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The Night The Hero Killer Died

Chapter Text

The scent of blood stung Manual’s nose as he headed up one of the streets. He spat a curse and balled his fists, heading toward it. The Hero Killer was in Hosu, and he usually took more than one victim in a spree. Not to mention Tenya was hell-bent on revenge. Earlier that very day, Manual had even lectured him a bit about not chasing the Hero Killer.

Damn it. Damn it. Manual lost sight of him for one second. One disastrous second. Just to subdue one of the other villains. And now Tenya was gone.

The smell intensified at the mouth of a nearby alley. This had to be the scene. There were two bodies laying there, that much Manual could see even from where he stood. He called the other heroes for help, for backup. No matter who was there, Manual was sure their wounds would need attention.

Manual steeled his nerves and ran towards the first body.

The Pro Hero Native, alive but unconscious. Practically unharmed. He was laid nicely on his back. Manual let out the tiniest fraction of a sigh of relief.

But that left the other body. It was probably the source of the stench of blood. That didn’t bode well. Manual swallowed hard and took a step closer.

The other body wasn't laid out nicely the way Native had been. It was curled in on itself. It was definitely not Tenya’s bulky armor. Manual was thankful for that much.

Manual forced himself to approach. The other body was ominously familiar, but Manual didn’t know how. Without realizing, Manual had made it over to check the body’s pulse. Instead he found a messy gaping slash across the windpipe and jugular. There was no way that wound wasn’t fatal. Manual’s eyes roamed up to the body’s open mouth, and the long, thick tongue lolling out of it. It was then Manual finally recognized who the corpse in his arms belonged to.

Manual screamed and dropped the dead body of Stain the Hero Killer. He scrambled away from it like it might suddenly spring back to life. His shoe suddenly clinked against metal. Manual looked down, regretted it, and looked back up.

His shoe had tapped what was undeniably a bloody piece of Tenya’s armor. He had to look back down. He had to make sure his intern was okay.

The piece of armor, Manual discovered, was only the right arm. There was no sign of the rest of Tenya. That was a bit reassuring. If only until he saw the steady flow of blood from the top of the arm. Manual immediately ripped his gloves off to stop the bleeding. The bleeding from Tenya’s severed right arm. Which meant his intern was somewhere. Injured. Alone. Possibly dead.

Manual hugged Tenya’s arm to his chest and tried not to think about how big of a failure of a mentor he turned out to be.

Manual didn’t know how long he had been sitting there waiting for the sirens, clutching Tenya’s arm. He was dimly aware of his name being called, but it didn’t sink in until a heavy hand thumped against his shoulder.

Manual jolted as he found himself face to face with Endeavor. The Flame Hero burned like a star in the darkness of the alley. “Are you hurt?” he asked. His eyes were blue fire. Serious. Dangerous.

“I’m fine,” Manual managed. “But Tenya, my intern…” His voice faltered as he held out the arm to show Endeavor.

Endeavor’s eyes widened in… Not fear. Surprise, maybe. Manual couldn’t blame him. A severed human arm was probably the last thing Endeavor expected the so-called Normal Hero to be holding. “We’re going to the ambulance,” Endeavor said. “On your feet.” He gripped Manual’s bicep and tugged him up.

Manual barely processed he was moving. Endeavor was silent. Manual filled in the gaps with information. “Tenya. Tenya Iida is his name. Ingenium’s little brother. He’s in costume. Armor. Looks like Ingenium’s. His quirk’s like Ingenium’s too, he–-”

“Shoto,” Endeavor barked. Had he even been listening? “Prepare some ice. The Hero Killer managed to get an arm off of Manual’s intern.” Endeavor extinguished his flames and gingerly took the arm from Manual, then nudged him towards the ambulance. A paramedic rushed over to him. Manual reached out for the arm weakly. Questions were asked, but Manual couldn’t keep his mind on them.

His intern was out there somewhere. Injured. Alone. Possibly dead. All because Manual couldn’t keep a proper eye on him.

Fuck.

Chapter Text

Tenya Iida ran. It was probably a terrible idea, but it wasn’t easy to make good decisions with one arm cut off and blood on your hand(s). Stain’s tattered scarf was pressed against the stump of his arm, and a bloody knife tucked in his utility belt. It probably wasn’t safe. Safety was not a priority at the moment. Running was all Iida would let in his mind. Get as far away as possible. A voice in his head said he should turn around and turn himself in to the police. After all, Iida hadn’t meant to kill the Hero Killer.

