The wound he’d managed to inflict with his first strike was mortal, but wouldn’t be soon enough. Hagakure was bleeding freely from the jagged gash in her side, staining her naked skin with it, and she bobbed and weaved expertly even through the pain. Now that the shock of his attack was over, Karma could bet that she wished she’d worn clothes. He shouldn’t have given her that much of an opening but he couldn’t resist imagining the look of horror as his knife cut through her. However, his only clues to her attacks was the whistling of her punches and kicks flying through the air towards his head. In all fairness she was quite skilled at hand-to-hand, helped by Karma not quite knowing where her feet were. He was blindsided by a punch to the jaw, could feel the bruise blossoming under the skin already and brought his arms up to guard his face a little better. Too many of those and the villains would start asking questions.
The wooden floor underneath their feet was getting slippery with the copper tang of blood. An arcing kick from him sent it spraying against the walls, dotting across her body and face. Both of them were starting to lose traction underneath their bare feet. Karma glanced down as he aimed high with the switchblade, catching Hagakure on her cheek and tearing the flesh open, at the pooling blood beneath them. Her feet were stained with it and he grinned. It wouldn’t have been set up better if he had tried.
Redoubling his efforts to dodge her wild swings, Karma forced her back again and again until a wild stab sent her off balance, arms wheeling out of control and the momentum finished her off. Hagakure’s feet slipped from underneath her, leaving wet tracks on the wood. With a grim finality Karma’s blade sank into her neck. Dying, she thrashed and kicked at him, trying to buck him off of her body, but her hits became weaker and weaker until she was reduced to scrabbling limply at his wrists. A rattling breath slid from her throat and Hagakure went limp underneath him.
Karma retrieved his knife. It didn’t come out easy as the force of his stab had driven the end into the wood floor, but with some prying it came free from Hagakure’s neck. Did he need to check her pulse? She was definitely dead. What if she had some weird regeneration quirk? He dragged a bloody hand through his hair, smearing the wet gore across his face and grimaced. He wasn’t sure if the blood on his hands was hers or his. Had she managed to scratch him with her nails? There was blood underneath them. The red haze of adrenaline was blurring the edges of his vision too badly. He watched his hands drag her invisible body out to the back yard and bury her underneath the big maple tree in the back.
“You’re lucky you got me as an adult.” He said with some effort, shovel patting down the loose dirt. “If you’d met me as a kid it would have been worse. Did you know I cut a guy’s hamstrings once? I watched him crawl on the ground away from me before I shoved him into the car compactor. It’s a long story, and it started with a banana yellow python-“
Karma wasn’t especially familiar with the feeling of disassociation, of watching his body as if he was simply a spectator floating behind himself. He had to admit he didn’t really enjoy it. The ground underneath his feet was quite obviously disturbed and churned up, and he thought about cover stories as he headed back into the building. By the time he’d managed to get the blood off of the floor and out of his hair there were people starting to come back into the building. He could hear the signs of life beginning to bustle further inside. Shigaraki had leant him clothes, as he had yet to get his own other than the hero uniform that he’d been wearing on the day he’d been kidnapped- just hoodies and shirts and jeans- so he threw the blood splattered set he was wearing into the bathtub, changed, and went to join them.
Food was a free for all amongst the villains. Shigaraki apparently had contacts left to him by his mentor as someone routinely dropped off a cooler box or two of the basics, things that were easy to overlook or had ‘fallen off of the truck’. Toga and Tokoyami were raiding the kitchen for something to make when Karma entered. He watched the massive black shape of Dark Shadow reach into a cupboard and pass a box of half eaten, generic, cereal down. They hadn’t had a real chance to discuss the papers he’d seen, past the name of the newspaper company, as they were rarely left alone together. Karma hoped it would be enough for Bakugou to get a lead on their location.
“You smell good.” Toga said curiously, pushing into Karma’s personal space as he was zoned out. “Like blood.”
She sniffed at him, long and drawn out as if she was entranced by the scent, and he pushed her away with the palm of his hand.
“I told you I’m not interested, Toga.”
“That’s okay! I can be anyone you want me to be.” The girl giggled, a lazy grin stretched out over her face. Her form began to shiver and morph until she was taller, broader, with black hair and burnt-on scars. “I think Dabi dyes his hair.” She said with his voice.
“That doesn’t make you any more appealing.”
Dabi with Toga’s mannerisms was quite the horrifying sight, Karma thought as she ran her hands through his thick hair. He moved away to go stand by Tokoyami instead.The boy’s deep, red eyes fixed on him and Karma shot him a grin. There was definitely a bruise forming on his face and blood under his fingernails. He didn’t need to look to guess it was probably in his own hair as well, so what better cover than the truth?
