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Burn It Down

Chapter Text

Katsuki wakes up to the sound of obnoxious birds chirping outside his window. He grumbles obscenities as he pushes himself to leave his bed, walking over to the window and tugging the draw string open at 5:38 AM. Blinking his tired eyes at the rising sun barely cresting the horizon, he immediately cements a plan to oversee the complete eradication of every avian species on the planet for intruding on his sleep schedule. His bloodlust grows to the point where it’s almost stronger than his will to go back to sleep. Almost. However, there will be no more sleep for Katsuki today. It’s the first day of his last year in Aldera Junior High, and he has to get ready now if he wants to get to school on time.

 

For most teens his age, 3 hours would seem a bit excessive, but Bakugo Katsuki? He’s methodical, borderline neurotic. His day starts with a 45-minute exercise routine before he even turns on his bedroom light. Where many would simply microwave some oatmeal, he prepares a meal to match precisely measured macronutrient goals. Scarfing down the plate of eggs, root vegetables and fruit, he washes up his dishes and sets the coffee pot to brew. It isn’t for him, of course, but he knows his parents will want something to get them going in the morning. He sets out their mugs before showering, brushing his teeth at the same time for maximized efficiency. As he styles his hair into his trademark spikes, he applies liberal amounts of heat protectant to his hair to prevent it from burning before idly letting off a few minor pops of fire to prime his quirk.

 

It’s only as he’s just finished getting dressed when the first hiccup happens in his normal routine. As he pushes the bottom drawer of his dresser shut, he pauses when he sees the light flick on in one of the windows in the building across from his.

 

Deku’s awake.

 

Glancing at the clock, he wonders to himself how he ever manages to get to school on time with less than half an hour to prepare. Distracted, he ends up shoving the drawer in too hard, and a picture falls off the mahogany surface and clatters onto the floor.

 

Normally, something this small would not cut too much into a schedule; simply pick it up and put it away before moving on.

 

But when Katsuki looks at the photo, he notices two things: That the fallen picture in question is a recent one of him and Deku, and that the glass has cracked from the fall, a horizontal fracture obscuring Deku’s face and webbing down the center to form a barrier between the two.

 

How oddly fitting.

 

In the picture, they are attending Deku’s mother’s birthday party. Inko and Mitsuki, Katsuki’s mother, had been friends for years before either of them were born, making their mutual attendance an unavoidable formality. The two women had pretty much forced the boys into being friends since they were both in diapers. Sometimes, Katsuki would think, and he would wonder if they had planned for them both to be born so close together. He could imagine Mitsuki in her youth, giggling excitedly at the news when she told Inko. It would be her pregnant first, of course, he was older than Deku by a couple months. He could imagine them both forming the idea, setting the plan in motion. Both of them in the market with swollen bellies keening over baby clothes and fantasizing over what happy chums the pair would be, just like their mothers. A smile quirked its way onto his face before being snuffed out in an instant, a solemn grimace taking its place as he eyed the uncomfortable expression distorted through the broken glass.

 

Deku had hated being at that party. Katsuki could tell, even though it seemed nobody else noticed the shift in persona.

 

But it was so very obvious.

 

He was nothing like the bubbly, outgoingly positive boy he was, even when they were at school. In the private moment they shared before the party officially began, tucked away from prying eyes and chiding mouths in the smaller teen’s bedroom, Izuku became different; quiet, sullen.

 

“How much Endeavor shit do you have, Deku?”

 

Through the whole event, in fact, the green haired boy seemed distant and withdrawn. He had tried hiding away from everyone else, but Katsuki hunted him down. He pulled him from the linen closet and dragged him back so everyone could see them together. Katsuki needed him to put on a façade for the adults, for their mothers, to convince them that the pair were still friends. He had to pretend that he hadn’t dedicated every moment of the past decade to capitalizing on Deku’s suffering. Had to pretend he wasn’t the reason for Deku’s bruised ego, for his shame. He had to drape his arm over Deku’s shoulder and hug him like a brother as their parents and relatives looked on in approval and admiration for their lifelong camaraderie.

 

And he never knew he could hate the smug look of his own gleaming teeth as much as he did in that moment.

 

Midoriya Izuku had grown to hate anything to do with Bakugo Katsuki, Katsuki himself had seen to it. He could see it perfectly exemplified in the joyless, hollow, accusatory eyes that stared out at him from behind the thin lines in the fractured pane.

 

Katsuki’s mind drifts back to simpler times when they were much younger, back before his quirk would express itself. Back then, they did absolutely everything together. Izuku would talk for hours about how awesome it would be to have a quirk like Endeavor’s, how hopeful he was that the pair of them could grow up to be pro heroes together, fighting criminals and saving people. He remembered how he would tease the boy he called Deku, telling him how certain he was that his quirk would be more like Endeavor’s, that he would be the more powerful one and Deku would be stuck in an office job pushing pencils with weak-form telepathy he would no doubt inherit from his mother.

 

“Well yeah, but my dad’s got fire powers! You ever heard of Quirk matching? Fire and telepathy mixed together is a perfect recipe for becoming the next Endeavor!”

 

The rage he felt when Deku had said that, it sent chills up his spine just thinking back on it. It felt like a slap in the face, because, on some level, Katsuki had already feared it. Hearing it from Deku’s mouth had just made it too real. It solidified his fears, hearing his thoughts echoed in someone else. It made him feel lower than anything ever had. And Katsuki decided that was the last time anyone would make him feel as small and hopeless as Deku did in that moment. Not that he did now. No, once the news broke that little Deku really was Quirkless, Katsuki found he really couldn’t help but milk that puppy for every bit of smug satisfaction he could. He did it for years in fact.  

 

But stupid Deku still had a bad habit of trying to be helpful, trying to save people stronger than him. Even worse, he was standing up against people that were stronger than him. And Katsuki found that he worried more and more that he would end up getting himself hurt putting himself in unnecessary danger. One of these days it’s not going to be just Katsuki beating on some random extra to put them in their place. No, there are real villains out there. Ones who don’t pull punches because they don’t want to face the consequences of their mom finding out you gave your best friend a bloody nose. Why couldn’t Deku just get that?

 

Katsuki gazes out the window, casting a forlorn gaze to Deku’s room as the green haired boy rushes through his morning preparations like a bull in a china shop. He thinks back to those days long past, thinks of a friendship which will never be again, thinks of the alternate realities where they were still friends; where they could be friends. Where Deku wasn’t a childhood nickname morphed into an insult. Where he treated Izuku like a friend is supposed to and never let him feel bad for being different. Where they could be talking right now instead of concealing painful memories stored deep in recesses long since buried.

 

Katsuki closes the blinds at 8:52 AM.

 

He rushes out the door, now behind schedule.

