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Karma in Retrograde

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When he had joined the League of Villains, Dabi had expected to be dealing with pro heroes, not children, but sometimes it was more interesting that way. Maybe it had been a coincidence or fate, but something had aligned in the universe to bring together all his desires. Sometimes the League was fractured and they didn’t always agree or even like each other, something that was inevitable when a lot of strange and wackjob personalities were in one room, but hate could make even the worst work with one another for a common goal.

And right now, the goal was to bring down the false hero society that so many people worshipped.

To be honest, Dabi wouldn’t mind heroes if they actually did what they had been created to do. However, besides All Might, it had been a very long time since heroes were legitimately heroic. It was hard to be a true hero when all heroes were human and most humans were flawed. Could he fault them for that? No, he was plenty flawed as well. The difference between him and these so-called heroes was that he could admit it. He revelled in it, in fact. The heroes needed to be brought down a level so they could see their distorted reflections as well.

These days, heroes were more about fame and fortune than they were about saving people -- about being good. Even the best of the best could also be terrible people behind closed doors. They weren’t the pure-hearted individuals that so many people made them out to be. Greedy, self-centered, brutal, cold. None of those things were in the definition of a hero and yet they applied to many of them out there right now. A true hero would know their flaws, accept them, and work every day to overcome them.

Not too many heroes were willing to do that and so it was the League’s job to show them how. It was more fun than Dabi had anticipated. He should have started doing this ages ago. The years that he’d wasted doing little more than passive aggressive petty crimes on his own were nothing compared to what he was doing now with the League.

Perhaps the most opportune moment of his life, and a surprising one at that, was when Dabi had been put in charge of the Vanguard Action Squad. Although they had attempted to come to blows at first and Dabi still thought that the guy was more than a little broken in the head, Shigaraki had still seen Dabi’s ability to lead. It wasn’t something that was immediately noticeable, the scars, staples, and dead but bright blue eyes too distracting, but he had spent his entire life raising himself, making it easier to guide others.

It had given him access to the newest U.A. students. Not one of his original goals, but something that had definitely turned into an opportunity to do even more with his time in the League. He wasn’t certain how long he planned on being in it, but for now, it worked to his advantage. In the beginning, he had been aggravated over the idea that he had to deal with a bunch of children, but then they proved to be a lot more interesting than many of the pro heroes that he’d seen so far.

What better way to bring down the hero society and start anew than by attacking the very beginning of the process? U.A. and schools like it were where every hero began their journey. Cutting them down right there, destroying all that they believed in, would cause a ripple effect throughout the entire hero community.

Dabi could see all of it -- the past that brought him to his lowest point, the present that he was fighting in, and the future that could go either way -- whenever he saw Shouto Todoroki.

It had been curious to see Todoroki’s face on the kill list when he and the Vanguard had attacked the U.A. Training Camp in order to kidnap Katsuki Bakugou. Not very surprising, if Dabi was being honest. Like most people, he had watched the U.A. Sports Festival and seen the raw power that made up Endeavor’s youngest son. With his mother’s ice powers in tenfold on one side and his father’s fire on the other, he was the perfect storm to make up a hero.

His unwillingness to use the fire half of his quirk had been of note. Dabi had known at least some of what he was capable of and yet Todoroki had clearly avoided using it until that Midoriya kid had forced him into a corner. He could have crushed Bakugou in the last round had he used his fire power -- and yet he hadn’t. A hero obsessed with power and being on the top, Dabi doubted that Endeavor had liked that, which had been a pleasure in itself.

To be honest, Dabi had expected to confront Todoroki at some point when they’d been on the mission to kidnap Bakugou. There was no way that someone like him would let something like a classmate being taken lying down. Perhaps he had lingered too long on Todoroki’s photo back then because Shigaraki had actually asked if killing him would be a problem. Many people gravitated towards people with similar quirks and even felt connected to them on some level.

No, being put into a position where he might have to kill Shouto Todoroki wouldn’t be a problem. Actually doing it was another matter. Dabi rather liked the kid being around. Both he and Midoriya were prime examples of who heroes were supposed to be. It would almost be a shame to put them down, not when Stain himself had decided that Midoriya was worthy of being kept alive. Dabi liked to think that if Todoroki had been in the other boy’s position, Stain would have made the same decision.

