“GET OUT OF MY FUCKING WAY!”
The cool tip of a blade rested harsh against bare skin. Kirishima froze in his spot, vision zeroing in on the man, or should he say teenager, standing before him, with a razor sharp sword threatening his life. Kirishima forgot how to be a person in that moment, as a fear like no other gripped his stomach and twisted daggers into his gut. Villian! His brain supplied smartly. He clenched his teeth, searching the teen’s face for anything he could use to pin down his identity. Blood red eyes pinned him to the spot, spiky ash blond hair stuck out like a lion’s mane or maybe an angel’s halo. Behind him the alley was dark, some fires lit, something glowing blue behind him that Kirishima couldn’t focus on at the moment.
And then it hit him. He’d seen this guy before. The gas mask covering his lower face, the double katana swords over his back with two straps of orange, even the clunky combat boots… Ground Zero!
What’s his quirk?
Does he have a quirk?
I don’t know his quirk!!
The sword dug a little farther into the junction of his neck and shoulder. He hardened instinctively, and Ground Zero’s eyes narrowed just a tiny bit. All of it happened within seconds, but the villain must’ve gotten bored of his not moving.
“I said!” The sword disappeared, and Kirishima had only a millisecond to catch on what Ground Zero was going to do. A foot swung back, Kirishima braced his arms in front of him as he saw crackling white pops emitting from The sole of Ground Zero’s boots.
“GET OUT OF MY WAY!!”
The force of a wall smacked his straight in the face. A blinding white light enveloped him, the smells of burnt sugar and gunpowder filled his nose and he shut his eyes, dug his heels into the ground to withstand the shockwave, and prepared for another hit. But nothing happened.
His heart was pounding painfully against his hardened ribs. Kirishima peeled open his eyes after a second, only to find Ground Zero was gone. A pit of dread and guilt crawled through Kirishima’s veins, which was blasted right out of him as another explosion rippled through the air, searing his back and pushing him forward off his feet. He stumbled, scraping his knees on the rough gravel before turning to see Ground Zero flying through the air, glaring down at him from above.
Ground Zero did a flip in the air with the grace of a dancer. He passed behind a tall building, firing off another explosion that propelled him out of sight, and the villain was gone.
Kirishima couldn’t sleep that night. He tossed and turned for an hour, feeling the sting in his back and shoulders from the last hit he suffered before Ground Zero had disappeared without a trace. He’d gone to Fatgum immediately afterwards, telling him in a jumbled mess that he’d run into a villain, that the villain had explosions! That he’d never met someone like that before. Fatgum had sat with wide eyes and waited for Kirishima to calm down just a bit to extract the real information.
But Kirishima felt himself shut down. He’d failed to catch a true villain, and how said villain was probably… he didn’t know! Doing whatever villains did! Once Fatgum had him retell the story, starting off with his patrol with Tamaki, when they noticed something fishy down in the maze of alleys. They had investigated, but Tamaki had gotten sidetracked, and, like an idiot, Kirishima didn’t wait for him. He’d heard something down a different path and took off, headstrong and confident that he could take out any lowlifes that got in his way this time. He’d noticed the traces of ash and the flickering of blue lights before a streak of black and orange rushed from behind a wall, and a sword was at his throat.
Everything had happened so fast, that he hadn’t had time to react properly. He was so suddenly being cussed out by a teenager his own age wearing a freaky gasmask and glaring at him like he’d killed his family.
So yeah. He couldn’t sleep. Could think of anything else but those burning red eyes and those sharp swords and harsh words. It was well past 3am. It was Saturday, thank god. Kirishima had enough trying to sleep. He jolted up from his bed and snatched his phone before exiting his room as quiet as he could. He got lucky with his dorm placement. There was only Shouji next to him, and that guy slept like the dead.
He made it down to the common rooms, ansty at the silence. He could hear the crackling pop of explosions against his ears in the deafening stillness. Kirishima plopped himself on one of the couches, hugged a pillow to his chest, and turned on his phone. The light washed over him, bright and blue, causing him to squint furiously until his eyes adjusted.
Kirishima searched his villain name first. Ground Zero. There were few results, many of which he’d seen or read already. The incident where Ground Zero made himself known had happened less than a month ago, but in their crazy day to day, a low-rank villain without a quirk hadn’t been special in the slightest. Ground Zero had arrived in the pubic eye sporting deadly looking double sided swords, curved on each end, face hidden with his mask, but he stood out far too much. From the ashy hair to the red eyes to simply his choice of attire, nothing about him was subtle.
Except everything else.
Kirishima clicked on the top article and read through it again. He’d read it last month, but hadn’t thought much about some quirkless nutcase. There was a lot to go around. Just because he swung swords around and called himself Ground Zero didn’t make him particularly interesting. The article clearly stated that he didn’t seem to harbor any quirk, that he was loud and disrupting the public going about their day, and that he was probably nothing more than a nuisance with a big ego. Kirishima had thought that to be true as well. He’d never bothered to watch the video that was captured of the mess he’d made of the jewelry store. The article never expressed how many things were taken, but there was much more destruction than stolen jewels.
