“You had one job, Katsuki,” his mother told him when he was nine. She’d started to get angry, but then ran a hand through her hair and flopped down on the living room sofa and sighed.
He was supposed to take the trash out. He was going to, too, except he’d gotten distracted by the cat he’d seen slinking around the corner of their house, whiskers twitching and gray ears flattened in suspicion.
And then he’d set the trash bag down and followed after it, because hey, he was nine. He was a fucking dumbass when he was nine, but who wasn’t?
Anyway, he’d followed after the gray-eared cat and she’d gone into an alleyway, and he’d gone after her. She was probably hunting and he was probably disturbing her, but he was nine at the time and didn’t really care.
He just wanted to pet her, maybe, to play with her a little because he’d been begging his parents for years for a pet and they always said no because of Dad’s shitty allergies and Mom’s obsession with being a neat freak which he unfortunately took after (like everything else, he got everything from his mother, fucking everything). Of course the cat hadn’t let him because who in their right minds would want a grubby nine year old putting their hands on them? Katsuki wouldn’t.
But the point was, he wanted to pet the cat and he forgot to take the trash out, and if that wasn’t enough, it turned out that particular alleyway was a favorite hangout spot for those two sixth grade dipshits, Awase and Ken’ichi. They were fucking around, smoking or eyeing up girls or something, Katsuki was nine and he didn’t really care, and they spotted Katsuki immediately.
Apparently they still held a grudge from the time Katsuki had blown up their new handheld game because they’d poked fun at his absolutely badass skull t-shirt (no one did that and lived to tell about it, especially not two sixth grade dipshits) and so they decided that now was as good a time as any for payback. And of course Katsuki wasn’t just going to stand around and let that happen, so he whipped out his quirk and let off a few warning blasts.
Like he said though, they were dipshits. Stupid ones. They didn’t know what was good for them and so they kept coming at him like they thought they could take him.
They couldn’t, obviously, never in a fair fight, but then that goddamn motherfucker Ken’ichi thought it was a good idea to bring up the point that Katsuki had been following the cat, so naturally it must be his cat.
And then Awase, with his big, ugly, jeering face picked up the cat by the scruff of her neck and turned his fingers into a pair of fucking scissors, which was a shitty quirk if Katsuki ever saw one, and told Katsuki he was gonna cut her tail off.
It wasn’t even his goddamn cat.
But it pissed him off so fucking much that he didn’t even notice when Ken’ichi snuck up behind him and pinned his arms behind his back and held him there so Awase could do his best to beat the shit out of him, or something. He’d yelled and cursed at them and told them he was gonna blow their asses sky high if they didn’t let him go, and they’d sniggered their ugly dipshit laughs and Awase punched him in the stomach.
It fucking hurt, and Katsuki doubled over, gasping. He was gonna kill those motherfuckers, he was gonna murder them until they couldn’t walk.
And he did, because Ken’ichi’s grip loosened when Katsuki had bent double and he was able to twist one arm free.
He brought it up in Ken’ichi’s face and set off an explosion, not strong enough to blow his face up but enough to singe it. Those assholes were lucky he was so skilled with his quirk, otherwise they would’ve both been six feet under. Ken’ichi had yelped and jumped back but Awase kept coming so Katsuki had no choice but to murder him, too.
Awase swung with one fist and clipped Katsuki’s jaw, but Katsuki set off an explosion to his gut and stomped on his toes and then kicked him in the kneecaps as hard as he could. Awase crumpled.
Ken’ichi came back for more, since he was a fucking moron, and they brawled it out in the alleyway for a good five minutes longer while the cat quietly slunk away, forgotten. By the time Katsuki had beaten Ken’ichi satisfyingly black and blue and was sporting a good number of cuts and bruises himself, the cat was long gone.
He hauled himself back home, ignoring his nosy neighbor Mrs. Kobayashi when she asked him what on earth had happened, and then thought to himself, oh shit the trash, I forgot to take the trash out oh shit—
By then it was too late. The trash was already outside, neatly sorted, and fuck, now his mom was gonna be pissed. Especially when he walked inside looking like he’d gotten run over by a god damn truck.
“Katsuki!” His mom yelled threateningly from the kitchen when she heard the door open, and he braced himself, grimacing. “What the hell! Where’d you go, huh?! Your father had to get up to take out the trash because of your lazy ass, his back is killing him and you made him get up—”
She came out of the kitchen to greet him at the front door, spatula held menacingly in one hand. They already had dinner, so he didn’t know why she was still holding it. Probably thought it made her look more intimidating or some shit. It didn’t.
Well, maybe it did, a little. He glared at her and stomped on past to the sitting room where his father was sprawled out on the sofa with a heating pad on his back. Her face went from furious to shocked to pissed off.
“What the fuck, Katsuki! Your face! How the hell did you get into another fight, you damn brat?!”
He scowled and snatched a tissue from the kleenex box to scrape at the blood crusting beneath his nose. “There were two dipshits and they were gonna murder a fucking cat.”
His mother’s face did a complicated thing while his father looked on, somewhat passively. Katsuki glared back.
“You were taking the trash out,” his mother said slowly. “How’d you run into two brats?”
He said, “I followed the cat.”
His mother’s face did that complicated thing again, and she set the spatula down on the TV stand. “You followed the cat.”
He glowered at her resolutely and didn’t say anything else.
“Dear,” his father said softly from the sofa.
His mom rubbed the bridge of her nose. She ran a hand through her hair and closed her eyes and flopped down on the living room couch.
She said: “You had one job, Katsuki.”
It’s really fucking funny, the memories his brain decides to throw back at him when he’s practically an inch away from death. There are fingers closing around his ankles and then a massive force yanking him down, down, so hard that his head slams into the ground and he blacks out for a second.
Literally, he blacks out. His vision goes completely dark and his limbs go limp and he flops, like his mother had six years ago, onto the rubble below.
Then his eyes shoot open and he gasps once, heaving, and sets off the biggest explosion he can.
Dust billows up everywhere, and he’s not sure if he hit any of those motherfuckers but at least he can use this cover to run, to get away as fast as he can. He fucked up. God fucking damn it, he fucked up—
You had one job, Katsuki! His brain screams at him, except this time it’s in his own voice and the consequences are a hell of a lot worse than a detention after school for fighting and a two week grounding with no video games.
