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It’s not a good day for Izuku, but is it ever? 

He stands under a pile of rubble, blinking dust out of his eyes. For once, he actually thanks the existence of quirks. Someone needs to offset the mayhem he’s constantly subjected to.

Eyeing the landscape around him, he scans the damage he’s unknowingly inflicted: a halfway destroyed building, an upheaved road, and stores that seem to be completely wiped out. Guilt rises up his gut instinctively, but instead of letting it poison him, he simply presses it down. He’d be better off leaving the situation to the heroes, who surround him in a scattered circle.

An alien-looking girl, who was previously disintegrating rubble with what seemed like acid, turns to Izuku worryingly. “You know,” she half-yells over the constant sound of property being destroyed, “you should really leave now. I think I’ve got you covered.”

Izuku looks at her, subconsciously noting that she has pitch black eyes. “You have the villain under control?” He asks.

The girl looks back, getting a full view of the cement demon grappling a hero with a hardening quirk. “I think so,” she says with assurance, but she doesn’t sound entirely convinced.

To Izuku, however, it looks as if the villain is completely preoccupied. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to be followed home, so he nods his head. “Sure. Thanks for your help.”

Ducking underneath a crooked metal pipe, he makes his getaway. When he’s outside the carcass of the building, he turns to assess the situation. 

His line of sight is completely clouded with dust. Sighing, he gives up and takes his regular path home.

 Izuku is a regular, embittered salaryman. His occupation, which used to be uncomfortable on his tongue, is now worn in and true. His life only consists of trying not to die and going to work.

He looks up from the tedious work on his desk, glancing out the window. Unsurprisingly, the view in the window is different. Every week his branch changes buildings, because at least once per week, a villain attacks their building badly enough to demolish it. He’s learned not to keep too many possessions at work, since his workspace is always the most destroyed.

It took his coworkers a few building’s worth of moves to connect the dots. At first, it started with small, quick glances his way, a telltale sign that they were just talking about him. Then he heard his name in the breakroom, always right after he slipped in unnoticed. Instead of boiling over into taunts, however, the exact opposite happened: everyone simply avoided him. The receptionist started handing over the sheets he needed without meeting his eyes. He could practically smell his eventual firing.

 You see, Izuku has the quirk of attracting villains. In this quirk dependent and pandering world, he is the worst type of unlucky there could be, and he absolutely hates it. 

It started when he was at the doctor’s office, head full of the grandiose images of All Might. When he was told he had a quirk, he had the now audacious thought that he could be just like him: face plastered with an unwavering, solid smile, and each arm full of fawning civilians.

“His quirk should manifest any time soon,” the doctor assured, looking over at Izuku’s hopeful face through his glasses. 

It never came. At least, not in a way he could see it.

Even though he defended his one jointed pinky toe, he was considered quirkless. In a sense, it was actually a good thing. It brought reality to his feet, unchanging and ever so unequal, and dashed all the grandiose views of quirks he ever had. 

But even with reality bearing itself to him, time chugged along in the background. Izuku had always attracted some kind of mayhem, but the older he got, the worse the trouble became. Soon, he couldn’t deal with high class villain attacks like he dealt with petty theft. He was forced to find work near hero agencies, the organizations that stood for the very things he disliked. 

Being surrounded by a crumbling, fluctuating representation of his dreams already sucked. But being reminded of what he couldn’t help, and had to simply suck up and live with? Even worse. 

 “So, what would you say is your weakness?” The hiring manager says, scrutinizing Izuku from over her spectacles.

Izuku looks around, going through his internal list of qualities that hiring managers see as green flags. Maybe he should say that he attracts high class villains wherever he goes, destroying company property. Or perhaps he should stick with the tried and true “independence”.

He decides to utilize his supposed independence. He also gets the job.

It comes to no surprise that his building is bombed again. It’s actually quite inopportune, because the building has large glass windows that splinter into shards. Izuku’s desk is now a smouldering pile of ash, his briefcase indistinguishable amongst all the rubble. 

“Fuck,” he mutters. In the past, he would have raced into the damage headfirst, shoving away rocks in an attempt to find his belongings. Now he knows better, so he stands at a distance. “That was an expensive one.”

The thought that he shouldn’t get expensive stuff, what with a quirk like his, rises in his mind. He shoves it down quickly.

“Hey, what are you still doing here?” A voice booms behind him. “Are you fucking stupid?”

Ah, the harsh and grating sound of Ground Zero himself. Izuku has half a mind to yell back “Yes”, because he is fucking stupid. He shouldn’t have splurged on something that was meant to be destroyed anyway.

He turns around. For some reason, he doesn’t associate Bakugou with Ground Zero. The hero personality and what plagued him in the past is split into two. So when he mumbles out a feeble “Just looking for my briefcase”, he somehow expects Ground Zero to reply, and not Bakugou.

“Deku?” Bakugou says in surprise, when Izuku turns his head to look at him. “The fuck are you doing here? Why haven’t you left like the rest of them?” His voice is still angry, but not at the world anymore. Moreso because Izuku is risking his life, like the typical colossal dumbass he is.

Bakugou didn’t expect to see Izuku ever again, really. The hero world had separated him and the regular folk, which included Deku. Seeing him as a dejected office worker fills him with bewilderedness. 

Izuku motions towards the pile of ash he used to work in. “Lost something. Gotta find it, it was pretty expensive.”

Convoluted frustration rises in Bakugou. He turns to see the pile of ash, and can’t find anything of physical substance in it. The building creaks ominously behind him, and he feels the whole thing tip to the side. “There’s nothing there, dumbass.”

Izuku just stands there, looking at him dumbly. 

Bakugou curses a slew of words in between his teeth. Then he grabs Izuku by the collar, easily fending off his weak defenses, and runs over to the window where the bomb created a large hole. “Oi, Shinsou!” he yells into the surroundings. He’s met with a bored “yeah” in response, and dangles Izuku over the edge. “I’ve got one!”

Izuku swears he hears a disgruntled sign. However, that thought is lost in the moment. It quickly dawns upon him that he is being held by Bakugou, of all people, over the edge of an unstable building. His eyes widen as he clings onto Bakugou’s arm, saying, “Hey, I don’t know what you’re doing, but if you want to kill me-” His words come out rushed and panicked.

Bakugou simply snorts. “Why are you clinging onto me, you weirdo?” he notes frustratingly, attempting to shake Izuku off. “Jesus Christ. You have a strong grip.”

“What-what are you going to do?” Izuku says, fear taking over his voice completely. His face looks pale, freckles sticking out starkly against his skin.

“Just trust the process,” Bakugou says gruffly. Then he succeeds in shaking Izuku off, and Izuku hurls toward his death.

What is this, the eighteenth floor? He thinks detachedly. His arms fly to his sides in an attempt to curb his fall. He would scream, and he even opens his mouth to prepare for it, but he’s caught by a mass of bandages right before.

A man with purple hair and something covering his mouth pulls at the bandages, bringing Izuku closer. He’s perched on some neighbouring building like an old school Spiderman, with the exception that his face looks perpetually dissatisfied.

“You alright?” Purple spiderman says. 

Izuku, who’s dangling by bandages and still a hundred metres shy from another potential death, tries to nod. “Just peachy,” he replies weakly. He shifts in the rough gauze, which holds his entire body in a secure cocoon. 

Purple spiderman simply returns back to looking at the building, which now has violent explosions coming from inside. No doubt that it’s Ground Zero himself.

“Uh,” Izuku says awkwardly. “Could you let me up?”

Purple spiderman flicks his wrists, and Izuku lands beside him, just a few metres shy of him.

Izuku sits on the precipice of the building, his back slightly hurting from being manhandled so much. He shifts in the gauze uncomfortably, trying to free his hands. “Without the gauze?” He adds on weakly. God, Purple spiderman must be so annoyed by now.

Purple spiderman only betrays his annoyance through a roll of his eyes. Izuku blinks, and then the gauze is gone and around Purple spiderman’s neck.

