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It’s gonna be the future soon, and I won’t always be this way

Chapter Text

Considering his school life, Karma had every possible method of assassination covered. Not to mention, his cute teacher boyfriend was one of the scariest little fuckers he'd ever met. Consequently, it meant his security detail was one of the best put together -- and as one of the up and coming, most powerful people in Japan, he needed all the security he could get.

 

Although, fate was always a fickle mistress. When he protected that E-class guy and his backstabbing teacher threw him under the bus, losing the exam race the first time (and getting Koro-sensei to go all hardass on him), or in the end when, even with all their efforts, they couldn't save their teacher.

 

Despite his car being flanked by non-descript police, despite heavy monitoring and bullet proof windows and bodyguards on his sides, these things couldn’t stop an out of control semi truck that careened down the highway towards them. And, in the last few seconds of consciousness, as his body snapped to the side in angles it was never meant to bend in, Karma hoped that Nagisa would be okay without him.

 

—-

 

He awoke to a frantic beeping alarm. It was the same one he'd used in Kunigigaoka, and he pondered its existence while rolling over in bed to stare at the blurry object. Slowly, he sat up, taking in the bare room around him. It was decorated sparsely, but to his tastes, with a simple desk and chair and the small bed he sat in pushed up against a corner. At first, he suspected kidnapping. Some sort of revenge plot against him for some slight. But, when he stood up to get a good look at himself at the full length mirror on the closet doors, he was shocked to see that somehow he was no longer the strapping politician he'd grown up to be. Instead, he was in that awkward 15 year old stage again. All long limbs and pudgy, baby face. He scowled at his reflection, then tried to get a better look at his body.

 

Maybe some asshole is using some kind of projection to make the reflection look false? He thought, poking himself in his stomach and lamenting how he'd have to get back into training to get rid of the cute pudge around his middle.

 

But the more he looked, the more Karma couldn't find a way to deny what had happened to him. He was young again.

 

“Karma-kun! Hurry up and get ready, you have to take the U.A. application in today!”

 

His head whipped towards the open door of his room. His mum was home? Since when? Karma glanced around and grabbed a sheet of paper that was sitting conspicuously at his desk. He had intended to leave a note and make a break for it out the window, thinking that if it really was his mum she'd appreciate the message, but the paper looked extremely official and important. There was a seal stamped on one corner and everything.

 

“U.A.?” He mumbled to himself, scanning the application form in front of him. It was for a school, that much was obvious, but the fields were filled in strangely. What exactly was a quirk?

 

“Karma! You're going to be late!” His mum stuck her head around the door to his room and Karma startled to see her so young looking.

 

“R-right.” He mumbled, trying not to stare at her. There was no grey streaking her dark red hair, no pinched laugh lines around her eyes, or thin skin around her cheeks and eyes.

 

She smiled softly at him, then strode across the room in two swift steps. His mother was only a few inches taller than him, but tall enough that he had to tilt his head back to look her in the eyes. She was still smiling when she dropped a pile of clothes directly onto his head. It was a simple tracksuit, black with a couple of white stripes for decoration, and clearly designed for high athletic activity. It was nothing like the PE uniform he’d worn in 3-E.

 

“Get dressed, and don’t forget your paperwork!” His mother left him alone to his thoughts and headed downstairs.

 

Filled with a confusion he knew he wouldn’t be able to get rid of for a long time, Karma jammed the tracksuit on quickly and grabbed the application off of the desk. A phone sat nearby on a wireless charger so he grabbed that too and shoved it into a pocket. When he got downstairs his mum forced breakfast on him before they were off in a blur of motion, and more confusion, and were in the car and on their way. Karma knew that there was only a small window of time to cram as much information into the car journey as possible and was on his phone searching the internet for the past few years worth of information. It turned into more like 200 years of information.

 

By the time the car pulled to a stop, Karma was rooted to the screen and was loathe to actually leave the vehicle. At least he’d figured out what U.A. was and what quirks were. He had no idea how he was supposed to use his, and was banking on his body knowing what to do when the time came. There were so many descriptions of powerful quirks- he felt outmatched, outgunned, and very ready to completely destroy his competition.

 

—-

 

There was a boy near him in the crowd muttering to himself, quite anxiously going over strategies if Karma had any indication. It was pretty cold, so the muttered was jogging in place with his hands held up near his mouth. The practical exam had yet to start but Karma could already feel the tension running through the crowd. Defeating villains, racking up points. This whole thing seemed exactly like the sort of cockamamie test Koro-sensei would have come up with it. The green haired boy looked like he was about to approach someone, but was stopped by the loud kid with the glasses- and goddamn engines in his legs, what was up with that- and looked like he was about to burst into tears.

 

“Goddamnit.” Karma muttered. The crowd was already beginning to whisper, and their quiet, judging, jeers were getting his hackles up. Karma brought himself up to his full height, already feeling the shout build up in his throat. “Hey! Don’t go looking down on someone just ‘cause you think they’re beneath you.”

 

He and the glasses wearing kid were about the same height, which meant that when Karma sneered- looking down his nose with his hands jammed in his pockets- their eyes locked across the crowd. The other guy’s chest puffed out, looking like he was about to try and clock Karma one, when the practical suddenly began.

 

“Lucky me~! I’m just saying, you might want to watch out for the little ones. They tend to surprise you.”

 

Used to Koro-sensei’s bullshit, Karma was the first one through the gates when Present Mic was explaining to the crowd about there being no countdowns in real life. He vaulted over the top of one of the one point robots, snagging a handful of exposed wiring on his way down that sent it careening into a wall, and carried on running quickly to the center of the fake city.

 

There really was a huge variety of people gathered here. A laser shot past him at one point, glittering like the sun’s rays, and that engine kid was speeding around and taking out enemies like they were nothing. Karma had no time to be standing around admiring their techniques and strange abilities though, because he really was putting Koro-sensei’s training to the limit here. He only had his physical body to go off of, unlike the super powered kids around him, but despite that he had racked up a fair few points of his own. The robot enemies had some seriously flawed build quality. Itona could have made better ones in his sleep with access to the right stuff. It meant that Karma had managed to jack one of the robots and was riding the back of it, howling with glee, while it smashed more of them out of his way.

 

That was when the massive zero point enemy got involved, the little green haired kid destroyed his fucking legs, and Karma had to yank an injured girl out of the way of falling metal parts.

 

“Throw me!” She all but screamed at him, as the green haired kid began to fall extremely quickly.

 

It took all of his strength to launch her, even with her strange quirk active, but she caught the kid with it at the very last second. Her hand smacked his outstretched one and the two hero hopefuls floated bare inches from the solid concrete. Karma wanted nothing more than to drop to the floor himself and laugh at the sheer absurdity of all of it- floating kids, kids with engines in their legs, kids with wing arms and bird heads. He was too old for this shit. He was feeling pretty content, however, as even with a couple of broken bones and some nausea, the two seemed just fine.

 

After the hectic pace of the physical exam, the paper test portion of it was almost a relief. A solid portion of it was all maths and English - things Karma had aced during his time at Kunigigaoka- but, at the same time, a lot of the History sections were on quirks and wars that he had no clue about. He made a few guesses and filled in things he’d remembered from his cram session during the car ride, but there was no way to know exactly what he’d gotten right until the results came in. The tension, the fear of failure, emotions over tests he hadn’t felt since he was in school- it made Karma grit his teeth angrily. It was like coming into a battle with your worst foe unprepared.

 

He left the testing facility with a heavy heart. This version of himself’s dreams were so easy to see, he would hate it if one day he found out how to go back to his own dimension and this Karma was left with nothing because of his mistakes. That was if he could even go back. His memories of the moments before waking up here were fuzzy at best. Karma bit his thumbnail anxiously, his mind a whirl of what his next steps should be.

 

“Excuse me!” Suddenly, someone was rushing up to him. It was the green haired kid from before and was waving quite animatedly. “Hello! Um, my name is Midoriya Izuku- I’m really thankful to you for standing up for me earlier!”

 

Izuku dropped into a low bow, making Karma chuckle a little uncomfortably and rub the back of his neck. His short stature, wild coloured hair and nervous demeanor reminded him of Nagisa- before his partner in crime came into himself. It made him realize he missed Nagisa desperately. The possibility of never seeing him again weighed on him like a rock on his shoulders. He kept the emotions back, sealed off behind a confident smirk he’d mastered many years ago.

 

I don’t have to think about it now. I can deal with it later.

 

“Hey, it’s no big deal really. You just reminded me of someone is all.” Karma stuck his hand out when Izuku came out of his bow. “Akabane Karma. Pleasure.”

 

Izuku stared at his outstretched hand for a second, then shook it gently. “Still. Thanks anyway, Akabane-san.”

 

 

At home, Karma took his dinner up to his room and spent the next week reading as much information from the internet as possible. History, quirks, geography, heroes and villains past. He found a figurine of one of the popular heroes- a powerful looking man that went by All Might- stuffed in the back of a drawer behind a pile of too small clothes. Something must have made him angry, to shove it away like that, and Karma spends a moment staring at it. While he had no personal attachment to the object, the other Karma had.

 

There was so much to take in about the world and it’s workings that he missed Koro-sensei all over again. Thinking about Koro-sensei made him think about everyone else from 3-E; Terasaka, Kayano, Isogai. Everyone. And Nagisa, all over again.

 

Karma leant against the door to his room and sank heavily to his knees on the floor. The figure fell from his limp hands. He banged his head softly against the wood behind him, trying to stave off the choking sadness that swelled up in his throat and heart. It felt like he was drowning, his breath getting shorter and sharper with each heave of his chest. Heavy, wet tears rolled down his cheeks.

 

This hero thing had better play out.

 

What sort of a useless superpower was luck, anyway?

Chapter Text

The first rays of sunlight woke Karma up. He’d forgotten to pull the blinds down over his windows after staying awake for so long the previous night, so when they burst through the clouds they fell right across his face. Blinking the sleep away, he rubbed the heels of his hands against his aching eyes. Downstairs smelt strongly of coffee, so he followed that all the way to where his mum was making a pretty spectacular looking breakfast. She finished up and sat at the end of the table while Karma swigged his coffee until he felt more like a human being again. He was pretty sure she was vibrating where she sat.

 

“Come on, Karma! Let’s see how you did!”

 

Looking innocuous in front of him was a nondescript, white envelope. The only thing marking it as important was the return address on the back, and the wax seal over the flap. Karma felt his breath grind to a halt at the sight of the U.A. logo stamped into it. He took knocked back the last of the coffee and peeled apart the sealed letter.

 

Inside was a strange, circular device and a letter. The object looked like a flattened speaker, but, when he prodded it, it began to buzz to life and projected a huge screen against the closest wall. It showed a tired looking man wearing loose black clothes, with a large scarf of grey fabric covering most of his shoulders and half of his face. Karma tilted his head to the side, trying to see the back of the projection. It seemed far too advanced for such a little device. Then, the man cleared his throat and began reading from a sheet of paper he held loosely in one hand.

 

“Akabane Karma, you may know me as the hero Eraserhead. I’m one of U.A.’s teachers. You passed the written test with a score of 87, and the physical test with a villain score of 24 and a hero score of 20- this means that you have been accepted into U.A.’s Hero course. Congratulations. Your acceptance letter has details on where to get your uniform and what equipment you’ll need. We’ll see you at the beginning of term, 7am sharp.”

 

The screen flickered and died and suddenly Karma could breathe again. His mum tackled him from the side, almost throwing him from the chair that he sat on, and crushed him in an enthusiastic hug.

 

“Oh, Karma well done!” She babbled against him, the two rocking back and forth with her gleeful wiggling.

 

Karma sat there, the acceptance letter shaking a little in his hand. It was almost unbelievable. He had a feeling he’d barely scraped through, but he wasn’t about to lay back and coast through the next few years. Koro-sensei would be disappointed if he did.

 

“Hey mum, let’s go get ready.”

 

—-

 

“Hey, Karma?”

 

Soft, bare skin touched his. Nagisa’s hands ran across his pale chest and rolled on top of him. Their legs tangled together. Light blue hair tickled Karma’s neck.

 

“What’s up?”

 

“Let’s get married.”

 

A tiny smile pushed at the corners of Karma’s mouth. He buried his face against Nagisa’s head and breathed in their combined scent from his sweat slicked hair.

 

“Of course- you hardly had to ask. I can never say no to you.”

 

—-

 

Arriving early at the classroom, Karma realized there were already a few people there purely by the noise that was coming from behind the cracked open door. Someone was squealing with glee- or possibly murdering a rabbit, he wasn’t sure which. For a beat he wondered if he could just quit right then and there, but he steeled himself and slid through the door.

 

Slowly, more and more people began to filter into the classroom. The screaming earlier was from a bright pink skinned girl with tiny, curly horns who introduced herself as Mina. Karma took a seat near the back of the classroom and watched the crowd of kids introduce themselves to each other. Even Izuku eventually came through the door, something that made him sigh quietly with relief, and the glasses-wearing kid actually apologized for what he’d said before. He was in the middle of chopping his hands through the air like he was trying to slice the very molecules of it, when a man wrapped in a bright orange sleeping bag wriggled his way into the room.

 

Karma recognized him as the hero that had sent the acceptance letter, but the screen must have hidden his true emotions because coming from Eraserhead was waves of pure killing intent. It made Karma shiver, a wicked smile stretching his features. No one else in the class felt anything even close to this sort of bloodlust- not even the aggressive kid in the corner with the spiky blond hair.

 

He introduced himself and made the students pass around plastic packages containing a gym uniform.

 

“Put those on and shove off to the training ground.”

 

—-

 

It was just his luck that the first thing they were ever going to do in school was a quirk apprehension test. Karma still wasn’t sure how he was even supposed to turn on his quirk, let alone how to use it situationally. It looked like Izuku was having similar troubles, because the boy had started shaking almost as soon as Aizawa-sensei had started talking about quirks. The blond kid with the dull bloodlust had shot the ball an obnoxious distance- but it looked like Karma was the only one that had been able to keep track of it. He grit his teeth and hoped that whatever Koro-sensei had taught him would come in handy here as well.

 

With the threat of expulsion looming over their heads, Karma put his all into the middle school style strength tests. The other students had such a wild array of quirks and abilities  he couldn’t help but watch them with close fascination. It was like a whole classroom of Koro-sensei like people. Eventually, however, with Izuku trembling somewhere nearby, Karma couldn’t help but speak up.

 

“So sensei- how would you go about doing these tests?”

 

Aizawa-sensei perked up when he was addressed, and fixed Karma with a steely look. “What do you mean? I don’t have to.”

 

“Oh~ So you couldn’t do them to the same standard you’re asking us to? Interesting.”

 

Aizawa-sensei’s glare became cruel and aggressive, and Karma met it head on. His grin grew even wider as he realized he had a new target of his bloodlust. The rest of the class had turned to look at them and whispers were beginning to travel.

 

“Akabane Karma, huh? What makes you think you have the skills to become a hero? You haven’t exactly displayed anything of note, yet.”

 

“Well, all this school’s tests have been a little bit one sided so far. All this combat and strength oriented stuff- it only benefits people with flashy, show-off-y quirks doesn’t it? One of us here only can only turn invisible. Would you have even passed the entrance exam, sensei?”

 

Aizawa-sensei was quiet for a moment, seemingly taking in Karma’s words. Suddenly, he unfurled the coils of capture tape around his shoulders and pushed the hidden, bright yellow goggles onto his face.

 

“All right.” He said, dropping into a fighting stance. “If you’re so confident in your skills as a hero, landing a single hit on me should be no problem.”

 

Karma’s answering smile was more a baring of sharpened canines, his golden eyes flashing in the morning light dangerously. He sauntered towards Aizawa-sensei, both hands in his uniform pockets, seeming for all the world as nonchalant as possible.

 

“I don’t have an issue with that, Aizawa-sensei.” Withdrawing his hand from his pocket, Karma glanced at the object he held in it and, bare seconds away from reaching Aizawa-sensei, launched the rock at full speed past the man’s head.

 

Aizawa-sensei barely flinched, moving his head to the side to allow the rock to pass, but his eyes tracked it’s motion. It allowed Karma to dash forward and right into the hero’s defense. He cupped his hands and slammed them together right as Aizawa-sensei’s attention turned back to him- and right in front of his face to boot. The shock of it trembled through his body, making his legs feel weak, and this time the hero actually flinched. 

 

The force of Karma’s follow-up punch to his chin blew Aizawa-sensei off of his feet. When the dust settled from his painful landing, the man was actually laughing quietly. “Where did you learn to do that, kid?”

 

In response, Karma could only stick his tongue out innocently. His knuckles were beginning to sting and Aizawa-sensei’s chin was beginning to bruise. Rubbing it, he pushed himself to his feet and shook his head lightly.

 

“All right, fine. I’ll admit these tests- and the entrance exam- are biased towards people with combat quirks. And no, I probably wouldn’t have passed the entrance exam. It was a logical ruse, to push you into doing your best.”

 

“So you weren’t planning on expelling anyone?!” Someone shouted from the back of the gathered students. Angry mutters followed quickly.

 

“Not quite- I’ll expel anyone who shows a zero percent chance of success. But, what was it you said during the entrance exam Akabane?”

 

“Don’t go looking down on someone, just because you think they’re beneath you.”

 

Aizawa-sensei ruffled Karma’s hair as he walked past and back to the other students. The muttering had become more thoughtful and less angry. They finished their exercises, with Izuku managing to only break his finger this time, and when the results came back Karma had to laugh. There he was, right down at the very last spot. Izuku was somewhere near the middle-bottom, after his quirk induced launch had affected his median. However, when they got back to class, Karma found himself quite the center of attention.

 

“What’s your quirk, anyway?”

 

“You have combat experience!”

 

“Fucking spar with me already!”

 

The class was much livelier than 3-E at the beginning of their term, and even though it wasn’t quite the same it still felt like home. Karma’s eyes slid across the students gathered and he found himself staring at the green haired kid whose notebook was already beginning to fill up with questions.

 

—-

 

Karma woke with a start, his panicked and gasping breath dying on his throat. His hands clasped hard around his arms and checked his body down for injuries but found none. His dreams had been plagued with the feeling of a truck plowing into his car, his last few moments playing over and over again like torture. Running his hands through his damp hair, Karma pushed himself from under the bed covers and padded into the bathroom next door. He was alone in the house and had been for the last few weeks. When he’d gotten home from orientation at U.A. he’d found a letter from his mum stuck to the fridge underneath a gaudy, plastic smiley face magnet.

 

Dear Karma

 

I’ve gone to join your dad at the conference in America- he can’t handle all of these people by himself so I have to save him!! Since you’re an adult now, we didn’t call the nanny but her number is in the phone book by the door. If you need any help, you can call her! Good luck at school

 

Love you,

Mum

 

She had no way of knowing that he’d been taking care of himself for more than twenty years at that point, but the fact that she still left him alone stung some. It seemed that his parents were the same no matter what strange dimension he ended up in.

 

In the bathroom, Karma shoved his whole head underneath the freezing cold tap water and let it drown out the angry thoughts plaguing him. With his head sufficiently soaking, he found himself staring his reflection in the mirror down. The Karma in the mirror was a stranger to him. There was no scar on his neck where Nagisa had accidentally thrown a knife at him when he’d snuck up on the man in their kitchen. His pupils gently contracted in the light to points, like cat’s eyes.

 

When his heartbeat had finally slowed down to where he no longer felt like he was going to have an attack, Karma headed downstairs and switched on the large TV set into the wall of his sitting room. He flicked through movies, cartoons, pop media until he settled on the news and zoned out to the hero of the day’s latest exploits.

 

—-

 

“Hey Karma?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Did you ever think we’d end up like this, when you were younger?”

 

“Like this? Like what?” Karma leant over Nagisa’s shoulders, resting his chin on his new husband’s head. Their suit jackets were slung over the back of a couch somewhere. Karma’s shirt had been mostly unbuttoned and was hanging precariously off of his shoulders. “I mean I knew you’d be short forever-“

 

“Hey!” Nagisa swatted him with his hands and pushed Karma backwards, onto the bed. “I meant...married.”

 

“Nah. I didn’t even realize I loved you until you tried to kill me that first time.”

 

“The fight, over Koro-sensei?”

 

“Yeah. You had me pinned to the floor, seriously trying to strangle me to death and I thought- if I could marry anyone in the world, right now. It’d have to be him.”

 

—-

 

It was a little difficult pretending to be bored out of his mind, while also trying to take in every single bit of information presented. To the other students the classes were normal- boring- but to Karma they presented valuable insight into the new world he found himself in. The geography hadn’t changed much, he found, but the landmarks were completely different. He had two hundred years of history to catch up on and a new class to ascend the ranks on. Quickly he realized his main competition was a girl called Yaoyorozu who had an extremely powerful quirk, judging by the way she could create pencils and pens for the other students at a moment’s notice.

 

He also had to design some sort of hero uniform, but the only things coming to mind were old school golden age caped crusaders and his old PE uniform. There was no way he was showing up to class in red and blue spandex. Not only would he look like a knockoff All Might, it was embarrassing. In front of him, Izuku’s pencil scratched aggressively over his notebook. It seemed the kid already had a plan in mind for his and was a pretty decent artist to boot.

 

“Hey. Hey. Midoriya.” Karma whispered, leaning forward to prod Izuku with the end of his pencil.

 

“What’s up, Akabane-san?”

 

“You’re a good artist, would you give me a hand?”

 

Izuku glanced up at the front of the classroom, where Aizawa-sensei seemed to have fallen asleep at his desk, and pulled his chair around to face Karma properly.

 

“Let’s see what we can do!”

 

Karma Akabane as a hero

 

When they were finished with their quiet muttering and sketching, Izuku sat back with a questioning look on his face. “What does the E stand for?” He asked.

 

”End.”

Chapter Text

“You said your quirk was luck, right?”

 

They were cleaning the classroom when Izuku asked him, a mop clenched tightly in both of his hands. Karma was cleaning off the blackboard with Sero and the boy edged closer as if he was trying to make it look like he wasn’t listening in on their conversation.

 

“Probability manipulation, actually. And, if I’m honest, I’m not sure how it works still.” Karma shrugged, finishing off cleaning the last of Midnight-sensei’s chemistry lesson. He’d practically slept through that one as well.

 

Izuku hummed. “So it’s not like things just go your way?”

 

“They go my way because I’m just that good.” With a quick wink, he left the classroom before their questions could get any more personal. They asked enough questions about his skills at fighting while they were sparring.

 

He headed to the school’s gym, instead of heading back to his empty home, and discovered that the aggressive blond kid had also had a similar idea. He was pushing himself to the limit on one of the mechanical weight sets, his arms straining against it, as no one was around to spot for him. While Karma was getting ready for his own workout, Bakugou grunted a short greeting at him.

 

They worked out in silence together, Bakugou increasing the amount of weight on his own machine slowly, a challenge in the boy’s bright red eyes. Karma took it with a smirk, upping the weight on his own to match. This version of himself had clearly been slacking in the workout department and it was taking him longer than he’d have liked to get to the same point he had been when he was in 3-E. He almost missed his days as a delinquent, at least then he was in shape.

 

Bakugou added another weight and Karma had to admit defeat. There was no way for him to keep up at his current level. When he slowly let the grips go back to their default position, Bakugou grinned at him.

 

“Got tired of the nerd squad?” He asked, breath coming harder and harder until even he had to let the weights go.

 

“It’s been a long day.”

 

—-

 

The first time Karma mistook Ashido for Nakamura, he had been at the front of the classroom, passing out worksheets, and her rambunctious laughter had been infectious. He’d seen her from the corner of his eyes, white easily seen as blonde with the sunlight bouncing through the windows, and for a long moment he really had been fifteen years old again.

 

“Don’t fuck it up this time, Nakamura.” He’d chuckled, reading the sheet as he held it out to her. As soon as the words had slipped out of his mouth, he’d cringed.

 

“Who’s Nakamura?” She asked, taking her worksheet from him.

 

“Sorry.” He muttered, “she was an old friend of mine from- from middle school. You’re very similar.”

 

Mina grinned, poking both of her cheeks to make her smile even brighter. “Is she as pretty as me?”

 

“Prettier- sorry, Ashido!”

 

The second time was when they were outside, paired off to spar loosely with each other. She was fighting some kid with a bird head, bouncing across the field like it was made of rubber and Karma found his attention split between her and his own opponent- not a problem for him, with how long he’d been fighting for compared to the kids around him- but his mood plummeted quickly. Mina was not Nakamura. She never would be, and she was not a replacement for his friend.

 

—-

 

Despite Karma’s best attempts at separating class 3-E and 1-A, it became even more difficult when All Might began teaching their class. A large, extremely fast yellow themed man? It was like this universe was out to get him again. Every blur of yellow motion in the outside of his vision made Karma twitch.

 

There was something strange about him though, even as he dashed across the classroom to meet each student individually, Karma could see him favouring his right side. It was almost imperceptible, the way the man’s hand just barely ghosted over his abdomen whenever he bent over a desk.

 

Karma’s hand itched for a weapon.

 

His teacher had a weakness- that weakness could be exploited.

 

Desperately he wanted to test All Might’s limits. The videos he’d seen online showed that the hero could move incredibly quickly, leap large distances and take extremely powerful hits with barely a flinch. But he wasn’t Koro-sensei. For a start the teacher was obviously very new to the job- he struggled to explain parts of hero law to Momo in a way that didn’t need translation from the legalese he’d memorized a long time ago.

 

So, instead of falling into the trap of memory lane, Karma threw himself into his studies. There were so many laws to do with quirk use in public, the distinction between heroes and vigilantes, ethical means of taking out villains, even support items, his head was boggling with it. As he was trying to memorize a particularly intricate passage on a legal battle that had happened fifty years ago (Mori V Wade, a civilian had been mistaken for a villain on the basis of their quirk being entirely visual but potentially destructive and the hero had nearly killed them), All Might’s large hand settled on his head.

 

“It is all right, young Akabane! You have many years ahead of you to learn this. Take your time.”

 

Karma fought back tears in the corners of his eyes. His breath caught a little, enough to make Izuku turn around curiously, but he smiled it away.

 

“No worries, teach.”

 

—-

 

The class was assembled outside of a false building, listening to All Might explain their lesson. A challenge between a team of heroes and villains where the heroes had to capture the fake nuclear weapon or subdue the enemy. All Might jumbled up the teams in two boxes and shoved his hands in. Tension ran through the class, each student leaning imperceptibly forward as the broad shouldered man pulled out two plastic balls.

 

“Team A- Akabane Karma and Midoriya Izuku, vs Team D- Bakugou Katsuki and Iida Tenya!”

 

Beside him, Izuku stilled. The boy’s previous excitement drained from his body like the blood from his face, leaving him pale and nervous, and Karma gripped his shoulder tightly.

 

“Midoriya- I have a plan. Hear me out.”

 

—-

 

As they’d predicted, Bakugou came for them. Izuku slipped away before the blond boy could see him leave, disappearing around the corridor corner quietly.

 

“Where’s fucking Deku?!” Bakugou snarled, his whole face scrunching up in anger.

 

Karma did nothing. Bakugou brought his hands up, sparks igniting across the skin of his palms, but still Karma didn’t react. With an inhuman bark Bakugou threw himself forwards. He barrelled down the corridor at full speed, pulling back his right hand into a fist, his left thrown out behind him, and blasted himself upwards that last few feet- but Karma was used to the Mach 20 Monster. Bakugou’s movements were sluggish compared to Koro-sensei’s.

 

He stepped back, letting Bakugou carve himself a pit into the stone floor with the force of his blast. The crater was still smoking when he pulled himself from it and rounded on Karma. The dark, hooded cape at Karma’s back fluttered in the breeze.

 

“Stay still so I can blast you into the ground!”

 

Karma didn’t even pull his hands from his pockets, letting Bakugou do all the work as the boy threw himself forward with all of his strength. The concussive blasts that came from the palms of Bakugou’s hands left blackened marks on the stone walls around them and a faint ringing in Karma’s ears. He bobbed and weaved underneath each wide attack until Bakugou was left sweating and panting.

 

“You know,” Finally, Karma began to speak. “You’re never going to get anywhere acting like that.”

 

“Hah?! The fuck are you talking about?”

 

“Your attacks, while very much indicative of your personality, waste too much energy. You always lead with your right, and your center of gravity is badly off. If I hit you, it wouldn’t matter how strong you are because you’d fall right over.”

 

Bakugou drew himself up to his full height, anger pouring out of him in almost tangible waves. “Shut the fuck up, you damn nerd! Tell me where Deku went!”

 

“You’re boring me, Bakugou. Are you even serious about becoming a hero?”

 

The question made the boy pause. His brows furrowed, eyes narrowing to angry slits. “Of course I fucking am, I’m here aren’t I?”

 

“Being just here is hardly going to be enough.” He’d seen the way this world worked. Popularity polls and flashy heroes with flashy quirks; only the best supposedly became the top, but it really boiled down to what the public thought of you. “As soon as you get out of here, I can tell how it’s going to go. You’ll get into the first fight you can get your hands on, injure someone, and end up in jail or worse- a villain.”

 

“I’m never going to be a fucking villain !”

 

“Really? Because the way you’re trying to beat up on another student because he pisses you off? Real heroic.

 

Snarling, Bakugo brought his gauntlet covered hand up. He gripped a metal ring on the side of it and the comms between the groups and All Might crackled into life, the hero’s voice sounding panicked as he demanded that Bakugou reign himself in.

 

“If he’s so confident, then he won’t die!”

 

Just before he pulled the trigger, Karma grinned. During the whole battle a static feeling had been running down his spine, like anxiety or anticipation, and as Bakugou pulled the pin away it came to an electric head. Something big was coming.

 

“Hey, Bakugou? What’s the probability your gauntlets backfire on you?”

 

When the smoke and dust cleared from the air, and the rubble finished falling around them, Karma had finally taken his hands from his pockets. He wiped soot away from his forehead and grimaced at the black stain of it across his glove. Bakugou had been blown clear through the wall, the shock from the gauntlets blown backwards, leaving a huge hole up the side of the building. He groaned weakly. With long, quick strides Karma stood above him and tied the capture tape around his wrists. It was more of a formality than anything, because he was clearly not getting up until Recovery Girl had seen him.

 

“You see what I mean, Bakugou?”

 

Elsewhere, All Might roared into his microphone.

 

“THE HERO TEAM WIIIIIIIN!”

 

—-

 

Earlier.

 

Karma and Izuku scanned the hastily sketched map of the building together. The green haired kid was still worrying his nails with his teeth and Karma was half worried that he was going to pull them off in a fit of anxiety with how hard he was going at it.

 

“Take a deep breath, Midoriya. I told you I have a plan.”

 

“Yeah, but...Kacchan has a way of- of really messing up plans.”

 

Karma pushed the map into Izuku’s hands and stretched his arms and legs quickly. “He’s going to come after you, if he sees you, isn’t he?”

 

“We don’t really see eye to eye. I’m going to be the first person he comes for.”

 

“I know his type.” With a shrug, Karma began heading into the building. Izuku had to jog to keep up with his long strides. “I can handle him, head up to the roof as soon as you see him appear and go for the weapon from the top down. Iida won’t be expecting that.”

 

It didn’t take long for Bakugou to make himself known. Izuku could have heard him coming from miles away, so as soon as the blond boy rounded the corner, with murder written across his face, Izuku ran as fast as his feet would take him. He had faith that Karma’s aggravating presence would keep Bakugou under control. The wind roared through the little rabbit-like antennae of his costume, waving them about madly. He hadn’t realized the building was so tall when he’d seen it from the ground, but he scaled it from an open window all the way to the top.

 

By the time he reached the roof, the battle below was in it’s final stages. The explosion from Bakugou’s gauntlets destroyed half of the building, opening up the way for Izuku to slip inside while Iida was staring in shock at the destruction. Izuku slapped his hands on the large, plastic bomb and grinned when Iida span around to face him.

 

“No way!” Iida’s dismayed voice echoed all the way down to the madly grinning Karma.

 

—-

 

Bakugou was strangely silent for the rest of the day, and most of the way into the next as well. It got to the point where the other red-head in the class had started hanging out with him after realizing the boy wasn’t going to try and blow anyone’s faces off anymore. Karma grinned behind his textbook- it was actually a world history book hidden behind their English textbook because the language hadn’t changed in 200 years and he might as well do something with his time. Their teacher was a loud, blond man whose hair was almost the size of his torso and pointed upwards like a crescent moon. Karma thought he was pretty funny.

 

The silence wasn’t meant to last, however, as Bakugou began getting louder and louder the more the days went on until he was finally back to his usual self. The class seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief when his self imposed reflection ended one morning, when he blew Kaminari’s entire desk up in one violent swing.

 

(He ended up being told to stand outside for an hour to calm down.)

 

Even though there was no way to change Bakugou’s personality completely, Karma did notice that the constant stream of death threats had at least petered out. To compensate though, his language had become increasingly flowery.

 

“I will shove my entire fist so far up your ass all you can taste is my fingers for a fucking week!” He snarled, gripping Sero’s tie so tightly that his knuckles had started turning white.

 

Sero just laughed and tried to pry the boy’s fingers loose. Eventually Kirishima broke them apart, and not once did Bakugou actually attempt to use his quirk on them. He was doing pretty well, if Karma said so himself. The day stretched on with the rabble of the press outside, clamoring for a good look at All Might himself. When the sirens went off during lunch Karma stayed at his table and watched the stream of panicked children run past him. He wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth. With the flow of people going in the opposite direction to him, no one tried to stop him from heading away from the emergency exit and deeper into the building.

 

The faculty lounge was easy enough to find. From the windows overlooking the courtyard, Karma could see most of the teachers wrestling with the press and attempting to keep the student body under control. The huge gates that had previously been barring the way had been destroyed. They were practically obliterated, crumbling and blackened underneath the paparazzi's feet. The teachers had left the lounge’s door open and, as he approached it, he could hear the slow pat of bare feet fade away into the corridor. Karma’s eyes narrowed. There didn’t seem to be anyone around, other than himself, and the faculty lounge was empty. Not quite ignoring the feeling of something being wrong, Karma began to paw through the teacher’s files scattered about the room. He kept his attention split between the door and the information he was looking through.

 

Skimming past teaching plans and answer keys, Karma found himself getting a little frustrated. None of them were stupid enough to leave anything important lying around, the least they could do was give him something interesting to mull over while he pretended to be the perfect student. When he found the USJ teaching plan, however, things started to click together in his mind. Karma carefully put all of the papers back in their places and left to wait outside his homeroom.

 

“Aizawa-sensei. Can I talk to you about something?”

 

The rest of the class had already sat down, but Karma had stayed standing by the door. Aizawa regarded him tiredly. He’d spent the better part of the day wrangling the press and was clearly ready to go home.

 

“Only if it can’t wait for tomorrow.” He yawned, blinking back sleep.

 

“I was watching what happened with the press earlier and I was wondering if you knew anything about what happened to the gates.”

 

Immediately, Aizawa’s tired persona seemed to switch off. His focus narrowed on Karma where he was leaning- apparently completely nonchalant- against the wall of the classroom.

 

“Probably just one of the press’ quirks. We’re working with the police to find out which one of them did it.”

 

Karma hummed underneath his breath and pushed away from the wall. “I’m just a bit worried about something, in regards to it.”

 

“What’s that, Akabane?”

 

“That it was a distraction.”

 

He could feel Aizawa’s thoughtful glare fixed on him for the rest of the day, and by the time he’d let the class go it was starting to really weigh on Karma’s shoulders. Izuku bid him goodbye while he was packing up his books. Ojiro left him the address of the dojo he attended on the weekends, scribbled on the torn off corner of a bit of paper. And, when the rest of the class had left, Aizawa-sensei moved to stand in front of the door.

 

“Explain, Akabane.”

 

“Sensei, don’t tell me you can’t see it. Someone destroys the front doors, the press cause havoc, meaning the lot of you head outside to help- if you’re not hiding something in this building then someone thinks you are.”

Chapter Text

Karma was starting to get very tired of being treated like a child. Aizawa-sensei was doing his best to comfort what he probably thought was a slightly hysterical fifteen year old boy, but was really doing an absolutely terrible job of mollifying a thirty five year old man. He had tried almost every persuasive technique he knew to convince him that there was definitely a danger on the way, even though he had no proof, but all Aizawa-sensei would say was that if anything happened he and the other heroes would handle it. Despite knowing that getting angry would do nothing about the situation, Karma could feel himself getting louder and louder. Eventually, Class 1-B’s teacher stuck his head around the door to see exactly what the hubbub was about and Karma had to admit defeat. He stormed past the teachers and headed home, face burning with reeled in anger.

 

He was glad no one was home when he finally reached the house and slammed every single door he could any time he had to cross one. Going into the kitchen? Slam the door. Getting dinner ready from the fridge? Door slammed. By the time he was seated at the table his emotions had settled, but he was still frustrated by Aizawa-sensei’s seeming lack of concern by the security breach.

 

The next day was the beginning of the weekend, and Karma decided to vent his frustrations by spending time at the dojo that Ojiro had directed him to. He headed there bright and early, when it was just beginning to open up for lessons, and found Bakugou skulking around the entryway as well.

 

“I guess I’m not the only one that had this idea, huh?” Karma asked, holding the door open for the aghast looking boy.

 

“I didn’t-! ...I didn’t realize you’d be here.” He grumbled, but headed inside anyway.

 

Ojiro greeted them warmly, showing them where the changing rooms were and getting them set up with some loaner uniforms. Karma was pretty sure he’d be returning already anyway, but Bakugou seemed ready to crawl out of his skin at any moment. They did a few warmups together, and were led through a few moves, before Ojiro let them loose to practice with the rest of the class. Bakugou immediately gravitated to him.

 

“I had a question, actually.” He said, as they took turns practicing a basic throw. “You said you could tell what I was going to do next when we fought- how?”

 

“Well, it takes a lot of practice.” Karma didn’t really want to mention that it took him at least ten years before he could accurately guess an opponent’s next move based on the position of their feet. “You have to fight a lot of different people and be very good at analysis.”

 

Bakugou looked down at where their feet were nearly touching, his face pensive and pinched, clearly trying to predict where Karma was moving them. A sweeping kick with the side of Karma’s foot swept Bakugou off of his and he hit the floor with a pained noise. He lay there for a moment, scowling, before pushing himself up again.

 

“Would you teach me?”

 

They spent the next few hours working with Ojiro and the other teachers until both of them felt bruised and sweaty and their muscles burned with the effort. Bakugou had quickly realized that without his quirk there were a lot of people that were stronger and more skilled than him- especially in the world of martial arts. Karma had found it particularly hilarious when he’d challenged a huge black belt and was promptly thrown to the ground in seconds. However, he’d pushed himself to his feet, coughing and wheezing, and demanded to be taught the move that the man had used. They left the dojo late into the afternoon, with Bakugou leaning on Karma’s shoulders and retelling his glorious defeat of one of the green belt guys around their age. Ojiro bid them farewell and told them that although he’d see them at school he hoped they’d come back next weekend.

