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Nedzu had mentioned his suspicions. There may very well be a traitor in U.A. The most likely suspects are the students of 1-A and certain in-the-know teachers. All Might is one of them, Nedzu had explained, but due to his circumstances, he’d admitted it unlikely. Toshinori couldn’t be offended by that though, not when Nedzu confessed that he himself was a more likely suspect, and warned the teachers to not lose trust even as they must keep an eye on each other. The more they were paid attention to, the more likely everyone would have an alibi when needed.

Of course, there are other potential traitors. Just because someone isn’t supposed to have the information that was being leaked doesn’t mean they don’t have a method to get it. There’s also a possibility that U.A.’s security has a blind spot, and someone is somehow sneaking in and getting that information without detection.

The principal is gracious enough to acknowledge that while he could pick out the most tenable prospects, they couldn’t cross anything out.

Toshinori isn’t some big, dumb brute. He survived thirteen years before meeting Master Nana and another still before he was handed One for All. Nearly fifteen years quirkless, and while the discrimination wasn’t as bad then as it is now, he didn’t exactly have an easy time making any worthwhile friends. He protected himself through a combination of force, intuition, and good judgement. He’s not stupid.

That doesn’t mean he has any idea who the possible traitor could conceivably be. He doesn’t want to think badly of anyone, and despite not being a complete moron, analyzation isn’t his strong suit. That’s a big part of the reason he chose Izuku as his successor. It wasn’t just that the boy acted when no one else would—Izuku ran in with a plan in mind and gathered young Bakugou a precious few seconds of air that may have saved his life. Anyone could’ve done it, but no one else did—they didn’t think to. Izuku wasn’t just quirkless. He lacked that over-dependency on quirks and that kept him from freezing when circumstances weren’t in his favor.

Toshinori is so, so grateful for Izuku’s analytical nature and attention to detail. He may need to improve his ability to think mid-fight, if only to avoid injuring himself even further, but he knows how to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses. He examines quirks most often, but obviously he’d noticed a flaw more glaring than anyone realized.

All Might isn’t scheduled to attend the summer camp, and aside from Aizawa-kun, the Pussycats, and Principal Nedzu, no one even knows that he might show up at some point. These villains are attacking with the full expectancy of All Might not being there.

Izuku had been right. His absence doesn’t mean they won’t be targeted.

And still no one knows he’s here. He plans to take full advantage.

He doesn’t have a lot of time.

 

 

Boot camp had been going fairly well, and certainly much better than Izuku had expected. He should have known that occupying himself with physical activity would keep him from overthinking himself into a panic.

And if he joins the remedial lessons when he still isn’t exhausted enough to sleep, no one actually has the breath to say anything.

Except Aizawa-sensei, but he seems to understand without Izuku saying anything.

He comes to a bit of a standstill when they begin working on strengthening their quirks, much to Tora’s frustration. Eventually, they realize the problem: they’re working on strengthening quirks, but Izuku’s quirk is already too strong for him to handle. He needs to learn to control it.

It’s not perfect. Even staying up late for remedial, he doesn’t feel the exhaustion he’d dealt with in training before U.A. And with All Might gone, he feels constantly unsettled. Aizawa-sensei’s presence soothes his nerves, but that only lasts for so long.

(He’sgonehe’sgonehe’snotherewhereishe?)

All Might had warned him. Recovery Girl isn’t here if he gets hurt. He needs to come back in one piece, and preferably with his bones not turned to paste.

So when he uses five percent against Muscular to save Kouta and it isn’t enough, he doesn’t immediately try again. He can use a little more without breaking anything, and go to eight percent—maybe even ten—if he’s willing to sacrifice a limb.

But seeing the damage five percent did, even ten percent won’t be enough against this guy. Fifteen percent, maybe, twenty, sure, if he gets enough hits in and it wouldn’t probably kill him just trying. He goads the villain into monologuing and searches for a way out. Ideally, he’d make sure Muscular is totally immobile, but Kouta is his priority; escaping is more than acceptable.

 

As it turns out though, it’s not. Muscular is persistent, and Izuku can’t afford to turn his back long enough to get away. It’s only because of Kouta that Izuku manages to beat him with minimal injuries.

Kouta hasn’t just been sitting up on this ledge sulking. He’s been using his water quirk against the mountainside. It’s probably only done in fits of anger and grief, but he’s been at it for long enough to soften the dirt around the entire area. Izuku directs him and then bounces around to dodge Muscular and make points of impact in the dirt.

Seven percent isn’t enough to really even bother the man, but multiple strikes in sensitive areas of the body, followed by a kick to fling him into the side of the mountain? Kouta’s hiding spot has crumbled, but so has a large chunk of the ridge—all on top of the villain.