The cloud of dust makes it hard to see, but if Katsuki squints hard enough, he can see Kirishima and Deku and Iida growing farther and farther away, Kirishima’s face twisted in horror as he looks back. He probably can’t even see Katsuki anymore.
Maybe if he tries again, he can make it—he can fucking do this, it shouldn’t be this hard—fuck, his arms are numb and tingling. He overused his quirk, his muscle fibers feel like they’re literally separating from his bones.
He chokes on the dust and sets off another explosion anyway. It’s weak and gets him about two feet in the air before sputtering and dying out. Katsuki’s ass meets the dirt hard enough to send a painful jolt up his spine.
“Fuck,” he hisses, and starts crawling out of that fucking dust cloud even though he feels pathetic doing it. He can’t see Kirishima or Deku or Iida anymore. Maybe if he can get to All Might—shit, All Might is over there fighting the creep with no face. Maybe he can still get away before these fuckers find him again.
Something warm and wet is trickling down from the side of his head. He puts his hand to it and his fingers come away bloody. His skull is throbbing—if he has a concussion, he’s screwed. There’s a god-awful ringing in his ears that refuses to go away.
There are voices behind him calling out, rough and angry. He places one of them as that Shigaraki guy, and another one—that’s the girl with the knives. Katsuki’s heart pounds out of his chest. He’s not scared, dammit, he’s faced shit like this before and come out on top.
A flash of metal whizzes past his ear and impales itself in the ground a centimeter away from his hand. The knife girl says, “I’ll flush him out! Don’t worry, I’ll find him!”
“Fuck,” Katsuki mutters again, and staggers to his feet. He’s gotta run, it doesn’t matter where. Out of the dust cloud, away from the battle and out of All Might’s way—there’s gotta be some pros around here somewhere.
“No need,” a dry voice hisses behind him, and Katsuki whips around and sets off an explosion.
He doesn’t even think to lessen the power behind it this time to make sure he doesn’t accidentally murder someone, just aims and fires. He’ll toast this fucking hand-face. He’ll turn him into ashes—shit, is his heart supposed to be rattling his rib cage this hard?
Shigaraki screeches once and staggers back. The hand covering his face falls to the ground, charred black. The fucker’s face is red and blistering around the edges, hair singed and smoking. Katsuki can smell burned flesh.
It’s awful, the worst thing he’s ever smelled in his life and he thinks he might actually vomit, but the need to get the hell out of there overrides his urge to puke. Katsuki staggers away from Shigaraki, who’s hissing and screaming and clutching his burned face like he’s gone mad. He looks fucking deranged. Katsuki chokes on his own air and stumbles back, holding up a hand in warning.
“Sensei!” Shigaraki screams in a garbled voice, and lunges towards him anyway. Katsuki throws himself out of the way of those five outspread fingers. He knows at this point what they’ll do to him if they touch him.
His dust cloud is finally starting to clear. Katsuki glances around frantically. Through the haze, he can just make out All Might’s figure as he gets thrashed by that no face villain. That shouldn’t be happening—that’s not fucking right. That can’t be All Might.
Dimly, he registers that there are other bodies lying about, still and unmoving. A denim clad figure is settled on top of a pile of wreckage, limbs sprawled at awkward angles. Further back is Mt. Lady’s gigantic form, face-first in the dust. And on his right—
“Fuck,” Katsuki gasps, and just barely manages to throw himself out of the way before the masked marble villain latches onto him with a dirty, gloved hand.
The dust cloud is gone and the villains are regrouping, surrounding him on all sides. Shigaraki is still raving like a lunatic, clawing at his burned face and screaming for his sensei, but the others, knife girl and the magnet woman and the marble man and—freaking japanese Deadpool are all there and closing in, and—fuck.
“Stay back,” Katsuki says as fiercely as he can, but his bravado is fading away. One quick glance towards the skies tells him that Kirishima and Iida and Deku are long gone—they probably crash landed somewhere nearby, they couldn’t have gotten too far.
A small, selfish part of him hopes that they’ll come back. Katsuki squashes it.
“Stay back,” he spits again threateningly, when Knife Girl edges in too close. She grins dizzily at him, all canines and white teeth and glittery eyes.
“I wonder how your blood tastes,” she croons, and slides a knife from under her sleeve.
Fuck this. He means it—fuck this. He’s not letting them take him a second time. His arms feel like they’re going to fall off but Katsuki jerks his palms up to face outwards and lets loose the biggest explosion he can pull off.
His ears ring.
“Sensei!” Shigaraki shrieks as Katsuki runs, weaving on his own two feet and gagging on his own smoke. “Sensei, wait!”
The other villains are shouting, attacking, furious—the one with the magnet quirk lunges for him and grabs Katsuki’s forearm. Her fingers tighten around his flesh hard enough to bruise and he swears he hears his bones creak in her grip. His eyes widen. It’s gonna snap—
“Sensei!” Shigaraki is practically sobbing breathlessly, wrinkly gray hands outstretched towards the fucker without a face. No Face tilts his head in his direction and says—
“Go. Take the boy with you.”
Magnet’s sneering face leers down at him. This isn’t fucking happening.
“Fuck you!” Katsuki yells raggedly, and unleashes a barrage of explosions against Magnet’s rock solid gut. “Fuck you, son of a bitch, fucking let me go—”
“Feisty!” Magnet jeers. Katsuki grits his teeth and slams his palm as hard as he can over and over into the villain’s stomach, but hardly manages to singe a hole through her damn shirt. His explosions are weak as shit right now from how exhausted and in pain he is, and there’s nothing else he can do.
“Bakugou!” All Might calls to him desperately, and gets laid out so hard by No Face that Katsuki swears he sees a tooth fly out his mouth.
“All Might!” He screeches. His own voice sounds raspy and broken and so inhuman, he can hardly believe it’s his. All Might coughs up blood and bile and—this isn’t fucking happening.
Knife Girl and the marble villain are closing in and he struggles, giving up his pride to thrash like a wounded animal caught in a trap. This is wrong, all wrong on so many levels. Fuck, he’s fucking—he’s—
“Alright, that’s enough out of you,” the marble villain says, and claps a hand over the back of his neck.