 

With the rest of the day ahead of him, Karma set about getting his shopping done for the rest of the week. He missed being able to drive where he wanted to. Instead he had to walk through the city, gathering more and more plastic bags of food and supplies.

 

“I’m gonna drown under these.” Karma muttered, pulling one of the bigger ones into a better position. He was sitting on a bench outside of a store he’d just left, rearranging the stuff he’d just bought.

 

“Akabane-san? Do you need help?” Suddenly, his load got lighter and he noticed Uraraka hovering anxiously nearby. She’d tapped the bottom of his shopping bags surreptitiously.

 

“Oh, Uraraka. Thank you. Are you out shopping as well?”

 

She nodded, lifting a couple of her own bags. “This place has the best specials on meat.”

 

“Budgeting, huh?” They’d begun to walk home, deciding to stop by Karma’s first as he’d collected the most bags.

 

With a small chuckle, Uraraka rubbed the back of her head with her free hand. “I live alone right now, so I have to use my money wisely.”

 

The city bustled around them, ignoring the two young heroes as they went about their day together. It was so different to where Karma had grown up and yet everything was nostalgic at the same time. There was a spectacular array of people, but the manager’s discount at the corner store was still the best. He bought fresh fish from a man with stripes on his skin that weren’t from a tattoo but the city still smelt of diesel fumes and pressed together people. When they reached Karma’s house, Uraraka stared in wonder at the sheer size of it. Karma invited her inside while he put away his shopping and looked for an insulated bag for hers. He dug through the cupboards in the kitchen, while she pretended she didn’t want to look through all the rooms. It had at least four bedrooms, glossy wooden floors and bromeliad plants taking up space on the bottom of the stair banisters.

 

“You live here with your parents, Akabane-san?”

 

“Not really.” Karma muttered, finally managing to pull out a large bag. “They’re in America right now.”

 

“Mine still live in Mie.”

 

He shook the bag gently in her direction until she finally seemed to snap out of her daze and took it. They chatted for a little longer before Uraraka finally had to leave. Around them, the sun was beginning to set. It cast beautiful red and golden light on the houses around them.

 

“I can call someone to drive you home, you know.” Karma suggested as Uraraka reached the end of his small garden pathway.

 

She flustered immediately, her face going red at the idea of it. “No, no! I’ll be fine I promise! I don’t live too far away from here actually.”

 

“Stay safe.” He said, mouth pinched in a frustrated line. Uraraka’s type was definitely the sort to deny help until she desperately needed it. He was sure she was living just barely within her means, probably in a small apartment and needed the train to get to and from school in the mornings.

 

Perhaps there was more he could do to help, other than sharing budgeting tips from an adult. It was yet another thing to add to the growing list of problems he had to fix. Somehow.

 

—-

 

Early in the morning Aizawa-sensei loaded the whole class onto a bus and told them that they were going to a rescue based training ground a few miles away. Along with their usual teacher, Ishiyama-sensei had been dragged along with them. His large, grey form took up two seats by himself.

 

They were given their hero uniforms to wear, which meant Karma had to pull his cowl off to sit comfortably against the seat of the bus. Bakugou on the other hand, had forgone the last remaining gauntlet as his other was being repaired. Karma ended up near Ashido, who pulled him into conversation with the rest of the class who quickly fell into talking about each other’s quirks and their compatibility with heroics. Asui brought up the similarities between Izuku and All Might’s quirks, which had Karma thinking.

 

“Poor Akabane-kun, his quirk is neither flashy or interesting.” She laughed, the tip of her large tongue sticking out playfully.

 

“Pot meet kettle, Asui.” He grinned and threw the balled up cowl at her. “I think my quirk will be pretty great. When I can figure out how to trigger it properly.”

 

Izuku seemed to jump, his whole attention suddenly focused on Karma. “That’s right! I was thinking about that the other day, you said you felt something different during your fight with- with Kacchan, right?”

 

At the front of the bus, Bakugou twitched but didn’t say anything.

 

“Yeah. Like a...tingling feeling. That’s the best way to describe it. Then his gauntlet blew up in his face.”

 

Izuku bit back an answering laugh to Karma’s wicked smirk. He shook his head lightly, then pulled one of his very worn-out notebooks from the bag that he’d brought with him and flipped through the pages until he reached the back.

 

“I made some notes. I think your quirk might activate like mine, so…”

 

They brought their heads together and began to work on how to use Karma’s quirk, quickly drowning out the rest of the bus trip. It was over far faster than Karma would have liked as he felt they were really making some headway on the problem. The bus rolled to a halt and the group piled out as quickly as they physically could; practically bowling Aizawa-sensei over in their eagerness to finally see the training ground.

 

The building was huge and domed in thick, white walls and inside was a host of simulated and controlled disasters. They met the space hero, Thirteen, and Karma wondered if Uraraka was about to take off into space herself with how excited she’d gotten at the chance to work together with them. Aizawa-sensei had begun explaining the point of the exercise, when a strange black fog began to condense at the center of the building. It sent shivers up Karma’s arms, the fine dusting of hairs stood on end, and his fists clenched instinctively. The same dread that Shiro and the Shinigami had inspired in him ran through his body.

 

Through the fog dozens of people crawled and clawed their way out onto the USJ floor, each with something monstrous about them. Immediately the pro heroes sprung into action. Aizawa-sensei pulled the students behind himself, ordering them to stay together and not move. Ishiyama-sensei dropped his hands to the floor and a huge, stone wall separated the students from the approaching villains. With Thirteen rallying the evacuating students, the group prepared to flee, Aizawa-sensei was already in the thick of it, and with his capture weapon flying he seemed unstoppable.

 

That was when the fog solidified in front of the students, revealing a tall, professionally dressed, man that seemed to be made of the fog itself. Karma felt his heartbeat quicken, adrenaline coursing through his body.

 

“We are here, at this bastion of heroics,” the man was saying, his arms stretched wide in front of the group, “to end the symbol of peace- to kill All Might!”

 

Bakugou and Kirishima reacted first- while Kirishima went low, Bakugou went high. The explosion seemed to scatter the villain, but just for a moment. The fog reformed in seconds and spread, surrounding the students. Desperately, Karma threw himself backwards. The kid’s screams echoed in his ears, there was no way for him to tell what the strange man could do but he wanted nothing of it. When it receded back only Karma, Thirteen, and a dozen other kids were left behind. Below them their teachers were giving their all against the gathering of villains.

 

“Iida-kun, you have to make it back to the school- set off the alarms if you have to. You’re the only one who can make it in time.” Thirteen was already formulating a plan, despite Iida’s trembling form. Uraraka urged him on as well.

 

Disaster struck quickly, however, when the villain used warped Thirteen’s powers back on himself. As the hero crumbled to the floor, his back torn open by his own quirk, Iida ran as fast as his quirk would allow. The warping villain attacked again, his fog stretching out towards the retreating boy.

 

“He has a limit on how far he can send the mist!” Karma called out. “Get him out of here!”

 

Faster than he’d thought she could move, Uraraka dashed in close and slapped the golden bands wrapped around the misty form. He began to rise quickly- but not fast enough. Still the mist raced for Iida. Sero’s tape shot out, sticking firmly to the exposed weak spot, and with a sharp tug the villain was thrown clear. The tape snapped but Karma saw his chance. Inspired by Aizawa-sensei’s masterful use of his capture weapon, he grabbed the end, elbow digging into it further upwards, and pulled hard.

 

“Release him, now!”

 

The combined force of Karma pulling the anchoring tape and Uraraka’s quirk disabling smashed the villain into the solid concrete like a lead balloon, leaving a deep groove in the ground. Something cracked wetly. The student’s joy at their success was short lived, though. Below them, Ishiyama-sensei was barely holding a strange man who seemed to be covered in hands at bay, while again and again he shattered through the cement walls separating him from Izuku and Asui. The two students were doing their best to dodge his wild and unpredictable attacks. There was a horrible, crunching sound. Like a wet paper bag had burst. Karma could smell blood, like molten copper.

 

Aizawa-sensei was pinned to the ground, his limp form pressed underneath a hulking monstrosity. Karma pulled Uraraka behind him and pushed the rest of them closer to the doors.

 

“Stay back.” He muttered. “Stay near Thirteen.”

 

“Akabane-san? What’s going on now?”

 

“Just trust me Uraraka.” He’d begun moving towards the plaza, steps heavy like the world was weighing down on him. “Stay by the doors and don’t look back.”

 

Karma approached the prone form of the mist villain, one ear listening out for Uraraka’s retreating steps, and when she was far enough away he knelt down over the man’s torso.

 

“I thought so. You have solid parts to you.”

 

Thin, yellow eyes opened blearily. They peered up at Karma and widened immediately in fear. He was pretty sure the look on his face rivaled Koro-sensei’s when Shiro had threatened the rest of the class. It was a shame, he thought, that he couldn’t become a burnt-black tentacle monster in times like this.

 

“Let’s find out exactly how solid you are.” His fingers reached out, edging towards the pinned-down villain’s shivering eyes. “Tell me all about your plans.”

 

There was a roar like thunder, the ground shaking underneath the students and villains alike. There was a broad beam of light casting through the blown open doors. It illuminated the wide frame of All Might from behind, his face cast in dark shadows. Karma paused and withdrew his hand where black, ink-like blood splattered up his fingers. Underneath him, the villain’s bowed out back slumped in relief.

 

I...AM HERE .”

 

Blisteringly quickly, faster even than Karma’s eyes could keep track of, All Might swept into the plaza. A wide swing of his arms blew the few less dangerous villains that had gathered closer off of their feet and another, single move collected Izuku, Asui, and Karma, and deposited them near the stairs.

 

“Stay here, please, my students.” He said, and Karma could see the tremble of rage in his hands as he tore away the tie around his throat.

 

Ishiyama-sensei had managed to pin the pale man to the floor with a wave of concrete; the huge, purple monster looked up from it’s bloodied and gore covered fists at his outraged cry.

 

“Kill All Might!” He roared, writhing underneath the solid rock to try and slap his hands against it.

 

The creature moved, almost as fast as All Might himself. They met with an explosion of force, the sheer power of the two blasting air out so hard that Karma was almost swept off of his feet. His jaw practically dropped. They were matched, blow for blow, though the blood splatter around All Might’s feet was growing bigger and bigger. The mist villain stumbled to his feet, heel of his hand pressed to what remained of his right eye, and dragged himself to where the pale man was trapped.

 

“Kurogiri,” he snarled, fingers clenching uselessly, “get me out of here!”

 

Another wave of rock flowed towards them but the mist had already swallowed them whole. Both men vanished into it, leaving behind the towering behemoth that All Might was battling with all of his strength. Steam and dust filled the plaza, kicked up by their constantly shifting feet. They separated suddenly, All Might leaping backwards in huge bounds, as the creature was looking lamely around the building as if he was lost. It seemed to howl mournfully, then fell still.

 

—-

 

The USJ cleanup wasn’t easy. When the other teachers arrived, they quickly hustled the children out of the facility. Only Izuku, Asui and Karma had seen the exact fate of their teacher. The three students were silent, their faces pale white as they watched the hired thug villains be led or dragged outside by the heroes. Thick blankets were pulled around shoulders. Even Bakugou sat with everyone with his knees drawn up against his chest. What was left of the blood on Karma’s fingers had dried.

 

When the stretcher was finally brought out, he took Izuku and Asui’s hands and held them tightly as tears ran freely down their faces.

Chapter Text

The funeral and wake was held swiftly, so fast it felt like whiplash. The incense stung Karma’s nose. 3-E hadn’t had a proper funeral for Koro-sensei, but they’d held their own one in front of the run-down school building and turned the whole mountainside into his memorial. In some ways, Aizawa was lucky. Despite being an underground hero, there was quite a large turnout. Karma could see other heroes from around Musutafu, and more than a few from the surrounding areas. 1-A and 1-B had arrived as well and although he hadn’t met any of them properly, they all seemed to have something to say about the terrible state of affairs.

 

“You were there when it happened, weren’t you?” A blond boy with his hair pushed flat against his head asked with a short bow. “I’m Monoma Neito. I’m sorry about what happened to your teacher.”

 

Karma nodded, carefully keeping his features blank. It would be easy to let himself cry, he wouldn’t be the only one doing it, but he swallowed thickly and held it back. Monoma’s face was tight as well.

 

“I only had him for a few classes, but he didn’t seem to be a bad guy.”

 

“...Yeah.” Karma’s voice cracked a little. It was uncomfortable, like he was telling people about Koro-sensei again.

 

Eventually he tired of the platitudes of everyone around him, the gentle pats on the back from the adults and quiet sniffles from the corners where someone couldn’t hold themselves back any more. Karma slipped out past the adults. He lent against the wall of the building and watched the beginnings of rain trickle from the sky. Izuku seemed to have had the same idea as he was sitting on a bench a few feet away with his head in his hands.

 

“Midoriya.” He sat down next to the green haired boy, who startled. He seemed to have been focusing intently on nothing.

 

“Oh, hi Akabane-san.” There were tears in his eyes that he blinked back quickly. “What are you doing out here?”

 

“The same as you, I think. Avoiding the crowds.”

 

They sat in silence for a little longer, the patter of rain around them growing steadily stronger.

 

“I lost a teacher before in- in middle school.” He brought his hands together tightly to stop them from shaking. Karma worried his bottom lip gently before proceeding. It was both difficult to explain and hard to talk about. Even after all of this time. “Koro-sensei. He looked like an octopus and had a speed quirk. Used it to look out for us in the E class.”

 

Izuku looked up at him, confused. “E class? This is about that plate on your hero uniform, right? You said it stood for End.”

 

“End class. We were the bottom of the barrel, delinquents, bad students, anyone that didn’t fit in. Koro-sensei didn’t care about that though. But...he died at the end of the year. A...villain attack.”

 

“I’m sorry…” Izuku mumbled.

 

“I’m alright. I just wanted to let you go that it gets better. It’s a tragedy, but he wouldn’t want us to all sit around moping. Use this to get stronger.” Karma reached out and ruffled Izuku’s hair.

 

“Thanks, Akabane-san.” A small smile tugged at the corners of Izuku’s mouth.

 

“You can call me Karma. I don’t mind.”

 

Suddenly the door to the funeral building opened up and a bedraggled man stepped out. His cheeks were sunken, skin sallow, and he looked like he hadn’t slept properly in a long time. His black suit was a few times larger than his body and hung off of him like blankets. Karma’s narrowed eyes immediately locked onto the way he held himself, leaning heavily to the side. It was the same side as All Might, the same injured walk- but more pronounced.

 

“A-! Uh. What are you doing out here, sir?” Izuku stumbled over his words, leaping up from the bench.

 

“Looking for you, my boy. It’s quite...stuffy in there.”

 

How had nobody noticed? Karma practically rolled his eyes at the obviousness. “All Might-sensei, you should sit down. You’ll aggravate your side.”

 

The man jerked, blood practically dripping down his chin from the corners of his mouth. “I- I don’t know what you mean, my boy!”

 

“Okay, so you’re keeping it a secret. No biggie. Just sit down.” Karma pushed himself up from his seat and steered All Might to the bench that they’d vacated. The man seemed to sag in relief, but once he’d settled he peered at Karma suspiciously.

 

“How did you know it was me, young Akabane?”

 

“How can anyone not know it’s you?” Karma explained, that he could see that All Might was injured and was protecting his side for some reason- not to mention their very similar hairstyles. He figured anyone that had seen both forms and couldn’t tell it was All Might himself was probably an idiot.

 

After a tense and silent moment, All Might began to speak. He explained about how he had passed his quirk down to Izuku and that he was hoping for the boy to become the new symbol of peace. They just had to figure out how to stop Izuku’s quirk from literally blowing pieces of him up.

 

“No wonder you have no control over it, you weren’t born with it. Actually, I think I’ve had an idea about your quirk.”

 

Izuku turned his attention turned towards Karma. “What do you mean?”

 

“I’ve been watching how everyone uses their quirks. You only seem to use it in one part of your body, right?”

 

Izuku shrugged, a little embarrassed. “Well, it does injure me if I use it at full power.”

 

“Have you tried using it with your entire body, but at a really small percentage? Say, 1 percent?”

 

His focus narrowed and he began mumbling again, fingers held up to his mouth as if to cover up what he was saying. “And if I kept it up for a long time...like resistance training...could increase over time…”

 

“I think we’re onto something here. All Might-“ He nodded at the man, who looked thoroughly out of his depth. “-embodies his quirk entirely. You’re restricting 100 percent to a small part of you instead of spreading it out. Like the difference between a flat object stepping on your foot and a stiletto.”

 

Izuku gave him an odd look, but seemed to accept the idea. “I’ve been comparing it to an egg in a microwave.”

 

They chatted for a little while longer; when they couldn’t put it off any more Izuku returned to the funeral first. A dark tension seemed to descend on Karma and All Might.

 

“You do understand the importance of keeping this secret, right, young Akabane?”

 

Karma gave him the deadest stare he could. “I’m not stupid, sensei. You adults have more important matters though. One of the villains told me that there’s a spy amongst the student body. They’re planning another attack, but I don’t know when or where.”

 

There was a harsh inhale from All Might. His hands trembled almost as much as Karma’s had been earlier. “I did not want to consider that possibility.” He said, eyes covered by shadows. “I will bring it up to the rest of the faculty.”

 

Aizawa’s ashes were buried in a hero’s graveyard, surrounded by the small stones of fallen heroes of the past. The somber gathering left in ones and twos. Heroes who had to return to their duties and students who had to return to their families. Karma also ended up being introduced to Izuku’s mother, who offered to drive him home when she heard that he planned on taking a taxi. She was sweet, if a little overbearing, but Karma appreciated her generosity. His home, however, was dark and quiet. He took the stairs to his room two at a time, feeling as if he was trying to escape the darkness of the lonely rooms around him. When he finally crawled into bed, he pressed his back against the cold wall of his room, pulled his arms tightly around himself, and pretended that it was Nagisa.

 

—-

 

Homeroom the next day was a quiet affair. They’d brought Kayama-sensei in as their new homeroom teacher and she explained to the glum class that U.A.’s sports festival was coming up and that she expected them to give their all despite what had happened. The class agreed unanimously that Aizawa-sensei would have thrown them out on their coat tails if they fell behind now. When the first break in between periods happened, class 1-A quickly noticed that there was a loud crowd gathered outside their doors. Bakugou stood quickly, his chair clattering to the ground behind him, stalked over to the sliding door and threw it open.

 

A hush fell across the crowd gathered as his face morphed into an aggressive snarl.

 

“We aren’t your fucking zoo!” He snapped, hand trembling at his side, and he pushed his way through them.

 

When Bakugou had disappeared down the corridor, one of the students slid into the classroom and shut the door halfway behind him.

 

“Hey,” he said, looking as awkward as the rest of the class felt. “I’m Tetsutetsu, from 1-B, and we wanted to say that we’re- well, most of us are- we’re on your side for the sports festival. Yeah.”

 

Around him, Karma could see the rest of his class shift uncomfortably. Then Iida stood up and, pushing his glasses up with a finger, he brought himself up as confidently as he could.

 

“We greatly appreciate your kindness! But we would prefer if you would instead face us with all of your strength instead!”

 

Tetsutetsu grinned broadly, baring his sharpened teeth. “That’s what I like to hear! You guys are alright.”

 

He left with a wave that a couple of members of 1-A returned half heartedly. The crowd outside still hadn’t dispersed. It made Karma feel uncomfortable, like they were an exhibit. Bakugou had had the right idea, leaving when he did. The unwanted attention carried on through the rest of the day. Karma stuck with Izuku’s friend group during their lunch break and ended up fielding all of the questions from overly curious students. Even some of the higher years had gotten in on it and he found that a pounding headache had started behind his temples. If he had to describe the villain attack for one more person, Karma decided he was going to start hurting things.

 

“Karma-kun? Are you alright?” Izuku was looking at him with concern, one hand placed lightly on his back.

 

“I will be, when all this calms down.” He grunted. There were pointed eyes staring at him from everywhere. “I’m going to the bathroom.”

 

The rest of the school was quiet, with less subtle stares than the cafeteria. Karma was pretty sure that Izuku knew he just needed to get away from the gossiping school kids, but he hadn’t stopped him. His long strides took him outside, underneath the relative shade of the forest surrounding U.A. A branch cracked behind him. Whoever was being stupid enough to follow him wasn’t doing a very good job of staying subtle about it. He led them deeper into the trees. The reaching branches snagged and tangled in his uniform and he let them. With the trees growing denser around them, it became a similar environment to the mountain surrounding 3-E and Karma felt right at home.

 

“So, now that we’re alone. What do you want?” Karma turned on his heel and found himself face to face with Todoroki, whose usual blank expression was pinched at the edges.

 

“What is Midoriya to you?”

 

“That’s a weird question. He’s a classmate.”

 

“You know about his quirk, don’t you.”

 

One of Karma’s eyebrows rose. He couldn’t be sure what Todoroki had guessed, or if he had more accurate details. Too much confirmation would let something important slip. Humming lightly, he rocked back on his heels and looked Todoroki up and down.

 

“That’s between me and him.”

 

Todoroki’s eyes narrowed. “Tell me, is he All Might’s child?”

 

Had Karma’s poker face been at all worse, he would have cracked up laughing. “You think Izuku is All Might’s bastard?” He tried to picture Inko and All Might together and chortled. “You’ve got one heck of an imagination, Todoroki.”

 

It was interesting to Karma that Todoroki’s expressions were almost unreadable. Other than the minute changes in his eyes he didn’t give away anything that he was thinking. After a moment, Todoroki broke their eye contact and bowed shallowly.

 

“Thank you, Akabane. I also wanted to let you know- I believe you are one of the people to beat in this sports festival.”

 

Karma’s tiny smirk grew into a broad, wicked grin. He laughed darkly. “Oho, really? It’s nice to know you think so highly of me Todoroki.”

 

Nonplussed, and with barely a blink of acknowledgement, Todoroki turned back to the U.A. campus and left the way they had come. Karma’s brain swirled with potential strategies. There was a lot of work to be done before the big day

Chapter Text

Karma vs Bakugou

 

“You want a what.”

 

Kayama-sensei stared at the support paperwork in her hands, then looked back up to Karma- who was standing with one hand in his jacket pocket and the other braced on the desk.

 

“I think they’re a good idea. They could be used as defibrillators in the event of an emergency, could stun villains-“

 

“Yeah yeah I read your submission. I’m just wondering why you want taser gloves in the first place.”

 

“My quirk isn’t a combat quirk. It’s kind of useless for that, actually. If I want to be a hero I need to prepare for anything.”

 

She hummed and shoved the papers into the drawer of her desk. “I like it. Shows some good foresight. I’ll run them by Maijima-san and get back to you before the sports festival. I noticed you submitted an exemption to the support items rule with it as well.”

 

“You want a good show, don’t you?” Karma grinned, trying his best to look innocent.

 

A flogger she’d pulled from god-knows-where cracked against the wood of the desk. Kayama-sensei was laughing. “You’re right! You’ll also be asked to take a course in public safety for electrical quirks and support items- Kaminari had to take it as well recently so he can help you out. Other than that I don’t see why you can’t have them!”

 

With phase one taken care of, Karma went in search of Izuku and his friend group. The boy had been faintly crackling all day and apparently it was a sign of his quirk’s activation. He hadn’t imploded himself yet, but it seemed to make it hard to move if the molasses slow way he was walking was any indication. Karma caught up to them outside, near the sports field.

 

“Hey, Izuku,” he called out as he approached them. “Are you free? I wanted to give that idea we had a shot.”

 

“Idea…? Oh! About your quirk?” Izuku seemed to light up with glee at the thought of Karma’s quirk. He pulled the notebook from his bag and flipped through until he found the notes he’d made before USJ. It felt like a lifetime ago. “Okay so...you mentioned it activated when you were fighting Kacchan and that it felt like...sparks?”

 

“Like I was waiting for something to happen.” He read over Izuku’s shoulder. Iida and Uraraka were similarly interested in the book they’d only gotten glimpses of so far.

 

They squared off at either end of the field. Izuku had one percent of his quirk activated, the group only barely able to see the quiet crackle of it from where he stood. Anything higher and Karma was sure he’d be plastered against the floor with a single swing of the boy’s fist. Focusing hard on remembering the feeling of his quirk activating, Karma got himself into a ready stance. His feet danced below him, carrying him out of Izuku’s range after every sweeping punch.

 

“Hey, Izuku!” He called after a second. “Your fighting style focuses very heavily on punches but I think you could do with more kick based moves. You’re holding yourself back, here.”

 

Izuku looked pretty stunned, like he hadn’t thought about that as an option and he immediately began to change things up. The swift kicks created a wide enough shockwave that Karma had to dodge faster, move more, just to get away from the air pressure at one percent. He leapt away from one savage arc of Izuku’s heel, hand springing backwards as his body curved over itself when suddenly the static was back. He chased the feeling, hair standing up on end as sparks seemed to fly down his spine.

 

“What’s the probability you’re gonna land on your ass?!” Karma laughed, a gleeful smirk spreading across his face.

 

“Not very high- oh damn!” Izuku’s feet slipped out from underneath him as his movements took him into a previously unseen soggy patch of grass. Mud splattered up his sides and back wetly. He started laughing as well when Karma jogged over to pull him to his feet. “That was you!”

 

Iida and Uraraka joined them quickly. At first they were concerned that Izuku’s quirk had finally backfired, but, when they realized he was just wet with mud and uninjured, they quickly joined in the giggle fit that the green haired boy had started. It was pretty infectious, especially when Izuku pulled a handful of mud from his side and slapped it wetly against Iida’s face. The mortification of what he’d just done was short lived when Iida tackled him to the floor.

 

“Fiiiiiight!” Uraraka cackled, leaping on top of the boys like a wrestling star.

 

They sparred together for a little longer, Karma getting better at triggering his quirk with each match against the three kids, until the sky was beginning to stain with red light. He was covered in mud, Izuku had managed to pull him to the ground at one point and by the time he got home he didn’t even care about tracking it on the wood floor or the carpet of his bedroom- he just got straight in the shower, uniform and everything, and enjoyed the ache of his muscles and the quietness of his brain.

 

—-

 

The first day of the sports festival began to loud fanfare, fireworks, and an uproarious applause from the crowds as the first year students from each course gathered in the arena. Some of Karma’s class were waving to the watching heroes and onlookers, but most of them seemed to be trying to keep their nerves hidden. He could certainly understand their feelings, the roiling discomfort had settled in his stomach some time that morning and hadn’t left. Karma swallowed thickly. Nearby, Izuku was trying his best to smile but it looked more like he was trying not to cry.

 

Earlier Todoroki had laid down the gauntlet, challenging Izuku for a place at the top of the rankings, and the boy had accepted. With a fierce determination, Todoroki had locked eyes with Karma- he seemed to dare him to say something- but all he’d done in reply had been to stick his tongue out cheekily.

 

With the students from each class gathered at the stage, Kayama-sensei called up Bakugou and the collective of 1-A held their breath against the coming storm. However, Bakugou had a different idea.

 

“In honor of Aizawa-sensei-“ he said into the microphone, hands jammed in his pockets and slouching as if Karma couldn’t see the shake in his shoulders. “We of class 1-A are issuing a challenge to the other students. We’re going to take the top spots and we dare you to fight us for them. If you’re as good as you think you are, prove it.”

 

A whisper travelled around the silent crowd. Half of 1-A were staring at Bakugou in shock. The screen behind Kayama-sensei lit up, however, and she launched into an explanation of the preliminaries without even giving the watching throng a chance to process Bakugou’s outburst. The lights above the starting gates began to count down, all eleven classes getting ready to move. Tension roared through the crowd. Karma’s muscles bunched underneath him. When the starting siren sounded, the mob surged forwards- for it wasn’t just a crowd of students anymore. It was a crush of bodies, all desperately clawing for the exit of the tiny archway.

 

Karma couldn’t breathe. He wasn’t sure if it was the amount of people on either side of him or the panic building up in the back of his throat but there was a hand on the small of his back and suddenly he was floating. Uraraka had formed a chain, most of class 1-A anchored together, pulled by Iida’s hands around Ojiro’s tail, and Karma found himself laughing again. The chain of students were flung forwards, above the others and out of the gateway, and when Uraraka cancelled her quirk she was quickly gathered up by Sato before she could fall behind. Even Bakugou had Kirishima, Jirou and Kaminari. They clung to each other, screaming wildly, as his powerful explosions propelled them forward down a path made by Ashido.

 

“In a completely unexpected turn off events, 1-A is working together!” Karma could hear Present Mic wailing over the loudspeakers. “Despite this being a dog-eat-dog competition they are leaving no man behind! Here comes the first hurdle, Todoroki Shouto is the first student to reach it!”

 

Four massive zero point robots from the entrance exam looked on the horizon. Todoroki froze the feet of one, sliding underneath it without even a moment of hesitation. Bakugou and Izuku roared into the air after the other two. Their quirks sent them flying quickly upwards and just as quickly shattered the robots into heaping piles of scrap. Although they'd cleared the way for the rest of 1-A, the other students were also starting to catch up. It was like a pack of dogs at his heels and Karma sped up to try and stay ahead. The zero pointer that Todoroki had frozen started to creak and crack, it's legs beginning to fall apart underneath it when the ice holding it in place started to defrost, and Karma had to hold his breath when it finally came down.

 

Hopefully there hadn't been anyone underneath it.

 

The second obstacle was a series of ropes, suspended over a perilous drop. Karma was sure there was some sort of cushioning at the bottom but there was no way he was going to find out first hand. Izuku, Bakugou and Todoroki were head of him. It felt like they were ahead by miles. Students around him struggled to hold their balance against the wobbling, precarious ropes. With a deep breath he pushed forwards. Karma was pretty proud of his balance but he had to pick the ropes that were tight and not drooping. Asui didn't have nearly the same problem, as he could see her easily crawling across them using her sticky hands. Gritting his teeth, he launched himself off of the last rope and carried on running at full pelt.

 

“Team 1-A is really taking their challenge seriously! Almost every single one of them has given someone else from their class a helping hand.” Present Mic roared over the loudspeakers, pure disbelief colouring his voice. “Three of them are in the lead right now, coming up fast on the last obstacle!”

 

Karma reached the third section of the course in time to watch sparks fly across Izuku’s body. Todoroki had slipped ahead on a path of ice and Bakugou flew through the air cackling madly; but, Izuku had simply crouched behind them, charged his quirk as high as he could safely, and leapt across the minefield. He had no idea Izuku had managed to increase his strength so quickly in so little time. The boy must have thrown every waking moment into learning to master his quirk. As Karma hit the minefield his hair stood on end like a fiery corona and he chased the static feeling inside himself. Other students were struggling around him, the small explosions throwing them ungracefully into the air.

 

“What are the chances I don’t trigger any of these?” Karma muttered to himself. His quirk burst open like floodgates and he was off running again.

 

When he finally made it across and out the other side of the gate- feeling particularly singed around the edges from everyone else blowing up- Karma could hear Present Mic announcing the first place winner. It was a shame he didn’t come in first, he thought, but was unbelievably proud of Izuku for doing it. But, fifth wasn’t too bad. As the students continued to file into the stage area, one after the other, the screen lit up again showing their results. Karma pushed his damp hair from his eyes to see who had made it through.

 

  1. Midoriya Izuku
  2. Todoroki Shouto
  3. Bakugou Katsuki
  4. Shiozaki Ibara
  5. Akabane Karma
  6. Iida Tenya
  7. Tokoyami Fumikage
  8. Sero Hanta
  9. Kirishima Eijirou
  10. Ojiro Mashirao

 

Other than the girl in fourth place, the top ten spots were all taken up by 1-A students. In fact, as the numbers continued to scroll, all of 1-A had placed highly. None of them were below twenty. Karma was knocked to the side as Uraraka leapt at him gleefully. She whooped, crushed him in a strong hug, and ran onwards to Izuku. The sheer, infectious joy traveling through the group of students made Karma laugh. It was like the exams at Kunugigaoka all over again. That was when he had to pause and take in the other students. The feeling of daggers, blunted bloodlust, was only coming from a few of the other students. Mostly it was from the general studies students that hadn’t made it through to the top 42. But there was something else, something sharper, glaring holes in his back from somewhere in the stands. Karma’s eyes scanned over the crowd but whoever it was was quite hidden.

 

After Kayama-sensei had finished explaining the cavalry battle, Karma was immediately grabbed by Bakugou. The boy span him around by the shoulder. Bakugou’s face was so close to his own it made him pull back in surprise.

 

“Team up with me!” He snarled. “I’ve already got shitty hair and weasel guy-“

 

“Hey!”

 

“My name’s Sero!”

 

He could practically see Bakugou grinding his teeth to stumps, like it physically pained him to turn around and remind himself of his other classmate’s names.

 

“Sure, sounds like fun.” Karma chuckled. He’d kept one eye on the stands but the presence had disappeared.

 

Bakugou took the top spot, perched on Karma and Sero’s shoulders with Kirishima in the front. Izuku and Todoroki had also quickly gathered their own teams. Despite the unbelievably high score on Izuku’s headband he’d had no end of his classmates asking to team up with him. After showing off how he’d gotten control of his quirk, everyone wanted a piece of him. He’d teamed up with Uraraka, Tokoyami and a girl that Karma didn’t recognize.

 

“Well! Look at you guys. You make quite a team.” Karma shifted underneath Bakugou, making the weight a bit more comfortable for himself.

 

Izuku grinned shyly, rubbing the back of his head with one hand, and their group moved off to a more strategic position. On his left Karma could feel Sero trembling with nerves. Even Kirishima’s breathing was hard.

 

“Hey.” Karma muttered lowly. He knocked both boys with his free hand’s knuckles. “Calm down, this isn’t going to be that hard. I’ve got some ideas actually. If you want to hear them.”

 

They traded strategies, Bakugou bent down with his hands on Sero and Karma’s heads loosely to keep his balance, all four of them muttering quietly. Kayama-sensei snapped her flogger through the air, signaling the end of the team-up period. She announced the start of the cavalry battle with a flourish.

 

“Let’s begin the ultimate U.A. battle of strength! Let the cavalry battle begin!”

 

—-

 

Immediately, Karma realized that another team had had the same idea that he had. Monoma Neito was moving around the edges of the battleground, snatching headbands while the teams were distracted battling it out for Izuku’s ten million pointer. It had stung Bakugou hard to admit that an all out charge for the one headband was a poor tactic in the beginning. If they’d managed to grab it, they’d be the ones on the end of everyone else’s shit list.

 

Instead they dodged across the arena, Sero’s tape flying after anything and everything that Karma and Bakugou could spot. The force of Bakugou’s defensive explosions shifted all four of them uncomfortably but none more so than Kirishima. His entire back seemed to be made of solid rock and Karma couldn’t help but steal glances at it in awe. It still hadn’t really sunk in that he was living in a world with honest to god superheroes.

 

“I got another one!” Sero shouted, reeling a long stretch of tape back like a sticky fishing rod. The team on the unfortunate end of it had gotten tangled while trying to dodge him and their legs were stuck together.

 

There were now three headbands stuck around Bakugou’s neck and forehead. The boy was cackling wildly, hands sparking and flaring at every student who came near them. There was a thin layer of black soot starting to cover Karma’s hair and all he could smell was gunpowder and burning but fuck if he wasn’t enjoying himself.

 

A blast of ice shot across the arena without warning, splitting the field into two halves. Todoroki had gotten into the middle and, with a broad sweep of his arms, separated most of the participants. Bakugou’s team found themselves face to face with many teams with no headbands at all. Among them was Monoma’s team, who’d managed to snag a good amount of headbands for themselves as well. With a quick glance at the leaderboard Karma could see that they were actually in second place.

 

“I’ve been waiting for this.” With a snarl, Bakugou pushed himself up on Sero and Karma’s shoulders. Kirishima glanced backwards in shock in time to see the blond boy launch himself at full speed towards Monoma’s formation. With one hand propelling him forwards, he reached out furiously to add another headband to their collection.

Chapter Text

Bakugou Katsuki was an absolute nightmare of a disaster human being. His back bowed with the force of the explosions coming from the palm of his hand. Monoma reeled backwards, fear flashing across his face, because Bakugou’s claw like hand was getting quickly closer to tearing a hole through him. Suddenly, Monoma brought his own hands up in front of him. He flinched away, squeezing his eyes shut, but a series of powerful blasts mirrored Bakugou’s from Monoma’s own hands.

 

“That’s Bakugou’s quirk!” Kirishima shouted, trying to pull forward from the cavalry formation.

 

“I’ve got him!”

 

It took all three of them to pull Bakugou back in using Sero’s tape and the boy snarled and kicked the entire time until he was finally seated back on their shoulders. His hands were hot, almost burning up, and when he held onto Karma he could feel him trembling.

 

“Take a deep breath. Let’s change gears.”

 

Bakugou practically choked, sucking in a breath so fast and so hard it caught in his throat. “Motherfucker copied my quirk.”

 

“Any idiot could have figured that out!”

 

“ONE MINUTE REMAINING!” Mic’s projected voice echoed across the amphitheater. “That’s sixty seconds kids, get to it!”

 

It was like a spell had been broken on the other teams, because they descended upon Bakugou and Monoma’s formations like animals. It was a desperate bid for the headbands that they had stacked around their necks. With the field separated in half by Todoroki, the only bands they had access to were the ones that Bakugou and Monoma wore. A hail of clawing, snagging hands rained down around them. There was a thin cut above Karma’s eye steadily bleeding into his vision and his ankle ached from an awkward twist but he continued to fight.

 

Spiked, green, tentacle like vines burst from the ground near him, forcing Karma to push the whole formation backwards. His back hit a solid warmth and with a quick glance behind him, he realized it was Monoma’s team.

 

“Let’s cut the crap and work together!” Karma called upwards to Bakugou’s snarling face.

 

“Fuck you!” Bakugou bit, but didn’t try and move the team away. Monoma seemed to have similar feelings judging by the thunderstorm on his face but both teams were far more focused on fighting off the others.

 

All Karma could hear was explosions and the tinny noise ringing in his ears when they faded and the screaming roar of the crowd as Present Mic counted down the final few moments. His blood pounded through his veins, adrenaline coursing through him as he kicked and swiped and pushed away the crush of bodies until-

 

“TIME’S UP! LET’S SEE OUR WINNERS!”

 

All eyes turned to the announcement board. Karma pushed a student who was still standing uncomfortably close to him away. Riders were getting off of their cavalry’s shoulders, disappointed eyes cast downwards for many of them.

 

Todoroki’s team had come in first, shortly followed by Izuku’s. Bakugou’s was third- Karma grinned when Kirishima pumped his fists in the air triumphantly- but shockingly, in fourth, was someone who’d somehow escaped Karma’s notice. The dusky purple haired boy known as Shinsou Hitoshi, who had climbed off of Ojiro’s shoulders, slipped away from his team with a sly grin. Karma’s own eyes narrowed.