Chapter Text

Katsuki snatches the notebook from Izuku’s grasp, looking down his nose at the smaller teen with malice burning brightly in his ruby-red eyes. “We’re not done talking yet, Deku.”

 

He notes the way his already light skin pales at his words, and takes a form of satisfaction at the reaction. The pair of them were now alone together in the classroom, Izuku being too distracted with his phone to notice as the last of the students trickled out the door. Katsuki could hear him muttering excitedly to himself about some sort of battle that took place downtown earlier that day. He couldn’t help but wonder, is that what happens when you don’t have any friends?

 

“I-I already told you, K-Kacchan, I ha-have no intention of competing with you…” His reply is sheepish and his ever-expressive eyes telegraph his apprehension. It reminds Katsuki of the pitiful display he had put on for the class just a few hours earlier. After it was revealed that he intended to try out for one of the most prestigious hero schools in the nation, Katsuki found himself… overreacting. He hadn’t enjoyed humiliating Deku so publicly, or, at least, that’s what he tells himself as he waves the notebook outside of Deku’s reach.

 

Truth be told, Katsuki loves bullying the Quirkless boy. It makes him feel powerful, and that was his favorite feeling in the world. He loves being reminded of his superiority over others, how easily he has excelled past his peers. And it wasn’t as if Deku hadn’t deserved it in this particular instance. He had been right in the middle of soaking in the adoration and praise from his classmates as he extolled his academic and physical accomplishments. He was almost finished assuring the whole class that he was a shoo-in for being accepted to UA, when all of it was undermined by the teacher announcing that there was another in the class seeking admission to the renowned hero school.

 

That student’s name: Midoriya Izuku

 

And fuck, did that set him off.

 

Had the teacher really not noticed the explosion that sent Deku flying from his desk, that left the papers smoldering and wood splintered and cracked? Use of powers in school is against the rules, the teacher had just said it not moments before, but there never came any interjection from the teacher. But then came the screaming, the name-calling and raucous jeering and vicious laughter as they all took their part in backing Katsuki while he verbally tore into Deku, and he just had to wonder if the teacher hadn’t been joining in there right along with him. It was really fucking harsh, like one of those scenes you see in a movie before the victim goes Carrie on everyone. It had felt like hours for Deku, he was sure, but it was only a good five minutes before everyone simply returned to their seats, carrying on as if everything was normal. Well, everyone except Midoriya. Katsuki could hear him, sniffling and hyperventilating quietly on the floor for a short while after the event, before slipping quietly into the seat at his charred desk.

 

And it really should bother him more than it does, the fact that their teacher didn’t even attempt to intervene. Not once.

 

An outburst like that from any other student would have surely landed them in detention. The red-eyed student may not want to acknowledge it, but he’s a favorite at the school. They recognize his potential, and vie for the acclaim and government funding that would come from nurturing and educating a top hero. They give him special allowances and privileges most students could only dream of having.

 

On one of his more recent exams, his teacher had approached him —as they’d tend to whenever he took a test or exam—, asking if he’d like to change any of the answers, or maybe retake the test with the reference material with him in a more private setting. Of course, Katsuki turned him down, just as he always did. If he was going to become a hero, he wasn’t going to fake it. It wasn’t as if he had ever scored poorly or anything. They were just taking precautions, hoping to ensure their spot in the legacy of a top hero.

 

But you can’t become a top hero by cheating.

 

“Pl-please, Kacchan.” Emerald eyes look at Katsuki with an endearing mix of determination and submission.

 

And he can’t help but explore those eyes.

 

Shimmering pools of jade, they always seem to draw him in, and yet they kept him out all the same. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but when Katsuki looks at Midoriya, what he sees escapes his comprehension. It’s like there are a thousand viridian walls rippling behind those irises, being constructed and torn down, rearranging until he is lost in the depths of their labyrinth and he’s forced to leave without finding what he was looking for. God, he just wishes he could burn them down and…

 

“Why do you care so much about becoming some sort of fuckin’ hero?”  

 

The question caught Deku off guard. Even more, it had caught the blond by surprise as well. That definitely wasn’t the question he meant to ask, and he most certainly had not meant to ask it with such tenderness in his voice. But still, now that he asked, he found himself desperate for the answer. And Katsuki can tell Deku is measuring his responses, unsure what to say. Not certain what he wants to say. The way his eyebrows twitch, a small gasp hissing through his lips as his eyes shift from fearful to questioning and gaze into his own of ocherous red, it left him waiting on baited breath for his reply. And when the viridian eyes move away from his to the notebook clutched between his fingers, he finds that that really pisses him off.

 

Directing his irritation into the notebook, he throws it at one of the windows of the classroom, firing it off with an explosion that rips the binding apart and sends the pages scattering across the floor. The pressure from the blast makes the windows vibrate, and one of them cracks under the force.

 

The cry that rips from the boy next to him makes his blood curdle. And then Katsuki is on him, gripping him by his front and hauling him up over the desk, the contents of his backpack spilling out onto the ground. Deku whimpers as Katsuki drives him into the adjacent wall, his head rebounding harshly off the blackboard that covers the entire surface, nearby chairs and desks overturning in the scuffle.

 

“I asked you a fucking question, Deku.” His voice is gruff, foreboding as he grinds the name out. Izuku can’t help the tears that stream from his eyes while he fights uselessly against Kacchan’s grip.

 

“I just- I just want to help people…”

 

Katsuki wasn’t satisfied with that answer. Fucking Deku is hiding something, he can tell. The larger teen pulls Deku forward, slamming him back and knocking a few pieces of chalk onto the floor.

 

“Fucking help yourself! How are you going to save anyone? How?!” Katsuki growls in confusion as Deku’s face screws shut. The green-haired boy tries to look to the side, but Katsuki’s free hand snatches him by the jaw, turning him back to face him with force strong enough to bruise.

 

“You look at me when I’m talking to you.” He demands, his jaw tensing more and more the longer Izuku stares at him with the blank expression he wears. There’s nothing there to see now. There’s nothing…

 

Why won’t he just talk to me?

 

Katsuki’s fingers tremble with rage, his knuckles turning white the longer he goes without a word from Deku. His nails dig into the tender flesh of his chin, causing Izuku to wince in pain. Something dark, buried deep inside Bakugo keens at his pain and screams for more.

 

The nerd thinks he’s better than me, he thinks... He won’t even look at me unless I make him, like I’m dirt beneath his feet or something. The nerve, the pompous arrogant nerve!

 

The silence around them is deafening, mocking. Katsuki can almost hear it morphing into Deku’s laughter as his hand becomes a fist, reeling back and striking across Izuku’s face. His head snaps to the side under the force, and Katsuki pauses at the look of pain in his eyes when he looks back.

