”
“...is this Midoriya Izuku from 1-A?”
“Yep. I heard you wanted to talk to me?”

“I think it’s really cool that you won the Sports Festival,” the boy says. “-without using your quirk.”

“Mm.”

“What is your quirk?”
“A mix of analysis and strength enhancement.”

“Oh.” A pause. “That’s weird.”

“So I’ve been told.”
“Why didn’t you use it?”
“I would’ve blown my limbs off.”
“That’s a stupid quirk.” This kid is almost as blunt as Saito Naomi. Izuku’s glad he wasn’t there for that meeting.
(He’d compare Shimizu to Asui, but the resemblance doesn’t fit. They’re too different.)
“I think so too.” 

“My quirk doesn’t do stuff like that,” he admits. “It’s really plain.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Izuku protests. “Plain is good in our line of work.”

“All I have is x-ray vision. How is that ‘good’? Everyone thinks I’m a creep.”

“You could use it for recon,” Izuku argues. “And stealth. Undercover. It’s super useful!”
Silence. 

“...thanks. I’m going to go now. Pearson says it’s lights out for the trainees. See you around the compound?”
“You will,” Izuku promises.

“Don’t blow your arms off or something with your stupid quirk.”
“I’ll try very hard not to.”
The boy snorts and hangs up.

Izuku stares at his phone until the screen goes dark.

It had never occurred to him that somewhere along the line people would look up to him; see him as an example.

Some people look at him and feel hope.

It’s all he’s ever wanted honestly; to help people get through things and save them. But never in a million years did he think he would become some sort of symbol.

The realization is enlightening and even manages to make him feel less sore.

There are people--strangers, no less--who believe in him.

Smiling, Izuku shoots his father a quick ‘goodnight’ text and falls fast asleep.