 

They were given leave to break for lunch and Karma headed towards the dining room with the rest of the crowd of students, feeling congratulatory pats on the back as he went, but there was a suspicious weight to the air as he moved through the corridors. The feeling of being watched was back. He waited until the last of the stragglers had moved around him before slipping down a side hall. There were plenty of unused rooms around and he found one easily enough. As soon as the door slid closed behind him, the room filled with purple haze.

 

Karma’s heartbeat felt like it stopped for a solid second. He considered his options. Stepping through the warp made by Kurogiri was the hand covered man from USJ. Karma had no weapons, save for the shock gloves the support department had made, and no backup. It wasn’t the worst situation he could have been in, but it wasn’t going to be fun getting out of this one.

 

He plastered a confident grin on when the villains stepped through all the way and leant back against the door.

 

“Kurogiri! So nice to see you again. How’s the eye?”

 

The remaining yellow slit narrowed, but Kurogiri refused to fall for Karma’s bait and didn’t say anything. The other man glanced between the two of them and began chuckling quietly.

 

“You gave us some problems when we first met, Karma-kun.” He said, gently removing the hand covering his face and placing it on a bare shoulder.

 

His lips were dry, cracked and bitten. Small, white scars were scattered across his face but the biggest were one over his lip and one over his eye. He seemed to try and smile gently but it pulled his lips in a horrifying facsimile of one. Karma tried not to react.

 

“To what do I have the pleasure?” He asked.

 

“My name is Shigaraki Tomura, we’ve met before. I had a question so I just had to come back and see you.”

 

Karma raised one of his eyebrows at Shigaraki. The man had some balls, that was for sure. “Alright, I’ll bite. Ask away.”

 

“Have you ever considered a change in career?” The man’s rasping voice seemed to fill the room. He scratched at the stubble around the base of his neck, forming thin red lines against his pale flesh.

 

“Well I’ve always wanted to be a politician.” Karma said, deadpan.

 

Shigaraki seemed to shudder. He scraped harder at his neck. “Politicians. They’re just legal villains! Trying to decide what the rest of us can and can’t do while sitting above us all. Would you agree?”

 

Ah. Karma could see where this was going a mile away. “Let me guess. You noticed I don’t really fit within the traditional ‘hero’ mold?”

 

“Got it in one, Karma-kun. You should join us at the League of Villains. I’m sure you’d fit right in.”

 

Humming lightly, Karma pursed his lips. He considered his options and tapped slender fingers against his chin. “ Iris I could help you, but I think I lack your vision.

 

Kurogiri twitched at Shigaraki’s side and for a beat of silence he thought that the joke had gone over the pale man’s head, but he began to ugly snort. “I think we might see eye to eye on this Karma-kun. I’ll give you some time to think it over, but we’ll meet again.”

 

They disappeared in a swirl of Kurogiri’s purple fog and when he was absolutely sure that both villains had left, Karma sucked in a hard breath and practically crumpled to the floor. His appetite had completely disappeared. The aura of killing intent that both Shigaraki and Kurogiri put off was magnitudes higher than anyone else he’d encountered during his time in this world. Karma pushed himself up, using the door as a brace, and grit his teeth. He’d become complacent. Even after everything had happened at USJ he’d still managed to fall back on believing that anyone else would be able to take care of the problem. All he had to do was focus on what was in front of him, right?

 

He’d been so wrong.

 

—-

 

Elsewhere, the U.A. teachers had called an emergency meeting. Nedzu was seated at the top of the table with the others around him. His small paws were gripped together and shook slightly. All of them were tense, but none seemed to be more affected than Present Mic. His eyes were bloodshot, heavy bags had settled under them, as if he hadn’t slept properly since USJ.

 

“I’m sure you’re all aware that this is highly unorthodox, considering what is going on right now...however, we may have a lead on our possible spy.” Nedzu said, his eyes shadowed. “All Might-san, if you would.”

 

Standing up, All Might bowed shortly to the gathered teachers, and began to speak. “A few days ago, after Aizawa-san’s funeral, one of the students- Akabane Karma- correctly guessed my true identity after seeing...this form.” He cast his hands around himself weakly. He was in his disheveled state, suit baggy and limp around him. “He also warned me that during the attack on USJ, one of the villains told him that there was a traitor in our student body.”

 

A hushed gasp travelled around the room. Inui Ryo- Hound Dog- snarled, baring his teeth at the news, but Sekijirou placed a tense hand on his shoulder. Nedzu continued where All Might left off.

 

“We reviewed the camera footage of the school leading up to the USJ attack.” With a click of a large remote- almost comical next to the rodent principal- a screen descended in front of the faculty. Three videos were playing in different windows. “In this first video here, you can see the faculty doors have opened by themselves. Shortly after that, Akabane goes snooping around the room. You may recognize this as when the press managed to break into our school grounds.

 

The second video is after class. Akabane stays behind but when he exits, he is visibly angry about whatever happened between him and Aizawa. Unfortunately, Aizawa did not inform us of what happened during this conversation, so we can only speculate.

 

As for the third video...this happened minutes ago. Akabane enters an unused classroom spends a few minutes in there, and leaves. During this time the intruder alarm was triggered very briefly- but was shut off almost immediately.”

 

Mic’s hands crashed against the table, the knuckles of his fists so white they looked almost like bone. “We gotta bring this kid in, if he’s our spy then he ain’t being subtle about it.”

 

“Please, calm down, Yamada-san.” Nedzu said. “We can’t go around blindly accusing the students, even if their actions are suspicious. We must take our time with this.”

 

“We ain’t got time!” He pleaded, sucking in a shaky breath. “They’ve already attacked once…”

 

“I know how you feel Yamada-san.”

 

Kayama raised her hand a little, bringing both men’s attention to her. There was a light frown on her face but it was hardly visible underneath the mask across her eyes. “I don’t agree with accusing Akabane without proof. But I do agree that there’s something odd about him.”

 

Ishiyama nodded his great, grey head slowly. “The best way to put it...is that he treats the other students like underclassmen. He will teach them, and spend time with them, but it is almost superficial.”

 

“He walks home alone, doesn’t he?” Mic asked. His fingers tented in front of his face, hiding his strange expression.

 

—-

 

With lunch over, the students filed back outside to the arena. Kayama-sensei was looking a little green around the edges, but it didn’t seem to be anything Karma would hazard a guess to. She was also a little less exuberant with her whipping than usual but no one else seemed to notice. Once she’d explained that the top sixteen students would be facing each other in one-on-one matches, round robin style, Ojiro and two other students backed out. They said that they couldn’t remember anything from the previous match and didn’t want to take credit for something they technically didn’t do. Karma thought it was quite honorable of them, but definitely would have stayed in if it was him.

 

After a moment of thought, Kayama-sensei agreed to let them forfeit their matches and asked if the next two teams had anyone they’d like to volunteer. A vicious battle of Rock Paper Scissors followed and Kendo, Tetsutetsu and Monoma came out victorious to take their place in the final sixteen contestants. The lots for the tournament were drawn quickly after that and Karma scanned the screen to find his name.

 

His first round was against the copycat himself, Monoma.

 

The boy caught his eye and shot him a quick thumbs up, but his smile hardly touched his eyes. He was definitely planning on taking the match seriously. Karma nodded back to him and looked back at the board. The first round was Bakugou and Uraraka so he felt practically obligated to watch the match between his two friends. It was certain to be interesting at the very least.

 

But, before they could begin, the recreational events started. It gave the tournament participants a chance to psych themselves up for the big matches. Most of them left for the locker rooms, breaking away in friend groups to get some last minute strategizing in. Iida, Uraraka and Izuku already had one of their own, and he was sure he’d seen Ojiro briefing Sero on Shinsou’s quirk. Karma, on the other hand, was still trying to wind down from his uncomfortable encounter with Shigaraki. He paced aimlessly in the corridors, running through everything he could remember that Koro-sensei had taught him but even the seemingly omni-present assassin could not have foreseen something like this.

 

He rounded a corner and found himself staring uncomfortably at a broad, spandex covered back. The man was tall, on a similar height to All Might, but the aura he gave of was oppressive and mean spirited. Half of his side was on fire to boot and Karma had to step back quietly from the heat. Todoroki was standing on the other side, head turned away from the man in defiance.

 

“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.

 

Karma was sure this was something he wasn’t supposed to be privy to. He’d had his fair share of conversations with Nagisa about what had happened with his mother and this situation struck uncomfortably close to home. Todoroki’s teeth were on edge and he was surprised the boy hadn’t ground them to dust. This called for shock tactics.

 

“Shoucchan!” Karma pitched his voice high, pushed a spring into his step, and skipped around Todoroki-senior in one smooth movement. He grabbed Todoroki’s hand, wound their arms together and leant uncomfortably close to the boy. “Is this your dad? Oh-em-gee you’ll have to introduce me some time, I’m a huge fan. I have to borrow Shoucchan for a little while but don’t worry! You’ll get him back in one piece!”

 

“Wait-!”

 

He all but dragged Todoroki around the corner and frog marched him as far as he physically could away from Endeavour. When he could no longer feel the heat of blunted hatred, he pushed Todoroki into a side room.

 

“Hey, sorry about that.” He muttered. “You looked like you needed an intervention.”

 

Todoroki looked like he was still processing what had just happened, and simply nodded.

 

“I’m gonna go watch the fight, stay here as long as you need to. He didn’t see where we went.”

 

Another nod.

 

“Right.” Karma span on his heel and slipped from the room, his racing heartbeat finally beginning to calm down. He was really going to feel this day tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Karma watched Uraraka and Bakugou’s battle on tenterhooks. They were both vicious; he was sure anyone watching should be able to see how both of them were fighting to the utmost limit of their abilities. But then the crowd began to turn on Bakugou, some shouting obscenities at the young boy and criticizing his aggression on a young girl. Suddenly, Bakugou held his hand up, signaling Uraraka to stop, and span on his heel to glower at half of the crowd shouting him.

 

“What part of her is weak?!” He snarled, voice as loud as he could make it. “If you’re going to look down on her for being a girl, if you’re gonna pity her, then you should get the hell out of here!”

 

The crowd murmured quietly. Uraraka had turned a bright pink. Karma wondered if anyone had noticed the heavy storm of rubble floating over their heads.

 

“You call yourselves heroes?! You gonna go easy on a villain ‘cause they’re a girl?” Bakugou scoffed, turning back to Uraraka, and got back into his stance. He nodded shortly to show her that he was ready and they fell back into their battle.

 

Leaning back in his seat, Karma watched the two beat the everloving shit out of each other. Uraraka’s last ditch strategy was to drop the hail of rubble on top of Bakugou, who threw himself to the ground and triggered what must have been the largest unassisted explosion Karma had seen from him yet. When the smoke and dust cleared, both of them were laying, panting, on the floor but Bakugou stood first. Even though his legs and hands shook with weakness, Uraraka bowed out. She professed she could hardly feel her limbs after all of that.

 

The medics on site brought her out on a stretcher, just for the ease of it, and she left the arena to triumphant applause that made her blush furiously. The next match was between Yaoyorozu and Tokoyami, which, although Karma wanted to see it, he had a feeling he knew how it was going to go. Instead he headed inside the stands to find Uraraka and Bakugou. They were both inside Recovery Girl’s office, although the little old lady seemed to be nowhere to be seen, and chatting together quietly.

 

“Seriously, it wasn’t a big deal. You don’t have to keep thanking me.” Bakugou was saying. He was looking anywhere other than at the girl sat nearby.

 

Uraraka brightened up considerably when she noticed Karma slip his way in through the door. “Hiya Karma-san. How’re things looking up there?”

 

“Tokoyami’s probably going to win. Yaoyorozu takes too much time to set up her quirk. How’re you feeling Ochaco-chan?” He took a seat on one of the empty beds, reclining backwards.

 

“I knew it! Hand it over, Bakugou-kun!” Uraraka held her hands out to Bakugou and wiggled her fingers. She had a huge grin splitting her face.

 

Confused, Karma looked between the two of them as Bakugou forked over a not small amount of cash. She counted through it and laughed triumphantly. Bakugou just grumbled, the scowl on his face a little more playful than angry. There was a definite quirk to the corners of his lips.

 

“We made a bet that you couldn’t use honorifics, sorry Karma-san.”

 

He rolled his eyes. Of course. “I spent a lot of time in America, so I don’t use them as often as I should.”

 

The two students nodded in understanding, however that prompted another series of questions from both of them. How long, did he speak English, did he miss it? And so on.

 

“Anyway!” He said, suddenly. “You didn’t answer my question. You too Bakugou.”

 

“Recovery girl helped.” Bakugou twisted his wrist slowly, one hand tight around the base of the other. Karma guessed that the force of the explosions pushing his arms backwards all the time had a lot of wear and tear on his wrists.

 

“Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good too. Just tired now. For such an aggressive guy, Bakugou didn’t do too much to hurt me!”

 

“That’s ‘cause you’re fucking impossible to read.” He growled. “I still don’t know you fucking do it, Akabane.”

 

With a hum, Karma hopped off of the bed. “Tell you what; if we both get through the next few rounds to face each other, and you win, I’ll give you some pointers.”

 

—-

 

Back in the stands, Karma took his seat again and he found himself alone. Izuku had vacated the seat next to him and was heading out into the arena to a raucous introduction from Present Mic. His opponent was a class B girl with bright ginger hair that Karma recognized as Kendo, one of the winners of the rock-paper-scissors match. He hadn’t had a chance to see her quirk in action and was very interested in seeing how it fared against Izuku’s new found control.

 

Kendo cracked her knuckles threateningly, but the huge grin on her face belied her excitement for the upcoming fight. Izuku, on the other hand, looked a little strained.

 

“I’m gonna take that challenge of Bakugou’s seriously, Midoriya-kun!” She said loudly. As soon as Kayama-sensei called to begin the match, both of her hands grew to a ridiculous size. Her fists crashed down on where Izuku had been standing seconds before.

 

Gasps shot around the stadium seating as the crowd realized that Izuku had leapt straight up. He arched backwards, twisting his body in the air until the momentum dropped him, feet first, straight towards her. Kendo barely had a second to move away. She launched herself to the side, Izuku skimming by her and slamming both feet into the floor. He left a devastating crater in the arena that Ishiyama-sensei had built carefully and threw himself quickly at her again. There was a vicious, uncharacteristic, grin across his face that had Karma’s heart in his throat. The screens around the arena had focused on him, tracking his lurching movements as he forced Kendo further and further towards the back of the arena. She wasn’t backing down without a fight, however, and was leaving her fair share of destruction across the cement.

 

“Stay still!” Kendo snapped, grabbing a huge handful of rubble from the surroundings and launching it at Izuku.

 

Unable to dodge all of it, chunks cut through Izuku’s cheeks and uniform. Red stained the blue and white of his jacket and dripped down his skin. He swiped it away with the back of his hand, hardly even pausing, and continued his attack. Even from where he sat, Karma could feel the air pressure increase every time Izuku’s foot scythed through the air. He could hardly stand watching the boy bob and weave through Kendo’s own brutal punches, not through any fear for his safety but for how Izuku so closely mirrored Nagisa.

 

It took one powerful punch to end the match. Kendo was thrown clear from the arena and landed in a pained heap, dust and debris from their battle piled up around her. She grit her teeth as the medics hurried over and seemed to be wincing as she moved. Izuku looked quite apologetic, following the stretcher out of view while he bowed over and over in distress.

 

“Well! That was explosive!” Mic whistled appreciatively for the two young heroes. “We’ll be taking a quick break while Cementoss fixes the arena, and then it’s onwards to the next battle!”

 

With his battle coming up faster than he’d have liked, and the tension coming with it ramping up, Karma went back downstairs to the waiting rooms. The next match was between Kirishima and Tetsutetsu. Karma could catch up with it later. He sat at the table in the center, legs folded up, and began to meditate.

 

He’d only just begun to find his center when the door burst open and Iida, Ochaco and Izuku fell through it. Literally fell through. The three were sprawled out, laughing, as Karma peeled his eyes open and smirked at them.

 

“We came to wish you good luck!”

 

—-

 

Watching Nagisa fight was like watching a dance. His body arched and twisted through the air, deftly avoiding all of Karma’s powerful blows. The ones that he couldn’t avoid he moved with. A punch took him off of his feet, but he twisted with it and turned it into a series of athletic backflips. The dangerous smirk on his face sent shivers of fear down Karma’s neck and spine. He dodged a roundhouse that could have broken his ribs, turned a heel kick into a glancing blow. Even though Nagisa had cut his hair a long time ago and now kept it short, Karma still delighted in grabbing it, feeling the soft strands between his fingers, and slamming Nagisa’s face against his knee.

 

Even with blood streaming down his face from his nose, Karma thought that Nagisa was beautiful. Deadly, like the viper he was so often compared to.

 

—-

 

The roar of the crowd faded into nothing in his ears as Karma stood opposite Monoma. The boy seemed obnoxiously confident and Karma had to wonder if someone had clued him in on his quirk. Present Mic introduced the both of them to their onlookers and Monoma had the gall to bow like a gentleman, with one arm held out from his side. When he came out of his bow they locked eyes and Karma bobbed his head in return.

 

“Would you look at that display of sportsmanship from both competitors!” He could hear Present Mic crowing to the crowd. He moved into a fighting stance but Monoma remained easy-going. “Akabane-kun could stand to loosen up a bit through.”

 

With a long breath, Karma focused solely on Monoma. Kayama’s countdown had begun, but it seemed to be happening in slow motion as Karma’s muscles tightened underneath him. The flogger fell, whip crack fast, and he was off. Monoma’s eyes widened just slightly as Karma closed in. Each unbelievably fast blow from Karma skimmed some part of Monoma’s body. He was throwing his entire self into dodges that only worked by mere moments. There was a steely determination to him, however, as one of Karma’s punches flew over his head he threw himself forwards.

 

The air in Karma’s lungs was forced out in one, solid blow as Monoma’s body barreled into him like a train. He had to dig his heels in to prevent himself from being pushed too far to the edge of the arena and for a worrying moment he had to grapple for the back of Monoma’s PE uniform and force him away. When they separated, Monoma’s confident grin was back.

 

“They say you have trouble using your quirk, you know? Let’s see how it works in the hands of a quirk master .”

 

Monoma’s hair seemed to rise on it’s ends and Karma could recognize the exact moment that the electric excitement coursed up his spine. He grinned manically, spitting chance and probability until he had to pause to breathe.

 

“That’s a pretty great quirk you’ve got there.” He said, shoulders heaving with each breath. “Let’s see how you get past it.”

 

But, to his surprise, Karma didn’t move. In fact, Karma started laughing. He tipped his head back, shoulders shaking with mirth, until he had to wipe away tears from the corners of his eyes. Monoma looked on in confusion.

 

“I’m sure that would have worked, with anyone else’s quirk. But there’s a weakness to it I haven’t told anyone about. There’s a good reason I don’t use it too much…”

 

There was a great, high pitched screech from high in the sky. Suddenly a huge white and grey bird fell from the sky directly above Monoma. It’s long neck and large wings failed wildly, repeatedly smacking the panicking boy over the head. Karma laughed even harder. He practically doubled over himself with it until Monoma managed to get the massive heron off of himself. It continued to squawk and flap and threw itself on top of him again.

 

“If you use it too much, your luck ‘stat’ drops all the way down!”

 

The heron dropping from the sky had really thrown Monoma off. All Karma did next was saunter over to him, grab him by the back of the uniform, and haul him out of the ring. It took both of them to remove the heron from Monoma as Kayama-sensei announced that Karma was the winner of that round. The huge bird took off in a shower of feathers, leaving behind the incensed Monoma.

 

“How did you know I’d do that?” He growled, hands shaking at his sides after pushing himself to his feet.

 

“You’re just that sort of person. You didn’t know I had a weakness, so you didn’t know how to take advantage of it.” Karma looped his hands together behind his head and headed back towards the waiting rooms. “We’ll fight again when you’re better at that!”

 

—-

 

As Karma’s battle wasn’t too strenuous, he skipped visiting Recovery Girl and went back to the stands. A few of his classmates slapped him around the shoulders, congratulating him as he found his seat again, even Bakugou gave him a quick nod of recognition.

 

“Who’s up next?” Karma asked Ojiro, leaning on the back of his seat.

 

“Sero and Shinsou.” Ojiro’s expression was tight and frustrated. “I hope he took my advice.”

 

“That’s right, you dropped out because of that guy.”

 

Ojiro nodded. “If you reply to him, he takes control of you somehow.” Fixing Karma with a steely look, Ojiro pointed right at his smug face. “If Sero loses, you’ll be fighting him next. So pay attention.”

 

Sero moved first, and for a brief second Karma actually thought that the boy would manage to win without triggering whatever Shinsou’s quirk was. However, he couldn’t resist gloating as the tape that shot from his elbows tightened around Shinsou’s body.

 

“Now I’ve got you! You can’t get away from this, no matter what tricks you’ve got up your sleeve!”

 

Despite being trapped, a wide smirk spread across Shinsou’s face. Sero on the other hand had suddenly gone limp.

 

“Let me out of this tape.” Shinsou chuckled. “And walk off of the field.”

 

“Don’t do it!”

 

“Fight back!”

 

A few of the more excitable members of the crowd shouted their dismay as Sero’s tape fell limp, pooling around Shinsou’s ankles. His usually grinning face was slack and each stumbling step took him closer and closer to the edge of the arena. Karma grit his teeth. Whatever it was, brainwashing, body control, Sero stood no chance against it without some sort of outside help.

 

Ojiro’s clenched fist hit the back of the chair in front of him lightly. “What an idiot.” He mumbled.

 

“No, he’s just overconfident. He’ll figure it out next time he fights.”

 

Ojiro glanced back at Karma and deflated slightly. “You’re right. He got this far after all.”

 

They watched Hatsume Mei play Kaminari like a fool. He had some sort of huge backpack strapped to him that worked as a battery, weird lightning rod objects on his hands, and metallic coils around his arms. She’d rigged up a microphone even and was pitching her support objects even as Kaminari tried to fry her alive. At least the support gear stopped him from going completely loopy after his largest lightning bolt yet. And then, when she was done selling herself, she stepped out of the arena happily and bowed to the crowd.

 

Karma just laughed at the dumb expression on Kaminari’s face as he processed what had just happened. Even Present Mic in the commentary box didn’t seem to have much to say, Hatsume had stolen even his thunder with her setup. She seemed like someone he could get along with and seemed quite proud of herself.

 

Slowly, Karma realized that he wasn’t sitting quite on his own anymore. As he waited for the next match to start, the students of 1-A that weren’t in waiting rooms had gathered loosely around each other and were chatting about strategies and their potential opponents. Bakugou was somewhere near his left ear is heated discussion with Izuku of all people about his upcoming fight with Tokoyami. It made Karma smile as he injected himself into Jiro, Ashido and Aoyama’s conversation about what they would have done differently.

 

The next bout promised to be quite interesting; it was going to be Todoroki versus Iida and, while 1-A knew it would lean quite heavily towards Todoroki’s win, they knew Iida wouldn’t give up without giving it his absolute best.

 

“How would you go about this one, if you were Iida, Karma-san?” Izuku asked him suddenly.

 

“If I were Iida, hm?” He leant back in his seat, put his feet up on the one in front of him and mulled over the question. “Well, Todoroki mainly uses ranged attacks. So I’d try and stick close to him and throw him off, but that doesn’t mean he can’t use close range attacks either. His best bet is to stay just out of touching range and keep moving.”

 

Izuku nodded quietly. Beneath them, Iida and Todoroki were making their way into the main stage. Iida’s face was set, but as the camera panned across him Karma could see the war of emotions behind his eyes. They’d done a lot of sparring work together, and he wondered if Iida would be able to shine.

Chapter Text

Todoroki Shouto was pretty sure his lungs were about to burst. He hardly had a chance to breathe before Iida was circling around and coming at him again at full speed. Each kick was powered by the engines in his legs firing loudly, and the boy could throw a haymaker that would probably take his head off if he let it connect. Ice shot from where Todoroki stepped in jagged pillars, but Iida was moving so fast that he couldn’t focus on his aim with it and was soundly beaten down again and again and again.

 

It was starting to hurt, actually. When had Iida gotten so good?

 

There was a blur of blue next to him, Todoroki’s only warning before both of Iida’s hands, clenched together like a prayer, came down mere inches from where Todoroki’s head had just been.

 

It had to be something to do with Akabane. He’d seen them practicing together before, and he’d thought that the boy was just there to help Midoriya deal with his self-destructive quirk but he’d clearly been helping the others as well. Uraraka fought like the dogs of hell were on her heels against Bakugou and now Iida as well.

 

Todoroki slammed his hands on the floor, a thick wall of ice forming to separate him from Iida. It gave him precious seconds to recover some energy and try to defrost his arm and leg where his quirk was spreading. His father was lurking on the stands, he could feel the man’s heavy glower cutting into the back of his head. Akabane had managed to pull him away before the confrontation had gotten out of hand, and with a pretty spectacular look on Endeavour’s face, but he could tell it was a temporary fix. He’d win without using the fire quirk in battle and that was all there was to it.

 

—-

 

“Aren’t those some of your moves, Karma-san?” Izuku asked, his eyes attempting to track Iida’s increasingly fast movements. The ice underfoot was sending him moving faster than he was expecting.

 

“Iida’s been paying attention.” Karma grinned devilishly. He didn’t have nearly the same problem following the boy, although maybe in a brawl like this he’d have to get creative. “I wonder how he’s going to get over this ice wall.”

 

Iida seemed to have other ideas about getting over the wall, however, as he backed away from it and got into a runner’s crouch. He waited patiently until Todoroki decided he was recovered enough and the ice began to melt away. That was interesting, Karma thought, he could create ice but not move it afterwards? The engines on Iida’s legs roared to life, no longer idle, and blazingly fast he shot across their battleground towards the shocked looking Todoroki.

 

His fingers found purchase on the back of Todoroki’s jacket, the momentum carrying the boy off of his feet and sending both of them flying towards the boundary line. Karma and Izuku leant forward in their seats, breath tight in their throats, as Iida threw his whole self into one last ditch effort.

 

Steam seemed to explode across the arena. The crowd’s vision was immediately obscured by it and a roar of dismay echoed through the area. It felt like a cold front washed over the stands and Karma shivered.

 

When the clouds parted, helped by a breeze from a few heroes watching intently, Iida was slumped over against the wall of the arena with ice encasing his engines. Todoroki had barely saved himself from going out of bounds as well, caught by another huge wall of ice, but he looked far more injured than the other boy.

 

“Looks like he won the battle, but lost the war.” Karma said, leaning back in his seat.

 

Although he looked disappointed with his loss, Iida pushed himself to his feet and hobbled over to Todoroki. He helped the other boy extract himself from the ice and they shook hands while both smiled gently.

 

“We should go and meet them!” Izuku hopped out of his seat and was already halfway down the stairs by the time Uraraka and Karma caught up with him.

 

—-

 

They found Iida in his designated waiting room, trying to call his brother and tell him the news. He waved to them shortly, more of a wiggle of the fingers than anything else, but looked frustratedly down at his phone when all he met was voice mail.

 

“Hello, Midoriya-kun, Uraraka-chan, Akabane-san.”

 

“Where did Todoroki go?” Karma wondered aloud, poking his head out of the door before closing it softly behind them. He was a little worried that the boy was going to get into a confrontation with his father, especially after their earlier hasty escape.

 

“I’m not sure…” Iida muttered. “He was right behind me.”

 

He closed the phone with a quick snap and shoved it back into his pocket. Behind his glasses there were unshed tears glistening, but a quick blink fought them back. Karma slapped him on the shoulder playfully. It felt like slapping a brick wall. Iida was built like a truck.

 

“Well, anyway, I know I’m proud of you.” He grinned. “What happened when all that steam exploded?”

 

“I don’t believe it was steam.” He muttered. “It was more like ice in the air. Todoroki-kun had frozen my engines when I lifted him, but since the ground was frozen I could continue sliding forwards and I think he panicked-“

 

“I used both of my sides.” Came a gruff voice from behind them. Karma span around and found that Todoroki had somehow slipped into the room without him noticing- a fact that made his blood boil. How was the boy so damn quiet? “I made a promise to myself, a long time ago, and you almost managed to make me break it. Akabane- you’re a bad influence.”

 

“What can I say?” Karma laughed. He shoved his hands in his pockets and hopped back onto the closest table, the very picture of nonchalance. “I’m just thinking ahead.”

 

Todoroki looked like he had visited Recovery Girl. The bruises and scrapes that had littered his body, especially around his bare arms where he had blocked Iida’s vicious kicks, had faded almost to nothing and now looked barely yellow. Iida, on the other hand, still looked fresh as a daisy.

 

“What do you mean, made a promise you wouldn’t use it?”

 

All eyes turned to Izuku. His hands were clenched and trembling by his sides and his frown was heavyset and shadowed.

 

“I will rise to the top, only using my right side in battle. I refuse to use my father’s quirk.”

 

That must have been the wrong thing to say, because Izuku moved like someone had lit him on fire. Two steps forward and his shaking hands were clenched in the neck of Todoroki’s uniform. The muscles in his arms stood out as he lifted Todoroki closer to him, and Karma could see the boy’s eyes dart down to both Izuku and where his own feet were barely touching the floor, purely through his own strength and not the strength of his quirk.

 

“Everyone here- everyone here except you -are putting their entire heart and souls into becoming heroes. They spend every day training and working to becoming the best, to save people, to help people, to stop villains and you think you can half ass it the entire way?!”

 

Suddenly he dropped Todoroki and the boy practically crumbled to the floor, no longer supported by Izuku.

 

“The only people you’re spiting here are yourself and the future people you can’t save because of some grudge. It’s not your father’s quirk you’re denying- it’s your own.”

 

“You don’t understand-“

 

“Shut the fuck up, Todoroki! You think Aizawa-sensei would have let your get away with this?! You’re just spitting on his memory by telling us you’re just going to ‘rise to the top’ in such a shallow way!”

 

Izuku turned on his heel and stalked out of the room, swiftly followed by Iida and Uraraka who hardly spared a glance back at Todoroki. He pushed himself to his feet and looked anywhere except at the still-grinning Karma.

 

“I suppose you’re happy.” Todoroki muttered.

 

“I’m pretty proud, actually.” He hopped off of the table and began to follow after the others. “Well, my match is coming up soon. I should go get ready.”

 

Karma blew a cheeky kiss to Todoroki, who seemed to have turned quite purple from a mix of emotions, and shut the door behind him as he left. Judging from the muffled noise of the crowd outside, Bakugou was done with his fight with Tokoyami and Izuku would be battling Kirishima next. It wasn’t long after Karma shored up in his own room before Ojiro stopped by.

 

“I wanted to wish you luck.” He said, leaning on the door frame. “Kick his ass for me.”

 

—-

 

His promise to Ojiro weighed heavily on him, not because of his sense of obligation- he wasn’t particularly close to the tailed boy, although he did appreciate his company- but because Shinsou’s quirk was a force to be reckoned with. His own quirk relied on speech to activate, and in that way they were very similar, but that meant he had only two options. Speak first, or don’t speak at all.

 

Karma could see Shinsou’s hands trembling as they stepped up to the arena together. He focused on the messy, purple haired boy- really focused - to see the way he leant more to his left side when he stood, the way he wasn’t actually making eye contact but rather staring at something just above Karma’s head, the way the muscles in his arm twinged as he clenched his fists, the way his eyes were heavy with sleep that wouldn’t come. Weakness, things that Karma filed away in the back of his head.

 

“How the fuck did you manage to get into the hero course?” Shinsou was speaking suddenly, over the top of Mic’s announcements and Kayama-sensei getting ready to count down.

 

Karma said nothing. He did smile, though. Shinsou had already guessed that one of Karma’s options was to trigger his quirk before the match had even started.

 

“You’re just as fucking useless as me when it comes to fighting robots. I bet you’re sleeping with a teacher.”

 

Kayama-sensei’s flogger dropped, starting the match, and Karma brought his hands up. Straight away, Shinsou flinched backwards. However, Karma had other ideas of what to do with his hands.

 

“Wait a second, everyone, what’s Akabane doing with his hands? It looks like...yep that’s sign language!” Mic’s voice boomed across the stadium. “Give me a bit I haven’t had to use it in a long time.”

 

I’m pretty good with wiring.

 

Shinsou didn’t look like he believed him, if the heavy scowl on his face said anything.

 

The entrance exam is biased, I agree with you. Aizawa-sensei said so too.

 

Mic’s voice stuttered as he translated what Karma was saying to the crowd.

 

“Fat lot of use that does.” Shinsou growled. “People like you are blessed- I’ve got dreams too, and goals. You lot would just step all over me.”

 

You think I got through all this riding the tails of my quirk? Why don’t I show you what I can do.

 

Fear flashed through Shinsou’s eyes. Karma moved fast. He hadn’t fought someone all out in such a long time that he couldn’t help but let that manic, devilish expression slip out again. Shinsou had enough skills to dodge most of Karma’s wild swings and sweeping kicks, but each blow he managed to land made Shinsou wince with pain. It was a one-sided beatdown. Some time between grabbing the back of Shinsou’s uniform- they had to stop making these so loose, it was too easy to grab- and driving his knee into Shinsou’s stomach hard enough to make the boy vomit, Karma felt a tiny pang of guilt. It probably wasn’t necessary to drag this out any longer. He’d definitely made his point. With a crescent kick that arched high into the air, Karma brought his heel straight down on Shinsou’s head. He dropped to the floor in a heap, eyes unfocused, wincing in pain.

 

“Shinsou Hitoshi!” Kayama-sensei called from her seat. “Can you still fight?”

 

Karma knelt down next to the boy, gripped the messy purple hair and dragged his head up to face their proctor. “Forfeit, Shinsou. You’ve probably got a concussion from that last kick. I wouldn’t try using that quirk of yours any time soon.”

 

Shinsou grit his teeth and, practically spitting every word, forfeited the match loudly. This time there was no proud roar of the crowd, barely even a scattered applause. Karma dropped his opponent and began to leave with his hands once more in his pockets. He’d probably get scolded for the way he acted later.

 

“Hey, Shinsou.” Karma called over his shoulder before he left. “Just because you forfeited, doesn’t mean you should give up.”

 

“Fuck off…” The defeated boy muttered quietly. Karma could hear him pull himself to his feet instead of taking the paramedic’s help. Maybe one day he’d be a powerful foe, but today was not that day.

 

—-

 

Karma watched a second brutal beatdown in the form of Todoroki completely icing over the stadium in a fit of anger, trapping Kaminari in the center of it. The jagged icicles reached even where he was sitting in the stands- he was starting to get tired of walking up and down the stairs all the time, but only half of the matches really interested him- and he recoiled from the closest one to him. After Kaminari had given up, Todoroki melted the ice away with his other hand. It took a while, though, what with the sheer amount of ice that he’d created.

 

Similarly, Bakugou’s battle with Tokoyami was just as explosive. Dark Shadow could hardly keep up with the sheer amount of light coming from Bakugou’s palms. Even despite that, he put up a fight.

 

“Has everyone been taking lessons from you?”

 

Glancing upwards, Karma realized Monoma was leaning over the barrier dividing their two classes.

 

“Sort of. Since we all practice together, you tend to learn each other’s moves eventually.”

 

Tokoyami had managed to clock Bakugou right in the jaw, just as the boy had swept up underneath him with his palms blazing. The crowd erupted into cheers, celebrating both boys pretty evenly. Even so, it was only a matter of time before Bakugou had Tokoyami pinned to the floor, one hand over his beak, and forced him to forfeit.

 

The competition was going to get tough, very soon. Bakugou stared up at the 1-A seats and pointed directly to Karma.

 

“You’re next, Akabane!”

Chapter Text

“It’s time for a fucking rematch!”

 

Blood pounded in his ears so loudly that Karma could hardly hear the simultaneous roars and jeers of the crowd. Bakugou was really getting into it, hopping on the balls of his feet and revving the crowd up. Even Kayama-sensei was holding off on her countdown to let him heckle back at a couple of gen-ed kids. Karma’s mind was buzzing with possibilities, reeling with strategies, replaying Bakugou’s fights over and over again. Finally the boy span on his heel and pointed him out once more.

 

This was actually kind of like wrestling, Karma pondered as Bakugou tried to taunt him. He supposed it would have worked if he had really been fifteen.

 

Kayama-sensei’s flogger cracked once more and Bakugou’s hands exploded like thunder as he shot across the arena. His maneuverability was too great in a wide area like this, and there was no way to drag him into a close quarters fight. Karma threw himself to the side.

 

“I’m not wearing the gauntlets this time!” He barked, dropping from the sky suddenly right where Karma had just sprung to his feet. The impact left another crater behind.

 

The adrenaline had his hands shaking already, and, for a split second, as he twisted backwards and hand-sprung away from one of Bakugou’s explosions, Karma worried that they’d slip out from underneath him. In all of his matches, however, no one had pointed out the svelte black gloves that he wore. Even Kayama-sensei, who definitely knew what they were, hadn’t mentioned them at the beginning of the fight.

 

Each of Bakugou’s swings were closer than the last. He was hardly giving him enough time to think, let alone trigger his quirk. So, Karma thought, that was his game. He’d realized at some point that Karma needed to actually speak in order to start the process and wasn’t going to give him an opening. A blow barely skimmed over his head, ruffling his hair in the force of it and he launched himself backwards again. A second crater exploded exactly where he’d been standing mere moments before and from the rubble, Bakugou pulled his fist from the obliterated stone floor with a manic grin across his face.

 

Karma could almost taste the bloodlust coming from him. He must have been the only 1-A student that Karma could feel actual, sharp, killing intent from. It made him grin in return, the two’s twin villainous expressions projected across the stadium on the huge screens for all to see.

 

With a laugh that echoed loudly, Bakugou swung for Karma again and again. Each blow he blocked was only followed by an explosion that made his ears ring and his head ache but Karma refused to let the boy’s attacks actually connect. They were both tiring fast. Karma could see sweat trickle off the ends of Bakugou’s hair- it was starting to flatten out the harder they fought. He felt in a similar state, his every breath aching down to his bones and there was a sharp feeling somewhere distant in his side. There was only so much longer he’d be able to hold out, and, sadly, he didn’t have the confidence that he could drag it out longer than Bakugou.

 

Karma slapped his hands together, hoping that the gloves would work. He hadn’t tested them out before now. Bakugou dashed in close again, preparing for another huge swing, but, instead of dodging and retreating, this time Karma met his blow. He knocked his outstretched hand away with the palm of his right- the resulting explosion went off above their heads- and Karma lashed out with his left, aiming for any exposed part of Bakugou. His fingertips grazed along Bakugou’s retreating neck and he cried out, his quirk firing on all cylinders in order to get away from Karma’s attack.

 

“What did you just-“ He started to ask, rubbing his stinging neck and arm, but stopped as soon as Karma opened his mouth to reply. “No, don’t fucking tell me. I’ll figure it out later!”