At least, not the way he did.

It made Iida a little sick to remember that he had come to this city solely to kill the Hero Killer and had done just that. His head throbbed with guilt. Or maybe that was just the blood loss. Iida ran faster. Maybe a Recipro Burst would get him to safety.

Safety where? There was no safety for him. Iida had just killed a man in cold blood. The thought made his heart clench. So he focused on running again.

“Recipro… Burst!” Iida whispered the words because he didn’t deserve to have special moves anymore. He was not a hero. Stain was right. And now Stain was dead. Iida’s engines stalled and he collapsed against a dumpster with a thud.

Every time he closed his eyes, Iida could see it happen again.

Most of the fight with Stain was a blur, admittedly. He could remember getting paralyzed by Stain’s quirk, and then getting un-paralyzed while he spoke with Stain, but then the memories slurred together until Stain had driven a knife into his shoulder.

That was where things got sharper. Where Iida had dug the knife out of his shoulder and held it out, daring Stain to come get it. He’d never used a knife for anything more than cooking. He was terrified.

“It’s sad that you’re this far gone already, child, but I suppose it’s a good thing.” Stain stood a few yards back, eyeing Iida behind the bandage mask. “This way I can purge the world of your false heroism before it does any more damage. I’m almost sorry for you, child.”

“My name is Ingenium,” Iida corrected. His voice shook. His eyes were wet with tears. "I am a hero."

“You’re really not,” replied the Hero Killer. “You’re a child throwing a tantrum. I hurt your brother. You’re upset. It makes sense. But even with a motive and a name, you’re no hero.”

“I am a hero!”

“What kind of hero who runs away from an important rescue mission to fulfill his own selfish goal?”

“What does it matter?”

“I just want you to realize that you’re not a hero. You will not die a heroic death. Ultimately, you will cause your brother more suffering than I ever could.” At this point Iida had stopped listening, because he had to think of a plan and not listen to the inane bullshit of a serial killer.

Stain’s quirk only activated when he licked blood, Iida had discovered. To do that, the Hero Killer would have to rush at him, either at the knife in his hand or the gash in his shoulder. Iida held the knife in front of his shoulder. He would strike when the Hero Killer tried to lick his blood.

Stain was taking slow steps. His katana was in his hand now. “Your death will make this world a better place. That’s the peak of your heroism. So, unfortunately, this is farewell.” And Stain lunged.

As Iida had hoped, the knife got a solid hit on Stain. The Hero Killer reeled back, then traced the little laceration on his chest. Iida backed up as well, and ended up with his back against the wall.

“You’re only hurting yourself at this point,” Stain said. “Just look at your arm.”

Iida hadn’t realized Stain had gotten a hit in on him. He could feel hot blood soaking the gap in his armor by his shoulder. But he grit his teeth and snarled, “This will not be the end.”

“Don’t be so overdramatic,” said Stain, and before Iida could reply, Stain’s tongue slithered over the blood on his blade and paralyzed Iida.

Stain sighed. “I’m removing your arm. Consider the pain your punishment for failing to think through your actions.” He poised his katana over the gash in Iida’s shoulder. Iida was so close. The arm holding the knife was crossed over his chest. The blade was so damn close to the Hero Killer’s throat. If he could only move, he could end it. He could do what he came to Hosu to do. Tears filled his eyes. He was so close. And he was about to fail harder than he ever had before.

Stain finally sunk his katana into Iida’s shoulder. Iida screamed as best he could through his clenched teeth. But then came the fatal mistake. Stain knocked the rest of Iida off-balance with the final cut; Iida, still immobile, still holding the blade, fell right into him. The knife easily cut through Stain’s scarf and into his throat. The Hero Killer dropped, grasping at his neck. His eyes bulged behind the bandage mask, then his tongue lolled out of his mouth, and then he stared Iida right in the face.

Stain was dying. It was clear to both of them.

