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Show ‘em what you’re made of

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It sounds odd, but Izuku feels safest at nighttime. Something about the cityscape lighting up under him, untold potential and danger laying in wait, resonates with him. Shadows are both his friend and his enemy — they can hide him, but they can hide others, too. Yet sitting on the patio of Kuroda’s apartment, his legs swinging off the ledge and into open air gives him the first sense of being grounded he’s felt in weeks.

God, so much’s happened. First getting moved into heroics, then finding out he had an organized crime syndicate looking out for him. Really, Shigaraki breaking out was icing on the cake. Just his luck.

He doesn’t have any concerns about who to trust now, the answer’s already pretty damn obvious. Kuroda’s going to stick with him through thick and thin, probably dragging Kei along with him. Seamstress would most likely murder for his sake, and Dabi...Izuku still doesn’t know what the older man’d said to those guys at the park, but that particular shade of pallor couldn’t mean it was anything nice. He just has to wait for a plan to get hashed out.

Yeah, Izuku isn’t a terribly patient person when lives were at risk. Shigaraki’s dangerous to everyone around him, one touch and it’s over. He rubs at his neck, feeling the few remaining scabs. It’d hurt, flaking off like a bad sunburn. Izuku counts himself insanely lucky that Kuroda had gotten Shigaraki off of him in time, a few moments later and he might not have had a trachea.

“Careful,” a voice says behind him, “If you think too hard, your head just might implode and make a black hole.” Kuroda comes into Izuku’s peripheral, moving to sit down. His balance is still off from losing his arm, he falls on his rear and hisses. “Fuck, this’s gonna get real old real fast.” Izuku huffs, rolling his eyes. Kuroda puts his legs through the bars of the railing, mimicking Izuku’s pose and looking out at the city. He gets to the point with brutal honesty, “Your mom’s worried. About—“ he motions between them, “—this, about Yuuei, about Crusty MgGee. You should talk to her more.”

“I know.”

“You need to get it out.”

“I know.”

“I’m here if you need me.”

“I know.”

Kuroda sighs. “Kid, it’s not just your mom that’s worried. So if you could say more than two words, I’d really appreciate it.”

Izuku keeps looking out at the cityscape. “I miss it. Running around on the rooftops. Fighting criminals. Making a difference.” His fists creak curled around the metal railings. “I feel...useless.”

He should’ve expected the swat to his head. “You know damn well you’re not useless.” Kuroda growls, “You’ve done more for this city than all of your classmates combined. Taking a break isn’t going to hurt that—“

“But I wont be able to go on the streets again until I’m a pro now!” Izuku bites back, “It was better when I had free reign to work on my own.”

“Yeah?” Kuroda leans back, letting his break out between his teeth, “Well I hate to break it to you, but the League went and blew that option out of the water with their kidnapping stunt. We’re damn lucky Kei pulled our asses out of the fire.”

Izuku groans, “Don’t remind me. He could probably kill us and the police would never find the body.”

“True.” Kuroda laughs, “He won’t though. I’m a pain, but I’m his pain.”

“Must be nice.”

His mentor punches his arm, “Half the time we want to kill each other, but we come through when we need to.” His joking grin dies, “You don’t have to talk tonight, but it would make everyone feel a lot better if you shared the load with someone.”

Izuku knows that, he’s only been told about a dozen times. It’s not like there’re any huge, vigilante-sized secrets between him and his mom anymore. God, she’d cried for hours when she found out. His chest twangs in residual guilt. “I know you guys are there, I just...I’m trying to sort things out in my head.”

Kuroda looks back out at the city, his voice is uncharacteristically soft, “I think we all are.” Not a word is said between them after that. Izuku leans against Kuroda’s shoulder, a light pressure, but enough to reassure him that his mentor is there. Kuroda rolls his eyes and drapes his arm over Izuku’s shoulders.

“We’re gonna be alright, kid.” He says, “Come Hell or high water, the League or bureaucracy, you’re not going in alone. Not anymore.”

It might not be true, but it’s what he needs to hear right now. With everything in the air, he’s never been more anxious about the future. Izuku closes his eyes and lets himself believe it.


——


The next day he has a meeting with Principal Nedzu. Kei had scheduled it for him an hour after they’d made a rudimentary game plan. It’s pretty simple, Izuku just has to tell the head of a heroics high school that he was given an offer by one of the most dangerous villains in the world. No big deal. Izuku’s going to be lucky if he gets home before 10.

The waiting room outside of Nedzu’s office is nice enough. A coffee table sits two feet from the couch, a stack of magazines lay on it. There’s a coffee machine on the table across from him, he can smell the caffeine from where he sits and feels his mouth water. He has a flash drive in his pocket and a thick manilla file in hand, his heart’s going at marathon-speeds.

Kuroda isn’t there with him, he has another physical therapy appointment. Kei’s off doing whatever it is he does in daylight and his mom has work. He’s alone, but that’s fine, he just needs to give the information over and explain the circumstances. Easy, he hopes.

The door opens, revealing the face of the Principal. “Ah, Midoriya, you’re right on time.” He steps to the side, allowing Izuku enough space to walk in.

The office is nice enough. Quality wood desk, a few world dictionaries on a bookshelf, it’s exactly what Izuku expects. What he doesn’t expect is the number of Pro Heroes sitting at the meeting table. He recognizes each of them, their Quirks coming to mind along with their stations. Most are teachers at the school, most notable being Ectoplasm, Midnight, Blood King, and Snipe. Color him surprised when he spots the dragon hero, Ryuko, number nine in the hero rankings and with a strong following. There’s another hero as well, one with green hair darker than Izuku’s, with three bright yellow highlights in his bangs. Izuku can feel his stomach twist when he realizes who he’s looking at.

Sir Nighteye does not look all that interested as he takes Izuku in. His posture is polite, his hands are together on the table and his back is straight, but there’s an air of indifference coming from him, like he’s here out of formality rather than actual interest. Izuku swallows the lump in his throat and makes sure to avoid eye-contact.

Principal Nedzu doesn’t notice his discomfort and pats him on the back. “Go on,” he encourages, an all too chipper smile on his face, “take a seat.”

Izuku does so, swallowing as he looks out into the crowd of pros. Kuroda had trained the social shyness out of his system for the most part, but the people around him...they’re the real deal, nothing like Kamui Woods or the police. These people sit at the table for a reason, Izuku’s properly nervous about that. He waits for the principal to sit down before he begins. “I-“ His voice cracks, he clears his throat and tries again, “I am Midoriya Izuku, most of you know me from my performance in the Sports Festival, but also from my ‘extracurricular’ activities.”

Nighteye adjusts his glasses, “We are all well aware of your time spent as the Black Fox, Midoriya.”

Izuku nods, “Right, of course. Well,” he puts the file on the table and open it, revealing the picture of Shigaraki Tomura. “As you all know, Shigaraki Tomura has escaped from prison, this alone isn’t the reason my friend schedules this meeting, however. I’m here to talk about one villain in particular. He goes by ‘Sensei’.” By the sharp intakes around the table, Izuku hazards a guess and says they know of him. “I didn’t disclose this in my police interviews, but during my captivity, I was taken to a room to speak with this man.”

Nedzu purses his lips, “This is most troubling, Midoriya.” He tells Izuku, “If this ‘Sensei’ is the same one I know of, then things are more dangerous than I first thought.”

Oh boy, Izuku hasnt even had the chance to drop the real kicker. “He was on a screen, with a voice modulator and no defining features visible.” Izuku tells them, “He talked to me about my Quirklessness, he said that he had the power to give and take Quirks.” This time it’s Nighteye who stiffens.

“Give and take Quirks?” His eyes are piercing when they look at Izuku. “You’re certain of this?”

“He gave me an offer.” Izuku continues, “He would give me any Quirk of my choosing, any at all, if I joined him.”

Midnight whistles, “That’s a pretty tempting offer, what made you say no?”

Izuku had thought that himself for a few days after the debacle. The answer comes with ease, “Because I was already able to do so much without one. Vigilante or not, my mentor taught me the difference between right and wrong.”

Nighteye scoffs, “Which is why you became a vigilante.”

Izuku frowns, he was willing to give respect where it’s due, but like hell he’s going to let someone walk over Kuroda’s lessons. “Sometimes,” he says, choosing his words with care, “what is right doesn’t match up with what is legal.” He looks around to each and every hero, “You’ve spent your lives saving people, and I don’t disrespect that, but some things are faster when done outside of the law.”

Snipe turns to Nedzu, “Remind me why he isn’t arrested?”

Nedzu smiles, like he’s the only one privy to a secret. “He has a very good lawyer.”

“Anyways,” Izuku takes the flash drive out of his pocket and puts it next to the folder. “This is a digital database, filled with information on known League members and the few bits of info I could gather on Sensei. Since I’m supposed to be a hero now, I assumed you would appreciate it.”

Ectoplasm took both the file and the drive. “These are very detailed.” The hero comments, flipping through the file. The helmet hides his face, but Izuku wouldn’t be surprised if his eyebrows were raised.

Izuku shrugs, “It pays to know your enemy. Makes it easier to predict them.” It’s what made fighting Bakugou in that arena so easy, after all. “I didn’t want to have this meeting just to give you that, though. I wanted to talk about security measures.”

“I assure you, the campus is perfectly—“

“No,” Izuku presses, “it’s really not. Shigaraki only needed ten seconds to reduce your gate to a pile of dust. But I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about security for my family.” He intertwines his fingers and leans on the table, “The League knows my identity, they’ve used it once already. Which led to my mother being in a coma and my mentor...” he trails off, flashing back to what he saw at his house, the pool of blood congealing on his carpet. “He didn’t get out unscathed.” He takes a breath and continues, “I want to make sure my family is safe from anyone hurting them to get at me.” He has Seamstress and her men on his side, but that doesn’t mean every villain is going to turn a blind eye to him and his family.

“A valid concern.” Nedzu agrees, a few heroes nodding with him. “Has your mother already found a new place of residence?”

“No,” The word’s bitter in his mouth, “we’ve been bunking with some family friends.” Kuroda and Kei were adamant against them living in a motel until they found a new apartment. When those two put their minds towards something, there’s nothing Izuku can do but sigh and go along.

Midnight flashes him a smile, “Well, there are quite a few apartment complexes near campus with a considerable hero-to-civilian ratio. You’d be guarded almost twenty-four hours a day.”

Izuku chews his lip. His mom’s still of medical leave, they’re living off of the emergency funds she had saved “for a rainy day”. He doesn’t know if they’ll have the income to pay for an apartment like that. Maybe he could ask Seamstress about part-time? He imagines himself as a waiter at her nightclub and tosses the idea away. Though asking about babysitting fees seems promising. “I’d have to talk to her about it, but it’s a good start.”

Nedzu claps his hand — paws? — together, “Well, this meeting has been informative, but I believe you’re about to be late to first period, Midoriya.”

Izuku checks his phone and bites back a curse. He stands and gives a shallow bow, “Thank you for putting time aside for me.” He leaves the office without a word and speeds down the call. Nedzu waits for the door to fully close before speaking again.

“Midoriya Izuku is somewhat of a special case, as you just saw. Yet he has brought vital information to us.” Ectoplasm hands the flash drive over to the principal, “The way we received this information is dubious, but I believe we can trust young Midoriya’s information.” His eyes gain a calculating light, “Now, we must talk strategy.”


——


The adjustment moving from class 1-C to class 1-A isn’t as jarring as Izuku first thought it would be. It definitely helps that he already has a handful of friends coming in. Uraraka introduced him to everyone on his first day, giving little anecdotes of each person. Iida makes sure he doesn’t fall behind, often quizzing him over text. Todoroki...he provides the quiet space Izuku needs when things get to be too much. There’s nothing wrong with class 1-A, they’re just really, really loud sometimes. For Izuku, who’s been training for months to react with minimum prompting, every sudden shout has him flinching and reaching for weapons that aren’t there.

And then there’s Bakugou. Izuku hasn’t been scared of the blond for a while, something he proved his first day in class — telling the blond to wait his turn. Oh, he hadn’t liked that, not one bit, but Izuku isn’t the same Deku Bakugou tormented when they were younger. Izuku’s grown competent, Bakugou’s stayed stagnant.

It’s also just as awkward as he thought it’d be being taught by the same hero he’d fought side by side with a month ago. Aizawa treats him the same as every other student, but the knowledge that Izuku is capable of taking down the same villains he can makes the whole situation unbearably tense. He can feel the hero’s eyes on him when he isn’t looking, assessing, evaluating, asking himself “how didn’t I see it earlier?” No one knew, that was the goddamn point.

When he walk in today, Uraraka waves him over to a congregation of students consisting of Tsuyu, Kaminari, Kirishima, Iida and Uraraka herself. “Hey guys.” He greets as he strolls over. “What’s up?”

Kaminari doesn’t answer verbally, instead he shoves a phone screen in his face. It’s an online article, one from the more popular magazine sites. The title is in all caps and bolded for emphasis, it reads “Kuroko is missing! What the public is dying to know.”

“Kuroko’s been on radio silence ever since the incident with mr explosion over there.” Kaminari tells him, jerking a thumb at Bakugou’s back, “Nobody knows where he is, or if he’s even alive. Social Media’s going crazy over it.” He opens a site and shows the trending tag, #WhereIsKuroko is number one, followed by #Kuroko and a few variations of Izuku’s vigilante title. His stomach twists at the sight.

“I mean, can you blame them?” Kirishima asks, leaning back in his seat, “Kuroko’s a manly dude, he’s helped a lot of people. Suddenly going quiet after a fight to the death? It doesn’t look too good.”

“He broke the law,” Tsuyu points out, impassive as always, “but that doesn’t meant he deserves to get hurt. I hope he’s okay.”

Izuku glares at Uraraka when she elbows him while mouthing “say something!” Still, he sighs and obliges, “I’m sure Kuroko’s fine, guys.” He didn’t realize how weird it is to talk in the third person until now, “He’s probably just recovering. He’ll be back on the streets in no time.” Sure, if “no time” meant three years, and even with that he’d probably be a sidekick. Sometimes he hates being in the heroics program. He wouldn’t have been caught dead saying that a year ago. Funny how things change.

No one gets the chance to reply, the bell rings and they all rush to their seats before Aizawa arrives. Izuku’s just gotten his notebook out when his phone buzzes.


Received 8:45 am
Sender: Fox Mook
Hey kid, get cereal when you’re on your way home, Kei was an ass and finished off the last box.


He’s in the middle of typing a reply when, “Midoriya, no phones in class.” Makes his head whip up. He pockets the phone in a flash and gives a sheepish smile to Aizawa.

“Sorry.”

Aizawa rolls his eyes, “Don’t do it again.” He turns around to write on the board. Izuku sinks into his seat with a sigh and prepares for another day in the Yuuei Heroics Division.

He misses vigilantism.

 

Chapter Text


Heroics isn’t that different from the General Department, academics wise. Izuku had been relieved at first, but the relief bled into boredom as the days went by. Nothing’s changed besides his classmates, and since he can’t go on patrols anymore, he has an abundance of energy.

He can’t sit still in class, there’s always some kind of movement. His leg twitches to the beat of his heart, his pencil taps “S.O.S” in morse. His skin itches with the need to do something. His knuckles ache for a fight, the kind of fight with no restraint. He runs through mock-scenarios in class, imagining how good it would feel to get this extra energy out.

He never lets anyone catch onto the flighty nature on his thoughts. The teachers already eye him like he’s a time-bomb, and Izuku refuses to be abrasive like Kacchan to get that aggression out. So he sits in his seat, lets his leg twitch, his pencil tap, and bears it.

Present Mic is teaching English right now, Izuku isn’t paying much attention. Kuroda stayed in America for five years, he would help Izuku without question if asked. His mind’s focused on more pressing matters, anyways.

Shigaraki was broken out of prison about one week ago. Since then, no one’s heard from him. Nothing, not even a peep. To someone like Izuku, that rings warning bells like crazy. If Shigaraki isn’t making a scene, he’s planning one, which doesnt mean anything good for anyone involved. They’ve already pulled the stunt with revealing him to other villains, Seamstress’ intervention is probably the only reason he still has his fingers. What else could they try besides forgoing subtlety and outright attacking him? The bell rings before he can find the answer.

“Deku.”

Izuku pauses in packing his bag. Looking up, he sees Bakugou standing in front of him. The blond’s leaning back with his hands in his pockets, the exact opposite of a threatening pose. All the same, Izukus back straightens. Last time he and Bakugou were alone, the other teen was trying to kill him. “Kacchan.” He says, his voice even.

Bakugou takes his hands out of his pockets, Izuku eyes them with caution. Noticing it, the blond shoves them back into his pockets with a growl. “I’m not here to fight you. I want to...” his face scrunches up like he’s in pain, “talk.”

Izuku can feel his eyebrows raising on their own accord. “...talk.”

“That’s what I just said, asshole.”

Well, if he wants to whip out the insults, Izuku can play. “Just wondering why. After all, you almost destroyed the arena we were fighting in when you found out it was me. Sorry if I’m a bit suspicious.” He looks around the room for added sarcasm, “Do I need to worry about the integrity of this room? I’m on thin ice with the heroes as it is.” He doesn’t flinch at the crackling explosions that spark across Bakugou’s hands.

“What the fuck happened to you?”

The question catches him off guard. Izuku blinks, “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“When the fuck did you get like—“ he gestures to Izuku’s entire person— “This.”

Ah. Izuku closes his eyes and sighs. “When I learned to stand up for myself, Kacchan.” He leans back on his heels, breathing out through his nose, “No one else was going to do it for me. Had to meet my mentor to learn it.” If he’d tried talking to Kacchan like this before, he’d be shaking too much to get a word out. Oh, how times have changed. The shocked expression on the blond make him smile. “You’re surprised, aren’t you.”

Bakugou’s teeth are bared in an ugly snarl, “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Oh boy, Izuku’s going to have to explain this, “In middle school, you kept knocking me down, telling me my dreams were impossible, that I should ‘jump off the roof and pray for a Quirk in the next life’.” To his credit, Bakugou flinches at the quote, “ever since we were little, you’ve done nothing but hit me and tell me I’m nothing. So what is it? Are you mad that I won’t take any more of your bullshit?”

It should feel invigorating, finally chewing Bakugou out for the years of abuse, but all he feels is hollow. It occurs to Izuku that he’s bigger than this, bigger than unloading all of his anger onto one facet of it. It’s not worth the time, nor the energy. Izuku sighs and shuffles his backpack onto his shoulder, “Whatever. I’ll see you tomorrow, Kacchan.” He just wants to leave, get home and call another end to another day, but of course Bakugou can’t leave well enough alone.

“Hold the fuck up.” He grabs Izuku by the forearm, gripping tight enough for him to grunt in discomfort. Heat tingles under Bakugou’s palm, it makes Izuku’s skin pang with warning.

Izuku goes still, his posture loosening enough for him to strike out if need be. He looks at the hand grabbing him, “You’re going to let me go,” he says, looking up and staring evenly into Bakugou’s eyes, “Or I am going to flip you and possibly break your wrist. If you want to talk civilly, we can talk tomorrow. I have somewhere to be.”

They’re locked in a standstill. Bakugou stares him down with a snarl, but Izuku keeps his gaze cool. His training is telling him to hell with it and to flip the blond anyways, but, for once, he doesn’t listen. Izuku will not fold, not like before. He’s grown too much this past year to revert back to the nervous teenager he was before. He is going to stare down his childhood bully and get him to let go on his own, Izuku’s stubborn enough to wait; and if he tries anything? Flipping him is still on the table, and these tiles floors would really hurt.

Bakugou holds his gaze, Izuku thinks he’s going to have to follow through on his warning when the teen lets go. He rubs his forearm and nods, “Like I said, I’m not taking your bullshit anymore. See you tomorrow, Kacchan.” He leaves the room, Bakugou doesn’t follow.


——


Kuroda looks up from his book when Izuku opens the apartment door. “Hey, kid, what’s up— who pissed in your cereal?”

Izuku lets his backpack thud onto the hardwood. “Bakugou.”

Kuroda hisses through his teeth, “Yeah, that’d do it. That kid could show a porcupine a thing or two about being a prick.”

Izuku’s not in a foul enough mood to not laugh at that, “You can say that agin.” Kuroda scoots to the side of the couch, patting the now free space. Izuku sits down with a sigh, sinking into the comfortable cushions and closing his eyes.

“So~” Kuroda drawls, Izuku throws back his head and groans at the tone, “how was school?”

“The usual.” Izuku replies, staring at the ceiling. “Same old classes and the same old schedule. Heroes have a really structured system.” He used to admire that, now it’s unbearable. He feels like he’s choking under all the rules. “Used to have more freedom as a vigilante.” He mutters.

“Yeah,” Kuroda sighs amusedly and turns back to his book, his hair is out of its usual ponytail, letting a few of the longer strands hang over his eyes. “That’s the appeal. Heroes don’t have it all bad, though. They actually have health insurance that covers injuries while fighting villains.” He makes a gesture to his face with his hand, “Had to pay for this out-of-pocket.” Without Kuroda’s hand to keep his place, the book shuts on his lap, “Shit.” Izuku’s mentor tries to find his place, “Sometimes having only one arm pisses me off.”

Izuku’s guilt is too strong to say “Only sometimes?”, he coughs and redirects his chain of thought. “Detective Naomasa wants to come over Wednesday.”

Kuroda looks up from his feeble attempt of finding his place in the book, “Oh?” The word has the proper amount of interest and suspicion, “And what does your pet detective want?”

“He’s not my pet.” Izuku shoots back out of reflex, “He said he wanted to talk to you, didn’t say about what.” Though he can wager a guess. He’d been just as suspicious as Kuroda is, but unlike his mentor, Izuku has a past with the detective. Like it or not, Naomasa had taken him in when Kuroda and his mom were hospitalized. He saw how uncomfortable residing with a hero made him and gave him another option. He’s one of the few adults Izuku’s met that hears what he says and listens. Izuku owes him, for a lot of things.

Kuroda huffs and goes back to his book, “Okay, I’m game. What time’s he coming over?”

“Seven pm.”

“Cool, is he having dinner? ‘Cause preparing an extra plate on the spot is a pain.” He frowns, “Your mom said she’s cooking that night, too. I don’t want her to work herself any harder than she has to.”

“Agreed.” Izuku shuffles through his backpack to grab his homework, “How long until Daisy gets here?”

“I’d say ten minutes.” Kuroda laughs lightly, “Do you think Seamstress’ got the child leash yet?”

“Daisy would slip that before anyone knew it.” Izuku rolls his eyes at the memory of the excited girl, smiling, “She can’t be contained by us mere mortals.”

“Eh,” Kuroda shrugs, “If anyone could do it, Seamstress could.”

Izuku, opening his history book, points at Kuroda, “True.” There’s a period of silence between them, the two doing their respective activities. When ten minutes pass, there’s a knock on the door. Izuku closes his textbook, “Right on time.” Putting it to the side, he stands up and walks over to the door.

“Hi, Izu!” Daisy’s bright chirp greets him. She’s wearing a baby blue sweater and a white skirt that reaches her knees. Blue stockings cover the exposed leg, and they’re hidden by the dirty white shoes adorning her feet. “Dabi brought me here!”

Indeed, the scarred man is standing next to Daisy, hands in his pocket and the usual devil-may-care expression on his face. If Daisy’s wardrobe is pastel, Dabi’s is most definitely grunge. A black tattered trench coat, grey tee, and a pair of torn dark jeans, he’s the antonym to Daisy’s sunshine. “Seamstress couldn’t take her today,” Is all he offers as an explanation, “Besides,” electric blue eyes lock onto Izuku, “wanted to talk to the kid about something.”

“It’s a secret!” Daisy tells him, miming a zipper over her mouth. She looks up to Dabi and pouts, “Dabi won’t tell me what.”

“That’s the point of a secret.” Dabi reminds her, the hints of a smile pulling at his lips. It disappears when he returns his focus to Izuku, “Nothing too serious,” the man promises, “just a conversation, man to man.”

Well, Dabi hasn’t done Izuku wrong yet, and who knows how many chances he had. Izuku still looks to Kuroda for the green light, when his mentor makes a shooing gesture, he turns back around. “Yeah, okay.” He kneels down to Daisy’s height, flicking a stray tuft of hair out of her face, “Where do you want to go?”

Daisy just about explodes with her answer, “The park! There were some kids a few days ago that said they wanted to play with me again and—“

Dabi ruffles her hair, “Slow down, kid. I think he gets the gist of it.”