 

He hit him; he did it on his own. No one else was here to witness this, to egg him on. This was pain wrought of his own desire, for his own pleasure. The look of anguish, the blood dripping from his split eyebrow, that look of pain in his eyes, those were his fault alone.

 

And then he hits him again.

 

And again.

 

The blows land, hit after hit. Blood splatters the wall, coats his knuckles, and he’s finding he doesn’t care  about the pain he's inflicting. He doesn't care anymore if his parents find out. No, he’s not worried. In fact, he welcomes it. Let them find out, they’d probably give him a fucking medal for taking the asshole down a peg or two!

 

And then, in the next instant, the vicious assault ends almost as soon as it begins. He lets go of Izuku, letting him fall to the floor, dazed and bruised and bleeding from his nose.

 

He decides that this isn’t worth it; Deku isn’t worth getting this riled up over. Still, he lingers, standing over him for a moment. He figures he should say something, but he can’t think of what. Deku just stares down at the floor, refusing to look up, letting the blood drip slowly from his nose.

 

“Tch.” Katsuki walks over to his desk and slings his backpack over his shoulder. Once his back is turned, Deku is picking himself up off the floor, slowly. And yet again, he quietly walks to his desk, sniffling, and with tears still falling from his eyes. Katsuki bumps his shoulder into him roughly, knocking him off his balance. The loud noise of scooting desks echo through the room as Midoriya braces himself against them, a choked sob escaping his lips as he struggles to cover his mouth.

 

When Katsuki gets to the doorway, he turns his head to look back at his former best friend. He’s back on the floor, collecting the ashen pages and attempting to salvage the burnt remains of his dreams. Half crumpled pages gathered in his grasp, slowly being peppered with fallen tears and blood as sobs rack his body. He found himself wondering at the sight.

 

How could that thing ever be anyone’s hero?

Chapter Text

If Midoriya Izuku learns anything today, it’s that the only thing that hurts worse than getting punched in the face is having to set your own broken nose afterwards.

 

The green-haired boy sits on the toilet and looks at his bloodied reflection in the handheld mirror, taking in the full extent of the damage. He can see why so many people were staring at him on his way from school.

 

In total, he notes a busted lip, a cut above his right eye, which has now also become black and swollen, as well as several welts.

 

The worst of it, though, is his nose. It’s fractured in at least three places, leaving it terribly misshapen and bent to the left. The skin is so swollen, it’s practically tearing just from the strain. The bruising is making it difficult to even see his own freckles, and now he’s noticing that he’s also popped a blood vessel in his eye. He can just barely see it, but now that he notices, he can’t see anything else.

 

And now he’s staring at his own eye like it’s the most horrific thing he’s ever seen, like something out of a nightmare. The longer he looks, the more his hand trembles around the small mirror, until he has to put it down for fear that he will drop it when the tremors shake through him too strongly to keep his grip.

 

Katsuki really did a number on him this time.

 

Thankfully, his mother would not be home for a while due to her job as a waitress. She’s working the closing shift at the American-style diner she works in, so he doesn’t expect her home until long after his bedtime. He won’t have to worry about keeping the volume of his screaming to a minimum. And now he’s considering just how fucked it is that he’s just so grateful for the fact that not even his neighbors will hear anything of his pained screams, thanks to the thick walls of the apartment complex. He then thinks, solemnly, that in a reality where they could hear him, no one would help him anyways. No one ever did before, why would things change for the better, even in his imagination?

 

He jumps when the video he was attempting to load starts playing, an instructional video on how to properly care for a broken nose blaring information about local anesthetics and some sort of nasal spray. His phone flies from his lap, clattering across the tile, away from him. He scrambles for it, praying the screen isn’t cracked. He sighs with relief when he sees the Endeavor-themed phone case he bought actually did its job.

 

At least something is going right today.

 

Pausing the video, he scrubs back to the beginning as he stands himself before the more stationary mirror of his medicine cabinet. He’ll need both hands if he’s going to do this properly. He steels his nerves for what he’s about to do, because he’s sure it’s going to suck. He presses play, gently prodding the maligned tissue. Despite bracing for the expected pain, it far exceeds his expectation, and he grinds out a high-pitched whine on contact. He resists the temptation to back off, forces himself to keep his eyes open. He counts down with the guy in the video as he prepares to make the adjustment, lining his fingers at either side of his swollen nasal bridge. He knows that if just touching hurt that much, moving the cartilage back into place is going to be a real bitch.

 

Okay.

 

Here we go.

 

Deep breath…

 

3…

 

2…

 

 KRNSCH

 

A raw scream tears from his throat, hot tears flowing freely in response to the pain. The guy in the video mentions something about using ice in place of anesthetic when having to do without, and Izuku can’t help but spit a venomous “Fuck you” at the man on his phone screen. The pain is almost unbearable; it throbs, pounding through his face with wild abandon. He clutches his cheeks in anguish, digging his nails in to try and divert the pain away from his nose, but just ends up making more of his face hurt. He collapses to his knees, cradling his broken face in his hands, willing and praying that the pain will stop, regretting every decision to do this himself instead of just going to the hospital and having a professional do it. The easy route.

 

But if he goes to the hospital in this state, they will more than likely wonder why he has these injuries, especially to only one side of his face. He’s a minor, so they’d be less likely to believe or go with whatever story he could tell them. They’d launch an investigation, start asking questions.

 

Katsuki could get in trouble.

 

And there it is; a whole fetid rathole of emotions and thoughts that swirl dangerously around his mind at the thought, like a vortex. A whirlpool. A black hole opens within once he realizes that the idea of saving his bully, his tormentor, the person he still thinks of as a friend, from even a sliver of inconvenience makes all the pain he’s in just that much more bearable, that much easier to contend with.

 

No. I’m not doing this, not now.

 

He decides at this point to give himself a break, both from his thoughts, and from dealing with his injuries.

 

He pauses the video just as another example adjustment is made and walks away to go grab some ice. His feet pad softly across the tile floor when he crosses the threshold into the small kitchen. Golden rays of sun trickle in through the large bay windows, making the flowers and plants glow ethereally, and lighting up the room in a manner so picturesque, it gives Izuku gooseflesh just looking at it. This is just too peaceful for the day he’s had.

 

He takes a few cubes of ice from the freezer, wrapping them in a paper towel and sticking it in a plastic bag. He holds the makeshift compress to his nose, letting out a pained hiss as he presses it more firmly to the injury. He walks into his room, setting himself at his desk and flicks on his computer.

 

He figures he might as well watch or do something while he waits for the swelling to go down.

