Aguero swears to himself as he chases a villain across the rooftops of buildings. He's in his third year of U.A, high school for heroes in training, and for the past week, he's been interning for his father, the one and only Khun Eduan, better known as the Pro Hero Blue Thunderclap.
He himself has the perfect Quirk to be a villain-crushing Pro Hero: Half Cold Half Hot is its name. His body is split perfectly in half - his right runs cold as ice, capable of creating monstrous shards of frozen water; his left runs hotter than a fire, capable of creating blazing flames in a blink of an eye. With a stomp of his right foot, he creates a massive spike of ice, hoping to wound the villain, or at least slow him down. He does not 'miss' - the villain is merely too fast, flying across rooftops with a glowing blue disc of air and liquid water under his foot. Scowling ferociously, he hurls an arc of flame with his left hand. The villain tilts to the side, his disc sizzling and steaming but not disappearing.
Aguero swears under his breath again. He must catch this villain.
Ever since he was young, all he has ever known was power and strength, acquired through blood, sweat and tears. As number six Pro Hero, Khun Eduan is obsessed with siring children with Quirks capable of defeating King Jahad, the number one Pro Hero and his former friend. Blue Thunderclap himself is capable of wielding a spear of ice and lightning, a truly awe-inspiring vision for those who see him as the famous hero. His first wife had given him three children - Khun Maschenny, with lightning running under her skin and through her veins; Khun Ran, who could create pills of lightning to boost his speed and strength to inhuman levels; and Khun Hachuling, who had not inherited any Quirk at all, and had been discarded from the family for his Quirklessness.
Currently, Aguero is one of his favorite sons. Maschenny may be his favorite daughter, with her stunning beauty and ability to be a literal human stun gun, but Aguero is the only child out of Eduan's thirty that had inherited the most powerful Quirk of all - Eduan's ice, combined with his third wife's fire. His inherited good looks with hair like ice and eyes like blue fire are just a bonus, but let's face it, Khun Eduan would never marry a troll.
He is one of the few children his father is willing to take time off his Pro Hero duty to spar with and the only member of the Khun family who has won against Maschenny, even if it only happened once and through meticulous planning beforehand from Aguero. Maschenny and Ran had once teamed up against their father, and beat him in a sparring session. It feels like a game of rock, paper scissors: Maschenny beats their father with bursts of strength, their father beats Aguero with stamina, Aguero beats Maschenny with ruthless intelligence.
Training with Eduan is brutal. He fights until there is only one person left standing, and most of the time it's himself. Aguero has lost track of the number of times Maria, his favorite sister and healer, has had to keep him bedridden, patch up his battered body and broken bones. When he looks in the mirror, he sees ugly black bruises, burn scars all over his left arm and left body, when he learns to use his despicable ice frostbitten fingers and cheeks join them too. Maria is too good for their family, with her gentle heart and gentle hands and dreams of becoming a doctor and helping people.
Aguero must catch this villain, or he will lose his father's favor. He has no choice. He must become a hero.
"A.A! Don't let him out of your sight!" Maschenny shouts through the communications device wedged in his ear. She is already a registered hero, a sidekick under their father. They're both going after the villain - Aguero is shadowing his older sister, both of them planning to bring down the villain by cutting off his exits. They'd been tipped off about the villain by an unknown source, and they'd ambushed him before he could strike. Somehow, he'd evaded their attacks. So here they are, chasing a villain through the prefecture.
"Got it, Lightning." Aguero is getting closer to the villain now, close enough to attack and not just chase. He boosts himself over the gap between two buildings with a burst of flame from his palm, hissing when he lands awkwardly on the other side. His ankle throbs under him. He'd sprained it a few days ago while sparring with Ran, and despite Maria's best efforts, there is only so much the young healer can do. He pushes himself to his feet and keeps running.
"Go right!" Maschenny screams.
He throws himself to the side just in time for a solid blade of air to slice down onto where he was only a few seconds ago. It nicks his leg, and he freezes the skin, a thin layer of frost stopping the gush of blood.
Aguero looks up. "Crap!"
The person who had attacked him is none other than the infamous serial killer White. A quick run-through of his mental database reminds him that the villain in front of him is a member of FUG, a large group of villains with the sole aim to bring down King Jahad. Years ago, Aguero had heard that five siblings, all from the Arie family, had combined their souls to form an ethereal new being they had called White after the form's white skin, hair, robes.
White licks his lips, readies his blade. "Your soul smells absolutely delicious, little Icyhot Hero." Ah, right. White's Quirk had mutated to include all five siblings' Quirks. One of those Quirks was related to souls, and it seems like it allowed him to 'eat' the souls of other people. "I just want to devour you."
Aguero wrinkles his nose, flicks a fireball at the villain. White yelps when his robes are lit aflame.
"A.A, we'll keep him busy until Father comes," Maschenny murmurs. "We can't take him down alone but we can delay him."
"Aguero, continue hunting down that other villain. Your sister and I can handle White." Eduan's voice is cold, disconnected. There is, however, a smidgen of pride, like he's proud of his son being bait for a murderer.
"Yes, Father." Aguero's voice is equally aloof. His father may be an excellent hero and fighter, but he isn't a very good parental figure. He's trying, though.
It's hard to keep an eye on both White and the villain he's supposed to be chasing. Aguero creates a shield of ice around his right arm and body just in time for White to swing his sword down, gritting his teeth when the villain pulls the blade away with a shirk! Blood spurts out, and his blade is coated with it. He licks the blood off. "Mmm, just as delicious as I thought."
Aguero slaps his left hand over the gash on his other arm, swallowing a scream when blue colored flames instantly cauterize the wound. He's done enough science tutoring to know that blue flames are hotter than both red and white, knows that from experience, too. It burns like hell, the area around the wound a nasty dark red that's turning black.
"Hey!" Maschenny bellows. Her eyes are pits of blue lightning, the specially made Yellow May gauntlets (sponsored by King Jahad, created by Ashul Edwaru with his Blacksmith Quirk) on her arms sparking with electricity. "Fück off!" Aguero freezes White's legs to the spot and melts it instantly, jumping to the next building when Maschenny slams her hands against the ground. Lightning flickers in a wide arc around her, electrocuting anything in its range. The villain screams - water is an excellent conductor of electricity. "A.A, go!"
Aguero doesn't need to be told twice. He's already running towards the other villain, only slowed by the pain in his leg and the wound on his arm. His father will give him another beating for being so careless. The villain jumps off the side of the building, free falling into the alleyway below. Aguero creates a smooth slide of ice and follows in hot pursuit.
"Give up now," he sneers. He knows how he must look, all battered and bloody. His right cheek is spotted with frost, his left arm aflame. "There's nowhere else for you to go."
The villain is completely still. His hair is longer than Aguero's, almost as long as Eduan's. It's tied back in a ponytail - if all else fails, Aguero could just pull his hair. His bangs cover his eyes, and there's a mask over his mouth. He wears a black cloak with red eyes underneath, possibly meant as a threat to Jahad, who had three red eyes on his mask. The villain is taller than he is, but the cloak drowns his figure. Aguero has no other description of him except 'tall leggy brunette with absurdly long hair'.
The villain points at his right arm, which is still throbbing. The flesh is black and charred, but Aguero isn't Maria, and burning the wound is the only way he can heal it, even if it hurts him instead. "White did that to you."
Aguero balks at the growl of anger in the villain's voice. "Yes?" There's something familiar about the way the villain speaks, although he can't place his finger on it. Even though the brunette is using a voice changer, he feels like he's heard the lilt and sway of his words before, somewhere, somehow. Does he know this villain in civilian form?
The villain nods. His entire aura has changed - the atmosphere is tenser than it was before. Aguero backs away when the villain comes closer, arm blazing in alarm when the stranger reaches out to him with a gloved hand. They're both caught in an intricate dance of lunge and retreat until the villain backs Aguero against the wall, taking off his glove and grabbing his arm. Aguero would scream at the feeling of calloused palm against his freshly burned wound, but there's no pain. The deep gash that White's sword had carved into his flesh is no more than a closed wound, a pale scar on paler skin.
Just for a split second, Aguero lets down his guard in sheer disbelief. "Di- Did you just heal me?"
The brown-haired villain doesn't answer. Instead, he takes off his cloak, letting it fall to the floor. "Whoa, what are you doing?" He's wearing a black form-fitting yukata underneath, with a grey sash tied around a slim waist. Now, he has more to add to his description: 'tall leggy brunette with absurdly long hair and unshakeable bangs, shoulder gangster with a near nonexistent waist'. Aguero tries to slip away when the villain loosens his yukata and reveals skin, but the hero in training can feel the villain frowning despite the fact he can't see eyes or a mouth.
A dusty pink powder wafts into the air, an intoxicating sweet cloud. The world starts to swim under his feet. Why do I feel so weak? He staggers away from the smell, but his vision is too blurry for him to go far.
"Sleep, Khun Aguero Agnis." The villain has a different face now, one that matches the voice in Aguero's head. Is it who he thinks it is? No, no, it can't be. But how else would the villain know his mother's last name? "Close your eyes." The villain's voice is soothing, soft, and suddenly Aguero feels very, very sleepy. He struggles to keep his eyes open, his body sagging to the ground when his weak legs can no longer support him. The villain catches him, lays him on the ground gently.
Strange, Ha Yuri has a Quirk like this, he thinks to himself. That's the last thing that crosses his mind before he passes out.