Izuku laughs despite himself at Daisy’s pouting face. “Okay, the park it is.”

“You know the rules!” Kuroda calls after them.

“If we’re not back by seven, you’re calling Seamstress.” Izuku and Dabi reply at the same time. Daisy laughs, pulling them along. Izuku can only manage a, “Bye, Kuroda!” Before the door shuts and he’s dragged into the chaos that is babysitting a small child.

Daisy is energy incarnate, constantly on the move. Izuku learns this when he holds her hand and she taps a rhythm on his wrist so fast he can’t tell the taps apart from each other. She’s a nice kid though, sweet as can be. With a one-thousand kilowatt smile and a stubborn set of beliefs, she does anything she sets herself on.

“She gets it from Seamstress.” Dabi tells him as they watch Daisy guide a ladybug onto her finger. They’d been waiting at a crosswalk when she had spotted it on a fake potted plant.

“I read it in a book.” She tells them very solemnly, “Ladybugs need to eat aphids, but this plant’s a fake. It doesn’t have any aphids, the ladybug’s gonna look around for aphids ‘cause it’s hungry, but then it won’t find any and it’ll be even more hungry. I can’t let it starve cause of some mean fake plant!”

Izuku blinks at the passionate lecture, “Well, why don’t we drop him off when we get to the park?” He suggests, taking her hand once more then the crosswalk sign goes green. “That way, he’ll have a bunch of plants to find aphids on.”

Daisy beams at him like he’s given her a pony, “You’re the best, Izu!” She declares, smushing herself on him in a one armed hug. The other arm is still cradling the ladybug with care.

“She’s always like this.” Dabi tells him once they’ve reached the park. Daisy’s already taken off, sending plumes of sand into the air with how fast she runs to her friends. “Seamstress tends to spoil her, but she’s a good kid.”

They sit down on one of the benches framing the playground. The happy yells of children cover most of their conversation from eavesdroppers. Even so, both Izuku and Dabi keep an eye out, their past experiences not allowing anything less.

“I haven’t seen her parents around.” Izuku comments, watching Daisy start and decisively dominate a game of tag. Her laughter can be heard clearly from where they’re sitting.

Dabi sighs though his nose, leaning against the back of the bench. “Seamstress hasn’t said much about them, but they’re out of the picture. Don’t know if it’s ‘cause they kicked the bucket or if they left her.”

“Oh,” Izuku looks at Daisy, watching her play without a care in the world. “I don’t think they left, not willingly.”

“Yeah,” Dabi agrees, “me neither.” He shifts to twist towards Izuku, one leg crossed over the other. “But that isn’t why I tagged along. I wanted to tell you something.”

Izuku’s been preparing for this since they set foot out of Kuroda’s apartment. The cheery scene of the park does little to assuage his anxiety. “What is it?”

Dabi isn’t looking at him anymore, he’s turned back to look out at the kids playing. “When I was younger, I had a shit life. There isn’t any other way to say it. My dad was an ass, he wouldn’t give me or my siblings the time of day, and if he did, it was only to talk shit. But we were the lucky ones, my mom...” He closes his eyes, mouth twisting into a scowl. “she had it worse.” When his eyes open, they burn into Izuku’s soul, “But that’s not the point here, I’m not telling you this to hear a damn ‘I’m sorry’. I didn’t have nearly as many people in my corner as you do, don’t take it for granted and don’t think you can make it through this without ‘em.” He puts his hands behind his lead, popping his back with a groan, “That’s it.”

“Oh,” Izuku sit son the bench like an idiot for a solid thirty seconds, “You know, I was kinda expecting you give ‘the talk’, not life advice.”

Dabi snorts, “Please. Vigilante you may be, but we both know you’re not gettin’ any ‘till you beef up.”

Izuku splutters, straightening in his seat. “E-excuse you! I have just as much muscle as you! I dont see you getting any, either!” He immediately backpedals when Dabi’s smirk grows wider, “no, no, no. I do not want to hear about that. Don’t you dare—!”

Dabi closes his mouth, but the smirk stays in place. “Relax, Midoriya. I won’t” Izuku lets out a breath of relief, “Though, if you ever want to learn how to put on a condom—“

Izuku stands up, throwing his hands in the air. Dabi’s howls of laughter follow him as he stomps over to another bench. He sits down with more force than necessary and crosses his arms, watching as Daisy plays with the other kids. General assholery aside, Dabi has a point — he needs all the help he can get, meaning he has to mend the bridges he’s damaged.

Taking out his phone, he sends a quick text. He says “quick”, but in reality it takes him five minutes to type it out. He keeps deleting what he has, unsatisfied with it until he feels like he’s finally got it right. He stares at the screen, at the three little loading dots that indicate someone’s typing back. When the reply loads, he smiles to himself and pockets his phone.

Daisy blurs into existence in front of him, tugging him by his shirt collar. “Izu! We’re gonna play hide n’ seek! You gotta count for us!” Over her shoulder, Izuku can see her friends staring at them expectantly. When he stands up, he’s met with cheers, a gaggle of small children running around him until he covers his eyes and begins to count.

It’s the little moments that make his decisions worth it, Izuku decides, reaching “ten” and setting off to look for Daisy. He just has to make the most of it.


——


He’s at the meeting spot fifteen minutes before the agreed time. Call it nerves, vut Izuku really didn’t want to be late, not for something like this. The sun peaks over the Yuuei central building as Izuku sits on the steps, fingers intertwined.

“You’ve got this.” He whispers to himself, “You’ve got this, just explain and apologize. Explain and apologize.” Pretty simple plan, but he’s not too certain about how it’ll be taken. He checks his phone for the time, it’s 6:50, three minutes until their agreed meeting.

“Midoriya?”

Izuku’s head shoots up. Iida’s standing right in front of him, hair as immaculate as ever and backpack straps on his shoulders. Izuku’s mind flashes back to Hosu, to his friend’s grief and rage at seeing Kuroko — Izuku — working with the man who put his brother in the hospital. His stomach does a nasty little twist at the reminder of his past actions.

But that’s why he made this
Izuku hurries to stand up and dust himself off, “Hey, Iida!” He winces at the panicked pitch to his voice, “Ah, sorry, you just caught me by surprise.”

His blue haired friend sighs through his nose, “Yes, well, it seems that that’s a trend between us.”

Not a minute in and he’d going for the jugular. The careful plan Izuku had constructed for this falls to pieces. “I’m sorry.” He blurts out, setting his mouth into a firm line as he searches for Iida’s reaction.

His friend isn’t frazzled, “Midoriya, I’ve already forgiven you—“

“I know.” Izuku interrupts, “I know you forgave me, and you’re a much better person than me for that. But the...” He pauses to find the right word, “circumstances of your apology were when my life was on the line. Iida, I—“ His voice hitches, “I teamed up with the killer who crippled your brother. I’ve lied about who I am for as long as we’ve known each other. You had every right to give me that concussion at Hosu. I’ve— I’ve hurt you, and I want you to know how sorry I am.”

There, it’s out there, it’s been said. There’s no taking it back. Now, he stands in place, fists clenched and his gaze turned downwards. The ball’s in Iida’s court. Whatever he does, Izuku deserves it, no question.

Iida’s shoes scuff the concrete as he comes close enough to touch Izuku, “I was angry, when I found out. I couldn’t understand why, perhaps I didnt want to.”

Izuku dares to look up, Iida’s eyes sympathetic, “But, now that I know all the details, it‘s harder to blame you for everything.”

“I—“

“You broke the law,” Iida interrupts, “that alone is a grave deed, but...I know you. You’re not a criminal, Midoriya.” His Adam’s apple bobs, “The League hospitalized both you mother and your mentor, you had nowhere to go. Stain offered a deal, you needed the extra protection.” He closes his eyes and breathes. “You weren’t the one who almost killed my brother,” Izuku flinches at the reminder, “you’re Midoriya, my friend.” He holds a hand out, a silent action that holds so, so much meaning. “I’m still mad, but I won’t let that ruin our friendship. So, I forgive you.”

Izuku wipes his eyes with his sleeve. “Iida,” he grabs his friend’s hand with his own, “I’m not going to waste this chance.”

Iida smiles, and for the first time since the sports festival, it’s sincere, a tad boyish. “Let’s hope so.” He looks up to the sky, where the sun is beginning to peak over the main building. “Perhaps we should go to class early and start planning for our projects.” He walks ahead and holds the door open for Izuku.

Izuku smiles, “Hell yeah.” He says, walking past his friend and into the building.

“Midoriya,” Iida appears at his side, walking a brisk pace, “I’ll have to ask you not to use such language is class. It’s unbecoming.”

It’s the most Iida-thing Izuku’s ever heard directed at him. He shakes his head, smiling hard enough to hurt. “Sorry.” Oh, but it feels so damn good to walk next to his friend again.


——


The school day is uneventful. Though, considering Izuku’s definition of the word “eventful”, maybe it’s a good thing school days are boring as all hell. Bakugou comes in ten minutes before class, Izuku and Iida have already been there for twenty.

Izuku doesn’t make it obvious, but he watches as Bakugou takes his seat, propping his legs over the desktop like always. He doesn’t want another encounter like yesterday, and Bakugou’s reckless enough to start one if he thinks his pride is at stake. Lucky for Izuku, the blond’s content to put their impending in-school fistfight off for another day. Or he could just be waiting, who knows, the day is young.

Everyone else files in on their own time. Uraraka gives him and excited wave and a bright smile. Todoroki nods in his direction, the closest thing to a “hello” Izuku’ll get this early in the morning. For all his hard-working attitude, Todoroki isn’t a morning person, at all.

Speaking of, Eraserhead comes in right as the bell rings. The bags under his eyes have somehow gotten darker, “Sit down and shut up, brats.” Somehow, his tired grumble makes the entire class fall silent, “I’m about to take roll, you know the drill.”

Izuku leans back in his seat and resigns himself to the day’s schedule. The remaining adrenaline from his talk with Iida begins to wear off around the middle of first period. With that gone, the usual feeling of restlessness begins to take its place. He takes notes, of course, he asks questions when he doesn’t understand something, but the frustration he feels builds up between his shoulder blades, a small pocket of heat that burns his upper back with tension.

He’s half mad by the time they’re let out for lunch. He has the resources and support to do serious damage to the League, possibly enough to cripple them for a good few months, but the moment a whisper of Kuroko being back on the streets starts, the heroes’ eyes will be on him. Like it or not, he can’t do jack shit, and it sucks.

He doesn’t have the energy to interact with people, he knows it the moment he steps into the cafeteria and the wave of noise makes the ball of frustration in him coil tighter. He breathes though his nose and resolves to grab the fastest thing on the menu. After that, he’ll get the hell out of dodge, maybe somewhere it’s quieter. God knows he needs time to think on everything that’s been happening.

When he finally does escape the clamor, he has a sandwich in one hand and a carton of milk in the other. Now he just has to find a place to sit down and eat. The classroom? No, there’s a chance of being in there with Aizawa, and there’s only so much awkward tension Izuku’s willing to put himself through. Most of the seats available are in the cafeteria, and he’s already avoiding that. Maybe one of the benches outside? He looks out one of the windows he passes by. The sky is blue, with only one or two clouds floating past, an unspoken promise of open space and fresh air. Outside, Izuku decides, is a great idea.

Autumn’s given way under the siege of wintry chills. The trees have surrendered their leaves, bare branches reaching for the clouds. The maintenance crew‘ll be trimming them soon, Izuku thinks as he watches a bird flit between the barren trees. Even with the cold, the patch of sunlight Izuku chooses to sit in covers him in a pleasant warmth. His legs crossed on the brick floor, he takes the first bite.

“Hiya!”

Izuku chokes on the mouthful of food, whipping around to pinpoint the owner of the voice. No one else is in the courtyard. “What the—“

The same voice as before speaks up, “Down here!”

There’s a face in the floor. Blond hair styled in a cowlick and blue eyes that stare into his very soul. The face is smiling at him. Izuku blinks, “You’re in the floor.”

The face nods his head, “I sure am!”

There’s only so much Izuku can take in at once. There’s a guy stuck in the floor acting like it’s a normal day. Izuku just wanted to eat in peace and he is instead ambushed by a face in the goddamn floor. “What the fuck.”

The face makes a mockingly serious face, “Language.”

Izuku puts the space between his thumb and forefinger against his hairline, “You’re in the floor, don’t tell me what language I can’t use.” He’s having a conversation with someone in the floor. Kuroda’s going to laugh at him to kingdom come. Best keep today’s events very, very far away from his mentor. “Are you stuck or something?” To himself, he whispers, “What the hell is happening.” Under his breath.

The face lights up with eagerness, “Ah, it’s part of my Quirk.” he explains, “I can phase though anything.” The head is suddenly not just a head anymore, it has a body, a very naked body. Izuku covers his eyes on principle before anything below the navel comes into sight.

“Please tell me you have pants on.” He pleads, cheeks burning. Why is this his life? He didn’t do anything today worth cosmic-level karma. He was just trying to eat lunch.

The sound of a zipper reaches Izuku’s ears, “Ah, sorry about that! You can open your eyes now.” Izuku exposes enough of his eyes to check if the blond is telling the truth and relaxes when he spots UA-issued sweatpants. Now that his whole body is free of the ground — Izuku’s still a bit hung up on that — the blond stands a whole two heads taller than Izuku and is built like a brick shithouse.

The blond shoves a hand out, “I’m Toogata Mirio, nice to meet ya!”

Izuku takes the hand in a daze, “Uh, Midoriya Izuku. Likewise.”

Toogata let go of Izuku’s hand and turns it into a thumbs up. “You’re confident, that’s awesome.” He leans in a bit like he’s about to share a secret, “not a lot of first years have that kind of self-assured attitude. I like it!”

As pleasant and yet very weird this interaction is, Izuku still has a lunch to eat. “So, Toogata,” he takes a seat again and grabs his sandwich, “What inspired you to scare the living hell out of me this fine day?”

“Ah,” the blond sits down, too, a respectful distance from Izuku. “Well, you see. My mentor told me to get to know you.”

Izuku snorts, “Not even gonna lie about it, either.” Unknown to the blond, it adds a few points in his favor. Toogata still has a long way to go to make up for the introduction, though.

Toogata puts his hands up and stretches, “Yeah, I don’t like to lie when I don’t have to.”

Izuku stares at his sandwich, “Me neither.” He agrees, sighing. There’s no need to have Toogata interrogating him about what that means, so he changes the subject. “Who is your mentor, anyways?”

He perks up like a dog being offered a treat, “Oh! My mentor’s Sir Nighteye! I’m sure you’ve heard of him, he’s—“

Izuku zones out as Toogata begins to wax poetic about his teacher. Nighteye, huh? Looks like Izuku made an impression during that school meeting. It’s impossible to tell the hero’s angle by sending his student to talk to him, but Izuku’s good at playing the long game. It rubs at him that someone’s been tasked to basically keep an eye on him, but if he’s supposed to be a hero now, he has to obey a few rules. He’ll start raising hell again once he’s a pro. Oh man, is that a day to look forward to. He tunes back into what Toogata’s saying right as the blond’s about to finish.

“—You know, he’s a really cool guy. A bit strict, but he sure knows how to push you to your limits.”

Izuku thinks back to every moment where Kuroda’s gone above and beyond for him, “My mentor’s like that, too.” Except Kuroda’ll push Izuku both symbolically and physically. A good teacher he may be, but sometimes Kuroda is just as much of a kid as Izuku is. “So, you gonna ‘keep an eye on me’,” he does bunny-fingers at the word, putting as much sarcasm he he can manage into the gesture, “all through lunch?”

Toogata looks damn near hopeful. “Well, I’ll leave if you want me to, but I really would like to get to know you. I mean, you’re the first Quirkless student to get into the Heroics division. That’s huge.”

Any other day, someone mentioning his oh-so-amazing accomplishment of being in heroics “despite his condition” would be brushed off as a minor annoyance. But you know what? Fuck that, Izuku’s been suffering through everyone either treating him like glass or like he’s some sort of circus act. He is Midoriya goddamn Izuku, the next generation of Kuroko, and he deserves more than just being studied like he’s some special case.

He lets the frustration from before branch out into his limbs as he stands up. “Well.” He can feel his heart pounding a war drum in his ear, booming hard enough to make his chest throb. “I’m glad that my ‘condition’ inspires a sense of awe in you.”

Toogata physically leans back at Izuku’s venom. “Midoriya, I didn’t mean to offend—“

“Well, you did anyways.” Midoriya spits. He makes a move to leave, but suddenly there’s a wall of third-year student blocking his way.

Toogata still two heads taller than him. He has the gall to lean down to look Izuku in the eye. “Hey,” he’s got his hands making a placating gesture, “I’m sorry. I don’t have any mouth filter, I— hey!” He moves to block Izuku again when he sidesteps the blond. “At least let me say I’m sorry, okay?”

“Get out of my way.” Toogata startles at the poisonous look Izuku sends him, Izuku seizes the opportunity and moves past him. The older teen doesn’t try to grab him, thank God, Izuku probably would have tried to do a lot worse than say a few harsh words. He pauses at the door, a tiny curl of spite prompting him to say, “Ask Sir Nighteye just why he asked you to watch me.” He looks over his shoulder and stares dispassionately into Toogata’s surprised blue eyes, “Believe me when I say the Heroics Department wasn’t the first place Yuuei wanted to put me in.” He opens the door and leaves the blond before he can respond.

Izuku doesn’t have anywhere to sit anymore and he still has lunch to finish eating. He stares at the empty hallway perpendicular to his classroom and sighs. “Fuck it.” He says, sliding down the wall and unwrappinf his sandwich. Maybe here he’ll get some peace and quiet. He takes a look around before digging in. “If someone shows up, I’m going to be pissed.” He mutters past his food.

Not a soul comes to pass the hall during lunch. Izuku’s able to finish eating in peace. He tales out his phone when it buzzes in his pocket.


Received: 1:23 pm
Sender: Fox Mook
Hey, Seamstress said she needed someone to watch Daisy again today. You up to it?”


If Daisy comes over, Dabi will be there, too. Izuku’s still mulling over most of what the man told him last time, but the guy has a refreshing kind of brutal honesty Izuku needs right now. Maybe Dabi will have some advice about frustrating upperclassmen and annoying teachers.


Sent: 1:24 pm
Yeah, what time’s she comin over??


Izuku sighs through his nose, shoulders slumping. When did life start to feel like some unbearable weight? He pockets his phone before Kuroda can respond and heads to class. The bell rings right as he rounds the corner.

Chapter Text


"So this guy phases out of the floor, says Nighteye told him to watch you, then mentions your lack of a Quirk to your face?”

Izuku nods, “Pretty much.”

Dabi whistles, “Wow. Dick move. Unintentional, but still a dick move.”

They’re at the park again, watching Daisy play with friends both new and old. The tree behind them blocks enough of the sun for Izuku to feel a chill. “I told him to ask why Nighteye told him to watch me, too.”

Dabi barks out a sharp laugh, “No shit? You’ve got balls, Midoriya, solid steel balls.”

Izuku’s face flushes at the language, “Daisy’s going to hear you one day,” he says, “and then she’s going to repeat it in front of Seamstress and I’m going to have to hide your body.”

Dabi shrugs, “Nah, ‘s too late for that. I’m told I grow on people,” he makes an expanding gesture with his hands, “like a fungus. But back to the point. So, odds are this Toogata guy’s gonna know you’re Kuroko by tomorrow. What’re you gonna do?”

Izuku thinks back to the blond’s desperation to apologize. “He’s not going to tell anyone. Nighteye will tell him to keep quiet, Toogata respects him too much to betray his trust like that.”

Dabi scoffs, “So, teacher’s pet? Great.” He leans back with his hands against his head, closing his eyes against the slight breeze. “I don’t envy you, kid, I really don’t.”

“You don’t have to envy me. Just help me get this guy off my back.” Maybe Izuku should feel bad about how harsh that sounds. Toogata meant well, but good intentions don’t mean good outcomes. Maybe, in another world, he and the blond would’ve been friends, but Izuku can see through Nighteye’s ploy. The hero’s trying to have Toogata become a role-model in Izuku’s life, someone who could influence him to be a hero “the right way”.

Pardon his language, but fuck that. Izuku likes his own brand of heroism, thank you very much.

Dabi hums thoughtfully, “Get him off your back, huh? From the sound of it, this guy isn’t going to leave no matter how much of an ass you are to him.” He clicks his tongue, “But that’s just rules out one option, there are plenty others you could work with.”

Izuku rolls his eyes, smiling, “Teach me, oh wise one.”

“Hey,” Dabi swats at his head, “respect your elders, brat. Back to business, second option would be to just ignore him. Cold shoulder, pretend he doesn’t exist. Spend enough time doing that and he’ll get the message.”

“Would passive aggressively staring at him also work?”

Dabi smirks, pointing at him with a finger, “I like the way you think.” The finger turns into a fist, Izuku pounds it with one of his own. “Hell yeah. Passive aggressive the shit out of this golden boy.”

“What does ‘shit’ mean?” Daisy appears out of nowhere, cocking her head. Dabi splutters in shock, Izuku just laughs.

“Ask your aunt when you get home.” He tells her. Then, before Dabi can register the implications of that, he taps the man on the shoulder. “You’re it!” He cries, bolting away from the bench. Daisy lets out a happy shriek and appears next to him, keeping pace despite her shorter stature. Behind them, they can hear Dabi giving chase.

“You little— get back here, you brats!”

Yeah, Izuku decides, managing to get past Dabi with the help of some fancy footwork, life — while often trying its best to screw him over — in this moment, is good.


——


For the most part, Seamstress likes her job. Managing a bunch of half-wit villains and criminals is something she does with ease, and lord knows she demands her fair share of respect. They whisper that she’s a tactical genius, that she could spot their weakness a mile away. It’s cute, listening in on her men spinning tales of grandeur.

Admittedly, Dabi‘s a special case. When he showed up, kid looked half starved and in need of a twenty hour nap. Looked her dead in the eye when she opened the door and didn’t waste any time, “I need a job.”

He’s a good kid, jaded around the edges, but still good. Seamstress doesn’t let just anybody learn about her niece, much less babysit her. Daisy can get away if she’s threatened, Seamstress doesn’t have a doubt in her mind about that, but the kid doesn’t even know why her aunt is gone for half the day, or the exact details of what Dabi does for her.

Daisy, unlike Seamstress, is going to have a childhood outside of organized crime, Seamstress will kill anyone that tries to ruin that.

The lemon drop martini in her hand is sour, and leaves a warm feeling in her throat. She stares at the little lemon slice put on the edge of the glass, frowning. “Lemon on lemon, what a bland presentation.” She mutters, “I’ll tell the bartender to start using lime slices.”

“A good idea, perhaps I’ll employ it myself.”

Seamstress looks up when Kurogiri steps through his own warp gate. She takes note of the dust on his sleeves, gray staining white. The mist around his head curls sluggishly like it always does when he’s tired. She suppresses the frown at his appearance and goes for a greeting. “Ah, you’re here. Good.”

The man adjusts the cuffs of his shirt, another nervous gesture Seamstress recognizes. “I apologize for the delay, Shigaraki has been...difficult to contain.” It’s one of the few instances where he lets his weariness bleed into his voice.

“Yeah,” she snorts, taking a sip of her drink and letting the villain sweat, “imagine my surprise when I see you for the first time in months on the news for attacking the USJ. But hey, that’s not what you’re here for.” She nods to the seat across from her, “Let’s get to business, shall we?

Kurogiri takes the offer and seats himself, nodding his head respectfully, “Of course, old friend.” He makes a gesture to the bartender — a scrawny man that’s been with Seamstress since she opened this place. “I’ll have what she’s having.”

“You always were a lightweight.” Seamstress teases, leaning on the table and smiling for the first time since she left home that morning.

“You’re drinking the same thing.” The villain points out.

Seamstress shrugs, “I’ve got a reason to stay sober. Haven’t gotten flat-off-my-ass drunk since I was twenty.”

Kurogiri clicks his tongue, a shadowy hand cupping the drink the bartender slides over. “Hm.”

“Come on,” She frowns, squinting her eyes at the villain, “it’s been years since we’ve just talked. You called this meeting for a reason. Get talking.”

The villain takes a sip of his drink, “All these years and you’ve never learned how to have small talk.” He sounds more amused than annoyed, his glowing eyes crinkle around the edges.