The article said he used bombs. Weapons. Not a quirk. Had he really? Had Ground Zero planted grenades in that store, flushed out those people, before trampling through the streets and picking a fight with an amatuer hero-in-training? That’s what it said, right?
Kirishima frowned at his screen. Why hadn’t Ground Zero used his quirk then? Why did he use it against Kirishima, but just to run away? He tapped his chin, clicked on a different article that said basically the same thing, then scrolled to the end of the search results. There was a tiny three comment thread on a villain’s forum.
Does anyone know anything about Ground Zero? Doesn’t it seem strange that a villain that fought a UA student isn’t covered more by the media?
The answers were a bunch of BS. Kirishima couldn’t get information here. It was like Ground Zero existed on the edge of reality. Maybe all of the things he was seeing were a hoax. But there was one piece of real, tangible evidence of Ground Zero and how he fought and what he did.
Kirishima went to youtube and searched for it. A popular livestreamer had caught the whole fight, starting after the dust had settled over the rubble of the jewelry store. Ground Zero was coming from the wreckable when a streak of green flashed, and Ground Zero let out a screech of pure hatred.
“What the hell are you doing here?!” There was static, the quality of the video tanked the second any real action started. His swords caught the light when he swung them in practiced arcs. He was a good fighter, with or without a quirk. He was nearly trained, in the way he stood, the way he attacked and defended like it was nothing, the way he landed a few good blows and suddenly, things were different this time. Kirishima watched the battle with a growing sense of admiration.
As the two fought, it was like a dance. Ground Zero was fighting like he weighed nothing, spinning in the air to land kicks, twirling his swords in his hands and lunging with an elegance Kirishima could only ever admire. But Ground Zero’s opponent was talking. Of course he was. He was trying to reason with an unreasonable person. Kirishima had met that man once, but there was no way in hell he’d call Ground Zero one of those villains who could be swayed. His motives were too unclear. He was angry and explosive.
The video had almost a million views by now, yet people weren’t too interested in Ground Zero. They were interested in who he fought. Kirishima had known. He’d asked about it before. Only once, but hadn’t gotten much of an answer back then. Maybe if he asked again, he’d get a different response. The video was cut short before the battle had officially ended, but Kirishima doubted either one was about to back down. He would never know, right?
Kirishima sighed and let his phone fall on his face and left it there for a moment to think about a solution. He wanted to know why Ground Zero had… run away from him. That was it, wasn’t it? He’d run away. But he hadn’t been scared, Kirishima knew that, and he had a quirk that was powerful and loud and he could have taken out Kirishima within a few seconds, he could feel it in his bones. He hadn’t stood a chance. So...what? Did a villain spare his pathetic hero life? Unlikely. Why hadn’t Ground Zero fought him like he fought the other student before?
Kirishima twirled a piece of hair around his finger. He’d have to ask then. Midoriya would know.
It was Monday. Kirishima had been studying that video like his life depended on it, but couldn’t come up with any more conclusions. Ground Zero had spared his life. That was all he could think, but there were too many holes that he couldn’t fill in? Why didn’t he use his quirk on Midoriya? Why did he use bombs instead of his own explosions? Why did he use his quirk on Kirishima of all people?
He caught Midoriya in the hall before homeroom, determined to get some answers. “Hey Midoriya,” he called. A head of curly hair turned towards him. Midoriya had always been easy to talk to about almost everything save his childhood, but he was friendly with everyone in class. He always tried to do the heroic thing, sometimes to the point where he hurt himself. He hurt himself a lot, actually. He knew the fight with Ground Zero had cost him a few broken fingers. Again, but at that point, he’d been in Recovery Girl’s office so many times, once more couldn’t hurt, right?
He pulled his phone out and showed the video to Midoriya, he wasn’t expecting his friend to grimace before a blank shadow fell over him. The expression was micro, fleeting, like it never even happened. Maybe Kirishima had just imagined the look of clear discomfort.
Kirishima needed answers. It was just some villain Midoriya had fought, it wasn’t some sore point, was it? “Do you know anything about Ground Zero?” He watched Midoriya’s face this time, the flicker of dark in his green eyes, the twitch of his eyebrows, his jaw clenching for just a moment. Something was wrong. Midoriya turned his attention from the video to him, he was searching for something. For a few heart beats, there was a thick silence between them, Kirishima felt a cold chill run down his spine at the intensity of Midoriya’s stare.
Then it all broke. Midoriya grinned easily and turned his head away. Liar. Kirishima was stupid, but he wasn’t that dumb. “Nope! Sorry Kiri, I don’t know anything!”
“That’s shady as hell!” Kirishima called him out right away. He didn’t miss how Midoriya cringed at his words. Guilt etched into his stomach, leaving a bad taste in his mouth. But so did Midoriya of all people lying to him. He must know something. Maybe he knew that Ground Zero had a quirk all along!