Aguero slid the door open. It was his first day at U.A, and he was in Class 1A of the Hero Course. As per his father's preferences, he was 'fashionably late'.
"You're late. Please introduce yourself," the teacher said in a bored tone. He had blonde hair, a black dot on each cheek. "I'm Lero Ro, I will be your form teacher for this year." Ah, yes, Aguero recognized him. He was an underground hero, usually a pair with Quant Blitz, who was the teacher in charge of Hero Class 1B. His Quirk was quite admirable: he was somewhat like the Greek 'monster' Medusa, able to temporarily take away a Quirk by directly looking at its owner. He was currently staring at Aguero through a pair of thick sunglasses.
"My name is Khun Aguero Agnis." The blue-haired boy scanned the classroom, spotting a tiny humanoid gator with a coat of rocks on his fists; a figure wrapped in a blanket and snoring soundly; a boy with short brown hair and golden eyes so bright and naive and innocent Aguero couldn't help but wonder what his Quirk was if it had gotten such a weak looking boy into the best hero class in the country. "I'm not here to make friends."
Gold clashed against cobalt, curiosity against deadly seriousness. The brown-haired boy didn't look away, his lack of guile a shield against Aguero's icy glare and permanent bïtch face. Ro - Mr Ro, technically - sent Aguero to sit next to the gator in the seat in front of the brunette, who didn't stop looking and watching until Ro brought them outside for a pop quiz of sorts, a test of Quirk strength.
"Ah, Mr Khun! Please wait up!" Aguero whipped around, raised an eyebrow. Hadn't he said he wasn't here to make friends?
"Black Turtle, why are you talking to him?" The gator demanded. Aguero wrinkled his nose. Friends were weaknesses, obstacles in his way of becoming a Pro Hero and usurping his crappy father's throne in the top five Pro Heroes. "Blue Turtle 'isn't here to make friends', remember?" The brunette ignored him for Aguero. "Bah! I'll be the number one Hero, just watch! All the other Pro Hero Turtles are my prey!"
"Hi! I'm Bam." He stuck his hand out with a cheerful grin. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr Khun!"
Aguero stared at the hand. Was this Bam expecting him to shake it? Worse yet, did this Bam want to be his friend, for no particular reason except pure friendliness? Kindness was a rather alien concept to the bluenette. Bam just smiled at him, golden gaze completely free of ulterior motives. He swallowed, gave the brunette's hand a quick shake. "You too, Bam."
Bam just grinned at him, all sparkling eyes and dimpled cheeks. "Let's be heroes together, Mr Khun!"
Aguero swallowed. What is this, he wanted to scream, why are you being so kind to me?
Only Maria had ever shown him any warmth, but it was only in the form of gentle hands hovering over healing skin and murmured words of "you'll be fine, Aguero. Just be stronger next time. Train with Ran." Bam's warmth was different. It burned like fire in his blood, bright and passionate and tempting. Aguero was too scared to go close, too scared that he'd become a moth burning in Bam's flame. His entire left side burned almost feverishly, emotions heightening his Quirk. Any words he could say were caught in his throat.
Do not go close, he warned himself firmly. Trust and kindness will only hurt you in the end. So he did what he does best - he ran away, did anything to hide from the pain that might come.
He didn't see the hurt look on Bam's face.
"Oi, Blue Turtle!" The chibi gator shouted. "That was so rude! Come back and apologize! Oi! Blue Turtle!"
Aguero shoots up with a scream.
His forehead collides against something hard, and he falls back against the bed. His arm throbs like his head, and there's a twinge of pain in his leg. Everything is white. Where is he? Where did the villain go? Did Maschenny catch him at the end?
"Oi, Blue Turtle! That hurt!" Rak is squatting at the foot of Aguero's apparent hospital bed, clutching his snout. "You were mumbling Black Turtle's name in your sleep again. How could you fall asleep in the middle of a fight? Did that FUG Slayer Turtle really tire you out that much?" The gator snaps his jaws, glaring at Aguero balefully. "You wasted such good prey. But that Slayer Turtle didn't even hurt you. Both of you are terrible hunters."
Aguero blinks. FUG Slayer Turtle? Who exactly had he been chasing? There are white bandages wrapped around his leg, but the phantom pain on his arm reveals nothing more than a scar. "How long was I out?"
"Two hours," a female voice announces. She sounds too cheerful for a hospital, too loud for Aguero's pounding skull. "You're free to go, but I'd like to ask you a few questions first." It's Ha Yuri, police officer and ex-Hero.
"The villain had your Quirk. He knocked me out with his own Hypno-dust, but he fought me with air and water too." Yuri really shouldn't look so surprised at Aguero's instant answer. "I think he has a Quirk like V's, it lets him copy Quirks without stealing them indefinitely. I don't know if there's a limit to how many he can copy and how he copies them, but I know for sure he had your Quirk. I recognized two other distinct Quirks there."
Yuri frowns, crossing her arms. "My Quirk, you say?" She scribbles something down onto her notebook when Aguero nods. Both Aguero and Rak avert their gazes from the expanse of skin she's showing - they both know she needs to show a large surface area for her Quirk to be effective, but it's still awkward to look even though the two of them have no interest in women. "He's rather new. FUG only announced that he was one of them after White got away just when Lightning McQueen," she says Maschenny's nickname with a wrinkle of her nose, "was about to bring him down."
Aguero hums thoughtfully when Yuri shows him a blurry picture of FUG's new villain, the apparent Slayer. "He sounded mad when he asked if White hurt me, though. He healed my arm and then sent me to sleep."
Two pairs of red eyes go comically wide. "He healed you? Why?"
Aguero is equally mystified. " You think I know?"
Yuri tightens her ponytail, cracks her knuckles. "We'll destroy FUG, whatever it takes."
Rak and Aguero both nod. They're all determined to bring down the group of villains, for a reason they're unwilling to speak aloud of. "Whatever it takes."
Yuri sends him and Rak away - your father's waiting for you outside, she tells Aguero, your sister got home alright. He doesn't listen to what Yuri tells the gator. He's already gone.
"You're late." Eduan's voice is unwelcoming.
Aguero buckles himself into the backseat. "I'm sorry, Father."
"You had one job." The Pro Hero grips the steering wheel so tight his knuckles turn white. "I gave you one job, and you failed. You know what happens when you let villains get away."
His voice is cold with rage, and Aguero shrinks into his seat. "I'm sorry, Father. It won't happen again. I'll catch him next time, I swear."
"You'd better. No more mistakes, or I'll pull you out of U.A. I did not train the only inheritor of my ice Quirk to be a failure."
"Yes, Father," Aguero says meekly.
"Remember who you're doing this for. The next time you fail, there will be consequences."
Aguero thinks of endurance training, how his father submerges him in ice cold water until he can regulate the temperature with both sides of his Quirk. He has always hated taking baths. "Yes, father."
They continue the drive home in silence. None of the Khun children living in the mansion question when their father disappears into his study with enough wine to kill a man, nor when Aguero locks himself in the dojo for hours and only reappears smelling of smoke, sweat and burnt skin. Maria wordlessly paints salve over new wounds, knowing that her younger brother's skin will never be unblemished like her's is, that it will scar over and over and over again. Kiseia worries for her only cousin, and Ran for his favorite sparring partner and least bothersome sibling. Maschenny may be their father's favorite, but even she does not dare disturb the man when he's drinking.
Aguero falls into a fitful sleep that night.
"Let the second event of the Sports Festival begin!" Quant Blitz's voice echoed around the stadium. From his position in the commentator's box, he was standing up and shouting into the microphone. Ro was next to him, with a hand slapped over his eyes. Despite the difference in personalities, they made a surprisingly good duo.
The first event of the annual U.A Sports Festival was a obstacle race around the stadium - a breeze for Aguero, who set bloodthirsty robots on fire and sent them out of his way and towards his competitors, and was not affected by exploding landmines considering the fact that he was regularly burned by his own fire anyway. It came as no surprise to many of the teachers and spectators: Aguero was Blue Thunderclap's 'strongest' son, as well as a genius prodigy who had been accepted to U.A's Hero Course based solely on recommendations. Anaak Zahard, a tiny green lizard girl with a whip for a tail had gotten second, a ferocious member of Hero Class 1B despite her short stature. A mysteriously big General Studies student called Akryung had barged past Rak Wraithraiser at the last minute much to the gator's disappointment and glee of his classmates.
Surely the second event would be the same?
Oh, how wrong he was. The second task was the Cavalry Battle - the top forty-two students were to form groups of three, with the member with the highest number of points balanced on the shoulders of the other two. As first place, Aguero had a bounty of one million points on his head. Literally. He could feel the other students' hungry stares on the one-million-point bandanna tucked behind his ear, Anaak in particular glaring a hole into his skull. Who in their right mind would want to have a member in their team with so many points, only to risk losing it all in a split second?
Luckily, Aguero was a plotter. It didn't matter who he teamed up with - as long as they followed his explicit instructions, he would lead them to victory. That was the most important thing, isn't it? Winning?
"Mr Khun!" Bam jogged up to him. Aguero's eyes widened. How had Bam managed to get into the second event with only ten points? The brunette shifted his bangs away, revealing two more zeroes. The bluenette relaxed. That was more like it - he saw the other boy's Quirk during the first event, and he had a powerful Quirk despite he wasn't the best at controlling it. But who was Aguero to judge? His own Quirk did more harm than good to himself. "Please join our team!" Rak stood behind him, stones dancing up his fists and all the way up his arms.