“Yeah, well ‘dear old dad’ thought learning where I could stab someone with minimal bleeding was more important.” She sighs, closing her eyes and covering them with a hand. “Look, it’s great that you want to catch up, but I have places to be and I‘m not going to be late because you wanted to lecture me on my people skills.” Just like old times, she thinks to herself, smirking ruefully.

“That does sound like something your father would have done.” Kurogiri agrees, “But since you asked, I’ll cut to the point.” His polite, genial tone’s replaced by the cool voice she’s accustomed to hearing from him. “The League is gathering forces. Shigaraki’s been having meetings with Sensei at an increasing frequency. If you’re going to make a move, make it soon.”

“Aw,” Seamstress pouts, “was that so hard?” The teasing lilt to her voice falls away, “Thank you, Kuro. I know coming here was dangerous for you.” The thought of her friend vanishing without a trace leaves a sour taste in her mouth that isn’t from the martini.

Kurogiri shrugs, like risking life and limb to visit her is par the course. “I’ve known you far longer than I have Sensei, I know where my real loyalties lie.”

Seamstress smiles sadly, “I miss when we were younger.” When meetings between her and her childhood friend weren’t charged with the danger of their jobs. When Seamstress could let loose and just be a kid, Kurogiri doing the same. “Remember using your warp gates on the trampoline?”

Kurogiri pauses at the change in subject, but chuckles, “You got the idea from an old video game.” He recalls, yellow eyes squinting fondly, “‘Portal’, was it? You ended up puking in the icebox.”

“Good times. Good times.” The worry becomes too much for her to hide. “Hey... if this ‘Sensei‘ is as dangerous as I think he is, promise me you’ll get out as soon as you think it’s not safe.”

Kurogiri reaches over the table to grasp Seamstress’ hand with his own. It’s just as she remembered it, warm, soft and calloused at the same time. “I promise. Besides,” She cant see his face, but she knows he’s smiling, “He’d have to catch me first to take my Quirk.” He stands, readjusting his tie and clearing his throat. “They might start to wonder where I am if I stay any longer.” He spares her one last look, and enough of the mist falls away for her to see his real face, “See you around, ‘Sasu.” And then he’s gone, vanished into one of his portals.

Seamstress stares at where Kurogiri used to be, then sees the half finished glass he left behind. “You always had a problem finishing your drinks.” She mutters, smiling. Her phone reads the time as 7:00, she’s got thirty minutes before Daisy and Dabi expect her to be home. She stands and grabs the two drinks on the table, carrying them over to the sink and dumping them out. Watching the alcohol drain away, she tries to map out her next move.

She has her resources, an information network that spans half of Japan, yet so far the only inside source on the League with any access to real information is Kuro. If he stays her sole informant, then the chances of him being caught raises from “not likely” to “I’m never going to hear from him again”.

She needs another man on the inside, but who? She leaves the nightclub with the question tailing after her.


——


Having transferred into Heroics a good few weeks into school year, it’s not surprising that Izuku has to take remedial hero classes in order to catch up. Which is all well and good until Izuku has to spend an hour every day learning about hero stuff from the hero he fought beside as a vigilante.

Eraserhead’s sitting across from him, looking just as eager as Izuku feels to be here. “So,” He says, intertwining his fingers on the desk, “In a hostage situation, what would be the first thing you do?”

Izuku’s dealt with a few hostage situations before, this’ll be easy. “Well, I’d assess the situation,” He gets a nod from the teacher, “and if I found a way to take him down without risk to the hostage, I would take it—“

“Midoriya.”

Izuku resists the urge to exhale forcefully through his nose. Instead, he chooses the clueless approach. “Hm?” He blinks at his teacher, playing up the innocence factor.

“You got the first part right,” The hero tells him, pinching the bridge of his nose, “but you would not ‘take the villain down’ until backup arrived.”

This is one of the main reasons he dislikes heroics. “But why? I could defuse the situation in two minutes, tops.”

“Midoriya.”

Izuku knows that tone, the “you’re being difficult and you know it” tone. He’s heard it form Eraserhead at least twice a day for two weeks.

He resists the urge to rolls his eyes until Eraserhead applies his eye drops. “Fine, for the sake of the example, I wait for backup.” He leans back in his seat and looks out the window. The open sky has never looked more inviting. “Out of curiosity,” he says, “How many of these remedial classes do I have to take?”

“At least five more.” Aizawa sounds just as pained as Izuku about it. “Principal Nedzu wants to make sure you understand where the hero line ends and the vigilante one begins.”

Thing is, Izuku knows full well where that line is. He just doesn’t care if he crosses it or not, but he likes his status as a non-suspended student, so he refrains from telling Eraserhead as much. He must let something slip in his expression, because the hero frowns.

“These rules are here for a reason, Midoriya. If they weren’t, the heroes would be no different from the vigilantes.” The hero stands up and sighs, “It’s annoying, but that’s bureaucracy for you.”

“This is why crime rates are spiking.” Izuku mutters, just low enough to go unheard. He stands up and grabs his backpack, throwing it over his shoulder. “Well, since we’re done here—“

There’s a knock on the door. Interrupting Izuku. Eraserhead says, “Come in.”

The door opens, and Izuku groans internally when Toogata peeks his head through. “Hello, Eraserhead!” The blond steps in and lets the door close behind him. “I was hoping I could talk to Midoriya, are you busy?”

The hero looks at Izuku, who gives a subtle shake of his head. By all means, the gesture should be easy enough to interpret, but because Eraserhead is a hero and apparently has a grudge against him, he says, “We just finished up some tutoring, he’s all yours.”

Flipping off a teacher will get him a suspension, but holy hell is it tempting right now.

“Great!” Toogata says, clapping his hands together. “Let’s go, Midoriya.” He holds the door open for Izuku. Under Eraserhead’s expectant stare and the earnestness of Toogata’s expression, Izuku doesn’t have much choice but to walk through.

It’s an hour after school’s let out. The halls are as empty as they were yesterday at lunch. Izuku can hear both his and the third-years’ shoes against the floor as they walk. He focuses on the few windows they pass by, desperately wishing he could open one and jump out. It’s only the second story, he could make it.

They turn a second corner before Toogata says anything. “So I asked Sir like you told me to.” The way he says it isn’t accusing, suspicious or wary, it’s just... conversational.

Izuku grunts, “Did he tell you anything?” He doesn’t imagine he sounds very friendly, but the remedial debate not even two minutes ago has worn his patience down.

He sees the blond shrug out of the corner of his eye. “Well, he told me about your old hobbies, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“And?”

Toogata smiles sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. “Honestly? I think you’re really cool.”

Of all the possible answers, that’s the one Izuku expects the least. “What?”

“I think you’re really cool.” He repeats, his smile growing more confident. “Man, when I was in my first year, I was horrible at fighting, but you’re over here with more experience than every first year put together. It’s pretty cool, if you think about it.”

Izuku doesn’t bother to hide the way he stares at Toogata. “You do realize I broke the law, right?” He asks almost pleadingly, “the law you’ve spent three years studying?“

He expects Toogata to be mad, outraged at his gall to break the law. Nope, not today, the blond just shrugs like he isn’t throwing Izuku off with every reply. “I’m not naive enough to think everything’s black and white. People have their reasons, Midoriya, I’m not going to assume yours.” The blond smiles ruefully, “Kinda did that yesterday, and look how you reacted.”

Okay, point, but Izuku’s not going to make this easy. “Well, what were you expecting, popping out of the ground and talking like my Quirklessness is some great handicap?” He raise s his eyebrows, waiting for the blond to respond.

Toogata winces, the smile on his face faltering. “Yeah... I get that. Sometimes saying sorry isn’t enough, so is there any way I can make it up to you?”

They’ve reached the school’s exit. Izuku sighs in relief when he takes the first step outside in eight hours. He pauses to really look at the other teenager beside him. Honesty, even if brutal, is better than trying to sugarcoat it. “Look, the only reason you’re even talking to me right now is because your mentor told you to. I get wanting to do what they tell you, but frankly, I’m not going to give you the time of day if all you’re looking to do is watch me so you can report back to Nighteye.”

Toogata’s eyebrows furrow, mixed between looking hurt and surprised. “Isn’t that a bit harsh?”

Izuku shrugs, “So is life. Unlike you, I didn’t learn in an environment where I could afford to mess up.” Kuroda’s teachings had been the foundation, yes, but everything else was learned from his patrols. Apparently, Izuku thrives in ‘adapt or die’ situations. Figures.

Toogata purses his lips thoughtfully, “Well, at first, I was just doing it ‘cause Nighteye told me to.” Izuku resists the urge to sigh, but the blond continues, “Now, though? I wanna be your friend.”

Izuku blinks. “What?”

He nods enthusiastically. “Yep!” He presses a thumb against his chest, proclaiming to the empty courtyard, “Midoriya Izuku, my next big mission is to become your friend!”

Where did this guy come from? Izuku openly stares at him, mouth hanging open. “I...” he didn’t plan for this, how the hell was he supposed to plan for this? It’s so out of left field Izuku’s scrambling for a response. “You know I have a choice in this, right?”

Toogata doesn’t appear to hear him. “Good chat, Midoriya!” He takes off, jogging towards the main gates. “See ya tomorrow!”

Izuku stands there, staring after the upperclassmen. “What the hell is with heroes and not listening?” He asks, staring up at the sky. The clouds don’t give him any answer, so he’s left to work it out by himself as he walks himself home. Naomasa’s due in two hours, and he still has to get his homework done, then run damage control when the detective and Kuroda inhabit the same breathing space.

What a day.


——


Recovering has been a pretty bumpy road for Kuroda so far. The physical therapy can be brutal, leaving him sore for days and with only twenty-four hour period of ache-free muscles until the next meeting. It sucks, but it’s necessary.

Still doesn’t keep Kuroda from swearing when he stubs his toe against the coffee table and almost becomes intimately acquainted with the floor. It doesn’t hurt, Kuroda hasnt felt actual pain in years, but it’s annoying as hell to have your balance suddenly yanked from under you. “Goddamnit.” He hisses, glaring down at the table leg venomously.

Mrs. Midoriya calls out from the kitchen, “Are you okay?”

Kuroda replies when he hears her begin to make her way to him, “I’m fine, Mrs. Midoriya, just lost my balance there for a sec.” He makes it easier for her by walking over into the kitchen, “See?” He makes a grand gesture to his whole body, “Fine and whole, well,” he looks at the stump of his left arm, “Relatively.”

It’s meant as a joke, but the frown on her face tells him it wasn’t well-received. “That’s a terrible joke, Nagaki.” Her voice trembles near the end reinforces the sudden feeling of Kuroda being a horrible person.

He hangs his head, closing his eyes and sighing. “Sorry, Mrs. Midoriya. I just— I thought I could... make light of it.” It’s what he usually does with Izuku, once the danger’s passed and he’s already lectured the kid. Izuku usually takes to it with a laugh and a morbid joke of his own, but it’s clear now that his mother won’t be the same. “Here,” he steps forward and grabs as many plates he can carry without risking dropping them. “Let me make it up do you, I’ll set the table while you get everything ready.”

Before being hospitalized, Kuroda didn’t know much about his student’s mother, only bits and pieces he learned from Izuku himself. If the kid’s to be believed, Midoriya Inko is an angel incarnate with infinite patience and understanding in spades. Kuroda didn’t put much stock in it before sharing an apartment with her.

First thing Kuroda learns: Mrs. Midoriya loves to clean. Don’t get the wrong idea, he keeps a clean house — er, apartment. Dirty clothes go in the hamper, dishes are washed and put away before they can pile up, he goes through the rooms with a can of air freshener at least once a week. By anyone’s standards, the way Kuroda lives is relatively un-messy. Doesn’t stop Mrs. Midoriya from going through everything with a duster in hand and a mission in her eyes. She somehow acquires a vacuum cleaner a few days into her and her son’s stay and cleans all the carpeted floors. Imagine Kuroda’s surprise when he walks in one day to see Izuku and his mother wearing cleaning masks and wiping the doors with Lysol wipes.

“Mom likes to feel like she’s doing something.” Is all the explanation Izuku offers when he asks. “She’s really grateful you’re letting us stay here.”

What the hell else would he do? He says as much and the kid shrugs.

“I know that, and you know that, but mom doesn’t want us to be a burden.”

Second: Izuku’s mother hoards coupons like nothing else. Kuroda feels genuine fear the first time she pulls out a box absolutely filled with them. Fresh fruits, cereal, veggies, he has them all in his kitchen. He’s never had the pantry so full, and there’s barely been a dent to his wallet.

Thirdly, if anyone tries to talk shit, be it about him or Izuku, Midoriya Inko can and will stomp on that faster than Kuroda thought humanly possible. He’s not blind, he knows that whenever he goes out, people’s eyes lock onto him out of morbid curiosity. Kuroda’s used to people doing a lot worse than just staring, so he doesn’t put much thought into it. What he does notice is Mrs. Midoriya staring back, making eye contact long enough to make them look away in discomfort.

“You don’t have to do that.” He tells her one day, carrying a bag of groceries in his only hand. He’s still trying to re-find his center of balance, so his gait is a bit strange due to the added weight of the food. Which, in turn, causes more people to stare, and for Mrs. Midoriya to stare right back.

“It’s not polite, them staring like that.” She replies, breaking eye contact with one particularly non-subtle onlooker to look at Kuroda. “You don’t deserve to be treated like some zoo animal. You’re not here to be stared at.”

Kei’s reaction is the same when Kuroda brings it up with him.

So, in short, Midoriya Inko is not a woman to be trifled with; and with the common goal of making sure Izuku dies of old age — not to some dumbass villain with delusions of grandeur — it had been a matter of time before she and Kuroda became friends.

The plates make clacking sounds when he sets them down on the table. He never anticipates much company, which is why he invested in a small table, enough to fit four people comfortably. Which is fortunate, considering Izuku’s pet detective is coming over to talk. He’ll be civil, Izuku will make his life hell for a few days if he isn’t, but if he catches Tsukauchi sticking his nose in places it doesn’t belong, the guy is getting kicked out on his ass.

He hears the door open behind him, “I’m home!” Izuku calls into the apartment, Kuroda can hear the tired tinge to his voice. He puts on his cheeriest smile and turns around.

“Heya, kiddo!” He comes forwards and pulls the kid into a one-armed hug. “School day rough?”

Izuku returns the hug with a weak squeeze, “Like you wouldn’t believe.” He mutters.

“Aw, poor baby.” Kuroda separates them to ruffle Izuku’s hair. He laughs when the kid scowls and shoves him playfully, “Kidding, kidding.” He says, holding his hand up in a calming gesture.

“Izuku?” Mrs. Midoriya peeks out from the kitchen.

“Mom!” Izuku drops his backpack and hurries to his mother, “Are you sure you can cook dinner? I can help if you need me—“

Mrs. Midoriya boops her son on the nose, “Honestly, Izuku,” She tells him, putting her hands on her waist, “I’m not made of paper, a little bit of cooking won’t hurt me.”

Kuroda can see how Izuku’s face scrunches up in concern, “I know, but...“ his eyes flick to the few bruises still healing around her hairline, “I don’t want you to push yourself.”

“Oh, Izuku.” Mrs. Midoriya clicks her tongue, patting his cheek with a hand. “You’re very sweet, but I need to start doing things by myself. You’re not going to be here every time I cook, you know.”

Kuroda decides to add his piece and steps forward, “It’s okay, kiddo,” He tells his student, placing his hand on the kid’s shoulder. “She knows when not to push herself. Not come on,” He smirks, “You still have homework to do before your guest shows up.”

Izuku sighs, deflating at the shoulders, “Yeah, you’re right.” He send his mother one last imploring look, “You’ll tell me when you need help, right?”

Mrs. Midoriya nods her head and makes a shooing gesture. “Go.” She tells her son, “Do your homework. If I’m not done with the food by the time you’re finished, you can help. How does that sound?”

It’s a compromise if Kuroda’s ever heard one, and he’s glad Izuku takes it with a smile and nod. “Come on, kid.” He guides Izuku over to the coffee table, the same one that almost tripped him up earlier. Once Izuku’s taken a seat, Kuroda brings the kids backpack over. “So,” he sits down, sighing. “What happened?”

“Hm?” The kid’s leaned over, gathering his stuff from his backpack. Kuroda wouldn’t think so much of it if it doesn’t conveniently hide Izuku’s face from him. Kid may be good at lying to other people, but Kuroda knows one of his biggest tells — kid quirks the left side of his lip down when he fibs. It’s a tiny thing, could be written off as some random twitch, easy, but Kuroda knows exactly what it means. “It was school, Kuroda, nothing happened.” The kid rights himself, holding a few textbooks close to his chest. “Well, except for the remedial classes.”

“Ugh.”

“Ugh.” Izuku agrees, “Eraserhead and I got into another debate — nothing new there.” He opens his textbook, “Like I said, today was a normal, boring day.”

It’s a good delivery, Kuroda might‘ve believed him if he wasn’t hiding the left side of his face so stubbornly. “I’m calling bull, kid. What happened.” He scowls when Izuku doesn’t answer. “Izuku.”

Kid doesn’t look up from the textbook, “Nothing. Kuroda. Nothing happened, as usual.”

Going by the tension in Izuku’s frame, Kuroda’s not gonna get anywhere with this, at least not at the moment. He drops the subject and switches tactics. “So, ever find out what your pet detective wants to talk about?”

Izuku side eyes him, judging him and his horrible topic-change silently, “No.” He probably decides he won’t be getting much done with Kuroda on his case, because he sighs and closes the textbook. “But I do know he wants to talk to you, alone.”

Well, that can’t mean anything good. “Oh boy. Am I in trouble?” He tries his best to make his voice as mockingly scared a possible. He’s rewarded by his student snorting.

“Nah, arresting someone at the dinner table is bad manners.”

Kuroda wipes at his brow, exhaling exaggeratedly. “Dodged a bullet there.”

Izuku can’t hold back his grin anymore. “You’re dumb.” He tells Kuroda, pushing him away.

Two can play that game. “You’re dumber.” He steadily leans on Izuku, letting his body weight push the kid into the couch cushions. He laughs when the kid tries to claw his way out. “Oh no, kid.” He says, grinning like a loon. “There’s no escaping this.”

“Hey!” Izuku squawks, clawing at the couch from under Kuroda. “Not fair! You’re freakin’ heavy.”

The kid makes it sound like Kuroda’s suffocating him. He rolls his eyes, making sure Izuku sees it. “Well, you’re not exactly light, either.” He wonders how badly Izuku would laugh if he tickles him right then and there, but the kid’s elbow is currently digging into his gut — and while he cant feel pain, he sure as hell can feel discomfort, and that elbow jerking even further into his stomach would be uncomfortable as hell. He keeps his student pinned on the couch for a few moments more before saying, “Okay, okay, you’re free to go.” and sitting back up.

“You’re a dick.” Izuku informs him, keeping his voice soft enough to not be overheard by his mother.

“So you say.” Kuroda shakes his head, grinning. “Get your homework done, Izuku. Heroes are already on your ass for vigilantism, don’t add grades to the list.”

Izuku makes a gesture at him that would’ve gotten him smacked to kingdom come by anyone else. Kuroda just chuckles and turns back to his book. Kei’d given him the thing after the fiasco with Crusty and his band of merry minions. It’s a pretty interesting book, fantasy — a genre that he tends to avoid, he’s more of a science-fiction guy — with a compelling plot and interesting characters. He’s almost able to ignore the fact that one of the characters is a giant, telepathic dragon.

He gets around halfway when there’s a knock on the door and he realizes just how much time he’s let slip past.

“I got it!” Izuku sprints to the door and opens it.

The detective looks exactly like the photo Kei pulled up in the background check. Dark hair, dark eyes and a trench coat. He looks like a noir detective from those old as dirt black and white films. He even takes off his hat — a bucket hat! Jesus Christ, Seamstress would have this guy’s head on a pike — to greet Izuku.

“Hello, Midoriya.”

He can’t see the kid’s face, but Kuroda knows he’s giving that polite smile that shines like a small sun. “Detective.”

The detective laughs, “I do have a name, you know. You’ve used it before.”

Izuku steps aside, letting Tsukauchi into Kuroda’s apartment. The shiver of wrongness that goes through his spine when the detective comes in puts Kuroda on edge. But Izuku says this is important, so he’ll suck it up. One toe out of line, though, and any promises he’s made are through.

Mrs. Midoriya peeks in from the living room. She still has the cooking apron tied around her waist. “Ah, Detective Tsukauchi!” She comes forward to shake hands with the man. “It’s good to see you doing well.”

“Likewise, Mrs. Midoriya.” Kuroda isn’t hallucinating the guilty light in the detective’s eyes. “How has recovery been?”

Kuroda tunes out the reply and marks his place in his book. Standing up, he’s pleased to note that he’s taller than the other man, it’s petty, but still satisfying.

Tsukauchi‘s eyes lock onto his. “Ah, it’s good to formally meet you, Nagaki.”

Kuroda bites the inside of his cheek to refrain from sassing him, instead, like a polite human being, he holds his arm out for a handshake. “Likewise, detective.” He squeezes with more force than necessary when Tsukauchi takes his hand. Making eye contact, he says, “Glad to see you again.” He smirks when the detective’s face twitches at the lie. “You came right on time. Dinner’s just about ready.”

Mrs. Midoriya pulls all the stops for dinner. Cooking each of their favorites. Izuku has a bowl of Katsudon at his seat. Kuroda has chicken yakisoba. Rice and vegetables are on Mrs. Midoriya’s plate, and the detective has the same thing, only with chicken.

“I’m sorry if it’s not to your liking.” She says to Tsukauchi, “Izuku never told me what your favorite food was, so I assumed—“

The detective raises a hand, “It’s okay, rice and veggies are perfect.”

Good answer. Kuroda sits down and picks up his fork. They all thank Mrs. Midoriya before digging in.

It’s after they’ve all eaten that the detective breaks out the questions. “So, Midoriya, hows Heroics been?”

“It’s been...” Izuku side eyes Kuroda, “different.”

“Different”, that’s certainly a way to put it. Kuroda thinks back to every time Izuku’s come home to bitch about Heroics and has to cover his mouth to hide his smile. It’s not because he’s afraid of offending the detective — the exact opposite, honestly — but because Mrs Midoriya will give him a disappointed look, and it sucks to be on the receiving end of that.

Tsukauchi doesn’t miss the exchange, but doesn’t point it out, either. He keeps talking about mundane stuff until Mrs. Midoriya stands up to do the dishes. Izuku follows along after her, mouthing “be nice” to Kuroda before vanishing past the doorway.

Now he’s alone with the detective, which is just... fantastic. Really. Kuroda starts to count the ceiling tiles in his head, waiting for Tsukauchi to speak.

Kuroda watches the detective adjust his tie out of his peripheral, “The information you’ve given us has been accurate so far.”

Kuroda scoffs, “Of course it has. My source is reliable.” Seamstress double and triple checks information before handing it to him.

Tsukauchi coughs, “Of course. Well, I’m assuming you already know why I’m here.”

“I have an idea.”

“Well,” The detective leans forward, intertwining his fingers and lowering his voice. “I came to check up on the Midoriya’s, but it’s not the only reason. I have an offer for you and—“

“No.”

Tsukauchi frowns, “You didn’t even let me finish.”

“Don’t need to.” Kuroda leans back in his seat, tapping his fingers on the table. “Izuku likes to work with you, and I respect his choices, but just because he‘s okay with it doesn’t immediately mean I’ll be, too.” He lets a no-nonsense tone creep into his words. This detective hopes to gather more information than what Kuroda’s already given. Tsukauchi needs to remember just who the hell he’s dealing with. Retired or not, Kuroda’s still the goddamn Kuroko.

Tsukauchi pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. “Look. I know you don’t like me—“

An understatement.

“— but if you work with me, we can make things a bit safer for Midoriya.”

Se he’s playing that card, huh? Well, shit, cause it works. “I’m gonna clear this up,” he points at Tsukauchi with a finger, “I don’t like you.”

The detective smiles ruefully, “That’s one of the few true things you’ve said to me.”

Kuroda decided not to comment on that and continues, “I don’t like you, but I‘ll work with you. For Izuku and Mrs. Midoriya.”

Tsukauchi nods, “For the Midoriyas.”

Kuroda doesn’t need a lie detector Quirk to know that the detective means it. “Well.” He stands up, “It’s been a nice conversation, really riveting, but I think it’s time for you to go.”

Tsukauchi grabs his hat, “Of course.” He goes to the door, pausing to turn around and bow, “Thank you for having me, Nagaki.” He opens the door, but Kuroda stops him before he can leave.