 

 

Izuku doesn’t fight, once the league has taken him. He’s fine with this—well, not fine, but it could be worse. Several of the villains that attacked the camp are either captured or dead. (He has no idea which one Muscular is. Had Izuku killed someone?) Kacchan is safe, as are the rest of classes 1-A and 1-B. Ragdoll had been lying limply on the other side of the portal, and Izuku had thrashed and struggled and bought enough time to throw her back through before the portal closed. Izuku learns later that All Might had shown up to camp after all and turned the tables, much to the League’s ire. They aren’t happy about his unscheduled appearance. Izuku is the only person they managed to capture, and he wasn’t even one of their targets. His only regret is that he didn’t get a glimpse of All Might before ending up here.

Shigaraki initially wants to kill him. Kurogiri persuades him otherwise, sounding much like an exasperated babysitter. There’s someone who talks to them over the computer. He announces that he wants something from Izuku. “You know what I’m talking about,” he declares. “Hand it over and I’ll make sure your death is quick.” He doesn’t sound like he expects Izuku to comply.

Izuku sighs and yawns and makes no sign he’s heard, guessing that this “Sensei” must be All for One. Shigaraki is enraged by the lack of respect, but Izuku isn’t being defiant. He’s not full of bravado or fear. He’s tired and sore and everything feels like a dream. Darkness fades into his sight as noise fades from his ears.

Shigaraki talks to him alone, trying to entice his cooperation, convince him that being a hero is useless. He says that All Might can’t save everyone.

Izuku has a realization there. No hero can save everyone, no matter how hard they try, and they certainly can’t save anyone they don’t know needs saving. Besides that, Shigaraki talks like he expects All Might specifically to have saved him, so for all that he derides Izuku for putting All Might on a pedestal, he’s doing the exact same thing. Izuku has little doubt that his hatred of All Might has probably been cultivated by All for One and that he is in for a hard time when his “Sensei” inevitably abandons him, likely in a way that would have him blaming All Might further. Shigaraki won’t blame All for One and he certainly won’t blame himself. He’s an easily led puppet.

When Izuku points this out, Shigaraki calls him a liar and refuses to listen anymore.

He’s in mortal danger. They’re talking about torture. He just doesn’t care. His senses wax and wane. Any concept of time is thrown out the window. He coughs, shivering and drenched with cold water. The creepy, blood drinking girl strokes his cheek, binds his broken fingers and licks his wounds. She kisses him and coos at him and he should be glad that his restraints cover his body in ways that prevent her from touching him more intimately, but his head is floating and nothing feels real.

There is screaming and the screeching of metal, followed by an explosion. Izuku’s head jerks up just in time for him to be ripped away from a hulking figure, sunflower shade of hair shipping in the wind. Oh, there he is. The roof is gone. The harness and straps constraining him fall to the ground. The manacles are still attached to his wrists and ankles, but the chains have been ripped from the brick wall. Another portal steals him away.

Pro-heroes are shouting at him, but he can’t hear what they’re saying. They try to reach him as the villains play keep-away. He’s pushed around in dizzying circles. All he can focus on is the tired form of All Might standing amongst the rubble.

All for One winds back, ready to fire. Izuku can already see what’ll happen. All Might can’t take another hit, but he’ll have to. There’s at least one civilian trapped in the rubble. Few people actually know the state All Might is in, but with those news helicopters above their heads, everyone will soon find out. In a sudden rush, sound filters back.

His unresponsiveness so far works in his favor now. No one, hero or villain, is ready for him to dart to All for One’s side and stab him in the shoulder with a piece of rebar.

 

 

Toshinori is ready to sacrifice himself. All for One has every intention of exposing him to the world. He’ll let it happen, if it means protecting the innocent lives trapped in the ruins behind him. He has the power to take the hit, but he knows he won’t have any left over to keep his form.

It’s okay.

All for One doesn’t make the strike though.

Izuku, who had appeared catatonic as far as anyone could tell (and what had happened to him, whatdidtheydo?) appears from All for One’s blind spot—when did he become so fast? All for One, stuck in the motion of priming his attack toward Toshinori, is unable to dodge. His enemy is down for the count in seconds, ribbed steel impaled through his shoulder and head knocked against concrete a good few times. All for One’s attack dissipates upward, sending a blast of wind that has the helicopters teetering precariously and flying off as soon as they can manage.

It takes a couple moments for the fighting to start back up, and the other villains beat a quick retreat. All Might does nothing to stop them; he’s too busy holding his successor back, if only to stop him from injuring himself further. All for One being unconscious isn’t enough for Izuku—he gets in a few extra kicks, including one between the legs, before Toshinori hauls him away, and even then he doesn’t stop. It’s a little like trying to hold on to a wet cat.

