Izuku knew something had gone wrong when he saw the scowl on Kacchan’s face. The twisted upper lip and glare looked like they belonged to Todoroki, not his timid firecracker.
The biceps and ripped pecs molded to that scandalous tank top would have been confirmation enough, but the true deciding factor had to be Kacchan’s hands. Free of their wrappings and perfectly kept, one clung to a water bottle and the other held the strap of a work out tote. Izuku almost wondered if he was staring at a bad replica or someone’s idea of a cruel joke.
The eyes though—he knew those eyes.
“Kacchan?” Izuku asked, staring up at the face watching him back. He felt the ground under his back and grass tickling the back of his neck over the collar of his shirt. “Is that you?”
“Did you hit your head or something?” Kacchan asked, dropping his bag near Izuku’s shoulder with a heavy thump. He squatted and reached down to tug on Izuku’s tie, yanking it hard enough to untuck it from its place under the vest. “And what’s with the stupid get up? Since when did you own a suit?”
Izuku frowned at the fearless red eyes and found himself looking away from the gaze first. Hiding his discomfort, Izuku glanced around, seeing a field of grass in the dim light of the evening. He didn’t recognize the location. A practice field perhaps? “Where are we?”
“Shit, you did hit your head or some bullshit,” Kacchan said, standing. He dug around his pockets to pull out a cell phone. “You were training alone again or something equally stupid, I bet.”
“I’m fine,” Izuku said, instincts kicking in. Wherever he’d been sent, it wasn’t home. Which meant he should probably keep things simple for now: Just him and Kacchan. He sat up and got to his feet before grabbing Kacchan’s wrist. He tugged it lightly to the side to pull the phone away from his face and forced a friendly smile. “No need to call anyone.”
“Now I know you hit your head hard enough that I should call someone,” Kacchan said, glaring straight at Izuku’s hand. The fierceness of it sent a curious shiver down Izuku’s spine and he got the urge to test the waters and kept his hold. Kacchan didn’t move, but ordered: “Let go, Deku.”
Izuku lifted both hands in a surrendering fashion, curious despite himself. Is this what his own Kacchan would be like if he hadn’t been collared so young? Or were there other factors at play in this world?
Either way, Izuku couldn’t fight the bubbling urge to break this one in, too.
“Hey, Kacchan,” Izuku said, eyes darting around the empty training field. He was definitely on a campus of some sort. Taking a second glance, he noted Kacchan’s bag had a school logo on it: U.A. The Hero School. Now that was interesting. Izuku asked, “How long have we known each other?”
“Too damn long,” Kacchan answered, looking back at his phone. “You still haven’t answered yet. What the hell are you doing out here alone in the dark? I already know the answer is something stupid, but humor me.”
“That part seems the same then,” Izuku said, laughing as he looked to the side. Things were starting to come together a bit clearer and they were still alone. That was good. “You never have liked me very much.”
“And now you’re just being weird,” Kacchan said, lowering his phone.
Good. Izuku didn’t need more people arriving before he’d gotten a good idea of the situation. Or a better one. With Kacchan at a Hero School, Izuku could take a pretty good guess where that trinket of Hatsume’s had sent him. Kacchan kept watching him, but there was a hint of worry sneaking into that irritated look.
Now that was different.
“Did something happen or what?” Kacchan asked, dropping his phone hand entirely to his side. He looked around, shifting from one foot to the other with a growing sense of unease. “And where’s your usual entourage of dorks?”
“Not a clue,” Izuku said, leaning back on one foot as he searched around the grass. He must have taken the trinket with him when he warped, which meant it had to be around here somewhere. He just needed to find it, click it, and throw this lovely new toy through the warp before he followed. Easy. “I think I might have dropped something, though. Could you help me look for it?”
“No,” Kacchan said, the worry dropping entirely. Instead, he looked insulted Izuku had asked him to do something. “Go find one of your other little playmates to do your—”
“Bakugou! Where have you been man?” Someone yelled across the yard. Izuku didn’t recognize him and he was positive he’d have remembered someone with spiked red-hair that atrocious. The new comer continued jogging, calling out as he went. “Movie night is about to start and we’ve been waiting! I thought you were coming right back from the gym…”
The stranger slowed to a stop as he approached. He zeroed in on Izuku and immediately dropped into a defense position, the skin on his arms hardening into offensive spikes.
Kacchan tensed, and his guard went up so subtly Izuku was almost impressed. He shoved his phone in his back pocket and hissed, “Shitty Deku’s back at the dorm, isn’t he?”
“Yup,” the redhead returned.
“Okay then,” Kacchan said. He turned on his heel and held a hand up. It sparked to life with a fire that Izuku hadn’t seen since they were eight. “You’ve got two seconds to drop the mask and tell us who you really are before I blow it off and we find out the hard way.”
Izuku’s heart skipped a beat. He felt the grin spread and laughed. “I would love to see you try.”
It got the desired results.
