Before he’d even fully realized what was happening, Izuku had grabbed two of the screaming bystanders and leapt away from the falling rubble. Endeavour was shouting from somewhere else, directing the police and emergency services. As much as it hurt Izuku to do it he couldn’t try to rescue Karma and Shigaraki. Over and over he had to remind himself that the ones that he’d seen on the roof were clones. He grit his teeth, depositing the two civilians outside of the devastation before dashing back in.
“Already on it!” He grunted, wedging his steel body between the ground and a huge block of rubble that had shifted.
Kaminari slid inside, arms outstretched for the people trapped underneath it. The phone in Izuku’s tight grip began to ring as Jirou called him back and the vibration startled him.
“Izuku, there’s another bomb in the building to your left!”
Meanwhile, Shigaraki had left the real Karma to his own devices. The last bomb had been planted; a few were in each major city with the help of their new friends that they’d collected over the past few weeks. At the same time he sent the last of the coordinates to Bakugou, trusting him to get them to the rest of his class. Karma had to admit he wasn’t a fan of the black hair dye. He twisted a lock of it around his fingers, a nervous habit from his childhood, and carried on deeper into the warehouse. There were eyes on him, making his skin prickle under the butt of the gun focused on him.
“So, you have the info I need?”
The person under the black hood held out a manila folder that Karma took slowly. No need for quick movements. It wouldn’t do to spook his informant.
“And Shigaraki Tomura?”
He knew that voice. Karma kept his expression carefully neutral. He had no guarantee that his guess was correct, other than intuition.
“You can meet him at Tochou in a few weeks for his big victory speech. Should provide a nice, clear view. Although…”
The stranger was silent, finger held dangerously on the gun.
“I was wondering. Does this mean anything to you? ‘ Assassination is education ’.”
The gun lowered slowly. Their off hand pulled the hood off of their head and Karma’s thin smile became broad. Those bright green eyes and strawberry blonde hair was unmistakable. Hayami breathed a sigh of relief.
“You can come down Ryu. It’s him.”
There was a soft thump from elsewhere in the warehouse as Chiba let himself drop from the rafters. They both looked good, as if the world had been taking care of them. Karma could feel the relief that he wasn’t alone blossom like gold inside him. Both of his old friends were dressed neutrally, in nondescript hoodies and jeans. They could have been any normal couple on the street if it wasn’t for the massive rifle that Chiba had with him, and Hayami’s pistol. He wanted to cry. He wanted to laugh. He wanted to grab them and hold on and never let go.
“Well well. If it isn’t the tsundere sniper and the dating sim protagonist.” Instead Karma tucked his hands into his pockets and finally relaxed a little bit. “Still up to your old ways?”
Chiba smirked and nodded. “We moonlight. It helps pay the bills. How are you?”
“Stressed.” He rolled his shoulders and let the tension slide out of them. The prickling had disappeared with Chiba making his presence known and he could hardly fight back the smile on his face, though he didn’t want to. He felt drained and tired beyond the fifteen short years of this body, but, at the same time, wired down to a fizzing core. “These kids will be the death of me.”
“We’ve been keeping an eye on you ever since the news broke!” Hayami knocked him on the shoulder with a loose fist. He wondered when she’d gotten so tall. “You’re the first one of us that we’ve seen in five years.”
“You’ve been here that long? Damn.” No sign of Nagisa then. For a moment Karma’s heart had fluttered with hope at the idea and he fought down the loneliness that welled up inside him. “Say, how old are you two supposed to be here?”
“Twenty five.” Said Chiba.
“Twenty eight!” Said Hayami. “We’ve got a few years on you this time!”
“That’s because you’re both old at heart.” He began to flick through the small folder that he’d been handed. It looked like Kayano had been kidnapped at a young age. She’d appeared in a few cctv photos over the years before finally disappearing without a trace. He felt like killing All for One all over again.
“It took us awhile just to get that much. You’re lucky we could even find the hospital.” Hayami pointed it out. A small scribble at the bottom of the very last page. “The only reason we did was because she was admitted under Kayano instead of Yukimura.”
“Is her sister still alive here?”