“Let me go! Let me go!” Izuku shrieks, practically foaming at the mouth. He’s squirming in Toshinori’s grip and clawing at the air, trying to get back to All for One. He snarls, “I’m not done with him yet!

Even struggling with Full Cowl brightening and sparking along his skin, he doesn’t do anything to hurt Toshinori. Nails are gentle against his forearms and he’s wriggling more than he’s trying to force Toshinori to let go. Walking away to where All for One is no longer immediately visible calms him, but he continues to growl and snap his teeth at anyone who tries to approach. Gran Torino cradles his hurt arm and watches the feral creature in his arms with wide eyes. Toshinori stares back helplessly.

 

 

The police station is congested and busy. Phones are ringing at every desk and officers are shouting across the large room. It should bother Izuku, but he’s sitting on All Might’s lap, All Might’s arms and someone else’s jacket hemming him in, tucked into a relatively quiet corner.

Detective Tsukauchi occasionally stops by to talk to All Might, but Izuku doesn’t mind that either. He keeps a decent distance and doesn’t make any moves to separate them, unlike those first three people who tried to approach. Besides that, Izuku likes it when All Might talks; he has a nice voice.

The detective isn’t alone this time though. Izuku shifts and grabs tighter. He doesn’t care if it’s Aizawa-sensei and Recovery Girl - no one is getting past him. What if All for One escapes? What if Shigaraki comes around, wanting revenge for All for One’s capture?

(whatifwhatifwhatif)

All Might would just jump into action, never mind that he’s exhausted and doesn’t have the time or power to keep fighting. Izuku regrets inadvertently encouraging All Might to push himself so far, but he’s not going to let it happen again. No one is getting past him.

Aizawa-sensei is crouching in front of them and when did that happen? Izuku tenses, berating himself for not being on guard. Recovery Girl is grilling Tsukauchi, but Izuku isn’t focused on that. Sensei is conversing with All Might and ignoring Izuku, which is fine, as long as he doesn’t do anything else. Izuku’s pretty strong anyway. If Aizawa-sensei takes away his quirk, it doesn’t mean he’s letting go.

He bares his teeth when Sensei’s attention switches to him. Aizawa-sensei is frowning, but doesn’t look angry or disapproving. It’s hard to decipher his expressions though. Izuku recoils, bewildered, when Sensei moves too quick and—pokes his forehead? He glances between the three adults in front of him, puzzled. Sensei turns and says something to Recovery Girl, and she steps forward.

She doesn’t look at or make any move to touch All Might. Recovery Girl’s eyes remain steadily on Izuku as she scans his broken fingers and looks over his cuts and bruises. There’s a gash on his side that’s been stinging for a while, and she uses a pair of tweezers to pull a small bloody piece of—metal?—from his knee that he hadn’t even realized was there. He allows her to place a kiss on his knuckles, and-

-The fuzz in his ears pops. Sound rushes back and shakes him. He coughs like there’s something in his throa t a nd he c an’t sto p cou ghi ng

 

“Hold him still,” Recovery Girl demands, “before he hurts himself further.”

Toshinori obliges, still feeling like he’d been hit by a large, sturdy, triple-decker bus.

“Hyper focused,” Aizawa-kun says. “He wasn’t convinced the danger was over, so he was keeping a lookout for any threat, even from people he would normally trust.”

“He was protecting me,” Toshinori points out. As though All Might needs to be protected.

Aizawa-kun nods with a knowing expression. Chiyo, for all her worry, keeps a straight face as she injects Midoriya with something that makes him go limp. The boy is still conscious, but he’s not holding on tight anymore and looks a little dazed.

“A very mild sedative,” Chiyo explains. “It should calm him down, but, just in case, stay with him so he doesn’t panic when it wears off. I’ve healed him as much as I can right now. Anything else will have to wait until he has more energy.”

Toshinori sighs, manhandling Midoriya into an easier position to hold. “At least he didn’t break his entire arms this time,” he mutters, eying the bandaged, broken fingers.

Chiyo’s lips thin.

“The damage wasn’t self-inflicted, intentionally or otherwise,” Tsukauchi-kun corrects before Toshinori can ask. Toshinori looks up at him, not sure he wants to hear any more. “One of the villains at Kamino Ward was apprehended and, during interrogation, admitted that when they captured Midoriya, he had no significant injuries.”

Toshinori doesn’t know what expression he has right now, but it must be terrifying to make Tsukauchi-kun look so alarmed. He tries to smooth it out.