 

He starts browsing hero forums, shitposting about villains, and generally memeing about to distract his mind from the thoughts fraying the edges of his sanity. A few breaking news alerts pop up in the notifications bar of the site, but, at this point, he’s having a hard time caring about the news. He still needs to repair his last journal before he can take any new notes, and that’s if it’s even salvageable. If he decides to go the route of rewriting everything verbatim in a new journal, then he would need to redraw all the heroes and their costumes, plus he may feel tempted to change the wording of his entries, which can end up obscuring or altering the original tone. Then one journal would stand out among the rest for seeming more robotic, less personal. However, it would still stand out from the others if simply repaired in its currents state for the fact that a lot of the pages have burn marks and blood stains on them. And even if he was to…

 

About an hour passes as Deku rambles on about his hero notebooks. He finds himself randomly snapping out of it from another notification, and by this point he can tell that the swelling in his nose has dropped fairly drastically. The 3 alerts will just have to wait until he’s finished fixing himself up.

 

Walking back into the bathroom, he checks himself out in the mirror. His nose is looking a little better, but not nearly as straight as it was before, and now there’s an unsightly hump in the middle of it. Putting the now melted bag of waterlogged paper towel down on the counter, he runs his finger over the ridge. He reminds himself to breathe; deep breaths, in and out.

 

Don’t think of the pain, don’t think of the pain, don’t think of…

 

His breaths become more and more intense as he presses his index finger to the bump, giving a sharp, firm jab to move the bulging cartilage back into place. There’s a small, wet snap that tickles rather strangely, and comes with surprisingly little pain this time. Midoriya finds himself believing that the worst of it is over. Or at least, he thinks this, up until blood begins to pour from his nose like a faucet.

 

“Gah!” He exclaims as the coppery taste floods his mouth. His hands dart around, trying to find something to stop up the flow of blood. With one hand, he presses his shirt to his nose in a vain effort to stop the blood from dripping any more on the bathroom fixtures. He digs around through cabinets and the laundry hamper, but can’t find any other cloths to use.

 

Of course today is laundry day, he thinks bitterly.

 

His sight lands on the roll of toilet paper on the toilet, and he tears off a long strip of it while thinking of how stupid he must be to not think to use it sooner. He balls it up and shoves it under his nose, only to find that the flow of blood has already stopped. The front of his shirt his now officially gone from blood-stained to thoroughly blood-soaked. He throws the balled-up wad of tissue paper to the ground, now absolutely frustrated.

 

Determination sets in his eyes as they meet with his reflection in the mirror.

 

Don’t think about it.

 

He grips his nose tightly between his fingers, and he pushes as hard as he can.

 

Don’t think about him.

 

Endorphins are pumping through his veins as the final segment is forced into place with a sickening crunch. Izuku has to bite his hand to hold back the pain filled howl, bloody snot dribbling from the newly reopened passage of his left nostril, but nothing can hold back the stream of tears that pour freely from his eyes.

 

Why… why does h-he h-ha-hate me?” He cries out, muffled by his palm, choked by sobs. He collapses against the toilet, nuzzling the uninjured half of his face against it.

 

Katsuki and he used to be such good friends. Why did him turning out Quirkless have to change everything so much? Did Kacchan really value having a Quirk that much over him as a person? Over their friendship?

 

And if that’s the kind of person he is, why is it so fucking hard to let him go?

 

Why can’t I hate him the way he hates me?

Chapter Text

Dark thoughts swim behind burning embers as Katsuki stalks away from the classroom. This is all Deku’s fault, he’s sure of it. Why did that fucking idiot have to go and provoke him like that? He’s always pulling this shit, acting like he’s all good-intentioned and well-meaning, like some innocent fucking rabbit. But he can see right through it.

 

He can see right through Deku, and what he sees makes him sick.

 

A prickly, slimy, stinking menagerie of blood and viscera and feces and insects; everything that’s putrid and disgusting in the world all swarming, coalescing together into a festering mass that marks and taints everything it touches. He can still feel him on his hands, staining his skin with his filth.

 

Katsuki scrubs his knuckles against his shirt with revulsion painted across his features. The blood smears into the cotton, staining the white fabric with sanguine streaks of crimson red.

 

That fucking nerd.

 

That green-haired piece of shit.

 

He almost had him fooled. Just when he was regretting picking on the kid. Just when he was considering apologizing, making amends, he pulls a fucking stunt like this.

 

Useless bastard loves to fuckin’ toy with my head. That’ll teach him to—

 

He lets out a growl of frustration and punches a nearby locker. A few nearby underclassmen are stopped in their tracks at the sudden outburst; they gaze at him wide-eyed in fear.

 

But they already know better than to say anything.

 

At least, they’d fucking better.

 

He shoves his way through them as if they weren’t there at all. He rounds the corner to the stairwell, practically knocking a girl down the stairs in the process. He doesn’t give pause, just keeps going. Even as other students start yelling at him, calling him an asshole, an arrogant prick, and a few other colorful phrases one wouldn’t expect to hear used so freely on a middle school campus, he doesn’t even respond.

 

He needs to find a place to let off some more fucking steam.

 

He considers going back to the classroom, finishing what he started. Making sure that Deku fucking learned well not to cross Bakugo Katsuki. Show him just how much stronger he is when he uses his Quirk. Maybe even get rid of some of that ugly mop he dares to call his hair.

 

Hell, why not just blast him out the window like a piece of trash on the freeway?

 

But, as much as he thinks he’d welcome the satisfaction in this moment, the simple thought of seeing that Quirkless fucking bastard again makes him feel sick enough to lose his lunch.

 

He reaches the landing and charges straight through the nearest exit. The door leads him to the courtyard with the koi pond at the side of the school. There are far fewer students here; all the other rejects that Katsuki doesn’t give a spare thought. They know better than to get in his way, unlike some useless freaks at this school.

 

He walks up to the pond, watching the fish swarm towards him in the hopes that he will give them food. A memory tickles, lighting up in the corner of his mind, but he’s too pissed to even think about it. No, not even pissed. He’s revolted. He's absolutely disgusted with himself, that he touched Deku like that. For all he knew, the sick fuck probably enjoyed it.

 

Fuck, Bakugo hated feeling like this. He especially hated that it was none other than Deku that was making him act this way.

 

The fucker had made him hate himself. The memory of it alone makes his stomach churn, but it’s true. Just this morning, he was looking at that stupid fucking picture —which he only keeps on his bureau for appearances on his mother’s behalf, by the way—, thinking back on what a horrible person he’s been, and how upset and changed Deku is now after all these years of torment.

 

Bakugo spits into the pond, snorting at the thought.

 

Yeah fucking right.

 

Deku hasn’t changed at all. He’s still the same sniveling little ball of worms he’s always been. And that’s just what he is, too. A worm. A shitty, worthless, piece of bait to be stomped under his heel.

 

No, Deku is more like an insect, like a fly. No, a mosquito, a blood-sucking parasite. The kind of leech that chases you around your entire life and feeds off your existence like a fucking vampire. His knuckles are turning white from how hard he’s clenching them. He feels like he’s about to burst if he doesn’t do something soon. He needs to hit someone. He needs to kill someone. He wants to kill Deku. But doesn’t want to give that suffering prick the satisfaction of becoming a martyr.

