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The Price of a Quirk

Chapter Text

All right, maybe snogging a total stranger in a pub while drunk had not been a great idea.

 

Izuku was seated inside an interrogatory room, in the police station. The policemen had been constantly interrogating him for the past three hours. How had Izuku, who was registered on the National Album as quirkless, melted the skin of a man on the bus? Izuku truly had no idea what to respond to these accusations. It was true, but he had no idea how!

It had been a little past midnight and Izuku was riding the bus home, after having spent the night inside a pub with some school friends. He had a slight headache caused by the alcohol, something Izuku was not used to. When the bus reached his stop he got up and stumbled a little, accidentally he placed a hand on an arm of a man that was seated nearby. He apologized and started to walk away when the man started to scream in pain. The spot where Izuku’s hand had rested was covered in horrible greenish bubbles that were rapidly spreading on the skin. Blood began to flow from the torn skin and the man got on his feet panicking. While everyone started to scream in terror the bus driver stopped the vehicle. Izuku, completely shocked, called an ambulance, the other passengers evidently called the police too.

Here he was now. Feeling awful, scared and guilty. The policemen didn’t find any trace of acid on his body, any container either, and the other passengers had testified that he only placed his hand on the man. Had he concealed his acid quirk until that day? Why had he attacked that man? Izuku could not answer any of their questions because he honestly had no idea.

“What you did was extremely serious and since you refuse to cooperate with us we have no choice. Your quirk, Acid Skin, is classified A in order of dangerousness and your lack of cooperation allow us to call the Task Force to deal with you. I hope you’re ready to tell them the truth.”

Izuku stomach did a backflip. A quirk he didn’t even know he had was classified A, the second level of potential danger, and they were calling the Government Task Force on him. His normal, peaceful future was flying away waving a hand.

After another half an hour, where Izuku actually thought he was going to have a heart attack from nervousness, the door opened and a young man, probably around twenty, entered the interrogation room. He sat on the chair in front of him, on the other side of the table, and started to observe him with his hands intertwined. The man had purple hair and eyes and a very penetrating gaze.

“I’m Shinso, 14th division of the Task Force, collecting information branch. Maybe you already know my quirk?”

In fact, Izuku knew. The Task Force components were really famous, after all, that was the condition of their employment. The Task Force was an agglomerate of all the most dangerous quirks of the country, the law-breaking ones. In order to reassure the population that the most dangerous people were kept on constant watch, the details of their quirks were made public making much more difficult for them to act unnoticed. Everyone was wary of them.

These people had passed a test and proved their loyalty to the country, the Task Force was the only place they could work while maintaining their freedom. All the others who failed the test were being kept captive in secret and protected environment. After Toshinori Yagi’s betrayal the Government had no mercy for everyone with an A or S level quirk.

Shinso’s quirk was Truth or Dare. Basically his quirk allowed him to know with 100% certainly when a person lied. After hearing a statement he could touch a person and if they caught fire they were lying. Shinso had been recognized as a level A since he was little, he hurt a lot of people without even having the intention. After he had received his classification he was strictly forbidden to touch another human being after they talked. Now, his quirk allowed him to do completely trustworthy interrogations.

“I’m going to ask some questions, if you don’t want to be burned you better be truthful.”

Izuku nodded multiple time, his stomach clutched. He was scared but not terrified, he was telling the truth from the very beginning after all. He was quirkless, or at least that’s what he had thought until that day.

“So, first question. Are you Izuku Midoriya?”

Izuku said yes, Shinso took his hand and no fire appeared anywhere.

“Very well, look like you are willing to cooperate and at least your identity is confirmed. Next question, did you attack that man on the bus with your quirk?”

“I-I guess I did, but it was unintentional! I didn’t even know I have a quirk at all! I guess I activated it by accident or something?” Izuku said trembling a bit, still no fire.

“I see… You’re telling the truth. That’s… unexpected. Are you a late bloomer? I thought all quirks became apparent before the middle school ages… You are eighteen, right?”

“Yes, sir. I don’t know, sir.”

“I understand,” Shinso let go his hand and got up, “in that case we can’t accuse you of aggression, but we still have a problem. Your quirk is level A, you can’t keep living as you did, you are obliged by law to take the test. You need to get your quirk registered and then we will give you some time to inform your family, but you need to take the plane to the test site as soon as possible. This year test is starting in two days, you don’t want to miss your chance and spend the next year on probation, right?”

Izuku didn’t know if he should feel relieved or not. He was not going to be imprisoned, but only for the moment. He followed the man outside the room where they were stopped by another police officer. Shinso started to explain the situation but he was interrupted by the arrival of other two men.

“Sorry to interrupt Mr. Shinso, we have observed the video of the interrogation and we have called an expert on quirks. Mr. Tokoyami’s Teleport quirk is really useful, good thing he is employed in our station!”

Izuku felt his heart skip a beat when he recognized the man that had yet to speak and was standing there looking completely bored. The long black hair, the little hints of an unshaved beard, the long white string of capture cloth around his neck and the yellow goggles on his eyes made him unmistakable. Aizawa was even more famous than Shinso as a member of the Task Force. Aizawa’s God Eye made him absolutely indispensable for the Government. His quirk allowed him to identify every person’s quirk on sight. Unfortunately it had a terrible price, every time he used it he was losing a tiny bit of eyesight, eventually he would become completely blind. That was the reason why he was wearing protective goggles, to avoid looking at someone by accident.

“We have heard that this young man has just discovered his quirk? A level A nonetheless! Mr. Aizawa is the person in charge of recruiting people for the test, technically he finished a month ago and everyone is already at the test site but it’s better to clarify things now, right? Otherwise, we will let this young man hanging for a whole year!” the man smiled trying to be friendly.

“I see,” Shinso scratched his head a little, “I guess I’m not needed anymore. I’m returning to my office then.” he looked at him. “Mr. Midoriya, don’t worry too much. The test is much better than what people describe. As long as you honestly don’t try to hurt other people you will be fine.” he lightly slapped him on the shoulder and then made his way out of the police station.

“Well, Mr. Aizawa why don’t you take a look at this young man? You can use the interrogation room so you are sure to be alone with him.” the man smiled again and left them.

Aizawa entered the room without saying anything, still looking bored. Izuku seated in the chair once again and waited, he clenched the fabric of his pants. The older man slowly slid the goggles down his face letting them hang from his neck and after massaging his eyes a little he opened them. His eyes were black and looked painfully irritated. He looked at him for only a couple seconds before massaging them again. He slowly placed the goggles back in place before speaking.

“So, here we have a nice level S. No wonder you didn’t discover your quirk before. It’s quite rare and has a very interesting requirement to work. A Wild Card, hm?” his voice was tired and low.

Izuku had never heard of such a quirk before and now he wasn’t sure he wanted to discover what it was. A level S was never a good news.

“Your quirk has nothing to do with Acid Skin, at least not directly. Before you did that little trick on the bus did you do something particular? It may have been an accident I guess…”

Before that he was in a pub, drinking, he remembered feeling lightheaded and then his school friends dare him to kiss a guy who was clearly looking at him and flirting.  Normally he would not have done something like that, it wasn’t like he was extraordinary modest, but kissing a random person was not on his character. He didn’t particularly feel like telling Aizawa that, though.

“Your quirk works on DNA assimilation. When your body absorbs someone’s DNA, that person’s quirk becomes yours. Which means that you can have as many quirks as you want as long as someone willingly gives you their DNA. You can’t steal a hair and eat it, the exchange must be consensual. The only thing that I can guess from that is that you have probably assimilated someone’s quirk tonight and now it’s yours. Unfortunately, my quirk doesn’t tell me how many you have… And that’s one of the reasons you’re level S. You can hold hundreds of quirks, including other S.”

Izuku was shocked. The saliva. That guy’s saliva. Acid Skin was his quirk. Had he not had the bad luck of kissing a level A quirk owner he would have never discovered something so terrible. Maybe one day he would have assimilated a quirk, a normal one, and started to use it as his own… But nope, he just had to be unlucky and assimilate a level A as his first.

“Well, we will see each other in two days on the test site. Don’t even think about escaping this. You’re a level S, your quirk can ruin the lives of many people and it’s a real threat to the nation.”

Aizawa got up and left the room without saying anything else. Izuku took a long time to recover the use of his legs, he got his possessions back and then left the police station walking slowly, head hung. All the heat had left his body, he felt tired and drained. In the span of a night he almost risked prison for aggression, then he was told that he was a threat to the nation. All because he simply kissed a random person in a pub. Izuku had never really considered himself unlucky, he had a normal family, a good health, slightly above average grades and some friends even if they were not really close. Maybe he could have been luckier but he was quite content with his normalcy. After all, he had already seen from very close what a quirk can do to someone. Izuku reached his house feeling crushed, everything felt extremely unfair. What was he going to say to his parents?

Not really surprising his parents were in the living room, waiting for his return. He may have been eighteen but he still had the curfew at midnight and a half. It was four in the morning.

“Izuku! Where were you?! It’s way past our agreed time!” his mother stood in front of him with her hands on her hips. “I was scared! You didn’t even pick up your phone!”

“I thought you were a lot more mature than this, Izuku.” his father was still on the sofa with his arms crossed and a disappointed expression. “Even if you didn’t agree with the curfew it’s not a good reason to disappear like this and not answer your phone.”

His father was not exactly strict but when he decided something there was no way to make him change his mind. He decided Izuku’s curfew when he was sixteen and refused to listen when he was asked to postpone it a little after Izuku’s eighteen birthday. They had some discussions about this but nothing too big, Izuku in the end conceded the point with resignation. His mother didn’t really join the discussions, she was fine with her husband’s decision, Izuku knew that she was a bit apprehensive and didn't like the idea of him going out alone at night. Now, Izuku was forced to tell her that her beloved son was probably going to be imprisoned for life. Somewhere far from her.

He sat on the sofa, next to his father, his mother caught on her son’s mood and sat down on the other side, a worried expression on her face. Slowly he started explaining the events of the night, letting out only the kiss because that was still his business. After he finished speaking a long silence filled the room, both were frozen in place. Izuku felt a little pang of irritation because they were supposed to make him feel better, instead, they were taking it worse than he did. It was pretty irrational but he really wanted someone to tell him ‘everything will be alright’.

“I don’t believe it,” his father snapped out of it first, “there must be a mistake. I don’t know about the acid stuff but… You never manifested anything, it’s ridiculous, Aizawa must be mistaken.”

“Yeah, that’s right!” his mother jumped immediately at the opportunity. “There is surely a mistake! I won’t believe it unless a Specialist examines you! We are going to the Quirk Registration Office tomorrow!”

“But he is a Specialist…” his weak protest was ignored.

He needed to go to the Registration Office anyway so he just left them talk. After some time he finally could go up to his room and he threw himself on his bed still fully clothed. He pushed his face into the pillow and let out a sound of frustration. Not that he couldn't see where his parents were coming from. Normally, you have years to prepare for the prospective of you son going to be a captive for the Government and both of them never had any experience with any of it. No relatives ever had an A or S quirk, not even a friend. His mother was a florist, her quirk allowed her to make flowers bloom during every season, his father was happily quirkless. He was happy because he could see the effect that the quirk was having on his wife. Ironically her quirk made her allergic to most flowers. She was basically constantly on medication and sometimes she would sniff and have red eyes. Having a quirk often sucked pretty badly, honestly.

Izuku had mixed feeling about them, sometimes he wanted to have a quirk, often he definitely didn’t want to have one. Well, so much for that. For sure, he never wanted an A or S. His frustration prevented him from having even a minute of sleep, he spent the rest of the morning rolling in his bed hugging the pillow pressed of his face. At nine in the morning his parents, formally clothed, called him and told him to get ready for the examination. He took a quick shower and dressed as best as he could, he had two beautiful black bags under his eyes.

They had to wait for three hours, seated in a waiting room full of screaming kids and their parents, before they could enter the examination room. Inside was a young woman with long blond hair, she was cheerful and overly chatty, definitely not a good match for them, they were tired, irritated and in a bad mood. The girl licked a drop of his blood and confirmed the presence of a quirk. She laughed at the reaction of Izuku’s father who was looking at her a little scandalized. Izuku, instead, was considering that if he had done the same thing to someone he would have assimilated their quirk. A scary but fascinating thought.

After that the procedure was a bit more complicated. Only someone like Aizawa could precisely define the quirk type. Izuku was sent to another room where he was explained, more or less, how to activate an active type quirk, like Acid Skin. It took him twenty minutes but in the end he could conjure a thin layer of acid on his palm. He was surprised that he was not getting hurt himself. At that point Izuku was already resigned to his fate, even in case he was not a Wild Card he still had an A quirk. He sighed as he waited for his parents to calm down. The blond girl appeared again.

“I’ve done some research, Wild Card hm? Interesting quirk.” she had her hands inside her lab coat pockets. “If you don’t mind I would like to confirm it, there is a kid in the room right now whose quirk is Light Sphere. It’s a harmless quirk, the dimension of the sphere is pretty disappointing too, and the only contraindication is that it makes you sneeze when you activate it. Want to try and absorb it?”

Izuku was not feeling very comfortable but he agreed anyway, he was curious too. The kid willingly agreed to give him a hair and Izuku swallowed it not letting show his disgust. Then, together with the little kid, went into the test room and observed as the kid lighted up a very little marble of light in his palm. He tried the same and he suddenly had to close his eyes, he sneezed and when he opened them again he was looking at a very similar marble, it was only a little smaller still.

“Well, there you have it!” the girl cheerfully commented. “I think it’s time to sign the Registration Form and send the data to the Album, right?”

Izuku and his parents, silent and pale, were sent to another part of the office. There was sitting a woman in her forties, very short and with an ugly bob haircut. She had an elbow on her counter and she was looking utterly bored.

“Yeah, right… S quirk, very impressive.” she looked everything but impressed. “So, as you may have already figured you are forbidden to absorb random stuff… If the Government wants you to absorb stuff they will let you know…” she handed him a paper. “Considering you quirk… let’s see… Ah, right… No kisses, no sex, no blowjobs or anything like that. You can forget to have an intimate relationship any time soon…”

Izuku was burning up, he wanted to hide beneath a rock for the next century. He absolutely refused to look in the direction of his parents as he signed the form.

“Well, I guess you can do protected sex?” she was scratching her chin. “I’m not really sure…”

“Yeah, right, thank you!” he quickly interrupted her.

He didn’t want to have this conversation with his parents right behind him, protected or unprotected alike! He handed the form back.

“All right, you are registered as Wild Card, with Acid Skin and Light Sphere absorbed. If you remember or discover something else that you may have, you have to communicate it to us or someone related. Aizawa has already insert you in the test for this year, someone will drop the plane ticket to you house sooner or later.”

During the drive home no one talked. Awkwardness and shock still running deep, Izuku was really tired.

 

Definitely, snogging a total stranger in a pub while drunk had not been a great idea.

Chapter Text

Izuku slept for most of the noon, now that the immediate tension was gone he really was sleeping like a rock. He woke up at five when his mother, still looking very pale, brought him something to eat and the plane ticket for the test site. The flight was tomorrow morning, from the nearest airport. Izuku put the ticket on his desk and refused to think about it any further. He would have days to despair later. He decided to spend time browsing the internet in search for all the information he could find about the Wild Card.

There were only three known people with that quirk, two had served the nation until ten and five years ago, both were killed on service. The other didn’t pass the test and was held captive to that day. His mind was so very full of happy thoughts after that little search. While he was about to push the button to turn off the power he stopped realizing that he was not going to have any access to the internet or his computer for some time. If ever again.

That depressed him even further. He decided to run a quick research about his future ‘comrades’ not really hoping to find anything, one of the most important factors of the test was that you had to keep secrecy about your quirk after all. He was surprised when he got a hit. Then he wanted to kick himself in the ass real hard because, of course there was a hit. Even he knew this one! Actually, maybe he knew about this one better than anyone else.

He got up and put his face into the pillow, his scream got muffled by it. He had been so egoistic, so self-absorbed, so moronic to truly forget all about it. To think that six months ago it had been such an important factor in his life it had kept him distracted from everything else. But that time had ended and both of them had been true to their words. It was a closed chapter.

Except that it wasn’t anymore!

What was he going to tell him? How was he supposed to interact with him now? Sure, they had not parted on a bad note but…

His mother called him for dinner and she was just too sad for Izuku to ignore her any longer. He steeled himself and sat on his chair on the dining table. The meal was awkward, no one wanted to address the elephant in the room. It was only after dinner that his mother took his hand and guided him into the little greenhouse they had in the back of the house. She started to rearrange some of the floral compositions she was experimenting on, Izuku observed.

“Your father always asks me why I work in a flower shop. It would be much safer for me to work somewhere else entirely. It’s true, but for some reason I just can’t leave this quirk alone. I love it, you see? It makes me suffer, but there is so much beauty in it too. Admittedly, your quirk is quite different… But I’m sure, completely, definitely, absolutely sure that yours has some good uses too. There must be something that only you can do. So… don’t give up on it okay? Give it a chance before you decide! And give a chance to yourself too! I believe in you, I’m sure that you can do it!”

With tears in her eyes, she let go of the flowers and hugged him tightly. Izuku returned the hug in full. He would surely miss her. Together they went to Izuku’s room and started preparing his trolley. They filled it with clothes and other everyday necessities. All electronic devices were forbidden, so he could not pack his pc or cell phone.

“Write me a lot of letters, okay?” she hugged him again before leaving him.

His father didn’t come up to talk to him. Izuku could not sleep at all that night and morning came all too soon. He wrote a couple of text messages to his school friend right before turning it off. He didn’t want to talk about this with any of them. Downstairs his parents were waiting for him.

“I’m driving you to the airport.” said his father.

His mother hugged him one last time before sending him off with a tearful smile. His father didn’t speak during the drive. Izuku just stared out of the window feeling comfortable in the silence. Once they reached the airport they searched for the correct terminal.

“Well,” Izuku looked the floor, “I have to go now so…”

“Listen well.” his father interrupted. “It will take me a bit of time to fully accept all of this, I never thought… Anyway.” he breathed deeply. “You better come back, got that? You are a smart and dependable kid, there is no one else I would rather entrust an S quirk. It’s definitely in safe hands with you, understand?”

“I’m not a kid anymore, you know?” he smiled fondly.

“I know,” he hugged him, “and this is the right moment to prove it. I believe in you so I’m not worried at all. I’ll see you next year.”

“I’ll do my best.” Izuku nodded.

“I’m not asking for anything more than that.” his father nodded too. “But remember to write some letters for your mother, she will cry for days if you don’t.”

The plane was small, it was a private plane for this purpose only, inside was someone else from the Task Force that Izuku didn’t know. The man asked him his blood type and placed a hand on his chest, a red light pulsated all of his body. Izuku understood, the man was a Detector, he could detect every object on and inside his body. The discovery of the blood type of the target was the condition for the activation of his quirk.

“You’re clear, go sit somewhere.” he ordered.

Izuku remembered to have read once in a newspaper that someone tried to sneak a cell phone by hiding it inside his body. He didn’t particularly want to ask himself where they hid it. Anyway, that was the reason why the Detector was now important on this flight. After two hours Izuku identified the little island that hosted the test site. The plane was descending.

Izuku saw the faint light blue of the barrier, it was a dome that covered the whole island and a part of the surrounding sea. He knew that the barrier was actually a sphere, it continued beyond the ocean and it was passing through the ground below the island. There was no escape anywhere. The plane did three loops around the island getting closer, a little hole opened in it. The plane passed through and the hole closed immediately.

Izuku knew more or less the power of this quirk. It was like a glass panel, only unbreakable, and there was a light electric current on the inside. Basically, you could walk on it from the outside but you could not enter while touching the barrier from the inside would give you a light electroshock. The Government feared much more a potential escape than a potential infiltration.

The person who was managing the barrier was part of the Task Force. Actually, there were two people with Barrier quirks, brother and sister, twins, they were taking turns in order to keep it always activate. In fact the barrier was up only as long as that person was awake, so they were doing 12h each.  They had an escort of fighting quirks and were apparently trapped deep underground in a secret location to ensure that no one would be able to attack them. The Barrier quirk was a B quirk, yet their lives were still ruined forever. Izuku sighed as brace himself for the landing.

While he waited for the plane to completely stop he observed the large structure. It was not particularly high, probably two floors at most, but really extensive. The structure alone covered half the island and it was most unwelcoming. It emanated an aura that was screaming ‘prison’. As far as he knew, though, this was not the actual prison for failed A and S. It had a very serious appearance, it was all gray with no color anywhere, the roof tiles were black. Good thing the surrounding area was pretty green, with plants herbs and flowers too. After living with a florist for eighteen years it was unthinkable to live in a place without any vegetation.

The Detector signaled him to get off the plane and he emerged from the vehicle only to find Aizawa right in front of him. The man slid his goggles off and looked at him for a second before positioning them back into place.

“Looks like you didn’t escape to Hawaii,” his tone was flat and uninterested, “smart thinking. Now, everyone is already in the classroom, we were supposed to start the ‘entrance ceremony’ this morning but since you have just arrived we are starting before lunchtime. You go to the classroom and meet the others, I need to drop your stuff in your room.”

Izuku was wondering why did he need to move his trolley personally when Aizawa gave him a series of complicated direction for reaching the classroom. He was lost after the first three. As the plane was preparing to take off again he made his way to the front door. Taking a look at the building he saw something white in one of the windows of the second floor. He looked again, focusing better, and he could make out a figure, it was a girl with short black hair. She waved at him with a smile. He returned the wave hesitantly but the girl had disappeared. Feeling a chill down his spine he wondered if ghosts were a thing there.

The entrance hall was very spacious and very empty. White and gray were still the main colors and there was barely any furniture at all, not even bulletin boards. On the left was a set of stairs that led to the second floor. There were five black doors and two hallways on the left and right side. Right in front was a glass door that led to an external area. It would take a lot of time for him to memorize the layout of the building.

He took the corridor on the right and slowly and uncertainly passed beyond doors after doors, luckily there where nameplates on them. An infirmary, a dining room, a changing room, Izuku was really surprised to see some recreational lab too, like a music lab and an art lab. He reached a corner, the corridor was continuing on his left, but while he was about to turn he noticed the female bathroom door opening. A girl with short brown hair and a round face came out and stopped when she noticed him.

“Oh hello!” she greeted him cheerfully. “You are the new one, right? Well, I guess everyone is new, but you are the last one here!”

“Y-yeah, ah, hello!” he hurriedly greeted back. “Yes, I mean, I'm late, I guess… I was trying to find the classroom.”

“Oh, I can show you the way, I’m going there too after all,” he smiled at him in a friendly way, “Aizawa’s introduction is going to start soon. We were literally waiting for you!” She led the way down to the hallway. “This place is pretty big! Took me some time to get used to it! You know, we are here since Friday, so we had some time to familiarize a little. Ah, but don’t worry. No important information has been revealed yet, at least not in public, so you won’t be left behind. We haven’t really spoken to each other either. That’s not really a rule but it’s not a good idea to potentially slip up something even before the test starts! But I know everyone’s face at the very least! By the way, I’m Urara, nice to meet you, and you are?”

The girl was incredibly chatty, Izuku was kinda surprised. Did this friendly girl really have a dangerous quirk?

“Midoriya Izuku, nice to meet you too.” he answered feeling a little overwhelmed. “Is there a girl with black hair in this test?”

The girl was observing him intensely for some reason.

“Hm? Someone you know?” she snapped out whatever thoughts she was having. “There is a ponytail girl with black hair. Is it her?”

“No, not really.” he shook his head. “When I entered the building I saw a girl with black short hair, even shorter than yours, from a window. I was wondering if it was someone you knew.”

“Hmm.” she tilted her head. “I wonder if it is someone’s quirk. I’ve never seen anyone like that in this place. She is not one of us and as you probably know only Aizawa is here beside us. Well, excluding the Barrier people and their guards.”

“Only Aizawa?”

He remembered that the man was moving his luggage personally. Was really him the only person inside the whole building? What about cooks, nurses, janitors? Then he realized, it was not a vacation, they were supposed to take care of themselves completely, weren’t they?

“Of course. It’s the first thing I checked when I arrived. It’s a very important information after all.” she sighed for some reason.

“Is it?” Izuku was not really following her.

The girl looked at him straight in the eyes for a long moment, then she smiled amicably, ‘not at all’ she said. Then she didn't talk for a bit, she was lost in some amusing thought if he had to judge based on her little smile. After passing three more doors, one was called science lab, the other Task Force archive and the last one study room, she addressed to him again, cheerful as ever.

“The right wing of the building is the educational department. There is all you may want to study or experiment. There is an incredibly big library too, and of course the classroom is here. There is only one, so you can’t get lost!” she pointed at the door that was at the end of the corridor, it was the library. “The classroom is right on the left of the library, you can’t miss it.” she pointed the only door without a plate. “The left wing is where the other facilities are. On the center of the building there is an indoor gym and on the very back Aizawa’s quarters. I would say that it’s better if you don’t go there, he is always in a bad mood, you know?” she turned to face him right before reaching the classroom door. “I can show you around later if you want. I’ve got a feeling that we will have a lot of free time!”

Then she opened the door without waiting for his response. She called out to the people inside to greet him and went sit in one of the desks on the front of the room. Izuku stood on the doorframe for a bit while the others greeted him and commented on his tardiness. Izuku sent a generic greeting in response and took his time to look at each one of them walking slowly.

The Urara girl was seated in the first row on the left, in a double desk with a guy with black hair and square glasses, he looked really serious and stiff, his face didn’t seem used to smiles. In the second row were seated two girls, one had very long black hair that was reaching her waist and was tied with a ribbon, she was listening attentively the other one who looked really chatty. The chatty girl had fluffy ginger hair, the soft curlies were resting on her shoulder, she had big, bright brown eyes that made her look very lively but she was acting much more masculine than you would expect from such feminine looking girl. On the last row were seated a girl and a guy, the girl was the one that Urara mentioned, the ponytail one, and she had a severe look in her face while the guy had his hair half white and half red, his eyes were of a very light shade of blue. On the right side of the room on the back was seated a guy alone, the other half of the desk was unoccupied, he was resting his head against the window and looking down at the hands on his desk. He was wearing black gloves, his quirk probably had something to do with that. He had red, messy hair and a face that somehow was communicating sadness, or maybe loneliness. The middle row, just like the last and the first one too, had only one guy. He had blond hair with some black strands, they looked like black lightning, he was wearing a headset and bouncing his head following some kind of rhythm. Weren’t they supposed to not bring technology on the island? Why was no one commenting on it?

The last person, in the front row, was the first one Izuku had actually noticed, he just wasn’t ready yet. He had not noticed him yet either, he was looking out of the window ignoring his surrounding. Izuku sighed, recognizing his usual behavior. It looked like coming here wasn’t going to change his attitude. Izuku wondered why the guy with the headset had not decided to sit next to any of the two. Probably because both had a ‘no getting closer’ attitude, it was clear that he wanted to stay as far away from them as possible. Izuku wondered if he was the only one in the room that decided to sit on the right side with the ‘dangerous ones’ because he was carefree, or because he had lost some kind of battle with the others.

In any case the right side was clearly the place where the unwanted were sitting. And it was where Izuku was going to seat too, apparently, there was literally nowhere else for him to sit. He didn’t really mind anyway, they could be scared of him but he sure wasn’t, seating beside a friend didn’t sound so bad either. He stopped beside the empty chair and called up to him.

“Katsuki?”

Behind him he could hear some surprised gasps and even a strangled cough, like someone had just choked on saliva. He ignored them. Katsuki turned instantly, shock clearly written on his face, then it became even more evident as he recognized him. He raised his right hand, pointed at Izuku, then at the walls and then he drew a question mark in the air. For a split second Izuku was taken aback, then he remembered. Right, Katsuki was still forbidden to speak. He would forever be forbidden to speak.

-What are you doing here?-

“Eh, things happened.” he seated down and shrugged. “Turned out I’m supposed to be here too, after all.” he tried to light up the mood a little.

Katsuki was still looking at him in shock but now there was a hint of disbelief too. He drew the question mark again. Izuku smiled when he realized that he could still get the general feeling of what he was signaling immediately.

-What?-

Before he could answer, not even sure of what he would answer in the first place, Katsuki started to search through his stuff and pulled out a notebook. The notebook. Izuku was hit by a light wave of nostalgia as he remembered just how many conversations they had with one of those. Katsuki quickly scribbled something with his messy calligraphy.

-Since when you have a quirk?! And an A or S?! Are you joking?-

“It’s kind of a long story,” he smiled awkwardly and lowered his voice to a whisper, “I’ll tell you more later. I just want to say that I’m not a danger to you or anyone here, even if I’m an S my condition is pretty ridiculous, there is just no way I’m using this quirk.”

Katsuki was looking at him like he just grew three additional heads. Aizawa entered the classroom before they could progress the conversation any further. When the man reached his teacher desk and started to clear his voice Katsuki slipped the notebook in front of him once more.

-Anyway, stupid, don’t give my name away so easily, you idiot! Don’t you know that the name is like, the most common condition for a quirk activation?! They probably already knew it since I was on the internet and stuff but still!-

Then and only then he connected the dots, the girl earlier, the way she was looking at him after he gave her his name… She tricked him into saying it, didn’t she? How great, he had been there for like an hour and he had already messed up completely. He wanted to go back home.

Chapter Text

“Ah, so…”

Aizawa scratched his head with a sigh.

“Before any of you get any strange idea… The fact that I don’t see doesn’t mean that I don’t see. My goggles have special infrared rays and heat detectors. Before any of you have the wonderful idea to try and trick me I want to make clear that no one ever succeeded. I may have a disadvantage but I know everything about your quirks, don’t pull any stunt. I’ve already sent enough people in confinement because of something stupid like this.”

Izuku had wondered for a time how was Aizawa moving around with his goggles on, now he knew. It made perfect sense actually, he should have thought about that sooner.

“Now, for the rules… First thing first, the most important thing is that you are out as soon as you physically hurt someone enough to bleed. I don’t care if it’s just a little cut, if there is bleeding you’re out. Obviously, even if there is no bleeding but the hurt dealt is big enough, let’s say a broken bone for example, you’re out. Basically, I decide what’s too much, so just deal with it.”

This was a nice rule, at least Izuku didn’t have to worry about getting hurt. It meant that he could not use Acid Skin but he wasn’t planning to in the first place.

“Second rule. You pass as long as you don’t get sent in confinement. Which means that if you’re still in this, next year, you automatically pass. You may think that it sounds too easy, and it is actually, but you are missing the point. You are here to demonstrate that you are trustworthy, that you won’t hurt someone with your quirk no matter the situation. Furthermore, it would not be fair for everyone if this test was any different than this. There are people here who are absolutely forbidden to use their quirks and have low chances of getting anything done.”

Izuku was really surprised, he had heard from Katsuki that the test was a fierce battle for survival, how was this possible if all you needed to do was wait for the end of the year?

“Third rule. I’ve said that you can pass just by waiting… well, that’s not entirely correct. At least one of you must lose, if you do absolutely nothing for a year it would not make any sense. Specifically, if one of you get another, no matter how, to say ‘I surrender’ then you get to pass immediately. If you surrender three times you’re out. To summarize, everyone who gets to make someone surrender wins, while a person who surrounds three times lose.”

Now Izuku was starting to get a better idea of the situation. Everyone wanted to pass as soon as possible to avoid the possibility to end in prison for the rest of their lives. All of them had quirks that allowed them to pull some law-breaking actions. Izuku had a thought, what about Katsuki? His quirk was made for this kind of situation, but was he allowed to use it?

“Fourth rule. You can use your quirk as creatively as possible. I encourage you to think of some way of making a good use of your quirk. Obviously, there are some exceptions. First, the blond guy in the first row, he is completely forbidden to use his quirk, no matter what. Second, the guy with red hair in the last row, the same goes for him. Third, the guy with the square glasses, he can use it with moderation. If you even attempt to break this rule you are gone as fast as the wind.”

Made a lot of sense. Everyone was nodding when Aizawa mentioned Katsuki, clearly everyone knew about his quirk and no one was surprised that it was forbidden.

“Fifth rule. For the whole duration of this test you are absolutely forbidden to reveal your quirk. Its name, its conditions, any direct information. You are out if you do. On the other hand, the others are permitted to guess or find out everything about it in any way they want. You are actually encouraged to find out as many as you can since it can make the difference between your freedom or your imprisonment. As long as the information doesn’t come out directly from the person’s mouth. Ah, clearly no writing either.”

That was why everyone was so incredibly suspicious of everything. Since they could only guess what information or thing could activate someone else’s quirk everything was dangerous.

“Sixth rule. Since your quirks are random as hell, everything would become a huge mess if I don’t implement some way to understand that you are being targeted by something. So, before using your quirk on someone, or multiple people, you have to send your target a Calling Card. They are anonymous, obviously, but at least the person that received it can stay on guard for any anomaly. If you receive a Calling Card you better do your best to avoid dangerous situations. After you send the card you have the next day, from midnight to the following midnight, to successfully attack your target. If you fail it’s not a problem, but you will have to wait a week before trying again with that person. You are free to try another one, though. If you don’t intend to use your quirk you can do whatever you want. Another important thing you have to remember is that a person who has surrounded can’t send a Calling Card for a month after that day.”

This was getting complicated. It was a good thing, though, to have some way to know in advance that you were a target. This whole test looked like a psychological war. The terror of an unknown, dangerous quirk directed at you…

“That’s it. I’m probably forgetting something… oh well.” he scratched his head again, completely uninterested. “I know everything about all of you and your quirks, but don’t even try to get information out of me, it would be stupid. I won’t interact with you much and I won’t even call your name. What information you want to share it’s up to you. You are free to use fake names, sell or buy information, cooperate with others, anything goes. You are even free to become all the best of friends and just not do anything, make someone surrender and then just live peacefully. Well, if you think that you can trust others, that’s it.”

The way he said that last part was so ominous that Izuku felt a chill down his spine. It seemed like he was sure that something like that would never happen.

“Now, leaving aside the whole test ordeal, it’s important that you understand why you are here. This is not a punishment but an opportunity, so you better take it for what it is. You don’t necessarily need to show off or prove your worth or anything like that, what you want to do with your life is your business. The only thing that’s absolutely required of you is a total respect for the rules and learning the importance of the law. That’s why here you have mandatory lessons in which you will memorize and understand every single one of them. You all have years of compulsory education on your shoulders so don’t expect me to give you lessons about math or literature. Whatever interest or career beside the Task Force you want to pursue it’s completely up to you, you will have a lot of free time. Do whatever you want.”

The class filled with animated whispers. It looked like the serious part of the introduction was finished.  

“So…” Aizawa shuffled some papers on the teacher desk. “Aside from my private quarters, the whole building is at your disposition. You are free to use your personal room or pitch a tent in the library, I don’t really care. There is no stupid stuff like curfews, you are all adults, take care of yourself. You will have to take care of stuff like laundry, cooking and so on, if you are not capable then learn, or find a way to make someone else do it for you. Don’t ask me, I survive on instant noodles.”

That earned a few chuckles. Aizawa concluded his speech saying that next to the blackboard was a timetable of the mandatory lessons and to knock on his door at any time to ask for a Calling Card to use or in case of emergencies. And to not bother him with anything else. He left without a word of farewell.

“A man of solitude, hm?” said suddenly voice next to Izuku’s desk.

The girl from earlier was resting on his desk with her head on her crossed arms, she was looking at him from below.

“Urar--ah…” he stopped himself just in time.

“Oh, it’s fine, you can call me that! I mean, it’s a fake name so there is no problem!” she smiled at him apologetically. “I’m sorry, you really didn’t know about the name policy, did you? I mean, you even called him,” she pointed at Katsuki, “with his real name without thinking twice! I was thinking that you had me figured out and that you gave me a fake name but I guess not. So, I’m telling you that I didn’t give you my real name, it’s my apology for tricking you, forgive me!”

She closed her eyes and joined her hands in prayer. Izuku was once again a bit overwhelmed. The girl was really chatty and now it was difficult for him to understand if she had always ulterior motives or not. He could see what Aizawa meant when he said that to was difficult to trust others here.

“Okay, it’s okay, it was my fault for not thinking about this sooner…” he smiled a bit awkwardly.

As the girl was opening her eyes and placing her hands back on the desk he heard Katsuki snort from behind him, he saw him scribbling something in his notebook.

“By the way, are you two friends or enemies? I mean, considering the fact that you call him with his first name in this situation it must be one of those two options!” her gaze was shifting between the two of them. “Judging by the fact that you are sitting together I would say friends, where did you two—“

Katsuki got up suddenly, put his notebook away and left without looking in their direction at all. They both followed him with their eyes until he disappeared beyond the door before looking at each other again.

“Not very social, hm?” she smiled.

“He can’t talk.” he was pretty sure that this was not an information that he was supposed to keep a secret.

“Oh, I know that, I think I know everything about his quirk,” she admitted casually, “but there are tons of other ways he can communicate with us right?”

