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Day and Night

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Izuku could tell you the exact moment it started, down to the very minute. It was a day that would be forever burned in his mind – an ugly scar that would never heal no matter how hard he tried to scratch it from his memories. And trust me, he’d tried. He tried and tried until his hands were stained red with blood but his nights were still haunted with dreams of how different his life would’ve been…but dreaming was for those who meant something to the world, who would fit into the perfect puzzle society had created.

The fateful day had been any other warm spring day with a gentle breeze that affectionately ruffled through his hair. They had just gotten home from their fourth visit to yet another doctor – a kind, old man whose face had deep set laugh lines and lived nothing short of a comfortable life – who had given the same, life altering diagnosis; Izuku was never going to develop a quirk, no matter how much he wished or dreamed. He could cry his heart out until he collapsed from exhaustion, scream until his voice no longer worked, but he’d still remain quirkless. He could never be the hero he dreamed, standing valiantly next to Kacchan as they defeated villains left and right, keeping the world and its people safe.

In a single instant his dreams had been brushed away as if they’d never existed, leaving him afloat in a never ending sea of numbness wondering if it would just be better to drown.

 His mother had wrapped her hand painfully around his wrist, lips pressed together tightly in a contemplative frown as they left the baby blue doctor’s office. She tugged his silent, shell-shocked form back home to their small apartment that was the perfect size for their blooming family.

As they finished walking up the creaky metal stairs she turned to look at her son, who hadn’t said a single word or shed any of his usual tears, mild concern filling emerald eyes. “Baby, are you alright?” A vacant nod that caused her chest to squeeze painfully was the only indication he’d heard her.

He’ll get over it eventually, it’s not like it was the end of the world.

Sighing, she turned back around and pulled an array of keys that jingled softly from her brown leather purse. She fumbled with them before finally unlocking the creaky door and tugged him inside, soft face falling in muted horror as she came to a sudden stop in the entryway, Izuku bumping softly into her thigh. Peaking around her leg curiously, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion at the sight laid out before them: his father sat quietly on the couch, body swathed in an ominous cloak of anger. A duffle bag sat on the floor next to his feet, packed for something much, much longer than his usual two-day business trip. His large hands were folded one over the other and sat softly in his lap, the gentleness a stark contrast to the thinly veiled emotions burning darkly behind vibrant green eyes that smoldered like coals; threatening to set everything ablaze.

“H-hisashi…? What is this?” The trembling voice of his mother rang out through the room as his father smoothly stood in their small living room, slinging the bag over his shoulder. He walked the few steps towards them, long legs covering the ground in an instant before stopping in front of the frozen pair, neither fully comprehending the situation…or just simply not wanting to. Burning eyes found their way down to the trembling form of Izuku, who flinched at the gaze overflowing with contempt and revulsion. The vile emotions seemed to swirl and intertwine in a deadly waltz, becoming stronger and more potent as the seconds ticked by.

W-What had he done to make dad so mad…?

“What did the doctor say?” Hisashi asked, already knowing the answer to his question. The hateful gaze slid to his mother and a breath Izuku didn’t even know he was holding seemed to uncoil from around his lungs as he stuttered out a quiet gasp of air. He turned, wide-eyed, to look up at his mother, watching as she cowered in shame; shame about her failure, about Izuku. Her gaze dropped to the floor; unwilling to meet his father’s eyes while simultaneously answering his question with her stifling silence.

Izuku wanted to cry out – to pull on his mother’s warm hand that had always been there to comfort him and beg her to tell him everything was going to be okay – but instead he was once again hit with the harsh reality that even his mother had abandoned any belief in him.

A scoff echoed around the silent room, the deep vibrato accompanying the stifling anger that already filled the apartment that suddenly felt far too small; suffocating to the point that Izuku swore he could taste the acrid flavor on his tongue with every hitching breath.

Pushing past the two, Hisashi barely made it halfway out the door before Inko broke from her stupor, the desperate cry of “wait!” filtering through the haze hanging heavy in his mind. She shot forward, frantically clinging to the back of his dark jacket as if it were a lifeline; the only thing she had to stop her retreating husband, to stop the imminent collapse of a life she had basked in for a scant five years. It had been a life filled with blissful laughter and overflowing love, smiles abundant and never ending. The second her trembling hands let go of that faded, all too familiar denim, her world would come collapsing down around her in a cacophony of deafening sounds and screams she wasn’t yet ready to face.

“…Why?” The question was quiet and broken, the usual gentle tones weighed down and saturated with anguish as she looked up to his father with tear filled eyes. For a few seconds, Hisashi’s eyes softened as he took in his wife, the previously harsh lines of his face and the clench of his jaw relaxing as he gazed one last time at the woman he loved. Soon the reprieve of anger was broken, shattering like glass on concrete as his eyes once again fell upon his son, whatever remaining emotions that could’ve stopped him being squashed down and obliterated until nothing but dust remained. An ugly sneer carved its way across his face, twisting his usually handsome features into something unrecognizable – something hateful.

“I can’t have a quirkless son, Inko. It’s a disgrace to my family name and society…” Delicate wisps of smoke curled from his lips. “And so is the woman who birthed something so useless.” He snarled, eyes never leaving Izuku’s, as if each word dripping with disgust was meant for him and him only.

Pulling his arm free and adjusting the strap of his bag, Hisashi walked out the doors and down the nearby stairs, never once looking back. It was the last time Izuku ever saw his father, and it was a day that marked the beginning of something new. But as Izuku would soon find out, not all new things were good.

____

 

His mother closed the door softly, the click of the lock echoing far too loudly in the ear-splitting silence Izuku was afraid to break. Slowly, oh so slowly, his mother turned around, eyes vacant as stray tears trailed their way down her now pallid cheeks.

“M-Mama?” Izuku whispered, pudgy hands grasping at the soft cloth of his mother’s burgundy skirt. Her head snapped towards the sound, expressionless eyes taking in the trembling, teary eyed form of her little boy.

It’s his fault he’s gone. His fault he left. His fault. His fault! She shook her head, trying to rid herself of the offending thoughts, but they lurked in the recesses of her mind, digging in their claws and whispering in her ear; tearing away at all the barriers she had put up to keep them at bay. Mustering up a wavering smile, she placed a hand onto her son’s head, fingers cording gently through soft, dark green curls – curls he’d gotten from his father.

“Let’s get you to bed baby.” Her voice was barely above a whisper, but felt too loud, too abrasive in the oppressive heaviness that had made itself home in the small apartment; which now felt too big and empty, as if the walls were silently mocking her for her mistakes. She followed after her son as he walked down the hall to his room, holding tightly onto her hand. He pushed open the door that had been left slightly ajar, eyes immediately bombarded with walls plastered with poster upon poster of the smiling form of the number one hero, All Might.

Action figures lined wooden shelves, standing protectively over the array of comic books that filled them. In the center of it all, sat fearlessly atop a mountain of colorful pillows, was a plushie replica of the hero, his usual angular features (quite literally) softened into a more cartoon-ish design. Inko grabbed a onesie from the small dresser at the end of the bed, beckoning Izuku over to her side, where she went through their routine almost robotically, eyes far away and unseeing.

Finally, free of the itchy clothes, Izuku happily slipped into the vibrant fabric, immediately enveloped in the familiar, fuzzy warmth. He spun around happily, admiring his outfit before slowing to a stop when he saw the pained, distant expression that adorned his mother’s face. For the second time that night Izuku found himself plodding quietly towards her side and grabbing ahold of her skirt, desperately wanting her to be happy. A strained smile painted itself on her face as she looked down at her brightly clad son.

“C’mon now, let’s get you in to bed.” She said, the same sad tone filling her words as she pulled back the covers, lifting Izuku in to her arms before plopping him down in the middle of the sea of pillows and blankets. As if on instinct, Izuku grabbed his plushie and sat it in his lap, the hero’s stitched eyes joining with her son’s as the duo stared intently up at her.

“Mama, why do I have to go to bed?” He asked, arms wrapped tightly around the heroic plushie. Looking up at her with bright, emerald eyes filled with curiosity, a sky of freckled constellations dotting pale skin framed with soft, unruly green curls. Everything about him screamed Hisashi. Hisashi, Hisashi, Hisashi. The man had abandoned her, and here was a constant reminder of that betrayal. Inko clenched her jaw, as if the bone was the final dam keeping her roiling emotions at bay.

“Just listen to your mama sweetie, it’s time for bed.” Her hands shook with the effort of preserving her calm exterior, knowing all she needed was a few moments to herself to collect her thoughts and figure out what she was going to do from now on. They had to keep on living, she just wasn’t sure how to make ends meet now that a pillar of support had up and left.

“But I’m not tired!” His little arms squeezed the plushie tighter, putting All Might in to a deadly chokehold. Inko took a moment to breathe in slowly, the few final strings of her self-control fraying and barely holding on.

“Izuku, sweetie, please-”

“I don’t wanna-!” Izuku cried, bouncing slightly as his face scrunched into a pout. His mother sighed, closing her eyes as she brought a hand to her forehead.

“Izuku!” The cry ripped its way from her throat, cracking from the raw emotions she had failed hold back. Izuku froze in place, eyes wide and filling with tears. He had never heard his mother yell, let alone directed at him with so much venom and anger. Tears blurred his vision as they made their way down the gentle curve of his cheeks. He tried his best to hide his sniffling behind his knees, watching as she removed her hand from her face, the appendage dropping heavily to her side.

Her face, which had just been wrought with such extreme emotion, was now a blank canvas; void of even the smallest flecks of color. Turning around and walking towards the door, Inko ignored the quiet whimpers of her son. She no longer had the patience or tolerance to deal with Izuku in her current mental and emotional state, and just…needed some time to think.

“M-Mama…?” Izuku whispered, watching his mother’s retreating form as she opened the door to his room. She was halfway out when she stopped, back still facing him.

“You’re not allowed to leave your room until I tell you, now go. To. Bed.” The finality in her words sent a shiver racing down his spine, promising something dark and scary if he were to break her command. Before the door slammed Izuku could’ve sworn he heard his mother whisper “useless”.

The events of the day suddenly hit him like a steam roller, flattening him until he was obliterated into nothingness. Izuku buried his face into the plushie, seeking comfort from the soft fabric as a wave of sobs wracked his small, trembling frame. What had he done? First the mean doctors said he couldn’t be a hero, and then his dad had left…because of him? Was this all his fault because he was quirkless? Because he was…useless?

The steam roller switched to reverse and came in for round two as Izuku pressed his face further into the soft back of the hero before lying down and wrapping himself in the soothing warmth of his blankets. Tears still dripped down his face and soaked in to his pillow as he replayed the events of the day. Was it really all his fault? A new batch of tears turned his posters into a watercolor of red, yellow and blue; Izuku continued to cry until the exhausted arms of sleep wrapped themselves around him, gently pulling him down into the realm of dreams that were quickly forgotten once he woke up.

 

____

 

Izuku woke up to soft morning light cascading through the window, spilling on to his bedsheets and across his face. His eyes were sore and puffy as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, memories from the day before invading his mind. He quickly shook his head, trying to get rid of the negative thoughts as he begrudgingly left the warmth of his bed to go to the bathroom. Plodding quietly across the hall, his footsteps muffled by the material of his onesie. After he flushed the toilet and washed his hands, the fact that he hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast the day before hit him full force as his stomach growled loudly, echoing off the tiled floors of the bathroom.

He opened the door and left excitedly, the idea of warm food filling his mind and making his mouth water. He rounded the corner and came to an uncertain stop, watching as his mother sat on the couch staring vacantly as some newscaster talked monotonously on the screen. Taking a few tentative steps forward, Izuku gauged his mother for any reaction, any movement to show that she was still mad.

When there was none, he took this as a good sign and continued on his journey to his mother’s side. He crawled up on the couch, struggling for a few seconds before he sat down next to her, resting his head gently on her shoulder. He was partially enveloped in the familiar motherly warmth he had grown to love, eyes fluttering closed as his tiny shoulders relaxed. But all good things must come to an end, something Izuku was just beginning to learn.

“What are you doing out of your room?” The same angry tone from the night before met his ears as his mother turned to look at him. It was the first reaction to anything since he had entered the room. Izuku pulled away, once again looking up at her with those eyes. God, she hated those eyes.