“U-um. Your name is?” Izuku asks. He feels like he’s prodding at a dead horse with a tazor.

Purple spiderman sighs. “Shinsou.”

Izuku is slightly surprised at the utterance of a real name. Actually, it might not even be real, but the fact that it isn’t hero-esque still interests him.

He gets up with a huff. “Well, Shinsou,” he starts to say. “Thanks. I’m going to leave now.”

Shinsou turns to look at him. The shade on the precipice makes his eyebags look dark, and almost bruise like. “Wait. We need witness reports, you need to-”

Izuku puts his hands up in surrender. “There was another lady with me. You can ask her for anything.” A white lie, but from his experience, there’s always another person who can testify. Or, alternatively, who wants to leap at their five minutes of fame. “Can’t I opt out of this stuff?”

Shinsou looks at Izuku, who looks like a scared rabbit about to dart. He turns back around to survey the scene, his hand making a noncommittal gesture. “Sure. Whatever.”

Izuku takes this as a yes, and proceeds to walk quickly away from him. Where’s the goddamn exit? He thinks. He needs to get out of here before a more concerned hero tries to corner him. 

“Hey,” Shinsou says, turning around again. Goddamnit. Maybe he is one of the concerned heroes. 

Izuku stops mid-walk, back still facing Shinsou.

“You talked to Ground Zero longer than usual.”

This surprises Izuku enough into turning around. “Uh, what?” He asks, with confusion.

“He usually just grabs them and throws them. Your altercation was pretty long.”

That was long? Izuku thinks, flabbergasted. “O-oh. Odd coincidence.”

Shinsou’s eyes narrow. “Maybe not. He didn’t even blink after throwing his ex girlfriend off a roof.”

Izuku laughs in an attempt to seem less suspicious. Belatedly, he realizes that that didn’t help his case at all. “Maybe because it was his ex.”

Shinsou just hums in thought, his eyes going elsewhere, but his body still facing Izuku.

“I-I mean,” Izuku says, words clumsily falling out of his mouth before he can stop them. “I wouldn’t throw my ex off a roof.” To this, Shinsou raises one eyebrow, and Izuku winces. He soldiers on anyways, finishing off with, “But it’s Bakugou.” Shit. “U-um, I mean Ground Zero.”

Shinsou’s eyes are back on him, as lazily interested as a viper on its prey. Izuku sees a little bit of Eraserhead in him. Now that he thinks about it, Eraserhead’s gauze fighting style is exactly replicated in him. Izuku becomes momentarily plunged into his thoughts - did Eraserhead have a kid? No, he looks the same age as Izuku. But then again, Eraserhead’s extremely underground, so maybe Shinsou might be his illegitimate child or something-

“What are you mumbling about? Eraserhead?” Shinsou interrupts. Izuku looks up abruptly, cheeks colouring. He thought he weeded out his weird mumbling habit years ago.

“Nothing. Nothing at all, just a nervous tic of mine-” Izuku holds up his hands again. He tries to think of something to say, anything that will dispel the heavy awkwardness he’s created.

“A-are you the illegitimate child of Eraserhead or something?” Is what Izuku comes up with, and he feels like endangering his life for the third time today. 

Shinsou raises both eyebrows, this time in actual surprise. He looks like he wants to say something, but Izuku completely turns his back on him, running into the building. “Later! Thanks again!” he yells behind him. He kind of hopes Shinsou doesn’t use those bandages to draw him back, but the more he runs, the more he realizes that Shinsou doesn’t seem to give a fuck.

Finding the exit is an annoying task, and he realizes that the stupid door is locked. Luckily, he’s well equipped to the situation of escaping heroes and facing locked doors. He draws a bobby pin out of his pocket, and fiddles around with the lock on the door. 

When it finally clicks open, sweat and frustration making Izuku’s eyes sting, he sighs in relief. But as he trails down the seemingly million flights of stairs, he realizes belatedly that he muttered Ground Zero’s true name to another hero.

Groaning, he slams his palm into his forehead. The resounding smack echoes throughout the stairwell. Izuku trips and nearly dies for the third time that day.

The packet of instant ramen looks unappetizing and gourmet at the same time. Izuku holds it with two fingers, noting that he only has two packs of them left. “Fuck,” he hisses out. There’s one packet left. He’s holding the second one, and is about to devour it.

“If you didn’t splurge on that stupid briefcase,” he says in a self accusatory tone, “you wouldn’t have to live off of ramen for a week.” 

His eyes widen at a sudden realization. “A week?” he asks, seemingly to the air.

He throws his hands up in the air. “How the hell am I going to live off of two packs?” He yells, looking at the ceiling in exasperation. 

Maybe he’ll divide the noodles up into little sections, he thinks. Or maybe his new company hosts little luncheons sometimes, but they seem more barebones than the other places he’s worked at.

With the finalization that he is completely and utterly fucked, Izuku moves to the kitchen to get a knife. He’ll quarter both packs, he reasons. He’s a skinny guy. He’ll be fine.

His stomach rumbles. Maybe not.

When he finally finds a knife and opens the packet, poised to section off the dry noodles, his stomach rumbles again. Odd, he thinks. I’m not even that hungry. 

“Ah, shit,” he remarks out loud. The rumbling gets louder and louder, inching menacingly toward his unit. “Here we go again.”

Izuku’s moved countless times already. When he settled in this district, which was protected by All Might’s agency and spotless of crime, he expected a more peaceful life. So he decided to buy fancy things for his apartment(forgoing eating well for a month straight), and make it look pretty. Because if it looks nice, maybe the positivity will leak into other parts of his life, right?

 Instead, he’s already on his second job, he’s had a brush with Bakugou, of all people, and he’s sputtered a bunch of dumb shit to one of Bakugou’s coworkers. 

Now that he puts it into words, this district might be the worst of them all. He did meet Bakugou again.

I don’t want to move, he thinks fearfully. Maybe I should run away. That could direct the villains elsewhere, or something.

The moment he decides he’s going to run, however, a wall of his apartment is broken down completely. The outside world’s light rushes in weakly, giving the inside of his apartment an orange glow.

Balanced on the rubble of Izuku’s now-widened window is Shinsou, or Purple spiderman himself. His gauze ribbons out behind him, and the orange light contrasts with his hair to make him look like the poster boy of all heroes. “Hey,” he drawls out. “We gotta go. Villain’s right underneath you.”

Izuku stares at him in shock. Then he realizes that he’s still holding his knife, poised to section off a ramen square, and he throws both things behind him.

Shinsou’s eyes follow what could have been Izuku’s food for a whole week. Izuku, noticing this, turns a bright red. The loose shirt he wears makes him feel even more stupid, and childlike at that. “Could you lead them away or something?” He asks, even though he knows the answer already.

Shinsou rolls his eyes. “Too late. Come close to me, or I’ll drag you here myself.” He readies the gauze in this hands.

Izuku leans backwards, inching behind his countertop. “No, really. I can get the wall fixed, and I don’t think the villain’s gonna come any closer.”

Shinsou sighs in extreme annoyance. “Are you suicidal or something?” He asks exasperatingly. “The agency will reimburse everything. And the floor you’re standing on,” he continues, “is going to give out anyway.”

Izuku snaps his head fully toward Shinsou, only registering the first part of what he said. “Oh, really? That’s great. The other agencies just told me to use my insurance, but that’s already shot - are you guys really popular or something? Maybe it’s because you have All Might’s name, since he’s pretty huge-” Izuku says in rapid fire. Christ, something about this guy releases his mumbling from the thousands of folds he’s shoved it under.

Shinsou doesn’t say anything, interrupting Izuku’s sudden stream of mumbling by snapping his gauze around him. He also makes sure to bind Izuku’s mouth, which is protested by muffled yelling. 