Then it all goes dark.
more pain! enjoy.
thank you to my beta reader, @argentconflagration!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kirishima stares down at the tiled floor, shiny in the harsh white lighting of the police station, and doesn’t say anything.
Beside him he can feel Midoriya trembling, and beyond that Iida is clenching his fists, and beyond Iida, Todoroki and Yaoyorozu bite their tongues. In front of him is the policeman, chewing them out for their stupidity.
Kirishima doesn’t say anything.
He’s oddly hollow—he thinks maybe he burned through all his rage and terror fighting Iida to let him turn back, Bakugou needed him, he needs us Iida, fuck you, let me go—
There’s an empty spot on his left.
He hardens his fingers and squeezes them into his palms. The skin breaks, the blood wells up, and the policeman’s lecturing grows further away.
It was a crazy plan—crazy fucking stupid, maybe. Maybe it was because they’d acted a second too late, or the villains were a step too close, or Bakugou’s reaction time was the tiniest bit delayed—but whatever it was, it’d failed. Bakugou hadn’t gotten five feet off the ground before he was dragged back down and had his head bashed into broken concrete.
Kirishima doesn’t—fuck, his throat is closing up—he doesn’t even know if Bakugou is still alive.
At that moment, he would’ve given anything to trade quirks with Bakugou. At least then Bakugou could’ve hardened and saved himself from head trauma, or brain injury, or maybe death.
He decides he doesn’t want to go there.
“—your teacher is on his way,” the policeman is saying. “He’s very displeased.”
Midoriya stiffens. So does Iida. Todoroki and Yaoyorozu stare guiltily at the floor.
Kirishima just braces himself. He doesn’t know how much he can handle Aizawa yelling at them right now. Maybe if it had all paid off, if Bakugou was standing there beside him, he could’ve taken the consequences, but now he just feels empty and awful, like he’s folding in on himself and his lungs are too deflated to breathe.
“We’ve also notified your parents,” the policeman tells them, crossing his arms over his chest. “They’re coming to take you back home afterwards.”
“Do you even have any leads on where the villains took Kacchan?”
The room goes silent. Kirishima’s head snaps to the side. Midoriya’s voice is shaky, but his expression is resolute.
The policeman shifts awkwardly from one foot to the other and uncrosses his arms. “Kid—”
“Do you?” Midoriya asks again, this time more firmly. Iida gapes at him and Yaoyorozu winces, bringing a finger up to her lips. Todoroki is strangely unaffected, watching Midoriya with steady eyes. “Anything at all?”
The policeman sighs deeply and rubs his temple between his thumb and forefinger. “It’s too hectic out there right now for us to know anything for sure. We’ve got a crisis on our hands right now, but rest assured—”
The door to the police station bangs open and they all jump. Kirishima’s heart leaps to his throat, thinking for a second that the villains are back, that the creep with no face somehow broke out and came looking for them.
Then a gust rushes in and Aizawa’s scarf flutters as he descends on them with unbridled fury. They all shrink back on instinct, and Kirishima’s eyes dart back to the floor. He can’t bring himself to look at his teacher.
“Sensei—” Iida begins, but Aizawa cuts him off, voice thick with rage.
“What the hell were the five of you thinking?”
Iida opens and closes his mouth. There’s nothing any of them can say in their defence. They don’t have Bakugou. There’s no point.
The policeman looks back and forth between them and their teacher before nodding once and backing out of the room. Aizawa barely acknowledges him. Kirishima’s never seen him this angry.
“You threw yourself right into the thick of things. What did you expect to accomplish? You knew the pros would be here. Did any of you stop to consider that your interference might actually make matters worse? What if the villains had captured another student? What if you’d been killed?”
“Kacchan needed a way out,” Midoriya whispers, even as he stares at his shoes. Kirishima envies him. He’s so devoted, towards a person he doesn’t even like.
And Kirishima—Kirishima can’t bring himself to speak a single word.
Aizawa is far less impressed. “And you failed spectacularly at giving him one.”
The words cut like a cold knife. Kirishima shudders at the steeliness in his teacher’s voice. He knows they failed. In his mind’s eye, Bakugou’s skull meets the concrete and stains it a bloody red.
“You need to hear that,” Aizawa says harshly. “Because this class seems to make this mistake over and over again— you especially, Midoriya. Your bullheadedness and refusal to think things through is going to kill you and everyone around you. The only reason—”
Midoriya flinches hard. There are tear tracks running down his face to match Kirishima’s. They’re both crying and it’s awful, it’s not the time.
Aizawa notices and exhales slowly, like he’s in pain. He brings a hand up to his forehead and rubs it slowly. There are lines in his face, Kirishima realizes. Aizawa looks so tired.
“The only reason I’m not expelling the lot of you is because at this point, it’s safer to keep you in school where the pros can keep an eye on you,” Aizawa says finally. “And you need to continue your training on how to properly defend yourselves. Now, especially.”
What about Bakugou, Kirishima wants to ask, but the lump in his throat betrays him. Yaoyorozu beats him to it.
“And Bakugou, Sensei?” She asks, eyes red but voice surprisingly steady.
“We’ll continue the search for him, of course,” Aizawa replies heavily. “For as long as it takes to find him.”
Not rescue him.
The implications of that are enough to make Kirishima sick. Bakugou’s head is slick with blood against the concrete, pulsing and red and dribbling down his brow, running into his eyes—
“Go home,” Aizawa says. Kirishima hears the regret in his voice. “When your parents come for you, go home. And stay there.”
Katsuki hits the floor in a tangle of limbs. He rolls onto his hands and knees, crashes into a stool, and vomits.
His throat fucking burns. He retches, arms shaking as he tries to hold himself up. Smoke poisons his body from his own explosions and he can’t quit heaving, rib cage expanding and contracting in time with the pounding in his head.
His surroundings filter back to him in waves. There’s movement, agitated clanging, shouting. There are legs all around him, feet moving. Another body is on the floor next to him. Scarred face, black hair—Dabi. It’s that other villain. He must be unconscious.
“I’ll kill him!” Shigaraki screeches above the din, and Katsuki can’t help it when he jolts, head snapping up as the interval between his breaths comes faster and faster. “Move—get out of the way, I’ll fucking kill him!”