Midoriya looked at his phone again. “Ground Zero’s not some high-rank villain…” He all but glared at him through his curly bangs, “why’re you so interested in him anyway? I’ve never seen you so invested in a low life villain like this. Even when you fought Rappa.”
Kirishima huffed. His fight with Rappa had been everything to him. But Rappa was behind bars now. Ground Zero had escaped him, but according to everything he could get on this villain—which wasn’t much—he should have at least stayed to fight a little. He glanced down at his phone, still playing the brawl between Ground Zero and Midoriya. “I just… I don’t get it.” Midoriya tilted his head. “I mean… I was alone when he basically caught me. No pros around. His quirk is powerful enough. He’s volatile enough… Why didn’t he stay to fight?”
Kirishima shrugged, he caught a glimpse of Midoriya’s face, stock still like he’d been dunked into freezing water. He ran a hand through his spiked hair, “It was like he just… ran away.”
Midoriya was frozen for a few more seconds, the words seemed to shake him to his core. Kirishima narrowed his eyes at his friend. He’d never acted like this before, even when facing off evil far beyond whatever Ground Zero was. This was primal instinct fear flashing through his eyes. And then he spoke, tone grave and dark. Midoriya’s trance snapped and he grabbed Kirishima’s shoulders, a madness in his eyes that wasn’t there a moment ago.
“Kirishima. I don’t think he ran away.” The gears in his mind were turning so clearly, like he was putting all the pieces Kirishima couldn’t see together. Kirishima wished desperately that Midoriya would just tell him what the hell was going on, but he had a feeling that wasn’t going to happen. Still, a wave of dread rolled over him as Midoriya continued. “You’re just not his target.”
“Target?” Kirishima hissed. They were in class now. Aizawa glared at him as he tried to get Midoriya to talk to him for the fifth time that morning. After he’d said that, the warning bell rang, Midoriya seemed to snap out of fit, smiled uneasily, and told him they’d talk later. So of course Kirishima couldn’t wait for fucking later. He needed answers, and he needed them before having to sit through an entire morning’s worth of lectures. His brain would not let him focus on anything besides Ground Zero and his fucking target.
Who could it be though? Who pissed off some rowdy teen with a cool quirk and a seemingly mysterious persona? Ground Zero was a nobody.
A nobody with a hit list, apparently.
Kirishima tapped his feet on the ground, legs bouncing as his mind raced to all possible conclusions. Was it Midoriya? His eyes locked onto the back of Deku’s head. Ground Zero had fought with him in front of that store. Why was that? There was something Midoriya hadn’t told him yet. Ugh! I can’t wait around! I have to know already!
Kirishima ground his teeth together in frustration as a math worksheet was passed to him. Great! Now I have to solve equations and contemplate this stupid mystery villain dude. What a horrible, horrible start to his Monday. Kirishima begged the universe for a brief second that the rest of his week would be brighter than this anxiety fest.
He caught Kaminari’s eye, his best friend looked concerned. Kirishima put on a smile and shook his head, pretending it was the school work that was getting him down. His grades had been slipping for as long as he could remember. God. He needed a tutor or something if he had any hope of passing the year.
“I’m fucking bored already!” Bakugou kicked a few pebbles from the rooftop, watched them tumble down into the street. One hit the lamppost and flickered the warm, cascading light. The sound of a police siren wailed in the distance. The noise grated on his nerves, causing a vein to pulse on his forehead. The building he was situated on wasn’t the tallest, with a flat roof and beveled edges. He could peer down into the semi busy streets with ease, look into the crowd of complacent strangers, all of them smiling. Hopeful. Glamorously happy. Bakugou scowled and groaned, tilting himself backward to lay back on the gravely blacktop.
“Hey, cut that shit out.” A shadow of a man hissed at him.
Bakugou growled, “We’ve been at this for fuckin’ weeks jackass. When’re we gonna make a move!?”
Tired eyes narrowed, suddenly glancing over his shoulder to stare Bakugou down. Bakugou sat up, glaring right back. He lit a spark on his palm. “Soon, got it? Now, shut the ever loving fuck up.”
Bakugou grumbled some swears to himself. He perched back on his heels and let the mini explosions dwindle down. “You better not be wastin’ my time, fuck face.”
A boot stamped down on a cigarette, ground it further into the gravel until nothing of it remained. The faint smell of burning flesh came through the filters in his mask. If he could smell it now, how strong was it in the fresh night air? It roiled his stomach, but he wouldn’t dare let it show on his face.
“You better shut your mouth… else I’ll throw you off this roof.”
There was a pause. Bakugou sized up his opponent. Or should he say colleague. He grinned behind the mask pressing against his cheeks. “No you wouldn’t.”
More silence followed. Bakugou grinned to himself, triumphant, before realizing that he’d done what the man had wanted. He huffed out an angry breath, ready to barrate the man even more for such a boring fucking job, when he got pinned down by icy blue eyes and the flicker of flames on purple-black skin, glinting stapes buried into flesh, enough to make him want to vomit.