When Izuku starts wriggling around like a cracking cocoon, Shinsou lets his body drop several feet below him. “I’ll drop you off at the agency,” he says loudly, despite the increase in volume of Izuku’s muffled protests. “You’ll have to file a witness’ report. And,” he says, looking at Izuku’s body, which is beginning to sway dangerously, “You can lie and say you lost a ton of groceries. I’ll back you up.”

The swaying stops, and Izuku’s looking up at him curiously. Shinsou sighs for what seems like the umpteenth time. “It’s fine,” he says, drawing out the “fine”. “Shouto’s family funds the agency. He’s loaded, and he also doesn’t give a shit.”

Izuku’s eyes widen at the sound of Shouto’s name. It doesn’t surprise Shinsou, nor does it give him a pang of jealousy(because he’s beyond that kind of stuff, really). Shouto’s on the news all the damn time, even if you don’t watch the news. The pretty, calm and stone solid face of his is perfect for public representation. 

Seemingly calmed by free money, Shinsou booting the cost of getting him more groceries, Shouto’s name, or all three, Izuku stills. He doesn’t protest anymore, and when Shinsou drops him in front of All Might’s agency(albeit roughly, because civilian rescue is still new to him), he just gives a wobbling smile of thanks. 

Shinsou watches him go through the heavy doors, somewhat intrigued by this green haired weirdo.

“You want a full report?” Izuku asks the secretary at All Might’s agency. “But I gave you one already. I was just eating in my apartment until I heard a rumble, and then Shinsou came and brought me here. Something about a compensation.” He conveniently leaves out the part about a mandatory witness’ report. 

The secretary gives a sigh of annoyance. “Yes,” she says. She has the head of a cat, and her ears curl in frustration. “I know all of that. You told me it. Already.” Her gem shaped pupils constrict as she looks at Izuku again. “But can’t you tell me anything else?”

Izuku shifts uncomfortably in his chair. “N-no, really, that’s all I saw. Maybe you should ask the tenant that lives below me.”

The secretary quasi-cat gives a disgruntled huff. “I suppose I’ll have to.” Her hands hold papers that have Izuku’s name over them, he notes. “Say,” she continues, bringing the papers closer to her face. “You have a lot of witness testimonies.” She pauses, shuffling through the large stack of papers. “More than I’ve ever seen. And going far back, too.”

Izuku swallows nervously. He’s tried to blow off overly insistent heroes as much as he could, because he doesn’t want to be linked to all the major villain disruptions. Most importantly, though, is that he doesn’t want to be labelled off as a villain himself. “Uh, it’s just a coincidence. I just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He silently curses all the agencies that forced him to testify for every accident he got into. So far, All Might’s agency has been the least enforcing of them all.

The cat lady furrows her brow. “Huh.” 

Izuku stares at the ground. The cat lady is looking at his papers too long for him to be comfortable with it, so he decides to mitigate it by asking another question. “So, when will I get my compensation?” He asks. The cat lady’s look of annoyance replaces her previous look of intrigue, and he instantly feels relieved.

“Down the hall, on the left,” she says, her voice clipped. Izuku’s papers are put carelessly to the side, with his newest testimony being placed in the centre of her desk.

“Thanks,” Izuku replies, getting out of the chair. The cat lady doesn’t say anything, and he takes it as his time to leave, gently closing the door behind him.

“Down the hall, to the left,” he mutters to himself. He follows his words, and is faced with a room that has a plaque reading “Financial Compensation” in silver letters.

Izuku knocks on the door timidly, and is met with a “Come in”. As he opens the door and stands there, he faces a sharp man with a white suit. The label on his desk reads “Nighteye”, and his eyes are on Izuku and already scrutinizing him.

“Sit, sit,” Nighteye says, motioning to the chair in front of him. The chair looks blessedly comfortable, so Izuku slides in.

Nighteye puts his hands together on top of his desk. “We’ve paid for another apartment,” he says, and Izuku’s mouth falls open. Technically, Shinsou promised him it would happen, so the element of surprise shouldn’t be there. But he still feels shocked, because it’s the first time he’s received compensation of any kind. “And we’ve transferred enough money to keep your amenities in check for a month.”

“Oh, thanks,” Izuku says, his words rushed. “Out of curiosity, how much was transferred?”

“Around three hundred thousand yen, give or take.” 

Izuku’s eyebrows shoot up into his hairline. “You must know my job and earnings, there’s no way I’d need that much-”

“Shouto is a generous man,” Nighteye interrupts, delicately placing his glasses further up his nose. For a second, his eyes are blinded by the shock of white reflected by the lenses.

“But surely it’s a strain, I can always give back any amount you want-”

Nighteye interrupts him again. “You don’t need to worry.” He smiles wryly, recalling Shinsou telling him how he saw Izuku dividing a singular packet of ramen into pieces with a knife. “Those extra fees classify as trauma related compensation, anyway.”

Izuku, seeming to finally get the hint, simply nods. He thought the agency would only foot the bill of his groceries and apartment, but for some reason, they seem to be even more generous than they let on. “I’m...extremely thankful. Really. I’ve never really gotten any compensation from anywhere else.”

Nighteye studies him for a few seconds before adjusting his glasses again. “Yes, it does seem like you’ve been through quite a lot,” he says, his glasses glinting white yet again.

Izuku’s eyes narrow ever so slightly. Nighteye must have a quirk, he thinks. It can’t be anything physical. His glasses glinting isn’t normal, so he chalks it up to something psychic. “Most agencies aren’t as kind to their customers,” he half mumbles, trying to balance the atmosphere of the room. For some reason, it seems like it’s dangerously close to tipping.

“Do you have a job, Midoriya?” Nighteye asks. He accidentally touches Izuku’s elbow, eye slipping downwards, but regains his eye contact quickly. Izuku’s surprised that he knows his name, but subsequently remembers that he’s had to look at it to handle his bank statements.

“Uh, yeah.”

Nighteye just looks at him. Izuku tries to keep eye contact in an attempt at nonchalance. He doesn’t succeed, looking down at Nighteye’s desk instead, and hopes it comes off as a case of nerves.

“Well,” Nighteye says. “It seems that our case here is done. The money should be transferred by now.”

Izuku stands up, relieved to have an excuse to leave. As he makes his hasty way to the door, he says another “Thank you”, to which Nighteye nods in response.

He finds his way at the front desk, facing the crabby cat lady once again.

“By the way,” the cat lady adds on, before Izuku can speed walk out the door, “you should have your apartment fully set up already.” She shuffles around in her desk, grasping a set of keys in her paws(or hands?) and putting them into Izuku’s hands. “Here’s the key.” She hastily writes something down on a sheet of paper, sliding it onto the countertop in front of him.

Izuku takes the slip of paper. “Thanks,” he says, and wonders if this is the thousandth time he’s said “thanks” today. He hightails, or speed walks as fast as he can, out of there. He only fully lets out a breath once he’s exited the building, which is empty all around.

The moon peeks out behind a smudge of clouds. Huh, he remarks internally. It must be late already. Not too late, though, because the sky is still tinged purple. The twilight between night and day is the least active for villains, which Izuku knows from experience. He decides to find his new apartment as quickly as possible, so he doesn’t have two villain interactions in one day.

They definitely splurged when they chose his new apartment, Izuku notices somewhat regrettably, sitting in the middle of his dining room. He has a bloody dining room, for god’s sake. He doesn’t think he’s sat in one of those since he moved out of his mother’s place.

The fridge, which is shiny on the outside and stark white on the inside, still has the labels attached to it. Izuku pulls them off one by one, taking his time to marvel at how expensive the damn thing is. Is Shouto made of cash, or what?

Crumpling all the labels into a tapey mess, he goes to find the trash bin. It looks so new that he almost feels bad for using it.

He went to sleep right after getting into his new apartment(which, for some reason, is closer to the agency than it is to his workplace. Izuku decides to suck it up, because beggars can’t be choosers), forgoing eating. The banal excitement of getting free money superseded any need of replenishing his old supplies, so he decides to head to the market today. It’s the weekend, and surely Izuku’s luck isn’t bad enough to land him near a villain in the early hours of the morning. 