“Thank you.” He scowls at the surprised confusion on the detective’s face. “You came through for Izuku when I couldn’t. So thank you.”

Tsukaushi composes himself and nods, “You’re welcome. Have a good night, Nagaki.” The door shuts behind him with a click.

“You too.” Kuroda mutters, staring at the door. Then, to himself, “Kei‘s gonna castrate me.”

Izuku’s voice comes in from the kitchen, “Hey, Kuroda! Mom bought Mochi!”

Kuroda hurries into the kitchen, “You better have saved me a green tea one!”

And for the rest of the night. Kuroda forgets about annoying detectives and his imminent neutering via angry brother. He’s alive, Izuku’s alive, Mrs. Midoriya’s alive, that’s enough for tonight. Tomorrow, he can work on ensuring they stay that way.

 

Chapter Text

 


Izuku, like any other teenager, only regrets a few things in his life. He regrets not getting that limited edition Blood King action figure, regrets drinking Sprite while eating a banana, regrets not getting mom that one bracelet she liked for her birthday, regrets not being there when she and Kuroda needed him most. 

 

Still, standing outside his new apartment, holding a box of belongings and staring at his homeroom teacher — who just stepped out of the neighboring apartment — he regrets everything that made this hellscape of a scenario possible. 

 

Nedzu had pulled Izuku aside a few days ago to inform him an apartment had become available. Izuku and his mom went over, scoped the place out, and found they both liked it. Izuku still has a few misgivings about living near so many heroes, but he’d have to be an idiot to claim this isn’t safer. So here he is, moving his stuff in, staring at his teacher and wondering just what he did to piss off karma. Nedzu‘s behind this, Izuku’s sure of it. There’s no way that clever little principal didn’t know just who would be his neighbor if he and his mom decided to move in. 

 

His teacher looks at him with disinterest, “Ah, thats why we got the notification of a new civilian resident.”

 

“You live here?” Maybe Eraserhead is just visiting a friend and Izuku’s overthinking it—

 

Eraserhead grunts, putting his hands in his pockets. The hero’s civilian clothes are pretty much the same as his hero ones. “Rent’s pretty cheap compared to some other complexes, moved here a while ago.”

 

Goddammit. Izuku inhales deeply, “Well, that’s fantastic. If you excuse me, I have to move in.” His apartment’s door is propped open by a doorstop, he opens it by kicking gently with the ball of his foot. Stepping inside, he sighs through his nose and carries the box down the hall. 

 

The new room the same size as Izuku’s old one, only with more closet space and a window that has a nice view of the street below. Maybe Izuku can jump out of it, avoid the impending conversation with his teacher a few days longer. Then again, this is Eraserhead he’s talking about, the hero would probably launch himself after Izuku to keep him from “hurting himself out of sheer stupidity”. 

 

No way to avoid it, then. Izuku still has to get those other boxes inside. He hangs his head and sighs. “Fuck.” He mutters, rapping his eyes and walking back outside. 

 

Eraserhead is still there, an eyebrow raised. “Nedzu didn’t tell me, either, if that’s what you’re wondering.” His teacher informs. Then, to Izuku’s absolute shock and horror, he grabs a box and stands up. “It’s a fire hazard to have these boxes blocking the hall. You’ll get done faster if I help.” 

 

“That’s really not necessary—“

 

“Oh!” Izuku’s stomach plummets when he hears his mom behind him. “You must be one of our neighbors!” 

 

Eraserhead’s hands are full, but he still manages a full bow. “Hello, Mrs Midoriya. I’m Aizawa Shouta, I’m also you son’s homeroom teacher.” 

 

Today had started tolerable, moved to bad, and just got catapulted into worst. Izuku bites the inside of his lip when his mother gasps in delight. 

 

“I see! I’m sorry we didn’t meet sooner,” her hand drifts up to her hairline even though the bruises have mostly faded. “I’ve been rather preoccupied.” 

 

“Recovery is important.” Eraserhead agrees, “I offered to help your son finish moving these boxes in.” He nods to the open door. “May I?”

 

Izuku watches their interaction with dawning horror, registering just what this all means. Mom’s invited his teacher inside, which means that she’s going to offer tea, which’ll lead into small talk that he’s going to have to sit through or — gods forbid — participate in. It’s too late now, all he can do is watch as mom gives Eraserhead the green light and his teacher goes inside their new apartment. 

 

“Izuku,” his mom nudges him, “don’t be rude, help your teacher.”

 

He nods, dumb with shock. “Y-yeah, sorry. I’ll just— get these in.” It’s bad enough he has to spend his Sunday moving in, but now he has to be in close quarters with Eraserhead. Tomorrow is going to be a nightmare, he’s going to have to avoid eye contact until he graduates now, lest he remembers that his homeroom teacher is now his next door neighbor. 

 

 

——

 

 

There may still be unopened boxes littered around the place, but the stove is fully operational and Izuku’s mom wastes no time putting a kettle on it. While waiting for the water to boil, Izuku excuses himself to get his room in order. With Eraserhead still in the apartment, he books it without looking back, almost slamming the door behind him and slumping down against it. His room is a mess, cluttered with boxes like every other part of the apartment. He has maybe ten minutes before the tea is ready, ten minutes to get his bearings. He takes out his phone. 

 

 

Sent 11:25 am

You will not BELIEVE who is my next door neighbor

 

 

It takes less than a minute for Kuroda to reply. He’s really getting the hand of one-handed typing. 

 

 

Received 11:26 am

Sender: Fox Mook

If it’s midnight i am going to laugh

 

 

Of course that’s what he assumes first. Izuku shakes his head. 

 

 

Sent 11:26

Worse. Eraserhead.

 

 

Received 11:27 am

Sender: Fox Mook

Oh

 

Oh shit

 

Kid, you have the worst luck in the world

 

 

Sent 11:27

I KNOW BUT NOW MOM’S INVITED HIM FOR TEA WHAT DO I DO

 

 

Izuku’s phone begins to vibrate, Kuroda’s caller ID showing on the screen. He presses “accept” and holds the phone to his ear. 

 

“Okay, first of all,” Kuroda sounds like he’s holding back laughter, “acknowledge the fact you’re panicking about tea.” 

 

Izuku doesn’t need this. “Kuroda.”

 

“Fine, fine.” Izuku can hear shuffling over the line, “If I were you, I’d leave most of the talking between him and your mom, and if they ask you anything, keep it to the care minimum. Speak when spoken to and all that.”

 

“Anything else?”

 

The reply is dry as dirt. “Yeah. Don’t forget to be yourself.”  He chuckles at Izuku’s resulting groan. “Seriously, kid. You’ve got this. Worst case scenario you’ll just have to map your schedule around his for maximum-avoidance.”

 

Not a bad idea. Izuku files it away for future use. 

 

“You good now?”

 

“Yeah, yeah I think I’m good now... thanks, Kuroda.”

 

“It’s all good, kid. Don’t forget we’re doing training after school tomorrow. You know what’ll happen if your late—“

 

“Extra ten laps around the warehouse.” Izuku recites dutifully, going as far as to lower his voice into a mockery of his mentor’s. “I know.” 

 

“One day, being a smartass is gonna get you in trouble,” Kuroda promises, “and I am going to laugh, but only after I’ve pulled your sorry butt outta the fire.”

 

Izuku huffs and rolls his eyes. “Bye, Kuroda.”

 

“Bye, brat.” 

 

The call ends with Izuku feeling a lot better than when he answered it. Kuroda’s always had a knack for talking him down, and the prospect of tea with his homeroom teacher doesn’t seem as daunting anymore. Pocketing his phone, Izuku mentally prepares himself before opening the door and heading into the kitchen. 

 

The scene he walks into is disturbingly domestic. Underground pro-hero and homeroom teacher Eraserhead sharing a cup of tea with mom. Izuku spots his own cup next to mom, positioned so he sits next to her instead of between the two adults. Small mercies, they’re really something. 

 

Mom fills him in as he takes his seat. “Aizawa was just telling me about your remedial classes.”

 

Izuku hides the twitch of his lips by taking a sip of tea. “They’re... pretty interesting.” Ah, lemongrass, mom sure knows how to pick tea. He watches Eraserhead lips thin and takes another sip. 

 

“Your son has a talent in finding loopholes.” Eraserhead says, mild as milk. 

 

“Well, I’m grateful that you took it on yourself to help my Izuku.”

 

Izuku pauses, feeling his world view begin to shift. “Wait, you choose to teach me remedial classes?”

 

Eraserhead shrugs, “The principal asked for volunteers.”

 

“Okay, but why?”

 

“Izuku,” despite the softness of her words, mom’s voice has an undertone of steel. “be polite.”

 

Izuku shrinks under her disapproving look. Looking anywhere but at Eraserhead, he mumbles, “Sorry.” 

 

“No, I understand why you’re confused.” Eraserhead sighs and puts his cup down. In that moment, he looks way more tired than usual. “I’ll be honest, none of the teachers know how to act around you.”

 

Okay, that’s fair. It’s not like Izuku’s making it easy for them. Still, why Eraserhead?

 

“Principal Nedzu thought I would be the best fit, seeing that I have firsthand experience with what you’re capable of. Everyone else would’ve tried to treat you like any other student, you would’ve gone mad before the semester finished.”

 

Ah, see, now that makes more sense. He doesn’t appreciate how his teacher’s words make mom’s frown deepen, though. Probably a good idea to start steering the conversation somewhere else. So, naturally, the first thing that comes out of his mouth is, “Do you have any cats?”

 

This is why Izuku doesn’t let himself improvise outside of a fight. 

 

Aizawa blinks, “No, but there’s a few strays that like to come around. I buy food for them.” 

 

Well, now that Izuku has thoroughly dug his grave, he’ll take his leave. “Hey, mom, my friends said they were meeting up to hang out, can I go with them?” 

 

Mom, bless her, reads his body language and agrees without a second thought. “Of course, honey. There’s not much left to move, anyways. You go have fun.” 

 

“Thanks, mom.” Izuku stands and puts his cup in the sink. He moves for the door, but pauses to nod at Eraserhead. “...Thank you. For volunteering, I mean.” Who knows what would’ve happened if the hero didn’t. Izuku’s already going stir-crazy without another teacher acting like academic discipline would work. 

 

Eraserhead sighs and makes a shooing gesture. “You’re a kid, it’s Sunday, go hang out with your friends.” 

 

He doesn’t need to tell Izuku twice, he’s out the door in a matter of seconds. Taking the stairs, Izuku looks up the quickest route to a place called “The Stardust Cafe”. Looks like he’ll need to take the train, and the next departure’s in five minutes, the station is a ten minute walk from where he is. Well, not much he can do about that. When he reaches the bottom of the steps, he breaks into a sprint.

 

He’ll order something sweet, Izuku decides as he loads into the train cart, with all the bullshit going on lately, he’s freaking earned it.

 

 

——

 

 

 By the grace of whatever deities may be, Izuku isn’t still sweaty by the time he reaches his destination. Stardust Cafe is a single-story building on the corner of a relatively busy street corner, with a rustic looking exterior and dim lighting inside. It has a certain kind of charm to it, Izuku admits to himself. 

 

Kahiro spots him before he opens the door. She stands up from her seat and waves him down, “Hey, Midoriya!” Her frizzy hair is pulled into a low ponytail, and the hoodie she’s wearing looks both comfortable and practical, with pockets almost deep enough to hide her can of pepper spray. Shinsou’s there, too, sipping from a cup of iced tea with a disinterested expression. He raises his eyebrows, asking “you seeing this?” without saying a word.

 

“Hey guys.” He pulls a chair out and takes a seat, groaning. “Man, we haven’t had time to hang out at all.” 

 

Kahiro pouts mockingly, “Aw, are the big bad heroes being mean to you?”  

 

“I can make them embarrass themselves if they are.” Shinsou adds with his usual deadpan humor.

 

As sweet as that offer is, Izuku has to decline. “No, no one’s being mean, just some remedial classes. My teacher and I get into... disagreements.” 

 

Kahiro leans in, eyes positively sparkling. “This is a story I gotta hear.” 

 

There’s no real way he’s going to get out of this, so Izuku gives up and tells them. Shinsou stays quiet while he’s regaling them with his misadventures in heroics, but Kahiro is... pretty verbal. 

 

“So this guy outright says your Quirkless?”

 

It’s the fifth time he’s been interrupted. Izuku sighs through his nose, “Yeah, pretty much.”

 

“Wow, what a dick.”

 

It’s so similar to the conversation Izuku had with Dabi he has to laugh. “Yeah, and get this, he said he was going to try and be my friend. Didn’t even ask me if I was okay with it, just declared it and walked off.” It’s beyond refreshing to see that it’s not just him or Dabi that see a problem with this. Izuku can feel some of his pent up frustration dissipating the longer he rants, and soon he feels better than he has in weeks. “Wow, I — ah — kinda went off there for a bit.”

 

“You looked like you needed it.” Is all Shinsou says, finishing off his tea. “I would’ve punched someone already, if I was in your shoes.” 

 

“Yeah, that stuff sounds super annoying, especially since you’ve been kicking ass and taking names for /months/ before this.” Kahiro scowls, “Being coddled sucks.” 

 

“It really does.” Izuku stands up, “I’m gonna go order a drink, want anything?”

 

“Ooh, get me a latte and one of those biscuits!”

 

“Another iced tea, please.” 

 

Izuku goes and orders without any hassle, it’s while he’s waiting in line that he spots something. The cafe has a small tv in the top right corner, currently on a news channel. The headline reads: What happened to Kuroko? 

 

Izuku stares at the screen, barely hearing what’s the reporters are saying. 

 

“So that begs the question, what happened to Japan’s notorious vigilante? No hero agencies have released a statement claiming to have him apprehended, and with the radio silence...” The reporter shakes his head, “Things aren’t looking good, folks.”

 

His coworker, an aesthetically pleasing woman in her thirties, nods. “I have to agree. While most vigilantes, like Hauler and Pop Step, have a middle-grade popularity, Kuroko managed to grab everyone’s attention. Now that he’s M.I.A., there’s no telling how standard level street crime will rise, and no agency has made an announcement about increasing patrols. Be careful, ladies and gentlemen.” 

 

“Sir?” 

 

Izuku jerks his focus away from the tv, “Hm?” 

 

It’s the barista, holding a coffee in one hand and iced tea in the other. “Your other drink is coming right up,” She tells him, handing the two drinks over. “I’ll make sure you get that biscuit, too.” 

 

Izuku smiles at the barista, “Thanks.” When he gets everything he ordered, he walks back to his friends. “So,” he hands them their orders and takes a seat, “How much trouble do you think I’d get in if I made a Kuroko social media account?” 

 

Shinsou takes a long sip. “Depends on what you post. They said you just had to stop patrolling and kicking criminals around, yeah?” 

 

“I‘m with Shinsou on this one.” Kahiro leans back in her seat, munching on her biscuit. “Maybe you should check in with Nedzu before doing it? You’re on pretty thin ice as it is.” 

 

Ah, Nedzu, the conniving principal Izuku can’t get a read on no matter what day it is. He tries to imagine himself asking about this and feels a shiver run down his spine. “I’ll take my chances. Like you said, I’m not violating any of the rules they made, so the worse they’ll do is tell me to take it down.” He pulls out his phone and opens HeroWatch, one of the more popular apps for posting about heroes. It’s a bit of a snub  to make his account there, but that’s what makes it so funny. He logs off his current account and quickly makes a new one.

 

Kahiro forgoes caution once Izuku does, standing up from her seat to peak over his shoulder. “What’re you going to post first?”

 

Good question. The masses will think he’s some kind of faker unless he can prove it somehow. Posting a pic of him in costume would be ideal, but Yuuei confiscated it while he was in the nurses office. Maybe Seamstress can make a copy—

 

Izuku’s palm meets his forehead with a load smack, startling Kahiro. “I’m an idiot.” He proclaims, clicking “create account” and sighing. Kuroda most definitely still has the original mask and gear. It’s older, but anyone with an attention for detail would be able to tell he’s the real-deal. He only then realizes just how badly he’d scared his friend. “Ah, sorry, Kahiro. I had an epiphany.” 

 

“We could tell.” Shinsou says, smirking. “You have that ‘evil planning’ face on right now.” 

 

“What?” Izuku scoffs, “I don’t have an evil planning face.” 

 

Kahiro leans on his shoulder. “You totally do.” 

 

“Rude. I didn’t come in here to get dragged by my friends.” 

 

Shinsou raises his eyebrows like the jerk he is. “And yet here we are.” 

 

They stay at the cafe for one more hour, talking, goofing off, catching up on lost time. Izuku laughs in that one hour more than he has in the last month, and by the time he begins to head home, his face hurts from smiling. Eraserhead’s gone by the time Izuku gets home, and for once he doesn’t feel the need to scream into his pillow for stress relief. His room still smells musty, and there are still a half dozen boxes he needs to unpack, but Izuku had more important things to do. Sending a message to Kuroda, Izuku smiles when he gets a reply not two minutes later. 

 

Japan’s been wondering where he is, Kuroko’s was always meant to help people. Who is he to deny his duty?  Besides, it’s a near certainty that he’s going to get Aizawa’s eye to twitch again. That alone‘s enough of a motivator. This is what they get for putting a student with vigilante tendencies in heroics: a lot of petty payback. 

 

Yeah, tomorrow’s gonna be pretty great.

 

 

——

 

 

At 6:00 pm, a picture is uploaded onto an account made not even 24 hours before. In it, Kuroko stands proud, donning his old costume. Traditional black mask tied to his face and armor protecting his body. The only difference is that his undershirt’s been replaced by a simple black hoodie, pulled over his head to hide most of his hair. The camera’s being held by someone else, letting Kuroko pose however he wishes. Instead of shooting something cool, something that would’ve proved him to be a true badass, he’s just... standing there, with a single hand raised in a peace sign. 

 

The captions reads: 

 

Hello, as many of you know, I’ve been out of commission for a while and made a lot of people worry. For that, I apologize, but something else needs to be said. I‘m afraid I’m on a hiatus of sorts for the time being. It’s out of my hands, so I’ll give you these parting words: sometimes, the heroes aren’t going to be there. They’re human, it’s expected, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a victim because a pro didn’t show up. Learning to defend yourself will be more important than ever. Stay safe.

 

— Kuroko

 

All news-stations with /HeroWatch/ accounts have been tagged. The post skyrockets into the top three topics overnight, along with the corresponding tag, “#NotDeadYet”. When Izuku wakes up in the morning, his phone still hasn’t stopped buzzing from notifications. Izuku’s wager a guess and say they missed him. 

 

He has a few text messages, too. 

 

 

Received 5:46 am

Sender: Fox Mook

Kid, this is fucking incredible. Your teacher is going to have an aneurysm

 

 

Received 6:35 am

Sender: Sleepy boi

Midoriya holy fuck

 

Are you seeing this?

 

 

Received 6:40 am

Sender: metal af

Bro holy shit

 

I wake up and head down for breakfast

 

And when I have a mouthful of cereal I see you on the fuckin tv giving a motherficking peace sign

 

My mom almost had to pull the Heimlich maneuver on me

 

Thanks for almost killing me before seven

 

 

There are other messages, too, from Uraraka, Todoroki, and Iida. They’re along the same lines as Shinsou’s reaction, and Izuku can feel the giddiness of raising hell begin to tickle his shoulders. Closing his messages, he opens HeroWatch and looks into his notifications. 

 

Everyone is losing their shit. Izuku’s eyes bug out when he sees his single post with one million likes, and the number’s still rising. Comments from all kinds of people fill his screen. 

 

 

HHHHHHHOLY FUCK KUROKOS ALIVE FUCKERS

 

 

heroes ain’t shit lmao

 

 

*airhorns*

 

 

My crops: watered 

My skin: cleared

Kuroko: alive

I am forcibly removed from the internet

*this comment has 50,000 likes*

 

 

Izuku can’t help it, the laughter bubbles out of him. How could one post cause this much of an uproar? 

 

Moms voice comes in from the living room, slightly panicked. “Izuku? You’re... on tv...” 

 

Oh hell, Izuku knew he was forgetting something last night. He rushes out of his room, skidding on the new floors to see mom sitting on the couch. Her morning cup of tea is in her hands, and when she looks up Izuku can see how many shades paler her face is than normal.

 

“I swear I was going to tell you.” 

 

Mom’s drip around her tea much tightens. “I know, Izuku. You wouldn’t leave me in the dark on purpose, it’s just a bit... surprising to be reminded of who you are to the public.” She makes a “come over” gesture with a hand, Izuku obeys. When he’s close enough, mom puts her tea down to cup his face with both hands. “They all see Kuroko, but me? I see my son, helping people like he’s always wanted.“

 

Izuku blinks back the stinging in his eyes. “I love you, mom.” 

 

She kisses his forehead. “I love you, too. Now go get dressed, you can’t go to school in your pajamas.” 

 

To his great embarrassment, Izuku realizes his mom is right. Instead of his uniform, he’s wearing light pink pajama pants and a white t-shirt with the phrase “Business Casual” on it. Aizawa would take one look at him and send him home. 

 

Oh yeah, Aizawa, his next door neighbor who doubles as his homeroom teacher. The hero’s definitely at school already, and there’s no way in hell he doesn’t know about what Izuku’s done by now. Well, nothing Izuku can do about it besides ride the storm out. He hasn’t violated the agreement between him and the school, he isn’t committing acts of vigilantism — legally, he‘s physically incapable of it. They have no grounds to punish him, but the nervous energy sticks with him all the way to school.

 

Still, seeing his photo on every news station broadcast he walks by feels pretty good. The bus is abuzz with whispers, everyone talking about Kuroko and what they think of him. By the time he gets off, he has a general idea. The majority of people feel some kind of relief at his continued survival, and the others, while not outright saying he deserves to die, argue that he should be imprisoned like every other criminal.

 

His friends are waiting for him just past the gate, crowding together at the front of the staircase. Todoroki spots him first, alerting everyone else to his presence. It’s only by the distance between them that Izuku has enough time to prepare for Kahiro and Uraraka charging at him. They barrel into him with the momentum of a small horse.

 

“Midoriya!” Uraraka laughs, “Have you seen it? The reactions? They’re going nuts!” 

 

“Yeah, man! It’s crazy!” Kahiro steps away, raising her hand for a high-five, which Izuku gives easily. “You’re an internet sensation, dude.” 

 

“Ah, the resident madman of our group.” Shinsou says dryly, catching up to the two girls, “I’m surprised you managed to make it to school without doing something insane like stop a car with your bare hands.” 

 

Izuku sends a playful glare his way, “Maybe tomorrow.” His lighthearted mood falters when he spots Iida wearing a somewhat cross expression. 

 

“It was reckless,” His friend says, adjusting his glasses with a frown. “but, in seeing how many people are relieved to hear you lived, I can see the benefit of doing it.” 

 

Izuku feels himself swallow. “Thanks, Iida.” 

 

The six of them start walking to class, chatting about schoolwork and plans for next weekend in equal measure. Izuku’s being flanked by Todoroki and Shinsou, while Iida, Uraraka and Kahiro either march ahead of him or walk at his side. The hallways are fairly empty, none of them have to worry about being overheard. Then they round the corner to 1-A’s classroom. 

 

Izuku’s never been afraid of Eraserhead. Respectful, yes, he might have even had some hero worship for the man before he met Kuroda, but now, with the man staring him down with bloodshot eyes, Izuku feels the stirrings of fear. He knew this was coming the moment he posted that picture, doesn’t mean he’s looking forward to it. 

 

His friends pick up on the tension, becoming quieter themselves. Shinsou bumps shoulders with him, mouthing “you good?” when Izuku looks over. He assures his friend by nodding and bumping him back.  

 

They all stop six feet away from Eraserhead. Iida’s in the lead, standing ram-rod straight like he always does when in front of an authority figure. Todoroki stands next to him, not as stiff, but just as formal. They’re both in front of Izuku, leaving Shinsou, Uraraka and Kahiro to scatter themselves out. To an outsider, Izuku imagines they look like a herd, protecting its most vulnerable from a perceived threat. 

 

Iida starts them off. “Good morning, teacher.” He bows respectfully. Playing it on the safe side, everybody copies him. “How may we help you?”

 

Eraserhead locks eyes with Izuku and breathes out his nose. “I need to pull Midoriya aside for a chat. There’s some things I need to go over with him for his remedial classes.” He says it all with a blank face, hiding every tell so Izuku can’t get a read on him.