Aguero ran through his plan, going through an imaginary scenario. Bam had been tenth place in the last challenge, Rak fourth. Aguero himself was first. It was a guaranteed win for them. "Alright."
Bam brightened. "Really? You'll join us?"
Aguero grinned at him roguishly. "Listen up, I have a plan. You too, gator."
The chibi gator snorted. "I am the great Rak Wraithraiser! I don't need plans!"
Bam placed a placating hand on his head. "If you listen to Mr Khun now, you'll be able to hunt better prey later!"
Hunt prey? What was wrong with the gator? "But you and Blue Turtle are worthy prey, and I want to hunt you now!"
Aguero offered him a bar of chocolate. "Truce," he told the gator. "We'll cooperate for now, but you can 'hunt' us later."
Rak sniffed the chocolate bar, then stuffed the whole thing in his mouth. "Deal!" The two other boys stepped out of his spitting range. "Now give me more, Blue Turtle!"
Aguero grinned. Sugar didn't help their Quirk like it did one of the other first years, some Bero girl, but it did give Rak, their main offensive fighter, more energy to fight. Bam was designated thief, in charge of whipping the bandannas off their opponents' necks with gusts of wind. Aguero himself was in charge of defense, keeping other groups away with his bright blue flames. He refused to use his father's ice unless it was absolutely necessary - even though he'd been told countless times that it was useful, he found it as despicable as his father was.
Just like Aguero had planned, they started out at first place and they ended there too, only with more points than when they had begun. Bam's wind Quirk wasn't always accurate, nor was it particularly stealthy, but Rak and Aguero were big enough threats to keep their competitors at bay and allow Bam to try again. Anaak, her classmate Hatz and Shibisu of Support Class 1H chase after Aguero, but they end up at second place after Shibisu gets a nasty punch to the face from Rak and Aguero nearly sets Hatz's grabby hands on fire.
Akryung is in fourth place this time, in a group with a blonde girl Bam gasps at the sight of and a girl with reddish-orange eyelashes and a cocky grin that has Rak gnashing his teeth. The third group is led by Phonsekal Lauroe, the other recommendations student and fourth place in the first event, who is asleep as his two teammates roll their blanket burrito of a leader away from the battlefield. They hadn't gotten the chance to fight Lauroe's group, or Akryung's, but Aguero knew that the Phonsekal boy could pull water droplets from the air around him and shoot them like a human water gun, and that Akryung had a Quirk that allowed him to hit absolutely anything with deadly accuracy on the first try. Aguero's skin felt too dry. His right side was smoking, but his left side remained unharmed.
The quarterfinals was a one on one challenge, with the members of the top four teams advancing to the semifinals, and the winners of the semifinals battling it out with for first place.
Aguero was up against Shibisu first. It was an easy win, almost too easy. The Support Class boy had a Quirk that gave him knowledge of all the 'killer arts', but it worked against him - he threw the first punch at Aguero, but Aguero dodged, gave him a nice flaming kick in the gut that sent him flying out of the boundary. Perhaps he'd been a little too harsh on Shibisu. The boy was from the Support Class, after all, and Aguero shouldn't have been so angry seeing his father's smug face in the audience.
Rak won his match against Akryung, albeit barely. The two of them had almost destroyed the arena. Bam scraped past his opponent, a boy with dark skin, long blonde hair and a horn on the side of his head that allowed him to shoot lasers out of it. Aguero had high hopes for his fellow recommendations student, but Lauroe somehow willingly walked out of the boundaries and lost to the blonde nobody girl who was apparently called Rachel Light and was a friend of Bam's. Oddly enough, they hadn't interacted at all during the time Aguero had known the brunette. This Rachel must have had some sort of powerful mind Quirk to be able to beat Lauroe so easily - Aguero had asked his classmate if she'd threatened to take away his pillow, but he'd shaken his head, mystified, and told Aguero that he had no recollection of the match, that it had felt like a dream. Hatz from 1B lost purely because he was too chaste and determined to follow some 'honorable samurai code'. Apparently, Endorsi was well trained in the art of seduction, and she backed him out of the bounds by stripping. She was, however, a good fighter, proven by her quick reflexes when Hatz slashed at her with his detachable Sword Nails and she blocked it with a shield she had pulled out of her thigh fat. Anaak beat her opponent easily enough with her Whip Tail, the other girl's various gadgets not nearly enough against the lizard girl's fighting prowess.
That concluded the quarterfinals, with the next batch of fighters being Aguero, Rak, Bam, Rachel, Endorsi and Anaak.
Anaak and Endorsi started the semifinals with a bloody fight, and the first round ended with both of them battered and unconscious, arena around them blown to smithereens. Hansung Yu, teacher of General Studies and close friend of Headmaster Evankhell, sighed he fixed up the arena with his Quirk, Cement. Aguero had bumped into the teacher once, and almost had scalding hot instant coffee spilled all over him. Rak fumed at the results of his second match - he had been up against Rachel, and he'd warned Aguero and Bam, describing the incident as being like he was trapped in his own body.
Aguero was too busy panicking about his match. Why, oh why, was he up against Bam? Bam wasn't be powerful or dangerous like Endorsi and Anaak were, but his kindness towards the young Khun made it hard to hurt him in any way. But he had to win. Bam or not, Blue Thunderclap was watching in the stands. Aguero had to win.
He cornered Bam just before their match. "Don't think for a second that I'll go easy on you just because we worked together in the second challenge."
Bam grinned at him, seeing right through the wall of lies and straight into his soul. "If you go easy on me, I'll take it as an insult, Mr Khun. I'm trying to get noticed by the Pro Heroes too, you know." His golden eyes burned with a challenge written in gold. "I won't hesitate to beat you either. I want you to use your ice, Mr Khun."
Aguero swallowed. His ice, huh? He only ever used his fire when taking the offensive, his lack of ice a jab against his father. He gave Bam a smile that sharp and crooked and foxy-eyed. "May the best one of us win, Bam."
The brunette nodded. "May the best one win."
Bam really was fighting to win. He sent out blast after blast of wind at Aguero, powerful and unpredictable. Aguero fought back with volleys of flame. He had done his fair share of watching Bam, knew how his Quirk worked, knew how he could defeat him. By the end, both of them were trapped in swirling vortex of fire and smoke. Bam was shaking with the strain, and Aguero was overheating, his skin aflame. The situation was of their own creation: Bam had created the hurricane to shake Aguero off, and Aguero had created a raging fire to press Bam back. Somehow, the fire and the air had combined, and both of them stood in the eye of the storm.
"Come on!" Bam screamed at him. Sweat was dripping down his face and neck, disappearing under his shirt. There was a steady stream of blood from his nose. His sports uniform was ripped in places, burnt in others. Aguero fared no better - his sports jacket and tank top underneath had burned away a while ago. "Use your ice! I know you're not a coward!"
The whirlwind began to close in around them, burning up precious air. Aguero was only conscious because he knew the basics of regulating his body temperature with his Quirk. Bam, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. His eyes were watering, his voice hoarse as he choked on smoke. "Come on, Mr Khun! It's your power, not your father's, so why won't you use it?" He bent over, hacking into a fist. He swayed back and forth, on the verge of collapse. "IT'S YOUR POWER!" He screamed. His eyes were blazing pits of gold, his brown hair blowing around him like a halo. "SO USE IT!"
Aguero froze. It's my power. Not my father's, but mine. This is my body. Nobody makes my rules but me.
Suddenly, it was like a string snapped, a puppet falling away from his master and learning to walk on his own two feet. Ice began to spread, from his right foot all the way across the ground to Bam.
"Yes," Bam coaxed, "that's it. Come at me with all you've got."
Aguero slammed his right foot against the ground, a pillar of ice piercing through the storm around them. The crowd roared their names, his father's proud yell of "AGUERO" rising above the other voices, but at that moment, none of it mattered. The stigma he had allowed to control him was gone, and for the first time his Quirk made him feel like a real person and not a weapon in his father's inventory.
No, Bam was the one who had done that. The brunette smiled, eyes kind and warm despite his injuries and the blood trickling out of his nose. "Good job, Mr Khun. You win. I knew you had it in you."
He collapsed, eyes rolling back in his head. Aguero slid forward just in time to stop Bam from impaling himself on a sharp shard of ice. "And our last finalist is Khun Aguero Agnis!" Quant bellowed into the microphone. There's a smile on Bam's face, like he's glad he could help Khun. "Who will win the U.A first year Sports Festival? Will it be the mysterious assassin Rachel Light, or will it be the ruthless genius Khun Aguero Agnis?"
The 'ruthless genius' won the Sports Festival.
Just as he had guessed, Rachel's Quirk was called Questionable Hypnosis. She could have easily defeated Aguero with taunting questions about his father and about Bam, but Aguero had gagged himself earlier to prevent answering her questions and letting her control him. He forced her out of the boundary with steady steps, ice on his right and fire on his left.
Blue Thunderclap looked proud of the gold medal hanging around his neck, like he was the one who had put it there. Rachel was silent from her position in second place, and Aguero found it strange that nobody seemed to cheer her name like the crowd was cheering his and Rak's. Rak was shouting at the crowd from his position in third place, dissatisfied despite the bronze medal around his neck. Hansung moved it around his snout instead to shut him up. Aguero wasn't satisfied either - Bam deserved a place on the podium more than any of them did. He put his life on the line to encourage Aguero to use his ice. He'd used his stubbornness like a hammer on a lock, set Aguero free from the chains he had created to hold himself down.