Blessedly, the agency managed to salvage his old clothes from his probably incinerated closet. He throws on whatever he can find, and goes to a nearby shopping district.

It seems normal. The air doesn’t seem unstable, and people mill about in the district happily. Izuku finds the nearest grocery store, and starts to browse food items.

“You know, you have a horrible taste in clothing.” 

Izuku turns around, nearly dropping a bottle of soy sauce. His eyes meet with Shinsou’s. They have to be, because his eyes contain the same heavy eyebags and lazy disinterest.

Shinsou looks like everything Izuku expected to be out of costume. He stands in front of him, blank and expectant of a reply.

“Why are you talking to me?” Izuku blurts out, and Shinsou raises an eyebrow at him. “I mean,” Izuku corrects himself, “you’re revealing who you are out of costume. Aren’t you supposed to keep that under wraps?” He winces slightly at the unintentional, awful pun.

Shinsou shrugs. “You’re not gonna do anything, so I don’t have to worry.” 

Izuku simply looks at him. The thought that something might be up creeps into his mind. Why else would Shinsou point himself out in public? Why would he even reveal himself anyway?

“But seriously,” Shinsou continues. “A shirt that says ‘shirt’ on it? Who would even buy such a thing? Where would you even get something like that?”

Izuku just sighs. He opens his mouth to say something, but Shinsou interrupts him.

“Anyway, I’m here because the financial office wants to give you more stuff. And I’m out of costume, because you have a tendency to avoid agency officials.”

Izuku looks at him suspiciously, pausing for a minute as thoughts brew in his mind. “Look, if you want another testimony, I’m not giving it. I don’t want my name to be attached to anything.” The reply comes out carefully orchestrated, tried on countless heroes who have approached him, and effective on most of them.

Shinsou looks surprised, even a little insulted. “What?” He asks, mildly annoyed. “That’s not what I said at all. I just wanted to carry a message-”

The checkboxes are immediately ticked in Izuku’s mind. Of course, another agency wants him to come back for a testimony. Most give up after Izuku manages to successfully hide from the heroes that seek him out, but a few persistent ones are always at his tail. 

Stupid crime documenting law, he thinks. Even though it’s for the better, he doesn’t want anyone to draw a trend between the villain occurrences and his presence. So he dodges and avoids everyone in costume that he can find, while simultaneously feeling guilty about the mayhem he’s caused. 

Shinsou being out of costume must have been a way to make him less apprehensive. Izuku doesn’t want to hate the man in front of him. But when he knows that they’re tracking him like everyone else did, it starts to breed feelings of distrust. “Do you think I’m stupid?” He asks coolly. 

Shinsou’s face has gone from surprise to fully revealing his offence. “Well,” He says, trying and eventually succeeding in reverting back to his signature disinterest. “No. Not after you’ve revealed that.”

Izuku side eyes him in mostly concealed worry, placing the bottle of soy sauce into the basket he grabbed earlier. He feels oddly tense, just like he has before running away from a pushy hero. “What do you mean by that?”

Shinsou looks like he wants to reply, but then he turns around at the loud bang that sounds behind them.

Fucking Christ. Something in Shinsou’s face betrays no surprise, but expectancy. Izuku’s mind flashes back to Nighteye and his psychic quirk. He must have been doing something in there. Perhaps something to Izuku.

Flashes of memories come up before his eyes, all being related in some way. Nighteye with his question about Izuku’s job, the cat lady commenting on Izuku’s string of occurrences, hell, the fact that she even had all the papers in the first place. No agency had all those papers in the same area, he notes belatedly. 

He turns to Shinsou, who, of course, has changed into his costume already. Shinsou doesn’t seem to be paying attention to him, adjusting what Izuku now notes is some kind of voice modulator on his face.

In just the right time, a villain barrels through the aisle they’re standing in. Izuku steps quickly to the right, a good five metres away. In his previous spot, a clod of evaporating ice lies in destroyed rubble. 

Shinsou chuckles slightly. “An ice type,” he notes out loud. “Shouto’s going to have a field day.”

He then turns around to see the status of his actual task, which was getting that Midoriya guy to come to the agency. In response, he’s met with a pile of icy rubble, and Midoriya is nowhere to be seen. 

Well, he reasons, he won’t get fired. It was expected of Midoriya to run away, because that was documented on any interaction he had with pushy heroes.

Kirishima and the others should be waiting around the corner. Midoriya can’t exactly get far, because even his stealth is nothing when compared to quirks.

For once, Izuku actually wants his quirk to work in his favour. As he goes around the corner, he’s immediately faced with the faces of three heroes. Two of them are people he recognizes from the destruction of his former workplace. Alien girl and hardening quirk guy look at him, side by side, seemingly trying their best to appear non-threatening. 

The third hero is another dark haired girl, by the looks of it. Her quirk doesn’t reveal itself immediately to Izuku, so he puts it in the back of his mind.

It occurs to Izuku that he could simply walk away, pretending that he’s not the person they’re looking for. However, if Shinsou revealed himself out of costume to send him a message he could have gotten by mail, it is definite that they know him.

“What do you want from me?” Izuku asks slowly, as if approaching a rabid dog. Hardening guy seems to wince, muttering something to Alien girl with guilt lining his face.

Alien girl seems to nod in agreement. Taking this as an okaying of sorts, Hardening guy says, “Nighteye wants to talk to you.”

Izuku looks down in thought. Nighteye? What could he possibly want? Now that he thinks about it, Nighteye probably isn’t just an accountant, considering that he goes by his hero name.

Oh. Higher law enforcement. Psychic quirk. How long had they been keeping tabs on Izuku?

“I’m-I’m not some villain. I just want to live, you’ve seen my records, I’ve had to switch jobs-”

The dark haired girl, who has it up in a ponytail, coolly cuts through him. “We don’t know that, though. You seem to start attacks whenever you’re in public spaces.”

Izuku gapes. Start attacks? “What about my apartment?” He asks. Surely that will save his face.

The dark haired girl narrows her eyes. “The tenants underneath you had to be compensated. In fact, the whole apartment building had to be compensated for.”

Alien girl looks shocked. “Momo, that wasn’t in the plan-”

The dark haired girl, or Momo, looks at Alien girl. “We can’t treat him too nicely, Mina,” she cuts off. “We can’t treat any of them nicely.”
Alien girl, now known as Mina, looks down dejectedly. “He doesn’t seem like them, though. I’ve talked to him.”

“I know,” Momo says comfortingly. Her face doesn’t betray any reassurance, though. “But remember what happened with the last one?”

This seems to harden Mina’s face. “Yeah,” she responds curtly.

Izuku’s mind swims throughout the whole interaction. Feelings of panic and pure terror course into his veins, threatening to stop his heart right then and there. He didn’t expect to be treated like a high class criminal. He’s tried to be so damn careful, seeming as plain and as ordinary as he could. 

The wall they’re standing behind disintegrates with a mighty rumble, spewing rubble over each of them. Momo draws a large and ornate medieval shield out of her body, covering herself with it as rocks clang off of it. Hardening guy turns his body into shards of skin coloured rock, and Mina throws a wall of acid that turns most of the offending rock into goop.

Through the hole of the shopping centre comes Shinsou, and Izuku can see walls of ice behind him.

Momo puts down her shield. “Shinsou, what’s happening?” She yells. 

Shinsou looks composed, ribbons of gauze floating around him, but his stress is revealed from the beads of sweat that trail down his forehead. “There’s a whole pack of them. Worst combination I’ve ever seen. Shouto’s starting to freeze up.”

At the mention of Shouto freezing up, Mina gasps. Both Hardening guy and Momo’s brows furrow in worry, and they all start to walk toward the rubble.

“Shouto’s freezing up? But how? I thought he got control of his left side ages ago,” Hardening guy says. Although he tries to keep his voice steady, it rises in the telltale sign that he’s extremely worried.