 

Karma had to chuckle. Bakugou still wouldn’t give him an opportunity to use his quirk. This time Bakugou tried to fight conservatively, dodging Karma’s outstretched hands and reaching fingers, but his style was far more suited to aggression and he quickly became frustrated with himself. He gave up on the defensive fighting and launched himself forwards again- only to get the full brunt of Karma’s electrified gloves along one of his arms. With the current coursing through his muscles his hands clenched against his will, cutting off an explosion before it could fully start, and he wrenched himself away.

 

“You motherfucker!” He squawked, holding onto his trembling arm tightly. “I’ll kill you!”

 

Karma felt like a lightbulb in his brain had been flipped on. This was no longer a game, but life or death. An assassination order had been given and he would see it through. He smiled lopsidedly, remembering the time one of Nagisa’s students had tried to ‘assassinate’ the teacher- with a very similar battle cry actually- during one of their open days. The kid had been flat on his back in seconds and Karma had never been more in love.

 

Bakugou was not Nagisa.

 

Bakugou was his foe.

 

When he went high, Karma ducked low. A quick sweep of his foot threw Bakugou off balance and as he reeled backwards he jammed the heel of his electrified hand into Bakugou’s stomach. The blow took him off of his feet and Karma was on him in a blink, one knee pressing into his forearm, one hand hovering over his heart, and the other over his face. Then, as quickly as it came, the spell over him broke and Karma let himself go limp and loose and sat down next to Bakugou.

 

“Man!” He grumbled, stretching out his arms and surreptitiously turning off the shock gloves. “That last hit really took it out of me. Hey, Kayama-sensei. I forfeit.”

 

WHAT?!

 

The shock travelled through the whole crowd, but before Kayama-sensei could hop off her podium- although when Karma looked closer, it seemed like she’d already been halfway to getting off of it. Cementoss was as well. Interesting.- Karma escaped off of the boundary with a light hop. He left Bakugou behind with a light laugh as the boy lay there in shock.

 

Kayama-sensei pulled Bakugou to his feet. He leant heavily on her arm until the electricity finished making the muscles of his arms and legs twitch uncontrollably.

 

“What the fuck were those gloves?” He asked her as she walked him off.

 

“Support items, he put in an exception weeks ago because of his non-combat quirk.” She had a frown creasing her eyebrows, but it was gone as soon as it had come. “I guess he decided you were enough of a threat to use them.”

 

The exit hallway was dark. Kayama-sensei left him to his own devices once she’d seen him safely there. The adrenaline was still coursing through Bakugou’s body, but with nowhere to direct it he just felt cold and shivery. Karma could have killed him, he thought. There was enough juice going through those gloves that if he’d touched his heart or head that would have been it.

 

“You figured it out, yet?” Came Karma’s lilting voice, shuttered away in the shadows of the tunnel.

 

“That you could have offed me?”

 

“Honestly if I wanted to, you’d already be dead. No. More like, that if you’re going to threaten to kill me- you should come at me like you’re actually going to do it.”

 

“Another one of your life lessons?” Bakugou spat, hands clenched at his sides. Sparks travelled along them and bounced off of the sweat slick of his hair. It created tiny explosions that rained to the floor like fireworks.

 

“I think I give very good life lessons, thanks.” Karma just laughed and finally Bakugou could see him retreating back into the darkness. He was surprised at the amount of relief he could feel when he could no longer see that fiery red hair. “Good luck with your next match Bakugou.”

 

—-

 

Idly, Todoroki Shouto wondered if he was going to die here. His father was so blisteringly angry that he could feel the heat coming from his quirk even from where he stood. Across from him, Midoriya was similarly just as angry- but instead of heat coming from him in waves, it was almost like sparks were traveling across his skin. It flowed down his arms and legs, the initial activation of his quirk having faded and leaving just an insurmountable pressure behind.

 

Well. If he was going to die, he wanted it to be Midoriya that did it and not his father.

 

The first wave of ice bursts from the ground almost before Midnight’s flogger dropped. He knew he had to be fast with Midoriya. If he was anything at all like All Might then his top speed was nothing to joke about. A second blast followed as soon as he saw the first cracks forming in the ice wall. Midoriya was through it before he could even blink. He punched like a freight train. More and more walls of ice sprung up around the arena, as Todoroki was forced to block Midoriya’s wild attacks. And wild they were. He had an ugly snarl on his face and each successive attack was stronger and stronger, until Midoriya seemed to be pushing himself to the limit.

 

—-

 

Kayama Nemuri had no idea of what to make of this year’s class 1-A. Sure, they’d been through some shit but did they really have to act like this? She was pretty sure that last punch through Todoroki’s ice wall had fractured Midoriya’s arm and he was nursing a serious sprain on one of his ankles. Despite that though, he was putting his all into the battle.

 

She knew how Mic felt about the Akabane kid, but she’d seen the way he encouraged the other members of his class and how he helped teach them. Sure he was a little rough around the edges… She threw herself out of the way of a giant ice spear that launched itself in her direction. Cementoss blocked it from hitting the crowd on that side and she heaved a sigh of relief. They were getting out of control.

 

In any case Kayama could see the way Akabane’s influence had changed the class, and the potential fallout of him being the spy would be great.

 

—-

 

The ice was starting to hurt. His quirk was starting to hurt. What was he up to now? Seven percent? Eight percent? Whatever it was, Midoriya Izuku was feeling the strain it put on his body. Something ached in his arms and legs, especially in his forearms and wrists, and with each movement the pain grew sharper. He dodged the jagged spikes that burst from the ground next to him, rolling across the swiftly freezing ground. His breath puffed clouds into the air that he could see mirrored in Todoroki. When he actually managed to get a good look at him. A swift kick devastated a glacial barrier, turning it into glass-like chunks and shards that sliced shreds into his uniform.

 

He could see the panic setting in on Todoroki’s face. His own attacks may have been angry, wild and desperate, but the other boy’s were also increasingly do-or-die. Izuku smashed through more and more hastily thrown up walls- some thicker than others- until he was finally face to face with Todoroki. Ice crystals had formed over half of his face and body, but Izuku gave him no recourse. Todoroki had to throw himself backwards to dodge Izuku’s swing and, when he threw his arms up in a last ditch attempt to defend himself, roaring flames burst from his body.

 

The crowd reeled in shock.

 

1-A collectively lent forwards. Karma held his breath.

 

Almost immediately, the flames were extinguished as fast as they had come. With the heat blazing outwards, the remaining ice walls had been reduced to slowly melting chunks littering the stadium.

 

In the center, Todoroki held onto Izuku tightly. There were tears running freely down his face and even from Karma’s seat in the stands he could see the beginnings of a panic attack in his face and the way his shoulders heaved. Izuku looked like he was in a lot of pain, clutching at the side of his uniform that was burnt away by the wildfire and great, red, blisters covered his exposed skin.

 

The medics swarmed the scene straight away and Izuku and Todoroki were carted off. Kayama-sensei seemed just as shocked as the rest of the onlookers. Ochaco and Iida shot out of their seats, followed closely by Karma. As they hurried towards the infirmary, Karma could hear Midnight and Mic attempting to placate the crowd and cobble together a show to keep them entertained. They’d need it, Karma thought, as he was sure Todoroki was in no state to be fighting Bakugou right now.

 

Speaking of the aggressive blond. They found him pacing back and forth in front of the doors to the infirmary. He was scowling deeply, hands clenched tightly by his sides, and when he heard the group’s panicked steps he span sharply to face them.

 

“They won’t let me in.” He spat.

 

Then, he growled, dragged his hands painfully through his hair, and slumped on the floor next to the wall. Bakugou drew his knees up to his chest and hid his face in them.

 

Ochaco sighed and joined him, adding to the vigil outside the door. The minutes ticked by slowly and Karma tried to tell himself that the rapid beat of his heart wasn’t from worry over the quiet boy. It didn’t work very well. Iida stood, stoic and brave faced, on the one side of the door and Karma took the other. Ochaco and Bakugou watched from the floor, both of them hardly blinking.

 

Abruptly, a phone’s loud ringing startled all four of them and Ochaco practically shot a foot into the air. It turned out to be Iida’s- though Karma should have been able to guess by the default ringtone- as he plucked it from his pocket and turned away from the group with apologies. Even just watching his back, Karma could see him run the gamut of emotion. Eventually his hushed whispering stopped and he snapped the phone shut.

 

“I must apologize.” He said, voice hoarse. “Please give Midoriya-kun had Todoroki-kun my well wishes.”

 

With that, his engines roared to life and he accelerated away into the depths of the halls. Ochaco stared after him, her mouth pursed into an even thinner line than before. She’d turned even paler, too.

 

“I hope everything’s okay.”

 

—-

 

A soft beeping noise woke Izuku up. He found himself staring at the ceiling of Recovery Girl’s infirmary. It was almost a nostalgic feeling. He hadn’t gotten himself in here since USJ, and when Karma had helped him figure out how to control his quirk better. Izuku realized slowly that the beeping was coming from a machine that was attached to him by little sticky diodes. Distantly he recognized it as a heart monitor and that his right side was bandaged and taped up tightly, almost all the way down to his hip. But his head felt foggy and pleasant, and any pain was for future Izuku to deal with.

 

Elsewhere in the room, he could hear Todoroki talking quietly with someone. He sounded like he’d just finished crying. Even though Izuku was still mad at him, at least he thought he was, but he still felt himself reach out as if to pat him on the shoulder or pull him in for a hug.

 

Long, slender fingers met his and Izuku sighed quietly. Why had he been reaching out again? Oh right. Todoroki. The scarred face of the boy swam into view and a dopey smile slid across Izuku’s face.

 

“Todoroki.” He said, the words felt like cotton in his mouth and the syllables dripped off of his lips. “I’m still mad at you.”

 

“I know.” The boy said, gingerly holding Izuku’s uninjured fingers.

 

“I couldn’t fix all of the scarring.” A second voice said from the other side of the cot. When Izuku finally managed to roll his head in that direction, he found Recovery Girl sitting there. “You’ll be a little out of it while the drugs wear off.”

 

Izuku nodded, or rather tried to. His head mostly just rolled forward and he blinked in confusion. That wasn’t what he wanted. Todoroki just tilted his head back onto the pillow gently. Comfortably nestled in the sheets, he could feel sleep tugging at his eyes again and Izuku let himself drift off.

 

With a stern warning from Recovery Girl, Todoroki left the infirmary. As the door shut behind him he realized he was hardly alone in the hallway. Karma and the others were still camped out there after all.

Chapter Text

There was a mutual uneasy silence from all parties. Bakugou was attempting to look languid and unconcerned, having uncurled from his ball against the wall but Karma didn’t think he was doing a very good job of it. Ochaco was stuck between a glare and worry.

 

“Midoriya is going to be fine.” Todoroki bowed deeply. “I’m sorry for not being able to control myself better, and for worrying you.”

 

“Whatever,” Bakugou said, hopping to his feet. “So long as he ain’t dead.”

 

Ochaco let out a quiet sigh of relief as Todoroki came out of his bow. The colour had at least come back into her cheeks. They watched as Todoroki closed the short distance between himself and Bakugou, the two boys staring each other down eye-to-eye.

 

“Bakugou. I can’t fight you at my full strength yet.”

 

“Tch. I figured you were going to wimp out on me like that.” Bakugou grumbled. He leant against the wall, arms folded in front of him. “I’m not some weakling you need to protect. Don’t expect me to go easy on you just ‘cause you gave yourself a handicap.”

 

With that, Bakugou pushed himself away from the wall and began walking away. It took a second for him to put his thoughts in order, but Todoroki jogged to catch up with him and Karma saw Bakugou glance backwards as if to make sure he was actually there.

 

“Standing at his door ain’t gonna make Deku get better faster!” He called back over his shoulder. It startled Ochaco, but she jumped to her feet as well and hurried after them with bright pink staining her cheeks.

 

“You just want us to watch you fight!”

 

“Shut the fuck up Akabane!”

 

—-

 

Although Todoroki put up a valiant fight, ultimately, without using his fire side, he was doomed to lose against Bakugou. In the end he was thrown clear from the ring and landed in a jumble of limbs against an ice wall he’d created. Karma watched Bakugou physically have to reel himself back in, shoulders drawn tight and high as he took a few deep breaths to calm himself down. The crowd applauded both boys. He could even hear 1-B making their own comments about how powerful both of them seemed. Although Todoroki’s father was making his seething anger known even from all the way across the stands. Anyone that was even vaguely sensitive to the sort of energy he was putting off could have noticed him. Karma rolled his eyes. Did people not know the meaning of subtlety anymore?

 

For the awards ceremony, Karma ended up in joint third place with a heavily bandaged Izuku leaning against him for support. He’d tried to turn down the award but Midnight had dragged him up the podium herself and planted him there physically. From his second place spot, Todoroki was still definitely giving them both funny looks.

 

Bakugou, on the other hand, was revelling in his first place. There were a few people in the crowd that had begun to heckle and tease him, shouting over all the other people’s well wishes, and with a vicious grin across his face he’d long begun to shout back at them again. Karma thought he was probably going to go deaf from all the overly exuberant people in his life.

 

They called All Might down from the stands and the man performed an absolutely ridiculous leap to get down to them. Karma wondered if that sort of stunt hurt him. He’d brought the medals with him and he stepped up the short stairs to where Karma and Izuku were.

 

“I am proud beyond belief of the both of you.” He said, bringing his usually booming voice down to a more manageable level. He put his overwhelmingly large hands on their shoulders gently. “Young Midoriya, you should take better care of yourself.”

 

The tips of Izuku’s ears turned red. “I’ll try my best.” He muttered, staring at the floor and twisting his feet awkwardly so he wouldn’t have to make eye contact.

 

“As for you, Akabane-kun.”

 

Karma found himself pinned by All Might’s intense stare. Instead of averting his gaze like Izuku, however, Karma grinned back at him.

 

“You might want to work on your restraint a bit!” He laughed, throwing his head back as he put his whole body into it. “We do need to talk later, though. Teacher to students.”

 

The bronze medals were hung around their necks and Karma fiddled with his idly as All Might moved on to Todoroki and Bakugou. He thought he’d restrained himself pretty admirably, all things considered. All Might continued his speech, turning and addressing the crowd and the students who hadn’t managed to make it to the podium. He didn’t need Mic’s vocal quirk to be heard by everyone and by the time he was done Karma’s ears were ringing.

 

When they were finally free to go Karma started to help Izuku down the steps, by slinging the boy’s good arm over his shoulders, but Bakugou hopped down as well and braced his other side. He was still scowling as he did it but Izuku thanked him quietly anyway.

 

“Akabane would probably hurt you if he did it by himself anyway.”

 

“Aw, he’s worried about you Izuku-kun.”

 

For the dozenth time that day, Bakugou started cussing him out. He snarled and snapped at Karma over the top of Izuku’s head, making him feel like Bakugou was a puppy barking over the top of a fence- the imagery just made him want to tease the boy even more, so he did. But, no matter how angry he seemed to get, Bakugou didn’t jostle or shove Izuku from where he was stuck between them. All together they managed to make it back to the infirmary where Izuku practically threw himself on the bed in relief.

 

“Oh man I am so sore everywhere.” He groaned, gently pressing the heel of his hand to his bandaged cheek. “Recovery Girl’s quirk really takes it out of you.”

 

Bakugou grunted in reply, already heading for the door. “I’m gonna go punch that hot-n-cold bastard again.”

 

“Kacchan, no!”

 

—-

 

Back in the classroom, finally out of their gross-feeling PE uniforms- Karma for sure knew that if he never saw the blue material again it would be too soon- the students were relaxing while Kayama-sensei explained that they’d been given the next couple of days off to recover their strength. They were also waiting for the nominations for work experience to come in from the pro heroes who would be taking them on. Ripples of excitement shivered through the classroom.

 

The door to the classroom slid open and Izuku, with his bandages freshly removed and looking exhausted, stepped through. He apologized for being late back but Kayama-sensei just waved him over to his seat. Karma could see the burn scarring threading across his cheek and down his neck from where he sat. It didn’t seem to be giving him any pain anymore, thankfully, after Recovery Girl had finished with him.

 

Kayama-sensei repeated what she’d just been saying for Izuku’s sake and, as they had a bit of time left, she let them chat amongst themselves as they got ready to go home for their early weekend.

 

“Who do you hope you get to work with, Izuku?” Ochaco asked him. She was leaning on the edge of his table.

 

Immediately he began muttering away, prompting eye rolls and groans from the rest of the class. He seemed to have some sort of numerical value grading system assigned to the potential candidates. Karma hardly had half a clue who most of the heroes even were and planned on picking based on aesthetic as it didn’t make a difference to him.

 

Eventually Kayama-sensei told them to all hurry up and go home and the class slowly began to file out of the doors, complaining about sore limbs and aching joints the whole way. Karma and Ojiro made plans to meet up at the dojo during their off days and Bakugou ended up joining the slowly growing group after Kaminari hooked an arm behind his head and begged to join in as well. Apparently Karma’s combat prowess was enough to inspire a few other members of their class. That gave him an idea, actually.

 

“I’ll see you later, I have to go see someone.” Karma said, slipping away from Ojiro and the others.

 

He hoped that the other classes hadn’t let out before theirs as he hurried down the corridor, counting room numbers as he went. Did U.A. really need to have this many rooms? 1-C was nestled away, hidden in the back of the halls and when he finally managed to find it the gen-ed students were filing out. They were chatting quietly amongst themselves and parted around Karma, shooting him dirty looks that he ignored with a smug grin on his face. Shinsou was one of the last to exit. When he looked up from the floor and noticed Karma waiting for him his face crumpled in disgust. There was no escape.

 

“Shinsou~!” Karma called, sliding up next to the boy and slinging an arm over his shoulder. “Don’t say anything. I’m starting a fight club, you should join.”

 

Shinsou opened his mouth to reply, scowling deeply, but Karma pressed his hand over his mouth.

 

“Nope, I said don’t say anything. You lot in gen-ed are being held back, how many of them want to become heroes as well but can’t even throw a punch? Let me know if you want in.”

 

He released Shinsou and sprung away back down the corridor. Now to find a teacher to sponsor the club.

 

—-

 

The press of people on the train around him was suffocating. It was early morning, people were heading in to work and school around him, but the U.A. students had been given the next couple of days off. Karma was heading in to the city to meet Ojiro and some of the others at his dojo. A heavy bag full of gym equipment was slung over his shoulder and he pointedly ignored the muttering and whispers around him. People were starting to notice that he was one of the third place winners of the sports festival and it was extremely strange to be the center of the public eye like this.

 

“Karma-kun? Karma-kun it is you!”

 

The crowd parted and wriggled around as a girl near his height pushed through and squeezed her way up next to him. She wore a different school’s uniform, something that he didn’t recognize, and dark sunglasses.

 

“Just because you go to U.A. now doesn’t mean you get to ignore my texts, mister!” She said, laughing and prodding him in the chest.

 

Oh no.

 

She was one of the previous Karma’s friends. He had been hoping that he’d be able to avoid this happening for as long as possible.

 

“Ah well. I broke my phone and I’ve been too busy to get a replacement.” He said, rubbing at the back of his neck awkwardly.

 

Behind her sunglasses, he saw her eyes narrow suspiciously for a moment before her face broke into a broad grin. “Alright, dummy. Hurry up and get a new one. We’ll have to meet up some time! Bring all your new friends too, we miss you!”

 

The train bell rang, signaling that his stop was next. Karma made his apologies to the girl again and escaped into the city. He’d narrowly avoided a disaster, that much he was sure, but it was only a matter of time before he encountered her again. Pushing it to the back of his mind, he made his way to the dojo. Somehow he’d have to break into his own technology and figure out not only who she was, but what sort of personality she was expecting from him. How different could the other Karma be?

 

When he arrived, he felt the tension leak from his shoulders. Ojiro and Bakugou were arguing about mat placement again in one corner, Ashido and Ochaco were showing off their uniforms to each other, crisp and white and starchy, and a couple of the instructors were leading Izuku and Todoroki through a warm up. Here at least he could relax a bit.

 

—-

 

Their days off vanished quickly and school resumed just as fast as it had ended. Even Iida had returned, but still looked a little out of sorts. Karma had found out what happened to his brother on the news the other night and he watched the boy intently. If it had been him, Karma would have been barking for revenge. He’d already had a chance to kill a teacher, the next notch on his belt was probably going to be a villain. He wondered if Iida was the type.

 

Kayama-sensei began by letting them know that they’d be working on their hero code names later in the day, something that sent a storm of buzzing excitement around the class. Even Karma had to admit that was something pretty cool. It felt like being a real superhero. Before they could get to the fun stuff, however, she began writing up the nominations that each student had gotten from the pro heroes.

 

It was pretty one sided.

 

Bakugou and Todoroki came out miles ahead of everyone else. The other students that had gotten to the one-on-one battles received a handful of votes between them, sadly leaving the others in the dust. Not all was lost, though, as there was a list of agencies that had volunteered to take on students and they were all given free reign to pick. Karma stared at his list and wondered if he could borrow someone’s phone to search half of these names.

 

Slowly, scrunched up balls of paper were building around some of the students. Others had picked their names already, having had their roles decided since they were children. Izuku seemed to be one of the ones struggling the most. Watching the others step up to the podium with their own examples seemed to give him a burst of inspiration. Eventually it was Karma’s turn. He held his little whiteboard out and watched a lot of the other students blink in confusion. Tokoyami and Todoroki seemed to get it.

 

“Elysium. The fortunate hero.”

Chapter Text

The class was just about done, almost everyone having picked a suitable name- except Bakugou who insisted on being difficult and was being given a talking to by Kayama-sensei- when All Might skidded to a halt outside of the classroom in a very strange looking bow. Of course, seeing the huge man bow anyway was always a sight. It probably aggravated his injury, Karma thought, considering he didn’t do it very often.

 

“Young Akabane! Young Midoriya! Have you been avoiding me?” He said, voice booming through the classroom. The rest of the students leaned closer, as if they could eavesdrop on their conversation. “I require your presence!”

 

“I suppose we never did manage to have that conversation, did we, teach?” Karma asked, sauntering out of the classroom behind Izuku.

 

“You are very good at slipping away!” All Might laughed. He didn’t know the half of it.

 

“What’s going on, All Might?”

 

Izuku had to jog to keep up with his long strides but eventually the hero slowed down when he decided they were a suitable enough distance from any other students. All Might took a deep breath, looking like he was trying to build up the courage to talk to them. He let his puffed up form deflate. It was difficult to see, his hollowed cheeks and skeletal wrists, but Karma kept his eye contact. The man deserved that at least.

 

“Akabane-kun. I wanted to thank you for assisting with teaching Midoriya-kun, even with struggling with your own quirk.”

 

Karma rubbed the back of his head awkwardly. “Ah it’s okay. Izuku-kun has some good suggestions of his own.”

 

“In any case.” From his comically oversized suit pockets, All Might pulled a series of pamphlets out and held them out to both Karma and Izuku. “I know this is a difficult subject to broach, however, I think it’s necessary. Midoriya-kun mentioned to me that you’d had some loss in your life previously-“

 

Karma shot him a glare, but Izuku was resolutely looking anywhere other than at him. He supposed it was only a matter of time before someone dragged it out to a teacher. They didn’t know it was something that happened twenty years ago for him. This was exactly why he’d been trying to avoid being too alone with teachers.

 

“And after what had happened with...with Aizawa-san, I thought I should bring you these. The therapists here help pro heroes, I’ve already given these to Miss Asui, and I think you two should at least think about it as well.”

 

He wiggled the stacks of leaflets a little in their direction and, reluctantly, both of them took the paper. Karma shoved his in his back pocket, but Izuku held them tightly. They’d probably benefit him more. Karma had gotten pretty good at that whole compartmentalize your problems thing.

 

“Also! A new nomination has arrived for you, young Midoriya!” All Might gave him the last of the papers he held, but his hands were beginning to shake. “He is...my old teacher. He is aware of One for All...so…”

 

Karma and Izuku shared an odd look. Their teacher seemed positively terrified of this person. All Might continued to mutter and try to convince himself that this was a good idea.

 

“His name is Gran Torino, and he was a friend of my predecessor…”

 

Perhaps Todoroki’s theory about Izuku being related to All Might held some weight, Karma thought. They were both muttering up a storm together. Izuku was hunched over the paperwork, scanning each hero agency and comparing them. He even had his phone out and was searching for more info. All Might seemed to be trying to find something good to say about the mysterious Gran Torino.

 

“If that’s everything you needed, sensei?” Karma asked, beginning to slide away down the corridor.

 

“Oh! There was one more thing, do you need any help picking an agency to work with? You seemed quite the fish out of water!”

 

Although he seemed to have the intuition of an overly friendly labrador, Karma was surprised to see that All Might had noticed his floundering over the nominations. None of these heroes were familiar to him, so how was he supposed to choose? He pulled the sheet of paper that held his nominations from the inside pocket of his blazer and held them out to All Might- he’d finally stopped trembling now that the subject had moved on from Gran Torino.

 

The hero skimmed the short list. Despite coming in joint third with Izuku, Karma had only gotten a handful of hero agencies interested in him. The biggest scorers were definitely Todoroki and Bakugou. All Might hummed.

 

“I believe...you should try this one. They’re a rescue agency, and I think you would fit in well. As they are a group, they can cover the weaknesses of your quirk not being very versatile.”

 

“That’s an interesting name. Do they know it can be shortened to-“

 

“Yes. Yes I’m sure they know.”

 

Karma pursed his lips. Well, he supposed he had his pick. “One more thing, sensei. Would you sponsor a training club? Izuku-kun is my co-founder.”

 

Izuku’s head perked up at hearing his name. He blinked in bewilderment and pointed awkwardly at his chest. Obviously Karma hadn’t mentioned anything to him but he figured that the fastest way to his goal was exploiting the shit out of their relationship. He flicked his hand at the side of his waist, trying to keep Izuku quiet.

 

“Yeah, see, I noticed the gen-ed students didn’t really have a chance at the sports festival and I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried applying for hero jobs- I looked it up, just because they aren’t in a hero course doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed-“

 

All Might was practically tearing up the longer Karma spoke. His bony hands came down on either side of Karma’s shoulders and held him tightly. Suddenly, smoke billowed from his emancipated body and he expanded in size, muscles filling out the baggy suit, until those skeletal fingers were broad and powerful.

 

“Karma, my boy! I would be ecstatic to sponsor your club!”

 

That had been surprisingly easy. He grinned broadly, trying to keep the venom that he knew could bleed into it out as best he could.

 

—-

 

They commandeered the gym for the training club. Flyers had been printed and stuck on cork boards and on the first year teacher’s desks and the turnout for the first lesson was pretty good, despite work experience coming up fast. Karma hadn’t managed to strongarm Shinsou into attending, but it was only a matter of time he was sure.

 

Most of 1-A had shown up, anyone interested in combat at least. Bakugou and Ojiro had been a certainty, Ashido, Sero and Kaminari tagging along, Kirishima, Izuku, Iida and Ochako. Along with them were a handful of 1-B. Apparently Monoma wanted more experience copying quirks and following him were Kendo, a zombie-like girl called Yanagi, a beast-like boy called Shishida and someone that looked like a cross between an insect and a sword that went by Kamakiri.

 

All Might was leading a group through a few holds and takedowns, so Karma strode calmly across the room where Iida was using one of the mechanical weights to work on his legs. Ochaco was nearby, gossiping with Kendo as they worked out, so he cocked his head in a quieter direction.

 

There was a fire in Iida’s eyes. Karma was pretty sure he was right on the money about Iida’s opinion of the villain that had taken down his brother. If he asked what city Iida’s chosen hero agency was in, there was a good chance he’d answer with Hosu.

 

“I wanted to lend you these.” Karma said, holding out the shock gloves he’d snuck out from his uniform’s case.

 

Iida frowned, but he took them anyway. “I am not qualified to use these, Akabane-san.”

 

“I know, they’d want you to do that whole electricity training thing but it’s nothing you can’t figure out on your own.” Karma waved his hand flippantly. “There are five switches, but only three settings. The first switch is off. Then there’s light, which doesn’t do much but hurt. Medium can be used to disable muscles and can start arrhythmia in the heart. The next switch is off again as a safety measure. High is a defibrillator.”

 

Iida was still staring at the black gloves in his hands. “I don’t know what you intend for me to use these for.”

 

“I’ve done some research on that Stain villain. The survivors say he uses knives and swords to attack, and something that he does with his quirk freezes the victim in place.”

 

This time Iida looked up from the gloves. He was the closest any of the students so far came to having an actual targeted bloodlust. Bakugou’s was broad and far reaching, and it watered it down when it came to an actual target. He’d have made a horrible assassin. Iida, on the other hand, had picked his target. What Karma would have done to have been able to hire him as a bodyguard in his last life.

 

“You are correct, Akabane-san.”

 

“So~ I’d rather you take them, and not use them, then leave them here and need them.” Karma rocked back on his heels and slipped his hands into his pockets. Besides. He’d copied the schematics ages ago and had his own pair that he’d slipped back into the case.

 

“How did you know?” Iida wondered, almost shocked that he’d spoken out loud. “Midoriya-san and Uraraka-san have both expressed their concern but have not…”

 

“Let’s just say I am intimately acquainted with the need for revenge. There’s a couple of ways to get it out of your system and I don’t think Stain is the type to think that you becoming a pro is proper revenge.”

 

One of Iida’s pencil thin eyebrows rose.

 

“The best revenge is massive success, Iida. The second best is finishing what they started.”

 

—-

 

The training was looming faster than Karma would have liked. He was actually nervous; like it was the sports festival all over again, getting married, final exams, seeing Nagisa again, meeting Koro-sensei. The sort of nervous that set his body alight. Kayama-sensei had led them to the train station and was handing out itineraries for students with more than one stop and trying to wrangle the overly excited crowd. Even Tokoyami had a spring to his step.

 

“Everyone has their uniforms, right? Don’t lose them! You won’t enjoy what I’ll do to you if you do- Kaminari you don’t need that-“

 

Karma grinned, watching Kayama-sensei chase down the boy, and turned to the others. Ochaco and Izuku were talking quietly to Iida, who looked like he was pretending not to be tense and highly strung. He was wearing the shock gloves though. Karma had taught him the ins and outs of starting the electricity after the boy had finally relented to taking them with him. Iida was heading to Hosu, like Karma had guessed, Ochaco and Izuku were sticking pretty close by, and Karma was going to a city in the Nagano prefecture.

 

It was almost a four hour journey, stuck on a train with screaming children and their parents as it travelled deeper into the mountainous alps. The windows quickly grew foggy with the humidity outside and Karma despaired for his hair. It’d be stuck on end for days. They’d all set off so early that Karma was still tired and he leant his head on the tiny tray table in front of him. His luggage was stacked up on the seat next to him to deter said screaming children from climbing all over it, because they’d certainly tried at first. There was a growing headache at the base of his skull and he’d be happy once he got off the train, surely.

 

At least, that was the idea.

 

Get off the train. Get picked up by the hero team. Spend a week doing an unpaid internship again. Go home.

 

The heroes had decided to pick him up from the station in full uniform, right in the middle of the day, surrounded by people who didn’t find the matching idol-style outfits weird at all. Even on the extremely muscled man in the back posing very seriously with cute, plush paws on his hands.

 

Karma turned around and very nearly managed to get back on the train before all four of them leapt on him and dragged him bodily to the station exit.

 

He’d picked the Wild, Wild Pussycats. A hero team who worked mostly on natural disasters and mountainous rescues from their base in the city of Omachi. It was built on an active fault line, so there was rarely an end to their requests. Although Karma grumbled about the bus journey, which meant more sitting, the city was beautiful. It was surrounded on all sides by the mountain range, with a glimmering blue river running through it, and bustled with people from all walks of life.

 

When they finally reached the agency building, the Pussycats introduced themselves formally and Karma bowed deeply to them.

 

“So, Karma-kun!” Ragdoll, the one dressed in yellow with heavy kohl around her wide eyes, bounced on her feet lightly and grabbed him by both hands. “Welcome temporarily to the Wild, Wild Pussycats! Tell me about your quirk right now.”

 

He blinked at the plush cat paw gloves wrapped around his hands. “Uh.”

 

“Right now this second.”

 

“It’s luck. Kind of. I can manipulate the probability of things happening.”

 

Her eyes seemed to light up even more and Ragdoll pulled him up against her in a crushing hug. “Yes! He’s gonna be so good!”

 

Karma wriggled against her powerful grip. Despite the girls looking comparatively weaker than Tiger, who was hiding in the back with his arms crossed, looks were often deceiving and Karma was sure she’d punched out her fair share of villains in her time. Eventually she released him and Karma put a good arm’s distance between him and the Pussycat.

 

Mandalay and Pixie-Bob were laughing at him behind their hands. “C’mon, Karma-kun. We’ll show you around the agency.”

 

—-

 

He spent the day learning the mundanities of hero work, the permits and paperwork needed for rescues, Pixie-Bob showed him the terrain maps and where she’d shored up dams and landslides.

 

“It’s not very glamorous right now,” she said, almost apologetically, “but we don’t do a lot of villain work.”

 

Karma shrugged, watching the seismometer on the counter in front of him beep softly to itself. “No news is better than bad news, right?”

 

She nodded and smiled softly at him. In front of their row of equipment were various sidekicks staffing phones and generally being reassuring for the populace. Pixie-Bob explained that they got a lot of calls that were usually better handled by the police or other heroes, but occasionally there were non-disaster based events that one of them were best suited for. She also showed him how to use the earthquake reading equipment as that was the biggest issue that they faced in Omachi, other than landslides and flooding when the snow thawed. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful up to the point where Mandalay’s nephew, who’d been lurking in the corners of the agency the whole time, attempted to kick Karma in the groin when he introduced himself.

 

Karma was tempted to offer him the assassination challenge, one hit in exchange for something, as the boy fumed quietly at being unable to get a good kick in, though he didn’t know what would motivate him. He smirked, making the kid even angrier than before, and strolled away.

 

The Pussycats had him stay at the agency for the length of his internship. There were rooms set aside for overnight staff, as disasters could happen at any time, and he found himself in a little closet sized room wedged away in the very back of the building. He’d have to go out some time when he got the chance and get a new phone. He’d been putting it off for the last few days, dreading the chance that the other Karma’s friends would want to interact with him. Outside, the city remained awake. He watched the lights of cars and bikes flash past, their rumble quietened by the panes of glass between them, and eventually went to sleep.

 

He was woken up ungodly early, by sirens echoing throughout the entire building. The door to his room was thrown open with a bang as he was wrestling himself into his uniform- maybe he’d go with a fucking zipper, next time, he thought. Buttons were not the best choice here -and Tiger grabbed him by the half dressed arm with the barest hint of an explanation.

 

“There’s a villain attack!” He shouted over the sirens, hauling Karma down the long flights of stairs.

 

They took the steps two at a time as Karma struggled with his cape. The other Pussycats were already in high gear, Mandalay’s arm pointing out patterns of attack with wide sweeps, Pixie-Bob’s huge earth creatures already on the move from a patch of land nearby, and Ragdoll seemed to be zoned out on top of one.

 

“Get on with Ragdoll.” Tiger growled, shoving Karma outside and in her direction. He clawed his way up another.

 

“We’re heading for the landing point, all sidekicks spread out and take care of the minor incidents around the area. There are other heroes active as well. I’ll be in touch if necessary!” Mandalay hurried out and vaulted on top of a creature that looked halfway between an elephant and a dragon, her voice carrying to the assembled sidekicks.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

Ragdoll blinked back to herself at Karma’s question and she turned around to face him. The creature underneath them began to move, clods of earth falling away as it moved only to be scooped up in it’s huge feet to rejoin the collective mass of it.

 

“Oh! Karma-kun, I didn’t notice you there.” Her owlish eyes blinked a couple of times. “There’s a funny looking guy on the rampage downtown.”

 

“A funny looking guy?”

 

He had to raise his voice just to be heard. The creature had started to pick up speed and Karma had to dig his feet into it’s sides just to hang on. Around them, the other Pussycats seemed to have no trouble hanging onto their own mounts as the wind buffeted them back and forth.

 

“Biiiiiig and purple and his brains are hanging out!” She dragged a phone from the ruffles of her skirt and showed him the news feed. There was a hero battling already, some sort of armour quirk active, but he was getting thoroughly thrashed. The villain’s fist smashed him in the side, the creaking grinding whining noise of a car wreck audible even over the wind, and Karma’s blood ran cold. It wasn’t just a villain. It was another Noumu.

Chapter Text

The great, purple beast had one of it’s claw like hands hooked around the hero. His limp body hung like a sack from it’s fingers. Bellowing creatures made of chunks of earth and rock and gravel plowed into it with the force of an earthquake, knocking the Noumu sideways over and over as they shattered and reformed. Karma and Ragdoll leapt from their own, stumbling from the momentum, and joined the fray immediately. Along with the Noumu, the League had brought a handful of small time villains and they descended on the new arrivals like a pack of wild dogs. Karma clocked one around the side of his head, sending him sprawling, and span on another.

 

Dirt and dust was beginning to fill the area, choking the small spaces between the buildings and making everything feel gritty. The Noumu had appeared from one of Kurogiri’s portals and Karma cursed that he hadn’t just put the man out of his misery when he’d had the chance. It’s fist destroyed another one of Pixie-Bob’s creations, but with no more enemies it continued it’s wild swinging and the side of an office building crumbled in a shower of rubble under it.

 

“What is it?!” Tiger growled, his arms winding around two of the small time villains and dragging their heads together so hard that their unconscious bodies dropped to the floor unceremoniously.

 

“It’s a Noumu.” Karma dodged underneath a blade swung at his head and slammed his foot into the crotch of the man wielding it. He went down like a sack of bricks and Karma used his head as a stepping stone to get closer to Tiger. “One of them attacked UA with the League, they’re pretty hard to put down.”

 

“Karma-kun, you aren’t authorized for combat.” He scolded softly, a swing of his arm taking out another villain.

 

“It’s either that or die, boss.”

 

Suddenly, his head filled with Mandalay’s voice and Karma was stopped in his tracks. It was like she was speaking directly into him, even echoing faintly. Tiger pulled him behind his large body and deflected a series of large spikes, shot from a villain’s back like porcupine quills, with the glinting claws from his gloves.

 

Everyone, be careful, there are still civilians in the surrounding buildings. Karma, please focus on evacuation and we’ll handle the villains. There are four people in the building to your right on the third floor stairwell.

 

“How’d she know that?” He asked, slamming his knee into the face of a woman wielding a knife uncomfortably close to his person.

 

“Ragdoll’s Search quirk.” Tiger explained, grabbing Karma by the waist and launching him towards the building he was supposed to be evacuating. He span on his heel immediately afterwards, both hands catching the Noumu’s huge fists as they came rocketing down towards his head.

 

Karma skidded to a halt by the building’s fire escape, stumbling over the momentum and tripping over his own feet. He wondered if the small fry around him had been briefed on exactly what the Noumu was because more than a few of them were stepping away from it’s raging attacks awkwardly and squirreling themselves away. Mandalay and Ragdoll and knocked most of them unconscious at this point, Tiger and Pixie-Bob focusing their attacks on the League’s main beast. What was the goal here, Karma wondered, shouldering open the door and taking the steps two at a time. When they’d attacked USJ it had been to try and put All Might down.

