All for One dropped a bundle by Shigaraki’s feet. As soon as the caught sight of what the wriggling lump was, Shigaraki’s face lit up. “A dog!? For me?”
All for One laughed and nudged the animal towards him. “Yes. You’ve been improving at such a rate that I thought you deserved compensation.”
Shigaraki stretched a hesitant hand towards the dog and nearly jumped out of his skin when it began to lick his hand. He soon regained his confidence and began to carefully scratch behind its ears with two fingers, reveling in the feeling of its silky fur. He looked up at All for One, his smile bright enough to match the sun. “Thank you, Sensei! I’m going to call it…..Rex!”
Shigaraki slumped down, sweat sticking to his clothes. His training had been especially brutal that day, and he was exhausted. He leaned against the remains of what had once been a stack of training dummies, laid to ruin with his Quirk. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his pet bounding towards him.
“Oh, come on, Rex,” he said, bringing his arm in front of him to pet the dog, “don’t you know you aren’t supposed to be in here?”
Just as his pet reached him, something clicked in Shigaraki’s mind. He had never let his guard down like this around others, but the exhaustion from training mixed with his excitement over seeing his pet was too much. He tried pulling his arm away as quickly as he could manage, but it was too late. As soon as Rex began to nuzzle his palm, the dog began to turn to ash. Shigaraki finally pulled his hand away from it and pulled his entire body away from his pet, but the damage was done. Where the dog’s face had once been remained only a mess of fur and muscle.
Shigaraki felt a sob growing in his throat, and looking at the mess he had made only made him feel like gagging. Instead he looked up at the entrance of the training area, where All for One had the door propped open. As soon as the older man saw that Shigaraki had noticed him, he began to walk across the room to the boy. “You see, Shigaraki, this,” he waved at the mangled dog, “is why you can’t afford to get attached to anyone; at least, not those who don’t know how to protect themselves.”
Shigaraki gave a weak nod. As sick as it made him feel, he couldn’t stop looking at what used to be his pet.
He couldn’t eat. Every time he opened his mouth to put food into it, the image of the dog’s sinewy snout would greet him and he’d begin to retch. Instead, Shigaraki ignored his urges and spent long hours in the training room until he was too exhausted to feel guilty.
He just couldn’t believe he had been so stupid. He should have known better. He should have kept his quirk under control. With every thought that crossed his mind, another training dummy was violently broken apart. No matter how many he destroyed, it never seemed to be enough. He kept going; maybe if he broke enough, he’d feel a little better…
Shigaraki blinked. He was lying in a bed that wasn’t his, but he didn’t remember ever going to sleep. After a few tries, he managed to keep his eyes open enough to observe his surroundings. The walls were painted a sterile white and were undecorated; there were only two beds in the room including his own, both with a chair located at their side. He had to be in the medical ward. The bed and chair to the side of Shigaraki were empty, but sitting beside his bed was All for One. Shigaraki sat up, but was held back by the pressure of an IV in his wrist.
“I don’t care if you want to lose weight, but you’re no use to me in a coma. Make sure to eat before you exert yourself like that.” Shigaraki flinched at the harsh tone in All for One’s voice. He had never heard his mentor speak in such a cold manner.
“I-I’m sorry, Sensei, I just…whenever I try to eat, I start to think about Rex again, and-“
All for One sneered. “I told you, Shigaraki, there is no use caring for those weaker than us in this world. You’re dragging us down, dwelling on your dog’s death like this. When you’re discharged from here, make sure to eat something.” With that, he rose from his chair and left the room.
All for One got fed up with him easily, Shigaraki noticed. Of course, it was because he was always screwing up. Still, he couldn’t help but think back to when there had been nothing but kindness between the two. He just had to better (although he was already pushing himself much; still, if it wasn’t enough for All for One, then obviously he was doing something wrong).
Video games, Shigaraki thinks, were perhaps the most useful thing the world could have granted him. He could pretend to be someone else and get lost in a simple story for hours at a time, only having to face reality when All for One called him to do or something or his battery ran out. If he died, or got hurt, it didn’t matter, because he’d always have a one-up. If an NPC died, all he had to do was reset and the problem would be fixed. He spent nearly all his free time playing games, getting lost in the fantastical universes they presented him with. It was a good way to live, in his opinion; eat, train, play games, sleep. He followed this schedule as strictly as possible.
Shigaraki crumpled an empty soda can in his hand, watching as the disintegrated pieces blew away in the wind towards a playground. Children ran around, expending amounts of energy that Shigaraki seemed impossible for bodies so small. As he watched, his eyes traveled to a group of children playing tag. As one girl reached out and grabbed her friend, Shigaraki felt himself lurching forward to stop her. He didn’t make it even halfway to the playground. Her friend remained in one piece.
He stared at his hand, lip curled. If he had made it to her, what would have happened? He would have killed that girl. He couldn’t survive in the outside world without hurting someone with a quirk like his. All for One was right. He had to distance himself.
An evening Shigaraki had planned to spend on his devices was interrupted when one of All for One’s lackey’s came knocking at his door. “The boss wants to see you.”
“Why?” Shigaraki asked, trying not to let his aggravation at having his plans show. However, the lackey was already gone.
With a groan, Shigaraki lifted himself from his bed, shuffling his feet as he headed to All for One’s office. Every head in the office turned to look at him as he entered the room; all, it seemed, but the blindfolded figure strapped to a chair in the center of the room. All for One stared at him scrutinizingly. He finally turned his head and simply said, “You should stop slouching like that, you’ll damage your spine.”
Shigaraki straightened his back but continued shuffling until he reached the center of the room. He eyed the bound figure nervously. “What the f- uh, what’s going on here?”
All for One gave him a grim smile. “Well, this man,” he gestured at the figure in the chair who, on cue, began to thrash in his bindings, “seems to know a little too much about our organization and was going to contact the authorities about it, so we have to make him disappear. I realized this would also be a good time to test your powers.”
Shigaraki felt a sinking feeling build up in his stomach. “So, what...what am I supposed to do?”
The smile on All for One’s face persisted. “Isn’t it obvious? Really, Shigaraki, I thought you were smarter than that.”
It was far too obvious to Shigaraki what he had to do, he just didn’t want to think about it. He had spent weeks, months, years training his powers, but the thought of using them against another person still sickened him.
However, All for One’s disappointment sickened him more. He had given Shigaraki so much, and Shigaraki had never done anything to repay him. He had to prove All for One didn’t make a mistake by choosing to mentor him.
With those thoughts motivating him, Shigaraki took a step forward and splayed his hand on the trapped man’s chest. As soon as he did, the man began screaming, tears leaking through the blindfold. Shigaraki could feel every bit of him breaking apart under the influence of his quirk. He tried to pull his hand back, but All for One’s was already there, his grip on Shigaraki’s wrist like steel. He didn’t let go until there was nothing left of the man in the chair, only a pile of dust.
There was no wind to blow it away this time. All for One finally let go. Shigaraki dropped down and emptied the contents of his stomach, retching until nothing more could possibly come out.
Shigaraki expected a condescending glare from All for One, but amusement was all he could hee on his mentor’s face when he finally staggered up from his position on the ground. “You’ll have to get used to this if you want to be of value to this organization,” he drawled as he left the room, all the others occupying the room walking after him. Shigaraki was left alone with the ashes of a man he never knew and the permeating smell of bile.