“They’re skilled. They know where to hit.”

The three heroes on the ground look towards each other. As if in simultaneous agreement, they all start to climb the wall to go into the district. 

Izuku stares up at them, having moved to behind a cluster of bushes. He hears the distant mumblings of Momo’s voice, mentioning things about “mitigation” and how people are stuck in the crossfire. It does sound particularly bad, Izuku admits. He feels small, starting to encounter a familiar wall of self hatred. 

When he’s sure the three are gone, he reluctantly comes out. The inside of the building is completely covered in thick sheets of ice. Ripped bandages can be seen, caught in certain snags and corners, flying about in the wind.

“I need to think fast,” Izuku mumbles. This villain attraction is the worst yet. Each one before seemed to be completely under control by heroes. He thought that the severity of what he attracted had stopped a long time ago, peaking once he turned eighteen. 

The sound of ice breaking and splintering comes from the inside. If his quirk is going to get stronger, or worse in this case, he’s going to need to isolate himself. 

The city behind him is full of people. He needs to leave immediately, he thinks guiltily. He needs to go someplace nowhere else will. 

Izuku finds himself on the nearest train to nowhere. The clerk, after he dictates his carefully picked out destination, looks at him in complete disbelief. “I-I have family there,” he assures her. She seems to acquiesce, handing him a ticket with a stamp.

He paid in cash to make sure that his credit card wouldn’t be able to track him. It occurs to him that he is acting like a criminal, hiding his tracks and moving out to some remote place to stop the heroes from finding him. But he really isn’t. He’s just in the wrong place at the wrong goddamn time, an extremely unlucky innocent, with karma working unfairly against him.

The real reason he’s isolating himself is in the same context that Momo put it in: mitigation. Izuku is finally too dangerous to be around people, so he has to leave society as much as he can. 

It started with his mother, at first. Leaving her was the worst thing he could have done, even though it wasn’t on bad terms. She led him out with a wobbly smile. Their apartment had just been roughed up, his mother caught in the crossfire. 

He won’t ever forget how she smiled, despite having a cut on her cheek which indicated that it would have hurt. So when he left a handful of years ago, he didn’t feel that terrible about not contacting her for so long.

Izuku looks out the window of the moving train. He kind of wants to go back to his mother, as selfish as that sounds. He wants to eat her food and hug her, and just feel safe for once, even though she’s just a woman against the world. 

The train stops, coming to a halt at a dark and heavily forested station. Izuku walks out, careful not to make himself seem suspicious or odd in the way he walks. The people who exit the station are sparse, and mostly elderly. The trail with large suitcases behind them. Izuku feels self conscious, because a young person with no relatives or luggage, he sticks out like a sore thumb.

He scans his surroundings. He doesn’t see Alien girl’s pink skin or Shinsou’s purple hair, so for the moment, he feels slightly at ease.

Then he remembers the expectancy that Shinsou wore when they were initially attacked.

“Foresight?” He mutters, looking around furtively, before ducking behind the station in the most inconspicuous way he can. Izuku wracks his brain for Shinsou’s face again. It was definitely expectancy, he confirms, as he compares it to Shinsou’s surprised look when his apartment was demolished.

How far into the future was that? A little more than a day? Nighteye had fiddled with his glasses twice. Either he was just rechecking, or he could only see the future in increments, or he was looking at two different points in the future. He had no idea. For all he knew, Momo and the others leaving him was supposed to happen.

But Hardening guy said something that went against orders, Izuku reasoned. He couldn’t have faked feeling guilty, and neither could have Momo and Mina.

“But,” Izuku says out loud, worrying his thumb between his teeth. The sentence goes unfinished, because he reasons that if Hardening guy was genuine, at least him and Mina didn’t know the scope of Nighteye’s predictions.

The question that still remains is Momo leaving him be. She seemed like the leader, or something, what with her calm voice and her act of dissuading Mina. She also seemed level headed enough to hide whatever instructions Nighteye gave her.

Hopelessness befalls Izuku. In the most optimistic circumstance, he lives in isolation for the rest of his life. In the least, he gets captured and imprisoned by the heroes for crimes he didn’t do, but were pointing overwhelmingly in his favour.

He decides that he would rather face isolation to a prison full of villains, where he would attract them like magnets. Heading off the path of the station, he starts to go down the winding paths of the small, dying town, into the most remote areas. 

“My god,” Izuku says out loud, staring aimlessly into the open clearing of the abandoned farm. “This is…” his eyes try to scan something besides the clearing and the broken down farmhouse, “stupid.”

At one point or another, it occurred to him that Nighteye could have possibly looked this far into the future. Even if he hadn’t, what could Izuku possibly do in this situation?

With a quirk like his, he was just a lamp that unintentionally attracted moths. Even if he managed to get away from the heroes trying to imprison him, a villain would eventually kill him. Every single spot he resided in had been reduced into nothing but rubbish - when would he finally get caught in the damage?

Maybe he could dig a hole and live in the centre of the earth, he thinks, with a self flagellating laugh. Or he could launch himself into space, too far away to hurt any other humans. 

Now that he goes over his options, it seems that every situation is pitted against him. He sits down on the soft grass near a tree, guarded against immediate sight, but still visible upon closer inspection.

Perhaps he will let the heroes find him. Besides attracting villains, he’s quirkless, after all. It’s not like his body can stand to run away any longer.

A loud bang erupts, setting the farmhouse on fire. Light immediately floods over the old farm, revealing rusting equipment and overgrown blades of grass. Izuku looks up, confirming his theory that Nighteye had, in fact, looked this far into the future.

“Took a long time to find you. That Nighteye bastard gave us dodgy coordinates.”

A grating, perpetually irritated voice - no other than Ground Zero himself. Izuku feels strange knowing that someone like him is dangerous enough to be cornered by Bakugou.

Ground Zero, or Bakugou, looks down at Izuku through his mask. “You’ve been up to some... interesting things.”

Izuku, for some reason, clams up completely. Instead of replying, he looks at the blades of grass he keeps knotting with his hands. Since Nighteye looked this far into the future, it’s made clear that he’s going to be captured. Hopefully, it won’t be too painful. 

Bakugou seems to expect Izuku’s silence, continuing on. “When’d you start conspiring?”

Izuku stays stone solid.

Bakugou’s irritation increases tenfold, radiating into the air. “When did you change?” He barks out, his volume rising.

This opens the mouth Izuku had ironed shut. “I never changed.”

Bakugou’s eyebrows narrow. “Bullshit.”

Izuku looks up. His face betrays the bitter notes he’s been holding for years. “Ok, fine,” he admits, his frustration and unwillingness to talk peeking through. “Maybe I have. But I haven’t been conspiring with villains.”

Bakugou’s expression doesn’t change, but his eyes shift ever so slightly behind Izuku. “Then why are you two always in the same place? And why do you always avoid filing reports?”

Izuku’s hairs stand up on his neck. Perhaps something is behind him, because Bakugou mentioned the word “us”. He doesn’t dare to look back. “Can’t I have a little privacy? I didn’t ask to be in attacks all the time.” His voice rises in his retort, but he tries to keep it level. Getting Bakugou to blast him, as a trained and experienced adult, would be catastrophic.

“That’s a shitty excuse and you know it.”

Izuku swallows visibly. His composure starts to crack, and he tries desperately to conceal his fear.

Bakugou, interpreting Izuku’s lack of response as admittance to his villainy, gives a twitch of his chin.

Izuku doesn’t hear anything rustle, but he feels a sharp prick in his neck. His view of sight starts to go black, despite his attempts to keep his eyes open. As he slowly droops into unconsciousness, he hears snippets of the subsequent conversation.

“He sent another one of them,” a female voice says. The serious tone indicates that it’s Momo, which makes sense. She probably created the needle to use on him.

“Two attacks in one day?” Bakugou asks, suddenly surprised.

“Both high class villains, too.” 

