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White Mist, Black Clouds

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            Shoooooouuuuuuta!

            Aizawa Shouta sighed aloud. Sitting up, a quick glance at his clock confirmed that, yes, it was indeed 2:00 A.M. The ungodly light emanating from his brightly glowing right palm forced his tired brain to wake up, staring at the gleaming metallic star. Emotions still flowed across the bond, and the eight-pointed soulmark stubbornly continued to glow. Letting out a growl, Shouta steeled himself for the inevitable sleep loss he’d be suffering. Hizashi? Is something wrong?

            Shou, no one gets it, I’m suffering a mid-life crisis!

            Shouta sighed again and began counting to ten slowly. At the beat of seven, his other soulmark began to glow, the usually white cloud shimmering into shades of blue.

            Hey, don’t have conversations without me! I might cry, don’t make me feel so left out…

            There he was. Shouta’s second soulmate, Shirakumo Oboro. Almost as bad as one Yamada Hizashi, but at least Oboro was slightly less energetic.

            I mean, Hizashi, you didn’t even mention me! What about me? I totally understand your struggles with a mid-life crisis!

            Slightly. It was a close thing. Shouta pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. Can we talk about this tomorrow? I would  like to get more than five hours of sleep tonight. Oboro and I have to patrol Tasomiya Ward later today.

            Both of his soulmarks dimmed slightly, small bits of regret and apology seeping through the bond. Without the two sets of bright emotions beating away at his skull, Shouta’s headache faded the smallest amount. As he laid down, the cloud and star continued to fade, their light seeping away with Oboro and Hizashi’s emotions until they cut off the bond entirely.

            Finally. Sleep, blessedly, sleep. Shouta slowly closed his eyes and allowed himself to drift into dreams.

 


 

            Oboro smiled down at the group of nursery children. Next to him, Shouta was loading the gaggle of children onto the cloud, taking care that none of them fell. Internally, Oboro laughed. Shouta liked to think he was a grumpy cat, but, really, on the inside, he was a big softie! Hmm… a tabby, maybe?

            Accidentally, maybe kind of on purpose, Oboro opened his side of the soulmate bond and let his emotions flow through to Hizashi and Shouta. Almost immediately, a pulse responded to him. He knew it was Shouta, but Oboro still glanced over at his partner’s left hand to watch blue light shine through the glove. He grinned and took a glance at his own right hand. He couldn’t see it under his own glove, but Oboro knew the vertically slit cat’s eye was shifting colors from a black into a deep red as Shouta responded with annoyance filtered through a hidden layer of humor.

            Suddenly, the moment was interrupted as the star on Oboro’s left hand lit up like a firework, rays of light bursting out, blinding even through the dark fabric, as Hizashi’s emotions exploded. On instinct, Oboro slammed the bond shut, trying to prevent himself from collapsing as the emotions battered at the shields.

            Evacuate! There’s a villain! You need to get out, now! The fear was palpable through the bond, stronger than Oboro would have expected from a simple villain attack.

            Tentatively, Oboro lowered his mental guard. Hizashi?

            Quirk and description? Shouta added, always calm and rational, even as he herded panicking civilians away from the crash that sounded.

            Fear metamorphosed into dread as Hizashi managed to increase the strength of his emotions. We’re not quite sure, but it absorbed all of our attacks and used them against us. It’s heading your way.

            Somehow, Oboro dredged up some humor. Really? I never would have guessed from the giant dust cloud over there.

            Oboro, Hizashi, not the time. Later. Oboro, we need to get the civilians out of here.

            He nodded firmly. Shouta was right. The time for talking would be later. The moment was for action and ensuring the civilians’ safety.

 


 

            Hizashi panted, heart racing as he sprinted, trying to reach his soulmates. Across their bond, he could feel a mixture of emotions, blending together until he couldn’t tell who was feeling what.

            Determination. Fear. Anger. Protectiveness. They all blurred, and then, suddenly, there was a snap of sharp pain. Hizashi dropped to his knees in shock as the pain burst through him. But…

            You got this, Shouta!

            Relief shuddered through Hizashi quickly as he realized that Oboro and Shouta had to be fine. Oboro was probably injured, out of the fight, but Shouta was still up and fighting. He trusted his soulmates. They could do this.

            It wasn’t just his relief, though. It was Shouta’s as well. Which implied that Oboro was heavily injured enough that Shouta didn’t know if Oboro was even still conscious. They might be fine, by a certain definition of fine, at the moment, but it wouldn’t last long.

            Picking himself back up off the ground, Hizashi continued running. It was so far, though, and while the bond might tell Hizashi his soulmates’ thoughts and emotions, when it came to location, it was pretty useless. He set his eyes on the monstrous figure of Garvey towering above the houses and hoped that it was closer than it appeared.