“I-I was hungry.” He mumbled, afraid to meet her fiery gaze as he played with the fraying sleeve of his pajamas. Several painfully silent seconds passed, the only interruption being the newscaster talking about the upcoming weather. The couch creaked as his mother stood, walking towards the kitchen. A smile erupted across Izuku’s face as he hopped off the couch and ran after her, her small shoulders draped in the faded purple of her shawl which drifted lazily around her legs as she moved.

He wondered what she would make. Would it be katsudon? Eggs and bacon? A surprise? He brought his hand up to grab his mother’s like he always did, but instead of his hand being enveloped in a much bigger and warmer one, it was smacked away the second his skin brushed hers. Izuku cradled the offended hand in the other, bringing them up to rest against his chest. A look of disgust contorted her features as she looked down at her son, whose face was one of confusion and hurt. What was that?

Don’t touch me.” The words filled the growing gap between mother and son, heavy and suffocating in the quite of the kitchen. Once again Izuku’s eyes filled to the brim with tears until they could no longer be contained and streamed down round, rosy cheeks. His tears seemed to be the only constant over the past several hours. Shoulders shaking, he reached for the comfort of his mother. He needed that bright, refreshing warmth who used to run to his side and scoop him in to her arms, cooing comforting words until he calmed down.

But instead of warmth, he was met with the frigid coldness of hatred as she slapped away his outstretched hands, a violent whisper tearing through the kitchen.

“Stop crying.” Instead of her words doing what she had wanted, the tears continued to flow and his tiny shoulders still shook. His offending cries continued to fill up the space of their apartment which now felt too small, as if it was trying to squeeze her into a tiny box until she could no longer move and was slowly crushed.

Rage built up inside Inko at the sight of her son. She was going through so much pain, hell, she had lost the love of her life because she had given birth to something defective. Something that, in a single moment, had ripped away all the goodness in her life and then had the gall to cry? Soon her shoulders shook with fury and the world seemed to slow, the only thing slicing through a world dipped in molasses was a resounding SLAP that echoed in the kitchen. A sigh of relief bloomed inside Inko and slowly escaped her lungs as she realized the crying had stopped. Oh, how blissful the following silence was. The sudden realization at what she had done shot through her like a bullet as the pain in her hand became blindingly apparent along with the silent tears of her baby as he clutched at the right side of his face.

“Oh my god Izuku my baby I’m so, so sorry let mama have a look at that you know she didn’t mean it, right? Mama would never hurt you.” Inko rambled as she fell to her knees in front of Izuku, looking on in horror at the mark she had put on her baby’s face. The previously milky skin of his cheek was now stained red, parts already turning a darker shade of purple. She wrapped her arms around his rigid form, sighing in relief as his little hands grasped at the fabric on her back, as if he would never see her again. He listened silently as his mother vowed to never hurt him again, believing her whole heartedly. A mistake Izuku would soon learn to regret.

 

____

 

Inko didn’t know what had come over her that fateful morning in the kitchen. All she remembered, in vivid detail, was the tidal wave of relief that washed over her. The feeling of all her stress melting from her shoulders in the aftermath of her actions. She had felt good, free even. As if the pressure that had been raining down on her had been lifted for just a moment, allowing her to breathe. To say Inko didn’t crave for that feeling to flood her senses once again would be a lie. She wanted, no, needed that reprieve from what her life had become. From what he had caused her life to become.

 

____

 

Izuku could tell you the exact moment it started, down to the very minute. It was the day that opened his eyes to the defect that he was, a moment that unlocked the gates to a hellish life he knew was nothing less than he deserved.

Chapter Text

Six Years Old

 

“Izuku, some food is missing from the fridge,” The hiss was soft but sharper than a knife, digging and slicing away at his flesh until his panicking heart was exposed. “I never said you could eat more than what you’re given.”

“N-No mom, y-you must be w-wrong.” Silence followed, every second that passed growing thicker and thicker with tension until he was practically choking on the bitter air.

Oh?” His mother stalked forward like a hunter ready to kill its prey, eyes dark with fury. Her hand shot out like lightning, grabbing a fistful of soft curls. With a harsh yank she pulled his head backward until frightened eyes were forced to meet those he’d learned time and time again to fear. Izuku gulped, unable to stop the small whimper that escaped his throat. “Are you saying I’m a liar you ungrateful brat?”

“N-No! I would n-never-”

Another violent tug to his hair cut him off, pinpricks of tears appearing in his eyes at the pain. “You remember what happens to liars, don’t you I-zu-ku?”

Pure fear bloomed in forest eyes like a parasite – taking over every living thing until it was a corpse rotting on the ground. “P-please don’t! I-I promise I won’t do it again! J-Just please don’t-!” A vicious blow to his stomach sent him gasping for air, pleas vanishing from his tongue as tears cascaded down his cheeks in a sorrowful freefall.

 Please, please, please he couldn’t go back there. Not again, not again, not again, not again.

“Liars don’t get to beg. Especially useless ones.” She dragged him down the hall by his hair, each step ringing out his fate.

Please don’t, please, please, please don’t.

The footsteps slowed to a stop after the flooring changed from cheap hardwood to even cheaper linoleum. His heartrate sped up, chest constricting painfully as less and less air made its way into his heaving lungs. The sound of a metal bolt unlatching followed by the low creak of old hinges filled the small kitchen, ringing out his fate like a bell tolling ominously in the dark of night.

Not again, not again, not again, NOT AGAIN.

“P-please…” It was barely a whisper, almost hidden by his heaving sobs. He didn’t fight back, having learned long ago that struggling only led to more anger, to more pain.

“Hush now. I’m only doing this because you lied. If you had been honest with me, this wouldn’t have happened.” She pushed his limp form forward, not caring when his head cracked against the hinges. Not caring when hot blood gushed down the side of his face from the fresh gash just above his temple.

Bleary eyes looked up to see the sliver of warm light fading as the small door closed, the looming silhouette looking more like a demon than his mother.

“No, no, no, no, NO!” The scream tore its way from his throat, harsh and panicked as the familiar sound of metal on metal barely registered through the deafening panic in his ears. Small fists smashed against wood until they bled, leaving bright smears of crimson to dry and join the rest in their rusty, macabre stains. He screamed and screamed until his voice gave out, silent yells the only thing accompanying his tears. But it was too little too late.

It was always too late.

As the sobs subsided, the pain in his head grew and grew, pulsing like a metronome with every beat of his heart. The warm blood was sticky as it trickled down his face and throat, soaking into the material of his shirt. It cooled as it dried, matting his hair in a nasty clump that itched along with any flesh coated in dried layers of flaking gore.

Trying to calm the raging sea of emotions in his chest was a feat he barely accomplished with shaky breaths, repeating the action until he’d managed to calm down enough to take off his jacket and pillow it under his head as he curled into a ball, knees pressing painfully into the wood of the opposing wall. Everything was so small and cramped, it felt as if the walls were closing in on him – crushing him into an unrecognizable mush all the while laughing at his pain.

 

____

 

There was no light: Izuku could put his hands millimeters from his face and only know they were there because of the heat they gave off just seconds before they brushed lightly against his cheek. It was as if he’d been robbed of his sight, left to suffer in the ever present blackness that seemed to grow like spilled ink – a blind man left to wander in a world that had abandoned him, hoping he’d rot and disappear.

Things…lurked in the darkness. Evil, twisted things that wrapped painfully around his mind, claws piercing his flesh as razor teeth tore away at any ramshackle walls he’d attempted to raise. But the darkness never came alone. No, it came hand in hand with waves of excruciating numbness or overwhelming emotion that left him gasping for breath, hands trembling uncontrollably.

Izuku couldn’t tell you which one he feared more: feeling nothing at all or everything at once.

There was no sense of time: In the never ending darkness, time didn’t exist. Time decided to go on a vacation to the Bahamas, leaving him to suffer in never ending boredom while it sipped happily on a strawberry daiquiri; blissfully unaware or simply not caring. Minutes blurred into hours, and hours into days. It was a never ending cycle of pain, pain, pain.

The only thing marking the continual progression of the world around him were the hunger pangs in his stomach and the seemingly unquenchable itch of thirst growing in the back of his throat. Two things that were only made exponentially worse as his mother cooked dish after dish just feet away, the tantalizing aromas causing him to beg to be let out – that he was sorry. But she never listened.

But the worst part? The worst part was being isolated. Just him, his thoughts and the ever intrusive silence rooting for despair like the worlds most twisted, fucked up cheerleader. When there was nothing but darkness for hours upon hours, days upon days, Izuku had no choice but to think about everything he actively avoided.

To escape the grasping fingers of misery, Izuku…disappeared. He’d let his mind wander to a better place, a better life, a better anything. He’d remember times before the shift, before the universe had decided to play russian roulette with his life and shot him point blank in the head. He’d go back to when his parents were all smiles and laughs and unconditional love – a time where he had been his happiest. He’d go back to the playground, Kacchan a comforting warmth at his side as they ran across the grass playing heroes.

God, he missed Kacchan, missed being able to just forget and relax every once and awhile. The fiery blonde was always there to comfort him – even if he didn’t know why he was sad – a strong pillar willing to deal with his burdensome bullshit and tell him it was going to be okay, that they’d be heroes even if he was quirkless.

Izuku closed his eyes (even though it made no difference), praying for sleep to take him away. Maybe he’d never wake up. Ha, as if the universe would be that kind.

 

____

 

“Izuku dear, are you ready to apologize?” How long had he been here this time? Three, maybe four days? It had never been this long before…was he going to die here? H-He wanted to leave – He hated the dark and small spaces and the silence and, and, and-

Bright light assaulted his eyes as the cupboard finally opened, revealing the kneeling form of the devil incarnate. Her face was harsh, features cold and heartless as she glared at him like he was the scum of the earth. He probably was.

He had been the reason her life fell apart after all.

Izuku turned towards his mother with dull eyes, body feeling like it was empty – a hollow shell that echoed his jack rabbiting heartbeat painfully against his ribs. He was yanked from the small space, shoulder crashing harshly against the hard floor with heavy thump. His face twisted at the sudden pain assaulting his body, clean air a welcome blessing from the rancid air he’d had to breath. His mother quickly spun on her heel and left, retreating to their small table with a freshly made lunch spread out like a magnificent feast.

She slowly pulled out the chair, old wood creaking in protest as she sat down and grabbed a sandwich with the juiciest slices of tomato he had ever seen; all the while watching Izuku like a possessive hawk ready to strike the second he so much as thought about stepping in a five-foot radius, let alone eat any despite his empty stomach.

It was a dance they played every single time, the music harsh and grating against his ears in its thrumming minor key as he struggled to keep up with the ever changing steps.

God, how Izuku just wanted to dive across the table and devour every item in sight. Just looking at the array of dishes and bright colors sent his mouth watering, stomach growling at the enticing view. But he knew that even touching a single plate would mean being forced back in there. That was something he wanted to avoid at all costs.

Scavenging up whatever remained of his quickly vanishing self-control, he painfully walked away to the bathroom for a shower he oh so needed. Shuffling down the hall was a journey he wasn’t quite sure he could make, but with the ever stabilizing help of the walls he eventually found himself in the neutral toned bathroom, eyes squinting at the bright lights. He didn’t mind, the sharp stabs of pain in his skull were a constant reminder that he was free, and anything was better than the dark.

The scalding water swirled in pink waves around his feet, beating rhythmically against the pale flesh of his back. A thick fog filled his mind, hands moving on autopilot as they washed his body, lathering his hair with lavender shampoo. It was like watching himself from a different perspective, as if he was a stranger sneaking into a movie he wasn’t supposed to see.

Before he realized it, silent sobs were shaking his slender frame and he was falling to his knees, water masking his tears with its fierce downpour. Mind running a mile a minute, thoughts a jumbled mess as the past few days flashed painfully behind dull eyes.

He…He wasn’t sure how much more he could take.

 

 ____

 

Inko wasn’t quite sure when her convoluted emotions turned into blinding hatred towards the child cowering before her on the scratched hardwood floor, tiny hands raised to protect his face.

With every passing day the brat looked more and more like the man she used to call her husband; the person she’d given her heart to only to have it effectively crushed as he turned his back on them and walked out the door. His hair had gotten darker and unruly curls even more wild, eyes bright in a complete replica of his constant curiosity. Every time she laid eyes on her son – she cringed to even think that she’d created something so useless, something that had only brought pain – a sorrowful rage she couldn’t control bubbled up from somewhere deep inside like magma from the earth’s core, destroying everything it touched.