The legs part as the villains scramble to the sides. No—no, stay there, don’t fucking move— he can’t defend himself right now. Katsuki shoves himself off his hands and knees and falls back onto his ass. His arms are numb and trembling from exertion and his legs are so wobbly that he doesn’t think he could stand if he tried.
Fuck, he needs to though. He needs to stand, and—and fight like he was doing before, before he was shoved inside a marble and that warp gate villain’s quirk swallowed them all whole. He needs to, he needs to get up—
His head throbs like nothing else though, and a wave of dizziness hits him like club to the stomach. Katsuki swallows down the nausea and tries not to vomit again. The foul smell of the acidic bile he puked up before drifts up to assault his nose, and he gags.
He probably is concussed. And on top of that he’s a fucking mess, tacky blood drying on his hands and in the creases of his eyelids from where it ran down his head.
The dim, yellowed lighting of wherever the hell they are is nearly impossible to see clearly in, but he can make out low ceilings and thick stone walls. There’s a counter at his back, lined with wooden stools, and for a second he thinks they’re back in the same shitty bar they started in. But it’s different—the air is thick and dusty, heavy with must, and there are no windows at all. Just one solid metal door that looks like it could withstand more than a little brute force.
But before he can puzzle out where the hell they’ve dragged him this time, Shigaraki’s livid face crowds his vision. Savage red blisters bubble around his jaw and temple, but Katsuki can’t find it in himself to take any satisfaction in mangling the sick fucker. He leans away, tightening his jaw and scowling to hide how fucking scared he is right now.
The pros and All Might are long gone. He’s been teleported by that cloudy-quirked motherfucker to god knows where—they could be in the middle of nowhere. How the hell are they supposed to find him this time? How are they gonna—
“You,” Shigaraki hisses, rancid breath filling Katsuki’s air. “This is your fault! You couldn’t have just listened, played your damn role—you’re a pawn. I hate it when my players don’t do what I tell them to! It’s not fair!”
Someone needs to give this shithead a reality check—life’s not a freaking video game—but Katsuki’s not gonna be that person. Not when those hands are edging closer and closer to his throat. Shigaraki gets a hold of him for a few seconds, he can say goodbye to his vocal cords. Any longer than that and his whole throat will be crumbled to ash.
“Sensei gave himself up for me,” Shigaraki continues. “For you.”
He stabs a finger against Bakugou’s chest. Four more and there’ll be a hole in his heart. Is he gonna fucking die? Is this it? His mom and dad are probably out of their minds right now. He grimaces, wondering if they’re watching the broadcast, frantically searching for him on screen. Probably.
Unless they’re not, the small, ugly voice in the back of his head says, because Mom always said that you’d always get what was coming to you if you kept up that behavior, if you kept being a disappointment—
Shut the fuck up, he tells it silently. God, it sounds like fucking Deku’s voice. Right now he’s gotta concentrate on what’s in front of him, on where he is and how the fuck he’s gonna escape. It’s hard, though, when his vision is swimming in and out of focus and every single movement feels uncoordinated and jerky.
“Shigaraki,” one of the villains says uneasily. It’s that magnet villain, standing there with one hand fiddling around the hole he singed in her shirt. “If you want him alive, you can’t kill him, hm? Goes against the point of capturing him, don’t you think?”
“Shut your mouth, Magne,” Shigaraki snarls, whipping his head around to glare at her. Magne, Magnet. Katsuki was close enough. “I’m not a kid. I’m not stupid. I’m angry.”
He’s angry. Katsuki watches as another finger taps down against his chest and swallows down the dust in his throat. He can’t cough. If he does he’ll jarr Shigaraki’s hand and then two fingers will become five and he’ll become nothing.
“You didn’t deserve Sensei’s sacrifice,” Shigaraki bites out, digging his fingers into Katsuki’s chest. “You weren’t worth it.”
“I didn’t ask for it,” Katsuki sneers back. His palms scrape against the concrete floor below, cracked and dry. If he’s got no more sweat in reserve, he’s done for. It doesn’t help that the villains haven’t bothered to give him a drop of water in the three days they’ve had him. “The pros were coming for me either way, you crusty piece of shit.”
Then he braces himself. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest choice, poking at the fucking lunatic with disintegration fingers, but before Shigaraki blows another fuse and decides to crumble him where he sits, they’re interrupted.
“Not anymore, they’re not.”
Both Katsuki and Shigaraki glance back. That green lizard villain with the stupid fucking knife sword is staring down at his phone, a strange expression on his face. Only now does Katsuki register the sound playing from it, a rapid-fire reporter voice speaking frantically over the chaotic background noise.
“What?” Shigaraki asks, a little too loudly. “What is that? A broadcast? A livestream?”
“Live news,” the lizard villain says slowly. He’s still got that shell-shocked look on his face, and it sets off a bad feeling in Katsuki’s stomach. “I pulled it up the second we got here.”
Shigaraki stands abruptly, and Katsuki stifles his sigh of relief. “Give it to me.”
The lizard villain wordlessly hands it over. Shigaraki plucks it up between his thumb and forefinger and holds it to his face, red eyes reflecting the blueish light of the screen.
Katsuki watches as his face goes through a series of complicated expressions. The volume on the cell phone is too low for him to hear clearly, but he picks out a few phrases: ‘failed rescue’ and ‘Symbol of Peace’ and ‘defeated’. His heart races. Is she talking about All Might? Or that No Face villain?
A loud groan from beside him scares the ever-living shit out of him, and it’s all he can do not to jump. The scarred villain, Dabi, is starting to stir, face scrunching in pain as he cracks open an eye. It’s unnervingly blue, almost a little familiar, and then it’s meeting Katsuki’s own and oh shit—
He scowls down at Dabi and refuses to look away first. Dabi blinks a little in surprise when he sees him and struggles to prop himself up on one elbow.
“Hey, you,” he says, far too casually for someone who’d just been sleeping on the floor. Katsuki wants to rip his fucking throat out. “Guess the pros failed, huh?”
“Choke and die,” Katsuki hisses venomously. Dabi doesn’t even flinch.
“Cranky, huh?” Then he winces. “Oh shit, my head. Damn, the hell did that pro even do to me?”
He sits up and stretches his arms behind his back, nodding in satisfaction when there’s a loud pop from his spine. Katsuki curls his lip and looks away. “So, what’s the deal? How’d we escape all those pros?”