Bakugou sounds like he’s moving towards Izuku, the grass rustling and crunching under his heavy duty boots. “Huh.” 

The conversation seems to die. Either that, or Izuku is fully knocked out before they resume talking again.

Izuku wakes up in what seems like an interrogation room. His body aches, and when he shifts to abate his discomfort, he realizes that he’s been slumped over a metal chair.

His eyes instantly go to his wrists, which don’t have any constraints. Huh , he thinks. There aren’t any marks of past restraint, either. Or any new bruises he can feel.

The door in the room opens with a click, and a professional looking man walks in briskly.

Izuku, at a loss for words, stares at the man in front of him unabashedly. 

The man draws out a chair, sliding into it in a way that seems practiced. He brings out a voice recorder, placing it on the desk. “Do you know why you’re here?” He asks.

Izuku frowns slightly. It’s a stupid question, he thinks. But it’s probably part of the routine, so he decides to answer it anyways. “I’ve been suspected of causing all the villain attacks.” The words, even though he hates them, are forced out anyway.

The man, or the detective, looks at Izuku with a controlled expression. It seems that everyone in the hero industry conceals their expression in some way. “You’ll be undergoing questioning,” he says, deciding to forgo replying to Izuku. “Do I have your consent to record?” He asks, motioning towards the voice recorder he had placed on the desk earlier.

Izuku sighs. If he doesn’t consent, it means a slurry of other investigations. “Guess so.”

The detective turns on the recorder with the click of a button. Izuku eyes it warily. “I understand that you first had contact with our agency when your workplace was involved. Could you retell your witness’ account to me?”

Izuku internally sighs. He’s adjusted himself to seem more presentable, but he still feels like shaken up and wrinkled. The closed confines of the room don’t betray any signs of the time, either. “I was just working,” he starts. The detective looks at him expectantly. “And a bomb went off. My office was destroyed, but I got out in time. Then I was rescued by Ground Zero and Shinsou.” The information prattles off his tongue in a bored, measured cadence.

“What about before that? The morning of?”

Izuku starts to eye the corner of the table, which gleams under the fluorescent lights. “Well,” he tries to remember. The morning of the day was just as unremarkable as the rest of them. “I woke up. Made breakfast, got ready. Took the train to work.”

The detective, looking dismissive, prevents Izuku from elaborating further with a wave of his hand. “Right. That will suffice.” Taking a pause, he begins again with, “I was told that you had a quirk by your medical records, but this was disproved by your former correspondents.” He looks up directly at Izuku. This must be the million dollar question. “What do you think?”

Izuku looks at him again. Why couldn’t they have asked him this earlier? The interview, the responses to him. They all seem coordinated. “I have a quirk,” he says. Finally, the actual truth is coming out. “It attracts villains.”

“Have you ever made any contact with them? What effect does your quirk have on them, in regards to you?”

“No. They just attack where I am, coincidentally. They don’t consider me different from anyone else.”

“Is that why you moved away from your mother five years ago?”

Izuku blinks. How does he know that? Then again, this whole interview is strange and almost...obvious. “Yes,” he decides to say. Hopefully, the questions will stop after this one. “I kept getting her into trouble.”

The detective nods, turning off the voice recorder. “Well,” he says, getting up. “That will be all.”

Izuku is suddenly left to an empty room, bewildered. The interrogation - if you could call it that - seemed to have been done only to confirm things. The detective only asked yes or no’s and regurgitations of his witness reports. 

He wonders what he’s really getting into.

Tsukauchi Naomasa stands outside the interrogation room, waiting for Nighteye to appear. The entire interview process was stifling and forced. He was simply asked to confirm the truth of Midoriya Izuku’s statements, and oddly enough, it seemed like the boy was already cognizant of that. 

“How did it go?” Nighteye asks, standing directly behind Tsukauchi.

Tsukauchi sighs. “It was a waste of time. Everything he said was true.”

Nighteye just hums in response. He most likely knew what was going to happen, anyways. 

Tsukauchi side eyes Nighteye warily. “What are you going to do with him, Nighteye?” He asks. His tone is neutral, save for the note of accusation. 

Nighteye looks at the boy through the observatory window. “He’d be useful.”

Tsukauchi snorts, but manages to disguise it as a sharp exhale in time. “You’ve hunted him down like a common criminal, forced me into interrogating him - only to prove his already established innocence - and now you’re going to try and hire him?”

Nighteye, as usual, shows no reaction or indication of his bristling. “It’s a win-win, Naomasa. He’ll be protected, he’ll bring us business, and he’ll have a job.” He pauses in thought. “Actually, it would be more in his favour.”

Tsukauchi turns to face Nighteye fully. “Who said he would agree to everything?”

Nighteye returns his eye contact steadily.

“He’s avoided heroes for as long as he could,” Tsukauchi continues. He somewhat feels like he’s pushing the topic too far. When Nighteye resolves to do something, he does it. “And now they’ve kidnapped him, and accused him of crimes he hasn’t committed.”

“The accusations were to be expected. Other agencies had been building dirt on him for a long time.” Nighteye levels his gaze, talking briskly. “We were just the ones who brought it to the surface.”

“Besides,” Nighteye continues, “I’ve been looking for another assistant. He managed to deduce my foresight quirk, you know.”

Tsukauchi looks the littlest bit surprised. “Really?”

“Granted, he got the finer details wrong. But he knew that he was being tracked from the start.”

That opens a window of new possibilities. “Huh,” Tsukauchi says, but leaves it at that. Perhaps going into the trouble of harassing this boy was worth it. 

His time here is done, he figures. Whatever Nighteye wants to do, he’ll do, and the future will play out regardless. He walks towards the exit door, the tiniest part of him invested in the future of Midoriya Izuku.

Nighteye takes out a chair and sits in front of Izuku, his arms folded pensively on the table.

Izuku sits across from him, wondering what he revealed in the interview to land him in such trouble.

“We know you’re not a criminal,” Nighteye starts, with the intention to dispel anxiety.

Izuku simply looks at him. “What do you want, then?”

Nighteye allows his eyebrows to rise ever so slightly. “Your quirk allows villains to draw near you. We want to use that, and compensate you accordingly.”

Izuku’s hands stop playing under the table. “Compensate how?”

Nighteye adjusts his glasses. “With a job and protection.”

A job? Izuku wonders. What kind of duties would he have as live bait? Sitting in a room, waiting for the villains to appear so Ground Zero can blast them to kingdom come? “What kind of job?” He settles on. 

“Accounting, if you will. Nothing you aren’t used to.”

Izuku stares down at the table, eyes roving over all the dents and scratches that catch the light above them. Part of him wants to accept it. For once, being a harbinger of destruction will actually be a benefit. But on the other hand, the hero world represents all the inequality he has come to despise. The fact that he’s being offered to work at an agency seems like a cruel joke. 

Nighteye most likely knew about this, too. In an alternate universe, Izuku would have saved his face without having to run away, or get drugged and kidnapped. 

The legal processes are necessary, though, the annoying voice says in his head. And you can’t really blame them.

Izuku meets Nighteye’s eyes. “Can you give me a week?”

The rest of the week is uneventful. Izuku manages to buy actual groceries in what seems like months, and hauls himself to work every morning.

He doesn’t know why he chose to ask for a week. Anybody in his situation would have said an emphatic “yes”. But for some reason, he’s filled with complete doubt and guilt. Most of it, admittedly, can be attributed to the naive grudge he holds against the hero world.

The memory of his mother rings in his head, clear and comforting. He pushes it down, because he can’t call his mother without something happening on the other end of the phone. These days, it seems like his quirk is strong enough to spread over bloody telephone lines.

It’s Saturday evening. Izuku has a few hours to put in his final decision, and the thought of taking a pen and writing his acceptance makes him feel sick. 

Of course, the timing of Izuku’s quirk strikes at the worst moment. He hears the telltale rumbling of his apartment building's foundations from a mile away, wearily getting up. 