In the beginning she had tried to contain her burning emotions, tucking them away in flimsy boxes that constantly threatened to rot away and collapse. Stray tears streaked her cheeks each time she’d lash out, regret and shame practically swallowing her whole as she hurt her baby oh god how could she hurt him? He was all she had left. But the negative tidal wave was halted by the almost euphoric feeling thrumming through her veins growing with every hit, the weight on her shoulders disappearing in a blessed reprieve, even if it was short lived.

No matter how hard she resisted, Inko found herself craving the feeling until she gave in again and again, ignoring the pained cries that were white noise against the raging storm.

Soon it was so commonplace to let herself be enveloped in rage that it became like a second skin constantly clinging to her shoulders, whispering darkly into her ears. The regret filled tears had long since dried, replaced by bitter words and even harsher punishments that only escalated when slaps were no longer enough.

But there was one thing Inko absolutely despised, her short fuse burning at a frightening pace at the smallest of sounds. Every time her son mumbled, laughed, or even talked her heart clenched as bittersweet memories of Hisashi invaded her mind.

Why?! Why did that disgrace need to haunt her with constant reminders of her failures with not only his looks, but every noise he made? It was as if the universe was punishing her for failing to keep the love of her life in her grasp, all because of something that turned out to be utterly useless.

She solved the constant annoyance by forbidding him to speak unless she told him to. The following silence was a blessing she could never explain with words. If he broke the rule, Inko was more than willing – happy even – to deal out punishment in order to preserve her new found sanctuary. After enough slip ups, the boy had learned that talking never led to anything good, only pain, pain and more pain. So he stopped talking completely, a fact that sent a sick sense of pride blooming in her chest, the silence blissful music to her ears.

As the months blurred into years, Inko soon forgot the sound of his voice.

 

Chapter Text

Seven Years Later

 

Izuku’s life was shit.

It was a fact that echoed through his mind on an endless loop that only got louder as he pulled shards of a broken glass from his forearms, the pain faraway and dull – white noise that only seemed to grow and grow inside his skull until everything else was drowned out.

She just had to go and throw a vase, didn’t she?

He winced as he slowly pulled out a particularly large piece, wiping away the fresh blood that pooled up from the wound and flowed freely down his arm, dripping softly onto the tiled floor; a much needed pop of color in the expanse of neutral tones faded with age, each blemish a comfort to his fraying nerves.

Wrapping his arms in bandages was practically routine by now, a process that numbed his mind and gave him time to…think. Think, and then pack all his emotions into little bottles that he’d tuck into the back of his mind to look at later in doable bits and pieces that he could process one at a time, if ever.

A sharp knock to the door made him jump, heart racing a thousand miles per minute. “Izuku, Mitsuki is coming over and I don’t want you anywhere near here when she arrives.” It was a short and simple demand laced with poison that promised nothing but pain if he disobeyed.

But that was the usual way of life in the Midoriya household.

He let out a soft sigh, wondering how in the world Auntie Mitsuki hadn’t noticed that woman was a twisted devil hiding behind an innocent façade throughout the years they’d known each other. It was a question he knew the answer to even if it left a bitter taste in his mouth. Everyone saw her as a sweetheart who was cruelly abandoned by her husband and left with the burden of raising a child deemed worthless by society. They cried for her misfortune, tears blinding them to the truth – a fact that he became painfully aware of at an early age when he tried to tell his kindergarten teacher about the bruises and was told with a sneer ‘making up lies to get attention is a horrible thing and he should be ashamed’ – A fact that only burned brighter when no one questioned his bruises and scars or sudden muteness.

At the ripe age of seven, Midoriya Izuku had learned that no one cared.

Putting the bandages back in the cupboard, he pulled the sleeves of his hoodie down to hide the bright white away and out of sight as he quietly plodded to his room, the sounds of his mother cooking in the kitchen drifting down the hallway. It was so…normal he had to stop himself from wondering if he’d been transported to another dimension; to another home where he was loved and cared for.

He closed the door as softly as possible, having learned on too many occasions that any loud sound could set her off into a rage that left him bloody and broken. She wanted him to be as quite as possible – a child that didn’t exist. The less noise he made, the less reminders she got about how useless he was; about the mistake she’d made. Packing a bag with his usual clothes and cash, Izuku’s mind wandered, thinking over the usual check-list he had for moments like this.

Where was he going to stay tonight? The park was always nice, even though a cop had bothered him the last time he was there…and alleyways were off limits at night with every creepy asshole wandering around ready to kill for a dime…

Izuku shrugged, slinging the bag over his shoulder knowing he’d figure it out when the time came, and anything was better than being at home. Even being killed by some scumbag with a knife seemed more appealing. Tracing his steps back down the hall to the apartment door, he stopped to slip on his beat up red sneakers before quickly opening the door to make sure he was far, far away from the hellhole. As it swung open, his heart practically stopped to a frightening standstill in his chest at the sudden shock of blonde hair and fiery eyes before him, slender hand raised to knock on the wood.

Fuck, fuck, fuck he must’ve been too slow.  

Her eyes widened in surprise, soft lips curling into a bright smile. “Izuku! I haven’t seen you in-fuck it feels like years! How are you?” Ha, if only she knew. Something dark and bitter settled in his chest at the question, a feeling he quickly tried to smother knowing it wasn’t her fault.

Izuku stared up at her, eyes wide as he gripped the straps of his backpack like a lifeline. He looked around frantically, half expecting his mother to come raging down the hallway, face twisted in silent fury. H-He needed to leave.

His throat tightened as he tried to speak, to say anything in the hopes of passing off as normal, but his voice vanished as panic shot like ice through his veins.

Mitsuki’s eyebrows furrowed in concern as he began to tremble, the ever growing silence a heavy weight on his chest. “Izuku…? Are you alright-hey!” He pushed past her, head down as he avoided her inquiring gaze. “Where are you going? Izuku! Ugh kids these days, so fucking disrespectful.” He winced at the harsh words as he fast walked towards the stairs, heart rate slowing the further he got from the building and the people it housed.

The sun hung low in the sky, painting the world in a golden glow dappled with dusty pinks and purples interrupted by picturesque, candy cotton clouds. He had an hour or so before the sun completely set and he needed to find a place to stay for the night, so now all that was left to top off this oh so wonderful afternoon was something to pass the time.

He aimlessly wandered the streets, gazing at all the shop windows and their displays with awe. There were clothes designed for any and every quirk, shops dedicated entirely to heroes, ice cream in every color and flavor, and mouthwatering food that sent his stomach growling. It was a world completely foreign from his own, one of laughter and happiness and comfort. It was one he liked to take a peek at every now and then, imagining he was that child whose cheeks were rosy with utter delight as they clutched their parents hand without fear of repercussion. He could pretend he was happy and safe with a family that loved him, even if it was only for a few minutes.

But it was only pretend. Life was cruel and heartless, not caring for the pain it decided to inflict on people simply because it could.

He slowed to a stop in front of a candy store, eyes wide in wonder as he took in the dizzying array of colors and seemingly endless flavor combinations. It was like a different world overflowing with sugary sweetness and fluffy dreams. What Izuku would do for a piece of candy…he hadn’t had one for years.

The greenette was so caught up in admiring the vast display that he missed the lanky figure stroll up to him on his right.

“Hey, kid. Is there anything you want?” He flinched at the heavy hand suddenly on his shoulder, breathing erratic as he gazed up at the frighteningly skinny blonde before him. He was even skinnier than Izuku and that was saying something – and what the fuck was up with that creepy as hell question? “Woah, Woah I didn’t mean to scare you. It just looked like you really wanted some.”

Izuku gazed at him suspiciously, having learned long ago that adults were always twisted and cruel no matter how nice they initially seemed; there was always some ulterior motive they tried to hide behind smiles and kindness. He took a step back, body tense and ready to bolt at even the slightest hint of danger.

“Hey it’s alright I’m not going to hurt you my boy. Just-just stay here for a second, alright?” Deep set, electric blue eyes looked at him with a gaze that was far too calculating for his liking…but despite his better judgement, Izuku stayed in his place before the window, watching as the tall stranger bought an array of candy in a plastic bag covered in small lavender dots and tied shut with a matching ribbon. It was rather comical watching a grown man get flustered over what candy to choose, and then leave with practically one of every flavor.

He slowly approached Izuku, hand holding the bag outstretched in a sign of peace. “Here you go…” The man paused, as if waiting for him to-oh. Shit, shit, shit he wants to know my name. Struggling to shove down his ever present panic, he raised a shaky hand and signed, even though he was fairly certain the man wouldn’t understand. No one ever did.

Blue eyes widened, mouth falling open to mouth an embarrassed ‘oh.’ Izuku was familiar with the reaction, and knew disgust quickly followed at the sudden realization of his incompetence – his defect. It wasn’t even something he was born with; something inside him had just decided that he couldn’t do it anymore, that it was safer to be silent. He waited in weary anticipation for a reaction that never came.

“Please forgive me for my rudeness! Ah!…I have it with me somewhere…”  He frantically searched his deep pockets for – well Izuku had no idea. “Ah-ha! Here it is!” He brandished a pen and wrinkled piece of paper, valiant smile painted across his face. Izuku raised an eyebrow in question, still not quite trusting the man.

“I’m sorry, my boy. I don’t know sign language so you’ll have to write.” Izuku nodded hesitantly, mind not fully grasping what was happening. He slowly reached forward to grab the items before quickly scrawling out his name. He handed it back, wondering why in the hell he was still there and why the man made him feel…safe?

“Midoriya Izuku…Well it’s nice to meet you, young Midoriya! You can call me Toshinori.” He held out the candy once again, flashing him an encouraging smile as he cautiously took the bag. “It’s getting late, so you better hurry on home.” Izuku plastered a fake smile onto his face as he waved goodbye to the strange man, tucking the candy away into his backpack knowing it was a rare gift that should be cherished. Who knows when he’d ever get this lucky again.

 

____

 

Toshinori wandered the streets, soaking in the cool air and gentle breeze that caressed his face under the sunset painted sky swathed in a soft golden glow. People passed him in a blur of unfamiliar faces practically exuding an innocence that weaved a tale of the comfortable lives they’ve had, and continue to live. It was a fact that made his heart beat with joy, thin shoulders squaring up with pride. It meant that, if even a little, he was doing something to pave a road free of obstacles and hardships for the generations to follow. It meant that his past and coming years that were drenched in blood, sweat and tears were worth it if their unguarded smiles were anything to go by.

He strolled contentedly past small café’s and bookstores, mouthwatering restaurants and every clothing store imaginable – from trendy thrift stores to high end brands packed with vibrant colors and styles. The hero had no set destination in mind, happy to window shop and just get some well-deserved relaxation since he’d suddenly had a few hours free to himself. Something that occurred so rarely ever since he became a pro he could count the times on a single hand. He’d given and would continue to give his complete and utter devotion to his profession by pushing everything else aside for the sake of the people as the symbol of peace. It was a decision he’d never regret no matter how much his bones ached and muscles cried out for him to rest.

As the sun set heavy in the sky, kissing the horizon like a lover returning home from a hard day’s work, his feet carried him past bustling streets he could vaguely remember speeding past while on a mission to apprehend a purse thief several weeks ago. He approached a candy shop, immediately drawn in by the bright neon sign and dizzying array of flavors lining every available space – it filled the walls on neat white shelves and was practically overflowing from antique wooden barrels lined up on the tiled floor. Children clutched to their parents’ hands as they dragged them throughout the store, eyes wide with wonder and cheeks flushed.

Toshinori had a strong, steely belief in the fact that children should be raised with nothing but love and care, making sure they never lost their smiles and the stars that filled their eyes like a galaxy, utterly sure they could take on the universe. They deserved nothing less, and if a parent wasn’t willing to provide that…well he wasn’t quite sure if they should be parents at all.

That thought rang loud and true in his head just as he was about to turn away and head home, electric blue eyes catching on a small, far too thin figure in an oversized maroon hoodie and ripped jeans staring sadly through the large glass widow of the quaint candy shop. He was all alone, a bright yellow backpack slung over slender shoulders. His pale face was framed by dark green curls, emerald eyes far too dark and haunted by ghosts no child should bare.

But deep inside those eyes swam the same child-like awe, even if the stars were muted and dull, a galaxy on the brink of collapse. The hero inside him cried out with the need to help, to find out why the boy seemed to hold such a weight on his shoulders, and if he could ease the burden in any way.

Before he knew it his long legs had quickly covered the distance between them, the wheels in his mind already coming up with ideas that wouldn’t come off as, well, creepy. He was a grown man and some random stranger approaching an unsuspecting child, after all.