Chiba and Hayami gave each other an awkward look before Hayami continued. “Yes. Her parents split up while her mum was still pregnant with her, though. So we’re not sure if she...knows.”
The folder closed with a final slap of the pages. “Gotcha. So, here’s the plan.”
Izuku sank into the closest chair as soon as he’d stepped into the dorm. He was bruised and singed around the edges and more dog-tired than he wanted to be. The phone shoved in his costume pocket was still vibrating from the group chat. Hopefully everyone was congratulating themselves by this point and there weren’t any more hurried coordinates from Jirou or Bakugou. No one had any doubts that the origin of most of them were from Karma. Slowly, the others began to trickle inside. Bakugou supported Kirishima underneath the shoulders while the boy limped slowly. Iida had what looked like three gallons of orange juice under each arm. Somewhere in the background Satou was halfway through making a second cake while the first cooled on the counter. And, on the edge of all of it, Shinsou stood against the wall looking like a fifth wheel.
“Shinsou-kun.” Izuku gestured to him. “Sit down.”
The purple haired boy scowled and half turned his face away. It was a struggle trying to convince him to join the rest of the class. “Don’t order me around.”
“I’m not trying to. You’re exhausted, we’re all exhausted.”
With 1-A finally home, dinner got started in a buzz. Soon the whole dorm was full of the smell of cooking food and the noise of shouting students. Everyone had their own preferences and it made for an odd time with everyone trying to account for it. Faced with being elbowed by Mina, who was climbing over Tsuyu, Shinsou instead chose to escape to the free seat next to Izuku. He stared stubbornly at the floor.
“Ey, Shinsou-san!” Suddenly Kaminari leant over the back of the couch, with a wooden spoon in one hand that dripped with sauce, and wedged himself in between the two of them. “What do you want for dinner?”
Suddenly faced with keeping his self imposed silence and getting something completely random for dinner, Shinsou muttered his answer. He could see Izuku’s grinning face in the periphery of his vision and the longer he tried to ignore him the bigger it got.
“Alright, alright.” He relented. “It’s better here.”
The city of Musutafu was burning.
Although he’d known that his appearance would be contentious, Karma had a strange sinking feeling in his gut. Perhaps they were overreacting- he thought. Shigaraki had flicked on the TV set in the main room. His gleeful expression from the last couple of days hardly fading. More and more people from the dredges of the bottom of society were finding ways to get in contact with the League or even starting shit in public when that avenue was shut to them. Riots had broken out. Businesses were shuttering their doors and windows and leaving for less aggressive parts of the country. Currently being shown on the screen was two groups of protestors, one calling for a serious review of the hero system after they let a dangerous criminal such as Karma through U.A.’s doors, and the other calling for more rescue efforts. Clearly he was being blackmailed or threatened into staying with them. There in the crowd. A girl with pineapple hair. A kid with more teeth than face. Karma could feel the tingles of memories locked away from the other Karma. Did he recognize the group? He wasn’t sure. Toga’s sniggering laughter echoed in his head.
He stumbled through the building, unfocused and not sure where he was going- just that he needed to be away. “Calm down.” He muttered under his breath. “Don’t have a panic attack just because some people you don’t know are angry.”
It was more than just that, though, and he knew it. Everything was too much of too much, fizzing in the background of his brain as he juggled more and more. Shigaraki had to die. Kayano needed to be rescued. The U.A. kids needed a mentor that wasn’t a useless adult- god where was Korosensei when you needed him?
Black boots, surrounded by a flowing black cape. Worried golden eyes peered out from the shadows underneath it. He hadn’t realized he’d been staring so hard at the ground until Tokoyami was practically on top of him.
“I need you to take a deep breath, slowly.”
Tokoyami’s hands gripped his shoulders, anchoring him in reality and cutting through the great swath of fuzz threatening to cloud his brain. Together they breathed. In and out. Karma hadn’t realized how much he needed to just stop and slow down but the solid wall of the future in his mind was insurmountable- for now. But he had weapons and friends and allies. There weren’t tears in his eyes but had he been anyone else there could have been.