“Guess I should grab a coat, and maybe-” Izuku starts to say, getting up from his sofa.

The destruction cuts his response in half, because the floor starts sliding beneath his feet. Izuku trips and falls, hitting his head hard enough to make his ears ring. This time it seems worse, he notices, managing to sit up on his hands. 

He eyes his door, which clangs open due to the quickly increasing incline. He must have left it open, but all the same, this spells out a resounding thought in his mind: he might actually die this time.

Eyes darting all around his surroundings, he tries to come up with a plan. Jumping out the window? No dice. The heroes would have come by now, but his apartment is still empty. Maybe they’ve gotten sick of me, a small, stupid voice in Izuku’s head says. He pushes it down without a second thought.

He almost thinks of dashing out the door, but quickly stops himself. The door angles towards him, which means that whatever is causing the incline would have to be near it.

That leaves the window. Izuku looks toward it with a sense of impending doom. It seems just like when he was about to get kidnapped - every choice would lead to misfortune.

The image of a James Bond movie and jumping from balcony to balcony occurs to him. An egregious, reckless idea, but nothing else decides to conjure itself in his mind. He lets the incline slide him toward the window, reaching the pane with a thump to his back.

“Shit,” he hisses out, after turning his torso to look outside. James Bond isn’t going to work. The side of his building has no balconies, but a clear, smooth exterior. He clings hopelessly to the pane. “Guess I’ll have to wait,” he mutters, holding on for his dear life.

The building slides even further down, and Izuku swears he just felt an entire floor collapse. A yelp comes out of his mouth and he slaps his hand over it, because the movement behind him ceases.

Oh, fuck. It seems to be coming upwards, right towards him. But how…? He tries to reason. How would a villain know exactly where he is, when it’s more than ten metres away and shrouded in bricks?

His quirk. This hadn’t happened in the past - Izuku would just dodge and slip out of situations he was put in, avoiding them by a hair. But a villain actually targeting him? That had never occurred. 

Until now, it seems, when he’s a second away from falling to his death. 

The idea of hanging outside a window becomes more effective than anything else. Izuku leans over, his elbows quivering as if to prevent the action. Maybe I’ll be visible, he thinks frantically. In this moment, his pride succumbs to his need for self preservation. 

Too late. The floor of his apartment crumbles into the floor below it, and a large block of sentient cement begins to raise its arm towards him.

Izuku clutches onto the windowpane so hard his knuckles are white. He’s ready to vault himself off the building, dangling be damned. When his forearms start to tense up in preparation, however, he sees something white wrapping around the villain’s body.

Pulled by some force that seems to be God’s saving grace, the villain vaults back into the ground with a loud thud. Shinsou bounds up from underneath it, using his gauze to anchor onto a lamp in Izuku’s living room.

He doesn’t even twitch when he sees Izuku’s cowering form near the window. “Grab on tight,” he says, readying himself.

Izuku looks warily at the lamp, which bends unstably on the brink of snapping. When he looks back at Shinsou, he feels the familiar gauze wrap around both his legs. His entire body gets dragged into Shinsou’s remaining arm.

“Wait…” Izuku begins to say, but Shinsou vaults him out of the window like a ragdoll. When he turns back in the most split of seconds, Shinsou is nowhere to be seen. The lamp is snapped in half, which means that he must have fallen down the hole in his floor. Right into the villain, Izuku thinks, his nerves setting his skin on fire. He’s a pro hero, though, he assures himself. He’ll be fine.

The thought appears and disappears without a trace. His main concern is that he’s currently hurtling through the air, just like he did when his workplace was attacked. Shinsou threw him out of the window without a second thought - doesn’t that mean that someone’s there to catch him?

“I’ll get him!” A dismembered voice yells from below. It sounds familiar, and when Izuku strains his ears even more, he hears a telltale frustration. 

Bakugou Katsuki catches his body mid-air, crashing into the ground while his explosions curb the fall. The moment Izuku reaches the ground, he immediately shoves himself out of Bakugou’s arms. Noticing tiny fires that come up on his shirt, he hastily brushes them off. “Thanks,” he says, once he’s regained a tentative steadiness. “Ground Zero.”

Bakugou’s face, as Izuku remembers it, never expressed emotions in a conventional way. Everything he showed was just anger in a different note. Yet, as he looks at his face now, it occurs to him that it’s much calmer. The familiar notes of anger are there, but more subdued into constant irritation. 

Currently, Bakugou’s face shows that he is taken aback. Izuku starts to walk away with no plan in mind, but the intention of finding a place of quiet among the madness.

“Oi,” Bakugou calls out.

Izuku stops in his step, turning around to show a thin smile. “No need to file a witness report,” he says uselessly, with the sole intention of fanning down Bakugou’s fires. “I think you already know why.”

Annoyance flashes over Bakugou’s face. “Not that, idiot.” Izuku stares at him, his attempt at making peace dropped instantly. “D’you have a place to stay?”

“Uh,” Izuku stutters out, surprised at Bakugou’s question and show of apparent care. “I-I was thinking about going to a hotel.”

Bakugou leans slightly, eyeing Izuku’s path into the concrete jungle of their city. “Do you even know where you’re going?”

The bare question leaves Izuku answerless. “Well…” he says, trailing off. Trying desperately to find a way out of the conversation, his eyes land on his now destroyed apartment building. The memory of Shinsou being dragged to the ground flashes in his mind. “Why hasn’t Shinsou come out yet?”

Bakugou turns to look at the building, which is starting to fall into itself. His eyes widen ever so slightly, and he says, “I don’t know.” The shift in his mood is palpable as he leaves Izuku, walking towards the rubble with resolution. “He’s a tough son of a bitch.”

And Izuku is left all alone, just like he wanted to be. Turning to look behind him, a full view of the city’s winding paths and streetlights blare in his face. Amongst all the noise and mayhem behind him, being alone feels...paralyzing.

Avoiding his problems is what he supposes he’s always done. Avoiding Bakugou, or Kacchan, as he used to call him(but he suppressed that part of him a long time ago), or avoiding heroes.

Can you really blame me, though? He tries to justify. The heroes did remind him of Bakugou - of the stark inequality that existed, the sharp divide that separated him from people with quirks. His actual quirk simply isolated him from quirkless people, so he lived a lonely existence. He hadn’t really had friends in a while. Went from job to job, apartment building to apartment building.

The lives he’s technically endangered? He tries not to think about that. Pushing it out of his mind is the only way he knows how to deal with it. If he steeps too much into it, he realizes that there are people he has potentially killed.

Izuku stares at the crackling pavement from when Bakugou landed with him. It spiders out around him. The sudden thought occurs that it could have been much bigger and full of his blood, had it not been for Bakugou.

He’s trying to help you, you know, the nagging voice pesters. 

Shaking that out of his head, Izuku wishes he could put a plug in his brain. But the memories keep on coming back - Bakugou’s momentary confusion at the sight of him, dejectedly staring at his briefcase. Bakugou accusing him of conspiring. Bakugou telling him he’s been up to “interesting things”, and then demanding why he’d changed. 

Looking into those thoughts doesn’t mean anything. Yet it still makes him speculate, makes him draw conclusions that twist his innards into two. Namely, that Bakugou somehow feels concerned for him. That realization makes his breath catch in his throat, and his heart clenches with bloody and coagulated emotions. “It should be a good thing,” he mutters out. 

His lips press together on instinct. No mumbling. He can’t stand to bring that back during a time like this. 

The nagging voice comes back. It had never really left in the first place. It’s a good thing, it says. Everything that’s happening to you is good. Why aren’t you accepting it? The last sentence makes Izuku feel like a ball of immolated nerves. Why isn’t he just accepting the damn job? Why is he waiting for the absolute last day to make a decision? Why can’t he consider possibly the only good solution he’ll get in his life?

The building collapses entirely. Dust flies everywhere, embedding itself into Izuku’s eyes. He blinks, trying to rub the dust out with his hands. 