“The boss—” Magne begins, but is cut off by a sharp hiss from Shigaraki.
“Quiet,” he says, eyes still fixated on that tiny cell phone screen, and something in his voice sounds almost frightened. No, not frightened—disbelieving. It’s fucking unnerving. The hair on the back of Katsuki’s neck stands on end.
Then Shigaraki starts to laugh. It starts off low and scratchy before turning into a full-blown cackle. Katsuki’s blood turns to ice. If he’s happy, then something bad must have happened. To All Might, probably. His stomach turns, and he wonders if All Might is a mangled sack of flesh right now, pounded out like a slab of meat by No Face.
The rest of the villains watch apprehensively, like they’re just as aware as he is that their leader’s a fucking nutjob. Shigaraki is practically bent double, clutching the phone with four dangerous fingers, pinkie just barely extended. The lizard villain watches with slight panic on his scaly face.
“All Might,” Shigaraki wheezes, and Katsuki freezes. “Sensei, he—”
Shigaraki dissolves into another round of manic laughter, and Katsuki’s gut clenches painfully.
“What?” He asks before he can stop himself. His voice is hoarse and croaky. “What the fuck happened, huh? What fucking happened to All Might, what—”
Shigaraki turns to him, red eyes gleaming and lips twitching with mirth. He thrusts the screen towards Katsuki and grins, teeth bared unnaturally wide.
“The Symbol of Peace,” he says, “is dead.”
Blood pounds in Katsuki’s head. He’s not serious—he can’t be fucking serious, All Might can’t be dead—
Before he even registers what he’s doing, he snatches the phone away from Shigaraki, fingers fumbling with the volume button. The reporter’s terrified voice reaches his ears moments later, horror set against a background of wailing sirens.
“—seems All Might is pointing towards the crowd now! Is he singling someone out? Is he—ah!”
She cuts off as the skeleton on the screen opens its mouth and speaks.
“You’re next,” it says, and Katsuki can’t quite comprehend what he’s looking at. Where’s All Might? Where’s the villain? What’s going on?
That skeleton is wearing All Might’s clothes.
Shigaraki is laughing again. “Look at that! He’s become so weak! Sensei was right, he was right! The Symbol of Peace is dead!”
“That’s not All Might,” Katsuki says. Maybe it’s the shock finally catching up to him or maybe it’s the steady, throbbing pulse of his head, but his voice sounds detached, like a fucking robot. Like he’s on the outside looking in.
Even as he says it, though, he knows it’s not true. The strangest thing is, it doesn’t really surprise him. Actually seeing it hurts, of course, but tiny pieces of information that he’s picked up on over time suddenly click into place, and a lot of shit makes sense.
Deku probably knows, already. Deku’s probably somewhere, bawling his eyes out right now. The thought makes Katsuki sick. He wonders if All Might was pointing at Deku.
God, it makes so much fucking sense.
Shigaraki stops laughing and looks at Katsuki. “You know what this means, don’t you? Look what you’ve done. Look! Look!”
“Shut the fuck up,” Katsuki says. His body is fucking betraying him, shaking like a leaf, like he’s some little fucking kid.
“He came to rescue you,” Shigaraki gloats. The blisters on his face strain to pop from the size of his grin as the corners of his mouth stretch from ear to ear. “And now he’s a sack of bones. A sack of blood for the vultures to pick at. He’s a stick, I could crumble him in seconds!”
“It is kinda your fault, kid,” Dabi tells him, and Katsuki grits his teeth. He knows what they’re trying to do to him, he’s not fucking stupid. “I mean, you could have just accepted our invitation the first time around, and the pros wouldn’t have had to come after you like that. The whole world thinks you’re no good, anyway.”
Shut the fuck up, Katsuki wants to say again, but he remembers the reporters at the press conference and how they’d all jumped to the worst assumptions of him and how maybe if Aizawa had agreed with them instead of giving them a tongue-thrashing, the pros wouldn’t have had to risk their lives to come save him, and Best Jeanist would have been okay, and All Might wouldn’t be—
“You’re not gonna fucking guilt-trip me into joining you,” he scoffs instead, and balls his fists at his sides. “I’m still gonna murder every last one of you.”
They all look far too amused by his proclamation for their own good. Shigaraki reaches down to tap a finger against Katsuki’s forehead and says,
next chapter's gonna be about uhhhhhh feelings.
shigaraki is so hard to write! i think it's because he's one of those dumb gamer guys who literally compares anything and everything to video games and i have no experience whatsoever with that, so. he's a pain to characterize.
anyway leave comments! i love reading what you guys have to say, and it's also a great motivator :)
come talk to me on tumblr!
i'm surprised my updating schedule has been this steady so far! hopefully it holds out for the rest of the fic.
also, i added it in the tags, but in case you didn't see, trigger warning for a panic attack in this chapter. If you'd like to skip over it, stop at "Katsuki’s eyes snap open and his head shoots up.", and resume at the next em dash (—) that marks the change in point of view.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They take him to a small room down the hall and leave him there.
He’d struggled initially, lashing out and cursing, but with every movement waves of pain stabbed through him. His explosions had fizzled out in his palms from the lack of sweat, from the lack of water in his body, and besides, using his quirk had caused so much agony in his abused forearm muscles, he’d nearly passed out.
They’d tossed him in and told him not to try to break out.
“It’s underground,” the masked fucker had said helpfully. “This whole base is underground. You blow through the walls, the entire room comes crashing down. I heard being buried alive isn’t the most pleasant way to go.”
He couldn’t see his mouth through that stupid fucking mask but Katsuki was almost positive he’d been smirking, and in that instant he was sure he’d never hated anyone more in his entire life. But he could begrudgingly admit that what he’d said made sense; it explained the cool, musty air and the utter lack of windows or light aside from the artificial bulbs.
Being underground was going to complicate things.
“I’m gonna need food and water,” he’d snarled at them before they slammed the door, in as demanding a tone as he could so it wouldn’t seem like he was asking. “Are all of you so fucking stupid that you forgot basic human needs? No wonder your plans fall through half the fucking time.”
The masked fucker had straightened his shoulders in surprise, like he’d just remembered, and sent Deadpool to go get what he’d requested. Katsuki had settled against the wall, rubbing at his forehead. His head fucking hurt.