"I'm sorry I beat you so badly," he told Bam when he was brought to the infirmary for a checkup. "And… Thank you."
Bam grinned at him, beaming bright. "That's what friends do, isn't it? Are we actually friends?"
Aguero huffed out a laugh and shyly smiled back. "Yeah." He felt lighter at the confession. Perhaps friends were not so bad after all. Bam looked at him like he was watching the most beautiful sunrise, a soft and equally genuine smile on his face. The golden sun chased away the darkness, filling Aguero's head with light.
"Wake up, A.A." Aguero yelps when something literally shocks him into reality. It's Maschenny. "Slayer's back, and Father wants you to actually catch him this time."
Aguero groans, flops back onto the bed. His injuries from White had only been healed yesterday, goddammit, even if Slayer was oddly nice he'd like to catch a break. He pats his head, only to find out that his carefully blow-dried hair is a frizzy mess. "Dammit, Maschenny, couldn't you have avoided the hair?"
Maschenny sighs. "You can just straighten it again. Now get out of bed or I'll tase you."
Aguero rolls off the bed, away from his older sister and her early morning wrath. "I'm awake, I'm awake, get out of my room, Lightning McQueen."
"I'm gonna kill Yuri," the older Khun snarls before she leaves his room. Both 'Lightning McQueen' and 'Chenny' had been cutesy nicknames Yuri used to call her in their U.A days, but Aguero wasn't sure what had happened in between to make them sound like mocking insults instead. "I should have never have let you meet her."
Aguero snorts, wriggling into his navy blue hero suit. "Too late."
A few minutes later finds Aguero chasing Slayer over rooftops again. His hero suit clings to him like a second skin, fire-proof (thank god) and familiar, and Slayer. Earlier on, he and Maschenny were tag-teaming against the villain, but he had thwarted Aguero's plans by leading him further and further away from his half-sister.
Slayer disappears into a warehouse. It looks old, empty, abandoned. Aguero updates his location to his father and sister before following the villain in.
He sees Slayer's silhouette in front of him, and he subtly cases their surroundings in ice, blocking off all exits including his own. "Surrender now, Slayer!" The ice curls around his feet, freezes his boots to the floor. "You've got nowhere else to run."
"It's a trap."
Slayer turns around, and Aguero sees a flash of gold between long bangs. His heart skips a beat, or maybe two.
"Mr Khun, leave the premises. Forget about me." The villain's voice is desperate, pleading, so familiar it hurts.
Aguero swallows. "Why should I listen to a villain?" Khun is his hero name, his family name, the name his friends call him. It would make sense for FUG to know about his relation to the Pro Hero Blue Thunderclap and want him gone. But why is Slayer so insistent on keeping him out of harm's way? The stubbornness reminds him of someone he used to know, but he can't be sure. Uncertainty makes him feel like he's stumbling in the dark, blind without his light.
"Mr Khun, you have to go!" He rips his mask off with shaking hands, revealing a voice that Aguero hasn't heard in years. "Please, Mr Khun, I'm begging you! Get out of here! This place is gonna-"
The villain he suspects is his long lost best friend turns into sludge. "Hey! Get back here!" He rushes forward, but the sludge remains sludge. "What's gonna-"
He barely pulls up a dome of thick ice in time for the warehouse to blow up around him. He sees a sharp burst of white, thinking damn, not again, before everything fades away in static.
"Aguero, stop your phone buzzing. It's getting quite bothersome."
Aguero fished his phone out of his pocket. He was doing his designated work experience under his father, and as always, his father always wanted his full attention.
Aguero frowned. The only people who had his number were his mother, father, closest siblings, Bam and Rak.
After the Sports Festival, the gator and the brunette had expanded their little duo to fit a third member: Aguero, who Rak deemed was 'worthy prey'.
Aguero had raised his eyebrows at that. "Can you even beat me in a fight with those little rock fists of yours? You couldn't even beat Rachel, and she can barely fight hand to hand."
The chibi gator - who had gotten an inch taller since they'd first met - had bellowed "Let's spar and see, Blue Turtle! I will beat you!"
Bam, fresh out of the infirmary, had pouted at them with wide gold eyes. "We're friends now, aren't we? We don't really need to fight each other."
Aguero had given Bam a chocolate bar and a special ringtone as an apology. He really had no idea how friendship worked, huh.
But here he was now, with Bam's ringtone chirping out of his phone. "It's Bam."
His father cuffed him over the head. "Why didn't you say so earlier?" His father had taken a strange liking to his son's new friend - the brunette could become a monster if he was trained well in control, and Eduan would approve of anyone who could push Aguero to use his ice. He wouldn't have let Aguero befriend him otherwise. "Go check what he said."
Aguero swallowed a bitter snort. All his father ever cared about was Quirk hierarchy, even when it came to his son's friends. The only thing in the message was an address - a few streets away from where the two bluenettes were eating soba for dinner. Bam was doing his work experience with Urek Mazino, a new Pro called Barracuda who had ousted Blue Thunderclap from his position in top five. The older Pro Hero wasn't very happy, to say the least. Rak was close by, doing his work experience with Hansung Yu, surprisingly. The two of them weren't exactly the best of buds, unlike Urek, who had been delighted to take the brunette under his wing. For some reason, Urek liked to call him 'Baby' instead of 'Bam'.
"What does he want?" Eduan asked. He was trying to hide his enthusiasm under a guise of nonchalance.
"Bam's in danger." Aguero could feel it. Bam was pretty accident-prone for a Hero Course student, and tended to get injured by overworking himself pretty easily too. Much to his own surprise, Aguero had developed a special gut instinct to sense when Bam was in danger. He called it the 'Bam Alarm', and it was currently flashing red bells in his head. He forwarded the message to his father's phone, his friend's location already memorized. He wiped his mouth. "Come find me if I'm not back within an hour."
With that he's gone, stealing his father's precious Manbarondenna motorbike and roaring across the prefecture at the speed of light.
His 'Bam Alarm' was proven to be correct, as it always was. He skidded to a halt in front of a dimly lit alleyway just to see Bam and Rak fighting off a villain thrice their age and a dozen times their experience - Enryu, the infamous Hero Killer. There was a young woman lying unconscious on the edge of the sidewalk, who Aguero recognized as Midnight, or Ha Yuri, one of King Jahad's sidekicks, who were called 'Princesses'. Bam had wanted to do his work experience with Jahad, but the top Pro Hero had apparently taken one look at his resume and instantly declined. And here Aguero was, expecting him to have said 'yes' because Bam nearly beat the son of his 'worst enemy'. Maschenny and Maria had both become 'Princesses', and Maschenny had been so outstanding she had been offered her Yellow May. Midnight too was one of the 'Princesses' deemed good enough to be offered a Quirk weapon, but her Black March was in Bam's hands instead, gleaming and buzzing with Shinsoo, the essence of all Quirks.
Bam and Rak, now Aguero by default, were in way over their heads. Aguero could see at least ten knives attached to the Hero Killer's outfit, courtesy of his Quirk, Bloodcurdle. Ingesting the blood of his opponents allowed him to freeze them. Bam had various nicks and scratches all over his body, and Rak was currently immobile but alive. It had taken King Jahad the full power of his deadly Dark Shadow Quirk to put Enryu behind bars years ago, after the Hero Killer had gone on a Hero Killing spree and annihilated several dozen Pro Heroes. What was Enryu doing here?
The Hero Killer licked his lips when he spotted Aguero. "So is this your backup, little Chestnut Hero?" He sizes the bluenette up. "Fight me, son of Blue Thunderclap."
Aguero scowled. "No." What was the best way to get Rak and Yuri out? Rak's fingers were beginning to twitch, but Yuri was still unconscious. He only had one motorbike, and waiting for his father would take far too long. Even though he had said 'no', his only option is to fight. Fück that rule of minors not being allowed to use their Quirks in public fights. Desperate times called for desperate measures.
Bam gasped when Enryu plunged a knife deep into his thigh. He stumbled back, going rigid when the villain licked blood off his blade. "How about now?"
Aguero's pretty face contorted into a snarl. How dare Enryu hurt Bam? And Rak? He shot a pillar of ice at the villain, offensive and defensive at the same time. His father had spent the last week pushing him to use his ice, pushing him further and further, and he was glad it had paid off. He hooked his arms under his frozen best friend's armpits, dragging him to safety. Bam was heavier than he'd thought, but he was strong. He trapped the villain behind a solid block of ice against the wall to buy the gator some time to regain his surroundings and steady himself. The amount of blood intake was proportional to the time spent unconscious, and it seemed like Bam would be out of commission for a while.
Enryu laughed at them mockingly. "How stupidly brave of you to jump in and help your friend just like that." He sneered. "He's unconscious now, and there was nothing you two did to stop me. There really are no more good heroes, huh? You're just like your father, little Icyhot Hero. Useless."
"You're wrong," Bam growled. The Hero Killer's eyes widened. How had Bam started moving again so quickly? He had already ripped his sleeve off to bandage his leg. "They came for me, and that's good enough."
"They might be good enough for you, little Chestnut Hero, but are they good enough for the rest of the world?" There was a bitter note in his voice. The world hadn't called him the Hero Killer when he was in his prime without reason - he fought and killed heroes for the sole intention of eliminating those who were only in it for the fame and the money, those he deemed unfit. he had been from the era of the vigilantes - just before the Pro Heroes were put into action, King Jahad and Blue Thunderclap being part of the first wave. Enryu had called Jahad his nemesis. Many other Pros had died by his hands, but Aguero wasn't going to let any of his friends die that night.
