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Looking Glass

Chapter Text

 

Out of all the villains that he’d had to face, Eraserhead was forced to admit that this one in particular was troubling. He thought this even as rain pissed down on him, soaking his clothes, his bandages, his dark hair until he looked like a bedraggled cat. He stood staring at the wreckage of a building, the smoke billowing into the sky and turning the air dark grey. In the distance, a siren wailed.

 

The problem with villains like this, he thought, was that there was no paper trail left behind. Whoever had planted a bomb in Endeavor’s main office had no physical Quirk. There were no marks from a Quirk-activated explosion, no ice or water marking the crime scene. There was no blood, no fingerprints, not even a message or particular reason or ransom why they had chosen this building. The only thing left behind was panic, as citizens filmed on their phones and stood huddled outside the wreckage, some crying as their loved ones were pulled out of the wreckage by the fire brigade. Endeavour himself was there, a dark figure that burned hotly in the rain like a flare gun, scowling and shouting and directing underlings. He always looked unhappy when he had to stand in the rain. Tonight he was especially miserable, from the looks of it. The thunderous expression on his features promised trouble, if there was only some kind of hint as to who was responsible.

Shouta had the uneasy feeling looking at the wreckage that the man’s anger would amount to very little, as it had with the two bombings that had happened two months before.

 

“It really is like they’re a ghost,” Hizashi spoke from beside Shouta, as conservatively quiet as he got. His hands were in his pockets, his normally pointy-haired up-do looking sad and deflated from the downpour. He chanced a glance at Shouta from behind his shades, his expression unusually grim. “The security cameras were disabled, no fingerprints or footprints left behind. No eye witnesses. Not even Nedzu has any idea of where to start, the only motive seems to be to create fear.” He shrugged “At this point, I’m thinking their Quirk is Invisibility.”

Ghost. Yeah, Shouta supposed it was kind of like that. He mulled the name over in his mind, head tilted in consideration.

He’d been working as a full time hero for nearly five years now, and it was the first time that he could admit to being unsettled. His fingers and eyes itched, one for action the other for rest. It felt like chasing this villain had burned most logic out of him, leaving him forced to relying on instinct instead. It told him that he didn’t think that the villain was invisible.

“The bombings are dangerous,” His gaze flicked to reporters, standing out in the rain and gravely delivering news in serious, real-time gravity. “Every time we don’t catch someone who sets fires, or creates fear… we lose public confidence in our capabilities.”

Hizashi cracked a small smile.

“So serious...” But he didn’t argue it further. Even he could feel the hostile glances directed their way, see the crowds in the distance being ushered back from the building for their own safety. The air felt claustrophobic and tense, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Shouta thought to himself that this villain knew exactly what they were doing, and even if it wasn’t their end goal, the results were the same. It didn’t bode well. This crime… it was chaotic.

 

“Should All Might get involved?” Hizashi murmured, almost too softly to hear. His gaze was directed at the reporters standing a few feet away. Though his posture was relaxed, his smile was just a little too fixed. Shouta considered it quickly. As Eraserhead, he thought it was a good idea. As Shouta, something still felt off about the whole crime.

There was a puzzle piece missing, a niggling loose tooth that he felt somehow All Might just might crush.

“There’s something wrong with this.” He muttered out loud. Only Hizashi heard. Present Mic; to his credit, didn’t disagree.

 

 

-Ten Years Later-

 

 

It was no secret that Katsuki Bakugo was an angry person. Some of it was probably personality, some of it the nature of his Quirk. Being an explosion’s specialist tended to make someone a little hot-headed, especially when the power manifested at such a young age. He was proud, arrogant, and jagged in the kind of way that made his classmates reluctant to touch him lest they cut themselves on one of his sharp edges.