“He was tortured,” the detective adds hesitantly, scrutinizing Toshinori carefully. “I don’t know how, exactly…”

“I’m pretty sure he has water in his lungs,” Chiyo declares, and Toshinori goes cold. “He’ll need the hospital for that.”

Yamada-kun is waiting outside, scolding a trio of teenagers with still lit cigarettes caught in their fingers. They appear sheepish and a little scared, while the cat-faced officer waiting by a patrol car watches with amusement. When Yamada-kun turns toward them, he looks… off. Frazzled.

Eyes drawn to Izuku, whose eyes remain half-lidded and blank, Yamada-kun asks, “How’s the little listener?”

Toshinori shifts his grip and leads the way to the car. “Recovery Girl took care of the worst of his injuries,” Aizawa-kun answers shortly. “We’re taking him to the hospital now.”

Yamada-kun leans forward to see around Toshinori. “You’re worried.”

Officer Tamakawa holds the door open for Toshinori to climb in with his burden. Aizawa-kun glares. “Tonight, one of my students went from one to batshit.”

 

 

Hizashi takes a deep breath and holds.

“Let it out,” Shouta drawls. Hizashi complies.

He likes being a teacher. He’s glad Nemuri had put in that application for Shouta when she decided to teach at U.A., because there’s no way Hizashi would have become a teacher without his best friend. It’s not as dangerous as their night job and it gives them some security and support they wouldn’t otherwise have.

It also socializes Shouta. Despite sometimes coming at the expense of the children, Hizashi has to encourage that.

Being responsible for children, though, is nerve-wracking in another way, and he’s grateful for his best friend’s presence all over again. There’s no way Hizashi would be able to manage the kids without panicking all the time if he were on his own.

There’s a spy at U.A. Nedzu had mentioned it a likely possibility even before the incident at the summer camp in which Midoriya had been kidnapped. Dorms are already in the works, and now the principal is making them mandatory for students and teachers both. Security is being strengthened, which will hopefully also get them closer to figuring out where the leak is. Everyone’s a suspect, even, Nedzu claims, the principal himself.

Hizashi can’t think of anyone he knows personally who could be the spy but he’s not sure if that’s just because he trusts them all too much. The word traitor, after all, implies that faith has been broken. Trust has to exist, for betrayal to occur.

And then Shouta gets the call that Midoriya has been recovered but there’s a problem somehow. A few minutes later comes another call; some of 1-A’s other student’s had somehow gotten involved at Kamino—“Even though they should be safe in their homes,” Shouta snarls—and someone needs to go take responsibility for them.

Hizashi doesn’t know what’s going on with Midoriya, and he doesn’t have the confidence that he can deal with it. It doesn’t sound good. He probably won’t be able to shout any anxieties away there, so he offers to take care of getting the kids home while Shouta deals with Midoriya.

They’re all arguing when Hizashi arrives. It’s a different police station than the one Midoriya is at, for some reason—though, he doesn’t understand why Midoriya had been taken to a police station at all, instead of a hospital. The officers explain that the kids had gotten trapped and had to be rescued. They’d all refrained from using their quirks, which is something, Hizashi guesses. He hopes they would have used their quirks if they really needed to, and from what he’d seen of Kamino on the news, it’s a miracle they hadn’t. It’s a little surprising that Bakugou hadn’t literally exploded anything all night, considering how frustrated they all are, but maybe Kirishima had held him back.

It doesn’t mean Shouta isn’t still going to be pissed they were there at all.

Iida explains, between apologies, that they had hoped to rescue Midoriya while staying out of the fight. But while they had stayed out of the fight proper, they’d still gotten in the way and it’s only luck they hadn’t been hurt or have to use their quirks to avoid getting hurt. Kirishima and Yaoyorozu are both shamefaced and contrite. Todoroki looks mostly unaffected, save for his bowed shoulders. Bakugou looks to the side and remains silent. He almost seems to be ignoring everything around him, but Hizashi is sure he hears every word and is simply brooding.

Hizashi doesn’t scold them; he’ll leave that for their homeroom teacher, who’ll undoubtedly do a far better job at making them regret. He does make sure to be extra loud as he takes them all home, and they cover their ears the whole way. He arrives at the other police station in time to see a patrol car park in front as a trio of obviously underage punks walk by with lit cigarettes.

They try to talk tough at first, when he steps in front of them, but he points out the police station and the police car, complete with officer, and that he’s a pro-hero. The police will listen to him. And then he rambles, admonishing them for being stupid kids—he may have been taking his feelings about his own kids out on them—and they think smoking is cool now but when they’re actually adults they’ll realize how stupid kids trying to act grown up actually are. He prattles on about how bad smoking is for them, that they’re going to have trouble breathing and get lung cancer and die before they’re forty.