The explosive force that rocketed out from Kacchan’s palms were not the small firecracker like bursts from when they were children, but instead a brilliant display of death.
Izuku almost regretted taking that away from his friend oh so many years ago if this is what it could have been.
He rolled to the side, careful to avoid grass stains on his pants. The heat and flame burst above his head, whipping his hair to the side with the force of the explosion. Almost. He almost regretted it. Izuku had taken that power away to destroy any chance of precisely this moment: Having that amazing Quirk aimed at him.
“So help me if this is Toga again, I’m going to strangle Deku!” Kacchan yelled, signaling for the redhead to cut Izuku off as he went left. “That idiot needs to hold onto his blood!”
“Yeah, but if it was Toga, wouldn’t she be bothering Midoriya instead of us?” The redhead asked, throwing a punch. Izuku fell back and blocked with his arm, wincing as the other’s spikes cut through his shirt. He’d have to be careful of that. “Or she’d be flirting by now. This guy’s just quiet.”
“This guy is also right here,” Izuku said, darting back and away from the next swipe. Kacchan threw another explosion and he barely got out of the way. The blasts were short and controlled, aiming more to guide and corral than damage. Kacchan was holding back for some reason, though Izuku could take a guess why. He really needed to find that damn switch! “But as fun as this is, I have more important things to be doing.”
Like getting home and stringing Hatsume up on a rack for giving her stupid invention a hair trigger!
But speaking of his favorite trinket maker, Izuku really should put one of her better inventions to work.
“Hold still!” Kacchan shouted when Izuku made a sprint for it.
He ran as fast as his training would allow, but Kacchan easily kept up as he used his blasts to propel him ahead (that was a neat trick, too). Izuku felt the smile spread as he tugged his favorite pair of gloves out of his pocket. Slipping on the black fabric, he continued forward at full speed, even after Kacchan put himself in the way of his path to catch him. That worked in his favor.
“I think we should end this,” Izuku said, catching Kacchan off guard by not stopping. The other moved to knock him to the side, but Izuku was faster. He grabbed Kacchan’s wrist and pulled him forward to put his other hand on Kacchan’s throat. The gloves did the rest and his childhood friend’s counterpart came to a dead stop under his hold. “Much better.”
“Bakugou!” The redhead yelled. He came to a stop at the side, but didn’t get closer, showing a sense of caution Izuku wouldn’t have expected from that stupid face. “What did you do?”
The answer? Very special gloves.
The one on his left held a charge that canceled out Quirks upon impact for the duration of exposure—he had no idea how Hatsume got it to work, but she did wonders when she put her mind to it. His right glove? Similar in the vein that Izuku didn’t know how it worked, but it paralyzed anyone that it touched. Both had the disadvantage of requiring contact, but they were hardly Izuku’s only trick up his sleeve.
But that was information for Izuku and not his two new little playmates: “I think I’ll keep that to myself. Now if you don’t mind, I would rather much like to be alone with Kacchan.”
“Stop calling me that,” Kacchan grunted, his body trembling as he fought the hold of the gloves. His fingers twitched, showing an impressive strength.
Izuku bit his lip. “Let me guess: Only one person is allowed to call you that?”
“I’m going to kill you,” Kacchan said.
Some things really were universal.
“I can not wait to break you,” Izuku said, almost sighing.
The redhead snarled, his Quirk activating on nearly his entire body. He shifted down, ready to charge in anyway. “One last chance to let him go!”
“If you take a step closer I’m going to break his neck,” Izuku bluffed. He moved to place Kacchan in front of him like a shield, twisting Kacchan’s arm behind his back and refusing to let go of the other’s neck. He squeezed, choking Kacchan enough that he gagged. He grinned over his shoulder with a shrug. “I don’t need a new toy that badly.”
Izuku heard his own voice yell across the yard, knowing quite well he hadn’t been the one who shouted it. To make the evening more entertaining, it appeared that Izuku’s double had decided to arrive.
What poor timing.
Someone wearing Izuku’s face had Kacchan pinned by the neck.
Seeing fingers around Kacchan’s throat brought back more bad memories than Izuku wanted, but seeing someone wearing his face restraining Kacchan turned the sick, nauseous feeling into pure rage.
“Let him go!” Izuku yelled, feeling One for All awaken. It sparked against his skin, reacting with his own emotions and ready to go. He threw his hand out, readying a Delaware Smash and glad he’d had the sense to grab his new gloves when he spotted Kacchan’s explosions in the distance. “Right now!”
The doppelgänger focused on Izuku, his face taking on a look Izuku had only seen in the mirror; calculating. His eyes darted to Izuku’s gloves and back up to his face. “And what exactly are you going to do with that?”
“Test me and find out,” Izuku answered, looking for the best angle to send a shot that would cause the least damage. “Let Kacchan go. Now.”
“I’ve got this, Deku,” Kacchan said, his limbs trembling. The fake-Izuku’s grip didn’t look the least bit strained, which meant something else had to be going on if Kacchan was struggling so much to break free. “As soon as I get free, this guy is dead. So don’t get in my way.”