“Don’t you say a fuckin’ word, kid. Stain might’ve liked you, but I sure as hell don’t. It doesn’t fucking matter. We’re here for the same shitty reason. I’ll kill you if you open your mouth again.”
Bakugou was ready to test that theory. He stood up, noting that Dabi wasn’t much taller than himself. He gripped one of the blades hanging from his back and waited. “You fuckin’ won’t though. You’re just a god damn liar and a wimp and-”
“-and I know a thing or two about fuckin’ subtlety, so be quiet already, ‘less you want the whole of the heroing word to come knockin’ on this rooftop.” Dabi crossed his arms, and to make his point, he turned away from him. Bakugou’s vision turned red, but he knew that he really couldn’t set off an explosion here and now. Other things were at stake here. Other things were important.
“Fucking… fine. Whatever. I should just get the job done on my own.”
“Even you can’t do shit like that. You wanna get exposed or what?” Dabi snarled. He sounded bitter, sounded betrayed. Bakugou knew almost next to nothing about him save for his blue fire and hatred for a lot of different heroes. And that he idolized Stain before that sick fuck had been taken out by fucking deku and gang. Now that was a sick twist of fate for Bakugou. He also knew that Dabi and him had the same goal at the moment; finding every spec of dirt on the target of their shared hatred, and tearing down hero society as the world knew it.
So he fueled his pent up rage into controlled sparks along his arms and legs. Dabi was watching him closely, watched as the sparks turned to ash and floated away in the slight breeze. The night was fairly old, and soon the two would part ways and act like neither knew of the other’s existence.
“Don’t fucking get sappy on me now,” Bakugou hissed.
“No, look,” Dabi grabbed Bakugou by his hood and forced his head to look out over the buildings they were watching. Bakugou slapped the man away, and shoved him before actually noticing the commotion that was happening below. There was a car accident still happening. Someone slammed on the brakes and another car veered to the right to avoid it.
Bakugou’s blood turned to ice and fire when he spotted a head of curly green hair snatching a woman out of line from the crash. He gripped the side of the roof top and a subtle explosion rippled the gravel. Small pieces of rubble fell from the building and bounced along the street. The lamplight flickered.
Deku saw it. The two ducked down before Deku could look up. Dabi punched him in the arm. Bakugou hissed and punched him back. The two glared at each other. “You must be actually fuckin’ crazy. More batshit than Shigaraki,” Dabi sighed. Bakugou scowled. “You got beef with that tiny green kid, right? Well! Bury that shit.”
“I’m going to kill him one day, ya hear me?” Bakugou growled out behind his mask. Dabi fell quiet for a moment. “I’m gonna make sure he remembers he’s no hero.”
“Jesus fucking christ.” Dabi ran a hand over his face. “Why do I always get stuck with the damn psychos.”
“I think we should leave this to the pros.” Midoriya was saying, and Kirishima’s hopes were all but shattered. He thought for just a moment that maybe Midoriya would tell him what was going on but no.
“When have you ever just lef things to the pros?!” Kirishima all but wailed. They were in his room. Midoriya was actually helping him work through some homework when he’d finally sprung the questions on his unsuspecting friend. Turns out Midoriya was harder to crack than he thought. Kirishima knew that he wasn’t the greatest at connecting the clues together, but he knew now for certain, that Midoriya was being a sneaky bastard.
He was hiding something important about Ground Zero.
But Kirishima knew that everyone held secrets and held information others shouldn’t go prying after, so he sighed, and let it go. Midoriya was looking at him uncomfortably anyway. “Okay… okay. If you think that I should just...stop digging for things, then I’ll stop.” Kirishima told him, hoping that it sounded as sincere as it was.
Midoriya nodded, “I’m still not so sure as to why you’re so obsessed with this Ground Zero character anyway, it’s not like you know him?”
Kirishima chuckled at that. “Yeah. But I mean… he just seemed so strange. I’m still wondering why he didn’t fight you with his quirk, when he so obviously could have. And what were you saying earlier? About him having a ‘target?’”
Midoriya shifted in his seat, muttering under his breath like he always does. “That’s why I’m saying leave it to the pros. They’ll probably figure out his motives better than we can. And maybe he was trying to hide his quirk from the public… or something.”
Kirishima hadn’t thought of that. The fight with Midoriya had been public, in the middle of the day, and they were being watched live by thousands of people, even if the two fighting hadn’t known that at the time. When Kirishima met Ground Zero, they were alone, in an alleyway, the closest set of eyes a few blocks away.
He rubbed his chin. “Yeah… that makes more sense. But why hide his quirk from the public, not just everyone?” Kirishima sighed, “I mean, he must’ve known that I wouldn’t just… not talk about an exploding villain running away, would he?”
Midoriya shifted from sitting on his heels to cross legged, a frown pulling on his face. “I...I guess it’s just the public he’s worried about.”
“He’s a villain, why should he care so much about public image?”