Shouta may have a point about Hizashi being overdramatic. Also, he may have gotten a little hysterical and scared those kids. Just a bit.

Midoriya is obviously drugged when All Might carries him out, followed by Shouta and a detective. The sedative begins to wear off by the time they get to the hospital, but it takes a while and lasts throughout treatment. Midoriya is groggy and confused. All Might has to stop him when he tries to take out the I.V. and again when he attempts to climb out of the bed. When Midoriya becomes more aware, All Might is visibly relieved. Hizashi steps out to let them talk privately.

He finds Shouta on a bench in a hallway glaring at his phone. He can’t get in contact with Midoriya’s family, which makes the school, and Shouta as Midoriya’s homeroom teacher, the closest thing to legal guardian. To be clear, Shouta does not want to be anyone’s legal guardian.

He returns to Midoriya’s hospital room with Shouta in tow. Shouta grumbles about the hospital food as he shoves a cup of applesauce and another of chocolate pudding at All Might with a demand to eat something. Midoriya, now conscious but still loopy on painkillers, wonders aloud if All Might has been eating and looks guilty when All Might grimaces, abashed. It’s interesting to see the dynamic between them. All Might could be Midoriya’s big brother, if he disregards their ages and looks.

Maybe ‘dad’ would be a better term.

 

Izuku doesn’t want to think about what happened. He doesn’t care about the scars left on his skin when he’s accumulated so many that a few more won’t make much difference. He just wants to forget.

Every time he catches movement in his peripheral vision, he hears Shigaraki trying to lure him to All for One’s side. He hears about how much easier life would be, with someone like All for One to back him up.

(If Izuku had wanted the easy way out, he’d have taken the oft given advice of throwing himself off the roof a long time ago.)

He doesn’t need “easy”. He just needs to be able to handle it. Izuku needs to be stronger, so that things like this won’t make him feel like he’s about to break.

His wrists ache where the cuffs had dug into his skin. The backs of his knees ache where the welts raise his skin. He still feels too cold and shivery, even though he’s dry now. He wants to forget about being chained up, able to move but only enough to struggle fruitlessly. The hospital clothes he’s wearing feel too loose after wearing the form-fitting restraints. (How long had he worn them? How long had they had him?)

Those restraints had kept Toga from going too far. But then, how far was too far? She hadn’t actually done anything to him. She’d only implied that she wanted to-to… He gets chills up his spine just thinking about it. Izuku hadn’t done anything to hinder her. He hadn’t said anything. Should it really bother him like this, when he hadn’t so much as told her to stop.

If there’s anything he wants to forget, it’s that. He wants to forget about her whispering in his ear, gushing about him being their guest and how glad she was to host him. He wants to forget about her sitting close with a hand on his chest as she simpered at him.

It’s odd, how everything that’s happened recently bothers him more now, when he knows he’s safe, than it did when he was living it.

Fingers on his shoulder make him flinch away. He blinks up at Present Mic.

“You were spacing out, Midoriya. You alright?” He thankfully doesn’t try to touch Izuku again.

“I’m fine,” he mumbles and looks around the room. No one else is there. His breath hitches. “Where did All Might and Aizawa-sensei go?”

“They went to talk to the doctor,” Mic assures. “What’s eatin’ ya up?”

He bites his lip. He doesn’t want to talk about it. He doesn’t want to think about it.

Present Mic seems to read his mind. “It’s okay to not be okay, kiddo. You were tortured. Not even experienced full-time pro-heroes are always as perfect as they look on T.V., and most of us have never been through anything like what those villains did to you.”

Izuku is tired but too wired to rest. He doesn’t want to chat and he doesn’t want to be touched. He wants to be left alone but he wants All Might to stay with him. He wants to forget that anything happened and curl up in bed—in his own bed. He wants out of the hospital but he doesn’t want to go home.

He doesn’t know what he wants.

“That’s okay,” Present Mic affirms.

Maybe he can’t read minds. Maybe Izuku just can’t keep his mouth shut.

Mic chuckles and boasts that he can keep a conversation going all on his own, and then he proceeds to do so until All Might returns.. He tells Izuku to count backwards when it’s hard to breath. He says heavy exercise, like going for a run or doing as many push ups as he can handle, is great when his thoughts threaten to overwhelm him. He advises Izuku to ask for the things he needs, even when he feels like he shouldn’t need them.

“You aren’t the only one who gets anxious sometimes, kid.”

He ruffles Izuku’s hair. This time, Izuku doesn’t flinch.