“I got into a fight with a hero, killed them and buried them in the back garden. Is that what you want to know?”
Regular, not-Dabi, Toga rolled her eyes at him. She shook the last few drops of grey ooze from her fingers. “You’re so boring, Karma-kun. You’ve been asleep all day! Whatever. Ciao, Fumi-kun!”
Both of them breathed a sigh of relief as she left. Dark Shadow peeked out of the cereal box that he’d been devouring steadily. The girl skipped through the door to the kitchen, whistling happily.
“You okay, Tokoyami?” He seemed to be, but looks were often deceiving.
“We went to go meet her old school friends, as we are recruiting. They appear to be cut from the same cloth as Toga herself and will be joining us in the upcoming...battle.”
“ They were scary. ” Shadow whispered, ever the real mirror of the boy’s internal monologue.
Karma patted both their shoulders softly. He wanted to be as supportive as possible, knowing he’d dragged Tokoyami into this mostly against his will. The feeling of being present but not had faded finally and Karma stopped seeing himself in third person, he was especially grateful when there was an angry roar around the corner and Toga slid through the door on her socks like a cartoon.
“Save me!” She squealed gleefully, dodging a blue burst of flame that came dangerously close to searing off her eyebrows. Toga backed against the wall, eyes darting back and forth as she plotted her escape, chest heaving with exertion, and a fist full of glittering knives.
“ Toga. Himiko. ”
Whatever she’d done had seriously pissed off Dabi, enough that as he stomped into the room he dropped burning embers of blue. Half of his face was alight, as well as his arms and back, something that Karma had most definitely seen before-
Rounding a corner to see a broad, spandex covered back. Tall, like All Might, but so so angry as if he could will his aura to crush whoever was before him with only a thought. Half of Endeavour’s side was on fire and his son stared resolutely at the wall with a scowl on his face that could rival both Bakugou and Terasaka.
“I don’t care what rebellious streak you think you’re going through, but you will obey me and you will win this tournament.” The man was saying, one huge finger pointed right in Todoroki’s face.
-but he had to push Tokoyami to the floor as Dabi’s skin began to bubble and crack under the heat of his own flames lashing out at their surroundings. The walls around them began to warp and melt. For a split second, Karma thought: this is a really stupid way to die a second time.
“Would you two cut that shit out.”
Saved by a fucking villain. Shigaraki’s torn up trainers and torn, baggy black jeans slowly inched into sight. His fingers clenched by his side, eager to scrape against his own skin or to touch one of the two troublemakers.
“Twice has something to show us. Stop messing around.”
Dabi took a deep breath as Karma and Tokoyami bid their escape around the sides of the room. His inhale extinguished the fires that he’d left in his wake as if he had sucked the life from them. The mask of indifference slid over his face as quickly as it had disappeared but Karma was already smirking.
“My, my. What a temper you have Dabi-san. Reminds me of someone.”
He was met with silence.
Bakugou’s explosions shook Izuku to the core. At ten percent there was still only so fast he could dodge, and the blond boy was getting faster and faster at predicting where he would land. Around them the other students also warred amongst themselves. They had a stand-in teacher supervising their training club, with All Might being out sick, and he wasn’t doing a very good job at controlling the rowdy class. Ojiro was showing Shinsou the weight training equipment somewhere on the other side of the room- Izuku had only gotten a brief look before Bakugou had declared war on him again. Slowly he was being led away behind the great rock faces that Ishiyama-sensei had put up. Then, when they were far enough away from everything Bakugou just stopped. He sank to the floor and dragged his hands through his hair.
“Kacchan? What’s wrong?” Izuku asked, quietly, dropping to the floor next to him.
“Everything.” Bakugou’s voice was hoarse and broken. “All Might’s in a fucking coma. Akabane and Tokoyami are trapped with the villains. And I’m here, at school, like nothing happened.”
“Kacchan- that’s not your fault.”
“Then why does it feel like it is?” His hand, the one opposite Izuku, exploded again, sending a hail of rocks and dirt into the air.
Izuku flinched away from them with a yelp but found his head covered by Bakugou’s outstretched arm. When the debris finished falling around them, Bakugou retreated a step away. He rested his arms on his knees and the two of them sat in silence for a moment. They weren’t in their hero costumes, just stripped down gym clothes, and Izuku’s burn scars stood out underneath the bright white of his shirt. They didn’t hurt exactly anymore, but parts of them ached while others were strangely numb to being touched. Bakugou stared openly.