Maybe he should think things through…

“Hey, kid. Is there anything you want?” Well it’s too late to look back now.

His deep voice was soft as he placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, fully expecting a murderous glare from the boy at his intrusion. But instead the greenette flinched as if he had been burned by a raging fire, eyes wide with fear and breathing growing more uneven by the second. It was then Toshinori got a good look at the child, soaking in the details of his appearance he had missed from a distance.

The boy’s skin was dusted in light freckles that not only covered his cheeks and the bridge of his nose in constellations, but spilled down his neck and disappeared beneath his hoodie. Dark bags that were more like bruises hung beneath his eyes, painting a picture of perpetual exhaustion that clung to his weary frame like thorns caught in flesh. But what bothered Toshinori the most were the scars. There were only a few that were visible on what skin wasn’t hid beneath clothing, but he was sure more marred his body like a twisted brand. (He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t seen a flash of white bandages wrapped around his arms as he jerked away.)

A raised and faded scar slashed neatly just above his temple, hidden beneath the mop of curls. Another cut diagonally through his top lip, a sign of one place being repeatedly hit, never fully allowing the wound to heal. The final was one he could barely see; a dark patch that resembled a violent starburst snaked its way from his shoulder down to his collarbone. He had no idea what could’ve caused it, but could tell with a simple glance that it would’ve been painful beyond belief. It was a scar of such severity he only ever saw on fellow heroes.

“Woah, Woah I didn’t mean to scare you. It just looked like you really wanted some.” He held up his hands to show he wasn’t a threat, silently taking in how the boy’s eyes looked him over with nothing but suspicion, as if he expected to be hurt any second; analytical eyes constantly assessing if he was a danger. He was like a wild animal that would run at the sign of even the smallest misstep. It made Toshinori’s heart cry out for the boy who had lost his faith in the world.

When he didn’t immediately bolt down the street, the hero took it as a step in the right direction; a silent, but paper thin approval that could tear at any moment. He could tell the boy had lived nothing short of a hard life, and his career had taught Toshinori to see the signs of extended abuse from miles away, and with this boy…the signs were a blaring neon sign that made anger course hotly through his veins.

He couldn’t imagine why, or how someone could raise their hand against their child, fully knowing- hell even wanting to hurt them. It was something that always felt like sandpaper against his skin, leaving him raw with an uncomfortable sting digging into his bones.

“Hey it’s alright I’m not going to hurt you my boy. Just-” He gestured to where the greenette was standing, legs turned and knees bent for a hasty get away. “Just stay here for a second, alright?” He turned away towards the candy store, the bell above the door chiming softly at his entrance.

Everything was more impressive from the inside, the sickly sweet smell of sugar curling lazily through the air. It had been a spur of the moment idea to get the boy some candy, and had seemed like a relatively easy task to complete. But now…He was a man who’d faced a countless number of villains and looked death in the face with a shining smile on his lips, teeth stained red with blood; but here he was, mind shutting down and eyes wide at the prospect of choosing candy from the vast array of options neatly laid out before him. He could just hear Shouta’s laughter as he saw the world’s number one hero brought to his knees because of candy.

With the sudden realization he’d been staring down a box of what looked to be strawberry flavored hard candies shaped like little animals as if it would whisper to him the secrets of the universe, Toshinori came to a quick decision: he was a pro who made more money than he knew what to do with, so a little bit of extra candy wouldn’t even put a dent in his savings.

He grabbed a plastic bag covered in small lavender polka dots, the material crinkling softly as he began to pick one of every flavor while strategically avoiding ones that seemed just plain gross.

Oh dear god did that lollipop have bugs in it…? Yeah, no let’s move away from an idea that crawled out from the depths of hell and not give it to a kid you don’t even know.

With a shudder he grabbed the last few, bag bulging as he shuffled over to the woman smiling brightly at the cash register. Her brown eyes widened slightly at his massive selection before she weighed it and he paid, tying it closed with a cute silky bow that matched the bag.

“Have a lovely day! I hope you enjoy your candy!” He gave her an equally bright smile as he left the store, the same bell cheerily announcing his exit.

To his surprise the boy was still there, emerald eyes pinned to him as he tracked every single one of his movements. Toshinori hated to admit it, but he’d half expected the boy to bolt when given the chance. He wouldn’t have held it against him, knowing it was just something that had been deeply ingrained – a tactic developed solely on the will to survive. He was pleased to note that the greenette’s breathing had evened out, the fear that had stormed behind his eyes reduced to a slow trickle.

Once he reached the greenette he held out his gift, making sure not to startle him or get too close in fear of setting him off and destroying whatever flimsy progress he’d made. “Here you go…” Like touching a live wire, Toshinori was hit with the sudden realization that he didn’t know the child’s name.

The panic flared up in the greenette’s eyes once again, and he quickly realized why as the boy brought trembling hands up, fingers making quick movements he couldn’t understand. Almost instantly he felt embarrassment bloom in his chest, silently berating himself for putting the curly haired child in such an awkward position.

For the second time in what he would later remember as one of the most awkward encounters he’d ever had, Toshinori had a sudden idea. “Please forgive me for my rudeness! Ah!…I have it with me somewhere…” Fumbling one handedly through deep pockets, he fished out a crumpled receipt for groceries and an old pen, letting out a victorious cry at his discovery.

He held them out, eyebrows furrowing at the look of shame dusting the boy’s face. Was he ashamed? At himself or me, for putting him in an uncomfortable position? Today is just not your day, Toshi.

“I’m sorry, my boy. I don’t know sign language so you’ll have to write.” His heart clenched in pain once again at the look of utter shock on his face, a look that said nothing like this had happened before; no one had shown him this basic level of kindness.

With a quick nod that sent soft curls flopping on his forehead, he reached out and quickly wrote down his answer before handing back the wrinkled paper. His handwriting was surprisingly neat and easy to read, taking Toshinori only a few seconds to hear it in his head, rolling the sounds out on his tongue.

Midoriya Izuku…That’s a nice name.

 

____

 

Izuku wandered a little while longer until the sky was painted in dusky hues, sidewalk illuminated in the soft yellow of streetlights. He looped around until concrete turned into soft, green grass and buildings into trees. The twisting metal of a playground stood before him, bright plastic dulled under the night sky. He climbed the metal stairs, sneakers squeaking quietly with every step. With a heavy sigh he ducked into a bright red tube with little, oval windows cut out along the sides. It was a place he’d slept in before, and happened to be one of the better places he’d found, knowing that no one would see him and he’d be sheltered from the weather.

Opening his bag, Izuku pulled out a fuzzy purple blanket Kacchan had given him for his eigth birthday, edges frayed with use and age. It was still as soft as the day he’d opened the present neatly wrapped in bright All Might paper, and had been a comforting constant in his life ever since. He rubbed the fabric between his fingers, letting his mind wander to his best, and only friend.

The fiery blonde was the only one who stuck by his side like an easily angered guard dog through the shitty rollercoaster that was his life. He’d beat back bullies who’d try to sneak in a punch when his back was turned, and he always left his window unlocked if Izuku needed a place to stay or wounds to be patched up after a particularly rough night. The memory of him confidently declaring to learn sign language still rang bright in his mind, happiness flooding his chest like warm sunlight breaking through an overcast sky. Kacchan was his best friend, and he had no idea what his life would be like without him…

Hell he’d probably be dead.

Just as he was about to wrap the purple fabric around his shoulders, a noise that sounded eerily like a cry for help echoed across the park. He froze, ears straining for another sound to prove the first wasn’t a figment of his imagination. Crawling forward, he stuck his head out of the end of tube, looking around for anything or anyone, silently praying it was just the usual late night fights that broke out.

A second cry rang out, causing his head to snap in the direction of the noise. Through the darkness he could see two forms illuminated by silvery moonlight, one leering menacingly over the other who was desperately trying to get away but was stopped by a harsh yank to her hair, small frame thrown violently to the unyielding ground. The man – who he could see was dressed in a fairly nice dark coat and slacks – eagerly fell to his knees before the girl who was struggling to fill her lungs with air, large hands holding her arms above her head. She struggled beneath him, cheeks damp and shimmering with tears.

Shit, shit, shit! She was in danger, but what could he do? He was practically useless and would only make it worse-

“Help! A-Anyone! Please!” Her broken sobs filled his ears, and Izuku felt something inside himself click into place, the world coming into a crystal, razor sharp clarity. His sight zeroed in on the pair, something burning its way from his chest and seeping through his veins, scalding everything it touched. Before he knew it he was quietly trudging across the grass, sticking to shadows to lessen his chance of being seen.

He had a death wish, didn’t he?

One of the man’s disgusting hands pushed her face into the dirt, a maniacal grin cutting across his face like a jagged scar as the other slid up her pale thigh. That feeling bubbling in his chest came to a fiery crescendo, bursting forth with determination past the numbness that had become his everyday life. Izuku shot forward, hard shoulder ramming the man square in his chest, all the air leaving his lungs with an ‘Oof!’ as he was knocked back and off of the trembling woman.

They fell to the ground in a tangle of flying limbs and fists, a sharp elbow cracking painfully into his jaw. Izuku had experienced enough pain in his life to know it’d leave a nasty bruise that would stain his skin a mottled purple that would take days upon days to fade. Not like that was anything new. Grunting, his fist smashed into the man’s nose with a satisfying crunch, the impact sending jolts of pain from his fingers up to his shoulder. Hot blood poured down the man’s twisted face and into his mouth, staining his snarl in diluted crimson.

“You little shit!” The world ran in slow motion as the man’s fingers scrambled for anything he could use as a weapon, large hand finally grasping a rock. Izuku’s eyes widened, suddenly realizing he may have bitten off more than he could chew at the wild, almost feral look simmering behind the brown of the stranger’s deep set eyes.

Ah, fuck fuck fuckity fuck.

A blur at the edge of his vision caught his attention, body instinctively leaning back as the rock was swung at his face, barely missing a blow that would’ve taken out his eye. The sharp edge instead slashed across his cheekbone, the feeling of pain and blood barely registering through the haze of adrenaline. From the corner of his eye, he watched as the woman got up and stumbled away, glancing back over her shoulder a single time before disappearing around a corner. The simple fact that her safety was ensured lifting an unknown weight from his shoulders, confidence blooming in his chest like a flower in spring.

He cracked down on the man with a newfound vigor, fists smashing into his ugly face until he was no longer sure if the blood that coated his knuckles was his or the criminal now lying unconscious on the grass. Izuku’s breathing was ragged as he got to his feet, staggering slowly back to the playground. He packed up his things, every movement sending sharp pains shooting from his shoulder to his ribs. He could see the red and blue flashes of light rapidly approaching, his mind blearily supplying that the woman must’ve called the police.

It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine. The mantra filled his head as he left the park, the man sprawled on the ground long forgotten into the recesses of his mind; tucked away into his own little bottle to be dealt with later.

It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine.

The remnants of adrenaline still pumped hot and heavy through his veins, which is probably the only reason he made it to the familiar, two story house and the first floor window tucked away in the back he had crawled through on multiple occasions to avoid his parents. He knocked five times in their secret code, only having to wait a few seconds before the glass slid open and spiky blonde hair poked through the opening.

“You look like shit.”

Izuku snorted softly at the statement, taking a small breath in to calm his sparking nerves. “I feel like shit too. Can I-” He cleared his throat, voice scratchy and quiet from disuse. “C-Can I come in?”

It had taken him years to build up enough courage, enough trust in the boy before him to be able to climb past every thorn covered wall he’d built in his mind to utter even the quietest of whispers after years of silence. But it had been enough to earn a blinding grin from the fiery blonde who waited patiently by his side over the next few months, a constant support who praised him for every pitiful whisper.

Eventually he’d gotten past monosyllables and moved on to a few words – which were a stuttered mess that sent his hands trembling for hours – slowly but surely making his way towards short sentences. But that didn’t mean it was a permanent fix. If it was anything it was a house built from flimsy paper cards that would collapse under the smallest shift.

Somedays he just couldn’t bring himself to speak no matter how much he wanted, words dying on his tongue and leaving behind an ashy taste. But Katsuki never blamed him, never tossed him aside like some defective toy that was no longer useful. No, despite everything – every pitfall which only seemed to grow deeper than the last – the teen stuck to him as his one and only friend, happily using Sign when his voice failed him.