Izuku didn’t answer, she was right but he had his reasons too. He gave up socializing really early in his life and now he just could not be bothered anymore. It took him a month to get Katsuki to communicate with him when they first met during high school.

“Hey, I offered to show you around, didn’t I?” she changed the subject, cheerful as always. “What do you say? Think that you can trust me?”

Well, if she was going to put it that way how was he supposed to refuse? He didn’t want to be rude on the very first day. She waved at the others in the classroom who were starting to get ready to leave and waited for him outside of the door. She pointed at the library that was nearby and they started from there.

“I was wondering…” he hesitated a little but the girl didn’t seem to have too many trouble asking for information so he wanted to take advantage of that if possible. “I’ve seen that one of the guys had headphones, I thought that all objects from outside were forbidden?”

“Oh, no, those headphones comes from the music lab,” she tilted her head a little, “I guess that you can ask him if you want to use them. All things here are a communal property, so probably there will be trouble in case a lot of people want the same item…”

“Ah, I don’t really want the headphones, I was just…” he tried to justify himself.

“Collecting information?” she smiled at him. “I see that you’re starting to get in the right mindset!”

The library was pretty impressive, it was spacious, the ceiling was high and made of glass making the whole ambient well lit. It had an upper level that was accessible from two stairs in the right and left corners, the upper level had a balcony which let you see the area below. In the center there were three long tables, all over the place were positioned various armchairs. Izuku thought that it was even too beautiful for a place like this. He doubted that it was used to its full potential.

“Why is there a study room down the corridor if this place already fulfills that role?” he asked her.

“Hmm… That room is pretty small… Probably it’s for people who want to study alone.” she pondered. “This place is kind of open, there is no privacy whatsoever. The real problem will be when people will start to take books from here and hide them somewhere. Since there is no librarian, one can take what they want. If important study material gets stolen we will all be in trouble with Aizawa’s lessons…” she stretched her arms. “Ahh, this place is so perfect for losing faith in others… You don’t even have to try hard to make things difficult for everyone.”

Izuku was pretty impressed, in a bad way, by just how crafty her mind was. She already had a lot of ideas, didn’t she? They took a quick look inside the music lab and the science lab, then she said that she was getting bored and that he could look at the labs at his own pace. She grabbed his left arm and dragged him into the dining room. The room was divided in half, one half had a long wooden table and ten chairs with no other furniture, the other half had a small kitchen.

“This is what I wanted to show you, the kitchen.” she pointed with her finger. “Since we need to take care of ourselves, food is pretty important.” she smiled. “See that door over there? It’s the pantry, inside are stored most of the ingredients. Do you know how to cook?” she entered the pantry and he followed her inside.

“Well, some stuff, I guess…” he kept his answer vague.

She chuckled then stood up on tiptoes looking for something on the highest shelf, she started to jump a little when she could not reach it.

“Aww, think that you can reach the chocolate up there?” she asked him with a pout.

“No, I can’t, I’m barely any taller than you, how can I?” he answered a bit surprised, could she not see it just by looking?

“Right, I guess that you are around 170, maybe? I guess I’ll have to take a chair!” she brought a chair from the other room and used it as a stepladder. Once she had her chocolate bar in her hands she grinned satisfied. “Have you noticed? There are only canned ingredients here. Since we receive a cargo of objects only once in a while we need to cultivate our own fresh ingredients!”

She took his arm once again and dragged him to the indoor gym area. Call it gym was not entirely correct, it was more like a courtyard with a glass roof. The terrain between the two wings of the building was clean of grass and perfectly flat. It was basically a playfield create in an unutilized space. Beyond the playfield, on the very back of the building, was a space full of rows of vegetables and on the sides were two fruit trees.

“We can take this stuff whenever we want, but it would be best if we could find a way to make everyone cooperate to produce new ones.” she said with her arms crossed behind her back. “It would be bad if we were to remain without fresh food. Ah, by the way,” she pointed at the two windows right above them, on the second floor of the building. “Those are Aizawa’s windows. In case you need to find him, his quarters are there.”

Izuku had a decent understanding of the right wing and the center of the building now, the second floor and the left wing were still a mystery. Reentering the building she started to show him the left wing.

“Let’s leave the second floor for later, there is where our rooms are and little else, on this wing, however, are the most useful things.” she led the way through the hallway on the left. “Here we have a big room for laundry, luckily the washing machines are easy to use.”

It really was big, there were ten washing machines and five drying machines. Some irons were stored on a shelf.

“I think we have a sewing lab too, so if you need to sew something you better try there. I don’t really know how we are supposed to get new clothes… I mean, I hope we are not supposed to stay in the ones we have for a whole year!” she rolled her eyes and proceeded further into the hallway. “Here is the storage room, but I think that a lot of people have actually started to call it ‘the convenience store’. It’s where most things are stored, like toothbrushes, shampoos…”

It really looked like a store, only without prices. The shelves were filled with every kind of everyday stuff. Further down the hallway was a supply closet with cleaning tools like vacuums and brooms. Then she stopped in front of a double door.

“Now, check this out!” she pushed the door wide open. “It’s a pool! We have a pool! This is not a vacation but they are surely treating us well, don’t you think?”

She looked very excited about this, for some reason. He supposed it was kind of different but... wasn’t the ocean right outside? Unless she wanted to swim on rainy days he could not really see her point. Picking up on his awkward attempt at a smile she pouted and walked down the hallway with her chest puffed out.

“I was going to show you the rooms but I guess that you can go alone if you’re going to be a meanie!” she turned to face him with a smile. “I’m joking, but you have seen the most important parts by this point. On the second floor are the rooms and two big bathrooms. We have individual shower rooms, but if you want to take a real bath you have to use the communal one. The two wings are divided by sex, the right one is for females the left for males. So the rooms are divided into the two wings and there is a bathroom for each side. Too bad they made only a changing room for the gym and one for the pool though… Why make a unisex changing room? Sheesh.” she paused for a bit tilting her head. “Yep, that’s about it. You can explore the rest on your own I think. I’m going now, I suppose you have to take care of your luggage, right? I’ll see you around!”

She waved her hand and left him behind.

Izuku really wanted to shut himself in his room, he needed a moment to collect all his thoughts. When he reached the second-floor hallway he searched for his room. It was the only one without a number plate on the door. Since he was enrolled at the last minute they had not had the time to make a nice looking plate like they did for the others. He had to ask Aizawa if he could have one later, he didn’t particularly want to stick a piece of paper to the door.

The inside was very nice. It was spacious and it had a large window with a view of the ocean. There was not much in term of furniture, only a wooden desk and a chair, a low square table on a carpet, some shelves, a closet and a bed. A door led to a private toilet and shower room. Inside the closet he found some sheets and pillows. He needed to make the bed later. His trolley was on the floor.

Izuku took off his jacket and was about to start preparing the room when he noticed a piece of paper inside a pocket. He took it and opened it, recognizing the handwriting immediately.

-Come to my room later-

He felt a chill down his spine, he wasn’t really sure that he wanted to be alone with him. Considering… But he wanted to see him, too. He fidgeted, full of conflicting feelings. A part of him was telling him that in this place and situation he was better off focusing on what he was doing, more than on making things even more complicated. Another part, however, was reminding him that it was stupid to be afraid of confronting him. He had nothing to be ashamed of. 

He wasn’t going to forfeit his only ally anyway, so even excluding everything else he still needed to go. Clenching the piece of paper he left his room and searched for Katsuki’s. He had to face a dilemma, he had no idea which number he had, why he had not written it on the paper? He had to knock on casual doors. First he tried the one on the left of his own door, inside was the red hair guy who opened the door just a little bit, Izuku apologized and asked him if he knew where ‘the blond guy’ was. He had to bit his tongue, he was just about to say his name again. The red hair pointed at one of the doors to his left and closed his door without a sound. As it turned out, Katsuki’s room was at only three doors from his, on the left, it was the number 4.

Katsuki opened almost immediately, he gestured him to come inside then closed the door with impatience. Izuku stood in the center of the room fidgeting a little, not knowing what to do with himself. The room was basically the same as his, same furniture and disposition. Only it was full of stuff, Izuku could see canned food and daily life objects spread all over the place. It looked like he was ready to enter hibernation. Katsuki threw his notebook at him without warning and Izuku could only barely catch it.

-So?-

A single word was written on it. Izuku sighed, obviously he wanted to know why he was there. He could not speak about his quirk, however.

“You know that I can’t tell you the name of my quirk or the conditions, right? I’ve already told you that it’s an S… The conditions for its activation are so unlikely that I never knew of its existence. I’ve literally discovered it two days ago. They told me that it was better to enter the test immediately instead of waiting another year… I didn’t have much time to get used to the whole situation… sorry if I’m making mistakes…” he gave his notebook back.

Katsuki frowned and plopped down on his bed, he scratched his head with the pen like he was searching for the right words. Izuku knew that Katsuki was the type of person that wanted everything immediately, having to actually write down, with patience, what he wanted to communicate was a major pain for him. Apparently he had too much he wanted to say right now but he could not find a good way to do it, his frustrated expression was a clear testimony of that. He ended up scribbling a single sentence.

-I see-

Izuku could feel his own frustration matching Katsuki’s. During the previous years the notebook had been enough to convey what they wanted to say. Now nothing was enough to unravel this mess. Katsuki scribbled something again.

-Don’t just stand there, you are giving me the willies, sit somewhere!-

Izuku smiled awkwardly at his nervousness and sat down on the carpet clutching his hands together. This new position did nothing to ease their nerves, the silence was extremely uncomfortable.

What does one say when meeting their ex not-exactly-boyfriend in such a strange situation after six months?

Chapter Text

After a while, Katsuki took his pen again and started to scribble furiously. He kept going for several minutes, Izuku waited patiently, knowing that he would not appreciate any interruptions. It was like interrupting a person while they were speaking after all. When he finished, he tore off the page, rolled it and tossed it at his head.

-The doors don’t have a lock, so you better create one, if you don’t know how to do it, then learn. Start to pile up food as soon as you can, but try to be subtle about it. You never know when someone is going to take it all and you’ll starve. Aizawa takes a boat once a month to meet with the cargo folks to replenish the supplies for this place. You must be able to survive a month without new supplies, don’t expect me to give you anything if you are too stupid to think ahead. Also, find yourself a nickname, you can’t use your name anymore. And don’t give anyone ANY information, it doesn’t matter what it is, there are all kinds of weird quirks and conditions in this world. Don’t give away my information either!-

Izuku read it all and smiled a little. Katsuki was selfish and individualist but he was still going to look out for him. When he looked up he saw that he was writing again. After a moment, he threw that paper at him too.

-By the way, don’t misunderstand! This is a business contract I’m setting up! I’m not helping you! I expect something in exchange! You know that I can’t use my quirk or speak, and I’m shit at extracting information from others. I’m basically defenseless. So, I’m expecting you to tell me everything you find about anyone. EVERYTHING-

Izuku sighed, same old Katsuki. His way of asking for help was always so forceful. In a way, this was a good thing, though. It gave them both a good excuse for trusting each other without having to put emotions into play. Izuku was sure he could trust him, with or without a contract. He was never going to doubt him. He had always been the only one to trust him, despite everything, nothing was going to change. Ever.

“Yes, I accept, this sounds reasonable enough.” he tried to sound confident in himself. “I haven’t discovered anything useful yet. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.”

Katsuki nodded then wrote down something in a corner of a new page, ripped the piece and throw it at him as usual.

-You should stop talking to that girl. She is a hyena, scavenging for corpses-

“Wow…” Izuku was sarcastic. “What a nice compliment…”

Katsuki rolled his eyes and shrugged, Izuku could guess.

-Think whatever you want, but I’m right and you’re wrong-

“Anyway,” Izuku sighed dropping the subject, “about nicknames… I can be Izu, I guess… You can be… Kat?” he tried with an awkward smile.

Katsuki sent him a murderous glare and threw him a paper ball right between his eyes.

-Do you wanna die?-

Izuku massaged the spot with an unimpressed expression. Another paper ball flew on the table in front of him.

-Go away, you’ve annoyed me enough for one day!-

Izuku picked himself up without hesitation and waved at him before leaving the room. He realized that they had not decided the nicknames, Katsuki could not blame him if he was going to call him with his name then. He immediately took his advice and went into the pantry to collect some food, not too much, but not too little. Then he went to the ‘convenience store’ to do some ‘shopping’, which entailed basically stealing an exemplar of anything that looked useful. It took him five trips back and forth to move everything, but by the evening, he was mostly set up. His room was now a little messy, but he could figure out something later, he was pretty tired and wanted go to sleep, especially since the next day he had class at 9 am. Apparently Aizawa hated waking up before eight thirty in the morning since all the classes were from nine on. Not that he was complaining. He liked the idea of sleeping a bit more than his usual time for school. He looked at the calendar on the wall. It was the first of April. He was supposed to start university the thirteen of April. Now his life had taken a 360-degree turn.

The bed was comfortable enough and he easily fell asleep. The alarm clock woke him up. The alarm rang differently from the one in his bedroom back at home, so he woke with a start. Then, as he took a glance around the dark room, he remembered that he was not at home anymore and collapsed on the bed again. He ruffled his hair a bit, not wanting to get up. For some reason that simple motion felt a bit strange, he turned his face, trying to adjust to the dark without turning the light on. Something was wrong.

He sat up when he noticed that the objects were different from the ones he remembered taking and they were placed differently. They were a lot more, too. Annoyed by the sound he moved to shut up the alarm clock when he realized something. He had not brought an alarm clock in his room. It was clearly a mistake, a lack of insight on his part since he needed to go to class. Still, his quirk was not Telekinesis, the alarm could not had gotten into his room on itself!

He got up, his heart beating fast, and turned on the light. This was not his room! He was alone inside so the possibilities of having been kidnapped were not that high, unless they had locked him in to prevent him from going to class. Could he be eliminated if he were to not show up for class? He was starting to panic when he recognized the room. The paper balls from earlier were in Katsuki’s trash bin. What was he doing in his room?! He looked down and was hit by realization like a truck on full speed.

Katsuki was wearing a t-shirt and his boxers to sleep, just like--- WHAT WAS HE DOING IN KASTUKI’S BODY?!

He ran inside the shower room to look at himself in the mirror and sure enough Katsuki’s face greeted him, it had an expression of pure shock that Izuku had never seen before. Panicking, he started to consider what to do, was Katsuki okay? The first thing he had to do was see if he was in his body, if they exchanged them somehow. He ran out of the shower room and while he was searching for some clothes he saw a black square on the floor. He hitched closer cautiously and after a moment he realized what he was looking at. It was a Calling Card.

Someone had slid the card from under the door to warn Katsuki that a quirk was going to be used on him. Izuku had no trouble see which one. If this card was here, then had he received one too, in his room? Izuku forgot that he was still in just boxers and ran to his room, the one without a number plate. He knocked strongly and repeatedly with his heart beating fast. The door opened way too late for his mental health and he was greeted by his own face. It was wearing a very annoyed expression, Izuku could immediately recognized Katsuki behind it. He opened his mouth, Katsuki’s mouth, to say something, probably to scream, but Katsuki slapped his hand on it with a murderous glance. Then he grabbed his arm and he pushed him inside the room rudely, closing the door with a bang. He stomped around the room until he found a piece of paper and a pen and he started to scribble furiously.

-Fucking stupid idiot! DON’T TALK! If you use my quirk and get me eliminated I’ll come for you, no matter where you are, and chop your head off!-

Izuku slapped a hand on his mouth, well Katsuki’s mouth, feeling a chill down his spine for how stupid he had been. Thankfully, he had not spoken yet, that was dangerous!

He observed, still frozen in place, as Katsuki scribbled some more. Izuku realized then, in his body Katsuki could actually talk, but he was still not going to, habit perhaps? Or maybe he had not realized that himself.

-You didn’t set an alarm! If you hadn’t knocked on my door I would have kept sleeping until who knows when!-

Izuku opened his mouth to apologize but he closed it immediately. He took out one of his own notebook and sat to write on the low table, Katsuki joined him on the carpet.

-Sorry! I forgot. More importantly! What’s this?! You received a Calling Card!-

Katsuki shrugged like this was not that big of a deal.

-Yeah, you too, it was right in front of the door when I woke up just now. Someone here has a Body Swap quirk. I don’t know how or why it’s you that I traded with, but it’s not that strange, calm down idiot-

Izuku reflected a moment and realized that he was right, there were much worse possibilities. Like they could have exchanged with a stranger that would use their bodies to say, ‘I surrender’. It was then that it hit him. They could make someone surrender by exchanging bodies! This was seriously a dangerous quirk to have for this test. But this person was not really bright, were they? Why not use this ability to exchange with themselves and score a win?

Exchange the body of two random people was not going to help them. The rule clearly stated that it was the person that made them say the right phrase to win, not the quirk user that made it possible. Katsuki could use this opportunity to win… If he wanted to betray him he could, he just needed to say the key words in front of Aizawa and it was done. Izuku peered at him nervously. Katsuki returned the look and sighed deeply.

-I would like to use you to win but… People’s trust in me is already shitty as it is, winning this way would only make them hate me more. I don’t need this in my life. We need to figure out who did this and how to return to our own bodies-

-You’re right. By the way, I understand this test, but how come this is an A  quirk? It doesn’t look dangerous, just awkward-

Katsuki sent him a displeased look.

-Then you are really stupid. You can make someone surrender easily like this, so what about the rest? You can use another person’s body to do anything you like. What about taking advantage of someone else’s girlfriend? Or kill someone? How would the victim and society know that it was someone else entirely? This is one of the biggest law-breaking quirk that you can imagine. It doesn’t leave any trace behind, only a quirk that recognize minds or consciences can see the difference-

Izuku felt indeed stupid, Katsuki was completely right, this quirk was dangerous no matter how you looked at it. Secretly, he felt grateful that the Government was making sure that a person like that could not go on a rampage in the middle of a city. It really sucked being imprisoned and all that, but it was truly reassuring to know that the problem was being addressed. He understood better Aizawa’s words now, this test was not a punishment, it was an opportunity to prove that you would not break any law, no matter what. He could understand Katsuki’s refusal to use this opportunity too. Leaving the test after a day and by using a cheap trick would only make him even more suspicious, especially considering his quirk. The suspicions would never really leave him.

-Why do you think this person targeted us?-

He tried to ask, changing the subject. Katsuki frowned.

-They didn’t target us. We have met the condition without noticing, that’s all-

Izuku inhaled sharply, surprised. It made a lot of sense. It was not a mistake made by someone stupid, it was a forced result. That person’s quirk probably activated unwillingly. They just happened to activate it by chance. Izuku felt his respect for Katsuki grow. He really knew a lot about quirks, he had lived his entire life waiting for this test. Yet, he was still willing to take some risks by trusting him. After all, Katsuki could say ‘I surrender’ in his body and win, but Izuku would not be eliminated unless he surrendered two more times. On the other hand, all Izuku had to do was literally speak and Katsuki would never see the sun again. The thought of having such a big responsibility made him shudder.

-We need to go to class. You can’t tell me your conditions, but at least tell me if there is something that I can’t do. I don’t want to activate your thing by chance-

Izuku grimaced, what was he going to say? To tell him that nothing he could do was going to activate it would only make him more suspicious and maybe he would feel like he was lying to him on purpose. Izuku sighed.

-Just don’t kiss anyone-

Katsuki stared at him with wide eyes, Izuku felt odd looking at his own face with that expression, it was half funny, half embarrassing. Then his expression changed, it was like he had been hit by realization. With a curious expression he wrote something.

-Is your quirk something like Charm? Can you make anyone fall madly in love with you by kissing?-

-If this was true, then you would be madly in love with me by now-

The sentence was out of his pen before he realized what he was actually doing, he saw the results on his own face. Katsuki was blushing with an outraged expression, he started to hit him with the notebook on the head. Izuku tried to protect himself with his arms smiling and blushing a bit. Katsuki got up and started to point furiously at the t-shirt and boxers, then at the door. Izuku got the message quite well. He nodded then sneaked into the room number 4 to change. When he left the room again, fully clothed, Katsuki was waiting for him with his usual impatient expression painted on his face.

They reached the classroom together and sat in each other’s desks. Aizawa arrived after a while, way past 9 am. The lesson was about the basic branch divisions of the Government, he had already learned that in high school so he didn’t pay too much attention to it. In the meantime, he was thinking of a way to find the Body Swap quirk’s owner. No matter what he thought, he could not figure out anything, he simply didn’t know enough about the other people in the room. At the end of the lesson, Aizawa gave them a meeting for the following Friday and left without saying anything else. He was about to write something to Katsuki, a question probably, when we was suddenly distracted by the usual girl, Urara, and some other classmates. They were all converging in front of his desk, now occupied by Katsuki.

“Hi! How was the lesson? I realized that some of us haven’t introduced to you yet, since yesterday was the first day and all, so I convince them to!” she didn’t give Katsuki time to answer her. “As I already told you, please call me Urara! How should I call you?”

Izuku momentarily panicked, he could not answer at all, they could not know the vulnerable state they were in, it was Katsuki that had to do something. But was he capable of speaking in his body? He had yet to say anything. Katsuki looked like he was focusing for a moment, then spoke in an almost normal voice.

“I see, it seems like a good idea, I guess. You can call me Izu, I guess.” Izuku had no idea why he had to keep repeating ‘I guess’, but at least he had used the name he had chosen the day before.

“Izu! Cute name! C’mon everyone, introduce yourself!” she encouraged them with a smile.

The girl with the puffy hair raised her hand and spoke with a cheerful voice.

“Hi!! I’m Haru, nice to meet you!” she was almost singing.

“I’m Froppy, hi Izu.” said in a much more normal tone the girl with long black hair.

“You can call me Yao, nice to meet you Izu.” it was the girl with the ponytail that spoke this time, she had a business-like voice.

Then the guy with black lightning in his hair placed his palms on Izuku’s desk and leaned closer to his, well, Katsuki’s face. Katsuki leaned back with an annoyed expression.

“Yo man! You can call me Kami!” he smiled giving him a thump up.

“Kami?” said Katsuki with a sarcastic tone. “Like ‘God’? Narcissist much?”

Izuku, in Katsuki’s body, could not say anything even if he really wanted. Katsuki was going to ruin his reputation immediately, wasn’t he? He rested his face on the desk, covering it with his arms. That was the best he could do to hide his embarrassment. Then the guy with red hair and gloves passed near them and introduced himself as quickly as possible while running away from the classroom. 

“You can call me Mishima.”

Everyone looked at the door where he had disappeared through. It was Urara, the first to comment it.

“Well, good to know, he had yet to say anything at all. Speaking of people that have not introduced themselves yet… Hey, you two, come here!” she called up to the guy with bicolor hair and the one with square glasses.

The bicolor guy approached them without saying anything while the other got up slowly, collecting all his school supplies, and went for the door without looking at them.

“Just call me ‘square glasses’ or something.” with that he was out of the classroom.

“Geez…” Urara looked somewhat bothered by him, but quickly reverted to her normal smile. “What about you?” she addressed the other one.

“Shu. I’m Shu.” he said in a neutral tone looking straight at him.

At him. Did he know Katsuki or something?

“I see, you have a cute name too!” Urara joined her hands. “Now we have everyone! Well except…” she sent a glance at him, or rather at Katsuki’s body. “What about you?” she asked in an uninterested tone, like she was asking more out of politeness than anything.

Izuku panicked, he could not answer. Was he supposed to write something? But what? Katsuki had not told him what he wanted to be known as. Katsuki, sensing his dilemma, frowned and answered for him.

“I think he would prefer to be known as his room number. Four.” then he got up. “Are we done with this introduction thing? I have things to do.”

Izuku started to collect Katsuki’s supplies and followed him out of the room as casually as possible. He didn’t want to give the wrong impression to all of them so soon. The others followed right after and then scattered in all directions. Katsuki was waiting for him near the study room with a displeased expression. He headed inside and sat at the table on the center of the room.

“We need to discover who did this or how.” he started while Izuku was seating in front of him. “Let’s try and narrow down the possibilities. First, I can say with complete certainly that it’s not the one with the red hair, Mishima or whatever. I know him, we were often called together for interrogations and certifications… He is forbidden to use his quirk, it’s too dangerous. I don’t know if the others know about it, but he made sure to tell everyone to not touch him. We can exclude the square glasses guy, Aizawa said to use his quirk with moderation. This quirk can’t be moderate or not, so it’s something else. I know nothing about the others. If I have to guess, though, I would say that this is your little hyena friend’s quirk. She is the one that knows both our names, right? There is something that doesn’t make sense though…” Izuku tilted his head and drew a question mark in the air.  Katsuki frowned deeply. “She knows our names and her own name… she could have exchanged one of us with herself, not the two of us with ourselves. Unless this is some sort of test… Maybe she wanted to confirm that they were indeed our names… Still, I would not risk it if I were her. Because if we now know her quirk, we can sell her off during the week so that she has to wait before attacking us again.”

Izuku wrote in the notebook.

-What do we do?-

“Since I’m in your body now, I’m going to talk to her. If it’s not her she won’t suspect anything since she was being friendly with you. I suppose that your quirk is not useful for interrogation, right?”

Izuku didn’t had much of a choice so he nodded, agreeing to his plan, a bit worried. Katsuki talking to people with his body was not a great combination. Katsuki left the study room alone, Izuku waited for a reasonable amount of time before getting even more worried and deciding to spy on him. He found them in the entrance hall.

“How do I know that you aren’t lying? You are suspiciously friendly with everyone.” Katsuki was saying to her in a slightly aggressive tone.

“Well, I can’t really prove it, can I?” she was shrugging. “A deal is a deal, however, so here is my information: excluding Mishima, square glasses and Four, the only other person who is avoiding speaking too much is Shu. All the others are trying their best to extract casual conversations from others. What I’m saying is, if you discover the conditions you can easily understand who it is. Because, if you are saying this it means that someone used Body Swap on you... I don’t think that you have a quirk that reveals other people’s power or you would had not asked me any of this, you would be confronting the real owner right now. So basically… If it’s something based on conversation, you can retrace your steps. It’s just the second day, you can’t have spoken all that much with everyone, right? Your priority should be to discover what triggered it, not who. When you discover the conditions tell me, okay?” she smiled brightly at him before turning her back and climbing the stairs to the second floor.

Katsuki made his way back toward the right wing and then stopped when he saw Izuku peeking out of the corridor. Izuku offered an apologetic look and they returned together inside the study room.

“Don’t behave like a stalker while being in my body, I don’t need that kind of reputation!” he said irritably while sitting down once again. Izuku bowed his head a little to apologize. “Luckily she fell for it.” he was serious once again. “I’m sure she didn’t suspect that it wasn’t you. She doesn’t think that you’re close to anyone yet to have exchange with them and still behave normally. She would had not spoken that way had she known that it was me.”

Izuku wrote in the notebook again.

-I heard something about a deal? What did you do?-

“I’ve just told her that someone here has the Body Swap quirk. I offered her a deal. Her information was useless though. She thought it was you so she gave some advice for beginners. I already knew that. I couldn’t ask for more considering that I was pretending to be you… Problem is, you said that you spoke only with her yesterday, correct?” Izuku nodded. “Then it has to be either something about the names or something about a non-verbal action. We need to test this.”

Izuku nodded repeatedly, completely captured by his reasoning.

-How?-

“When we wake up tomorrow if we are still in each other bodies then we can assume that this is an uncontrolled quirk. The owner has no control about it whatsoever. If they did, Aizawa would know they are violating the rule about not sending another Calling Card for a week. If so, it can’t be simply the knowledge of our names. It has to be something more complicated than that. Like a key word or a key action. Once we establish that, we have a good opportunity to discover the real conditions. You see, an uncontrolled quirk need the repeating of that action to stop working. Basically, we’ll return to our own bodies when we perform that action again. We just have to try until we get some results.” he concluded with a smirk.

Izuku was very impressed. Katsuki’s knowledge about quirks was astonishing. It actually sounded more difficult than anything, but Katsuki looked confident, like he was already sure that the answer would be in their hands in no time. Izuku was not that optimistic.

-What if this is a controlled quirk? What if it’s really about the name knowledge and this is just a test?-

That successfully swiped the smirk off him. He looked away, irritated and then answered reluctantly.

“If so, we are screwed.”

Chapter Text

-Screwed?!-

“Yeah well… I said that we can sell the quirk knowledge off… But it’s not like we have any proof that it’s her, or any way of contrasting it, right? We are defenseless. She will easily score a win with one of us and that’s that. We can’t really do anything to stop her.”

Izuku paled.

-So we just have… to admit defeat?-

“This is your fault! You told her your name!” he spat.

-Well, she already knew yours!!-

“Well that’s… it’s still your fault! You confirmed it by saying it in the classroom!”

Katsuki’s patience had reached its limit; he got up and left the room without turning back. Izuku knew that he was just tense and a bit worried, but it was still so not fair. He picked up the notebook and shut himself in his room, his room, the one without any number on it. He let himself fall on the bed and sighed deeply. Katsuki was always like that; he would lose his patience after a while and snap at him. Still, he was always able to come around after a while, this time he would too. Putting that aside for the moment, he tried to make a to-do list. First, he needed a lock for the door. Katsuki had said ‘learn’ but how? Izuku had spent a fair amount of time pondering when he finally reached a solution. He could not install a lock on the door, it was simply too complicated. But he could find a way to tie a chain on the handle, couldn’t he? He went into the storage room once more to fetch a thin chain and a small metal hook. Maybe it was not the best, but it could work. He needed a drill too though…

There was no drill there. Unsatisfied, he returned to his room and tried to tie the chain somewhere else, but there was nothing useful. In the end, he just pushed the low table against the door with a sigh. He needed to find a way to attach the metal hook to the wall somehow. Giving up for the day, he tried to change into his pajamas before realizing that this was Katsuki’s body. To put his pajamas on Katsuki’s body… He shook his head to get rid of the embarrassing image and went to sleep in his shirt and pants.

The next day he woke up still in the wrong body. He sighed with relief, this was an uncontrolled quirk. They were ‘safe’. Tired of eating cold food, he brought a cup of instant noodles to the kitchen to warm it up. There he found Shu, who was chopping some vegetables. He opened his mouth to greet him before remembering that he was still in Katsuki’s body and he could not speak. Shu looked pained for a second, as if he was afraid of being attacked. Izuku raised his hand in greeting trying to look casual. Shu acknowledged him with a nod. They stood in silence, side by side for a few minutes before Izuku’s noodles were ready to go, with steam coming from them. He was about to leave the kitchen when Shu stopped him.

“Urara is preparing a calendar for us to help take care of the vegetables.” he said.

Izuku nodded again, he didn’t have paper with him and even if he had had some, it was still out of character for Katsuki to thank someone. He would take care of this calendar thing when he found a way to return to his body. He didn’t particularly like the idea of interacting with the girl in this body. When he returned to his room, while he was setting the noodles on the table, he noticed a paper ball in one of his pants pockets. His heart skipped a bit after reading the message inside, thinking that it may have been Katsuki’s.

-I’m sorry-

Paper balls were often associated to him, but after a moment, Izuku realized that it couldn’t be. Katsuki had never written ‘I’m sorry’ even when he was apologizing. He always found some convoluted way to avoid that specific phrase. The more he examined it, the more he was convinced; this was not Katsuki’s handwriting. Katsuki’s Y had a straight line, like an arrow, this one had a curvature. The double Rs were well defined, Katsuki’s R were an unintelligible mess. This was a message from the Body Swap quirk owner. It was a good person, after all, Izuku was relieved, and he had a pretty good idea of who it was too. It almost looked like they wanted to be uncovered.

It was only later in the evening that Katsuki finally knocked on his door. He had his arms crossed as if he was still trying to give himself an air of superiority, even if both knew that he was offering a truce. Neither of them mentioned it. Katsuki seated on the carpet still with his arms crossed.

“It’s an uncontrolled quirk.” he stated daring him to say anything.

Not that Izuku, in Katsuki’s body, could actually say anything even if he wanted. He just nodded opening the usual notebook that Katsuki had brought with him. He spread out the message that he found earlier on the table. Katsuki looked at it with a raised eyebrow.

“What’s that?” he asked.

-A message from the owner of this quirk-

“You know who it is?!” Katsuki’s interest perked up.

Izuku hesitated a moment, should he tell him his suspicions or not? They were in this together so obviously he should, but he was afraid that Katsuki would overreact and do something wrong. Izuku was pretty sure that he was not a threat, but it was only his gut feeling. He didn’t have any proof and trusting his instinct in this situation could be dangerous. Should he let Katsuki decide what was best for both? He was the one with the brain and experience… Izuku shook his head.

-I have an idea-

“Really?” he looked doubtful. “Let’s hear it.”

-At this point I’m sure it’s not Urara, so we can exclude everything that I told her. I didn’t talk with anyone except you and Mishima that day. And I’ve exchanged body with you. I think that it’s something that I’ve told you. You should try to repeat everything I said that day in front of all of them. If I’m right it should work-

Katsuki thought about it for a moment.

“You are right. This person must have witnessed or heard the condition. Quirks work based on either knowledge or on direct contact with the condition. If you fulfill a condition away from their eyes or ears, it won’t work. This plan will let us return to our original bodies, but it won’t let us know who or why. On the other hand, experimenting with a word at a time will take ages. I guess we will have to be content with just that.” he looked unhappy but resigned.

They gathered all the things Izuku had said to him that day and wrote them on the notebook for Katsuki to read them aloud the following day before the lesson could start. When they took a break, Katsuki noticed the chain on the desk.

“Are you trying to create a lock?”

-Yeah, and I’m failing. I can’t find a drill-

“You are really hopeless.” Katsuki sighed. “You are supposed to use sealant silicone; you can’t make a hole in a wall that doesn’t belong to you.”

Now that he mentioned it, it seemed very obvious. They went together inside the storage room and he showed him the correct silicone to use. Then both of them worked until the chain was somehow acceptably fixed. After that, Katsuki returned to his room, Izuku ate dinner and prepared to sleep. He wanted to return to his own body as soon as possible so he could take a shower. He suddenly wondered if Katsuki had taken a shower in his body or if he had changed into his own underwear. Izuku, feeling overheated, immediately tried to forget all of those thoughts. 

The next morning, the fourth of April, was the perfect day to recreate the first-day scenario. At nine there was again a lesson from Aizawa, they would be all gathered in the room and it would be easier than searching and having a one-sided conversation in front of each person one by one. That would be incredibly suspicious. Izuku wanted to test his theory and try to repeat the conversation only in front of the person he was suspecting, but there was no way to do that without Katsuki’s cooperation. He didn’t feel like throwing him under the bus after they had apologized. He decided to apologize to him, knowing the exchange, and not to Katsuki. So, he wanted to at least try and talk to him before selling him off to Katsuki or the others. Izuku was aware of the fact that this was not how teamwork was supposed to go, but his conscience just would not let him betray that person’s offer of trust.

They met outside of the classroom and reenacted all perfectly. Izuku sat in Katsuki’s desk first and Katsuki entered the classroom last. When Katsuki called up his own name, like Izuku did the first day, he heard someone inhale sharply but he was not fast enough to see who. Some of the people in the room were observing them with confusion and curiosity but none of them made any particular move. The rest of the day was uneventful, Katsuki and Izuku waited for anything to happen but nothing changed. Katsuki told him that probably something would happen after they slept, just like last time.

He was right. The next day they woke up in their own bodies, finally. Izuku’s body has fallen asleep in Katsuki’s room so that’s where Izuku awoke. Apparently, Katsuki had had his same idea; he was still in his pants and t-shirt. Izuku didn’t know if Katsuki had taken a shower in his body and he didn’t want to know either, there were things that he’d rather they remained a mystery forever. He preferred to focus on the fact that now, he only had one t-shirt that was not all wrinkled, and he would have to do laundry later. Izuku was about to leave the room when Katsuki knocked on the door. He let him inside and Katsuki started to scribble on his notebook.

-It worked-

Izuku nodded. Now that the critical situation was resolved, he wanted to try to speak to his suspect. Maybe he would not confess, after all it was against the rules to reveal their own quirk, but his gut was telling him that he would gain something from it.

-Too bad we didn’t get to discover who it was, well as long as this isn’t a threat, I guess it’s fine-

Izuku left him, a number of tasks to complete ahead of him. There was no class that day so Izuku took a long shower, ate a warm toast in the kitchen and turned on the washing machine. While he was waiting for it to finish washing, Mishima showed up, they looked at each other for a moment. Izuku raised his hand in greeting, not sure if it was a good idea to speak all things considered, and the other mirrored his move a bit hesitantly. Mishima broke eye contact and went to prepare the washing machine further away from the one that Izuku was using. When both machines were running, an awkward atmosphere settled in the room. They were both sitting on the waiting bench without speaking or looking at each other. Mishima started fiddling a little with his gloves.