Enryu lunged for Rak, and Aguero froze his feet to the ground. "That's enough, Hero Killer." Bam and Rak were both injured, it was Aguero's turn to hold the fort. "If you hurt my friends, I won't hesitate to hurt you twice as much."
The Hero Killer laughed. Was Aguero imagining the manic gleam in his blood-red eyes? "My, my, son of Blue Thunderclap, the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree." Aguero froze. Gut feeling told him that Enryu was telling the truth, but his head told him not to listen. Good villains were always good at twisting their words into what they wanted you to hear. "You look exactly like your father did when he was younger, you know? But I like you more. You act nothing like him." He grinned. There was crimson on his teeth, on his hands, on his blades, on the floor, the same shade as his hair. "Your precious friend has already passed my test. Let's see if you're worthy, Khun Aguero Agnis. If you win, I'll even tell what your father is hiding from you. If you lose..." Enryu drew a hand across his throat. "I'll leave your corpse as a warning."
Aguero gritted his teeth. "If we're going to fight, we're doing it on my terms."
"Blue Turtle, you're not supposed to be so stupid!" Rak bellowed at him. "We're a team!"
"Wow, I never thought you'd say 'we' and 'team' in the same sentence," Aguero mumbled sarcastically.
The gator ignored him. "I am your great leader!"
Enryu cocked his head. "Oh, really? I thought the chestnut was your leader. Both of you seem to listen to him."
"If we fight, we fight together!" Rak roared, smashing a fist against a palm. "Listen to your leader, Blue Turtle!"
"Yeah, Mr Khun!" Bam's golden eyes were ablaze. "Let us fight by your side. It wasn't your fight to begin with anyway. It was mine. Let me be the one to finish it."
Aguero turned to Enryu, blue eyes electric. "Three against one. You have experience, we have numbers. If we win, you'll leave us alone. If you win... I'll let you fight me alone. If I win that, I want my answers. Do we have a deal, Hero Killer Enryu?"
Enryu laughed. For a serial killer villain, he was rather attractive, like Eduan and Jahad in a 'aged like fine wine' kind of way. If Aguero had most of his father's genes, he'd probably end up the same way, but better looking. "I like the way you think, little Icyhot Hero. This will be interesting. I've never fought against four of the elements at the same time." He probably knew Aguero was only stalling for time, waiting for his father. So why was he playing along? Was Enryu really so eager to find out more about the newest generation of heroes-to-be? "Oh, don't think too hard. Your brain's going to explode, and that's no fun."
Aguero kept his head held high. "Is that why you're picking a fight against three freshmen? Because it's fun?"
"It's always better to pick out the bad seeds before they can grow, isn't it? You should know that from your father already."
Aguero could feel two curious pairs of eyes on him, one gold and one beady red. He never talked about his home life at U.A, preferring to keep the two parts of his life as far away from each other as he could. "You know nothing about me," he spat.
He unleashed a volley of bright blue fire at the villain, Quirk fuelled by rage and fear. He almost didn't notice his top burning and melting away - he made a note to remind Shibisu, who had volunteered to make his suit for an assignment, about making the suit fireproof. The villain nimbly jumped out of the way, but Bam furrowed his brows and sent a gust of wind slamming the villain to the ground. Rak was waiting, too trigger-happy to miss the chance to pummel the villain's face in with his Stone Fists. It felt like the Sports Festival, the three of them a well oiled machine, fearsome and unbeatable.
"Stupid gator." The Hero Killer tossed the gator off like he weighed no more than a potato, and Rak hit the wall with a sickening crunch. He slid down next to Yuri, slumping against the floor. "He kept talking about turtles and hunting. His bravery was admirable before it got bothersome."
He grinned when Aguero trapped him in a pillar of ice. "I warned you not to hurt them." If Ran's electrically explosive temper was a lion's roar, Aguero's quiet rage was a pit viper waiting to strike. "I won't hesitate, bïtch."
Enryu sliced himself out of his confines with a pair of katanas. He threw two knives: Aguero spun out of the way of the first one, only to feel the Hero Killer slice across the exposed skin of his back with yet another blade. The bluenette caught the second blade in midair, flipping it around in his fingers and stabbing the villain instead. A flash of shocked realization flashed across Enryu's face when he saw the grim determination on Aguero's face, the desire to win, the look of 'I will show no mercy'. "Impressive," the villain ground out, "but what about this?"
Aguero whirled around at the cry of pain from next to him. The Hero Killer had sheathed his blade… in Bam's gut. Matching screams tore out of the boys' mouths when Enryu twisted the blade and pulled it out. Bam whimpered, stumbled, golden eyes wide and unfocused. He spat blood and wiped his mouth, a hand pressed over the gushing blood. Aguero's right hand joined them, a thin coat of ice stopping the blood flow for now. The cold made Bam gasp and shudder, but he stood straight again, Aguero's ice a clumsy but functional bandage and anesthetic.
"You fücking bastar-!" Enryu licked the tip of his katana clean, and suddenly Aguero felt like a prisoner in his own body. He couldn't move. Blood dripped down his back, but there was nothing he could do. He fought against invisible constraints when the Hero Killer approached his best friend. Please move, he begged his motionless body, Bam needs me I owe him I need to help him please move-
"You know, Jyu Viole Grace, I quite liked your parents. Arlene was a good one, she was. She was like you. Worthy, but not stupidly brave like your father was. What was his name? Ah, I can't remember anymore." Aguero may not be able to move his body, but his mind makes up for it by racing at a hundred miles per hour. Why did Enryu call Bam 'Jyu Viole Grace'? Who was Arlene, and what happened to her?
"I don't know what you're talking about," Bam said stiffly. "My name is the Twenty Fifth Bam. I never knew my parents, they passed away in an accident a while after I was born."
Feeling was returning to Aguero's fingertips, but other than a small twitch, there's nothing he could do. He still, however, could command ice to creep along the floor until Enryu's feet were locked in icy boots. The villain scowled, kicking him in the center of his chest. That punched a soundless gasp out of him as he flew towards a trash can. He doubled over, a stabbing pain in his sternum. He'd broken a rib, probably. Nothing too bad compared to electrocution. He groaned and staggered to his feet. It felt like a bomb had exploded in his chest, his right side was blue with frostbitten skin, and his left was burning hotter than a furnace, but Bam still needed him.
"Mr Khun!" Bam glared at the Hero Killer. "Why did you do that? He couldn't even defend himself."
"He's the son of Blue Thunderclap! He is no different from his father. Even you call him by the surname he got from his father. You may be worthy, but he is not. The Pro Heroes are hiding too much," Enryu preached, "it's time for the revolution!" He raised a katana. "And it will start with the execution of Khun Aguero Agnis-"
Bam slammed the villain against the wall with a burst of wind, his hand outstretched and his fingers splayed out. "Aguero is not his father. How many times do I have to say this?" Aguero, huh? His name sounded oddly nice falling from the other boy's lips, but this was probably a bad time to think about that. "Hurt him, and I will fücking destroy you, worthy hero or not." His golden eyes glowed with power and and his voice was deep with the dark promise of a threat. For the first time, Aguero was scared of his best friend.
Bam curled his fingers into a fist and began to squeezed. Enryu's eyes widened, his fingers scrabbling against an invisible force wrapped around his throat. "There's the little monster I knew was hiding inside you somewhere," he gloated in a rasp.
"Bam!" Aguero launched himself forward, wrapped his arms around Bam's uninjured chest. "Bam," he whispered against brown hair, "snap out of it. You're going to kill him." Bam gasped, trembling under his hands. Aguero stomped his right foot, locking the villain in a block of ice. "It's okay, Bam. He can't hurt us."
"He can't hurt us," Bam parroted with dazed expression. He doubled over, coughing into his hand. It came away red and sticky with blood. "So why does it hurt so much?"
When you cough blood, it's probably internal bleeding, Maria's voice said in his head, if it's from a stab make sure to keep pressure on the wound and elevate it. Also, raise the legs.
Aguero dropped to the floor, legs crossed. "Bam, lie over my lap. We need to keep your wound elevated." Bam obediently followed his instructions, hissing. "Father's coming, he'll be here soon, okay? I won't let you die like this." Bam's skin was cold and clammy, but sweat was heading on his forehead.
"You'll stay with me, right? I don't wanna be alone again."
"I'm not gonna go anywhere, Bam."
"Thanks, Aguero." Bam reached up, gazing at him with eyes full of wonder. "You're amazing." No, you're amazing, Aguero would've said. He was too late. Bam's eyes fluttered shut. Shït! Frantically, Aguero checked his pulse, sighing in relief when he felt Bam's carotid artery jumping steadily under his fingertips. Bam's heart was still beating. As long as it kept beating, everything would be fine.
"What the hell happened here, Aguero?"
For the first time, Aguero was glad to see his father. "You're just in time, Father. Call an ambulance. I'm not sure what happened to Yuri, Rak is probably concussed, and Bam is going to die if he doesn't get help fast."
Blue Thunderclap swore at the sight of blood splattered all over the floor and walls and his shirtless, injured son. "You better have a good explanation for this."
Aguero pointed at the deep frozen villain. "There's your explanation."
"Baby!" Urek Mazino burst into the scene, wailing like a siren. "Where's the baby?"
The other Khun blinked. "What baby?"