 

Of ruining his hero career.

 

Of being the victim.

 

He won’t let him be better than him.

 

Because he’s not.

 

He’s the scum on the sidewalk, the pebble in his shoe.

 

How could that freckled asshole ever think he could be better than him? How could he think he could even stand in the same ring as him? He’s useless without a Quirk, everyone knows that. And his only hope at getting a Quirk would be taking a swan dive off the fucking roof and praying he reincarnates with one.

 

Yeah, that’s it. Instead of suffering through life as a Quirkless nobody, he should be ending his own existence.

 

Right here. Right now.

 

He should do it before he gets in anyone else’s way. Before he bothers anymore people that are better than him. Before he gets the wrong person’s attention. Before someone stronger than Katsuki decides to do something about him.

 

He should kill himself before anyone else can cause him more pain.

 

The angry runaway train in his mind crashes violently into that thought like a brick wall. The jarring impact of it snaps Katsuki out of his trance. It brings him back to reality, the one where he’s alone in the courtyard now, staring angrily at the fish in the enclosure for what seems to an outsider like an eternity.

 

He has to get out of here. Being at this school, standing in this empty courtyard, it’s becoming too much for him right now. He has to go somewhere, has to be anywhere but here.

 

And now he’s running off, leaving the school grounds like a demon escaping hell. Familiar streets quickly become alleyways as he runs blindly to get away from anything that reminds him of Deku.  

 

It feels like hours have passed when he finds himself in an underpass leading into an alleyway he’s never been to, in a part of town he’s never even seen. It feels foreign, intimidating, dangerously silent. There’s no one here, like this place has been abandoned by even the devil himself.

 

But he doesn’t care. Because it’s a welcome change. Anything is better than being at that fucking school, staring at that pond where…

 

Bakugo’s veins thrum at the thought, the fringing memory spiking his anger as he tackles the first non-living thing he sees on the footpath, a nearby trash can. Knocking it over startles the cat rustling through the week-old refuse into running for its life. Katsuki ignores the cat, and is hitting the metal tube more, first with kicks that move it a few feet down the alley, and spread the stinking garbage across the asphalt. Then it turns to punches that put more dents into the metal, that put cuts into his knuckles. But he doesn’t care. He can’t care.

 

Because that had better not be pity swelling in his heart.

 

No.

 

Not for…

 

Fuck that.

 

Deku isn’t some fucking innocent little rabbit.

 

Deku is nothing. He’ll always be nothing.

 

Katsuki clutches the filthy receptacle with his bare hands. He tightens his grip, picturing Deku’s stupid pained face clutched between his bloodied hands as he discharges two explosions into the twisted metal. It goes flying, clattering to the ground 30 yards away, bent and broken.

 

Sludge and chunks of food too far past rotting to ever identify pour out onto the ground and splatter up the walls from the explosion. Katsuki screams an enraged howl down the alley as he collapses to his knees, fresh tears burning in his eyes. Flames pour unbidden from his palms, his Quirk spiraling out of control. There’s no buildup, no release. The nitroglycerin just burns as quickly as his body produces it, making his hands into torches he can’t shut off. His emotions are overwhelming him. And now he’s scratching, clawing at his wrists, leaving burned lines trailing up his forearms as he struggles to get the feelings to stop, to get the noxious venom out of his veins.

 

What is happening to me?

 

“What’s this? A shiny new meatsuit all for me? And with such a flashy Quirk, too! How lucky…”



Katsuki didn’t notice the slime moving off the walls, he was too caught up in his roaring turmoil, emotions blinding his senses to the impending danger. Cold, tar-like jelly starts to envelope him, extinguishing his flames as they overtake his hands, sucking him into the mass forming around him.

 

“Get the fuck off of me!” Katsuki exclaims, red hot anger pumping through his veins, clearing his mind of the thoughts he was having before. He tries to thrash the creep off of him, tries to get free as the monster starts to move. He tries to scream some more at the bastard, but the substance covers over his mouth before any sound can escape. They're smashing through the alley, rushing along at break-neck speed, and Katsuki is having a hard time keeping up with the the things flying past him.

 

And suddenly, there’s carnage now, as the creature moves them out into the shopping district, moves them to where the people are. An explosion rocks through the pavement, and he realizes that it was one from his own hand.

 

This bastard is taking over his body, forcing him to use his Quirk to his advantage. Katsuki is being used as a tool for evil and he’s powerless to stop it. And there’s fire now, everywhere. One of the explosions must have hit a gas line or something. People are panicking, running for cover as more explosions demolish shops and carts littered throughout the street. As he struggles under the sludge enveloping him, pulling him in, drowning him in it's mass.

 

In moments, there are heroes already descending on the scene, almost as if they were waiting for this to happen. Death Arms, the first hero he recognizes, is the first who tries to help him, tries to attack the monster. But his fist is repelled easily, and he is swatted away like an errant fly, crashing into a brick wall.

 

“Death Arms!” Another hero screams as he arrives on the scene, just barely missing as the monster lashes out at them. The strike hits another building, and rubble is starting to fall with the flames.

 

“Back off or I’ll snap this kid’s fucking neck.” The monster oozes coldly, the tendrils tightening around his throat.

 

One by one, heroes filter in, and the realization dawns on him that they are trying to rescue him. That he is in a position where he will have to be rescued.

 

And there’s nothing that pisses him off more than that.

 


 

Izuku doesn’t know how long it’s been that he’s been crying against the toilet. After a while, though, he’s able to gather himself up off the floor, both literally and figuratively. Gently, he dabs away the blood and tears staining his face, cleaning himself and the rest of the bathroom up as best he can with the toilet paper, flushing away the evidence.

 

After he finishes, he goes to his room to change his shirt. He had resolved a while ago that he absolutely cannot abide the feeling of blood crusting to his torso any longer. Still, he changes into something he doesn’t mind bleeding on, just in case he ends up doing something wrong and makes his nose gush again.

 

He peels the offending garments off his body, finding the blood has permeated all the way through just about every layer of clothing on his body, even his socks.

 

He will have to figure out a way to clean those discretely later.

 

Izuku pulls out a simple, albeit oversized forest green t-shirt and pulls it over his head, pouting at the fact that it can only seem to cover one of his shoulders at a time. It was his dad’s, so he’s not surprised it’s so big. Still, it’s not like he’s holding onto it in the hopes that he will grow into it someday. It’s just nice to have a shirt lying around that you don’t give a shit about fucking up with bleach or paint.

 

Or, in this case, blood.

 

He then goes for underwear, and opts for purple boxer briefs: his favorite pair. And when he goes to reach for a pair of pants, it’s then he figures that, heck, he might as well stay in his PJs. He’s not going to be doing much of anything for the rest of the day, right?