 

Eijiro Kirishima was by contrast, soft. Where Bakugo to many was the scalding part of fire, his classmate was warmth. His shark-smile was easy to come, his personality stubborn but undeniably kind. He was strong, but all of his classmates would willingly admit that he was also thoughtful. He was also, despite some of people's beliefs, far more observant than given credit for. This came from his own childhood maybe, his aunt having suffered from sickness most of her life. She’d been a bitter, acerbic person, always looking for a fight. He’d been afraid of her when he was little, wary of her mouth and even more wary of her stubbornness. Getting her to enjoy anything had been the chore his mother had devoted herself to, something Kirishima hadn’t really understood until later in his aunt’s life. When the illness got worse, she got worse.

Somewhere along the way, Kirishima had realised that it was the illness that was bitter, and not the woman underneath. Somewhere around rounds of chemotherapy, hospital visits and crying sessions late at night when she thought he was sleeping, he'd seen that her anger was a shield. 

It took all of five minutes being in Bakugo’s presence for Kirishima to realise in a quiet sort of way that Bakugo like her was sharp, to make up for something brittle beneath. It came out in the silences, when Bakugo was very tired or very unhappy. He’d stare into the distance, or stare into his hands as if searching for something other than anger. It appeared when Bakugo would look at him with a sort of confused resignation, clearly unsure as to why Kirishima stuck around when all he gave him was lip and abuse. It made Kirishima determined to be his friend, even if being his friend was sometimes (often) hard.

 

Kirishima was kind, kinder even when Bakugo snapped and snarled and bared his teeth. He was kind when his friend exploded (physically or metaphorically), and kind when Bakugo pushed to see just how far he could bend Kirishima before breaking him. Kirishima was tough in both his Quirk and his mind, and so could take more than his fair share of hits. If he couldn't, he wouldn't have lasted. 

And when Mineta (because of course it was Mineta who couldn’t read a dangerous mood if his life literally depended on it) got frustrated with Bakugo’s bullying and finally snapped, Kirishima was there to hold Bakugo back from killing a fellow classmate (because let’s face it, that was decidedly unhero-like).

“Do you even have any friends?” The small boy had cried, uncharacteristically brave in the face of Bakugo’s anger. “Do you ever even think before you hit someone or before you blow up?! No wonder no one even likes you!” For Mineta to say that, given that he had earned the hatred of most of the girls in the class, was a bit harsh in Kirishima’s private opinion.

 

He had expected Bakugo to lash out, but he hadn’t expected the level of his reaction. The class that morning had been fairly chaotic, Aizawa-Sensei nowhere to be seen. Lida had tried to establish some order, but in truth it’d been a lost cause from the start. Now though, Bakugo launched himself from his chair, a wordless snarl on his lips. Kirishima hadn’t been expecting it, but it didn’t much matter. He had to stop Bakugo, because to not do so was to allow damage to school property. His Quirk came instinctively, hardening the side of his body facing Bakugo. It took most of the sting out of the explosion that landed on his side. The punch landed squarely, and Kirishima winced at what would likely be bruised and bleeding knuckles on Bakugo’s part.

“What the fuck do you know?!” Bakugo roared, ignoring any pain he felt in favour of yelling. The class fell silent, somehow sensing this was not the usual anger their classmate presented to the world. This was something sharper, unstable. Kirishima prayed that Mineta had a lick of sense in him, to read the mood at least now if he hadn’t before. “You’re a fucking perv! What do you know about friendship or any of that dumb shit!”

 

Mineta shrunk, his lips tightening into a thin white line. No one immediately stepped up to help him, but no one except Kirishima was siding with Bakugou either. Like scared sheep, most people’s eyes were wide as they saw the steam rising from Bakugo’s hands. There was danger in every line of his posture, a rattlesnake pushed too far.The silence that crackled was weighted.

It was Uraraka that was the first to break the silence, her quavering voice concerned.

“Kirishima, you’re bleeding.”

It was true, Kirishima realised. He could feel it in a vague sort of way, trickling at the thin skin of his temple. Hadn’t used his Quirk fast enough, he guessed. He offered her a toothy smile, shrugging it off.