"Bam baby!" Urek dashed over, staring at the brunette's current state. "Who did this to him? I'll make them pay-"
"My son already did," Blue Thunderclap said proudly. "Look at that Enryu icicle."
Bam twitched in his lap, fingers finding Aguero's. The blue-haired boy smiled gently, closed his eyes and slipped out of consciousness.
"Ah, welcome back to the world of the living."
Aguero blinks his way past blurry vision and back into reality. His head hurts like nothing he's ever felt before, a pounding ten times worse than the worst hangover. There are various faces looking down at him - Maschenny and Yuri, for example. It's been a long time since he has seen Yuri and Maschenny side by side. There's another Khun, a younger half-brother Aguero vaguely remembers as a human compass. "Where... Where am I?" He grits his teeth when a sharp pang pierces through his skull. "Does anyone have Advil? Or Gatorade?"
Yuri raises an eyebrow, concerned. "A whole building collapsed on top of you, A.A. It's a miracle you survived at all."
It's all coming back to him now - Slayer, the warehouse, the bomb. "I think I'm concussed."
Maschenny snorts. "Yeah, no shït," she mutters to herself.
A vivid image of the villain flashes in his mind's eye, a vision of long brown hair and golden eyes, a too-familiar voice screaming at him to get out of here, Mr Khun, it's a trap, please, this place is gonna-
Aguero's mouth goes dry. "I think he sorta saved my life again. The villain, I mean," he adds, "he told me it was a trap."
Yuri grabs his shoulders. "You're concussed, Khun. Are you sure that's a memory and not a hallucination?"
"It's a memory, I'm sure of it. But- But he disappeared into sludge!" There's a feverish light in his eyes that quite frankly makes his younger brother look terrified. All of them notice as the brother sneaks away, but at the same time they really don't. "That's a new Quirk. Either he copied Jinsung Ha from FUG, or Jinsung sent him away."
Maschenny purses her lips with an annoyed expression on her face. There's a bandage wrapped around her forearm, and her hair is in spikes around her head. "He's telling the truth. Officer Ha, remember what White said when we were fighting him?" She tsks. "Damn villain got away again. Next time, I'm gonna destroy him. The bloodier, the better."
Yuri frowns at the other young woman's cold tone. "He said the Slayer Child tried to beat him up with his own Quirk. He couldn't even bruise the kid, but apparently Slayer managed to scratch him with his own Soul Burn. I can't figure out his Quirk. Does he steal on sight? Is there a limit to what he can copy?"
Aguero shakes his head. "How would he have your Quirk if you've never even seen him? Unless..." He takes a deep breath. "Unless we used to know him."
Yuri steeples her fingers. "Explain."
He might be grasping at straws, but there's no other explanation. "He steals Quirks after being defeated by them. Like a variation of V's All For One, so they must be related somehow. But he only started appearing recently. So what about his past? Did he grow up with FUG? That's a no, if he had taken on their beliefs he would've let me die. How about the Enryu situation? We know White joined FUG because he was 'inspired', Enryu called me 'little Icyhot Hero' so that would explain why White calls me that too. I know there's this useless pickle kid in my class who had a 'Revolution!' phase too. But Slayer didn't really have that psychopathic sadist vibe that White has. That only leaves one answer - we knew him in civilian form."
Maschenny's brows furrow. "Go on, A.A. You might be going somewhere here."
Aguero scowls. "I'm getting to it, Maschenny! If we knew him in civilian form, that must've meant that he wasn't aware of the real manifestation of his Quirk yet. Yuri, if he has your Quirk now, that means he must've sparred against you during your U.A days or in the police academy and lost. He took off his mask, and I heard his real voice. He's young, probably around my age. So that leaves U.A. He led me to the bomb, but he also went directly against FUG by warning me about it - don't yell at me for not listening, you know I have trust issues - and he looked so angry when he saw that White injured me. He also healed me. I saw his eyes just now, before he disappeared. He had really long bangs, but you know what I saw? His eyes were gold, Yuri. Think about it. Who would care enough about me to recklessly challenge White to a duel, but win?"
Yuri's eyes sharpen. "Are you sure his eyes were gold and not just, you know, brown?"
"It has to be him," Aguero insisted. "There's nobody else it could be. I had a dream just now. Enryu called Bam 'Jyu Viole Grace' and said that there were things he didn't even know about himself. What if Slayer is the result of Bam's new knowledge? Enryu said Father's generation of heroes are all hiding this really big secret from the rest of us. We know FUG wants King Jahad dead. But what if FUG only wants King Jahad dead because they know that big secret he's hiding, and the only way for Bam to find out his connection was to create a whole new identity within FUG?"
"Bam's dead," Yuri snaps. Her fists are clenched by her sides, crimson eyes blazing. "You know that. You were there. You were the one who mourned him the most out of all of us."
"I got there a few seconds too late to save him, but what if Rachel lied to us? She was there when- when- you know." After two years, it was still impossible for him to say the words out loud. "He's out there, I can feel it!"
"A.A!" Maschenny barks. "I know what you're planning. I know he meant a lot to you, but for the love of god, don't do it. I won't let you do it. Think about Maria. Think about Kiseia. You know how it felt to lose Bam, think about how we'd feel if we lost you. I'll get Father to stop you if I have to."
"Are you thinking about me as a brother, or as a weapon on a shelf?" Aguero asks quietly. When their eyes meet, electricity clashes against fire, both burning with determination. One to stay, one to go. "You know I would go to the ends of the earth for him. You and Yuri may not be the best of friends now, but you were inseparable back in U.A. You wouldn't stop talking about her. Look me in the eye, Chenny, and tell me you wouldn't raise hell for her if everybody told you she was dead even if you knew she wasn't and there was anything you could do about it."
Maschenny looks away with a muttered "dammit!" and even Yuri, ever the chatterbox, is silent for once at the implicit confession. "I'm not happy about this, A.A, but I'll get Ran, Maria and maybe Kiseia to keep Father off your ass. Do what you want. You're on your own now."
Aguero sighs in relief. "Thanks, Maschenny. You're the best."
"Don't thank me," she grumbles under her breath, "this is what siblings are for, right?" She shoos Yuri out of the conversation, speaking in a hiss. "Go find your boyfriend. If you bring him back, that's great as long as you keep him away from Yuri. If you decide to join him in FUG because you want to find out what Father and his friends are hiding, I will beat your ass the next time I see you."
"He's not my boyfriend! Our relationship is purely platonic! You wish you and Yuri have what Bam and I had!"
Maschenny's glare is cold enough to freeze fire. "Get out before I beat your ass right now, you little shït."
Aguero can't help but grin at his sister's pink cheeks. "What can I say? Younger brothers are here for one reason, and that's to annoy the shït out of you old people."
Maschenny bares her teeth and her hair starts to frizz, eyes glowing blue with a temper worthy of Zeus. Aguero makes a dash for safety when Yuri hugs his older sister aggressively, keeping her hands pinned by her sides. "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but we think FUG's lair is in Kamino Ward in Yokohama City! I'll send you the address - ah!"
The 'Icyhot Hero' takes his chance to flee when Maschenny accidentally shocks Yuri with a bit of static electricity. He pays for a train ticket to Kanagawa Prefecture with money stolen from his father - he knows Eduan wouldn't miss it. The ride is a few hours long, and Aguero has nothing with him beside his phone, his wallet, and a head filled with Bam thoughts. He notices people staring at him, wondering why Blue Thunderclap's son is alone on a train to a different prefecture. He ignores them in favor of memorizing the address Yuri sends him. His hero outfit is sitting in the backpack next to him - he can't be too careful.
After an hour, most of the people around him have fallen asleep. Perhaps it's his concussion tiring him out, maybe it's all the thinking. Or is it the insomnia? Either way, he finds himself drifting off, lulled to sleep by the rumble of the shinkansen. Just like the past few times he's been unconscious, he dreams of Bam.
"Mr Khun, I'm so excited!" They were on a tour bus, rented to transport the hero classes and the support classes to a week long training camp. "Aren't you?"
Hatz and Shibisu were sitting together a few rows ahead. After the Sports Festival, the two had become close friends, not unlike Aguero and Bam had, with enough mutual trust for Shibisu to be snoring away on Hatz's shoulder while the hero-in-training stoically clipped his nails. On the three seats next to the two, Lauroe was wrapped up in his blanket, drooling into a pillow. Ro and Blitz were up front, with the former driving the bus and the latter keeping him awake with a constant barrage of words. Endorsi and Anaak, strangely enough, had developed a somewhat sisterly bond after the Festival. Endorsi chattered away about her favorite heels while Anaak offered harmless jibes ever now and then. Rachel was there too, eating an apple somewhere - for some mysterious reason, Akryung had disappeared from U.A (Rak had been disappointed, wanting to spar against the 'Ghost Turtle' (not to be confused with Endorsi, who he had dubbed 'Ghost Eye Turtle') again). The blonde had been transferred to their class. Aguero had bested her in hand to hand combat in a sparring session, easier than breathing. (He'd ended up pinned to the ground by Bam only a few minutes later and been forced to yield, which was embarrassing.)
After the Hero Killer incident, Aguero, Bam and Rak had become closer than ever. Perhaps it was a side effect of having to do community service for weeks after breaking the law to defeat a serial killer. Hero rules were awfully unfair. Aguero had his head on Bam's lap, the brunette absentmindedly toying with his blue locks. His feet were propped up on a snoring Rak's large forehead. The gator had grown taller, yet again, and was taking up the three seats next to them.