Part of Izuku wanted to start a conversation or something because ignoring someone like this was just wrong. But on the other hand, the one that he identified with Katsuki’s face, it was telling him that he spent three days in fear of a quirk, he didn’t particularly want to start all over again with a completely new quirk. Katsuki had said that he knew his quirk, and it had probably something to do with touch, if the gloves were an indication. But was it worth the risk? Maybe it was just him; he had been raised differently from the kids with dangerous quirks. No one taught him how to be rude to people to avoid risks. He wished he had asked Katsuki about this guy’s quirk. In the end, he never got to make a choice.

“Yo! Look who it’s here!” the voice belonged to the guy that wanted to be called Kami, the one with blond hair.

Both Izuku and Mishima jumped, startled by the sudden appearance. The guy strode into the room, then loudly prepared and turned on the washing machine next to the one that Izuku was using. Then he just plopped down right next to him, placing an arm on his shoulder casually. Izuku tensed up at the unexpected physical contact. Mishima’s expression was expressing a similar emotion, only stronger. It was as if he could not believe that someone would just boldly touch someone else. Izuku had mistakenly thought that everyone would be too wary of others to openly try something, but he realized his mistake. True, it was a risk, but most quirks could not work unless you were bold enough to steal knowledge or try a direct move. Katsuki would probably kill him if he was going to fall into a trap so easily. He discretely distanced himself a little, Kami noticed.

“Geez, all of you! You are all too cautious! This atmosphere, too! Looks like someone is going to drop dead any moment!” he laughed at his own comment. Izuku could not decide if he was being genuinely open or if it was a farce. Mishima surely didn’t seem to have appreciated it, he paled and looked down at his hands. “I understand that you are all a bit tense, but seriously, no one is gonna get hurt, Aizawa will prevent that! Take this vacation for what it is!”

Suddenly Mishima, who until that moment had tried to become invisible, raised his head and stared at him with hard eyes.

“How can you say that? You know nothing of mine, his, or anyone else’s situation. Don’t go and put all of us into the same category. Just because your quirk is probably something that doesn’t hurt people, don’t underestimate the others!” he got up and left the room, abandoning his laundry behind.

They both stared at the door he disappeared through for a moment before Kami shrugged.

“Man, that’s why I love my quirk so much. It’s so much easier to understand what people are thinking with it! I’ve never understood people without!” he winked at him.

Izuku was staring at him with wide eyes and his mouth open. Had this guy just revealed his quirk to him? Just like that?

“Are you… is your quirk Telepathy?” Izuku asked him.

Kami smirked.

“Close, but not quite!” he winked again. “My quirk is actually a gigantic mess! It’s difficult to use and it creates more problems than it solves!” for some reason he looked totally proud of it.

Izuku’s washing machine finished its work right at that moment and Izuku collected the damp clothes before putting them inside the dryer. Izuku returned to the bench, not knowing if he wanted to try to pursue the conversation from before or not. Kami decided for him.

“By the way, have you spoke with Urara?” he asked. “She is trying to make us all cooperate over the food. Not only the vegetables, she wants us to have the meals together as well, to share our cooking skills or something. What do you think, wanna participate?”

Izuku didn’t make any promises, he wanted to speak with Katsuki first.

“I’ll talk to her later.”

Kami nodded. Izuku gathered his laundry as soon as the machine stopped and left the room without adding anything else. He was about to reach his room, when he saw Shu entering his. They met eyes in silence, neither of them moved. After a while, Shu spoke.

“Do you want to come in?”

Izuku raised his arms full of dry laundry.

“I need to put this away, can you wait for me?”

Shu nodded. Izuku hurried to his room and dropped everything on his bed. Shu had left the door open for him. He observed his room for a bit while sitting in front of the low table. Shu’s room was much emptier than his and Katsuki’s and it was neater too. Had he not thought about gathering supplies or did he not need them?

“I’m sorry about the trouble my quirk put you through.” he bowed his head a little.

Izuku was surprised that Shu had just lowered his defenses so much, so suddenly. Yet he really could not think of this as a trap, after all, he clearly knew about the exchange and only the owner could have known. Izuku knew his secret, but Shu had nothing on him. How could this be a trap? He raised his hand in a pacifying gesture.

“No, it was no trouble really! I was just surprised, that’s all!”

“Even if you had to exchange body with that guy?” Shu was observing him curiously. “I guess you are not on bad terms, since you two are on first name basis, but still, I cannot see him as a very tolerant person.”

“Ah, I can see why you would think like that, but he is not that bad, really.” Izuku scratched his head a little.

“I see, I suppose you know better.” he changed the subject. “Anyway, you know my quirk, I have nothing on you. You can sell information about me if you want, I can’t stop you. The only thing I can offer you is an alliance; if you want, I can use my quirk for your benefit, in exchange for your silence. Actually, to be fair, if you sell my information, it’s very likely that you would be in danger, not me. Once the quirk conditions are out in the open anyone can use it at will. If you form an alliance with me I’ll tell you how to avoid the danger.”

Izuku thought very seriously about what he was implying. He spoke as though he had a disadvantage here but that was only a superficial view of the situation. Shu was implying that leaking his quirk would be more damaging than the opposite. Either he was lying to scare him or… he thought back to the little message, ‘I’m sorry’.

“Why are you proposing an alliance to me instead of just using your quirk to your own advantage?” he asked him.

“Because I don’t like the fact that people can use me to hurt other people. I’ve seen enough of that already. I’m here to prove my reliability, letting everyone take advantage of my quirk is not proof of that. It’s completely out of my hands as soon as everyone knows it.” he was very serious.

“What are your conditions?” Izuku tried.

“If you form an alliance with me I’ll tell you everything.” no luck there.

“Why not Four?” he tried again.

“I don’t trust his quirk. It’s too dangerous.” he answered without hesitation.

“He is not allowed to use it.” this was becoming way too tense for Izuku’s liking.

“Then he is useless, isn’t he?” Izuku froze at that. Harsh. Shu dropped his gaze and sighed. “No, actually, he can’t use my quirk because he can’t speak. That’s the real reason. You can, he can’t. Forming an alliance with you can be beneficial for both of us, I’ll let you use it as you wish, he simply can’t work with me. Have you made up your mind yet?”

Izuku was with his back against a corner. Shu had him exactly where he wanted; if he were to refuse an alliance, he was going to be afraid of his quirk forever. On the other hand, he could not betray Katsuki, no matter what. He could ask Shu to make an alliance with him too, even if he could not work directly with him. Izuku had no guarantees that he would accept and even if he did, he had not asked for Katsuki’s permission. Still, a part of him was telling him that Shu was not a bad person and having such a versatile quirk on their side could be actually a good thing. He took a deep breath and confessed.

“Actually, I’m already in an alliance with Four… So, if you want to work with me, you have to work with him too.” he tried to sound firm.

“I see…” the silence stretched. Izuku was starting to worry. Shu suddenly sighed. “I don’t really know if he is trustworthy or not, I really don’t like his quirk. But it’s true that he can’t use it, so I guess that it’s fine. In exchange, I want to know your quirk too, Izu. I’ll offer you all the information about my quirk and some insurance for the both of you, so I want the same in return. I was going to let you keep your quirk a secret, but if you are his friend I can’t really trust you completely.”

Izuku’s mind immediately found a solution for this new problem. He was surprising himself, when had he become so cunning? Then another thought hit him.

“How are you going to tell me your condition if the rules forbid you from say them?”

“Ah,” he smiled a little, “the rules don’t say anything about answering a question with a nod right?”

Impressive. Definitely, Izuku had still a lot to learn. He got up and left the room after telling him that he would speak with Katsuki. Izuku made his way to his ally's door and hesitated a moment. Was he capable of convincing him that this was for the best? Was it really for the best? Would he be mad that he took this initiative and ended up in a trap?

Katsuki was not going to be happy.

Chapter Text

Katsuki opened the door almost immediately with a frown already on his face. He let him in and they sat on the carpet as usual. Katsuki drew a question mark in the air before opening the notebook. Izuku took a deep breath.

“I found the owner of the Body Swap quirk.” Katsuki’s eyes lit up with interest. “And err… He proposed an alliance with us.” he purposely let out the fact that the alliance was originally for him only. Katsuki frowned deeply and drew another question mark. Izuku understood that he was asking why. “He said that everyone can use his quirk as soon as the conditions are in the open… He wants us to keep it a secret in exchange for his cooperation in the future.”

-This doesn’t make any sense-

Izuku looked at the message on the notebook and tried to understand what he was trying to communicate. He could not see the point, then he met eyes with Katsuki who started to scribble some more, irritated.

-Why would he need an alliance? He can just take possession of your body and win. If he isn’t doing that, it means that he can’t. He has not met the conditions himself-

“No, I don’t think that’s it. I think that he doesn’t want to use his quirk at all. He seemed really serious about not wanting to take advantage of other people.” that was what his gut feeling was telling him at least.

-Or this is simply a trap-

Katsuki stared at him for a moment before adding something else.

-Do you feel like he is a trustworthy person?-

“Why would you ask me this? You have clearly more experience than me about this kind of stuff.” he asked, perplexed.

-Quite the opposite. I have little to no experience with people. For me, everyone is an enemy. I can reason on quirks terms, but not on people terms. If you are sure that he really hate using his quirk and he is trying to win in a clean way… Then I’ll trust your judgement-

Izuku was speechless. Katsuki was always so difficult on everything, why would he think something like that? This was not the reaction he was expecting at all. Why was he letting him decide something so important?

“Why?”

Katsuki played around with the pen in his hand for a moment with a complex expression on his face.

-You are the only one that actually believed me when I said that I don’t want to use my quirk. You are the only one who gave me a chance. If you say that he is similar to me then okay. You are usually right about this stuff-

Izuku could not decide if he felt extremely fluttered or scared out of his skin. Katsuki was putting an incredible amount of faith on his shoulders.

-And I can read it on your face, that you have already decided to accept his offer, I’m not stupid-

He closed his notebook with something similar to a pout, but that couldn’t be possible. Katsuki pouting? He got to his feet and gestured towards the door, moments later they were both seated on Shu’s carpet. The atmosphere was tense.

“So, I guess we have an understanding?” Shu asked after a while.

Izuku nodded, Katsuki only rested his elbow on the table with his face in his hand, and then he opened his notebook and started to scribble with his other hand.

-Not so fast. You want us to keep your secret, right? Give us all the details about your quirk THEN we have an understanding-

“Fair enough.” Shu sat straight. “I’ll tell you how to avoid activating my quirk unless you want to. I’ll offer insurance in case someone else tries to use it to their advantage too. Ask your questions.”

Katsuki didn’t waste any time.

-So, your quirk is Body Swap, it activates when you heard a particular voice command, correct?-

Shu nodded.

-The command is something that Izu said the first day. Was it my name?-

Shu nodded two times. Sharp Katsuki. When had he figured out? Then he raised the notebook from the table and rested it on his lap where only Izuku could see it.

-I was right, he has not met the condition. He doesn’t know your name so he can’t switch with your body. But you were right too. He can possess me right now, but he won’t do it. He doesn’t want to abuse his quirk or mine. This means that he may be honest about the rest too, problem is: This quirk is useless for us. We don’t know the first name of the others either. But I can see what he means by ‘going out of his control’ now. Anyone can say my name at any time and they would exchange with me. He’s right, this is more dangerous for us than for him. To be honest, this alliance is more necessary for us. The hyena knows your name. You are doomed if she says it in front of him-

Izuku felt a chill down his spine. Katsuki was right; this was very dangerous for them. Who knows if she had sold his name off? He and Katsuki were both in a vulnerable position. If Shu was serious about this alliance, he was basically a savior to them. Shu noticed them communicate in secret, well, they were not really subtle about it.

“I know what you are afraid of, rest assured. Not only I don’t want to use it on any of you, I don’t want to be held responsible if someone switches body with Four and creates a disaster either. Sure, it would not be my direct responsibility, but Aizawa knows that I have this quirk. He would know that it was partially my fault.”

Izuku was really surprised by the complexity that every quirk in this place held. Everything had more deeps than you would think. Then he thought of a question.

“How can you speak about switching bodies? Isn’t it against the rules?”

-He is speaking hypothetically, as long as he doesn’t directly refer to it or the conditions, it’s fine. Anyone can talk about their quirk as long as it’s vague or a hypothesis. You just have to phrase it right-

This rule had a lot more loopholes than Izuku first realized. Trust Katsuki to know all of them.

“So it’s fine even if you show it directly? Since you are not technically saying what it is?” he asked.

“Yes, remember what he said? ‘As long as it doesn’t come out of the owner’s mouth or pen.’ Some people would be unable to do anything if showing them was forbidden.” Shu answered. “Quirks like mine can’t really be shown though.”

-All right, enough about that. There are other conditions, right? For example the timeframe-

Shu nodded again.

-We switched while sleeping both times. Is that the condition?-

This time he shook his head.

-Then it must be… midnight? Your quirk activate at midnight?-

Shu nodded.

Katsuki snorted and wrote another sentence.

-Wow, your quirk is shit-

Izuku’s eyes popped out of his head when he saw it and instinctively ripped the page and rolled it into a ball before Shu could read it. He didn’t appear to have seen what Katsuki wrote, as he was observing them with a curious expression. Katsuki frowned at him and forced himself to change the wording.

-You quirk is pretty inconvenient-

“Yes, that is the truth. My quirk is dangerous and works in a complicated way. Often, I don’t ever realize that it’s been used, especially since its effects are so delayed. In my house, it was pretty common to be all over the place every midnight. It was very difficult to keep track of everyone. My siblings learned to use only nicknames after a while. For this reason, I had to keep my distance from everyone; I couldn’t even go to school since kids call each other with their first name all the time. My father, as soon as he realized what I was, made sure that I would not meet anyone besides family members. It was to protect my quirk secrecy for this test. He said to win by using it. I have a different opinion on the matter. Here we are all using nicknames precisely to protect ourselves from quirks like mine. Until I become a member of the Task Force and my quirk is revealed to the whole world, this is the only place where I can actually interact with people. I’m not leaving so quickly. I’ll use my quirk only if I somehow end up surrendering two times.”

-I see, now I have a clearer picture. But everyone knows my first name, they are not using it for now but this can change at any time. What do you intend to do about that? What is that insurance you talked about?-

Shu hesitated for a moment. He was searching for the right way to phrase what he wanted to say.

“Have you ever heard of priority quirks?” he asked.

Izuku hadn’t. Katsuki started to scribble fast. He had.

-I see. Yours is a priority quirk. Then you can switch before someone else gets to, right?-

Shu nodded once again. Izuku was lost. Katsuki noticed and rolled his eyes.

-Some quirks have multiple targets. Like this one, if he hears 100 names 100 people will exchange. Some of these quirks have a priority system to allow the owner a bit more control. No matter who meets the condition first, he is allowed to steal the spot. For example, if I were to say your name at midnight we should exchange, but if he says it too, it will be him who exchanges with you, not me. Got it?-

“Yes, that explanation is correct.” Shu agreed.

-Is this what you intend to do? If someone says my name you will use your priority to switch instead?-

“Precisely. If I hear your name, I’ll say it too. I’ll safeguard your body until the following midnight. About this… Does anyone knows your name, Izu? If I have to do the same for you, I have to know. By the way, I can’t safeguard two people at the same time, make sure that I never hear both names within the same day. I can help only one person in that case.”

Izuku bit his lip, Urara knew his name. Should he give it to him as well? The insurance sounded good, but it meant to fully trust Shu with his body. He could believe that he would not speak in Katsuki’s body, but what about his body? He was allowed to speak freely; Shu could go in front of Aizawa anytime and… Katsuki poked his side.

-You have to decide if you want to trust him entirely or not. It’s up to you, it was your mistake, you have to take responsibility-

Katsuki was right. His mistake, his responsibility.

“All right then… Urara knows my name. It’s Izuku.”

“I see…” Shu pondered a moment. “That girl is bad news. She is actively trying to make conversation with everyone. In this situation it’s very suspicious. I’m sure she needs some specific information to make her quirk work. In any case, since you gave me your name, I’ll give you mine. I’m Shouto. Shu is the nickname my siblings used.”

“Thanks for trusting me with it. Nice to meet you.” Izuku bowed his head a little.

“Likewise.” he bowed a bit too. “Now, I would like to know more about your quirk, so that our alliance is complete.”

Izuku had not forgotten this part of the deal, he had been thinking of a way out of this the entire time. He was pretty sure that he found a good one. He ignored Katsuki’s questioning look, there was no way he was going to say that he bargained his inclusion using his quirk as payment. He lifted the paper ball that was still in his hand, the one he rolled earlier and kept on purpose, and showed it to them. Then he made an effort to activate the Acid Skin quirk and melted the paper completely. Both of them stared at his hand speechless. They were not expecting that. Izuku had thought about showing the Light Sphere instead but anyone could see that it was not an A or S quirk. Acid Skin was well known for being an A rank, so it was a great camouflage.

“I… see.” Shouto looked a bit perturbed. “I was not expecting… this. If I end up taking your body, you have to teach me how to not activate it. My quirk does what it wants, so I’m not used to active quirks.”

Having reached an understanding Katsuki and Izuku left Shouto’s room and returned to Katsuki’s room. He immediately sat down on his bed and started scribbling with a frown.

-Acid Skin has nothing to do with kisses!-

“Yeah, well… I lied.” said Izuku while sitting down. “That’s not actually my quirk, it was just camouflage.”

Katsuki stared at him with his mouth open for two minutes making Izuku uncomfortable, then slowly grinned broadly.

-You’ve grown up a pair since the last time I saw you naked!-

“Wha-“ Izuku blushed a little. “Wait a minute…” he realized something. “Does that means that you didn’t see me naked while you were in my body?”

Izuku could not fathom what possessed him to say such a thing, he started to burn internally. His fantasies about what Katsuki could have done in his body were not supposed to come out in the open. Katsuki was tomato red and had an outraged expression on his face.

-What kind of logic is that?! I was joking, I didn’t mean physically growing a pair! What the hell! And who do you think I am?! A frigging perv? I don’t look at those things just because I can! Last time I saw you I had the right permission to see!-

There were tons of things to comment about that, but for some reason, his mind kept focusing on the two crossed words. He had the right to see him naked, hm? Katsuki scribbled some more.

-Wait a minute, what have YOU done in my body?!-

Okay, time for Izuku to go back to his room. He got up rapidly.

“I’ll see you Monday in class. Good night.”

He ran out of the room closing the door behind him, something hit the door from the inside, probably the notebook. Izuku locked himself in his room. It was not like he did something in Katsuki’s body, he had a clean conscience, but when Katsuki was in this particular mood, he would not believe anything he said, so it was better to just run away. He threw himself on the bed sighing before realizing something. He had forgotten about the laundry that was on the bed, now it was even messier than before. He sighed deeply. Luckily, he had two days before the next class. He had time to iron the clothes.

Izuku tried to distract himself all evening and next day, he ironed, cleaned the room, stole some other supplies from the convenience store and tried to organize things a bit better. He didn’t want to think about Katsuki and Shouto for a while, he needed a break from everything. His life had been a mess this last week. On Sunday, he met Urara in the hallway.

“Finally!” she yelled running toward him. “I’ve been looking for you for days! Where were you hiding?! I know that this is a test and all that, but we don’t bite! There is no need to escape!”

“Ah, I wasn’t really hiding… I’ve been just a bit busy, that’s all…” Katsuki and Shouto both were so wary of this girl, that he felt really tense talking to her. Izuku had not a clear picture of her yet. “I was doing the laundry, and cleaning my room… things like that…”

“I see, you are an organized person, good for you!” she nodded. “And you are hanging out with Four, so I guess you are not really lonely or anything.” she grinned a little. “Do you remember what I told you about taking care of the vegetables? I’ve been trying to gather everyone to discuss it, can you come on Monday after class? We are meeting up in the library.”

“Yeah, sure…” he hesitated a little. “Should I invite Four too?”

“Hmm…” she frowned a little. “I guess? I mean… I don’t think he will want to help, but if there is someone he listens to, I bet it’s you. So, if you manage to convince him, sure, bring him too.”

Izuku was a little uncomfortable. He could not say anything since talking in this place was dangerous, but he really wanted to contradict her. It was always like that, everyone immediately assumed stuff about him, just because of his quirk. Katsuki surely was part of the problem, his attitude was keeping people away just like his quirk, but still. Izuku could not really blame people for being afraid of his quirk, it was a pretty bad one, but Katsuki was never going to use it on anyone, rules or not. They refused to give him a chance, so they would never discover that Katsuki had actually an iron morality. If he was keeping people away from him, it was mostly because he was too afraid of activating it by accident.

“I’ll ask him.” he simply answered.

“Great! I hope that everyone starts to get along soon! The atmosphere needs to lighten up a bit!” she nodded.

And yet, she wanted to exclude Katsuki from the get-go. What logic.

Izuku knocked on Aizawa’s door and the man opened after a long while, making Izuku start to wonder if he was not inside after all. The man looked really shabby, Izuku wondered if this was his quirk’s fault or more likely he was just a really lazy person. He could use a girlfriend.

“What? Is there some problem? Want a Calling Card?” he was very welcoming too.

“No, I was just wondering if my room doesn’t have a number at all… Can’t I have a number plate?” he tried to not get intimidated.

“Oh, right. I don’t have a number plate ready for you, I’ll ask for it. Or you can make it yourself, I don’t really care. You are number 7. If you don’t have anything else to say I’m going back to sleep. Bye.”

The man pretty much shut the door in his face. He was already knocking on Katsuki’s door when he realized it. He was number 7 and being the last one, he had surely the last assigned number. But the girls’ door had numbers from 1 upward too. So, if his calculation were correct there were 7 males and 4 girls. Entering Katsuki’s room, he sat down, ignoring him, and started to account for everyone. Izuku, Katsuki, Shouto, Kami, Mishima, square glasses. Six in total. Something was wrong there.

“Hey Katsuki. Why am I number 7 if there are only 6 males in the test?”

Katsuki’s expression went from really annoyed to pensive in a second. He scribbled like usual.

-You are number 7? It doesn’t make any sense. If, supposedly, one of the girls is actually a male or something, there would be only 3 rooms for girls. There are still 4 rooms for girls. It’s like we haven’t met someone, is there an extra person in this that we don’t know about? Are you sure you are number 7?-

“I just asked Aizawa, I’m sure.”

-Intriguing. Have you told this to anyone?-

“You are the first one I tell anything to, you should know that.”

Katsuki hesitated for a moment, his expression conflicted.

-Don’t tell anyone, this is good information. Don’t place the number on your door and don’t show your room to anyone. They are probably going to assume that you are in one of the numbered ones-

“All right.” Izuku agreed. “Urara invited us,” not really ‘us’ “To the library on Monday. She wants to discuss the vegetables.”

-Pain in the ass-

Direct as always.

“Actually I think I’ll go. I think that interacting with them is dangerous, but that’s really the only way to acquire new information.” he tried to explain his point. “You are free not to come, if you want, I’ll tell you if I hear anything useful.”

-Then I guess I’ll go too. To keep an eye on danger for you-

“You don’t have to do that…” Izuku was perplexed. “Why are you so accepting? The same thing happened with the alliance. You asked what I want to do and then accepted it. Not that I don’t appreciate it, but… That’s so not you. Normally, you would never let me decide.”

It was not like Izuku was suspecting him to pull some trick on him, it was just seriously disconcerting. Katsuki had a really displeased expression on his face.

-You really have not realized it, have you? My life is in the palm of your hand right now-

Izuku felt irritation grown.

“That’s not true! Why would you say such things?”

-THINK ABOUT IT. No matter what conditions their quirks have, you surely can sell me to them. Or score a win yourself. Your presence is the biggest threat to me! It’s not your fault that you were sent here, but had I known, I would have never revealed so many things to you! I can’t defend myself from you in any way!-

“So you just figured that offering complete cooperation would buy my silence?” he got on his feet clenching his fists. “I would not sell you off for any reason in the world, but you don’t believe in me at all, do you?” Katsuki adverted his gaze angrily. “You only see people as gain or loss, that’s why you don’t have a normal relationship with anyone!”

He stormed out of the room and slammed the door to his own room shut. It took him an hour before the anger could dissipate and reason could fill his brain again. It was obvious that Katsuki would feel this way, time and time again, he was denied the opportunity to have a normal life. The test was his only opportunity, his only hope, for a better future. The Task Force had many eccentric people; it was common sense that an unique person would fit best with other unique people, right? Maybe Katsuki could have trusted him more, but who was Izuku to judge his life and feelings? He needed to apologize; his childish behavior would only make him more distant.

On the eight of April, Izuku tried to speak with Katsuki before the class started, but he had already left his room. When Izuku reached the classroom, Katsuki was already seated at his desk. He sat next to him and greeted him but he ignored him entirely.

“Listen, I’m sorry,” he lowered his voice a little but the classroom was too quiet, “can we talk about this, Katsuki?”

Katsuki’s head turned toward him in a snap and a cough was audible from the other end of the room. Shouto had heard him. Izuku slapped a hand on his mouth and Katsuki face-palmed.

-You goddamn moron-

 

Here is a fantastic fanart by Puolukka! Thank you very much again for this <3

Page 1

Page 2

Take a look at her Instagram as well! She is Sarumomoka! 

Chapter Text

Inside the study room, after class, Izuku apologized to both Shouto and Katsuki multiple times while bowing his head.

“You don’t need to apologize to me,” said Shouto, “if you don’t mind exchanging bodies with him, then I’m not involved in this.”

-Same old idiot. Whatever. We don’t have class tomorrow anyway-

Izuku wanted to apologize for a lot more than just that, but he could not with Shouto present. He ended up asking him if he was going to the meeting in the library.

“I’m not sure… do you think I should?”

Why was everyone asking him to decide? They had both a lot more experience than he did and yet they were relying on him to decide everything. Selfishly, he told him to go, so he would have even more eyes keeping a look out for danger. Shouto nodded, but then Katsuki got up to leave.

“Aren’t we going to the meeting?” he asked him.

He stopped, scribbled on his notebook then showed it without looking in his direction.

-YOU are going. I’m not. Wipe your own ass-

He slammed the door as he left. Of course, Katsuki would still be mad at him. Izuku could feel Shouto’s eyes on him, he was observing him curiously, clearly unsure of what had just happened. Izuku massaged his eyes for a moment, sighing. This was a problem for later. Izuku and Shouto joined the others in the library; everyone was there except for Mishima. Urara was explaining a table setup that she had drawn on a big paper when she saw them and greeted them. Most people at the meeting, like Kami and Haru, were pretty energetic and talkative so Izuku started to relax bit by bit. This looked a lot like a group for a study project, something Izuku was familiar with. Shouto and square glasses looked more uncomfortable than relaxed as they didn’t say a thing. By the end of the meeting, Urara had assigned Izuku to the Tuesdays and Shouto to the Saturdays. They were to pull out weeds and water the plants on those days. Katsuki was excluded.

“All right, now that the vegetables are out of the way, there is something else I want to discuss.” Urara rolled up the paper; she was going to hang it in the classroom later. “I have learned, by asking Aizawa, that we are allowed to fish in the sea and gather seafood if we can find any. However, there is the problem of potential food poisoning… Do any of you know how to recognize what’s edible? If not, maybe we shouldn’t bother; it’s not wise to risk our lives where there are no hospitals.”

“We have this library though, there’re surely volumes about fishes and seafood.” said Froppy.

“That’s why I had this idea! Why don’t we have a seafood barbeque once a week? We can share fishes and anything else we can find. We can cook them all together! Isn’t this a good opportunity to spend some time together like a real class? I don’t want to spend a year shut in my room too scared to stick my nose out of my door. Let’s be friends!” she smiled looking at each of them.

Kami, Froppy, Haru and Yao nodded; square glasses didn’t have any noticeable reaction. Izuku was conflicted once again, this sounded like a great idea, he was not a great cook and he could already see himself getting bored of instant noodles, sandwiches, toast and snacks. On the other hand, Katsuki and Shouto both had expressed they had a bad feeling about the girl. Even now, Shouto was looking down on his laps, not saying anything. He decided to try and risk it, nothing would change if he didn’t try to change it himself. He nodded.

“Well then! The majority voted in favor!” she got up with enthusiasm. “Let’s do it every Wednesday, all right?”

No one had anything to object, it wasn’t like there was much to do in this place, each day was basically identical to the previous one and the next one too. Only Aizawa’s lessons were helping to pass some time. Izuku knocked on Katsuki’s door to update him on the meeting. He opened the door, only a bit, enough for his face to be visible. Katsuki could be very childish if he wanted to.

“We decided to have a seafood barbeque every Wednesday. You coming?” Katsuki shook his head with an unimpressed stare. “All right, I have to take care of the vegetables every Tuesday.”

Katsuki disappeared for a moment inside, but he returned before Izuku could open the door fully and enter. He had his notebook with him.

-Which means that, tomorrow, I have to go in your place-

Right, they would exchange at midnight until the following midnight.

“I can go with your body if you want.” he offered.

-That’s a bad idea. They would wonder why I’m going in your place, if anyone saw me-

“Well then I—“ before Izuku could offer something else Katsuki slammed the door in his face. “Alright… maybe not…” he sighed.

The next morning he woke up in Katsuki’s room, in his body, as expected. Before he could get his bearings, someone knocked on his door, it was Katsuki in his body, with his usual displeased expression. He dragged him in front of Shouto’s door and as soon as he opened the door, he said ‘Katsuki’ then disappeared inside Izuku’s room without even greeting them. They followed him with their eyes and then looked at each other. Shouto bowed his head a little in greeting and Izuku offered him an apologetic smile. Shouto slightly bowed again, then closed the door; apparently he didn’t want company. Izuku wondered if it was Katsuki’s body that was making him unwilling to spend time with him. He returned inside Katsuki’s room and sat down, thinking about what to do for the day. He had nothing special that he had to do, maybe he could take a look inside the library for seafood books or something, but he didn’t want to do it in this body, similar to the situation with the vegetables, people would wonder why. It was better for him to remain in the room and wait for midnight. He scanned the room with his eyes in search of something to look at, anything.

Katsuki had staked a lot of random stuff, there was even a juicer for making fresh orange juice. Izuku could not remember, but he was not so sure that oranges were even available here. He had cooking knives, a toaster, and even a little portable stove. He really didn’t want to go to the kitchen to cook, did he?

Katsuki was above average in his cooking skill, so it was obvious he had thought about that thoroughly. There were three packs of toilet paper; Izuku realized he had to do the same, only because there was still paper in his bathroom it didn’t mean it was going to be infinite. He had a lot of writing supplies and spare notebooks, but that was pretty normal. Beside the desk was a tower of books, on closer inspection they were all from the library, they were textbooks for a lot of different subjects. Izuku felt a little guilty but he started opening the drawers of the desk. Inside the first one, was a medical kit and a medical textbook. Izuku smiled, Katsuki was always prepared for everything, Izuku had only to learn from him. In the second one, was a photo album. Izuku opened it, inside were photos of Katsuki and his family when he was younger. Izuku was surprised that Katsuki had actually brought such a personal item to this place. However, it was not implausible; Katsuki loved his family even if his feelings were tainted by guilt. Izuku observed the photo of them on a beach; Bakugou Mitsuki had a black smear on her left cheek and Bakugou Masaru a black shape on his right shoulder, a little child’s hand. Katsuki was fully clothed, looking uncomfortable as he was in all the pictures where his parents were touching him somewhere. Izuku sighed sadly. Katsuki’s control over his quirk had gotten a lot better since he was little, but he would never fully get used to accepting physical contact after those incidents. What a heartless quirk.

He turned the pages mindlessly until he reached the last two pages, then he stopped, frozen in place. He recognized these pictures; he was the one that took them. One was the trip during the second year of high school, they were on a panoramic spot, Izuku had taken a commemorative photo of the two of them, Katsuki was looking away from the camera, only his frowning profile was visible. Another was in an amusement park, Izuku had taken a photo of the sign with them in front, or at least he had tried to, Katsuki had started walking away mid-shot and Izuku had turned to call him back, it was a terrible photo. There were others taken during the school trips, in all of them Katsuki was trying to leave or showing only part of his face. Izuku remembered all of them, he also had them at home, but they had been taken with his camera and Katsuki never asked for a copy. Had he stolen the camera to copy them from the memory card when Izuku was not watching? Probably. He should just have asked. Izuku would have been happy to give him a copy.

Same old Katsuki.

This was not even nearly half the actual photos anyway. But, they were all of them together. Izuku had stolen a lot more shots of Katsuki alone and he had an annoyed expression in all of them, he hated being photographed. Izuku chuckled remembering just how many times he had written him that he would burn his camera someday. He turned to the last page and choke on his saliva. These were not his photos. There were shots he had never seen before. They were of Izuku alone, staring outside a bus window, sitting outside the baseball playfield, eating an ice cream in the amusement park and one of his sleeping face. He started burning up when he realized exactly when he had given him to opportunity to take a shot at his sleeping face. He had no idea Katsuki was sneaking pictures of him too! He was a lot better than Izuku at secretly taking pictures, he never suspected anything. The dimension and quality was different from the previous ones, these were taken with his phone camera. He slammed shut the book and put it again inside the drawer. For the rest of the day he tried to forget all about it with little to no success.

Wednesday, the ninth of April, Izuku, again in his own body, went down to the West side of the little island. The Northern side was entirely occupied by the building, just beyond was a high cliff. The Southern side had the area where the planes were landing and the cliff was surrounding the whole East side from there. Only the West side had a slope that ended directly in the sea with a little beach. It was seriously an exaggeration to call it beach, but at least it was flat and soft, contrary to all the sharp rocks that were everywhere else, like landmines. There were already Kami and Urara, he was splashing in the cool water in a swimsuit, while the girl was examining a grill that looked pretty old. She had a swimsuit on too, but the lower part of her body was covered by a long, colorful beach pareo. Only after a while, he noticed square glasses sitting in a corner, far from everyone else. He was reading a book and was fully clothed. He didn’t even look up from it when Izuku greeted him. He wondered what was with this attitude of his. He still bothered coming to all the social events, but he behaved like they didn’t exist at all.

“Please Izu!” Urara suddenly pleaded. “Help me! I know nothing about grills!”

Izuku was not exactly an expert either, but he supposed he had helped his father set up the annual barbeque in their garden sometimes. However, he was not really sure that this grill was safe to begin with, it looked pretty dirty. While he was trying to make it look a little less poisonous looking, Haru and Froppy joined them. They were good friends apparently, they moved always together. Froppy had a top and shorts while Haru was wearing only a bikini, Izuku tried to not stare, the girl was pretty hot.

“What? I thought we were going to swim! Why are half of you still clothed?” Haru asked looking surprised.

“It’s April, I’m not sure the water is at a warm enough temperature right now.” answered Urara.

Haru pouted and then joined Kami in the water who looked overjoyed to be near a hot girl. In the following hour, Haru and Kami brought little shells they found on the rocks nearby and Froppy fished up three small fishes. Shouto and Yao arrived at noon both were normally clothed. The total amount of food was not even nearly enough of all of them, but it was an acceptable first try. Izuku tried to start the fire with some difficulties; at some point square glasses took his spot and easily created a nice layer of charcoal. He started cooking the fishes afterward, all in complete silence. Izuku really could not get a read on that guy.

The first seafood barbeque went quite well, they talked about fishes, seafood and the ocean mostly, but some even shared some details of themselves. Froppy said that she liked water and she preferred autumn over hot summers or cold winters. Her nickname was given to her by her friends because she was like a frog, always playing with water, jumping in puddles and going outside in the rain. Urara talked a little about her parents and hometown. Haru about her favorite type of swimsuit for girls. Kami chatted an incredible lot about his favorite food. Izuku was starting to relax a lot, he thought about maybe revealing something about himself, but Shouto’s coldness to the whole thing made him hesitate. Even now, the guy was seated with his head hung in silence.

“I thought I smelled roasted food…” suddenly a voice sounded from the other end of the beach. Aizawa was there, looking as shabby as always, even in the warm sun he was wrapped in oversized clothes. “I haven’t eaten anything properly cooked in a long while, is there anything left for me?”

They all looked at each other. That certainly had been unexpected. Truthfully, there was nothing left, but Froppy was still fishing and Urara hurried inside the building to gather some vegetables as a side dish. Eating together with the man was a bit awkward, but they were eager to get on his good side, so they tried to make small talk. Two more fishes were caught by Froppy and they roasted them for him, not even trying to claim them. The man wolfed down on them like he had not eaten in a month, while they were sending him some perplexed glances.

“He really needs a girlfriend…” Urara whispered in Izuku’s ear and he quickly hid a smile.

“To be fair…” Shouto mentioned later, while they were all returning inside. “He is already partially blind. I don’t think it’s easy for him to cook or take care of himself, I don’t think it’s right for us to look at him that way.”

He was right of course, Izuku felt a little guilty. Maybe they should implement another duty, to bring Aizawa a decent meal every day. Once he returned to his room, he thought about stopping by Katsuki’s and talk, but he could not think of anything important to say. And Katsuki was still irritated with him.