Izuku couldn’t explain how grateful he was for the support and care he didn’t realize he so desperately needed. It was the unbreakable bond that kept his broken pieces from completely falling apart.

Even though he still locked up in front of strangers or when people other than them were in the room, the blonde was a constant presence at his side keeping his raging thoughts and emotions at bay with simple distractions only he knew after their years together; reading the greenette like an open book.

“Of course dumbass, you don’t even need to ask.” His head disappeared as he moved aside, pushing the window open as far as it would go. Izuku tossed his bag in first before lifting his leg up and over, wincing ever so slightly.

He slid through feet first, unceremoniously landing on the soft bed strategically placed below the window, hissing as his wounds were jostled. Kicking off his shoes, Izuku flopped back on the bed, relishing the sweet feeling of his muscles relaxing, tension bleeding from his shoulders. It was a feeling that never got old.

Katsuki sat down next to his feet, eyebrows furrowed in concern as crimson quickly swept over and assessed his wounds.

“Did she do this?” The whisper was gentle, but overflowing with barely restrained anger that had been growing for years, increasing exponentially with every new injury.

“Y-yes and no.” Katsuki gave him a look that meant he wasn’t allowed to leave until he told him everything, and the teen was frighteningly patient when he made up his mind.

Sighing, Izuku lifted his arms and pulled back his sleeves, revealing the white bandages now stained rusty pink with blood and smeared with dirt. It was obvious the wounds were older than the rest, even if they were only made a few hours earlier.

“She did those?” Izuku nodded, lowering his arms. Katsuki snarled “That bitch!” anger sharpening his voice into a set of deadly daggers that unintentionally made him flinch. He knew the blonde would never hurt him, but it’s not like a lifetime’s worth of survival instincts could be erased with a simple reassurance.

Ruby eyes widened as his frightened reaction broke through whatever haze of fury was hanging heavy in his mind. Sharp features softened as he slowly reached out his hand in apology, obvious guilt painting his face. “Let’s get your scrawny ass cleaned up, alright?”

Without a hint of hesitation Izuku placed his hand in the others, warm fingers curling around his own as he was tugged from the bed and towards the door plastered in an array of posters – from All Might to old school rock bands he’d never heard of. The posters were a reoccurring theme throughout the room, decorating the walls in an explosive vibrancy that matched Katsuki’s personality to a T.

Opening the door, the taller teen strode out into the hall, hand in hand with the greenette as he bee lined for the bathroom. It was large, walls painted white with dark tiled floors.

“Sit down.” Katsuki gestured to the counter, kneeling down to get the medical supplies from the cabinets beneath the sink. Izuku jumped up onto the dark, granite counter and watched silently as the blonde placed everything next to him, the metal box clanking softly against the shiny surface.

Picking up a wash cloth soaked with warm water, he wrung out the excess before lifting it to Izuku’s cheek, wiping away the dried blood that crusted his face. A crimson gaze levelled with his own, eyes determined as he reached for the disinfectant.

“So how the fuck did you get these?” Katsuki said softly, hands expertly sticking butterfly bandages to his freckled cheek.

Izuku shrugged, gaze boring into the black tank top clinging to the muscled chest of the boy standing between his legs. Gentle fingers lifted his chin, bringing concerned eyes he could never ignore into view.

“I…got into a fight.”

Katsuki froze, eyes widening a fraction of an inch. “A what now?”

Sighing, Izuku fought the feeling of his chest tightening in an oncoming tidal wave of panic. You can do this, it’s just words he won’t hurt you.

“I was at the park a-and…” Katsuki placed a warm hand on his knee, a silent comfort that anchored his voice in place. “There was a woman and s-she was being attacked so…”

“So you kicked the guy’s ass?” A smirk spread across his face, practically oozing pride as the greenette nodded, slipping out of his maroon hoodie to redo the bandages wrapped around his arms. They fell like dirty ribbons onto the counter, revealing his scarred and freshly marked arms to the world – the biggest of which being the one that wrapped around from his left shoulder blade and down is arm and part of his chest in a twisted, discolored design.

It had been the most painful experience of his life: his mother had gotten angry after he’d dropped a plate in the kitchen, broken pieces shattering across the floor. She’d decided the best punishment would be a hearty shove that caused him to stumble and fall to the floor, followed immediately by the use of her quirk to throw the nearest item at his cowering form…which happened to be a pot full of boiling water on the stove. Luckily – if it could be called lucky – the pot slammed into the wood near his head, scalding water pouring painfully down his exposed shoulder rather than his face.

He had passed out from the pain, waking up hours later on the kitchen floor to a thrumming, fiery ache in his shoulder and dried tears staining his cheeks. He’d stumbled half-conscious over to Katsuki’s house, not even thinking once that he could go to the hospital in fear of the repercussions from his mother. So he shuffled with a hastily bandaged wound and baggy sweater down the street, knowing the blonde had some idea of how to treat burns with a quirk like his. Katsuki’s horrified look that had replaced the ever present anger was enough for Izuku to know how bad it was – how bad the experience was for the both of them.

Izuku could still see remnants of that horror to this day, the dark emotion swirling behind red eyes as they swept over the now scarred flesh, a constant reminder of his fucked up life that continued to shove him to the ground every time he tried to get back up. It quickly turned back to the familiar anger as he took in the few but fresh scratches of varying severity marring his forearms, simmering dangerously below the surface. In all honesty, the greenette was surprised he hadn’t exploded yet.

“I’m sorry.” His words were uttered on nothing but an escaping breath, but they seemed to ricochet loudly off the walls.

A single, ashy blonde eyebrow raised in question was the only response to his statement.

“I-I’m sorry for always dragging you into my shit. I’m sorry for j-just…” his heart beat raced, breathing growing more and more erratic as the seconds ticked by. “I’m sorry for everything.”

Heavy curls brushed against his forehead as he gazed at his sock covered feet dangling over the tiled floor, small flowers on the fabric seeming far too happy. It had always bothered him that the blonde always got pulled into the mess that was his life just because of his selfishness; because he couldn’t deal with things on his own and the second things got hard to bear he ran to the other for comfort. The familiar sting of tears pricked at the corner of his eyes, a feeling he shoved down into the confines of his chest. He refused to cry.

“Hey, look at me shorty.” The warm hand on his knee squeezed softly, silently urging him to comply. After a few hesitant beats, emerald eyes glistening with a sheen of tears lifted once again to meet those of the person he cared for the most, who had been by his side since the beginning.

But was it willingly? Or was he just sticking around out of pity?

The thought was venom in his mind, twisted tendrils painfully killing everything it touched, leaving a rotting, decayed mess in its wake.

“You don’t need to apologize for shit, alright? I willingly stick by your side fully knowing it ain’t the smoothest path, but I stay because it’s you.” A slender, calloused finger came up and tapped him softly on the nose. “You got that?”

A hoarse chuckle escaped his lips, the tiniest of smiles pulling at the corners of his mouth. “Y-Yeah, I got it Kacchan.”

Chapter Text

Izuku laid in bed, taking in the faded light and shadow dappled across the ceiling of his small bedroom. His mother was in the living room with Mitsuki for their weekly get together, something he was usually out of the house for. But today had been a bad day with dark thoughts weighing on his mind until he was so far under the swirling depths he was convinced he would drown – air refusing to enter his lungs as tremors ran through his body in uncontrollable waves.

He had been left gasping for breath as he curled up with knees pressed to his chest, time passing in a blur of tears and unwanted memories until everything faded away to a painful numbness that suffused his entire body like milk poured into a cold cup of tea.

And now here he was countless hours later, watching the light dance across his ceiling in golds, oranges and pinks, until finally a soft purple filled his room as the sun dipped even further in the sky in its slow journey to disappear behind the horizon.  

Memories of the past week flooded his mind, specifically of those where he’d actually been useful for once in his life – where he’d saved an innocent woman from a fate far from what anyone would deserve. He could still feel the adrenaline thrumming through his veins as his fists cracked down again and again until warm blood painted his busted knuckles a deep crimson.

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t erase the feeling from his mind, always coming back to it as if he was hitting replay on an exciting movie for the hundredth time. Izuku craved the feeling of helping someone in need, of being there when heroes weren’t even close – if they even cared. It’s not like it would’ve been one of the flashy showdowns that gained them their mountains of fame and support under a blinding spotlight.

He wanted to do it again; to feel that gratifying euphoria filling every cell in his body with its golden warmth.

But…was he allowed to? He was a mistake, a defective product that should be removed from the shelves before anybody realized the problem. Did he have the right to step into a hero’s shoes, if even for a short while?

An unfamiliar feeling bubbled up from the sea of ever shifting greys, something bright coupled with a fiery determination he hadn’t felt since he was a child.

Why couldn’t he be a hero – one who stayed in the shadows and saved those who screamed out for help until their throats were raw and tears stained their cheeks? One who saved those like himself, suffering in the background as the public turned a blind eye?

He could be a hero…

A wide grin spread across his face until the muscles in his cheeks hurt, happy tears blurring his vision into a mess of watercolor smears. His voice cracked as it whispered past soft lips, the words holding far more hope than he had felt in…well, ever.

“I-I can be a hero.”

 

____

 

His footsteps echoed softly on the concrete as he adjusted the deep hood of his jacket which effectively hid his wild locks of curly green hair, dark crimson scarf wrapped around his neck hid the lower half of his face from the bridge of his nose down, emerald eyes peering intensely out from the shadows cast upon his face. The outfit had been one hurriedly thrown on in his rush to escape the suffocating confines of his room, slipping silently out and down the tree near his window.

Now here he was passing alley after alley lined with rotting garbage and sketchy shadows he was too nervous to gaze at for too long. In his rush to get out and save people, he had forgotten the most integral part: to obsessively plan. It was ironic really that the boy who was known for collecting every miscellaneous and seemingly useless fact down to the point it was borderline obsessive, forgot to do just that.

His anxiety spiked with every look thrown his way, only easing when they were far enough out of range to no longer be an immediate danger. He continued wandering for what felt like hours, taking in the cracked and decrepit abandoned buildings that had long been forgotten by the government and anyone else who turned a blind eye to the raging wildfire of poverty and crime.

It was around the time his feet began to ache and he was considering going home that the black claws of self-doubt began digging their way into his thoughts.

This was such a stupid idea…why was he even out here? It’s not like he could help; he was past stick thin and knew absolute shit about fighting. The only thing he could do was dodge, he had to be good after years of practice god he’s such a moron-

A muffled scream barely made its way to his ears, head whipping towards the noise as he froze in place beneath a crumbling apartment building with almost every window cracked or completely shattered, nicely matching those around it. Creeping further into the shadows, Izuku peered around the corner thanking every god he could think of for the scarf covering his face as he took in the scene playing out in the dark alley.

It just had to be a sketchy as all fuck alley. Of fucking course.

He watched as the woman, lean corded muscles lining her body, leered menacingly over the smaller girl she’d pushed against the grimy wall. He leaned further around the corner, trying to catch the words being said.

“-ittle shit! Do you think you could slip past me without paying the toll, huh?” She shoved the little girl – who could be no more than ten – harshly against the wall, ignoring the pained cry that escaped her lips as the woman threateningly wrapped one clawed hand around her throat.

“R-Raven I’m s-sorry. I didn’t try to avoid the t-toll; I just don’t have any money…” Her voice was quiet and laced with fear, every word trembling almost as much as her.

“Don’t give me those shitty excuses.” Raven’s free hand reached to her waist, pulling a stilettoed knife from her pocket. “This is your third strike, you bitch. And you know what happens to those who can’t pay…” A wicked grin cut across her face as the knife pressed into the girl’s olive throat. Her eyes were squeezed shut, body turning to putty as she waited for death.

A fire burned in Izuku’s veins, the same vibrant feeling from days before coursing through him stronger than any high he’d had. His legs moved before his mind could scream at him to stop, rushed footsteps causing Raven’s head to whip in his direction, electric pink hair swaying with the sudden action.

The hand holding the knife pulled away from the girl’s throat for a fraction of a second, but it was all Izuku needed. He shot forward while she was still distracted by surprise, staying low while his panic shot sky high. She took half a step back at his sudden advance, knife flashing dangerously under the street lights.

“What the fuck-?!” His shoulder rammed into the soft tissue of her stomach, cutting off her angry words as the air rushed from her lungs. The knife clattered to the cracked pavement beneath their feet as her strong arms grappled for purchase around his torso, black talons digging harshly into his flesh; the familiar warmth of blood soaking into his clothes every time either of them moved.