Midoriya was looking at him—no—though him, staring at some invisible thing. He must’ve been lost in a train of thought. His expression was pained and remembering, but he didn’t say a word. He stayed like that for only a few heart beats before blinking and looking at his feet. Midoriya picked up a pencil and dug around his bag for something. He drew out a half-burnt notebook and opened it close to his face, not showing Kirishima anything inside it.
“He might be with the League of Villains.”
The name sent a chill down Kirishima’s spine. “Wh-what makes you say that?”
Midoriya flipped through some of his pages. “The League is all about images, Kirishima. It’s why they attack us specifically. They’re here to tear hero society down, and to do that, they like to use public displays of power and strength, one that turns Heros into laughing stock.” Kirishima gulped as Midoriya eyed him from just above the pages. “Now, what would the headlines read if Ground Zero had beaten me without using a quirk?”
“Bu-but he didn’t?”
Midoriya sighed. He shifted again and rubbed the back of his neck. “No, he ended up bolting when the police showed up. I tried to follow but…” Midoriya paused, his eyes were flickering, searching for something. Liar. Liar. Liar. Kirishima’s brain screamed at him. “...he got away from me. Must’ve slipped into the sewers or something.”
“Look, I’m serious about this, Kirishima. Ground Zero is nothing to get so worked up about. It’s not like he’s after you right?”
“Exactly! So what’s the big fuss?”
Kirishima frowned as Midoriya gave him a comforting smile that seemed to not want to reach his eyes. Was Midoriya always this jumpy, or was it just now? “I guess you’re right,” Kirishima waved away the subject with his hand. “Help me with these problems again, will ya?”
“Of course, let’s go over…” They continued to study. Talk of Ground Zero behind them, but Kirishima could not turn off his brain. Whatever Midoriya had been telling him, obviously hadn’t stuck, because he was still mulling over Ground Zero not using his quirk to fight Deku, him running away from Kirishima, his target, which worried him to no end. Who was on the receiving end of all that anger Kirishima had been exposed to for mere seconds? Who was it, that had pissed off this villain enough for him to kill? Or was it even a personal grudge? If Ground Zero was working for the league, he supposed it could be a little more professional than some vendetta. Maybe Ground Zero was a hitman.
Midoriya sure was nervous though, Kirishima could see it in his twitching fingers, his stuttered speech (though he normally did that, but it was way worse right now) And even his forever roaming eyes that wouldn’t look at him for more than a few heartbeats at a time.
Kirishima didn’t want to believe that Midoriya was harboring some serious secrets, but the way he shut his notebook too quickly, the way his eyes darted everywhere save his face, the way he kept pausing and coming up with solutions to every single one of Kirishima’s questions without… Without what? Revealing what he really knew? Kirishima scowled at himself for even entertaining the idea that Midoriya was… what? What would Midoriya be doing? Midoriya was kind, and heroic, and stuck his nose into other people’s business almost too much. So what could he be doing? Was he saving Ground Zero from him?
It hit him like a ton of bricks. Kirishima’s stomach rolled. He blurted out his thoughts before he could think to stop himself. “You’re protecting him, aren’t you?”
Bingo. Midoriya was out the door before Kirishima could blink.
“You dumbass!” Kirishima pounded on his door. Curfew wasn’t for a few more hours thank god. The rooms on either side of Midoirya’s dorm were empty. Most everyone save for Todoroki were downstairs eating and playing games. “You shouldn’t’ve run! Now I know for sure! Shoulda played it cool!” Kirishima was grinning, happy that he’d figured it out. He also felt bad for driving Midoriya away. But Midoriya, it turned out, had a lot of secrets. Perhaps if Midoriya had brushed him off one more time, he would have been satisfied. But… but now he was invested.
“It’s not very manly of you to break my door!” Midoriya yelled at him from his room, and Kirishima stopped. Shit what was he doing!? He took a step back.
“I-I’m… sorry! It’s just…”
“Yeah! I get it! You wanna know what’s up with Ground Zero! I still don’t understand your obsession with some-” The door swung open. Midoriya’s eyes were glowing green. Small bits of lightning were shooting along his arms,”-villain low life who means literally fuck all.”
“Who taught you swear like that?!” Kirishima gasped. Midoriya never swore.
Midoriya ran a hand down his face. “Does it matter?”
“Ground Zero taught you to-”
“Ground Zero didn’t-” Midoriya groaned loud and annoyed. “-are you… is that… is that what you’re getting out of this?”
Kirishima bustled into Midoriya’s room. It always amazed him how plastered it was with All Might everything. “As a matter of fact, yes. You know Ground Zero, right?”
Midoriya shut his door with enough force to cause the plaster on the ceiling to drift in gross dusty clouds. Kirishima didn’t prod anymore. He was sure Midoriya would try to smite him if he did, and it was actually starting to make him feel bad for his friend. But this was beyond that, right? Midoriya had some connection with a villain. A villain!!