The following week was pretty uneventful, Izuku didn’t try to talk with Katsuki and he made no attempt either. Classes were still easy and a bit boring, the vegetables were looking healthy and everyone was socializing tentatively except for Katsuki and Mishima who were avoiding everyone as much as they could. Shouto too was pretty reticent still, but Izuku started to forget about that. Nothing bad was happening and everyone looked friendly enough. Maybe Shouto was just as untrusting as Katsuki, it was not their fault, but they were simply biased. That Tuesday, Izuku took care of the vegetables for the first time, it was actually Katsuki who did it the last time. Surprisingly, Froppy was already there crouched down, examining some plants.

“Oh, good morning Izu.” she greeted him.

“Froppy, good morning… Today is my day, right?” for a moment he was afraid to have actually got it wrong.

“Yeah, of course it is. Don’t immediately start to second guess yourself.” she smiled sweetly. “I just love plants and water and I wanted to be sure you knew what you were doing. Am I bothering you?”

“No, no! Not at all! I was just surprised! I love plants too, but I normally take care of flowers, not vegetables, so a hand is always welcome!”

He went to fill the watering can with water.

“The person that was in charge yesterday, Kami if I’m not mistaken, didn’t pull out the weeds… Geez, so sloppy…” the girl started pulling weeds out with enthusiasm. They worked in silence for a while, then Froppy started singing a tune Izuku did not recognize. “Can I ask you something?” she asked out of the blue after she stopped singing.

Izuku hesitated a moment, unsure of what to do or say to avoid offending her, then he realized that she must know how the test worked better than him.

“I don’t know if I can answer though.”

She nodded smiling, like he had just given the right answer.

“It’s a good idea to keep things to yourself, but don’t forget that we are all still kids and Aizawa won’t let us use our quirks to do something nasty, so you can relax a bit. I’ve talked to all of them, most don’t really have an objective here. Kami has already a spot open for him in the Task Force, his approval is almost granted, he is basically having a good time while he’s here. Mishima and Four are already well known by the Government. They can’t do anything with their quirks. Square glasses has a quirk that hurts others. I don’t know anything specific, but that much is evident. Shu wants to simply wait for the end without doing anything. I can’t guarantee anything about Urara, she is pretty transparent in her attempt to get information, but at the same time, I have a feeling that she is not actually a bad person. I don’t care about winning before the time limit and my quirk is not very useful either. Yao is keeping to herself. Which means that the only person I’m not sure about is you. My question is: What do you want from this test? Are you trying to win or just to survive?”

It was a pretty fair question actually. Anyone could lie about something like this, but he was sure that Froppy was quite good at catching lies. The question was more similar to psychological test than a real question. She wanted to know his personality. He squatted down next to her.

“True to be told, I had no idea I would take part in the test until very recently.” The truth was his best option, especially since he really just wanted to reach the end intact, not to win. “I was not raised with the knowledge of what to do in this situation. So, if you ask me what I want from this test… Nothing. I don’t really want anything from it. I just want to reach the ending and go back home as peacefully as possible.”

“I see… Do you want to be a part of the Task Force? To use your quirk for the Government?”

“Well, in the end the Task Force is just a bunch of part-timers right?” he scratched his head. “They get called when there is the need and then do whatever they want the rest of the time. So I guess I don’t really mind? I haven’t really decided what to do with my life after all.”

In any case, his quirk was not very useful the way it was now.

“I see!” she smiled. “You are just a normal kid! I never hung out with a normal kid before! I look forward to learning more about you!”

She got up and started to walk away humming again in high spirit. Izuku observed her completely confused, he had no idea what to make of this conversation.

“I’m just a normal kid…?” he asked the eggplant in front of him.

Chapter Text

That week, the seafood barbeque started in higher spirit than last time.

The test had started two weeks ago and they had overcome the initial impression, so now, with the usual exceptions, they were interacting in a more natural way. Izuku was content with the current situation even if he was feeling uneasy about their refusal to include Mishima and Four in any activity. For a group of people who were talking about cooperation and friendship, they were abandoning them pretty easily. It felt too close to discrimination to comfort. For some reason, Izuku had started to think they were all people who had led pretty solitary existences before coming here. If that was true, then it should be easy for them to understand what discrimination felt like. Even Shouto had said he was happy to have finally met people his age who he could interact with but at the same time, he was avoiding some of them to a certain level. Izuku didn’t really like how things were developing, were Mishima and Katsuki destined to be alone, even among their comrades?

Izuku had a dirty conscience himself, he had somehow avoided Katsuki. Izuku, himself, was not sure of the reason why. Part of him was still thinking about the argument they had about trust, but that was not the whole reason. Izuku was feeling somewhat lacking, like he had yet to demonstrate his worth to him. If Katsuki was going to trust him so much, he wanted to offer something in exchange. That was why he had promised himself to talk to Katsuki again only after he had gained some useful information. But it was just an excuse. The real reason was another one. It was not possible to build any kind of relationship without ignoring the elephant in the room.

They had to talk about their past together and figure out what they really were for each other. Last time they saw each other, the terms of their relationship was clear in their minds, or more precisely the terms for the end of their accord, but they never took into consideration the possibility of meeting again. They were not supposed to meet again after the end of high school. At the very least, not before Katsuki had taken the test and his destiny would be set in stone, as much as destiny can be set in stone. For this reason, they had always kept a certain degree of distance between themselves. Both were aware that Katsuki had to go away, there were no other options, it was the law, and so neither wanted to make a promise. They never acknowledged their relationship in an open way or talked about feelings. For everyone, they had always been only friends and that was the definition they used too. Had Izuku let Katsuki decide, they would have not even reached that level, he had always been adamant about keeping other humans away, but Izuku was just as stubborn. He forced his way in without Katsuki’s permission.

And here they were now, with a confused relationship that was impossible to define.

“So…” he tried a bold move. “It looks like everyone here knows Mishima’s quirk… How come?”

“Oh, how strange, since you are friend with Four I thought you, of all people, would know!” Urara was the first one to react. “Those two are the ones the Government keeps a special eye on. You surely already know Four’s quirk and Mishima’s is almost just as famous. Those two know each other, so I was sure he had told you too.”

“No, he didn’t…” he was not going to attempt to explain their complicated relationship to them right now, if ever.

“Wait! You all know?! I don’t know either!” finally Kami snapped out of a trance.

“That’s pretty normal.” to everyone surprise it was Shouto who started to explain. “Four’s quirk is worldwide famous. It’s unique and extremely powerful, but he still went to a public school all his life causing panic all over,” Izuku grimace remembering some of the stories Katsuki had told him about grade school. “His fame is overwhelming. The Government decided that it was safe after confirming that he could not do anything to anyone as long as no one were to touch him. In addition, he has a good control over it, something that Mishima doesn’t have. Mishima’s case is completely different. He killed seven people already and he was confined inside a special facility all his life.”

“He what?!” Kami yelled on top of his lungs.

“His quirk,” Shouto continued unperturbed, “Is Virus. His body is a container for a deadly virus that spread into the victim’s body as soon as a direct contact is made. He killed his parents immediately after birth and the doctors and nurses too. When they identified what was happening, it was too late, the Virus spreads slowly and there is no cure. His quirk is not rare, in Africa and South America a lot of kids are born with it, the only difference is that they kill them on the spot to avoid problems. Mishima is lucky he was born here, not many nations do a test like we do. In term of dangerousness, he has the top spot, but in term of raw power his quirk is not so impressive, he can only spread a very limited quantity of it at a time, which is why it takes the victim so long to die. Four’s power is something else, not even the barrier around this place can stop its effect and his situation is far more complex.”

Holy cow!” Kami was still yelling.

“How do you know so much?” Urara looked at him suspiciously. “Not only the quirk, you know about all the details and more. It’s not normal.”

Shouto closed his eyes for a moment then he opened them again and answered.

“My father is the chief of the Department for S Rank Quirks Regulation.”

The mood dropped two feet underground and they all tensed up.

“Does this means you know all ours quirks?” asked Urara, she didn’t look very friendly anymore.

“No, only the ones of the people who were directly in my father's influence. Four’s and Mishima’s plus some others of people I don’t know. As you all know even the S rank quirks have some sublevels of dangerousness. Mishima and Four are considered unofficially ‘SS’. S are the quirks that hurt people physically or mentally, but Mishima kills and Four lasts for a long period of time so these two are a step higher. Normal S quirks can cause damage for a limited period of time or to a limited area so there is no need to keep them under strict control like SS. Even if another S is here right now, I wouldn’t know. As for A rank quirks, they are just law-breaking, they don’t hurt people. I know nothing about them.”

They relaxed a bit, but some of them looked like they weren’t sure if they wanted to believe him or not. Izuku was inclined to believe him even if he had no proof.

“We sure have some peculiar people in here, hell, Virus! I knew there was something strange about him, but not this!” Kami crossed his arms. “Now I see why he was so mad when I called this a vacation, maybe I should apologize.”

“Personally, I fear Four’s quirk more, a single mistake and your life is ruined!” said Haru sitting on the sand. “At least death is death, once you are dead it’s over!”

“Yeah, that’s very helpful Haru… They are both bad in my opinion.” Yao frowned. Izuku could not keep a straight face, he really hated the fact that everyone immediately assumed things about Katsuki. If even a mistake were to occur, he still would never use his quirk, so their lives wouldn’t be ruined at all. Izuku’s expression must have been more open than he thought because Yao stared at him. “You are his friend, right? Can you tell us more about him?”

Now they were all staring at him curiously.

“Yes, no, yes, I mean, yes! He is my friend!” caught off guard, he blurted out something incoherently. “We were in the same class during high school.”

“How was he at school? Did he attend classes?” asked Urara interested.

“Yes? Of course.” what kind of question was that?

“So he didn’t skip class? He didn’t insult the teachers?” asked Haru getting closer.

“No! Have you confused him for a delinquent?!” Izuku was baffled, what mental image did they have of him? “He is a good student! He had excellent grades!”

Seriously?!” Kami was over reacting about everything. “I totally thought he was the type to beat up everyone! Did he bullied you?! Are you being blackmailed?!”

“No…? What? Why?”

“Idiocy aside, he really was a good student?” Yao asked again. “I can’t imagine him having a normal life or a normal conversation with someone, I mean, he can’t even talk.”

“Well…” she was not wrong about that, but they were being overly dramatic too. “He had some problems interacting with people, that’s true, but he always listened in class and does everything he had to. He wasn’t a rebel or anything, he was only a little less social than most.” a lot less social.

“And everyone was cool with him being there?” Yao didn’t seem convinced.

“No… not really. Everyone mostly avoided him. He didn’t take part in P.E. either, to avoid accidents.” Izuku felt somewhat defeated for some reason.

“But you consider yourself his friend?” Froppy was listening attentively.

Izuku took a deep breath. He had to be careful not to give any potentially dangerous information, but at the same time, he felt compelled to defend him the best he could.

“No one wanted to sit next to him, no one wanted to do study groups with him… During the first year there was a lot of displeasure every time he was assigned to work on something with someone… At some point, I decided to offer myself as a volunteer. After that one time, the teachers automatically assigned me to him every time, I was seated next to him all the years and they made sure we would always be in the same class. Everyone considered me his babysitter. I didn’t mind, the first year was a bit difficult since we were strangers, but later it was just natural. After he warmed up to me, we have become normal friends, that’s all.”

He had given them the shortest version ever of the story, but it was all true, that was how everything began. They were all staring at him. Izuku tried to keep a straight face, even if he was feeling like he was under some kind of pressure. There was nothing strange in what he said, was there?

“Wow, you’ve got guts! You have some serious balls, man!” Kami was so easily impressed.

There was nothing strange about him, right? He had only done a normal thing, anyone would have done the same— Well, all right, maybe not.

They decided to bring some fish to Aizawa who appreciated them and approved of their plan of having a seafood barbeque every week. Later in his room, Izuku thought about his conversation with the others; about how much they were afraid of Mishima and Katsuki and they way they looked at him. Katsuki was right, he was always right. Most people would never accept him or anyone like him, they just didn’t trust them, they were too afraid. Izuku could not understand their feelings at all, but he had to accept them. And he had to show some real balls and talk to him again too.

The morning of April 20th, Izuku jumped out of bed with only a thought in his head: Today is Katsuki’s nineteenth birthday! He felt the stupidest person alive, how could he have forgotten something so important until that very moment? To think that he had even celebrated them with him for four years! He still remembered the small parties that Katsuki’s parents would prepare for them, only for the two of them. Izuku was Katsuki’s only friend and his parents both loved him, they would always try to convince Izuku to stay at their house as much as possible and to spend as much time as possible with him. Katsuki always ended up threatening them of death if they kept bothering him like that. Izuku was always embarrassed, but in a good way. He never even thought of taking Katsuki to his house, he was pretty sure both his father and mother would not be ecstatic with his choice of best friend. Or almost-boyfriend-something even.

The parties had always been very calm and relaxing, completely different from all the others Izuku had attended during his middle school years. Katsuki’s mom would cook all their favorite dishes for them and they even had a big cake. If Katsuki ever missed other people’s company he never gave any sign. Izuku had always had the suspect that if Katsuki had been a female they would have asked him to marry her already. That was just how much they loved him. Every time Izuku would be reminiscing about these times, he would blush with deep embarrassment, but these were all fond memories for him.

And now, here he was. Without a present to give him. Izuku immediately realized that he could not just ‘go somewhere and buy something’. That was not an option here. Furthermore, to just get him something from the convenience store was a terrible idea. Katsuki was organized, he surely had already taken all he needed and grab the first random thing was not very thoughtful either. There was really only one option, he had to do something for him with his own hands. A handmade gift. Problem: He had zero ideas and little time.

He left his room trying to think, there were some labs in the right wing of the building, but what could he do? He could not sew, a science experiment didn’t sound like a good gift. Music? Art? Izuku was pretty incompetent in both subjects. While he was walking around without a true objective, he met Froppy.

“Hi Izu. How are you?” she smiled gently.

“Hi Froppy, I’m alright, I’m trying to find a good idea…” he figured it couldn’t hurt to say that much.

“An idea?” she tilted her head.

“Yes, for a gift. I’m realizing that I’m terrible with creative stuff. I can’t exactly buy something in here.” he scratched his head with an embarrassed smile.

“I see… Hmm…” she put a finger to her lips. “I’m probably biased, but I would use the vegetables or fruits and herbs if I were you. It’s for Four, right? I can’t imagine him liking something useless.”

Izuku hoped this wasn’t giving her strange ideas, like he was courting him or something. But he could not say anything about his birthday, Izuku could see Katsuki’s expression if he knew he had just told them his birthday. She could probably speculate that a birthday was involved, but he never said it was needed for that same day.

“I’m not very good at cooking though. He is better than me at the very least, I can’t give him anything he can’t make on his own.”

“Well, it’s still food, he can still eat it.” she thought for a moment. “What about jam? The cherries on the tree are just ready to be harvested. In a couple week they will start to rot, it’s best if we use them right now! And since the season just started no one will miss some cherries, you can take them without any issue.”

“This is a good idea Froppy, but I don’t know how to make jam… It sounds complicated.” he was probably not capable of making something like this even with a recipe.

“I can help you! Let’s make a lot of jars, some for me and some for him, how does this sound?” she nodded. “I was going to make some for me anyway.”

“Even if there is some in the pantry?” Izuku had seen some kinds of jam in there.

“Yep, even if. Industrial jam is always worst than handmade one!” she smiled happily.

Having reached an agreement, they took a ladder from the utility closet and Izuku climbed up with two baskets. It took them two hours, but in the end, the baskets were full of beautiful cherries. They sat down in the kitchen at the table and started to remove the seeds inside, opening them in half. After that, they put the fruits in a big pot and Froppy taught him the right consistency the fruits had to have. She worked them with a fork creating a nice looking puree and she weighed them.

“Now you have to add half their weight in sugar.” she explained putting everything inside the pot again. “After that, we just have to wait, all the liquid must evaporate and the result should be dense enough without actually burning.”

They started to wash and prepare the used jars that Froppy brought from her own room.

“How were the other students treating you after you befriended Four?” she asked out of the blue.

Izuku hesitated a moment, she was very interested in him for some reason, he didn’t want to doubt her, but what if she was just trying to obtain the information she needed to activate her quirk? That or she was just a lover of interesting stories.

“There were mixed reactions.” he decided to answer her without entering too much into details. “At first they were friendly toward me, then I started to interact openly with him and they were confused. They were treating me like some kind of strange animal, they were curious and scared at the same time. They would ask me a lot of things, but at the same time they would never include me in any events or group activity. I think they thought of me as an intriguing anomaly. Some even started to try befriend me only to hear from me stories about Four. Since he would not interact with them, they thought that asking me instead was a better idea. They wanted to hear from me that he was a terrible person, I guess. Their questions were always petty and malicious like ‘Has he ever tried to mark you?’ or ‘How many people has he marked?’ or ‘What’s the worst thing he ever did with his quirk?’. At first I was overwhelmed, I had no idea what to tell them. Even if I tried to defend him, they would just keep thinking what they wanted. Then I learned from Ka-Four that the best idea was to fake ignorance about everything. I started giving stupid responses and they started to treat me like a poor idiot that had been captured by the big bad monster. I stopped paying attention to them during the third year. I always thought that having a single, deep relationship was better than having a lot of superficial ones. Kat-Four then told me to keep a neutral relationship with them, since he would not be there for me forever and I would end up alone, so-“

Izuku stopped realizing just how much he had been rambling. She smiled.

“You can call him by his name with me, you know? I already know it and my quirk definitely doesn’t work on names.” she took a look inside the pot. “Do you ever regret your decision? To befriend Four and ignore the others?”

“No, never.”

There were no doubts in his mind. Katsuki withdrew from high school earlier than everyone else, he wanted to spend some quality time with his family before joining the test and he was a good student, so passing the exams earlier had been easy for him. After Izuku lost all contact with him, they had gone to Italy for a long family vacation, he tried to spend more time with his classmates but none of them could hold his attention for long. Katsuki once had said that having to deal with an S rank quirk made you mature far earlier than the rest. Izuku understood only then what he had meant. His school friends were so boring and immature compared to Katsuki. Katsuki had a difficult personality and was not easy to deal with, but his mind was far sharper than all of them combined.

Now that Izuku had met others with A ranked and S ranked quirks, he could say with certainty that something was truly different in them. Even during normal conversations these people would make him stay on edge, always wondering what they were thinking. They were truly a world apart from all the normal people. After ending his relationship with Katsuki, he had a period of disorientation. He felt far too old compared to his peers, and he somewhat felt deprived of his youth. He closed up the time with Katsuki in a box and tried to live like everyone else. Forgetting about him was unfair, but Katsuki himself had told him to do it. To live his life and forget about him.

Izuku forgot and went ahead without him. Or at least he was telling himself that much. Deep down, really deep down, Izuku was scared. He had always known that Katsuki would go away and that getting too attached to him was a bad idea. Izuku was scared of getting hurt.

Katsuki accepted him by his side, first as a friend and later as the confusing thing they were now, only after he made absolutely clear that they had to part way forever at some point. Katsuki had always known he had to take the test and his chances of passing it were very slim. He never said it out loud, but Izuku understood anyway, Katsuki was very pessimistic about his future. He had given up on long-lasting relationships from the very beginning. In his own strange way, Katsuki was trying to protect him by putting a time limit on their time together. Izuku agreed to it, first because he was not invested enough to think he would suffer from a sudden parting, later because he egoistically wanted to be protected from the pain. ‘Forever’ and ‘love’ were too big of a word, especially with the possibility of Katsuki being imprisoned for life just around a corner.

Katsuki disappeared without saying goodbye and Izuku forgot about him.

Those were the terms of their accord.

Those were the terms Katsuki decided during their second year in high school.

Those were the terms Izuku accepted so he could avoid facing a difficult situation.

Those terms had protected them from suffering.

Now those same terms were making it difficult for them to interact.

But had he ever regretted forming this bond and living these moments?

No way in hell.

Chapter Text

“It’s ready.” Froppy asked for his help and together they filled the jars with burning hot jam.

“Perfect, now we just have to wait for it to cool down, you can decorate the jars if you want. You can take some decorations from the sewing lab.” she smiled again. “I hope your friend likes it! Do you mind if I ask one last question?”

“Sure, if I can answer…”

“What are your feelings towards Katsuki?”

“Wha-?!” Izuku almost dropped a jar, his cheeks started to burn. “What do you-?!”

“I’m sorry, my bad!” she chuckled. “Was I too direct? What I meant was more along the lines of, are you two going to work together for this test? Are you two still friends? Allies?”

Izuku could not understand how these questions and the other one were related at all. He felt like she had asked in a way that was easily misunderstood on purpose.

“I… Well, we are not enemies. But, we’re not… Close either.” he hoped this was an acceptable answer.

“I see, I hope the gift will help you then!” she smiled handing him the basket so he could put the piping hot jars in it. “I’ll see you around!”

She left with her basket full of jam. Izuku started to make his way to the sewing lab hoping that he didn’t make a mistake by talking with Froppy. He was in the entrance hall when Kami jumped on him from behind and gave him a big slap on the back.

“Yo, Izu, pal!” he grinned.

Izuku had no idea when they had become pals. This person was an anomaly between anomalies. He had almost dropped all the jar on the floor.

“Kami?”

“I need your help! I tried to talk to Mishima, but the dude is hiding in his room and won’t come out even if I’m calling him!” he crossed his arms. “Do something!”

“Why me?!” Izuku had no idea what he was thinking.

“Because you successfully tamed another wild beast, right? Four must have been a tough fight!” Izuku’s jaw dropped. “You’re the expert here!”

“No…?”

“C’mon don’t be modest! I need your help bro! Help me, you already did it once!” Kami pleaded him.

“Why do you need my help? Why do you want to do something like this?” Izuku was not saying he shouldn’t, he was simply dubious. Why was he so interested in Mishima? In a place like this, Izuku had some trouble believing that people wanted to make new friends without a good reason.

“Ah, how do I explain this…” Kami scratched his head. “My quirk permits me to understand people better. For me, it’s like second nature, when I meet a new person, I want to understand them. Normally I don’t pry with people who don’t enjoy my company, but this is different. I was raised with the conviction that everyone needs some degree of socialization; everyone wants others to understand them! I’ve explored enough minds to tell you this with certainly. I don’t have to become everyone’s best friend, hell, I don’t want to become everyone’s best friend. Sounds tiring. But ignoring and isolating someone is a big no-no! So! I gotta talk with him!”

It was something Izuku was not expecting to hear.  Especially from a guy that looked like a complete airhead. Izuku wondered if this was a trap of some sort when he suddenly remembered something his mother said: ‘I love this quirk, I just can’t leave it alone’. Izuku knew that a quirk could make your life different from anyone else’s. A quirk could teach you a lesson nothing else could, sometimes. Was the same even for A and S ranked quirks? Maybe it was not that these people were trying to use their quirks because they wanted something in exchange, but because it was in their nature? This guy’s quirk was something similar to mind reading, he probably used to do it all the time before coming here. Maybe because he couldn’t use it freely now it was making him react this way. For him, seeking out people was not something special, it was just normal.

“But why you didn’t try to talk with Four as well?”

“Because he doesn’t needs me to. Four is not alone, he has you.” Kami answered like it was the most natural thing in the world. Izuku was deeply stunned. How easily he had said something that sounded so… big. He felt himself blush a bit, he made it sound so, so… intimate too. Kami laughed loudly. “Man, are you blushing?!” he slapped him in the back again. “C’mon pal, help me!”

Izuku was too flustered to give him any other answer than a nod. Before he even had time to fully process the situation, he was in front of Mishima’s door, his basket of jam still in his hand. He tried to plead with Kami with his eyes, but the guy just gave him a thumbs up and a smile. He turned to face the door again trying to think of something. Izuku seriously had no idea what to do to get him to talk, he knew nothing about him. He tried to look at Kami again, but suddenly the guy knocked on the door in his place, not wanting to wait for him to take the first step any longer. Kami hid, flattening himself against the wall, Izuku stared at the door panicking. After a moment, which felt very long to Izuku, the door opened an inch and Mishima peeked out from the inside.

“Ah! Hello! Ah…” Izuku looked around in search of a conversation topic, but he could not find anything, his mind was empty. He went for the only thing that was not empty, his right hand. “Do you want some jam?!”

Mishima stared at the jam, then at him, then at the jam again. He opened the door a little more.

“You… don’t have to give me anything… Why?” he was confused and he had the right to be.

“N-no reason! I just thought it would be a good idea to give some presents, hm, to know each other better?” Izuku was internally scolding himself, this was Katsuki’s present, why was he giving it away like this? Why was he in this situation in the first place?

Mishima opened the door, fully.

“I see… Thank you?” he stood there unsure of what to do next.

Izuku had no idea himself.

“Oh! What a coincidence! To meet you guys here!” yelled Kami suddenly making them both jump. “It’s such a great idea, Izu! A gift for us! You’re such a nice guy! Hey Mishima, why don’t we all go into your room and taste this nice gift, yes?!”

Kami grabbed Izuku’s arm and pulled him inside the room, Mishima backed down in a hurry with complete panic on his face. Izuku was kicking himself mentally. Great, he could say goodbye to Katsuki’s gift. Kami took the basket from his hand and placed it on the little table similar to the ones in all the other rooms, then he grabbed a jar and yelled.

“OW! This thing burns!” he let go the jar in a hurry; it fell right off the table and onto the floor, smashing into pieces.

They all stared at the stain on the carpet in silence.

“Ah! I’m sorry!” Kami turned to face Mishima and started to laugh awkwardly.

“Yeah, of course it’s hot, it was freshly made!” Izuku could not stop himself from showing his irritation.

“Are you two trying to attack me or something?!” Mishima yelled backing away into a corner.

Honestly Izuku could not blame him. This was a disaster.

“No, no! I’m sorry we are no—“

Kami interrupted him.

“You don’t have to worry.” suddenly Kami’s tone was serious, he was staring Mishima straight in the eyes. Mishima stared in return. “We won’t ask anything from you. Everything is fine; you don’t have to try so hard.”

Silence filled the room, no one moved. Izuku looked at them both without knowing what to do or what was happening. It was almost like Kami had read his mind but that was not possible, right? He had to send a Calling Card before he could do that. Right?

“At least help me clean the mess you made.” Mishima sighed deeply and started to pick up the broken glass with his gloves.

Just like that, the atmosphere shifted instantly, Izuku was stunned. The two of them started to chat, well Kami was chatting and Mishima was listening, and cleaning up. They were much more relaxed than before. Izuku rushed to help them, as he did not have a better response.

“By the way, why do you have all this jam Izu? Were you preparing for hibernation?” Kami asked him when all the glasses were collected. They had to grab a broom and roll the carpet into a corner.

“I thought it was a gift?” Mishima asked, still looking at Kami, with an eyebrow raised. “You two were tricking me from the very beginning, weren’t you?”

“My bad, it was my fault!” Kami smiled broadly. “But it turned out for the best, right? So you forgive us?”

“It’s not like I’m avoiding you because I hate you… Even if you’re kinda bothersome,” he was still talking with Kami, “I was trying to be considerate and be out of everyone’s way…”

“Well, no one asked!” Kami said with confidence, then he became perplexed. “I hope?”

“No, it’s just something that I know it’s on everyone’s mind and…”

“No offence, but the expert on minds here is me!” Kami puffed his chest. “Wanna know what’s on everyone’s mind? Let’s go and see!”

“What!?”

Kami grabbed him by the shirt and started to drag him out of the room.

“C’mon Izu, we need you!” he called him.

Izuku grabbed his basket and hurried behind them, confused as ever. They were standing in front of Shouto’s door when Kami stole the basket from him and knocked. Shouto opened the door and stared at them in surprise.

“Here!” Kami grabbed a jar and gave it to him, Izuku observed the exchange with dismay. “A present from Mishima, with the hope of becoming the best of friends!” Kami smiled again.

Shouto wrapped his shirt around the jar. It was still burning quite a bit. He stared at them all in total confusion. Mishima blushed a little, embarrassed to be recognized as the leader of the expedition even if he really was not. Shouto stared at Izuku the longest, a question clearly written in his eyes. Izuku had seriously no idea what to say to him. Kami waved a hand in goodbye and dragged the two of them in front another room that Izuku could only guess was square glasses’. The scene repeated, square glasses’ expression didn’t change much. Then Kami tried knocking on Katsuki’s door. Izuku wanted to ran away, for some reason showing up at his door in company of those two and with what was supposed to be his birthday present was unbelievably embarrassing. Katsuki didn’t open the door, he was probably out. Kami shrugged and started to drag them toward the right section of the building.

“Wait, wait!” Izuku finally snapped out of the trance he had fallen. “Are you going to give away all my jam as present for everyone?!”

“Yeah!” Kami smiled without a care in the world.

“But… It’s my jam!

That was not a clever rebuttal but it was the only thing he could think of. Mishima sent him a look of pity, which only multiplied Izuku’s embarrassment. 

“So what? Don’t be selfish! What were you going to do with all this jam anyway?!”

Izuku wanted to ask him how wanting his jam back was selfish but he stopped when he saw Froppy and Urara talking in the hallway of the girl dormitory. They stared at them then at the basket, then at them again.

“Here! A present from Mishima! Let’s all be friends!”

Urara accepted the jar, confused; Froppy stared at him with an eyebrow lifted. Izuku wanted to hide under a rock and never come out. He prayed strongly the girl would just play along because he was going to die from embarrassment otherwise. Izuku hid his face in his hands.

“Thanks, I already have my own jam but consider the offer accepted.” she smiled sweetly.

Froppy bowed lightly while holding a big, thick red book in her arms, then turned to enter her room. By the time Kami had given the jam to Haru and Yao, Izuku was completely drained of energy. Unfortunately, for him the worst was yet to come. Kami dragged them again in front of Katsuki’s door, in the basket was the last jar. This time he opened the door. Katsuki stared at them, moving his gaze slowly from one to the other as if he was judging them all.

“Here! A present from Mishima! Let’s all be friends!” Kami repeated once again.

Izuku started to feel hot with embarrassment. This was not how this was supposed to go!

“Ah, Bakug-I mean, Four, Happy birth-ah…” Mishima interrupted himself several times but Izuku understood him all the same.

Kami stared at them with confusion while Izuku quickly cooled down. Mishima not only knew Katsuki’s last name he knew his birthday too. Izuku had no idea they were such good friends. A feeling of irrational irritation grew in Izuku, it was like Katsuki had kept this a secret on purpose or something. It was stupid, Katsuki was free to have as many friends as he wanted, but Izuku could not help but wonder why he never mentioned him before. Katsuki took the jam and held a hand in front of himself while bowing his head just a tiny little bit.

-Thank you-

Then he sent a glance in Izuku’s direction for a split second, for some reason Izuku thought he looked almost angry, and slammed the door in their faces. Izuku had no idea why, but he was feeling like he had just helped a love rival score a solid plus ten points.

Which was beyond ridiculous.

Now he was out of jam jars, he had no present to give him.

Kami and Mishima were continuing down the hallway without him.

“There we go! See? It was easy!” Kami was speaking cheerfully.

“No, it was embarrassing.” Mishima deadpanned.

“Buuut, you don’t regret it right?” he sent him a big, radiant smile.

“I guess not…” Mishima looked away.

“I knew it! Look, from now on, we are best friends, okay? As such, I must give you a nickname of my own! Hmm…” he thought for a moment. “All right, from today onward I’ll call you Shishi!”

“Please don’t.”

Kami laughed loudly. They were continuing on their way, they didn’t even noticed that Izuku was not following them. Izuku sighed deeply; only glad that he could slip away now. He waited for them to be far enough, then he sneaked into his own room, sitting on his bed with a sigh. It was already six and he had nothing to give Katsuki for a present. After that little show earlier, he was not even sure he could look at him in the eyes right now. His plans were all ruined. In the end, feeling like the worst coward, he slid a note under Katsuki’s door. It was really the worst present ever.

The next day they met in the classroom, Katsuki didn’t give any particular indication of having read his note, but he probably did. Kami, in the meantime, changed seat, now he was seated next to Mishima. The two of them were apparently pretty compatible or something. Izuku observed Katsuki staring out of the window. He wondered if he had eaten the jam, the one he thought was Mishima’s present for him. Izuku could not help but feel irritated again, but he could not tell him, ‘Hey, that was actually my jam!’, how pitiful that would be?

After class, Katsuki left without doing anything, like always, but this time Izuku was not going to let him go. This cowardice had gone on for far too long already. He caught up to him.

“Ka-Four! Err… Happy birthday. For… yesterday.” he said after making sure no one was around to hear. Katsuki turned towards him for a second, then kept walking ahead with a frown on his face. “I’m sorry, all right? It’s not that I forgot, I tried to make you a present but… It didn’t work… So…”

Katsuki stopped and pulled out his notebook, scribbling something messily.

-Do you think I care about that? I don’t care-

He tried to get away again. Izuku decided to abandon the subject and try with something else.

“Ah, I discovered someone’s quirk! More or less… Don’t you want to hear it?”

He tried to bait him with something he was sure he was interested in. He was sorry to throw Kami under the bus like this but; on the other hand, he was not exactly being secretive about it either, so Izuku figured it was okay. With this information, Katsuki surely would forgive him. He stopped and started to write, placing the notebook against the wall with an annoyed expression.

-Whatever. You don’t have to tell me-

“What?! But you told me to give you any information I had!” Izuku could not believe his eyes.

-That was when we were allies. Now we are not, I’m just going to stay in my room all year and if I get eliminated it’s none of your business. Goodbye-

Izuku was outraged. He grabbed Katsuki’s arm before he could try to walk away again. Katsuki slapped his hand away angrily. Izuku grabbed him again, more tightly.

“Will you stop this?! What’s your problem?!”

Katsuki was furious, he started to scribble with so much violence he was tearing the paper in places.

-Apparently, my problem is that I cannot have a normal relationship with anyone, SO, I’m going to stay in my room!-

Ah, Izuku had say that, hadn’t he? He tried to apologize before, but then he said his first name and a lot of stuff got in the way… Izuku had almost forgotten that he had said that. He fidgeted, feeling filled with guilt.

“Look, I’m sorry about that. Too many things happened to me lately, I haven’t been able to keep all my emotions in check, but I didn’t mean that. I mean… You are truly too guarded, but it was extremely unfair of me to say that to you. I just wish we’d have a normal relationship right now, okay? I don’t want you to rely on me because you are scared that I’ll reveal your information to people. I would never do that Katsuki, you know that, don’t you?”

Katsuki was still refusing to look at him, but he looked a bit calmer.

-I don’t even want a normal relationship anyway and you are better off without me-

“Don’t be like that, I already told you years ago that’s not true. Let’s go to your room and talk okay?” he proposed squeezing his arm just a bit.

Katsuki rolled his eyes faking annoyance, Izuku could see that he was just exaggerating.

-You have always been quick to invite yourself into my personal space-

With that last message, he closed his notebook and started to walk again. Izuku walked by his side with a little smile, Katsuki had forgiven him. Inside his room, they took the usual position; Katsuki was seated on the bed and Izuku on the carpet. Trying to be as subtle as possible, Izuku searched for the jar of jam with his eyes, he spotted it on Katsuki’s desk, still closed and full. He was not sure if he was feeling relieved or disappointed. A paper ball hit him.

-What was that idiocy yesterday?-

“Ah, Kami forced me to try and get Mishima to talk with everyone. The rest was… Not something I was expecting.” he shrugged, trying to close the discussion.

-Is Kirishima’s quirk the one you wanted to tell me about? I already know what it is-

“No, it’s Kami’s.” Izuku tried to stop himself from asking but he could not resist. “Kirishima…?”

-Mishima, Kirishima Eijiro. He chose something that was somewhat similar to his real name-

“I see…” he tried to bit his tongue, he really tried. “Are you two close? He knows your birthday…”

Katsuki raised an eyebrow.

-We have met each other hundreds of time in the examination waiting room since we were six years old. If we had been two different people, I guess you could have called us childhood friends. Why?-

“No reason!” he shifted position slightly, changing subject. “Kami’s quirk is something related to mind reading.”

Katsuki played with his pen for a bit, thinking.

-Conditions?-

“No idea.” Izuku shook his head.

Katsuki frowned then shrugged; he closed the notebook and threw it aside. He let himself fall backward on the bed, still playing with the pen. Izuku recognized his habit. Katsuki would do this every time they were in his room, back at home, when he was tired of writing or had something in his mind. He would stare at nothing ignoring completely Izuku’s presence. There was a time when this habit of his, made him uncomfortable. He would fidget for long, interminable minutes, wondering if he was better off going home. That time was long gone. During the last year they had been together, Izuku had taken the habit as an opportunity to sit next to him to relax and sometimes observe him. He decided to do just that.