            There was a jolt of encouragement. Oboro, cheering Shouta on. And, well, Hizashi wasn’t really doing much while he was running. He could help Shouta too. Across the bond, he sent his own support and trust to Shouta. Hizashi mixed his words of encouragement in with Oboro’s and prayed that it would be enough until he arrived.

            He was close, now. Garvey could only possibly be five blocks away, at maximum. A blast rippled through the air, and Garvey began to topple over. Hizashi squinted as a feeling of victory raced through their bond and managed to spot the small black figure of Shouta leaping away from Garvey. Grinning, Hizashi began pushing joy and pride across towards Shouta. It was fine. Even if he couldn’t feel Oboro, Oboro had probably just been too exhausted to project after all of his support towards Shouta.

            The rain pelted down on Hizashi as he closed in on Shouta and Oboro’s location. They had won. He couldn’t wait to see his soulmates.

 


 

            Laying flat on his back, Shouta stared up at the downpour that had begun. He knew that he was probably beaming like a loon, or, worse, Hizashi, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. To his soulmates, he thought, I did it. Then, aloud, he said, “I did it.”

            It didn’t feel quite real, that they had managed to defeat Garvey. They had, though. Next to him, a hero was saying something. Something about Shouta defeating Garvey on his own. But that wasn’t true, so Shouta spoke up and said as much. “It wasn’t just me. It was a team effort. My soulmates were cheering me on the whole time.” Pushing off the ground, he managed to stumble over to a bench and smiled up at Kayama in her long overcoat.

            Kayama was turned away, head fallen.

            “Kayama? Oboro’s wounds aren’t that bad, right? I could hear him the entire time rooting for me along with Hizashi.”

            Abruptly, the joy that Hizashi had still been feeling cut off, transforming into a deep, all-consuming grief. Shouta froze. “…Kayama?” When she didn’t respond, Shouta began to feel the first inklings of panic. Hizashi? Oboro is alright, isn’t he? He has to be.

            There was no response besides another wave of sorrow. Looking around, Shouta spotted his blond soulmate staring at something on the ground. As he walked over, he shivered slightly. Oboro had to be okay. After all, Shouta should have felt something if he wasn’t right? Oboro would be fine in a few days after some time in the hospital and a lecture from Recovery Girl. He’d be back up on his feet, laughing and rescuing cats from the rain-

            Oboro’s crushed speaker was in Sensoji’s hands. Shouta stumbled. “No,” he said, barely even realizing he voiced the thought. “Oboro is fine. I heard him the whole time, talking to me! Hizashi, tell him!”

            Hizashi looked up at Shouta. The blonde’s lower lip was trembling, and tears pooled in his eyes. “Shou…” he began. A tear slipped past the careful façade Hizashi had been trying to keep, and he broke down into all-out sobs. Unable to articulate, he gestured in the direction of several medics.

            Shouta followed his gesture to see- no. He refused to believe this. His left fist clenched, and he left the glove on. He couldn’t- he, he couldn’t check. Because if the always vibrant cloud had turned black, if it- no.

            He managed to take the few steps towards Hizashi that separated them. Shouta let out a muffled sob as he stared at the rubble where Oboro had been buried. The two teens leaned into each other, sharing their silent sorrow through the soulmate bond. The bond left empty, missing a person.

 


 

            Hizashi sat curled up on his bed, staring down at his right hand. He hadn’t taken off the glove yet, the same way he knew Shouta hadn’t removed the left glove. It wasn’t reasonable to leave it on any longer, Hizashi knew that. After a week of leaving it on, the glove was filthy, crusted with tears and sweat. There was no way he could leave it on any longer.

            Nervously, Hizashi opened himself up to the soulmate bond for the first time in a week, since Oboro had… since Oboro had cut out. Weakly, more scared than he would have liked, Hizashi sent out a faint, Shouta? Please, I just need to talk to you. To someone who understands.

            For a long moment, Hizashi worried that Shouta had completely shut down the bond, enough that even a targeted message wouldn’t get through. The moment passed, and relief passed back through. The understanding that each of them knew precisely what the other was going through.

            Hizashi paused. Shou… I think I’m going to take off the glove.

            Panic. Anger tinged with desperation and apology. Hizashi, you can’t-

            I can’t do this any longer, live with the uncertainty. Are you going to do it?

            Hesitance. Reluctant acquiescence. Grief. Together?

            Always.

            Together, they counted down from five. On the last number, as they both thought, Zero, at the same time, Hizashi yanked the black glove off his right hand.

            In clear rendition, innocently sitting there, was a black cloud. He knew Shouta had done it as well because sorrow had begun to pour across in waves. Hizashi let out a soft sob and mentally leaned into his one remaining bond, his bond with Shouta. Because Oboro was dead, and all they had left was each other.

            As Shouta wallowed in their shared sorrow as well, Hizashi couldn’t stop staring at the dead soulmark. Black, black as night. The way it had filled in, it almost reminded Hizashi of a dark black mist, all-consuming, replacing the cheery whites and blues that Oboro had been.