 

He goes back into the bathroom, carrying his school bag. Izuku takes a good look at the finished product in the mirror. It’s definitely recognizable as his nose again, for better or worse. As long as it doesn’t get fucked up anytime soon, it should be fine. Well, that's what he supposes. He’s genuinely surprised at how well he managed to get the thing back together, considering it was his first attempt at what seemed to be a complicated procedure from the outset.

 

He starts pulling out phase two of the operation, supplies to make some sort of splint. The articles he had read on the train home had mentioned something about packing to put inside his nose, but he didn’t have anything suitable like that on hand. He only had what he carried in the top compartment of his bag, a piecemeal medical kit that had been used and restocked more times than he cared to count.

 

Just as he takes out the nasal strips, though, he hears something that definitely draws his attention: an emergency alert dinging like crazy on his computer.

 

And then, an explosion close enough to vibrate the apartment complex at its foundation.

 

He rushes to the computer, slinging the bag over his shoulder.

 

The alert is overtaking the webpage, a livestream already buffering in the expectation that he will want to see what is happening. Dutifully, he presses play, and watches as the video jumps to life before his eyes.

 

Some sort of escaped villain is terrorizing the market district on the other side of the bridge. They report that the villain has been able to hold back a whole swath of villains, even Death Arms. His eyes flick over the transcript as the reporter screams excitedly from the surveillance helicopter.

 

“Akihabara district…” It’s so close to home, but so far away in his mind. When he and Katsuki were kids, they were never allowed to go there. And for good reason, as he can see. Criminals and violence running rampant…

 

His heart runs cold as the camera zooms on the villain. Or, more accurately, who he sees with the villain.

 

“Ka-Kacchan?!”

 


 

One by one, the heroes arrive on scene. And one by one, they drop out, unable to do anything due to the limitations of their Quirks.

 

Katsuki struggles all the while, giving his all to best the slimy villain, like a fly trapped in glue.

 

He’s suffocating, his inexperience with his Quirk making it difficult to reign it back under his control.

 

But he won’t let this piece of shit win. Never.

 

Finding a weakness in one of the tendrils, he bites through it. Pushing himself forward as hard as he can, he breaks through, greedily swallowing mouthfuls of air that stoke the fires of rage within.

 

“Why don’t you crawl back to the sewer you slithered out of? You picked the wrong guy to fuck with, asshole!” He screams, igniting his pent-up sweat, unleashing a blinding explosion so powerful, he feels the aftershocks in his bones. The buildings around them sway under the force, the heroes nearby barely holding their ground against the shock.

 

The monster, however, is unfazed.

 

“Oh shit, I really hit the jackpot with you, didn’t I? With a Quirk this strong, I’ll be able to take down Endeavor in a single punch!”

 

H-how? It’s like he just absorbed it!

 

He can hear crowds of people in the distance speculating on the fight, treating this whole situation like some sort of wrestling match.

 

“Do you think that guy is some sort of super villain?”

 

“Maybe he's an up-comer? It looks like he has some high stakes in this fight.”

 

“I disagree, I think—”

 

“Shut the fuck up, you’re making it hard to concentrate!” Katsuki barks, fighting futilely against the villain's hold on him.

 

A couple more heroes arrive around this point as the crowd starts heckling the perceived victim in this scenario. Mt. Lady seems like she could easily stop this villain with her gargantuan size and strength alone, but the caveats of her provisional hero license as a rookie prevent her from entering into conflicts where the roads are less than two lanes, a limitation which she very pointedly expresses frustration with.

 

The other hero to arrive is Kamui Woods, the number 7 hero himself. However, he quickly retreats after rescuing a few bystanders, citing his incompatibility with fire-related incidents as a root cause. And this now makes a good five or six heroes in a row who have been of absolutely of no help. Katsuki is running low on options at this point. His attacks don’t do anything, and none of the heroes can help him. Is this how he’s going to go down? Is this how he’s going to die, the victim of some shitty villain who just happened to have a stroke of luck and catch him on a bad day?

 

The creature seems to respond to his thoughts, sucking him in deeper, against his best efforts.

 

The blob of sludge forms a large fist, smashing it down. Two heroes barely jump out of the way, narrowly avoiding being crushed by the attacks which get stronger the more Katsuki gets sucked in. Time is running out, there are no heroes with suitable Quirks to help him.

 

He's going to die to some back-alley trash monster and there’s nothing he can do about it.

 


 

Izuku’s feet slap wildly against the pavement. 

 

He didn’t even put his shoes on before leaving the house, didn’t even give himself time to consider it. The moment he saw Kacchan in trouble with no one around to do anything, he knew he had to do something. What exactly, he wasn’t certain.

 

But he couldn’t just sit at home and do nothing.

 

Wind whips past his face as he races through the underpass towards Akibahara. His heart is beating painfully hard in his chest, and his lungs are burning with the exertion. Blood it trickling from his nose; no doubt a burst blood vessel that had hardly had time to heal itself in the short time since it last bled. Plus, to top it all off, he’s almost certain that he stepped on glass or a nail or something at some point, because one of his feet feel really wet, and he doesn’t recall splashing through any puddles.

 

But he doesn’t care. He can’t care.

 

Because Kacchan is in danger, and he needs to help him any way he can.

 

And that's all he needs to fuel the courage swelling in his heart.

Chapter Text

If Endeavor had known being the number one hero would be so exhausting, he would have considered pursuing a different career. Perhaps something tamer, like applied engineering, or graphic design.

 

Or maybe accounting.

 

He casts the empty beer can in his hand into the sea of cans and bottles, the soft metal clanking as it joins the others on the mahogany desk of his personal study. He grabs for another from the cardboard sleeve on the floor, cracking it open with one hand. As the lukewarm beer drains down his gullet, pictures of a more ideal life flash behind his icy blue eyes. He scowls, the fantastical image forming in his mind’s eye leaving a taste in his mouth just as bitter as the soured liquid pouring down his throat.

 

In his imagination, in his fantasy of the life he could have had, his family isn’t in constant danger. They aren’t being eternally hounded by rabid media dogs that won’t give them a moment’s peace, aren’t constantly the subject of some hairbrained villains half-baked scheme to get rich quick or take over the world or whatever bullshit goal they have in mind. No, someone else takes the reign and title — chains and shackles — of number one, while he relaxes, set in the spot of number two, complacently. The number two spot still yields a considerable wage, no doubt one that could sustain them more than comfortably. He wouldn’t lose anything, wouldn’t miss out on his passions, his ability to feel passionate about anything. And, all the while, still raising his children with love and joy in their hearts. He would be grateful for getting as far as he has, take the extra time to cherish his family, his freedom.