Bam's smile was dreamy, the dappled sun on his skin and painting his hair gold like his eyes. Aguero couldn't remember how he ever thought Bam was plain. Struggling against his feelings was futile - Bam pulled the truth from him as easily and often as he smiled. Aguero used to lie with casual smiles and words of 'I'm fine' to cover up yellowing bruises, so often that he began to believe in them. Bam saw right past all of it. A few months had passed since Enryu's attack, and they were going to graduate from First Year in a few months. For the first time, Aguero was dreading the summer.
Normally, summer was when Aguero could pretend to be part of a normal family. Summer held a lot of his better memories, like playing hide and seek in their enormous family mansion with Ran and Kiseia, sometimes joined by Maria and Maschenny; like racing Ran to the convenience store for ice pops. Usually, he lost, but he wasn't exactly honorable like Hatz was. Ran despised his older brother's dastardly ways.
But now, summer was when he and his new friends had to be separated. He didn't know when exactly he'd started to think like this. In the span of less than a year, Aguero had gone from 'Khun Aguero Agnis, not here to make friends' to 'Mr Khun, Bam's most precious friend'. Out of all his friends, Bam was the only one he trusted enough to tell about his dysfunctional family. He already had it better than those with worse Quirks, but Bam was still determined to visit and prove to Eduan that Aguero was more than capable of being a worthy hero on his own.
Aguero looked at Bam and saw sun-kissed skin, a heart on a sleeve, scars that would never fade. He looked at Bam, the strongest hero, his best friend. His heart flip-flopped in his chest. There was a strange feeling that he couldn't name, but it wasn't unwelcome. If anything, he accepted it with open arms. He swallowed, a tender smile creeping onto his face. "Yeah."
For a while, the world consisted of them and only them, two boys on a bus. Aguero resisted the urge to purr like a Lo Po Bia family member with their animal themed Quirks when Bam's nails gently scrape the top of his scalp. Nobody ever played with his hair like that. Nobody dared. He didn't know how much his heart could take when Bam was staring down at him with a look of wonder, like Aguero was the best thing he had ever seen.
The moment was destroyed when Quant Blitz screamed "Wake up, you lazies, we're here!"
The first few days of their forest training camp went smoothly. It was hosted by Po Bidau Gustang, or Lone Wave, who was an old classmate of Eduan's and a rather eccentric Hero. Aguero didn't complain when he found out he had to share a room with Bam and Rak - the gator snored like a demon out of hell, but Bam had a really cute bedhead that made everything worth it. By the third night, the three of them had pushed their tatamis together. Rak still slept like the dead, but Bam and Aguero constantly woke each other up in the middle of the night with mumbles of "couldn't sleep, wanna make sure you're still here." Morning would find the two of them curled up in each other, sometimes with Rak splayed over their outstretched legs. Aguero still felt guilty seeing Bam's scars every time they walked out of the public showers, especially that ugly patch of raised skin just a little higher than his belly button.
Disaster struck on the fifth day in the form of a FUG attack. It wasn't the first time FUG had attacked their school - earlier on in the year, they'd invaded the Unforeseen Simulation Joint training center, better known as USJ, and stolen a redhead psychic called Hwaryun. The four classes were scattered. Rak was in detention, watched over by Lero Ro, for picking a fight with the 'Revolution!' obsessed pickle. The rest of the hero and support classes had been split into groups of three, set deep into the forest, and abandoned to find their way out. As if normal traps weren't bad enough, there were now seasoned villains lying in wait too. Aguero was in a group with Endorsi and Hatz, Bam with Rachel and Hoh, the blonde boy with the laser horn. Endorsi had given them all walkie talkies, fully functional despite the fact that it had come out of what little body fat she had. Even Shibisu's team and Anaak's team had them.
The trouble started with Anaak. "I need backup," she hissed into the walkie talkie. She sounded like she was running, by the sound of her rapid breaths. "Mr Yuga suddenly attacked me, I don't know why. The rest of my group disappeared. I'm trying to- AH!"
"Anaak!" Endorsi shouted. Why was Yuga attacking her? The ball of rice on legs was the teacher of one of the support classes. "Tell us where you are! We're coming!" Anaak howled like she'd been bitten by a feral animal - Yuga could, after all, unhinge his jaw and spit animals out of his mouth. The line went dead.
"I have to help her." Endorsi's voice was wild wit h worry, her hands shaking. "She's my niece. She's the only link have left to my older sister. She's the only family I have."
Hatz nodded solemnly. "We will go with you. Anaak is an honorable opponent."
"Endorsi, make another walkie talkie for me. I'm going to get Blitz for help and permission to engage. Father will skin me alive if I get arrested for illegal Quirk use again." The Hero Killer incident was meant to be a secret, but somehow it had gotten out to the public.
Endorsi closed her eyes and pulled a walkie talkie from under her arm. "Be careful, Khun."
He cracked a grin. "When am I not?"
They ran their separate ways, each heading to different patches of forest. Aguero left a burnt trail of leaves behind him - getting lost would potentially cause disaster. He had to get help. As powerful as Endorsi and Hatz were, there was no way they could take down Yuga alone.
The next group to encounter trouble was Shibisu's group. Rather, it was Lauroe who spoke into the walkie talkie. "There was this FUG rabbit girl who was hopping around and dispensing sleeping gas. I took her down, but Isu's asleep. He's heavier than he looks. Also, she said something about Jyu Viole Grace and a revolution. Khun, you met the Hero Killer Enryu. Does this mean anything to you?"
Aguero swore. FUG was looking for Bam? "Just get your group to safety," he ordered. "I'm getting permission from Blitz."
He barreled towards the underground hero. Blitz, Gustang and Bokdol, the teacher of the other support class, were battling two of FUG's major players. "Quant Blitz!" Aguero shouted across the clearing. "Give us permission to fight with our Quirks, Yuga is attacking Anaak, and FUG are trying to steal Bam!"
Blitz muttered something about press conferences but agreed. "We have permission!" Aguero yelled into the walkie talkie. He was following his Bam Alarm to where the other boy was. "You may engage!"
"Roger that!" Three voices shouted at him through the speaker.
The Bam Alarm wailed like a siren in his head, red lights flashing. The closer he got, the more danger Bam was in. "Bam!" He leapt over a fallen tree just to see a man with a metal mask over his face disappear into a warp gate. Karaka, one of FUG's assassins. Aguero hurled a blazing arc of fire at the villain, but the warp gate fizzled out, a tree going up in blue flame in its stead.
The blue glow illuminated a mountaintop with a steep drop down the side, Rachel's terrified face. Hoh was lying on the ground, his neck bent awkwardly. Bam was nowhere to be seen. Aguero turned to the hyperventilating blonde. Distantly, he heard Endorsi say that Quant Blitz had found them, that Anaak was badly injured but Yuga had been taken down. Lauroe had dragged his two unconscious teammates to where Rak was, and Lero Ro was staving off another villain. "What happened here, Rachel?" His voice was dangerously quiet. He had a feeling Bam was hurt, but his instincts for once failed him.
Please don't be dead, he prayed silently.
"There was a bull," Rachel began shakily, "it attacked us. It- it killed Hoh. Bam tried to save us. He jumped off the edge with the bull to save me."
No, no, no. His heart beat erratically in his chest, like he was the one being attacked. "Bam!" The dark forest was silent and unresponsive. "Bam!" He cried out again. "If you're out there, please, say something!" His voice broke, his plea answered with the chirping of crickets.
"I'm sorry," Rachel whispered. "I'm glad to see that he was loved."
Aguero realized what that flip-flopping feeling in his chest was now - it was love. The epiphany hit him like a ray of sunshine - he irrevocably, undeniably loved Bam, be it as a friend or something more. But now it was too late. If Bam had jumped with the purpose to kill the bull, he would've killed himself too. The butterflies he would feel at seeing Bam were replaced with an empty feeling in the pit of his stomach, like his heart had been carved out of his chest. All he could feel was overwhelming hatred at himself for being too late, at Rachel for not fighting with Bam instead of letting Bam fight for her. "I wish I met him before you," he whispered.
Aguero coated the hill in ice, sliding down the slope for any sign of his most precious friend, the light to his dark, the world he revolved around. He found no sign of Bam except a bloody, tattered headband that had been a gift from Aguero.
"Khun?" Endorsi's voice crackled. "Did you find Bam?"
Aguero couldn't answer. His legs gave out from underneath him, and his breath came in rapid pants. Now that Bam was gone, he couldn't even breathe. It was like there was a weight on top of his chest, pressing down on his ribs, his lungs, his heart. He doubled over, vision hazy at the edges. Bam's headband oozed blood between his fingers. "I want him back," he whispered, "dammit, I promised him I would stay!"
"Khun my love," Shibisu said gently, "you need to calm down-"
"He's- he's-" No matter how furiously he clawed at his throat, the tears refused to fall, the words caught in his throat and blocking his airway.
"He's dead," Rachel finished.
"-Kanagawa Prefecture, the next station is Yokohama City in Kanagawa Prefecture."
Aguero wakes up with a gasp. Internally, he thanks the train announcer lady for disturbing his sleep. He doesn't want to remember Bam's funeral, how Rak had screamed at the sky to bring his Black Turle back, how Rachel had cried crocodile tears while the crocodile himself had cried realer tears than any of them. He doesn't want to remember how he had taken his grief and self-loathing out on his father, how his father had slapped him across the face and snarled "don't you dare think I haven't lost any of my friends too". He doesn't, however, regret signing his freedom to the devil to get stronger in return, so that he could protect his friends, and when Bam came back be strong enough to stay by his side.