Picking his head up of his arms where he’d been napping on a half-working kotatsu, Karma raised a questioning eyebrow at Shigaraki. The man stormed into the room, kicking the sliding door aside with his foot, and put his foot on the tabletop near Karma’s head. He was angry. Spittingly even. His hands shook with a surprising amount of restraint.
“What is it?”
“Take Magne and Tokoyami and head out to the residential sector. There’s some rats I need you to exterminate.”
Rats? He wondered what could possibly warrant Shigaraki’s personal attention. After collecting his associates they took a small, beaten up old car deeper into the city. Magne chatted aimlessly as she drove- about the little things that she noticed on the way. Lost kids. A sale at a store. A good place to hide from the police when you were on the run. Karma stared out of the window, as if he wasn’t paying any attention. He dragged his feet from the car when they pulled up outside the scene of the devastation.
There were heroes gathered outside the building they’d been asked to check on. A huge dragon was holding down a massive man in a bird mask and the police were barking orders at each other. As far as he could tell, however, there was no one that Karma recognized on sight. It was hard to tell through the throngs of people. Magne was already on the move, slipping amongst the crowded street towards a back alley, and for a few seconds longer Karma watched the strangers work. Then, quietly, he followed the villain.
“Where are we, Magne?”
“A yakuza hideout.” She said, slipping through the piles of trash that had built up in the alley. “They’ve been sniffing at Shigaraki’s heels recently for stirring shit up.”
“So aren’t we going to let the heroes take care of them?”
They vaulted the stone wall easily, Magne hauling her large magnet up with her and Karma using the opposite wall to spring over. Tokoyami used Dark Shadow, strengthened by the darkness of the alleyway.
“Of course. But we’re going to cause a little havoc as well.”
Already he could hear the rumble of quirks being used underneath them. They crept through the old fashioned building until they found the entrance that would take them further inside. It must have been hidden at one point in time, but the door had slid away. At any moment they could come across a yakuza thug or a hero. Karma’s heart beat a dent in his chest- though it was nothing compared to the sound of the explosions underneath them.
The ground shook, getting stronger with each wave the deeper they went underground. Magne’s teeth chattered comically as she feigned nerves. He wondered if she was doing it for his sake, as if she could make the whole affair lighter. Eventually the pathways began to branch out into an intersection which meant that they had to make a decision.
“Hey Karma-kun, what way do you think we should go?” She glanced back and forth between the three pathways, her fingers tapping anxiously on the giant magnet strapped to her back.
“What is it that we’re looking for?”
“They have a lab somewhere in here. Something to do with a quirk drug. Twice and Toga-chan have been working with them the last couple of days.”
So that was why he hadn’t seen them. Karma supposed he should be keeping a better track of the people he had decided needed to die. He glanced between the three corridors and shrugged.
“There are three of us, and three ways to go. Just try not to get caught and break everything you see- right?”
Magne cackled, practically throwing her head back with mirth over it. “You got it!” She waved them off and promised to meet them outside once it was all over.
However, instead of Tokoyami and Karma separating, he turned to the boy and grinned. “I can’t believe she fell for that. Like I’d let you wander around some yakuza scumbag’s basement on your own.”
Tokoyami nodded politely, infinitely grateful that he wasn’t actually going to be asked to traverse the web of corridors. Next to him Karma paced back and forth thoughtfully.
“So, the heroes are already down there. None of these side doors have been broken open…” He turned to look down the very center hallway, then began to stride forwards with a purpose. “They knew what they were looking for. Come on, let’s catch up.”
None of the doors or entrances seemed to have been touched the entire way down and the further they travelled the more on edge Karma became. He’d been somewhere like it before, a lifetime ago. Some mob boss’s private stomping ground. They always managed to worm themselves deep into the city’s inner workings. Like rats. Finally they came across a damaged wall and a warped and broken inner room. The heroes had been by there and judging by the destruction they didn’t go quietly.
“What are the chances we get exactly where we need to be?”
Karma’s quirk crackled and buzzed in the back of his head, it’s long tendril fingers taking hold of him. He found himself being pulled forwards by an urge.
“Lead the way, Karma-san.” Said Tokoyami.