The food and water comes a couple minutes later, when Deadpool re-enters and carefully sets the tray down at his side, what a fucking gentleman, then backs out of the room. The door slams shut and the room plunges into near darkness aside from the shafts of light from the small, grated window at the top of the door.
He doesn’t touch it for a few minutes despite how hungry and thirsty he is, resting his head against the cool stone wall to try to ease up the throbbing. Fuck. He wants to bash it against the wall, split it open to release the aching pressure.
He’s definitely concussed. What did Recovery Girl say, that time when she’d stopped by their class to give a basic rundown on first aid? It had been a few weeks ago, in Aizawa’s classroom. He’d been slumped over his desk, exhausted from overtraining the day before, and the thunderstorm raging outside. The entire class had been sleepy and unfocused from the overly warm building and the steady sound of rain beating on the window. It seems like it all happened ages ago.
She’d talked about head injuries. She’d mentioned something—something. He can’t remember.
Fuck, he just wants to sleep.
Sleep! His eyes shoot open. That’s what it is—he shouldn’t go to sleep. He needs to stay awake for a little while, to make sure he’s not getting worse. It’d be better if someone could wake him up periodically, but he doubts the villains plan on doing that. Between the eight of them, they probably couldn’t keep a plant alive for a week.
He just needs to keep himself up, then.
Katsuki picks up the tray and stares at it. Cold, clumpy rice in a bowl. A glass of water. A cucumber—just a whole ass cucumber, probably unwashed. And a mint. Who the fuck made this? Knife Girl? Deadpool? Maybe—he shudders—Shigaraki? It’s probably all the creepy hand fucker knows how to make anyway. His warp gate butler probably does everything else for him.
He wonders if it’s drugged. Shigaraki probably wouldn’t think to do it, but he wouldn’t put it past Dabi or that masked fucker to slip something into his food. Katsuki lifts the tray to his nose and sniffs the rice. It smells normal.
Maybe it’s an odorless drug? He puts a little rice on his tongue and waits about a minute. Nothing. Katsuki tentatively swallows.
When nothing else happens for five minutes, he decides to just go ahead and eat it. Maybe it’s his water that’s drugged, or maybe he just didn’t swallow enough for it to have any effect, but at this point—fuck it. He’s so hungry that waiting around is making him dizzy.
The fuckers didn’t give him anything for three days, just kept him unconscious or chained up. Katsuki’s not sure how his body didn’t give out on him before this point.
He only realizes how thirsty he really is once the water is in his hand. His stomach clenches painfully as he gulps it down, and then it’s gone. It’s not enough. He needs more water to make more sweat, he’s powerless without his sweat. His hands are scraped and dry, cracked from his explosions. It’s not enough, god fucking damn it—
Katsuki digs his nails into his arms and squeezes hard enough to draw blood. Calm down, he needs to calm down. He’s not gonna accomplish shit if he’s panicking all over the place like this.
He draws in a few deep breaths—well, as deep as he can get them, and closes his eyes. He’s in a shitty situation. It’s already been established. Now he’s gotta figure it out.
He slides the empty tray towards the door. It hits the metal with a loud clang and bounces back a few inches. No one comes to the door, but he doesn’t expect them too.
They’re fucking stupid, for not guarding it, but the door is the only way out of here and Katsuki’s method of escape wouldn’t exactly be subtle. Maybe they’re not that stupid. Whatever.
“Shitty ass league,” he mumbles to himself, and settles back down on the hard dirt floor.
There’s a small bathroom adjoined to the room he’s in, since as the masked fucker eloquently put it, “None of us wanna clean up your mess.” Which is humiliating, but also a relief because at least he doesn’t have to go in a corner like some kind of animal, or bang on the door every time he’s gotta do his business.
But that’s all there is to this place. It’s four by five meters at most, and completely empty. And once he’s explored the bathroom, poked around at the dingy looking toilet and the sink that just barely trickles tepid, metallic-tasting water, there’s nothing for him to do to keep his mind occupied. And he can’t fall asleep. Not yet.
Katsuki pulls his knees up to his chest and buries his head in his arms. Normally he’d hate looking so pathetic, but no one is around to see him right now and besides, he’s too strung out to care.
A wave of dizziness and nausea hits him all at once, and he groans, drawing even tighter into himself. Stupid head, stupid fucking concussion, shitty-ass injuries—
God, he hates feeling like this. He tries to let his mind wander, instead. Maybe it’ll help distract him, even for a little.
For some reason, Kirishima’s face is the first thing that pops into his head. Well, the face he’d been making as he’d flow overhead, rocketing through the sky with Iida and Deku like twin boosters on either side. He had looked terrified. It was unsettling.
Why had he looked like that? Was it because of the villains? Or maybe the sheer stupidity of their plan, since it could have easily gone wrong. It did, technically, since it’d utterly failed.
Maybe it was because of him.
The second he thinks that, Katsuki scoffs. Sure, he and Kirishima are—are a little more than acquaintances at this point, but that’s it. Katsuki’s not even sure he would call him a friend, though Kirishima might say otherwise.
Still, risking your life like that for someone you’ve known for only a matter of months is senseless. Even if Kirishima thinks of him as someone more than a vague acquaintance from class, it wouldn’t be enough to inspire some shitty rescue like that.
Actually, he’s not sure why any of them came. Deku, maybe, since he’s always poking his nose where it doesn’t fucking belong, but Iida? And he’s pretty sure that had been Todoroki’s ice there, too. It doesn’t make any sense. They should’ve known the pros would be there. What the hell did they think they could do that would make a difference?
“Fucking nosy classmates,” he whispers to himself. It sounds loud in the emptiness of the room, and it hits him then that he’s really all alone now, with no one coming to save him. No one knows where he is.
Will his parents demand that the search be continued? He thinks they will, probably, since even though he and his mom fight all the time and his dad is a fucking pushover, they still, they still love him, they wouldn’t just let him go like that—
But will anyone even come? He’s not so sure anymore.
If that was—if that was really All Might on the screen, then. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t fucking know.
All Might’s true weakness has been revealed to the entire world. Just the mention of his name before was enough to send shivers down even the most hardened villain’s spine, but now his status has taken a significant hit.