 


 

            Shouta watched his students pour into the USJ, babbling and chattering amongst themselves. He couldn’t quite bring himself to relax in here, not when he had a perfectly clear view of the Rockslide Zone. A pro hero, he might be able to defend himself against villains, but there was no defeating his inner demons that constantly followed him.

            He saw Thirteen glance over at him. Shouta sighed and made a motion for ‘go ahead’. The other pro hero nodded in understanding, and they began to explain the USJ to Class 1-A. Silently, he thanked the rescue hero for understanding that Shouta didn’t particularly feel like explaining how to rescue people when he had failed the most important rescue of them all.

            It would have been nice to have Hizashi with him, but Thirteen was a good enough stand-in. Better than All Might, at any rate.

            Watching Thirteen as he was, Shouta almost didn’t notice as a swirling black mist began to open in the center of the USJ. But he did. “Villains,” he said.

            Even as he instructed his students to get behind him, Shouta was sending a message to his soulmate. Hizashi, there’s villains at the USJ. Hurry.

            Villains began to pour out of the portal, and Shouta narrowed his eyes. He focused in on three main villains: a giant, birdlike villain whose brain appeared to be exposed, a white-haired man covered in dismembered hands, and, finally, a villain of black mist.

            The black mist seemed familiar, but he placed it out of his mind. There would be time for identifying possible suspects and culprits later, after he had defended his students.

 


 

            Kurogiri couldn’t help but continually find his attention wandering to the pro hero. Wielding a scarf with skill (he’s improved. Since when?), the hero took down swathes of nameless thugs. It was fine, though. Noumu was the only thing they needed to defeat All Might.

            But All Might wasn’t there, so Kurogiri focused his attention onto the pro hero, the only real threat there. He’d already taken care of Thirteen, so all that remained was to eliminate the teacher.

            The teacher, in fact, was advancing on them. Or, rather, Shigaraki Tomura was advancing on the teacher. Kurogiri had basically raised the kid for as long as he could remember (it was a long time, wasn’t it? Why couldn’t he remember anything before that?), but not all of his ideas were good ideas.

            Tomura managed to get the upper hand on the hero, clasping onto the hero’s elbow- Kurogiri gasped as pain rippled through him, feeling as if he were being torn apart. Panting lightly, he watched the hero’s face contort, though he couldn’t see the facial expressions well with the goggles on.

            (It would be nice to have some goggles, Kurogiri thinks. Even if he’s not quite sure where he would put them, he’d like to have some. A different design, though, he thinks. Similar, but not quite the same.)

            And then Noumu slammed the hero’s head into the plaza concrete, and Kurogiri screamed. The complete blocks he’d been holding in his mind for as long as he could remember (not long, not long at all, less than half the time he’d supposedly been alive for) came crashing down, allowing his soulmate bond to come flooding in.

 

 

 

            Hizashi couldn’t breathe. It was the same situation all over again, him, running, trying to reach his soulmate before time ran out, but time ran out, time always ran out-

            “Breath, Yamada-san,” All Might said, looking very serious.

            He gulped for air and managed to take a breath. His current position being carried by All Might wasn’t the most comfortable, but it was better than running, to be sure. All Might was right, though, because if Hizashi didn’t have breath, he couldn’t use his Quirk. And without his Quirk, he wouldn’t be able to help Shouta.

            Pain raced through his arm, shooting up and down as Hizashi grimaced, clutching at his elbow. “All Might,” he said through gritted teeth. “Shouta-”

            All Might’s face was grave as he nodded. “I understand.” The speed picked up to become extremely uncomfortable for Hizashi, but it didn’t matter, he just had to make it to Shouta in time.

            Pain. More, overwhelming pain, this time originating in his skull. This time, a scream ripped its way out of him, and Hizashi really hoped he didn’t end up accidentally activating his Quirk because permanently deafening All Might would be a poor gratitude for carrying him to the USJ to rescue Shouta. Hizashi managed to block out the bond slightly, enough that while it still pounded away, it was more like one hundred migraines combined than his brain leaking out of his skull. Then, he looked down.

            It wasn’t on purpose. Not really. But he saw his soulmarks shining. Not only on his left hand, where Shouta’s soulmark was, but on his right hand. Oboro. That… it couldn’t be real. Could it?

            They were in sight of the USJ. All Might landed outside the doors, setting Hizashi down before forcing them open. He managed to push past the pain and take unsteady steps past the ruined entrance. The scene they emerged into was terrifying, villains facing down their students, and Shouta lying on the floor. Shouta, unmoving. Shouta, bleeding out. Shouta, who Hizashi had failed just like he had Oboro.

            Except. Except. Light was still shining through both of his gloves, and a figure that looked to be made of black mist was collapsed on the plaza as well. It was glowing in two different places, that, if translated to a human, would likely be the hands.

            Hizashi wanted to believe it. It was improbable, fantastical, likely a hoax, but he had to know. “Oboro?”