 

Uraraka looks between him and Eraserhead, tapping her index fingers together. Izuku can’t see Iida’s face, but he imagines it’s stoic, if a bit strained. Shinsou’s intimidated by the teacher, but tries his best to hide it. Kahiro‘s on the same boat as Shinsou, only she’s more obvious. Todoroki’s... Todoroki, expression unfazed by anything. Even so, the charge in the air around them is getting unbearable. Izuku steps forward of his own volition, squaring his shoulders and keeping his face as neutral as he can manage. 

 

Eraserhead turns and begins to walk. Izuku turns around before following after him, telling his friends, “Go ahead to class. This might take a while.” 

 

Kahiro sends him a half-mocking salute. “Good luck, soldier.”

 

Izuku returns it, forcing himself to smile despite the anxiety sitting under his skin. “Sir yes sir.” 

 

Eraserhead hasn’t gotten very far, taking even steps at a leisurely pace. It leaves Izuku with a problem, he has to force himself to walk slower so he doesn’t end up uncomfortably close to his teacher. Eraserhead’s doing it on purpose, making the walk longer than it needs to be to make him sweat. Only after what feels like ten minutes of walking at an agonizing slow pace do they reach their destination. 

 

Izuku’s never been in the teacher’s lounge before, but he admits, it’s pretty nice. Plush green couches placed across from each other, a kitchen counter with an array of tea selections. Combine it with the large window to his right and the scene is downright peaceful. Or ir would be, if Izuku wasn’t in here with Eraserhead. 

 

Said teacher gestures towards the couch. “Sit.” 

 

Izuku could be petty and refuse to, but Kuroda always tells him to pick his battles.  He can’t help the way his lips twitch into a scowl for a moment, though. The couch is as comfortable as it looks, plush cushions and springs that don’t so much as creak with his weight. He leans back in his seat and resists the urge to cross his arms. 

 

Eraserhead sits down across from him, leaning forward to place his elbows on his knees and intertwine his hands. He just... sits there, measuring Izuku up with eyes as blank as his expression. If he’s waiting for Izuku to say the first word, he’s going to be sorely disappointed. 

 

Eraserhead’s eyes narrow. Sitting up, his voice is nothing but businesslike. “After today’s remedial class, you’ll have four left. And while that may not be much time in the scheme of things, it would be ideal if we managed to cram as much as we can into these lessons.” 

 

Oh. Oh shit. Did Eraserhead really pull him aside to just talk about remedial? Maybe Izuku’s been overthinking it—

 

“I also expected more of you.”

 

Ah, there it is. Even if Izuku was expecting it, the incredulity he feels is strong as ever. “Me?” 

 

Eraserhead continues like Izuku never said anything. “I’ve allowed some of the back-sass because I am aware of your situation and it’s obvious you need some kind of outlet. But I am drawing the line here. Is it your goal to antagonize heroes? Are you really so reckless as to put your mother in more danger than she already is?”

 

Izuku feels his nostrils flare. “Leave her out of this.” He has no right. He hasn’t been there for everything Izuku’s had to go through. He has no idea what he’s talking about. 

 

Eraserhead may be a clever hero, but sure can’t take a hint. “No, you brought her into this, Midoriya, and by the way you act, it makes it look like you don’t care what happens.”

 

And Izuku just stares at his teacher after that, shocked. The small of his back begins to heat up from tension, leaving Izuku buzzing with anger. “Excuse me?”

 

“Your previous stint as a vigilante made you aware of the consequences. The fact that you continue anyways just says you don’t care about them—“

 

Izuku stands up so fast Eraserhead cuts himself off. His heart pounds in his ears, it’s all he can hear past the echoes of what Eraserhead said. His teeth are grinding against each other and his shoulders are coiled tight, begging for him to punch something.

 

“You think I don’t care?” He hisses, “You think I don’t go to bed every night now with nightmares of walking into the living room and seeing her in a puddle of her own blood? With her head caved in and craters in the wall? I know the consequences, sir, and I’m doing my best to prevent it.” 

 

Aizawa doesn’t react to Izuku’s outburst, doesn’t take the bait, all he does is stare. God, why won’t he stop /staring/ at Izuku with that air of disappointment? “You didn’t improve anything with that post, Midoriya, you only made your case worse.” 

 

“Didn’t improve anything?” Izuku’s laughter is harsh, loud and sudden in the lounge. “Have you seen the reaction? People are starting to accept that they can’t rely on heroes every time they’re in trouble! Do you know how many people die per year because they were waiting for a pro to show up?”

 

“This isn’t relevant—“

 

“Two thousand.” The words hang heavy in the air between them. “On average, two thousand people per year die grasping at the hope that someone else will save them, and that’s just in Tokyo.” 

 

Eraserhead pinches the bridge of his nose. “Midoriya,” he sighs, “the only reason you’re not in a correctional facility right now is because of a technicality. Nedzu tasked me with making sure you know what it means to be a hero and you’re not making it any—“

 

Izuku snaps. “Can you just for one fucking moment treat me like I’m not some problem Nedzu’s dumped on you? God—“ He drags a hand down his face, “Every adult here treats me like I’m some sort of time bomb! You, Nighteye, All Might, everyone! I’m— I’m not some /burden/. I’m not useless! I can help people, but every adult here is keeping me from doing that. Because God forbid a kid does their job better.” 

 

Eraserhead’s eyes harden, “Detention, Midoriya.” The words are sharp and too clipped to maintain his usual composure. “Another word out of you and I’ll make it a week’s worth.”

 

It’s small, but it’s a reaction. Izuku’s finally cracked that blank facade. The triumph makes him gutsy. “Ha! Go ahead, this place is already hell on earth.” 

 

“Two weeks. Now go to the office, you need to cool down before you come back to class.” 

 

“Yeah, yeah.” Izuku walks to the door, trying his best not to stomp — that would be petty, even for him. 

 

“Midoriya.” Eraserhead locks eyes with him when he turns around, expectant.

 

Izuku can feel the words burn the back of his throat. “Yes. Sir.” He hisses, “Happy?”

 

“For now.” Eraserhead leans back in his seat, closing his eyes. “Get going, Principal Nedzu will be waiting for you.”

 

Well, that’s just fan-fucking-tastic. Izuku rounds on his heel and walks away, seething. It’s ten minutes into first period, no one’s out to catch him walking on his lonesome. He feels it’s the only break he’s going to catch today. 

 

Chapter Text


Izuku stands in front of the principal’s door. The acute sense of dread in his stomach flares the longer he stares at it. A single piece of wood is what’s barricading him from a confrontation he knows is going to be trouble. Nedzu isn’t in charge of this place for nothing, and Izuku’d be a hypocrite to underestimate the principal because of what he is. Biting his tongue, Izuku holds his breath and knocks. 

 

Nedzu’s cheery voice comes through the door. “Come in, Mr. Midoriya.” 

 

Izuku opens the door as quietly as he can, but the door still creaks. It’s barely audible, but to the principal’s heightened senses, it must be clear as day. No one would be able to come in without Nedzu being fully aware of them. Smart. 

 

Principal Nedzu puts down the cup of tea he’d been nursing. “Please, take a seat.” He gestures to the sole chair placed in front of his desk. Without a word, Izuku complies. “Now, I know why Eraserhead’s sent you here, but I’d like to hear your side of the story.” 

 

“There’s not much to say.” Izuku keeps his voice as neutral as possible, if he lets even a tiny amount of emotion out, he’s going to open a floodgate to the very real, very potent anger boiling in his stomach. “I created an account and made a post. Apparently, Eraserhead thought it was reckless and told me as much.”

 

Nedzu nods, “Ah, yes. I saw that post myself, as did almost every hero in Japan.” Beady black eyes look at Izuku, politely measuring him. “You’re in a unique position here at Yuuei, Midoriya. A first year with more experience than some of our third years, and with a personality not unlike your homeroom teacher.”

 

“Please don’t compare me to him.” 

 

“My apologies. My Quirk, while granting me the intelligence that surpasses a human’s, does not allow me to feel the human range of emotions, but I think it’s safe to say that, to some degree, I understand how you feel. But still, I must ask, how do you feel about your situation?”

 

Izuku pauses. “You... want to know how I feel?”

 

“Yes, I sense that it’s an important factor to explaining your actions.”

 

Of course. Izuku clenches his jaw, composing himself. “Well, frustrated would be a word for it.” 

 

“Yes, the email Eraserhead sent said as much.”

 

Okay, just how fast can his homeroom teacher type? Izuku only took seven minutes to get here, tops. “Well, if you already have his account of it, why bother asking me?” Izuku’s been through this song and dance before. No one takes a kid’s word over an adult’s. 

 

“Because, Mr. Midoriya, I recognize the distrust of authority in you. For the most part, I agree with it, but for now, you and your wellbeing is this school’s responsibility. In order for this to work, there needs to be a level of trust between us. So, in order to establish that trust, I am asking for your side of the story.”

 

Wow, he really wasn’t kidding about the whole not feeling human emotions thing. Still, Izuku feels his lips pull into grudging smile. “I’m not blind, I’ve seen the media wondering where I went after my fight with Kacchan. People were worried, so I reassured them.” He looks right into the principal’s eyes. “Isn’t that what a hero does?”

 

Nedzu nods, “It is, but while it was made with good intentions in mind, many heroes will see it as an insult.”

 

“Well, I’m not here to cater to their fragile ego.” Izuku sits back in his seat, scowling freely, “The government commercialized the act of helping people, and now the majority of your Heroes won’t help if there isn’t a reward of some kind.” Don’t get him started on how it affected Quirk social dynamics.

 

“It’s a troubling theme that’s becoming more common.” Nedzu allows, “There are just better ways to go about bringing attention to it.”

 

Izuku feels another thread of patience snap. “I’ve already been lectured by Eraserhead. Can we just get to the point?” 

 

“Of course, of course. The point is, Midoriya, that you’re a special case compared to your classmates. Which is why I have a proposal.” The principal pauses for dramatic effect, “It’s usually something we reserve for later in the year, but perhaps it would be in your best interest to start early. How would you feel about interning under a hero?”

 

It’s so quiet after that Izuku can hear the clock ticking across the room. “You want me — me — to be a hero’s intern?“ What would that even mean? Bringing coffee and filing paperwork? Hell no.

 

“Internships are not unlike the job shadowing your classmates did earlier in the year.” Nedzu explains with a serene smile, “It’s a more immersive opportunity for students to get hands-on experience. I believe that, given the circumstances, you would benefit greatly from it.”

 

“And who would I be interning with?”

 

“Well, not many pro heroes outside of this establishment are aware of your time spent as Kuroko. Discretion is paramount so we don’t risk your past being uncovered.”

 

Man, they must have no underground contacts, cause his name and face had been plastered all over the place before Seamstress stepped in. He really needs to thank her, now that he thinks about it. Maybe a fruit basket? Flowers? Free babysitting? 

 

“And,” Nedzu continues, unaware of Izuku’s derailed train of thought, “out of everyone I asked, I deemed Sir Nighteye the most capable.”

 

Izuku can almost hear the record scratch. “I’m sorry, did I just hear you say—“

 

“Sir Nighteye, yes. I know your previous interactions have been tense, but it truly will help you in the long term.”

 

Okay. Izuku closes his eyes and forces himself to breathe. “And let me guess, I’d be working with Toogata as well?”

 

“I’ve been told he shows an interest in your development.”

 

Of course. Of course. “And why do you think I’ll say yes?”

 

“Because, Mr. Midoriya,” The glint in Nedzu’s eyes becomes diabolical, “out of all the options, this is one that lets you back onto the streets. True, it wont be the same as going out as Kuroko, but something is better than nothing, wouldn’t you agree?” 

 

“Even if I did accept, Eraserhead gave me two weeks of detention.”

 

“Oh, that’s an easy fix. An extra week of remedial classes should be an adequate substitute.”

 

Goddammit, Izuku had almost finished those. Still, he’s hard pressed to say no. No more sitting around doing nothing. He’ll have to deal with Sir Nighteye and Toogata, but in the grand scheme of things, they should be relatively easy to deal with. 

 

Of course, Nedzu already knows Izuku’s answer, the conniving principal wouldn’t have proposed the idea otherwise. Lose a battle, win the war. “When would I start?”

 

 

——

 

 

Izuku manages to make it through the rest of the day without talking to Eraserhead. Don’t ask him how it happened, because he’s still trying to understand it himself. Every time there was even the slightest chance of him being left alone with the teacher, one of his friends would pop up and drag him off, citing one excuse or the other. It’s a short term solution for a long term problem, but Izuku appreciates the effort all the same. 

 

He’s thankful Nedzu agreed to start his detention tomorrow., it means he can book it out of that room as fast as he can and not risk extra punishment. He doesn’t slow down until he’s past the gate, and by then he’s left his friends long in the dust. Maybe he should feel bad about that, but this morning had been draining, he can’t find the energy to. The walk to his apartment is interrupted by his phone buzzing in his pocket. 

 

 

Received 3:05 pm

Sender: Crispy

Yo

 

Meet me at the cafe near dagobah

 

 

Dabi doesn’t text anything else, leaving Izuku confused and a tad irritated as he changes his route and heads to the beach. Izuku’s making Dabi buy him a drink for the extra fifteen minutes it takes to get there. The tv screens he passes are still covering his post from this morning, debating what it could mean. Izuku was pretty straightforward with his message, it’s just a cheap attempt to get more viewers. he shakes his head and keeps walking. 

 

Beachside Cafe is a drastic switch from Stardust. The owner’s gave it a more modern look, with bright colors and sleek furniture. If Izuku were to describe it with, it looked like someone let a kid pick out the color scheme and then went to Ikea for the rest. He hopes their lemonade is better than their interior design. 

 

Dabi’s already sitting at one of the booths. He spots Izuku and waves him over with a lazy hand. “So,” the man starts conversationally, “first things first, good job almost breaking the internet this morning.”

 

“I try.” Izuku deadpans. 

 

“But,” Dabi continues, “when I saw it I had the distinct feeling that a certain homeroom teacher wouldn’t appreciate it. So,” he leans back in his seat, “talk.” 

 

“If you want anything out of me, you’re gonna have to order me a drink.”

 

Dabi’s lips twitch into a teasing smirk, “Sorry, not into jailbait.”

 

Izuku feels his cheeks flare. “You—“ 

 

Dabi laughs him off, “Oh man, your face. That was gold. Seriously though, what would you like?”

 

Izuku orders a lemonade. Once Dabi pays the cashier, he comes back to the booth with one cup of lemonade the size of his forearm. “Here you go,” he slides the drink over to Izuku, “one diabetes in a cup.” 

 

“Thanks.” Izuku takes a sip and sags into his seat. “Man, I needed that.” Turns out anger can ruin an appetite, who knew. 

 

“Okay, I got you your drink. Now spill.”

 

Izuku’s a man of his word. He regales his former bodyguard with the basic rundown of the day’s events. His delivery is bland, cold and factual. When he finishes, the two of them sit there in silence. Izuku waits a whole two seconds before taking another sip of his lemonade. “So yeah, that’s the daily dose of bullshit.”

 

Dabi’s lips purse, “You know,” he says, “the more I hear about this hero school, the less I like heroes themselves.”

 

Izuku hums around his straw, “Yeah. Don’t get me started on it. But it reduced my detention sentence and lets me do what I used to, so it’s not all bad.”

 

“An excuse to kick ass,” Dabi nods to himself, “I get that.”

 

Izuku rolls his eyes and tries to stamp down a smile. “You would.” He leans back in his seat with a sigh, “So now I have to make a hero name and a costume. Like running around in some halloween getup will make me more ‘heroic’.”

 

The usual smirk on Dabi’s face grows nefarious, “Hey, you know what’d piss them off?” 

 

“No,” Izuku leans forward, “tell me.” 

 

Dabi whispers his plan into Izuku’s ear, and the grin that splits his face is equally devious as Dabi’s.

 

“Dabi, you’re a genius.”

 

Dabi points a finger at Izuku. “And don’t you forget it.”

 

 

——

 

 

Izuku works on his hero costume late into the night. Truly, the amount of unholy glee Izuku takes in designing it would worry anyone sane. He only stops because he’d promised mom he wouldn’t stay up any later. But laying down doesn’t help with the latent energy buzzing under his skin. He’s genuinely excited to go to school tomorrow. There’s a first time for everything, he supposes. 

 

By some miracle, he does manage to sleep. It’s one of the few dreamless nights he’s had in the last few weeks. His morning routine goes at the rate of molasses from anticipation, and by the time he gets to school, the buzzing had reached a fever pitch.

 

His friends are waiting outside again. Todoroki only has to take one look at him to see right through him. “You’re planning something” 

 

“Good morning to you too.” Izuku says in good humor, “For your information, I am planning something, but I can’t tell you what.”

 

Kahiro groans, “Come on, Midoriya.” She whines, “If it’s got you this excited, it’s gonna be legendary.”

 

“Sorry,” Izuku shakes his head, “But if I did tell you, I’d have to kill you. Besides, It’s going to be during class.”

 

“That’s even worse! How dare you raise hell when I can’t witness it!”

 

Uraraka laughs, “How about this, I’ll record it with my phone and send it to you.”

 

“Deal.” Kahiro says, just in time for Iida to go off on a tirade about how students shouldn’t have their phones out during class. Izuku watches it with a smile when Shinsou elbows his side. 

 

“Now, I’m not against some good old pot-stirring,” he begins, “but don’t take it too far, okay?”

 

Izuku huffs, “I’ll keep it in mind.”

 

“I’m serious.” He presses, “I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

 

“I’m serious too, Shinsou.” Izuku understands where his friend is coming from, but he doesn’t understand the whole situation. “Look, I’m not going to push back any harder than they push me.”

 

Shinsou doesn’t look any more reassured. The bell rings, leaving them five minutes to get to class and no time to properly talk about this. “Just don’t shoot yourself in the foot, alright?” 

 

Izuku gives his friend a thumbs up.

 

Todoroki side-eyes him while they walk to class. “Out of curiosity, how much damage control will be needed after your little stunt?”

 

“Hopefully none.” Izuku answers honestly, “Eraserhead won’t be able to confront me about it in front of everyone, and if he takes me out of class — well, that’d be worse for him.” Teenage curiosity is an easy thing to spark, and it wouldn’t be long until Izuku’s classmates put everything together about him. Having any more students in the know is the last thing Eraserhead wants, so Izuku’s going to do as he was trained and exploit that. A little bit of mutually assured destruction to even the playing field. Though there’s a distinct lack of Iida going off about proper classroom conduct. 

 

He looks to Iida, “Aren’t you going to say something?”

 

Iida keeps his eyes forwards, “I’ve found that trying to dissuade you doesn’t do much.” He says with a small smile, “So I’ll be with Todoroki on this one and help manage damage control, if there’s any to be had.”

 

“Are you sure?” Izuku presses, genuine concern twisting in his stomach, “This...isn’t like you.”

 

“No, it’s not.” Iida agrees, “But I figured that if you were willing to swallow your pride and apologize, I could afford to be less overbearing.”

 

And Izuku doesn’t know how to respond to that. His jaw goes slack for a moment before he closes it, a lumpy feeling stuck at the back of his throat. “Hey, a little overbearing is fine. Sometimes.” 

 

“Thank you for the sentiment, Midoriya, but if this is the path you’ve chosen, I won’t be the one to talk you out of it anymore.” 

 

Izuku’s eyes aren’t stinging. They’re not. “...Thanks, Iida.” He looks away, wiping his face as discreetly as he can. “You’re a good friend.”

 

“Of course, Midoriya.” 

 

Eraserhead had his nose buried in a few papers. He doesn’t look up when they all step in, allowing Izuku to make a beeline for his seat and forego a customary “good morning”. They’re the last people to come in, and the bell rings a mere minute later. 

 

Eraserhead looks up, scanning over their seats and settling on Izuku. “Hm, no point in taking attendance.” He grunts as he stands up, cracking his back. “Let’s get to it, then.” He jerks his head, “Midoriya, get up here and present your hero name.”

 

“Yes, sir.” He see’s Uraraka staring him, asking “is this the shitshow?” with her eyes alone. When he nods, her face alights in a devilish grin as she reaches for her phone. 

 

Eraserhead steps off to the side, allowing Izuku access to the podium. On it is a small whiteboard and a marker. Izuku pops the cap off and writes, being careful to make his Kanji very clear. Breathing out, he looks at the relatively quiet class and takes it in. He turns his whiteboard around, exposing his hero name for everyone to see. 

 

His voice is so different from how it was a year ago, deeper, confident.  “The green shadow: Midoko.”

 

Absolute silence. Some look at Eraserhead for his reaction, Uraraka’s still recording, Iida looks disappointed but not surprised. 

 

Then Bakugou launches himself out of his desk, a whirlwind of anger. “Deku! You shit!”  Kirishima holds him back before he can reach Izuku, “You can’t make your fucking hero name sound like Kuroko!” 

 

“Why not?” Izuku asks with a benign smile, “After all, we’re two entirely different people.” All that does is make Bakugou swear even more.

 

Eraserhead’s mouth twists like he just chugged curdled milk. “Midoriya, Bakugou has a point here.“

 

“Why do you wanna name yourself after him anyways?” Kaminari asks, “I mean, isn’t it gonna reflect badly on you if you’re name is like Kuroko’s?”

 

Izuku looks down at the whiteboard he holds in his hands. “You see, a while back, Kuroko— he saved my life.” He can feel Aizawa’s eyes boring into him, he continues anyways, “If it wasn’t for him, I’d probably be dead.” Probably splattered over a piece of pavement. “I’ll take the backlash. Even if he’s a vigilante, Kuroko’s a hero to me.”

 

Bakugou’s silent at that. They all are. Izuku keeps his expression schooled, even after he’s wiped his whiteboard and reseated himself. Leave it to a sob story to take the wind out of an argument’s sails. He’s gonna have to thank Dabi for the idea. 

 

 

——

 

 

Eraserhead doesn’t even try to talk about what happened that morning during Izuku’s remedial class. It hangs over them like a piano suspended by a fringing rope. Once it’s over, Izuku doesn’t waste any time getting off campus. Spotting Dabi across the street is unexpected, but not unwelcome. 

 

“So, how’d it go?” Dabi asks once Izuku crosses the street. 

 

“Better than expected, honestly.” Izuku admits, rolling his shoulder. He really needs to stretch more, he’s gonna get stiff at this rate.

 

Dabi holds a fist out, Izuku bumps it with his own. “Hell yeah.” He jerks his head to the side, “Come on, gotta show you something.” 

 

Izuku squints, “Does Seamstress know you’re here?”

 

“Nope. Neither does Nagaki. This is strictly between me and you, kid.”

 

Izuku pulls out his phone with a sigh. “Fine, I’ll tell mom I’m gonna be a bit late.” Once the message is sent, he follows Dabi, who’s already started walking. “You could’ve at least waited for me to finish sending it.” He grumbles, hurrying to catch up with Dabi’s longer strides. 

 

“No can do, kid. We’re on a time crunch. Seamstress wants everyone to meet up at Nagaki’s place at six, your mom included.”

 

Suspicion tingles the back of Izuku’s neck. “I thought you said she doesn’t know you’re here.”

 

“She doesn’t.” They both pause to wait at the crosswalk. “I was supposed to show up at your door at five-thirty. Don’t worry, Nagaki shot a text over to your mom, she knows when to come over, I was just supposed to escort you two.”

 

The sign switches to “walk”, Izuku gives Dabi a sidelong glance. “So what is it you’re doing now?”

 

“That’s on a need to know basis.”

 

Izuku scoffs, shaking his head. “Of course it is.” He falters when he realizes he knows this route. “Why are we heading to the warehouse?”

 

“I’ll tell you when we get there. Trust me on this, kid.” 

 

Were it anyone else, Izuku wouldn’t, but it’s Dabi. Izuku hesitates to call him a friend, but he definitely trusts him. Regardless, it doesn’t mean he’s happy about it. “Fine.”

 

They do eventually reach the warehouse. Nostalgia washes over him as he walks through the doors. In the havoc that’s been the last few weeks, he hasn’t had the time nor the energy to pop by. It takes him walking in to truly remember how much he loves this place. This’s where it all began, where he stopped being a nobody and made himself into somebody. 

 

“The trip down memory lane is nice and all,” Izuku starts, turning to face Dabi, “but you still haven’t told me why—“ he ducks out of the way of a fireball just in time. It hits the wall behind him, leaving a faint singe mark. He rights himself and stares incredulously at Dabi. 

 

“What the hell?”