And yet there was no satisfaction to be had in this victory. Stain was dying, slowly making choking noises as either his lungs flooded with blood or the hole in his windpipe kept him from getting enough air or both, Gd almighty, Iida hoped it wasn’t both. Somehow watching the serial killer who hurt his brother slowly die didn’t feel like victory the way it had in his dreams. It made Iida feel like he was the one gasping for air.

Stain finally crumpled. The effect of his quirk released. Iida scrambled for the nearest cloth to stop the bleeding where his arm had been. That happened to be Stain’s scarf. Next, tending to the other Pro Hero. Native had gotten knocked out somewhere in the struggle. Iida moved him to the mouth of the alley where he could be seen.

And then he ran, leading him to where he was: bleeding out in a Hosu City alley, next to a dumpster, and feeling absolutely awful about taking his revenge.

Chapter Text

This situation could not possibly get worse, Iida thought. The situation thought otherwise and took that as a challenge.

Something green streaked across the sky, dashing between buildings. It had to be a hero of some kind. There were heroes coming for him already. Iida closed his eyes and tried to be at peace with his inevitable arrest. He failed.

He could hear the distinct, repeated noise of shoes hitting the walls as their wearer jumped between them. What would he say? What could he say? He couldn’t just say he came to Hosu City to kill the Hero Killer, but it wouldn’t be right to lie. Not about something as serious as this. Would he even need to say anything? Would he even be able to lie? What if--

“Iida!” A voice cut through the air and rang in the space where Iida’s thoughts had been rattling. Iida opened one eye to see Midoriya in full costume, staring down at him with wet green eyes. “Iida, are you okay?”

“I--” No. “I didn’t know you were in Hosu.”

“Gran Torino and I were going to Shibuya, but our train was attacked by one of the Nomus.” Midoriya knelt beside him and repeated, “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Iida assured him, because having one arm was just going to be normal and okay now, and the adrenaline helped a lot with the pain.

“You look like you’re bleeding pretty bad onto that scarf. Let me see.”

“No!” Iida jerked the right side of his body away from Midoriya.

“Iida, what are you doing? Let me see.” Midoriya insisted, leaning in.

“I don’t want you involved in this, Midoriya.”

“Involved in checking to make sure you’re okay? That--” Iida’s knee jerked up and caught Midoriya in the jaw. “Ow.”

“My apologies, Midoriya. I did not mean to kick you.”

“It’s okay. You can make up for it by letting me see. Lift that scarf.”

“No!”

“Yes!” Midoriya had him cornered against the dumpster and tugged the scarf down, and then he screamed.

Iida swallowed hard and pressed the scarf back up against the wound, and Midoriya joined him to keep the pressure up on it. “Do you understand now?” Iida asked, mostly rhetorical.

“How did--? I-Iida, we have to get help right now!”

“I don’t… Listen to me, Midoriya,” Iida stared him down, eyes intense. “I…” He had to tell Midoriya. He had to. Lying to Midoriya was like slapping a dove. It was like kicking a puppy. A very strong, very loving puppy. Like a rottweiler or something. This metaphor was getting away from him.

They both perked up at the quick thuds of footsteps, relief washing over both of them, though in Iida’s case that quickly gave way to dread. Someone was coming. Someone else wanted to find them. To find him. Iida wanted to start running again, but Midoriya was still leaning over him.

“Over here!” Midoriya called. “We need help!”

Iida swallowed hard. The footsteps got faster. “I’m coming!” replied their owner. Iida recognized the voice. Todoroki. The boy himself arrived in an instant, rushing over seemingly before processing who it was that needed help. “Midoriya?”

“Todoroki!” Midoriya exclaimed. “Iida’s hurt.”

“I know. I was out here looking for him.”

“You were?”

“Yes.”

“Ghheeeeehk,” Iida interjected, wanting this conversation to be over but not quite knowing what to say.

“Iida, we should get call an ambulance.”

“No.”

“He said the same thing to me,” Midoriya told Todoroki. “He seems really adamant about this.”

“I am. I really shouldn’t-- I’ve… made a huge mistake. I can’t be a hero after this.”

Todoroki shook his head. “Your arm is with my father. It can still be saved. You don’t have to worry about that.”

“It’s not just my arm...”

“But a part of it is your arm, right?” Iida nodded, so Todoroki continued. “Both of you know how I feel about my father--”

“I do not,” Iida reminded him.