“It’s nothing,” He replied easily “Probably just need a bandaid.” He couldn’t read Bakugo’s expression, but his shoulders tightened as he took in the small cut by Kirishima’s eye.

If he meant to say anything about it, he was cut short by the classroom door opening.

 

Aizawa-Sensei took in the class at a glance, everyone freezing with the new authority finally showing up. Kirishima winced, but to his surprise his teacher merely ordered the class  to “Sit down.” They responded like lemmings, chairs scraping and sliding as everyone took their place. All except Bakugo, who was still trying to curb his breathing, his sweat turning into steam.

Kirishima expected (and worried) that Aizawa would snap, try to force Bakugo to sit. He honestly wasn’t sure what would happen if he did, who would come out of that confrontation the winner.

 

Instead, Aizawa checked the papers on his desk, reading something scribbled in his schedule.

“Bakugo,” He murmured. Bakugo didn’t acknowledge his teacher’s voice out loud, but his head did turn slightly. Aizawa took it as consideration. “You’re dismissed for the day. Go to your dorm. I can give you the notes later tonight.”

A quiet, disconcerted whisper broke out amongst the students. Mineta looked silently furious at the fact that Bakugo would get to miss class. Really, it was more of a slap on the wrist than a punishment. The muttering quieted down as Aizawa turned to the rest of the class, his glare sharp.

“To the rest of you, I feel we are far enough in the term that this shouldn’t bear repeating: I don’t tolerate in-class fighting outside of the training lessons. Antagonizing your classmates will lead in the future to consideration for expulsion. Am I clear?”

Wordlessly, the class nodded as one. There was no arguing with their teacher, not when he was in this sort of mood.

 

Bakugo gathered his books without a word. His fists trembled at his side as he made a hasty bow in Aizawa’s general direction. Kirishima watched him leave, wondering what about the date of April third could make Bakugo of all people look suddenly fragile.

 

****

Inko Midoriya found the shriek of cicadas outside at once both comforting and sad. Their high, plaintive drone set many people’s teeth on edge, but to her they were the song of the inevitable. Every year, they marked the turn towards an anniversary that she couldn’t avoid. It was comforting, and devastating.

It didn’t hurt as much as it used to, but it still left an ache in her chest that was difficult to breathe around.

 

She treated it with the usual medicine for such a day, hot tea and the day off from work. Sleeping in wasn’t something that came naturally to her, but she tried. When she couldn’t lie in bed any longer, Inko got up, puttered about the kitchen, and convinced herself to eat a slice of toast. Despite the early hour, she briefly considered a glass of wine before discarding the decision with a shake of her head.

Instead she settled for cleaning a little, both putting off and anticipating at once the task before her. Eventually, it couldn’t be ignored any longer. Inko drew a deep, considering breath, her hands fisted in her skirt.

Slowly, she made towards the upstairs, towards a room that for much of the year remained closed.

 

The air in her son’s bedroom was stale, though she tried when she could to open a window now and again. At one time the bed would have had sheets on it, but at some point during the years they’d been folded neatly at its end. The rest was relatively untouched, and Inko could almost believe standing at the doorway in the dark that Izuku would be coming home from school soon. The All Might posters that littered the walls seemed to be waiting for his return, the super hero’s broad grin a stark contrast to the sadness in Inko’s chest. She hovered, unwilling to step inside but needing to change the flowers on her son’s desk. It would do no good to leave the old, wilted ones today. Her teeth snagged on her lower lip, and she had to blink past the sudden hot rush of tears at the back of her eyelids.

She let herself think of it, just this once, alone where she could cry in peace. Today ten years ago, Izuku had never come home from the park.

Izuku would never come home to his posters, would never come home for dinner.

He’d never even have a chance to grow up, to live his dream of becoming a hero like his idol.

Izuku Midoriya had vanished ten years ago to this day, and Inko would never receive an explanation as to why.