 

“You’re a pretty good liar,” Dabi says, tossing another fireball back and forth in his hands, “but anyone who really knows you can see through that ‘I’m fine’ shit.” 

 

Great, now Dabi’s on his case, too. “Did Kuroda put you up to this?”

 

“Nah, this’s all me.” He throws another fireball, this time faster. Izuku still manages to dodge. “Well, at least the heroes haven’t been letting your reaction time go to shit.”

 

Izuku scowls, “Is this your idea of trying to help? Because it sucks.”

 

Dabi shakes his head and tuts. “You’re not getting it. Those heroes, they didn’t let you go all out, right?” He makes a sweeping gesture to the warehouse. “Well here’s your chance. Now are you gonna keep frowning, or are you going to try and hit back?”

 

The offer makes Izuku pause. A chance to really let loose. No keeping pretenses with 1-A that he’s as inexperienced as them. No heroes picking apart his every move. The coiled tension in his shoulders starts to spread, making everything it touches tingle with eagerness at the thought. Slowly, a manic grin stretches across his face. “Be careful what you wish for.” 

 

He all but throws himself into the fight. Right away he catalogues the differences between himself and his opponent. Izuku’s never really seen Dabi fight, so he has no idea what kind of martial arts training he has, is any. What Izuku does know is that Dabi has the advantage of long range combat, he uses his fire like an extension of himself. So far, Izuku’s never seen him miss what he aims for. That’s going to be an issue. 

 

But this is Izuku’s turf. He knows this place like the back of his hand. Every practice weapon hidden away, places where the sun will get in your eyes at this time of day. Izuku’s familiar with all of it. Which is how he knows Kuroda keeps a stash of rubber throwing knives in the work desk. They won’t do damage, but it’ll be enough for him to close the gap between Dabi and himself. 

 

He keeps his moves in a zig-zag fashion, sometimes even going backwards to deter Dabi from figuring out his plan. Once his hand is able to reach the desk, he pauses, panting. 

 

Dabi pauses, “Done already?”

 

Izuku maintains the heavy breathing, reaching for the rubber knives behind his back. “Heroes don’t really train for cardio. But hey—“ he jerks his hand forwards, sending a rubber knife flying. It smacks Dabi in the face and makes him stumble back in surprise. Izuku rushes forward, sweeping his legs and making Dabi crash to the ground. “The element of surprise is more useful than they think.”

 

Dabi lays there in shock for a few moments. His shoulders begin to shake, and soon he’s laughing his ass off on the floor. “Man,” he says after he’s finished, a few stray chuckles escaping despite himself, “good job, kid. Is those’d been real, I’d be six feet under.”

 

“Assuming I would bury your body.”

 

Dabi laughs again in surprised, morbid delight. “You’re a riot, kid.” He sits up, the begins of new fire crackling over his shoulders, “Round two?” He flops back over when another rubber knife smacks him on the forehead. “Oh, it’s on you little—“ He yelps in surprise when yet another knife hits his thigh, dangerously close to... sensitive areas. 

 

Izuku’s putting distance between Dabi and him the moment he throws that last knife. This reveals itself to be a smart decision, seeing that The first thing Dabi does once he gets up is send a rapid-fire volley of fireballs his way. 

 

The spar continues, Izuku and Dabi scoring hits on each other in equal measure. By the end of it, Izuku’s on the ground, uniform lightly singed, pants possibly torn from him going past its range of motion. In spite of it, the smile he’s wearing is genuine. “So, what’s the final score?”

 

Dabi, who’s laying down next to him, still panting a bit, shakes his head. “Hell if I know, all those times you knocked me on my ass are giving me a headache.” 

 

Izuku laughs breathily. “Well, being halfway charred doesn’t feel so great either.”

 

They lay there in relative silence for all of a moment before Dabi speaks again. “You are going to be such a pain in the ass to Nighteye.”

 

“Yeah,” Izuku agrees, “that’s kinda the plan.” 

 

Dabi looks at him, expression a mix of amused and serious. “Kid, never fucking change.” He pulls out his phone and groans.

 

“What?”

 

“It’s five.” Meaning they had thirty minutes to get changed and haul ass to Seamstress’ place. Izuku rolls on his side and gets up with a groan. He goes to the bench where he stashed a clean change of clothes weeks ago and pulls out a bag. He sighs in relief when he finds the T-shirt and jeans still smell like detergent. Izuku tosses his singed uniform into the bag and closes it before slinging it over his shoulder. If he’s lucky, he can run it through the wash before his mom notices. 

 

Dabi waits for him by the door. “Ready?” 

 

Izuku walks past him, “Ready as I’ll ever be.” He feels Dabi pat him on the back. 

 

“That’s the spirit.” 

 

It’s a fifteen minute bus ride to Seamstress’ place, and according to the schedule, they have five minutes until the next one. Izuku sits down on the bench and sighs. His muscles still burn from the spar, aching in satisfaction from a good workout. “Hey, can you tell me what we’re doing now? Or is it still a mystery?”

 

Dabi looks the other way, it does nothing to hide the grin on his face. “You’ll see.” 

 

Sometimes, talking to this guy is like herding cats.

 

 

——

 

“Dabi, from the bottom of my heart, what the hell.” 

 

Dabi, who’s sitting in a lawn chair with cucumbers over his eyes, grins. “Don’t fight it, kid.”

 

Seamstress taps his cheek with a fingers drawing his attention back to her. “Sit still, I have to apply the face mask.”

 

Izuku complies, if only because he has a healthy fear of her. He’s sitting at the foot of another lawn chair, neck craned back because Daisy said she wanted to braid his hair. His nose scrunches up when Seamstress smears some green-looking goop on his forehead. “You know, I thought this was going to be a serious meeting.”

 

“I think we’ve been a bit too serious these past few days.” She counters, “Honestly, with all the nonsense going on, it’s a wonder your face hasn’t had a breakout.” She looks over to Dabi, “When did Inko and Kuroda say dinner would be done?”

 

“Thirty minutes.”

 

“Wonderful.” She fixes Izuku with a look, “The mask’s supposed to stay on for twenty. Try not to move your face too much.”

 

Daisy hums in agreement, finishing the fourth braid as she does so. “Auntie says that makes the mask crack.” She leans into Izuku’s ear, “It makes her kinda look like a monster.”

 

Izuku’s hard pressed to keep his face neutral at that. His throat hurts as he stuffs the snort that wants to escape back down. 

 

There’s no way Seamstress didn’t hear that, but she appears to take the high road and ignore it. “All done.” She steps away from Izuku, inspecting her handiwork. “Your skin will thank you for this, trust me.”

 

Izuku closes his eyes, heaving a sigh. 

 

“Are you okay?” Daisy asks. 

 

Daisy’s too perceptive for someone under ten. Were it anyone else, Izuku would have laughed at the question, but for her, he simply nods his head. “Yeah. I’m okay. Just tired.”

 

She stops braiding his hair. “Lying is bad.”

 

Great, now the nine year old is on his case. “But I’m not lying.”

 

Daisy doesn’t hesitate. “You are. And now you’re lying about lying. That’s like, a double lie.” 

 

To the side, Izuku can hear Dabi trying not to laugh. Asshole. “You’re right, you’re right. I’m sorry. I don’t want you to worry, that’s all. You don’t need to know what’s bothering me.”

 

He can hear the frown in her voice. “But then how am I gonna help?”

 

“Daisy, you—“ he breathes in, then out, composing himself. “You can’t help everybody with their problems. Be a kid for a few more years before you start worrying about this kinda stuff.” 

 

“Can I give you a hug? Auntie says hugs make everything better.” 

 

“...I’d like that.”  And with permission given, Izuku feels small arms wrap around his midsection. Kids are small, Izuku never really took note of it until now. Tiny hands attached to tiny arms and tiny bodies. Izuku used to be that small, once, back when bullies still bothered him and heroes were his North Star. Funny how much a difference seven years can make. He doesn’t remember his tormentor’s names anymore, or their faces. The only one that’s stuck is Bakugou. But they’re on even footing now, and ironically, that throws Bakugou off balance. 

 

Eraserhead’s a whole other problem, but that’s a can of worms he doesn’t feel like cracking open at the moment, if ever. Izuku focuses on the pressure of Daisy against his back, trying his best to relax. He opens his eyes when he feels her move.

 

“Here.” She’s somehow acquired Dabi’s phone, typing in the password and opening a web browser. She clicks on a video captioned “cute cats” and smushes herself to share the foot of the lawn chair with Izuku. “This always makes me feel better.” She tells him as the video starts. 

 

Dammit, now he can feel tears pricking his eyes. Izuku blinks them away and stares at the screen, trying his best not to smile but doing it anyways. Not his fault Daisy’s giggles are infectious. The two of them keep watching videos until Seamstress comes back out to check on the three of them. 

 

“Okay,” she claps her hand together, “time to peel this off.” 

 

Izuku blinks. “Wait, you need to peel it off?”

 

Seamstress grabs Izuku’s chin, inspecting the edges of the face mask. “What were you expecting?”

 

“I don’t know,” Izuku says, ignoring how weird the mask feels when it shifts, “washing it off?”

 

“Sorry kid. It’s gotta be peeled.”

 

“Can we do it on the count of three—“ He yelps when her nails dig under the mask and tug. “What are you doing!”

 

“I’m getting the mask off.” She informs, like she didn’t just peel off the first layer of his skin. “Stop struggling.”

 

“I— I can do this on my own!” He squawks when she tugs again, “Stop it!”

 

By the time all of it’s off, Izuku’s properly traumatized. He is never using a face mask again. Ever. 

 

Dinner is grilled fish with a side of veggies and rice. There are seasonings he’s never seen before, he pokes at the fish with suspicion.

 

Kuroda cuffs him lightly over the head. “Oh, quit being a baby. It’s seasoning, it’s not gonna kill you. My mom used to put this on our food all the time.”

 

Izuku rubs his head and grumbles. “Fine.” Cutting off a piece, he takes a bite and feels his eyes widen. He starts shoving as much fish into his mouth as he can.

 

Kuroda doesn’t scold him for bad table manners, instead sitting there and grinning like the cat who ate the canary. “That’s what I thought. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.” 

 

“Izuku,” mom puts her fork down, “please try to eat slower. You’re going to make yourself sick.”

 

Izuku swallows the mouthful he has. “Sorry.”

 

Seamstress smiles into her glass of wine, “Boys.” She laughs when Daisy makes a face of mutual disgust. 

 

“Boys are icky.” She declares, “Except for Izu and Dabi, they got their cootie shots.” 

 

Dabi raises his eyebrows but doesn’t comment. Izuku puts a hand over his heart like being Daisy’s friend is the highest honor. 

 

It’s a nice dinner. Surrounded by friends and family, Izuku cracks a few jokes and feels pride when he makes Kuroda choke on his food. Dabi gives him a fist bump under the table while mom pats Kuroda’s back. Daisy tells everyone about her day. Seamstress gives a vague “the usual” when asked about work. Dabi watches it all with an air of amusement. Mom tries to keep order and Kuroda does his best to beat Izuku in an eating competition. It’s chaotic, loud, and fun. 

 

By the time he and mom leave, it’s 8:45. The sun’s gone, replaced by lampposts and car headlights. Izuku and his mom walk side by side, enjoying the quiet between them. When they get to the apartment, Izuku holds the door open for her before going inside himself. 

 

Mom sets down the leftovers on the table. Izuku flicks his eyes over to her, “So...” ten months of vigilante training and he’s still shit at talking to mom, “dinner was nice.”

 

“Yes. Seamstress seems like a wonderful lady.”

 

Izuku’s mind goes to the one time he’d popped by to babysit Daisy and saw Seamstress taking apart and cleaning a small pistol. “Yeah. She’s pretty interesting.”

 

“I’m glad.” Mom stares at the counter, her hands clasped together. “Before all this, you were always alone. Now...it’s like you’re an entirely different person. I don’t think I’ll ever approve of you putting yourself in danger, but it’s easier knowing that you have people to help.” 

 

Izuku feels a lump in his throat. “I love you, mom.” 

 

Mom smiles, “You’ve been saying that more often.” She steps up to him with open arms, he hugs her. 

 

“I guess I just want you to know.” He murmurs, tightening his hold. The memory of the blood on the floor, the dent in the wall, makes him shudder. “You’re an amazing mom. I’m the luckiest kid in the world.” 

 

“And I’m the luckiest mother in the world, to have a son like you.” She separates from the hug and cups his face with a hand. “It’s been a long day. Go to bed, I’ll put the food away.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“I’m sure, Izuku.” She makes a small “shoo” motion with her hand, “Goodnight honey, I love you.” 

 

Izuku pauses at the doorway, looking at his mother’s turned back. “Goodnight mom, I love you too.” 

 

Sleep is the last thing Izuku wants to do. Closing the door behind him, he makes a beeline for his computer, typing in the password at record speed. He clicks on the digital file of the league, watching as blurry pictures and stats fill the screen. Some bits and pieces are outdated, Izuku goes to work correcting them and typing in new findings. 

 

Shigaraki (nicknamed “asswipe” on the file) has some sort of delay time for his Quirk. The speed at which Izuku’s suit disintegrated doesn’t match up with the school’s front gate. His had been simple spandex and cotton with a bit of Kevlar covering his arteries, the gate was four feet of solid metal, and Shigaraki managed to destroy that with no one seeing him. There’s clear discrepancy between them. Maybe his Quirk reacts differently to synthesized materials? It’s worth looking into, Izuku types that into his computer and moves on. 

 

Sensei, also known as All for One, more commonly known as a massive dick. Izuku stares at the minuscule info he has on the man. Clicking tab, he makes a new line and labels it “speculation”. 

 

From their conversation, Izuku knows that All for One was present during the era of emerging Quirks. That puts him at at least two hundred years, possibly more. But if someone had the ability to give and take Quirks, wouldn’t the press have been all over that? Izuku closes his eyes and tries to see it from another point of view. Someone that high profile would be at risk for assassinations, hiding in the shadows would be the most secure way to continue. 

 

So, all Izuku’s got so far is that All for One is old as dirt and probably an underground powerhouse. Great. 

 

He’s not going to get anywhere with this unless he gets more concrete information. Izuku sighs and moves on. 

 

Within the hour, all information on the league has been updated to the best of his ability, including ways to properly combat each of them. Staring at the screen, at the cause of his nightmares, Izuku makes a promise only the night is witness to.  

 

“I’m going to find you. And you’ll never hurt someone like mom again.”

Chapter Text


The cityscape surrounds him, yet he‘s left alone under a light-polluted sky. There’s no moon tonight, no clouds either, just a blank black slate where there should be stars. 

 

Izuku stares out at the skyline, tracing it with his eyes. His breathing is still shaky. He growls a sigh while trembling hands clutch at the worn batman hoodie Kuroda lent him. 

 

“My name is Midoriya Izuku.” He mutters, “I’m in class 1-A. I’m Quirkless. My friends are Uraraka, Shinsou, Iida, Todoroki, Daisy, Kuroda and Dabi. Mom’s okay, she’s in bed, I checked before I came up here. She’s okay. She’s not—“ laying on the carpet floor in a pool of blood, waiting for Izuku to come home and find her. “It was just a dream.” The fear it carves into him is very, very real. 

 

He continues to trace the skyline. 

 

Time is an abstract concept at the moment, but he knows it’s been a while when he spots an incoming figure.

 

Eraserhead’s demeanor is still pretty much the same as it is in the classroom: straight to the point and no room for nonsense. “You should be asleep.”

 

Izuku snorts, looking away from his teacher. “According to other people, I should be a lot of things.” Like useless, and weak. Oh, can’t forget about worthless, though one could argue useless means the same thing. 

 

Eraserhead sighs — he tends to do that whenever Izuku’s around — and looks around before taking a seat five feet from Izuku. “So, what was it?”

 

Izuku‘s already refocused on the fascinating pattern streetlights made, he has to mentally insert himself back into the conversation. “Hm?” 

 

“The nightmare, what was it?”

 

Izuku scowls. “Who says it was a nightmare?” He demands, “Even if it was, why would I tell you?”

 

“Kid,” He’s already breaking out the ‘don’t pull this shit’ tone, joy. “you do not want to play this game right now.”

 

“Maybe I do. Maybe I’ve dedicated myself to the goal of making your life harder.”

 

“Midoriya.”

 

Izuku bites the inside of his cheek, already regretting what he’s about to say. “It was my mom, okay? Every time I close my eyes, there’s a fifty-fifty chance I see her bleeding out on the floor.” And if his brain really wants to screw him over, Kuroda’s there, too, with his mangled arm and dead, accusing eyes.

 

Eraserhead doesn’t day anything for a while. He just sits there next to Izuku, staring out  at the skyline with him. Izuku almost laughs at the sight they must make, a couple of jackasses up on a roof. 

 

“You’ll think it’s rich, coming from me, but it helps to talk about it.” 

 

He’ll probably take offense if Izuku comments on how he’s starting to sound like Kuroda. Instead, he shakes his head, “I have people. I’m handling it.”

 

“You’re up here at,” He checks his phone, “two-thirty in the morning. It’s not handled.”

 

Why is it that every time Izuku talks to his teacher, he ends up being judged? He doesn’t even have a response to that because it’s true. It’s true and Izuku wants to be angry but he can’t, all he is is tired. “Look, we’ve done this song and dance before, let’s just skip the part where we have a heart-to-heart and get to the point where you tell me to fuck off and go the hell to sleep?”

 

“Language.” Eraserhead ignores how Izuku snorts at that. “First off, I’m not going to dismiss what’s going on with you. If I’ve given you that impression, then I’m obviously doing something wrong — as a teacher and as a hero.”

 

“Hey, don’t knock yourself too hard. You’re actually one of the best teachers I’ve had.”

 

“I’ve only had you a portion of the year.”

 

Izuku shrugs yet again, “Most of my teacher’s have been shit.” He admits, “None of them wanted to defend the only Quirkless kid in school. It was easier to ignore the problem, ignore me. You, at least, care enough to call me out.”

 

There’s a definite shift in Eraserhead’s tone. “I see.”

 

Izuku bobs his head at that. “It’s kind of a shit show.” He watches as the red flashing of an ambulance goes down one of the side-streets, the wailing siren a mere whisper from this height. 

 

“You‘ve never considered pursuing legal action?”

 

He shakes his head. “People would ask too many questions about my life.” Like just how a Quirkless kid could outperform the hundreds of other, powered students that applied to Yuuei. Kei could definitely file a negligence lawsuit, but that would require testimonies and long hours in a courtroom Izuku simply doesn’t want to go through. He does not have the time or the energy to put up with that shit.

 

It’s for the best his old bullies and enabling teachers to forget about him. Just...store any memory of the helpless boy he used to be in the darkest corner of their minds so they can look into the mirror and tell themselves they‘re good people. 

 

He switches the topic. “I updated the file I have on the League.” 

 

“Oh?” Eraserhead leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Any new observations?”

 

It’s the way he says it — like he’s in a tactics meeting, not sitting with an emotional teenager on a roof — that has Izuku opening his mouth. “Shigaraki might have a delay time when disintegrating certain materials. Synthesized fabrics and living tissue take longer than organic, non-living material.”

 

“So, hypothetically, you could take him on if you were wearing nothing but spandex?” 

 

Izuku chokes on his spit. “Did— did you just make a joke?” Eraserhead’s face remains carefully blank, but Izuku swears up and down he sees a little quirk of his lips. “Oh my god. It must be the end-times.”

 

“I do have a sense of humor, you know.”

 

“Logically? Yeah, I know. You can’t have a stick up your ass all the—“ He stops that train of thought when Eraserhead shoots him a look. “I guess I’ve never gotten the chance to see it myself.”

 

“Yeah, admin wouldn’t appreciate me joking with the students. Not after what happened last time.”

 

Izuku can’t help it, he laughs. “Last time? There’s a story there.”

 

“There is, but you’re not gonna hear it.”

 

This is probably the first time Izuku’s seen his teacher be anything besides irritated, he’s not letting this go. “Oh come on! You’ve seen me do all kinds of stupid stuff.”

 

There’s a definite smirk on Eraserhead’s face. “I have. Still not telling you.”

 

Smug bastard. 

 

The residual fear from his nightmare dies, giving one last breath and leaving as an exhale. They’re quiet for a bit, just sitting there, watching the city. Thing is, Eraserhead isn’t terrible. He just has a different set of values, a set that often puts him in Izuku’s way. Were Izuku an adult, maybe they’d be friends. The kind that we’re constant assholes to each other. 

 

“how about this: I’ll tell you what happened, if you answer a question for me.”

 

Any other time, Izuku would’ve said no...but sitting here, so far up from the ground, his chest still warm from laughter and fear a distant memory, it makes things a bit easier. “Sure.”

 

“How did being Kuroko save your life?” 

 

Ah, he should’ve expected Eraserhead to pick up on that. “You already know I was bullied.” Has he ever told anyone this? The question makes him pause. “It got worse the closer I got to high school. Everyone and their mother knew I wanted to be a hero.”

 

Eraserhead is silent. 

 

“Bakugou used to be the worst of them.” Crackling palms, a smile too sinister to be a kid’s. “He wanted to be the only one from our school to get into Yuuei. The teacher mentioned I planned on applying, too. He...didn’t take that well.” 

 

His teacher’s face is blank again, but that set of his mouth promises nothing good. “Hey,” Izuku says, “it’s different now that I’m at Yuuei. I don’t take his shit anymore, and he can’t do anything without risking expulsion.” Izuku looks back to the city, “he’s actually mellower than he was before. But that isn’t the point here.”  Here we go, moment of truth. He hopes it doesn’t bite him in the ass. “He didn’t like the idea of me ruining his grand plan, I guess. So he told me to take a leap off the roof and pray I’d have a Quirk in the next life.”

 

“I didn’t, as you can see.” He adds quickly, “But it was a close thing. There’s only so much you can put up with, you know? I was walking home when I met Kuroda. He was a lot cooler back then. This mysterious guy who took a guy twice his size down without breaking a sweat. Then he just calls up the police and tells me we gotta get away from the crime scene cause what he did was technically vigilantism.” 

 

“Reflex Quirk?”

 

“Reflex Quirk.” Izuku confirms, “Though he calls it his ‘Spidey Sense’. Made me read through a two-foot stack of comics to understand all his references.” He got at least four paper cuts in the endeavor, but Kuroda’s face when he quipped an obscure comic book fact made it more than worth it. “He was different from any adult I ever met. Everyone else, I could see the pity in their eyes, you know? Even my mom. Kuroda — he never looked at me like that. He looked me in the eye told me I could make a difference.“ he gestures to himself, “So yeah, that’s how all this got started. Being Kuroko gave me an outlet for all those bad feelings, right when they were getting to be too much.” 

 

“And now that it’s gone, they’re building up again.” Eraserhead surmises with a sigh. 

 

“Like I said, it’s kind of a shit show.” Izuku shuffles, turning to face his teacher. “Now that I’ve told you my oh-so-tragic origin, you have to tell me what got admin to ban you from telling jokes.”

 

Eraserhead ducks his head. It doesn’t fool Izuku for a second, he can see that smile a mile away. Which is weird, cause he’s pretty sure this is the first genuine, non-sarcastic smile he’s seen on the guy’s face. “Yeah, a deal’s a deal.” 

 

Things aren’t okay, not by a long shot. But under a dull night sky, laughing with the kind of airiness he thought lost to time, they’re a bit more bearable. That’s all he can hope for. 

 

 

——

 

 

Three hours of sleep leave him in an eye-opening spiteful haze. Nedzu wants to pair him up with Nighteye and Toogata? Sure, fine. What the fuck ever. He has some sort of meeting with the hero after school, so Izuku decides to get a step ahead of the game and do some recon. 

 

Still, talking to Toogata feels like peeling away a band-aid. Which is why he hits the “fuck it” button and rips the thing off. “Toogata, can I talk to you?”

 

It’s lunchtime. The sun’s shining bright and he’s got maybe three hours before Armageddon. He might be exaggerating here, but at this point he’s fairly certain he and Nighteye won’t be able to be in the same room without him trying to throw at least one punch. He’s done his research, and from the brief meeting they had when Izuku generously handed them all his information on the League, he’s pretty sure Nighteye’s going to be an asshole about this whole arrangement. 

 

There’s a girl with him, a ridiculous amount of blue hair on her head that reaches mid-thigh Before tapering off. She looks between him and Izuku with interest. “Do you know him, Toogata?” 

 

Toogata smiles like the sun, something that makes Izuku almost regret asking in the first place. “Yeah, this is the guy who got transferred to 1-A. The one I was telling you about.”