 

The further up the stairs he travelled, the more the atmosphere and scenery changed around him. By the time he’d hit the third floor, great spiderwebs with threads the size of his fingers filled the corners where the walls met and the single, tiny, window was blacked out by a mass of them. The incandescent bulbs flickered on and off. There was an eerie clicking noise echoing around him. Hanging from the ceiling were three cocoons, two struggling faintly against the bonds.

 

“Welcome to my parlour…” Karma muttered.

 

He frowned and reached up to touch the silken tombs, when there was a whoosh of air, something dropping behind him, and he span on instinct. His powerful punch connected with something that cracked, his potential assailant yelping loudly and leaping backwards.

 

It was a man, dressed all in black, with four huge spider legs sticking out from his shoulder blades. More like three, now, Karma noted with satisfaction. One of the legs was hanging limply, the punch shattering the carapace on impact. He also had eight, bright red eyes and a pair of clicking mandibles jutting from his jaw.

 

“You motherfucker!” The man snarled, advancing again. Threads hung from his mouth and the mandibles clicked and snapped at him.

 

He reared back, looking like he was about to spit, and Karma leapt forwards. He jabbed the man’s nose with his elbow, blood blossoming across his face, and slammed his other fist into the man’s rib cage. While it wasn’t enough to bring him down, he hunched over in pain and took another step down the stairs. Karma grinned. This time, there were no witnesses to judge his tactics.

 

“I don’t know if you’ve spoken with Shigaraki, or if you’re just a hired thug, but they should have warned you not to sneak up on me.”

 

Karma’s hands gripped the base of the man’s spindly spider legs. Fear flashed through his eyes for just a moment, before he smirked back up at Karma.

 

“You’re a hero, boy. You’re not a threat.”

 

“I’m a hero, am I?” Karma asked, suddenly yanking the hairy legs until they cracked and splintered in his grip. “I don’t suppose they know I’ve killed before. It’s been a few years, but that sort of training isn’t something you forget you know?”

 

The man had devolved into quiet sobs on the floor. After his legs were wrenched from their sockets, his human feet had gone out from underneath him. Karma stared down with disdain.

 

“They just don’t make bad guys like they used to. Makes me miss Takaoka.”

 

He also missed having a knife on his person at all times, as the cocoons didn’t want to come down easily. It took a lot of tearing and sticky hands before he finally managed to free all three of the man’s prisoners. One of them, a younger girl, was unconscious, but the two adults eagerly volunteered to help her down the stairs. Karma made his excuses that he was still looking for more civilians, which would give him another minute at least. They thanked him again and took off towards the exit. The sounds of battle were still going strong outside, so the Pussycats were busy with the Noumu.

 

“I don’t have any mustard on me…” Karma muttered, patting his pockets down. “I guess we’ll have to do this the really old fashioned way.”

 

He sat heavily on the man’s back. With a flick, he flipped the switches in his gloves and took a gleeful moment to rub his hands together to get them started.

 

“This is usually my favourite part, but I don’t have a lot of time.” Karma sighed wistfully. He ghosted his hands close to the man’s sides. “So, I guess I have to do this really, really quickly.”

 

—-

 

Elsewhere, Iida’s day had started just as painfully early- only with less sirens. He and Manual had begun touring the city, taking over for one of the night shift patrols, and Manual was introducing him to a few of the hotspots that they made sure to visit during every patrol.

 

“In every city, there’s certain areas that attract crime. They’re hard to spot by camera or are off the beaten track. Those sorts of places. Definitely take your time to get acquainted with the local ones when you go pro-“

 

He’d started to tune the hero out. This was something that he should be paying attention to, something that on any other day he’d be listening eagerly to. But his blood was boiling, anger pounding in his ears, and his hands trembled at his sides. The gloves that Karma had given him were a little snug, built for slender hands. It should have been his brother giving him this lesson. Instead it was a small timer. He shook his head lightly to clear his thoughts. It was rude to think about Manual in that way, but he couldn’t help it. Somewhere in this city was the villain that put his brother in the hospital.

 

Manual was flipping through his phone screen, brows furrowing slightly. “We may be in for some trouble soon, Iida-kun.” He said, holding the flip phone out.

 

Leaning closer, Iida could see the news feed rapidly scrolling past. Some sort of monster attack in Omachi. Multiple villains sighted. There were similar attacks happening at the same time all across Japan, all of the same sort. Purple, violent creatures. Villains.

 

“It’s the League…” He muttered, and Manual’s face fell.

 

“I thought as much. It’s the same as when they attacked you, huh? Let’s keep an eye out.”

 

The hero kept walking, but Iida’s attention was drawn to the side. Red, down an alleyway. The sharp glint of knives. He cast a glance back, to make sure Manual wasn’t watching him, then Iida stepped into the cloying dark.

 

—-

 

Gran Torino was unbelievably fast. Even with One for All activated, it took all of Izuku’s strength to keep up with him. They’d been traveling towards Shibuya when the train had almost derailed, a spindly looking Noumu crashing through one of the cars further ahead of them while chasing a hero down. Once it had gotten itself free of the twisted metal, Gran Torino had kicked it squarely in the chest and thrown it clear of the train. Together they were on the hunt.

 

“It looks different to the one that attacked USJ!” Izuku called, a powerful leap pushing him towards where Torino was hopping across the roofs in hot pursuit of the creature.

 

“That means it will have different capabilities.”

 

The Noumu moved like a monkey, grabbing pilons and the sides of buildings and signs, swinging it’s way across the city streets in broad daylight by both it’s feet and it’s strangely elongated arms. Suddenly it twisted through the air and began to drop to the ground. Torino and Izuku followed after it. The Noumu seemed to have locked on to another hero and as it loped through the streets it shoulders civilians aside like sacks of flour to catch up.

 

Just as it reached the hero, it’s long fingers stretching out towards the back of his head, Torino and Izuku managed to catch up. Torino plowed into it’s back, forcing the Noumu into the ground, and Izuku’s heel drove into it’s exposed head. The Noumu howled and thrashed, clawed fingers leaving scars in the cement of the ground.

 

“Watch out! Stay back!” Izuku called to the civilians beginning to edge closer curiously. Fear flashed through their eyes.

 

—-

 

“I guess you really don’t know anything about Shigaraki’s plans.” Karma said sadly, taking his gloved hands off of the villain’s face from where he’d pinned him to the floor. “That’s a shame.”

 

With a flick, he turned off the gloves’ switch and stood up. He patted down his dusty trousers and stretched his back out. The sounds of fighting had quieted down finally, so he pulled the thick spider silk away from the window to peer outside. The Noumu had been buried finally under a ton of rubble and earth and the Pussycats were cleaning up the last of the villains. Around his ankles curled thick, purple mist.

 

“Aw, fuck.”

 

He stepped back away from the tendrils reaching from Kurogiri’s portal and closer to the window. Shigaraki’s pale form was already stepping through, emaciated hands reaching out towards Karma.

 

The window shattered beneath Karma’s elbow.

 

—-

 

His quirk roared to life, calves trembling with the power of his engines. Stain was facing away from him but Iida shot forwards in the blink of an eye.

 

The first thing he has to do is draw the sword.

 

The first slice barely slid over Iida’s helmet, nicking one of the edges. It felt like everything slowed down, just the him and the thump, thump, thump of his heart and Stain’s ragged breathing.

 

Electricity arced across Iida’s hands. He reached out to the bandage covered arm above him, but Stain twisted again. The blade in Stain’s off-hand came dangerously close to slicing open Iida’s side. Blood pounded in his ears. Iida pushed himself forward again, fingertips reaching, one hand catching around Stain’s throat, the other pressed to the bare skin of his arm and the man

 

Screamed.

 

—-

 

Fire shot in thin streams past Izuku’s head, singing the ends of his hair, and he ducked and rolled to the side away from Endeavour’s attack. There were two Noumu now, the spindly monkey one battling Gran Torino and other heroes that had appeared on the scene. Izuku hardly had a moment to look at them, though desperately he wanted to take notes on who they were and how they fought. Instead, he was focusing his entire being into dodging both the second, much larger, Noumu and Endeavour himself. The man threw blazing attacks, thin streams of fire or handfuls of the stuff that exploded on impact. The Noumu had tanked each hit, barely even singed on the edges, as well as Izuku’s highest power punch.

 

“This isn’t working!” He called to no one in particular, dodging another attack from the beast. It was focused almost entirely on him, a fact that was as unnerving as it was terrifying. Even Endeavour couldn’t seem to draw it’s attention.

 

There was a creaking, groaning noise, barely audible under the roar of fire and shouts of the heroes, until suddenly a glacial wall of ice exploded underneath the Noumu’s feet. It formed a pyramid around it, then seemed to constrict, until the creature finally stopped moving. Izuku shot Todoroki a thumbs up, grinning despite the heave of his lungs fighting for breath. The second Noumu still fought on.

 

Endeavour whirled on the next Noumu, his flames roaring like a furnace around him. Izuku had to admit he was a little star struck. Even with all of the heroes focusing their attention on the last villain, it still took longer to take it out than Izuku would have liked. There were two, huge heroes pinning it to the floor with some sort of strength augmenting quirks. The Noumu had done a fair amount of environmental damage, as well as the heroes various quirks, and he had to step around a chunk of asphalt jutting from the road to get back to Gran Torino. The old man was debriefing the police that stood by, so Izuku took the chance to check his phone. He felt his blood run cold. The news feed in his notifications flicked to the next one, and the next after that.

 

“Gran Torino-san…” He muttered. “What do we do?”

 

The Japanese government has issued a state of emergency due to multiple villain attacks…

 

All citizens are being asked to stay inside…

 

Villains have struck every major Japanese city, what is their goal?

 

—-

 

Karma wondered if throwing himself from high places was going to be something he did in every lifetime. He was perched on the shattered windowsill, the hot trickle of blood down his elbow hardly a distraction compared to the manic grin on Shigaraki’s face.

 

“What do you think of my little display, Karma-kun?” He asked, scratching hard at his neck.

 

Risking a glance over his shoulder, Karma could see Ragdoll frantically pointing in his direction. Tiger was running as fast as he could towards the building. He’d never make it to the right floor in time, but that wasn’t Karma’s goal. Three floors up. That would mean some broken bones for sure, but not death. Probably.

 

“All this just for me? I’m flattered! Unfortunately, I can’t hang around and chat. Places to be, heroic things to do. You know the drill.”

 

With a quick two fingered salute, Karma threw himself from the window. The air rushed around his ears in a roar that blocked out Tiger’s panicked cry. Shigaraki leant out of the window. His shoulders were shaking with laughter. Karma tried his best not to feel the panic setting in.

Chapter Text

The purple smoke of Kurogiri’s quirk enveloped him as he plummeted towards the floor. Tiger’s arms had stretched out to meet him, but he wasn’t fast enough. Kurogiri had been faster. Karma hit the wooden floor with a pained noise. He was thankful he hadn’t hit it at top speed, because that would have hurt. Gingerly, Karma pushed himself upwards and patted his arms and legs down. The boning of his uniform had crumpled under the impact, it’s sharp crack filling the air. He didn’t seem to be majorly injured, maybe just some bruising in a few hours, so he took stock of where he’d landed.

 

It seemed to be an empty bar, almost unused judging by the dust buildup on some of the tables but the bottles along the shelves were mostly full and the glasses were clean. There were signs of use along the taps. He didn’t recognize the view from the window, but that didn’t necessarily mean he’d gone far. At least if he was going to be stuck here for a while, Karma was going to enjoy himself a bit. He vaulted over the bar top and dug through the drinks and mixers until he found what he wanted. It felt like it had been years since his last proper drink.

 

The portal opened again as he was putting a shot of grenadine into his already luminescent orange glass. He stuck a little orange wedge on the end and a tiny umbrella he’d found in the back of a drawer and waited for Shigaraki to show himself. The mist of Kurogiri’s warp flooded the back wall. The pale man blinked through a curtain of ragged hair.

 

“Finished harassing the Pussycats?” Karma asked, taking pride in the way Shigaraki’s head jerked up in shock.

 

“You’re not old enough to drink.” He said, as Karma took a sip.

 

Technically he was the oldest person in the room, but explaining that felt like a headache waiting to happen. He perched on the edge of the counter with one leg swung over the other. His heartbeat felt like it should be audible, if it beat any harder he wondered if it would come out of his mouth. The adrenaline made his hands shake but there was nowhere for the energy to go.

 

“You’re a villain, Shigaraki. Are you really going to tell me not to break the law? I hope you don’t mind if I make myself at home.”

 

Another blood curdling smile crept across Shigaraki’s face. Karma could just about see it underneath the hand that was stuck to him.

 

“You’re right Karma-kun.” He plucked the disembodied hand away and stuck it around the back of his neck. It looked just as disturbing as it had been over his face. There was a tiny mole near his lips that looked out of place on the man. Too innocent. He shuffled around the room like a child. “It’s cute how they thought they could hide you from me by putting you with a rescue agency .”

 

Again, Kurogiri’s portal opened up near the back of the bar. A snarling black mass fell through, followed by an oddly scarred man. He may have been handsome once, if it wasn’t for the gruesome burn scars covering his face and arms. Dark Shadow retreated with a whimper from Tokoyami as blue fire crackled in the palm of the man’s hand. It lit the room up, shadows dancing in the corners. The other was wrapped around Tokoyami’s neck. He said nothing. Along with him was a broad shouldered woman and a girl who made no attempt to disguise the venom behind her sweetness and light.

 

“Welcome back, Dabi. And friend. Take a seat, take a seat-!” Shigaraki urged, kicking a wooden stool over to Tokoyami.

 

The boy pushed himself up and took the seat. His piercing red eyes were locked on Karma, but he kept his own attention on Shigaraki. The man was unpredictable, lurching around the room, pacing back and forth as if he was anxious. Karma had almost finished his drink by the time Kurogiri's warp appeared again. This time a huge man who was more muscle than body stepped through it, dragging Bakugou by a set of huge manacles, as well as a man dressed like a stage magician. Immediately, Shigaraki rounded on them with his eyes alight. Bakugou snarled and growled and kicked at his captors before being forced into one of the bar stools.

 

“Welcome back!”

 

“I’ll fucking kill you!” He roared, thrashing in the bindings even harder.

 

“I wouldn’t use that quirk of yours.” The magician chuckled. “All you’ll do is burn your own hands.”

 

Bakugou calmed his aggressive writhing, just long enough to glance around the room. When he caught sight of Karma, calmly hanging out on the tabletop with a glass in his hand, he began to kick and spit again. Karma reached behind the counter and added more to his drink.

 

“Almost, almost…” Shigaraki muttered to himself. “Just Kurogiri and Mustard and Spinner, now.”

 

Once more, as if on cue, Kurogiri’s portal shimmered open again. A man who looked suspiciously related to a lizard stepped through, followed by a damn middle schooler and finally Kurogiri himself.

 

“Sorry, boss.” Said the lizard man, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. “We couldn’t get the last kid.”

 

Shigaraki snarled, dragging his nails down his neck angrily, before he seemed to come back to himself. He took a deep, rasping breath. “No matter, no matter… Everyone is back, now. Let’s say hello to our new friends.”

 

Karma wiggled his fingers in his classmates’ direction. Bakugou, eloquent as always, spat more curses at the assemblage of villains. They were introduced to the members of the League one by one, but other than the man with the flaming hands Karma couldn’t effectively guess at their quirks. The woman carried a huge block of what seemed to be some sort metal, half wrapped in bandages.

 

“Now that we’re all friends can I trust you not to injure my associates, Katsuki-kun?” Shigaraki asked, leaning towards the bound boy. His pale fingers flexed as if they itched to touch him and Karma could see Bakuou’s eyes flicker towards them. He nodded.

 

They unlocked the cuffs around Bakugou’s wrists. He rolled them and rubbed at the raw skin around the edges. There was slight charring along his fingers and palms where he’d been setting off his quirk inside the manacles. Karma couldn’t help but wince at the sight of it. Even with Bakugou’s tough skin he was sure that that would hurt.

 

Shigaraki continued speaking. “I want you all to join my party!” He flung his arms wide open, as if he could pull all three of them into a hug. They all eyed him warily.

 

“What’s in it for us?” Karma was the first to speak, and Bakugou shot him the dirtiest look. There were more pressing matters in the room than Bakugou’s pride though.

 

The out of place crt monitor buried away in the corner of the room flickered on in a haze of static and a blurry man appeared on the screen, shrouded in darkness. Karma had to lean around one of the villains to get a good look at it. The shadows were pretty strategically placed to hide most of the man’s face, but he could see some sort of rebreather on his face and the thin poles of medical equipment behind him.

 

“You’ve got an interesting one there, Tomura.” The voice crackled over the speaker. Karma wondered where the heck they found a crt. “I think I’d like to speak to Karma-kun.”

 

Shigaraki’s eyes seemed to light up, his back straightening under the intense stare of the man on the screen. “Absolutely, sensei! Karma-kun, come here please.”

 

He waved his hand, encouraging Karma to hop off of the counter and over to himself and Kurogiri. Karma brought the last of his drink and stuck the little paper umbrella in Kurogiri’s suit pocket with a smirk.

 

“Hold onto that for me, would you?”

 

The portal deposited them in a dimly lit room with white walls and a tiled floor and no windows. If the journey was a little rougher than usual Karma didn’t say anything, but he quickly scanned his new environment. There was a flickering, humming, strip light above them. It felt awkward and eerie, like the relic he knew it was. Even in his time there were more efficient methods of lighting than the phosphorescence of a hospital bulb. On the back wall was the mysterious man, propped up on a bed. Karma could feel his piercing gaze lock immediately onto his person.

 

“Welcome, Akabane Karma.”

 

—-

 

Stain was dragged, half senseless, from the alleyway by the gaggle of police and gathered pro heroes. While they were fighting, even more chaos had broken out around them as a Noumu with bat like wings had fallen from the sky in the middle of battling with another hero. Iida had barely noticed, as Stain made it difficult to pay attention to anyone other than himself.

 

“Is this what you want your heroes to be?!” He was roaring at the media. “Children with no morals!”

 

Stain wasn’t being ignored as he was dragged away, but no one said anything. Iida recounted his version of events to the police, carefully leaving out the shock gloves that he’d been gifted, and as he didn’t technically use his quirk he was let off with a light warning. As far as they were aware Stain jumped him in the middle of his internship.

 

“He’s a liar!” Stain continued to struggle against his bonds as he was pushed into the police van. “Just like every single one of you worthless heroes! All of this is for the sake of justice, for a world where heroes aren’t just in it for the fame and money-!”

 

He was silenced as the doors slammed closed. A shiver ran through the watching crowd. Iida could see the logic behind his insane ramblings. It was true that there were many heroes who only took the job for the spotlight it placed on them, and there’d been more than a couple of ‘Captain Celebrity’ incidents, as they tended to be called, but he refused to acknowledge Stain. Being a hero for unjust reasons was better than being a villain.

 

—-

 

“Hey, Karma?”

 

“Hm?”

 

“If you had to be a bad hero, or a good villain, what would you pick?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Well...if you were a hero that saved people, but did it for the money or fame, or if you could be a villain that hurt people but did it for good reasons...what would you pick?”

 

“I think...I’d be a villain.”

 

—-

 

Karma had met more than a handful of people who’s auras of death or bloodlust gave him pause. The first was Koro-sensei, after he finally learnt to read a killer. It wasn’t a tangible feeling. It was closer to the tension in the air moments before a snake’s bite. Like electricity arcing through the clouds miles away. Then there was Karasuma-sensei, Lovro, the Shinigami himself. Over and over again Karma had stood up against people who’s being meant death. Even Shigaraki made his body shiver in fear.

 

The man who called himself All for One felt like none of these things.

 

He felt like nothing at all, like a void where a person should be. The monitor next to him beat steadily, like it mocked the heartbeat he didn’t have. His breath wheezed through the mask that Karma was sure he didn’t truly need. All for One looked frail and weak, laying back against the farce of the hospital bed.

 

Inside, Karma despaired.

 

This was the man that they were fighting against. This was the creature that injured All Might, the greatest hero of their generation.

 

This was the person Karma had to pretend to agree with.

Chapter Text

“So…You want to know about our goals.”

 

“Well, as much as Shigaraki here would like it, I don’t think your main goal is chaos and the death of All Might- right?”

 

He quirked an eyebrow at the bedridden man while Shigaraki began to chuckle. The four fingers pressed against his shoulder threateningly had yet to move away.

 

“What if I told you that was our only goal?” All for One sounded amused.

 

“You don’t strike me as that sort of person.”

 

“You’d be correct, Karma-kun. But, whether or not I’ll tell you my plans remains to be seen.”

 

Karma hummed and leant back against his chair, Shigaraki shifting with him. “That’s a shame. I don’t want to join an organization whose goal is a mystery to me.”

 

Despite being the very picture of nonchalance, Karma wondered if the rapid beat of his heart was as audible to the others as it was to him. The least they could do would be to bury him under the floorboards before re-enacting classical literature.

 

“Sensei-! I think he’d be a good fit.”

 

Karma would later describe the way All for One let Shigaraki’s statement hang in the air as ‘regarding them cooly’. A shiver of fear ran down his back, something that Karma was getting very tired of feeling. He was an assassin, a politician, and apparently now a superhero too. Things like villains shouldn’t be getting to him so easily. Instead, he tried to focus on All for One. Shigaraki called him sensei. Another unkillable teacher? The first one had hardly been child’s play, but everyone had a weakness. All for One appeared to be blind- something Karma filed away for later- and bedridden, both things that for all intents and purposes should have made him an easy target.

 

“What exactly is your quirk, Karma-kun?”

 

“I wouldn’t call it a traditional quirk. I’m just very lucky, and very skilled.”

 

There had to be a way that All for One knew they were there. A mob boss wouldn’t leave himself vulnerable. Echolocation, maybe.

 

“I see. You must be very good to attract the attention of my student. What about your compatriots? Would you say they were skilled also?”

 

Realization dawned on Karma that, blind as he was, there was no way for All for One to know exactly how the sports festival went. He had a measure of leeway in his lies, even with Shigaraki halfway present.

 

“They’re good, sure. But I’m better.” Karma shrugged. “Bakugou is wild, unpredictable, and doesn’t respect anybody except All Might.”

 

All for One grinned slowly, his wicked smile splitting his face apart. “I understand. And the other one?”

 

“He has his uses.”

 

Wheels within wheels, Karma thought. Both of them were trying to out manipulate the other.

 

“We all do, I think.” All for One said. “We all have these powers, these quirks, and we squander them. They say we would be traveling through space had quirks not appeared, and yet we deny them. Where would we be if we fully embraced what makes us truly special?”

 

Ah. “So that’s your goal? Organized chaos. Free up society so people aren’t shunned for their quirks, and then what?”

 

“Are you asking how this benefits me? Surely the greatest reward would be seeing society flourish.”

 

“No offense, but you don’t seem that altruistic.”

 

“Perhaps. But I don’t think I can trust to reveal all of my machinations to a hero such as yourself.”

 

Shigaraki seemed to quiver with the need to speak. His fingers rapped an anxious rhythm on Karma’s shoulder. He glanced up at the scarred and bitten man, then tried to shuffle sideways away from his grip.

 

“I don’t know if I’d call myself a hero.” He said, in the middle of trying to inch away from Shigaraki. “I did pull out Kurogiri’s eye.”

 

“Oh, so that was you! How interesting.” All for One chuckled. He waved his hand loosely through the air. “Now, then. You should go back, I’m sure you have a lot to think about.”

 

Karma watched Shigaraki bow lowly and the mist surrounded them once more. As convenient a method of travel that it was, it was pretty disorienting to step through to total darkness and into sudden light. It was probably why the bar was so dim. Easier on the eyes. Bakugou stared at him suspiciously but Karma refused to give him any clues as to what had just happened. He kept his eyes on Shigaraki as the villain grandstanded about the room with his fellow villains about how splendidly their plan had gone off. Practically without a hitch, even.

 

“You must all think about joining us!” He said, rounding on the three boys.

 

You’ve got to give us the time to actually think about it.” Karma cut off Bakugou’s barking laughter. They were playing pretty fast and loose with Shigaraki’s potential hospitality, it wouldn’t do to actually upset the guy. “Why don’t you lot leave us to it.”

 

He hummed, head nodding slowly. Karma was getting tired of his manic grin. Did his mouth never dry out?

 

“Alright, alright...but I’m leaving one of us with you. Just...to keep an eye on you, of course. You understand?”

 

Karma made a show of shrugging, like he didn’t really care either way. He hoped that Shigaraki would pick the middle schooler, or Kurogiri. Someone he could overpower. After a lot of muttering and deliberation from the villains, he settled on leaving behind the lizard man. Spinner, his name was, and he was decked out in a particularly impressive collection of weapons. Swords, knives, long and short blades. He was a walking armory. Karma dragged a chair close to where Tokoyami and Bakugou were sat. The latter looked ready to explode, at least more than just the palms of his hands.

 

“Tell me you’re not a fucking traitor.” He hissed through his teeth as Karma reclined in his uncomfortable wooden chair.

 

“Don’t make me hold your hand through this whole process.” Karma rolled his eyes towards the ceiling. Everything was wood and brick, and surprisingly stable looking. “It’s you acting like an idiot that got you in this mess in the first place.”

 

Bakugou drew himself up, chest out and poised to attack, but Tokoyami held a hand out to silence him. Surprisingly, Bakugou did. They looked at each other warily.

 

“You have a plan, Akabane-san?”

 

“I do. But it’s going to take some wiggle room, especially with our...guest.” Karma glanced over to Spinner, who’d become enraptured with a video playing on the tv screen. It seemed Stain had been captured, but not before managing to give some sort of speech that Spinner was reciting to himself. To anyone else, Spinner seemed to not be paying any attention at all. Karma wasn’t anyone. “I’m going to join them.”

 

WHAT?! ” Bakugou stood like a shot, his chair clattering to the floor. Spinner had turned to watch them.

 

“Hey, hey. Easy.” He tried to be placating, like calming a particularly aggressive horse. “They’ve got some good ideas . Someone’s got to hear them out .”

 

Bakugou kicked the fallen chair. He grouched about the room loudly until Spinner turned back to his computer screen, content that the boy wasn’t about to pull anything stupid. Then he picked the chair up and sank back into it.

 

“This is going to be the worst idea you have ever had, Akabane.”

 

“I really think you guys should think about doing the same.” He shot both Bakugou and Tokoyami a glare, trying to convey with his eyes how he really didn’t think that either of them should think about it at all.

 

Tokoyami seemed to ignore his silent pleas completely. “Perhaps we should, we shouldn’t leave Akabane-san to face this alone.”

 

Voice strained, Karma tried his best not to take both Bakugou and Tokoyami by the shoulders and shake both of them until he knocked sense back into them. “Don’t force yourselves into anything for my sake.”

 

With a face set like stone, Bakugou leant forward until he could lean his elbows on his knees. He lowered his voice to a harsh whisper. “One of us is staying with you, if you’re doing what I think you’re doing.”

 

“I’ll be fine on my own,” Karma snarled. “I’m not letting either of you two get hurt pulling off this suicidal shit.”

 

“Who would stop you from succumbing to the darkness that is villainy, were we not to be present?”

 

Karma and Bakugou blinked at Tokoyami, who regularly said things that would make poets cry. They both took a second to translate in their heads before Karma shook his. Making sure Spinner wasn’t listening in too hard again with a glance over his shoulder, he went back to trying to dissuade the other boys from following his latest stupid plan.

 

“I’m serious,” he said. “Both of you have reputations on the line here, how would you be able to be a pro with this stain on you.”

 

It was...almost sweet, in a way, to know that both of them were willing to throw everything away in order to help him. But they weren’t trained assassins, and as loud as Bakugou could be in his death threats Karma sorely doubted he really had that in him. You’re both children, he wanted to shout at them. He’d already lived his life even if he did currently look like a teenager again. Neither of them should be so eager to throw themselves into the snake pit. The blond boy seemed to hesitate, finally falling silent. His lips formed a thin, angry line as he considered his options. Tokoyami, though, looked like he’d already made up his mind on the matter.

 

“I will stay.” He nodded, closing his piercing red eyes. “I may not like it, but I have been accused of being a potential villain before. Due to Dark Shadow and my appearance- I have the most compelling reason to join.”

 

“Besides, you fucking moron. How’re you gonna be a pro either if you pull the same shit.” Bakugou leant back on his chair, one leg crossed over the other. Tokoyami nodded to him as if they both had Karma trapped in their logic.

 

“Fine, I’ll be honest with the both of you.” Karma leant forwards. He dragged a hand through his loose, red hair as if he could pull the tension and stress out of his body by doing so. “We are in the perfect position to learn a few things here. They just introduced me to their boss, I’m practically in the inner circle already...but one false move, and I could be the next one dead. If you’re going to join then you need to accept your death before it even happens.”

 

“I ain’t gonna roll over and die.” Snarling, Bakugou rolled his shoulders. He put on airs, let himself fill out with bravado, but he was scared of the inevitable end- Karma could tell.

 

“You aren’t, that’s why you need to think about this some more.” He cut the conversation off there and stalked over to Spinner with his hands jammed in his pockets and a playful, self-satisfied look on his face. It was easy to let it slip back into place. “Hey, lizard guy. Where am I gonna be sleeping tonight? You can’t tell me Shigaraki would let me have to nap on the floor next to these losers would you?”

 

Spinner looked up with a start, too focused on the replay of Stain on the TV to have heard Karma’s approach. “Losers? Aren’t you supposed to be convincing them to join up with us?” He said ‘us’ like he was already sure of Karma’s loyalty. There was a laugh on his voice and a grin peeling back his lips to reveal sharp teeth.

 

“I guess- don’t know if they will though.”

 

He watched over Spinner’s shoulder as the newsreel looped. The man grumbled when the interviewer introduced the person who took down the villain. Iida goddamn Tenya. Cursing under his breath, Karma leant forwards over the chair to get closer to the TV.

 

“Turn it up, dude.”

 

He wanted the others to hear this. The little bar ticked upwards until the sound of the woman’s voice filled the small room. She introduced him as an up-and-coming hero, her hand tight around his arm as he tried to pry himself away. According to her he won the fight without even using his quirk- which made the whole battle legal- but Karma recognized the flick of Iida’s eyes to the side. In Karma’s opinion, Iida was a goddamn genius. The feed changed to Stain’s speech and Spinner quickly forgot about him again. He looked over to the others as their jaws had practically hit the floor.

 

What the fuck?” Bakugou mouthed.

 

All Karma did was grin.

Chapter Text

The newspapers the next day had a few mentions of Stain’s capture. A transcript of his speech here and there, interviews with Iida. But, mostly, it was greatly overshadowed by the League’s kidnapping of three U.A. students and the Noumu attacks. Shigaraki seemed to be obnoxiously smug about his plan succeeding, parading around the main meeting room with his head high and back straighter than Karma thought it could go.

 

“Okay, okay. Let me get this straight.” Karma said, using Tokoyami’s shoulder as an armrest. “You moved your plans to kidnap us up, because you wanted to show Stain up...because he insulted you.”

 

The villain nodded along with his words, self satisfaction practically coming off of him in waves. Karma wondered if he stuck his tongue out, would he taste it?

 

“Yes, yes! And it worked perfectly. We definitely showed that guy who’s ideals are right…!”

 

He began to cackle and Karma tuned him out. It was just them and the Dabi guy that morning. The scars on his face and neck cast him in a strange light, almost like it threw off his features. They were dark and purpled. Fresh looking. They’d looked the same each time he saw him, and Karma wondered if they really were as new as they seemed. Shigaraki had started to scratch aggressively at his neck and Karma sighed. Today was going to be a long day.

 

—-

 

Iida was not taking anything well currently, and the more Izuku watched his broad back walk away from him the more worried he became. The news of their friend’s kidnapping had been broken early in the morning during class and it overshadowed his defeat of Stain. Stil, Izuku thought that was a good thing. Iida did not need the congratulatory pats on the back or awkward hand shaking for taking down his first villain- though he thought he’d be a little bit more pleased that he did it. Both he and Uraraka had tried asking what was wrong, but neither had gotten more than a shrug and a noise from the boy all day.

 

At lunch, the hottest gossip was the missing students. The building felt empty without Kacchan lurking the corners or exploding over the slightest thing. The whole class sat together that day and fielded questions from other students while they tried to eat. A large, warm hand settled on Izuku’s shoulder.

 

“You’re Midoriya Izuku, right?”

 

He swiveled in his seat, steeling himself inside to face yet another barrage of questions, and realized the one person who was behind him was actually three. They were much older students, one blond, one with dark blue hair, and one with light blue. Hushed whispers of ‘the big three’ echoed through the dining hall.

 

“Uh, yeah?”

 

The blond haired boy smiled dazzlingly and clapped him on the back. The strength of his slap jerked Izuku forward, almost taking him off balance even sitting at the table.

 

“My name is Togata Mirio! And this is Hadou Nejire, and Amajiki Tamaki. Would you and your friends- only whoever is involved, of course- would you like to come have a quick chat with us about the investigation?”

 

Izuku looked to the others, even as the entire table stood as one around him. Todoroki nodded encouragingly.

 

“Okay, sempai. We’ll come with you.”

 

—-

 

Karma had been called in front of the boss again. This time there was a chess set in between them, while Shigaraki lurked in the corners of his vision with an odd look on his face. Karma was white and was currently winning. All for One didn’t use his hands, but instead a multitude of tiny tentacles manipulated the chess pieces.

 

“Check.” Karma said, moving a knight into place.

 

Shigaraki made a choked sound, but All for One continued with his next move. Other than the occasional ‘check’ the two were completely silent. They had been since All for One had asked Karma to join him in a few matches.

 

“Mate.”

 

All for One smirked. He reset the board with a flick of his hand, long black tentacles reaching from his sleeves and fiddling with the tiny pieces until they were lined up properly again. Two tiny little armies. The board span slowly until All for One was white again. After their match was over again, All for One leant back against his hospital bed with a quiet sigh.

 

“You’re very good at this game, Karma-kun. Unfortunately, I am getting tired. You should go back to the others.”

 

Kurogiri was busy, somewhere, doing something awful probably, so they took the corridors through the hideout. They were far deeper inside the bar than Karma had realized, as the small building appeared to have been built with some sort of bomb shelter underneath.

 

“Sensei said it was built a long time ago, when quirks first appeared.” Shigaraki  explained, his rasping voice echoing down the quiet hallway, when Karma enquired. “People thought it was going to be the start of another war.”

 

He’d read about that online when cramming to fit in. The whole planet was tense, waiting for one of the superpowers of the world to harness some poor person’s quirk as a weapon. Obviously there was still a military, but the threat had never come. All for One himself would probably have been the closest thing, but the man was a villain.

 

Karma stopped short in his tracks, almost stumbling over his own feet.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“Tripped over my own toes- pretty unlucky of me!” He laughed, desperately trying to cover up the frisson of fear up his spine.

 

The records said that no country had been willing to use it’s people as weapons in that way, that they’d signed accords preventing the exploitation of it’s people purely for their quirks (voluntary military service was different). All for One had probably the most powerful quirk ever seen. He was also over two hundred years old.

 

What if they had a very good reason to sign those accords?

 

—-

 

“I must admit, I didn’t expect you all to leap to us!”

 

Togata was kind of strange, Izuku thought. Strange, but enthusiastic. “Of course we did. They’re all our friends, in one way or another.”

 

“Aw, you guys are so cute! Say, I have some questions-“

 

“Not now, Nejire.” The quiet one, with the dark blue hair, held her back. He peered through his bangs at the small, assembled crowd and shuddered.

 

They’d hidden away in an unused classroom to get some privacy. They’d pulled the chairs together into a little meeting circle, though Iida quietly reminded them the whole time that they had to put them back afterwards. The whole class was on edge.

 

“Thanks. Now, then. I’ll try and make this quick. At some point in the future, after you get your provisional licenses, you’ll be interning properly with a hero agency. Basically a temporary sidekick. It won’t be anything like the ones you did earlier. Currently, with our agencies, the three of us are going to be working to rescue your friends.”

 

Some of the students brightened up, hearing that. There were actual pros working on the case as well as the teachers. Izuku however, frowned.

 

“You wouldn’t be telling us that for no reason, sempai. What are you getting at?”

 

Togata smirked wryly. “I suppose it isn’t enough, just to want to give you some hope is it? No. I want to warn you of the chance that your friends may not come back...in one piece.”

 

“We appreciate the warning sempai, but that isn’t necessary- kero.” Asui had been very quiet, lurking somewhere in the middle. She looked a little better than she had after USJ, Izuku mused. She was probably getting real sleep again. “We know what the villains are capable of. So do our friends. They’ll come back to us.”

 

Drawing himself up fully, Togata nodded. “Very well! We shall all do our utmost to bring them back. The best of the best are working on this!”

 

The trio left, Togata patting Izuku on the back one last time with his obnoxious strength. When the door had shut behind them he turned to Yaoyorozu.

 

“I hope you got my signal.” He chuckled, scratching the side of his head. “I didn’t think it was obvious enough.”

 

“I did.” She held out three devices that looked like a cross between a walkie-talkie and a radar. “It was quite difficult to affix it to them without them noticing but I must admit that Karma’s lessons on stealth were quite handy.”

 

Jirou elbowed her in the side with a laugh. “You’re the damn best, Yaomomo.”

 

—-

 

“I feel that I should be objecting to this plan.”

 

Iida stood by their table, wringing his hands together as the gathered group of students fiddled with the devices Yaoyorozu had created. They’d retreated to the relative safety of their quiet classroom. It’d be a little while before homeroom started, giving them a bit of leeway to make sure everything worked.

 

“I know, Iida-kun.” Izuku said, switching on the one closest to him. The proximity radar beeped. “But I can’t just sit by and hope they bring everyone back to us.”

 

“I trust the pros, man, but who knows what stunt the villains are gonna pull.” Kirishima, this time, shot Iida a quick thumbs up. “Our class can handle it better than anyone.”

 

They did. Iida frowned, glancing over to what was once Aizawa-sensei’s desk. He pushed his slipping glasses back up with a couple of fingers and sighed. “Akabane-san would probably be doing the same thing, had he been with us right now. And I do owe him one. We must find a way to release the hostages, help the pros or otherwise be of assistance without breaking the law. We’re still only students.”

 

Izuku grinned up at him and stuck the tiny headpiece that went with his radio into his ear. It was nicely hidden behind his mess of green hair. “That’s what you’re good at Iida-kun. We’ll work on finding the others and you get us a nice, legal loophole.”

 

“Hush, everyone! I can hear Nedzu-san on the other side of the radio.”

 

—-

 

Karma awoke on the third morning to the blinking face of a crazy looking girl with sharp teeth leaning over himself. Internally he cursed wildly, frustrated that she could sneak up on him while he was sleeping without disturbing him, but externally he simply blinked and smiled back up at her.

 

“Himiko-chan. To what do I owe the pleasure?” He asked, tucking his arms behind his head.