 

Everything would be so much better, life just that much simpler.

 

Because being number one hero is a cage, a constricting prison he never knew he’d be feeling so trapped in. He never knew signing up for this job would be a life sentence. But now isn’t the time to ruminate on regrets, on how things could have been, on how he wishes they could be. He has work to do, he feels certain of it. It is inevitable for him. Eventuality dictates that a villain will do something, something others cannot stop. And then he will have to step in. It’s not work he wants, but work he has to do, under penalty of vilification and prosecution. Because it’s not just him he has to think about: his wife and children would suffer from any inaction just the same.

 

He really is their personal attack dog, isn’t he? Maybe if he’s really good, they’ll let him rest for once. Just one day, one afternoon, one hour of peace, alone with his family, it’s all he asks.

 

Apparently, he asks too much.

 

 “If you’re just now joining us, here is a quick recap on the situation in Akihabara district. One powerful villain, one hostage with an explosive Quirk. The entire district is on lockdown, with fires overtaking the area. Six heroes have made contact, rescuing 27 injured civilians from the crossfire. However, none have been able to subdue the culprit, while the villain seems to only be growing stronger with passing time. The only question on this reporter’s mind right now: where the hell is Ende—”

 

The television cuts off. Endeavor tosses the remote to the side, runs a hand through his hair, flames billowing harmlessly off his body as they make shadows dance across the walls in the darkened room. He roughly shoves the desk as he stands from it. The clatter of glass and metal reverberates through the dark as bottles and cans fall to the ground, echoing hollowly against the wooden floor paneling. He walks through the mess, kicking them every which way as he approaches his closet, flinging it open with a gust of bitter resentment and regret smacking him in the face.

 

Here we fuckin’ go again, he thinks, pulling out his hero costume for the eighth time today. And, yes, he is counting.

 


 

Izuku’s miles long sprint ends abruptly as he goes tumbling to the grime-coated pavement below.

 

His hands shoot out in front of him to catch his fall, earning him deep scrapes as the rocky cement digs into his palms. Blunt cuts run all the way up his forearms to his elbow, shallow scrapes leaking blood as they sting, and he can’t help the pained hiss that leaves his throat as he clutches them against himself. Everything is hurting. The effort of all his running has worsened the pain in his face, the subtle effects of biology making the tissue swell with renewed vigor in the anticipation of potential reinjury. He breathes rushed, haggard breaths, emptying his raw, aching lungs as quickly as he can fill them, but it doesn’t do anything to quell his body’s ceaseless appetite for oxygen, to douse the fire in his veins. Compounding this, he is now able to confirm that he’s cut his foot open somewhere along the way, the dull ache of the older wound hardly registering against the bloom of fresh pain everywhere else.

 

He looks back to find what he had tripped over, immediately identifying the culprit as a strangely warped bit of metal that sits in the middle of the path. He swallows grimly, and groans as he picks himself up.  

 

This must be the place where it started. He deduces it by the similar traces of slime marking up the walls, leaving a path that leads further on down the alley. The creature must have exploded out of this… trash can? But why does it look like it’s imploded? It looks positively flattened, and now that he’s looking closer, he can see what looks like blood flecked across the caked-on muck. Did someone…

 

The green-eyed boy shakes his head, his windblown curls dancing in the air. Now is not the time for this. He doesn’t have time to get all analytical; he has to keep going, stop thinking. He can hear the chaos just beyond the matrix of cement and brick, it’s just a little further. Hobbled, panting, he pushes himself back into a run, one that everything in his body fights desperately to reject.

 

Izuku fights harder.

 

It takes him less than a minute, and before long, he lurches out of the alley, limping past flames that lap at him like the Devil’s tongue. It burns. In fact, the first thing he notices as he steps out into the fiery inferno engulfing the merchant district is how dangerously hot it is. It hurts significantly more than he thought it would. He can feel the heat permeating the concrete below his feet, scalding them and making him dance uncomfortably. The pros always made it look easy on TV, but now he realizes, too little too late, that that’s because they’re pros.

 

He’s just a kid, a kid without a Quirk. And holy shit, this guy is huge.

 

“What the hell is this?” The villainous blob takes notice of him almost immediately, seeming at first to register him as a potential threat. But after he looks Izuku over, what comes out can only be described as deep, full-bellied laughter through a wet blanket. “You guys fuckin’ with me now or something?”

 

The crowds take notice of him after that. They scream at the adjacent heroes to save him. Like he’s just some kid who was trapped in a building or found himself unwittingly thrust into the conflict, like he’s the one in unnecessary danger right now. He can see them; the looks in all their faces, plastered with worried urgency, like he isn’t supposed to be there. Like he hadn’t just run all the way here to save the day, just like a hero would.

 

And, for a brief glimmer of a second, he feels the same.

 

The sudden movement to his right hardly registers in the corner of his eye. His body moves of its own volition, as if controlled by some unseen force, and he tucks down just in time to avoid the swiping tendril as it crashes into the building behind him. He cries out again, this time just barely avoiding the collapsing rubble. Fear stabs his heart like a knife when he realizes how completely unprepared he is for this. Kacchan is dying, and he has no plan. No power. No weapons.

 

Nothing. He has nothing but a backpack slung across his shoulder and the shirt on his back. Still, he came all the way here, he can’t just back out now. Katsuki needs help. Kacchan needs…

 

He’s running again, twisted metal and ashen concrete rubble crumbling around him as the flames lick out at his exposed legs. He’s running straight at the monster, straight for Kacchan. Because what else can he do?

 

And when Kacchan’s eyes meet his, it feels like everything freezes. Time stops in the angry, heated glare that burns with so intensely, he can feel it boring into him hotter than the flames burning off the vellus hairs on his legs. He remembers that look, it was the same as Kacchan had back in the classroom. All too vivid memories play back in his mind of the fight they had, the punches whose impact he could still feel fresh in his memory. The notebo—

 

An explosion sends shockwaves through the aisle, and Izuku breaks eye contact with Katsuki as he is sent flying forward with the strength of the blast.

 

And everything clicks into place.

 

Somehow, by some miracle, he manages to land with his one good foot, pivoting into the ground, shifting the excess force into the backpack, effectively using the bag as a counterweight. He strafes to the side to dodge another swipe, making a snap decision in his dawning moment of clarity. Izuku lets out a breath, knowing he’ll only have one shot at this, knowing that it’s so much more likely that he’ll fail, knowing Kacchan’s life is on the line, as well as his.

 

He rips the bag from his shoulder, spins it with his whole body to gain momentum before lobbing it by the strap into the roaring mass of goo. It lands dead-center, pencils and other miscellaneous objects embedding themselves in one of the villain’s gelatinous eyes, and if anyone asks him if that bit was intentional, he’d definitely take the credit for it. The whole performance comes across as significantly more choreographed and experienced than it really was. In reality, it was all just dumb luck and split-second decisions that just happened to pan out in his favor.