 

Izuku takes a physical step back when she shoves herself into his personal space. “Really?” She inspects him like he’s some sort of fascinating animal at a zoo, “If you’re Quirkless, how did you get transferred?”

 

He didn’t have enough sleep to deal with this shit. He bristles, ready to spit out a few pointed words before Toogata drags her away from him and out of the line of fire. “Sorry about her.” He’s quick to say, “Sometimes her mouth gets ahead of her. I’m sure she didn’t mean for it to sound like that.”

 

The rude girl juts her hand out. “Hi! My name’s Hado Nejire.”

 

Izuku eyes the offered appendage like it might bite him. “Midoriya Izuku.” He replies, decidedly not taking her hand. He looks at Toogata again, “Well?”

 

The guy’s all to happy to agree. How can anyone can stay that cheery? It’s gotta be exhausting. “Sure. What about?”

 

“I kind of wanted to talk about it privately.” 

 

Hado claps her hands, “No problem! I’ll see you later, Toogata.” She hops off the table she was sitting on and honest to god skips away. Do all upperclassmen have annoying, bubbly personalities? Statistically, no, but he’s yet to meet one. Please let him meet one soon, Izuku won’t be able to take all this cheeriness for much longer. 

 

Toogatas a bit more serious than the last time they talked, so at least there’s that. “Hey, I know you probably don’t want to hear it, but I really am sorry—“ 

 

“I’m over it.” Izuku lies, “It’s not what I wanted to talk to you about, anyways. What can you tell me about Nighteye’s Quirk?”

 

Toogata’s lips thin, “Ah, that’s a bit of a touchy subject. You wouldn’t believe the amount of Non-Disclosure Agreements I had to sign before even working for him.” 

 

“So you can’t tell me anything?” Izuku fakes a disappointed sigh, storing away the bubbling frustration for later. “I guess I should have expected that.” 

 

His hands are a blur as he frantically says, “Wait! I can tell you one thing, at least.” 

 

Izuku really should feel bad for playing Toogata like this, but he honestly can’t give a damn. 

 

Toogata bites his lip, looking around for Nighteye like the guy‘ll pop out of nowhere if he says it. “I can’t say much — I wont betray Sir’s trust like that — but eye contact has something to do with how he reads your future.”  

 

Eye contact. Okay. Vague as fuck, but Izuku can work with it. “Thanks.” He turns around and makes to leave. 

 

“Wait,” Mirio calls after him “is that all you wanted to talk about?”

 

Izuku pauses and turns around. “Yeah. What were you expecting?“

 

“Well, I did make it my goal to be your friend.” Toogata hops up from the table and approaches. “Maybe we could learn more about each other? We’re gonna be working together soon, hopefully.” 

 

Izuku weighs his options. On one hand, Toogata, on the other, he could learn a bit more about Nighteye himself, if not how his Quirk works. Izuku sighs and takes one for the team. “Sure.”

 

Toogata lights up like Izuku just agreed to be his best man at the wedding. “Awesome!” He jogs to catch up with Izuku, “What do you like to do for fun?”

 

“Reading.” Izuku deadpans. Scouring over police reports and speculation on the League counts, right? “What’s working for Nighteye like?”

 

“He’s really tough.” Toogata admits, “Man, those first few months, I thought I was gonna die! But he’s a great teacher, I would be nowhere near where I am today if it wasn’t for him.” 

 

“Yeah. I watched your first year sports festival.” 

 

Toogata isn’t embarrassed by this, he just laughs. “Yeah, I was a real mess! Hey, what’s your favorite color?”

 

It continues like this until the bell rings. By then, Izuku knows all about Toogata’s likes and dislikes, his friend Amajiki Tamaki, and that he loves dogs. Yet for all Izuku’s newfound Toogata trivia, he still knows next to nothing about Nighteye. A hardass that happens to be good at teaching and needs eye contact for his Quirk to work, Izuku wants to hit his head against the wall because that’s the exact same description as Eraserhead. He’s gotten nowhere and made Toogata think he was genuinely interested in being the guy’s friend. Fuck.

 

English is now his unofficial brainstorm class. Mic doesn’t know the first thing about interacting with Izuku, so he prefers to ignore him — nothing new there — and call on other students. Izuku takes out his notebook and taps the empty page with his pen. Breathing in, he gets to work, writing out every possible way Nighteye could use his Quirk with eye contact. It could be like Eraserhead, who only needs to look at the person, or it could be that he needs to meet eye-to-eye with the person. How long could he keep it activated, anyways? Izuku bets finding Sensei’s real name wouldn’t be as hard as figuring this bastard out. 

 

English ends and Izuku’s got two things: jack and shit. Final bell rolls around and he has three things: jack, shit, and a fuck-ton of frustration because of the first two things. Nighteye’s office isn’t even walking distance, Izuku’s gotta take the bus to get there. He stands in front fo the regular looking building and is relieved it doesn’t look like other, more garish hero agencies. 

 

The doorbell rings when Izuku pushes it open. The waiting room he steps into is spacious, with white tile floors and equally white walls. Tasteful furniture sits to the side, a handful of hero magazines resting on the coffee table. It’s so standard business-esque Izuku has half the mind to recheck the address he’d been given. It’s the woman that pops up behind the desk that convinces him otherwise. He looks away from the barely covered bottom half of her breasts with heated cheeks. Only in heroism is half-nudity acceptable dress-code. Then again, who’s he to judge? 

 

Bubble Girl — he’s done his research, okay? She was listed as the only female hero/sidekick working here — smiles. “Oh! You must be Midoriya. Sir told me you would be coming today.” She gestures to the furniture Izuku noted when he came in, “Please, take a seat. I’ll let him know you’re here.”

 

He gives her a quick thankful nod before doing what she said. The couch cushions sink under him, making him bounce a little. He takes out his phone and sends a quick text.

 

 

Sent: 3:25 PM

To: Fox Mook

Bout to see Sir Asshole. If I don’t text you in thirty minutes, avenge me. 

 

 

Received: 3:26 PM

From: Fox Mook

*thumbs up emoji*

 

 

Who taught Kuroda Emojis? Izuku’s gonna have to have a serious talk with them. No time for that now, though, Izuku can see Bubble Girl picking up the phone. Sure enough, she waves him over once she’s hung up. 

 

“He’s ready to see you now,” she tells him. Pointing down the hallway to her right, she adds, “his office is the last door on the left. Good luck!” 

 

He thanks her and starts to head down the hall. The closer he gets to the end of it, the faster his heart gets. He scowls and wipes his palms against the straps of his backpack.

 

The door to Nighteye’s office is no different from the other doors. Izuku stares at it for a whopping two seconds before he forces down any apprehension he has and knocks. 

 

“Come in.”

 

Izuku opens the door and — holy hell that is a lot of merchandise. Almost every available piece of wall space is covered in an All Might poster. Izuku can spot a biography or two about the hero on the bookshelf behind Nighteye’s desk. Mercifully, there is no memorabilia on the guy’s desk. Izuku might have laughed out loud if there was. He’s already on Nighteye’s shit list, no need to move himself further up on it. 

 

Speak of the devil, Nighteye looks him up and down from that cozy aforementioned desk. From Izuku’s past experience, the guy’s expressions vary between “constipated” to “your very presence insults me”. Today, he looks like he’s solidly in the middle. “Well, I suppose we should get to it.”

 

Izuku doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t even sit down until Nighteye sighs again and says “You can sit down.” If Nighteye wants to play the stubborn asshole, Izuku’s gonna dish it back tenfold, cause that’s just how he works now. 

 

“I won’t mince words with you, I did not want you to come here for your ‘internship’.” Nighteye begins, “But when All Might himself asked me to do it, it was hard to say no.”

 

Hold up. “All Might told you to do this?” Izuku repeats, “What the hell possessed him to do that?”

 

 Nighteye looks genuinely surprised, which is the first sign to Izuku that some tomfuckery is about.  “I was under the impression you knew already.”

 

Great, now Nighteye’s keeping him in the dark about something. “Look, the few times I’ve actually talked to the guy, he’s either shot my dreams down, attempted horribly at small talk, or carried my unconscious body out of a villain hideout.” 

 

“So that’s it, then? He chooses you as his successor, even when you have no idea what that means?” Nighteye scowls, “Typical. That man always looked past what was right in front of him.”

 

Ooookay, this is veering from “odd” territory to “what the fuck is going on”. Izuku leans back in his seat. “Look, can we get to the point? I’ve got places to be, and I won’t be late because you wanna lament about some lover’s quarrel between you and All Might.”

 

Nighteye honest-to-god splutters, “A-All Might and I are not involved—!“ 

 

“Hey, gay rights got legalized...two hundred years ago? Do who you want, man.” Nighteye’s level up from spluttering to flustered blushing is impossible not to smile at. 

 

Nighteye forces his mouth shut and breathes heavily out his nose. “Eraserhead told me you would be problematic. I’d hoped he was exaggerating, but now I see I was wrong.”

 

“Well, I’ve always been an overachiever.” Izuku quips back. “Seriously though, are you going to tell me what being ‘his successor’ means?”

 

“If he hasn’t told you yet, it’s not my place to do so.” The guy looks like he swallowed a lemon and downed it with vinegar. “Either way, Toogata Mirio would be a far better choice.” 

 

Ah, the plot thickens, shame Izuku still doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. “Toogata?” Izuku asks, “The guy almost flashed me the first time we met. Though I bet that permeation Quirk makes him unstoppable, combat-wise.” Has Izuku ever seen Toogata in action? Could he even stand up against a Quirk like that? How the hell is he supposed to hit the guy? Izuku purses his lips and files those thoughts away. Questions for later. 

 

“All the more reason he should’ve been chosen over you.”

 

“Look, if he wants the successor thing so bad, he can have it. I’m not all that interested in All Might anymore.”

 

Nighteye slams his fist on the desk. “All Might is the greatest hero of all time! You should be honored he would even think of you as a candidate!” 

 

“I don’t even know what I’m a candidate for!” Izuku rebuts, throwing his hands up, “And — side note — the guy isn’t a god! I’ve seen his real form. You’ve seen it, too.” Izuku calls it a win to see Nighteye surprised at the admission, “He’s been reduced to a three hour time limit and coughing up blood every other moment. He made himself the only pillar society sits on, and we’re weaker because of it. What do you think will happen when he retires? Or worse, is killed in a fight?” Izuku shakes his head, “We’d go back to square one: with villains running around unchecked and heroes trying desperately to pick up the slack he left.”

 

And oh man, Izuku’s definitely touched a nerve there. Nighteye shoots up from his desk, all sharp angles and righteous fanboy fury. “Oh, and being a vigilante has made you so much wiser? Ever since Yuuei gave you that second chance, you’ve been nothing but disrespectful and insubordinate, verbally attacking whenever a hero comes within five feet of you. You’re no better than a chained up dog.”

 

The thrum of Izuku’s heart rushes through his ears. His face heats up and he curls his fists tighter. “Better than being a pathetic man who gets his kicks talking shit to a teenager.” He turns around, making sure he puts enough pressure on his heel to make the tile squeak annoyingly. “It’s obvious Nedzu was wrong about your ability to be civil. I’ll see myself out.” 

 

“You’ll sit down if you want any internship at all.”

 

Izuku clicks his tongue, “You see, that’s the thing.” He looks over his shoulder, “You’re overestimating how much I want this. I’ll put up with a lot of shit, but if this is what I have to look forward to for my internship?” He shakes his head, “I’ll have Nedzu find someone else. Maybe they won’t be a complete asshole. But hey, I shouldn’t get my hopes up.” He’s got the door halfway open before Nighteye calls out. 

 

“How about a challenge, then?” 

 

Eh, Izuku’s already wasted his time coming out here, what’s a few more minutes? He turns around. “What kind?”

 

“A test of your fighting prowess.” Nighteye wields an office stamp up for Izuku to see. “If you can take this from me, I’ll take back everything I’ve said. I’ll even tell you what being All Might’s successor means.”

 

“And if I fail?”

 

“You do your internship here, by the book.”

 

Just when he thought Nighteye would say something that made sense. “I’m sorry, but weren’t you just talking about how you didn’t want me to intern here?”

 

“Do you agree to the terms or not?”

 

“How stupid do you think I am?” Izuku turns back around to face Nighteye. “Your Quirk is foresight, Nighteye.” Ugh, this sucks to say. “I don’t know how it works, but there’d be no chance of me winning once you activate it.” 

 

“So you’ll give up? Just like that?” There’s an almost gleeful shine in the guy’s eyes. It’s more than unsettling.

 

And oh, Izuku would love to fall for that bait, he really would, but as much as he hates to say it, the days for being reckless are over. “More of a strategic retreat, really.” He replies, “I don’t have all the information right now. But I’ve spent years observing and taking apart Quirks, how long do you think it’ll take for me to figure out yours?”

 

Nighteye says nothing, but the set of his mouth tells Izuku all he needs to hear. 

 

“Toogata said you were a good mentor, but I’ll level with you, I don’t see it. So far, you’ve just insulted me and dragged me into some schoolyard slap-fight between you and All Might. Maybe vigilantism isn’t up to your standards, but it works for me, and that’s what matters.” Izuku rubs his neck, remembering how it felt for the last few scabs to flake off. “I don’t know why you’ve got beef with me, or what’s going on between you and All Might, but keep in mind if you push me, I’m pushing back. I didn’t deal with one schoolyard bully just to pick up another.”

 

Nighteye is livid, but unlike minutes before, he keeps it hidden under a mask of pained professionalism. “Noted, Midoriya. I’m sure you can see yourself out.” 

 

“Yes fucking sir.” Izuku does a mocking salute and closes the door, leaving the asshole hero to sit alone in his office. He waves goodbye to Bubble Girl with a fake smile and drops it the moment he turns away. Stepping out into the great outdoors, Izuku sets off for Kuroda’s apartment. 

 

Fuck today.

Chapter Text

Izuku manages to convince Kuroda that murdering a pro hero would not, in fact, be a good idea. It was a near thing and that green haired douche-waffle better appreciate the effort Izuku put into preserving his annoying ass. 

 

Mom isn’t all that happy hearing what happened, either. She’s hellbent on talking to Nedzu about finding a non verbally abusive hero for Izuku to intern with. Between the two, Izuku doesn’t know who would win and he resolves to not find out. 

 

It’s a good thing the weekend is here, he’s got two days to come up with a plan that doesn’t cause too much chaos. He can’t make too much trouble, but he also can’t let the heroes think he’s slacking off. According to Nighteye, he’s got a reputation now, might as well live up to it. 

 

So yeah, he hits up his friends to see if they’re busy. Only Kahiro and Shinsou respond, and they all decide to hang out at a cafe. Izuku sits down for about .5 seconds before the two of them start grilling him,

 

“Woah, woah, woah, hold up.” Kahiro demands after a while, leaning over the cafe table. “He compared you to a dog?”

 

Izuku sips his tea, grimacing at how it burns his tongue. “Yep. Then he started talking about this ‘successor’ crap and wouldn’t even tell me what it is!” The incredulous look on her face makes him laugh, “but you should’ve seen his face when I compared his beef with All Might to a lover’s quarrel.”

 

“The shipping forums woulda loved that.” Shinsou buts in, returning from the counter  with his third double-shot espresso. Izuku snorts into his drink, Kahiro had the misfortune of being mid-sip. Once she stops choking, she points at him. 

 

“One, holy fuck, yes. Two, I’m pretty sure if you drink one more of those you’re going to die.”

 

Shinsou shoots her finger guns, “That’s the plan.”

 

“Honey...no.”

 

What did he do to deserve these two? Izuku shakes his head. 

 

Then he overhears a neighboring table’s conversation.

 

“Are you sure that’s him?” The girl of the two asks, trying her best to not turn in her seat to look at him. 

 

“The info seemed legit. And...I don’t really know what to do if he isn’t.”

 

“Of course you don’t.”

 

“Hey, it’s not my fault that—“

 

Izuku stops listening. He hadn’t thought much of them when they sat down, but now that he thinks about it, they got here the same time he did. There are no such thing as coincidences, not in his life.

 

All the tension that’d been leaking out of him since leaving Nighteye’s office returns full force. He makes a show of checking his phone, all the while making a group chat and shooting out a message to Kuroda, Seamstress and Dabi.

 

 

Sent 6:21 pm

 

If I don’t send a text in ten minutes come to my location

 

 

Then he clicks on the chat he, Shinsou and Kahiro made ages ago. 

 

 

  OG 1-C

 

Sent 6:22 pm

 

Don’t look. The people next to us are talking about me. They Know. 

 

 

The moment his friends check their phones, Izuku can see the change in their posture. Shinsou’s face has gone carefully blank, while Kahiro has drawn up her shoulders. Izuku mouths “stay here” and rises from his seat. “I gotta step out for a sec.” he says.

 

Shinsou follows along with ease. “Midoriya, I can’t believe it.” He scowls, “You’re ditching us for a guy, aren’t you?”

 

Izuku comes so close to breaking character. Dammit man, this is serious. 

 

Kahiro punches Shinsou’s arm for him and smiles. “Take your time, man.”

 

Izuku nods and heads to the door. He pretends not to notice the two strangers standing up to follow him. What a day to be caught off guard. No bo staff, no escrima sticks, he doesn’t even have those fingerless tactical gloves Seamstress gave him. He can feel his phone buzz angrily in his pocket, a hornet’s nest of demands to know what kinda bullshit Izuku got into this time. He ignores it and turns into the alley next to the cafe, waiting. 

 

The two following him round the corner and freeze when they see him. The deer-in-headlights look brings a smirk to Izuku’s face. “Well?” He asks, his voice echoing between the concrete walls. “You went through the effort of tracking me down. What do you want?” The guy has a baggy hoodie on, it could be hiding any number of weapons. Izuku hopes these two stick to the trend of not having guns. Dodging a bullet at this distance would be near impossible, though the accuracy of their shot could be influenced by the make and model of the firearm—

 

Focus on the present, you dumbass.

 

It’s the girl who steps forward. She looks young, maybe Izuku’s age, with fluffy pink hair in a messy halo around her face. “It’s okay.” She says, “We’re vigilantes, too.” She places a hand on her chest, “I’m Pop-Step.” She points to her friend, “And this loser’s Crawler.”

 

Pop-Step and Crawler. Small-time vigilantes that don’t stray too far from their turf. They’ve been on the scene longer than Izuku. This is...not going where Izuku expected. Still, he’s got one question.  “Who the hell admits that in public?” Pop-Step’s face flushes pink and Izuku shakes his head. “Also, I thought you had another guy in your group.” He leans to the side to check that there were indeed only two of them. 

 

“Kuckleduster? He was with us at the start, but a few months later he kinda dropped off our radar.” 

 

“You would have liked him.” Crawler says, “He was...interesting.”

 

“He thought punching criminals was ‘refreshing’.” Pop-Step scoffs, “the only thing he has in common with Kuroko is the color scheme and his...” she looks at Izuku with caution.

 

“You can say it.”

 

“His Quirklessness.” She finishes

 

Izuku feels a headache coming on. “Look. I don’t know what you’re going to ask, but I’ve got a — frankly — ridiculous amount of eyes on me lately. One toe outta line and I’m going behind bars. I can’t help you.”

 

“You wouldn’t need to go out on patrols with us or anything.” Crawler says, “we just want to drop off some information. It’s...really urgent.”

 

“How urgent?”

 

“It could put All Might out of commission.”

 

Well shit. That’s...huge. A little out of his pay grade — not like he ever got paid — but he can handle it. “Okay, lay it on me.”

 

Pop-Step straightens her skirt, Izuku can see the tremble in her hands. “Have you ever heard of the Eight Precepts?”

 

“...of Buddhism?” 

 

“What? No— Well, I mean.” Pop-Step takes a steadying breath. “They’re a Yakuza faction.”

 

Seamstress would know more about that than Izuku. “Look, you’re coming to the wrong guy if you want someone to deal with them—“

 

“They’re the ones that made Trigger.” Crawler interrupts. “Rumors are saying they’ve got something that can take someone’s Quirk.”

 

Trigger, a Quirk-enhancing drug that reduces the user’s inhibitions. Some taking it themselves, others dosed against their will. The media dubbed them “Impromptu villains”. Still, Izuku’s more focused on the whole taking a Quirk thing. It makes him think of sitting in that villain base, staring at a shadow on the computer screen and hiding his terror behind fake bravado. He suppresses the chill that ghosts over his spine. “I’ll get someone to look into it.” He could only tell Seamstress, but if it’s as big as Crawler says, they’re going to need some coordination with the heroes. Ugh. He can already imagine the bitchface Eraserhead’s gonna give him. “So, keep an eye out for the Eight Precepts. Might be a bit difficult, but I’ll see what I can do.” He heaves a sigh through his nose. “That all?” 

 

Pop-Step and Crawler nod.

 

“Great.” He fishes out his phone, shaking it. “Now, if I don’t respond to these there’s a very real chance we’re gonna die.” He snorts when their faces pale. “Chill. It was a joke.” Mostly. Oh sure, Izuku would be relatively fine, he has no idea what’d happen to these two chuckleheads.  

 

The two of them turn tail and hurry away. Izuku shakes his head and unlocks his phone. He winces when he sees how many calls he’s missed. Pressing “redial”, he waits for Kuroda to pick up. “So,” He starts with a chipper tone, “I’m back on my bullshit.” He pulls the phone away when Kuroda starts yelling over the line.

 

Great. 

 

 

——

 

 

Shinsou and Kahiro are a lot more calm about what happened than Seamstress and Kuroda. Kahiro grills him for details and Shinsou whacks him over the head for being dumb, but that’s it on their end. Seamstress and Kuroda, on the other hand...

 

“Christ, you can’t go anywhere without supervision, can you?” Kuroda demands. 

 

Izuku sinks a little further into the couch. He hasn’t seen Kuroda this mad since before the USJ. He doesn’t say anything because he really doesn’t have any excuse. The best he can do is weather the storm.

 

Kuroda hands him a cup of water, Izuku takes it without a word. “Honestly, kid. What’s the point of Seamstress and I trying to keep you safe when you just walk outside to meet two unknowns on your own? “ Kuroda shakes his head, “You could’ve at least brought that Shinsou kid with you, his Quirk is brainwashing, isn’t it?”

 

“I didn’t want to get him involved.” Izuku mutters. “It’s my problem, not his.” Shinsou wants to be a hero. Tolerating Izuku’s vigilantism is one thing, being an active force in it is something else. 

 

“Well you could’ve asked one of us to show up.” Kuroda replies, the fight leaking out of his frame. “I mean— Jesus, kid. That could’ve gotten bloody. I don’t— I don’t want to find your body in an alley, none of us do.”

 

This guy always knows how to hit where it hurts. Now feeling like a total piece of shit, Izuku admits defeat, “I know. Sorry, Kuroda.”

 

Kuroda sits down next to him and ruffles his hair. “Apology accepted. But one of these days, Sorry ain’t gonna be enough. When you’re over your head, you gotta ask people for help. I know it’s a novel concept.”

 

Izuku snatches the chance for some levity and shoves him playfully, “Funny, coming from you. How many plates have you broken this week?”

 

Kuroda scowls, but he can’t hide how his lips twitch. “It’s strength training.” He says, turning his nose up.

 

Izuku rolls his eyes and sips his water. “Whatever you say.” 

 

The front door clicks open and Seamstress all but prowls in with hard eyes and a disappointed scowl. The roots of her hair haven’t been touched up, he can see light blue peeking out against the black. Dabi comes in after her, giving a little wave. No teasing at all, not even a ‘hey, brat’. Izuku is on edge in an instant. Yet his attention is forced from Dabi to Seasmtress when she stops in front of him and Kuroda, both sink further into the couch from her stare alone. 

 

When she speaks, glaciers cling to every word. “I want names.”

 

“Don’t kill them.” Izuku tries, “They only wanted to warn me about—“

 

“Names, Midoriya.”

 

Kuroda lets put a sympathetic hiss at the last name usage. Izuku feels a chill thrumming down his spine. “Pop-Step and Crawler.” Before she could take out her phone and order who-knows-what, he blurts out, “Who are the Eight Precepts?” 

 

And hot damn, Izuku didn’t know a room could get so quiet so fast. Dabi’s frozen in the kitchen, Kuroda’s stiff at Izuku’s side, and Seamstress...

 

Seamstress looks fit to kill.