“Midoriya knows how I feel about my father,” Todoroki corrected himself.

“Todoroki hates him,” Midoriya summarized, “and I hate him too.”

“Right. And now both of you know how I feel about my father. But I know he’s probably searching for us. He may be awful, but he’s the best chance of saving your arm. Of saving you.” Iida didn’t reply. He wasn’t sure he wanted to be saved. His response must have taken too long, because Todoroki snapped his fingers in front of Iida’s face. “Hey. Stay with us, okay?”

“I… I shouldn’t. I don’t… I really don’t deserve this. I can’t even begin to explain.”

“You don’t have to explain. We’re here to help you.” Midoriya’s voice was calm and soothing, but he didn’t understand.

“No, listen, I--” Iida was cut off by the vehement vibration of his phone. He was getting a phone call. “Midoriya, could you reach my phone for me? It’s in one of the pouches on… my…” Iida suddenly remembered the knife tucked in his utility belt and scrambled for his phone so they wouldn’t see the knife. Midoriya seemed content to keep pressure on Tenya’s wound, fortunately, and Todoroki just watched as Iida pulled his phone out and read the caller ID.

Tensei.

Chapter Text

Tensei’s contact picture in Iida’s phone was a shot of the two of them on the day Tenya had gotten his costume, both suited up and posing proudly. It used to be one of his favorites. Now it just made him want to throw up.

Iida answered the phone on instinct, leaving a smear across the screen that he would rather not focus on. He raised the phone to his ear.

“Tenya? Tenya, are you there? It’s Tensei.” Iida said nothing, but he was sure Tensei could hear how heavily he was breathing. “I saw what happened in Hosu on the news. Is everyone okay?”

Midoriya went to answer, but Todoroki clapped a hand over Midoriya’s mouth and gave him a look that said Let Iida handle it. So Iida handled it. “Yes,” he lied, with a tremble in his voice.

“Oh, man, good. That’s a load off. Those monsters looked like no joke. They must have been a good learning experience, though! Was Manual a good teacher?” Iida said nothing. A tear rolled down his cheek and stuck to his chin. “...Tenya? Hello? Earth to Tenya!” Tensei’s laugh bubbled through the phone. Iida couldn’t take it and threw the damn thing. It clattered against the sidewalk.

“You want me to go get that?” Todoroki asked. Iida shook his head. More tears threatened to spill over. Iida wasn’t about to let that happen, even with his brother’s phone-hollowed voice still trying to talk to him.

“Iida…” Again came Midoriya, voice soft as his heart. “Why didn’t you tell him?”

“I told you. I’ve made a huge mistake. I don’t want him involved. I don’t want any of you involved.” Iida’s breath shuddered in his chest. “If this is the end of me, so be it. I can’t…” His voice cracked into a sob. “I can’t be a hero anymore.”

“You said your arm was only part of that.” Todoroki kept his voice even and strong. “You need to tell us what the other part of that is.”

“I killed the Hero Killer.” And with that, the confession was out there. Iida closed his eyes to keep his tears from escaping. He knew when he opened them he would be alone, his friends would be disgusted with him and they would leave and he would be free to bleed out and die in disgrace the way he should.

But Todoroki and Midoriya were still there when he opened his eyes. They hadn’t moved at all. Iida wondered if they didn’t believe him. That couldn’t be it, though, because Midoriya was crying now, too. Iida tried to sigh in relief, but he just ended up sobbing. Midoriya sniffled. Iida almost laughed. It was just so Midoriya of him to cry over someone else’s problems.

Todoroki kept that stern facade up though, and then he said, “I know.”

Chapter Text

Manual stood gazing over the scene, a shock blanket draped over his shoulders. Police were milling about, talking and doing other police things. Manual sort of hoped they would do it faster, get to finding Tenya. Maybe they would even help him talk to the kid’s family.

Manual’s phone rang, and he welcomed the distraction. He picked up up and answered with his usual, “Hello, this is Manual!”

“Oh, good, I have the right number,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “This is Tensei Iida, Tenya Iida’s brother.”

“I-Ingenium?” Manual squeaked, heart dropping into his stomach. Of course. Tenya’s family would be worried.

“Is Tenya there? I called his phone earlier, and he was acting really strange. I mean, he has a habit of panicking in tense situations, but I’ve never heard it get that bad.”