He sat down lightly on the bed, trying to disturb Katsuki as little as possible. Contrary to what Izuku was expecting, Katsuki actually snapped out of his concentration and stared back at him. Izuku remembered this was something he had done only two times before, the first and second time Izuku had tried this. The first time, Katsuki had been taken by surprise, he had stared at him with wide eyes. Izuku’s courage had dissolved and he went back to sitting on the floor. The second time, Izuku had stood his ground. They had stared at each other for two minutes, and then Katsuki had looked away, accepting this new fact. Izuku was not expecting him to react like this was the first time again. He raised an eyebrow slightly tilting his head, asking him what was wrong.

Katsuki immediately looked away, his expression guarded. In the long silence that followed, Izuku slowly realized. The first time they had done this they were in a very particular and delicate phase. The phase where they were both aware of their attraction to each other, but neither was speaking up. They sealed the accord shortly after. Afterward, it was normal for them to be close. This habit had not been strange. But now… Now, the accord had ended and this was not normal anymore. It was not strange either, it was just that neither knew if they were allowed this or not.

Izuku hated this uncomfortable feeling of not knowing. He took a deep breath, gathering his courage.

“Katsuki, we need to talk about us.”

Chapter Text

Katsuki’s expression became even more guarded.

“I can’t stand to be here with you and not know how I am supposed to behave around you. Katsuki, let’s discuss this like adults, okay?” Izuku tried to sound gentle.

Katsuki sat up and shook his head frowning; he reached for his notebook again.

“No? Why not?”

-Because there are no guarantees for either of us. I’m not going to make any promise in this situation-

So, the problem was still the same.

“What if we don’t make any promise? If we just deal with what comes?” he tried, not really sure if it was a good idea.

-Do you want to talk like adults? Very well. No, because we will just hurt each other, nothing good will come from this-

“You don’t know that!” he protested.

-Stop behaving like a little kid and start to use your head! There is nothing between us now and there will probably never be again. The time to be adolescents has ended-

“So what I’m supposed to be? A friend?” Izuku clenched his fists, irritated.

-An ally-

“So we aren’t even friends? Just acquaintances? After five years?” Izuku could barely contain the anger in his voice.

-It’s for the best-

“I disagree! Don’t just decide what’s best by yourself, we are going to leave this place together and then…” then what?

-What would you rather be? My friend?-

Katsuki looked angry. Izuku was angry himself. How clever. Katsuki, as always, was refusing to put his emotions and feelings into play. He had turned the question back at Izuku, just like last time. Last time it had been Izuku’s responsibility to take a step forward and Katsuki was using the same excuse this time too. Izuku was tired of being the one to always push things forward.

“I don’t know, but I really want to know your true feelings for once! Don’t put always everything on me!” he was almost shouting.

Katsuki’s expression filled with frustration, he jerked the pen on the paper without accomplishing anything, as if he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to write something or not. In the end, he wrote two words.

-I can’t-

“The hell do you mean ‘I can’t’? Of course you can.” Izuku said in disbelief.

-Then what about you?!-

“Then what about you?!”

They stared at each other angrily. This was going nowhere.

-This is stupid, go away-

And this was Katsuki solution for everything. Go away.

Izuku’s frustration was raising at an alarming speed. He contained himself, however. To start acting immature like him would only complicate the situation further. He took two deep breaths, calming himself down. When he turned to face him, Katsuki was turned in the other direction, staring at the wall.

“Friends?” he tried, sounding as neutral as possible.

Katsuki took a long time before turning around, and he still was not facing him. He did a very generic shrug. It could have meant anything. Izuku refrained from commenting. He needed to change the mood and fast.

“I have an idea, I think we should cook something for Aizawa, once in a while.”

That caught Katsuki’s interest.

-You mean like, trying to bribe him?-

“No, I meant like, trying to be nice.” Izuku frowned.

Katsuki rolled his eyes.

-Boring. Pain in the ass-

“Yeah, yeah, c’mon, get up!” Izuku jumped to his feet and pulled him up with him.

They prepared a very basic lunch box and went together to deliver it. Katsuki almost had to be dragged out of his room and he had a very annoyed expression, but in the end, he resigned himself and started to follow him. They knocked on Aizawa’s door and the man opened after a while, mumbling something.

“What? Calling Card? Emergency?” right, those two were the only allowed categories, hmm?

“We brought you a lunch box.” Izuku skipped the pleasantries, he had a feeling Aizawa would appreciate that.

The man took the box from his hands and started to smell it. He nodded.

“Yes, this is an emergency, well done.” he closed the door.

Katsuki and Izuku stared at the door for a while.

“So… food is in the emergency category, hmm?” Izuku scratched his head.

Katsuki shrugged, but Izuku saw him holding back a smile.

After that day it became a habit, they would meet in Katsuki’s room, prepare something to eat for Aizawa and spend some time together. Nothing special happened, except that one day he received a Calling Card and he spent the day in his room, just to be safe. They ended up talking mostly about the lessons or the others stuck here. Izuku would take care of the vegetables once a week and take part in the seafood barbeque, which had become a habit as well. Even Kirishima Eijiro was now taking part in the event, Kami brought him there. A month rolled by before Izuku realized. He was feeling like he had gone back to the past. This familiar routine was something the two of them had instituted back during the third year of high school, and now they had regressed back to that time.

Izuku was kinda happy and at the same time kinda not. A part of him was relieved to have gone back at the time where everything was easy. The nice, calm and relaxing year before the fourth year, where their feelings started to change. But at the same time their feelings had already changed, pretending to have forgotten all about it was awkward and probably not really normal either. Under the apparent content, Izuku was feeling restless, he was unsure of his own feelings and Katsuki was not helping at all. Was it really okay to be ‘friends’ again? Was that really the ‘adult answer’ Katsuki was searching for? Wasn’t this more like running away?

Izuku could accept this, if the feelings of one of the two had changed again, but he was not sure if that was the case. Katsuki was refusing to address the problem, like always, and Izuku… Izuku, maybe, had grown up a little. Two years ago everything looked clear, he knew what he wanted, or so he thought. But were his feelings even real? If he was capable of putting them into a box immediately after Katsuki had left? He had never read manga for girls, but even so, he knew that normally love was described as something that hunts you down no matter where you are or what the obstacles were. He was pretty sure that if this had been a manga for girls, they would have promised eternal love and to meet again after the end of the test. But they never did that. Izuku had never asked himself these questions before, maybe he really had grown up a bit. After thinking about this for some time, he realized something crucial. Maybe, before pry into Katsuki’s feeling, he should understand his own feelings. Only after having reached a conclusion, a real conclusion, then he could face Katsuki and any consequence there would be.

Maybe he needed to start reading manga for girls because he had no idea how to know for sure what he was feeling for him. Maybe one of those would help. Or maybe not. Speaking of people who had a hobby of reading, Froppy was reading the giant red book Izuku had saw her holding on Katsuki’s birthday. Well, to say she was reading it would be an overstatement. She was literally living with that thing glued to her hands. She had even started to ignore Haru and Urara just to read. She brought the book everywhere, she even had it at the beach during the barbeque. One time, Izuku had tried to sneak a peek from behind her shoulder, to see what it was, but he saw nothing. Literally there was nothing. The page was blank.

Her eyes were moving, following lines of text that didn’t exist. She was even turning the pages occasionally. The pages were really thin, this book looked like it could contain more than five thousand pages. What was she doing reading a book without any words? The answer was obvious; this had to be a quirk of some sort. Excluding the possibility that she was simply crazy, but that didn’t seem the case. Izuku absolutely no idea what kind of quirk it could be.

It was the third Wednesday of May when Izuku tried to convince Katsuki to go with him to the beach again. Nothing was going on, everything was calm and almost boring, there was no reason for Katsuki to be holed up in his room like this. Katsuki was not thrilled with the idea. He kept insisting that he didn’t need anyone. Katsuki had always been a very solitary person, and in this place Izuku could even see a logical reason to be, but… At the same time, Izuku thought Katsuki had to try to open his heart a little more from time to time. He didn’t have to hang out with people he didn’t trust, it didn’t have to be the seafood barbeque or taking care of the vegetables or anything. He could try spending some time with Kirishima Eijiro, since he already knew him from before and he knew his quirk. Izuku wanted to be a part of his life, but not to be the only person to ever interact with him. At least before, he was still seeing people at school, communicating with the teachers and with his parents. Izuku wasn’t sure that it was a good thing for Katsuki to completely isolate himself like this. They could try spending some time with Shouto too, he did seem like a decent guy and they knew his quirk too. There were options…

Katsuki, in the end, agreed to go to the seafood barbeque with him. When they reached the beach. They paced their arrival ten minutes apart as to not create suspicion as Katsuki suggested. The others were really surprised to see him. However, it was not a good kind of surprise. No one said anything, no one tried to send him away either, but the carefree mood that had been established over the last weeks was shattered.

Katsuki, perceptive as ever, noticed some of them trying to cover some of the naked skin. To protect themselves from him. He went to sit further down the beach, on the opposite side that square glasses always took. No one tried to speak to him. Izuku had no idea what to do; they already knew they were friends… So if he spoke to Katsuki, it was to be expected. On the other hand, Katsuki didn’t want them to know he was his ally for this test, as well as his friend. But to just leave him alone like that… He had brought him there to socialize, he had to be the one to initiate. He waited to fill his plate and grabbed one for Katsuki as well. He sat down next to him and handed the plate with a smile. Katsuki took the plate and wrote with a finger in the sand.

-Go back-

Izuku shook his head and wrote down as well.

-No-

Katsuki started to munch on a fish with an angry expression. Izuku could not hold back a chuckle. The others were staring at them. When Izuku looked at them they quickly averted their glaze elsewhere, not wanting to be caught staring. Izuku sighed deeply. Katsuki was still munching on the fish, he had noticed for sure, but he was not going to help him, as usual. The prick was always leaving all the decision-making to him. Tired of the ridiculous situation, Izuku grabbed Katsuki’s wrist and dragged him on his feet, towards the grill and the others. They immediately stared back at them, surprised.

“You… touch him?!” asked Haru in a high pitch voice.

Urara was frozen in place; square glasses only looked at them for a moment, and then went back to his plate. Froppy did the same. Shouto’s face darkened for only a second. Yao brought a hand to her mouth, but then she caught herself and recomposed herself in a hurry. Kami on the other hand, was looking with curiosity. Even Kirishima was staring at them with wide eyes. Or maybe, all thing considered, he was the most surprised of them all.

Katsuki slapped his hand away, freeing his wrist. He stood there hesitantly for a moment, then frowned and walked away from the beach. Izuku felt his frustration grow and tried to follow him when Kami spoke.

“So, you two are a thing!” he sounded way too cheerful about this.

“How did you reach this conclusion?! Based on what?!” Izuku fought a blush.

“No way Bak--Four would let himself get touched by a random person!” it was Kirishima who answered. “And you trust him a lot as well!” he looked very impressed.

Izuku felt almost pity. Right, Kirishima was just the same. No, he was even worst. For him, physical contact with a person who had a touch-based quirk must have felt like the biggest proof of trust on Earth.

“Wait, I thought his quirk would activate at contact…” Yao intervened. “How come you are not marked?”

Izuku sighed. It was always like this, everyone always only knew the worst part of his quirk.

“It’s not like that.” he shook his head to empathize the point. “It’s not a passive quirk. It doesn’t always remain activate. He has to activate it himself. The problem with this is that his quirk is so powerful, it is activated with a minimum stimulus. It took him years to fully learn how to not activate it accidently. It does still happen from time to time, but it’s mostly when he starts panicking. As long as you don’t catch him by total surprise and scare him he will not mark you.” he tried to sound as firm as possible.

“Which means that you really trust him a lot!” Urara nodded two times.

“Wow, to think him of all people would have a boyfriend!” Kami put his hands behind his head smiling.

“He is not my boyfriend!!” Izuku yelled losing his fight against the blush.

Well, he was not lying…

“Kids, keep it down, will ya?” Aizawa came out of nowhere. “I still need my ears.”

The conversation died right there. Izuku took advantage of Aizawa’s interruption to slip away. He needed to talk to Katsuki, but he was not sure what to tell him. Should he apologize? It had been a bad idea to bring him along at the beach after all. He knocked on his door, he was sure that he would find him in there, but he was wrong, Katsuki didn’t answer at all. Even when he was mad, he always answered by returning a knock on the door that signaled ‘I’m in, but I don’t want to see you’. He was not inside.

Izuku walked around the building without a purpose. He had no idea where Katsuki could be. He had all the food he could ever wanted stored inside his room and even a way to cook. There was a shower room, so he wouldn’t leave his room to shower either. Maybe he was short on supplies? He looked into the ‘convenience store’ but no one was there. He tried the kitchen and the labs, but by that point he was not really hoping to find him anymore, he was just wasting time. He didn’t find Katsuki anywhere, but he found Froppy.

She was in the library, still reading her red book, seated in a corner. He looked at her for a while, wondering if he was allowed to ask her what she was doing. Probably not, if this was her quirk. Still, she was not keeping the book a secret. If she didn’t want to be questioned about it, she would read in her own room. He took a step closer, still unsure but willing to try. She raised her eyes.

“Ah, Izu. You are curious about this book, right? Don’t worry, I’m almost finished with it. I’ll lend it to you soon.”

“Lend it to me…?” that was surprising.

“Of course. This is yours after all.” she said very casually.

“Mine…?”

Izuku was absolutely sure he never had a book like that one in his whole life. And how could she ‘lend it’ to him if it was his? Shouldn’t it be more like ‘return it’? Izuku was greatly confused. The girl was once again immersed in her reading and didn’t respond. Izuku wondered if he should insist or not. He decided to leave; she said she would lend it to him, so they were going to talk again another time. Probably.

Unsure of what to do next, he tried Katsuki’s door again. This time he was inside. Katsuki opened the door and Izuku sat on his usual spot on the carpet. This time though, Katsuki sat at his desk. Izuku observed him for a while, he was writing something, or drawing maybe. From that angle, he could not see what he was doing exactly. After sitting in silence for far too long, he decided to get up and see what Katsuki was doing for himself. He peeked from behind his shoulder; Katsuki was drawing a map of the island. Izuku wanted to ask him what he was doing, but decided to approach the other subject first.

“About what happened on the beach… I’m sorry. Don’t worry though. Now I told them that it’s safe to hang out with you, things should go all right from here on out.”

Katsuki pulled out his notebook from behind the map.

-It doesn’t matter. I already told you. I don’t need anyone-

Izuku sighed, containing his irritation the best he could.

“Don’t say things like that. There is no need for you to be alone, is there? Even Kirishima is now part of the group and his quirk is more dangerous than yours! If you don’t like or trust some of them, no one is forcing you to hang out with all of them, but you can’t hate everyone. There must be someone you like!”

Katsuki played with the pen for a little.

-You don’t understand. But it’s not your fault. Just leave it be-

Once again, Katsuki was making him terribly irritated.

“You don’t need anyone, so you don’t need me either, right?”

Katsuki grimaced and scribbled quickly.

-Don’t make me say stuff that neither of us will like, are you a masochist? Are you going to storm out my room like last time?-

Izuku would have liked to throw another tantrum like last time, but no. He had to grow up, didn’t he? Especially since he wanted to be mature enough to confront this situation like an adult. It was maybe best to drop the subject… Or maybe that would be just running away? Why was everything involving Katsuki always so complicated? Izuku had long ago deluded himself that he had understood him, but now he recognized that he had parts of him that were protected by countless barriers. Maybe Izuku was not capable of understanding him. Maybe they were hopeless to begin with.

“What are you doing?” Izuku pointed at the map he was drawing.

Katsuki looked for a moment, bothered by the change of topic, but then decided to answer.

-After I left, I decided to look around, I had yet to explore the perimeter of the island and I have a feeling this could be useful someday. Since the weather is getting better and the water is warming up, I think I’ll try swimming around-

“This is not dangerous right?” Izuku was just a bit worried.

-No, as long as I don’t touch the barrier-

Katsuki was a good swimmer; there was no way he would drown, that much was certain. Katsuki was good at everything that didn’t involve socialization.

“Can I come too?” he asked, not really enthusiastic, true to be told.

-You would just slow me down-

Usual merciless Katsuki. In a way, his honesty was refreshing though. With Urara and the others, he was felt like he had been thrown into a delicate piece of crystal ware, one wrong move and everything would be shattered.

“All right… Be careful.”

Katsuki just rolled his eyes, Izuku left him alone with his drawing.

It was May 20, a Tuesday, after Izuku had taken care of the vegetables, Froppy knocked on his door. She was hugging her book to her chest.

“Hi Izu. I’ve come to give you this.” she handed him the book.

He took it a bit hesitantly, his eyes widened when he realized that the book was completely weightless. She chuckled at his expression. Slowly, like she was doing something very important, she placed a fingertip on the cover then lifted it. A string made of light followed her finger up in the air, spiraling and contorting on its ascent. Froppy took a step forward and then suddenly touched the tip of Izuku’s nose. Izuku jumped, startled, and closed his eyes when the light blinded him momentarily, his mind was already panicking. Had he fallen into a trap of some sort? Out of the blue, the book started to weight a ton. Izuku stared at it as soon as he recovered his vision. Now it weighted just as much as it looked. The girl took a step back and crossed her arms behind her back.

“There, now you have acquired the right to read it. I made sure to materialize it for you. Don’t try to give it to someone else, without my permission, no one can read what’s inside.”

“What is this Froppy…?” Izuku’s heart was beating faster from nervousness.

She just smiled.

“I finished reading it just tonight, today Haru invited all of us girls to the pool, so I wanted to finish it before that. Ah, but don’t plan on coming, I don’t think the other girls are going to be happy about that. I know that you are not the type to peek, but the others don’t know. And you may want to take a look at that book anyway. When you’ve finished we can talk.”

The girl walked away waving a hand. Izuku brought the book inside and place it on the table. Should he read it? What if this really was a trap? Should he talk with Katsuki first? Maybe her quirk would activate if he opened the book? But if that was the case, then why would she read it for so long? No, something had to be written in there for sure. Izuku wished his quirk was God’s eye so he could stop being scared of everything. Well, less the blinding aspect.

He left the book in his room, carrying it around was a hassle and could be dangerous. He decided to go and knock on Katsuki’s door. After a quick explanation, he dragged him back to his room and showed him the book. Katsuki stared at it with his arms crossed and a frown for a while. He opened it. Izuku jumped on his feet, trying to stop him. What if that thing was dangerous?! Normally Katsuki was much more cautions that this! They both stood there, unmoving, staring at the open book and waiting for something to happen. Izuku could only see words, it was a legitimate book.

Katsuki frowned more deeply then pointed at the book, made a motion to indicate the whole page and then shook his head.

-There is nothing in there-

She had not lied, the book was for him only. And nothing bad was happening, at least not yet. Maybe he should try and read it.

“She said it’s for my eyes only… I can see words written in there now.” Katsuki didn’t respond “I think I’ll try to read it…”

Katsuki frowned more deeply then shrugged; he got up and made his way to the door. Before leaving, he pointed at himself then pretended to knock on the door.

-Call me if there are problems-

Izuku smiled, grateful. Katsuki closed the door after him. Izuku sat down and opened the book to its first page.

 

☙    The Book of Memories ☙

 

Izuku Midoriya

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

 

Izuku Midoriya was born on July 15 inside the hospital named…

Izuku jumped away from the book. It was just the first sentence and he was already panicking. There was just no way…Could this really be a book about his entire life? The title suggested as much but… Was Froppy’s quirk one that let her concretize people’s memories? That was just crazy… Had she read the whole book? Then…

In a panic, he skipped to the second chapter.

Chapter 2

The first day of kindergarten Izuku cried the whole day. It was the first time he was separated from his mother for so long and…

Izuku took his head in his hands. This was exactly what it looked like. It was a book full of stuff about him and his life. It was supposed to be composed only of memories but the narration was in third person and some things didn’t make much sense. Like the fact that he was born on July 15 was more of a fact than a memory. He skipped directly to the last chapter and sure enough, it was all about the test. Everything was written inside precisely, every conversation, every moment. The last page was a transcription of the conversation he had a few minutes ago with Froppy. Only the very last event, him talking with Katsuki, was missing. He returned to chapter two, skipping to a random page.

Izuku started to play with the mud. He made a round cake and decorated it with green leaves of the nearby trees. It was 4:26 pm when his father interrupted him and scolded him for all the mud he had splattered across his clothes.

“Izuku! Look at the mess you made! Your mother is going to cry when she sees you like this… Geez… Come, we need to at least wash those hands…”

His father dragged him to the nearest fountain where…

Izuku hid his face in his hands whimpering. This contained everything, didn’t it? Every single thing he did in his life. Including all his secrets. And now, Froppy knew everything as well. This was a real disaster. He was completely naked, stripped off of all barriers. This was even worse than mind reading! Was she going to tell everything to everyone? Or maybe she wanted to blackmail him. He needed to talk to her. He was about to leave the room when he remembered that the girls were supposed to go to the pool that day. He had to wait until later, maybe around dinnertime. In the meantime, he took another look inside.

Between chapters two and five, it was all about his time in kindergarten. The ones between five and fifteen were about grade school. Izuku only read a sentence here and there, not really wanting to re-read about all his classes and conversations with other children. The little that he read was enough to make him glad he was grown up. He had been such an embarrassing kid, overly enthusiastic about everything. The other kids were always put off by him. Izuku could now see why, not even he himself would want to hang out with his child self. He had always sensed that he was in a different phase compared to all the other kids. In kindergarten, he had been timid and introvert, not used to having company. In grade school, he finally started to behave like a social little kid, too bad the others were already leaving this phase. The girls were shocked that he was not ‘making a distinction of gender’; for them a male trying to play with them was a scandal. The boys were already out of the ‘let’s play tag’ phase and they wanted to only play soccer or basketball and they kept telling him he was being ‘childish’. Izuku clearly remembered feeling always out of place, for his entire life. He was growing up too slowly compared to everyone else.

The chapters between fifteen and thirty were about middle school. During that period of his life, he had already abandoned his childhood, but his hormones were nowhere to be seen. While the girls were acting strange, giggling and teasing him for being a nobody, the guys were constantly talking about girls. Izuku didn’t fit into any category. The girls were like aliens and the guys were too obsessed. During that period, Izuku had yet to realize why he was not interested in girls at all. Since he was not interested in guys either, at that moment, he was just out of the loop. The first hints of his sexual orientation appeared during the last year of middle school. There was a guy, the basketball captain, that was making Izuku’s heart beat faster whenever he saw him. Izuku was not a sports type, but during that period, he had seen all the matches. Not that he was watching any of the matches. He still had no idea about any of the rules of that sport. Of course, the guy was straight and even had a girlfriend. Izuku never even thought about confessing, he was just fantasizing. He was not feeling ready for a relationship in any case.

High school started on chapter thirty-one. Izuku’s cheeks became warmer. What would it be like to read about him and Katsuki in a book? Surely weird. Izuku observed the book. The high school chapters were half the total amount of pages. Izuku had not realized the high school years were so long and full of stuff. Maybe he should have realized it.

It was almost dinnertime and he really wanted to talk with Froppy. He took the book with him, not wanting to leave it alone in his room, even though no one would be able to read it. While he was leaving the room, a thought hit him. No one except for Katsuki knew where his room was, yet Froppy had knocked on his door. The girl had read it in the book. Didn’t that mean she knew about Shouto’s quirk as well as their alliance? She knew everything.

He found her in the dining room; she was eating some fresh vegetables. She smiled when she noticed him. Izuku placed the book on the table and sat down, taking a deep breath. What was he supposed to say?

“I’m not going to tell anything I read in there to anyone, you know?” she said, clearly she was expecting this. “Every person has a forbidden action. Just like you can’t absorb DNA without permission, I can say anything about what I read in my books.”

Izuku stared at her, she was calm and collected, it didn’t seem like she was lying. Could he trust her though? This was a very serious matter.

“Let me get this straight. Your quirk let you concretize a person’s memories in a book that you and only you can read… But you can give others permission to read. Yet you are forbidden to tell anyone about the content?”

“No, I’m forbidden from giving permission as well, with the exception of the real owner of the memories.” she played with her food. “You have nothing to worry about. If you don’t trust me we can go and ask Aizawa, he will confirm this. Or you can take a look inside the Task Force Archive. Did you know? There are thousands of folders about every quirk the Government has ever come across in there. Mine is no exception. You can confirm it in there too. My quirk is greatly loved by the Government. I can extract a full confession out of criminals without even having to get close to them.”

“Was it you who sent me the Calling Card the day after we made the jam?” he asked, confirming his suspicion.

“Yes, that was my Card.” she confirmed it easily.

“How does your quirk work exactly?” he wanted to know the conditions. Froppy pondered for a moment, still playing with her food. She then showed him three fingers.

“Three conditions?” she nodded. She showed the first finger and pointed at the clock. Then she made a counter clock gesture. Staring at him, she pointed at his head. Izuku tried his best to understand. “The past? Something from the past? A memory from the past?” she nodded.

Izuku tried to think back.

They started to wash and prepare the jars.

“How were the other students treating you after you befriended Four?”

So that was how she fulfilled the first condition! She raised the second finger. She pointed at the clock again, this time without any other gesture and then pointed at Izuku’s chest. At his heart.

“A feeling of the present…?”

She nodded with a smile.

“Do you mind if I ask one last question?”

“Sure, if I can answer…”

“What are your feelings for Katsuki?”

“I… well, we are not enemy. We are not… close either.”

Izuku took his head in his hand. Was there even a single thing that was not dangerous in this place? She showed three fingers and pointed again at the clock. This time she did three rapid spins clockwise and pretended to sleep.

“A dream for the future?”

Again a nod.

“Do you want to be a part of the Task Force? To use your quirk for the Government?”

“Well, in the end the Task Force is just a bunch of part-timers right? I don’t really mind? I haven’t really decided what to do with my life after all.”

He had been the biggest idiot. Katsuki was right; he was incapable of taking care of himself. He should really stop talking with these people. He was tripping over every kind of trap was on this island. Katsuki was going to be so mad when he was going to discover he spilled all their secrets…

“So… what is this exactly? Are you trying to blackmail me? Do you want me to surrender? Why have you chosen me? Except for the fact that I’m clearly an idiot.” he scratched his head with auto-commiseration.

“No, of course not. What is the point of blackmailing you with information I cannot divulge?” she tilted her head. “This is probably difficult for you to comprehend but… I’m materializing books because I love to learn about people. I never wanted to keep this a secret; I would reveal my quirk to everyone if I could. I simply wanted to know more about you. I’ve read many books in my life and for me, this is only natural. The concept of privacy doesn’t tell me much. I understand that people want to keep some things a secret, but mostly it’s something they feel like they should be ashamed of. Except when I read about killers or criminals most people tend to keep things like love, experiences, desires and dreams a secret… I found most aspects of humans to be endearing and heartwarming not repulsive. There was nothing bad in your book Izuku, not even close. You have nothing to be ashamed of, on the contrary! No one would have accepted Katsuki the way you did. I admire your courage.”

Izuku blushed a little; the last thing he was expecting was to be complimented. He really was nothing special; his life was pretty normal and boring.

“You must have been bored while wasting a month on my life.”

It was true; she had wasted a month on his boring life. She chuckled.

“There is no way I’m ever going to be bored while reading a book.” then suddenly she was sad. “You know, right? Every quirk has a price? My price is my own memory. I can only remember things for two years. I don’t remember a single thing about my years in middle school or grade school and most of high school is lost as well. If I were to meet an old classmate, I would not recognize them. You know, if this test were two years instead of one, I would forget completely my parents as well. I remember them only because I have created new memories with them every day. My mother once said the grave in our garden is for a dog we used to have when I was little. I’ve seen pictures of him, in some we are even hugging and playing together. Yet I have no recollection of him whatsoever. As far as my memory is concerned, he never existed at all. Can you see now? Can you see why I love reading books so much? I love reading about you when you were a kid, because I don’t remember what it feels like. I don’t remember ever being a kid. Reading about life from someone else’s perspective is the only way… It’s the only way I can… I can prove I even existed at all.”

Izuku had not expected this at all. It was only logical; such a powerful quirk had to have a big price. This was a hell of a price. He felt ashamed of himself. It was true that she spied on his secrets without permission, but were his secrets so important in the first place? He wanted to protect himself and Katsuki from imprisonment, and he didn’t want to put Shouto in a bad position as well, but aside from that… Was his relationship with Katsuki even something to keep a secret? Why were they trying to keep it a secret? Was there really a reason? The test? Izuku’s parents? Weren’t they just... Running away from problems like kids?

“There is only one book I cannot read… mine.” she smiled sadly. “But maybe in three years I can read your book again and see who I was. I can see myself in other people’s book. Because… I exist… right?”

“Of course you exist!” he said strongly. “Read my book as many time as you like!”

Maybe he was running a bit too much and giving too much trust, but the same thing had happened with Shouto. In the end, he had been right in trust him. His instinct had told him that he could trust Froppy and now he had to choose. He was going to trust her as well.

“Here, you can have it back.” he handed her the book, but she didn’t take it.

“Have you read it all?” she asked instead.

“No…? Why should I? I already know these things…” he answered, confused.

“You know them… But are you sure you remember them?” she smiled sweetly. “In this book I can’t see your thoughts, it’s not like I can read your mind but… I know that you are struggling because of unresolved feelings and fears. Are you sure you really remember everything? Maybe this won’t help you, I can’t see the future. But often people tend to find answers when looking deep inside of themselves. At least, that’s what my mother always tells me. I think it’s true. Remembering who you were, may tell you who you are. Maybe.”

She got on her feet and brought the plate to the sink to wash it.

“Give it a shot. If you want.”

Izuku left the room with the book hugged to his chest, deep in thoughts. He supposed she was right, only, it was so embarrassing to read back through his history with Katsuki… Or maybe Izuku was just running away, scared to discover something he didn’t want to remember. He remembered all the facts, but… When had been the last time he had stopped and actually reminisced about them? He had not done it since the day they separated, thinking it was going to be forever. Izuku was still protecting himself, selfishly.

After locking his room, he placed the book on the table and took a deep breath. This was going to take quite a while, probably the whole night. The next day was the seafood barbeque, but he would skip it for once. This was more important. He opened the book at chapter thirty-one. He rapidly skipped through a lot of the pages, the first part of the first year was pretty boring. Reading a word here and there he remembered feeling a bit curious about Katsuki, the most solitary student he had ever met, but mostly not wanting to be dragged into problems. He wanted a normal school year; he wanted friends and good grades. Izuku remembered the others gossiping about Katsuki, saying a lot of bad stuff behind his back. At the start of the year, he immediately discovered Katsuki’s quirk, after all even the teacher had made sure no one would get to close to him. They started the year by asking everyone not to touch him.

Izuku, contrarily to most, had no real interest in his quirk or what he was doing with it. Therefore, he was one of the few that didn’t know all the details of it even before seeing his face for the first time. Of course, it was impossible to ignore it for long, and he was not trying to avoid this information at the same time. He was just not actively searching for it. Izuku didn’t really understand why a person would feel compelled by morbid curiosity to learn all about his past. For Izuku, as long as he was not trying to hurt anyone, there was no reason to hate him or gossip about him. Katsuki was just minding his own business. Ignoring everyone, not communicating with anyone. On the contrary, Izuku would often notice a look of irritation on his face when people tried to question him or tease him. He really didn’t want anything to do with anyone.

As weeks passed by, Izuku would find himself more and more drawn by him. Not by his quirk, that was still of no interest to him, but by him. Katsuki had always had a special aura around him. He was like an adult trapped in a room full of kids. Everyone was actively trying to get on his nerves, but his ability to maintain self-control was of steel. He was listening to the lectures, taking notes, writing essays… All while ignoring taunts or pranks. But he didn’t have that ‘victim’ aura, he was not pitiful. On the contrary, he was looking at everyone from above, thinking ‘everyone here is so fucking stupid, I’m not going to bother with them’. He really didn’t look like he was faking it, that he was running home, crying in secret. No, Izuku was absolutely sure that he was genuinely thinking that. He really thought of himself as the best in the room. That attitude could have seemed arrogant and disrespectful, but the more Izuku thought about it, the more he realized that Katsuki was right. They were bulling him for no other reason than the fact that Katsuki really could not defend himself. He had done nothing to deserve the bullying, nothing at all. And the fact that his spirit was not breaking, was only making them more and more aggressive.

Katsuki would show sadness sometimes. It was so very subtle that Izuku was sure no one really noticed it. His expression did not change, he wasn’t doing anything particularly special, he was just… softer. Like he was dropping the attitude a little bit. Izuku, who at that time was already half a stalker, to be fair, had noticed it would often happen after a study group or a project. If Izuku had to put the feeling he was getting from him into words, it probably would have been: ‘Why is no one mature enough to do a serious study session with me without acting stupid and immature?’. That was what, ultimately, five months into the first year of high school, pushed him to volunteer to work with him. It was mostly a challenge; he wanted to prove he could be that mature person. Izuku never thought he had done it because he found Katsuki pitiful or a broken thing to fix. It was truly a challenge; he wanted to see what a strong person like Katsuki would think of him. He was not trying to help him; he was trying to measure himself to the standard of a person he was practically admiring.

Of course, he had forgotten to take into account Katsuki’s personality. Offering to volunteer rubbed him completely in the wrong way. Normally the guy was calm and acted superior. However, at that time and for the first time, Izuku saw his immature and irritable side. Katsuki was sure that Izuku had some ulterior motive, he either wanted to get him off guard and do something bad or he was pitying him. The first thing Katsuki ever communicated to him was ‘I don’t want your pity or your help!’. It was written on a little piece of paper he had torn off his favorite notebook. Katsuki had slammed the paper on the desk next to his own; the one Izuku had temporarily occupied to work with him. Izuku at that time was not yet familiar with him and his irrationality. Katsuki was often like this, he would desire something and when that thing was in his hands, he would reject it. His quick change in attitude had successfully put him off and the first cooperation attempt ended pretty poorly. In the end, Izuku had to do all the work on his own, Katsuki refused to communicate with him or help him.

The next week had been uneventful, Izuku had returned back to his regular desk, a bit disappointed. The failure had convinced him that maybe it was best to ignore Katsuki. If he wanted to be alone so badly, then Izuku would not interfere. Or at least this was what he was thinking until the teacher dragged him into the faculty office to ask him, or more precisely to plead him, to sit next to Katsuki for the rest of the year. Apparently, many parents had complained about their child being forced to sit next to the ‘dangerous element of the class’. Izuku had not told his parents anything about Katsuki at all, so the teacher was convinced Izuku was a pure soul or something. Being caught off guard, Izuku had no other choice but to accept. He was not truly opposed, only a bit scared; Katsuki was probably going to react badly this time too.

When he returned to the classroom and sat at his new desk, Katsuki stared at him with hard eyes. The treatment went on for over ten minutes; Izuku was doing his best to ignore him, after that, Katsuki decided to ignore him as well. The strange atmosphere lasted for more than a week, but Izuku was getting progressively more and more used to this new situation. After a while, he stopped being nervous around him and started to observe him again, a bit more discretely. What truly changed the situation was the curiosity of the other classmates. The first week they would observe them from a distance, not sure of what was going on. Prior to that day, every time a teacher would ask someone to sit next to Katsuki, it was a public display of unpleasant groaning and complaining. The appointed student would complain, try to escape, or to trade duties with someone else. That was the first time someone sat next to him without saying a word of complaint. They built up courage and decided to ask Izuku what was going on. First, he had volunteered to work with him and now he was seated next to him. Izuku initially thought about telling them that it was the teacher that had asked him to do so, but then he noticed Katsuki discretely watching them. He wanted to know as well. A strange feeling had risen in Izuku’s chest at the sight. Why should he confirm their suspicions about Katsuki being a terrible human being by telling them he had been forced to, when he could actually prove the opposite? Not wanting to create problems for himself was one thing, being intentionally cruel was another.

Four classmates were surrounding Izuku’s desk, the others were spying on them from afar. Even Katsuki was watching them while faking disinterest.

“Hey pal, who forced you to sit next to him? For how long?” asked Yamada.

Izuku was silent for a moment, then answered in a neutral tone.

“No one forced me. I just noticed that this seat is giving everyone problems. I don’t really mind sitting here, so I decided to offer. The teacher accepted, so I’m staying here for the rest of the year.”

That earned a lot of appalled looks, Katsuki’s eyes were wide open.

“Are you sure you know what you are doing…?” asked Yamada again.

“Yep, I’m sure, why?” Izuku tried to look surprised.

The others exchanged a look, not sure how to confront the situation.

“Well, as long as you’re sure…”

Izuku nodded, faking obliviousness. He tried to look at Katsuki, but he had already opened a book and was ignoring him once again. 

Izuku skipped two pages; he knew what he was searching for.

Izuku showed the exemption note to the P.E. teacher then joined Katsuki on the edge of the gym, where the guy was always sitting and observing the others exercise with a bored expression. Izuku greeted him with a nod and tried to focus on his classmates doing laps. He didn’t notice at first that Katsuki had brought a notebook to the gym. He was surprised when he was suddenly hit by a paper ball in the arm. Turning towards him, he noticed Katsuki staring with a displeased expression, Izuku picked up the paper ball from the floor, confused.