A mind that was usually filled with the deafening static of thoughts clambering to be heard was razor focused on the task at hand as he pushed Raven away from the girl, overjoyed with every inch of ground he won. His chest heaved with exertion, each breath causing her claws to dig deeper and deeper, pain growing along with the thought that maybe, just maybe, he’d dove head first into a situation he couldn’t handle.

But he couldn’t turn back now, oh hell no. He couldn’t just walk away and let that innocent girl – that child – have life ripped cruelly from her shaking hands.

He’d save her if it was the last thing he’d do.

“Let me fucking go!” Her struggling increased ten-fold as she raked her talons up either side of his spine in an effort to push him away. Face twisting in a silent scream as deep, jagged gouges tore their way up his back, Izuku gave one final push against her stomach knowing that doing nothing would lead to his painful, untimely demise. She stumbled backward, foot catching on a massive crack in the pavement. Raven fell to the ground, the surprised yelp leaving her snarled lips abruptly cut off as her head cracked against the hard surface.

A silent part of him sighed in relief as he watched the little girl run in the opposite direction, away from the danger that had been so close to ending her life.

As the woman groaned in pain as she rolled on to her side, Izuku did the first and best thing he could think of: he ran. He ran as fast and as hard as he could, chest heaving with exertion as pure pain rippled up and down his back with even the smallest movement. Angry yells faded as he took any and every turn through back alleys, not caring where he ended up as long as he got away from the knife wielding psychopath.

After what felt like years he rounded a final corner, footsteps slowing until they stopped completely. Izuku doubled over, hands on his knees as he struggled to catch his breath past the scarf still wrapped around his face and the burning of his lungs.

A giddy, adrenaline fueled feeling bubbled in his chest as the absolutely crazy, irrational, down right stupid decision to jump in and the following scuffle played in his mind.

Despite all the odds, he’d gotten out alive.

Despite being quirkless, he’d saved someone.

He saved someone.

Maybe…maybe he could do it again.

 

 

Maybe he could be a hero.

 

____

 

“Deku…what the fuck happened?”

Izuku was lying shirtless on Katsuki’s floor, his bloodied and torn clothes thrown haphazardly in the corner.

He’d somehow managed to stumble his way to the familiar house and practically fell through the open window of the empty bedroom. In his post adrenaline haze he agonizingly peeled off his clothes that had been fused to his skin as the blood coating his back dried. The movement had reopened the fresh wounds, and Izuku knew he’d have to wait for Katsuki if he wanted to even think about caring for them.

So he laid on his stomach on the floor, closing his eyes as he waited for the blonde to return.

And now here they were, Izuku giving a weak smile and “Heyyyyy Kacchan” to the teen currently standing before him, door strategically closed behind him in case his parents decided to walk by.

Before he could give some jumbled, half-assed answer Katsuki spun around and left, returning a minute or so later with the first aid kit he’d becoming shockingly accustomed to seeing. The blonde sat silently next to him on the floor, using a damp wash cloth to wipe away the blood in an easy routine that was almost calming in its familiarity. Izuku’s fingertips dug into the rug beneath him, jaw clenching at every jolt of pain shooting through his sensitive back like a bullet. But it was nothing compared to the pain he knew was coming, no matter how much he prepared for it.

The gentle shuffling of supplies drifted through the room, followed by an angry huff. “You’re so fucking lucky my parents are doctors and forced me to learn all this shit-” Katsuki said, lightly applying antiseptic across the expanse of his back. “-how many times have I had to stitch you up anyway, huh?” His voice softened at the end, weighed down with worry.

“F-Five…”

“Of course you keep count, you fucking nerd.” The blonde chuckled, placing the used wipes off to the side. Izuku knew what came next, and no matter how many times it happened he could never grow used to the feeling of a needle and thread in his flesh.

“This is going to-”

“Hurt?” Izuku whispered, finishing the blonde’s sentence. “I know...I-I know.” A humorless, self-deprecating chuckle escaped his lips, the rush of air fluttering the bits of lint on the floor.

“Alright deep breath in…” Izuku complied, feeling the telltale prick of the needle on his back as he breathed shakily out through his mouth. The minutes ticked by, the passing time marked by every stitch and the accompanying dull throb of pain. He lost himself in the foggy maze of his mind, drifting lazily through like a dandelion caught on a breeze. Thunder rumbled ominously in his subconscious, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care. Just as he was about to be swallowed up by the storm, a familiar voice pulled him out and away from the downpour.

“I’m…fuck – I’m sorry.”

Izuku turned his head as much as he could, emerald eyes wide with surprise and confusion. “Kacchan? Why are you a-apologizing?” He paused, taking a moment to breathe and reel in the rampant thoughts telling him to shut up, shut up, shut up. “Y-You did nothing wrong.”

“Bullshit. This whole fucked up mess has been happening for years and I’ve only been here to pick up the pieces, but I never try to stop them from breaking in the first place.” An angry huff escaped his chest, crimson eyes swimming with anger, but it wasn’t directed at the greenette. It was a fury meant solely for himself and his staggering inadequacies in protecting the one person he cared about most.

“Kacchan-”

“You don’t fucking deserve this – you never have and you never will.” That intense gaze Izuku had grown so fond of was directed towards him, practically burning him with their intensity. “I know people say some fucked up things, and after a while you start to believe them but…nothing is wrong with you, Deku. Nothing. And I’ll beat up any dickbag who says otherwise.”

By the time Katsuki had finished Izuku’s vision was a colorful blur through his veil of tears, cheeks damp from the uncontrollable emotions welling up and demanding to be set free. His throat was closed and out of business, so he brought up a shaky hand and signed the only thing he could.

Thank you.

“You don’t need to thank me; I’m just telling the truth dumbass.” Katsuki said with a small smile, finger gently tapping his back. “Aight we’re almost done, but there’s still about three more to go.”

The curly haired teen nodded, once again resting his cheek on the floor, mind already reeling at the words his friend had said. Did he mean them? Or did he just say them out of pity – a strange sense of obligation after all these years? Was it…was it even true? It couldn’t be, right? No one as broken and damaged as him could ever be fixed, there was no magic glue or tape to build him back up piece by piece. You couldn’t fix dust after all.

“Oi stop with that negative bullshit, alright? I meant every word I said.” Izuku cursed his mumbling habit for the hundredth time, wondering why it only ever happened around Katsuki. Anywhere else he was as silent as possible, or could be found “muttering” through sign as he stared off into space, mind going a thousand miles a minute.

Gentle hands – despite the callouses due to the continued use of his quirk – quickly and easily applied gauze over the fresh stitches, speaking of his experience with the process, with this routine.

He signaled his completion with another small tap, leaning over to grab the final thing he’d brought in for their impromptu bandaging session. “I need you to sit up, nerd.” With a dramatic sigh and muffled hiss of pain he complied, moving like a sloth as he crossed his legs.

Izuku sat quietly with his hands in his lap, mapping the lines of his skin which were interrupted with sporadic scars; some silvery and faded with age while others were dark pink and still healing. Strong arms snuck beneath his own to wrap an ace bandage around his chest, making sure the ones on his back wouldn’t move.

The second he was done he levelled a dark stare at the greenette who knew there was no way he could get away without explaining why it looked like he’d been mauled by a bear. But it wasn’t like he wanted to keep it from him. Izuku had a newfound determination burning in his veins and wanted to share it with the only person who could support and understand.

“I…I saved someone.” His words were their usual, barely-a-whisper quiet but every single one was filled with the disbelief that suffused him with a light feeling he’d never felt before the past week. “I saved another person Kacchan.”

He looked up from his nervously fiddling fingers, eyes bright with life. Katsuki’s own widened at the sight, having seen nothing but dark emptiness behind the green ever since they were kids. He knew what it meant and that there was no way to stop what was coming – something that, even though not in full bloom, promised something that would change everything.

“If you ever want to save more people, you’re gonna have to make sure your ass stops getting injured.” He gestured to the bandages that were a stark contrast against his freckled skin. “Who are you gonna save if you can’t fuckin’ move?”

“You’re right…” His shoulders slumped ever so slightly as his eyebrows furrowed in concern.

“You need to be strong if you want to save people and you,” he gave him a very obvious, judging once over. “are a twig I could snap with a single hand.”

A small huff of amusement escaped his lips as he grabbed one of Katsuki’s shirts lying on the floor, slowly pulling it over his head with as little strain to his back as possible.

“Alright, Kacchan.”

 

____

 

Sweat rolled down his face as he ran up and down the beach with a tire slung over each shoulder, hot sun beating relentlessly down on him, as if it was taking joy in slowly cooking him as the minutes trickled by. It had been two and a half months since his back had healed enough for him to get to work, and his tireless regiment was beginning to show the fruits of his labor.

His legs were thicker from his daily runs along with arms corded in lean muscle. His shoulders were more defined and the shadow of his abs danced across his stomach, whispering promises of what could be if he kept down this path. Izuku still had a long, long way to go before he could say he was strong enough, but he was miles away from where he’d started.

With a final grunt he heaved the tires from his shoulders where they landed several feet away in a spray of sand next to a massive bin already filled with trash. The heavy duty appliances that had been too heavy to lift were pushed into a haphazard circle around it, creating a wall of busted and broken sentries guarding an oversized trash can.

When this whole idea had formed one day when he’d been wandering in the afternoon, he’d immediately asked Katsuki to contact a small, eco-friendly company that took old appliances and recycled them, but was also willing to get rid of the trash they couldn’t use. Even though they had been hesitant at first, they soon happily agreed to Izuku’s idea, providing a massive bin that was collected every few days. The company was a godsend, solving the one problem he couldn’t quite figure out: if he wanted to clean the beach, where the hell should all the trash go?

Izuku moved a few more things – two microwaves, a bike, and an eerily pristine table – before deciding it was time to take a break. Wiping away the sweat from his forehead with the bottom of his tank top with one hand and grabbing a water bottle with the other, he plopped down onto the beach surrounded by piles of ever growing trash.

He let himself rest for only a moment, taking in the clouds that drifted lazily across the baby blue sky above an ocean that sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight, waves lapping slowly against the earth. They had no purpose other than to exist, aimless wanderers across the globe who watched over everyone living upon it. He used to sit at his window wrought with jealousy at their freedom, desperately wishing they could trade places.

He still sat at his window every night, but instead of longing for a new life filling his lungs until it felt like he’d drown, he simply admired knowing he’d found a new purpose; one that was still as fragile as a newborn, but promised something…good. A flickering flame that would only burn brighter and brighter, fueling a feeling he hadn’t felt in years – the desire to live and make it to the next day and the day after that.

With a heavy sigh he stood on steady feet, stretching any muscles that may have tensed up during his break, ready to move onto the next and best part of his self-run training that he was surprisingly adept at: fighting. Because he didn’t have anyone to spar with, Izuku was left with the tried and true method of shadow boxing or slipping into a nearby gym every now and then to use their punching bags when they weren’t looking.

Maybe he could ask Katsuki to spar with him – no. The blonde had already done so much for him over the years and dealt with all of his bullshit, there was no way Izuku could ask for more.

Shaking the thoughts from his head, the greenette got into the familiar, relaxed stance he’d memorized from piles of books and articles online that he’d poured over to make sure he got it right – had to get it right. One little mistake could be the difference between life and death.

 

____

 

He pulled a black jacket he’d borrowed from Katsuki over his shoulders, hiding his hair in the hood before wrapping the scarf around the lower half of his face. There was still about two hours till sunset, but his entire body itched to go out and do something. He promised himself that he’d only patrol and not step into any fights…but deep inside he knew that when it came down to it he’d save someone in a heartbeat even if it meant sacrificing his life for their own.

With a final nod to his room Izuku slid smoothly his window and climbed down the tree, landing silently on the grass. He walked the well-worn path to the sidewalk, hands shoved deep in his pockets as his eyes continuously scanned his surroundings.

Instead of taking his usual route past all the showy shops he stuck to the less crowded streets, ones filled with meandering students and parents leaving work. The sounds of laughter were carried on a gentle breeze that floated through the air in a bright waltz with the light drenching everything in golden hues. It was a calming scene that eased some of the tension from his shoulders while simultaneously sending a twinge of jealousy bolting his heart.

His feet carried him past strangers and quaint shops next to small houses until the roads were almost empty as people retired to the safety of their homes. He wove through side streets and hopped fences to make sure he covered every nook and cranny before returning home, and he was glad he did.