 

The cot that they’d provided him was hardly what you’d call a bed. A metal frame and a tiny mattress and thin sheets. At least it wasn’t the chairs that the others were practically confined to. He’d managed to convince Shigaraki to let them sleep in the cot, but only one at a time throughout the day. They had to count their blessings, though, as they were still ‘under observation’. Karma had made some headway in making it look like Tokoyami was swaying to ‘their’ side.

 

“I wanted to see how fast you’d wake up! You’re super pretty when you sleep, did you know that? Makes you look like you’re dead.” Toga giggled. The stuff of nightmares, honestly. He didn’t recognize her school uniform, but it was clearly too small for her. There was no doubt that she wasn’t a middle schooler like the sailor fuku would have the casual observer believe.

 

He hummed and pushed her away gently, then sat up. The wood of the bar was cold against his bare feet. “How long were you there? We can make a game of it. See if I can wake up faster each time.”

 

“Only a couple of minutes! Most people don’t even notice I’m here until I get bored.”

 

That was enough to make him extremely uncomfortable. Once upon a time, the slightest strange presence around him was enough to make him snap awake. Nagisa had had the same reflex. A couple of times it had even saved their asses, some upstart assassin who thought a politician and a school teacher were an easy mark. Toga Himiko had no sense of personal space. She didn’t even clear out while he pulled the undershirt and jacket of his uniform on- he was glad he kept the trousers.

 

When they entered the main area of the bar, he nodded to Tokoyami shortly. “Your turn, go get some sleep.”

 

They could be minutes away from the hero’s rescue plan, or days, or weeks. They just had to hold out for long enough. Bakugou looked like he was fraying at the edges with the urge to blow something up. Not enough sleep between them, not enough food, it was enough to start driving these kids crazy. Tokoyami would probably call it the precipice of madness. Karma would say he’d been mad for a long time already.

Chapter Text

Again he was invited to spend lunch with All for One. This time he was trusted to head through the corridors by himself, something that instilled both confidence and fear in Karma. Tokoyami had tagged out with Bakugou and was half way trying to start a conversation with Toga. She hardly needed the prompting though and was talking animatedly by the time Karma had left. It would have been the ideal opportunity to poke around the hideout’s underground portions, had he not been given a heavy warning that ‘sensei would be watching’. So, instead of poking around at the wailing noises and screams echoing through the stone walls, Karma walked deeper and deeper.

 

“Ah, Karma-kun. How was your night?” All for One asked as the door shut softly behind Karma, the very picture of friendly old granddad hooked up to his deathbed. Kurogiri was standing against the back wall, arms crossed, and said nothing. Karma could feel his eye watching closely.

 

He shrugged. “Not bad, could do with a nicer bed though.”

 

“I do apologize. We set it up at rather short notice, I hadn’t expected my protege to act on all three of you quite so quickly.”

 

Karma sat down in his usual spot and pawed through the board games stashed in the bedside table. He made a point not to react to All for One’s admission that they’d planned on kidnapping them no matter what. It wasn’t any sort of information that would be of use.

 

“Shogi, chess, go or checkers?” He asked.

 

“Perhaps go today. Let’s see if you’re as good at that as you are at chess.”

 

Hiding a grin, Karma set up the board. Go was his best game, actually. He hardly thought All for One would put up a challenge.

 

“We’ll see, won’t we.”

 

—-

 

It had been a given that class 1-A would be feeling strange, considering the circumstances, but Kayama wondered just how far that strangeness extended. Some of the students had been almost openly hostile to some of the teachers. Yamada couldn’t get a word in edgeways during lessons for someone cutting him off with questions about what the pros were doing to rescue their friends. It had gotten to the point where Nedzu was considering cancelling 1-A’s classes until the whole mess was over with.

 

She sank into her chair in the staff room with a quiet groan. The man in question looked up from behind his computer and gave her a small nod, then went back to his work. There were other years, other students and classes, more things to deal with than just this one class. She missed Aizawa. It felt like there weren’t enough teachers to go around nowadays.

 

—-

 

“I can’t believe the teachers think Akabane-kun is a spy.” Izuku grumbled, folding his arms together and leaning back in his chair. Most of the students around him nodded in agreement.

 

“He’s strange, but I don’t believe he’d hurt us. A spy wouldn’t expend so much effort teaching us- surely?” Iida pulled off his glasses and gave them a quick rub with a cloth from his pocket. He was stood a little behind Izuku like a sentry. Uraraka was on his other side.

 

“Are we sure, though? He seems to know a lot. At first I thought that he’d been asked to protect you, Midoriya, but that doesn’t seem to be quite the case.”

 

“What do you mean, Todoroki-kun?”

 

“I thought he might be an older student, or a recommendation like myself, who’d been given extra training to protect you.”

 

“Why would he be asked to protect me-“ A pinched look grew on Izuku’s face. “The thing we talked about, right?”

 

The class turned their curious gazes to Izuku. Uraraka leant close to his face and pushed herself up against him. “You’re keeping secrets.” She whispered.

 

“It’s important, I promise!!” With a yelp, he pushed himself away from the girl and scooted his chair backwards. “A-anyway! They took Kacchan and Tokoyami-san as well!”

 

Ojiro nodded. “I can see why they would. The three of them are the closest to their aesthetic. The way they act.” The tip of his tail thrashed angrily, barely restrained, despite the way he tried to keep his face calm.

 

“That’s true. But I believe in all three of them. Jirou, Shouji, how did surveillance go?”

 

The two perked up from the back of the group and were ushered forwards. “It took a while, but we took notes. They’re definitely in the bar the teachers think they are.”

 

Jirou slapped a small notebook down on the table in front of Izuku. He flipped through it, skimming conversations between Shigaraki and the other villains, through the chatter, and occasionally Karma himself.

 

“Well, we know they’re alive at least.” He muttered. “We’re moving onto phase two, then. The press conference isn’t for another couple of days. Hagakure.”

 

“Yes, sir!” The only way they knew she was bouncing was by the swish and flick of her skirt.

 

“You think you can break in?”

 

“I’ve been practicing! They’ll never see me coming.” She flashed him a double thumbs up and started laughing at her own joke.

 

“Kirishima, Ojiro, go as her backup but in disguise. We can’t have too many U.A. kids hanging around the same place. Can you help them out, Yaoyorozu?”

 

She nodded, pencil to paper already. Izuku sighed as he watched her work on suitable disguises. Their plan was coming together, but the stress would surely turn him grey before his time. He dragged a hand through his hair and looked up to Uraraka and Iida.

 

“Don’t worry, Deku. With the whole class and the pros working on this, there’s no way we can fail!”

 

—-

 

“Alright, alright. I surrender.” All for One said with a light chuckle, throwing his hands up. The tiny black tendrils began to put away the stones with tiny clacks.

 

“What’s that, six to nothing now?”

 

“I believe so. You are a demon of strategy, Karma-kun.” Suddenly he began to push himself from the bed, his skinny arms seeming to strain from the effort.

 

“Do you want help? You shouldn’t be standing, sensei.”

 

“I’m fine.” It took him a moment to extract himself from the bedsheets and, weakly, leant on Karma’s shoulder. “Come, let me show you something. Kurogiri, if you would.”

 

The portal opened in front of them and slowly, slowly, they walked through it. There was a tremble to All for One’s thin arm and Karma glanced to the sallowed skin, where a few liver spots stood out against the pale flesh. He wondered why All for One was still pretending to be a frail, old man. There was no way this was how he usually looked. Karma couldn’t imagine All Might taking a debilitating hit from this person. The mask on his face wheezed with each breath. Kurogiri let them out in another hospital-like room, this one still as quiet as the grave but with no wheeze of machinery save for the mask on All for One’s face. There were flowers lining the walls, artificial sunlight coming from the bright bulb on the ceiling, and a glass lidded bed set at the back of the room. A silent heart monitor tracked the steady beat of it’s occupant.

 

“You see; Shigaraki and yourself are not my first protégés, but the quirk that my first held began to drive her insane. I regard her as my daughter.”

 

That would explain why he put more effort into taking care of her than himself, Karma thought. Underneath the glass lay a girl with bright green hair, done up in little bunches.

 

Karma felt his heart drop.

 

The room practically slowed down around him, everything falling away as he stared through the glass.

 

“Ah, Akari. One day I’ll let you loose on this world.”

 

Karma watched All for One lay a feeble hand against the glass containing Kayano. He felt a spike of rage through him, desperate want to tear the villain’s hand away and free her, to beat the glass open with All for One’s own arm. His heartbeat pounded in his ears. Inside, Karma reminded himself over and over that All for One did not show him these things as a kindness- each perceived weakness was to bring Karma’s guard down around him.

 

“What was her quirk, sensei?”

 

“Hm. Something like...tentacles.”

 

—-

 

Spinner and Magne had dragged a fucking child into the bar, hands bound behind their back and head covered by a burlap sack and Bakugou was seconds from blowing the whole place sky high. He glanced over to Tokoyami, who merely blinked. The longer Karma spent around their shadowy boss the more they were leaving Tokoyami alone, but Bakugou remained under tight scrutiny. He jerked in his chair, only for Muscular to tighten his hand around his shoulder and pull him back. All he needed was one good opportunity…

 

The door slammed open, handle banging against the wall so hard it left a dent. Karma strode inside. He threw off his jacket, leaving it on the bar top, and stormed over to where Shigaraki was leant nonchalantly against the wall. There was a scowl on Karma’s face so deep that Bakugou wondered if that was how he looked from the outside. His pupils had shrunk to catlike slits.

 

“What are you doing now, Shigaraki?” He asked, fists balled at his side.

 

“Just a little test of your loyalty! It was sensei’s idea.” Shigaraki’s hand came up to scratch absently at his neck, only to be slapped aside by Karma.

 

“Quit fucking scratching. It’s driving me crazy. What do you want me to do.”

 

The villain glanced at his hand, then turned his manic grin back at Karma. Tension shivered down Bakugou’s neck. Karma was playing a dangerous game.

 

“Easy. Kill the kid. However you want to do it. We caught him hanging out around the door a few too many times. A little suspicious, don’t you think? Can’t have trash laying about.”

 

Bakugou swallowed thickly. There was no way Karma could do it, there was no way he could follow that man’s instructions. He’d been there when the kid had been pulled inside, kicking and screaming and struggling.

 

Karma held his hand out to Spinner, who took great pleasure in depositing a balisong into his open palm.

 

“Don’t do it!” Bakugou wrenched his shoulder away from Muscular, barely managing to get to his feet before he was grabbed again. He could feel his palms smoking, tiny explosions popping against his skin. “Don’t be stupid!”

 

The blade flickered over Karma’s fingers expertly, twisting like liquid silver as he manipulated it. It clicked open and shut as he approached their captive, who had resumed their quiet sobs against whatever was gagging them. All emotion had gone from Karma’s face as he grabbed the bag and wrenched the kid’s head backwards. Tokoyami looked away.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t just blood that splattered the wall, the way Karma was expecting it to be, but a thick grey goop that leaked from the neck of their captive. The vicious slice from the sharp blade looked like a mockery of a smile, flesh parting in a clean kill. He tilted his head to the side, resolutely ignoring the way Bakugou was roaring expletives at him, as suddenly the kid melted into a sick puddle on the floor and disappeared. Shigaraki started laughing. The spray on the wall evaporated slowly as well. With a flick, Karma closed the knife and slid it into the pocket of his trousers. There was a roaring noise in his ears like standing too close to the sea on a cliff’s edge.

 

“What do you think of Twice’s quirk, Karma-kun?” Shigaraki asked, ushering the man forwards from where he’d been standing off to the side. Karma could hardly hear him over the noise in his head.

 

“I can duplicate anyone, right down to their quirk! It’s not very useful, they die easily. ” Twice gesticulated wildly as he spoke, throwing his arms out so wide that he almost smacked Shigaraki.

 

Sidestepping the flailing arms, Shigaraki knocked his elbow against Karma’s stiff shoulder. “Thanks for joining our party, I think you’ll fit in very well.”

 

Bakugou had finally screamed himself hoarse and was staring at Karma, dumbfounded, like he had no idea who he really was. Muscular had him pinned to the chair with both hands, his strange strands of muscle fiber wound tight along his arms. Karma didn’t look at either of them. He sank into the closest chair, hands clenching uselessly around nothing. Twice reminded him of a Sentai villain, with the mask and flailing movements. He watched and waited, chatted idly with Shigaraki though everything he said slid from his memory like melted butter, until finally he was left alone in the room with Bakugou and Tokoyami. Both boys stared hard, their eyes boring holes into his skin.

 

“Did you know that was Twice’s clone?” Bakugou asked, sounding rough at the edges.

 

For a second, he considered telling them both the truth. That he had no way of knowing if the child was real or not, that it could have been anyone underneath the mask. He thought about the spray of grey goop across the wall as his hand tightened around the kid’s head. They thought they were the real thing, probably. Their fear had been real. Karma thought about the consequences of Tokoyami and Bakugou knowing he was a killer.

 

“Of course I did.” He said. “Why else was he in the room? Shigaraki hasn’t had him stand by with us or guard us at all the entire time we’ve been here ‘cause he’s unstable.”

 

Bakugou seemed to accept that, about as much as he could. He still seemed troubled, and frowned unhappily, but he didn’t continue the conversation.

 

“In any case, the league now places their trust in you Akabane-san.”

 

Tokoyami was right, he mused, running gloved fingers through his hair. They’d left Karma alone with the other two, possibly trusting him to keep an eye on them if they made a break for it. He wondered if this was going to be their chance to escape when the door creaked open, slowly and carefully. At first it seemed to have done it on it’s own, all three of them now focused intently on the empty air behind it.

 

“Hagakure.”

 

“Aw! How’d you know it was me?” Suddenly there were arms thrown around Karma’s neck and he was pulled into a tight hug by the invisible girl. “I’m glad you guys are safe!”

 

“Lucky guess?” He wondered out loud, trying to find a way to pry her off of himself without putting his hands anywhere untowards. Eventually she released him and went to pounce on both Bakugou and Tokoyami.

 

“Midoriya-kun sent me to check up on you guys! There’s gonna be a press conference, and then the pros are gonna try and rescue you.”

 

“How’d you get in, anyway, Hagakure?” Karma asked, watching Tokoyami attempt to extract himself from the girl. His feathers stuck up in weird angles as she grabbed and pulled at him.

 

“Through the front door! Easy!”

 

“Interesting. Well. You should get back to Izuku and let him know we’re still alive. We’re...looking forwards to seeing him.”

 

Hagakure laughed and let go of Tokoyami’s neck. Despite her being invisible, Karma could guess at an approximate location by the sound of her footsteps on the wooden ground and the way the light adjusted just slightly around her. He stood from his chair and followed her towards the door, even holding it out for her with a theatrical bow.

 

“See you guys soon!” She whispered loudly, as her steps carried her away down the hall. Karma watched in silence.

 

“I’d say this would be a great time to leave, but she just put a nice big wrench in my plans.”

 

Bakugou frowned. “What are you talking about? Shouldn’t we let the pros win?”

 

Karma shut the door. He took a deep, shuddering breath, shoulders heaving, and released the clench in his fists that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding so tightly. Turning on his heel, he strode back straight to the bar. “There are two big problems with that.” He began, pawing through the drinks selections again. “One. He has one of my best friends captive. Two. Hagakure might be a spy and is reporting to Shigaraki right now.”

 

There was a sharp hiss of breath from Bakugou, bordering on a growl, but he seemed to hold himself back from the violent reaction that Karma knew he wanted. Ice clinked in his glass as he poured himself some orange juice. As much as he felt like it, now was really not the time to be drinking.

 

“Please explain, Akabane-san.”

 

He nodded and rolled his hand, halfway through chugging the glass, then poured himself another. “By this time, Izuku should know more or less that there’s a spy at U.A. and, by Hagakure’s presence, we can guess that he’s been sending them out on ‘recon’ trips. So far, Hagakure’s the only one who’s been able to get a message to us. Sure, her quirk makes it easy but who leaves a front door open? She can’t pass through objects. There’s still a chance that it’s someone else and this is just guesswork, but…”

 

“I trust in your judgement. We shall not let the darkness overtake us or our classmates.”

 

Bakugou rolled his eyes. “We haven’t got long to get ready, what the fuck do you need us to do?”

 

“Here’s the plan. It’s gonna be a long one, so get ready…”

 

—-

 

When you were trapped under surveillance, the passage of time crawled to a halt. For Karma it meant he had time to process what was going on, formulate plans A-Z, then start overthinking what was going on around him. A few of the league were hanging out in the bar area and Karma knew that any minute the fabled press conference would start. Coincidentally, Shigaraki had the tv going. He seemed to be only half paying attention to it, the rest of his focus on a little handheld system playing tinny rpg music. Toga, Muscular and Compress were playing cards. Kurogiri was shooting dark looks at Karma every time he found one of his bottles touched. Had every person, save for two, in the room not been killers then it would have almost been peaceful. Instead, however, the glint of sharpened steel from Toga skitters across the floor in bright patches. Muscular’s hands break the table with hardly a squeeze. Something creaks outside, as if the building was being slowly squeezed.

 

The news flickers over to show a meeting room, filled with flashing cameras and reaching microphones, and Midnight and Nedzu and Present Mic lined up at the back like the gallows. Midnight was addressing the crowd of press, something about doing their utmost to rescue the stolen teens. And, for the first time since U.A. started it’s school term, since they’d left for America, Karma could see his distraught parents sitting aside, next to Bakugou’s and presumably Tokoyami’s. He swallowed thickly. The creaking increased.

 

Karma’s eyes met Tokoyami’s and Bakugou’s and the three pressed ever so slightly closer together.

 

“If the villains believe that our students would fall so easily, then they don’t know our students very well.”

 

Shigaraki’s grating, eerie laugh filled the room. He pulled himself closer to the screen just to watch with glee at Midnight prostrating herself in front of the press. It was strange to see her in a suit.

 

“They still have faith in you, Karma-kun. Isn’t that cute.”

 

There was a quiet knock at the metal door, something that made all occupants twist in their seats. A shuffle of feet and questioning voices.

 

Then. “Kamino pizza delivery.”

 

Shigaraki pushed himself to his feet, dropping the little console to the floor. In a blistering second, the wall next to Karma crumbled and fell apart with one swing of a powerful, spandex clad arm. Branches and vines burst from a strangely masked man and enveloped the villains around him. Shigaraki’s hands clenched uselessly as the tight branches pinned his arms to his sides.

 

“I! Am here!” All Might's booming voice carried far into the night. “It must have been scary, but we are here to rescue you boys!”

 

The wooden hero, who another pro called Kamui Woods, stepped further into the building and his binding branches tightened around Shigaraki and his crew. A blur of yellow speed knocked Compress out with ease. Karma stepped a little behind the heroes and Tokoyami backed away. The shadows seemed to envelop them both. With his huge hands, All Might bent and warped the manacles around Bakugou's hands until they fell away like the useless lumps of metal that they were. He rubbed his wrists gingerly and shot a look towards Karma, who nodded.

 

“Do it.” He mouthed, flicking the blade from out of his glove.

 

Bakugou steeled himself, flinching when All Might's hand rested gently on his shoulder. “All Might! Don't trust them!”

 

“Don't trust who, my boy?”

 

“Akabane and Tokoyami-”

 

The closed handle of the balisong slammed against the base of Kamui Woods’ head, knocking him forward as his body crumbled to the floor from the force of Karma's blow. The branches began to retreat immediately and this time Shigaraki stood proudly. His grating, low laughter echoed. All Might turned, his plastered on grin wavering.

 

“Young Akabane-”

 

He grinned, but a thick sludge began to work it's way from his throat and Karma's proud expression began to change to confusion. It forced it's way from his mouth and began to cover his body faster than what was comfortable. Karma felt his throat gag and cough around it. All Might reached out, desperation clear on his face but once again a pro hero failed to catch him. In the blink of an eye, Karma was dragged away from the heroes. The other villains, as well as Tokoyami and Bakugou, had been dragged to some kind of warehouse. Huge tanks, some containing Noumu and some empty, sat in the back and, floating steadily towards them, was All for One.

 

“Kurogiri, would you let our gifts for the heroes loose?” He asked, tugging on the sleeves of his suit jacket until it was perfect.

 

Bakugou was trembling. Even Karma felt his heartbeat began to increase. All for One was no longer the weakened old grandpa from the hospital bed, his body had filled out, and his presence was crushing. Even someone untrained like the boys could feel the bloodlust pouring from him. Karma almost feared it being turned towards them, for All for One’s focus was directed elsewhere. All Might was coming, and coming fast. Outside, he could hear the mournful howls of the Noumu that were slowly being warped away by Kurogiri with Shigaraki’s instructions.

 

“If everyone could step back, please.”

 

He raised one hand and every person who was close to the back wall scattered like terrified mice. Even Karma scrambled to get further away from him. The blast happened unbelievably quickly, and, for the first time since he’d been pulled into a universe of superpowers, Karma truly feared for his life and for the life of the others. A city block was leveled with a single wave of All for One’s hand and the sound of sirens could be heard wailing in the distance. Smoke and fire filled the leveled buildings quickly and already there were pros crawling through the wreckage like ants to rescue the survivors. Karma could see Tiger in the distance, powerful arms long and flat as he lifted a civilian free, and fixed his face into his best cool and calculated expression. All for One ghosted his way out of the remains of the building, toes barely skimming the ground. A noise like a bomb sounded, blocks away, and as they waited with baited breath, All Might bounded over the rooves of the city.

 

He crashed down with the force of a freight train, the already destroyed ground cracking underneath his fists and feet. Those bright blue eyes of his were fixed on the villain in front of him, but flickered briefly to Karma and the others. He’d handle that later, that look said. However, there was no way All for One was going to let him have that sort of satisfaction.

 

“You recognize some of my associates, I see.” He said with a dark chuckle. “They put up a bit of a struggle, but they came around eventually. Why don’t you come up here, Karma-kun?”

 

Dark Shadow had unfolded underneath Tokoyami’s cloak to pin Bakugou, who feigned struggling against him. In the dim light of the evening, the creature was many times larger than Karma had seen before. His slow, heavy, steps took him to All for One’s side and he waved his fingers playfully.

 

“I hope you don’t mind,” he said. “But plans change.”

 

“Akabane, my boy, there’s still time. You can come back into the light-“

 

“What would you know of the dark?!” Surprising them all, Tokoyami interrupted him sharply. His beak snapped with each bitten off word. Around him the shadows grew. “You have always been the light, never shunned or hurt for something that you cannot change about yourself!”

 

All Might, and the other heroes who were gathering, paused. Tokoyami’s shoulders heaved. His empty hands shook and he clenched them around Bakugou’s arms along with the great beast extending from his body. Dark Shadow hissed angrily.

 

“Do you see now?” All for One asked, one heavy hand resting on Karma’s shoulders. “Society will change soon, and you and I shall be the catalysts.”

 

Karma bowed low at the waist. “Goodbye, sensei.”

 

The finality of his words sat like a lead weight in the pit of his stomach. He turned from both of them and left with far more confidence in his steps than he truly felt. With a wave of his hand, the rest of the league surged forwards from the darkness.

 

“Your friends are about to do something stupid.” Karma muttered as he closed in on Bakugou and Tokoyami. “I’ll give you an opportunity to get loose, make sure you join them.”

 

He could see a messy mop of green hair poking around a corner, as well as a shock of spiky red. It was a wonder no one else had seen them. One day he’d have to teach them to hide better. Karma was sure that the crushing weight of All for One’s presence kept them hidden behind the building’s surrounding wall or else they would have been out in a second.

 

“You know I’m going to tell them about your plan, right? Deku won’t let you go unless I do. He’ll chase you to the ends of the fucking Earth.”

 

“I suppose I owe him a secret...On one condition though. Carry on that training club I started with him.”

 

The pros had begun to engage the enemy around them. A huge man that looked like a whale was fighting with Muscular, Moonfish screamed in pain as he was attacked over and over, and a heavy smog had begun to spread across the battlefield from Mustard. Bakugou scowled at him, but nodded. Tokoyami’s hands released him just enough for Bakugou to pull himself from his grip and sock Karma hard in the jaw. The pain blossomed, a bright flare against the fog in the back of his brain and he whirled back around to chase him into the fray. The fighting extended around him, blood splattered the ground, and smoke and ash rose into the sky. Karma followed Bakugou’s bright mess of blond hair, their shoes slipping on the broken rocks and ruined road below them.

 

The purple cloud had spread even further, but seemed to have stopped at an invisible boundary. Bakugou swerved around it, dodging out of his sight, and Karma slowed his dogged pursuit of the boy. Mustard was somewhere inside the fog and on the other side he could hear a group of heroes shouting tactics back and forth to each other on how to defeat what they didn’t realize was a child inside. A shot rang out through the air and Karma’s brain screeched to a halt. Mustard had a gun with him.

 

A wicked smile stretched across his face. Karma pulled his cloak off and tied it tightly around his nose and mouth, took a deep breath, then began to wade into the mist. A second shot skimmed past his cheek, narrowly grazing him, and Karma picked up his speed into the center of the smog. Mustard rounded on him as he got closer, brandishing an old fashioned revolver.

 

“Akabane! You should have called out or something, I nearly shot you!” He cursed under his breath, wheezing through the gas mask covering his face. The fact that he was even wearing one meant his gas could affect him too. If Karma’s grin could get any bigger he could swear he’d ascend and become a kitsune.

 

Just as before the butt of his knife slammed into the back of Mustard’s head. His knees wobbled beneath him and he crashed to the floor. Karma ripped the mask away, allowing the gas to surround the boy, and pulled the gun from his limp hand. It slid into the band of his trousers like an old friend. There were loose bullets scattered through Mustard’s pockets and Karma had to shake his head at the kid just shoving them wherever he could. The gas was starting to creep into his senses and his lungs burned for oxygen, so, as the heroes made their move, Karma retreated.

 

There was a roar of engines, the creak of ice and a strong smell of burning. An explosion ripped through the air, accompanied by the triumphant sound of crazed laughter. Karma watched Bakugou go, a blazing dot in the sky chasing after the streak that was Todoroki and the others. He had to hold back his whoop of joy, but his insides did a glorious flip. A Noumu barreled past him, back covered in fire, and Karma turned tail and ran back towards Shigaraki. From the looks of things, the heroes were winning.

 

“Kurogiri-“ he could hear All for One say loudly, another blast of power all but sweeping All Might from his feet. “Escort what’s left of our dear friends out of here.”

 

The dregs of All Might’s power were flickering in the encroaching darkness of the night.

 

“Akabane! Move!”

 

Tokoyami glanced back as he stepped through the portal, Dark Shadow’s hand resting on his shoulders. A familiar tingling had started at the back of Karma’s neck and was slowly traveling down to the tips of his fingers. The knife hidden in his sleeve pressed against the thump thump of his pulse. The gun at his spine sent a chill through him. He couldn’t kill All for One. As far as he was aware, the man and Kurogiri were the only ones who knew where Kayano was.

 

But he could hurt him.

 

All for One was powerful.

 

Shigaraki was dangerous.

 

Kurogiri was a threat.

 

Karma was better.

 

“Those breathing filters look pretty flimsy.” He muttered to himself, feeling gleeful sparks of his quirk shiver through him. “I wonder how likely they are to break…?”

 

Karma reached Kurogiri at a run. Already he could hear the hiss of air, and didn’t want to stick around to see the aftermath. On the other side, Shigaraki paced back and forth anxiously.

 

“I should kill you for losing our hostage-!” He snapped, practically screeching as Karma stepped through. Magne looked like she wanted to intervene but her eyes tracked Shigaraki’s waving hands. “But-! But-! You’re valuable, yes. More than him, more valuable. Need to...keep you close. Yes.”

 

He looked panicked, hair all but standing on it’s frayed ends and singed slightly from what looked like a run-in with Endeavour. Back and forth he moved. The room they were in looked like a deserted factory or processing plant, full to the brim with machinery and cobwebs and dust. Wherever they were, it hadn’t been used in a great many years and was probably only a temporary stop in their journey. There were sheafs of paper stacked in the corners, and bundles of it tied with black twine that seemed to have text on. Karma wondered if it was a printing press.

 

“Hey.” He sidled close to Tokoyami. “Would Shadow be able to read what’s on those papers?”

 

“Give us a moment…”

 

Around them, the shadows warped and wiggled. Karma counted his lucky stars that everyone was so focused on Shigaraki’s ranting. A little way away from them, Dark Shadow’s beady eyes opened brightly near the stacks of rolled up paper. He scanned the text quickly before returning.

 

“We shall have to inform you later.” Tokoyami said quietly, Shadow muttering furiously in his ear.

 

It must have been a lot to process. They only stopped their muttering when Shigaraki finally began to stalk away. The group followed quietly. Fewer in number than before, but not nearly enough to make an impact. Muscular and Moonfish had disappeared some time during the scuffle. Compress was gone. Karma had personally removed Mustard, and there were now Noumu crawling the city.

 

Shigaraki led them deeper into the facility, down flights of stairs and through darkened corridors and a trap door or two- Karma felt like he was a part of a spy movie or something. His feet ached, Toga wouldn’t stop humming happily, Twice was talking to himself and all Karma could think about was driving the goddamned balisong into Shigaraki’s back.

 

—-

 

Elsewhere, miles away, and hours later, there were five boys sitting in a police station waiting room. Iida, still struggling with the events of Stain on top of letting his classmates run riot, clenched his hands in his lap uselessly with his back ramrod straight. Present Mic, Midnight, and the detectives in charge of the case had tried to make it very clear that they weren’t in trouble, but that didn’t stop Izuku’s overactive imagination. Rather than his furious muttering though, the boy was silent and pale. Bakugou watched him from across the room. They both looked like they wanted to puke.

 

Slowly the door across the room opened and a plain looking man with short, black hair stepped through. “All Might is going to be fine.” He said, and the tension bled from the room. “He’s in intensive care, but he’ll be alright.”

 

“What happened to…” Bakugou trailed off, the memory of All for One’s rattling breath, the way he clawed at his throat, still seared into his memory. There was no way that had been an accident. Karma had done that.

 

Tsukauchi shook his head. “Don’t think too hard about that. I want to ask you a couple of questions, then you guys are free to go home- okay?”

 

They all nodded slowly. Tsukauchi pulled a tiny spiral notebook and pen from his suit jacket, then settled down to ask his questions.

 

“Did Akabane-kun or Tokoyami-kun give you any hints as to where the League would be going next?”

 

Bakugou frowned. “No. Shigaraki is in charge of the loser squad. He didn’t tell us shit.”

 

“Alright. Do you think either of them...grew close to the villains, while they held you captive?”

 

“If you’re trying to frame them as traitors, it won’t work!” Izuku snapped, fist hitting the soft couch underneath him. “They’re gonna be heroes!”

 

There was silence for a beat, Tsukauchi’s eyes cast down towards the floor. Bakugou continued in a quiet mutter. “Akabane was called on by the boss of them a bunch. First Shigaraki went with him, but then it was just him by himself.”

 

“Did you ever learn any of their plans?”

 

He shook his head. “The death of All Might- of the symbol of peace.”

 

—-

 

Izuku hadn’t spoken to anyone until the next day. If felt, to him, like a mockery that, so soon after such a tragedy, they were back in class. As if nothing had happened. Apparently, Nedzu had requested 1-A return as swiftly as possible. There were things in the works. Midnight didn’t bother doing a formal roll-call; just asked them to stay put. As soon as the door was closed behind her, the formally silent classroom was alive with noise.

 

“You don’t believe them, do you?”

 

“The police came to my house to ask me about Karma- my mum told them to fuck off.”

 

“Your mum? I told them personally where to put it-“

 

Bakugou’s chair clattered to the floor as he stood, quickly. A hush travelled through the other students, reduced to whispers, and even Izuku looked up from glaring holes into his desk. The boy’s shoulders were hunched, drawn in, and he hardly looked any better than when they’d rescued him from the villain’s clutches.

 

“This doesn’t leave the fucking classroom- got it?” Bakugou snarled, as he headed up to the front of the room. He made no eye contact, stomped and slouched like a petulant teenager, but Izuku could see the shine of tears that he was hiding.

 

The whole class nodded collectively.

 

“Akabane and Tokoyami sacrificed themselves for me. I don’t know how the fuck they plan on doing it, but they’re spying on Shigaraki and his fucking goons. Somehow they’re going to get word back to us.”

 

There was dead silence while his words sunk in. Then, slowly, everyone began to murmur amongst themselves. And, for the first time in days, a bright ray of hope shone through the fog of despair that had blanketed them.

 

“Well, that means we have to help however we can- right?” Kaminari asked, reclining back in his chair. “What should we do?”

 

“If the pros and law enforcement think that they’re villains, that should cement their position amongst them…” Deep in thought, Yaoyorozu tapped her pen against her desk. “Perhaps we should split into two groups. One side shall believe that they are innocent, the others believe they are truly villains.”

 

Iida nodded. “If we all act too heavily, one way or the other, it may make their jobs difficult.”

 

“All right then, chucklefucks, who wants to draw straws?”

 

—-

 

Midnight returned shortly after to the entire class in an uproar of chaos amongst each other. The room looked like a whirlwind had swept through it, in no small part by what looked to her like warring factions forming between her students.

 

“They aren’t villains!”

 

“You weren’t there!”

 

“ENOUGH!” Her flogger cracked hard against the edge of the closest upturned table and the group jerked in collective shock. “I don’t want to hear it! We have a lot to get through today and a lot of big news. I want to introduce you all to your new classmate- even though some of you have already met him. Everyone, Shinsou Hitoshi.”

Chapter Text

The government is calling for extra sanctions after All Might’s retirement, the rise of villainy is undeniable-“

 

“Provisional licenses are being granted at the digression of the hero schools to students in their first year regardless of testing status-“

 

“The League of Villains were spotted again causing havoc in the downtown area led by Dabi-“

 

—-

 

Kayama-sensei sighed at the mess that had unfurled in front of her and ran her hand over her masked face. “Since you all did it, you can all clean it up. Except for you Shinsou-kun, you’re innocent. I expect this place spotless by the time I get back- where’s Hagakure-chan?”

 

She did a quick head count, pointing at each student in turn. Her eyebrows furrowed as she definitely came up one short (and not counting the two missing boys either). Izuku glanced at Iida and Yaoyorozu.

 

“She called out sick, I believe.” Yaoyorozu said politely as she gingerly turned a desk that she’d been hiding behind right-way up.

 

“Just what I needed today…” Kayama-sensei muttered and span on her heel. The class could hear her muttering as she left, no doubt to inform Nedzu of 1-A’s latest mishap.

 

As they cleaned, the other students gave Shinsou a wide berth. Izuku gave him a small smile that was answered with a curt nod. He wanted to trust him but other than ‘determined, stubborn and snarky’, the boy’s nature was completely unknown to him. In short order the classroom was put together again and Shinsou took Karma’s old seat behind Izuku. He looked like he wanted to ask about the rift that had formed in the class, but wisely kept his mouth shut. Izuku’s scars itched.

 

—-

 

Karma flicked the television off. Every news source was reporting on the same thing right now, and that was the League of Villains. Shigaraki was leaning over his shoulder, watching him manipulate the stock market. It took more than just a few button presses to do it as well as he did. There were emails to be forged, companies to be blackmailed, businesses to ruin. For a little while the villain was interested in what he was up to, but while Karma was explaining the intricacies of social engineering he could tell Shigaraki had zoned out. In truth he wasn’t just doing it to run hero companies into the ground like he’d pretended. His end goal was to increase the confidence in Ochaco’s parent’s company. He couldn’t just go around manipulating their stocks to be worth more, it would damage their reputation. Instead he made it so that they just seemed to be the best choice.

 

Not exactly child’s play, but not difficult for him either.

 

He was on the back burner for now, Shigaraki sending out his close posse to investigate potential members for their League. Karma wanted to get his fingers into the underground again and had been quietly putting out feelers for the current generations of assassins via the web. Even two hundred years in the future, in an alternate dimension, they still used very similar calling cards. Slowly he dragged his hands across his face. Tiredness had seeped into his muscles some time after the last few days and had settled deeply inside of him. He could feel Tokoyami somewhere in the back of the room, sparring with Magne, while the others were nowhere else to be seen.

 

Shigaraki’s hand edged up towards his neck, nails poised to dig into his own pale skin. Karma slapped his hand away without looking. He’d slowly been teaching Shigaraki not to claw at himself as often. It drove him up the walls, being stuck with it day in and day out. He was too similar to Takaoka while he was doing it and it was enough to set his nerves on the edge for the rest of the day.

 

“Cut that out sempai.”

 

Calling Shigaraki sempai had an odd effect on the man. He’d go from grumpy asshole one moment to doting on Karma like a big brother the next. Repeatedly Karma wondered what had happened to him that made him act so strangely to the idea of authority or respect. Perhaps he intended to shape Karma to be like he was towards All for One. He wished him luck in that endeavour

 

“Right, right…” Shigaraki muttered to himself, shoving his hands into his hoodie’s pockets. After a long moment of only the tap tap of Karma’s keys underneath his fingers, and Tokoyami and Magne wailing on each other in the background, Shigaraki grew bored of watching and left him to it.

 

With more breathing room to himself, Karma continued with his work. Someone was asking him if he knew any shinigami. Some of the code words were a little different, but to someone who knew what they were looking for it wasn’t a difficult cypher. For the next few hours other members of the League filtered in and out of the room. They were settled down in some sort of ancient, Japanese style estate that had apparently been All for One’s a long time ago. According to Shigaraki at least. It certainly looked like it hadn’t been touched in two hundred years. But, the bills were still being paid somehow and the water worked and that was all Karma really cared about. Distantly he was aware of Dabi lurking the corners of his vision, then Toga skipping through as if she hadn’t a care in the world. Some time around 3am a cup of coffee was deposited at his side and when the sun started to crest the horizon, sending bright lances of light across his computer screen, Karma decided it was time to pack it up.

 

There was a niggling suspicion that he was missing something important at the back of his mind. The news broadcasts were torn between hope for the future, the rise of a new generation of heroes to take up the mantle, and bordering on despair. The government hadn’t released an official statement regarding All Might’s status, even though he thought they might, and he’d seen hide nor hair of the man since his cataclysmic defeat of All for One. And the subsequent reveal of his true form. He laid back on the futon in his room, hands behind his head, and went over everything he knew while he tried to get some sleep.

 

Two hundred years ago, the world’s government put laws into place to prevent any country from using a human as a weapon.

 

Also two hundred years ago, All for One rose to power in the Japanese underworld.

 

All for One’s quirk can give and take quirks at will. A power that hasn’t been seen since.

 

He owned multiple safe houses.

 

The League of Villains were a bunch of gullible assholes.

 

All for One accidentally created One for All, by giving a quirk to a previous user, who could pass on his quirk.

 

Karma sat up slowly. He had intended to be going to sleep, but now his brain was beginning to whir to life again. One for All could be passed down- it was a mutation of two quirks. At least two quirks. It had already absorbed itself into one, what was stopping itself from adding more? There was no way it had only ever been given to quirkless users. Karma dragged his hands through his hair and threw himself back against the hard floor with a huff. He had the beginnings of a theory forming...but what was he supposed to do with it?