 

Against better judgement, Izuku continues, “They said it was a Yakuza faction, but they haven’t been a big deal for a while—“

 

“I know who they are.” Seamstress’ voice oozes with barely concealed rage. Izuku watches with fascination as her nails grow into long, sharp points and twitch at her side. “Their leader is a piece of lying. Filthy. Traitorous—!“ her nails grow with every word. She catches herself before they scrape the hardwood and forces them back to normal. “His name is Chisaki Kai, he’s been on the scene ever since the previous don took him in. Chisaki put him in a coma a few years ago and took over the organization.”

 

Every word is cold, almost robotic. Out of the corner of his eye, Izuku sees Kuroda lean forward, asking, “Did you have any connection to him before?” 

 

Oh boy, that ain’t poking the bear, Kuroda just stabbed at it with a pike. Izuku keeps his eyes off Seamstress’ face, he still knows her expression isn’t pretty. 

 

“The old don‘s my uncle. So yes, I have a bit of a grudge.”

 

Izuku can see Dabi grimace behind her. All three of them know how much family means to Seamstress. He hopes this Chisaki Kai has a last will and testament at the ready, cause it ain’t gonna be old age that does him in. 

 

Izuku’s gonna be real, he has no idea what to do with that info. So he just opens his mouth and picks up where he left off. “They said the Eight Precepts were the ones who manufactured Trigger a while back. And that they’ve got something new about to be released.”

 

“Trigger on its own was bad enough.” Kuroda says, ”Kei and I kept track of it as the cases progressed, one guy is permanently stuck as a giant salamander thing cause they gave him repeated high dosages.”

 

Izuku vaguely remembers reading about that.

 

Seamstress sits down on the chair across from them. Her lips are pulled into what Kuroda once called “the thinking scowl”. Dabi comes back from the kitchen right as she asks, “Did they give you any threat assessment?”

 

Oh boy, did they. “It could take down All Might.”

 

The words hang heavy over all of them. Seamstress scrunches up her eyebrows, Izuku can almost see her thoughts. Seamstress always has an aura of control around her, cool, collected. It’s strange to see her so grim. Strange, and concerning.

 

“I can work with this.” She decides after a weighty few moments. “Give me a few days for recon. Ill get back to you with what I have.”

 

Recon. Good. No point running in there blind. Now all Izuku has to do is tell the heroes.

 

Fuck.

 

Seamstress stands up and heads to the door, giving a cursory goodbye. Dabi takes a little longer, coming forward to clap Izuku on the shoulder. “Take care, brat.” He says it like he isn’t going to see Izuku for a while. “I got something for you.” Fishing around in his back pocket, Dabi pulls out a small black switchblade. “Y’never know when you’ll need a good blade.”

 

Izuku takes the gift with caution. Feeling it’s weight in his hand, he presses the button on the side. The blade pops out with force and glints in the light. “Dabi, is something wrong?”

 

“What? I can’t give you a present without you thinking I’m dying?”

 

Izuku puts the pocket knife away and shakes his head. “It’s nothing, I guess. A lot’s been happening lately.”

 

Seamstress makes a noise at the back of her throat to hurry things up. Dabi looks from her to Izuku. “I’ll say. Get some sleep, you’re gonna need it.” With that simultaneously well-meaning yet ominous goodbye, Dabi steps away and leaves with Seamstress. Izuku stands there and can’t help but feel that something has changed. 

 

“So,” Kuroda says behind him.” Which hero are you planning to tell?”

 

Izuku turns around. “Oh, you know.” His smile is forced, but his eyes gleam with mischief. “Whoever I think will have the best reaction.”

 

 

——

 

 

It is, of course, Eraserhead he tells. 

 

There’s a lot of factors for this decision. Eraserhead’s the most used to Izuku’s special brand of bullshit. He’s definitely gonna be mad at how Izuku got this info, but he won’t try to punish him. 

 

He’s also literally Izuku’s next door neighbor, but that’s no one’s business but his. 

 

Standing in front of his door, Izuku braces for the most intense bitchface yet and knocks. 

 

He is not disappointed.

Chapter Text

If Aizawa has to pinpoint when the chronic headache began, it’d be around the time Midoriya Izuku and Bakugou Katsuki were kidnapped by the League. A headache which increased tenfold when All Might carried out the bloody, unconscious form the teenage Kuroko. One look at that face and he knew they’d found the missing Midoriya.

 

It was...a lot to take in. This kids the same age as his students, yet the gap in experience is massive. At the USJ, Midoriya had been vicious. Going for weakpoints shamelessly and even dispersing tear gas — where he got that, no one knows. Though Aizawa wouldn’t be surprised if the kid made it himself.

 

Kuroko throws himself at a problem with the recklessness of someone who doesn’t care what happens, so long as their enemy goes down too. Midoriya Izuku keeps people at a distance with sharp words and an even sharper wit. Only those he deems friends can come close, anyone else will find themselves with a barricade of prickly attitude. He’d move the sun and moon before he budged on his morals and lord help anyone who tries to make him.

 

Yeah, his potential isn’t zero, but Aizawa still loads up on aspirin when Nedzu tells him the kid’s being moved to 1-A.

 

Ever since then it’s been a case of Aizawa’s teaching versus Midoriya’s disillusionment with pro heroes in general. So far, neither side has managed to gain ground. Oh sure, the kid respects him, but not so much to curb the biting remarks or actually listen.

 

Which is why Aizawa is in his apartment, searching for the aspirin while Midoriya sits on his couch. He’s not Christian, but Jesus Christ on a cracker— is this punishment for his sins? Some sort of atonement? He can’t think of anything warranting Midoriya goddamn Izuku at his doorstep with information he acquired through “informants”.

 

For the sake of his head, Aizawa’s not going to question it.

 

The eight precepts, that’s a name he hasn’t heard in a long time. All Might really took a salted earth approach to organized crime, it’s what made him shoot up the leaderboards as fast as he did.

 

Aizawa hates to admit it, but Izuku’s argument that All Might was making other heroes complacent held water. An injured animal is infinitely more dangerous than a healthy one. They’re volatile, unpredictable. The eight precepts are the same. They saw their time approaching and got desperate, desperate enough to do something like make a drug strong enough to take down All Might.

 

What else has flown under heroes’ noses?

 

He’s going to have to take this to Nedzu, of course. Which means board meetings and cooperation with hero agencies and so much bureaucracy it’ll make anyone’s head spin.

 

Midoriya isn’t much help. He’s watching Aizawa down the pain killers with his third cup of coffee, morbid in his curiosity. “Isn’t it bad to mix those?”

 

“That’s alcohol,” Aizawa replies, “Caffeine is fine.” Or at least not as bad as the former.

 

Midoriya’s content to leave it at that and shrugs. “So, thoughts? What’s going to happen from here? Not gonna lie, I don’t know much about the whole hero planning process. Usually just...go and do it, you know?”

 

Yes, he does know. Hours of remedial classes have made him intimately aware of Midoriya’s thought process. “Well, first off we’ll need to assemble a task force and contact the police.” Then, if Nighteye’s...passionate email said anything, there will be talks about the next hero Midoriya will be assigned to. “Planning might take a few weeks, depending on how much we know after recon.” He sees the glimmer in the kid’s eye “And no, you’re not going to be a part of this.”

 

Midoriya pouts. “Spoilsport.” He stands up and dusts himself off. “Well, if that’s all, I’m gonna go home. See you, neighbor.” He opens the door and gives a two finger salute before vanishing.

 

As usual, Aizawa’s day is waylaid by his troublesome transfer student. He grabs him phone and starts dialing. It’s going to be a long night.

 

 

——

 

 

Izuku isn’t too bothered by Eraserhead’s firm ‘no’ on his involvement. Anything his teacher says is more of a suggestion than an order, and Izuku’s always been bad at taking advice from heroes.

 

He sends a quick text to Kuroda to confirm he told Eraserhead. Kuroda texts back saying Kei and Seamstress are working on a profile of the Eight Precepts as they speak. Without interruptions, it should take three to four days. Izuku grins and steps into his own apartment. Mom’s working late. He doesn’t like the anxiety that comes with her being out alone, but this’s important to her, and Izuku physically can’t make her feel like she shouldn’t do anything.

 

At least his League doc is filling up nicely. Mostly countermeasures, sure, but knowing what he needs to defend himself makes the anxiety less prevalent. Paranoia? Maybe — but it’s not paranoia if it’s justified. One of the villains has a fucking warp Quirk for crying out loud, which is the very reason he varies his school route. Can’t warp to him if they don’t know where he is, and while there was an attack on the USJ, not even Shigaraki would be dumb enough to show up in the middle of a school campus taught solely by pro heroes.

 

On a completely different note, why would Kurogiri wear a metal neck-brace thing? That’s just fucking asking for someone with an electricity Quirk to fuck you over. Or a taser. Izuku perks up at the thought and resolves to ask Seamstress for one. The heroes barely trust him with a pencil.

 

Speaking of weapons...

 

Dabi’s pocket knife is heavy in his hands, heavier than he remembers it being. He’s worried about Dabi, he is, but he can’t stop thinking about how many teachers would have an aneurism if they caught him with this. Maybe that‘s the point. Dabi gets him better than most adults.

 

Izuku thought it was mutual, but he was apparently wrong, because that last conversation has him drawing blanks. Dabi is a neutral party whose prime motivators are personal connections and the potential chaos he could create —which hey, Izuku can’t call him out without being a hypocrite. — but nothing he said fit his character even remotely. Dabi is a smug son of a bitch, he’s never solemn. Moreover, he’s never vague unless he’s dicking around, and he never fucks with someone while wearing a serious face for more than .5 seconds.

 

 

That’s it. Izuku decides, fishing out his phone.

 

 

Sent 7:36 pm

 

You good?

 

 

His heart sinks when he gets an automated reply.

 

 

Received 7:36 pm

Sorry, the number you’ve tried to contact has been disconnected.

 

 

Dabi you son of a bitch.

 

Izuku falls back on the bed, glaring at the ceiling like it could solve his problems. “Motherfucker.” Sitting around isn’t doing anyone any favors, he gets back up and heads to the computer.

 

Now, imagine there’s a hornet’s nest. It’s decent in size and only an idiot would go near it. Now imagine taking a metal baseball bat, strolling on up to that hornet’s nest, and whacking the absolute shit out of it. That would be how the news reacted to Shigaraki’s escape.

 

The tabloids moved on after a solid day, they’re respectable news businesses that give the people what they want: sex scandals and trashy rumors. Can’t focus on an escaped criminal for long cause god forbid they lose subscriptions. Every other news station is stuck like their asses were glued to it. Izuku decides to forgo the fact checking process and opens up the police report released to the public. Oh, they’re definitely leaving stuff out, but they’re also the most trustworthy source besides Kei and Seamstress.

 

It’s nothing Izuku hasn’t read before. Kurogiri got in and Izuku’s dandruff-ridden headache got out. Honestly, most of the shit they pull is only possible because of Kurogiri. The more he thinks about it, the taser gets more tempting.

 

His phone buzzes off to the side. For a moment, he thinks it’s Dabi from a burner phone or something like that. Nope. It’s the group chat.

 

 

OG 1-C

 

 

Metal af:

Guys.

 

So uhhhhh my shit dad’s trying to reconcile with me

 

 

Mind Ya Business:

That bitch?

 

Ignore him

 

 

Metal af:

Well yeah that was the plan but the asshole won’t even meet me face to face. He just sent a letter with an envelope of “missed birthday allowances” and a credit card

 

So

 

Who wants to go to the mall and max this shit cause it’s on his bill.

 

 

Mind Ya Business:

...I

 

We gotta buy like, the weirdest combinations possible.

 

 

Foxy lad:

I’m in

 

Wait.

 

Which one of you assholes changed my nickname

 

 

Metal af:

Bro...

 

We changed that like, days ago

 

 

Mind Ya Business:

Honestly I was just wondering how long it took for him to notice.

 

 

Assholes, the both of them. Still, the smile on Izuku’s face is genuine. Five minutes later and they have a karmic game plan for Kahiro’s shit dad. Shinsou suggested making one for Izuku’s dad, too. It takes another ten minutes to convince Kahiro that no, crossing the ocean to kick an estranged father in the dick is not a good idea.

 

Izuku still saves it for future reference.

 

 

——

 

 

It’s a miserable Saturday morning when the three of them hit the scene. Izuku’s wearing shorts and a god awful t-shirt. Kahiro’s got some shades that are honestly reminding him of Tony Stark — fitting, with her Quirk — and a skirt that, if asked, has been dyed with the blood of her enemies. Shinsou’s got a cozy looking pair of black sweatpants and a grey tee.

 

The groan when they see Izuku’s shirt is incredibly gratifying.

 

“Honey,” Kahiro puts an understanding hand on his shoulder. “We gotta get you some new shirts.”

 

“Yeah man.” Shinsou agrees, “You’re my friend and could honestly kick my ass without trying, but you have the worst taste in fashion.”

 

Izuku, basking in the mortification, says, “I think you mean the best.” The hit over the head he gets is worth it.

 

Kahiro has obviously done her research, cause she knows every single expensive shop here. In the first store, Izuku makes the mistake of looking at a price tag. He drops the T-shirt — it’s a goddamn T-Shirt — like he’s been burned.

 

“It’s best not to think about it.” Shinsou advises as he pats Izuku’s back. Kahiro hasn’t stopped, she’s heading to the clothes that look the most pricey. Izuku feels faint.

 

Why? Why is this clothing so expensive? A logo? What?? The fuck???

 

Ridiculous pricing aside, Kahiro’s deadbeat is going to be one sorry son of a bitch in a few hours.

 

“The trick is to find a well-known brand.” Kahiro tells them as she hands Izuku a few dozen pieces of Best Jeanist’s latest collection. “Popular brands price their items higher because there’s a high demand. Anyone who’s anyone in high society always wears the famous brands. Personally, I’d like them to take a long walk off a short pier, but...” she shrugs, then pulls Shinsou along to the dress section. “You would not believe how expensive a handbag can be.”

 

Oh my god, Izuku realizes, his friend has weaponized capitalism.

 

The cashier’s expression when they arrive at the counter is almost worth the pricetag-induced heart palpitations. Yeah dude, try and imagine how he and Shinsou are feeling. Just...why is a handbag so expensive? Fashion lines? Its only thirty minutes in and they’ve learned so much, Kahiro being their vindictive sensei.

 

Said teacher of the shopping arts claps her hands once they exit. “Okay, warmup’s over. Let’s get started.”

 

Izuku can almost hear the record scratch. “This was the warmup?”

 

“Yeah.” Kahiro sends them both a look, “The deadbeat put the highest credit limit on this thing. We’re very well gonna use it.”

 

Shinsou purses his lips and asks the question Izuku isn’t brave enough to voice. “What’s the limit?”

 

“Oh,” She looks ahead, barely smothering the shit-eating grin on her face, “close to 11 million yen.” She laughs when they both choke on their spit. “Which means we’re getting gifts for all the actually decent adults in our life.”

 

You know, it kinda says something about their lives when all they can come up with is at least one parent (Shinsou being the outlier), Kuroda, Kei, and Seamstress.

 

Izuku remembers his mom complaining about how small her bag was, so he gets the biggest one he can find. Shinsou gets a tea set and Kahiro gets a necklace she says her moms been looking at for a while. Everything else they get today is going to goodwill, something they all agreed on beforehand.

 

It’s when Shinsou somehow gets a fucking grocery kart that things start getting crazy.

 

Rhyme and reason get chucked out the window. It gets to the point where the kart is full and they haven’t even spent half the limit. Kahiro gets some pepper spray for “reasons”. Izuku and Shinsou elect to ignore it.

 

Soon it’s twelve and they take a stop at the food court. There’s quite a bit of staring involved, what with the two shopping karts filled with assorted shit.

 

“I’m going to sit out on this one.” Izuku eventually says. They’re outside of Build-A-Bear Workshop, there’s a whole assortment of little bears wearing hero outfits.

 

“You sure?”

 

“Yeah, I’m sure.” All this shopping is starting to wear on him. His friends take him at his word and they part ways with promises of getting “a fuck ton of teddy bears” and then debating how much a fuck ton is. Izuku sighs and sits down facing away from the shop. At least mom will like her new bag.

 

A guy in a black hoodie strolls up. Izuku’s only looking from his periphery, he doesn’t think much of it. It’s the first damming mistake.

 

“Mind if I sit?” The stranger asks with a rough voice.

 

“Go ahead.”

 

He doesn’t realize his error until a hand wraps around the back of his neck.

Chapter Text

Shigaraki Tomura is an ugly son of a bitch, and yet his voice sounds even worse. “I have to say, you’re a hard person to catch alone, Midoriya.” The smile Izuku can see out of the corner of his eye is downright mocking, “Or should I call you Kuroko?” 

 

Izuku stays stock still. The four fingers enclosed around his neck are rough and dry, like sandpaper, he feels his skin itch and prickle at the sensation alone. It feels nothing like when Shigaraki almost disintegrated his throat a few months ago, somehow it's worse. His hand is wrapped around the nape of Izuku’s neck, if he decides to place his pinky down, Izuku’s spine will be the first thing to go after the initial layer of skin. So Izuku doesn’t move, he doesn’t even dare to breathe. 

 

Shigaraki keeps talking. “I spent weeks imaging what I would do once I got my hands on you. But now?” he squeezes, enjoying how Izuku flinches, “You’re not so tough without your meddling heroes, are you? There’s no one here to save you this time, no last minute hail-mary. Take away the tools and the mask and you’re just a Quirkless nobody, yet you managed to get his attention. What makes you so special, hm?” He shakes Izuku again when he doesn’t reply, “Answer me, dammit.”

 

The situation is so close to fucked it’s not even funny. Shinsou and Kahiro are nearby, if they come back to this there’s too high of a chance they’ll get hurt. People are just walking by, they don’t spare so much as a glance towards Izuku and his captor. He knows better than to cry for help, past experience tells him it won’t do any good. 

 

“I don’t know why.” He keeps his eyes forward, he knows he won’t like the expression on Shigaraki’s face. “The best guess would be he didn’t want a third party messing with his plans. It’s like you said,” Izuku grins even though his hands are shaking against his thighs. “I’m just a Quirkless nobody. Honestly, the world would probably be better off if I just did what Bakugou told me to and leapt off the roof.”

 

Shigaraki’s shoulders are shaking. It takes Izuku a moment to recognize it as a laugh instead of a seizure. “Ah, man. I thought I’d never see the day. This world hates you, just as much as it hates me”

 

Yeah, rub some more salt in there, why don’t you

 

The laughing dies down into a few chuckles here and there. “Tell you what.” Shigaraki lets go of Izuku’s neck, “I’ll let you live just this once, one kindred soul to another. But,” he leans way too into Izuku’s personal space, “If you interfere again, I won’t hesitate. Got it?”

Internally, Izuku is boiling. Is this walking talking dandruff commercial really having pity on his enemy? He’s not stupid enough to critique the guy while his hand is still in neck-touching distance though. Still, he can feel the anger burning a hole through his insides as he stares at the floor ahead of him. “Got it.” 

 

Shigaraki stands and dusts off the front of his pants, like it’d do anything to remove the goddamn skin flakes clinging to the material. “It’s been an enlightening conversation, Kuroko.” he walks away, raising a hand in goodbye before he vanishes into the crowd. 

 

Izuku stays where he’s sitting, even though he wants nothing more than to run and curl up in a corner somewhere. Shigaraki was able to get close, even in a public space, isolating himself right now would be suicidal. His hands shake so bad he almost misdials the number on his phone. 

 

Kuroda picks up on the fourth ring, “What’s up, kid? I thought you were shopping with your friends?”

 

Izuku clings to his mentor’s voice like the lifeline it is. “Kuroda? I--” his breath catches, “I need someone here.”

 

“Where are you right now?” Kuroda’s voice is sharp, the kind of sharp he only gets when shit’s serious.

 

“Kiyashi shopping ward.”

 

Izuku hears kuroda muttering to himself, “Kei is the closest right now. I’m sending him to you, but I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Please,” Izuku clutches his arm hand enough for his nails to indent flesh. “hurry. Please, Kuroda, I…”

He can’t get his mind off the fucking arena battle. The crazed look in Shigaraki’s eyes as flakes of Izuku’s skin peeled away. 


“I’m scared.”



----



Kei’s there in ten minutes. Long enough for both Kahiro and Shinsou to come back to Izuku having a panic attack. Oh sure, on the outside he just looks pale and a little shaky. Inside, he has to remind himself how to breathe and keep his shit together. 

 

Shinsou’s seen this once before, he takes one look at Izuku and gets to talking him down. Kahiro sits on his other side, looking indecisive. When she asks “Can I touch you?”, he nods. Small hands rub circles into his back as he latches onto Shinsou’s voice. 

 

Kei arrives ten minutes later. By then, Izuku’s lightyears calmer than he was when he made the call. Shaking from adrenaline, yes, but no longer freaking out. Kei is usually the more well-groomed of the Nagaki brothers, it’s odd seeing his hair so disheveled, he looks like he just got out of bed. He approaches, his posture alert and his eyes searching for threats. He gives Kahiro and Shinsou a cursory nod before kneeling down to level Izuku with dark grey eyes. “Kuroda will be here shortly. What was it?” He’s sharp with his words, but Izuku can see the concern peeking out of the edges.  

 

If he thinks too much on it, he's going to spiral. He keeps it simple. “Shigaraki. Had me by the neck, decided to spare me. He was waiting for me to be alone.” which means they've had eyes on him for weeks. He’s going to be sick. 

 

Kei’s mouth pulls into a grim line. Where Kuroda has a square jaw and kind eyes, Kei is sharp angles and calculations. “Problematic, but not something we can’t recover from.” Shinsou scoots aside to make room for Kei. He sits down, closing his eyes and furrowing his brow. Izuku remembers Kuroda talking about his brother’s Quirk once or twice, something about “spatial awareness” and knowing where people are. If anyone comes towards them, Kei will know. It’s a lot more comforting than Izuku expects it to be. The man’s shoulder presses against his own, soft, but just hard enough to not be an accident. 

 

“Kid!” Kuroda breaks from the crowd. Izuku’s already standing by the time he gets to them. Kuroda wraps him up with his single arm, his palm cupping the back of Izuku’s head, pressing him into a shirt that smells like it hasn’t been washed in a while. Izuku closes his eyes and sinks into the touch while Kei, Kahiro and Shinsou explain what they know so far. 

 

“We probably shouldn't talk about it here,” Kuroda’s voice is a deep rumble this close up, “Seamstress is driving. We were having a meeting when I got the call.” He lets go of Izuku to hold his by the shoulder, “You okay?”

 

Izuku breathes, “For now.” who knows what kinda shit this’ll dredge up when he goes to bed.

 

Kuroda pats him, “We’ll work on it.” he starts to steer Izuku towards where he came. Kahiro and Shinsou join him, bracketed in by Kei. His friends are each pushing a shopping cart filled with their spoils of war. The perplexed look on Kei’s face does wonders for Izuku’s mood. 

 

When they get to the car — a brown SUV — Kahiro and Shinsou unload the carts while Kuroda ushers Izuku into the backseat.  Seamstress gives him a once-over when they get in. “Bleeding?”

 

“Just shaken up.” Kuroda replies. Something soft enters her expression, but then everyone else gets in the car and they’re off. 

 

It’s as quiet as a hearse. No one says anything, either too busy driving or trying to not be obvious about how they glance at Izuku, who is currently being smushed by Kuroda and Shinsou. 

 

To hell with this. “He said if I interfered again, he’d kill me.” Hey, it got even quieter, he didn't know that was even possible. “he spared me because he thought we were similar.” birds of a feather, or some fucked up shit like that. Thing is, Izuku can see where Shigaraki got the impression, but he got one big thing wrong. Izuku wants to do something good with the shit hand he was dealt at birth. No matter how many times people step on him, overlook him, beat him, he is getting back up and he’s going at it again. 

 

Shigaraki...he doesn’t care. About anything. He wants nothing and therefore destroys for nothing. He's been hurt so bad by this world it’s left a whole in his chest, one he thinks he can fill by dragging everyone down into it. 

 

Izuku recognizes the type. He was there, too, once upon a time. 

 

Seamstress looks at him through the rearview. “And what are you going to do?” there’s no expectation in her voice. There would be no judgement if Izuku decided he wanted out. Thing is, it doesn’t matter whether or not he stays out of it. Sooner or later, Shigaraki is going to hurt more people. There never really was a choice. 


He looks right into her eyes. “Hit him fast, hit him hard. He’s not getting away again.”

Her lips quirk up into a smile.