“You spoke to Tenya?”

“Yeah? Why?”

“Where is he?!” Manual didn’t mean to shout, but the idea of finding Tenya was overriding his manners.

“He’s not with you?”

“He’s been missing since the villain attack.”

There was silence on both ends, and then Tensei cursed. “You have to find him before the Hero Killer does,” Tensei said.

Manual gave a high, keening laugh. “Too late.”

“‘Too late’?” Tensei’s voice shot up in alarm. “What do you mean ‘too late’!? My little brother’s out there searching for the man who almost killed me! My fifteen-year-old--”

“It’s complicated. And I’m not sure if I’m allowed to tell you.” Manual dropped down to a murmur even though he wanted to scream. “The Hero Killer is dead.”

A pause. “You’re going to have to run that by me again.”

“The Hero Killer is dead. I’m actually at the scene now.” A nervous giggle jumped from Manual’s throat. “I was the one who found him dead.”

Manual told Tensei almost the whole story; almost, because he really did not want to make things worse on Tensei by mentioning Tenya’s probable involvement. And the arm. The severed arm. The severed arm that the Hero Killer had carved off of--

Manual was laughing again. He couldn’t handle this. He’d had to tell family members about injuries before, but not like this. He’d never had to tell a pro hero (ex-pro? Was Ingenium stepping down because of his injuries?) about a family member’s injury. And he’d never had to explain to a pro hero that a family member was probably involved in a murder. He’d certainly never done both at once. And not with a serial killer involved. And on top of that, he was the one who was supposed to have been watching Tenya. He couldn’t do this. No way.

“--ual? You there? You didn’t hang up on me too, did you?”

“Sorry. Sorry, it’s just been a hell of a day.”

“I bet. You were just laughing. Laughing and laughing… It was kinda creepy.”

“Sorry. I laugh when I’m nervous,” Manual told him. He pretended for both of their sake that “nervous” was the extent of his emotions on the situation.

“It’s okay. You must feel totally shit right now,” Tensei said, as if he was genuinely more worried about Manual than his baby brother.

“I do. And there’s more.”

“Can you tell me?” asked Tensei, as though speaking to a child. The tone was warm and reassuring and wow, the injury hadn’t dampened his Pro Hero attitude at all. Manual was almost jealous.

Manual tried to emulate that tone. “It’s really bad.”

“I need to know.”

“The police have a suspect in mind already.” Manual took a deep breath, hissed it out, and then told Tensei the truth. “All evidence points to Tenya.”

Chapter Text

Iida’s mouth hung open, waiting for Todoroki to say anything more about why and how he knew Iida killed the Hero Killer, but Todoroki remained very… Todoroki. He examined the scarf Midoriya was still pressing to the wound. “That’s the Hero Killer’s, isn’t it? Why would you use that to stop the bleeding? I doubt he’s ever washed it.”

“I don’t think he had much of a choice, Todoroki.” Midoriya’s voice was still heavy with tears.

“That’s true, but it’s still not good.” Todoroki fiddled with one of the capsules on his belt. “Iida, you said you didn’t want us to call an ambulance. Was that because you’re scared of the consequences?”

There was no use in lying, because he’d already disgraced himself. “Yes.”

Midoriya gasped. “Oh, Iida, I’m sorry I--”

“You didn’t know, Midoriya. It’s okay,” Iida assured him in what was probably his worst “strong, capable hero” voice.

Todoroki didn’t let them get too far into apologies, though. “We need to make a decision.” His voice was firm and strong in a way that only matched one side of his face. “Iida, do you want to turn yourself in?”

“You’re… you’re asking me?”

“I’m asking you.”

“But I’m… I’m-- I killed someone! You simply cannot offer that kind of a choice to me!” Iida chopped through the air weakly.

“You’re scared and you think you did something wrong. I don’t think trapping you is the right answer.” Todoroki brushed a few strands of red hair away from his eye. “So do you want to or not?”

“Yes. No. I don’t know.”