The fake glanced at Kacchan with a fond smile that set Izuku’s teeth to gritting before he squeezed tighter, digging his thumb against Kacchan’s Adam’s apple. “He really is cute. I can see why you like him despite the attitude.”
“Let him go,” Izuku said again. He wanted to scream “Get your hands off him” but had to remain in control. Losing his temper wouldn’t do either of them any good.
“I had a feeling my goody-two-shoes counterpart would be disappointing, but this is a bit much,” the fake said. He glanced around the grass before looking at Izuku again. “Look at all that hesitation in that shaking finger of yours. It’s like you don’t even want him, but that’s fine by me.”
The fake yanked Kacchan’s neck back, manhandling him in a way that looked far too easy and wrong. He kissed the side of Kacchan’s cheek and laughed. “I’ll be more than happy to take this off your hands.”
Izuku flicked his finger, sending the first Delaware Smash straight at that monster’s face.
Not expecting the hit, it slammed straight into the fake, knocking both him and Kacchan apart from each other. Free from the hold, Kacchan used his Quirk to put distance between him and the Fake, while the other took the full brunt and rolled in the grass a good distance away. He caught himself on the third roll and sprung to his feet.
He wiped the blood away from his nose and stared at Izuku with wide eyes as the electric feeling of One for All continued to hum, ready and raring to go for another hit as Izuku readied his fingers again. He looked at the gloves again and hissed, “That wasn’t from the gloves was it?”
Izuku frowned, looking for Kacchan and Kirishima as they moved into position. The other students should be coming with the teachers any minute, so they just needed to stall. “What are you talking about?”
“That was a Quirk!” the other hissed. His entire form turned dark, eyes and face radiating a viciousness that made Izuku’s body crawl. The fake tightened his gloves on his hands, yanking hard on the back. His voice came out in a hiss. “Are you telling me that in this Universe I have a Quirk?”
“This universe?” Kirishima asked, lowering his arms a fraction. “Dude, what are you even talking about?”
“Shut up,” the fake said, not even sparing Kirishima a look. His expression flattened into something blank, but it was easy to see the other teen was seething on the inside from his gaze. Izuku swallowed as the stranger glared straight at him. “I refuse to believe the universes would be so cruel to unevenly distribute something that important.”
“So, this guy is out of his mind, right?” Kirishima said, taking a step back as he looked between Kacchan and Izuku. “Because he’s not making any sense.”
“I told you to be quiet!” The fake yelled, using a tone that sounded like he was used to telling others what to do. Commanding. It sounded so weird coming out of Izuku’s mouth; he’d never had that much authority. “None of this concerns you.”
“It does if you’re attacking my friends,” Kirishima said.
“I don’t know if you noticed,” Kacchan added, his fists sparking. “But you’re not in a position to order us around, buddy.”
“For now,” he said.
As he readied to move, Izuku did the same. However, when he moved his leg back to get into a sprinting position, he heard a small click beneath his foot. Keeping his eyes on the Villain, Izuku leaned down to pick up the small metallic box that had caught under his shoe. On a small screen, there was a countdown running in red in small letters. When it hit “zero” a gust of wind spiraled behind him, shaking his hair and he saw the eyes of the other three in the field widen.
The fake was the first to run forward, yelling “Don’t move!”
Izuku hadn’t planned on it, but an invisible tug grabbed him around the waist and yanked him back, pulling him into darkness.
He watched the Fake scream “No!” before he was engulfed and the world disappeared.
It came back to light just as quickly as Izuku slammed into the ground, a crunch in his hand as he reflexively squeezed on landing. He rolled to his knees and opened his hand, wincing at the crushed contraption in his palm.
“Oh, this isn’t good,” Izuku said, looking around the room.
He got to his feet and took in his surroundings: A large bedroom—easily three times the size of his dorm room—that was divided into a “sitting room” portion on one side with an elegant couch and chair set opposite a widescreen television, while the other half had a four poster bed and a fainting couch along the wall with the window. The room itself was neat and clean, with framed artwork on the walls and various art pieces displayed with plants.
He closed his fingers around the device pieces in his hand and swallowed. He was definitely not at home at U.A.
“Izuku?” A timid voice asked, soft and quiet. It sounded hesitant and scared, two things that should never be associated with that voice. “Is that you?”
Izuku turned around, seeing an open door that looked like it led to an ensuite bathroom. A person with familiar blond hair stared at Izuku, confused with wide eyes. His hands were wrapped tightly in white bandages and the stranger tugged on the edge of a loose strand as he stared. While he still looked healthy, his thin form had none of the bulk or muscle Izuku was used to seeing. The teenager looked downright tiny compared to what he should look like.
Those eyes though—there was no mistaking them.
And they were terrified.
Izuku’s own eyes watered as he covered the lower half of his mouth. “Kacchan.”