Maybe it was wishful thinking.

Or maybe Dabi just liked direct conflict.

It had been decided the League would strike again when the Class 1 students began to get their provisional hero licenses. After the whole Overhaul business, Dabi was itching to get back into the swing of things. He’d gotten a taste of what it felt like to completely overwhelm a hero and it had been addicting. Bringing a hero to their knees had been exhilarating, even more so when Dabi had been recognized for his most recent work.

Endeavor had been officially announced as the new number one hero. All Might was a shell of who he was once. Todoroki finally passed his test and Dabi, being one of the strongest in the League, was given the opportunity to attack the beginning stages of hero society and turn them to ashes. Things were coming together nicely.

They waited a few days before attacking a warehouse that created much of the support equipment for heroes. Not a lot of civilians realized that so many heroes relied on equipment to strengthen or control their quirks. Dabi had never had proper access to it while growing up with his destructive quirk. Who knew where he would be if he had? Destroying the main manufacturer of such equipment would not only cripple the heroes that depended on them, but also deal a devastating economic blow.

Dabi had been quite proud of the idea. The fact that the warehouse was in the sector where Todoroki had his provisional hero license was a bonus.

Those false heroes wasted little time in reaching the scene, but it was too late to save the warehouse or whatever was inside. Dabi’s cremation quirk was overwhelming in its destructive abilities. With the equipment added to his outfit to give him an actual villain costume, he could unleash it even further. Every time he used his quirk now, he felt a wild sense of power and relief. For the first time in his life, his quirk felt better than good. It felt great. He could go to one hundred percent without ever having to worry. This was power, all in the palms of his hands.

And then, without warning, it was all taken away from him.

A warehouse employee was cowering in the corner, trapped in the building by the blue flames. Dabi was thinking that it might be kinder to simply turn him to ashes when a wall of ice sliced through the room and cut Dabi off from everyone else in the building. He spun around and let off another burst of flames just in time to greet another row of ice. Steam, water, smoke, and ice exploded in the room the second the two opposites met each other. Dabi threw an arm up and let flames consume him to protect himself. He built them stronger, pulling them to his arm, and threw them at the young hero who had joined the fray.

Todoroki sliced through the blue flames not with his ice but with his fire and Dabi’s blood boiled. Fighting fire with fire was a power move that few thought of. While Todoroki’s fire wasn’t nearly as hot as Dabi’s, it was enough to break Dabi’s flames apart. Even better, as Todoroki countered with his flames using his left arm, he was able to slam his right foot down on the ground and attack with his ice, which forced Dabi to dodge to the left and shoot off another powerful explosion of flames.

“Why don’t you leave this for the big boys?” Dabi taunted, bolstered by the fire that surrounded them, blue and orange alike. It was hotter than hell in here, melting Todoroki’s ice like a popsicle on a summer day.

Todoroki grit his teeth in frustration, though he didn’t look anywhere near his limit. Dabi would have to drag Todoroki there until the kid was past collapsing. If he kept fighting, then he’d prove himself to be a hero. Didn’t mean that he might not still be killed, but Dabi would prefer it if not. The kill list meant that the targets could be killed if the situation called for it. Not exactly a hit list. They weren’t going out of their way to kill U.A. students, after all. Dabi would just get close.

“Looking for a rematch?” Dabi asked as blue flames shot out of his left palm like a tornado. Todoroki skated out of the way with his ice, smothering flames as he did so, and slid his right hand along the ground like he was rolling a ball and then an over-aggressive amount of ice jutted towards Dabi, just as he’d done during the Sports Festival. Dabi couldn’t dodge it this time, so he threw both hands out and let off an explosion of fire so massive that it knocked both him and Todoroki backwards and blew a hole in the roof. The building shook around and above them. Another blast like that and the whole thing would come crumbling down.

So focused on his fight with Todoroki, Dabi had completely forgotten about the civilian that he had considered giving a quick death. As far as he was concerned, the only person that mattered now was Todoroki. The villains that he had brought with him must have been dealing with the pro heroes outside. Good. That left Todoroki to him. Dabi wanted to see how they compared.