Midoriya sniffled and heaved a breath before speaking. “It’s your choice, Iida, but… It can’t be as bad as your mind is making it. Going back would mean that we could treat your injuries. Todoroki, you said his arm is still okay? Obviously it’s severed. But it can probably be saved. And put back on you. So you can be okay. And…” Midoriya scrubbed at his tears with the back of his wrist. “And I don’t think the police will press the issue too much. I mean. You’re a minor. And it was self defense.” Iida blanched. If Midoriya noticed it, he didn’t give any indication that he had. He just continued on.“There’s nothing to feel bad about....Well, no, there is, but you don’t have to worry about legal stuff that much.”

“I. Thank you, but that’s…” Iida trailed off before he could say “not true.” He couldn’t just tell them that it had been premeditated. That he’d come to Hosu solely to do what he’d just done. He cleared his throat, searching for something else to say. “I didn’t think anyone would come after me.” Which was true. Iida had planned on simply disappearing after the deed was done. But he was still letting Midoriya run on the assumption that Iida hadn’t meant to do this. Would Midoriya still comfort him if he knew?

“Okay,” Todoroki said, derailing Iida’s train of thought. “Let’s put the turning yourself in question on hold. How about we get your arm fixed up as well as possible, and then make the decision?”

Iida could only offer a nod of agreement. Midoriya mirrored him. “If we need someone to go get bandages and stuff, I’ll do it. The hero I’m interning with helped me with a new technique for using my quirk, so I’m a lot faster.”

“Good. Please do that.” Todoroki added his hands to the hand pile holding Stain’s scarf to Iida’s wound. “I’ll hold this.”

Midoriya nodded and stood up. Energy shimmered across his body, then crackled like lightning. “Full Cowling!” he declared, and he was off like a shot.

Chapter Text

Iida and Todoroki watched Midoriya until he was little more than a shimmering green speck on the horizon.

“That’s definitely new,” Todoroki remarked. “How are you holding up?”

“I’m fine.”

“You’re definitely not fine.”

“I’m fine.”

“Iida, you’re missing an arm.”

“It’s fine.”

“I can think of very few situations that are more not fine-- Hey, don’t shrug. I can’t keep the pressure up when you shrug.”

“My apologies.”

“Don’t apologize, just don’t shrug.”

“Alright.”

A pause. “It’s fine if you’re not fine, you know.”

Iida turned this over in his mind a couple times. “And… what if I’m not fine?”

“Then we’ll deal with that and we’ll make it fine.” Todoroki kept his gaze fixed on the tattered red cloth, like he could see the wound behind it.

Iida let that be the end of the conversation. Things were getting cloudy again, like the fight with Stain. The wound ached, but it felt like it was on the other end of a smoky bar rather than on his body. The pressure he and Todoroki were putting on the wound didn’t feel like it was there, either. Come to think of it, Iida wasn’t sure he felt anything on his body.

Iida blinked slowly at the ground in front of him. His legs were there too, but they weren’t really the main event of the picture. They melded into the haze at the edge of his vision and framed the scene nicely. A few red splotches and a cigarette butt. A strange choice of subject, but artistic intentions usually eluded Iida. It was probably some kind of societal statement. Wait, no, it wasn’t a painting. It was the ground, and the ground was the ground. Except when it was bright red sneakers.

“I brought gauze and medical tape,” Midoriya announced, dropping to his knees beside Iida and Todoroki and placing a plastic bag next to his knees. “Todoroki, you have disinfectant in one of your belt capsule things, right?”

“Yeah. Hold the scarf and I can grab it.”

Midoriya did as he was told. “Iida, you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Iida told him. Todoroki rolled his eyes and unscrewed the capsule with the disinfectant spray.

Getting the chestplate of Iida’s armor off wasn’t difficult, thankfully, and they could tear the undershirt away from the wound pretty easily. Iida stopped paying attention about halfway through their shirt ripping attempts, though the sting of the disinfectant brought him back with a hiss of pain. Midoriya apologized meekly and returned to taping down the gauze.

It occurred to Iida, as he was gazing off into the middle distance, that he’d had this dream before. Dreams where he faced off with the Hero Killer had been fairly common in the time following Tensei’s injury. He’d both won and lost the dream confrontations before, but this was a strange combination of the two. He’d never lost an arm, and he’d never felt quite so hollow. However, this being a dream would account for the fogginess of the fight and how little pain he felt.