The drowning guilt is still there, but now he has steely determination and powerful fire and ice to keep him afloat.
He rubs his eyes, surprised to find tear tracks. Kanagawa Prefecture whizzes past him, and the closer he gets to the city, the faster his heart beats. Will Bam hate Aguero for not coming to find him earlier? What had FUG done to him? If he looks in those golden eyes, will there still stubborn kindness and innocent warmth?
"Oi, Blue Turtle. I'm getting a headache just looking at you."
Aguero whips around, rubbing his eyes. Sure enough, there's a massive gator sitting behind him - wait, massive? The gator he remembers is barely up to his hips. He smiles sweetly at the gator. "Excuse me, where's your son?"
The gator tackles him off his seat. "I am the great Rak Wraithraiser, you stupid Blue Turtle! Is it so hard to believe I'm taller than you now?"
"Yes," Aguero mutters. That massive gator is really Rak? He can't quite believe it. "What the hell are you even doing here?"
Rak puffs out his chest. "Crazy Turtle told me you were going to find Black Turtle, and I couldn't let you have all the fun!" Yuri told Rak to follow Aguero to FUG's hideout, and Rak agreed because it was fun? "Black Turtle was my prey before you," the gator sulks, "you just hogged him all the time after the Sports Festival." He makes a face, as expressive as alligators can get. "I still don't understand why Black Turtle didn't shut up about you even after you beat him so badly he knocked himself out."
Aguero smirks. "That's because I'm cooler."He isn't wrong - he's a human heater and cooler all in one, good for winters and better for summers. Shibisu and Maria would beg him to allow them to cling to him, but Bam was the only one he let stick to his right when it was too hot or snuggle into his left when it got cold.
"Black Turtle called you hot, actually." The gator chomps furiously on a banana he had fished out of a pocket. "Both of you kept secretly staring at each other in training and looking away when you got caught. You and Black Turtle's courting rituals need a lot of work. Real turtles have better mating rituals than you! After we find Black Turtle and finally start thinking with your banana instead of your brain, I will return to the wilderness to celebrate."
Aguero gapes. His body is frozen, but his heart is pounding like feet on a treadmill. His train of thought had derailed at some point, but there's a voice screaming Bam thinks you're hot! in his head. "Bam... What?" Did Rak just say Bam wanted to court him? And mating rituals?
Rak slaps his hand over his eyes. "Stupid Clever Turtle, what do you use your brain for? If you tell me it's for mooning over Black Turtle and wondering if he'll ever like you back, I will eat my fist."
"Go eat your fist, then."
The old lady behind them stares when the gator really attempts to shove his hand inside his mouth. He fails, taking it out and wiping slobber on his pants. "Blue Turtle," he says seriously, "you and Black Turtle are legal. Your cowardice smells disgusting. Just mate already, dammit!"
Rak Wraithraiser is an awfully crude wing-man, and Aguero flushes angrily. Did Bam have to cope with this too? "You can't just expose me like that, stupid stinky gator!"
Rak rolls his beady little eyes, looking smug. "You only call me stupid when you know I'm right."
"We are now approaching Yokohama City," a robotic voice announces. "Please mind the platform gap."
"This isn't over," Aguero hisses when they get off the train. They make their way to Kamino Ward, stopping in front of an abandoned-looking bar. It's the address Yuri gave them, but Aguero doesn't see any light seeping out from under the wooden door, or any sign of life.
"Are you sure this is the place?" Rak whispers. Skepticism made him loud, and Aguero is glad the gator had decided to focus on earthquake rescues for his future instead of stakeouts.
"Shh!" Aguero can hear footsteps nearing, and he presses Rak's head down. They're hiding behind a broken wall, spying at the FUG hideout entrance. He'd stolen the gator's jacket to hide his own bright blue hair, trying not to look like a beacon. He'd tied the sleeves around his neck like it was a cloak.
"Sorry," Rak whispers.
The footsteps stop. "Who's there?"
Aguero's heart is pounding in his chest, and for a while he's too afraid to even breathe. The voice that had spoken is feminine, unfamiliar. "You go back first, Xia Xia," says a new voice. "I'll scout out the area."
The new voice is overflowing with authority, deep with dominance. It's Bam - or rather, it's his inner monster, who would have killed Enryu if Aguero hadn't stepped in, who had fought White out of protectiveness and won. Aguero hates feeling weak, but he knows he would bare his throat without hesitation to that side of Bam.
"Okay, Viole!" A pair of feet scamper away, but another pair are still there. They make their way towards Aguero and Rak's hiding spot, light and barely audible. Aguero places his right hand against the floor and sends a wave of ice creeping across the ground. He hears a heavy sigh when a pair of boots crackle over the ice. "Mr Khun, what did I say?"
Yep, it's Bam. He's been busted. Aguero stands up, peering at Bam over the wall. Bam has his hands on his hips. There's a frown on his face, but his golden eyes are bright behind his bangs. "You know I hate rules and I never listen to instructions, Bam."
Bam shakes his head, his 'disappointment' covered by the twinkle in his eyes. "I know I kept giving you hints, but this is a really dangerous place for you to be, Mr Khun. You really shouldn't be here."
Aguero pouts playfully. "Didn't you miss me, Bam?"
Bam nods aggressively, his ponytail bouncing wildly. Aguero's never going to get used to Bam with so much hair. "Too much."
Their frowns turn to smiles, smiles to grins that are big and a little painful but full of joy and how totally stupid they are for each other. Aguero vaults over the wall, skidding across the ice to Bam, who catches him neatly, lifts him up and spins him in a little circle. "I missed you," he mumbles into the brunette's neck. He flings his arms around Bam's waist, and Bam clings to his shoulders like a lifeline. Bam is there, warm and familiar and solid, and he loves it. Bam still smells like chestnuts, and it feels like going home. "'M sorry it took me so long."
"Missed you too," Bam murmurs into his hair. "Sorry I made you worry."
"Understatement of the century," Aguero mutters under his breath. He steps away from the hug, tracing the slope of Bam's nose, the line and dip of his lip, the new cut across a cheekbone. Bam looks at him like he's something wonderful, like the sun looking at the sky for the first time. "I'm not going to let you go again. I'll fight anyone who tries to take you away from me. Because I-" He takes a deep breath. "Because I love you."
Bam's eyes blow wide. "You love me?"
Aguero huffs out a laugh at his sun's wide eyes and pink cheeks. He looks beautiful. But when does he not? "I have for a while, yeah."
Bam exhales, relaxing. "Thanks." His eyes widen again. "Wait, did you just say you're in love with me? And that I'm beautiful? And did I just say thanks?"
"Black Turtle!" Rak bellows, drawing himself to full height. He towers over the wall he had been hiding behind, Aguero's biggest reptilian nightmare. "Your courtship methods need a lot of improvement! You will never get the chance to mate with Blue Turtle if you don't!"
Bam slaps a hand over his mouth. He looks horrified, his cheeks red as a tomato. Aguero doesn't fare much better as a slightly dignified strawberry. "Mr Rak's here too?" He clears his throat, a smile plastered over his face. His eyes are panicked, the blush spreading down to his neck. "I mean, Mr Rak! It's great to see you!"
"We will talk later, Black Turtle," the gator announces ominously. "You have much to say and much to do right now. Just remember to wrap your banana when the time comes. Blue Turtle, you do not need to worry about Crazy Turtle or Lightning Turtle chasing you. They are preoccupied. Blue Turtle, give me my jacket. My job here is done. I will return to the wild now to search for bananas."
In typical Rak fashion, he walks away without a care. "When did Mr Rak get so tall?" Bam squeaks in distress. "And how's Miss Yuri? And everyone else? It's been two years too long."
"I'll show you how everyone is if you tell me what happened to you," Aguero declares. If FUG hurt Bam in any way...
Bam flounders, caught between the desire to see his old friends and the trauma of reliving the past two years. "It's a really long story-"
"You have time," a voice drawls lazily. Aguero whips around, spotting a redhead psychic who had disappeared three years ago. "I bought you some. You should go with Khun, my God." Why is Hwaryun calling Bam her 'God'? Is it because Bam is scarily powerful now? "I have seen your paths, and you will end up with him in every single one. Leave FUG, see your friends again. Be happy, my God. If you leave now, you may even get kisses in the not too distant future."
"Thanks, Miss Hwaryun!" Bam chirps. His hair blows into his eyes when he hovers in midair, so excited he's actually floating. He clips his bangs on top of his head with a flower clip that Aguero has never seen before. "It's been great knowing you. Please tell Master Jinsung not to worry about me."
"I'm happy for you, my God. Frankly, I was getting tired of listening to you moon." The redhead smiles at them, a knowing gleam in her eyes. What had she seen in their futures with her Quirk? "I would tell you not to hurt him, Khun Aguero Agnis, but it seems like your heart already belongs to him. What will you do when he tells you the truth?"
Bam is back on the floor now, intertwining their fingers and holding on tight like Aguero will disappear if he doesn't. Aguero squeezes back comfortingly. "If you can see our paths, you already know where my loyalty lies."
Hwaryun shrugs. "Fair enough." They hear chatter from within the FUG bar, and Hwaryun shoos them away. "Fly, my God."
Aguero yelps when Bam hoists him into a bridal carry, taking them both far away. FUG may now be on their asses, and so will the media, but as long as they're together, they can do anything. Strength comes from love and loyalty, right?