 

Like rolling a natural 20 in D&D.

 

The monstrosity bellows, its limbs flailing wildly as it releases its hold on Katsuki, the red-eyed boy thirstily gulping down breaths like his life depended on it.

 

There it is.

 

Deku sees his opening. He jumps forward, grasping wildly at the slimy body encasing Kacchan’s limbs. His fingers desperately claw through the material encasing Kacchan. He can’t get a grip, but he has to keep trying.

 

“What— what the fuck are you doing here?!” Katsuki demands, snarling through shallow breaths as if Deku’s arrival is somehow the most unpleasant factor of this whole scenario.

 

“I-I saw you on the alert, and I knew I ha-had to hel— do something.”

 

You looked like you needed help, so I came to save you. He feels a tad guilty as he thinks out the words he wanted to say. He didn’t typically act so smug, and neither did he get a thrill of enjoyment from it like he did from merely thinking it to himself. He’s running of a high of adrenaline and endorphins, he’s allowed small concessions like these. Even if he keeps it to himself. Which he does, because, even after today, after everything that’s happened, he can’t find it in himself to hurt Katsuki, to wound his pride. At least, not so directly. Not with his words, anyways.

 

“You didn’t have to do anything, you fucking asshole! Get out of here, I don’t need to be saved by some Quirkless fucking freak!”

 

Izuku eyes go blank as Kacchan’s tirade begins, letting it fade to the background along with the roar of the fires, the yells of heroes and passersby that watch from the sidelines. This was to be expected, so he couldn’t really act surprised as the insults tumbled out. He knew Kacchan wouldn’t want to be rescued, let alone by him. He’d never wanted to be before, and if anyone else had stepped in, he knows Kacchan would have the same reaction. He keeps his gaze low, eyes averted. He can’t afford any more distractions.

 

Lithe, nimble fingers barely manage to squirm past the first layer of ooze, and he curls his fingers into the lapels of Katsuki’s jacket. He’s so close to being freed, he can feel it. He tugs at the fabric, testing its give, and he can sense the blond knows how far he’s come from the way his body tightens under him. Izuku has a plan. Not a very well thought one, and he’s not sure if it will even work, but he’s got one. His brows furrow as he tugs more and more, concentrating on the slippery tendrils as he pulls with everything he can. He doesn’t think he’d be able to explain himself fast enough, before the villain recuperates, finds out what they’re doing and stops them. He hopes they can get through this without him having to say anything, hopes that Katsuki will take the hint. He just has to stop yelling at him, start pushing forward with him so that their combined efforts can lead to Kacchan’s freedom. That’s all he has to do, he has to understand that, right?

 

When he looks to the red-eyed boy, it’s to see if what he hopes will be confirmed. That Katsuki knows where he’s going with this, that he’s going to comply. He knows Kacchan is smart, that it doesn’t take much for him to understand things. He hopes that when he looks into those eyes, he’ll see the resigned understanding he wants, the compliance he needs to get him free.

 

What he gets instead, he doesn’t expect. He doesn’t expect the forehead charging at him, doesn’t expect the bitter venom stabbing through the angry look in his eyes. He doesn’t have time to react as white-hot pain sears into his face through his nose, the force of the collision sending him flying back onto the burning hot pavement.

 

He realizes then that he really doesn’t understand Kacchan like he thought he did. No, not at all.

 


 

Another building crumbles when the number one hero arrives on the scene, the spectacle distracting bystanders from noticing him as he observes from the rooftops behind them.

 

He looks down to the other heroes, over the chaotic scene, watching how they struggle with the situation. Their body language is tense, anxious. They mutter about, hoping someone with a more suitable Quirk will arrive soon, hoping one of them will finally well up the nerve to do what nobody else could. They have a subdued kind of passionate zeal, a green-horn spunk, an ambitious desire to keep people safe. He sees the light that makes them shine like a beacon to those around them, the light that makes them heroes. He envies them for it.

 

His light disappeared long ago, carbonized pitch black by the embers of a fire long-since extinguished. All he had left was a thick-painted veneer of jading, a tarnish that stained the hero to the core.

 

The crowds haven’t seen him yet, and thankfully neither have the heroes. He’s not ready to make his presence known, to entwine himself with this mess. Because he still hasn’t decided if he even wants to be here.

 

He’s not even sure how this was different than any of the other countless conflicts he’s had to intervene in and guide to resolution. On the surface, the case seems simple enough. Child is trapped by villain who poses immediate threat and is generating an environmental hazard. So, once civilians have been evacuated, the next step is to just take the villain out, right? He’s just got a slimebody Quirk, Backdraft could blast him away in seconds. A strong enough water blast would saturate his body, the water weighing him down, slowing him considerably and reducing his ability to maintain rigidity. It would weaken him enough for Death Arms to seize the upper hand and recover the hostage.

 

But no, Backdraft is preoccupying himself with the fires, focusing completely on that instead of neutralizing the actual threat, going so far as to call for help from other heroes who are useless against this type of villain. Backdraft has to realize that flaw in his logic. Someone down there can see what he sees, right?

 

Of course, they don’t. And that’s what’s pissing him off, what’s keeping him from going down there and helping them.

 

Endeavor scrubs his face in frustration. The current hero generation is fucked. They don’t think practically, don’t have common sense to strategize. He counts 7 heroes down there, and not one of them can see this glaringly obvious solution. With that realization, a part of him finds himself hoping the kid dies, hoping they all have to live with the weight of that failure on their heads. They need at least one catastrophic failure like that, something to break the arrogant façade of make-believe superheroes they put on, something to make them stop relying on him to swoop in at the last minute and take care of everything for them. He sees now that he has simply become a crutch for the new line of heroes, a symbol of a decaying archetype, a hero whose very existence is halting the progression of society.

 

And that’s when the thought dawns on him, that he doesn’t want to be a hero anymore. Not that he doesn’t want to help people anymore, but because Todoroki Enji is just so beyond done saving heroes from having to be heroes.

 

If he walks away now, he is certain that the young man being held captive by the slimebody will die. And with how much good could arise from it, how much the world could benefit… He seriously wonders if it’s not the best course of action: One small sacrifice in the interest of the greater good, one death to spur on a change that could save a thousand lives. One death to end his hero career.

 

He would be vilified; he knows this for certain. By now, he can feel it: that someone down there can sense him, knows he’s there. The news choppers swarming overhead are likely recording him at this very moment, demanding to a citywide audience, begging to know why he hasn’t stepped in.

 

The whole city is screaming at him to do something.

 

Crying.

 

Pleading.

 

Threatening.

 

Again, Endeavor scowls. His voice comes dry, cold, the answer dripping with resentment.

 

“No.”