As he quickly climbed a brick wall muffled sounds on the other side caused him to slow, peaking just enough over the top to see what was happening.

Three boys, two obviously following the lead of the biggest of their trio – a boy with short brown hair and a plain face who towered above the rest – had cornered another with wild purple hair. They leered over him, faces twisted in a sick sense of joy as they watched the other try to back away only to bump into the bricks that blocked his escape.

“Hey Shinsou,” The one who was obviously the leader stepped forward, hands shoved deep into his pockets as he sneered menacingly like a tiger that’d finally trapped its prey. “Are you going to use your quirk today like the shitty villain you are?”

“Yeah, you fucking villain! I heard he’s the one who got Satoshi expelled! Made him beat the shit out of Hiroki with that freak of a quirk.”

They all stepped closer, barely an arm’s length away from the boy who tried to get further away by pushing himself into the wall, almost as if he wished to disappear into the brick. “You really are a villain, aren’t you?” Large hands slipped from their pockets, clenching into sadistic fists. “Guess you’ll just have to pay, won’t you?”

The biggest of the three reached forward to grab the collar of the boy’s shirt, but Izuku had had enough and could no longer contain the anger blistering through his veins. The whole situation struck a chord within him that threw every reserve he had about fighting out the window. The one and only fuck he gave was gone and frankly he couldn’t care less.

Silently, as to not alert them to his eavesdropping, Izuku climbed the rest of the wall until he was crouching on the slender space at the top, one hand on the rough brick to keep him balanced. He waited only a second to plan his jump down, leaping in a way that caused his knee to ram straight into the guy’s ugly face, the satisfying crunch of his nose reverberating up his leg.

He stumbled backward before collapsing like putty, eyes rolling back into his skull as he hit the pavement with a soft thump.

Izuku landed gracefully on his feet, his body now a solid wall between the purple haired teen and the assholes standing before him with their looks of surprise quickly morphing into anger as they processed what just happened.

Straightening to his not very threatening height, Izuku struggled to hide the pride that tried to take over his blank expression.

Oh my god that move was fucking awesome?? What the hell?? Who was he?

His thoughts were interrupted as one of the lackeys rushed forward with a furious scream, fist pulled back for an obvious punch to his face. Easily side stepping, Izuku stuck his foot forward so it caught the other’s ankle. With a hearty push to the center of his back the boy went sprawling, chin cracking against the pavement.

A low groan echoed around them as he tried to push himself up, the previous fire in his eyes being smothered by heavy fear that stole away any remaining will to get back up and continue the fight.

There’s only one left- oh…never mind.

Izuku watched as the last of the three bullies sprinted away, his silhouette disappearing from sight as he whipped around the corner, the other hot on his tail as he shuffled away, before they too disappeared.

Spinning on his heel, the greenette faced the boy who was the reason for it all. Tired eyes that were the same color as his hair with bags that could even rival Izuku’s stared at him with awe as he cautiously stepped away from the wall.

Before he could say anything (like Izuku knew he wanted to) he held up his hand signaling him to stop, giving him time to fish out the pen and paper he’d hurriedly stuffed in his pocket. Thank god he’d done that.

“W-Wait, what-?” Izuku stuck his hand out again, effectively cutting off his confused questions as he began furiously writing, ignoring the embarrassed anxiety induced flush rising up his neck.

Why couldn’t he just talk like a normal person…why did he have to be so useless?

He finished writing as fast as possible while still keeping his words legible, before quickly shoving the paper into the boy’s open hands. His look of confusion grew tenfold at the action before twisting into one of panic as Izuku walked to the end of the alley that opened up onto the street.

“W-Wait! Who are you?” His question echoed off of the brick walls of the buildings, causing Izuku to stop for only a moment. He flashed a smile even though the only part visible were his eyes that crinkled at the edges, along with a small wave before turning back around, disappearing like a shadow around the corner.

 

____

 

Hitoshi. Was. Fucked.

He’d decided that, instead of staying holed up inside all weekend, he’d go outside and appreciate the sun on his skin and say hello to the neighborhood pack of stray cats who were the closest things he had to friends. But the universe had decided a long time ago that nothing good could ever happen to him, and that he just needed to be screwed over as many times as possible, a fact that was proven as he stepped out of the grocery store, cat food safely tucked away in a plastic bag.

He had been met with three sets of sneering faces that sent terror shooting down his spine like ice, a weary sense of anticipation for something horrible sitting heavy in his stomach. Their leader, Kaito, was a massive asshole who used his intimidating size and strength to keep his lackeys in line as he picked on the weak – and his favorite punching bag had always been Hitoshi ever since the first day of elementary when he’d learned about his quirk. They had immediately singled him out like a kid with the plague, acting as if he didn’t exist or taking his existence as something offensive. Everything had been started by the ugly motherfucker standing only a few feet in front of him.

Shit.

Without a hint of hesitation, he bolted down the street; weaving around groups of people out on a casual weekend stroll, ignorant to his panicked expression and inevitable beat down. He could hear the pounding footsteps of the group close behind and gaining as he whipped around corner while trying to fight the burning of his lungs.

Just a little bit longer…If he could lose them he’d be fine…

Hitoshi used the last of his energy to shoot around a corner and into an alley, the small glimmer of hope burning in his chest painfully extinguished by bone chilling dread at the wall standing before him. It quickly turned to acceptance at the new bruises that would adorn his body along with the new wounds carving themselves into his mind. Not like it was anything new.

His mind turned into a fuzzy haze as the boys cornered him until his back was pressed against the wall, brick digging uncomfortably into his shoulder blades. He barely registered the threatening steps they took as they got closer, tucking their venomous words away into the back of his mind to resurface later. It was all the same shit he’d heard a thousand times before, but even then they burned as if it was the first time they’d been said.

He was cursed with a villainous quirk that wasn’t suited for hero work.

He could never be a hero.

The words settled like lead in his stomach, nausea slowly building until his head was pounding. Hitoshi unconsciously pressed himself even further into the obstacle behind, hoping that it would open up and swallow him whole; maybe even deliver him into an alternate universe where quirks didn’t exist and people would actually accept him, none of them blinded by something that doesn’t even matter…if only they could see that.

Kaito took a step forward, arms outstretched to grab his collar with the intention of smashing his head into the wall before decking him across the face – a classic combo he used when wanting to hear his targets groan in pain. Hitoshi tensed up, expecting the vicious combo that was beautifully interrupted by a dark shape jumping from the top of the wall.

His jacket was open and spread like the wings of a crow as he descended, knee violently smashing into Kaito’s nose with an ugly crunch. Hitoshi watched with wide eyes as the massive teen collapsed like a sack of potatoes; shock only growing as the mystery figure placed himself between him and the lackeys.

Hitoshi watched with a sense of satisfaction as the sadistic trio ran with their tails between their legs after an effective ass kicking from the surprisingly short kid standing before him.

What…what the fuck just happened…?

The mystery kid turned around, vivid emerald eyes filled with a knowing far too old for his age took in his thunderstruck appearance. He had a dark crimson scarf wrapped around the lower half of his face and a hood hiding any other defining features. The only other thing Hitoshi could see was the dusting of freckles across his cheeks, like cinnamon sprinkled over whipped cream. He barely came up to his shoulder and looked like he couldn’t be more than ten he was so small.

Hitoshi took a step forward, opening his mouth to spew all the wonderment and confusion practically overflowing through his body only to be stopped by a single, pale hand raised to cut off his words. The figure dug through his pocket before pulling out a pen and crinkled piece of paper, the confusing pieces of this boy only seeming to grow and bring more questions than answers.

“W-Wait, what-?” The hand was back and Hitoshi had to stop himself from giggling at the ridiculousness of the situation. A few quite seconds filled with the muffled sounds of cars and conversations from the street only yards away passed before a piece of paper was shoved into his hands by ones that were strangely cold, yet not unkind.

The boy walked away, and Hitoshi couldn’t stop the weird sense of emptiness in his chest at the sight of his retreating back. He called out, grasping for anything that would let him know who this boy who selflessly saved him was. He needed to know but wasn’t quite sure why.

“W-Wait! Who are you?” Relief spread through him like a refreshing glass of ice water on a hot summer’s day as he stopped, turning around to level him with his heavy gaze that quickly softened in a way that was undeniably a smile. He gave a single, small wave before disappearing; leaving Hitoshi with nothing but the folded paper in his hand and a billion unanswered question in his head.

The paper…!

With steady hands he unfolded it, taking in the words written in a neat scrawl, unable to stop the tears that poured down his cheeks.

 

I know it’s not my place, but I couldn’t help overhearing what those assholes were saying…and they were completely and utterly wrong.

It’s a person who makes themselves a villain, not the quirk they’re born with.

You’ll change the world, I know it. Don’t let those fuckers get to you.

 

The words weren’t groundbreaking or revealing some hidden truth, in fact they were rather simple and obvious. But…no one had ever said anything like it to him before. Hell, not even his own parents. Everyone, including his family, avoided him like the plague in fear of him using his quirk for any and every evil deed. Because he obviously wanted to hurt everyone and everyone indiscriminately.

He folded up the paper and tucked it away into his pocket, wiping away his remaining tears. A new sense of determination forming in his soul like an unbreakable wall, supporting the goal he’d had as long as he could remember.

He would be a hero, saving those in need just like the mystery boy.

Maybe…Maybe they’d meet again.

Chapter Text

The soft knocks Katsuki had become familiar over the years sounded quietly through his room, causing him to immediately stand from his desk and move towards the window as per usual. Honestly at this point the blonde was willing to bet a hundred dollars that Izuku spent more nights in his room than wherever else he stayed. Not that he was complaining.

He slid open the unlocked window with ease, stepping back to let the other teen in. The moment those battered red sneakers touched his mattress, Katsuki’s eyes were searching for the telltale sign of any injuries or pain – assessing every visible inch like a hawk. It was all good until he reached that freckled face smeared in blood, spike of panic and anger racing through his veins. There were two possible causes for the skin already tinged lavender and dipped in crimson, and while neither were good…one was far worse than the other.

“What happened?”

Izuku shot him a small smile, teeth stained red with the blood still sluggishly dripping from his nose. “I just s-stopped a small mugging and the guy happened to get a lucky hit in, it’s alright.”

Katsuki tsk’d softly, turning on his heel to slip from his room and down to the kitchen, trusting that Izuku would stay put and not fuck around in his room. He padded quietly across the tile floor and pulled open the freezer, blast of cool air hitting him in the face as he grabbed an ice pack. A shiver wracked his spine as goosebumps made their way up his exposed arms, causing Katsuki to curse whatever entity decided that cold should be a thing. He closed the freezer with more enthusiasm than was probably necessary for his stealth mission at 1:00am, wincing at the muffled slam that seemed to ricochet around the kitchen like a bullet.

Making the executive decision that it would be the safest option to retreat, Katsuki spun on his heel and started making his way back to his room. He was almost to safety when the familiar creak of a doorknob turning filled the silent hallway, quickly followed by a deep voice rough with fatigue.

“Katsuki?” Hiding the ice pack behind his back as he froze in place, crimson eyes fell upon the form of his father, hair tousled from sleep. “Are you alright?”

His mind sifted through thousands of answers, none of them the truth. He didn’t even know how that would go down...

“Oh yeah don’t worry about me I’m just getting an ice pack for Izuku – you know that kid you haven’t seen in years? Oh, why you ask? Well it started out when I found out his shitty mom was abusive and now he’s deciding to dabble in fucking vigilantism. Wild, right?”

Yeah, no. Fuck that. He’d much rather save that conversation for a moment where he was actually prepared for what would follow, and right now he just wanted to sleep with a certain greenette by his side. So, he’d settle for the safest option and lie, even though he knew it’d have to end someday – he promised himself all those years ago that he’d get Izuku away from his mother, and he wasn’t one to break his promises.

“Yeah, I just wanted some water.”

His father eyed him for a few tense seconds before sighing, hand coming up to rub at his eyes. “Just go to sleep soon, alright? I know it’s a weekend but that doesn’t mean you should stay up too late.”

“I will.”

“Good night, Katsuki.”

“Good night, Dad.”

The teen watched as his father shuffled back into his room, door closing with a gentle click. Tension leeched from his body as he disappeared from sight, a breath he didn’t even know he was holding escaping his chest. Fuck that was close.

Katsuki quickly made his way across the remaining space to his door, opening it and closing it just as quickly with a soft sigh.

“Kacchan? Is everything alright?” Izuku looked at him with big eyes, bloody tissue clenched in his hands.