“I’m not… Kirishima…” Midoriya started, “I can’t tell you… I can’t.” And he looked so worn out and faded, that all of Kirishima’s earlier excitement drained right from him. An awkwardness lingered once his good mood drained, and Midoriya twirled a piece of his curly hair. “I get it. You wanna know a secret that interests you. But… Please just trust me on this…” Midoriya looked at the floor and muttered, “You’re better off not knowing.”
Kirishima crossed his arms and frowned. “Right…” It was Midoriya’s life after all. He could tell, or he couldn’t. Besides, if Kirishima was right and he was protecting Ground Zero from something, it would have to be the pro heroes. After Midoriya’s fight at the jewelry shop, he had refused to be interviewed, and it had been him who’d told the pros that Ground Zero didn’t show any signs of using a quirk. It was him that lamented the fact that Ground Zero was nothing more than some thief, that he wasn’t too dangerous.
Maybe Kirishima should just drop it. If not for his own sanity as he tried to figure it all out, but for Midoriya, who obviously wanted no one, not even the pros, to know anything about Ground Zero. Anything at all.
“Alright… I wont ask about this anymore. But…” But this was a villain they were talking about here. “But if you wanna… if you’ve anything to say, anything at all, please just… tell someone? It doesn’t have to be me. I’m sorry for pressing about this.”
Midoriya sighed, relief washing over his features. “I’ll… I’ll tell you what…” He fiddled with his hands, “If… if Ground Zero becomes more of a problem… if you get into a fight with him… I’ll tell you. Alright?”
“Right. A Fight.” Kirishima wondered if incentivizing him like that would come to bite them both in the ass, but at the moment, Kirishima could think of one thing. How was he gonna get Ground Zero to fight him?
“Fight me you coward!” Kirishima took a flying leap at Ground Zero and nearly caught his ankle just as the villain let out a powerful blast from his hands, shooting him into the air. A blade came down and crackled along his back, skidding off his hardened skin.
“You ain’t worth a damn! Shit hair!” Ground Zero laughed as he sprung away.
“My hair looks almost like yours!” Kirishima called after him, and gave chase down a winding alley. It was nearly midnight now, and the buildings blocked the lights. There were only a few little twinkles from the neons of far away billboards. He saw a flash of bright white, and rushed forward, activating his quirk just in time as a strong explosion shocked him to his core. The blow landed on his shoulder, and he took it with brute strength. He heard ground Zero make a small little, “huh.” before he threw a punch.
The punch collided with smoke and ash, as the villain leapt up the wall, using a blast from his hands to gain just enough momentum to vault himself over Kirishima. He had the mind to harden his back, just in the nick of time as another bomb had him reeling forward. The shockwaves were no joke. Another sword stabbed at him, it would’ve punctured a kidney if he didn’t have a quirk.
“You’re wasting my fucking time!” Ground Zero hissed. His voice was distorted through the mask he wore. Kirishima wondered what he actually sounded like, what he actually looked like save for those furious red eyes and ash blond hair.
“Why? Whatcha supposed to be doin’ now! Robbin’ some bank!?” Kirishima blocked a heavy blow on his forearms. He knew that he shouldn’t drag this out too long, but Ground Zero was wanting to get away from him anyway, so he doubted this fight would last much longer. He was right. Ground Zero lit his palms up with explosions that sounded like cracklers and dragon snaps before a light show flared between them, a bright ball of piercing white blinded Kirishima for a moment, a ringing in his ears stunned him.
When the smoke cleared, Ground Zero was already scaling up the building, and disappearing. Kirishima slumped against the wall, rubbing at the spots in his eyes. He was shaking, still rattled by the shockwaves and blinding lights. He deactivated his quirk, noting some of his skin was crackling and bleeding, he was sore all over from such a short skirmish. Kirishima brought his phone out, amazed it hadn’t been destroyed when Ground Zero had knocked him flat on his ass in the beginning of the fight. He called up Midoriya, who answered on the third ring.
“Kirishima? Aren’t you on patrol?”
“How long does the fight need to be?”
There was a pause. “ARE YOU INSANE?!”
“Maybe,” Kirishima laughed, still breathing hard. That hit he’d taken on his back was a lot worse than what he’d previously imagined. With the adrenaline seeping out of his veins, he was starting to feel the dull ache from the attacks. He’d be bruised up pretty bad after this for sure.
“I told you that so you’d get off my case! Don’t go looking for him!”
Kirishima took a deep breath in, then out. He pushed himself from the wall and looked up to where Ground Zero had disappeared. “We’re heroes, Midoriya. Aren’t we supposed to look for villains?”
“Aren’t we supposed to meddle where we don’t belong?”
“I’m the one who told you that-”
“Yeah well, it’s true, right?”
Midoriya hung up, and Kirishima let out another bitter laugh. So that didn’t count as a fight. Did it? Ground Zero had still run away in the end. What had he said before? You ain’t worth a damn! Did he only fight people he thought were on his level or something? Kirishima sighed and looked down at his arms. If he wanted to fight Blasty Mc’Splodes, he’d have to get a little stronger.