It was a comforting realization. This was a dream. None of this mattered. He wouldn’t have to decide if he wanted to turn himself in. He’d wake up to his alarm and his arm would be fine and the classmates playing guardian angel to him would be gone and safe and away from him and not trying desperately to keep him from bleeding out on the pavement.

That was another difference. Iida had never had accomplices in one of these dreams before. Usually it was only himself and Stain, but this time his mind had decided to add Midoriya and Todoroki. Maybe it was a sign of some sort. Iida was terrible at dream interpretation. Tensei had had a dream interpretation phase. Was someone saving your life a sign of romantic intentions? Midoriya and Todoroki had ripped half his shirt off.

Oh, what the hell. This was a dream. None of this mattered. Iida grabbed Midoriya’s chin and gave him a wet, clumsy kiss on the lips, short and to the point.

“Hot diggity shit,” Midoriya breathed. His face was almost brighter red than his shoes, and his eyes were wide.

“Mhm,” Iida agreed, then crushed his lips against Todoroki’s.

Todoroki was left stunned, brow knitted in confusion, hand hovering over his mouth. He didn’t say anything after it was over.

There was a long pause where Midoriya and Todoroki both stared at Iida, and then he had another realization.

“This isn’t a dream.” Iida’s face was as stony as his voice.

“N-no, it’s not,” Midoriya confirmed. Todoroki nodded as well, hand still over his lips.

Iida doubled over in an attempt to bow. “Then that was highly inappropriate of me. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. You’re not thinking straight and--”

“You’re a terrible kisser,” Todoroki interrupted. Midoriya gave him a look, so he added, “Well, it’s true.”

Iida blushed as much as the blood loss would allow. “I’m sorry,” he repeated. “Perhaps we could just pretend this never happened?”

“Good plan.”

“Y-yeah! Let’s do that.”

With that, the three fell into the moderately uncomfortable silence that came with trying to pretend something like that didn’t happen.

Chapter Text

The buzzing of Iida's phone on the pavement was a welcome distraction from the silence that hung. All three of them lunged for it, smacked heads, and backed off. Despite this, Iida managed to grab it halfway into the third ring.

Tensei was calling back.

Tears pricked at the corners of Iida’s eyes seeing the contact picture mocking him once again. His brother was calling back. Somewhere in the back of his mind, the thought occurred that he hadn’t actually ended the conversation with him the first time Tensei had called.

Iida’s hand answered it without consulting his brain. It traced the red smear on the screen and brought the phone to his ear.

“Tenya!” Tensei’s voice slapped him in the face.

“Tensei,” Tenya found his mouth murmuring. “You called back.”

“Of course I called back! I had to make sure you were okay. After you stopped responding during that first call, I called Manual, and when I found out you weren’t with him, I seriously… I thought you might be--” A sniffle, and Tensei changed the subject. “Where are you? When Manual was explaining the situation, he said they found your arm, but you’re not attached to it.”

“They found my arm?” Tenya echoed.

“Yes. Manual said there’s still a chance you can get it reattached. Don’t you worry, Tenya. You’re gonna be okay. You just have to tell me where you are.”

“If they found my arm, then that means they found the… Where I…”

“They found where it happened, yeah. That’s not what matters right now, though. What matters is keeping you safe. Okay, Tenya?”

Tenya’s jaw clenched. He could feel the tears tracing hot tracks down his cheeks. “No, I.. I don’t think I can be a hero anymore..”

“We can fix your arm. You’re going to be just fine. I promise.”

“I shouldn’t have my arm fixed.”

“What are you talking about?” Tensei’s voice raised just a hint with panic.

“I did something awful. I don’t deserve to have it fixed.” It was getting harder for Tenya to keep the tremble out of his voice.

“No, Tenya, listen. Now’s not the time to decide if you deserve it or not. Which you do. Right now we need to focus on getting help. Can you tell me where you are?”

Tenya ignored the question. The tears were getting heavier and they dripped into his voice. “I don’t deserve this. I completely ruined everything and I’m--”

“Tenya--”

“--I’m a failure, brother!” Tenya wailed. “I-I was never worthy of being Ingenium! I--” His voice gave out, shattering into a miserable howl as he crumbled onto the ground.

“Tenya, listen, it’s going to be okay,” Tensei soothed. “Everything seems terrible right now. I know. But we want to help.”