 

—-

 

“What are you thinking, Kacchan?” Izuku sunk into the dorm couch next to the blond. An inch of space barely existed between the two of them, as if they’d erected an invisible barrier.

 

“Hagakure. I’m glad she called off- gave me a chance to tell everyone- but I’m concerned.”

 

It was dark and quiet in their shared sitting area. The shy singing of cicada outside the only noise save for the two boys. Each student was learning to fit around each other’s habits and schedules and the few arguments that had broken out were predictable and easily extinguished. Bakugou pulled his thin jacket tighter around himself.

 

“They’ve been quiet, other than the Noumu I mean.”

 

Bakugou made a noise of agreement. The question of what to do about Hagakure hung in the air between them. Confront her? Demand to know where the villains had squirreled away their friends? But Hagakure didn’t return that night. Or even the next. After four days of silence the police for involved, and after a week an official investigation was launched.

 

‘The bodies of the Hagakure family were finally found, buried in their back yard, concluding the week long search. Both parents and three children were found, including the hero hopeful Toru- the funeral is planned to be held-‘

 

In the teacher’s office, flanked by her fellow staff members, Kayama-sensei scowled. Another one of their class gone. The police had admitted in their autopsy report that they’d been dead for months, putting their deaths right around the time of U.A.’s entrance exams. She had sworn up and down that she’d just met the Hagakure family as she had needed their permission for Toru to join the student dorms. She was sure her class were going to be devastated.

 

—-

 

It was strange being in such a huge compound when you were on your own. Tokoyami had disappeared somewhere with Toga, not something he was exactly happy about but not something he could change. The boy was surprisingly good at the undercover job. Karma prowled the halls. He mapped exits and hidden nooks and crannies, and, most importantly, sent a few encrypted emails to Bakugou letting him know they were both alive. He was sitting on the porch when he heard her.

 

“You’re very naughty, you know that, right, Akabane-san?”

 

“Hey Hagakure. I was wondering when you’d show yourself. Well.”

 

“Shigaraki won’t hear a bad word against you.”

 

She was standing behind him, a little to the left. He had never been as good as Nagisa at telling where a person was based on their heartbeat, but no one here had ever encountered someone like him before. Karma would be good enough for this.

 

“You must have pissed him off. Didn’t you know I’m a good little villain, now?” He stood and turned roughly to face her, trying to make it look like he didn’t know exactly where she was. With a short shrug, he let the butterfly knife slide into his palm. He’d taken to carrying it everywhere- the same as the gun that the villains had no idea he held. Hagakure took a step backwards. “Aren’t you going to wonder how I figured out you were the spy?”

 

She scoffed as he moved past her, heading deeper into the compound. When she began to follow him Karma wondered if she was even taking him seriously. “I was gonna have to tell you eventually anyway, aren’t you gonna ask why I am?”

 

Karma hummed as he turned corner after corner with Hagakure following behind him. The knife was still in his hand. She hadn’t brought it up since he started playing with it. “Why should I? It’s either parent problems, you’re spoilt and want to rebel, or a rough childhood where nobody paid attention to you. Boo fucking hoo.”

 

An angry snarl slipped from the girl behind him, but he ignored the way her stamping feet grew louder for a moment. “You’re such an asshole, is this the real you? You’ve played happy school boy for so long now your image is cracking.”

 

“No, the real me is a thirty five year old man from the past who’s trying his damndest not to seem like too much of a freak in a sea of freaks. And I really miss my husband.”

 

“What?” Hagakure’s feet stumbled on his bombshell but she quickly caught up to him, further and further. “You’re insane. Certifiable.”

 

“You know what the best part about your invisibility?” Karma asked, finally finding himself in a large room that he deemed suitable with a nod of his head.

 

“What’s that?”

 

She was still behind him, heart beating hard and heavy against her chest. Her attention was only on him. Karma could feel the weight of her gaze. The knife clicked open softly, quietly, a deadly sliver of steel in his palm. The girl in front of him was the cause of Aizawa-sensei’s death. Had she meant it or not, Karma didn’t care. She should have known the consequences when signing herself up with the villains- just as he did. Death lurked around every corner, either at the hands of his supposed allies or the heroes hunting him down for his head. Karma wondered if there was somewhere they took children with dangerous quirks.

 

“No one will ever find your body.”

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

“And...that’s what happened.”

 

Yamada faced the ring of other pro heroes, shaken to the core and staring at his hands as if he’d killed Akabane Karma himself. He could still feel the weight of his body weighing down his hands and the feeling of the clone’s ooze leaking through his fingers.

 

“Hizashi-san, I don’t necessarily approve of you bugging or staking out their house but I can’t deny the results. I suppose Akabane really has fallen to the villains side.” Nedzu laced his fingers together and rested his head on top of them sadly.

 

“It’s strange of him to admit to one of his allies quirks so quickly, but I suppose we would have figured it out sooner or later.” On the other side of the table, Kayama was rolling a pencil back and forth underneath her fingers.

 

On the other hand, Endeavour seemed ready to hunt them down right at that second. He seemed to have a few allies among the other Pro heroes, Gang Orca and Fourth Kind for sure, whereas some seemed more reluctant.

 

“We should still attempt to rescue him…” Tiger sighed, putting his large hand over Pixie-Bob’s next to him. His inability to catch Karma in time still playing on his mind. His teammate gave him a small smile, but she felt the same regret.

 

“He, and all his allies, need to be thrown in Tartarus.” Endeavour snarled, parts of his face beginning to smolder the angrier he became.

 

“Have you managed to get his location, Ragdoll?”

 

The woman in question jumped, thrown out of her stupor by Nedzu. She blinked owlishly before turning her head to the side. “No. There was too much going on and too many people to keep track of during the battle. He slipped from my radar.”

 

The debate continued for a little while after that, the heroes that had previously been on the fence about Karma’s supposed betrayal slowly began to take sides. Their world was slowly falling into disarray around them. With the number one hero being out of action, possibly permanently as some had theorized, there was a gap in power both among the heroes and the villains. Eventually the group began to leave in ones and twos, Nedzu staying behind the continue overseeing his school, while others had agencies and sidekicks to get to. Outside U.A. Tiger turned to Ragdoll and stared at her curiously.

 

“Why did you lie to them? We’ve been tracking them for weeks.”

 

For a moment Ragdoll didn’t respond. Pinned by her teammates’ gazes, she squirmed and jumped in place as she tried to figure out how to explain herself. “I believe in Karma-kun!” Ragdoll said, finally. Her big, yellow eyes looked up pleadingly to Tiger and she clasped her hands together. “His weakness right now- it’s Fumikage-kun. Whatever is going on, any physical issues he might have are totally dwarfed by is need to protect the other boy.”

 

Gently, Mandalay knocked her fist against Ragdoll’s shoulder. “If you believe in him, then I believe in him. We’ll save him Ragdoll.”

 

—-

 

Tokoyami found Karma meditating outside. It was late evening and the boy slunk over, pretending for all the world as if he hadn’t been actively seeking him out. At first he stood quietly nearby while he gathered his thoughts until Karma turned his head a little. He stared at Tokoyami for a second before gesturing for him to take a seat on the grass as well.

 

“You look more worried than usual, Tokoyami.” Karma said, leaning back on his elbows. He had a serene expression on his face but Tokoyami knew that hardly meant he was peaceful inside.

 

“I must admit I am worried about you, Akabane-san. I fear you are falling into a pit of darkness that I cannot pull you from.”

 

Karma snorted, pulling a grin from Tokoyami. They both knew the chuuni act was always good for a laugh out of them both. Sighing, Karma stared up at the evening sky. It was grey and overcast, empty of the brilliant rays of orange and red of the rural mountaintop he’d called home- something that he frequently would wax poetic about if given the chance. The tension had bled out of the air some but Tokoyami was still on edge. As if able to sense it, Karma looked up at the boy.

 

“What’s on your mind?”

 

“I apologise if I overstep myself with this...but I know you hurt yourself, the other day, when I and Toga returned. I wanted to tell you that I am also here for you, if you need me.”

 

Karma’s face went carefully, quietly blank. Almost as if he was processing Tokoyami’s words. Then, he just smiled softly. “All right. I guess I’ll just have to learn to lean on you a bit more.”

 

The scars may not have been visible, and he may have been hiding many more, but Tokoyami made a promise to himself that Karma wouldn’t gain any more so long as they were stuck together.

 

—-

 

The computer under his fingers chimed, signaling an email to one of the many disposable email addresses he was burning through. Karma and the assassin had been discussing business for the last few days. They’d been surprised when Karma had professed he didn’t want any of the heroes on his tail dead, but rather something completely different.

 

I need information on a girl’s whereabouts. Can you help?

 

I have some contacts. Trafficking?

 

Maybe. A lost friend. Goes by the names Kayano Kaede or Yukimura Akari.

 

I’ll look into it. What’s your payment?

 

How do you feel about a crack at one of the greatest villains alive?

 

After each email was read, the account would self-destruct. It was a little annoying to jump between disposable addresses and to use code-speak he only half remembered, but the less chances Shigaraki had to catch him the better. Once he reached an agreement they arranged the next point of contact, then Karma went back to his regular idle browsing. He was glad that Shigaraki was severely lacking in the tech skills department. The villain preferred to spend his free time playing old rpgs and lurking in the corners of the building.

 

Their plans were slow going, the idle trickle of chosen villains beginning to increase as more strangers were added to their party. A woman with steel spikes jutting from her skin. A man with more teeth than face, and giant black claws. A person whose blood ate through concrete. Karma made mental notes on each one he was introduced to until one day, what seemed like weeks later, Shigaraki dropped a large backpack that he recognized at his feet.

 

It was the one that they’d sent his clone after, stuffed with his clothes. They’d known it had died because Twice had gargled a scream into his hands when it had happened. Apparently he held fuzzy memories of the clone’s death and regaled them with what was probably a slightly embellished account of the clone attacking Present Mic before killing itself. The villains definitely treated Karma with a sense of respect that he felt he hardly deserved. Nagisa had been his rock amongst his self destructive tendencies that often reared their ugly heads- something his clone apparently had as well. From the very first day that he’d learnt he could wail on a student and get away with it, Karma’s aggression had been a force to be reckoned with.

 

“Here you go, Karma-kun. I had one of our friends pick it up after those pesky heroes had cleared out.”

 

“Ah. Thanks, sempai.” The bag mostly had clothes that he’d wanted pretty badly, but the thought of Shigaraki’s compatriots lurking in his home made him shiver with disgust.

 

“You’re gonna need them, we have some business outside and we don’t want you being recognized.” A wicked grin stretched across Shigaraki’s face as he also passed over a bottle of hair dye and some glasses. Apparently he was serious.

 

—-

 

Fire roared past Izuku’s face, getting uncomfortably close to singeing off his eyebrows. He was getting tired of things that could wield fire, even if Todoroki was his friend, and Endeavour was the number two hero (though with All Might out of the picture the chances of becoming number one were climbing), the number of fire breathing things in his life was two too many. The Noumu reared it’s ugly head back once again and flames shot towards the group. Izuku threw himself aside, while Tetsutetsu tanked it and continued his inexorable push forwards. The others leapt away as well, Pony doubling around behind it with her horns firing at full throttle while Kaminari desperately looked for an opening.

 

More and more reports of Noumu were coming in to hero agencies across Japan. Usually students, even those with provisional licenses, needed some form of supervision but the teachers were busy dealing with another one of the villain’s creatures a few miles away. There were four in Musutafu, three in Tokyo. The worst part was that none seemed to have a goal, or even any control. They seemed to only want to wreck everything in their paths- and still Karma hadn’t been seen since the clone incident.

 

His information had let Izuku and the others head off more than a few of the Noumu’s attacks, with the occasional email sent to Bakugou, and he’d anonymously tipped off the authorities about even more than that. But, still, Izuku wondered how many people had gone into creating the Noumu that they were battling now. It breathed a stream of fire into the air as it wailed in pain- Kaminari had managed a direct hit and was now darting away from it as it wavered dangerously.

 

“It’s going to fall!” Izuku called, already in the air with an arm drawn back. It was going down, either naturally or he’d force it to.

 

The Noumu fell with a noise like a car wreck, clouds of dust and debris puffing into the air around it as it collapsed. The heroes fell on the downed Noumu quickly, restraining it’s oversized arms with more power limiting cuffs than might have been strictly necessary. Izuku had to take a deep, shuddering breath. He stepped away from the downed creature and had to remind himself that it had been human once. That somewhere in there there may have still been a person. Even if it was warped by All for One.

 

A crowd had gathered around them, hushed whispers from the civilians traveling around the edges. A few days ago Izuku and Todoroki had appeared in a magazine about future up-and-coming heroes and they hadn’t managed to escape the public’s attention since. He gave a little wave to the onlookers before turning to the police to give his report and help with the clean up. A flash of gold cat’s eyes too close for comfort made him snap to attention. Black hair instead of red and out in public where anyone could see him. Karma gave Izuku a quick, two fingered salute before disappearing into the crowd.

 

Something big was about to go down.

 

He flipped his phone open and dialed Jirou, hoping she’d pick up quickly. Izuku counted his lucky stars that she was nearby. “Jirou-chan! I need you to look for something out of place for me, I think we have a situation.”

 

“What sort of out of place?” She asked. “That’s an open question.”

 

“I’m not sure, just listen out for something weird okay?”

 

She grumbled but agreed and Izuku began to scan the crowd for hostile faces. Just when he’d thought that maybe Karma had been a false flag, Shigaraki appeared on the roof of a nearby building through a haze of purple. Behind him was Karma, looking much more tired than Izuku had just seen from him. And with red hair. Immediately Izuku shot into action, the crowd shouted in alarm as he grabbed the nearest police officer.

 

“You need to evacuate, now!”

 

Good evening, loyal citizens!

 

—-

 

“We need to cause a stir. The Noumu are all well and good but people are going to forget we’re a threat without All for One.” Karma said with a shrug, wires and switches falling apart underneath his deft hands. “It was nice of you to introduce me to Giran.”

 

Shigaraki preened under the attention. To him, he’d introduced one of his best men to the broker that would help further their career in villainy. To Karma on the other hand, he’d found a politician that would make a wonderful bargaining chip. The mechanics of his device were simple enough. It was something he’d made since he was fifteen the first time, though there was much less of a need for an explosive as a bureaucrat.

 

“We should have plenty of time to make a nice, big speech before this goes off.” He grinned, connecting the last few wires. A red button on the top finished it off, a sense of cartoonish glee at being able to press it.

 

—-

 

Shigaraki addressed the crowd below, the gathered heroes and stunned civilians. Izuku scowled. It had to be a clone, the Karma he’d just seen had black dyed hair to blend in with the crowd. Wire tapping the staff continued to pay off.

 

“Every single one of us lives under an oppressive regime!” Shigaraki was saying. “At any moment we could be branded villains for something out of our control- even the students meant to rescue you from disaster recognize this.” His long, bony finger singled out Izuku from the crowd. “You could be born with a quirk that hurts and be branded trash from the day it awakens! I urge you all to rise up and join us with the League, where we will create a new world!”

 

He began to cackle wildly, as the building underneath his feet shook with the first explosion. The windows shattered outwards, fire licked the streets, and Izuku’s body moved.

Chapter Text

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.

 

“Tetsutetsu-kun!”

 

“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.

 

“Thanks much.”

 

“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?

 

“Karma-san?”

 

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.

 

“Thanks, Fumi.”

 

—-

 

“Karma-kun.”

 

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.

Chapter Text

The massive hole in the floor unfurled before them, crumbling slightly the closer to the edge Karma got. His quirk was pulling him across the way and through the opposite door. Tokoyami seemed to be assessing the situation as well, Dark Shadow reaching out through the dim lighting to the other shore. It’s clawed fingers gripped at the stone and rubble.

 

“Can you pull us over?”

 

Shadow nodded then braced it’s hands on either side. Tokoyami gripped Karma around the waist, his red eyes glancing to the side in embarrassment, and with a grunt of effort began to carry them both over. The gloom was enough to boost his strength without quite driving him into madness.

 

Now safely across the gap, the two continued ever deeper into the yakuza base. With Karma’s quirk leading the way they found their pace picking up until they were both sprinting at full speed down each hallway. The further down they travelled, the fewer lights illuminated their way until it was a brief spotlight every few feet. Dark Shadow was beginning to get antsy, now fully unveiled from underneath Tokoyami, the massive bird creature loomed behind the both of them with it’s claws outstretched. It hissed like static, bright gold eyes whipping back and forth as it scanned their surroundings like a protective demon.

 

Karma wished they had Ritsu. With her help he wouldn’t have to rely on a vague feeling of ‘ this way ’. Strangely, they saw no one on their journey. As if the base was focusing their entire force on the heroes or if they’d simply scattered. Karma knew better, however, than to believe a yakuza gang would just up and abandon their home. The sounds of a scuffle was growing ever closer. A heavy banging of metal on metal and the screech of stone being dragged against stone, angry growls of people, and the dull thud of knuckles on flesh.

 

The hallway had begun to stink of alcohol, to the point that Karma had to cover his nose with his cape. His foot splashed in a puddle of it, throwing even more of it into the air, but the noise alerted a man sprawled on the floor and gurgling to himself. Perhaps alerted wasn’t the best way to describe it, Karma thought, as he could barely move or even glance in their direction. A blue bruise blossomed across his face, one that Karma added to by taking the heel of his boot and slamming it into the stranger’s head. The gurgling stopped. The man’s bird mask lay shattered.

 

In front of them was a wall with barely enough space for the other man currently trying to squeeze himself through it. He hadn’t noticed the two unstoppable forces of nature behind him, until the wall fractured underneath Dark Shadow’s massive claws. Karma thought they must have made a fantastic picture. The two of them striding forwards from the darkness with a demon behind them. The yakuza grunt was fumbling with a gun in his hands, attempting to swap out the bullets, but Karma’s appearance had made him pause long enough for Dark Shadow to snatch it from his shaking hands.

 

“Well, it looks like we’re at the end boss- eh, Tsukuyomi.” Karma grinned, an easy smile spreading across his face as he tilted his head back.

 

He drove his boot into the second man’s head over and over until the blubbering stopped. Across the bright room stood a hero, covering a young girl with his body, and another yakuza dressed in a fine silk shirt. Karma could see the way the man’s body language screamed anger and wounded pride.

 

“Who are you?!” He snarled from behind the beak mask. “Another hero? No matter how many of you there are, we will win.”

 

Karma took the gun from Tokoyami and glanced briefly at the bullets enchambered inside. They hadn’t swapped them out yet. He used the last three to shatter the bulbs lighting the room, allowing Tokoyami to stride through behind him.

 

“Not quite. You can call me Elysium. And this is Tsukuyomi.”

 

He could see the dawning realization on the heroes’ face as they entered. “You’re the two kids the League of Villains took.” He said.

 

“That’s right!” Karma tossed the empty gun aside and regarded the case of strangely shaped bullets that Tokoyami had taken. There were four and had a small syringe on one end and were filled with an odd liquid. “Let’s see...why don’t we try and guess what’s in these things?”

 

The man who was clearly the boss, or a high ranking individual, was slowly trying to back away from the gathering, favoring his side, but a quick glare from the hero made him pause. Karma marched towards them.

 

“You’re working on something to do with a quirk drug- I know that for sure. Two years ago was the rise of that Trigger shit, right? But that increased a person’s quirk and I don’t think you’d want to hit a hero with that...so...that leaves...removing a quirk. Did I get it?”

 

“You did…” Muttered the man. “But you won’t be leaving here alive with that knowledge.”

 

Suddenly he dropped to the floor, the ground cracking and crumbling underneath his hands and almost throwing Karma and the others off their balance. The hero snatched up the girl before a series of jagged spikes shot from the ground towards them. Karma vaulted one, barely dodged another, and felt one become reduced to rubble at his back.

 

“Be careful!” Tokoyami called. Dark Shadow retreated away from Karma and back to him.

 

Again the floor began to shake, the spikes falling apart underneath the villain’s quirk, but this time both Karma and the young hero were prepared. As Karma dashed forwards, the other boy appeared to slide through the floor and shoot out of it at high speed- his fist clocking the villain in the side of his covered jaw just as Karma reached them from the other side. Their joint punches even throwing their opponent back a few feet. It seemed that everything was over. The yakuza was down for the count and the face of his compatriot was a bloody smear on the floor.

 

“We make a good team!” Karma laughed, pulling the mask free from the unconscious villain. He had no idea who he was, but with the way the hero was looking at him he was sure he was dangerous. “Who is this, anyway?”

 

“Overhaul. He’s the capo here. I’m going to have to ask you two to come with me as well.” Said the hero, face hardened. He was breathing hard and still in a fighting stance. “You have a lot to answer for.”

 

Behind him, Tokoyami was edging slowly closer to the girl that was cowering on the floor. Dark Shadow had retreated temporarily and the boy was whispering gentle encouragement to her. Karma kept his eyes locked on the hero.

 

“You’re not even going to introduce yourself? How rude.”

 

He seemed to be struggling with himself, the hero’s sense of propriety warring with the need to arrest the ‘villain’ before him. Karma stuck his hand out and slowly the boy approached as well.

 

“Lemillion.” He said, reaching out to shake Karma’s hand.

 

“A pleasure to meet you.”

 

The switch in Karma’s glove had been flicked surreptitiously, under the guise of adjusting it. The electricity coursing through his hand enough to drag Lemillion to his knees with a pained cry.

 

“Sorry~! But I can’t let you take us in just yet. Tsukuyomi, would you get the girl? We’ll take her upstairs.”

 

“No!” Lemillion cried out, struggling to push himself up on shaking legs. “I won’t let you take her!”

 

“Calm down.” Karma said, turning off his gloves and patting the quiet child on the head. “We’re taking her up to the heroes. I just don’t want you ruining my day by trying to arrest me.”

 

Lemillion’s eyes darted back and forth between Karma and the girl. She was subdued, but not in distress. Her eyes were full of confusion but not the abject fear from when the yakuza had been gripping her. Eventually Lemillion sat down. He still seemed distrustful of Karma and Tokoyami, but couldn’t deny the way his muscles were cramping put a dent in his plans.

 

There was a click behind them as Karma began to walk towards Tokoyami, and a shout of distress from the downed hero. Something thudded between Karma’s shoulder blades as he turned. It felt like the floor had been ripped out from underneath him, his own legs turning to jelly as pain seared across his back, but he forced himself to keep standing. Tokoyami’s eyes were wide and fearful but he kept the little girl behind him.

 

As Karma moved, the syringe fell from his back. Chisaki Kai had pushed himself up just enough to get a good shot at Karma, had snatched the discarded gun from the floor and gotten his revenge.

 

“Ah.” Said Karma, knocking the bullet with his toes. “That’s going to bruise.”

 

As he strode over to Overhaul, who was barely hanging onto consciousness, Karma considered his options. He slid his balisong from his sleeve’s hidden pocket and gently span it around his fingers. A wicked grin slid across his face.

 

“Karma-san!” Tokoyami called, his voice shaking. “Don’t do anything too rash.”

 

Bloodlust sang in Karma’s ears. Screw the watching heroes and his need to pretend to be a decent person. He’d been shot, careless, by a man on his knees before him. It was only sheer luck that it wasn’t a real bullet. Karma was mad. More than mad, even. The loss of his quirk was no big deal to him- he hadn’t grown up with it and barely used it- but the audacity of it all.

 

“I’m going to make sure you remember me, Overhaul.” He said, pressing the sharp side of the blade against his bare skin. There was no fear in his face as Karma began to carve, only hatred.

 

He sliced the kanji for his name into Overhaul’s face, then wiped his knife off on the man’s once pristine jacket. Slowly the adrenaline began to leave his system. Karma’s hands shook a little, the red fuzz around the edges of his eyes faded as he stood. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly before leaving.

 

“Where do you think Magne is?” Tokoyami asked as they headed for the back exit. The girl was so slight and small that he had no trouble whatsoever keeping her aloft on his hip.

 

“Wrecking shit, I hope.”

 

The way was silent. No more villains or heroes to stop them on their path to freedom. As they breached the hidden door, the sun shone brightly in their faces and the little girl trembled in Tokoyami’s arms. The passage had let them out a little way away from the main building and out of a warehouse door recessed from the road. The heroes and police were still gathered at the entrance.

 

“Hey kid?” Karma asked as Tokoyami gently lowered her to the floor. “What’s your name? Mine is Karma.”

 

“Eri…” She said, quietly.

 

“Okay Eri, you see that big group of people over there? Run straight to them. They’ll keep you safe.”

 

“You’re not coming too?”

 

“Not yet, but we’ll see you soon okay?”

 

She nodded and gave both of them a quick squeeze around the waist before taking off as fast as her tiny little legs would take her, tripping and stumbling the entire way. Karma watched her go with a soft smile.

 

“You’re good with kids, Karma-san.” Said Tokoyami, glancing his way.

 

Karma shrugged. “I’ve had some practice.”

Chapter Text

Class 1-A heard about the raid on the yakuza hideout the next day. It was all over the news and the two stars of the show were Togata Mirio and Amajiki Tamaki. The latter was nursing a broken arm and a few bruised ribs, but nothing serious, and the former was content to shelter his friend from the sudden limelight that the rest of the school now showered them with. 1-A watched with distrustful eyes from their lunch tables. Momo had caught them up on the sparse words caught through the bugs that they’d planted on them weeks ago. They hadn’t expected a run-in with Karma, but their ex-classmate hadn’t been mentioned on the news. Izuku wondered if Togata was intentionally keeping quiet about his involvement.

 

Back in class, Midnight had a surprise for them.

 

“Now that you all have your provisional licenses, even if it’s technically a state of emergency that you got them in- you’re all qualified to become apprentices to the pro heroes!”

 

She expected excitement, perhaps even a round of questions, but not the hushed muttering words shared between classmates. Eventually, they all looked to Iida.

 

“Sensei, what makes this different to the internships?” He asked, making Midnight breathe a quiet sigh of relief. At least someone was acting normally.

 

She gave them a short explanation as well a list of potential candidates and in a short time they were all pointing out heroes that they admired or wanted to work with. They were still in two major cliques- something she really needed to get around to working out- and the lines in the sand had been drawn down the center of the classroom. A few of them had even changed seats without her noticing.

 

They weren’t supposed to be so at odds with each other, it wasn’t right. Students weren’t supposed to regard each other with such open hostility.

 

—-

 

“Okay, okay. I might have gone a bit far.”

 

Overhaul’s face had been branded across the news feeds, his new white scar on full display on his cheek. Apparently they hadn’t deemed it necessary enough to heal. There’d been a couple of casualties on both sides but no one’s name stuck out to Karma. He was sitting in the main room on the tatami mats that had seen better days, with half the League milling about him. They hadn’t spoken about what had happened, past Karma’s spur of the moment punishment of Overhaul. Shigaraki’s crew considered him some form of hero- Magne had hauled him up on her shoulders and paraded him around the house when the first images of his name seared across his cheek appeared. He could tell that Tokoyami disapproved of what he’d done but there was no time to talk about it and no way to avoid Shigaraki now. He practically stuck to Karma like glue now. There hadn’t even been a second to bring up the loss of his quirk. Tokoyami was clearly worried sick.

 

While they’d been gone, the empty rooms of the building had finished filling out with scumbags and villains of all walks. They wondered if Shigaraki was making an army.

 

“You’re going to be in trouble.” Tokoyami said, shaking his head.

 

“That’s okay. We’re almost done here.”

 

—-

 

It wasn’t an army. At least, not in the regular sense of the word. It was a prison break.

 

The flood of villains exploded, filling the sewer pipes with a mass of writhing, gnashing, bodies. Shigaraki stood behind them, the swarm parting around him like the Dead Sea. Instead of joining them, Karma took Tokoyami’s hand and slid away. There was no way they were going to be present for that shit. Away from the rabble baying and hooting for blood as they moved in one mass to where they were keeping All for One.

 

Tartarus.

 

Karma didn’t know how they’d found a way in to a maximum security prison but he wasn’t going to stick around to find out. In the madness to be the first through the doors, to be the first to draw blood, the two slipped into the encroaching night. He shoved a folder into Tokoyami’s hands, praying that using Kayano’s folder wouldn’t come back to bite him.

 

“There are locations to all of Shigaraki’s hideouts and his plans in here- get them to Bakugou. Do whatever you have to do but don’t come back here.

 

“Karma-san.”

 

“What?”

 

“Be safe.”

 

—-

 

The hospital where Kayano was being kept was nondescript to say the least. It was quiet, with a skeleton crew of staff and plain brick walls. It could have easily been mistaken for an office building if it wasn’t for the occasional ambulance that would tear screaming from the bay. He slipped through the back door wearing a high-vis vest and a hard hat, trailing after one of the nurses that was kind enough to let him in after a dazzling smile and a story about meeting the rest of the team for some renovations.

 

Karma walked with a purpose, striding down the stark corridors at a brisk pace. The hospital staff avoided him. A hard hat, a clip board, and some confidence was enough to get you into most areas. Karma had the floor plan to the hospital memorized; even if Kayano’s room was unmarked, a little sleuthing was enough to find the longest staying residents. Hospital records were a notoriously easy job.

 

He knew it had begun when the TV in the nurses’ lounge swapped over to an urgent news bulletin. The ticker along the bottom told the story. A lock down at a high security prison. Only sirens could be heard from the island with complete radio silence from the warden and his men. That was when Shigaraki appeared on the Tochō observation deck- smoke billowing out from behind him, the screams of evacuating civilians- flanked on either side by Toga and Dabi. His voice was magnified by some nameless goon slinking along in the background and, loudly, he proclaimed his victory over the heroes.

 

As far as he was concerned, he was about to free his mentor and take over Japan.

 

As far as Karma was concerned, it would be the end of the line.

 

—-

 

A few days ago, but not many…

 

Toshinori Yagi awoke to a soft beeping noise in his ear and the dull realization that his life would never be the same. As soon as they’d noticed that he’d woken up, his nurses were on him like a shot. They took his vitals and responses and reassured him that everything would be okay. Inside he scoffed, that the symbol of peace needed their platitudes was laughable, but he smiled and nodded at their gentle voices nonetheless.

 

His recovery felt short, all of the strenuous healing done while he was comatose, and was cleared to leave as soon as he was able to stand on his own again. That was how he found himself, just a scant few days later, standing over All for One’s body inside the morgue at Tartarus. Neither of them had any family left- All for One was destined for an unmarked grave in an unknown plot of land. In some ways it was only each other that they had had left. Toshinori, however, hoped that he’d at least left enough of an impact on the world that he would be remembered fondly.

 

That was when the sirens began. The guard that had been escorting him immediately shoved him aside, shielding him with his own body and urging him towards the exit, while the red warning lights flashed angrily. He hurried as fast as his mangled body would let him. The prisoner’s fists beat an angry rhythm against the huge, metal doors they were trapped behind. The noise was unbearable.

 

Like a horror movie the doors began to swing open. His guard cursed, gun held at the ready, as the inmates broke loose.

 

—-

 

Kayano Kaede looked peaceful asleep. Karma was almost loathe to wake her; all the drama and fighting and bullshit going on in the background was unknown to her. But, he had a job to do. Like a prince, he was here to rescue one of his best friends. He assessed the machine that she was hooked into- it looked less like life support and more like suspended animation. The glass cylinder that covered her was sealed shut around the edges, probably requiring a password from All for One put into the nearby computer, but Karma was impatient and not willing to spend any extra time cracking it. Instead, he drew the revolver that he’d stolen so long ago and drove the butt of it into the glass as hard as he could.

 

Crack!

                                        Crack!

 

It shattered under one of the blows, enough that he could reach a hand inside and flick the safety switch. The lid hissed, releasing whatever gas was keeping her under, and swung open slowly. Almost immediately, Kayano began to wake up. Karma watched with bated breath as her bright yellow eyes slowly blinked open.

 

“Kayano?” He asked, stepping back to give her some space as she sat up.

 

Nerves shot through his spine as Karma watched her shimmering green hair seemingly come to life, splitting into segments like the tentacles from their childhood. They waved around her head as if she was at the bottom of a pool of water. Kayano turned to look at him, brows furrowed with confusion, before all of a sudden throwing herself bodily at him. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and squeezed tightly.

 

“Karma! It’s really you, holy shit!”

 

It took her a second to get her bearings, legs feeling like jelly after she spent so long asleep, but finally she was up and about and out of the blasted cylinder. Karma had only managed to stuff a pair of tight bike shorts and a shirt into his pockets, not wanting to throw off the disguise too much, and he handed them over so she could at least get out of the pale green hospital gown.

 

“Why is your hair black?” She asked as she changed. He’d turned his back to give her some privacy and shed the hard hat and jacket. “I can see your roots coming through.”

 

“I’m in hiding. What about yours? Don’t tell me it’s naturally green now.”

 

“It is!” She ran her fingers through the long, green tresses. It was long enough to touch her waist now. Under her careful touch it seemed to come alive until it was flowing up and outwards in sharp blades that swayed around her head.

 

“Well.” Said Karma. “If that doesn’t look just like-“

 

“Koro-sensei’s tentacles! I know!” She laughed, flicking one faster even than Karma’s practiced eyes could follow, and the wall facing the outside of the building exploded outwards. “Just as strong as I remember too.”

 

“Alright!” Karma whistled, impressed, and stepped over to the new hole in the wall. He peered outside at the people now seriously beginning to panic. “Why don’t we go ruin a few people’s days?”

 

“I thought you’d never ask.”

 

—-

 

All Might had wanted to believe that, if pushed he could still put up a fight. That he could still defend himself. But, as the man in front of him threw himself into battle with his bare hands, Toshinori was slowly coming to terms with his own mortality. All Might was finally dead. His security guard had been struck early on and now lay unconscious in Toshinori’s arms. He was struggling to keep the man aloft and away from the attacking villains. It had seemed like it would be the end. No matter how much he tried, his bulked up form was long out of his reach. It was pure luck that one of the inmates seemed to idolize him- at least that was what he thought was going on. The man with a smashed face and shaggy hair had pushed Toshinori behind him and began a brutal defense as they moved towards an emergency exit.

 

“Stay back.” He growled, slashing at another villain’s face with bitten-sharp nails.

 

There was something familiar about him, thought Toshinori, but he wasn’t sure where from. As the man swiped his tongue across his bloodied nails, his opponent suddenly fell to the floor with a strangled and angry cry. That was when realization dawned on him, as more and more of them were brought to their knees.

 

“You’re Stain.” Toshinori said, quietly.

 

“No one is allowed to lay a hand on you. If they do, they’ll lose it.”

 

—-

 

Chaos reigned supreme outside. The screaming civilians and desperate heroes paid no attention to the two teenagers leaping from rooftop to balcony to telephone pole. Karma noticed Kayano stuck mostly to using her tentacles for movement over great distances. They were certainly helpful, now that she had a multitude of them. There were villains crawling the streets under them and the dead and injured were beginning to pile up. Together they reached their goal- the two giant, glass windowed buildings that Shigaraki and his crew were encamped in- and as twin gunshots echoed through the city, Karma and Kayano began their ascent the fastest way available. By tentacle.

 

“Who’d you convince to shoot these two idiots?” Kayano asked as she set Karma down gently on the observation deck.

 

“Would you believe it? Chiba and Hayami.”

 

Shigaraki and Dabi spun on their heel at the sound of their voices, no longer shouting angrily at each other. Toga was nowhere to be found but Karma filed that away for later. There was a manic expression of rage on Shigaraki’s face.

 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” He snarled, flexing his now useless hands. “Why can’t I use my quirk?”

 

“I had a couple of my friends take care of it. You never did ask what happened at Chisaki’s hideout.”

 

There had been five bullets produced in total. One was used on Karma, two on Shigaraki and Dabi respectively, and another packaged up and sent to U.A. with a note reading ‘for Eri’. The last would be safely stashed away by now. Incoherent with anger, hissing and spitting and barely forming a single word anymore, Shigaraki launched himself at Karma. Without his quirk, however, Karma found him practically useless. His punches were uncoordinated, his kicks untrained. All Karma did was crash his knuckles against his scarred, bitten face and Shigaraki crumpled to the floor.

 

“Sorry, sempai.” He said. “Plans change.”

Chapter Text

Tenya wasn’t sure if his brother approved of his latest actions, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care. The shock gloves on his hands fit snugly, built for someone whose fingers were far more slender than his, and weighed like a metaphorical stone. Karma had given him the gloves for a reason. Although that reason was now safely sealed away and rotting in some prison somewhere, Tenya couldn’t quite give up the gloves just yet. He’d seen the truth of the failed hero system in his battle with Stain and subsequently through his teachers when they turned on Karma. So many of them were just in it for the glory. Too many were in it for the thrill of battle; like Todoroki Shouto’s father.

 

There was no other explanation for the way the hulking man threw himself into heroics the way he did. He couldn’t be doing it to simply save people- the scars on Todoroki told more tales than his words- and didn’t seem to revel in the glory of it. Tenya watched him closely, as well as the other pro heroes that their class had gotten close to over the weeks. Occasionally Midnight would have them come in for talks with the class and the abject distrust emanating from his classmates was practically tangible. You could cut through the tension in the room with a knife.

 

The whispers of the rebellious class 1-A had spread across the campus as fast rumours usually do, which had the unintended side effect of getting some of their regular hecklers to step back. There would always be bullies, even in schools that were meant to grow the next generations of heroes, but after the death of their teacher and two of their classmates vanishing...well.

 

That was how Tenya found himself, newly minted with his provisional license, taking regular patrols outside of school hours through the city. Technically he was only supposed to be doing so with the supervision of a pro hero, but in his experience the pros were only after top tier criminals. The gigantifiers or high profile villains. Instead, he focused on the dregs that threatened the lower levels of society. Tenya stuck to the poorer areas for his patrols. At first he had stuck out like a sore thumb but over the days he had gotten better and better at blending in with the crowd until he learnt to disappear completely.

 

As he stalked through the streets he nodded to an older lady sweeping a shop front that he’d helped out last week- a pair of teenagers had grabbed a stack of magazines and taken off with them. The roar of his engines was practically enough to get them to drop them, hands quivering, and apologize- and blinked passively at a regular purse snatcher. Just his presence was starting to change things. It wouldn’t be enough, though, he thought. It would never be enough. He was just one person.

 

The dark circles underneath his eyes had progressed in recent days. Tenya wondered if he was starting to look like Aizawa-sensei. His moonlit escapades were keeping him out of bed longer than he would have liked, at least before Karma’s involvement. It was difficult keeping up with both heroics and schoolwork, but he was determined to do it. Engenium may have been a hero that stood in the light, but Tenya strongly believed himself unworthy of the title- no matter how much his brother begged him to take up the name.