“You’re late.” Dabi looked unimpressed. Well. He looked like flaming garbage, like always. But somehow, Bakugou was beginning to understand how to read one dead-tired look from another dead-tired look, and this one was questioning him on his apparent tardiness. Bakugou had never been late to anything in his goddamn life.
Bakugou growled, dusting off his pants and shoulders. “I was fucking busy.”
“Some dumb shit-hair hero kid tryna pick a fight with me.” Bakugou scowled. What the hell was that guy’s deal? It was the second time he’d run into Red Riot and this time was even stranger than the last. The first had been a fluke that he’d used an explosion to get away. Now the whole hero world probably knew what he quirk was. But this fucking guy was adament that they fight. Even for heroes, that was strange. Bakugou would understand it more if the hero wannabe had told him to “stop right there!” or “freeze you’re a wanted criminal!” But instead he got a “You! Fight me right now!” And then a fist in his face. If you asked him, he’d say that was pretty damn near his level of brashness.
“You weren’t followed, were you?”
Bakugou lit his palms up and hunched his shoulders. “I’m not stupid, unlike some people.” The threat wasn’t thought through, Dabi was more careful than anyone when it came to these sorts of things.
Dabi narrowed his blue eyes. Bakugou wondered when the villain would get fed up with him and finally they’d be forced to not work together anymore. He hated near every moment. Unfortunately for him, when he’d walked into the League’s bar, he’d said the same thing that Dabi had a few weeks before. “The League is nothing more than a means to an end for me.” And Shigaraki, that crusty bastard, had enough gall to stick them together.
“There’s still enough time to catch our informant. But I want you fucking silent unless spoken to, You hear me?”
“Right, QUIET is the best thing I’m good at!” Bakugou shouted. Dabi rolled his eyes for a long three seconds before turning his back and continuing forward.
“You’re gonna scare him off if you’re… well… you, so just-”
“I can’t hear you over all this QUIET!” Bakugou snarled in return. There wasn’t a soul around to hear him, and the ones that could… well… they didn’t matter. Dabi’s scars were starting to smoke again, and Bakugou relished how easy it was for him to get under this dude’s skin. But he only ever started smoking, nothing more. Bakugou was pretty sure that he’d never seen Dabi put an actual emotion on his fucked up face.
“I’m serious about this, Zero.” Dabi warned, though his lazy eyes couldn’t muster enough fire to really pack a punch. It was hard to take him seriously at times. The laissez-faire attitude Dabi employed, all calm and cool like he was ice instead of fire, did not work for someone like Bakugou. It got him more riled up, if anything.
So Bakugou snorted at him. As they entered a shady building, he grew quiet. He listened for any signs of life, but it was dead as space. The hall was silent and dark, even Dabi lit his palm up for the two to see. Bakugou created a small ball of sparks for himself as they went further and further into the building. There were doors on either side, but they stopped at none of them until the last. It was the one on the end, the handle was rusted clean off and all Dabi had to do was push the metal for it to swing open.
A stairwell greeted him. With a groan, Bakugou began to climb the spiraling staircase, Dabi right in front of him. The chains on Dabi’s boots rattled. The rusted door closed with a shutter a minute later. The only sound were their feet clomping down on squeaky metal. Bakugou yawned as the climb continued. Was there an end to this, or just infinite stairs? When they came across a door, they continued up and up and up.
“Which fucking floor is it already?” Bakugou hissed under his breath. His hands were cramped from flexing his fingers. He let his explosion die out to crack his joints. The sound was an echo, just another series of pops. He stretched out his shoulders too, relishing the loosening tension. His fight with that damn hero wannabe had left him jittery and wound up like a spring.
“We’re not meeting on a floor.” Dabi said after a long pause.
“The roof?!” Bakugou growled, “How long is that gonna take?!”
Dabi whirled around just for a moment to glare at him. The blue flame gave him an eerie glow, burned purple skin especially creepy under the dim, flickering light. If Bakugou’s hypothesis was correct, it was those very flames that had caused the scars. His mysterious co-worker was nothing special though. Everyone he associated with these days had some sort of gimmick. Giran was like, the only normal person that he’s talked to in literal years. Then again, quirks were fucking weird. He was a fucking pyscho too, so who was he to judge?
“Yes, the damn roof. Are we gonna have another incident?” Dabi’s words were thin like paper and as sharp as knives. They cut right through him, and made his blood boil. Bakugou purposely stepped on the man’s heels and got a fist to the chest for it.
“If it had been Endeavor- ” He spat the word like it was poison.
The fire grew into a swirling rage. Bakugou had never seen the fury in Dabi’s eyes before, somehow, he wasn’t afraid. He knew that kind of hatred; that personal burning vengeance. “Don’t speak his name,” Dabi whispered.
Bakugou lit up his palms again. “One day, I’ll kill him along with that green bastard.” He growled, “I’ll make them all pay with their blood.”