A faint memory resurfaces, from maybe ten—eleven? Years ago. He’s walking home with Deku from school, with a bloody nose and a split lip and a grin to rival All Might’s, because he’s just beaten up a second grader who was huge, totally huge. And Deku is chattering excitedly beside him, talking a mile per minute about how cool he was, of course he was, and Katsuki remembers smugly parroting something that his teacher, or his mom or dad, he can’t remember, quoted at him once:
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
Deku stares at him with huge green eyes, and says, “You’re so smart, Kacchan.”
There’s an unpleasant burn behind his eyelids right now. Katsuki squeezes his eyes shut and runs his hands through his hair, grabbing it in fistfulls.
The world is gonna be in chaos. All Might’s impenetrable figure has finally crumbled. It’s a huge fucking blow to the heroes, and an enormous morale booster for literally every villain out there. Even the strongest can fall—god, he’s so fucking stupid.
He can already foresee it. Villainy will be on the rise, the heroes and police force will be swamped with taking them down, and All Might is probably permanently out of commission. Kamino district is in ruins, and hundreds, if not thousands of people are either dead or wounded.
No one’s gonna waste their time looking for one fucking kid who’s already gotten himself kidnapped twice. Three times, if he counts the sludge villain, and four if he counts No Face’s trick with the black slime.
Four times—he’s so fucking pathetic, goddammit. He tightens his grip on his hair and ignores the pain that lances through his head from the pulled strands. He let himself get taken four times, and each fucking time he’s been saved by All Might.
Raw guilt claws at his chest. Who the hell does he think he is, demanding so much of All Might’s time and energy? What has he ever done to deserve it?
Fuck, it is his fault, just like Shigaraki said, like the scarred, purple villain said—he shouldn’t have been so fucking weak, shouldn’t have let himself get taken so easily. All Might shouldn’t have had to come to his rescue. Again.
He thinks of All Might’s frail, skeletal body on screen, swimming in his hero suit with blood running down his chin and hair falling limply to frame his bone-thin face—and thinks my fault, it’s because of me, he shouldn’t have had to fight that No Face asshole, shouldn’t have had to get his face pounded into the dirt—
Katsuki’s eyes snap open and his head shoots up. He’s heaving in air like a dying fish. There’s not enough of it in the room. Fuck, no, he can’t let himself slide down that slope, he’s letting himself play right into the villain’s hands, he’s doing what they want—
But it’s like they’re right, because everything they said makes so much sense now that he thinks about it, it really is all because of him—if he’d been stronger, this all could’ve been avoided. If he’d been training, really training, then Deku shouldn’t have shot so far above him. He could’ve saved himself, goddammit.
His breathing is getting too damn fast. His head pulses so heavily, he swears he sees bursts of color flash in front of his eyes. This is no good, he needs to get himself together, he can’t be falling apart at a time like this.
He curls his hands into fists around the fabric of his pants, struggling to slow his breathing. His cheeks feel hot and wet—fuck, he can’t be crying, too. It’s all too much. A sound escapes his mouth; his heart skips a beat and he claps his hand over it, eyes wide. Shut up. Shut up, shut the fuck up.
Breathe. He’s gotta breathe slowly. Katsuki keeps his hand pressed over his mouth and inhales a stuttered breath through his nose. He nearly chokes on the exhale. All Might.
He yanks his hand away, gasping. His head feels like it’s gonna fucking explode. Breathe, he’s gotta breathe normally. Why is it so fucking hard?
He falls forward onto his hands and knees, fingernails scrabbling at the compact dirt. His situation, All Might, Kirishima’s terrified face, Deku’s huge fucking eyes—it’s all too much. It’s too much—too much. He’s taking in too much oxygen.
His head, for all its pounding, suddenly feels light and far away. Darkness crowds the corners of his vision like a vignette, and the next breath of air he sucks in is painful.
Recovery Girl doesn’t need to be here to explain this one to him. He’s hyperventilating. He’s gonna pass out. Stop it, he tells the darkness creeping in from the corners, and when it doesn’t, please stop, he can’t fall asleep now, he needs to stay awake—
It comes for him anyway.
U.A. decides to implement a dorming system.
It’s the best way, Principal Nedzu announces at the second apology press conference, to keep the students safe. Parents are free to pull their children from school if they see fit, but he highly advises that they remain for their own protection.
Naturally, there’s a bit of an uproar. Kirishima understands why. All Might’s legacy is done for, the heroes failed to recover the abducted student, and the League of Villains has gone from a minor nuisance to a significant threat with a personal vendetta against a certain Class 1A. Now U.A. expects the people to place their trust in its hands again? A lot of people find that laughable.
Thankfully, Kirishima’s parents don’t. His mom and ma are actually all for the idea. They seem to like Aizawa after listening to his statements during his scarce media appearances, and decide that he’s someone worth trusting to protect their son.
He finds out later, through the class group chat, that not all of his classmates are as lucky. Ojiro texts them mournfully that his parents aren’t letting him return to U.A. until everything gets sorted out. Aoyama says the same thing. Mineta’s parents have pulled him from the program entirely, and quite honestly no one is too upset about that.
Aside from those three, the rest will be staying at the dorms, but a lot of his classmates’ parents are still hesitant. Midoriya tells them all shakily that his mother nearly pulled him out of school before All Might helped change her mind. Yaoyorozu had to beg her parents for hours to convince them that she’d be safer at U.A., and Tokoyami admits that his parents had only agreed out of necessity in order for him to learn to fully control his quirk.
It’s sobering, how fast things have changed. Just a few weeks ago, U.A. was the most impenetrable fortress the heroes had. Now it feels like a last resort.
Ashido pulls him aside on move-in day, as they’re all lugging boxes of belongings up to the dorm rooms. It’s a scorching hot day, with only a faint breeze to help ease the heat. They stand beneath the shade of a tree and wipe the sweat from their foreheads as they watch Iida shout directions and Sero discreetly flip him off from behind his luggage.
Ashido doesn’t say anything right away, just passes him her water bottle and shakes her head when he tries to give it back. Kirishima uncaps it and pours some water into his mouth, swishing it around once before swallowing.