“What about your quirk? You said you’d make it your own.”
Sighing, Izuku flopped back on the hard floor. “I don’t feel like I’m borrowing it anymore, at least.”
“Good.” Hesitantly, Ike he wasn’t sure if he was allowed or if he should, Bakugou reached out and ruffled Izuku’s fluffy hair. It pulled a grin from both of their pensive faces. “Let’s go all out. No holds barred. See who’s gotten stronger.”
“You got it, Kacchan.”
It was a blast fighting Toga and Spinner. A knife in each hand, the bite of steel through flesh and scales alike. Karma had almost forgotten what it was like just to fight for fun, to wail on a bully or someone pissing him off, but his blood sang with each nick of his skin underneath Toga’s knife or the barest skim of Spinner’s sword against his neck. He wondered if this was the glee Koro-sensei felt when the class attacked him as a team. Maehara at his back, Sugino from the front, the blast of air that was their tentacled teacher moving to a new spot . A kick to the chest threw Spinner from the circle they’d taped to the warehouse floor, the momentum carrying him underneath Toga’s next attack- he launched from the spin, elbow thudding into Toga’s sternum. The air was forced from her lungs with the hit and she tumbled backwards to join Spinner.
“I win again.” Karma said with a smug grin, flicking the knives back into his sleeves. “I think I’ve proved myself, what do you think Sempai?”
Shigaraki had a strangely blank look on his face, but he nodded through it. “I suppose, yes, you have.”
The house was quiet. Untouched after he’d left. His parents were making regular TV appearances, begging, red-faced, for the villains to return Karma and Shigaraki had been gleefully watching every press conference. They hadn’t returned to their huge city house, but moved into a smaller apartment instead, citing their home containing too many sad memories. Karma had to wonder if it was true or if his father wanted an excuse to decorate a new place. It was good for him, though. There were things he needed to get. Clothes for example. He was quickly getting tired of Shigaraki’s baggy hand-me-downs. Anything else was stale, out of date, and moth bitten.
He slid through an unlocked window leading into the dark kitchen and padded through the room quietly. It was eerie, knowing that he had no plans to return here afterwards, even to ease his grieving mother’s suffering. She was the other Karma’s mother. Not his, never his. His was a universe away, mourning her son’s death. Perhaps it would always be his destiny to upset her.
Quickly he stuffed bundles of clothes into the first backpack he could find. Hoodies, jeans, shirts, whatever would fit. When Karma managed to get back into the kitchen, the lights flicked on ominously. Standing against the wall with the open window, and looking even worse than the last time he’d seen him, was Present Mic.
“Yamada-sensei!” Karma said in mock surprise, stepping closer. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”
“Don’t joke around, Akabane. I’m bringing you in.”
“Have you been camped out in here, waiting for me to come back? Wait- don’t answer that. I don’t actually care.”
Karma lunged forwards, snatching the butcher knife from the chopping block on the kitchen island. Mic took a step backwards, shocked at his gall, before he pulled himself back together. The tension in the air made Karma shiver. He grinned, the most wicked one he could muster. He thought of Asano Gakuhou, and how deeply he wished to drive the blade in his hand between the man’s ribs.
“So you were the spy?” Mic growled.
“Are you fucking kidding me? Fine, if that’s what you want to believe. I already have one teacher’s blood on my hands, no big deal in adding more- is there?”
He thought of Karasuma-sensei and the strangely perfect balance of the rubber-like anti-sensei knives. The butcher’s blade in his hand was nothing like them as he took a swing at Mic’s neck. It was large and unwieldy, meant for a powerful cleave through motionless bone and not a dodging hero. The first swing missed but his follow through did not, becoming a shiver arc through the air that drew a line of blood through Mic’s exposed chest. Immediately Karma could tell Mic only fought across distances. Each swing brought the hero the barest second to draw a breath that he desperately needed to unleash his quirk, but Karma didn’t relent. He was getting ever closer, dancing across the kitchen with Mic with a blade in one hand and a manic laugh in his throat. Suddenly, Mic vaulted across the island table in a panicked bid to put some space between him and Karma. Sweat trickled down his temple.
“Sorry, sensei. I’m not going to let you catch me that easily. Did you know there’s someone in the Alliance that can make clones?”
Karma pressed the bloodied knife to his neck and in one motion sliced through the delicate skin, windpipe, and everything else contained there. Blood poured from the wound, even as the body around it began to turn to thick, grey, goop. Mic leapt forwards, aghast, trying to catch Karma’s falling body even as Twice’s quirk failed. The boy’s wheezing laughter would haunt his ears for days.