An ugly grin cut its way across Dabi’s face. He opened his mouth to attempt to goad Todoroki into talking when Dabi was suddenly struck by something sharp in the back. It sent him to one knee and he had to put a hand on the ground to keep himself from falling over. Nothing happened at first. He didn’t feel anything. But then a cold chill went over his whole body until everything began to tingle and his vision began to swim. With his free hand, he clutched at his chest, like he might be able to pull his erratically beating heart right out, and then began to struggle to breathe.

Somewhere around him, he thought he heard a voice shouting, “Dabi?” but he couldn’t be sure. Especially when his body froze without the help of any ice. He gasped in pain and shut his eyes tight as it felt like every muscle was being pulled together by a string and everything was turning upside down and he was drowning and he--



He opened his eyes, finding himself lying on his back and staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling that had a huge hole in it, the rafters covered with fire and ice. The fire. He blinked. There were spots of blue and orange. That was a familiar, if not welcomed, sight. His head hurt like a bitch, feeling like someone had whacked him in the skull with a textbook about twenty times.

Groaning in pain, he pushed himself up with his hands and then looked down in confusion when he found himself lying on a cold concrete ground half covered in ice. He slid his fingers across the ice, taking in the soothing feel of it, but the heat of the fire that surrounded him was beginning to make him uncomfortable. Finally, he raised his eyes and gaped at the scene around him.

Why the hell was he sitting in the middle of a completely destroyed warehouse filled with burning crates and large melting walls of ice?

A bolt of panic shot through him and he jumped to his feet, although he nearly collapsed all over again when a wave of dizziness overcame him. He put a hand on his head, willing it to go away, and then began to search for an exit, lifting his shirt over the bottom half of his face so that he wouldn’t breathe in so much smoke, but he was starting to hyperventilate.

Where the hell was he? What was he doing here? How had he gotten here?

He abruptly took notice of the shirt he was holding over his face. It was somewhere in between white and grey, but the biggest detail was that it was too large for him. It hung on him like a loose tent. Half his chest was hanging out of the v neck shirt, making him feel exposed. The black pants were also too big for him, so he went to tighten the white belt around his waist when the jacket took him off guard. It hung over his frame like his shoulders were a coat hanger, but it was the sleeves that caught his attention. There was some sort of metal on them, like something the support course would put on a hero costume.

What the fuck was he wearing?

There was little time to consider what the hell was happening when someone called out, “Touya?” and his eyes snapped forward, landing on a teenage boy gawking back at him in shock.

It felt as if a rock fell into the pit of his stomach and he choked on the smoke. The familiar face sent him reeling for multiple reasons. He looked like… With that two-toned hair and those mismatched eyes and that angry scar over the side of his face, the kid looked dead up like… “Shouto?”

The kid jerked back at the name, clearly affected by it. He shook his head. No, that had to be impossible. This kid was tall, sharp, muscular -- this one was older. Shouto was eleven. He might not be the soft, little boy that always rested in his mind’s eye, but this kid was…

Shouto was a boy.

But how likely was it that there was someone running around that looked exactly like Shouto, just a few years older?

“What the fuck is going on?” Touya demanded, pointing an accusing finger at him. “Who the fuck are you? I swear, if this is some kind of sick prank, I’m going to flip!”

The kid -- Shouto? (No, it wasn’t him!) -- couldn’t hide the disbelief from his face. His eyes (one gray and one the same blue he saw in the mirror) were wide and his eyebrows raised past his messy bangs. There was even a patch of ice on the right side of his cheek, just the way Shouto’s would do whenever he used his ice half of his quirk more than the fire half.

“This whole time it was you?” the kid asked, sounding utterly gutted.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Touya shouted back, panic and dread threatening to swallow him. He took a few hesitant steps back, but then had to shy away from a patch of blue fire. “I don’t know…”

That dizziness was coming over him and his vision began to swim again. The kid stepped closer to him, but he waved a sharp hand at him to get him to stop. The kid actually raised his arms in reaction, fire and ice both flaring up. Oh fuck, it was him. It was Shouto. It was his little brother. Except he wasn’t so little anymore and he didn’t know what was going on and there was so much fire and destruction and he was scared and his head was pounding and swimming in a fog.

This time, when he collapsed, he didn’t wake right back up, leaving Shouto to stare in utter confusion at the unconscious body of his older brother.