Dabi didn’t give him a response. He turned and continued up the stairs. It wasn’t until they were at the last door, did he spin again on his heels and shove Bakugou hard on the shoulder. “Don’t fucking attack him, don’t shout, don’t do anything, you hear me?”
“Whatever, let’s fucking get this over with.”
“I don’t care about the league, same as you, but they’re doing something about a society that I want to change, and are helping me kill a man I want dead so don’t go fucking around and ruin this for me, else I’ll cremate you on the spot.”
Bakugou rolled his eyes. He was barely paying attention when Dabi opened up the door and a gust of icy wind berated his face. A police siren wailed in the far distance, along with the faint trails of something smoking far, far away. Dabi extinguished his fire the moment the city lights came into view. The building was a tall one, with the city sprawling below them and bright neon billboards shoved in their faces at every turn. The roof had its very own billboard, casting a dark splotch onto the cement. Huge metal beams stuck out from the ground and shot into the sky.
“You’re late!” An unfamiliar voice called to them from somewhere in the shadows. Dabi strode forward with his smugness still intact. All that fierce intensity from moments ago seemed to melt right off. Bakugou wondered if he was the only person Dabi ever really got mad at. That’d be something. Bakugou prided himself in being a top notch aggravator.
Bakugou was looking for any signs of extra ears and eyes when he spotted a red feather floating gently in the wind. For a moment, his gut dropped when he realized who it belonged to. His eyes snapped to the man in the shadows and crouched low, quirk already activating. “What the fuck Dabi!” He shouted, “Your contact is a shitty hero!?”
“I said to keep quiet!” Dabi finally snapped at him. He whirled around in an angry blur of blue and black and shot a flame at him. Bakugou sliced through it with a sword, and prepared to attack when Hawks, of all people, interrupted them.
“You’re gonna cause a scene, damnit!” Two pristine crimson feathers swooped down and shoved them apart. Dabi singed his, Bakugou barely registered what was happening before he snagged the feather in his hand and exploded it. He caught Hawks wincing from the corner of his eye.
“Right,” Dabi straightened up and pointedly turned his back on Bakugou. That made him fume, but instead of speaking up, he stomped his feet and let a few explosions ripple the loose gravel. He crossed his arms tight over his chest. Hawks was looking at him curiously, but the hero didn’t come close.
“I have a job for you,” Dabi continued as if nothing happened, “I need a few files from the Hero Safety Commision Building, or the passcode to the database, either works,” Dabi handed Hawks a slip of paper, and the Hero’s eyes went comically wide.
“I don’t know if I can-”
“You can, and you will.”
“Look man, I’ll get in trouble if-”
“Are you really what you say you are?” Dabi asked suddenly. Bakugou unfurled his arms, sensing some tension between the two. “You say you’re one of us, but are you? Are you really?”
“All I’m saying is that it’s nearly impossible to get my hands on that kind of information-”
“Maybe legally. But aren’t you a secret villain?” Dabi shoved his shoulder. Hawks smiled. It was fake, a good fake, but still fake. It didn’t quite reach his eyes.
“I’m saying that it’s risky. There’s no telling what they’ll do to me if they find out, not to mention it puts all of you at risk.”
Dabi frowned. “You’re not being reckless enough, hero. If you really are a villain, then what’s a little blood in your feathers, hmm? Live a little.” There were flames flickering about him, he smelled like death. Bakugou pulled up his mask, wondering if it was the whole building, or just the roof, that would light up this time.
Bakugou knew that Hawks was hiding something, but if it was a double cross, he couldn’t tell. The two seemed to have been working together for a while now. If this was some double agent bullshit, Bakugou did not want to get involved. He pulled his swords free and swung them lightly in his grasp, ready for a fight at any second. Dabi’s eyes merely flicked to him, and he was there, shoving a blade next to Hawk’s throat. He looked the hero in the eyes, wondering what on Earth kind of shady shit the two of them were getting themselves into.
“Is this why you’re here? To be Dabi’s hired killer?” Hawks laughed at him.
“I’m here because I was told I’d get some fucking answers.” He said, he pressed the sword a little heavier into the hero’s neck, but the man did not waver. Bakugou knew that he was considered the fastest hero, that he could probably get away from him within a millisecond, but it felt nice to have someone’s life in his hands. He wished it was a different person. “Because unfortunately, we’re after the same fucking person, that very person we need information on.”
Hawks narrowed his eyes at him. “You’re that kid everyone thought was quirkless.”
Bakugou snarled at the thought, “don’t call me quirkless, else I’ll show you what I can really do!” A hand suddenly yanked him backward. He swung his sword with the force of an explosion behind it and nearly sliced Dabi’s head off. He stopped at the very last second.
“You’re a fucking pschopath,” Dabi stated dully.
Hawks visibly relaxed the moment Bakugou was sitting cross legged on the floor, with his swords safely tucked away again. “Are you with the league too, or just some kid Dabi picked off the streets?”
“The more you talk, the more willing I am to kill you,” Bakugou hissed out, “And I’ll be the one who’ll kill Endeavor, even if it’s the last thing I do.”