-What do you think you are doing? Trying to be my white knight in shining armor?-

Izuku stared at the words.

“I’m sitting next to you. Does that qualifies?”

Katsuki sent him a murderous glance and then wrote aggressively on his notebook. He turned it toward Izuku when he finished.

-Then stop doing it-

“I can’t stop sitting next to you, you know that someone has to.”

-I don’t need your help-

“I’m not helping you, I’m doing this so the class is quieter, and you should appreciate this too. You hate the commotion they always make when something is about you, right?”

Katsuki tried to write something three times before rolling his eyes and dropping everything. He hugged his knees and looked away from him, resuming his ignoring tactic. 

Izuku smiled fondly. Yes, that was the first time Izuku had actually ‘won’ against him. After that, Katsuki accepted his presence. He was still ignoring him completely, but he didn’t try to send him away or to treat him poorly. As time went on Izuku was less and less scared of him. He started to gather his courage.

Maybe, just maybe, he could interact with him on friendlier terms.

Chapter Text

It was after the seventh month that Izuku had started the operation ‘befriend Katsuki’.

Once he had realized that he had nothing to fear from him, not his quirk nor his personality, he decided to try to have conversations with him. It was mostly small talk that Katsuki was ignoring, but Izuku was stubborn. A lack of response was much better than outright anger in his book. Izuku was not sure what he was trying to do. Or why he was trying to do this. He was not particularly convinced that Katsuki would be a good friend to have or anything. There just was no reason at all to avoid talking to him or spending time with him, and if Katsuki was not going to send him away, why stop?

The first attempts had had no result whatsoever. Katsuki would just stare at nothing in particular. Izuku was pretty sure he was listening, but maybe he was excluding his voice, as well as his presence. During the second week of attempts, everyone was starting to look at him like he was an alien, Katsuki’s demeanor had changed slightly. Instead of completely ignoring him from start to finish, he would sigh dramatically every time Izuku started talking. He was probably thinking something along the lines of: ‘why is this idiot still talking to me?’. The change had made Izuku cheer internally; it was proof that he was actually listening. The second change had been the following week, Katsuki had changed tactic again. Every time Izuku started a topic, Katsuki would turn towards him and stare at him with a bored expression. ‘For how long are you going to keep talking to me?’. Katsuki was probably trying to make him feel unwanted, but it had the opposite effect. Encouraged by Katsuki’s attention, he would blab cheerfully for much longer, smiling and feeling very satisfied of himself for no reason at all. Meanwhile, all of his other classmates were totally weirded out by him.

Izuku stared at the last page of chapter thirty-two with a fond smile. Looking back at it now, Izuku had looked like a girl getting finally the attention of her crush. He had been such an awkward adolescent. On the other hand, had it not been for that, they would have never developed anything, so Izuku was grateful for his old awkward self.

Chapter thirty-three described the last two months of the first year of high school. As the first month after the first attempt at conversation rolled around, Katsuki finally realized that none of the previous tactics was going to stop him from talking. The first ‘answer’ he gave him was a little piece of paper with ‘I don’t care, shut up’ written on it. It was rude and short, but it was still a response. Of course, Izuku never stopped. Over the next days, the little sheets of paper consisted of mostly things like: ‘Again? I told you I don’t care’, ‘You are too chatty’, ‘Do you ever stop talking? Do you talk even when you sleep?’, ‘I’m getting a headache’, ‘Why do you think I care?’, ‘I don’t wanna hear about what you did yesterday’, ‘Is there a way to make you stop?’.

Izuku chuckled amused, reading back made it clear that Izuku really won over Katsuki by exasperating him. The last message for him before the start of the summer vacation had been: ‘Finally I can let my ears rest.’ Izuku chuckled again, this was just the beginning! Katsuki had no idea at that time, but the teacher had called Izuku to the faculty office the day prior to congratulate him on ‘surviving’ for so long sitting next to Katsuki. Then he tried to sugarcoat Izuku as much as possible, he wanted to put them in the same class and ask Izuku to sit next to him again. Izuku agreed without hesitation. The teacher was almost reduced in tears of gratitude. Izuku had tried to keep a straight face on the last day of school, he really wanted to see Katsuki’s reaction when he found out that he would be seated next to him again.

Izuku skipped chapter thirty-four, he had no interest in the summer vacation. He found what he was looking for in chapter thirty-five.

Izuku had reached the classroom a bit earlier than usual, but the desk next to his, Katsuki’s desk, was already occupied. Katsuki immediately spotted him and after a moment of surprise, he frowned deeply. Izuku slowly sat down looking perfectly at ease. Katsuki was still staring at him. Slowly and deliberately, Izuku turned to greet him cheerfully. Katsuki immediately pulled out his notebook and wrote in a hurry.

-You again?! For how long do you intend to sit next to me?!-

“You better resign yourself; I’m sitting next to you for the next four years.”

Katsuki opened his mouth then he closed it with a sigh and dropped his head on the desk with a loud thump. Izuku chuckled.

Izuku laughed. Seeing Katsuki admit defeat had been one of the most satisfying experience in his life. He had been capable of getting under his skin after so much effort. Izuku had been extremely proud of himself.

The first two months had been mostly them having bad communication. Katsuki started to work with him on school projects and they even studied together. The messages he was willing to write to him were always short and not very friendly, but they were still something. Izuku was trying to make conversation about other things, but Katsuki was not very cooperative, mostly answering that he didn’t care about music, movies or books. Izuku tried asking him what he liked doing in his free time, but he had no luck there either. It looked like Katsuki was going to accept him as classmate, but not as friend.

One day Katsuki came down with a fever during class. The teacher immediately called Katsuki’s mother to pick him up, as if he had something dangerously contagious. Izuku asked to stay with him to keep him company while waiting in the hallway. They were still together when his mom arrived and she was incredibly surprised to see his son with a classmate, or a friend as she immediately thought. She was incredibly excited about Katsuki finally making friends; she even ignored entirely her son signaling her that this was not the case.  Izuku, feeling a little sly, confirmed that he was his friend. Katsuki’s mother made a little squeal of happiness and immediately invited Izuku to their house as soon as Katsuki was recovered. Katsuki rolled his eyes and sighed heavily but that was about it.

It was three days later when Izuku finally had an opportunity to go to Katsuki’s house. He felt a bit nervous. The house was rather big while pretty average, the Bakugou’s family looked almost well off while still being almost normal. Katsuki’s mother greeted him with a lot of enthusiasm dragging him inside and offering tea. Katsuki, wearing his casual clothes, climbed down the stairs looking bored and dropped on the sofa on the opposite side of him, not looking at him. Izuku sipped his tea feeling a bit tense. Katsuki’s mother chatted with him asking him about school while Katsuki was ignoring both with his face rested on his hand. It was only after he finished his tea that Katsuki’s mother invited them to go upstairs and hang out in Katsuki’s room. To Izuku great surprise, Katsuki didn’t protest but got up and made his way up. Izuku hurried behind thanking Katsuki’s mother who responded with a nod.

Katsuki’s room was very spacious. The room had some pretty strong color for sheets and curtains, and was surprisingly tidy. Izuku had thought Katsuki would be a messy type of person. The only thing that was stood out was the pile of notebooks gathered on his desk. Some looked new and others looked old. Katsuki was probably communicated a lot with his parents  unlike with him. Katsuki signaled him to sit at the low table in the center of the room while he picked up a notebook that looked new. Katsuki sat down on the opposite side of the table, opened the notebook to the first page and started to play with the pen. Izuku, who was new to this strange atmosphere, waited with his breath held. What was Katsuki going to write?

After writing for a moment he slid the notebook toward him.

-You must be completely crazy to come here. Haven’t you seen my mother?-

Bakugou Mitsuki has a black smear on her cheek, Izuku had seen that.

“I have. She’s your mother; you probably were very young, weren’t you?”

Katsuki tapped his finger nervously and grabbed the notebook back.

-So what? Do you think that can change anything? Do you even know what my quirk does?-

“I know, more or less. Your quirk is called Mark of Submission; you can mark someone as your slave for life and then order them to do anything you want with your voice.”

-Indeed. I just need to place a finger on a person’s skin to mark them and they are my possession for the rest of their life. I marked both my parents when I was too little to control this shit and now I can’t take it back. Do you understand now? I’m dangerous, you must be crazy to be in the same room as me-

“You refuse to speak because you can give them orders even from far away. Am I correct? In this case I don’t think you can be blamed for anything, you’re doing your best.”

-Doing my best… Like that is going to solve anything-

Katsuki looked away sighing, and then started to write a long paragraph. Izuku waited patiently for him to finish.

-Mark of Submission is a unique quirk, before they had some ‘slavery’ shit quirk registered, but it was a lot more complex to activate and it worked only if the slave was within hearing range. My quirk is unprecedented in its category; never has a quirk so powerful and easy to use been registered before. I am an active type quirk that can be activated by will, but while most active quirk require years of training to activate perfectly when the owner wants, my quirk is so powerful even a little fluctuation out of range in my emotions can make it surface. When I was little I marked my mother completely by chance, the bleak smear would not go away no matter how many times she washed her face. I spoke and she started to behave weirdly. My father was obviously scared by all this and brought us both to the hospital nearby. They separated us, thinking that as long as my mother could not hear my voice she would not react by whatever force was driving her. They were wrong. As I was asking my father where they had brought her, she started to physically fight them to get to me, since I was asking about her. Distance never mattered at all; my slaves can hear me even if they are on the other side of the planet. I don’t personally remember anything about that day, I was too little, but they told me everything when I was a bit older. The Task Force arrived, they exanimate me and treated my mother like a guinea pig. They tried to make me eliminate the smear by touching her again, but it only got bigger. After that, they called for Aizawa, who was one of the newest member of the Task Force and he said that my quirk was something he never saw before. Of course, that caused massive hysteria. It’s been quite a while since a new quirk had been discovered. They took us and brought us to some laboratory or something, made me go through a lot of tests, tried to do a bunch of things… In the end, my quirk is not very complicated, they got all the conditions and usages quite quickly, but they wanted to test the extent of its power. They tried to separate us very far away, and make me says things like ‘bite yourself’ and all that nice stuff to see if she would harm herself, which she did, by the way -

Izuku continued to read with a massive weight on his stomach.

-They made me mark another man too, some random person I never met again, just to be sure it was all like they thought. They let us go only three days later. By that point, I was so stressed and instable, I was basically throwing tantrums all over the place making my mother instable as well. My father bought a special spray that momentarily mutes your voice so I would stop making things worse. It worked for my mother, but I was still very restless. While he was trying to make me take the spray, I ended up marking him as well. After some time, everything calmed down, but we were in a very big mess, by that point. My quirk is evil, like, extremely evil. I can order someone to kill themselves and they would do it, no question asked. Can you imagine the disaster I could cause with a completely casual joke? Can you imagine what would happen if I were to say something like ‘break a leg’? Can you tell me what are you still doing here?-

With that last sentence, he stared hard at Izuku who was feeling sick, but not because he was disgusted by him. The classmates had already been quite vocal about Katsuki’s quirk and he even knew that some people were calling him ‘The Child of the Devil’ because the mark was black and ugly. Yet, nothing he wrote had convinced him it was best to get out of there.

“Are you still taking the spray?”

Katsuki looked away, displeased.

-Why do you care about that? What difference does it make? I can’t understand if you are stupid or what-

“It doesn’t make any difference, I was just asking. I was wondering if you have any problems at school.”

-I wasn’t supposed to go to school. People like me don’t get to go to school. My mother insisted, she said she wanted me to have friends. Well, that didn’t work. I wore gloves and used the spray for grade school but my quirk had appeared in the news and everyone knew me. A new quirk is always treated like a scientific breakthrough, especially if it’s a big one like this one. Supposedly, it’s to help the population discover other kids with this same quirk before something bad happens. Because of that, I always had a disadvantage even among the other S rank quirk owners. In addition, the period I discovered my quirk was the same period as Yagi Toshinori’s mass murder. S rank quirks were feared even more during that year. I told mother that I could be homeschooled, but she insisted. I don’t blame anyone for keeping their distance from me, I would have done the same if the situation was reversed. I don’t even like the other S rank quirk owners all that much. I don’t need friends anyway. This bring us back here, why are you still in here?-

“I can be your friend, I don’t particularly care for your quirk. I’m not afraid, I’m sure you won’t mark me.”

Katsuki’s stare was hard and angry; suddenly he raised a hand and extend it closer and closer to Izuku’s face. Izuku remained perfectly still, knowing that this was a test for him. Katsuki stopped right before he was about to touch Izuku’s nose. Katsuki ruffled his hair, annoyed.

-You are most definitely an idiot. Do you have a quirk?-

It was the first time Katsuki ever asked him a personal question.

“No, I’m quirkless.”

-Then you really cannot understand how I feel. Lucky you, by the way-

 “Yes, I’m lucky and yes, maybe I don’t understand… But, that doesn’t change the fact that I know you don’t like your quirk. You are not dangerous to me.”

-Do you realize that I just need to go to a very crowded area and touch a bunch of random people for a minute and I would have an army of soldiers ready to die for me, yes?-

“Your potential to do bad has nothing to do with your actual dangerousness.”

-Why do you even care about me? You don’t need me-

Izuku didn’t answer.

Izuku recalled not knowing the answer to that question. Katsuki was right; there was no need for Izuku to go out of his way to reach out to him. Nevertheless, Izuku still did it. After that, they talked for a bit about school work, Izuku gave him the missed assignments and then went home. He didn’t say anything to his parents, only that he had gone to visit a sick school friend.

Izuku still had no idea what brought the two together exactly, what compelled him to reach out to him again after that day. During that time, Katsuki called it ‘intuition’, he would say that Izuku had a good judge of character. Personally, Izuku didn’t believe it, for him, it was more like fate, like he was destined to meet him and be attracted by him. Katsuki didn’t believe in fate, so he never told him, he would just laugh at him.

After that day, Izuku had appointed himself as a friend; he didn’t care if it was one-sided. They started talking about things asides from school during breaks and recess, but Katsuki was not very knowledgeable about a lot of things. Now that he had dropped his attitude a bit, Izuku could see that he really didn’t know much about movies and places, it was not simply a refusal to talk. After some effort, Izuku discovered why, Katsuki didn’t leave his house very often. He explained that his personal rule, which was as important as a full flagged law, was to never talk, no matter the situation. He didn’t have any friends, he had no one that could accompany him, Katsuki could not go outside alone. If a dangerous or an unexpected situation was to occur Katsuki could not call for help, his parents and Katsuki himself were not comfortable with him going out and risking it. He could send text messages, but it was still a bit of a risk. Of course he could still watch movies in his room and do other hobbies in there, but alone, Katsuki was not really in touch with what was new or trendy.

Izuku started to invite him to places, but Katsuki would flat refuse every suggestion. After a bit of thinking, Izuku realized that Katsuki was too prideful to accept something he considered charity. Izuku changed his approach, instead of saying ‘do you want to go see a movie?’ he would say ‘I want to see that movie, accompany me’. It didn’t really work, so Izuku started to consider if he really didn’t like the idea of going out or if the problem was Izuku’s company. To his surprise, he actually found some place he was willing to go. Izuku told him that he needed a new pair of shoes and Katsuki wrote him that he needed some as well. At the mall, Katsuki instantly delegated Izuku to do all the talking, while he was faking indifference from a distance. However, Izuku quickly spotted the spark of enthusiasm in his eyes, he looked a bit like a kid. After gathering all his courage, he asked him why he was so happy to be there. Katsuki sent him an annoyed glare but then wrote, ‘Because I never went shopping without my mother before. And to buy clothes with your mother at 15 is just too embarrassing’. Izuku had to hide an amused smile. Katsuki hit him with the notebook.

Izuku was really happy that day. Maybe Katsuki was not ready to trust him with a more fun oriented outing, but he was still relying on him a tiny little bit. They were taking baby’s steps.

He reached chapter thirty-seven, reading only a sentence or two here and there, it took them quite some time to move from that phase. They sometimes met outside of the school and ran some errands together; Katsuki was getting more and more used to Izuku, even proposing some places he needed to go. Sometimes they would end the day in Katsuki’s room. They would do homework together and Izuku would lend him music and movies so they could share opinions. Half-way through the school year, while in Katsuki’s room, after they had exchanged some messages on the notebook about the last movie Izuku had recommended him, for this first time Katsuki left Izuku alone at the table and went to lie down on his bed. He was playing around with the pen, and not looking at him while concentrating deeply about something. Izuku had no idea what caused this sudden changed, so he just waited in silence for some long, interminable minutes for Katsuki to snap out of it on his own. As ten minutes passed, Izuku wondered if he was better off leaving him alone and going home, since he was in a strange mood. He was staring at the door, trying to decide, when he felt Katsuki’s eyes on him again and he saw him sit up, staring at him with a serious and dark expression. He got up and grabbed his notebook, sitting back on his bed again.

Katsuki scribbled something quickly.

-We can’t be friends-

Izuku rolled his eyes; he spent all of this time thinking only to reach this conclusion?

“Well, care to say why? I think we are getting along just fine.”

-Do you know what the Test Certification for A rank and S rank quirks is?-

“Only vaguely… If I remember correctly, every year the people who celebrate their eighteen birthday and have an S rank or A rank quirk have to take a test to enter the Task Force, something like that?”

-I guess you can summarize it that way… During childhood, we are considered the responsibility of our parents, so whatever quirk we have it’s up to them to control and educate us. Only some of us are periodically checked to ensure we have not gone rouge. But as soon as we become adults, we are responsible for our actions and they don’t trust us to stay put forever. Before Toshinori Yagi, the test was only for S rank quirks and it was a lot more forgiving. You just had to train and study to become a useful member of the Task Force; if you could pass the final exam, you were considered a free citizen. Even the Task Force was a lot lousier than it is now, they were not called on for every single little thing. Now they handle even arguments, it’s stupid. If you were to fail the final exam, you had to wear a special transmitter that allowed the Government to follow you around and catch you in case something bad happened. Ever heard of ‘innocent until proven guilty’? This was before. Now the Government thinks the opposite, we are guilty until proven innocent. We have to work to gain our freedom-

“I see, you have to take that test too?”

-Of course. The current test is a real battle, not all of us can gain freedom. They select only the most capable, trustworthy and useful for them. The people who fail are sent into a special prison for life. A single mistake during the test and you’ll never go back home. It’s a fierce battle for survival. What I mean is-

Katsuki played a little with his pen before completing the sentence.

-is that I’ll go away. Like, forever probably. It doesn’t make any sense for us to be friends. I’ll go away and we will never meet again, even if I win I’ll be busy with the Task Force. There is just no way we can go back to seeing each other after the test. You are wasting your time here. It’s already half way through the second year and you don’t have any friends, you only hang out with me… I’m scaring everyone away from you and you don’t even realize it. Don’t you see how they look at you? And I know they keep harassing you to know more about me. You are really wasting your time. Stop this masochistic attempt and go back to your normal life. I’ll be in the school only until the first half of the fifth year in any case, so in three years from now, I’ll disappear. Go and make some actual friends-

Izuku stared at him for a moment before smiling.

“Why are you assuming that I had a normal life anyway? Who told you I had friends before I met you? I’m not saying I never hung out with anyone before, that would be a lie, but it’s not like my social life was so lively before all this. Honestly, I’m having way more fun now than before. And in three years a lot of things can change, you know? Are you afraid that I would get lonely without you or something? Don’t worry, I don’t live my life for your benefit, I’m just comfortable with what I have now. I can still change my mind at any moment.”

Katsuki snorted, annoyed by Izuku’s insinuation.

-So what, are you proposing we can be friends for three years and then stop or something? Are you sure you’re not going to cry in your sleep as you lose your only friend?-

Katsuki smiled with sarcasm.

“Pretty sure. And, okay, if that makes you sleep better at night, then all right. You are very self-centered to think that I have such strong feelings for you. It’s not like I want to marry you.”

Katsuki snorted again.

-I sure hope so because I don’t want to marry you either. And you are pretty self-centered as well to drag me in this to have ‘more fun’. Sure, whatever, if you want to be my friend so badly then go for it. Just keep in mind to not get attached to me. This ends in three years, whether you like it or not-

“Don’t worry about me, I can take care of myself.”

-Then we have our contract, you better not forget-

Chapter Text

Izuku stared at the last page of chapter thirty-seven with a sigh.

Looking back on this conversation they had made him feel sad. He had forgotten having said these words until he re-read them. He remembered the contract and the terms but… He had been pretty selfish and sassy, hadn’t he? During that time, he enjoyed Katsuki’s company, but his feelings for him were pretty shallow. He was someone Izuku admired a bit and wanted to know more and spend more time with… But, he could not say he had his best interests at heart. At that moment, he had felt compelled to play hard to get as well. In his mind, he refused the possibility of being hurt by Katsuki’s disappearance. It was one of these things a kid would say, like ‘when I grow up I’ll never be like my parents’, then most of them ended up like that without even realizing. In the following years, Izuku sometimes would regret having agreed to the contract. It was mostly when he was having a lot of fun, when he was looking at Katsuki and seeing the most interesting person in the world, when Katsuki would surprise him with little thoughtful actions. At the same time, Katsuki would constantly remind him, almost once a month, what had become like a personal motto of his: Don’t get attached to me. Therefore, every time Izuku’s pride pushed these feelings and thoughts away, he was going to honor his word and not get attached to him. He would not feel sad. He never once asked himself what Katsuki felt.

After they sealed the contract the following week, they had their first school trip. With the contract in their pockets, they stared to treat it as an excuse. Since neither had deep feelings for the other they could stop tiptoeing around and just hang out as much as they wanted. After all, nothing they could do would hurt them, right? Katsuki stopped pretending that he didn’t want to have fun and started to boss him around all over again, choosing places he wanted to see and dragging Izuku along. Izuku decided to use him to experiment all the things he never had opportunity to do; things that one would do with a close friend or even a best friend. He tried to take a lot of pictures with the two of them, but failed completely after the first one at the panoramic spot. Katsuki hated being photographed, so Izuku ended up collecting a lot of partially blurred shots of Katsuki trying to avoid the camera. He dragged him to share food; he even bought two of those stupid souvenirs with their initials. They were two little bottles filled with sand and the initial was swimming inside. Katsuki threw his away at the first occasion.

Time flew by and the first birthday Izuku and Katsuki spent together was almost a surprise. Izuku was visiting, as was his habit, for the third time that week, when Katsuki’s mother stopped them before he could go up to his room.

Mitsuki invited him to sit on the sofa in the living room.

“Izuku! It’s so nice to see you again!” she said cheerfully.

Katsuki wrote on his notebook.

-Like you don’t see him almost every day-

“Oh, don’t be a party pooper Katsuki! Oh, about parties…!”

-Oh no. I know where this is going. No, mom. Just no-

“Soon it will be Katsuki’s sixteen birthday! I was thinking you could come and have a little party with us, maybe? If you are free on the 20th?”

-No. Izuku refuse. Just say no-

“Do you already have plans??” she was looking at him with a pleading expression, pursuing her lower lip.

-Stop looking like a puppy! And you, say you are busy-

“Ehm… I don’t know, I don’t think I have plans, but…”

Izuku looked at Katsuki with a confused expression.

-No, I don’t want to have a stupid party, say no!-

“Hm, on second thought I think I’m really free that day.” Izuku smiled. “I’ll be honored to be at Katsuki’s birthday party!”

-Well, then, fuck you-

Izuku chuckled.

Izuku chuckled. Seeing him being so opposed only made him want to say yes even more. And Izuku could not see a reason to refuse to celebrate Katsuki’s birthday. They went see a movie together and when they reached Katsuki’s house that day his mother and father were there. They had prepared a whole banquet with all of Katsuki’s favorite dishes and some of the things Izuku had mentioned. Most of the food that Katsuki liked was spicy, so Izuku’s mouth was burning by the time they finished eating. Izuku had bought Katsuki an entire collection of a TV series he liked as a present.

During the third year of high school, things got complicated. While outside of school they had become very close friends, at least by Izuku’s standard, during school, Katsuki behaved very moodily. Some days he would be as open and sassy as ever, other days he would be almost distant, trying to spend some time alone. In the meantime, their classmates were becoming more and more malicious about his friendship with him. They were assuming things, trying to preach for information and sometimes Izuku would get pushed by a hand on his back. He never turned fast enough to see who it was; he never knew if it was only one person or not either. As some cowardice acts of bullying started to occur Izuku finally realized what was going on. Izuku was only getting a little portion of the actual cruelty; Katsuki was getting most of it. Paying more attention, he found out that Katsuki was more distant during days while he had disappeared somewhere for some time, or days in which he signed him ‘I don’t have my notebook’. Izuku should had realized sooner that he would never go to school without a notebook.

Following him around while he was ‘disappearing’ he caught the bullies red handed. Very careful not to touch him, they stole his notebook and reduced it to shreds. How many notebooks Katsuki had already lost in this stupid way was never confirmed. The threats and insults they were throwing at him were something else. They were capable of doing this only because Katsuki could not respond or fight back at all. But Izuku had always thought they were being really stupid, how could they not realize that Katsuki had only to snap and they would become slaves in a moment? Sure, Katsuki would pay with his freedom for this but it was still a possibility after all. Izuku could not see at all why they would pester a person for being dangerous by threatening him, it was nonsense.

”Hey! What are you doing, leave him alone!” Izuku said leaving his hiding spot.

The bullies looked around, worried that Izuku may have called the teachers, then they threw Katsuki’s notebook at the end of the hallway and walked away. Izuku went to pick it up and hand it to him.

“How long has this been going on? How come you never told me anything?”

Katsuki led the way to a solitary stairway that led to the roof and after sitting on the steps he started to write.

-There is nothing to say, they are just being stupid. They can’t even touch me anyway-

“But you could have said something to the teachers! It’s not good to just take the bullying without fighting back!”

-I’m just a pain for them, they just want me to stay out of the way, if I’m going to complain to them, they are just going to suggest I leave school. My mother would not be happy with any of this and this will become a major pain-

“But this is totally not fair! You can’t let them win!”

-Win what? They are just kids, let them have my notebooks if they want them, they can’t hurt me. Ironically, my quirk protects me from actual physical bulling. There is no need to be so worked up about those brats-

“The insults don’t get to you? How can you not be affected by them?”

-What you don’t get is that this is the norm for me. It was like this since grade school. It’s you who has a strange idea of how the world works. There is really no use in getting affected by this, let it go, you should fight for yourself instead-

“What?”

-I know they are bothering you as well… Instead of wasting your breath trying to help me, especially since I don’t need any help, you should find a good way to deal with the situation yourself. My advice would be to do what my mother does. Play dumb. When they ask you something just say ‘I dunno’ and ‘I have no idea’. Your reputation won’t get any higher, but at least they will just think that you are stupid. My mother always says it’s best to be underestimated and live a peaceful life than to pick fights-

“Then why don’t you do it yourself?”

-With me, it has the opposite effect, they get even more pissed and I don’t want to risk doing something that will compromise my freedom. For me, it’s way better to just ignore them entirely. They can’t touch me and my parents love to buy me hundreds of these notebooks so it’s not a big deal. If they are pissed with you, they can punch you. I don’t need this in my life. And it would be better for you if you keep a neutral relationship with them. When I’m gone you will need to be able to go back to them-

“What if I don’t want to go back to them?”

-Just leave the door open for yourself, you never know-

Izuku abandoned the book for a moment and sat on the bed. Katsuki had been right in the end; he had taken advantage of the open door later on. In the next two years, Izuku balanced Katsuki and his classmates while in school, leaving both doors open. It had not been easy, but it wasn’t too difficult either. But now, Izuku realized that by doing so, he had basically given up on the possibility to get the bullying to stop. Katsuki endured that alone. Couldn’t Izuku do more for him? Probably, but at the same time Katsuki never mentioned anything again, only reminding him from time to time to keep the relationships neutral. Had Izuku taken advantage of Katsuki’s reassurances to mind his own business and abandon Katsuki to deal with things alone?

Yes, he had.

Izuku ruffled his hair. Had he changed so much in so little time? Why was looking back at things now making him more and more convinced he had actually been a bad friend for Katsuki? Taking everything for granted? Sure, Katsuki was a strong person, but still, Izuku should have tried at least to be of some support for him, right? The more he read, the more he felt like he just went and took what he wanted, ignored the rest, and then escaped at the first opportunity. It was not like that, was it…? It was only because the book didn’t show him what he thought at that time, right?

For some reason, that didn’t seem right either.

He went back to the book feeling determinate. They had been together for almost four years; there was no way that he could not find something positive he did for him in all four! Having the first birthday party of his life together counted for the first year, right?! Well, he surely could not count ‘having protected him from bullies’ in the second year. He skipped through a lot of pages, he knew what was in these, other movies, other bullying incidents, other afternoons at his house. They were, by that point, sharing their interests and doing everything together, except when Izuku was home with his parents, he was with Katsuki every day. There was no need to re-read all of that.

Chapter forty to forty-three were skipped. He scanned chapter forty-four searching for something, There was a special event during the first week of summer break that Izuku was sure would be helpful. He found it at the fourth page of the chapter. It was a camping outing Katsuki’s mother organized for the whole family, Izuku included obviously, Mrs. Bakugou had already ‘adopted him’ into the family, he was even included in the family album. Surprisingly, for someone who was always indoor, Katsuki loved mountain trips. Izuku had never been camping before, his mother was too anxious and his father preferred vacations that were more relaxing. Convincing them had not been too hard, he only had to promise his mother he would call her every morning and evening. Izuku would escape from the Bakugou family to call her; he was embarrassed to be treated like a little kid in front of them. Katsuki would surely mock him if he found out. Or maybe not, after all, his mother was always sending him texts when they were out. Sometimes Katsuki had an expression like he wanted to throw his phone in the nearest river.

Katsuki and Izuku would take off on their own; now that Katsuki had a companion, he was no longer waiting for his parents to keep up with him. They were going all out in exploration and climbing. Izuku was barely capable of keeping his balance, let alone being enthusiastic like him. During one of these explorations, Izuku lost his footing while crossing a river and Katsuki caught him by the wrist, stabilizing him. When Izuku’s balance was restored, Katsuki realized exactly what he had done and let him go immediately, almost panicking. Izuku examined his wrist, but there was nothing there. Katsuki had not marked him. Even if Izuku told him that nothing bad had happened and everything was fine, Katsuki was clearly beating up himself over it. Out in the open they could not stop and start a written conversation, so the mood became awkward until they returned to the tent. Once inside Izuku immediately said what he was thinking.

”I’m not marked and I’m perfectly fine, stop worrying about me, there is really no reason to react so badly.”

-You don’t get how big this mistake was! I acted on instinct, it was very lucky my training worked and I didn’t lose control of my quirk. I should never touch someone, no matter the situation! It’s too big of a risk!-

“You can touch me, I trust you to not mark me.”

Katsuki ruffled his hair in frustration.

-You don’t get it! YOU DON’T GET IT AT ALL! This is not about trust. I-should-not-touch-anyone-no matter-what. Got it?!-

“But you can control your quirk now, can’t you? Why do you need to avoid it at all costs if you can avoid using it? I think it’s the opposite, you should practice with me, so you’ll be even more confident that you can control it.”

-Practice?! For what?! You’re completely crazy!-

“For when people will stop being scared of you and you’ll be able to hang out with people normally. I’m sure you’ll meet people like that someday.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes.

-Here comes Nostradamus… That won’t happen-

“I told you, I trust you… C’mon, try to touch me!”

Katsuki stared at him with his mouth half opened and then he shook his head. Izuku extended his hand towards him with an encouraging nod. Katsuki shook his head more strongly. Izuku took his hand himself and tightened his grip when Katsuki struggled to get his hand free. Katsuki stopped moving, staring at him with a sneer. Izuku shook hands with him a couple of times, smiling.

“See?”

-You are an idiot. Did I already say that?-

Katsuki took his hand back shaking his head.

“C’mon try again. Try to touch me!”

Katsuki stared at him with his eyes half-lidded and Izuku nodded again to encourage him. Katsuki looked away and then sighed deeply, ruffling his hair. Katsuki looked at him again with a more serious expression and raised his hand unsure of what to do with it.

Izuku remembered well what happened after that. Izuku was expecting him to take his hand or something, but that was not what Katsuki had decided. Slowly his hand reached Izuku’s face; he froze on the spot, confused. Katsuki placed his hand on his right cheek, gently and left it there for a second. Izuku could not read Katsuki’s expression at that moment. He remembered feeling his heat raising, his tension growing.

It was not as if Izuku had forgotten his sexual orientation until that day, he had not, Katsuki was quite good looking, and he had looked at him that way sometimes. But he had always taken for granted that Katsuki was straight, he never once gave him any indication of interest. Izuku was inexperienced, so he started to double guess himself immediately. Surely, he was getting this completely wrong, there was no way that Katsuki was trying to communicate something like that to him. Immediately, Izuku’s thoughts had started to wander in forbidden directions unwillingly. But, they were supposed to be friends, if Izuku was not capable of having a male friend without seeing him as a potential lover, this would become a problem down the road. He could not ruin his first real friendship like that.

Now that Izuku knew with certainty about Katsuki’s interest for him, since that day or maybe even before, he could see clearly that Katsuki had actually tried to make his interest known. But Izuku’s confusion prevented him from understanding and acting upon their interest. It took them almost a year to get past that point.

Izuku quickly skipped past the next chapter, reaching the fourth year of school. Reading back now, Izuku was able to see all the little hints both he and Katsuki let slip right and left, but living that moment in-person was different from reading it in a book. He read the moment where he first decided to sit next to Katsuki on his bed while he was ‘meditating’. It had been on impulse, he had thought something along the lines of ‘I want to see what happens if I cross this barrier’. The first time as soon as Katsuki’s eyes fixed on him he lost his courage and sat back on the floor. The second time he stayed, not running away anymore. From there, things escalated, the tension in the air was becoming heavy and soon both had a clear idea of what was going on but neither wanted to make the first move. For once, surprisingly, it had been Katsuki the first to take the initiative.

They were seated together on the bed; Katsuki got up suddenly with a frustrated groan and started to pace the room with his hands in his hair.

”Katsuki? What’s wrong?”

Katsuki groaned even more strongly, dropping his hands. He grabbed the notebook and scribbled furiously.

-You. You are the problem. What the hell are we doing?!-

“I… we are not doing anything. What do you mean?”

-I mean this! You are making me going crazy! What are we?!-

“We…?”

-Let’s not beating around the bushes. You like me right?-

Izuku chuckled. Katsuki had decided to use Izuku as a scapegoat to avoid putting his own feelings into play. He could see it even back then; still, he had appreciated it a lot. If that had been left it to Izuku, he would have never said anything at all. It had been very surprising to see him to take that initiative, but Izuku was not complaining.

 “”I…! Yes, yes, I do.”

Izuku looked at his hands feeling shy and embarrassed. There was no need to hide it any further, but that didn’t make it easier. Katsuki sat back on the bed next to him.

-Good-

“Good, what’s good? What?”

-Well, at least I’m not crazy. I was starting to think I needed to see a doctor-

“Ah… okay?”

-So, what are you going to do about that?-

“About… me liking you…?”

Katsuki sent him an unimpressed glare.

-Maybe YOU should see a doctor. Are you capable of making a full coherent sentence or not?-

“Well, sorry! You caught me off guard! Hm, what are we going to do… You mean like… If we are a couple…?”

Izuku asked, feeling silly, Katsuki had helped getting the cat out of the bag, but now he was as uncooperative as ever. He stared at the notebook for a while, searching for the right words.

-We are not a couple, remember? I’m going away next year? But, if you want, we can be friends with benefit or whatever you want to call it. An expansion on our accord? We can see where this is going, but without obligation. If you want to try. But you are free to change your mind, this is like an experiment. No feelings involved-

“So… I like you, but I’m supposed to date you without involving feelings? How does that even work?”

Katsuki grimaced.

-If you can’t, it’s fine. I don’t want to make a mess, I want to leave without having to worry about you or anyone else. It’s just that I hate to dance around things for months, this was too irritating. You can forget about it and go back being my friend or whatever. If you think your feelings are going to get hurt, you better go away now, before it’s too late-

“You are as catastrophic as usual. I’m not going to die with a broken heart. I just said that I like you, I find you interesting and you’re attractive, it’s not like I’m in love with you or anything! I can do this!”

Izuku stared at the sentence for a while. He remembered what he had felt at that time. Pride, fear, embarrassment, confusion. Izuku knew he had not been in love with Katsuki, he was not lying, but at the same time, he was forcing himself to think he was feeling only that much for him. In reality, Izuku had no idea what his feelings were actually, hell, he still didn’t know what his feelings for Katsuki were. It was certainly more than friendship, but was it love? Had it ever been love? Probably not.