“Brother, please! You shouldn’t help me after what I did!”

“Yes, I should.”

“I came to this city for revenge. It was all I could think of. It wasn’t-- I didn’t just-- It was specifically to-- so I could kill him. I’m just as bad as he is. Was. Was. He’s dead. And I killed him. I wanted to kill him. And I did.”

There was silence on Tensei’s end. Tenya took the opportunity to sit up straight and made the mistake of meeting Midoriya’s wide eyes. The tentative hope had drained away, replaced with dread and doubt that painted his whole expression. Tenya whipped his head away. He didn’t even dare to glance at Todoroki.

“Tenya, please. Please tell me where you are,” Tensei begged, voice barely above a whisper. “We can talk about this later. Just tell me where you are.”

The words hung in the air. Tenya’s jaw clenched tight. He focused on the bricks in the wall beside him and said nothing.

“Tenya? Tenya, are you still there? Tenya?” The line crinkled as Tensei moved the phone around. He was losing his soothing tone now, panic edging into his voice. “Tenya, please… I won’t tell anyone. I promise. I won’t tell them you meant to.” The panic shoved its way to the forefront of Tensei’s voice and made it tremble as his voice began a slow crescendo. “Please just let me help. Please. I don’t care what you did. I just want you to be okay, goddammit! Tenya, answer me. Answer me! Tenya! Fuck-- Tenya, don’t you dare be unconscious right now. I-I swear to god, I’ll come to Hosu myself! I’ll get my sidekicks to sneak me out and I’ll come to Hosu and find you myself, Tenya! Don’t you-- Don’t you dare die on me!”

Tensei was crying now, too. It was like needles in Tenya’s heart. The Hero Killer’s words resurfaced and chilled his heart. Ultimately, you will cause your brother more suffering than I ever could. He couldn’t let Stain be right.

“I won’t die on you,” Tenya promised.

Chapter Text

They spent the rest of the call arguing over getting help. It took a good half hour for Iida to convince his brother that he would get help himself, but he came out on top. He hung up and slumped against the wall.

“You didn’t tell him we found you,” Midoriya said. Iida angled his head in the direction of Midoriya’s voice. He and Todoroki were watching him. “The whole phone call, you never mentioned us, or anyone. You were talking like you were alone.”

Iida shook his head. “I don’t want to… I can’t force you two to get involved. You heard what I told my brother, didn’t you?”

“I…” Midoriya took a breath. "I kind of... I had a feeling you went to Hosu to go after Stain, but I didn't think you wanted..." Midoriya shook his head. "I should have been there for you."

Iida could feel the tears trying to return. “You don’t need to apologize for that. You offered your help and I turned it down.”

“But I still feel like I could have done more.”

“Stop it. None of this is your fault,” Iida argued. “I did this alone. On my own. It’s my fault because I decided to make this awful mistake.”

Midoriya scowled and hugged him, which was much harder for Iida to argue with than words. Todoroki leaned in for a fast half-hug as well. It was nice, even if Iida couldn’t figure out how to react.

“We should go get help like you promised,” Midoriya said when he released Iida.

Iida took a moment to respond. “Yes, we should. I’ll…I’ll tell Manual where we are.” He picked up his phone and sent the location to Manual, then neatly set it in its pouch on his belt. Midoriya smiled. Todoroki nodded his approval. “What now?” Iida looked between them.

“We should get closer to the street so they can see us,” Todoroki suggested. Iida nodded.

“Are you okay to walk?” Midoriya asked. “I can carry you if you aren’t.”

“Thank you, Midoriya, but I should be fine. I just need a little help getting up, I think.” Iida held out his hand and Midoriya helped him up. Iida wobbled on his feet and fell into Midoriya. Iida swore and clung as tightly as he could manage to Midoriya’s bicep.

“Easy, easy. I’ve got you.” Midoriya brought his arms around Iida. Iida’s shoulder felt warm and wet where Midoriya’s hand pressed against the bandages. It hadn’t been that long since they put the bandages on, had it?

Iida felt lightheaded as they walked. Things were blurring again, but Midoriya’s arms were steady, and Todoroki’s bicolor hair were easy to focus on. If Iida listened hard he could even hear the sirens in the distance.

Help would be there soon.