 

—-

 

Living in the dorms was strange- and getting stranger every day- to the point where Todoroki Shouto thought that he may be living in a dream. Currently, as he was trying to make himself dinner, Ashido was hanging from a hole in the ceiling and Kaminari was trying to hit her with a large baseball bat. Shouto wasn’t sure how the hole in the common room’s ceiling had gotten there, nor was he sure how Ashido had gotten herself in there, but what he was sure about was that any second now everything was going to go very wrong. She was suspended only by her legs hooked into the plaster and was swaying back and forth as she avoided Kaminari’s wild swings. Her laughter echoed throughout the building, prompting other students to stick their heads out of the corridor or bathrooms or anywhere else that they’d been hiding. And then- there- the cracks in the ceiling grew bigger before-

 

THUD

 

Ashido fell straight to the floor and landed solidly on Kaminari. But still she giggled and laughed and celebrated as if she hadn’t just caused wild property damage. Shouto couldn’t help but shudder at the idea. Had his father caught him doing something like that...but it didn’t really matter in the long run, did it? He had lived in fear, and then in spite, and now he had friends standing beside him. His father could do whatever he wanted, he could rage and shout and burn as much of Shouto’s property as he wanted but here at U.A. he couldn’t be touched.

 

Midoriya had started attempting to patch up the ceiling, without much help from the giggling teenagers on the floor, but eventually managed to wrangle others to help out too. They used liberal amounts of tape and broken ceiling pieces until the large Ashido-sized hole looked a little more tolerable. The sight of Midoriya’s scarred skin as he stretched to reach the hole was well on the way to ruining Shouto’s peaceful mood, however. He kept the bland, tame smile on his face whenever anyone looked his way- and shut down any of them asking for his help- while inside he felt like he was burning.

 

There was so many emotions warring inside him that he hardly knew what to do with. The idea that he might end up like his parents- especially like his father- was a constant dread in his heart. He’d hurt someone, badly. Someone that considered him a friend. Shouto had made up his mind shortly after the sports festival that he had to get better with his quirk but as everyone else progressed faster and faster around him he felt as if he was lagging behind. Bakugou and Midoriya shone brightly. As he watched Midoriya draw in the rest of the class around him, Shouto resolved himself to get stronger. Stronger than his father, out of the shadow that the man had created and into the light.

 

—-

 

Kouta had always been a troubled child and after the deaths of his parents, those troubles had only increased. Shino watched him through the window of her office, the boy listlessly plugging away at some handheld game console, and wondered if he would ever get to grow up a happy child. It seemed so far out of reach what with her and the other Pussycats still being on active duty and putting their lives on the line every day. The group was still puzzling out the Karma dilemma. In front of them, spread out on a table, was a map of the city and a series of crisscrossing red lines as Tomoko tracked his movements throughout it.

 

“Just because he wasn’t present doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t him that had a hand in the bombs.” Yawara was saying softly, his clawed fingers tapping a slow rhythm on the map.

 

“You saw him, just as much as I did. There’s no way he’s doing this.”  Ryuko replied. There was a photo of Karma and Shigaraki pinned to the map, his first public appearance after his kidnapping. Yawara had to admit that his exhausted looking demeanor did seem out of character.

 

There were too many threads that hadn’t been connected yet. Shino was sure that there was more going on under the surface that they couldn’t see. What she wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall in Karma’s life right now. Again she glanced out the window to her nephew. He seemed to think what had happened to Karma was just destiny, something that heroes couldn’t avoid or prevent. If she was honest with herself, Shino wanted to rescue Karma for Kouta’s sake. To prove to him- and to herself- that the heroes would always win in the end.

 

—-

 

So perhaps volunteering to help the security guards at the local government building was a bit of a bad idea, thought Izuku; he was trying to prevent a very angry lady from climbing over the hastily erected barrier fence while a few feet down from him Kacchan was getting into a shouting match with another, similarly angry, older man. There was a string of pro heroes dotted between them and the protestors as they all tried to calm the angry crowd. It wasn’t going well. In fact, as soon as Izuku and Kacchan had showed up he was sure the shouting had gotten worse. The protest was something about a lack of accountability in heroics, the way the government seemed happy to let superpowered teenagers just run wild, and something about Karma. It was always something about Karma.

 

Eventually the day wound down and they were told they could leave, that someone else would take over their spots in security, and the two trudged away sadly. It hadn’t even been a very exciting protest and Kacchan was in bad spirits. The lack of a real battle with a villain was dragging him down some and Izuku felt like anything he could say would just upset him. Although, as they got back in their uniforms and made their way back to U.A., his angry silence became more contemplative.

 

A massive pile of rubble that had once been a building loomed next to them. A construction crew had set up around it to try and work through the worst of the damage and try and salvage the land. Izuku was sure there were more than a few people displaced by the League’s actions, whether they were businesses or homes. He wondered if Karma regretted his actions or if the other boy even thought back on it once. He didn’t seem the type to get caught up in his own head. Kacchan on the other hand was scrolling back through a series of emails on his phone, well and truly tying himself up in knots inside. Without his panicked orders the devastation of the bombs would have been much worse.

 

Suddenly, Kacchan spoke. “There’s more to being a hero than just winning, isn’t there? I didn’t think about it before but...there’s more problems in the world than just villains.”

 

“Yeah.” Izuku agreed. “But there’s a lot of those too. I don’t think we’ll ever see the end of them. There’ll always be a place in the world for fighters like you, Kacchan.”

 

The world was seeing an uptick in public villainy, ever since All Might’s retirement. His existence had squashed the more overt actions before they began but the underground hadn’t just survived- it had thrived. It was then that Izuku realized that Aizawa-sensei had known that the whole time. He’d never once appeared on a popularity poll or list of top heroes.

 

“What about you? You’re a brawler too.”

 

“I think...I want to be more like Aizawa-sensei was.”

 

Kacchan looked at him in surprise. “Didn’t you want to be number one? Won’t All Might be upset?”

 

Izuku rubbed the back of his head, cheeks turning red with embarrassment. It was a little impulsive to just come out and say it like that. “Yeah, probably. But we have a ton of heroes who can fight giant, kaiju sized villains, or capture thieves or stop wildfires. What about villains that aren’t public? Like the League.”

 

“You want to stop villains before they start, basically.”

 

“Yeah. I’m gonna be a symbol of peace- but in a different way.”

Chapter Text

Elsewhere-

 

Tokoyami hadn’t stopped running. He had no real idea where Bakugou would be, his only hope to reach him was inside U.A.’s sealed defences. But first he had to get through the city, and after that the school grounds themselves. If Hound Dog was on patrol there would be no way through the dense forest before he was found. He passed panicked civilians and pro heroes and their assistants alike; all the while he thanked his lucky stars that Iida’s brother had retired. There would have been no way to escape Engenium.

 

His hands shook around the folder clasped to his chest. His feet hit the pavement like the pounding drum of his heartbeat in his chest. He passed people in a blur, Dark Shadow reaching up above him like a pair of great wings torn from some avenging angel. With a powerful flap it would take him straight over the heads of the shouting crowds. Tokoyami was mid-leap, however, when a pair of strong arms slid around his waist and he found himself pulled higher and higher into the sky.

 

“Look what I’ve got here!” Said a deceptively chipper voice. “My erstwhile, villainous pupil.”

 

Hawks held tight as he began to kick and struggle, Dark Shadow anxiously hovering by while looking for a way to free him safely. Neither of them wished to actually hurt Hawks. “Free me from your accursed grip! I must get this to Bakugou-san!”

 

“Hm? Get what?”

 

They touched down on a roof- too high up and too bright for Dark Shadow to be of any use- and Hawks released him but stayed uncomfortably close. His feathers were surprisingly threatening while on the receiving end.

 

“This. Karma-san and I have spent the last six- seven? Gods how long has it been- the last few months collecting information. You have to believe me.”

 

Hawks held his hand out and, reluctantly, Tokoyami handed the folder over. He read quickly. “Why are you bringing this to Bakugou-kun, instead of the pros?”

 

“You all believe we are villains, don’t you. Why would I?”

 

The pro hero looked contemplative, then handed the folder back over to him. “Alright.” He said. “I’ll take you there.”

 

—-

 

With Shigaraki unconscious and both their quirks gone, Dabi barely put up a cursory fight. Kayano subdued him easily and strung their hands together, then zip tied them back to back.

 

“Do you want to drag them downstairs to the pros or just leave them here?” She asked, poking Shigaraki with her foot. “I never did like this one.”

 

“You had us all fooled, didn’t you, little heroes?” Kurogiri’s misty portal unfurled from the back of the observation deck. He had probably been told to wait on standby and was now witness to the League’s downfall. Predictably he seemed quite angry. Thrown off by Karma’s betrayal and Kayano’s sudden involvement. “What I don’t understand is you, Akari-chan. How do you two know each other? Sensei pulled you out of the gutter-“

 

“And he should have rolled over and died the first time I tried to kill him.” Kayano’s tentacles shot forwards blindingly quickly, enveloping the solid parts of Kurogiri’s body. “I told you to call me Kayano.”

 

“Not Forever Flat?” Karma said quietly as he passed her, then snickered at her loud protests to the nickname. He turned to Kurogiri, removing the ancient revolver from his waistband. “You know, I’ve wanted to do this ever since I pulled your eye out. I never did say I was a hero.” Step.

 

“Or a villain.” Step.

 

“I’m an assassin.”

 

—-

 

BANG

 

—-

 

The heavy, steel, emergency divider slammed down between Toshinori and Stain, separating the former hero from the crowing villains out for his blood. He was alone. Only the baying sirens could be heard. The empty access tunnel stretched out before him, illuminated by the blinking red warning lights. He had a strong feeling that he would not be seeing Stain again. The guard stirred, but only enough to groan quietly in his ear, as they travelled slowly along. He was slung over Toshinori’s shoulder and he was immeasurably glad that he was having a good health day. The journey out of the prison was going to take a while.

 

What a mess.

 

 

“You know...I was a little concerned about what I was going to do with the body.” Karma said, watching Kurogiri’s body disappear into the wind like mist. It left behind only his clothes. Apparently without whatever life force was holding him together, Kurogiri was little more than smoke. Karma held Mustard's revolver loosely between two fingers, then tossed it to Kayano. She crushed it between her tentacles as he stuffed Kurogiri’s uniform into the nearest trash can. Once the gun was a mangled mess of metal, it also joined the clothes.

 

“So what now?” She asked.

 

“Well. I imagine I’m going to be arrested, but that should be over sooner rather than later.”

 

“Arrested? What have you been up to?”

 

He grinned, watching long wooden vines creep up the side of the building and the elevator numbers behind them tick up gradually. “You’ll see. But now, I get to take a long break.”

 

—-

 

What remained of the U.A. staff wouldn’t stop shouting at each other, as well as at the students who were definitely shouting back. Tokoyami wedged himself in a corner of the meeting room, sandwiched between Jirou and Sato who were aggressively defending him from the adults, the document Karma had given him spread across the table. His hands were still shaking. It was strange, he thought, that the only thing he could really focus on was that. The tremble in his fingers. There was a boiling feeling inside him, caught in his chest and traveling up his throat, and a roaring inside his ears. Why was his vision so blurry? Jirou was pulling him close, her arms around his shoulders and his face mashed up against her neck- oh. He was crying? His shoulders had started shaking with wet racking sobs that he hadn’t realized he was holding in. The room slowly went quiet. Eventually he found one of his hands held in Nedzu’s small, soft paws.

 

“It’s alright, Fumikage-kun.” Said the principal. “You’re safe now.”

 

—-

 

Karma had stood slowly, handed over his knife and gloves and accepted his arrest gracefully. Kamui Woods and the other heroes that they’d brought seemed thrown off by Kayano’s presence- as if they weren’t sure if they were to treat her as hostile or not. She sat with her legs crossed and watched as they locked Karma’s arms together with thick cuffs. They’d formed some kind of strike team of powerhouses, seemingly to take out Shigaraki and Dabi- Endeavour, a woman dressed in bright colours, what looked more like an orca with legs, and a powerful looking bunny girl- and now they were just standing around looking useless.

 

“Hey, I don’t mind going with you guys-“ Karma said as they adjusted the cuffs. “But would you mind taking Kayano to see a doctor, or Recovery Girl-san? She was in a forced coma for a while and needs a checkup.”

 

“Sure.” Woods said jovially, forgetting that Karma was supposed to be a villain for a moment. He waved to Kayano, who waved back. “That’s her over there?”

 

On the other side of the viewing platform, Endeavour was standing near Dabi and the unconscious Shigaraki. He had a strange, pinched expression on his face. It took him a few breaths before he built up the courage to speak. “Touya?” He asked quietly, his voice barely a whisper over the others.

 

“Todoroki Touya is dead.” Dabi snarled, practically spitting the name out of his mouth like a bad taste. “I killed him.”

 

Much to the shock of the watching crowd of heroes, Endeavour knelt next to the man that was his son once and wrapped his massive arms around Dabi’s skinny frame. “I’m sorry.” He said, over and over into the black shock of hair. “This is my fault, I’m sorry.”

 

—-

 

A few days later, Karma found himself sealed in a fairly standard interrogation room. A double sided window to one side, blank white walls lit by recessed LED bulbs, a metal table and chairs bolted to the floor, and a little recorder against the edge of the table. A man who introduced himself as Detective Tsukauchi sat across from him while he flicked through the folder that he’d given Tokoyami.

 

“Tell me everything.” Said Tsukauchi.

 

So Karma did.

 

“It started during my internship, when I was kidnapped. All for One took me to a hospital room where he was keeping one of my best friends in a coma.”

 

“That’s Kayano-chan, right?”

 

“Yeah. Don’t ask me how he found her, but he did.”

 

He spoke at length as to what All for One had said and done. How Karma had tried to make Tokoyami and Bakugou leave, but they’d both been stubborn and determined. The clock on the wall ticked onwards, as did the digital recorder. He felt like they’d be in that room for hours with everything that Karma had to say. There were a few details that he was careful to craft his story around, things that could be left out, such as his past and what had happened to Hagakure, until he finally ran out of story to tell. There would be no doubt that she would come up, but he wanted to put it off for as long as possible.

 

Tsukauchi pointed at a map of Musutafu that had red ink circles scrawled across it. “What are these locations that you listed?”

 

“These three are Noumu factories. They’d take kids with strong quirks or homeless people off the streets. Sometimes villains that pissed him off.

 

These two are hideouts. This one is an underground entrance to this complex here.”

 

He pointed out each circle as he spoke and the detective wrote a note next to each one. They moved through the folder together, Karma talking about Shigaraki’s plans and the location of each bomb that he’d sent to Bakugou before their detonation.

 

“Ah, so that was how they kept the casualties so low. Good job.” Tsukauchi compared his notes with what Karma told him, until his finger hovered over a post-it note stuck haphazardly in the back. “Seems someone called in a tip about that underground entrance, but no one took it seriously.”

 

“Probably Bakugou.” Karma said with a shrug. “He would have raided the place himself if you’d taken too long. We figured out where we were based on the newspapers that the company had abandoned.”

 

After that they discussed the remaining members of the League’s quirks and where they were probably hiding. Toga had remained at large, but a few had been swept up in Shigaraki’s makeshift army that Tsukauchi refused to tell him the aftermath of. A photo on the table showed one of the clones of him that Twice had created.

 

“I did notice you looked very tired here.” He said, gesturing to the print-out, moments before the first bomb had gone off. “You look better now, though.”

 

“That’s the makeup!” Karma laughed, pressing the heel of his hand against his eye and rubbing until it came away in a pale pink and black smudge. “I didn’t want to worry anyone, but he cloned me before I put it on.” It was also a great way to change your face shape, but he didn’t mention that. There were simple tricks to avoid detection in the public eye.

 

“We’ll get you some facial wipes. I’ve got a couple more questions, then I’ll let you get some rest. What do you know about Hagakure Tooru?”

 

“My classmate in 1-A? She was a spy. She came to me at Shigaraki’s bragging about it. I haven’t seen her since. I think she was feeding information back to him. That’s probably how USJ happened.”

 

Tsukauchi pulled another file out and pushed it towards Karma. “The real Tooru and her parents were found dead in their back garden.”

 

The corpses in the photos were old. Nothing like the slowly decomposing body he knew the real location of. “That means...the one that I met- that was in 1-A- she wasn’t really Tooru?” The document said the bodies were dated before even U.A. had started for the year.

 

“You’re right. Did she ever mention any family? Siblings, cousins even?”

 

“No…” Karma shook his head.

 

He was shocked. So he hadn’t killed a classmate. Technically. He wondered if All for One had given one of his lackeys the original Hagakure’s quirk. But how had they so easily faked her family? There was no sure way to know, now that the both of them were dead, unless Shigaraki knew.

 

“Thank you. One last thing. Tell me what happened to Chisaki Kai- Overhaul?”

 

“He stole my quirk from me, Detective Tsukauchi. One of those quirk removal bullets hit me during the fight. I reacted...badly.” Karma grit his teeth, not sure how he was going to get out of this one.

 

Tsukauchi sucked in a harsh breath. “I’m sorry. That must be very difficult for you.”

 

While he contemplated his options, Karma went quiet. In truth, he cared very little about the loss of his quirk. He hadn’t grown up with it or even hardly gotten used to it, but they were such an integral part of so many people’s lives. The world here practically revolved around them. The idea of losing a part of themselves like that was unthinkable. He couldn’t tell Tsukauchi that it didn’t bother him. With an alarming bang the door to the interrogation room was flung open. A weasely looking man stepped through while making hurried bows and apologies. A man that set Karma’s teeth on edge.

 

“Yes, yes I understand- No he’s not a violent criminal! Right, Karma-kun? You wouldn’t hurt a fly. Why don’t we put this whole nasty business behind us? You don’t need to cover for Toga Himiko- it’s okay.”

 

The man took a seat next to Tsukauchi while he rubbed his hands together anxiously. Karma just gave him a flat look. He was sure he was quite the sight. Smudged raccoon eyes and plain prison standard clothes.

 

“Viran. Why do you think I’m covering for anyone?”

 

“Why it’s anyone’s guess my boy- Stockholm syndrome or the like- everyone knows you’re not the type to actually carve someone’s face up!”

 

He laughed awkwardly, then leant over to the recorder- over Tsukauchi- and flicked it off. The detective looked as if he was going to explode with anger but didn’t say anything. Karma glanced between the two. There was some sort of unspoken argument happening that Karma had a very good idea about the nature of. Gibran was a corrupt politician with fingers in as many pies as possible. He’d suspected as much the first time he’d been introduced to him as the League’s benefactor. With Tsukauchi now quiet, Giran leapt to his feet and hauled Karma up as well.

 

“Let’s get you out of this place and back to school, okay?” The door closed behind them. “There. We shouldn’t have any problems in the future- now we’re nice and even.”

 

Karma decided he hated Giran. Shiro and he were two peas in a pod. He may have ‘killed’ Shigaraki and Dabi- ruined them, even- but he didn't hate them. A self-serving scumbag like Giran? He was easy to hate. As he was being herded through the cells they passed what seemed to be an empty cell, until Karma noticed Shigaraki sitting dejectedly in the back corner.

 

“Funny meeting you here, sempai.” Karma said, pulling away from Giran and pressing up against the cell bars. It wasn’t like he was even a threat anymore.

 

“Fuck off.” He snarled, peering through his shaggy white hair. “Just you wait- I don’t know what’s taking sensei so long but-“

 

“You didn’t know?” Karma couldn’t stop the gleeful, manic laughter that bubbled up in his chest. He was so glad no one had told Shigaraki the truth. That the job had fallen to him. “Your prison break was never going to work. All for One is dead. All Might killed him.”

Chapter Text

His mother wouldn’t stop clinging to him. She had practically blindsided Karma the moment he stepped out of the station and clung to his side until they had to get into the car. There had been no pomp and circumstance in getting him out of the prison, his actual release being hidden from the general public for the next few days for his own safety. His mother continued to cry. Between her blubbered sobs Karma deciphered that she was worried and was glad that he was safe now. She pinched his cheeks and fretted over how thin he’d gotten the last few months until he had to wave her off. His protests were weak though and she still stuck tightly to him until they were all safely inside the house. The very building his clone had broken into. It looked the same, though he was surprised to think that it would change at all. He wondered if she knew what had gone down that night.

 

Shuttered away in his bedroom, Karma could feel the last few months of stress seep from his body. It would take a while before he could sleep without keeping one eye open. There was a phone on his nightstand, still on charge from the last time he’d touched it, and he found himself picking it up on autopilot. The screen unlocked under a pattern that he shouldn’t know; the notifications a mile long and messages of support from the other Karma’s school friends still coming in even now. Well, it wasn’t all support. Buried amongst the ‘We believe in you’s were death threats and angry all caps messages of hate. There was a weird pang of familiarity at the names and numbers and a strange shame that bubbled in the pit of his stomach. He didn’t know these people, Karma reminded himself as he switched the phone off, he didn’t need their well-wishes and he cared less than nothing about those who bought into his villainous act. He held the phone against the edge of the table and began to push against the edges until the pressure began to crack and shatter the screen under his hands. Harder and harder he pushed. The flimsy device snapped in half, lurching him forward now that it wasn’t keeping him in place. He dropped the useless pieces into the rubbish and let himself collapse backwards into his too soft bed.

 

—-

 

The email had gone around the teachers the day after Karma was released, giving them some heads up that he would- at some point- be returning to their classes. Nedzu was apparently still trying to decide where he would be placed. Unanimously they knew that Tokoyami was innocent. He had the backing of the current #2 hero, Hawks, to support his reintegration to the school. Karma on the other hand was a much more contentious idea. They had reviewed what footage they had of him, as well as Yamada’s statements many times, and still the teachers were divided on the matter. Yamada himself was completely sure that he was a villain, going so far to abjectly refuse to teach him, and threatened even to quit if he had to. He could return to hero work, he said to Nedzu during their weekly staff meeting, as the life of a teacher was clearly not for him.

 

“Shouta seemed to manage just fine.” Nedzu replied, he seemingly blasé smile piercing. “But if that’s what you want, you know where the door is.”

 

The chair scraped against the thin linoleum floor as Yamada stood angrily. “Fine!” He barked, voice echoing with vibrato around the room.

 

No one made a bid to stop him as he slammed the door shut behind him. Instead, Nedzu just folded his paws in front of him with a quiet sigh. Across the table, Kayama wondered how she was going to slow the spiral that Yamada had found himself in. She knew Nedzu would back Karma after his own experiences, the principal's past hardly being a secret among them, and also how he believed in the rehabilitation of youth. Yamada seemed to want to go down burning, however. He wasn’t in a good place mentally. Not since Aizawa. Though she could hardly blame him.

 

 

Monday morning rolled around sluggishly and Karma found himself being dropped off at the school gates for once. His mother seemed to hate to see him go, still staring at his back as he took the steps two at a time. Strangely there was no one else outside the building, even though he could see the bustling student body inside through the windows, and he wondered if there was a back entrance he’d missed the memo on taking. He’d been told to head straight for the principal's office on arrival instead of going immediately to 1-A, which is where he supposed he would get the rest of his answers.

 

The little white mouse-bear-man was sat behind his desk, shuffling papers about idly, when Karma pushed the door open. He hadn’t had many face-to-face interactions with the principal and was a little uneasy at the idea of it. Keeping his face passive, he sat down and waited for Nedzu to finish composing himself.

 

“Hello Akabane-kun,” said Nedzu, setting a small stack to the side. “Welcome back to society. I trust your...extra-curricular trip was enlightening?”

 

“Very.” Karma was trying his best to keep his body language polite instead of his usual slouch. “But I think I’m done with that for a bit.”

 

“Mhm, but now you face a different trial entirely. Your peers will have many different reactions, I imagine.”

 

He smirked gently. “With all due respect, principal Nedzu, I have a feeling that to most of them I’m something to look up to- what I’m most concerned about is the reaction of my teachers.”

 

“That’s very wise of you. I admit that some were...not entirely happy with the idea of you being reinstated to the hero class.”

 

“Well, it’s hardly a solution, but I do have something I’d like to request for that.”

 

Nedzu’s little eyebrows squirreled upwards. He leant a bit closer. “What would you like, Akabane-kun?”

 

“I’d like to transfer to General Education, actually. After all- I am quirkless now.”

 

—-

 

Nedzu watched Karma shut the door and leave for his new classroom. He’d always known that there was something strange about the boy but his chat with him cemented the idea. It was if he was two people. One much older than the other, with more experience than a fifteen year old should have. There were times that he’d witnessed with the 1-A students that Karma had the capacity to be a regular student, and other times that he was six steps ahead of everyone else. Potentially even on Nedzu’s playing field. With that thought in mind, he pulled the test papers he’d been browsing back over to him.

 

Akabane Karma. Perfect scores in maths, English and Japanese, even in science and PE. Anything to do with heroes and history in the past two hundred years, however, and his scores began to falter and fail. As if Karma had been displaced from time. That was just a ridiculous idea, though. Something amusing to keep Nedzu entertained. A wicked grin slid across his face. What an interesting test subject.

 

—-

 

General Education was boring. Boring. Boring. Boring. Karma was almost regretting his choice until he saw whose spot he’d taken. Shinsou Hitoshi was fitting in well enough with 1-A. He seemed to have been dragged into Izuku’s relentless personality bubble and was stuck with them now. Karma could see them outside during their gym class practicing hand-to-hand combat. They’d gotten much better since the last time he’d seen them. He kept half an ear on the teacher’s lecture, attempting to absorb any scraps of information that he didn’t already know, while watching his old class. Ashido had picked up some kind of hand spring and was now flipping through the air like an acrobat, threatening to bring the hard end of her heel down on Kaminari’s head.

 

Over on the other side of the field Bakugou and Kirishima were grappling. They were almost on even terms, neither one much stronger than the other, which was always fun to watch. It would come down to stamina in the end. Karma had always won out on Terasaka, but their fights were often down to the wire. He watched Kirishima launch Bakugou over his shoulder, the wirey blond slamming into the dust with what looked like a painful shout before scrambling to his feet. Good reflexes on the both of them. He’d have to put a lot of effort in now to keep up with the rest of 1-A.

 

Karma’s new teachers cycled in and out. Most of them weren’t even pro heroes like the ones in charge of the hero studies course, but a few had apparently been sidekicks once. There’d been some grumbling from the other students at that. No love lost for what seemed to be another leg up on them that the chosen few had.

 

At the end of the day, Karma headed towards his dorm assignment. Nedzu had told him of the teacher’s plans to keep the students safe, which had involved moving them all to on-site dormitories, which also explained why no one had been heading in through the front gates that morning. His key let him in the front door (“Don’t lose it!” Nedzu had said. “You’re only getting one copy!” Karma wondered how quickly Kaminari had lost his) and for a split second he was faced with a pitch black room. He had the barest moment to wonder if he was on his own in the building when the lights flicked on, blindingly, and a massive banner dropped from the ceiling.

 

“WELCOME HOME” it said, bright neon colours against a white background.

 

“SURPRISE!” Shouted the gathered 1-A.

 

Streamers exploded over him. Someone popped open a bottle of some fizzy drink. Karma dragged a hand through his hair, suddenly finding himself surrounded by teenagers and feeling very embarrassed. Ashido slapped him on the back, congratulating him on a job well done, Kaminari punched him repeatedly in the arm, Sato and Shoji giving him a friendly nod. The greetings continued as they pulled him deeper into the room. Karma was pretty sure he could hear Izuku crying loudly, then getting told off by Bakugou. He could sympathize. There may have been a few tears prickling the edges of his eyes that he scrubbed away with the back of his hand.

 

Eventually they all settled down and Karma took a seat on one of the couches, friends pressed up against his sides, plied with food and good conversation and listened intently to their adventures. He was pleased to hear that Bakugou and Izuku were getting along, at least in a way. They still sat on opposite sides of the room. Although, if the way that Izuku was looking at the blond was any indication, maybe that would change soon. He smirked, remembering a similar fluster on Nagisa’s face when Karma began to step up his flirting game- it had taken ages for him to realize that he hadn’t just been joking the whole time. As Ashido was passing by with a plate of snacks, he grabbed her by the arm gently and moved aside.

 

“Hey Ashido, take a good look at Izuku right now.”

 

Her yellow eyes flicked between both of them, before a matching grin slid onto her own face. “Why, it looks like our friend might have a crush!” She snapped a quick photo and tucked her phone away before anyone noticed. “Welcome back, Karma-kun. Let’s start some beautiful shit again.”

 

It was good to be back.

Chapter Text

A few days later, while Karma was in class and zoning out, there was an announcement over the school’s PA system that he was to come to the principal's office. Apparently there was a phone call waiting for him. The other students “ooh”ed as if he was in trouble and he gave a mocking bow to them as he left the room. They’d all heard about what had happened to him by now. Gossip spread across the school like a wildfire. He’d mostly been left alone, though a few snide remarks had been thrown his way by students from other classes. It wasn’t anything that being in 3-E hadn’t prepared him for. When he reached the office, Nedzu ushered him in and let him sit down before handing the phone over.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Karma! It’s me!”

 

“Kayano! How are you? I hope they’re treating you well.” Karma could feel himself smiling warmly down the phone at her voice, and that Nedzu was intently pretending not to be listening in, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care about appearances.

 

“Very well, I’m almost up to a proper body weight again. I don’t think I’ve been this skinny since I was a- you know.”

 

A teenager, she meant. There may have been someone listening in on her end then.

 

“Right, right. Your acting career that was almost as short as you are!” He could hear her protesting on the other side loudly. It was mostly for show between the two of them. Her acting career had just been one long build up. Funny how spending a year pretending everything was perfect could make you the best actress around.

 

“Whatever, you asshole.” Kayano grumbled. “How’s Irina anyway?”

 

“My cat? She’s doing fine, she’s still hanging around. Same as always.” Someone is listening in on our conversation. Nedzu was quite skilled at false ignorance, it seemed. Didn’t even look up from his computer.

 

“Maybe one day she’ll warm up to me!” A friend, or foe?

 

“She’s been doing better lately. Still on the fence about strangers though.” Friendly. Not sure where their loyalties lie.

 

They continued to talk about mundanities, how the hospital was treating her and how Karma’s classes were going, until the nurse in the hospital said it was time for her to go. “Until next time, princess.” He said, finally hanging up the phone. Nedzu was giving him a calculated look over the monitor.

 

“How is your friend?” He asked, as if he hadn’t heard every word that Kayano had said.

 

“Doing well. Sounds like it’ll be some time until she’s back to full health but she’s getting there. Thanks, for your help.”

 

“Of course!” Nedzu said with a sunny grin, his small paws folded together. “I’m just glad it all worked out in the end. How long have you known Kayano-chan?”

 

“A little while. We went to school together.” If he was hoping to trip Karma up with questions, then he was barking up the wrong tree.

 

“I imagine her disappearance has worried you greatly.”

 

Karma had to scoff at the thought. If only Nedzu knew. There were probably grey hairs already streaking his bright red locks. “You have no idea.” Kayano was here. Chiba and Hayami were here. Nagisa had to be there somewhere- although the thought of his husband dying sent shocks of anger through his body, it seemed to be the only way it would happen. He’d have to get together with the others and make up a timeline of events. Surely between the four of them they could figure out what exactly was going on.

 

—-

 

The news was on when he got back to the dorms that night. A small crowd of 1-A kids were surrounding it, muttering to themselves, as the screen showed another riot in a distant prefecture. There was something burning in the background of life in Japan. A distant kind of unrest. The signs and banners that flew in the background said something about quirklessness. A few were about corruption in the hero system. There was a photo of a smiling child in the corner. The ticker underneath said he’d been killed.

 

“What’s going on?” Karma asked, accidentally startling the gathered crowd.

 

“A low ranking hero killed a child, kero.” Asui said quietly, fingertip worrying at her lips. “He said he was being threatened, but the kid was quirkless.”

 

Humming, Karma took a seat on the floor next to Kaminari and Sero. “Sounds like a conspiracy.”

 

Confused eyes stared at the back of his head. He ignored them for a moment, absorbed in the information being presented. The hero was small time. Seemingly he didn’t care about the rankings, just on keeping his small town safe. He even had a part time job on the side as a small time hero hardly paid the bills. There was a woman crying while being interviewed. She spoke about how the hero never seemed the type to do something so barbaric. He only had a quirk that enhanced his reflexes, nothing combative, so the murder had apparently involved beating the kid to death. How gruesome.

 

“What makes you say that?” Izuku was the first to ask, as always, and had a fresh notebook propped open on his lap.

 

“It’s just a hunch.” Karma said with a shrug. “He really doesn’t seem the type, but you can never be sure.”

 

Jirou reached over to the remote and flicked the TV to a different channel. “Let’s stop watching this- it’s freaking me out.”

 

After some discussion over what was to happen next the group settled back into their seats. Karma was left wondering about the events of the day and where everything was going to go from here. This was the sort of event that didn’t just get brushed under the rug.

 

—-

 

Ashido slid the little envelope between the vents in the locker, while Karma slid the matching one into another. They were probably going to be late at this rate but it was worth it. A quick high-five later and they escaped to their respective classrooms. They wouldn’t hear the fallout until lunchtime with any luck, but Ashido had a camera on her phone and a level of sheer determination that honestly made Karma feel a little scared sometimes.

 

They’d slipped fake confession letters into Bakugou and Izuku’s lockers and were hoping that they both took the bait and went to the meeting spot they’d listed. There was a good chance that both of them would take it for a prank and just ignore the letters, but Ashido and Karma were hopeful for a few sparks to fly. Emotional ones. Not the ones from Bakugou’s hands.

 

When lunch rolled around and neither Bakugou nor Izuku and his group could be found, they called their plan a success and settled in to tell stories of the lovestruck idiots. Halfway through the hour, though, Bakugou came through the doors to join them with Izuku nowhere to be seen. Ashido shot Karma a questioning look from across the table, which was met with a shrug, and she scooted closer to where their friend had just sat down.

 

“Late lunch today, Bakugou-kun?” She asked, the picture of innocence.

 

“Yeah,” he growled, digging into the plate he’d grabbed from Lunch Rush. “Nedzu has some internship shit for me to get out of the way.”

 

The disappointment from Ashido was palpable, but it was only a matter of time before she’d concocted something else for them to get into trouble with. Karma wondered if Izuku and his friends were waiting outside for someone to meet them. They didn’t appear for the rest of lunch. It worried Karma a little, as Izuku was known to be reckless at the best of times, but there wasn’t much trouble he could get up to while on U.A. grounds.

 

He was quickly proved wrong, however, when a hoard of kids suddenly broke into a sprint around him, prompted by one student dashing inside breathlessly. Their barks of “fight, fight, fight” filled the dining area. 1-A was up and out of their seats in seconds and also chasing after the crowd. Inside the courtyard, surrounded by students pushing and shoving for a better look, was Izuku. Iida and Ochaco stood next to him, anger scrawled across their faces, and across from them were two big students from a different class. Judging from their size, they were probably older as well.

 

One lashed out, a huge fist flying towards the comparatively tiny Izuku. Karma’s breath caught in his throat- there were too many students around to get through them all quickly- but Izuku moved too. The fist flew over Izuku’s head and the follow up punch swung wide. Izuku himself seemed to be barely moving, just enough that his assailant was expending a lot more energy than him. Karma had to laugh behind his hand. He almost hadn’t expected Izuku to be capable of it. The second, seeing his friend’s useless swings, moved in as well but was swiftly body checked by Iida whose face looked like thunder. Karma certainly didn’t want to mess with the man and he knew what Iida was capable of.

 

The crowd was pushing in closer and closer as the students around them bayed for blood, and Karma found himself squished tightly between two strangers. It was getting increasingly difficult to move. Someone was going to get hurt, but he doubted it would be Izuku. All of a sudden, breaking the screaming teenagers out of their trance, there was a roar like thunder and a hulking, dog-like man towered above the heads of most students.

 

“Everyone, SIT.” He snarled, and for a moment the gathered students glanced back and forth as if they were questioning everything. “I MEAN IT.”

 

Slowly, slowly, they began to sit, cross legged, on the floor. Even the two that had been trying to fight with Izuku sat, looking suitably chastised. The teacher’s eyes narrowed to angry slits.

 

“The five of you-“ he pointed to Izuku and the others. “Follow me. The rest of you...I don’t want to see a single one of you here when I get back.”

 

There was a mad scramble to evacuate the courtyard, but Karma followed sedately behind his friends. At some point Izuku noticed him and when he had a chance he waved a little behind the teacher’s back. The room they were taken to was for ‘Inui Ryou’, the guidance counselor.

 

“I wonder if he has to have a dog pun as a name?” Karma wondered aloud. Or, had someone in the past changed their family name to match the quirk? It was definitely something he would do. More than a few people had probably noticed his name and ‘luck’ quirk were particularly amusing.

 

He hang around the door for a little while, lurking around the corner like he just happened to be in the area, until the door opened and the sufficiently chastised-looking group of kids left. Outside of Inui’s earshot, presumably, Izuku breathed a huge sigh of relief. The typical grin of his burst broadly across his face.

 

“I thought we would never get out of there!”

 

“You were very lucky that Hound Dog-san is sympathetic-!” Iida said, hand slashing through the air like punctuation.

 

“You were ready to fight back too, Iida-kun! You looked like you were gonna kill him!” Ochaco was bouncing on the balls of her feet after them. Karma could recognize the adrenaline that was probably coursing through her after escaping not only a fight but punishment as well.

 

“Well- no. I just- I thought about what Karma would do in that situation.”

 

“Oh?” Karma chuckled, sliding up behind them. “What do you think I would have done?” There was a chorus of curses all around that made Karma laugh even harder. He took in the group’s shocked faces with mirth.

 

“W-well.” Iida coughed awkwardly. “I was of the opinion that you would have made his life a living hell.”

 

“You’re right.” He slung an arm over Iida’s shoulders and dragged him closer, then ruffled Izuku’s hair until it was an even fluffier mop than before. “So what started all that, huh?”

 

Karma was prepared to push the subject when he noticed the uncomfortable silence that the others fell into. There was some muttering and excuses between them as they figured out the best way to phrase the events. He was no stranger to rumors and gossip- he hardly had to have an ego to figure out that things were bound to be said about him. It was more than confirmed by the time Izuku had plucked up the courage to actually tell him.

 

“They were saying that you shouldn’t be attending U.A. That you’d always be a villain. Apparently Mic quit over...you.”

 

“So what if he did?”

 

“Huh?” Izuku looked confused.

 

“Kids can say whatever they want about me. And Mic was probably a shit teacher if he up and ran at the thought of teaching someone he didn’t like.” They’d reached 1-A’s homeroom class sooner than he would have liked. The small group stood in the doorway, other classes squeezing around them in the hall. “Don’t worry about what other people are saying about me. So long as I’ve got friends at my back, I’ll be fine.”

 

They finally accepted his platitudes and Karma waved goodbye to the others that had reached homeroom early, before he left for his own. He was under no illusions that people- students and teachers alike- would always be shit. No matter what universe or dimension he was in. Someone knocked past him hard and offered no apologies. Karma didn’t stumble, though. A quick pat down let him know that they hadn’t even bothered to pickpocket him. It was just schoolyard bully tactics all over again.

 

Hardly something to worry about.