It doesn’t work. All it seems to do is lodge it further into his eyeballs, and hot tears start to surface rapidly. “Goddamnit,” he mumbles, dropping his hands to his sides. He doesn’t know if the tears are because of dust, or because of the emotions swirling around in his head. 

“What are you still doing here, dumbass?” Bakugou says, from somewhere behind him.

What was once obscured by dust now reveals itself: the figures of Shinsou and Bakugou, looking battered but victorious. 

Izuku feels his body cement into place, his vocal chords vying to say anything. Shinsou raises an eyebrow in anticipation. 

“Could-” the word slips out of Izuku’s mouth before he can stop it. Suddenly, he has the attention of both the heroes on him, and it makes him unnerved. “I don’t,” he starts, “have a place to stay. Could you help me out?”

His response stuns himself. The avoidance of heroes means never asking them for help. Izuku remembers all the nights he spent in hotel rooms, or shitty basement residences, trying to find another place to live. In a way, it made him feel spitefully proud. Here he was, refusing any help because he was stronger than his past self. Stronger than any hero had ever been to him. 

But all the lonely nights, surrounded by a resounding lack of support from anyone or anything - it seems like it has finally gotten to him. 

Help is in front of him, and Izuku is sick of watching everything around him crumble. So he decides to take it.

Bakugou gives the smallest, wiliest smirk. Izuku wonders if he feels victorious for the second time. “‘Course. That’s part of our job.”

For once, Bakugou’s mention of his hero-ing doesn’t raise a familiar resentment in Izuku. 

Shinsou and Bakugou walk him to a hotel, much against Izuku’s protests of just getting directions. 

“Really,” Izuku says. “You should probably-”

“And if you get attacked again?” Shinsou says, giving him a look from the side of his eyes.

Izuku looks sheepishly at the ground, momentarily focusing on matching his walking pace with the others. “I-it’s not that bad.”

Shinsou snorts. “Uh huh.” He adjusts his gauze, hiking it up higher to guard against the cold night winds. 

Izuku, remembering that he’s wearing nothing but a t-shirt and a pair of pants, folds his arms. 

“Oh,” Shinsou says, pulling down the gauze from his mouth to reply. “Do you want my jacket?” He asks. His face shows nothing but his typical, stoic glance. 

Izuku looks at him questioningly. “Really? But aren’t you-”

A tch comes from their left, undoubtedly Bakugou. “Just take the damn jacket, you shitty nerd.”

Shinsou, having taken off his jacket, holds it in his hands expectantly. “I have the gauze, remember?” 

Under the scrutiny of Bakugou’s glare, Izuku takes Shinsou’s jacket and wears it tentatively. “Thanks,” he says, slightly ducking his head, even though he tries to stop himself from doing so. 

Shinsou locks his eyes on the path in front of them. “No problem.”

If Bakugou’s listening to the conversation, he doesn’t indicate it. Instead, he hangs slightly behind them, eyes roving over the buildings they walk by. 

When they reach a grand, bright hotel, Bakugou and Shinsou stop. Izuku gapes at the expensiveness of it, trying to mask his awe.

“I’ve got things to tend to,” Shinsou says. “Later.” He starts to walk away, but is interrupted by Izuku’s exclamation.

“Wait!” Izuku half yells out. “What about your jacket?” The black coat hangs slightly loosely over him, covered in dust from the rubble. 

Shinsou looks at his jacket lazily. He then continues on his merry way, but not before saying “You can give it back to me later.”

Later? Izuku wonders, slightly stunned as he sees Shinsou’s retreating form.

“Are you coming, or what?” Bakugou interrupts rudely, jerking his head towards the entrance of the hotel. It breaks Izuku out of whatever reverie he was in, and he follows Bakugou timidly.

When they reach the concierge, Bakugou brings out a black card. 

“Oh,” Izuku says, blanching at the card. “You really don’t-”

Bakugou huffs out an extremely irritated sigh. “It’s part of the compensation, nerd.”

Shouto must really be made out of money, Izuku thinks faintly. Or have an extreme lack of care. “Well,” he forces out awkwardly. “Thanks, I guess.”

Bakugou doesn’t say anything, waiting for the transaction to be completed with the concierge lady. When she slides the keys over, he takes it and shoves it into Izuku’s hand. “Here,” he mutters gruffly.

Izuku looks at the shiny key in his hand. When he starts to form the words of “Thanks again”, looking at Bakugou’s face and readying himself for getting yelled at, the sight surprises him. Bakugou looks pensive, staring at something behind him.

“Uh,” Izuku says eloquently, trying to wrap up the tense and strange interaction.

Bakugou, broken out of his thoughts, glares at Izuku. But not menacingly, Izuku notices. Mostly in concern. “You better accept that job offer, you moron.”

Izuku, taken aback by Bakugou’s brash statement, tries to form a sentence. He wants to say something regarding how Bakugou knows his job situation, or why he’s even telling him to accept the job in the first place. But his words fail him, and he simply waits for Bakugou to continue. 

Bakugou turns to face Izuku completely, his back facing the concierge(which he pointedly ignores. The concierge woman, looking awkward, gets up to tend to something across the hall). “I’ve seen the reports on you. You’ve been everywhere. And you haven’t even gone home.”

At the mention of “home”, Izuku feels his soul shrivel into itself. He doesn’t reply, but makes short eye contact with Bakugou before looking elsewhere again.

Bakugou, taking this as a sort of response, soldiers on. “How long’s it been since you talked to Ms. Midoriya?”

Izuku wracks his mind for the last time he met his mother. It was sunny, he remembers dimly. She made him tea and brought out seasonal fruit biscuits, and talked to him for as long as she could. “A...year. A year and a half, I think.” The reply comes out quietly.

Bakugou’s look hardens. He doesn’t say anything, and both of them stew in silence long enough for Izuku to start looking around.

“Why don’t you just accept help for once?” Bakugou asks, and Izuku’s eyes snap back to Bakugou’s now frustrated face. 

“Because I can do it myself.” The reply comes out automatically. 

Bakugou’s face of frustration turns into one of scrutinizing anger. “No, you can’t. Accept the fucking job.”

And then he turns to storm out of the hotel, leaving just as quickly as he came. His words stick in Izuku’s mind, sparse and didactic, but poignant all the same.

“Why don’t you just accept help for once?”

The question repeats itself continuously in Izuku’s mind. Because I don’t want to, Izuku’s mind says, and part of him pushes himself to continue. Because it’s always been just me, and nobody else.

Bakugou just helped him, though. So did Shinsou. And so did All Might’s agency, showing him more attention than he had ever received in the past. 

Izuku glances at his keys again, lowering his hand to grasp them tightly. Nighteye’s job proposal hangs over his head, staring down at him with the wrath of a god’s prophecy. This is your chance at living, it states. Swallow your pride, or you will never progress.

He sighs, summoning a Herculean effort to start walking towards the elevators. His body goes into autopilot as he finds his room. Head feeling heavy, he goes to sleep with Bakugou’s words in his head, and Shinsou’s gesture in his mind’s eye.

Izuku sits in front of Nighteye in a rented suit, comfortably rested in his seat. He had woken up with Bakugou’s words repeating over and over in his head, spending the whole night startling awake and going back to sleep.

He’s going to accept the job. He’s had enough of watching his world fall apart, helplessly, while the remedy was hanging around in the background.

“I’d like to -” 

Nighteye interrupts him, saying, “I know.”

Izuku looks down sheepishly. “Oh. Yeah.”

“You know,” Nighteye starts, “it was impressive how you figured out my quirk.”

Izuku looks up. “Oh?”

Nighteye allows a small, imperceptible twitch of his lip. “Yes. But you got a few things wrong.”

Pushing the tirades of “of course” that ring off in his mind, Izuku asks, “Really? What?”

Nighteye’s lips curve into a little grin. “You’ll learn that on the job.”

And suddenly, Izuku’s future doesn’t seem to crumble or fluctuate anymore.