“Everything’s fine, nerd. Did the bleeding stop?” The greenette hummed in confirmation, throwing the tissue in the trash. “Well, here’s this,” he took a step forward and held out the ice pack, “It should help with the swelling.”

Izuku flashed him that same small, almost smile that made him think of spring where everything was just on the edge of blooming, heart missing a beat at the slow change the boy had been going through over the months. His eyes had a fire in them that he’d never seen before, a spark of life that had been frighteningly absent for far too long. Hell, he could even handle full sentences without breaking down.

“So,” Katsuki flicked him gently on the forehead, “Let’s get back to how you got punched in the face.”

A small embarrassed blush dusted Izuku’s cheeks as he held the ice pack to his nose, emerald eyes shifting to take in the posters that sporadically lined his walls. “W-Well um…I thought the guy was down for the count b-but he wasn’t? And, w-well, when I went to go check if the other guy was okay…he hit me in the face.”

Katsuki flopped down on the bed as he spoke, telling a tale that had a common theme with the other injuries Izuku had gotten. He knew the greenette had been training, he’d seen the books he read during class every chance he got; had less and less mornings where he woke up to the other curled up on his chest cause he was out training. But despite it all, the boy lacked experience when it came to fighting a target that actually moved.

Maybe…

“So, what you’re saying is that someone needs to train you better, the internet can only get you so far.”

Just maybe…

The greenette spluttered for a moment before a contemplative look crossed his face as he considered his words, scarred hand coming up to hold his chin. “Well, it’d be nice to go to a dojo, b-but I can’t afford that…”

“I could train you.”

Izuku’s head snapped towards him so fast he was surprised he didn’t get whiplash. “W-What?”

“I could train you.”

“W-Well, yeah, b-but…” His eyes were swirling with emotions that made Katsuki’s heart clench as he watched his mouth open and close, words unable to come out. After a few seconds his hands came up, shaking ever so slightly. Why?

Katsuki stared for a few seconds, mulling over the unsaid why do you care? The question itself spoke volumes about the teen and how he was raised, never getting an ounce of sympathy or affection and forced to find a way to survive in a wasteland with the single goal of making him suffer.

“Cause I care about you, dipshit. And if I can help you from getting hurt, why wouldn’t I?”

Izuku’s eyes shimmered with tears, but they didn’t fall. They rarely did.

“O-Okay.”

 

____

 

The duo stood on the beach, feet sinking into the soft sand as the ocean waves lapped quietly beside them, morning air laced with the faintest hint of salt. It would’ve been a picturesque scene, with soft clouds dotting a perfect pastel sunrise…if not for the massive piles of trash that hid them from any passerby.

“Deku, this is…”

“Gross as hell?” The greenette shrugged, eyes taking in the familiar piles of twisted appliances and things abandoned once deemed no longer useful. They were similar in that way. “I know, but it means w-we won’t be bothered…and you get u-used to it after a while.”

The blonde begrudgingly accepted the logic with a sigh, falling into a comfortable defensive stance. “Fine then, if we’re gonna be here in fuckin trash land you better make yourself useful.”

A single, delicate eyebrow raised in question, feet shifting ever so slightly to give Izuku more purchase on the unstable ground.

“Give me all you got, freckles.”

Katsuki expected the greenette to hesitate, to offer up a protest of ‘I could never hurt you, Kacchan!’. What he wasn’t expecting was for the nerd to shoot forward with surprising speed, fist raised for what would be a substantial left hook – that was if his movements weren’t so fucking obvious. After he got over the shock, the blonde side stepped the attack, sticking out his foot to send the teen sprawling in the sand. Izuku rolled over with a huff, grains of sand sticking to his cheek.

“Not bad, you’re fast but speed can only get you so far when your moves are so fucking predictable. Get your ass up and try again.”

The determined embers that smoldered in those forest eyes were alight with flames, growing and consuming everything in their path as he brushed himself off.

“Bring it.”

 

____

 

Another month passed just like that, with the two sparring every morning at the beach. Katsuki was proud to say the nerd was getting better, and that the rate of late night, vigilante induced injuries were decreasing. But that doesn’t mean they were nonexistent.

“Deku, what the fuck.”

“…Hiya Kacchan.” Izuku was lying on his bed, jacket torn and fingers dripping with blood from a gash on his forearm.

“Don’t ‘hiya Kacchan’ me, you bitch. What happened this time?”

Izuku looked away, mumbling something he couldn’t quite hear.

“Speak up, nerd.”

“…I fell.”

Katsuki stared at him with disbelieving eyes, still not fully comprehending. “You fell.”

All he got was a small nod in confirmation, an action that sent exasperation spiking through his veins. “Uh, mind explaining how falling led to,” he gestured pointedly to the still bleeding arm, “That.”

“W-Well, um, I was running away from this guy, ya know? A-And I thought I lost him but to make sure I decided to hide in an abandoned warehouse…”

“And?” Katsuki pressed, confusion still sitting heavy in his stomach.

“…One of the windows was broken so I went through there…but my foot caught o-on the sill and I fell on the glass…”

Katsuki groaned with exasperation at the story, taking a moment to rest his head in his hands. Is this what it felt like to be a parent? Fuck, he should apologize to his own for being such a little shit but somehow dealing with it. Another moment passed before he was collected enough to pull out the first aid kit from under his bed, motioning for the greenette to remove his ruined clothes. “Honestly sometimes it amazes me how clumsy you can be. You can kick ass but at the most random moments you’ll fuck up…you we’re lucky no one was around to take advantage of that.”

Izuku watched as his arm was bandaged with gentle care, a sheepish expression gracing his face. “I’m sorry…”

“I’m not gonna say it’s alright cause it’s not-” He paused, sudden idea going off like a firework in the night sky, leaving fanciful trails of vibrant colors in its wake. “Although…it wouldn’t be as bad if you had someone to back you up. Cover you when you slip up.”

“Kacchan-”

“Deku, listen to me.” He quickly cut off the greenette. “If I went with you, efficiency would go up, more people could be saved, and you won’t get as injured! We’d be twice as powerful.”

“But what if you get caught? Your chances of getting into UA would be zero! I-I…I could never do that to you…”

“What about you then, dipshit? Aren’t you going to UA? So why does it matter if I help you?”

Izuku looked at him with a torn expression that made Katsuki want to chase down anyone and everyone who hurt him. “Don’t give me that ‘I’m quirkless’ bullshit, alright? You’ve saved so many people already, so why can’t you go to UA and save more?”

A broken sob filled the quiet, quickly followed by hands flying up to cover his mouth and muffle the noise. Katsuki sat down next to Izuku on his bed, gently pulling the boy to lie down next to him. Fingers traced soothing shapes down his spine, offering comfort as he rode out the emotions storming like a hurricane through his chest.

“You can be a hero, Deku. You already are…” He paused, feeling his shirt soak with more tears. “The crybaby hero…” He teased, playfully poking the other in the ribs.

A small laugh cut through the tears – a sound that was absolutely melodic to his ears – as Izuku delivered a lighthearted slap to his shoulder. “Fuck you.”

Katsuki could hear the smile in his voice.

 

____

 

“God, this is fucking boring.”

Izuku snorted at the remark, glancing over at his new partner in (literal) crime. Katsuki was in a matching black hoodie and jeans, navy blue bandana hiding everything but his searing crimson eyes. He looked like a predator ready to stalk down it’s prey, hunting with a fury that simmered just beneath the surface.

“I thought you’d be happy that there wasn’t any crime.” Izuku said, skipping forward happily. He couldn’t deny the fact that having someone at his side made time pass in a blur, a feeling of support and safety suddenly sitting comfortably on his shoulders despite the laws they were currently breaking.

“Well no shit, but I just…” He gestured widely to the alley they were currently walking down, making a confused hum in the back of his throat as he struggled to convey the emotions that enveloped him like a cloak. He had never been good at that sort of thing, and it seemed like he wasn’t about to figure it out any time soon.

“You want to fight, t-to help people in need.” Izuku murmured, deciding to help the blonde find the words to explain he feelings both felt thrumming through their chests. “…You want to feel the thrill.”

Katsuki slowed for half a second, ruby eyes taking the greenette in under a new light. “Yeah.” A new sense of comradery bloomed between them from the shared experience, only strengthening their iron clad bond.

They continued to wander through the streets, talking about anything and everything to pass the time. It was the first time Katsuki had ever really set foot in this side of town, and to say he was shocked would be the biggest fucking understatement of the year. Buildings were decrepit and collapsing in on themselves, more windows cracked and broken than whole. The roads and sidewalks were years passed repair, crumbling and covered with a spiderweb of cracks. But the worst of it all were the people, tired and barely making it day to day – most with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

It was a scene that sent his stomach curdling something sour, leaving an acrid taste in his mouth. This place so obviously needed help, needed heroes and police and doctors to come in and revitalize the place and the people…but no one did, or they simply didn’t care. He’d seen whispers of it all the time on hero forums – that the new generation of heroes were more of a capitalistic, money-making machine rather than, well, heroes. They were there for the cash and the fame, putting their ranking and reputation first and the lives on the innocent second. Endeavor, the flaming trash fire of a hero, was a prime example of that fact.  

Of course, there was always an exception to every situation, but it wasn’t enough to outweigh the facts. Sure, underground heroes tried their damndest to help, but a man couldn’t stop an avalanche. Katsuki knew it was an unrealistic pipe dream but…maybe he and Izuku could help, at least a little.

A gentle but firm hand on his shoulder drew him out of his reverie, drawing him back to the brick walls around them and the stars dappling the sky. He followed the intense gaze of the greenette, eyes falling on what made them stop and hide in a very suspicious way behind the building; peering around the corner one above the other like they were in some shitty cartoon. They were silent as their ears strained to pick up the pieces of the conversation before them, wondering whether or not they should step in.

“-do you have it?”

“Who the fuck do you think I am? ‘Course I do.” The smaller of the two passed over an inconspicuous bag, shoving it into the man’s chest. The rest of their very interesting conversation and accompanying transaction was cut off by a looming shadow behind them, blocking the dim light pouring from an ancient street lamp. The intrusion was quickly followed by a snake like voice that sent shivers down their spines, harboring nothing but ill will for the two.

“What are ya little kiddies doing out so late, hm? Isn’t it passed your bedtime?”

Katsuki was about to give a snarky reply when he caught a movement from the corner of his eye, watching with rapt attention as Izuku brought his hand up and signed rude of you to assume I  sleep, bitch. He muffled a snicker at the words, watching as the ridiculously beefy asshole’s face contorted into confusion and rage.

“Use your fuckin’ voice, you useless piece of shit.” He growled, stepping far too close to Izuku in a shitty attempt to use his height to intimidate them. Sickly yellow eyes glared down at them as if they were prey to kill and devour, forked tongue flickering out between his lips to taste the air.

“Oi, shit stain. He said we’re just out for a walk, so back the fuck off.” Katsuki snarled, not in the least bit afraid of the greasy haired prick before them. If it came down to it, he wasn’t sure they could win in a fight, but he was sure as hell that they could book it.

Oh?” His forked tongue slipped out once again, this time brushing ever so slightly against Izuku’s cheek. “Well, I could’ve sworn you two were spyin’ on my pal over there-” His angry words were cut off with a pained grunt as he fell to his knees, Deku’s lightning fast punch hitting hard and true right in the guys’ jewels. Like a well-oiled machine, Katsuki launched himself forward using his explosions for extra momentum to deliver a powerful, well-deserved kick to the douchebag’s jaw.

Without a second to waste the duo sprinted down the street, angry yells sounding in harmony to the rhythm of their feet hitting the pavement. They twisted through alleys and shot around corners, only slowing when they were sure they lost them. As they leaned against a wall to catch their breath and slow their speeding hearts, Katsuki couldn’t help the adrenaline-fueled laugh that bubbled deep from his chest and past his lips like honey.

“Holy shit…that was…”

“Crazy?” Izuku supplied, voice airy with exertion.

Katsuki nodded in agreement, bringing a hand up to wipe the sweat from his brow. “Yeah, that was fucking wild.”

The two stared at each other for a few seconds before smiles broke out on their face, Katsuki’s big and crinkling the corner of his eyes while Izuku’s was nothing but the faintest curl of the corner of his mouth – vastly different but each containing the same, vibrant emotions.

“So,” Katsuki said, once they were walking back with their hoods off and bandanas tucked into their pockets, “when are we doing this again?”