-All right, but I have another condition. When I’m gone, promise me you’ll forget all about me. Don’t search for me, don’t wait for me, don’t do anything. Just live your life as if you never met me at all-

Izuku had never loved him. There was just no way, he would have felt much strongly after reading Katsuki’s condition. He would have not been able to accept or actually do it. Instead, Izuku accepted and kept his word, no problem. They separated and that was that. Izuku realized something for the first time. For a period immediately after Katsuki left and he found himself lost and confused, he thought everything had been Katsuki’s fault. It was Katsuki’s fault their relationship had started under such strange pretences because he immediately forbidden him to get attached. It was Katsuki’s fault that he could not fall in love properly. It was Katsuki’s fault if now he was lost now, because he had promised to not wait for him. It was his fault if their last year had become a strange mix of pain and half-truths.

Nothing was Katsuki’s fault.

Izuku simply never loved him; he just used Katsuki’s accord as an excuse. If he really had loved him he would have suffered for it a lot more and he would have not accepted any of this in the first place. What he had felt for Katsuki was something a bit more intense than physical attraction and nothing else. He never was attached because he never was attached, not because Katsuki forbid him. That was just stupid, how could he have deluded himself that much? What had been that last year? A relationship without feelings?

Had he used Katsuki?

First, he made in him the best friend he never had and then the lover he never had. He shaped Katsuki to take exactly the form he wanted him to have. He took everything he wanted and hoped for from him. He never asked Katsuki ‘what are your feelings for me?’ or ‘are you getting attached to me, do you consider me your friend? or ‘do you want me to do something for you?’ or ‘what can I do to make you happy?’.

Had Izuku ever given back anything he took from him?

Was Katsuki aware of the fact that Izuku used him like this?

Chapter Text

Izuku got on his feet and started to pace around the room feeling out of breath.

How could he not realize it earlier? He had used Katsuki for four years without worrying at all about him. It was all about him: Izuku. Him feeling lost, him feeling lonely, him feeling curious of the strange classmate, him feeling prideful, him feeling in the mood for making friends… Him, him, him, it was all about him. How self-centered could a person get?

He had no idea what Katsuki thought about him or felt about him, because he never asked. He just assumed things. He just assumed Katsuki was happy to be his friend and lover. Maybe he had had another reason entirely. Maybe Katsuki was just as lonely as he had felt. But at least Katsuki always worried about him, warning him he was going to go away and warning him to not get too hurt because of him. Wasted effort, Izuku had barely being affected by it at all.

Izuku ruffled his hair, frustrated. What now? What was he supposed to do now that he realized just what a shitty human being he had been?

He looked the alarm clock, he had thought about talking to Froppy since she was the only one besides Katsuki that knew about all this, but it was way past midnight. He had read for much longer than he thought. He could not talk to her until morning. He could talk to Katsuki, he was sure he would open his door for him even during the night, but he had no idea what to tell him. He paced around the room for more than twenty minutes, but he could not calm down. He already knew he was not going to sleep that night. Waiting in his room for the entire night was going to be torture and he still had some chapters to read. Having calmed down a little bit he sat down again, ready to feel even worse.

Chapter forty-six was after the events of that afternoon. After that day, things fell into an awkward stage where neither of them had no idea what to do next. Katsuki was not very eager to start touch him, considering his quirk, so they were hanging out together pretty much the same way as before. Especially since they had to keep emotionally uninvolved, it was not like they could start sweet talking each other or do lovely-dovely stuff. They weren’t doing anything different from before, their conversations was hung in the air, but beyond that nothing was out of the ordinary.

Izuku in the end decided to move things along himself taking Katsuki’s hand one time they were sitting next to each other. Katsuki jumped and stared at him, almost afraid. As always, touching was a delicate thing. Katsuki looked away but let him hold his hand. They just sat there watching the movie, tense like statues. When it was time for Izuku to go home, he was feeling irritated, the situation was stupid and it was not progressing at all. At the very least, Izuku decided to kiss him on the cheek, before going. Even before Izuku could touch Katsuki’s cheek, he was already taking a step back looking shocked.

Izuku massaged his eyes, they had been the hugest dorks ever. This was embarrassing; he almost wanted to burn the book. Destroy the evidence. He could not believe Froppy had read this assembly of clumsiness. To think they had been both seventeen, this looked like something a thirteen would do. No wonder they were both socially awkward.

Their first kiss had been even more awkward. They were both irritated because of the situation and they basically kissed out of annoyance towards the other. They had just entered Katsuki’s bedroom after they had gone out to eat hamburgers and they had seen a couple kissing at the table next to theirs. That atmosphere, right next to them, had worsened their mood considerably. The kiss arrived after their only fight.

Now that Izuku was reading back, he realized that Katsuki’s temper had been very bad since even before the accord. Of course, part of it was the frustration caused by the lack of progress in the relationship, but another part was surely caused by the fact that he had no more time. The test was going to start very soon and if things were left to Izuku’s pace, they would never get anywhere. As was predictable, Izuku at that time didn’t understand. They fought. Izuku told him that if he was dissatisfied in him he could find someone else.  Katsuki was very, very, mad. He started to write on his notebook in an extremely big writing, he would have shouted if he could.

It had been Izuku, completely following instinct, that initiated the kiss. He was annoyed and wanted to prove something, that he was interested in him like he said or that he could do it if he wanted. It had not been a sweet kiss or a long one for that matter. They just pushed their lips together and grabbed each other on the first place they could, hard, as if they wanted to hurt the other more than anything. They soon broke the contact and they just stared at each other still irritated and breathing hard. Katsuki was the first one to break the eye contact. Izuku calmed down considerably after that, realizing that he was still squeezing his arm he loosened his grip. After a long moment of silence where Katsuki was still looking down at his feet, Izuku placed his free hand on his right cheek and turned his face so they could look each other in the eyes again. Katsuki stared back almost challenging and they kissed again. This time the kiss actually worked, they went for it much slower and sweeter. In the end, they spent the whole evening kissing, getting a little more used to it each time.

After they overcame that barrier, things went a bit better. They returned to a more neutral state, but Katsuki’s room had become their secret lair, every time they were in there alone, with the door closed, they would spend some time messing around a bit. They were still progressing very slowly, but only because Katsuki was not used to being touched, so every time they were doing something new, he needed some time adjusting. Izuku didn’t want to read all his awkward attempts at doing something vaguely sexy, so he skipped parts here and there. 

With time, Katsuki’s impatience grew again. The time for him to depart was getting closer and he was getting more nervous as the deadline was approaching. As he was becoming more nervous, he was becoming bolder. Things escalated very quickly one day, when only a week separated him from going on a vacation with his family that would last until the start of the test. Izuku had no idea that was going to happen, Katsuki had not told him yet, not until that same day.

-I’m going away next week-

“Hm? Where?”

-Where doesn’t matter. The point is that next week I’ll be going and we won’t see each other anymore-

“But… it’s still more than six months from the start of the test, you won’t come back here at all?”

-No, I already told you. This is it-

“Well… then…”

-I’m not leaving without having had sex at least once. I don’t want to remain a virgin for the rest of my life-

Izuku choke on saliva, coughing loudly. Katsuki just waited for him to stop staring at him hard, not baking down at all.

“W-what do you mean, y-you’ll have all time to have… to do things after the test. It’s not like you’ll never get another chance!”

Izuku was panicking, not sure of how to react to any of this.

-Not if I fail. If I’m sent to prison I won’t-

“W-well, think positively! Why should you fail?!”

Katsuki frowned.

-So I’m getting that you don’t want to have sex with me?-

“That’s—I’m…”

-Whatever, if you don’t want then whatever-

Katsuki looked away and refused to answer him again. When Izuku tried to shake him by the shoulder, he shook his hand off without looking at him.

Shortly after, Katsuki thrown him out, but Izuku himself was not complaining. His request had been so abrupt and unexpected that he had no idea what to do in any case. First, he told him that he was going away soon and then that he wanted to have sex. The next two days had been really awkward. Katsuki refused to look at him and Izuku had no idea what to do at all. He had to decide if he wanted to have sex with him or not, he knew that much, problem was that he was not sure. Part of him was telling him he wanted to try, he was a bit curious and if there was someone he wanted to have his first time with, surely that was Katsuki. The other part was telling him that this was too sudden; he was not ready to make this decision with this pressure on him. It was almost like he was being forced or something. He knew that it was not true, they had been ‘dating’ for a while and he was not regretting it at all, but at the same time Katsuki had been the one to drag things on for so long, in some way it felt almost unfair that now he was forced to rush things along.

In the end, though, he realized something pretty obvious. Katsuki was trusting him with something very important. A person like him could very well go his whole life without having a human relationship, yet he had willingly accepted Izuku in his life more and more. He realized that Katsuki had discarded the idea of having any of this before knowing him. The first times they interacted, he made that very clear. For him to say ‘I don’t want to remain a virgin for the rest of my life’ was a roundabout way to say that Izuku awoke in him such desire. Katsuki had surely accepted some time ago the fact that he was going to remain virgin for a long while or maybe forever. It was Izuku that made him change his mind.

This realization made him come to a conclusion. There was nothing to fear, Katsuki was not asking out of pure curiosity or in a casual way, he was being serious. He could have present it a little better though, that was for sure. With this in mind, he went to his house the next day, three days before he was going to leave. He had already told his parents he was going to spend the night and he relied on Mrs. Bakugou to let him stay. He was proven correct; Katsuki’s mother was delighted to have him for the night. If she sensed something, she never showed any sign, but sure enough Katsuki’s parents decided to go out for dinner that night, so maybe they did sense it after all. Izuku had tried not to think about it.

Katsuki was a bit annoyed when he showed up in his room without warning or invitation, but since his mother had already gave Izuku her blessing, he could not behave like a little kid and throw him out. Katsuki tried to ignore him but Izuku didn’t let him this time.

”Look, I’m sorry about last time, but you know? You caught me off guard, you literally threw everything at me out of the blue.”

Katsuki sighed, abandoning his annoyed aura.

-Yeah, I know. That was my bad-

Izuku stared at the paper, surprised. Katsuki rolled his eyes.

-I was nervous. I just took it out on you. My bad-

Izuku smiled, satisfied.

“It’s okay. I know you are having a hard time lately. Anyway… I thought about your proposal…”

Katsuki suddenly blushed, as if he had made the proposal while he was in an odd mood and now that he was back to normal he wanted to take it back.

-You don’t have to if you don’t want-

“Yeah, I know. Like I said, I thought about it. I’m… okay with it… if you still want to…”

Katsuki’s expression was difficult to read.

-No, like, you really don’t have to, I’m not sure this is a good idea in the first place. You know that my quirk activates when I’m not in control of my emotions. It’s best if we don’t risk it, I’m not sure I can keep myself in check-

Izuku felt a spark of affection in his chest. Katsuki had had time to second-guess himself and now he was holding himself back again out of consideration towards him.

“It’s okay. You know I trust you and I know you trust me. I’m sure everything will be fine.”

-Did I already tell you that you are completely crazy?-

“Yep, a bunch of times.”

-Good. It’s true-

Izuku chuckled, taking Katsuki’s free hand.

Izuku remembered that night perfectly, down to the littlest details. They kissed, slowly, taking their time. They discarded their shirts and Izuku was the one that had to take the first step, caressing him and kissing his neck, since Katsuki was scared of touching too much naked skin. They were both inexperienced and Katsuki was especially tense so it took them quite a while to relax and set a more suitable mood. When Katsuki had finally started to reciprocate, caressing his back lightly and kissing him on his lips more deeply, Izuku was overcome by a wave of heat that made his head light and fuzzy. He pushed Katsuki down on his bed lightly and placed a leg between his. Katsuki finally reacted with passion, grabbing him and holding him as close as possible. He broke the kiss and started to tease the sensitive skin between the neck and the shoulder with his teeth, without actually biting. Izuku was already completely taken in by the atmosphere by that point, he grabbed Katsuki’s arm to keep himself grounded and moaned in the pillow feeling a bit ashamed of himself for having reached that point so quickly. He was happy to feel, at least, that Katsuki was in a very similar predicament. Their lack of previous experience was probably a blessing, since both where easily excited by every single little thing.

Katsuki took control of the situation, he inverted their position on the bed, taking Izuku by surprise and making him squirm a little with embarrassment. The way Katsuki was looking at him, he would never forget. Discarding the pants and boxers had probably been the most embarrassing part, by the end they were both bright red but not dissuaded at all from their intent. At least not until it was time to get serious.

Katsuki stopped and shaking his head he sat back, distancing himself a little. When Izuku looked at him, confused, Katsuki grimaced and started to explain something with the movements of his hands. First, he pointed at himself, then he made a circular motion toward his head and a grabbing motion with the other, he shook his head again. Izuku translated it to:

-I don’t think I can control myself enough, my head’s spinning, I can’t touch you-

 Izuku felt a wave of irrational irritation. He grabbed his wrist and dragged him back on top of him, rudely. He opened his mouth to explain, but decided not to. Katsuki could not speak or write at that moment, it was not fair for him to have such a big advantage. He was going to communicate with gestures as well. He knew Katsuki would appreciate it. He placed Katsuki’s palm on his stomach and then shrugged.

-Even if you mark me, I don’t care-

Katsuki sighed deeply. Looking at him Katsuki moved his lips slowly, talking without using his voice, so he could read his lips.

-You really are crazy. Aren’t you scared?-

Izuku shook his head with a smile and answered the same way.

-I’m nervous, I’m tense, but I’m not scared. I trust you-

Katsuki nodded, still looking in his eyes.

Izuku closed the book.

He didn’t need anything else from it. Everything that happened after that was something he wanted to remember on his own, even if maybe he remembered something wrong. That was a precious thing and nothing was going to taint it. He just hoped that Froppy had had the decency to avoid reading that part.

The next morning they had woken up together, they had slept in Katsuki’s bed next to each other. Now Izuku knew that Katsuki had actually secretly took a photo of him sleeping, the thought made him blush a little. The morning was a bit awkward but not all that much, it could have been a lot worse. Izuku was pretty surprised to notice just how much of a good mood Katsuki was in. He had never seen him smile that much.

But that had been their last day together. They didn’t say goodbye, they didn’t mention anything about the night prior and they didn’t promise anything. They just dragged the day as long as possible, not really wanting to separate. The worst part had been when Katsuki had gathered all the stuff Izuku had lent him: Movies, CDs and games. Once Izuku had been back home, alone, he had felt a weight in his stomach and a pain in his chest, pushing him almost to tears. But he didn’t cry. It could have been worse. It should have been worse.

It was daybreak. Izuku had not slept a second and he didn’t care one bit. He ate breakfast, remembering that he had skipped dinner, and then with calm, wasting some time to let her wake up normally, he reached Froppy’s room and knocked on the door. The girl opened the door after a moment, not even asking who it was, maybe she was expecting him.

“Izu?” she saw the book in his arms. “Have you finished reading everything already? It took me a month!”

“Hi Froppy, yes, I have.” he gave the book back to her but she just touched it and it disappeared in a hundred of light sparks.

He almost wanted to ask her if he could enter to talk, but he remembered that this was a girl’s room, not a place he was should just casually to enter. Froppy smiled.

“You can enter, it’s fine, I don’t mind. But if you are uncomfortable, we can go somewhere else.”

“Ah, well…” Izuku wanted to talk about Katsuki so he could not do it in an open space, risking to be heard, but at the same time he was not sure that entering her room was the right choice either. “I want to talk in private, so…”

“C’mon in.” she opened the door completely for him. “This is not my room back home, I don’t have any secrets in here!” she chuckled a bit.

Izuku sat on the carpet, noticing that the girls’ rooms were identical to the males’. Same furniture, same disposition. Froppy was a very organized girl. She had a lot of stuff around, just like him and Katsuki, but it was all neatly organized and everything looked placed in a way that was almost decorative. Color contrasts, little colorful bottles placed everywhere like ornaments, little potted plants planted inside empty cans… She was recycling the used containers in many different ways. She was truly a friend of nature.

“Where did you find the little plants? I don’t think there is a gardening lab around here?” he asked her.

“Oh, no, these were all in the fields surrounding the building. I gathered them on my own.” she answered with simplicity.

“I see… You really love them. We have something in common.” he smiled.

“I know, I would like to meet your mother one day! She did a great job teaching you to love greenery!” she smiled back. “So? Is there something in particular that you want to ask me?”

“Yes, am I really a horrible person?” no use in trying to reach this point by talking in circles.

“I’m sorry?” she tilted her head a little.

“I mean… I’ve spent four years with Katsuki and I never bothered asking about his point of view on things. I was his… lover? And I didn’t even love him in the right way. I’m a horrible person.” this was not a question anymore.

She pondered the situation in silence for a bit, playing with a mug on her table.

“My book doesn’t contain the thoughts of the person, only impartial facts. I don’t know what you were feeling during these moments, only you do. But one thing I can say. You probably took things with a bit too much lightness, I never read anything about you two talking about feelings or trying to understand each other better. On the other hand, he told you not to at the very beginning, I don’t think this was entirely your fault. This could have been better, but who am I to judge?” she pondered another moment, Izuku waited for her to continue, not sure if he was hoping to be reassured or criticized. “I don’t think you are a horrible person, what you did probably saved him… Ah, I’m not saying this because I know, of course not, I can’t materialize his book and even if, it would not contain his thoughts. It’s just a feeling I have. I have a feeling that he was so grateful to you, that he didn’t really care about you not asking him how he was feeling. Could you have done better? Sure. But you could have done a lot worse too. At least you were there for him.”

“Should I apologize? Tell him everything? Is this a good idea?” he looked down at his laps.

He could confess everything, that he probably used him, that he never really loved him, that he was not terribly sad when he went away… But was that really the right thing to do? If Katsuki was not feeling anything in particular for him either, this could just be a bother for him.

“I…” she suddenly chuckled. “I think you mistook me for a love expert! It’s not like I have any experience!”

“I’m sorry! I’m bothering you aren’t I?!” suddenly Izuku realized that he was talking with her like they were old friend and he could trust her completely.

He really was a trusting fool, Katsuki would grimace at this and call him crazy as always. Thinking about Katsuki made his chest hurt with guilt. Maybe not confessing, but something had to be done for sure.

“No, that’s not it!” she was still chuckling. “Look,” she tried to go back to being serious, “when I meet a person I forgot all about and they try to make me remember by telling me a lot of details… I get often really bothered by it, you know? I think ‘It’s not my fault I don’t remember you, don’t push this on me!’, but then I realize. Most of the time, they are not trying to make me to feel guilty, uncomfortable or inadequate. They just want me to recognize them, to say ‘I’m glad to see you again’. Even though I don’t remember and I never will. Isn’t that very, very selfish? Aren’t these people being selfish with me? They are not trying to help me; they are trying to help themselves. But at the same time, they remember me. Me and all the of things they are trying to make me remember. It hurts sometime, but if they remember me… Doesn’t that mean that I mattered to them? Even if maybe only a little. I mattered. Isn’t this the same? Maybe you were just helping yourself, but still. Thanks to you, I’m sure Katsuki felt like his life was not in vain. At least to you, he mattered.

Izuku was speechless. This, he could have never ever thought in his whole life. Katsuki could not have felt this way, right? It hurt too much to even think of it this way.

“About what you should do…” she said after a long silence. “What do you want to do? If you feel like you should apologize then sure, go for it. But would this really solve anything alone? I think it would be more important to try to do everything you think you should have done. I’m not telling you have to love him if you don’t, but at least try to be a better friend, all right?”

“You are right… You are absolutely right… I should have realized this much even alone… Gosh, I’m such an idiot.” he shook his head sadly.

“Hm, why don’t we go to the Archive? I have something I want to tell you in there anyway.” suddenly she was serious.

Izuku followed her to the Task Force Archive in silence, not sure of what she wanted to say to him. Considering her expression, he was pretty sure this was not about Katsuki. She closed the door after him, so they could be alone. The Archive, which Izuku had yet to explore, was a little room completely filled with filing cabinets in alphabetic order.

“In this room there are written records of all the quirks the Government ever came across. There is everything, conditions, effects, prices, and even a list of people who possessed the quirk at any given moment. Of course, it’s dated until the last year test, so we are not included. If you know any quirk, here you can get more information.”

“Okay, this is very interesting, but why have you brought me here?” he asked.

This place really was something else; he could learn a lot about quirks in here and be a little more useful to Katsuki. He was going to take a good look around later.

“Because I read something in your book that made me wonder. You don’t know anything about your own quirk, do you? I have not read anything about you researching it. There is a file about it here. I think you should take a look at it. There is something that’s bothering me about you and Katsuki.”

“Something that’s bothering you about us…?” now he was really confused.

“Your quirk works on DNA assimilation…” she looked away. “Leaving aside what you two did that night…” Izuku should have blushed, but for some reason he was feeling cold instead. “You two kissed multiple times…”

Izuku was feeling faint. He already knew what she was going to say. It was something he should have realized himself yet he had not. But if this was true, why hadn’t he found any sign of it on him?

“Izuku… I think you have absorbed Katsuki’s quirk without realizing it.”

Chapter Text

“Izuku… I think you have absorbed Katsuki’s quirk without realizing it.”

The sentence hung in the air for a long time. 

Izuku knew she was completely right. They kissed multiple times and not only that. There was just no way he had not had access to Katsuki’s DNA. Why had he not realize it earlier? Well, Izuku was not sure of when exactly his quirk first manifested… But at the same time, he knew that most quirks were developed during grade school, there was no way his quirk was developed in the last six months. He remembered during the examination when he was asked if he remembered having absorbed anything in the past, but at that moment, he was too confused to think properly. He should have realized it later, when he fully accepted what was going on. But the test had started and so many things had happened since then… But more importantly, Katsuki’s quirk was powerful and unstable. If he really had absorbed it, why he hasn’t he activated it before? He touched plenty of people after they first kissed.

“Wait… maybe not, is… is my quirk active or passive? Maybe I didn’t absorb it!” he tried to explain, his heart speeding up with nervousness.

“You really should have taken a look at the information about your quirk, I know that you were distracted and you got roped into this so suddenly, but you put everyone at risk.” she sighed. “Your quirk is passive. It’s always active. You absorbed it without any doubt.”

“But I never marked anyone! How is this possible?!” he tried to keep the panic from showing.

“That too, has to do with how your quirk works.” she opened one of the drawers and took out a file. “To put it simply: your quirk is always activated so all the other quirks you absorb are kept at bay by it. You have to consciously stop the Wild Card and activate the other quirk. You were really lucky, this saved you from a huge disaster. I cannot imagine what could have happened if you accidentally marked someone and said some random command carelessly. You wouldn’t even be here right now.”

Izuku’s heart was pounding painfully in his chest. He had to sit or his knees would give out. She sat down on the opposite end of the table sliding the file towards him.

“Read this. Alone, or with Katsuki if you want… But do it. It’s for your own sake.”

He took a deep breath. He definitely had to read this file. He was going to read this with Katsuki, he had to tell him the truth, especially since he was now involved in this mess. Of course, Izuku could be very careful and makes sure that he would never activate Katsuki’s quirk, but it was his right to know everything. He tried to calm down and think.

“Should I steal this file? To make sure no one will read it and get information about my quirk?” he asked her.

“No, that’s a bad idea.” she shook her head. “It’s much easier to spot a missing file in all these files. If it’s missing someone will obviously think someone has that quirk. Hidden between all the others here is the best defense strategy. Don’t take it.”

“I see… That makes sense… I’ve been making one mistake after another lately…” he sighed.

“Don’t be like that. Nothing terrible has happened yet and you are learning every day. You are going to be fine, don’t worry too much.” she smiled sweetly.

He took a deep breath, trying to calm down completely. He tried to change the subject.

“Can’t you use your quirk to learn all of the others’ quirks? Can’t you read about everyone? I mean, I know you can’t reveal what you read, but…” he wasn’t sure what he was trying to gain with this question, but he knew that Katsuki would be displeased if he didn’t even try.

“No, I was not able to get any other book. Four, Mishima, square glasses and Shu don’t talk. Yao won’t reveal anything about herself. Haru and Urara talk a lot… and yet I can’t materialize their books… The only explanation is that everything that they’re saying are lies. And… I don’t want to read Kami’s book.” she looked away, hesitant.

“Hm? Why?” he really was curious about this. She had said she loved to read stories.

“I knew Kami from before… I mean, not really, I never met him, but we are both pupils of the Task Force. We… already worked there, sometimes. Both of us are already guarantee a place, it will be very strange if we are eliminated. Our quirks are needed; we are both from the Collecting Information Branch. I have a feelings he doesn’t know me, when I first introduce myself to him, he didn’t give any sign of having recognized me. Anyways… His quirk lets him see other people’s thoughts. As you know, my books don’t contain thoughts. I’d rather keep things this way, I don’t want to read about all the thoughts he’s ever read in his life. That would be awkward.” she hesitated a moment. “You’ll forgive me if I don’t tell you the name of his quirk. It’s not to be cunning, I just don’t feel comfortable divulging other people’s information. It’s my rule and even when my quirk is not involved, I’d rather not to do it anyway.  I read that he already told you a part of it, but not the name. With the name, you could read the file and know every detail so… Sorry.”

“All right, don’t worry, you told me more than enough. Thank you Froppy, you really helped me a lot!” he smiled at her.

“Asui Tsuyu.” she said.

“What?”

“My name. I’m Tsuyu. You can call me that! Well, maybe not in front of Shu. You know…” she chuckled.

“O-oh! Thank you, thank you for trusting me!” he bowed his head.

She laughed lightly and got up.

“All right, I think it’s time for me to go and for you to read some stuff and maybe talk to Katsuki, yeah?” she made her way to the door. “I’ll see you another time; if you need my help you can call me anytime.”

Izuku stared at the file on the table gathering all his courage, which was not much. Katsuki was going to have a heart attack. He was so sensible about his quirk; he could not imagine how badly he would react thinking that he had accidentally absorbed it. For a split second Izuku thought that it was just like AIDS, a sexually transmitted disease, but then he scolded himself. What a terrible way to put it, like Katsuki had transmitted him a disease or something. ‘Be a better friend’ said Tsuyu. He was already starting great. He had to tell him everything and look as positive as possible. Izuku was not really scared of the fact he had the quirk itself, that was stupid. He was not going to use it anyways, what would he do? Create an army of slaves? The problem was the heavy responsibility that he had now. Knowing that he could accidentally create a big incident, just like Katsuki.

It was ironic, he had to understand Katsuki’s feelings better, what better way than to have the same quirk? His same curse?

He took the file and got up. He was going to take it out of the room for a little while, he would put it back immediately after telling Katsuki the truth. The best way was to just let him read everything straight from the file itself, there was no risk of violating the rule like this. He took a depth breath and knocked on his door. Katsuki opened the door after a moment, Izuku thought he was maybe still sleeping and he was right. Katsuki was still in his shirt and boxers; he opened the door just a tiny bit, as to not let anyone see his attire. When Izuku smiled awkwardly at him as a greeting, he disappeared, undid the lock and fully opened the door. Izuku closed the door behind him noting how he was not bothered to be seen like this by Izuku. Well, of course, but still it was a detail Izuku had never noticed before.

They sat down, like usual, but this time Izuku decided to sit right next to him, instead of choosing the other side of the table, as he normally would. He placed the file on the table earning a questioning look from Katsuki. He ignored it and opened it, showing him the title ‘The Wild Card’. Katsuki, who wasn’t stupid, understood and with wide eyes pointed at Izuku asking him for a confirmation. Izuku just nodded, his throat squeezed. They started reading in silence.

The Wild Card

This quirk, while it may not be necessarily rare, is quite unusual and difficult to identify. Given its nature, it won’t work unless the owner is somehow involved in a chain of accidents. If not identified by a quirk specialized in recognizing other quirks, the owners tend to spend their whole life without ever finding out. It’s a passive quirk, which by definition means that it’s always active, that require a sample of DNA to work. The DNA can’t be just taken casually or by force, it must be a consensual exchange. The most common way to activate this quirk is by kissing or having a physical relationship with the owner of another quirk. Once the sample is absorbed by the Wild Card, whichever quirk the DNA contains will be absorbed as well, giving the Wild Card owner total control over it, like it was their own from the beginning. Of course, if the Wild Card absorbs the DNA of a quirkless person, nothing will happen.

While absorbing quirks may not be so difficult, especially in an adult, this is not enough to reveal to the world the presence of this quirk. The Wild Card, being passive, doesn’t permit any other quirk to be used in a spontaneous way by its owner. The owner needs to learn how to properly activate the absorbed quirk by taking the standard lessons provided to people whom possess active quirks at an early age. With a normal mental state, the owner has a very low chance of activating it by accident, as they need to consciously try to activate a quirk they don’t know they possess. The cases of very early identification comes from children who ate their brother or sister’s hair, or ate some of their saliva, and then tried to use a quirk while playing. Normally, once childhood ends, people tend not to try to activate something they don’t think they possess, so it often becomes unnoticed until a later stage of life, if ever.

One of the most common way of discovering this quirk is when the mind is altered by foreign substances, like medications, drugs and alcohol, or when the subject is exposed to extreme stress or emotive instability. In this case, it’s very possible to activate one or more quirks by complete accident, it’s not uncommon for the Wild Card to create confusion when first discovered. As a quirk, in itself, it could be considered a B rank, but its potential marks it as an S rank. The Wild Card can absorb any quirk at any given time, if the condition is met, which can potentially result in having an even more powerful version of some of the most dangerous quirks. For example, a Wild Card owner can use a defensive and an offensive quirk at the same time, if trained enough. No person has ever possessed more than one quirk except for Wild Cards. Considering that, as of now, there has been no maximum limit identified. Its potential is tremendous and this is rightfully considered one of the Top 10 most dangerous quirks in the world.

Izuku stared at the first page, feeling all of his blood in his veins turn cold. This description was very, very pessimistic and tragic. It was almost as if they were describing a super villain of a manga, overpowered and unstoppable. Izuku supposed that, maybe, if he had create an army of slaves and asked them to give him one hair to eat, he could potentially being unstoppable… But otherwise, it sounded a bit unrealistic. Well, unless you were the type of person to kiss everyone, just because. He refused to look at Katsuki, he could very well feel his stare creating holes in his skull, and turned to page.

The second page was even worse, if that was even possible. It was a very detailed list of all the people who possessed it, when and how they discover it, what they did with it and how they died. Izuku didn’t read all of it, but got a general gist of it. Even if they were much older than the others, many were just normal people who found it by accident and then took the test and then just normally served the country. Some others were criminals whose details Izuku didn’t want to explore too much. Katsuki stole the file from under his nose, forcing him to look up. He started to move his lips, forming a very clear sentence for Izuku to read. It was a big, fat:

What the actual fuck?

Izuku laughed awkwardly.

“Yeah… They are really describing it like it’s the supreme quirk of evil, huh?”

Katsuki opened his notebook and started to write as if his life was depending on it.

-PLEASE TELL ME THIS IS A JOKE! PLEASE!-

“Ehh… not really…”

-PROVE IT, PROVE IT TO ME RIGHT NOW!-

Izuku could remind him that maybe he didn’t have any quirk that he could show him, but he knew it was not the right time to discuss logic. He tore Katsuki’s page, raised his palm and conjured a very little puddle of acid, Izuku noticed that it was getting a bit easier to activate it. It was not a good thing, he didn’t want to risk activating Katsuki’s quirk by accident, if this was getting to easy to do, it would only be a bigger problem. Then, after throwing the half-melted paper in the trash can, he sneezed and conjured a little Light Sphere, to prove to him that he had more than one quirk, as told in the file.

Katsuki was staring at him with his mouth open. Clearly, his brain had not caught up to reality. After a moment, he wrote again.

-DNA, kissing… Please, don’t tell me this includes me, anything but this!-

“Ehm… I have never used your quirk, so I’m not fully certain, but…”

Katsuki rose to his feet and grabbed his face in his hands; he let out a long, frustrated growl. It was so rare to hear Katsuki emit any kind of sound that Izuku needed a moment to collect himself. He stood up as well.

“It—it’s fine! Really! I won’t activate it by accident, you read it right? I can activate it only by really wanting to and—“

Katsuki’s growl grew in intensity.

“Really! It’s fine!” he tried to touch his shoulder to reassure him, calm him down, something, but Katsuki avoided his hand and started to pace the room like a lion in a cage. “It’s not that bad! Trust me! It’s fine!”

His growl got so loud and Izuku grimaced at the noise. He decided to shut up because this was clearly not getting through to him right now. He just stood there in silence, waiting for him to snap out of it. After other three complete laps of the room, Katsuki threw himself on the bed and growled once more into the pillow. His voice died down at least, surely because of the lack of habit, and they just stayed in silence for a while. Izuku sat next to him on the bed, waiting for Katsuki to collect his thoughts.

The silence lasted a while, but in the end Katsuki sighed deeply, still with his face pressed in the pillow and then sat up. He looked defeated; a look Izuku could not ever remember seeing on him. He reached for his notebook and started to write sloppily.

-This is entirely my fault. I’m being punished for having been selfish-

You are talking of being selfish? The selfish one in this story was me. You… you knew, right? That my feelings for you were not all that deep?” he asked, feeling ashamed of himself, but certain that being honest right now was his best option.

Katsuki looked away for a moment, an unreadable expression on his face, and then started to write again, more carefully this time.

-So? You did what I asked you to, to not get attached to me. That’s fine. No, that’s good. You did the right thing. You always worry about the stupidest things and not worry about what you really should. Do you realize that this quirk can ruin your reputation? Not to mention your whole life?-

“You are exaggerating! Sure, Mark of Submission is a bad quirk, but as long as it stays in me, buried away deeply, there is no problem!”

-No, you don’t get it! Don’t tell me you can absorb whatever you want and not tell anyone, because I don’t believe you! I’m sure you have to register everything you have, including this! Now, can you imagine what would happen if you register this? Let me reenact this scene for you.

Izuku: Oh, good morning Mr. Aizawa. I just wanted to say that I may have, accidentally, absorbed THE MOST FUCKING POWERFUL AND DANGEROUS QUIRK IN THE WORLD, but it’s all good, right?

Aizawa: Sure! No problem! I’ll just add this to your file and forget about this forever! Thank you for your honesty Izuku!

And happily ever after. NOT-

Izuku could actually not contain a chuckle at this; Katsuki could be stupidly funny if he wanted. 

“I get what you are trying to say but—“

-No, I don’t think you really get it. Let’s assume you pass the test, no problem. Once you’re in the Task Force, your quirk will become of public domain, which of course includes everything you’ve absorbed. Once word get out that you have this, people will not look at you the same way, ever again. This is seriously bad Izuku-

“Well yeah… Whatever.”

Izuku was a bit worried about his parents’ reaction to this, but about all the others? He could not care less. No one was ever as important as Katsuki in his life. And now, they were tied even closer.

-It’s not whatever, I never wanted you to ha-

Katsuki scratched his head, not completing the sentence.

-Don’t tell anyone-

“What?”

-Don’t tell anyone, you are not going to use it right? Forget it, don’t ever think about it again. Don’t tell anyone. No one will know if you never use it. It’s not possible for Aizawa to see it, or for anyone else. Just don’t tell anyone. It will be a secret between the two of us-

“A secret between the three of us…” Katsuki send him a confused look. “Froppy knows. She was the one that made me realize that I have it. I’ll tell you all about her quirk later. But… are you sure this is a good idea? I’m going to break the law if I do this.”

-I know. Not to mention that Shu can take your body and activate it by accident or something. I KNOW. You think, I don’t know how bad this is? I know. The choice is yours of course. But… if you never use it, there is no reason for you to carry this weight. And no one will know you broke the law. You just have to be extra careful of Shinso’s True or Dare-

“Why are you insisting so much on this… Unless… Is there something you are not telling me? About your quirk?”

Izuku’s intuition set off a bad feeling and Katsuki’s reaction was rather telling. He jumped a little and immediately looked at the door, as if he was expecting to see Aizawa or someone to tell him that he broke a rule. He started to write in a very confused way.

-The Government has already mine, I won’t give them another one-

Izuku stared at the page, but Katsuki quickly tore it off and rolled it up.

-Melt this-

What?”

-HURRY-

Izuku took it and melted it with difficulty; he was scared out of his skin. Suddenly this was starting to feel like a conspiracy movie. Was he really going to break the law and hide something so big? Well, he was unaware but technically, he had already done it for more than a month…

-This conversation never happened-

“What?”

-If you want to tell them, do it. This conversation never happened-

He got up and gave him his back; he went to pick up the file on the table.

-Let’s go to the Archive. We can finish reading this and research some other stuff, if you want. You can tell me about Froppy’s quirk-

He was clearly trying very hard to change the subject. Still scared and worried, he followed him outside of the room; his legs were a bit unsteady. When he was passing through the hallway, he looked outside of the window. Seeing a bit of green and sunlight would help him feel better. He was reminded of the fact that he had not slept at all. Now he was getting really tired.