Aizawa and the Class 1B teacher, Blood Hero, stand a distance away, supervising with sharp eyes. Aizawa glances towards Kirishima and Ashido and Kirishima raises a hand in acknowledgement. After a second, Aizawa gives him a small nod and turns to watch Uraraka as her boxes float by above her head. She trudges after them, eyes downcast. No one has much energy. It’s only partially due to the heat.
“This isn’t right,” Ashido says quietly. Kirishima quickly looks at her. Her posture is limp and slumped, like the littlest push might send her to her knees. It’s the most subdued Kirishima’s ever seen her. He presses his lips together and stares down at his feet.
She wraps her arms around herself and squeezes tightly, shoulders hunched. “He should be here with us, y’know?”
The lump in Kirishima’s throat that never really left returns with full force. He hasn’t been able to get Kamino out of his head since it happened a week ago. So far, there’s been no news. The police say the trail is cold.
“Yeah,” he agrees thickly. “I know.”
“We—we’re a squad,” Ashido tells him a little desperately, like she’s trying to convince herself of something. “We were supposed to stick together, right? Me, you, him, Sero, and Kaminari. Y’know, go through the years together.”
In the distance, Midoriya slowly carries a box up the steps. Kirishima looks back at Ashido. Her face is crumpled all wrong, eyebrows turned up and wrinkling her forehead while the corners of her lips pull down.
“I know,” he says, for lack of anything else to say. Words can’t break through his wall of guilt.
Ashido sort of laughs, but it sounds wrong. It’s too short and forced and a little bit panicked. “It’s weird, you feel me? Like yeah, we’re not in any danger right now but the atmosphere’s so heavy. Everyone’s so quiet, y’know? Huh?”
“It’s just.” She wrings her hands, pinches the end of her shirt. “Usually we’re pretty loud, and stuff, because Bakugou’s always yelling at someone and Sero’s telling his,” she sniffs, “shitty jokes, and it’s—it’s, y’know? You feel?”
He feels it. He probably feels it more than anyone else here. Kirishima doesn’t think he’s smiled once in the last week. He doesn’t really deserve to.
“It’s too quiet,” Ashido says again, and her eyes are shiny. She sniffs loudly and wipes her face on her sleeve. “Kirishima—”
She doesn't need to say it.
“C’mere,” he tells her, and holds his arms open. Ashido sort of folds herself into them and wraps her own arms around his neck, burying her face in his shoulder. He feels wetness trickling over his collarbone, and dammit, he’s always been a sympathetic crier.
“I, I hate this,” Ashido wails, and Kirishima’s too busy sniffling in her arms to say anything. Which is fine, because he probably shouldn’t anyway. They just hold each other, squeezing fiercely. It’s a good thing they’re both the touchy type.
“It’s just,” she continues between sobs, “how am I gonna look at his empty seat in class, huh? How am I gonna do that? How’re you and Sero and Kaminari, how is everybody gonna—”
“Dunno,” he chokes out around the lump, and squeezes his eyelids shut. He’s dripping tears and probably snot onto her shirt, but he knows she won’t yell at him. Not yet, at least.
“It’s so weird,” Ashido sniffles again. She’s gripping him tightly enough to throttle him, but it’s okay. “I mean, how can someone you know like that just disappear? You get it? It’s like, you get to know them and they’re always there and it feels like they always should be there, y’know? And then suddenly they’re gone? It doesn’t make sense. I don’t get it.”
Kirishima would probably be blabbering too if he could speak right now. He gets what she’s saying. They’re both the incoherent type. He lets out a sound that’s passable as an ‘uh-huh’.
“And it’s worse than if he was for sure dead,” she’s saying, “because we don’t know what the hell happened to him, so you just kinda sit here wondering, y’know? And I think up all these really horrible scenarios and it makes it worse because any one of them could be true, but you just don’t know.”
Kirishima swallows the lump with difficulty and says, “Ashido.”
“Hm,” she mumbles into his shoulder, curly hair brushing the side of his neck.
She freezes for a second but doesn’t lift her head from his shoulder. “Why?”
“Because I couldn’t do anyth—”
Ashido pulls back and holds him at arm’s length. Her mouth is quivering and her eyes are puffy underneath, but instead of being red, they’re just a shade of black. Like she was wearing mascara and it ran down. “Don’t say that. It’s not your fault.”
Kirishima steps away from her, upset. Her hands fall back to her sides. “Don’t tell me that! I wasn’t there when it mattered the first time, and I couldn’t do anything when it mattered the second time! And now, with everything you’ve been saying, I feel like that’s on me, okay? Bakugou is somewhere with god only knows what happening to him, and I’m—”
Ashido takes a step back, horrified. “Kirishima, I didn’t—that’s not, you’re not—”
Kirishima shakes his head, swiping at his eyes with the back of his hands. The tightness in his chest is erupting out of him like a volcano, and he doesn’t know how to stop it. “He’s my friend, okay? And I couldn’t do a thing to save him. You know what we did nearly the entire time we were there? We hid. Like cowards. And when we finally did work up the nerve, you know what? It was too late.”
Ashido stares at him open mouthed, tear tracks streaked down her cheeks. “The pros couldn’t even—All Might couldn’t even—”
He knows—dammit, he knows! But it doesn’t matter, not if he can’t accept it. And he can’t. He won’t, not until Bakugou is back.
“Look,” Kirishima tells her softly. His heart squeezes painfully. “No matter what you say, I’m gonna feel responsible. Even if I know I shouldn’t, I’m gonna, okay? It’s—it’s personal. The guilt. So—so you trying to reason with me isn’t what I need.”
Ashido doesn’t say anything for a long minute, and Kirishima’s afraid that she’s angry. He won’t blame her if she is. But then she bites her lower lip, eyes filled with fresh tears.
“Okay,” she whispers, and he nearly sighs in relief. And then, “Kirishima?”
“Yeah?” He asks tiredly. His whole body feels wrung out, exhausted.
Ashido holds out her arms to him. Kirishima lets her wrap them around him, and then she’s squeezing him and sort of rocking him back and forth. It feels safe, comforting. He decides he can let himself cry.
“He’s gonna come back, okay?” She whispers. “For sure. Got it?”
“Yeah,” he finds himself agreeing. “He will.”
so like i said, this chapter was about feelings. we're gonna get to actual plot. eventually.
leave a comment if you enjoyed it, or come talk to me on tumblr!