While he was looking outside of the window and walking slowly, he felt a strange sensation, like something was amiss. Not wanting to lose Katsuki, he sped up a bit to catch up and when he did, he looked through the next window. Yes, something was amiss…

He stopped and looked again. Focusing more on the details. Katsuki noticed and stopped to look at him.

“Kat-Four…”

Izuku saw him, with the corner of the eye, doing some gesture, but he could not stop looking outside of the window. A surprised voice commented on the strange phenomenon from the ground. Katsuki walked up to him, joining him at the window.

They had been in there for some time, so for Izuku that view had become normal, granted. Suddenly, now that he was not able to see it anymore, he had a strange feeling in his stomach.

“Four… The Barrier is gone.”

Chapter Text

“The Barrier is gone.”

Katsuki placed his hands on the glass; they couldn’t believe their eyes. The Barrier was not supposed to be switched off. Ever.

The voice outside had reached the inside, as now it was clearly recognizable as Yao’s.

“The Barrier! What happened to the Barrier?!”

Of course, no one in their right mind would think of this as a chance to escape. It was one of the worst idea one could ever have. So, instead, this was really worrisome, as it may mean that something bad was happing. Like maybe someone was breaking a rule? Aizawa appeared shortly after everyone was already starting to gather in the entrance asking many questions.

“All right, all right! Let’s all calm down! Nothing is going on, I just received a call, the guy that is maintaining the Barrier got a strong stomachache and the Barrier got destroyed for a moment. His sister is going to replace him any moment, there is no need to panic!” he shouted to be louder than all of their voices.

The commotion died down and everyone started to look around, confirming that everyone was still in there and nothing was going wrong.

“Has this ever happened before?” asked Urara.

“Yeah, some times. They are still just humans, they get sick at times. Now, please, resume your lives like nothing happened, get a move on!” he turned and left.

Izuku again found himself alone with Katsuki after a short while. They looked at each other for a moment then Katsuki shrugged and made his way toward the Archive again. Izuku tried to shake off the bad feeling he was having, that had surely nothing to do with them, it was just a coincidence.

Once they were safely hidden inside the Archive, Katsuki opened the file and read it again from the beginning. In the meantime, Izuku searched for Tsuyu’s file; the Book of Memories had to be somewhere for sure. And indeed it was, the Archive was in alphabetic order so it was not a difficult thing to find since he had the right name. He looked inside the file and everything was absolutely identical to what he had experienced or what Tsuyu had told him. There could be no doubt about her quirk now.

Katsuki dropped the file on the table with irritation.

“What’s wrong?” Izuku asked him.

-There is no price. The price for your quirk is still unknown-

Izuku inhaled sharply. He had completely forgotten about that as well. His quirk was passive and quite powerful, surely, it had to have some price and it had to be something taxing. Not only that, what about the prices of the other quirks? Would he pay those too?

“How is this possible? My quirk is not unique; many people had it before. They should know it by now. And what about the prices of the other quirks?”

-You have to pay those as well, but only when you use them. The passive quirks in your body becomes just like actives so the price for those are just the same: you pay when you use-

“Okay… I know the price of the Light Sphere but what about Acid Skin? And… yours?”

Katsuki’s eyes shifted for a moment before he started to write again.

-Mine is unique. As such, no one knows it, not even I. I’ll probably discover it later in my life. Acid Skin I think I know, but you better search for the file-

“Oh, I see. I had no idea. I’m sorry, I never asked, did I?”

-It doesn’t matter. Regarding why no one knows the price of the Wild Card… I can only assume that it has something to do with the fact that no one has survived past the age of thirty. They probably never had the time to discover it. Most of these people were killed in strange circumstances so…-

“Oh, well now. This is not extremely worrisome at all.” Izuku said with sarcasm.

-Well at least I can tell you one thing; they probably didn’t die because of the quirk price-

“How do you know that?”

-Because only one quirk has a type of price, it can’t be a repeat. I already know a quirk that asks for your life in exchange, so it can’t be yours-

“Is it Kirishima’s?”

-No, his price is the strangest of all. Instead of being harmful, it’s actually a prize. Kirishima’s health is absolutely perfect. He’ll never get sick, not even a flu or appendicitis. He’ll die of old age someday being completely healthy until the very end. Well, if no one kills him, that’s it-

“Wow!”

-Prices are directly related to the quirk, so if the quirk is a virus the price would be the impossibility of having any other physical infection or alteration. Does that make sense? If I remember correctly, Acid Skin price is to become more and more allergic to chemical substances. I wouldn’t use it too much if I were you, you risk of not being able to use shampoo or soap for the rest of your life-

“Wow that sucks!”

Izuku gave the file for the Book of Memories to Katsuki who read it with great interest and he checked on the Acid Skin price. It was just like Katsuki said. While Katsuki was still reading, he tried to think about what to read next. He knew that Kami had something along the lines of mind reading, but without the name, he could not really check on the conditions or anything. He could read about Telepathy, sure, but it was probably going to be useless. The only other quirk he knew was Shouto’s. He reached for the file about Body Swap and started reading. After the first paragraph he stopped, completely confused.

“Katsuki?”

“Hm?”

“The Body Swap conditions are: birthday, blood type and the size of shoes. This has nothing to do with the first name! Even the usage and duration is completely different!”

Katsuki took the file and read it for himself with a frown, and then he sighed.

-His quirk is what we call a ‘mimic’. It has an effect very similar to a more common quirk but in actuality, it’s something else entirely-

“Are you saying his quirk is not Body Swap? That he lied to us?” Izuku could not believe what he was discovering today.

-Yeah, I’m saying exactly that. But don’t panic. I’m actually pretty sure he didn’t do it to mess with us. We already established how his quirk works; he probably used the common name for simplicity. I know, this sounds awfully optimistic coming from me, but I think I’m right. He knew that we could confirm his quirk whenever we wanted by coming here. There is no way he committed such big mistake. And I had my suspicions all along. I didn’t know the exact conditions, but I knew that it was pretty much impossible for a Body Swap to work so easily, it’s complete madness to think it works only on first name. Only very powerful quirks have a single and very easy condition, like yours or mine, most have two, three or even four or they are very specific and difficult to do. If Body Swap were so easy to use, the world would be a complete mess already. I knew something was fishy the moment he said how this works-

“I had no clue whatsoever.”

-Yeah, I know. You are lucky you have me-

Katsuki froze suddenly then tore the paper and rolled it. Izuku knew that he realized too late how cheesy that line had been.

“Yeah, you are right. I’m very, very lucky I have you.” Izuku smiled gently.

Katsuki blushed slightly.

-Forget it, shut up-

Katsuki collected all the files and put them back where they belonged.

-More importantly, are you sure we can trust Froppy? She has a lot of dirt on us-

“Yes, I’m pretty sure. She told me her name, Asui Tsuyu, and she knows about Shouto’s quirk. This is major proof of trust. We can just use Shouto’s quirk to score a win on her any moment. Not to mention, you can ask Aizawa if you don’t trust the fact that she can’t share what she read.”

Katsuki shrugged and stood up, pointing at the door. He was telling him it was time to go, there was nothing else to do there. The others were probably at the beach, today was Wednesday so the seafood barbeque was in session, but Izuku was too tired to go. He had not slept at all and the day had been pretty difficult so far. He just wanted to sleep and have a fresh start the next day. They separated in front of the rooms and Izuku changed into his pajamas and just went to bed.

When he woke up, it was still very late at night. He remained under the sheets, feeling a lot more awake and thinking back at everything he had read in the book. He had to accept the past, there was no way to change that and Katsuki wasn’t really mad at him. That could be interpreted as him not really caring for their relationship in the first place, but Izuku knew that it was a bit different. Katsuki was just taking his responsibility, since it was partially his fault. He was not hypocritical enough to place the entire blame on Izuku.

This was fine, but the problem was still there. He had to learn from the past and also to not to make the same mistake again. But how could he know for certain that he was so fixed on Katsuki not because he was simply the most convenient ally? Was he still using him, even now? Was there even a way to distinguish between selfless feelings and selfish ones? Was he thinking that he wanted to nurture this relationship because it was the easiest?

Why wasn’t there a simple way to determine these kind of things? Was this what it meant to be an adult? To dwell in these complex feelings? Everything seemed so much easier before.

He prepared for class with a lot of time to spare and he was the first one to reach the classroom. The others arrived one by one and the majority of them greeted him with a smile. Tsuyu nodded in his direction, Kami grinned at him and waved a hand. The only ones that basically ignored him were square glasses and Yao. The guy was very standoffish, so there was little to be said about that and he had had almost no opportunity to talk with the ponytail girl. She was social, but only when they were in a group, she didn’t want to talk when it was with a single person. Maybe she thought she was safer in a large group rather than alone with someone she didn’t know well. Izuku could not really blame her for that.

Now that he was thinking about it, what he found really surprising was the fact that even if this was the feared test, he was making more friends in here than in five years of high school. Even if he couldn’t say that he could completely trust any of them, and they were all keeping him on edge, he was still felt a much stronger connection with them than any of his old classmates. Maybe it was really true that he was meant to be in this test, together with the others A and S ranks.

The lesson was pretty boring as usual. Examining every single law, detail after detail, was not very exciting in Izuku’s book. After the end of the lesson he was about to leave, and maybe spend some time with Katsuki, when Urara intercepted him.

“Hey, you skipped the barbeque yesterday! Did something happened?” she asked.

“No, I was just tired, I ended up staying awake for much longer than I should have the day before. Why? It’s not like it’s mandatory to come, right?” other people had already skipped once or twice before.

“No, no, of course not! I just thought that maybe something had happened. I remember you telling me about a…” she looked around to see if the others were all already gone. “A Body Swap quirk. I think that’s one of the most difficult quirk to handle in this test. Since no one was gone I suppose you could protect yourself somehow, I was just wondering if you ever ended up discovering who it was.”

Ah, of course, she was hunting for information. Izuku had almost forgot about it, but it was true, she had told him to tell her when he found out more about the Body Swap quirk. Well, he was not going to betray Shouto, that was for sure.

“No, sorry, I didn’t find out anything in the end. I traded bodies, but then nothing happened and after I while I just returned to my body. Nothing has happened since then. So, really, I have no idea.” he didn’t like lying but betraying was even worse.

“But that’s very strange! Who did you trade with? They were probably the one, right?” she was surprised.

“Not really, I exchanged with Four.” and Katsuki’s quirk was famous, there was no doubt there.

“What…? Now, that’s bizarre! Why would someone want to make you two trade bodies? Unless this is an uncontrolled quirk… but Body Swap is not uncontrolled, you have looked in the Archive, right? The conditions are very specific!” she insisted.

“Yeah, I know, but I haven’t told the useful information to anyone. So, as you can imagine, I’m very confused.”  he hoped that was enough to end the conversation and stop her questions.

“I see, so that’s why you could not figure out who it was, hm.” she looked deep in thought.

“What about you? Got anything useful?” if she could just come out and ask for information why could he not do the same?

“Hm? Oh, no, not yet. This test sure is complicated, right?” she smiled then wished him good day and walked away.

She really was a bit too forward and she didn’t want to give out any information either. Izuku sighed, a bit annoyed by her attitude. In a way, it was almost refreshing the fact that she was not exactly hiding her intent, but on the other hand it made every conversation a real pain. He returned to his room and threw his school stuff in a corner. He took a shower and had just finished changing into something more suitable for the weather, which was getting warmer, when someone knocked on his door. He opened just a bit, leaving the chain in place and was surprised to see Katsuki on the other side. He was looking around and Izuku remembered that they were supposed to fake that he was staying in a numbered room, so Katsuki was worried someone might see him outside of this door. He quickly let him in, but it was a bit odd seeing him in his room, even back home they would always meet in Katsuki’s. Maybe it was out of habit that Izuku was still going to his room to hang out rather than inviting him to his. Katsuki looked restless.

“What’s wrong?”

Katsuki showed him a Calling Card.

-I received this. Just wanted to tell you. Just in case-

A feeling of anxiety bit Izuku’s stomach.

“Do you… want to stay in here? So maybe it’s less likely someone will find you and attack you?” he proposed.

Katsuki pondered the question for a moment.

-It’s for tomorrow, not today, we can stay together tomorrow I guess-

“It does actually start at midnight… You can… stay for the night, if you want.” Izuku blushed a little, knowing that this proposal could very well be taken the wrong way.

Katsuki looked troubled.

-I guess. I can sleep on the floor. I’ll come by later-

He opened the door and left, but as soon as he was in the hallway, he froze on the spot. Izuku spied over his shoulder to see what he had saw and he found Kami.

“You two are always together aren’t you?” he grinned a little. “I had no idea this was your room! It doesn’t have a number, why are you in there?”

Izuku panicked, not sure of what to say. Katsuki covered for him.

-Since he arrived later than everyone else did Aizawa didn’t prepare a plate for him. Why do you care? What do you want?-

“Whoa, easy! I don’t want anything, I was just wondering! Geez, I’m going, sorry to bother you!” he scratched his head and walk away down the hallway, toward the entrance.

-Well, great. We lost this advantage-

“Yeah, but… I don’t think Kami is a bad person, I don’t think he will tell this to everyone.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes.

-No one is a bad person in your opinion it seems-

“Ah, well, I mean… Froppy told me that she and him have already a spot in the Task Force, he probably doesn’t need to do anything to win.”

-I guess, but you never know. Anyway it’s not like we can wipe his memory and asking him to keep this secret would make him question why. With a bit of luck he won’t realize why we were doing this. He is an idiot-

Izuku fought a chuckle.

“Now… you never know, right? Maybe he is the most intelligent of all of us!”

-Sure, I’d like to see that-

“I’ll see you later then?” he asked, changing the subject.

Katsuki joined him at nine at night; he had brought a futon with him. Izuku wondered if he had already predicted something like this or if he had to take it from the ‘convenience store’ for the occasion. They didn’t communicate much, Katsuki only reminded him to be careful about potential dangers the next day. Izuku had already received two Calling Cards, Shouto’s and Tsuyu’s. In Shouto’s case the difference was immediately evident, in Tsuyu’s case, he never got to discover what had happened until a month later. It was impossible for this to be her work again; she had not spoke with Katsuki at all. And it was unlikely that this was Shouto’s either. So this was surely going to be a brand new quirk they knew nothing about.

The night was completely uneventful, so was the morning. And the afternoon, and the evening.

-I’m going back to my room-

“But it’s not midnight yet.”

-Yeah but it’s already 10 pm, there is no need to spend another night in here. They probably searched for me in my room and didn’t find me. Whatever quirk it was, it must have been something that only works if I meet them. I won’t open my door to anyone until midnight so don’t worry-

Izuku actually didn’t mind him spending another night in his room, but he could not force him to stay, and if Katsuki was feeling pretty safe, it probably meant that he was by this point. He still spied on him until he disappeared inside his room, when the door closed, he sighed with relief and returned inside his own room. It was only twenty minutes later that someone knocked on his door, Izuku’s heart skipped a beat and he asked who it was without opening the door. No answer came from the other side, but they knocked again. It was probably Katsuki again.

“Geez, you scared me. Why did you come back?” he didn’t want not to sound welcoming but really, he was already on edge.

Katsuki showed him the notebook.

-Forgot something-

He let him in and Katsuki started to search for something on the floor.

“What did you forgot?” he could help if he had just told him from the start.

Katsuki sat down and started to write on the little table using a pencil.

-A pen, but I don’t see it anywhere, I must have lost it somewhere else-

Oh, that happened many times in the past. Katsuki had always at least three pens with him all the time and he would often lose one somewhere.

“Well, it’s just a pen, no big deal right?”

-No, but in this place, there is no telling how many pens there are. I don’t want to run out-

“Do you want one of mine?” he proposed reaching for his school supplies.

-No, it’s fine, I still have some. By the way, do you think it’s possible that I’ll be attacked by the Body Swap quirk?-

“What? What are you talking about? Why would Shouto attack you now of all the times? He could trade with you anytime if he wanted. Why wait until now?” had something happened that Izuku was not aware of?

Katsuki hesitated a moment.

-Right. Of course. It wouldn’t make sense, it’s just that he is the only one I could think of-

“Of course not, you would have exchanged at midnight if that was the case. The Calling Card was for today. Why would you even suspect him anyway?”

-I know, I know. It’s just that nothing has happened, so I was getting a bit anxious. I'm sorry I wasted your time. I’m going now-

He closed the notebook and left Izuku’s room, Izuku wished him good night again, closing the door. It was already 11 pm; there was no way he was going to be attacked so late. He changed into his pajamas, and just to make sure, he waited for midnight anyway, but Katsuki didn’t come back.

The next morning, Izuku knocked on Katsuki’s door as soon as he woke up, just to double make sure.

“Everything is fine, right? Nothing happened, right?” he asked as soon as Katsuki opened, he clearly had just woke up, he looked like he was in a bad mood, but that was not so unusual.

Katsuki sighed, irritated.

“Hm-hm.” he answered in a bored tone.

Izuku realized, Katsuki had not slept well that night and Izuku had woke him up. At six in the morning.

“Ah, sorry, you wanted to sleep in until later! Sorry! I just thought I should—“

Katsuki closed the door in his face. Izuku didn’t need the notebook to understand this message.

-It’s too early in the morning for me to deal with this shit-

Chapter Text

It had only been two days after Katsuki received the Calling Card that Izuku woke up in a strange position inside an unfamiliar room.

He was in a sitting position, with his hands behind his back and with something on his face. In an instant, every trace of sleep disappeared and he tried to move. Except he couldn’t.

He tried to struggle as much as he could, but there was no result. His hands were tied very tightly on the back of the chair with a rope and his legs were tied as well. Not to mention that he could not call for help either since there was a piece of cloth in his mouth. He could only shake his head and a strand on long hair fell on his face.

Long hair?

He stared at it, the length and the way it was cut… it was unmistakably Urara.

What was he doing in Urara’s body and why was he tied up?!

This was the work of the Body Swap, or whatever its real name was, that Shouto had. Did this mean that now Urara was in his body and it was very likely that she was going to surrender in front of Aizawa in the next few moments? It was a little past midnight and he could see it thanks to the moonlight on the wall clock, yes, this must have been Shouto’s quirk. But why? Had he decided to betray them?

No wait… the girl knew his name all along. It was not so farfetched to think she just happened to say it in front of him… No, that didn’t make sense! She must have known about it beforehand, otherwise she would have not tied her own body up! Wait, tied her own body up? But that wasn’t possible! She must have had an accomplice! Was it Shouto?

This was terrifying. Honestly terrifying.

He tried to struggle as hard as he could, but the best he could accomplish was to make the chair fall and him with it. Enduring the pain of the fall, he tried to calm down and stay put for a moment. Minutes were passing by slowly, they felt long like days. He tried to think again. Why didn’t he receive a Calling Card?

He soon realized his mistake.  A Calling Card had to be delivered before the midnight, but nowhere was it written how many minutes before the midnight. The first time he traded bodies with Katsuki they woke up with the Calling Card on the floor. This must have been the same. Izuku fell asleep before midnight and didn’t see the Card at all. Izuku really needed to stop going to sleep so early.

As time was passing, he started to fully calm down. Now that he was thinking about this rationally, this was not that bad. Urara was going to score a win and he was going to surrender this one time, it was a pain, but nothing irreversible. He still needed to surrender two more times before he was eliminated. At midnight at most, Urara would get her body back and leave the island. That was not a big deal. It was the opposite; if the girl was going away he didn’t need to worry about her again.

The real problem was Shouto. If he really betrayed them… there was no limit to what he could do. He could sell his name to everyone and then let them all score a win on him just like that. There was no way for him to defend himself from a quirk like this. He had been a fool, giving his name away like this. He never should have trusted anyone, well except for Katsuki and maybe Tsuyu. As soon as he was back on feet, he was going to say Shouto’s name in front of him and score a win himself!

No, he could not do that… That would mean leave Katsuki behind. He couldn’t do that.

Damn.

There were voices in the hallway. Izuku raised his head to listen better.

“Let me go! Don’t you know how to treat a lady?!”

Izuku wanted to scream for help. ‘Open the door! Free me!’ he wanted to scream.

The door opened.

Katsuki’s eyes immediately found him. He dragged and threw Izuku’s body into the room. Immediately after he approached Izuku, now in Urara’s body, untying a knot. Shouto entered last and closed the door behind him. Izuku’s body, well Urara, got up and tried to get past Shouto, but he blocked the door with his body. Katsuki in the meantime had untied one of his leg and got up with the rope in his hands. Without hesitation, he grabbed one of the arms of Izuku’s body and tried it to the leg of the bed. Urara resisted fiercely, she scratched Katsuki’s cheek. He hissed, but finished the job tying the other arm as well.

“Stop touching me, goddamnit!”

Katsuki ignored her and after making sure the knot was solid, he returned to Izuku, this time he was a bit more gentle and slow in his work. Shouto was the first one to start explaining.

“Sorry for the delay Izu. Catching her had not been easy, she fought back quite fiercely. Ah, by the way I’m sorry, I think I punched your body at some point.” he bowed his head.

“You sure did.” answered Izuku’s voice.

As soon as Katsuki freed his mouth, he started to ask questions.

“How did you find out that it wasn’t me? How did you know it’s her? How did you—“

“Easy.” interrupted him Shouto. “She’s the only one who knows your name, and since she said it in front of me I had no doubt. I’m sorry for all this, I thought about exchanging myself instead, but since it was your body that said it, I was really unsure, but at the same time why would you say your own name out loud in front of me, so I thought about—“

Katsuki made a frustrated noise then abandoned the second knot to write something.

-Idiot, you aren’t making any sense! Wait a minute, will you?-

“Yeah, sorry.”

Izuku was confused to say the least. When Katsuki and Shouto had started to interact like this? They looked like friends or something now. To think that they basically never talked before.

“T-this is not another strange trick right…?” just to be sure.

Katsuki grinned.

-Good, it’s a legit question. Finally, you are starting to use your head! No, it’s not a trick. I’ll explain everything, or even better SHE will explain everything since some things I still don’t understand-

Katsuki finally freed him completely and Izuku got up feeling all sore. Not to mention he was in a girl’s body and it was very strange.

Katsuki sat at the desk and wrote for a few minutes.

-So, starting from the part we know, Shu was in his room yesterday at 10pm when someone knocked on his door and said ‘Hi, it’s Izuku!’. He opened and saw you, you two talked, but Shu had his doubts because why would you say your name out in the hallway? So, he thought about exchanging, but he was unsure because it was you yourself who said it. But that was not you, right? That was her all along, her quirk must be something that let her assume others’ appearance or something-

“Yeah, I didn’t talk with Shu at 10pm yesterday!” Izuku confirmed.

“I thought so.” Shouto nodded. “As I said, I was unsure of what was best, maybe this was some strategy or something. So I decided to ask Four if he had any idea of what was going on. But he had no idea. We tried to think and the only explanation was that either you were being very careless or someone was using your appearance to pull some trick on you. Considering that this someone must have known your name and you only said it to Urara, the list of suspects was very short to begin with. So we agreed not to exchange and wait to see what would happen. We were both in Four’s room, waiting for midnight to arrive. At midnight, we saw you leave your room so there was not more room for doubt. Urara was in your body and wanted to surrender in front of Aizawa. So we caught her and now we are here, this is the part of the story we know.”

-The part of the story we don’t know is how she was able to assume your appearance and what quirk she has. So you better talk, because you are not going anywhere anytime soon-

The last part of the message was for Urara.

“Why would I talk?” she refused to face him.

-Because if you don’t, we are going with your body in front of Aizawa and we are all going to score a win, one after the other. Do you want to be sent to prison?-

Urara stilled, only realizing this now. There were three of them, maybe she could accept to let one of them score a win but surely not three.

“But what I’m wondering…” asked Izuku while she was considering her situation. “Is why she didn’t use my appearance to simply surrender.”

“It doesn’t work like this. Aizawa knows her quirk; he would knows that’s just her in disguise. His quirk will tell him as much.” Shouto explained.

Right, of course. Aizawa could see the real identity of the person before him by using his quirk.

“All right, all right, I’ll talk. But then let me return to my body, I promise not to bother you three again.” she said with a sigh.

Katsuki frowned then wrote quickly.

-You better tell us the truth, because we have a way to discern between lies and truth. We have one of these quirks on our side-

Izuku understood. Katsuki was referring to Tsuyu. Urara’s expression, on Izuku’s face, hardened. She observed them all for a long moment, studying them. So she was planning to lie.

“Is this your quirk?” she asked Izuku.

-We’re the ones asking questions, not you. Do you want to lose?-

“I get it, I get it, very well then, my loss!” she sighed in frustration.

“What’s your quirk?” asked Shouto.

“You got a detail wrong. My quirk doesn’t let me take another person’s appearance, my quirk is called Doppelganger and let me create lifeless dolls with the appearance of people. I control them and-“

“No, it’s not possible. My quirk doesn’t work if a quirk materialization talks. My quirk only works if it senses a consciousness behind it.” Shouto interrupted her.

“If you’d let me talk…” she sighed dramatically. “I can create these dolls and then I can transfer my consciousness into them. So it works perfectly since I actually ‘live’ inside them for a period of time. The downside is that this means that I have to leave my body behind. This is a huge weakness since I cannot live inside my dolls for more than three hours, no matter what happens to my real body I have to go back. Normally I tie my own body somewhere or hide it so that no one can take it.”

“Tie your own body… Is this what you did this time too?” so there was no accomplice?

“Yes, of course. I created a doll and then after doing the transfer I took my own body and tied it up. Easy.” she shrugged.

-Okay, conditions? How did you get to create Izuku’s doll?-

“Three conditions. First the full name, of course he told me this himself, right, Izuku Midoriya?” she grinned. “Second is the weight and height measurements.”

“How did you get those? I didn’t tell you!” Izuku protested.

“No need. That condition is super easy to fulfill. I just need to get a rough estimate by looking and then try every single digit until I find the right one. The third condition is one of their favorite food.”

“And how do you know that?!” he was absolutely sure he didn’t say that either.

“You are a very boring person Izuku. You like hamburgers. What an unbelievable boring favorite food. I was absolutely surprised when your doll actually appeared, I was sure I needed to try to think a lot more food.” she grinned again.

Izuku was starting the get really frustrated with her attitude.

“All right, this explains how you managed to appear in front of me and use my quirk.” Shouto intervened. “But how were you able to find out about it? You knew the conditions too.”

“I just asked Izuku.” she answered with nonchalance.

“No, you didn’t! I told you I had no idea who had that quirk and what the quirk actually was! Don’t lie!” Izuku shouted.

This was surely not his fault! She could not make the other two think he had betrayed them!

“Are you really sure? ‘Toc-toc it’s me Izuku, I forgot a pen, can I come in?’” she smiled maliciously.

Izuku’s head was spinning. There was no way… That time…

 “Geez, you scared me. Why did you come back?”

Katsuki showed him the notebook.

-Forgot something-

 “What did you forgot?”

-A pen, but I don’t see it anywhere, I must have lost it somewhere else-

-By the way, do you think it’s possible that I’ll be attacked by the Body Swap quirk?-

“What? What are you talking about? Why would Shouto attack you now of all the times? He could exchange with you anytime if he wanted. Why wait until now?”

-Right. Of course. It would not make sense; it’s just that he is the only one I could think of-

“Of course not, you would have exchanged at midnight if that was the case. The Calling Card was for today. Why would you even suspect him anyway?”

-I know, I know. It’s just that nothing has happened so I was getting a bit anxious. I'm sorry I wasted your time. I’m going now-

Only then, Izuku remembered something.

Katsuki never wrote the word sorry. Never.

Katsuki was staring at him, asking a silent question. Izuku had no idea how to explain this. But… he never mentioned anything about names…

“How did you find out about the first name condition? I never said that!” Izuku was boiling with frustration.

“Maybe you are not very observant, but… As soon as I discovered that this was his quirk, I tried to think back. The first day you said Bakugou’s name and he,” she gestured toward Shouto, “cough, then after that, you said the same things as the first day another time. Some days later he coughed again when you said his name a third time. It was a gamble, sure, but I was confident in my chances. And I could always try again if that didn’t work.”

“You…! How do you know K—Four’s last name?! Have you used his doll to get information out of me?!” Izuku was really starting to get scared by this girl.

-Wait, wait! Are you two saying that she has my doll as well?-

Katsuki was starting to realize the implications of their conversation.

“Yes, of course.” she shrugged. “When I realized that there was a big chance that Izuku actually had the knowledge I was looking for, I tried to think of a way to make him talk. I was sure I could get you to say it if I had used his boyfriend.”

Izuku was out of breath, Katsuki was gritting his teeth.

“H-how did you know about the fact that he loses a lot of pens?” he asked, looking for an excuse to start doubting her.

“I have no idea what you are talking about. I just figured, since he writes all the time, that he had to have a pen always on him. That’s why I brought a pencil with me. To keep up the act.”

Izuku realized now the discrepancy. If Katsuki always had three pens with him there was no way he would suddenly start to use a pencil. Especially since Katsuki hated using pencils. First, he didn’t had the patience sharpen it, and then because when he was angry he would just break the tip by using too much force. He could not have lost three pens in one go. It was so stupid. He had missed so many signals!

“You didn’t answer. How did you obtain Four’s information?” Shouto steered the conversation toward the right path again. “I can understand the measurements; you just tried them, but what about the rest?”

“His full name was on the internet, obviously. About his favorite food, I just asked a friend of his.” she answered easily.

“I never told you anything like that!” Izuku was seriously starting to wonder if he had let slip a lot of stuff without knowing.

“I said ‘a friend’ did I say it was you? Bakugou has another friend in here, right? I just asked Mishima. Or Kirishima, to be precise. I got as much information as I could when I was outside. I knew that you two knew each other since you were little, I figured it was worth a shot.” she shrugged once again.

-I never told Kirishima my favorite food. And even if I had, he wouldn’t tell you!-

“No, in fact you did not. But you two have eaten together a lot of times. When I asked, he said he didn’t know what your very favorite was, but that you liked spicy food. Apparently, you were putting ketchup on everything. Ah by the way, you are not that original yourself! Curry?” she raised an eyebrow.

Katsuki was trembling with rage.

“So you just… asked him about his favorite food and he answered? I don’t believe you!” Izuku didn’t want Katsuki to be mad at Kirishima, surely there must have been an explanation…

“You really are choosing the worst possible friends Bakugou.” she smirked at him. “Kirishima is just so not used to having friends, he doesn’t know how to keep secrets while talking to people who give him a tiny bit of attention. He answers just about anything that Kaminari asks! You should have remained alone your whole life, this way maybe you could’ve-“

Katsuki slapped her, silencing her. She remained silent, shocked, for a few seconds before grimacing.

“Do you realize you are hitting your boyfriend’s face, right?!”

Katsuki scribbled for a second then showed him the notebook.

-My bad Izuku-

“No problem. Go for it.” Izuku answered shrugging.

 She was a girl but right now she was in a boy’s body and she was kinda asking for it.

“Who is Kaminari?” asked Shouto.

“Who else but the other idiot could use a short version of his own last name?” she rolled her eyes, trying to create as much distance as possible from Katsuki.

“Kaminari… Kami?” Shouto insisted.

“Yeah, of course, who else?”

“So you asked Kaminari to ask Kirishima about Four’s favorite food?” Izuku could not believe this was possible.

“Of course not! See what I mean when I said you chose the wrong friends? They are all idiots.” she winced when Katsuki raised his hand again. “Okay, okay, calm down. Of course, I didn’t ask. I just used my doll of Kaminari.”

“You-?! How many dolls do you have?!” Izuku could not believe the girl was capable of getting so many information in only a month and a half.

 “These are all. I couldn’t get any other name. That condition I cannot fulfill by just guessing around.” she answered.

“All right. How did you get his information?” asked Shouto.

“His measurements I just guessed, as always. He told us all his favorite food the first time we had a barbeque.”

Izuku had to admit that she was right. Kami was always chatting all the time and that day he just gave them a whole list.

“Yes, he talked about that. What about the name?” Shouto insisted.

“The idiot thought it was okay to shout in the airport just because the test had not started yet. He and some of his relatives were chatting so loudly… They were shouting… Ah, I can’t say his name, can I? I don’t want to go into his body for any reason.” she grimaced.

“I’ll cover my ears, Four, write it down for me. Okay?” proposed Shouto.

Katsuki shrugged.

“As I was saying, they were shouting ‘Denki’ this and ‘Denki’ that… And I got the last name when one of them referred to the other as Mr. Kaminari. Of course, this could have not been his last name but when he said he wanted to be called Kami… well, you know.” she looked unimpressed.

“So you just stole his name like that.” Izuku was not impressed either.

“Well, you knew Bakugou’s name since the start, does anyone has anything to say about that? I didn’t think so.” she just brushed off his protest.

While they had finished speaking, Katsuki had wrote down Kaminari’s first name down for Shouto who stopped covering his ears with a nod. It was a bit unfair to give him this information since his quirk was the one there that worked with it, but apparently, Katsuki had decided it was okay to trust him.

After that, they were silent, pondering on the situation while she was looking away, Katsuki was writing.

-So, to summarize, you got Kaminari’s doll, used that to talk with Kirishima, and got my favorite food out of him. Then with my doll, you spoke to Izuku and got information about Shu, with that you used Izuku’s doll to talk with Shu and got his quirk to activate. Right?-

“Yeah.” she answered, bored.

“And with Izu’s body you were going to surrender in front of Aizawa.” Shouto completed the story.

“Yeah.” she answered again, she was looking away still.

“No, wait a minute.” Izuku was feeling like there was something wrong somewhere. He tried his best to pin down what it was. “You didn’t need to use Shu’s quirk if what you wanted was just that…”

“I’m sorry, I don’t follow.” Shouto was looking at him.

“If you just wanted to make someone surrender, you could have done it way easier just by asking. Like… You could have asked me to surrender using Katsuki’s body. You know… when he received that Calling Card… I actually thought about just surrendering for his sake and getting this over with… If you had tried that, I’m pretty sure I would have agree…”

Great, now he could feel Katsuki’s displeased stare on him.

“I… I could not risk it. You could have said no, how was I supposed to know what was on your mind! And even so, maybe you two had already talked about this and for me to say anything, would have given away the fact that you weren’t talking with him. Of course, I could not have done that!” she answered a bit too hurriedly.

Now Izuku was sure, there was more to it.

“Not really. You could have asked after I gave you the information you needed. You could go back to your body and not use Katsuki’s doll again. You still had mine and Kaminari’s. You could have still activated Shu’s quirk if you really wanted to!”

“That’s stupid! I wouldn’t want to risk you informing your friends of the possibility of a fake person!” she opposed to the idea very strongly.

“No, actually Izu is right.” Shouto intervened. “You orchestrated this whole gigantic plan with my quirk as your objective. You were going for that from the very beginning. If not, you could have used Kami’s doll to do something else. I’m certain there were other opportunities, like Mishima himself. You could have used his trust in Kami for doing something nefarious; instead you only wanted Four’s information.”

“You don’t know that, maybe I tried and you just don’t know about it!” she reasoning was logical but her delivery was too weak, as if she had just thought of that on the spot and was not really sure it was a good idea.

“Actually, now that I think about it, you probably created this strategy from the beginning, since I told you about the Body Swap quirk during the second day! I’m absolutely sure that with a quirk like yours, you could have gotten some dirt on someone easily… No, you wanted to use Shu’s quirk at all costs. Why would that be?” truthfully their deduction was not rock solid, this may be just an overkill, but still, the way she was actually starting to panic a little was rather telling.

“I can’t think of any benefit for using my quirk instead of her own…” Shouto was muttering to himself.

-Aizawa can see if it’s a doll created by her… But, can he see who is inside a body? Shu?-

“No, now that you mention it, no. Before the start of the test, he spoke to me. He said ‘If you are going to use your quirk and surrender using someone’s else body you must prove that’s you inside that body so you’ll have to answer a question only you know’. So, that’s probably true for everyone else as well. He would ask a question to identify the conscience inside the body. He can see quirks, but not souls. But what of it?”

-What I’m saying is: she can surrender in Izuku’s body without letting Aizawa know it’s actually her that’s inside. He would think it’s Izuku-

“Okay, but what would be the point? She can’t win if she doesn’t tell Aizawa it’s her.” insisted Shouto.

Izuku understood and it let him out of breath. There was only one explanation.

-There would be no point. Unless she was going to surrender for someone else’s sake-

“That must be it! She was going to use me to give a win to someone else!” Izuku yelled confidently.

Urara didn’t answer in any way, she was just staring away from them.

“No, no, wait a second!” Shouto was not convinced. “Why? If she wanted to surrender for someone else, she could have done it all by herself! That person could pretend to have captured her and she could just surrender. Easy as that!”

-Maybe. Unless-

Katsuki never got to finish writing his sentence.

“No, I would have never accepted that. She knew. That’s why she chose this ridiculous roundabout way.”

A voice came from the door.

“She was not exactly trying to trick you all, or Aizawa. She was trying to trick me.”